Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday 25th October 2023 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions

Contact: Jess Bayley-Hill 

No. Item


To receive apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor D.G. Stewart.


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 H. Jones declared an other interest in agenda item no. 14i, minute number 54\23, Recommendations from Cabinet, Equal Opportunities Annual Report, in relation to the Small Grants Scheme, as she was a leader of a scout group which had been awarded a grant.


The following Councillors declared an other interest in agenda item 14iii, minute number 54/23, Upgrading of Sewage Treatment Plants, as local members:

Councillors K. May, S.T. Nock and P. Whittaker – Frankley Green

Councillors K. Taylor and S. Webb (as County Councillors) – Dodford and Tutnall.






To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 20th September 2023 pdf icon PDF 230 KB


The minutes from the Council meeting held on 20th September 2023 were submitted for Members’ consideration.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 20th September 2023 be approved as a true and accurate record.


To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service


The Chairman read the following statement:


Group leaders and myself, as Chairman, have come together to express our deep sadness and horror at the ongoing events in the Middle East. As advocates of democracy, we firmly believe in and support the universal right of all people to live in safety, security, and freedom.


We recognise the immense loss of life suffered by both Palestinians and Israelis, who are just like us, ordinary civilians caught in the midst of this conflict. It is heartbreaking to witness the devastating impact these events have had on their lives, forever altering their futures.


Both in our prayers and our thoughts we call for an immediate end to the violence and urge all parties involved to engage in peaceful dialogue and negotiations. It is only through understanding, empathy, and a commitment to finding common ground that a lasting solution can be achieved.


Let us stand together in solidarity, supporting the rights and aspirations of all people around the world. May peace, justice, and compassion prevail in this troubled region, and may the innocent lives lost never be forgotten.




To receive any announcements from the Leader


The Leader welcomed Councillor S Baxter as Leader of the 2023 Independents Group and thanked her predecessor, Councillor C. Hotham for his contribution.


The Leader referred to working arrangements and thanked members for their participation in Cabinet Surgeries, which were a valuable opportunity to understand local and wider community issues and brief on forthcoming Council wide issues.  She hoped that the introduction of the Cabinet Advisory Groups would provide better opportunities to manage issues of greatest concern to members.


The Leader updated members about the decision to provide financial and practical help and support by the Council to the Artrix Holding Trust following the closure of the venue.  Currently the Holding Trust was working with Solihull Council to provide them with temporary accommodation and council staff were supporting this activity.  The Leader thanked those involved for their work in this regard.  If members had queries, the Leader suggested they direct them to the Artrix Holding Trust in the first instance.





To receive comments, questions or petitions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 180 KB

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 welcomed Ms Clinton who asked the following question:


“Can the Bromsgrove Council please advise as to why their charges for a High Hedge Complaint is £595.10 when neighbouring councils charge significantly less?


It is recognised that the Bromsgrove Council do offer a reduced rate for those that qualify on certain benefits.


Examples of the charges from other local Councils are as follows:


Coventry City Council - £190


Telford & Wrekin Council - £250


Redditch Council - £250


Birmingham City Council - £350.”


Councillor K. Taylor responded that officers were proactive in trying to avoid people needing to make a formal complaint and this involved a lot of work for which no charge was made.  The charge only applied when a formal complaint was made and there had been very few instances where this had occurred.


The high hedge legislation provided a framework for charging and the Council complied with this.  However, he would ask Officers to review the fees to ensure they reflected the service being provided and to report to the Overview and Scrutiny Working group.  In the meantime, he would work with Ms. Clinton’s local member to try and resolve the specific issue she had raised.



Urgent Decisions


Members were advised that no urgent decisions had been taken since the previous meeting of Council.




Changes to Committee Membership

To receive a verbal update on changes to the membership of the Licensing Committee.



Further to the agenda item, the Chairman reported that there would not be any changes to the membership to the Licensing Committee.




Outside Bodies - Appointment

To consider the appointment of a substitute member to the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel (Worcestershire County Council have confirmed that, as part of the political balance arrangements, Bromsgrove District Council’s substitute Member on the panel must be a member of the same political party as the main member, which is Councillor H. Jones).



The Chairman reported that the Council had been advised that Worcestershire County Council were in the process of reviewing the rules for appointments further.  Therefore, no decision would be taken in respect of this matter at this meeting.





Audit, Standards and Governance Committee Annual Report 2022-2023 pdf icon PDF 611 KB


The Chairman of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee, Councillor S. Colella, introduced the Committee’s Annual Report for 2022-23.


Councillor Colella referred to his tenure as Chairman of the Committee between December 2022 - May 2023.  During that time he had led a Scrutiny Task Group into the Section 24 notice and the report for that group formed part of the financial recovery plan.


Councillor D.J. Nicholl, the current Chairman of the Committee, drew attention to reference in the report to the introduction of an Independent Member to sit on Audit Committees.  This had not yet been considered in detail by the Committee. 


In response to a question whether, in light of concerns about the Council’s accounts and subsequent Task Group review the committee should meet more frequently, Councillor Nicholl reported that the committee was fully engaged and all meetings this municipal year had been quorate.  This enabled a consistent review of all matters and in his view at the moment it was not necessary to introduce extra meetings.


RESOLVED that the Annual Report of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee for 2022-23 be noted.




Recommendations from the Constitution Review Working Group pdf icon PDF 407 KB

Due to the length of the full Constitution Review Working Group report, the covering report only has been included in the main agenda pack. The full length report, including appendices, can be accessed in the Supplementary Papers 1 pack.


Additional documents:


Councillor C. Hotham presented the report of the Constitution Review Working Group, which covered 5 areas: Planning reform, Audit, Standards and Governance Committee; Policy Framework; Councillor non-attendance and Questions on Notice.


Councillor Hotham suggested that since the recommendation relating to the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee about reducing the quorum for its meeting was compiled in the previous Municipal year, Council might seek the advice of the current Chairman of the Committee as to whether the proposed change to the quorum was necessary. Councillor Nichol agreed that the quorum should remain at 5, and it was agreed by the proposer and seconder that the recommendation to change it would be withdrawn.


During discussion of this item, Councillors thanked officers from the Planning and Democratic Services teams for their hard work in supporting the Planning Committee generally and during the external review carried out by the Planning Advisory Service (PAS). 





1)    Meetings of the Planning Committee should be live streamed;


2)    White nameplates should be used at meetings of the Planning Committee for Councillors;


3)    The Chairman should introduce all the officers present at the start of Planning Committee meetings;


4)    A review should be carried out of the content of officer reports to ensure that they are proportionate to the size and complexity of the proposal being determined;


5)    Members of the Planning Committee should continue to be offered the choice to either access agenda packs for meetings electronically or in paper form;


6)    A greater number of spare copies of the supplementary packs containing the update reports should be made available for the consideration of the public at meetings of the Planning Committee, with clarification provided to the public that copies will be made available on a first come first served basis to residents attending meetings in person;


7)    Where possible, members of the Planning Committee should provide Officers with prior notice of any technical questions relating to applications on the agenda;


8)    Refresher training should be provided on the roles and responsibilities of Planning Committee members;


9)    Appeal decisions and planning application performance should be reported to and discussed by the Planning Committee;


10) the Code of Practice – Planning Services, at Part 25 of the Constitution, be amended to require all Members to leave the room when they have spoken as a Ward Councillor on a Planning Matter, draft wording of the amendments proposed was contained within Appendix 1.  These amendments should be incorporated into the Constitution for ratification at Full Council;


11) the content of the Policy Framework be updated as detailed in Appendix 5 to the report;


12) the Chief Executive be delegated authority, as Proper Officer, to declare the office of Councillor vacant immediately after a person has ceased to be a Councillor where they have not attended a Council or Committee meeting for six months or more; and


13) the Council should undertake a trial allowing Members to ask supplementary questions at Council meetings during consideration of Questions on Notice.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52\23


To receive and consider a report from the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety pdf icon PDF 467 KB

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.




Council considered a report by the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety, which outlined services and activities within the remit of the Portfolio Holder. Information was included in relation to the Council’s Strategic Purposes, relevant key activities, partnership working, projects and programmes and news stories.


In presenting his report, Councillor P. Whittaker highlighted the commitment and hard work of the relevant officers and the community safety team’s work with diverse agencies.  He also referred to residents’ satisfaction with the alternate residual waste and recycling collections which were likely to change under the Environment Act 2021.  This introduced a requirement for councils across the country to introduce a weekly waste food collection.  Working with county council colleagues the possibility of a county wide system of collection and disposal would have synergy in terms of cost savings.  Details from DEFRA had been published within the last week and ‘simpler recycling’ was the main message.  However, no details had been given about how the additional costs in introducing this would be met. 


During this item the following items were raised:


·       The Leader clarified that Councillor Colella was the portfolio holder for climate change.

·       The view was expressed that climate change should have been given greater prominence in the report.

·       A member asked how many recommendations of the Flooding Task Group had been taken forward.  The portfolio holder undertook to communicate this to Councillor Robinson outside the meeting.

·       A member asked for details of how many hate incidents had been reported in Bromsgrove and it was agreed that these details would be circulated to all councillors.

·       How continuing to operate old refuse vehicles was better than procuring new, potentially more efficient vehicles.  The portfolio holder responded that refurbishment enabled a vehicle to stay on the road rather than procure new and extended its life for 6 years.  The continuation of the programme of refurbishment would be reviewed on a regular basis.  Arising from this item, the Chairman asked that the Interim Director undertake a presentation to all members about the fleet.

·       It was suggested that performance statistics relating to fly tipping should be included in the report; the portfolio holder undertook to circulate these.  A member suggested that having comparisons with similar councils might give the data meaningful context.

·       How diversionary youth work would occur across the District as some wards did not have specific youth clubs or provision.  The portfolio holder suggested that it was open to local members to approach relevant officers about developing outreach in their areas.

·       It was suggested that the approach to blue badge parking across the District was inconsistent.  The portfolio holder responded that car parking charges would be subject to a review.




Recommendations from the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 13th September 2023 and 18th October 2023.


The outstanding recommendation from 13th September 2023 meeting is due to be considered at this meeting of Council. The other recommendation made at the meeting in respect of the Governance Systems Task Group was considered at the Extraordinary meeting of Council held on 20th September 2023.


Any recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 18th October 2023 will follow in a Supplementary Papers pack.


Additional documents:


The Chairman advised that there was one recommendation from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 13th September 2023 and seven recommendations from the meeting on 18th October, which were presented for the Council’s consideration.


Equality Annual Report 2022


The Portfolio holder presented the Equalities Annual report 2022 and highlighted a number of areas of work which had been carried out.  Covid 19 had impacted the work on Equalities, but several community events and activities had been delivered, some for the first time since the pandemic.  The Equalities small grants scheme had also awarded grants to 10 community organisations.


During consideration of the report, the following areas were discussed:


·       Using the demographic profile of the District from the 2021 census data to analyse whether this was reflected in the Council’s workforce and service users.  The portfolio holder agreed that this would be worked on.

·       The report didn’t appear to indicate staff progression.  Emphasis would be placed on staff having a progression path through the organisation consistently.

·       How many young people attended holiday activities and had received meals from the food programme referred to in the report.  The portfolio holder undertook to share this information with councillors outside the meeting.

·       Asset based community development – attempts to develop committed were welcome but should be grounded in local knowledge, which local councillors should be involved in.  A councillor reported that residents had to be referred to some services via a church which was not inclusive.  The portfolio holder responded that he would check what was happening in this regard.

·       Members expressed concerns that where wards abutted adjacent local authorities, residents attempted to get resources from New Starts in South Birmingham.  The funding was intended for Worcestershire councils so the community development team should consult people embedded in the community, such as local councillors, about how the money should be applied.  Councillor S. Webb reported that the community builders worked for WCC Public Health, and the initiative was still being developed.  The Leader highlighted addressing disparities in public health – preventative action was shown to improve health outcomes.  The Council was the first District to introduce the community builder initiative, it would develop and it was intended to launch one stop shops where a number of services could be hosted and offered. 

·       In response to a query about the availability and take-up of community transport, Cllr. Webb responded that there was one BERT bus in the District and she would obtain details of the data for Councillor Bailes outside the meeting. 

·       Cllr Robinson thanked the Council for the support being offered to the vulnerable in the District, and asked whether there was resistance to this support in the community.  Cllr Webb responded that this had been picked up as a potential barrier and efforts were being made to address this.


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor C. Hotham and seconded by Councillor K. May.


RESOLVED that the Equality Annual Report 2022 be endorsed.



Finance and Performance Quarter 1 Monitoring 2023/24  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54\23


To note the minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 13th September and 18th October 2023 pdf icon PDF 377 KB

The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday 13th September 2023 are attached.


The minutes of the Cabinet meeting due to take place on 18th October 2023 will follow in a Supplementary Papers pack.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 13th September and 18th October 2023 were noted.


Questions on Notice pdf icon PDF 195 KB

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.



The Chairman advised that four Questions on Notice had been received for this meeting.


Question Submitted by Councillor Rone-Clark:


“In April 2021, in response to a petition with 5000 signatures and a motion submitted by then Cllr Mallett, calling for an urgent feasibility study R.E. a potential Western Relief Road, then portfolio holder for planning Cllr Kent told this council he had commissioned a Strategic Transport Assessment (STA) to be released to the public by 'the end of the summer (2022)'.


In September 2022, 17 months after the STA was first promised, I made an FOI request in response to the lack of communication on this from returned nothing of substance, not even a draft overview of findings...


At a subsequent meeting in late 2022, I asked Cllr Thomas, my 2nd planning portfolio holder , to comment on the status of the STA...he informed me that the STA didn't really exist and was merely a small extension of the local plan; despite the fact that in March 2021, Bromsgrove District Council went out to tender for a contractor to carry out a strategic transport assessment, advertising this on their website and social media!


Then, on April 9th 2023, two years after this issue was first raised in this chamber, The Bromsgrove Conservatives tweeted 'pledge #4 for Bromsgrove: we havecommissioned a strategic transport assessment for the district...'

My question, put simply: what on earth is going on?”


The Cabinet Member for Planning, Licensing and WRS responded that the Strategic Transport assessment would be a suite of reports and assessments which primarily shaped and then supported the policies that would be contained in a new local plan for Bromsgrove District. It would be published alongside all the other elements of the evidence base when the plan was next ready for consultation. As explained at recent Strategic Planning Steering Group (SPSG) meetings, the planning system was subject to significant reforms now which made plan making a  difficult process. Officers had continued to progress the local plan as far as possible whilst these ongoing reforms were being considered. This had included working with Worcestershire County Council on developing tools to assess the likely impacts of new development across Bromsgrove District, and then predict the infrastructure improvements that would be required as a result. As explained at the SPSG meeting on the 5th October, WCC officers had been asked to present the STA tools they had developed to BDC members, this would be taking place at the SPSG meeting on the 16th November, to which all members were invited.


Cllr Rone Clark asked a supplementary question about how much STA modelling Councillor Taylor had inherited when he took up the portfolio.  Councillor Taylor responded that there had been robust conversations with Worcestershire County Council about the lack of progress.  He reiterated that County Council representatives had been invited to the meeting on 16th November.


Question Submitted by Councillor D Nicholls:


“To ask the Leader, following  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56\23


Motions on Notice pdf icon PDF 370 KB

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.



The Chairman reported that 7 Motions on Notice had been submitted for this meeting. In advance of the meeting, the proposer of the last Motion, Councillor Hunter, had discussed his Motion with the Leader, and had agreed to withdraw it, on the basis that work was already ongoing and it had been agreed it would be prioritised going forwards.


Candy and Vape Stores


Council considered the following Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor E. Gray:


This Council calls upon the Bromsgrove MP to lobby Government to call a halt to American-style candy and vape stores opening up on high streets. These entice young people to take up dangerous habits which cause significant risk to young people/children’s health and well-being.


Councillor P. McDonald seconded the motion.  He referred to the emergence of shops selling sweets and e-cigarettes on local high streets and promoting their wares to children of all ages.  The lack of legislation about advertising vapes and powers of enforcement meant that local regulatory services had not been able to take action.


Councillor J. Robinson proposed an amendment as follows:


To remove the wording ‘call a halt to American style candy and vape stores opening up on high streets’ and replace with ‘limit the sale of disposable vapes’.

At the end of the Motion to add ‘Furthermore this Council agrees with the cross party LGA view that disposable vapes should be banned and the Leader of the Council agrees to write to Worcestershire County Council to ensure the Trading Standards Team that polices activity has a full complement of officers in place in Bromsgrove to ensure that we crack down on any illegal sales of vapes in our District’.


The Council was adjourned between 8.43 and 8.48pm whilst the Chairman sought procedural advice and subsequently advised that the Motion on Notice was very specific and as such the amendment was not accepted.


During debate on the Motion on Notice the following points were raised:


·       That the motion related to the risks associated with the sale of disposable vapes and sweets.  Some shops such as supermarkets sold vapes and sweets.  5 million vapes were sold each week across the country.  Whilst members agreed there was an impact on children from their availability and sale and understood the sentiment behind the Motion, some considered that it was impractical.

·       The motion addressed a specific issue in a councillor’s ward and also concerned other wards and sought to support members in their ward role.

·       The action proposed by the motion did not address the issue sufficiently and approaching the MP was not likely to have an impact in practical terms.

·       The limitations of the planning system in addressing the concerns raised in the Motion.  There was no route in the planning regime to prevent vapes being sold in shops. 

·       The Government was currently consulting on changes to the controls on vapes as part of its policy to create a smoke free generation.  The Council could consider the issue of vaping in a Cabinet Working  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57\23