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To receive apologies for absence
The Chairman invited Ms. P. Tansell, Chairman of the Bromsgrove Society to give a short presentation on the work of the organisation.
Apologies for absence were received form Councillors C. Allen-Jones and J. Griffiths. It was noted Councillor S. Colella would need to leave the meeting at 7.00 pm.
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 declared an other disclosable interest in respect of Councillor C. Bloore’s notice of motion as his wife was a GP and also under the notice of motion from Councillor S. Colella as he was a private landlord.
The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 27th February 2019 were submitted.
During consideration of the minutes the following areas were raised as a matter of accuracy:
· Councillor Thompson requested that on page 9 the word rhetorical be removed as he had expected to receive responses to the questions he had raised.
· On page 17 Councillor Thompson said there had been a number of other questions asked which were not recorded. However, he had not received notification from the Portfolio Holder in respect of the meaning of MATES. The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture, Environmental and Regulatory Services confirmed that this stood for Multi Agency Tasking Enforcement Strategy.
· Councillor B. Cooper advised that in respect of the question from Councillor S. Baxter detailed on page 18 of the minutes, he had responded to the question on behalf of the Leader.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Council held on 27th February 2019 be approved as a true record, subject to the pre-amble above.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman advised that she had two announcements to make; the first was in respect of her attendance at the Young Enterprise Showcase event, with the winner going through to the County final on 9th May 2019 to be held at County Hall.
The second event was her annual civic dinner which would take place at Grafton Manor on 12th April with all proceeds going to her chosen charity, Bosom Friends Cancer Care.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Chairman reminded everyone that under the Leader’s announcements any questions should be in respect of clarification of items raised by the Leader. Any other matters should be directed to the Leader separately, and he has indicated he is happy to respond to these outside of the meeting, either by phone or email.
The Leader took the opportunity to thank all current Councillors, who were not standing in the May elections. He thanked them on behalf of the Council for giving up their time over the last four years to support this Council in carrying out its duties to the residents.
Councillor M. Thompson echoed the Leader’s sentiments and also took the opportunity to suggest that the Leader may wish to provide an update in respect of the recent incident at the former council offices in Burcot Lane. The Leader confirmed that this was the subject of a Police enquiry and as soon as he had further information he would advise Members accordingly.
Councillor C. Bloore also asked if it was appropriate to suggest at this point that consideration should be given to allow Members to ask supplementary questions. The Leader advised that this would be considered at the next meeting of the Constitution Review Working Group.
The Leader advised that this was a record of the Urgent Decision that was made in relation to an incorrect title of one of the precepting bodies. Officers had initially included the name ‘Warwickshire and West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner’ but the decision revised this to purely say Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia.
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.
Members were advised that there were no questions or petitions from members of the public on this occasion.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 13th March and 27th March 2019.
Any recommendations in respect of 27th March will be tabled at the meeting.
Cabinet Recommendations 13th March 2019
Finance Monitoring Quarter 3 Report
The recommendations from Cabinet in respect of the Finance Monitoring Quarter 3 Report were proposed by Councillor B. Cooper and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Cooper advised this report outlined the Council’s financial position at the end of quarter 3 in December 2018. He commented that the Council was well on target to achieve a comfortable underspend for the full year. There were four financial matters relating to this report which needed Council’s approval.
The first matter was in respect of £120k which had been earmarked for replacement parking machines, and which currently sat in the vehicle replacement programme budget. Council was asked to approve a virement of this into its own budget in 2018/19. This was an accounting exercise to aid clarity.
Councillor K. May confirmed that the current machines were due to be replaced and that a review was being undertaken of all machines, which included their location and how residents paid for car parking.
The second was in respect of increased grant funding received from the government for Disabled Facilities Grants, following the Budget announcement in Dec 2018. Council was asked to approve an increase in the 2018/19 capital budget of £102k for the Disabled Facilities Grant budget.
Councillor C. Hotham raised concerns that the funds for Disabled Facilities Grants seemed to be increasing and there was an urgent need for these funds to be spent.
The third asked Council to approve an increase of £390k in the 2018/19 capital budget for Bromsgrove combined footpath and cycleway network. The money had come from a grant from Worcestershire County Council.
The final recommendation was in respect of the existing sports hall, which was closed last month as it was no longer usable due to health and safety issues. The background to this was detailed in para 6.4 of the report. Members were reminded that they had agreed last July to release £734k for its demolition. The work had been put out to tender and the successful tender in terms of price and quality was for £1.05m, which was £346k more than was allocated in the budget. The reasons for the higher costs were outlined in para 6.4.2 of the report. Council is asked to approve an increase in the 2019/20 capital budget of £346k for the demolition of the Dolphin Centre including the sports hall and carrying out of associated car park work. It was confirmed that of the £346k, £202k was to be funded from capital receipts and £144k from balances.
Councillor M. Thompson asked if the recommendations could be taken individually rather than en bloc, which was agreed. He further suggested that the figures in respect of the demolition of the Sports Hall simply confirmed what had been discussed at previous meetings in that the option of either building a new Sports Hall or refurbishing the current one should have been the preferred option. He also questioned why this increased ... view the full minutes text for item 97\18
The Minutes from the Cabinet meetings held on 27th February and 13th March 2019 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.
Councillor M. Sherrey, the Portfolio Holder for Health and Well Being and Environmental Services advised Members that she did not intend to present her report in detail, but was happy to respond to questions and would take the report page by page.
Members discussed a number of areas within the report in detail and raised the following questions:
· Whether the Portfolio Holder felt that the Council was taking its role as Corporate Parenting role seriously enough and whether training should be made mandatory. Councillor Sherrey was in agreement with this and highlighted that training had been arranged but there had been a very disappointing attendance at these sessions.
· The income made from the Lifeline service and whether this was appropriate or should the cost of the service be reduced. The Portfolio Holder confirmed that any surplus made from the scheme was reinvested in the service.
· Whether the income made was solely from the Cannock Chase contract and whether the amount detailed was the overall income or just the portion for this Council.
· In respect of the section on young people, Members felt it would have been more useful to have received more data and outcomes of the services referred to in order to ensure that they were being of benefit to all concerned.
· Members were disappointed that there was no reference to the good work that was being carried out by a number of parishes in respect of dementia friendly communities. It was acknowledged that much of this work was being carried out by volunteers.
· The accessibility of the new leisure centre by the more vulnerable groups and whether this was acceptable.
· Whether there should have been reference to the failing services at Worcestershire County Council and this being the reason why there had been changes to the services detailed in the report. Particular reference was made to the Adult Social Care Services and the services provided for young people.
· No mention of sustainable travel, air quality or the grant for electric charging points – it was noted that air quality came under the portfolio of Councillor P. Whittaker.
· Whether electric charging points would be made available in all car parks in order to encourage residents to choose sustainable modes of transport. Councillor Sherrey confirmed that this was at the early stages but she was hopeful that they would be rolled out to car parks as a later date.
· Councillors C. Bloore and L. Mallett shared their disappointment that there was no reference to holiday hunger or the Active Kitchen scheme, which had been discussed at a previous Council meeting, or the causes of this, including the changes to the benefit system.
· Data in respect of those that attended the Active Kitchen sessions. Councillor Bloore advised Members that this scheme had been well publicised and the relevant Portfolio Holders had been quoted in the local press about the scheme. He felt that this should have been included within the report as it had an important role to play in the ... view the full minutes text for item 99\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 M. Thompson
“There has been an increase in drivers using areas of the town as race tracks. Will the leader - or the appropriate portfolio holder - raise this as an issue at the next meeting of Safer Bromsgrove. Nothing - not even time - can heal the wounds made by dangerous drivers and I hope he will support me in this endeavour.”
The Leader responded that this matter would be raised at the next meeting of Safer Bromsgrove and he would support Councillor Thompson in this endeavour.
Questions submitted by Councillor M. Buxton
“The hoarding around the Market Hall is an increasingly unattractive view in the town. If work is not going to start on this site any time soon could the Council consider improving the look of the area by organising an Art competition for local Schools to paint the hoardings and brighten the area?”
Councillor K. May, the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships responded to Councillor Buxton’s question. In so doing she took the opportunity to say she had enjoyed working with Councillor Buxton and advised that the current agreement in respect of this site was coming to an end and she was looking at a number of improvements to the area including ‘meanwhile’ use of the site in order to brighten up the area.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Baxter
“Following the lengthy debate at the last Council meeting on litter picking which highlighted the effort that our community volunteers put into trying to keep our streets clean and tidy, I was very pleased to see that Bromsgrove has been awarded a Government ‘Clean up our high street’ grant of £17,108.
According to the government press release:
‘Councils in partnership with existing community groups will be able to use this one-off funding to support volunteers. They will be able to buy tools such as litter pickers, gloves and brushes and provide training for residents on how to remove graffiti or tackle fly-tipping, as well as organise events to encourage more families to get involved’.
Please can the portfolio confirm that this money will be spent on items as described above to support the work of our community groups and that the ‘Adopt An Area To Keep Bromsgrove Tidy’ scheme is being funded separately to recognise the work that they do.”
Councillor M. Sherrey, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing and Environmental Services responded to Councillor Baxter’s question and advised Members that the Adopt an Area scheme was being funded from existing budgets and proposals were being drawn up in respect of projects to be funded by the Government Grant.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Webb
“Please could the leader give an update on Bromsgrove’s position regarding libraries following a request for assistance from Worcestershire County Council.”
The Leader had been advised by the County Council that there were no libraries within Bromsgrove District that were under fear of closure in the next ... view the full minutes text for item 100\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.
Action against Knife Crime
Members considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor L. Mallett:
“Council notes the recent triple stabbing incident over the Birmingham border in Northfield, as well as incidents in our District and the growing rate of knife crime across the UK.
Council believes that key to tackling knife crime is integrated working across services including the police, education, health and youth services. Council is concerned about the impact of cuts to youth services and policing upon the ability to tackle this growing problem.
Council calls on the Leader and Cabinet to:
a) Write to Sajid Javid and the PCC to ask them to address Council on the issue of knife crime and police funding
b) To reaffirm our funding for youth projects in Bromsgrove and to encourage our partners to support knife crime reduction programmes.
c) To call on Worcestershire County Council to reinstate funding for publicly funded youth services in the District, and to support initiatives in education to keep knives out of our schools. “
The Motion was proposed by Councillor L. Mallett and seconded by Councillor C. Bloore.
In proposing the Motion Councillor Mallett firstly, confirmed that he was a trustee of a local youth charity, but did not believe that this was an interest which needed to be declared. He went on to highlight that there were hundreds of young people who had lost their lives from the growing knife crisis. Statistics showed that this was a crime, which had been on the rise and since 2015 had almost doubled to 40,000 per annum. This was a serious issue and he hoped that Members could reach a consensus as they had the ability to be able to do something about the growing problem. He believed that the cuts at both national and County Council level had impacted on this, in particular with the cuts to youth provision. The library cuts would further impact on the services, as many libraries were also used as a meeting place for many members of the community. The reduction in early intervention services had also played its part in isolating those in most need of support. The issue had been compounded by the reduction of Police officers, whilst it was acknowledged that the Police and Crime Commissioner was hoping to put more Police on the streets, this would in reality only take the County back to its position in 2010 before the cuts had begun to take effect. There had been a drastic cut in the number of youth workers and a clear link had been shown between the cuts and an increase in the level of crime.
Councillor Mallett went on to make reference to the recent knife attack in Northfield which was on the board with the District and that there had been arrests in Bromsgrove for possession of knives and that it was likely that there would soon be an incident where someone was injured in Bromsgrove if action was not taken soon. ... view the full minutes text for item 101\18