Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions
Contact: Amanda Scarce Jess Bayley
To receive apologies for absence
At the start of the meeting the Vice Chairman advised that since the previous meeting of Council former Councillor, Mr Colin Wilson, had passed away. Members paid their respects to Mr Wilson by observing a minute’s silence. Councillor P. McDonald subsequently paid tribute to Mr Wilson, noting that he had chaired the Personnel Committee during his time serving as a Councillor and he had developed a good relationship with staff and the trade unions. Mr Wilson had been well respected, approachable, devoted to his family and had worked hard to represent the people of Rubery.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors S. Baxter, C. Bloore, J. Griffiths, C. Hotham, S. Peters, C. Spencer and L. Turner. Members were also advised that Councillor R. Jenkins would be a little late and would need to leave the meeting early.
In the absence of the Chairman the Vice Chairman, Councillor M. Webb, chaired the meeting.
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.
Councillors L. Mallett and M. Sherrey declared other disclosable interests in respect of minute no. 33/18 due to their positions as trustees of the Basement Project, which worked to prevent youth homelessness. As they had no pecuniary interest in the item they remained present during the discussions thereon.
The minutes of the meeting of Council held on Wednesday 13th June 2018 were submitted. A small number of points for clarification were raised during consideration of these minutes:
· A typographical error was identified at Minute No 16/18, in respect of the spelling of the Medium Term Financial Plan.
· The minutes recorded at Minute No 17/18 that Councillor M. Webb had commented that he believed this Council was in a better financial position than many others. Councillor M. Thompson noted that Councillor C. Bloore had made particular comment in respect of the financial position and the impact of the negative grant and borrowings, and asked for his comments to be included in the minutes.
· In respect of Minute No 19/18 Councillor M. Thompson questioned whether clarification had been provided in respect of the letter in the local paper from the Governors of North Bromsgrove High School (NBHS) which indicated that use of the school’s sports hall for 48 weeks had never been an option.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on Wednesday 13th June 2018 be approved as a correct record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
Members were advised that there were no announcements from the Chairman or Head of Paid Service on this occasion.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader advised that the Council had received a positive response to the authority’s submission of a bid to Homes England for help with redeveloping the site at Burcot Lane. Preliminary work was now underway between the Council and Homes England to review viability and to discuss the next steps for the land. There was still a considerable amount of work to be done before any offer could be finalised but the Leader advised that he would keep Council fully appraised on further developments as and when they occurred.
This progress moved the Council forward in terms of the local authority’s potential to access the Accelerated Construction Programme. The programme would allow housing schemes to be constructed much more quickly using innovative construction methods and a wider range of builders. In particular, small and medium-sized companies that were often locally based could be utilised.
Councillor M. Thompson noted that at the previous meeting of Council a Motion had been considered which called for the Council to build and maintain its own Council Housing stock. Whilst this motion had been lost the Leader was asked whether the housing that would be developed at the Burcot Lane site would be Council Houses. The Leader advised that the Council would need to work with Homes England on their requirements whilst still aiming to meet the needs of local residents.
Councillor P. McDonald raised concerns that expenditure on senior management of both the Council and a future Housing Company would divert funds from investment in additional housing. However, Members were advised that Homes England would not be minded to grant the Council funding if it was to reintroduce a Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
Councillor Mallett asked the Leader to comment on speculation in the local press that a fee was due to be introduced for parking at Sanders Park. The Leader responded by advising that he was not aware of any plans to charge for parking at Sanders Park.
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 Vice Chairman advised that no questions or petitions had been received from the public on this occasion.
Change to Committee Membership
Council is asked to note the following change to the Membership of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee:
Councillor P. McDonald replaces Councillor L. Mallett.
Council was asked to note that Councillor P. McDonald would be replacing Councillor L. Mallett as a member of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee.
RESOLVED that the change to the membership of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee be noted.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 7th March, 30th May and 27th June 2018.
Air Quality Management Area – Kidderminster Road, Hagley
The recommendation from Cabinet in respect of the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Hagley was proposed by Councillor P. Whittaker and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Whittaker noted that the item had been considered by Council on a number of occasions. The AQMA on Kidderminster Road in Hagley had been declared in February 2010. Since then the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels had been monitored and Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) had observed that average levels of NO2 had fallen below the national objectives that required the adoption of an AQMA. Members were advised that WRS would continue to monitor air pollution in the location, should the AQMA be revoked, and this would focus on a number of areas that had been highlighted by Councillor S. Colella. Council had previously agreed to postpone making a decision on this subject to provide time for the Overview and Scrutiny Board to consider figures arising from the monitoring process in 2017. The Board had considered this information at a recent meeting and therefore it was suggested that a decision could now be taken.
Whilst discussing this item Members debated a number of areas in more detail:
· The work of the Overview and Scrutiny Board to review this matter. Councillor Colella raised concerns that limited information about meaningful cost options or about the potential to use mobile NO2 monitoring equipment had been provided for the consideration of the Board.
· The impact that the recent period of sustained hot weather might have on air quality in Hagley.
· The potential for WRS to undertake a detailed survey of air quality using mobile monitoring equipment.
· The need for WRS to engage constructively with Worcestershire Highways Department in relation to air pollution.
· The congestion on the main roads in Hagley and the impact that this had on air pollution.
· The extent to which the figures that had been provided during monitoring of the air quality by WRS could be considered to have scientifically proved there was a trend towards an improvement in air quality in the area.
· The impact that poor air quality could have on the health and wellbeing of residents living in Hagley and the responsibility of the Council in relation to public health.
· The recent announcement by the Government of a new Clear Energy Strategy which would require local authorities to make numerous changes, and the investment to address this that might be available for AQMAs.
During consideration of this item Councillor S. Colella proposed an amendment to the recommendation. This proposal was seconded by Councillor K. Van Der Plank.
The amendment proposed the following:
Bromsgrove District Council should not revoke the Hagley AQMA but instead should do the following:
a) procure mobile NO2 monitoring equipment to monitor air quality;
b) carry out regular surveys of air quality across the district; and
c) WRS should engage regularly with Worcestershire Highways Department.
Members discussed the proposed amendment in some ... view the full minutes text for item 8\18
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 27th June 2018 were received for information.
During consideration of these minutes Councillor M. Thompson requested clarification in respect of Minute No. 12/18 the Alvechurch Parish Neighbourhood Plan. In the minutes it was noted that technical support had been provided by the Planning Department to Alvechurch Parish Council for this work at a cost of £5,000 and a further £20,000 would be awarded should a referendum be launched in respect of the plan. Councillor Thompson questioned why these funds were required and whether the costs could be met by the Parish Council.
Councillor G. Denaro explained that the £20,000 towards the costs of a referendum would be provided by the Government if needed, though he undertook to provide a more detailed response in writing.
Councillor S. Colella, Chairman of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee, proposed the recommendations arising from the meeting of the Committee held on 23rd July 2018. These were seconded by Councillor R. Laight.
Members were advised that the external auditors had issued unqualified opinions in respect of both the Council’s accounts and in relation to the Value for Money (VfM) opinion. This represented significant progress after a number of years in which the Council had received qualified opinions for these areas. The Council was in a financially sustainable position, though there remained a number of financial challenges moving forward. The valuable work of the Finance and Budget Working Group in terms of helping the Council to reach this position with its finances had been recognised. Councillor Colella thanked the Executive Director of Finance and Resources and the Finance team for their hard work, together with the members of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee.
In seconding the recommendations Councillor R. Laight congratulated Councillor Colella on his appointment as the Chairman of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee. Councillor Laight also highlighted that the external auditors had commented that the Council was on a sound financial footing.
Councillor B. Cooper also paid credit to the Finance Team and praised the contribution of the Finance and Budget Working Group. Members were advised that the external auditors had reported that the Council was in a good place financially and was solvent. However, whilst the Council had a significant amount in balances this would not last forever.
Councillor M. Thompson noticed that the focus of the auditors was on the Council’s book keeping in respect of the accounts. The auditors were not, however, required to review what the Council chose to invest in. The Council was also borrowing funds and would soon need to pay funding back to the Government in the form of the Negative Revenue Support Grant.
(1) the Council approves the Statement of Accounts 2017/18, including the Accounting Policies provided at pages 25 to 35 of the report; and
(2) the Council approves the draft letter of representation as included in Appendix 2 of the covering report.
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 Planning and Strategic Housing, Councillor C. Taylor presented his annual report. Councillor Taylor thanked officers working in the Planning and Strategic Housing Departments for their hard work.
Following the presentation of the report Members questioned Councillor Taylor on a number of points:
· The levels of homelessness in the district and whether these were an appropriate indicator of the condition of the local housing market.
· The Planning Policy requirements for developers to build up to 40 per cent of affordable properties on housing developments in the district.
· The recent appointment of the Chairman of the Planning Committee and the reasons for his absence on the date the appointment was made. Councillor Taylor suggested that this question needed to be directed to the Chairman of the Planning Committee.
· The assessment of the Council’s Planning Department undertaken by an external organisation and the Portfolio Holder’s view of this. Councillor Taylor requested this question in writing and agreed to respond in writing.
· The types of properties that required action from Planning Enforcement Officers and the types of enforcement cases that could be closed. Councillor Taylor explained that enforcement action could be taken in a variety of circumstances; he requested further information and agreed to respond in writing.
· The Council’s relationship with Worcestershire County Council’s Highways Department in relation to the planning process and the potential for funding to be received back from the County Council in relation to this. Councillor Taylor explained that the authority was in discussions with the County Council about this matter.
· The attendance of Worcestershire County Councillor K. Pollock at an Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting some months previously and the delay in providing the Board with the information that had been requested during the meeting.
· The latest report from Mott MacDonald, which commented on the A38 and referred to works being undertaken to widen the footbridge.
· The costs of the work undertaken by Mott MacDonald. Councillor Taylor commented that he was confident there were sufficient funds in the Planning Department’s budget to cover these costs. Councillor Taylor also agreed to respond in writing to questions about the Council’s relationship with the Highways Department.
· The request that had been received from full Council for the authority to work with Mott MacDonald moving forward.
· The progress that had been made in terms of providing more affordable and family homes in the district. Councillor Taylor advised that a number of affordable properties had been built in recent years, though there remained room for improvement. In relation to family housing the Council was aiming to have a mix of large and small houses.
· The approach taken by Birmingham City Council to providing affordable housing to residents. Councillor Taylor advised that up to 35 per cent of housing in Birmingham needed to be affordable, though the proportion sometimes fell once viability studies were undertaken.
· The proportion of social housing and genuinely affordable housing in the district. Councillor Taylor agreed to provide a written set of statistics for information.
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 R. Jenkins
“The McCarthy and Stone development Park Road, Hagley required an infrastructure improvement, namely a public footway, to be installed as a specific planning condition of planning approval being granted by this Council in 2014.
The footway was required to be open to the public before the first occupation (which was in December 2015) and the intention of the public footway was for wider community use and it gives direct pedestrian access from the 192 homes Wychbury Fields and 77 homes Wychbury Lawns developments to local schools, public transport and the village centre and shops.
Question. Can the Portfolio Holder for Planning give a full explanation as to why the footway has remained unopened for public use for at least the 31 months since it should have opened, including how soon after December 2015 the Planning department first took action to remedy the breach.
Also how the Planning department's actions to resolve this issue have complied with its own Enforcement policy, and also state on what date the public footpath will finally open.
In addition, as this is a long standing breach of a planning condition it continues to deny a public facility to many hundreds of people, including being an obstacle to the encouragement of people to walk and/or cycle, use public transport and a healthier lifestyle.
Whilst the breach continues does this place the Council in contravention of policies of its own current adopted Local Plan, namely Strategic Objective SO6 (encouraging walking and cycling), BDP12 (8.96) Sustainable Communities, BDP16 (8.132, 8.133) Sustainable Transport and BDP25 (8.247) Health and Well Being? If so what redress is there and to whom?”
As the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing, Councillor C. Taylor responded that officers had been working with Worcestershire County Council with the aim of opening up the footpath. However, the layout of the footpath caused complications, which meant that the Highways Department was unwilling to adopt the footpath due to the potential costs involved. McCarthy was aware of its responsibilities and as soon as they responded to the Council Councillor Taylor agreed to notify Councillor Jenkins.
Councillor Jenkins expressed concerns that the answer provided had not addressed her question and she requested a full response in writing to all of the points raised in her question. Councillor Taylor advised that he would ask the Development Control Manager to provide a detailed written response.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Colella
“The Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting planned for 30th July has been cancelled due to lack of business. The substantive item on the agenda was to have been the Transport Planning Review draft report, but this report is still awaited from WCC and therefore the report will not be ready. A letter from the Chairman has been sent to WCC chasing up the outstanding information. The next planned meeting of the Board will be 3rd September.
This is totally unacceptable raising significant concerns as regards the willingness and cooperation of WCC in ... view the full minutes text for item 12\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 S. Colella.
"This motion calls
on the Leader to formally withdraw from the
In considering the motion Councillor Colella requested that the Leader provide an update in respect of the LEPs.
The Leader explained that the government had recently published a report in respect of LEPS. This report outlined requirements which stipulated that LEPs should no longer overlap in terms of the areas that they covered. The Chairmen of the LEPs would be required to meet to discuss how to resolve this issue, including the Chairmen of Worcestershire LEP and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. A decision would need to be taken by the end of September in relation to this matter, though would not come into effect until 2020.
Councillor Colella commented that he would be keen for full Council to have a chance to consider which LEP the Council would remain a member of moving forward.
Based on the update provided, Councillor Colella withdrew the motion.
Members considered the following notice of motion, submitted by Councillor S. Webb.
· Of the 6 district councils in Worcestershire, 4 councils currently have a space for prayer and reflection. Since 2015, the right of Councils to decide to hold prayers has been enshrined in law.
· A space for prayers and reflection gives an opportunity to welcome different communities and faiths into the heart of local government in Bromsgrove, and sends a powerful message to all communities that they are welcome here.
· That it is important to make local democracy as open and inclusive as possible, with a role for every faith community and none. Council emphasises that including a space for reflection and prayer is an opportunity to allow all faiths and none to play a role in local government, not to appear to subscribe to one faith in particular, and those who do not wish to participate in a prayer or thought for the day have no obligation to do so.
· To introduce a space for prayers and reflection as a part of Full Council meetings at the beginning. Council takes this opportunity to welcome all faiths and none to play a role in local government in Bromsgrove, and resolves to write to representatives of different faiths and nonreligious local figures to ask if they would like to participate.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor S. Webb and seconded by Councillor R. Laight.
In proposing the motion Councillor Webb commented that Councils that practised prayers and moments of reflection across the country often chose to have a rotating series of local faith representatives play a part in the Council’s business from week to week. This provided a chance to open the doors of local government to representatives of all communities so that members of the public could be involved. Prayers would provide an opportunity to welcome ... view the full minutes text for item 13\18
To consider, and if considered appropriate, to pass the following resolution to exclude the public from the meeting during the consideration of item(s) of business containing exempt information:-
"RESOLVED: that under Section 100 I of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, the public be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it/they involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act, as amended, the relevant paragraph of that part, in each case, being as set out below, and that it is in the public interest to do so:-
RESOLVED that under S.100 I of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following matters on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12 (A) of the said Act, as amended:
This paragraph is:
Subject to the “public interest test”, information relating to Paragraph 3 – financial or business affairs.
Minute 37/18 – Future Provision of the Council’s Core HR and Finance Systems.
Recommendation from the Cabinet meeting held on 27th June 2018
Future Provision of the Council’s Core HR and Finance System
The recommendation from Cabinet in respect of the future provision of the Council’s Core HR and Finance system was proposed by Councillor B. Cooper and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Cooper explained that over the last few years, weaknesses had been identified in the financial management, planning and forecasting capabilities of the systems that were used by the Council. It had been reported by officers, by external and internal audit, and more recently within the Corporate Peer Challenge, that the Council’s finance systems did not enable the authority to make decisions based on accurate, timely or easily retrievable information. This would be increasingly important if the Council was to meet future challenges in the commercial environment.
Councillor Cooper commented that there were a significant number of manual processes that were undertaken in payroll, payments and HR to ensure that data could be accessed and reported on by officers and external partners. Furthermore there were no seamless links between systems and information had to be manually transferred between the systems. This could cause potential data issues when considering consistent and reliable information. Councillor Cooper expressed the view that it was worrying that managers were unable to see their budgets on the existing financial systems and had to rely on spreadsheets to undertake budget monitoring. This could lead to a lack of ownership and accountability, and to poor forecasting and financial monitoring.
The Council’s contract with the provider of the existing finance system was coming to an end so Councillor Cooper suggested that it was an excellent time to look at the wider back office systems and improve the core services of ICT, HR, and Finance, including the general ledger, payroll, payments and cash receipts.
· To continue as at present with existing systems.
· To implement the best system for each function, but this would not lead to integration of systems.
· To implement an Enterprise Resource Planning solution (ERP) (an integrated collaborative system).
· To partner with a Local Authority that was using an ERP solution.
· To outsource services.
Officers had concluded that an ERP system would provide a flexible, integrated solution for the Council, and this had been supported by the Cabinet.
Councillor P. McDonald questioned the impetus for reviewing the systems used by the Council and for deciding to invest in a new integrated system. Councillor Cooper advised that this was due to an emerging realisation that these systems were not fit for purpose. Councillor McDonald also requested clarification about the length of time since the Council had last invested in new systems for HR, finance and cash receipting and the costs of these systems. Members were advised that over £8 million had been invested in various IT systems over a period ... view the full minutes text for item 15\18