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 opened this item by explaining that four Motions on Notice had been submitted for consideration at this meeting of Council. However, Councillor S. Robinson, who had submitted one of these Motions, had agreed that her Motion could be referred on for consideration at the following meeting of the Constitution Review Working Group and it would not therefore be debated at Council. There were therefore three Motions for debate at the meeting.
Members considered the following Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke:
“Ethical banking – divesting from the big polluters
In doing business with banks such as Lloyds, who are profiting from climate breakdown, Bromsgrove District Council is itself having a negative impact on our environment, as well as failing to ‘walk the walk’ on climate change. This hurts our credibility when we call upon residents to make necessary changes to their own lifestyles in order to lessen their carbon footprint.
Therefore, Council resolves to divest from the offending banks in favour of institutions with an ethical policy that refrains from investing in fossil fuel firms.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke and seconded by Councillor P. McDonald.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor Rone-Clarke explained that it was calling for the Council to divest from financial institutions that profited from climate change. The Council used Lloyds Bank, and for this reason it had been referenced in the wording of the Motion. However, there were other banking options available to the local authority, including banks that did not invest in fossil fuels, such as The Co-operative Bank and The Unity Trust Bank.
Councillor Rone-Clarke commented that a number of Councillors had taken a decision to stand back from the Climate Change Working Group, which might have tackled this subject. However, many of the Councillors who had decided not to participate in the work of that group were meeting privately to discuss climate change matters. The action proposed in the Motion was one that could be taken by the Council to address climate change.
In seconding the Motion, Councillor McDonald reminded Members that the Council had declared a climate emergency some years previously. Action to tackle climate change was also considered to be a priority at both the local and national level and there was more that could be done to address this. The Council could exert influence by banking with an institution that did not invest in fossil fuels. Councillor McDonald also commented that the Council could have a greater impact on tackling climate change if a Climate Change Strategy was developed for the authority.
The Leader responded to the Motion by commenting that banking facilities were of tremendous importance to a local authority. Credible banking suppliers which were in practice available to the Council, given the broad level of service required and level of creditworthiness required, were quite limited. In 2020, the Group Sustainable Business Director of Lloyds Bank PLC had stated that they were delighted to be the highest-ranking UK bank and second overall in the latest ShareAction Banking on a low carbon future report that recognised the significant progress made over a number of years by the bank. Lloyds Bank had worked hard to be transparent in their efforts to manage both the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Lloyds Bank was respected for the work they were doing in this area and were also welcomed as a key business on the High Street.
Members subsequently discussed the motion in detail and in doing so raised the following points:
· The work of Lloyds Bank to address climate change and to actively encourage their customers to take action to tackle climate change.
· The need for Council investments to be appropriately considered and the potential for the staff pension fund to avoid investing in the fossil fuel industry.
· The banks utilised by local Parish Councils and the potential to influence climate change at a Parish level.
· The extent to which it was appropriate to highlight a single bank in the wording of the Motion when many banks invested in the fossil fuel industry.
· The benefits of an ethical investment policy for a local Council.
In accordance with Procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken and the voting was as follows:
Members voting FOR the Motion:
Councillors A. English, R. Jenkins, P. McDonald, H. Rone-Clarke and K. Van Der Plank. (5)
Members voting AGAINST the Motion:
Councillors A. Beaumont, R. Deeming, G. Denaro, M. Glass, S. Hession, R. Hunter, A. Kriss, K. May, M. Middleton, M. Sherrey, C. Spencer, P. Thomas, M. Thompson, J. Till, S. Webb and P. Whittaker. (16)
Members voting to ABSTAIN:
Councillors S. Colella, S. Douglas, C. Hotham and J. King. (4)
On being put to the vote the Motion was therefore lost.
Members considered the following Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor P. McDonald:
"In view of the lack of and in many cases no enforcement officer operating out of the Town Centre, that at least three enforcement officers of the total employed are fully committed to operating outside of the Town Centre. Therefore, reducing the amount of illegal, dangerous and inconsiderate parking, to encourage sensible and safe parking, to cut congestion and improve road safety."
The Motion was proposed by Councillor P. McDonald and seconded by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor McDonald commented that there was a focus of enforcement activity in the District on Bromsgrove town centre. This had implications for parts of the District located outside Bromsgrove town centre and residents were reporting concerns about problem parking involving HGVs parking on double yellow lines and drivers urinating outside residential properties. There had been Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) operating in outlying areas in December 2021 but Councillor McDonald expressed concerns that this had only occurred because there was free parking at the car parks in the town centre in the build up to Christmas. Members were asked to note that where issues had been reported to CEOs, they had not always felt able to act, having reported that an observation period had to pass before a ticket could be issued to a driver.
In seconding the Motion, Councillor Rone-Clarke raised concerns that residents living in areas outside Bromsgrove town centre were potentially not receiving their fair share of support in terms of enforcement action. Councillor Rone-Clarke further commented that enforcement action seemed to only take place in areas outside Bromsgrove town centre when the CEOs were not needed there.
In responding to the Motion, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling commented that there were six CEOs working on a shift rota pattern covering seven days per week and they covered both on and off-street enforcement. Taking into account annual leave and sickness, it was not possible to permanently allocate three officers to operate outside of Bromsgrove Town Centre every day. CEOs operated different shifts each week, not only covering enforcement within the town and outer areas of the District and also monitored the Pay on Foot system.
However, with the proposal to change the Pay on Foot system to a Pay and Display model of operation, an additional CEO would become available to support the enforcement activity both in the town of Bromsgrove and across the wider District on a needs and intelligence led basis.
It was also worth noting that On-Street Enforcement was a County Council responsibility that was passed on to the District to manage via a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with no specific funding, which meant that any expansion of the team would rely on income from enforcement that could not be guaranteed. Alternatively, expansion of the team could be funded by Bromsgrove District Council, as had already been done with the additional funding allocated to support enforcement around schools in the district.
Members subsequently discussed the Motion in detail and in doing so considered the following points:
· The volume of complaints that Councillors received from local residents about parking infringements in the District.
· The six CEOs that were available to operate in the District and the extent to which half of these resources could be realistically allocated to locations outside Bromsgrove town centre.
· The potential for the CEO who would become available once the Pay on Foot system was replaced with Pay on Display to be allocated specifically to working in areas outside Bromsgrove town centre.
· The extent to which this CEO would be expected to concentrate on working in Bromsgrove town centre at night.
· The SLA that the Council had for the civil enforcement service, which was due for renegotiation. Council was informed that a mapping exercise was due to be undertaken regarding the work of the CEOs and demand for the service.
· The need for flexibility in the parking enforcement system in the District to meet changing demand.
· The potential for Members to report any concerns regarding problem parking directly to relevant senior officers when these problems occurred.
During consideration of this item, Councillor C. Hotham proposed that the wording of the Motion could be amended to state that “…the extra Civil Enforcement Officer should be fully committed to operating outside of the Town Centre.” However, this amendment was not seconded.
In concluding the discussions in respect of this Motion, Councillor McDonald commented that he would be prepared to amend the wording of the Motion. This amendment to the end of the first sentence of the Motion stated “…surplus capacity will be used in the outlying districts.” Councillor McDonald stated that the amendment was being made on the understanding that the surplus capacity in the Civil Enforcement team would operate in the outlying areas of the District and that Members could report parking concerns directly to officers.
On being put to the vote the Motion was carried.
In view of the lack of and in many cases no enforcement officer operating out of the Town Centre, that surplus capacity will be used in the outlying districts. Therefore, reducing the amount of illegal, dangerous and inconsiderate parking, to encourage sensible and safe parking, to cut congestion and improve road safety.
Members considered the following Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor R. Hunter:
“Promoting cycling through our leisure offer.
Council is committed to promoting cycling wherever possible to help prevent climate change and encourage healthy lifestyles. Council notes significant progress has already been made, with recent improvements including a new cycle route through Sanders Park. However, there is still much more work to do.
Council calls on the Cabinet Member and officers to explore using general covid recovery grant to invest in a more ambitious recreational cycling offer for young people across our District’s parks as part of the development of our new Leisure and Culture Strategy. This will include a children’s cycling training area, which imitates road features to help young riders learn to cycle safely, and cycling trails and pump tracks for more experienced young riders."
The Motion was proposed by Councillor R. Hunter and seconded by Councillor J. King.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor Hunter commented that the Motion was asking the Council to investigate doing something positive for the District. There was flexibility available to the Council in respect of how the Covid grant funding that had been awarded by the Government to the authority was used. Should any of this funding remain available, the Motion was proposing that it could be invested in something that would constitute a positive covid legacy. An innovative cycling scheme had already been introduced in Stratford-on-Avon District and a similar scheme could potentially benefit residents living in and visiting Bromsgrove District. This type of scheme would also particularly benefit young people who had been impacted significantly by the pandemic.
In responding to the proposed Motion, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that a lot of the Covid grant funding had already been allocated. It was likely that only £400,000 remained available, once existing allocations were calculated, and it was possible that this would need to be used to offset any losses in terms of income from car parking, which was likely to be lower than in previous years. Therefore, it was unlikely that there would be much Covid grant funding available to use for other purposes. Further information about the Council’s use of the Covid grant funding would be available to view in the Medium Term Financial Plan 2022/23 to 2024/25.
During consideration of this item, the Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing and Health and Well Being advised that the Council had commissioned Leisure and Culture Strategy Development Consultants. By the date of the meeting, they were consulting with residents, stakeholders and Parish Councils about many aspects of the Council’s Leisure provision. This included finding out about current and future needs and demands for the authority’s parks and open spaces and recommending viable improvements for inclusion in a proposed future parks management plan. The suggestion of a cycle training area had been passed to the consultants to consider for possible inclusion in the future management plan. Amongst other things, the consultants would consider need, demand, costs, viability and land use.
In the interim, the Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing, Health and Well Being commented that, with the wider pathways in Sanders Park, it was hoped that young cyclists would be encouraged to cycle within the safety of the park.
Members subsequently discussed the Motion in detail and in doing so noted a number of points:
· The consultation event that had taken place on 17th January 2022 which had been attended by some Members and the difficulties that other Members with work commitments had had in respect of attending this session.
· The need for Covid grant funding to be utilised appropriately and the difficult decisions that needed to be taken by the Council when identifying which areas to prioritise for funding.
· The potential for a cycling route to be supported using alternative sources of funding.
· The scale of the potential cycling route for Bromsgrove, which would be significantly smaller than that in place in Stratford.
On being put to the vote the Motion was lost.