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To receive apologies for absence
At the start of the meeting the Chairman invited students from Chadsgrove School to give a short presentation on the work they carried out.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor L. Mallett.
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 Chairman noted that Councillors M. Sherrey and S. Webb were school governors at Chadsgrove School. However, as this was not a disclosable pecuniary interest they were not required to leave the room whilst the students from the school spoke.
The Minutes of the meeting of Council held on 19th September 2018 were submitted.
During consideration of the minutes Councillor M. Thompson noted that at the previous meeting of Council he had questioned the inclusion of confidential minutes and had requested that a public minute be included to demonstrate that the Council was open and transparent. He requested feedback from the Monitoring Officer on this subject. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that wherever possible Democratic Services produced both a public and a private version of a minute.
Reference was made to minute 51/18 by Councillor S. Shannon who commented that he did not feel he had received an answer to his question at the previous meeting of Council. This question referred to the collection of grey and brown bins and the need to prioritise waste collections. Councillor Shannon expressed concerns that this had not happened during a recent problem with the waste collection service. The Leader advised that grey bin collections were always prioritised.
Councillor M. Thompson noted that, with regard to minute 52/18 and his motion in respect of waste collection services, it had been recorded that there had been a lengthy discussion. Councillor Thompson suggested that this was inaccurate as only the proposer and seconder of the Motion had spoken on the matter.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on 19th September 2018 be approved as a correct record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman thanked all Councillors who had attended the Remembrance Services on 11th November 2018. This had marked 100 years since the end of the First World War, though participants were also remembering those who had died in other conflicts such as World War Two.
Members were advised that the Bromsgrove Carol Concert would be held at St John’s Church on Wednesday 12th December 2018. The Holocaust Memorial Service would subsequently be held on Monday 28th January 2019 starting at 10.00am. Further details about both events would be sent to Members in due course.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader advised that as requested he had written to the Secretary of state for Health and Social Care, the Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP regarding car parking charges for hospitals. The Leader had not yet received a response to this letter and he confirmed that he would pursue the matter further in due course if he did not receive any feedback.
Members were informed that since the previous meeting of Council Councillor P. McDonald had replaced Councillor C. Bloore as a member of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
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 the public on this occasion.
Councillor R. Dent, Chairman of the Licensing Committee, proposed the recommendations arising from the meeting of the Committee held on 12th November 2018. These were seconded by Councillor P. Whittaker.
Councillor Dent provided background information in respect of the recommendations. Members were advised that the purpose of the Statement of Licensing Policy was to provide clarity in relation to how the Licensing Authority would determine applications on the supply of alcohol. The policy would also provide guidance to Members in respect of the decisions that could be taken by Committee.
(a) that the revised Statement of Licensing Policy as detailed at Appendix 2 of the report be approved; and
(b) that the revised Statement of Licensing Policy be published with effect from 1st April 2019.
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 31st October 2018 were received for information.
During consideration of the minutes Councillor P. McDonald commented that paragraph 39/18 of the minutes from that Cabinet meeting referred to funding for the development of the Burcot Lane site. Councillor McDonald expressed concerns that the costs of establishing a housing company would have a negative impact on the Council’s budgetary position. Concerns were also raised about the proportion of affordable housing in Bromsgrove district and he suggested that there needed to be more than the proposed 18 affordable units within the development of the Burcot Lane site. To address this Councillor MacDonald commented that the Council needed to work in partnership with Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT) on the development of the site.
Councillor C. Hotham sought assurances that at least one of the 67 properties that were due to be developed on the Burcot Lane site would be provided to care leavers. The Leader acknowledged that he had noted this request.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 31st October 2018 be noted.
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 Economic Development, Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships, Councillor K. J. May presented her annual report.
During the delivery of her presentation Councillor May highlighted the following points for Members’ consideration:
· The Council had worked in partnership with organisations in the public and private sector on delivering economic growth in Bromsgrove district.
· Peter Brett Associates had undertaken independent research commissioned by North Worcestershire Economic Development Unit (NWEDR) and had found that Bromsgrove had a good track record with start up businesses but more work needed to be undertaken to help businesses grow.
· The Centres Manager worked closely with the businesses in the various town centres in the district to help deliver the Bromsgrove Centres Strategy 2017 – 2020.
· There was a need for a strategic transport assessment to be undertaken for Bromsgrove as this had implications for the local economy.
· There was also a need to enhance infrastructure within the district in order to increase footfall in the town centres and economic development overall.
· There were seven priorities for economic development that would be addressed over the following 12 months.
· Councillor May thanked the Chief Executive, the Interim Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and the NWEDR team for their hard work and support.
· The new Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development would start work in January 2019.
Once the presentation of the report had been delivered Members raised the following matters with the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships:
· The economic development activities led by the Council in previous years and the impact that the new priorities would have on economic development in the district.
· The changes to business rates and the impact that this had had on local businesses. Councillor May advised that the majority of businesses had had no change to their business rates and 16 per cent of the businesses that had been affected by an increase in business rates had been eligible for business rates relief.
· The historic position of Bromsgrove as a dormitory town. Councillor May advised that Bromsgrove needed to adapt as times changed.
· The focus in the Portfolio Holder’s written report on Bromsgrove, with Members noting that residents in locations such as Wythall could not travel to Bromsgrove on public transport and therefore they focused on their communities.
· The need to involve outlying areas in all work on economic development within Bromsgrove district.
· The proposed Strategic Transport Assessment and the timing of this review. Councillor May advised that the proposals in the Wyre Forest District Plan would impact on Bromsgrove and these had emerged since the Local Transport Plan 4 was approved.
· The extent to which all of the actions detailed in the Bromsgrove Centres Strategy 2017 – 2020 were being delivered. Councillor May confirmed that they were all being addressed and the Town Centre Manager could provide further details on request.
· The value of providing support to social enterprises. Councillor May advised that support would be provided to social enterprises where they approach the ... view the full minutes text for item 62\18
Questions on Notice
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 M. Thompson
“What has been the revenue lost from town centre car parks since the opening Lidl and Aldi?”
The Leader responded by advising that Aldi opened on 9th August 2018 and Lidl opened on 11th October 2018. Comparison of 3 months’ figures to October 2018 showed that there was a decrease year on year of approximately £8,000. The largest decrease was in August, although the Leader noted that this might be as a result of a lack of signage or policing on the Aldi site. The Council would continue to monitor those figures closely, alongside the wider economic and commercial factors like new jobs and businesses in the town.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Peters
“Can the Leader of the Council inform me whether any artefacts belonging to Bromsgrove Museum are still in storage at the Council’s premises and, if so, is a charge being levied for such storage?”
The Leader responded by informing Members that the museum had a license with the Council for 3 years which required a nominal fee of £1 per month. This was only ever intended to be a temporary situation. There was no risk to the local authority from an insurance perspective as the requirement was for the Trustees to ensure cover and the Council had expressly excluded any liability for loss or damage to the items in storage. The Leader confirmed that the storage was not causing any difficulties, though the agreement would soon be up for review.
Questions submitted by Councillor S. Shannon
“With news of the dangers of obesity and the diabetes ticking time bomb appearing daily the threat of a collapse of the NHS is emerging as a real possibility. Examining BDC Local Plan Health and Wellbeing Policy sections BDP 25.6 and 25.7 related to % numbers of hot food takeaway shops and distances from schools, parks, or youth centres and recognising that this councils policies, although only ratified in 2017 are nowhere near strong enough to control the siting of hot food takeaway shops close to schools etc.
Does the Leader of the Council agree with me that this Council should examine and modify policy parts BDP 25.6 and 25.7 relating to % numbers of hot food takeaway shops and where they can be sited, this Council needs to play its part in reducing the national obesity and diabetes crisis.”
The Leader referred the answer to the Portfolio Holder for Planning Services and Strategic Housing who responded by explaining that the position in respect of fast food outlets was addressed in planning policy documents. The Strategic Planning Steering Group had been reviewing planning policies and it was suggested that the points raised in Councillor Shannon’s question could be added to the consultation responses along with any other points that Councillor Shannon might want to add.
Question submitted by Councillor R. Jenkins
“In relation to the Issues and Options Public Consultation which Council recently ran from 24th September to 19th November, having spoken ... view the full minutes text for item 63\18
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 C. Hotham:
As local councils come under more and more financial pressure all possible efficiencies/savings must be considered. Across the country some two tier council areas are actively forming unitary authorities which they believe will bring very considerable cost savings.
The motion is:
“BDC will actively engage, through a cross party working group, with the county and other district councils to assess the feasibility and benefit of the formation of one or two unitary authorities for the whole of Worcestershire.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor C. Hotham and seconded by Councillor S. Baxter.
In proposing the motion Councillor Hotham commented that it was important to ensure that local government in Worcestershire was placed on a secure footing whilst delivering good public services. The extent to which a single or two unitary authorities in the county would resolve the financial difficulties facing local government needed to be clarified. Councillor Hotham explained that he was not necessarily advocating the introduction of one or more unitary authorities but he felt that this subject had not been investigated enough to date and it was important to be prepared in case at a later date Worcestershire was placed in a position where one or more unitary authorities would need to be introduced. Worcestershire County Council was aiming to save £32 million and this could have implications for public services moving forward. Councillor Hotham quoted research undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) which had found that significant financial savings could be achieved when unitary Councils were introduced. Members were also asked to note that two-tier local government could be much more confusing for residents than unitary authorities as it was not always clear to local communities which Council delivered which services.
In seconding the motion Councillor Baxter commented that it was important to investigate the potential to introduce a unitary or multiple unitary authorities in Worcestershire in more detail. It would take time to introduce a single or multiple unitary authorities in the county. Bromsgrove District Council’s boundaries were bordered by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Birmingham City Council. In every case the Council Tax they charged their residents for properties was lower than in Bromsgrove district. Councillor Baxter suggested that the public should have a right to a say over whether there continued to be two-tier local government in the area and an explanation as to why two-tier authority working was potentially more expensive than having a unitary authority. There was the potential to make financial savings from replacing the six district Councils and one County Council with a single or multiple unitary authorities.
Councillor G. Denaro noted that having listened closely to the points raised in the motion he would always be willing to engage with any other parties who could help to improve the Council’s efficiency and provision of services to the authority’s customers. The question of unitary authorities had been raised by another Councillor at a recent ... view the full minutes text for item 64\18
Recommendations from the Cabinet
At the start of the debate around this item Members discussed whether there was a need for the recommendations arising from the Cabinet meeting held on 31st October 2018 to be considered in exempt session. The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources explained that the capital costs of the programme were considered to be appropriate to consider in exempt session as these figures would be sensitive when the Council went through any subsequent procurement exercise. However, due to the financial implications involved in establishing the housing company referred to in the papers Councillor P. McDonald suggested that the decision should be considered in a public session of the meeting.
On being put to the vote Members agreed to consider all the information arising from the Cabinet meeting on 31st October 2018 in open session.
The recommendations detailed in the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 31st October 2018 were proposed by Councillor B. Cooper. These were seconded by Councillor C. Taylor.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Cooper noted that the Cabinet had resolved various matters related to this project, including the approval of the indicative plans and projected financial outcomes for the development project and the agreement in principal to set up a housing company to manage the retained housing stock. The Cabinet was asking Council to approve the necessary financial measures for the scheme. The total development costs were estimated to be £8.072 million. The Council proposed to fund this with the £1 million grant from Homes England and with £7.072 million borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB). By agreeing to these financial recommendations, Council would allow the start of this project, with the aim to deliver at least 61 homes in Bromsgrove, and to create an income stream for Bromsgrove District Council from the 37 market rental properties that would be retained by the housing company.
During consideration of these recommendations Councillor P. McDonald proposed an amendment to the recommendations. This amendment was seconded by Councillor M. Thompson.
The amendment proposed the following:
“Action in respect of the Burcot Lane site should be placed on hold for 8 weeks to allow for meaningful discussions with Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT).”
In proposing the amendment Councillor McDonald noted that the Council had already borrowed money in the past and the proposals to introduce a capital programme of £8.072 million would extend the Council’s debt. Councillor McDonald commented that a board of directors would be required for the new housing company and he expressed concerns about who would be appointed to the board. The land at the Burcot Lane site provided an opportunity for the Council to develop much needed social housing. There were more houses in Bromsgrove district available for sale at a market rate than social housing and there was less affordable housing available in the district than in the rest of the county.
In discussing the amendment Councillor Hotham commented that a number of Members had not received the exempt papers ... view the full minutes text for item 65\18
Confidential Cabinet Minutes 31st October 2018
That the confidential minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 31st October 2018 be noted.