Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions
Contact: Amanda Scarce Jess Bayley
To receive apologies for absence
At the start of the meeting the Chairman invited the Bromsgrove Street Pastors to give a short presentation on the work they carried out in the District.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors J. Griffiths, H. Jones and M. A. Sherrey. Members were also advised that Councillor R. Jenkins 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 C. Hotham and L. C. R. Mallett declared an other disclosable interest in respect of Minute No. 48/18.
The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 24th July 2018 were submitted. A number of points for clarification were raised during consideration of these minutes:
· Page 15 – in respect of the Portfolio Holder report Councillor S. Shannon referred to a series of questions which had been asked and that the Portfolio Holder had requested these to be emailed to him, Councillor Shannon confirmed that he still awaited a response to the questions he had raised. Councillor Taylor apologised and confirmed that a response would be sent by the end of the week.
· Councillor S. Colella also noted that in respect of the question raised by Councillor R. Jenkins under Minute No. 34/18 a written response would be sent. Councillor Colella requested that this be added to the minutes.
· Councillor M. Thompson questioned the inclusion of confidential minutes and requested that a public minute be included to show openness and transparency to the residents of Bromsgrove. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that she would look into the matter before the next meeting.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on 24th July 2018 be approved as a correct record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman announced three forthcoming events to which all Members were invited:
· Civic Service at 3.00 pm on 14th October 2018 at St John’s Church.
· Remembrance Service on Sunday 11th November 2018 – the programme of events would be confirmed shortly.
· Caribbean Evening on 28th November 2018 with all proceedings going to her chosen charity.
Councillor M. Thompson requested that in future his Group Members be given the opportunity to take their seats following the “moment of reflection” and prior to the commencement of Council business.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader took the opportunity to thank all staff, Members and partners for the 50th Birthday Celebrations at Sanders Park, which had been a great success.
Councillor M. Thompson also took the opportunity to thank Councillor M. Buxton as the relevant Ward Councillor for all her hard work.
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 confirmed that a member of the public had asked a question as detailed below:
Ms Julie Woods
Ms Woods asked Councillor P. Whittaker, the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services the following questions:
“I understand the council are in further negotiations with BAM to secure the use of the sports hall at NBHS and that the proposed contract is for a minimum of 38 weeks usage.
1) Will provision include weekend usage?
2) What plans do the Council have should the current negotiations fail?”
Councillor Whittaker responded that he understood a written response to the questions raised had been provided by the Head of Leisure and Cultural Services, but he was happy to provide this information again at this meeting. It was confirmed that the negotiations with BAM would include weekend usage. In respect of the second question Councillor Whittaker advised that no alternative plans were in place as the agreement with BAM was not expected to fail. However, should this happen then the Council would revert to the original agreement made by Council in 2014 when no additional provision for a Sports Hall would be made as it was believed that there was already sufficient provision throughout the District.
Councillor G. Denaro proposed the recommendations in respect of the Constitution Updates and these were seconded by Councillor K. May.
The Leader explained that the attached report was the result of extensive work by the Constitution Review Working Group and had been considered in detail and signed off by that Group. The majority of changes were due to statutory and job title changes. The report also included the Planning Code of Conduct at appendix 2 which had also been considered and agreed by the Group.
a) that the updated Officer Scheme of Delegations be agreed as set out at Appendix 1 of the report; and
b) that the updated Planning Code of Conduct is agreed as set out at Appendix 2 of the report.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 5th September 2018.
Bromsgrove District Plan – Issues and Options Consultation
The recommendations from Cabinet in respect of the Bromsgrove District Plan, Issues and Options Consultation were proposed by Councillor C. B. Taylor and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Taylor took the opportunity to thank Officers for their hard work, together with those Members who had attended the Strategic Planning Steering Group meetings which had helped to form the document being considered. He reminded Members that at this stage this was a review of the District Plan Issues and Options consultation and not a policy document, but merely the start of the process. It was an opportunity for all residents to put forward their views and steer the next stage.
The following areas were discussed:
· Whether the questionnaire would be available in a prominent place on the Council’s website. Councillor Taylor assured Members that he would ensure that this could be easily found and that hard copies would be available in all libraries throughout the District.
· Reference was made to the housing need of Redditch Borough Council (RBC) being re-calculated, which appeared to have reduced the number of houses that was needed. It was therefore questioned whether the site at Foxlydiate which had been agreed as the Redditch overspill could be put to one side and used to meet this Council’s housing needs.
· Councillor Taylor highlighted that under Option 8 within the consultation document there was the option for residents to comment on this matter and asked everyone to encourage residents to respond.
a) that the Council publishes the BDP Review, Issues and Options documentation for the purposes of public consultation, between 24th September and 19th November 2018 inclusive.
The content being
The BDP review Issues and Options Report (Appendix A)
The draft Green Belt Purposes Assessment Methodology (Appendix B)
The draft Site Selection Methodology (Appendix C)
The Sustainability Appraisal (Appendix D)
b) that delegated authority is given to the Head of Planning and Regeneration Services in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, to make any minor technical corrections and editorial changes deemed necessary to aid the understanding of the Issues and Options report prior to final publishing.
Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – Implementation of Provisions
The recommendations from Cabinet in respect of the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – Implementation of Provisions were proposed by Councillor P. J. Whittaker and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Whittaker explained that the report detailed the provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014, specifically highlighting amendments and recommendations made in the updated Home Office statutory guidance which had been released in December 2017.
The report detailed any key changes to the tools and powers made available under the 2014 Act and it also made recommendations regarding delegations to key service areas which would allow the provisions within the Act to be used to maximum effect.
Councillor Whittaker suggested that the ... view the full minutes text for item 45\18
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 5th September 2018 were received for information.
The recommendations in respect of the Business Rates Pool Pilot 2019/20 were proposed by Councillor G. Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. J. May.
Councillor Denaro reminded Members that in 2017 bids were opened up by Central Government for a 100% pilot and that Worcestershire had put forward a bid. Unfortunately on that occasion Worcestershire was unsuccessful. However, Central Government have opened up a second round of pilots for 75% retention and Worcestershire Leaders would like to put forward a bid. There was a deadline of 28th September hence the inclusion of the delegation to the Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Resources in consultation with the Portfolio Holder and Group Leaders, which was along the lines of the agreement previously discussed.
It was acknowledged that this deadline did not give a lot of time and Councillor Denaro confirmed that the Leaders of all seven councils had recently met and agreed in principle to proceed with a bid for a pilot in 2019/20. It had also been agreed that no authority would gain from being in a pilot unless all authorities were at least in the position they would have enjoyed with the 50% retention arrangements, which was the current position for Bromsgrove. It was further agreed in principle that the collective gain from being in a pilot would be invested in district and county services that prevented or reduced the cost of social care. It was important that all seven councils were committed to the pilot application, as it was likely that if one did not want to proceed then the chances of success would be diminished to the point that an application would not be worthwhile. The Treasurers were currently working on how best the pilot could be executed and a number of areas were highlighted which would enable the County Council to work with the districts to support those residents most in need of support.
It had been estimated that the additional business rates retained locally in 2019/20, if the Council was in the pilot compared to current arrangements, would be in the region of £4.5m.
Following presentation of the report, Members discussed a number of areas in more detail, including:
· Members welcomed the proposed investment in adult social care.
· Reference was made to a meeting which some Members understood had taken place and which had involved the Leaders of the non-constituent members of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the elected Mayor of that authority. It was understood that this Council had not been represented at that meeting but that its future role had been discussed. This was a cause for concern for a number of Members.
· The Leader assured Members that he was not aware of this meeting and would make further enquiries. He also confirmed that it was not possible for changes to the membership of WMCA to be made for a further 18-24 months. Councillor May confirmed that Redditch Borough Council was a non-constituent member.
· Concerns that the previous pilot scheme had ... view the full minutes text for item 47\18
Councillor L. C. R. Mallett, Chairman of the Overview and Board asked Councillor C. Bloore to present the report in respect of Hospital Car Parking Charges, as he had taken a lead on the investigation.
Councillor Bloore provided background information and reminded Members that this matter had arisen from a Notice of Motion from Councillor P. McDonald, which Council had agreed to pass on to the Board for further investigation. Councillor Bloore confirmed that a number of meetings had been held where a variety of witnesses had been questioned. It was noted that currently a number of Members of Parliament had put a Private Members’ Bill forward which was along similar lines to those discussed by Members. It was important to note that this did not refer to PFI hospital car parks. Councillor Bloore thanked Councillors Shirley Webb, Allen-Jones and Colella for their support with the investigation.
The recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Board in respect of Hospital Car Parking Charges was proposed by Councillor C. Bloore and seconded by Councillor L. Mallett.
Members made the following comments:
· Members thanked Councillor P. McDonald for bringing this matter forward.
· It was noted that there was a typographical error in the recommendation and it should say NHS Trust and not NHB.
· The Leader advised that there was currently a petition in respect of this matter which had 26k signatures, it needed to reach 100k to trigger a debate and he encouraged everyone to sign this.
· Councillor Shannon commented that he disagreed with the statement at 4.6 of the report, page 124, as he believed that the park and ride service was an excellent one.
RESOLVED that Council write to the Secretary of State to suggest that NHS Trust owned hospital car parks be made free of charge.
Gambling Act 2005 – Review of Statement of Principles
Councillor R. L. Dent, Chairman of the Licensing Committee, proposed the recommendations arising from the meeting of the Committee held on 11th September 2018. These were seconded by Councillor P. Whittaker.
Councillor Dent provided background information in respect of the recommendations and the consultation which had been carried out.
a) that the revised Statement of Principles, as detailed at Appendix 2, be approved; and
b) that the Statement of Principles be published by 31st January 2019.
Animal Establishment Licensing Reforms
Councillor R. L. Dent, Chairman of the Licensing Committee, proposed the recommendations arising from the meeting of the Committee held on 11th September 2018. These were seconded by Councillor P. Whittaker.
Councillor Dent provided background information to these recommendations and the reforms that were being made in relation to animal welfare and the licensing of various animal-related establishments as a result of the new regulations. It was commented that whilst these reforms were welcomed that they did not go far enough in a number of areas, in particular the breeding of dogs.
a) determination of all licensing applications in respect of Animal Welfare
Act 2006 be removed from paragraph 3, Schedule 2, Part II (Matters not Delegated) of the Worcestershire Shared Services Agreement dated 1st April 2016;
b) the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 be added to Schedule 1 Appendix, Part II of the Worcestershire Shared Services Agreement dated 1st April 2016;
c) the following wording be added to Part II “Animal Health and Welfare” section of Appendix 1 – Statement of Partner Service Requirements to Worcestershire Shared Services Agreement dated 1st April 2016; and
d) that the proposed fees and charges, as detailed at Appendix 3, be approved.
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.
As Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling, Councillor B. Cooper presented his annual report. He explained that he been in post as portfolio holder for 18 months. His portfolio covered not only finance but also Customer Access and Financial Support, Legal, Equalities and Democratic Services, Information and Computer Technology, and Emergency Response. Human Resources and Organisational Development had also been added in the summer.
Councillor Cooper thanked Jayne Pickering, Claire Felton, Amanda Singleton, Deb Poole and Sue Hanley and their teams for their contributions to the report and more importantly for their hard work for the Council and continued support to help him gain an understanding of the activities of each department.
Finance took up a large amount of Councillor Cooper’s time as portfolio holder whilst not more important than the other departments, Councillor Cooper advised finance influenced and in many ways exercised control on all activities of the Council. There were 27 people in finance whose time allocation was 37% for Bromsgrove District Council and 63% for Redditch Borough Council. The reason for this disparity was principally because Redditch still had its own housing stock to manage. There were three teams: Accounting, Payroll, and Payments and Insurance. Members were all aware of the financial management of the Council from the reports to Committees, Cabinet and to the full Council.
As discussed at the last meeting of Council, the finance team had closed the 2017/2018 accounts and the external auditors had given their opinion. The Council had a modest underspend and more than met its savings target for the year and there was no reduction in Council services. It is very gratifying that the auditors had not only approved the accounts without qualifications, but had also given an unqualified opinion on Value for Money. Members had been pleased when the chief external auditor had said at the Audit Board meeting in July “BDC is in a good place”. This had been a success not only for the Council’s finance team but reflected well on all the Council’s staff.
Although considerable progress had been made in the Council’s financial governance, as indicated by the Auditors’ opinion this year, the Council could still make improvements with budgeting, identification of savings, monitoring those savings achieved and recognising the effects, if any, of those savings on the Council’s activities and services, business cases must be even more robust. Councillor Cooper was pleased that the Council had agreed in July, to support the implementation of the Enterprise Resource Planning solution which would make these activities much more effective. The systems would begin to be rolled out at the end of this year and be fully operational by April 2020.
It was important because although the Council’s finances were currently very satisfactory, they would become more and more difficult to manage over the years to come, especially in respect of the Negative Revenue Support Grant from 2019-2020 and if there was significant changes to the New Homes Bonus Scheme which could lead to a major reduction ... view the full minutes text for item 50\18
Questions on Notice (to be circulated at the meeting)
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.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Shannon
“Recognising that August can be a difficult time for waste collection, can you please expand on sudden disruption and withdrawal of collection service in recent weeks particularly in the Charford / Aston Fields areas where residents observed normal collection service for the optional garden waste (brown bins). Surely the potentially hazardous grey waste should have been made a priority for collection, with available staff switched to collection of grey bins. Why was this not enacted?”
The Leader explained that several factors had combined to cause the disruption but collection of grey bins had indeed been a priority which enabled clearance of grey backlog within days. By the next set of planned waste collections the problems had been resolved. The Leader thanked the Council’s employees and the crews who had worked incredibly hard over the last two weeks to get things back to the status quo.
From Councillor K. Van der Plank
“With Universal Credit now being rolled out in Bromsgrove, and the widely accepted issues around the delay of payments, and resulting financial hardship of claimants, what plans do the Council have to mitigate against these?”
The Leader responded that there were two funding steams available to members of the community who were facing financial difficulties.
The Hardship Fund was used to support those residents who were finding it difficult to pay their Council Tax. This fund was promoted on the Council’s website and currently there was a budget allocation of approximately £25k per annum received from Worcestershire County Council. Officers considered individual applications to the hardship fund. There was a reserve of approximately £82k remaining in relation to this funding.
The Essential Living fund was a funding allocation to support the Council’s residents who were facing crisis in their financial arrangements. This could be due to benefit delays or suspensions, relationship breakdowns or debts. Individuals were referred to the Financial Support Officers by partners; including DWP, Social Services and the Job Centre. In addition the Council’s officers may identify residents who needed support through their discussions on benefits or other issues.
It was highlighted that staff worked with residents to understand their need and support them in ways to address their current crisis including utility tokens, food and white goods. In addition, residents who were seen to consistently require support were also given additional advice and assistance in managing their finances through the Financial Independence Team and the work the Council did with BDHT. The current reserve for this fund was £58k.
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 P. McDonald:
“With the undisputed evidence that air pollution well below the legal limit causes not only respiratory problems but heart failure and that many areas within our district are only just below the legal limit; that this Council takes the following action.
1. That it calls upon the Government to reinstate the feed-in tariff project which encouraged householders to install solar panels.
2. That it tasks its officers to report to Council on the feasibility of:
· Purchasing/leasing electric vehicles
· Installing electric chargers on local authority land.
· The Installation of solar panels on its properties.
· Working closely with the county council to restructure roads where necessary to reduce pollution.
Residents are quite rightly concerned regarding the levels of pollution and this council has a duty to take the appropriate steps to reduce pollution and protect the health of those it represents.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor P. McDonald and seconded by Councillor S. Shannon.
In proposing the motion Councillor P. McDonald commented that the Council had already responded to public concern and taken action in respect of single use plastics. He now called upon Members to go further still and begin to address the issue of air pollution. He advised Members that this was something which the public was ever increasingly concerned about and impacted on the health of everyone, but in particular those most vulnerable, the young and elderly. He highlighted the impact of pollution from diesel fumes and that there were four deaths each day in the UK which were attributable to poor air quality. It was noted that despite changes in legislation, these had made little difference and that monies spent on fighting claims in the High Court could be better spent in tackling the problems. He highlighted that campaigns frequently told people to “get on their bikes” or walk more, however people were reluctant to do this due to the poor air quality they would be exposed to during these activities. The Council had shown that it can make a difference with the single use plastics campaign and the introduction of water fountains and he encouraged Members to support this motion.
In seconding the motion Councillor Shannon highlighted that the Council should be taking a lead on this matter in order to influence its residents. He believed that many other local authorities across the country already had a scheme in place. It was noted that this Council did not have any electric charging points on its premises and that at the Council’s previous office site there had been solar panels installed. It was disappointing that this had not been the case at Parkside. It was suggested that it could be made a planning condition to include solar panels in any new developments. It was also noted that Bromsgrove had one of the highest levels of car users in Worcestershire and was one of the most congested parts of the county.
Councillor L. Mallett ... view the full minutes text for item 52\18
The confidential minutes of the Council meeting held on 24th July 2018 were submitted.
RESOLVED that the confidential Minutes of the Council meeting held on 24th July be approved as a correct record.
(During consideration of this item Members did not discuss matters that necessitated the disclosure of exempt information. The press and public were therefore not excluded from the debate.)