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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors A. B. L. English, S.G. Hession and L. C. R. Mallett.
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.
There were no declarations of interest on this occasion. However, Councillor C. Hotham questioned whether dispensations in respect of outside bodies would be covered under this item. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that this was something which would be dealt with through the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee.
The minutes of the meeting of the Council meeting held on 22nd May 2019 were submitted.
The Chairman reminded Members that submission of the minutes was for clarification only and not an opportunity to ask questions, he asked that questions be dealt with either under the questions item of the agenda or directly to the relevant Member or officer outside of the meeting.
Councillor S. Webb asked for it to be noted that under Minute No. 1/19 she had in fact seconded the nomination of Councillor R. Laight as Chairman and not Councillor G. Denaro as stated.
Councillor S. Colella referred to Minute No. 7/19 and whether the Leader had written the letter referred to – the Leader confirmed that she had and would address this within her announcements.
Councillor S. Baxter highlighted that the meeting between Group Leaders had not taken place. The Leader advised that she would respond to this under her announcements, but advised that all those Members whose Motions had been carried forward had been contacted individually.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 22nd May 2019, subject to the pre-amble above, be approved.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and reminded Members of the Code of Conduct and Member to Member protocol. He confirmed that he proposed to be a firm but fair Chairman and hoped that there would be some good debate for those residents present to hear and for the good of the District.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader advised Members that she had received a response form the Minister for Health following the motion which had been agreed by the Council in April. He had thanked her for raising the Council’s concerns and the Leader advised that a copy of this response would be sent to all Members outside of this meeting. She confirmed that she was still awaiting a response form the Shadow Chancellor regarding the request for cross party working on Health concerns in the District.
The Leader went on to advise Members that Portfolio Holder briefings at Council would re-commence form September, this would allow new Portfolio Holders to gain a real understanding of their remit. She had also arranged to meet with all Group Leaders and the first meeting for this term would take place on Monday 1st July.
The Leader also took the opportunity to remind all Members to respond to the Worcestershire County Council Passenger Transport Strategy, which was currently out to consultation until 13th September 2019.
Councillor M. Thompson asked the Leader whether she shared his concerns in that Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove would be unable to devote sufficient time to his constituency work in future (due to him putting his name forward for Prime Minister). The Leader responded that she had no such concerns and that he would continue to have the best interest of Bromsgrove District at the forefront of his work.
Councillor P. McDonald raised concerns around the events which were being held in respect of the Passenger Transport Strategy, as there were no events in either Rubery or Barnt Green. The Leader confirmed that she had written to Worcestershire County Council to ask for more events to be held throughout the District.
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.
There were no comments, questions or petitions from members of the public on this occasion.
Councillor M. Thompson as the current Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board presented the Annual Report for 2018/19 on behalf of the previous Chairman, Councillor L. Mallett. He took the opportunity to thank Councillor Mallett for his hard work and advised that he hoped that he was able to continue this work in the forthcoming year.
The Leader also took the opportunity of thanking both Councillor Mallett and Members of the Board for all their hard work which was much appreciated.
Councillor S. Baxter also commented that great progress had been made with the Overview and Scrutiny Board in recent years and that some excellent work had been carried out.
Councillor Thompson thanked everyone for their comments.
RESOLVED that the Overview and Scrutiny Board Annual Report 2018/19 be noted.
Councillor S. Colella, the Chairman of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee present the Annual Report for 2018/19. In so doing he highlighted the wide work programme of the Committee and the areas that had been covered during its meetings. He also highlighted the positive feedback from the External auditors and that the Council had received and unqualified opinion for value for money and financial statements. The improvements which had been made were acknowledged and the Section 151 Officer, Monitoring Officer and Democratic Services Officers were thanked for their support.
Councillor M. Thompson questioned the omission of a number of words on the report at page 30 of the agenda pack and Councillor Colella confirmed that this was his error, as he had been unable to provide the information due to being on holiday. He advised that this should read as “an unqualified opinion for value for money and financial statements”.
The Leader thanked the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee for its work throughout the 2018/19 municipal year.
RESOLVED that the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee Annual Report 2018/19 be noted.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 10th April and 6th June 2019.
Recommendations from the Cabinet meeting on 10th April 2019
Response from the Council on the Solihull Draft Local Plan Supplementary consultation
Councillor A. D. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services, proposed the recommendation in respect of the Council’s response to the Solihull Draft Local Plan Supplementary consultation. This was seconded by Councillor K. May.
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Kent advised that the report was clear and concise so he did not intend to go into detail when presenting the report. This was the Council’s response to the consultation from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, completed by officers.
Members discussed the report and highlighted the following areas:
Councillor Kent advised Members that he had taken on board the comments made and would be discussing the points raised in detail with officers in due course.
RESOLVED that Council approve the officer response to the Solihull Local Plan Review supplementary consultation as its formal response and that this is confirmed with SMBC.
Recommendations from the Cabinet meeting on 12th June 2019
High Quality Design Supplementary Planning Document
Councillor A. D. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services, proposed the recommendation in respect of the High Quality Design Supplementary Planning Document. This was seconded by Councillor K. May.
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Kent thanked all those who had commented on the document which had been amended to take account of those comments. This was a live document which would be continually revisited and updated as necessary.
Members considered the report in more detailed and made the following comments:
In the absence of Councillor L. Mallett, the former Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, Councillor M. Thompson, presented this report. As he had not been involved in the detailed investigation he said he did not propose to go into detail, but was happy to propose the recommendations en bloc and invited any other Members who had been involved in the report to comment. Councillor S. Colella seconded the recommendations.
The Leader asked that the recommendations be taken individual as detailed below:
a) That Worcestershire County Council’s Highways Team consult with the relevant County Councillor, when consulted in respect of any planning applications. This should be done as a matter of course, as they may have more detailed local knowledge of a particular area.
b) BDC Members will continue to receive the weekly list of all planning applications.
This recommendation was noted.
That as part of the response to a planning application the Worcestershire County Council’s Highways Team should include a full breakdown of the costs of any infrastructure work which needs to be carried out and provide details of how this work would be funded.
This recommendation was noted.
That it is recognised that the relationships between Worcestershire County Council and this Council and its parish councils and residents has not been positive and that although the journey to improvement has begun, the improvements to the culture and ways of working need to be ongoing to ensure that the improvements continue.
This recommendation was noted.
That Worcestershire County Highways Team recognises that there is no “one size fits all” approach. They should remain open minded and flexible in considering the approach to the analysis of planning applications before reaching any conclusions.
The Leader advised that it was not possible for this Council to agree recommendations relating directly to another authority and she assured Members that officers and the Cabinet would continue to work closely with the County Council to ensure that the lines of communication remained open and positive.
At the earliest possible stage of the Strategic Transport Assessment the Project Officers from Worcestershire County Council and this Council arrange a briefing for Members in order to provide details of the scope of the Strategic Transport Assessment, the process and relevant timelines.
New dates in respect of the Strategic Planning Steering Group would be circulated to Members and information in respect of the Strategic Transport Assessment would be channelled through this group.
That this Council is fully represented on the Project Team of the Strategic Transport Assessment to be undertaken, by both officer and Member representation.
The Council was already represented at these meetings by the Head of Planning and Regeneration and the Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager.
That, throughout the process of the Strategic Transport Assessment, the Strategic Planning Steering Group holds regular meetings dedicated to this with representatives of Worcestershire County Council in attendance, in order to provide updates and listen and ... view the full minutes text for item 22\19
During the consideration of the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 12th June 2019 Councillor C. Hotham asked for clarification in respect of Minute No. 9/19 and the mention of an expression of interest for funding from Central Government. The Leader confirmed that this was in respect of funds for high street improvements.
The Minutes from the Cabinet meetings held on 10th April and 12th June 2019 were submitted for information and noted by Members.
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 M. Thompson
“Please can the leader or new portfolio holder update the council on what they are doing to enact the motion the council passed on the active kitchen?”
Councillor S. Webb, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing and Health and Wellbeing responded on behalf of the Leader, confirming that a full report was to be presented to Cabinet in early July to enable Members to make a decision on the role of Active Kitchens. This had taken a little longer than anticipated in order to ensure the relevant data could be included within the report. In the meantime activities in Sidemoor and Charford would continue during the summer holidays and if approved, other proposed areas would commence in October 2019.
Question submitted by Councillor H. D. N. Rone-Clarke
“How many trees has Bromsgrove District Council cut down in the last 5 years?”
The Leader responded that over the last five years the Council had planted approximately 200 specimen trees (large trees) on its own land for example in Sanders Park and approximately 4,000 to 5,000 small hedgerows all over the District.
In addition, as part of the planning consent processes all new developments must include the planting of trees. Over the last five years with the amount of new developments in the District this could mean that up to 200 to 300 specimen trees and several thousand hedgerows had been planted at each new development.
Question submitted by Councillor A. D. Kriss
“Following the successful application for funding for Ultra low emission charging points, could the Cabinet Member for the Environment advise whether Rubery will be receiving any charging points and what the timescales for implementation are?”
Councillor M. Sherrey, the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services responded that the Council had recently been successful in an Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) bid where £300k had been granted for the installation of dedicated electric taxi charger points. A condition of this funding was that it must be spent by 31.3.20.
As part of the bid, officers had identified Rubery, Wythall and Bromsgrove Town as suitable locations for these dedicated electric taxi charger points. General site locations had been identified in conjunction with a wide range of stakeholders including Taxi drivers, operators, Licensing, WRS & Economic Development. Actual locations will be firmed up once a charge point operator had been identified. These locations would be dependent upon a range of factors including accessibility, land ownership and grid constraints.
While the charging points funded under the OLEV grant would be specifically for taxis, the Council would seek to develop a public charging network to sit alongside the taxi charge points, maximising the financial efficiency of the grant funding as much of the installation costs would be shared.
A report would go to full Council on 31 July when it would be recommended that the submitted BDC Ultra low emission vehicle strategy (ULEV) and action plan be adopted and that the OLEV funding committed to assist taxi’s to transition ... view the full minutes text for item 24\19
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 P. McDonald:
"This Council ensures in future that all contractors, agencies and any organisation or body carrying out work or research on behalf of this Council, pay its employees/workers at least the ‘Living Wage.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor McDonald and seconded by Councillor S. Douglas.
In proposing the Motion Councillor McDonald reminded the Chamber that his Group had ensured that no members of staff received less than the living wage. The motion put before Members was an extension of that and would ensure that any contractor employed by the Council did not pay their staff below the rate of the living wage. To not do this would be a double standard for the Council. Councillor McDonald highlighted the struggle of some families to meet the cost of living and how the payment of the living wage would help support them. He saw no excuse for contractors not to meet this requirement. He also referred to the problems of young people, aged 18-20 years, who received a lower rate of pay and needed to work extra hours in order to make ends meet. Councillor McDonald believed that all working age people had a right to a decent standard of live and should not have to rely on food banks for example in order to make ends meet. He therefore put forward the motion for all contractors, agencies and organisations carrying out work on behalf of the Council to be paid the living wage.
Councillor G. Denaro, as Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling responded that through this motion Councillor McDonald was trying to restrict the Council’s choice when employing outside contractors. When a nearly identical motion had been put forward in 2012 by Councillor McDonald it had been referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Board, who had undertaken a full enquiry into all areas, including the mechanism which could be put in place to encourage contractors to pay the Living Wage, the finance cost to the Council in monitoring contracts and what duty, if any, the Council had to ensure its contractors paid the Living Wage. The conclusion of that investigation had been that no further action be taken in respect of the Living Wage. Councillor Denaro confirmed that that conclusion stood today and whatever people may think morally, it was not for the Council to force any view on to its contractors.
In responding to the motion Members made the following comments:
· Including the suggestion as part of the procurement process and the implications of this.
· It was a legal requirement to pay the minimum wage, but not the living wage.
· Why there should be a difference in the rate of pay paid to staff and to contractors, the Council should lead by example and insist on the same for all.
· The lower rate of pay for young people and the reasoning behind this, it was suggested that some would not have the experience or knowledge ... view the full minutes text for item 25\19