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To receive apologies for absence
The Chairman invited a representative from St. Basil’s, based at Aston Fields, to give a short presentation on the work the organisation carried out with the young people.
The Chairman held a minutes silence in memory of the late Mrs J. Luck a former Member of the Council. Members and officers stood in silence in tribute to her memory.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor J. Griffiths and it was noted 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.
The Monitoring Officer reminded Members that at the Audit Standards and Governance meeting on 16th July 2015 it was resolved that a dispensations under Section 33 (2) of the Localism Act 2011 to allow all Members to participate in and vote at Council and Committee meetings when considering the setting of the Budget, Council Tax and Members' Allowances. At the same meeting a dispensation to allow Members to participate and vote at Council and committee meetings when considering the adoption of any new or updated Non-Domestic Rates – Discretionary Rate Relief Policy and Guidance affecting properties within the District. This would apply for the purpose of the discussions in respect of the Council Tax Support Scheme later in the agenda.
Councillors C. Bloore and L. Mallett declared an other disclosable interest in respect of Minute No. 89/18 the Motion on Notice for litter pickers. Councillor Bloore clarified that through his Worcestershire County Council divisional funds he had given some funding to Keep Bromsgrove Beautiful. Councillor Mallett clarified that he was also in the process of providing some funding to Keep Bromsgrove Beautiful through his divisional funds.
The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 23rd January 2019 were submitted.
During consideration of the minutes the following areas were raised as a matter of accuracy:
· Councillor M. Thompson asked for it to be recorded that under Minute No 69/18, that the matter had also been discussed at Worcestershire County Council (WCC) and that a number of “dual hatted” Members who had supported the motion at District level they had not done so at County level. It was further clarified that the dual hatted Members form the Labour Group had voted for it on both occasions.
· Members briefly discussed matters which were discussed at both County and District level and whether it was relevant to accept motions which were to be considered at both, as a different decision was often reached at County level. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that this Council considered things in its own right.
· Clarification in respect of the information provided by the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services in respect of the contract with BAM being signed. Minute No. 77/18 and the Motion from Councillor C. Bloore and whether the letter had been sent to the Prime Minster and a copy sent to the local MP. The Leader responded that his understanding was that the matter had, in the first instance, been referred to the Cabinet and a report on the matter would be received by them in due course.
· Councillor Hotham questioned how amendments to the Minutes were recorded and the Monitoring Officer clarified that any amendments would be shown in the next set of minutes received at the following meeting. Councillor Thompson highlighted that if someone was looking at the minutes as a standalone item, they would not be aware that any amendment had been made. The Monitoring Officer further clarified that this was the manner in which it had been agreed to take the minutes of each meeting.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Council held on 23rd January be approved subject to the pre-amble above.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman provided details of the Houseman Commemoration to be held on Tuesday 26th March at 12.30 pm at the statue, followed by refreshments in the Parkside Suite.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Chairman reminded Members that under the Leader’s announcement any questions should be in respect of clarification of items raised by the Leader. Any other matter should be directed to the Leader after the meeting or by email.
The Leader advised that he had received a further response from the Department of Health and Social Care in respect of hospital car parking:
“We have made it very clear that patients, their families and our hardworking staff should not be subjected to unfair parking charges. NHS Trusts are responsible for these charges and ensuring revenue goes back into frontline services and we want to see Trusts coming up with options that put staff, patients and their families first.
While we expect all NHS organisations to follow the published NHS Car Parking Principles, they have the freedom to make decisions on their car parking, including charges to reflect their local situation. If any excess is generated, income generation rules require that it is used to fund clinical services.”
Councillor M. Thompson raised a point of clarification in respect of the closure of the Sports Hall and it was confirmed that this would be addressed under the Portfolio Holder’s Annual Report item.
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 invited Mr M. Worrall, a member of the public, to present his question.
Mr. Worrall explained that he was a Parish Councillor for Alvechurch Parish Council and chaired the Alvechurch Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. At this evening’s meeting Members would be considering the final stage of this process in considering the Plan and formally adopting it. He noted that there were several other Parishes throughout the district who were beginning this process and therefore put the following question to Council.
“I would like to remind members that the Alvechurch Parish Neighbourhood Plan has recently been formally adopted, the first, we hope, of several in the Bromsgrove District. I’d like to thank Mike Dunphy, and his current and former planning colleagues, for their support and encouragement over recent years. The Alvechurch experience showed the benefits of collaborative working and bringing a community along with you. Would members please explain how they will ensure other Parishes are similarly successful?”
Councillor C. B. Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing thanked Mr Worrall for his kind words. He assured him that all Parishes would be treated with the same courtesy that Alvechurch Parish Council had received and the Council was happy to work collaboratively with all those concerned.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 13th February 2019.
Cabinet Recommendations 13th February 2019
Environmental Services Business Cases for Investment in the Domestic Waste Service, Commercial Waste Services and Place Team
Councillor M. Sherrey, Portfolio Holder for Health and Well Being and Environmental Services proposed the recommendations for the Environmental Services Business Cases for Investment in the Domestic Waste Service, Commercial Waste Service and Place Team. These were seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Sherrey explained that officers had drawn up three business cases to outline current pressures on Environmental Services, as well as opportunities for additional income generation.
The business cases reflected each area within Environmental Services and briefly consisted of:
· Commercial Waste – it was explained that having expanded its services significantly over the last two years and generated considerable additional income for the Council, the Commercial Waste Team now required additional investment to support continued growth. This investment was expected to generate additional income that fully balanced out the additional investment from year one, supporting the sustainability of the wider service at best value to the Council’s residents.
· Domestic Waste – Having seen an increase in new housing across the District in the last few years, the current service has expanded within existing resources to support this, but has incurred unsustainable overspends as a result of high Agency costs due to a lack of resilience to cover annual leave and sickness. This lack of resilience eventually resulted in service failure during August/September 2018. In order to address this, the business case sets out the case for additional investment to secure the service without a reliance on Agency staff to cover standard services over the next few years, whilst a full service review is carried out. This would consider how best to deliver the service in a sustainable manner for the future, taking into account increased housing in the district and changes currently being considered by Central Government to what services the Council has to supply to residents, such as a free garden waste service and weekly dedicated food waste collections. Both of these would require significant investment to be provided in addition to the current services.
· Place Teams – the cleaning and grounds maintenance services are carried out by the Place Teams across the District and as with the Domestic Waste, there has been a significant increase in their workload as a result of increased housing and traffic on the roads, which generate more litter and fly tipping. This takes considerable resources to manage and has limited the Council’s ability to deliver the full benefits of Place working, resulting in a more reactive focus to some areas of work and lower standards.
Councillor Sherrey highlighted that the business cases and recommendation had been reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Board and Cabinet had approved all the recommendations as set out in the covering report and business cases attached to the agenda papers.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed a number of areas in more detail, including:
· Members were grateful that ... view the full minutes text for item 84\18
The alternative Budget Proposals from the Independent Alliance were considered under the Medium Term Financial Plan item as detailed in Minute No. 85/18.
The Minutes from the Cabinet meeting held on 13th February were submitted for information and noted by Members.
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.
A request was made and accepted to allow questions to be asked as the report was presented page by page. Councillor P. Whittaker, the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services, Community Services and Worcestershire Regulatory Services, was happy to do this and advised Members that he was not proposing to give a lengthy introduction to his detailed report and if he was unable to answer any questions would be happy to respond outside of the meeting.
Before presenting his annual report Councillor Whittaker provided Members with an update in respect of the Sports Hall. He advised that there had been a number of occasions of trespass and vandalism on the site therefore officers undertook a full health, safety and security assessment last Friday (22nd February 2019). During this review some issues relating to security and health and safety were identified and officers recommended closure of the site to ensure the safety of all users and staff. The issues included limited lighting provision, water ingress and damage to exit and access arrangements. Officers had commenced a programme of installing additional security fencing and hoarding to ensure access to the site was restricted.
It was confirmed that whilst the current casual users of the Sports hall had been contacted by Everyone Active, officers had also asked for a contact list so that they could be contacted to understand their current position. Councillor Whittaker was also able to confirm that in respect of the use of the Sports hall at North Bromsgrove High School, the signed Heads of Terms were with BAM for their sign off and the final contract was also with their legal team.
Councillor P. McDonald asked a question in respect of the new food businesses as detailed on page 35 of the agenda pack. He asked what the procedure was when people moved in to new premises. He was aware that this had happened and if a number of residents had not alerted Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) they would have been unaware of the business. He was particularly concerned that there may be other businesses that did not meet the legal requirements for food businesses which were operating without WRS’s knowledge.
Following discussion, Councillor Whittaker agreed to take this matter up with WRS to get a clear picture of the process in place and to ensure that if there was a gap in that process it would be addressed. Councillor Whittaker agreed to provide Councillor McDonald with the outcome of his findings outside of the meeting.
Councillor Hotham also raised a question in respect of page 35 and the number of premises rated at Level 2 or less in respect of Food Hygiene and what actions were taken to support improvement at these premises. Councillor Whittaker advised that the “scores on the doors” system had been introduced some time ago and aimed to provide users with the information in respect of premises. Those premises wishing to make improvements would be supported by WRS officers and where there ... view the full minutes text for item 87\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.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Colella
“As the Leader stated at the Full Council meeting of 23rd January 2019 that there was to be a joint BDC and WCC Leadership meeting on 25th January in relation to Highways issues and that officers would circulate briefing notes from that meeting to Cabinet members, Group Leaders and the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, can the Leader explain why details of what was discussed at that meeting were not reported to the Cabinet meeting of 13th February, can he confirm briefing notes have indeed been circulated to all relevant members mentioned above and indeed can he now take this opportunity to give a detailed update to Full Council of that meeting?”
The Leader responded that he was surprised that Councillor Colella had not seen the note he had issued on 6th February to all Group Leaders, as it had merely set out procedural matters going forward. Officers would be monitoring the position and recommendations would be made through the Overview and Scrutiny Board and Strategic Planning Group to Cabinet in due course.
Questions submitted by Councillor S. Baxter
“Please can the leader report on the amount of business rates that have been paid for on the Burcot Lane site since the Council vacated the site and what the expected total bill for business rates will be by the time the old council offices are demolished.”
The Leader responded that £320k had been paid in Business Rates with a £45k reduction in the ensuing year.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Shannon
“Has the Leader noticed the current condition of Bromsgrove High Street, after a splendid resurface job carried out a couple of years ago the High St surface is now despoiled with hundreds, possibly thousands of lumps of discarded chewing gum also oil and diesel fuel stains. Worst of all, a large section of the former pristine paving in front of the Specsavers store has been excavated and replaced with poor quality black-top. After several months of this temporary surface sinking, a tripping hazard has developed for pedestrians, some with eye sight issues frequenting this section of the High Street. Can the Leader give notice of any planned cleaning/maintenance schedule for what has now become a rather grubby High Street?”
Councillor K. May, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships responded that she had met with officers from Worcestershire County Council (WCC), officers from this Council and the County Member who represents the Town Centre on 26th February, to discuss the issues that Councillor Shannon had raised and that she had previously noted. WCC were to meet with the utility companies to discuss the standard of their re-instatement work on the High Street and address the issues which had been raised. The Place Team were to introduce a cleaning programme, which Councillor May would be looking at closely.
Question submitted by Councillor R. Jenkins
“With Worcestershire Councils including this Council having been chosen to take ... view the full minutes text for item 88\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. McDonald:
This Council condemns any measures by Worcestershire County Council that would reduce Library services throughout the District. In addition seek assurances from the County Council that no Library will be closed or services cut.
The Motion was proposed by Councillor C. McDonald and seconded by Councillor P. McDonald.
In proposing the Motion Councillor C. McDonald explained that the role of the libraries went much further than simply the loan of books, in many places they had become the hub of the community, a place where a huge range of information could be accessed in a variety of ways. It was often the only place some people were able to go and freely access the internet, particularly those from disadvantaged low income families. Councillor C. McDonald said it may be the only access they had so was a vital part of their education and learning. For those older more vulnerable residents it was a place where they could get help too, whether it be accessing things online, which was in many cases, the only way that some services were accessible.
Councillor P. McDonald told Members that the libraries were much more than a place of learning, for example, many Members held their surgeries for residents there and local groups were able to use the facilities to meet, so the library had become a focal point for the local community. He was concerned that whilst the County Council was holding a consultation, it would result in those hubs of the community being greatly depleted, yet the County Council continued to spend thousands of pounds on other, less worthwhile, projects. They gave young people an opportunity to further their education and were a vital part in the process of being able to better themselves.
The Leader thanked Councillor C. McDonald for the motion and suggested that whilst he and his Group were committed to ensuring that libraries remained open, in Bromsgrove District. The County Council were currently in a period of consultation that would lead the Council to understand what proposals there were for alternative delivery for libraries in the area. He was therefore happy to agree to support the motion if it were amended slightly to the effect that:
“this Council remains committed, where possible, to ensure that all libraries remain open in the Bromsgrove District and that the Leader seek assurances from the County Council that libraries remain open in the District.”
He also assured Councillor McDonald and Members that he was committed to working with the County on this and a myriad of other matters, to ensure that any local provision that may be required to secure the longevity of library services in the District, as has been considered by Worcester City, would be considered fully at a local level.
After consideration Councillor C. McDonald said she was minded to accept the suggested amendment.
On being put to the vote the amendment was carried. ... view the full minutes text for item 89\18