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 asked Members to be concise in their discussions as there were a large number of motions to be considered at the meeting. Councillor S. Colella asked it to be noted that he had withdrawn his motion and would take the matter up directly with the relevant Portfolio Holder. He further commented that he felt that there were, in many cases, a number of other ways in which the issues raised in the motions could be dealt with and urged members to consider these before submitting a motion.
Members considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor K. Van der Plank:
“This Council notes that;
- Fly tipping cost this Council £88,000 and over 200 staff hours to clean up in the financial year 2018-19. Time and money that could be put to better use for our residents.
- Fly tipping damages our natural environment, harming both wildlife and our eco-systems.
Keeping our district clean and protecting our environment by tackling and eliminating fly tipping is essential in building a district people can enjoy and where people are proud to live
This motion calls on this Council to request that the Cabinet
1. Explore more effective methods of environmental enforcement in particular the levels of investment in CCTV
2. Make it clear this District will not tolerate fly tipping and will take a tough stance on offenders. Look into the levels of funding allocated to enable the investigation of incidents and ensure fly-tippers are held to account.
3. Ensure that when prosecutions occur that this is communicated widely to deter rogue operators and fly-tippers.
4. Raise awareness with residents through a comprehensive communication campaign including:
- ensuring residents understand they must take appropriate steps to ensure they give their waste to a person who is licensed. If they don’t and their rubbish is found dumped and it’s tracked back to them, they will be prosecuted or receive a fixed penalty notice.
- promoting the green agenda, and in particular, encouraging residents to reduce and reuse so less waste is created
- encourage residents to be vigilant (whilst remaining safe) and report suspicious behaviour and incidents of fly tipping
5. Work with County and cross-boundary with Birmingham to explore opportunities to collaborate to reduce fly tipping and encourage and make it easy for residents to dispose of waste properly
6. Make it easier for our residents to access the directory of licensed waste collection companies on the environment agency website by providing a prominent link on the BDC Website alongside information about County Council tip site in our district.
7. Put the necessary steps in place to ensure that all fly tipped waste, whether hazardous or non-hazardous is removed within a timely, efficient and safe way.
8. Explore ways in which the Councils Bulky Waste Service can be expanded to take additional items that are not currently available under our disposal arrangements with the County Council and how much this would cost.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor Van der Plank and seconded by Councillor K. May.
In proposing the Motion Councillor Van der Plank thanked the Leader for working with her to develop this motion and giving her support. She did not believe that anyone would disagree that this was a matter which needed to be addressed to ensure that the costs were put to better use and the district kept clean and be somewhere for residents to be proud to live.
Councillor Van der Plank went on to say that the suggestions she had made were practical ideas which could be easily implemented, currently the cost to the Council was £88k and 2,556 staff hours. The problem impacted in many ways, not just the landowners, but also environmental and caused distress to residents. There had been 113 incidents since 2017 in just one street, with over a thousand areas being affected overall. Many of the actions she was suggesting were low both practical and low cost to the Council but effective. Raising awareness would play a large part and linked with the green agenda, highlighted in the Council Plan. It was important to raise awareness with residents and to encourage them to both reuse and recycle wherever possible. The Council should also take the opportunity to investigate ways in which bulky caste can be expanded. It was also important to ensure people on the borders of the District were aware that this Council was a no fly tipping zone.
In seconding the Motion Councillor May advised that she shared Councillor Van der Plank’s concerns regarding the issue. It was noted that in Frankley alone in 2018-19 there had been 129 fly tips. She further advised that the Council was reviewing how enforcement was carried out across the District, and starting to do work with Parish Councils to increase the scrutiny on the rural lanes that attracted the most fly tipping. The Council already used CCTV on its main hotspot areas and were reviewing other systems that might be able to increase the effectiveness in catching those responsible. As part of working closer with Parishes and partners, the Council hoped to be able to access additional funding to support operations across the District as part of the wider Community Safety agenda and were currently working towards joint funding bids that could help further this approach without additional cost to tax payers. All prosecutions were publicised as widely as possible when they took place using social medial and local newspapers. It was noted that the Council would also be including details on duty of care with future messages to residents about their domestic waste services to help educate people on the importance of checking who they use for larger waste clearance. There was also an ongoing commitment to reduce the amount of waste produced in the District through the Joint Worcestershire Waste Strategy.
Councillor May further advised that the Council was always pleased to hear from residents on any issues relating to environmental crime and information could be given over the phone or through the Council’s website and would then be investigated appropriately. The Council already worked closely with neighbouring authorities and had recently supported Birmingham City Council in a prosecution of a persistent fly tipper operating across the Midlands. All fly tips were removed as quickly and efficiently as possible, with the size and logistics being the main factor in the speed of removal. Hazardous waste that required specialist contractors would be made safe and then removed as quickly as possible. The Council’s bulky waste service was currently limited in what it could take as part of the disposal arrangements with Worcestershire County Council. There were ongoing discussions around the commercial opportunities of extending the service to take additional items and the service planned to investigate options around this in the future.
Councillor Kent commented that there were issues in Wythall and he was keen for residents to understand the steps that could be taken to address the matter and he suggested that a more robust enforcement process was needed, targeting this particular area of concern.
Councillor Sherrey, as Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services advised that new cameras had been delivered, some which replaced existing ones, but others which would be mobile. These would be put in hot spots together with signage which was required by law. Often such signage prior to installation of cameras was sufficient to act as a deterrent. It was noted that there was an imminent prosecution and that two further incidents were being investigated. Where applicable, prosecutions were recorded in the local press to show that the Council was willing to take the necessary steps in dealing with these incidents.
Councillor Thompson, supported by Councillor Rone-Clarke asked for the matter to be moved to the vote without further debate. The Monitoring Officer advised that it was a matter for the Chairman to decide whether the motion had been sufficiently debated and that Members had sufficient evidence to make a decision, however the proposer of the motion should be given the opportunity to sum up prior to the vote being taken.
Councillor Van der Plank indicated that she was happy for the matter to go to the vote.
On being put to the vote the Motion was carried.
Members considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor S. Douglas:
“All accompanied children under 8 may swim in the new Bromsgrove pool for free. This also applies to children and adults with disabilities and their carers. The remaining children from 8-18 need this opportunity too.
This Council calls on the Cabinet to consider extending this provision to include all children from 8-18 and that the costs associated with this be built into the budget when presented to this Council in February.
So to help alleviate Bromsgrove’s child poverty in a small way this Council proposes that the first stage of extending free children’s swimming is enabled.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor Douglas and seconded by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke.
In proposing the Motion Councillor Douglas advised that it would meet one of the targets of the Bromsgrove District Council Plan 2019 to 2023 - Help me to live my life independently: Connect, Be active, Keep Learning.
Councillor Douglas also commented that when the National Curriculum Key Stage 2 & 3 was rolled out, there was a target to get all children to swim 25m in school time. She suggested that austerity had removed this potential life-saving basic skill cutting it from their curriculum. She also highlighted that Childhood obesity was now common, along with diabetes and asthma increasingly killing children, which had not been issues when she was a child and in previous decades. The opportunity for all children to swim regularly would help control these three largely unnecessary dangers. With swimming, children could maintain fitness, weight control, as well as develop lung capacity & breathing skills. On top of this they would learn the essential water safety skills, which safeguard children when they play near many different types of water or participating in water sports.
By making swimming free, which was Councillor Douglas’ preference, for all youngsters from next year’s budget, she commented that it would mean none would be subjected to, and often rejected, by means-testing. There was no magic border as to how family households and budgets were managed or stretched to allow for the entrance fees. By giving inclusion to all of them, none could fall just outside the cut-off level and lead to their not benefitting from this opportunity.
It was also noted that as well as fun and enjoyment, learning life preserving skills, swimming was a social event where those skills could be developed and friendships formed, which she believed was essential these days to ameliorate the effects of lonely electronic gadget immersion. This could be isolating and less than healthy for growing children forming debilitating lifelong habits. Swimming also helped with childhood mental health issues as it was both relaxing and entertaining. A meeting place off the streets for youngsters at that critical adolescent period when independence was being taken and enjoyed.
Finally, Councillor Douglas asked that Councillors gave Bromsgrove young people their full support by enabling all to have this opportunity to use the Council’s fantastic local facilities.
In seconding the motion Councillor Rone-Clarke took the opportunity to pay tribute to Councillor Douglas in pushing this matter forward. He suggested that with the demise of many youth groups in the district, due to cutbacks, that there was little left for young people to do, so it was important to ensure that the use of the Council’s Leisure Centre was inclusive to all.
Members also commented that it was important for all young people to be able to learn to swim and that often these days it was not something which was taught in schools as it used to be. It was important that this facility was inclusive to all and not means tested.
The Leader responded to the motion and advised that whilst she was not able to support it she could assure Members that the Council would be considering the needs and requirements of all its residents in the budget setting process. Whilst the motion identified this as a small thing, the Leader confirmed that the actual cost of doing what had been proposed would equate to over a £1m if it was implemented over the lifetime of the contract with Everyone Active and in the context of the motion the Council had no evidence to support or otherwise the effectiveness of what had been proposed.
The Leader further advised that this Council had and would continue to look at the very best ways in which support could be given to all disadvantaged people within the District but must do so responsibly and in a context that considered the most beneficial outcomes for the people it was supporting. There were very positive and targeted ways that public money could be used to support disadvantage residents, such as the Active Kitchen Project and the Council had a responsibility to consider the best way in which public funds could be used. If the Council was to commit to expenditure of this level it needed to understand the impact on other services and how it would be funded. It was for this reason that every other project must be properly scoped and assessed before a decision was made in order to understand the facts and implications. She would continue to work with the leisure teams to find the best ways the Council could support the community with concessionary services in the context of the budget.
Councillor P. Thomas, the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Community Services agreed with the Leader and confirmed that the cost implications would man that this was not economically viable, particular as the Council’s Leisure Services were run by Everyone Active and the cost of such a service to the end of the contract with them could be up to £1m. The Council needed to look at the best way in which to spend its budget in order to maximise the benefit to its residents and he did not believe that such a scheme would appropriate. Although he did confirm that the Council would always support young people in as many ways as it could.
During the following debate Members discussed a number of other areas in respect of the motion, including:
· The need to make such activities attractive to young people, which in turn would prevent anti-social behaviour.
· It was important to provide something for young people as had been suggested, the cuts to youth services had resulted in a reduction of activities for them generally.
· It was disputed by some Councillors that there were no activities for young people, and Members were reminded that the local scout and guide groups had long waiting lists.
· There were also other facilities, such as the climbing wall, available at the Leisure Centre for young people to participate in.
· It was pointed out that the motion was not asking for the scheme to be implemented but merely for the Council to consider it.
In summing up, Councillor Douglas advised that she was happy to do more research about the subject in order for Council to consider it further. She had spoken to a representative of Everyone Active and it had been suggested that the annual cost of such a scheme would in fact be £57k a year, she also reiterated that she was merely asking Council to consider the matter and that there would be so many benefits from it.
In accordance with Procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken and the voting was as follows:
For the motion: Councillors Colella, Douglas, English, Hotham, Hughes, Hunter, King, Mallett, McDonald, Rone-Clarke, Thompson, Van der Plank (12)
Against the motion: Councillors Beaumont, Deeming, Denaro, Glass, Jones, Kent, Kriss, May, Middleton, Sherrey, Spencer, Thomas, Till, Webb, Whittaker (15)
On being put to the vote the Motion was lost.
Restoring pride, improving bus shelters
Members considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor R. Hunter:
“Council recognises that many of Bromsgrove’s existing bus shelters are in poor condition and need upgrading or removing where they are no longer in use. The current budget only enables the council to upgrade 1 out of the 44 bus shelters it is responsible for each year which is insufficient.
Council resolves to ask the Cabinet to undertake a full review of bus shelter provision and bus shelter funding across the district.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor Hunter and seconded by Councillor J. King.
In proposing the Motion Councillor Hunter provided Members with a brief history of how the bus service had been an integral part of Bromsgrove for over 100 years. Buses were a lifeline for many people as 1 in 10 in the district did not have access to a car or live near a train station. There was also a call for the Council to reduce its carbon emissions and a good way of doing this would be to get them out of their cars and on to buses. This would also improve the air quality for those people on foot. He acknowledged that the services were not easy to use, services had been cut and had become expensive, the infrastructure had been neglected and bus shelters left to decay. It was important to make the use of buses more attractive in order to encourage people to use them.
The Leader responded that there were 44 bus shelters within the District which were maintained by Environmental Services and repainting of some of the shelters had taken place within the budget for them. She confirmed that her Group would not be supporting the motion and had confirmed with the Engineering Team Leader that a full survey of all bus shelters was already programmed in to the works programme for the end of November. Any requirements would then be fed into the next budget setting round.
It was noted that a number of rural bus shelters were the responsibility of the parish council, which were also in need of general maintenance work.
During his presentation of the motion Councillor Hunter had produced photographs of a number of bus shelters which were in a state of disrepair. Councillor H. Jones raised a point of order in respect of Member Protocol as the photographs appeared to be of bus shelters which were outside of Councillor Hunter’s ward.
The Chairman announced a five minute adjournment.
Councillor P. McDonald asked for the motion to be amended to take account of the inclusion of “live time” within each bus shelter. He advised that this was an important service for those that relied on the public transport. It was also another way of encouraging people to use the bus services and he supported the comments of other Members in respect of the need to improve the services to help towards making a difference to carbon emissions and air quality. Reference was made to the air quality management areas within the district which needed to be addressed.
Councillor Hunter agreed that he was happy to accept the amendment suggested by Councillor McDonald.
The Leader reiterated that the motion was not necessary as a review of all bus shelters would be undertaken at the end of the month. It was also commented that “live time” timetables were being rolled out in Catshill and it was anticipated that other wards would follow in due course.
Councillor L. Mallett welcomed the motion as he had a number of bus shelters in his ward which were in need of maintenance work. Whilst he was grateful that the Engineering Team were looking at this, he was concerned that there were a number of bus shelters which were not the responsibility of this Council and the appropriate authority needed to address this. He reiterated other Members concerns that there were a lot of residents who relied on buses to get around. The motion would hopefully ensure that this long standing matter was addressed and the appropriate action taken and the matter looked at in a more detailed manner and those residents that relied on the service were given the consideration that they deserved.
Councillor H. Rone-Clarke commented that some families did not own a car and therefore relied on the bus services for getting to and from work. It was important that those residents received the Council’s full support.
A number of Members went on to raise concerns around the roll of Motions on Notice in general, particular in view of the number which had been submitted for consideration at this meeting. It was suggested that a number of them could have been dealt with through other channels, such as Overview and Scrutiny Board or by approaching the relevant Cabinet Member. Whilst Members were not belittling the importance of the topics, it was felt that the aim of Motions on Notice was to deal with more substantive issues and Members were asked to give more thought about the topics brought forward through this process at future meetings.
Councillor Van der Plank asked for the matter to be moved to the vote without further debate.
Councillor Hunter was given the opportunity to sum up his motion and in so doing he thanked Members for their comments and added that he had in fact raised that matter with the Cabinet Member, but had not received a satisfactory response, hence his motion coming forward, as he felt it was an important issue that received the attention it deserved.
In accordance with Procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken and the voting was as follows:
For the amended motion: Councillors Douglas, English, Hotham, Hughes, Hunter, King, Mallett, McDonald, Rone-Clarke, Thompson, Van der Plank (11)
Against the amended motion: Councillors Beaumont, Colella, Deeming, Denaro, Glass, Jones, Kent, Kriss, May, Middleton, Sherrey, Spencer, Thomas, Till, Webb, Whittaker (16)
On being put to the vote the amended Motion was lost.
The Chairman announced that the allotted one hour timescale had expired, and therefore the remaining motions would be carried over to the next meeting.
Councillors McDonald and Mallett asked for the time to be extended, as this was in the gift of the Chairman and commented that the public had come to hear the debate on the issues raised in the outstanding motions.
The Chairman thanked Members for their comments, which he took on board and acknowledged that it was his decision as to whether to extend the time. However, on this occasion he said he would ask Members to make this decision.
Councillor McDonald further commented that as there was so many motions that would be carried over, realistically with the number of Council meetings in a year that some important issues may never be debated. He suggested therefore that the time limit for motions be referred to the Constitution Review Working Group to be reviewed in more detail.
Members discussed whether one further motion should be debated and the time extended, Councillor C. Hotham also advised that in the absence of Councillor S. Baxter that her motion could be withdrawn, if this would assist matters.
The Chairman acknowledged Members comments and chose to put the matter to the vote.
On being put to the vote, the extension of the time limit for consideration of motions was lost.