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To receive apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R. L. Dent and S. P. Shannon.
Declarations of Interest
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.
There were no declarations of interest.
The minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 20th September 2017 were submitted.
The Leader drew Members attention to page 17 of the Minutes with reference to a report being presented to Council in respect of Transport Planning. He advised that following discussions with Group Leaders it had been agreed that a full report would be presented in the first instance to the Overview and Scrutiny Board then going on to Cabinet and Council in January.
Councillor Mallett, as Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, thanked the Leader for the opportunity to consider the matter at the Board’s meeting on 11th December. As it was such an important issue for Bromsgrove he proposed that all Members would be invited to attend that meeting.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 20th September 2017 be approved.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman referred to the following:
· The Chairman’s Italian Night had been a great success and had raised over £500 for her charity, Newstarts.
· The Chairman’s Carol Service would take place on 13th December at St John’s Church. Lickey and Fairfield Schools would be attending to sing Carols.
· The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the team from the Depot who had worked hard to ensure the War Memorials were prepared for the Remembrance Service.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader reminded Members that at the last Council meeting delegated authority had been given to the Section 151 Officer in agreement with Group Leaders to determine if the Council wished to be included in the bid to establish a Worcestershire Pilot Business Rates Pool. Subsequently he was advised by the Section 151 Officer that Bromsgrove would gain approximately £200k on the breakdown of 50% for the District 49% for the County and 1% for the Fire Authority. On that basis joint agreement was given to join the bid. It was confirmed that at that time, sign up was also agreed from all Worcestershire District and County Councils. A briefing note was sent to all Group Leaders to detail the proposed share.
Subsequently the Council received advice from the County Council that they wished to alter the arrangements and claim an extra 10% with a reduction in the District Councils’ allocation of a similar amount. This was evaluated by the Section 151 Officer who advised that the financial impact would be detrimental to the Council and therefore unacceptable. All District Leaders in Worcestershire unanimously rejected this proposal and the bid was submitted as originally proposed and the outcome was awaited. Should the Pilot bid be unsuccessful the Council would remain as a member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) pool.
The Leader thanked the other Group Leaders for their time and assistance with this item.
Councillor L. C. R. Mallett questioned what, if any, involvement there had been in the decision from the Deputy Leader, who at Worcestershire County Council had made the decision to request an increase in their percentage share and who had contacted this Council.
The Leader responded that he believed that this would be dealt with under a later item on the agenda.
Details are enclosed for the Council to note, of a decision made under the Urgency Provisions, relating to a Discretionary Non-Domestic Rates Revaluation Support Scheme.
The Leader reported that, with agreement from all relevant parties, an urgent decision had been made in respect of the Discretionary Non-Domestic Rates Revaluation Support Scheme and this was reported for information only.
Councillor Mallett commented that in future work programme planning should be done in a more timely manner and that it was questionable as to whether this had in fact been an urgent decision.
The Leader responded that whilst this could have been flagged up at an earlier stage there had been problems with a software upgrade which had caused the delay.
To receive comments, questions or petitions from members of the public
A period of up to 15 minutes is allowed for members of the public to make a comment, ask questions or present petitions. Each member of the public has up to 3 minutes to do this. A councillor may also present a petition on behalf of a member of the public.
There were no public comments, questions or petitions on this occasion.
Notification of Change of Council Representative to the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee
To note the appointment of Councillor C. A. Hotham to the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee in place of Councillor S. A. Webb.
Members were advised that following the resignation of Councillor S. A. Webb as the Council’s representative, the Leader had asked the Overview and Scrutiny Board to select a new representative on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and it had appointed Councillor C. A. Hotham. Councillor L. C. R. Mallett, as Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, took the opportunity to thank Councillor Webb for her work and also to thank Councillor Hotham for agreeing to attend future meetings on behalf of the Council.
To consider the recommendations from the meetings of the Cabinet held on 4th October 2017 and 1st November 2017:
4th October 2017
· Black Country Core Strategy Issues and Options Report – Council Response
· Council Tax Support Scheme 2018/2019
· Commercialisation and Financial Strategy
· Review of Financial Regulations and Contract Procedures
1st November 2017
· Medium Term Financial Plan 2018/19 to 2021-2022 – Budget Assumptions
(The background papers to the recommendations are contained at the back of the Council Agenda)
Black Country Core Strategy Issues and Options Report
The recommendation in respect of the Black Country Core Strategy Issues and Options Report was proposed by Councillor C. B. Taylor and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
Councillor Taylor, as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing introduced the report and in so doing reminded Members that this was the third response which had been sent out in respect of neighbouring districts. It was confirmed that the Council would be keeping a close eye on the impact of all of these on the District’s boarders whilst still taking into account the need for co-operation between Councils.
During the following debate a number of areas were discussed in more detail:
· Land/houses which had previously been given up to Birmingham City Council and ongoing discussions with that local authority.
· The Local Transport Plan 4 which had recently been agreed by Worcestershire County Council (WCC) and the pressures it placed on the District.
· The need for these items to be dealt with in a timelier manner as this had first been raised three months ago.
Councillor Taylor thanked Members for their input and confirmed that their comments would be taken on board.
(a) that the contents of the report be noted; and
(b) that the draft officer response to the Black Country Core Strategy Issues and Options report, as attached at appendix A to the Cabinet report, be approved and submitted to the Black Country Authorities as this Council’s consultation response.
Council Tax Support Scheme 2018/19
The recommendation in respect of the Council Tax Support Scheme 2018/19 was proposed by Councillor B. T. Cooper and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
Councillor Cooper, as Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling, introduced this report and reminded Members that on 1st April 2013 Council Tax Benefit was replaced with the Council Tax Support Scheme. Each local authority was required to adopt the scheme and specify reductions payable in their area. In April 2015, the Council decided to cap the support at 80% of Council Tax liability for all working age claimants. This has been in place for every year since. Cabinet once again was recommending that no changes should be made to the Council Tax Support Scheme in 2018/19.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed a number of areas in more detail:
· The content of the report appeared to be diluted each year.
· The need to consult with those that the scheme impacted the most and what was being done to support them. The Portfolio Holder advised that pensioners were entitled to up to 100% support.
· The impact on those residents who now had to pay 20% of their Council Tax and any impact on the hardship fund provided by the Council.
· Whether, from the information provided, Members were in a position to make a decision on this.
· The lack of reference within the report to any data in respect of the impact of the implementation of the scheme two years previously. ... view the full minutes text for item 64\17
The recommendations in respect of the Operation by Bromsgrove District Council of a Garden Waste Service on behalf of Redditch Borough Council was proposed by Councillor P. J. Whittaker and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
Councillor Whittaker, as Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services, introduced the item and reminded Members that this had been brought before the previous Council but further information had been requested before a decision was made. An addendum to the report was attached which provided a summary of the costs and income for the service. It was confirmed that this included the contribution towards overheads, included such things as ICT, Human Resources and the pension deficit. This gave an “under recovery” figure of £72k. A similar summary had been attached in respect of Redditch Borough Council (RBC) which, based on an estimated 3,000 bins, gave an overall under recovery of £12k but would contribute towards the Council’s overheads by £18k. The important factor was that if agreement was reached to deliver this service it provided the opportunity to maintain the existing charge of £45 rather than increase it for 2019/20.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed a number of areas in more detail including:
· If the Council did not provide the service the authority would not incur £30k of overheads.
· The impact of providing the service on the Council vehicles, as there appeared to be no charge for this within the figures for RBC.
· The potential to make the service more profitable for the Council.
· The need to ensure that the service was run in a business-like manner.
· The necessity of ensuring that RBC paid the appropriate amount for the service.
· The risks associated with it and the potential need for additional staff or the hiring of vehicles to operate the service and the impact on the service for Bromsgrove residents.
· Difficulties in understanding the figures provided within the report and the need for officers to be better equipped in writing business cases in the future.
· The impact on the service of new homes being built which might change the availability of staff to provide the service.
· The possibility that whilst the Council had capacity to provide this service at the moment, this may not always be the case.
· A commitment to provide a waste service at an affordable price to residents.
· Whether the business case met with the Council’s procurement regulations – the Monitoring Officer confirmed that this was not a commercial operation and had been calculated on a cost recovery basis.
· How the service would be monitored and whether it would be reviewed to ensure it did not impact on the service provided to the residents of Bromsgrove.
Following the discussions Councillor Whittaker, as the relevant Portfolio Holder, agreed that he was happy to take on board and discuss with officers the points and concerns which had been raised and consider reviewing the scheme following its implementation.
The Chairman agreed to a short adjournment, following which the amended recommendation was put to the ... view the full minutes text for item 65\17
The recommendations in respect of the Bromsgrove Energy Efficiency Fund were proposed by Councillor C. B. Taylor and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
Councillor Taylor, as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing, introduced the report and in so doing highlighted that this was something which directly benefitted those residents that needed it the most. The Scheme had been so successful that the proposal was for the funds from the forthcoming year to be brought forward to allow it to be made available for those in need. The funds had already been approved; this was simply a request to bring them forward. A further £9k was also requested from the Capital Programme to be funded from the available revenue reserve.
Following presentation of the report, Members discussed a number of areas in more detail:
· Why the report had been brought directly to Council and not via Cabinet.
· If the funds were brought forward what would happen in the forthcoming year if no money was available.
· Details of the 5 cases which were referred to in the report, which had not met the criteria. Councillor Taylor agreed to provide Members with details of these cases outside of the meeting.
· The need for the fund to be adequately supported in the future and to ensure that sufficient money was available.
· The principle of a 3 year scheme, and the need ideally for people to get the benefit from the scheme earlier if possible.
· The benefits of the scheme - although it was acknowledged that it was something which would be needed every year.
· It was confirmed that a capital bid for the fund would be made as part of the budget process for future years.
· Members discussed the option of including a figure within the budget assumptions in respect of the scheme to ensure the need was highlighted at an early stage.
After further debate an additional recommendation was put forward by Councillor L.C.R. Mallett and seconded by Councillor M. Thompson, that the sum of £110k over a 2 year period be included in the Council’s budget assumptions in respect of this scheme.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken and voting was as follows:
For the recommendation Councillors Allen-Jones, Baxter, Bloore, Buxton, Colella, Cooper, Deeming, Denaro, Glass, Griffiths, Hotham, Jenkins, Laight, Mallett, May, Peter McDonald, Christine McDonald, Peters, Sherrey, Spencer, Taylor, Thomas, Thompson, Turner, Van der Plank, Mike Webb, Shirley Webb and Whittaker (28)
Against the recommendation Nil
(a) hat the capital programme for 2017/18 be increased by £33k to £66k; this reflects the impact of 2018/19 being brought forward to 2017/18;
(b) that the capital programme 2017/18 is further increased by £9k to £75k to be funded from the current available revenue reserve; and
(c) that the sum of £110k over a 2 year period be included in the Council’s budget assumptions.
The minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 4th October and 1st November 2017 were received for information.
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.
Prior to the presentation of the report of the Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Community Safety, Councillor M. A. Sherrey, a point of order was raised in respect of her role as Community Ambassador for the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). It was questioned whether as this was a paid role it was appropriate for her to be involved in the Community Safety aspect of this Portfolio. Councillor Sherrey advised that during her involvement with the PCC when finance matters were discussed she had left the room and took no part in the debate there of.
Following a brief adjournment when legal advice was sought, it was agreed that the item would be deferred.
Questions on Notice (to be circulated at the meeting if any)
To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
A period of up to 15 minutes is allocated for the asking and answering of questions. This may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman with the agreement of the majority of those present.
Questions submitted by Councillor C. J. Bloore
“Could the leader of the Council tell us when did he find out the County Council wanted to decrease the District Councils share of income from the proposed Business rates pilot scheme? Could he tell me who took the decision to reject the proposal and did he consult the Deputy Leader and if so did she support the reduction or not?”
The Leader responded that the Section 151 Officer emailed her recommendation to all Group Leaders on 20th October 2017. This detailed the potential financial gain for the Council of a 50:49:1 split in favour of the district. On the afternoon of Monday 23rd October she was advised that the County had undertaken some further detailed work on the impact of the initial business rate split proposal and that County felt the proposed allocation was not acceptable and requested a 40:59:1 in favour of the County Council. The Section 151 Officer advised that this would not be financially beneficial to the District.
The original terms were agreed at the Worcestershire Leaders’ Board and the leader had advised the Chief Executive and the Section 151 Officer to enquire if other Leaders were of the same mind to reject the proposal. The response was unanimous to reject this and the County Council had been advised accordingly. No other consultation took place and the bid was submitted on the original terms.
Question submitted by Councillor S. R. Colella
“Why has the Leader committed this Council to taking on additional housing from Birmingham City Council and on what authority?”
The Leader responded that he had not done this. Authority was given in the Bromsgrove District Plan which contained the following policy with regards to the Green Belt and the needs of the conurbation, not Birmingham City.
A Local Plan Review including a full Review of the Green Belt will be undertaken in accordance with BDP 3 in advance of 2023 to identify:
c) Land to help deliver the objectively assessed housing requirements of the West Midlands conurbation within the current plan period i.e. up to 2030.
This policy had been consulted on widely through the plan process and also discussed at length as part of the examination in public. Without such a policy it would have been highly likely the Bromsgrove District Plan would not have met the duty to co-operate or have been found sound by the inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State. In approving the Plan at its various stages of production, and finally adopting the Plan in January of this year, the authority for this policy was given by the Council as a whole.
Councillor Colella responded that he did not believe that if other Members had been aware that this was within the Plan that it would have been approved and that this should have been made clear at the January meeting of the Council when it was considered. He suggested that at no point had it been ... view the full minutes text for item 69\17
A period of up to one hour is allocated to consider the motions on notice. This may only be extended with the agreement of the Council.
To consider the following motion submitted by Councillor :-
Local Transport Plan 4
Members considered the following notice of motion submitted by Councillor P. M. McDonald:
"It was with utter shock and dismay that I had to witness Cllr’s May and Taylor at County Hall voting for the Local Transport Plan 4.
Bromsgrove District Council had voted unanimously against the plan with good reason and both Cllr Taylor and May spoke and voted against it. Both hold positions of importance as cabinet members and they have now made their positions untenable with their blatant disregard for decisions made in the chamber, therefore, we call upon them to resign forthwith.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor P. M. McDonald and seconded by Councillor L. C. R. Mallett.
In presenting the Motion Councillor McDonald made reference to the fact that when decisions were made residents expected them to be honoured. He referred specifically to the cross party agreement reached in respect of the Local Transport Plan No 4 (LTP 4) and failure to address issues which had been raised on a number of occasions at Council meetings. It was stated that two Members of the Cabinet, who were County Councillors, one of whom was also on the Cabinet at WCC had at a recent Council meeting when this had been considered, voted against the wishes of this Council. In the circumstances Councillor McDonald did not feel that it was unreasonable to ask those Members to resign.
Prior to the debate, Councillor S. R. Colella put forward an amendment to the motion, which was accepted by Councillor McDonald. The amendment stated “that the Leader and Council change the constitution to exclude twin hatters from Cabinet.”
Members questioned whether those Councillors that had been referred to should take part in any debate. A number of Members believed those Cabinet Members should leave the meeting whilst others felt that they should be given the opportunity to defend their position.
Councillor S. J. Baxter suggested that there was a need to “de-personalise” the debate and made reference to the Notice of Motion which had been brought before the Council earlier in the year in respect of LTP4 in response to which the Council had agreed to write to WCC. This written response had not been shared with Members and she was of the view that Members should put their communities first and that, under the circumstances, she did not believe that anyone could have supported LTP4. She was therefore in support of the amendment to the notice of motion which had been put forward.
Following an exchange between several Members, the Chairman reminded the Chamber that it was for Members to decide as to whether they had a pecuniary or other interest in items and whether they chose to declare this and leave the room, she also reminded the Chamber of the Member-to-Member protocol.
Councillor C. J. Bloore provided Members with background information in respect of the work that had been carried out by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board at WCC and the ... view the full minutes text for item 70\17