Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside
Contact: Amanda Scarce Jess Bayley
The Chairman welcomed Mr David Burrell, Chief Executive of the Primrose Hospice who gave a short presentation on the work of the Hospice. The Leader thanked him for attending and for the work that his dedicated team carried out.
To receive apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors A. Beaumont, S. Hession, R. Jenkins and K. Van der Plank. It was noted that Councillor L. Mallett would arrive late.
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.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 20th November 2019 were submitted. The following points were noted:
· Councillor H. Jones had asked for her comments on page 20 of the minutes, in respect of Councillor R. Hunter’s notice of motion to be withdrawn.
· Councillor Hotham asked whether, as detailed in minute no. 61/19 on page 8 of the minutes, the copies of notes from the private meetings had been made available to at least Group Leaders, without the need for a Freedom of Information request. The Monitoring Officer clarified, that these had been provided to Councillor L. Mallett at his request and that should any other Member wish to see them they would be made available, but no other requests had been received to date.
· On page 18 of the minutes it was clarified that Councillor P. Thomas had responded to Councillor S. Douglas’ notice of motion and not the Leader, as had been stated.
RESOLVED that, subject to the preamble above, the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 20th November 2019 be approved.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman highlighted a number of events which had taken place since the last Council meeting, including a number of Christmas events. He thanked all those who had been able to attend and those officers who had organised them and helped make them such a success.
The Chairman also advised Members that on Monday 20th January he had held a very successful meeting with all Group Leaders, the aim of which had been to ensure efficient and productive debate at this evening’s meeting. He would elaborate on this later in the meeting, under the Motions on Notice item.
The Chairman also reminded Members that the Holocaust Memorial Service would take place in the Parkside Suite on Monday 27th January 2020 at 11.00 am.
There were no announcements from the Head of Paid Service.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader made the following announcements:
· Following the Council’s challenge to the Valuation Office around the Business Rates payable on Burcot Lane site; the Valuation Office had reduced the Rateable Value and the Council had received a refund of £222,423.
· The bus shelter survey had been completed. It had transpired that the Council was responsible for fifty bus shelters, eighteen of which had been identified as requiring remedial work/replacement. A Capital bid has been included in the Budget Report to carry out this work over three years (£18k per year) and Officers were in the process of confirming that all eighteen were still serviced by a bus service.
· The Council was in the process of developing the Greenspace strategy, within this document the tree management, planting of wild flowers to encourage bio diversity would be included, and the climate control agenda would be explored in detail and delivered by an action plan.
· The Substance Misuse Multi-Agency Forum met for the first time on 15th January 2020. It had been well received with twenty six partners around the table. It had been shocking to hear the impact that substance misuse had on a community. She thanked Councillor M. Thompson for working with her on this initiative.
Councillor Thompson thanked the Leader for her support with the Substance Misuse Forum and highlighted that this was a good example of dealing with a matter outside of the Notice of Motion process and working together to address an issue which impacted on many across the District.
Councillor R. Hunter thanked the Leader for responding in respect of bus shelters, which would be of benefit to many residents.
Councillor P. McDonald asked whether the Leader agreed that over the last ten years the increase in substance misuse was a result of the impact of it no longer being a priority to the Police due to the Government cutbacks which had been enforced on the services they provided. The Leader responded that substance misuse was a sad state of our society which was not restricted to this District and that she hoped the Council could support the Police and other partners in addressing this and make a really difference to those affected by it.
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 G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling introduced the report and in so doing highlighted to Members that the full rules relating to Council Procedures had been included within the report, however the alterations being proposed only related to items listed under paragraph 3.3 and 3.4.
However, the Deputy Leader advised that the Constitution Review Working Group had agreed at its meeting in November that the Head of Planning would be authorised to speak at Full Council meetings, as she had done successfully in November. This should have been included in the recommendations. Members were asked to accept his apologies for this oversight and agree this adjustment verbally. It was confirmed that amendments had been agreed by Group Leaders.
The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. May.
Councillor S. Baxter welcomed the changes in the report and made particular reference to the inclusion of ordinary business at the Annual Meeting of Council and the adding of an additional Council meeting in the new municipal year, however, Councillor Baxter warned that these changes would not work unless the Council worked together. She made reference to the meeting that had been held on Monday 20th January with all the Group Leaders and the Chairman which she believed had shown really progress and she hoped that this would continue.
Councillor R. Hunter echoed the comments of Councillor Baxter, whilst recognising that in some circumstances there was a place for motions to be debated by all Members.
RESOLVED that the Council Procedure Rules be amended as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report with the addition of the Head of Planning and Regeneration at 16.1 of the Council Procedure Rules.
Councillor A. Kent as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services presented the report and advised that this was a “hot topic” which had been raised on a number of occasions over the last few months. He highlighted a number of areas within the report; including that it was important to note that a developer was not obliged to consider passing the open space or play area provision to the Local Authority. If agreed, a letter would be sent to Central Government raising the Council’s concerns as detailed in the report.
The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Kent and seconded by Councillor P. Thomas.
Following presentation of the report the following areas were discussed in more detail:
· The report was a move in the right direction, however it was highlighted that a developer was able to move a play area/open space within a development after agreement had been reached. An example of this was provided at a site in Cofton Hackett.
· This was a national problem and that the management companies appointed often increased the charge for maintaining the area significantly.
· Members were thanked for taking the matter seriously and bringing forward the report.
· The inclusion of the matter within a review of supplementary planning guidance.
A suggested additional recommendation was put forward by Councillor C. Hotham and seconded by Councillor S. Baxter, in respect of when the Council was approached for searches and the inclusion of information about open spaces within the site and the use of a management company. The aim wold be to make the information more accessible. Following discussion, Councillor Kent agreed to investigate this going forward and suggested that as things progress the matter could come back to Council if necessary. Following this discussion Councillor Hotham agreed to withdraw his amendment.
Councillor Kent reiterated the need for a change in legislation to address a number of areas and that he was happy for the matter to be discussed at the Strategic Planning Steering Group in more detail and if necessary a further report to be brought before Council as matters progressed.
a) that Officers continue to consider applications on a case by case basis and agree where appropriate as a preferred option, off site provision thereby enhancing already existing facilities and what strategically is appropriate for adoption be approved;
b) that where it is not possible to agree that there will be a presumption that the Council will adopt land where it meets the adoptable standard as agreed by the Council. That the Developer does all agreed works prior to handover, and that an acceptable commuted sum for the long term maintenance is agreed and paid to the Council be approved;
c) that as part of a review of the relevant Supplementary Planning Guidance, Officers are tasked with the development of an open space adoptions and S106 policy. To incorporate standards and a cost calculator to enable a more standardised calculation to be achieved be approved; and
d) that the situation nationally with ... view the full minutes text for item 72\19
To consider the recommendations from the meetings of the Cabinet held on 4th December 2019 and 15th January 2020.
The recommendations from 15th January 2020 will be provided as soon as they are available.
Cabinet Recommendations 4th December 2019
Worcestershire Mineral Plan – Statement of Common Ground
Councillor A. Kent as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services presented the report. It was explained that the matter had been brought before Council for transparency, as he and the Leader were County Councillors.
Councillor Kent highlighted a number of areas within the report, namely that the plan contained no new allocations, the Minerals Local Plan covered the whole of the county of Worcestershire and, once adopted, would be a Development Plan Document and form part of the Development Plan for Worcestershire. This meant that it sat alongside the district Local Plans and the Waste Core Strategy and should be used to determine any minerals-related planning matters in the county. It provided for the steady and adequate supply of minerals in the county until 2035. The Minerals Local Plan would be used by Worcestershire County Council to make decisions about planning applications for mineral extraction, processing and restoration. It would also be used by District Councils to ensure other types of development did not sterilise mineral resources or negatively impact mineral infrastructure.
It was further explained that the Minerals Local Plan must enable a steady and adequate supply of minerals from the county to contribute towards supplying both local and national demand. The majority of mineral working in the county was sand and gravel for the aggregate industry. Brick clay was also worked in the north of the county for brick making, a small amount of silica sand was dug for industrial purposes and a small amount of brine was extracted for making food-grade salt. There are also building stone, crushed rock and coal deposits in the county, but these were not currently worked.
The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Kent and seconded by Councillor K. May.
RESOLVED that the statement of common ground with regards to the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan and that delegated authority to the Leader of the Council to sign and send the agreement to Worcestershire County Council on behalf of the Council be approved.
Fees and Charges
Councillor G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling introduced the report and advised that the progress and clarification relating to Fees and Charges, which had commenced last year had continued this year, with the following criteria being used as shown in paragraph 3.2 of the report:
· Service to be subsidised by Council
· Service to break even
· Was the service achieving surplus to offset other/overhead costs.
As highlighted in Paragraph 3.1 of the report it was also noted that CPI would be used on inflation rates in the future.
Councillor Denaro commented that the Finance and Budget Working Group had once again played a full part in this year’s analysis and Heads of Service had attended to give any explanations required. Cabinet had also adopted in full, the recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Board which were included at page 67 within the agenda pack.
Councillor Denaro also took the opportunity ... view the full minutes text for item 73\19
The minutes from the meeting on 15th January will follow in a supplementary agenda once finalised.
The minutes from the Cabinet meetings held on 4th December 2019 and 15th January 2020 were submitted for information and noted by Members.
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.
Councillor K May, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and the Town Centre presented her annual report and highlighted that Economic Development was a key priority for the Council. There were 17,500 businesses in North Worcestershire accounting for 52.5% of the County’s business.
In terms of North Worcestershire; Bromsgrove consistently outperformed Redditch and Wyre Forest across multiple indexes such as the Vibrant Economy Index and Corporate Index. This was also the case in respect of key statistics, such as business, survival, unemployment, income, GVA and levels of qualification. The Council worked with public and private sector partners through the Bromsgrove Economic Partnership Group to address the challenges and opportunities for delivering local Economic Growth. The Leader reminded Members of the Peter Brett Associates (PBA) report commissioned by North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) that confirmed that whilst the District had a good track record in supporting start-up enterprise; more effort was needed to help businesses to grown and remain in the District and access was needed for a developing skills base. The PBA report had identified the review of the Bromsgrove District Plan as an opportunity to consider future employment land provision. The supply of Employment Land was a major constraint for Business Growth in the District. In the District Council Plan adopted in January 2017, 28 hectares of land was designated as employment land; and currently, approximately 5 hectares remained to be built out.
It was noted that the Redditch Eastern Gateway site was a 30 hectare site; with 20 hectares within Stratford Upon-Avon District Council and 10 hectares within Bromsgrove District. It was further noted that the project was progressing well and confirmation as to the Developers taking the 10 hectares within the District Boundary was awaited.
Many Property Consultancies reported that companies were constantly looking for commercial opportunities within the Bromsgrove district; some wanted to start a business, some were looking for office space and some just wanted to grow and stay in the District realising what great connectivity was offered with the motorway network and four trains an hour from Birmingham to Bromsgrove. The Managing Director of GJS Dillon had highlighted to her that there was only around 2 and a half months supply of office space available in the District and he had a list of around 40 businesses wanting to get into or expand in the area. It was anticipated that the Birmingham Congestion Charge/Vehicle Ban would only focus more attention on the District and the potential it offered.
The Leader went on to explain that the North Worcestershire Economic Strategy covered a five year period 2019-2024 and set out some of the key economic indicators across North Worcestershire as well as the attributes that made the area attractive to businesses and visitors. North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration provided Business Support for both start-up and established businesses in line with the Economic Growth Strategy.
It was noted that the High Street faced many challenges in 2020 and she ... view the full minutes text for item 75\19
Questions on Notice
To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
A period of up to 15 minutes is allocated for the asking and answering of questions. This may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman with the agreement of the majority of those present.
Question Submitted by Councillor R. Hunter
“Please will you write, on behalf of this council, to the Leader of Worcestershire County Council and the Chief Executive of First Group to ask them to reverse the decision to cut services on Bromsgrove’s 144 bus route?”
The Leader responded that she had spoken with the Cabinet Member for Highways at Worcestershire County Council regarding this matter and he had clarified the situation. The Bromsgrove 144 bus route was a purely commercial route. Worcestershire County Council had no influence over this route. First Group had altered the service between Bromsgrove and Birmingham to every hour as congestion issues in Birmingham had been sighted as the issue. Bus companies have a legal obligation to run to time within the permitted framework of being up to one minute early and up to five minutes late. The company had reduced this route in order to comply with this framework. The County Council were not consulted on the change as they have no legal jurisdiction over the service as it is a purely commercially run service.
Question submitted by Councillor A. English
“I would like to ask what progress has been made in addressing the shortfall of pitches for Gypsy/Travellers in the district? There is an urgent need for the Council to provide pitches now. Waiting until the end of the Local Plan Review is not an option because it fails to address the urgent and legitimate Gypsy/Traveller need and thus further promotes unlawful and inappropriate development of the Green Belt.”
The Leader responded unfortunately the claims made were incorrect. Latest information from officers and from the ES14 return showed that currently Bromsgrove had a surplus of 6 Gypsy and Traveller pitches. Clearly there was, or will be a need to consider pitch provision going forward, however this had to be a matter for discussion primarily between the Council’s Planning Officer and Worcestershire County Council as it was general practice that the districts identify and make available appropriate land and the County provide the funding. Any review would ultimately inform the Council’s Local Plan but currently there was no urgent need.
Councillor May concluded that she would be happy to arrange for the officers to go through the figures with Councillor English.
Question submitted by Councillor J. King
“The Government has promised to encourage economic growth in the West Midlands and a substantial financial package is likely to be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his next Budget. Bromsgrove is a member of both Worcestershire and Greater Birmingham LEPs and has a track record as the home of a high rate of start up companies. What will the portfolio holder do to ensure that Bromsgrove now receives the funding which it needs to grow its economy and provide the infrastructure which will make it an attractive place to live, work and visit?”
The Leader responded that, as outlined in her Portfolio Holder’s Report, she sat on the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership Board ... view the full minutes text for item 76\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.
The Chairman advised that, prior to the meeting, the Group Leaders had agreed to a number of motions being withdrawn and the order that the remaining would be considered had been amended. The Chairman thanked the Group Leaders for their co-operation in this matter and he hoped that this would continue for future meetings.
Rough Sleepers in the District
Councillor M. Thompson advised Council that he had withdrawn his motion as he had spoken to the relevant Portfolio Holder and was happy to work directly with her on this matter.
Councillor S. Baxter advised that following discussions she had also agreed to withdraw her motion and a meeting with all Group Leaders and the relevant officers would be arranged to discuss the concerns that she had raised.
As previously discussed, Councillor S. Hughes also confirmed that she was happy for her notice of motion to be withdrawn.
Members considered the following notice of motion from Councillor S. Douglas.
“In light of the threat of Climate Change, this Council should take practical steps to combat its consequences.
Therefore, we call upon the Cabinet to carry out a full analysis of land in the ownership of the Council which would be available for the planting of wild flowers and trees.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor Douglas and seconded by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke.
Without debate and with the agreement of Councillor Douglas, it was agreed that this matter would be referred to the Cabinet for further consideration.
Defending our district against flooding
Members considered the following notice of motion from Councillor J. King.
“Council notes the considerable damage and disruption that recent floods have caused in our community and the likelihood of further problems as a result of climate change.
Council resolves to task the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with reviewing the resources made available for flooding prevention in our community with a view to making more investment available if necessary from 2021/22.”
The motion was proposed by Councillor King and seconded by Councillor R. Hunter.
It was noted that this matter had tentatively raised at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 13th January when Members had been in agreement to it being a subject worthy of more detailed scrutiny. With this in mind and with the agreement of Councillor King, it was agreed that the matter be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for further consideration.
Show Pride in our LGBT Community
Members considered the following notice of motion from Councillor R. Hunter.
“Council notes that each year a Pride festival is organised in Worcester to recognise and celebrate our LGBT community.
Council believes that as a Worcestershire authority we should help to enhance the visibility of this important work.
Council resolves to fly the Rainbow Flag at the Parkside Building on Worcester Pride weekend which this year falls on 19-20 September and each year thereafter. Council further resolves to publicise our support for the event.”
The motion was proposed by ... view the full minutes text for item 77\19