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To receive apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors S. Baxter, R. Jenkins, H. Jones, A. Kent, M. A. Sherrey and K. Van Der Plank.
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.
To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 7th December 2022 PDF 670 KB
The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 7th December 2022 were submitted.
During consideration of this item Councillor C. Hotham highlighted that Councillor S. Baxter was a member of theNational Association of Local Councils (NALC) and not the Royal Council of Parish Councils as stated in Minute number 59/22.
In addition to this the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance stated that the Council’s insurer had been contacted, as requested at the last meeting,and that the Council’s insurance providers were aware of the no assurance audits and that the insurance policy was still valid. In response to further Member queries, the Interim Section 151 Officer confirmed that this was the case.
RESOLVED that, subject to the amendment as detailed in the preamble above, the minutes of the meeting of Council held on 7th December 2022 be approved as a true and accurate record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman reported to Members that in response to a letter of condolence sent following the death of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Council had received a reply from His Royal Majesty King Charles III thanking Bromsgrove District Council for the kind words at such a sad time. The Chairman informed Council that it was his intention to have the reply framed and to gift it to the Council for future reference.
There were no announcements from the Head of Paid Service on this occasion.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
There were no announcements from the Leader at the meeting.
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 the public for consideration at themeeting.
The Chairman confirmed that there had been no urgent decisions taken since the previous meeting of Council.
Changes to Committee membership
Members are asked to note that Councillor S. Colella has replaced Councillor K. Van Der Plank as a member of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee representing the Independent Group.
The Chairman informed Council that Councillor S. Colella had replaced Councillor K. Van Der Plank for the Bromsgrove Independent Group as a Member of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee.
Councillor C. Hotham was invited to speak, as leader of the Bromsgrove Independent Group, and in doing so he thanked Councillor Van Der Plank for her long service on the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee and wished Councillor Colella success for the future as the new Chairman of the Committee.
RESOLVED that the changes to the Committee membership, as detailed in the preamble above, be noted.
To receive and consider a report from the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change PDF 287 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.
The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change presented an annual report which outlined the work that had been undertaken under his remit as portfolio holder over the preceding 12 months.
Council was informed that consideration of the report would be taken in two parts: the first being the Leisure and Cultural Services area followed by the Climate Change Services area.
Members were advised that there were Strategic Purposes aligned to Leisure and Cultural Services and thatthe main progress, since the last report, wasthe launch of the Leisure Strategy in October 2022. It was explained that the strategy had provided vision and detailed the aims for the Council in this area and supported individuals in shaping their own leisure activities. Information was provided in respect of the recommendations contained within the strategy that had already been achieved.
The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change explained to Members that there had been a number of activities that had taken place over the year, which had included the Queen’s Baton Relay in Sanders Park as part of the Commonwealth Games, the Green Fair and the light show which took place in Sanders Park in Autumn 2022.
Council was informed that there had been several partnership initiatives designed to encourage physical activity and sports participation among residents in the District. It was noted that external funding of £46,610, had been received from the Department of Education to fund these sessions.
During the presentation of the Leisure and Cultural Services area of the report, reference was made to the key milestones for the future. These included the development of a capital investment plan for enhancing parks and open spaces, working to establish a volunteer plan and a clear approach to working with Friends groups and the launch of a pilot project for self-management of allotment sites across the District. In addition to this, it was reported to Members that the Council was looking to deliver a pilot project to understand how the Council managed land and could deliver Biodiversity Net Gains.
Following the presentation of this section of the report, Members discussed the following points in detail:
· How the £2,500 grants were planned to be used by Cultural Compact. It was reported that the grants had been received from Arts Council England and specific details were not available for each project. However, Members were informed that Cultural Compact were a partner of Bromsgrove District Council and therefore work would be undertaken in partnership. Members also expressed an interest in the work that was being undertaken with partners outside of the District e.g. Redditch and Birmingham. It was highlighted to Members that it was important to work with a range of partners, inside and outside of the District, in order to provide wide ranging activities and to help deliver the Leisure and Culture Strategy outcomes.
· Whether there was the potential to keep the ‘Bromsgrove Pound’ in the District. For example, the use of the sailing facilities in Upton ... view the full minutes text for item 79\22
Recommendations from the Cabinet PDF 182 KB
To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 18th January 2023 (to follow).
The Chairman advised that four recommendations had been made at the meeting of the Cabinet held on 18th January 2023, which had been highlighted for Council’s consideration.
CCTV Digitalisation Upgrade
The Leader presented the recommendation in respect of the CCTV Digitalisation Upgrade and in doing so, explained that this recommendation had been made by the Overview and Scrutiny Board at the meeting held on 21st November 2022; as a result of receiving a report from Officers. Members were advised that it was recommended that £48,600 be included in the Capital Programme and £6,030 per annum in the revenue budget as part of the review of the Medium Term Financial Plan for the upgrade of CCTV cameras at Brook Road (Rubery), Wythall and Alvechurch.
The recommendation was proposed by Councillor K. May and seconded by Councillor G. N Denaro.
RESOLVED that £48,600 be included in the Capital Programme and £6,030 per annum in the revenue budget as part of the review of the Medium Term Financial Plan for the upgrade of CCTV cameras at Brook Road (Rubery), Wythall and Alvechurch.
Council Tax Support Scheme
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance presented the report on the Council Tax Support Scheme. Members were advised that in October 2022, the Council had agreed to go out to consultation on an updated Council Tax Reduction Scheme. It was explained that the Council had received advice from its consultants that no Councils were reducing their Council Tax Reduction Schemes, and that many were increasing them to a scheme similar to the one Bromsgrove Council had introduced in 2021.
Council was advised that, having taken into account the Cost of Living crisis, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wyre Forest were all increasing the support available to eligible residents in their schemes. However the three remaining Worcestershire Councils were not making any changes to their schemes.
It was reported that in the updated scheme, the Council was increasing its discount bands by 5% each and that certain childcare charges and critical payments would be disregarded in order for the scheme to be open to more residents.
Members were advised that the consultation period for the new Council Tax Support Scheme had now closed and that 87 responses had been received. This, it was noted, was an increase from the 55 responses received during the previous consultation. Of the 87 responses received, Members were informed that 65% agreed with the widening of the bands, 82% agreed with the disregard to childcare payments and 80% agreed to disregarding critical payments.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance reported that Worcestershire County Council (WCC), as the major preceptor, had provided a view on the proposals. This was as follows:
“Whilst we would support in principle the ambition for many of the changes to your Council Tax Reduction Schemes, the net council tax income would reduce and that would mean the impact, however small, would ultimately be felt on the overall resources available across other district areas outside of Bromsgrove District ... view the full minutes text for item 80\22
To note the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 18th January 2023 (to follow) PDF 445 KB
During consideration of this item, it was confirmed that the Bromsgrove Centres Strategy 2023/2026 was concerned only with the eight Centres in Bromsgrove District and was not a shared strategy with Redditch Borough Council.
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 18th January 2023 were noted.
Questions on Notice (to follow) PDF 356 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 explained that 4 Questions on Notice had been received for the meeting. However, 1 had been answered during the update from the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change and the Member proposing that Question, Councillor R. Hunter, had agreed that it would no longer be considered during this item.
Council was informed that a period of up to 15 minutes was allocated for the asking and answering of questions and that the Questions would be considered in the order they had been submitted.
Question submitted by Councillor J. King
“I understand that some bus operators in Bromsgrove have not introduced the £2 cap on single bus fares this month and that this falls short of the promises made by the Secretary of State last September? As Leader of this Council will you make representations to the local transport authority to see if the policy can be extended to all bus operators in Bromsgrove?”
The Leader responded to the question and in doing so advised Members that the Government had announced funding to help bus operators to cap single adult fares at £2 per journey from January to March 2023. It was explained that the move was to help passengers with travel costs for work, education, shopping and medical treatments over the winter months while facing pressures from the rising cost of living.
Members were advised that the introduction of this scheme sat with the Department forTransport (DfT). It was explained that it was optional for operators to sign up, and WCC had no powers to compel operators to take part in the scheme. The Leader noted that it was regrettable that the predominate operator in Bromsgrove, Diamond Buses, had decided not to take part in the scheme. However, Members were advised that the Leader was aware that WCC were in constant communication with Diamond Buses and that the matter would be raised with the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Worcestershire County Council.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Robinson
“I am concerned that the introduction of the requirement for voter ID for the first time in this coming May’s local elections represents a threat to our democratic right to vote. As well as the information provided on BDC’s website and social media, what are you going to do to reach out to all our community and make sure nobody in Bromsgrove is prevented from voting because they cannot provide ID?”
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance provided a response and in doing so explained that the Electoral Commission were running an extensive campaign on the changes in voting and how an elector could get a free voter authority certificate if they had no accepted form of photo ID. Furthermore, the Electoral Commission had provided a suite of resources for Councils to use.
Council was informed that Officers were drawing up a communications strategy which would include providing information in the Council Tax leaflet, Voter ID booklets, (which would be available at the ... view the full minutes text for item 82\22
Motions on Notice (to follow) PDF 278 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 explained that 4 Motions on Notice had been received for consideration at this meeting, including 1 urgent Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor Robinson.
It was explained that in advance of the meeting, it had been agreed by the Councillors who had submitted their Motions, that the order in which they would be considered would be changed from that shown in the supplementary agenda pack. Therefore, Members would start by considering Councillor McDonald’s Motion, followed by Councillor Robinson’s Motion, before then going back to Councillor Hotham’s Motion and ending with Councillor Hunter’s Motion. Members were informed that this change had been made to ensure that the urgent Motion could be considered earlier in the meeting.
Excess Winter Deaths
Council considered the following Motion on Notice that was submitted by Councillor P. McDonald:
“The Office for National Statistics recorded a six-fold increase in excess winter deaths last winter — 63,000 compared to 10,320 in winter 2020/21. Many of the excess deaths were attributed to cold related illnesses including pneumonia. This shows just how seriously the economic crisis is impacting on our oldest and most vulnerable and teachers spotting the signs that pupils haven’t eaten.
Many fear a repeat of last winter’s increase in the number of excess winter deaths, with many facing unprecedented threats to their health amid the cost-of-living crisis. With many parts of Bromsgrove slowly sinking into poverty.
That this Council calls on the Cabinet to set up a 'Doorstep Engagement Unit' as a pioneering response to this unfolding financial crisis and includes the finances to support this in the budget setting process."
The Motion was proposed by Councillor McDonald and seconded by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor McDonald commented that due to the current cost of living crisis residents were subject to soaring energy prices and increased mortgage repayments. As a result, many households were living in fuel poverty, with a large proportion of these being lone parent households and those who were the most vulnerable.
It was with this in mind that the Motion was being proposed and the suggestion of ‘doorstep engagement’ would enable increased human contact at a time of need for some families. Members were informed that this initiative would also provide an opportunity for residents to share any difficulties they were experiencing and to be provided with information regarding support and any benefits available.
In seconding the Motion, Councillor Rone-Clarke suggested that the increased deaths were due to increased levels of cold, flu and pneumonia and that this could be linked to poorly insulated housing and the cost of living crisis. Furthermore, that ‘doorstep engagement’ with local residents would be a positive step for people living within the District.
The Leader responded to this Motion and in doing so queried the data analysis that had been used. Members were informed that the data was from the Census 2021 Data analysis, and whilst the excess winter mortality index in England was significantly higher than all winters ... view the full minutes text for item 83\22
To consider any urgent business, details of which have been notified to the Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services prior to the commencement of the meeting and which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, considers to be of so urgent a nature that it cannot wait until the next meeting
Outside Body Appointment
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 7, the Chairman has accepted, as an item of urgent business, consideration of nominations to fill a vacant seat on the Artrix Holding Trust as an outside body appointment. This vacancy has arisen following Councillor M. Middleton’s resignation from the Trust.
Council is invited to consider nominations and to agree the appointment of a Member to fill this vacant seat.
This has been accepted as urgent business by the Chairman because Councillor Middleton’s resignation from the Artrix Holding Trust occurred after the main agenda for the Council meeting had been published and there is due to be a meeting of the Artrix Holding Trust prior to the next meeting of Council.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 7, the Chairman advised Members that he had accepted, as an item of urgent business, consideration of nominations to fill a vacant seat on the Artrix Holding Trust as an outside body appointment. This vacancy had arisen following Councillor M. Middleton’s resignation from the Trust. This appointment had been accepted as urgent business as there was scheduled to be a meeting of the Trust prior to the next meeting of Council and there was a need to ensure that this meeting would be quorate.
Council was invited to consider nominations and to agree the appointment of a Member to fill this vacant seat.
During consideration of this item a nomination was received for Councillor J. King.
On being put to the vote, this nomination was carried and therefore it was
RESOLVED that Councillor J. King be appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Artrix Holding Trust as an outside body appointment.