Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday 6th December 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 Councillors R. Bailes and D.J Nicholl.


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 R. J. Hunter declared that for the second Motion on Notice at minute item no.72/23 concerning improving rail connectivity at Bromsgrove train station, he was a member of the Bromsgrove and Redditch Rail Users Partnership.


To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 25th October 2023 pdf icon PDF 502 KB


The minutes from the meeting held on 25th October 2023 were submitted for Members’ consideration.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 25th October 2023 be approved as a true and accurate record subject to the inclusion of Councillor S.R. Peters in the list of those present at the meeting and a correction to minute number 43/23, Declarations of Interest, that Councillor P Whittaker’s interest related to Tutnall Sewage Treatment Plant and not Frankley Green.


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


On behalf of the Council, the Chairman congratulated Alvechurch Parish Council on achieving the Quality Gold Award as part of the National Local Council Award Scheme, which recognised that the Parish Council met the high standards set by the Parish Council sector.


The following Parish Councillors were thanked:

Councillor Marc Worrall, Chairman

Councillor Nigel Cutress

Councillor Peter Freeman

Councillor Sue Lambert

Councillor Brett Shepherd

Councillor Tony Williams

Councillor Keith Wiseman

Councillor Paul Edwards

Councillor Sam Lewis

Councillor Rachael Bailes

Councillor Steve Hornsby

Councillor Barry Thornton,


together with the Parish Council’s Executive Officer Mrs Jane Smailes and Assistant Mrs Faye Murphy.




To receive any announcements from the Leader


The Leader wished all Councillors compliments of the season, wished them a happy New Year and thanked all for their work on behalf of the residents of the District.


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.



Mr. Jinks asked the following question:


“Having worked closely with 80+ High Street businesses, we have been asked to propose the following question. Can you please consider the option of reviewing the pricing structure on all council car parks around Bromsgrove High Street to enable an offering of 1 hours’ free parking to be created. We feel that this will have a huge beneficial effect on the flow of business to the High Street and may lead to more businesses choosing to come to Bromsgrove in the future. We would propose that the shortfall created by this scheme be met by increasing the 1+ hour pricing charges.”


Councillor S. Baxter, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, responded that the Council was currently undertaking a review of its car park charges including the charging periods, charges and any concessions.  The outcome of the review would be part of tranche 2 of the reports included in the forward plan for the establishment of the 2024-5 budget. The Council currently supported local businesses and she gave the example of free parking across all car parks on the previous Saturday to support the Small Business Saturday initiative.  Councillor Baxter invited Mr Jinks to send her an e-mail with proposals and ideas for car parking. 





Urgent Decisions


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



Statutory Officer Posts - Appointments pdf icon PDF 445 KB

Additional documents:


Mrs S Hanley, Interim Head of Paid Service and Mr P Carpenter, Interim S151 Officer, left the room prior to consideration of this item.  Mrs C Felton, Monitoring Officer, remained to support the Council so that one Statutory officer was present.


The Council considered a report setting out proposals in respect of the fixed term appointment of Mrs Susan Hanley so that she could continue in post as the Council’s Interim Head of Paid Service. It also proposed the fixed term appointment of Mr Peter Carpenter to the post of Interim Section 151 Officer and Deputy Chief Executive. Members also considered a proposal to appoint Mrs Claire Felton as the Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer for Bromsgrove District Council.


In July 2023, in preparation for the retirement of the former Joint Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service in September, the Council had appointed Mrs Hanley as Acting Joint Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service.  An urgent decision on this subject was subsequently taken by Redditch Borough Council in August.


Whilst a recruitment exercise had been undertaken for both the posts of Chief Executive and Section 151 officer, the Council was unable to recruit on this occasion.


The Council therefore needed to

  • Arrange for a further recruitment process for the two senior officer posts to take place, which would take time to set up and implement.
  • Take steps to ensure the stability and continuity of the existing senior management team until such time as permanent recruitment could be implemented, and
  • Ensure that the Council had a Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer during this period of transition.


The Council was required by law to appoint an officer as the Council’s Head of Paid Service.  Mrs Hanley had expressed a wish to retire on the appointment of the permanent Chief Executive, and therefore not to return to her substantive role as Deputy Chief Executive. As such, she had expressed her intention to resign from her substantive post as Deputy Chief Executive. This enabled both Councils to consider options regarding the Senior Management structure including that of the substantive role of Mrs Hanley ahead of her retirement. It was proposed that on receiving Mrs Hanley’s notice, she would be appointed as Interim Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service on a Fixed Term contract until 30th November 2024.


In addition, following the resignation of Mr James Howse, Mr Carpenter had been appointed as interim Chief Finance Officer and Section 151 Officer.  In June, Redditch and Bromsgrove Members separately agreed to extend his appointment until 22nd December 2023. The current arrangement was set up as a placement via West Midlands Employers and Mr Carpenter was paid on a daily rate.  The Council remained subject to the legal requirement to have a Section 151 officer in place and Mr Carpenter was currently working on critical projects on behalf of the Council.


To ensure a period of stability at the senior level, it was proposed that Mr Carpenter be appointed as Interim Executive  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65\23


Recommendation from the Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 5 KB

Due to the length of the report that was considered by the Licensing Committee on 13th November 2023, only the recommendation from the Committee has been included in the main agenda pack for this Council meeting.  The full-length report will be published in a separate supplementary pack for the Council meeting.



Additional documents:


The Council considered a recommendation from the Licensing Committee which proposed the adoption of a refreshed Statement of Licensing Policy.  This had been produced following a period of consultation.


RESOLVED that the revised Statement of Licensing Policy shown at Appendix 3 to the report be approved and published to take effect on 1st April 2024.



Joint Auditor's 2020-2021 and 2022-2023 Annual Report pdf icon PDF 198 KB

This matter was also discussed at a meeting of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee held on 27th November 2023.  Any recommendations on this subject together with the relevant extract from the minutes of this meeting will be published in a supplementary pack for consideration at the Council meeting.



Additional documents:


The Council had received the Interim Auditor’s Annual Report from its External Auditors Grant Thornton for 2021/22 and 2022/23. The report set out progress since the 2020/21 Report and contained an updated Statutory Recommendation with the key reason being the non-delivery of the 2020/21 and subsequent financial statements. This had been considered by the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee on 27th November 2023 and recommendations from the Committee had been circulated to Members.


In presenting the report, Councillor C. Hotham, Cabinet Member for Finance and Enabling, reported the Section 24 recommendation around the delivery of the 2020/21 accounts was still in place and had been extended to subsequent financial years.  Of the five key recommendations in the 2021/22 report, only one serious weakness remained, relating to the opening balances linked to the budget, and would be resolved when the accounts were delivered.  The others had either been resolved, downgraded or linked to improvement recommendations.  There was one new key recommendation relating to organisation capacity and capability, which was being mitigated via the rollout of the Council’s workforce strategy.  £150k had been committed to supporting this.


Of the thirteen original improvement recommendations, nine had been fully or partially addressed and four were yet to be addressed.  Ongoing improvements were linked to the ten new improvement recommendations in the Auditor’s report.  The External Auditors had noted the significant progress made by the Council in all areas apart from the delivery of the accounts.  The existing Section 24 recommendation therefore remained outstanding in relation to the 2021 and subsequent accounts and the auditors had concluded it was appropriate to use their powers to make written recommendations under s 24 of the Act. 


The Audit, Standards and Governance Committee had reviewed the report in front of the External Auditors, and the Vice Chairman of the Committee reported that it had asked probing questions and had agreed the recommendations before the Council today. This included adding a recommendation about the ongoing governance of the actions arising from the report. 




1)    That the Section 24 Statutory Recommendation is accepted and that Council review the recommendation, endorse the actions included in the management responses which form the rectification process required as per legislation; and


2)    That Audit, Standards and Governance Committee members are updated on key deliverables, where deemed applicable by the Chairman, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Enabling and the Section 151 Officer, between Committee meetings and that appropriate governance arrangements are put in place to resolve the Council’s position.



To receive and consider a report from the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Climate Change pdf icon PDF 275 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.




Councillor S.J. Colella, the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Climate Change, introduced his report.  In doing so he referred to the Leisure and Cultural strategies that had seen a strong set of deliverables throughout the District and had built strong bonds within communities.  The launch of the Cultural Compact’s first major participation campaign, ‘ReNEW’ in the North East of the District was a particular highlight.  The culture and heritage days had also been very successful.  He thanked all the officers for their hard work and commitment in supporting such activities.


Since the Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and adopted the climate change strategy in 2022, officers had been working to support achievement of the Council’s carbon reduction targets.  The Council worked in partnership with other organisations, residents and businesses on this.  Councillor Colella referred to the carbon literacy training for Members being arranged for January 2024 and urged as many members as possible to attend. Additional finance had been obtained for the Council via grants which helped to support initiatives.


The following were the main items raised during this item:


·       Further information was requested about the health intervention activity, especially relating to multiple sclerosis support, and an update was requested about cross departmental working supporting the launch of the youth service.  The Cabinet member undertook to respond to Councillor Rone-Clarke outside the meeting on these queries.

·       Whether carbon reduction could become a strategic purpose and reference to ‘adapting’ could be changed to be more robust.

·       Whilst the improvement on the government’s net zero target of 2050 by including 2040 was welcomed, it was suggested this should be set at 2030 to support achieving carbon neutrality.  The Cabinet member responded that the situation was fluid but this was a clear corporate target.

·       When the Climate change working party last met and whether this was the most appropriate vehicle for reviewing implementation of the Council’s Carbon Reduction action plan.  The Cabinet member responded that it last met prior to the elections in May 2023; he considered the issue would be better embedded by holding Cabinet member drop-in sessions open to all to provide opportunities to broaden members’ knowledge.

·       When the play audit was due to be brought to Councillors and whether there would be any commitment in the budget for improvements. The Cabinet Member responded that the position set out at the previous Council meeting under discussion of a Motion on Notice still remained and a report would be brought forward to members in February 2024.

·       When the improvements at the park at the junction of New Road and Ford House Road would be completed.  The Cabinet Member responded that the length of the project would be dependent on contract arrangements and the weather conditions.

·       A member asked for details of membership of the Ryland Centre Advisory Group.  The Cabinet Member advised that representatives from Bromsgrove School, Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the Chair of the Wellbeing Theme Group and relevant District Council officers attended this.

·       A member sought clarity  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68\23


Recommendations from the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 360 KB

To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 22nd November 2023.




The Chairman advised that there were four recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 22nd November 2023, which were presented for the Council’s consideration.


Governance Systems Review – Update Report


Council considered the recommendation which stemmed from action under the review of Council governance following the May 2023 election, where the Council was under no overall control and there was a desire to move forward in a more consensual way.


The Constitution Review Working Group had produced terms of reference for Cabinet Advisory Groups and a Memorandum of Understanding for cross party working.  The Overview and Scrutiny Board had supported the documents with minor amendments and subsequently the Cabinet had also agreed their content, including the minor amendments.


In response to a query, the Monitoring Officer clarified that the proposed principle relating to the chairing of Council and certain committee meetings by members not from the ruling administration was currently agreed for adoption by the Council. 


The Leader thanked Councillor P. McDonald and members of the Governance Systems Task Group who had carried out an extensive piece of work to support the review and also thanked the officers who supported it.


RESOLVED that the proposed Memorandum of Understanding concerning cross party working be approved, subject to an amendment to point 5 of the Principles section to read as follows: “Recognise and respect that each individual Member can contribute to decisions that are taken and should be given the opportunity to be involved and able to provide their opinion before a decision be taken”.


Medium Term Financial Plan – Tranche 1 Budget Update Including Fees and Charges


The Council set a 3 year Medium Term Financial Plan and adopted a 2 stage approach to this.  The budget position in late October when Tranche 2 was considered was a predicted deficit of £325,000 at the end of 2024-25 but the position would be clearer once Government grant support was announced before Christmas.


In the meantime, Council was requested to approve a commitment to additional capital funding for 2023-24 financial year for identified works to play areas in the District.  It was anticipated that additional projects would come forward when the Play Audit was published. 


In response to a question, the Cabinet Member reported that the fees the Council was able to charge for planning would be increased and it was hoped that there would be additional income to the Council via that route.


RESOLVED that the Play capital works for 2023/4 as set out in 3.38 of the report are approved and added to the Capital Programme.


Half Yearly Treasury Update Report 2023/24


In presenting the report, the Cabinet member thanked the finance team for their work in treasury management. 


A member referred to a sentence in the introduction to the report which referred to the Council being exposed to financial risks and sought clarification on this.  The Section 151 Officer reported that whilst professional advice was sought in terms of investment and risks were mitigated, a risk  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69\23


To note the minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 22nd November 2023 pdf icon PDF 235 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 22nd November 2023 were noted.


Questions on Notice pdf icon PDF 186 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.


Each Member who is scheduled to ask a question, may ask up to one supplementary question which must be based on the original question or the answer provided to that question.



The Chairman advised that five questions on notice had been received for this meeting.


Question submitted by Councillor E. Gray


“Would the Cabinet Portfolio Holder agree that in the interests of shoppers, residents and Bromsgrove businesses, at least the first half-hour of parking should be FREE and thereafter a “Pay on Foot” model, paying on exit, should be adopted across the District?”


The Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration responded that the Council was currently undertaking a review of car parking charges including the charging periods, charges and any concessions. The outcome of this review would form part of Tranche 2 of the reports included with the forward plan for the establishment of the 2024/5 budget.  The Council over recent years had invested heavily in new pay and display machines across its car parks that was agreed by the District Council, as part of its upgrading of the car parking infrastructure.  This had modernised its delivery of car parking payments towards a cashless payment system, moving away from the ‘pay on foot’ model to the ‘pay and display’ model which had meant that customers could use cash, card, or pay by app.  Pay by App was a convenient method that allowed drivers to add time to their stay without returning to their vehicle/pay station. This also removed the need for a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) to be present, in case pay station or exit barriers developed a fault and enabled the CEO to undertake enforcement patrols.


Councillor Gray asked a supplementary question about making it as straightforward as possible to enable drivers to park in the District, such as ANPR and ‘pay as you leave’, so that people could feel able to stay longer and use local businesses. 


Councillor Baxter agreed that the review would look at options to encourage people to stay longer and use local businesses.  The decision to change from pay on foot to pay and display had been taken some time ago and the Council had invested in reliable machines, but these would always take cash.


Question submitted by Councillor P McDonald


“Would the Cabinet Member for Finance and Enabling inform me how many additional staff have been employed since May 2023 in the area of Leisure and Cultural Services?”


The Cabinet member for Finance and Enabling responded that Leisure and Culture had employed no additional staff since May 2023.  There were currently three vacancies out of sixteen members of staff, two of which were covered by a mixture of agency staff and seconded permanent staff.  The Council was looking to fill these posts as soon as possible and one post was on the cusp of being recruited to.


Temporary staff were used for event security and risk assessments of larger events. 


Councillor McDonald asked a supplementary question, referring to a statement earlier in the Municipal year that vacancies were being recruited to and the impact these had on the Council’s ability to bid for external funds.  The Cabinet member replied that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71\23


Motions on Notice pdf icon PDF 281 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 four Motions on Notice had been submitted for this meeting. However, the third Motion, submitted by Councillor Whittaker, had been withdrawn. 


With the agreement of all group leaders, Councillor Nicholl’s Motion, which featured in the agenda of the last Council meeting, but which was not debated then, had been postponed for consideration at the next Council meeting in January 2024.  This would ensure that he could be present for the debate on his own Motion.


Publicity Campaign for Dog Welfare


The Council considered the following Motion on Notice from Councillor H Jones:


After hearing the devastating news, that two innocent, healthy puppies had been killed and dumped within our district, I call upon this council to commit to prioritise the promotion to support a publicity campaign to reminding dog owners and breeders of their responsibilities, in the hope we can stop anymore uncalled-for deaths of an animal. Within this campaign we also need to remind residents that they should only buy animals from a reputable source and the steps they should take to ensure the animals they buy are healthy and have been well cared for. The campaign should also emphasise the need for the public to report any situations they identify where people may be breeding dogs illegally, or in circumstances that put the health of animals in jeopardy. WRS has “dog related issues” as one of its key priorities and, whilst they do their best to proactively identify illegal breeders and sales, more help from the public would not go amiss.


In proposing the Motion, Councillor Jones referred to advice offered to dog owners by Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) such as temporary kennelling and support for when people could no longer keep an animal. She suggested that a targeted campaign could prevent animals from abuse, suffering or death.  The pre-Christmas period would be an ideal time for a publicity campaign to remind people only to purchase a dog from a reputable dealer and also where to go to for help if they were struggling with caring for a pet. 


The Motion was seconded by Councillor K Taylor, who referred to the financial and other commitments that should be considered before acquiring a dog.


Members spoke in support of the motion and of the benefits of owning a dog.  They also referred to recent incidents which highlighted the need to promote responsible dog ownership and the support available when circumstances changed.  It was noted that WRS would lead on a publicity campaign and the Council’s communications team might also be able to assist.




After hearing the devastating news, that two innocent, healthy puppies had been killed and dumped within our district, this council commits to prioritise the promotion to support a publicity campaign to reminding dog owners and breeders of their responsibilities, in the hope we can stop anymore uncalled-for deaths of an animal. Within this campaign we also need to remind residents that they should only buy animals from a reputable source  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72\23