To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 4th September 2019.
Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board – Enforcement Policy 2019
Councillor A. D. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services, proposed the recommendation in respect of Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board, Enforcement Policy 2019 as detailed at page 115 of the agenda pack, and this was seconded by Councillor K. May.
Members discussed a number of areas in respect of this item, including:
· The differences between the updated policy and the previous policy. It was commented that it would be more helpful for Members to, in future, receive this in tracked changes format in order to establish what, if any changes had been made.
· It was suggested that it would be more appropriate to defer the item until such information was made available.
· The policy had been discussed at the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board meeting and any queries Members had could have been raised at that meeting. The purpose of bringing the matter forward to this meeting, was merely to “rubber stamp” the decision reached by the Board.
· Whether the Portfolio Holder should have been briefed in more detail about any changes and able to respond to questions from Members on it. The Portfolio Holder drew Members’ attention to page 116 of the agenda pack which highlighted the changes which had been made.
· The wording of the recommendation was discussed as this did not make specific reference to this Council.
Councillor R. Hunter proposed that the report be deferred until the next meeting and this was seconded by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke. On being put to the vote the amendment was lost.
RESOLVED that, the Council for each Member Authority adopt the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy 2019, as detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.
Bromsgrove Plan Review Update
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Kent advised Members that there had been almost 3.5k responses during the six week public consultation, a summary of which had been published, although not included within the agenda packs.
Members debated the following in more detail:
· Whether, given the comprehensive and detailed nature of the report, six weeks was sufficient time for the consultation to take place and the need to protect the valued landscape of the District. Councillor Kent responded that the Plan was a living document and would continue to be discussed in various forums and in particular Members were able to input to the process through the Strategic Planning Steering Group meetings and therefore he did not believe it was necessary to extend the consultation period beyond the six week period recommended.
· It was suggested that the recommendation be taken individually rather than en bloc in order for Members to propose any amendments if they so wished.
· Whilst there was a breakdown of the comments received, there was no detail around what people had actually said. Councillor Kent referred Members to the larger document, which had been published as a supplementary agenda, but not printed due to its size and which contained those detailed responses.
· It was noted that 83 responses had been received from land owners and agents and it was questioned whether officers had been guided by those professional responses as opposed to the more “emotional” responses received from local residents, who may not have been able to articulate their views in an appropriate manner. Councillor Kent believed that there was some confusion is respect of the responses received and advised Members that currently all officers were doing was collating the responses and Members were being asked to do was note the responses.
· The information had been published in order for the Council to be seen as open and transparent, there was the possibility that people other than developers may come forward with suggested development sites. Those sites, wherever they were located, needed to be sustainable and meet the appropriate guidelines. No decision would be made until the information received had been analysed and assessed on its merits.
· The importance of the District being sustainable and having the appropriate infrastructure in place and being able to provide well paid employment opportunities locally and housing in order for them to continue to live locally.
· It was reiterated that all the information was available for everyone to see on the Council’s website. Members had also able to discuss the detail at the Strategic Planning Steering Group meetings, which were open to all Members. Although it was commented that the full document had not been available at the time of the last meeting of this Group.
· The Green Belt Purposes Assessment had not been discussed at the Strategic Planning Working Group meeting.
· The importance of residents getting involved and letting the Council know their views and concerns.
· The importance of affordable housing was reiterated, as there were many areas in the District where people on lower incomes were unable to purchase a property.
It was commented that some reasonable points had been made, which needed to be considered, especially in light of the challenges that the Council had had as a District, with little land available and that this had been a good way to start the debate. There was a need for affordable housing and the concerns raised were understandable. Many of the concerns had been ongoing for a number of years and were not all related to the infrastructure issues, although these played a large part and as a result there may be sites which would never be built on.
Councillor Kent reassured Members that the issues which had been raised were important to him and the Team and he would ensure that these were taken back to the Strategic Planning Steering Group and discussed in full detail.
The importance of transparency and engagement were paramount if the Council were to get residents on-side as it went along this journey.
An amendment to recommendation (b) was proposed by Councillor S. Baxter, which requested the consultation period to be extended to 12 weeks. This was seconded by Councillor R. Hunter. On speaking to the amendment Councillor Baxter informed Members that as there had been such a high response to the initial consultation, which reflected the public interest in the matter and as the document was so large then residents should be given more time to consider it. She went on to say that it was the most important piece of work that the Council was likely to carry out and therefore should be given the appropriate amount of time for consideration.
Councillor Kent responded that it was important that the Council kept to the timeline that had been set, in order for the process to remain on track.
On being put to the vote the amendment was lost.
(The Monitoring Officer confirmed that the amendment had been lost following the Chairman exercising his casting vote.)
It was commented that a 6 week consultation would be resources intensive and it was questioned whether there were sufficient officers available to complete this work in the allotted time-frame. Members requested reassurance that the appropriate resources would be available in order that the consultation was carried out properly and that it did not impact on their other workload. Councillor Kent advised Members that the timeline had been put together by officers and he was therefore confident that they were able to do the work. However, it was also the responsibility of Councillors to go out into their communities and encourage residents to take part in the consultation and have their say.
Councillor C. Hotham proposed an amendment to recommendation (c) to including the following:
“and Council welcomes the strengths and purposes shown by the larger settlements in this regard.”
Councillor Kent commented that the recommendation as it currently stood was simply asking for the Stage 1 Green Belt Purposes Assessment to be noted and that the amendment appeared to confuse the matter.
The Head of Planning and Regeneration was asked to clarify the position and she advised Council that the purpose of the study was to set out the methodology to be used in the process and areas which Members may wish to put particular emphasis on. It was not setting out a conclusion, although it could be used to do this in due course. It provided areas that needed to be thought about before a decision was made in the future.
In speaking to the amendment, Members made the following comments:
On summing up Councillor Hotham advised that his understanding was that sites would be around the town and smaller settlements, and would be welcomed, but it was important that the Council was open and honest with its residents.
On being put to the vote the amendment was lost.
In respect of recommendation (d) Councillor Hotham put forward an amendment:
“that Council suspends the call for sites and completes a statement of common ground with Redditch, Wychavon and Wyre Forest Councils.”
In speaking to the amendment Councillor Hotham explained that since the report had been published and looking at appendix 2 he was concerned that the Council was “jumping the gun” and made reference to the NPPF, paragraph 37 and concluded that there were exceptional circumstances and the need to talk with neighbouring authorities around what can be done. The Council needed to have that in place before moving forward in order to establish how they can help with the housing need of this District. It may also be prudent to include Birmingham in those discussions before any further action was taken.
Councillor Kent, as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services responded that the Call for Sites would help the Council understand what was available and then consider whether those site were suitable and whether the land could be released for development. A statement of common ground would follow once that initial process had been completed and evidence gathered. It was not appropriate to issue that before the call for sites was completed. Members were reminded that there was a duty to co-operate between all neighbouring authorities should the need arise. By issuing a Statement of Common ground at this stage there was the possibility of alienating the other authorities and reducing the credibility of the plan going forward. He would therefore not support such an approach.
In debating the amendment, Members discussed the following:
In accordance with procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken and the voting was as follows:
For the amendment: Councillors Baxter, Colella, Douglas, English, Hotham. Hughes, Hunter, Jenkins, King, Mallett, Rone-Clarke, Thompson, Van der Plank (13)
Against the amendment: Councillors Deeming, Denaro, Glass, Hession, Kent, Kriss, May, Middleton, Sherrey, Spencer, Thomas, Till, Webb, Whittaker (14)
On being put to the vote the amendment was lost.
a) the response to the Issues and Options Consultation (Appendix 1 be noted);
b) the consultation, the Plan Update and Further Consultation document (Appendix 2), be noted and published for a period of 6 weeks from 30th September to the 11th November 2019;
c) the contents of the Stage 1 Green Belt Purposes Assessment (Appendix 3) be noted;
d) the Call for Sites process be opened for a period of 6 weeks between 30th September to the 11th November 2019; and
e) delegated authority be given to the Head of Planning and Regeneration Services in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services, to make any minor technical corrections and editorial changes deemed necessary to aid the understanding of the documentation prior to final publishing.
Councillor Baxter requested that in respect of the delegated authority could any changes agreed be reported back to Members for information in order that they could monitor changes that had been made. Councillor Kent confirmed that this would be done.
Response to Worcestershire County Council Passenger Transport Strategy
Councillor A. D. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services, proposed the recommendation in respect of the response to the Worcestershire County Council Passenger Transport Strategy, and this was seconded by Councillor K. May.
In proposing the recommendations Councillor Kent highlighted that many of the concerns raised in the previous item had been picked up and included within the response.
In debating the matter, Members discussed a number of areas including:
Councillor Kent confirmed that whilst the consultation was now closed, he was happy for this to be discussed further at the Strategic Planning Steering Group and if necessary for an additional response to be sent to WCC following those discussions.
a) the response at Appendix A of the report to the Worcestershire County Council Passenger Transport Strategy be endorsed; and
b) the matter be referred to the Strategic Planning Steering Group for further discussion.
Bromsgrove Council Plan
In proposing the recommendation, Councillor May explained that the Council’s priorities had been reduced to five as set out in the Plan and that there was a now a “green thread” which ran through all areas. Each key priority had underneath it a set of measures in order to ensure that those priorities were met.
RESOLVED that the Council Plan attached at Appendix 1 be approved.
Finance Monitoring Quarter 1 2019/20
Councillor G. Denaro, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling, proposed the recommendation in respect of the Finance Monitoring Quarter 1 2019/20 Report and this was seconded by Councillor K. May.
In proposing the recommendation, Councillor Denaro explained that the request was simply to move capital from the following years to this year in order to purchase more modern CCTV equipment and allow for a number of mobile cameras to be purchased. This would be of benefit to everyone and was not an additional cost, but simply bring funds forward.
A number of areas were discussed in more detail by Members, including:
RESOLVED that an increase in the 2019-20 Capital Programme of £80K (as detailed at 6.1 of the report) for CCTV Cameras funded by releasing funds allocated in 2020-21 £40k and 2021-22 £40k to increase the existing budget already approved in 2019-20 be approved.