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To receive apologies for absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor L. J. Turner and Members were advised that Councillor J. M. L. A. 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 S. J. Baxter declared another disclosable interest in respect of Minute No. 104/17 the Community Governance item from the Electoral Matters Committee, as the Chairman of the National Associate of Local Councils (NALC), but saw no need to leave the room during the debate.
Councillor R. Jenkins highlighted that in respect of Minute No. 102/17 and the recommendation from Cabinet of 7th March in respect of the Air Quality Management Area, she lived within that designated area.
Immediately prior to consideration of the Minutes Councillor C. Hotham raised a point of clarification in respect of a request for an extraordinary meeting to be held and the need for individually signed notifications to be received in order for this to be triggered. He therefore questioned the legality of this meeting as the signature of the Chief Executive was not included within the summons received by Members.
Councillor L. C. R. Mallett also raised a similar point of clarification as he had also made a request for an extra ordinary meeting.
Following a brief debate it was confirmed that a report on this matter would be considered by the constitution Review Working Group at its meeting on 30th April with a view to that report being brought before full Council in due course.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 21st February 2018 were submitted. A number of areas of clarification were sought in respect of the following:
· Page 2 bullet point 3 – confirmation from the Leader that he had looked into this matter. The Leader believed that he had already done so, but would follow the matter up the following day.
· Page 5 – final paragraph, it was noted that it should read “ …. the recommended maximum ratio of 1:20.”
· It was questioned as to whether the Council had been misled in respect of the Sports Hall in light of the report which had been considered at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 26th March 2018.
· Page 13 second paragraph, second line, should read “the Dolphin Centre was not owned by the Council”.
· Page 17 fourth paragraph, it was questioned whether the Council had been misled in respect of the procurement process for the market service, when it appeared that the intention was to bring this service back “in house”. The Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, the Town Centre and Partnerships confirmed that the Council had not been misled in anyway.
RESOLVED that, subject to the preamble above, the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 21st February 2018 be approved as a correct record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman took the opportunity to thank all those who had attended and made donations, to the Civic Dinner, which had raised over £2k for NewStarts, her chosen charity.
Councillor C. J. Bloore took the opportunity to congratulate Bromsgrove Sporting on their recent promotion and success as league champions.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader provided an update in respect of the application for Burcot Lane and confirmed that he had spoken to the Secretary of State who advised that the application was making good progress and a final decision was expected shortly. The Leader confirmed that he would provide an update as soon as further information was available.
Councillor M. Thompson questioned the Leader in respect of an update in respect of the Sports Hall and made particular reference to an email which had been sent to a parish council giving a particular view on this matter. Concerns were raised in respect of this matter and the implications of this on the reputation of the Council. The Leader advised that he was not aware of the correspondence referred too, but that he would look into the matter outside of the meeting.
Appointment of Council Representative to the Worcestershire Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (verbal update)
The Leader asked for nominations in respect of the Council’s representative on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
RESOLVED that Councillor C. J. Bloore be appointed as the Council’s representative on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for the remainder of the municipal year.
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 Chairman announced that there had been a question raised by a member of the public.
“It's fantastic that the need for a sports hall in Bromsgrove has been recognised. However the options appraisal raised two major concerns. Firstly the huge increase in the cost of building a sports hall and secondly the low figure predicted for the potential income from a sports hall.
Sports England have published a document called Affordable Sports Halls which is freely available on their website at https://www.sportengland.org/media/4647/affordable-sports-halls-main-document-2015.pdf In this document the typical construction costs of building a 4 court sports hall and changing facilities is £1.3M compared to over £3M quoted in the options appraisal. The Sports England document was published in 2015 so obviously prices will have gone up since then. However, I think it very much shows that the figures we were given in the options appraisal need to be questioned. Surely inflation doesn't explain an increase of over 100% in just under 3 years.
My first question is how were the figures put together for the options appraisal? Specifically how many quotes were received when putting togther the options appraisal and who were these quotes from?
Secondly in the Sports England document the potential income of a 4 court sports hall for 40 hours of use is listed as £48,250. Whereas in the options appraisal the potential income for the sports hall is £0 - £20k. Why is the potential income for a sports hall in Bromsgrove predicted to be so much lower than what Sports England think is achievable?”
Councillor P. J. Whittaker, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services responded that the design of the proposed new Sports Hall was based on option 1b of the Sport England guidance. Mace had based their costs on a like for like comparison with the Sports England model in the first instance including their design. The reason for a higher estimated capital cost compared to the guidance was:
· Increased costs in the early stage development were down to inflation, on which Sports England had based their costs in 2015.
· Mace options appraisal included for a number of site abnormal costs which included an extensive cut and fill exercise, allowances for potential further main services alterations, retaining wall, disability ramps and external canopies, which were not included in the Sports England model.
· Sports England also only allowed a nominal allowance for contingency as well as professional fees and survey costs. At this stage of the project Mace had allowed for higher allowances in each of these areas, which in turn increased the overall cost per m2.
· Quotations had not been received at this stage and the estimates were based on robust benchmark costs from a Mace database, in addition as the design was not detailed enough be priced by a contractor, should the project proceed, tender of the work could be based on a stage 3 design. At this stage Mace have benchmarked their costs against 8 ... view the full minutes text for item 101\17
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 7th March 2018 and 11th April 2018.
Air Quality Management Area – Kidderminster Road, Hagley
The recommendation from Cabinet in respect of the Air Quality Management Area, Kidderminster Road, Hagley was proposed by Councillor P. J. Whittaker and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Whittaker, as Portfolio Holder for Regulatory Services, presented the report and in so doing highlighted that this matter had been debated in detail at both the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting and again at Cabinet and therefore he did not propose to go into detail.
Members discussed a number of areas in more detail, including:
· The data within the report was only up to 2016 and concerns were raised that a decision should not be made until more up to date data was available as due to a number of new developments in the area there was the potential for the traffic and therefore the air quality, to have changed in that period.
· The type of monitoring that was undertaken and recent news reports were highlighted in respect of the dangers in other areas which were proving to be more harmful to people’s health.
· The use of variable messaging systems to redirect vehicles away from the AQMA – it appeared that there was new technology which could be used but that there had been no progress on this since 2016.
· Concerns were raised in respect of a previous AQMA which had been in Rubery which had been revoked due to a decrease in traffic, however due to recent developments in the area Members were concerned that there was the likelihood that this would need to be reinstated and requested that this was looked at as a matter of urgency. The Leader agreed to take this matter up with the WRS Officers outside of the meeting.
· The need for monitoring to continue – it was explained that whilst the AQMA would be revoked monitoring would continue and that the WRS Officers had discussed with the relevant ward councillor particular areas which should be monitored.
· The need for that monitoring to be more detailed and in more appropriate locations. It was noted that Cabinet had agreed to look at the costings for this to take place.
· The current levels were below those required by the Defra guidelines and therefore Defra would not look upon the Council favourably in the future should they continue to have what they would class as an unnecessary AQMA.
· It was suggested that a decision in respect of the revocation of this Kidderminster Road, Hagley AQMA be deferred until further information had been received in respect of more detailed and regular data collection and the cost implications of alternative methods.
· The recommendations made at the Overview and Scrutiny Board had been considered by Cabinet and they had agreed to investigate the potential for further, more detailed, monitoring in both Hagley and other areas throughout the District.
Councillor Peter McDonald proposed that an amendment was made to ensure that air quality in Rubery was monitored and following the ... view the full minutes text for item 102\17
The minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 21st February, 7th March and 11th April 2018 were received for information.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Electoral Matters Committee held on 28th February 2018.
The recommendation from the Electoral Matters Committee in relation to a Governance Review was proposed by Councillor B. T. Cooper and seconded by Councillor R. L. Dent.
Councillor Cooper, as Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the report and in so doing highlighted to Members that the Electoral Matters Committee had discussed the supporting report in some detail before making its recommendation. Those discussions had covered a range of areas including the timescale for such a review and concern that it would not be sufficient time to complete such a task, the financial implications had also been discussed and considered.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed a number of areas in more detail:
· Councillor Mallett as Vice Chairman of the Electoral Matters Committee commented that the financial implications should be considered as, it had been explained that currently there was capacity within the Elections Team to carry out such a review but, in future years this may not be the case and additional resource would be needed.
· There was also the possibility that “ad hoc” parish reviews were requested the cost of which could quite quickly escalate.
· It was also noted that it was good practice to carry out a full review on a regular basis, and the Electoral Services Manager had been unable to trace when the last full review had been carried out.
· It was important to allow those from unparished areas to have their say and also for those who were within parishes, but who felt they did not get value for money from the parish to have a voice in any future arrangements.
· The appointment of parish councillors through the process of co-option was also highlighted and the boundaries which they covered.
· Whether the report was correct in saying there would not be another opportunity when there was no schedule election until 2026. The Monitoring Officer agreed to check this with the Electoral Services Manager. She also explained that there was always the opportunity to carry out a review but that there could be additional resource and financial implications if it was carried out whilst in an election period.
· Concerns were raised should a number of parishes come forward and ask for a review to be carried out in their area and the financial implications of a number of small reviews as opposed to an overall review.
· The need for a review to be carried out, but that the current timescales did not appear to give sufficient time for this to be carried out in a timely manner.
· It was reiterated that the Electoral Matters Committee were not saying that a review should not be carried out, but merely that due to time constraints 2018 would not be the appropriate time for this to be done.
RESOLVED that a Community Governance Review of the Bromsgrove District Area does not take place in 2018.
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.
The Leader presented his annual report and explained that he had broken it down into three main areas, Overarching Governance, Policy and Performance and Portfolio responsibilities regarding HR and OD.
In respect of performance, the Leader advised that he had recently instigated a series of review meetings to assess current performance across all portfolios and thought it fair to start with an assessment of his own areas. Part of that review is included within the report and he was particularly interested in reviewing performance against budget to date and following up on any restructuring to monitor achievements against the original plans. He acknowledged that some of the areas looked at also fell under Councillor Cooper’s remit and confirmed that this would be reviewed to ensure clarification.
The Leader advised that he was pleased with the new support structure for Members at Bromsgrove and it had certainly served him well and the more permanent presence than before was welcomed. Savings had been made as proposed and the addition of our Procurement Officer to the team had enabled reviews of the Council’s existing contracts to ensure value for money. The Legal Services team continued to exceed budget targets from external income and were on target to exceed an increased budget this year. He also advised that to support the commercialism agenda the Council was obtaining ad hoc advice from various different professions until the nature of the post had been properly determined.
In respect of Governance, Officers had been working with the Constitution Review Working Group to review and tidy up our Constitution to be more user friendly and easier to access relevant areas. Specific work has also been carried out regarding delegations, which is a large piece of work. Progress has been made and specific recommendations with be forthcoming later this year. One aim is to ensure Members are kept informed of Council activity in their area.
The Leader went on to say that he believed there had been an improved and constructive working relationship between Cabinet and the Overview and Scrutiny Board, additionally the role of the Finance and Budget Working Group had been particularly helpful.
Members were advised that they would be receiving governance suggestions from the recent Corporate Peer Review, which although received, was currently embargoed due to the elections in Redditch. It would be release as soon as possible.
In respect of Performance the Leader advised that the first performance report had been made available to Cabinet using data from the Measures Dashboard. Each report covered one of the strategic purposes from the Council Plan as well as a set of corporate measures. In respect of HR the Leader advised that the response rate to the revised staff survey had shown a 54% return rate compared to the previously low rate. He understood that CMT would be receiving details from this next week. It was also noted that the Agency Supply Contract with Matrix had been reviewed and a two year with one year possible extension has ... view the full minutes text for item 105\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 C. Hotham
“The outgoing Bromsgrove market operating company won the contract on the basis of paying Bromsgrove District Council a fee of £95,000 over the 5 year contract period. The operator will have run the market for nearly 2.5 years at the completion of the notice period. Please could the relevant cabinet member confirm the amount of that this council has received?”
The Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships advised that she been informed that CJ Events have paid £11,314.96 gross to Wyre Forest District Council (WFDC), and that WFDC had instigated proceedings for the recovery of the balance.
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 :-
The Chairman reminded Members that one hour was allocated to consider the motions on notice.
G. L. Hearn Report
Members considered the following notice of motion, submitted by Councillor C. A. Hotham:
“BDC will temporarily set aside the broad brush basic report of Hearn until such time as its own in depth comprehensive review of the green belt has been completed. Only then will the content and conclusions of the Hearn report be considered alongside our own detailed investigation into the green belt.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor C. A. Hotham and seconded by Councillor S. R. Colella.
In proposing the motion Councillor Hotham highlighted a number of areas included within the G. L. Hearn report, which included a housing requirement of 28,000 by 2031 and 60,800 houses by 2036. He believed that there by using a higher housing density the number could drop by 13,000, reducing these figures to 15,000 and 48,000 respectively. In respect of the sites which the report stated were available across the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area it showed that 180,000 to 2031 and 198,000 available to 2036. However, in March 2018 the Government and WMCA announced funding to “clean” Brown Field sites, which meant that 215,000 sites would now be available to 2031. Councillor Hotham said his understanding of this was that it actually meant that to 2031 there would be a housing surplus of 20,000 with the shortfall dropping to 25,684 to the end of 2036. The report also suggested that should all the proposed sites be maximised then Bromsgrove could take 27,500, which would actually be 2,000 more than its total shortfall. His concern was that the majority of these homes would be executive style and not affordable ones, which were desperately needed. Councillor Hotham went on to comment about the role of G. L. Hearn and the other work which they carried out and questioned whether they had been impartial during the preparation of this report.
Councillor Hotham went on to question the methodology used in assessing the Green Belt and the designation of Principle and supportive categories, highlighting that most of the Bromsgrove Green Belt was classed as Principle and how this could undermine the strategic purpose of the Green Belt. Councillor Hotham believed that at no point had it been suggested within the Council Chamber that it was anything other than a needs assessment and not as an identification of sites. He also highlighted that there still appeared to be confusion over who had commissioned and paid for the report. He went on to say he understood that the document had been described as not a consultation document, but merely informed us of Birmingham’s needs, and that he believed that the housing number had shifted fundamentally and therefore undermined the report. Councillor Hotham therefore requested that the report be put on hold under the Council was able to complete its own review and that not to do so would give the report a credence and credibility that ... view the full minutes text for item 107\17