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Contact: Amanda Scarce Jess Bayley
To receive apologies for absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor H. Jones. Members were also advised that Councillor J. Griffiths would be a little late.
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.
Councillor M. A. Sherrey declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in respect of Minute No. 81/17, in respect of the Question on Notice from Councillor L. C. R. Mallett. In light of this, Councillor Mallett agreed to withdraw his question. It was also questioned as to whether Councillor Sherrey had declared an interest at previous meetings in respect of this topic.
Councillor C. A. Hotham declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in respect of Minute No. 82/17 and the Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Mallett. Councillor Hotham left the room for that Notice of Motion and took no part in the discussions relating to it.
The minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 22nd November 2017 were submitted. A number of areas of clarification were sought in respect of the following:
· Minute No. 66/17 Councillor C. B. Taylor, the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing had advised that he would provide further information in respect of the applicants who had not met the relevant criteria. This had not been provided and Councillor Taylor apologised for this and agreed to provide the information as soon as possible. It was suggested that officers remind those who are required to take action following a meeting, to ensure that this did not happen again.
· When Members may expect to receive the Portfolio Holders report for Health and Wellbeing and Community Safety – the Leader confirmed that he was taking action in respect of this and hoped to resolve the matter within the next week.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 22nd November 2017 be approved as a correct record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Vice Chairman, on behalf of the Chairman, reminded Members that there would be a Holocaust Memorial Service in the Parkside Suite on Monday 29th January commencing at 11.00 a.m. The theme was the power of words and pupils from six local schools would be taking part.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader took the opportunity to thank all those who had attended the Corporate Peer Challenge sessions which had taken place earlier in the week. The final report was due in two weeks’ time, but he had today attended, a meeting of both Councils’ Executives and members of the Corporate Management Team which had covered initial feedback from those sessions. This had included a presentation and the Leader agreed to provide all Members with copies of the slides from this as soon as they were available.
When questioned on the content of that initial feedback, the Leader commented that there were a number of positive and negative areas which would be considered and that it had been agreed by both Executives that no significant statement would be made by either until the written report had been received.
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.
The Vice Chairman announced that a question had been received from the Public.
Question from Ms. Louise Humphries
At the moment, “the save our sports hall” group has two major concerns:
In the Overview and Scrutiny meeting minutes of the 27th November 2017, it was noted that that there was no negotiation on the availability of the school sports hall. Understandably the school won't let us use the sports hall during the 12 week examination period. But in an article in the Bromsgrove Advertiser the executive director of finance and resources was quoted as saying that negotiations for a shared space are still ongoing. Why are the council still negotiating with BAM when we will not have access for 12 weeks of the year? What is the progress of the current report considering the various options? Is there a deadline and once completed will it be made available for Bromsgrove residents to read?
Councillor P. J. Whittaker, Portfolio Holder for Leisure thanked Ms. Humphries for her questions and gave the following response; he, together with residents had been disappointed not to get agreement with BAM. Officers were continuing to negotiate with BAM for the use of the Sports Hall as an additional facility that could be accessed and would be of benefit to the community. In addition, Officers were working with Mace and Sport England to prepare an options appraisal on the feasibility of refurbishment of the current Sports Hall or provision of anew hall. This report was anticipated to be completed by mid-February and would be presented to Members as a public document, once finalised. It was hoped that this could be reported to Cabinet in March for consideration and then presented to Council in April for a final decision to be made. As this would be a public document the community would be able to review the report once it was published.
Members asked what the cost to the Council had been to date, following the breakdown of negotiations with BAM and also questioned who the lead officer was in respect of the negotiations. It was understood that the costs to date were for utilities in respect of the old Sports Hall and that the Executive Director, Finance and Resources together with the Head of Leisure and Cultural Services, were working on the project.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 6th December 2017 and 10th January 2018.
Fees and Charges 2018/19
Following a discussion where Members raised a number of queries in respect of the Fees and Charges Report, it was agreed that the report would be deferred until the next meeting of the Council, due to be held on 21st February 2018, with a list of queries and questions being prepared for consideration by the relevant Portfolio Holders and Officers, with responses being brought back to that meeting.
Local Development Scheme 2018
The recommendation in respect of the Local Development Scheme 2018 was proposed by Councillor C. B. Taylor and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
Councillor Taylor explained that this was merely the timetable which had been set in order to progress the review of the Local Plan. It was noted that this had also been considered by Members of the Strategic Planning Steering Group.
RESOLVED that Appendix A, the Bromsgrove District Council Local Development Scheme 2018 be approved as the Council’s programme for strategic plan-making, effective as of 24th January 2018.
The minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 6th December 2017 and 10th January 2018 were received for information.
Members raised and discussed a number of items within those minutes, including:
· Minute No. 68/17 and to what the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing was referring to in respect of his disappointment at comments made at Council. It was clarified that any criticism made had not been aimed at officers.
· Minute No. 71/17 and whether the shortfall would continue and what progress had been made in meeting the savings from the Efficiency Plan. The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources responded that the figures for Quarter 3 would be key and that no cuts were anticipated this year. All Heads of Service had been asked to look again at their budgets in order to make savings.
· Auditors comments in respect of the Efficiency Plan – it was confirmed that this was a four year plan.
The recommendation in respect of the Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2018/19 was proposed by Councillor B. T. Cooper and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
Councillor Cooper reminded Members that this report had been deferred from the previous meeting and was brought back with additional information as requested. There was no change to the Scheme for 2018/19 and as detailed within the report it was proposed that a review would be carried out on the implementation of the Hardship Fund.
During the debate which followed Members raised a number of areas which were discussed in more detail, this included:
· The consultation which took place following inception of the scheme in 2013, which was not specifically targeted at those that were affected by the changes.
· The lack of detail within the report and the need for it to include what steps were being taken to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable.
· The report should contain more detail around those that have been prosecuted or where legal action had been taken.
· The comprehensive review that would be undertaken to which all precepting authorities will be invited to participate, when it was anticipated that some of the concerns raised would be addressed.
· It was highlighted that these concerns had been raised in previous years and not addressed.
· The need for all preceptors to take part in the consultation and agree to any changes that followed from it.
· The understanding that a decision needed to be made at this meeting.
· The reduction in the Council Tax Support from 100% to 80%.
· The inability to make changes without a consultation taking place.
· The lack of commitment for the review to be carried out and the assurance that this would be brought to the September Council meeting.
· Support which was provided through the Hardship Fund and if Members had concerns about particular residents then to contact the relevant officers to ensure that they were receiving the support that was needed.
Councillor C. J. Bloore proposed an amendment that the report be deferred until the consultation had been completed and if necessary a special Council meeting could be called to consider the matter and requested a named vote. The amendment was seconded by Councillor L. C. R. Mallett.
It was explained that there was not sufficient time for a meaningful consultation to take place as a decision needed to be made by 31st January 2018. Councillor Van der Plank suggested that as there was already a Hardship Fund in place then the Council should increase the funds available within it in the interim. It was requested that the additional funding be equivalent to 5% of the council tax support scheme. This would equate to approximately £80K to be used for additional hardship cases. It was confirmed that Worcestershire County Council would not agree to review the scheme this year and as had previously been explained a review could not take place without the agreement of all preceptors. It was discussed how this should have ... view the full minutes text for item 79\17
The recommendations in respect of the Independent Remuneration Panel were proposed by Councillor G. N. Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. J. May.
Councillor Denaro reported his disappointment when reading the report as the comments made from last year in respect of having more information to support the proposed changes had not been forthcoming. He referred Members to the statistics within the report and that the basic allowance cost had reduced over the year, with the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) also showing a small decreased.
Councillor Denaro was in support of the small increase in the basic allowance but advised Members that he could not support the proposed changes regarding SRAs until he had been provided with the supporting information requested. He was therefore recommending that there be no change to the current level of SRAs paid. He had requested a meeting with the Panel and it was hoped that this would take place later in the year following the appointment of new Panel Members. The Leader of Wychavon District Council had also requested to meet with them to discuss similar concerns.
A number of points of clarification were raised by Members, including the SRA paid for the Electoral Matters Committee Chairman, it was confirmed that this was per meeting.
(a) that the basic allowance for 2018-19 is £4,350 representing approximately a 1% increase;
(b) that the Special Responsibility Allowances remain at the current levels;
(c) that travel allowances for 2018-19 continue to be paid in accordance with the HMRC mileage allowance;
(d) that subsistence allowances for 2018-19 remain unchanged;
(e) that the Dependent Carer’s Allowance remains unchanged; and
(f) that the Parish Councils in the District, if travel and subsistence is paid, the Panel recommends that it is paid in accordance with the rates paid by Bromsgrove District Council and in accordance with the relevant Regulations.
Questions on Notice
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.
To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
Question submitted by Councillor S Peters
“The former Dolphin Leisure Centre was operated as a charity in order to reduce the business rates liability. Is the new Bromsgrove Sports & Leisure Centre operating under a similar arrangement or is the Council now having to pay business rates either directly, or indirectly through the management company, Everyone Active?”
The Leader responded that as a Community Enterprise Company Everyone Active received similar business rate relief and therefore there were no such costs to the Council for the new Leisure Centre.
Question submitted by Councillor R Dent
Could the Portfolio Holder responsible for Leisure give an update on the progress regarding the options on the Sports Hall?
Councillor P. J. Whittaker, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, responded that he believed he had already provided an answer to this question earlier in the meeting when asked the question by the member of public.
Question submitted by Councillor M Thompson
What provision has the portfolio holder for finance made since the deal to use NBH's sports hall fell through?
Similarly Councillor P. J. Whittaker, Portfolio Holder for Leisure advised Councillor Thompson that a response to this question had been provided earlier in the meeting.
Question submitted by Councillor M Buxton
Noting the collapse of Carillion can the Portfolio Holder tell us of any businesses impacted locally, including those in the supply chain, and how will this Council be supporting them?
The Portfolio Holder for Economic Development responded that she was not aware of any immediate impact to local businesses and that the Council would continue to monitor the situation and work with partners such as the Growth Hubs and Local Enterprise Partnerships to support any affected businesses. If Members were aware of any businesses that had been affected then they should be advised to contact the Worcestershire Business Central (Growth Hub) in the first instance or the North Worcestershire Economic Development Team.
Questions submitted by Councillor S Shannon
With knowledge that this Council has contributed to the cost of the new train station transport interchange project for Bromsgrove, can I assume the Leader of the Council shares my concern for the sudden collapse of Midlands based Construction and Services Company Carillion with the related loss of jobs to the large workforce coupled with the inevitable disruption to essential services and delays to large local infrastructures projects? In particular can the Leader inform Council if the delays to the introduction of an improved electric train service from the new Bromsgrove train station are directly or indirectly connected to the failure of Carillion Rail Infrastructure division.
In particular, can I ask the Leader to exercise his leadership role by calling on those responsible for the delays in energising the electric cables that have resulted in a lengthy delay to the introduction of an improved electric powered train service from the new Bromsgrove train station. Also will he continue to exercise his leadership role in ensuring the promised delivery of this service to our residents is enacted as soon as ... view the full minutes text for item 81\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.
Members considered the following notice of motion submitted by Councillor S. R. Colella.
That Bromsgrove District Council suspends any discussions with Birmingham City Council and the Combined Authorities into taking any number of housing from the West Midlands conurbation until the impacts of delivering this council’s own objectively assessed housing needs have been determined and demonstrated via a full public consultation.
The motion was proposed by Councillor S. R. Colella, with a request for a named vote and seconded by Councillor P. M. McDonald.
In presenting the motion Councillor S. R. Colella highlighted a number of areas of concern and asked Members to support his motion. These included:
· The duty to co-operate with other bordering local authorities and with Birmingham City Council in particular.
· The need to consider the Council’s own housing needs before agreeing to provide for other local authorities.
· The Foxlydiate development on behalf of Redditch Borough Council.
· The understanding that Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council had suspended its Green Belt review.
· The lack of a Transport Plan and the number of Air Quality Management Areas within Worcestershire.
· How land for development will be identified.
· The impact these developments would have on the infrastructure.
In speaking to the motion Councillor P. M. McDonald also advised that it was his understanding that a commitment had been made by this Council to provide housing under the duty to co-operate agreement and reiterated Councillor Colella’s concerns around the need to address this Council’s housing needs before considering the needs of other local authorities. He also made reference to areas within his Ward which were earmarked for development and the concern that there was the potential for these to be allocated to other authorities. It was reaffirmed that any such negotiations should be put on hold under the Council was able to meet the needs of its own residents.
During the debate which followed a number of areas were discussed in more detail:
· The duty to co-operate should be in line with this Council’s timetable and not dictated to by others.
· Whether there was a conflict of interest in respect of the Portfolio Holder chairing the Strategic Planning Steering Group meetings.
· The need to ensure that we have the skills and abilities to challenge the duty to co-operate approaches from other local authorities. This had been done in other areas.
· The need to withdraw from any discussions until the housing needs of the Council had been agreed.
· The understanding that an agreement had been reached with Birmingham, following information provided at a Strategic Planning Steering Group meeting.
· The need to put the development plans of Bromsgrove and its housing needs first.
· Take action to slow down the process of duty to co-operate.
· Clarification as to whether the Council could withdraw from the meetings or whether these could be suspended
Councillor C. B. Taylor, as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing reassured Members that there had been no agreement or promise to take any houses and that the residents of Bromsgrove ... view the full minutes text for item 82\17