Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions
Contact: Amanda Scarce Jess Bayley
To receive apologies for absence
Apologies from Councillors J. M. L. A. Griffiths, H. Jones, R. Jenkins, K. J. Van der Plank and M. J. A. Webb.
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.
The Monitoring Officer advised members that guidance from the DCLG stated that Members did not have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in the setting of the Council Tax. However members would need to consider whether they wished to declare any interests in the context of the budget setting and that the need to declare was a matter for their own consideration.
Councillor L. C. R. Mallett declared an interest in respect of his position as a Trustee for the Basement Project, who received funds through the Council’s budget process. Councillor M. A. Sherrey also confirmed that she was a Trustee of the Basement Project. Councillor R. J. Laight declared an interest due to also being a Trustee of the Basement Project and also the Chairman of the Bromsgrove Scouts Association who were also to receive funds through the budget process.
The Monitoring Officer went on to refer Members to item 11 on the agenda and in particular Councillor Bloore’s notice of motion in respect of pension rights. It was suggested that Members may wish to consider granting a dispensation to all Members in order to vote and debate this matter and it was likely that many Members would be affected by this.
RESOLVED that in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, Section 33, a dispensation be allowed to Members who have a disclosable pecuniary Interest to be able to vote or debate on the matter put forward by Councillor Bloore.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 24th January 2018 were submitted. A number of areas of clarification were sought in respect of the following:
· Minute No. 73/17 Councillor Taylor, as 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 as there appeared to have been some misunderstanding with the Senior Democratic Services Officer in respect of who would provide this. Councillor Taylor gave a brief overview of the information requested and confirmed that it would be forwarded to Councillor C. McDonald as soon as possible.
· Minute No. 72/17 it was confirmed that this would be addressed within the Leader’s Announcements.
· Minute No. 76/17 Councillor C. J. Bloore asked if the Leader was aware of classes being cancelled at the new Leisure Centre. The Leader advised that he was not and that he would look into the matter.
· Minute No 76/17 Councillor M. Thompson questioned whether the options appraisal previously referred to and expected to be received by mid-February was available. The Leader confirmed that it was not currently available but that when it was it would be provided as detailed in the minutes.
· Minute No. 82/17 Councillor L. C. R. Mallett asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing whether he would like to comment in light of the recently released report in respect of the Birmingham overspill. Councillor Taylor said he was not able to comment as the document had only just been released and was over 200 pages long. He confirmed that Members would be briefed at the Strategic Planning Steering Group meeting which was due to take place on 26th February to which all Members were invited, with Parish Councils being invited to a briefing on 27th February 2018.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 24th January 2018 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 highlighted the following forthcoming events which would be held in aid of the Chairman’s chosen charity, Newstarts:
· 9th March 2018 Skittles night to be held at the Fountain Inn, Clent commencing at 7.30 pm. Details of this had already been circulated.
· 20th April 2018 Civic Dinner to take place at the Kings Norton Golf Club details of which would be sent out shortly.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader made the following announcements:
· Cabinet changes – it was confirmed that Councillor M. A. Sherrey’s portfolio had been amended to Health and Well Being and Environmental Services, whilst Councillor P. J. Whittaker’s portfolio had been amended to Leisure and Cultural Services, Regulatory Services and Community Safety.
· At the recent Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting Councillor C. J. Bloore had been appointed as the District’s representative of the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Mallett reminded the Leader of a previous question in respect of Councillor Sherrey’s disclosable Pecuniary Interest and whether she had taken any part in the discussions in respect of the merger of the Police and Crime Commissioners office with the Fire Authority, in light of the Council’s own view that this should not take place. The Leader confirmed that Councillor Sherrey had abstained and Councillor Sherrey also confirmed that she had taken no part in any such discussions.
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 comments, questions or petitions from members of the public on this occasion.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 6th December 2017 and 7th February 2018.
Fees and Charges
The recommendations from the Cabinet in relation to the Fees and Charges report were proposed by Councillor B. T. Cooper and seconded by Councillor G. N. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Cooper, as Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources, advised Members that the Medium Term Financial Plan had been prepared on the basis that additional income would be generated from fees and charges. He also reminded Members that the report had been deferred at the previous meeting to allow for answers to the questions raised to be given. Members were also given the opportunity to submit further questions and invited to attend the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting on 12th February, at which all Heads of Services were present, to ask further questions. The fees and charges were unchanged from those previously presented.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed the following areas in more detail:
· The increase in charges for the Parkside Suite despite the level of hire being less than at the previous site, despite the Council’s aim to be more commercial. Councillor P. Whittaker, Portfolio Holder Leisure and Cultural Services reminded Members that the reason for this had been well documented and reminded them that at the previous site the Spadesbourne Suite had been independent to the Council Chamber and was therefore more readily available for hire. It was hoped, that following changes to the rooms available this would free up the suite in future.
· The formulation of some sort of strategy which would allow for an operational review of each area rather than looking at the fees and charges as a whole, particularly as in some areas there was the opportunity to be competitive. It was difficult to look at the fees and charges as a whole without having a view of the wider picture.
· The increase in charges for Lifeline and the impact of this on the most vulnerable residents. Councillor Sherrey, Portfolio Holder for Health and Well Being responded advised that this charge had been benched marked and was lower than most. It was appreciated that it impacted on the most vulnerable and each application was considered on its merits and where necessary concessions were granted.
· Cemetery charges for children – concerns were raised in respect of a charge being made for exclusive rights of burial for a child grave space. It was understood that there may need to be a charge for this, but it was suggested that a nominal charge of perhaps £1 would be more appropriate. Councillor Cooper agreed to look into this outside of the meeting.
· Whether an appropriate mechanism could be put in place to ensure that charges were considered individually and that in some cases the Council had the monopoly on the service and therefore residents had no option but to pay.
Councillor Cooper thanked Members for their input.
RESOLVED that all fees and charges that are included within Appendix 1 of the report and which have a proposed increase/decrease for 2018/19 of ... view the full minutes text for item 89\17
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 7th February 2018 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.
Councillors Thompson and Mallett asked the Monitoring Officer whether it was appropriate for this report to be considered in light of it being deferred at previous meetings. It was noted that the inclusion of Community Safety within the portfolio had been removed.
As the report had been included within the additional papers, the Vice Chairman agreed to a five minute adjournment to allow Members time to familiarise themselves with the report.
The Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor M. A. Sherrey, presented her annual report and in so doing, highlighted a number of areas:
· A new call handling platform had been installed for Lifeline
· Over 250 new customers had signed up to the Lifeline service.
· The Bromsgrove Partnership in the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) for the district. It brings together organisations from the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.
· The Partnership operates a Strategic Board with a number of Theme and Sub Groups underneath it and made up from representatives from a number of organisations.
· Community Wellbeing Theme Group – covers Health and Wellbeing, Children and Young People and Ageing Well.
· Connecting Families – this approach, which the Partnership was leading on, was now starting to be rolled-out in Bromsgrove. The initial focus being on falls for the elderly which were the largest cause of emergency hospital admissions in the district.
· Safeguarding – as a Ward Councillor or representative of the Council everyone had a duty to act if they had concerns. Training had been provided for all Members in respect of this and it was noted that there had been limited attendance at the sessions provided.
· Early Help – this had been renamed as Parenting and Family Support. The contracts with Worcestershire County Council had been in place since December 2016. Leaflets in respect of the service had been placed in the Members’ Room.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed a number of areas in more detail, these included:
· The commercialisation of the Lifeline Service referred to and where any income raised was spent. It was confirmed that any surplus was re-invested back in the service.
· Members were urged to get involved in the Safeguarding aspect.
· Looked After Children – particular concerns were raised in respect of the number who became homeless and those with disabilities, over 18 years of age.
· The reduction in fostering grants and the changes to the contracts which now meant foster carers were classed as self-employed. Councillor Sherrey was not aware of these changes and agreed to look into the matter further outside of the meeting.
· The work of the Partnership and particularly the Connection Families Group and the partnership working that was taking place, with Parish Council involvement. Working in partnership was highlighted as an important way to ensure that services continued and Members were urged to promote and encourage such partnerships.
· It was highlighted that support in respect of Council Tax for looked after children but the support was not guaranteed when those children were moved outside of the County ... view the full minutes text for item 91\17
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
“In the light of the recent closure of care homes in Worcestershire including a number in Bromsgrove district, what steps are being taken by the controlling group to encourage and support the provision of additional elderly care places including the development of homes for the elderly in continuing care retirement communities in accessible and sustainable locations in pursuance of policy BDP10 in the Bromsgrove District Plan?”
The Leader responded that care for our elderly was one of the priorities of the Council and through services such as Lifeline, New Horizons and community exercise sessions, we are doing our best to ensure that the elderly in Bromsgrove are cared for, secure and encouraged to lead full and active lives.
The Leader highlighted that not far from the Council building; new elderly living facilities had recently opened on Recreation Road. This was in response to the needs identified and planned for in the district plan. Also, in accordance with the district plan, it was envisaged that an extra care type facility would also be provided on the Perryfields Road site. Furthermore in discussions with developers, officers highlight elderly accommodation needs and encourage developers to provide suitable accommodation for more elderly residents, such as bungalows.
Question submitted by Councillor M. Thompson
"Did the council release the bank details of existing leisure centre customers, without their permission, to the new provider, Everyone Active, and, in doing so, violate the laws that protect this sensitive data?"
The Leader responded that the information that related to direct debit members of the Dolphin Centre was now owned by the Council as it was the property of the operator at the time. In line with industry best practice, during the change of operator on 1st September 2017 a bulk transfer of memberships would have been undertaken, in line with BACS regulations, so that current members were able to continue to use the services at the centre. When the data was transferred all members were written to and notified of the change of party in this matter.
The Leader confirmed that as far as he was aware the process happened in line with industry best practice.
Councillor Mallett raised concerns that there had been a breach of data protection and it was agreed that the Monitoring Officer look into the matter further.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Shannon
“With news that Worcestershire is to offer shelter and protection for 50 Syrian refugees under the Governments Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.Noting that Bromsgrove did not accommodate any of the 50 refugees that arrived in Worcestershire during 2016/17.
Can the Leader confirm that Bromsgrove will step up to the plate on this occasion and offer a safe refuge to some of these vulnerable and often desperate people?”
The Leader responded that Members were lucky to live where they did, in a safe, first world country without the threat of civil conflict. He welcomed the good news that Worcestershire had agreed to host up to ... view the full minutes text for item 92\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.
Single Use Plastics and Recycling
Members considered the following notice of motion, submitted by Councillor P. McDonald:
"That this Council joins others in the battle against single-use plastics by agreeing to stop providing plastic cups, bottles, cutlery and straws at all its buildings, cafes and public events by the end of the year.
In addition this Council agrees to explore ways in which it can positively promote and/or influence alternatives to single-use plastics at events within the District and positively encourage the use of recyclable alternatives.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor P. McDonald and seconded by Councillor M. Glass.
In proposing the motion Councillor McDonald agreed to amend the timescale given within it, to within 18 months. Councillor Glass commented that what was being requested could be achieved within a relatively short period of time and that a target of 18 months gave a better opportunity for the Council to be able to achieve this.
In proposing the motion Councillor McDonald made particular reference to the damage done to sea and sea life through the disposal of plastics and the amount of time taken for plastics to biodegrade.
Councillor Glass highlighted the need to raise awareness with residents and to encourage them to recycle wherever possible. The introduction of waste collection points within the Bromsgrove main centre and for the Council to encourage further investment from Worcestershire County Council was paramount to the Council being able to make a difference.
Following presentation of the motions, Members discussed a number of areas in more detail, including:
· A previous motion which had been raised in respect of the Council only using environmentally friendly products and an update in respect whether this had been progressed.
· Councillor Shannon highlighted a scheme used at a local university where students were able to purchase a reusable cup and it was suggested that this type of scheme could be instigated through the Council and have the Council logo on the cups.
· It was confirmed that the motions, which had initially been individual, had been combined.
· The potential for non-recyclable plastics to be banned within the District/County.
· The cost of recycling plastics – it was understood that most were recyclable, but that the cost of this process was prohibitive.
On being put to the vote the Chairman declared the motion to be carried.
Members considered the following notice of motion submitted by Councillor C. Bloore:
· Hundreds of thousands of women had significant pension changes imposed on them by the Pensions Acts of 1995 and 2011 with little/no/personal notification of the changes. Some women had only two years notice of a six-year increase to their state pension age.
born in the 1950's are living in hardship. Retirement plans have
been shattered with devastating consequences. Many of these women
are already out of the labour market,
caring for elderly relatives, providing childcare for
grandchildren, or suffer discrimination in the workplace so
struggle to find employment.
· Women born in this decade are suffering financially. ... view the full minutes text for item 93\17
To consider any other business, details of which have been notified to the Head of Legal, Equalities and Democratic Services prior to the commencement of the meeting and which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, considers to be of so urgent a nature that it cannot wait until the next meeting.
The Chairman confirmed that in line with the constitutional rules, Councillor M. Thompson had submitted an item of urgent business, which had been accepted for consideration at the meeting.
Councillor M. Thompson spoke of his concern at the withdrawal of CJ Events from operating the market and the need for all options to be considered to ensure that the Council’s strategic purposes were met, with particular regard to Bromsgrove being a good place to live. This was an opportunity for the Council to lead by example and give the local businesses and customers the opportunity to succeed by operating the market directly.
The proposal was proposed by Councillor M. Thompson and seconded by Councillor L. C. R. Mallett.
Councillor K. May, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development responded by advising that there would be a tender process put in place for the procurement of the this service, which it was anticipated would commence in March/April, with all options being considered including that of a co-operative.
Members went on to discuss the following areas in more detail:
· The potential to consider the market being run in house and for this to be included within the report considered by Cabinet.
· The need to ensure that the best interests of the market traders were considered throughout the process.
· If a tender process was being put in place, whether other options would in fact be included.
· The excellent market and events which had been held over recent months.
· Whether a bid from the market traders as a co-operative, but as a not for profit scheme, would be considered as a better option as part of the procurement process.
· Support to be provided to the market traders in respect of any such process if the Council did not wish to run the market itself.
· Whether the tendering process should be delayed until all options had been considered.
· What legal obligations, if any the Council had in respect of the options available. It was confirmed that it was up to Cabinet to determine as it had a duty to ensure best value was achieved and that it this was not necessarily always financial but that it should take all aspect of a matter into consideration.
RESOLVED that an additional Cabinet meeting be arranged to enable consideration of all the options in respect of the Market.