Agenda for Council on Wednesday 21st April 2021, 6.00 p.m.

Agenda and minutes

Virtual Meeting - Teams, Council - Wednesday 21st April 2021 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Teams

Contact: Jess Bayley 

Media

Items
No. Item

78\20

To observe a minute silence as a mark of respect for His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Minutes:

At the start of the meeting the Chairman led Members in paying tribute to His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, by observing a minute silence.

 

 

 

79\20

To receive apologies for absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

 

 

80\20

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.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

 

81\20

To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 24th February 2021 pdf icon PDF 357 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of Council held on Wednesday, 24th February 2021 were submitted.

 

During consideration of the minutes, Councillor S. Douglas commented that her name had not been recorded for the vote in respect of the alternative budget that had been submitted at the meeting by the Liberal Democrat, Bromsgrove Independents East District and the Bromsgrove Independents West and Central District Groups.  Officers clarified that Councillor Douglas’s name had not been recorded in the minutes for this vote as she had experienced connection issues and had therefore not take part in the vote.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Council held on Wednesday, 24th February 2021 be approved.

 

 

82\20

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

Minutes:

There were no announcements from either the Chairman or the Head of Paid Service on this occasion.

 

 

83\20

To receive any announcements from the Leader

Minutes:

There were no announcements from the Leader.

 

 

84\20

To receive comments, questions or petitions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 90 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.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Mr Bob Powell to the meeting, and advised that, in line with the Council’s process for managing petitions, the petitioner had 3 minutes to present his petition.  Members were advised that as the subject of the petition was also addressed in a Motion due for consideration at the meeting, the subject matter would be debated at that point in the meeting.

 

Mr Powell thanked Council for providing him with an opportunity to speak on behalf of the Whitford Vale Voice group, which had organised the petition on behalf of residents living on the western side of Bromsgrove and beyond.  Residents who had signed the petition had been concerned for some time that the western route around Bromsgrove, through Catshill, Stourbridge Road, Whitford Road, Perryfields Road and Fox Lane was becoming an established alternative to the B04091 route through Worcester Road, Market Street and Stourbridge Road in the town centre.  Mr Powell expressed the view that congestion on the Perryfields Road junction with Kidderminster Road, during peak times, had often overlapped congestion on the Fox Lane junction with Rock Hill even 10 years previously.

 

Members were informed that when residents had become aware that there were plans for housing development off Whitford Road, Whitford Vale Voice had been founded with the primary objective of seeking the introduction of a Western Relief Road, as proposed in paragraph 31.5 of the Local Plan. This was proposed when land at Whitford Road, Perryfields and Norton Farm had been redesignated as land for development, in order to divert through traffic from the existing western route. 

 

Residents had calculated that the 490 dwellings in the Whitford Road planning application would translate into an additional 800 vehicles using Whitford Road and Fox Lane.  Many of these journeys would take place at peak times which would exacerbate congestion levels.

 

Members were asked to note that at present there was nowhere else for vehicles in the western part of Bromsgrove to go, unless through the town centre, which could be congested, or by using the Perryfields Road and Whitford Road route. Planning consent for 1,300 dwellings and industrial units proposed for Perryfields would further exacerbate the situation.  Furthermore, Members were informed that the proposed Perryfields spine road would force drivers to use either the town centre route or residential streets instead.  For example, Mr Powell commented that this could include the undesirable use of Broad Street, which had traffic calming measures, All Saints Road, which had extensive on street parking and Millfield Road, which was narrow and without pavements.

 

Over the years developers had suggested amendments to the existing road system in order to address concerns amongst local residents about the impact of development on traffic and congestion.  However, residents had been concerned about the potential effectiveness of these measures.

 

In the petition the signatories were asking for a Western Relief Road route to be included in the District Plan review.  Members were advised that time was critical but it would not be too late to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84\20

85\20

Constitution Review Working Group - Recommendation pdf icon PDF 218 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that he had been contacted 30 minutes prior to the start of the Council meeting regarding a suggested amendment to the recommendation from the Constitution Review Working Group detailed in the report.  To provide Members with sufficient time to consider the amendment, Members were advised that the item would be deferred for consideration at the following meeting of Council.

 

 

 

86\20

Amendments to the Officer Scheme of Delegations (Report to Follow) pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented a report which detailed proposed changes to the Officer Scheme of Delegations in respect of the administration of Government funding that was received by the Council to help manage the impact of Covid-19 on the community.

 

Members were advised that the Council had received many different forms of grant funding from the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic to help the community.  Frequently, these sources of funding needed to be spent within tight timescales.  However, due to the Committee timetable, it was not always possible for the Council to respond in a timely manner when decisions were taken through the usual decision-making process.  Unfortunately, any delays to the distribution of grant funding within the community could have a detrimental impact. By contrast, Officers would be able to respond promptly should the Council agree to grant the proposed delegated authority.

 

The proposals detailed in the report were briefly discussed and there was general consensus that a streamlined approach to funding distribution, that ensured eligible groups received funding as quickly as possible, would be welcomed.  However, concerns were raised about the late publication of the report, which had been issued to Members in a supplementary pack for the meeting.  Members commented that they were required to submit Questions and Motions some time in advance of a Council meeting to ensure that these could be included in the main agenda and it was suggested that the same approach should be adopted for all reports to Council.  the Leader acknowledged Members’ concerns and explained that the delay had been partly caused by the fact that the guidance for many of the grants was issued to the Council after the funding, making it difficult to assess and plan in advance of the date when the report had been issued.

 

The recommendation was proposed by Councillor G. Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. May.

 

RESOLVED that authority be delegated to the Executive Director of Resources to accept, administer and distribute any Government Funding, or Funding from bodies acting on behalf of Government, relating to or in response to the Covid 19 emergency and to make the necessary and corresponding adjustments to the MTFP following consultation with the relevant portfolio holder and where applicable Ward Councillor(s) and subject to meeting the conditions of grant funding.

 

 

87\20

Urgent Decisions pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Urgent decisions have been taken on the following subjects since the previous meeting of Council:

 

a)           The release of £105k from balances to support the continued operation of Bromsgrove Sports and Leisure Centre during January to March 2021 following the forced closure in January 2021. 

b)           Approval of the Green Homes funding that has been allocated to Bromsgrove District Council.  The report on this subject that was considered at meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, on 29th March 2021, and Cabinet, on 31st March 2021, has also been attached as background  information.

 

Any further urgent decisions taken after the publication of this agenda pack will be circulated for Members’ consideration in a supplementary pack.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that there had been two urgent decisions taken since the previous meeting of Council and he reminded Members that these were not for debate. 

 

Council was informed that in respect of the urgent decision that had been taken on Green Homes Funding, this had been debated at meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board and Cabinet in March.  However, as the Council had needed to make a decision on this subject by 15th April 2021, the proposals in respect of this matter had had to be approved through the urgent decision process.

 

During consideration of this item, Councillor S. Robinson requested further information about the delegation that had been granted to Officers in respect of the Green Homes Funding item.  As this item was not subject to debate, the Chairman proposed that this matter should be discussed with relevant Officers outside the meeting.

 

 

 

88\20

Recommendations from the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 31st March 2021.

 

Minutes:

Financial Monitoring Report – Quarter 3 2020/21

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the Financial Monitoring Report – Quarter 3 2020/21.  Members were advised that the Council was anticipating a deficit of £774,000 by the end of the financial year.  However, there remained £786,000 of the £1.255 million that the Council had received in Covid-19 grant funding from the Government which could be used to help address this gap.  Members were also informed that a further tranche of grant funding had been announced by the Government and Bromsgrove District Council was due to receive £411,000 in this contribution.

 

During consideration of this item, further information was requested about the Schools Financial Literacy Programme and potential for this scheme to be rolled out to all secondary schools in the District.  The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that 2 schools had participated in the scheme the previous year and 2 different schools would be participating in the next year.

 

The recommendations in respect of the Financial Monitoring Report – Quarter 3 2020/21 were proposed by Councillor G. Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. May.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)        an increase to the Capital programme 2020/21 of match funding from PCC for digital upgrade of CCTV of £19,000 be approved;

 

2)        the increase in the capital programme of £30,000 for 2021/22, £20,000 2022/23 for Welfare and business improvements at Bromsgrove Sporting be approved; and

 

3)        an increase to the revenue budget by £4,000, to be funded by reserves to help fund a school’s financial literacy programme, be approved.

 

89\20

To note the minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 24th February and 31st March 2021 pdf icon PDF 258 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings of Cabinet held on 24th February and 31st March 2021 were noted.

 

 

90\20

Questions on Notice pdf icon PDF 363 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.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that 6 questions had been submitted for consideration at the meeting.  There would be no subsidiary questions.

 

Question Submitted by Councillor P. McDonald

 

The Institute for Employment Rights (IER) report, compiled by 11 specialists in occupational health and safety and labour law, claims that Covid-19 guidance is not being properly enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

 

The government’s approach to enforcing its guidance in the workplace has been underfunded, light-touch and run by an understaffed HSE. As a result, researchers claim that workplace risk has not been managed properly, and is not in line with the government’s claim that is making workplaces Covid-secure. Researchers said there has been widespread failure to control risks of airborne and surface transmission in workplaces, shown by the emergence of infection clusters.

 

Considering this what action is the Council taking to ensure the Council is Covid secure?”

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many challenges, many of which required swift action to put in place safety measures to ensure that the Council could continue to deliver its services in an efficient way, whilst also minimising the risks to staff of transmission of the virus. The Council had, during the previous twelve months, followed Government guidance in relation to working from home, the wearing of masks, social distancing, testing and all other guidance issued by central Government. The Council had also taken a number of actions and continued to implement any changes required by Government in order to ensure compliance. Some of these actions included:

 

·                All business continuity plans were checked and updated as the pandemic developed in the early part of 2020.

·                All staff who could work from home were told to do so with additional infrastructure and equipment provided by IT services.

·                Specific risk management was undertaken for all staff in customer-facing and frontline roles.

·                A frequently asked questions update had been maintained for staff throughout the pandemic, with updates based on changing Government guidance.

·                Regular communications had been issued across the organisation to highlight changed guidance or the need for compliance.

·                Communications reminding staff where the nearest testing centres were had been issued. 

·                General risk management was undertaken for all colleagues, ensuring those frontline colleagues with identified vulnerabilities were either safely redeployed or permitted to work from home.

·                PPE was provided along with advice on how to best utilise it and dispose of it safely after use.

·                In buildings, COVID-secure measures were put in place, such as:

-           teams being split into cohort groups to reduce transmission through the mixing of groups.

-           hand sanitiser stations provided at various points throughout buildings.

-           social distancing markings and reminder posters put in buildings.

-           limited numbers of staff allowed in offices ensuring compliance with social distancing.

-           social distancing was further enabled through the introduction of one-way systems, restricted access points, QR code posters for track and trace, signing in/out books and a desk booking system requiring staff who  ...  view the full minutes text for item 90\20

91\20

Motions on Notice pdf icon PDF 175 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.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman opened the debate in respect of Motions that had been submitted for consideration at the meeting and in doing so reminded Members that they could not discuss specific planning applications when commenting on the Motions.

 

A Western Distributor Road for Bromsgrove

 

Members considered the following Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor L. Mallett:

 

Council notes the WCC JMP Western Bypass Report, 2015. This report was subsequently discredited as a basis for understanding the feasibility of such a scheme in research commissioned by Bromsgrove Council in 2018.

Council resolves to urgently review the case and formally assess the feasibility of the Western Distributor /Relief Road. This would allow the incorporation of this scheme, should it be found to be feasible, into all relevant planning documents and funding opportunities, at the earliest opportunity. 

 

The Motion was proposed by Councillor L. Mallett and seconded by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke.

 

In proposing the Motion, Councillor Mallett commented that the subject of the Motion was not new to the District, having been discussed for 2 decades and he thanked Whitford Vale Voice for the petition that they had submitted on this subject and the people who had signed the petition.

 

Members were advised that what was being discussed was a distributor road, not a bypass.  The purpose of a distributor road would be to enable traffic to progress round to the west of the town without having to go through the town centre.  Councillor Mallett noted that there was a distributor road in Worcester, between the north and south M5 junctions, which set a precedent for towns in the county to have distributor roads.  Councillor Mallett commented that the introduction of a distributor road would also help to address problems with congestion in the town centre, the issues arising from vehicles using residential streets, such as All Saints Road, to travel through the town, the impact of high traffic volumes on air pollution, which impacted on the health of local residents and would have a beneficial impact on economic growth in the town.

 

When sites to the west of Bromsgrove were designated as suitable for development in 2004, Bromsgrove District Council had requested that a Western Relief Road should be considered.  However, Councillor Mallett commented that no assessment appeared to have subsequently been undertaken by Worcestershire County Council in respect of this matter.  Consequently, since then, a number of developments had been approved, though without the mitigating action that had been intended when those sites were first earmarked for development.

 

In 2014 Councillor Mallett had proposed a Motion which had resulted in the Council agreeing unanimously that a relief road should be considered.  This decision had ultimately triggered the JMP report, commissioned by Worcestershire County Council.  Councillor Mallett questioned the appropriateness of the brief that had been provided to JMP for this report and he commented that it did not give proper consideration to local road infrastructure and traffic volumes, did not assess the economic benefits arising from easing congestion and did not take  ...  view the full minutes text for item 91\20