Agenda item - Recommendations from the Cabinet

Agenda item

Recommendations from the Cabinet

To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 30th March 2022.



Members considered recommendations arising from the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday 30th March 2022.


Land Drainage Watercourse Maintenance Operation


The Leader presented a report on the subject of the Land Drainage Watercourse Maintenance Operation. 


Members were asked to note that this report was being presented in a context in which the climate was changing and there had been an increase in the number of flooding events.  To help mitigate this and maintain healthy water courses, North Worcestershire Water Management (NWWM) had been working on a maintenance schedule for all the water courses within Bromsgrove District.


The Council owned approximately 8 km of watercourses, primarily through recreational areas and adopted open spaces. In addition, NWWM, on behalf of the Council, inspected and maintained several un-registered stretches of watercourses.  This brought the total length of watercourses maintained for Bromsgrove to over 9 km. Keeping these watercourses well maintained would benefit the community and create an excellent habitat for wildlife including protected species, such as native crayfish, water voles, great crested newts, and nesting birds.


The aim of the plan was to proactively schedule routine inspections and maintenance of each section of a watercourse, to improve both the flood risk and the ecology.  The first year was to be viewed as a pilot where there was likely to be more emphasis on inspections.  Some activities might need to be undertaken more or less frequently, depending upon the season, and this could be refined over time.


The contractor would not replace the Parks and Place teams, who would still be responsible for wider landscaping maintenance and litter picking.  In addition, NWWM would continue to routinely inspect sites on a frequency determined by the potential flood risk of each site.  The estimated cost to the Council would be in the region of £45,000 per year.


The Leader concluded by commenting that she believed that the implementation of this plan would significantly improve the flood risk from water courses in the District and also benefit the wildlife that depended on them.


Members subsequently discussed the report in detail and in so doing welcomed the proposed action to address flooding in the District.  It was noted that this followed flooding in recent years in parts of the District, including Wythall, which had had a devastating impact on the local community.  The extension of the NWWM’s work to undertake inspections of additional sites, including in Beoley and Hagley, was also welcomed and Members commented that flooding was increasingly a risk in areas that had not previously been affected by the phenomena.


During consideration of this item, Members noted that flooding had been the focus of a recent scrutiny Task Group.  The report had also been pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.  Members noted that it was important to ensure that action was monitored.  For this reason, the Overview and Scrutiny Board would be revisiting the subject in a year’s time when the impact of the planned works would be considered alongside the potential for the work to be delivered by Council staff rather than external contractors.


Reference was made to the responsibility that landowners had to take for flooding on their land, even in cases where this flooding had been caused by land mismanagement further upstream.  Questions were raised about the extent to which this was morally acceptable.  However, Members were advised that there were specific legal guidelines in relation to this matter and the Council and NWWM needed to work within this framework.


At the end of the debate in respect of this report, Members commented that the Oakalls had been spelt incorrectly within the plan.  A request was made for this spelling to be addressed in the final plan.


The recommendations were proposed by Councillor K. May and seconded by Councillor A. Kriss.




1)          an additional budget of £45,000 for Land Drainage – Watercourse Maintenance Operations be included in the general fund for the 2022/2023 financial year; and


2)          a budget of £45,000 for Land Drainage – Watercourse Maintenance Operations be included in the Medium Term Financial Plan for future years.


Equality Strategy 2022 to 2026


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the Equality Strategy 2022 to 2026.


Council was informed that Bromsgrove District Council was committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination, promoting equal opportunities and fostering good relations between people from all of the communities it served. By listening to and considering the different needs of residents and customers, the Council was better placed to design and deliver appropriate, coordinated, and relevant services to the people of Bromsgrove.


To this end, the Equality Strategy had been updated to support the organisation in the effective delivery of its equality work over the following four years, including the Equality Objectives, which were a requirement under the Public Sector Equality Duty. The strategy described how the Council would fulfil its moral, social and legal obligations and what the authority would do to make Bromsgrove a place where people got along with each other and treated each other with dignity and respect.


The strategy also set out the Council’s corporate approach to equalities, which would be delivered by:


·             supporting all sectors of the local community;

·             carrying out internal equalities work;

·             providing equalities training and;

·             conducting legally required monitoring.


The strategy covered inequality in terms of age, disability, gender reassignment (transgender), marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation and was aimed at those who lived, worked and visited the District, as well as elected Councillors and employees of the Council.


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


RESOLVED that the Equality Strategy 2022 to 2026 be endorsed.


Equality Annual Report 2021


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the Equality Annual Report 2021 for Members’ consideration.


Council was informed that this report had been proposed by the Equalities Task Group in 2021.  The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that he had been delighted to read the report and to learn about the amount of work that the Council had undertaken during the year.


Members welcomed the report and the good work that had been recorded in the document and it was noted that this had occurred at a challenging time in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Reference was made to the information that had been provided in the report in respect of the Household Support Fund, which noted that the fund had been oversubscribed.  Members suggested that it would be helpful to receive further information about the number of people the fund had been oversubscribed by, the number of people who had been eligible to apply and the number of people who had received support through the fund.  Members were advised that this information would be provided after the meeting.


The inclusion of information about food banks and the provision of food parcels was also discussed during the meeting.  Concerns were raised about residents’ need to access food banks, including residents who worked.  It was suggested that action needed to be taken to ensure that food banks were not needed in the future. 


Consideration was given to the information that had been provided about the Starting Well Partnership’s Family Hubs and Members noted that volunteers had been recruited to support these hubs.  Questions were raised about whether the volunteers had received any training and qualifications to enable them to fulfil these roles effectively.  Council was informed that Worcestershire County Council had been undertaking work in respect of this initiative, which was designed to enable communities to become more sustainable and to help prevent referrals to Adult Social Care.  Bromsgrove District Council had been working closely with Worcestershire County Council in respect of this matter.


Members discussed the appointment of Community Builders in Catshill and Rubery.  Questions were raised about whether a tendering process had been carried out to procure a service provider for this.  Members were advised that the Council had sought to progress Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) once the Council had successfully bid for Community Builder funding.


A range of community events had been listed within the report.  Questions were raised about the reasons why no reference had been made to £5,000 funding that had been collected by residents in Rubery to support an upgrade of the BMX track.  The Leader requested that further information on this subject be provided to her in writing so that the matter could be investigated accordingly.


The content and layout of the report were briefly discussed.  Members welcomed the narrative that had been included in the report, which helped to provide useful background information.  However, Members commented that in future editions it would be helpful for more figures and metrics to be provided to help clarify the context.


Reference was also made to the Equalities Small Grants Scheme.  Members commented that, following the end of the Community Grants Scheme, the Equalities Grant Scheme was of increasing importance to local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations.  Officers were urged to provide more information to elected Members about this scheme in future so that it could be promoted accordingly to local community groups.  The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that an email had been sent to all Members on this subject.


During consideration of this item, Members noted that in addition to the Council’s equalities duties, the authority had a moral responsibility to act to address health inequalities.  The potential for a report to be provided in future which focused on the work undertaken in Bromsgrove to address health inequalities was therefore suggested.


Consideration was given to the information that had been provided in the appendix to the report in respect of census date from 2011.  Questions were raised about the reasons why figures had not been provided for people aged over 74 in the age categories.  Members also queried the data that had been provided in respect of employment figures and whether this accurately reflected the number of households with dependent children that were in employment in the District.  It was agreed that Officers from the Policy Team should contact relevant Members to clarify the figures provided.


In concluding their discussions of this matter, Members thanked the officers that had contributed evidence during the course of the Equalities Task Group investigation.  Officers were also thanked for acting on the recommendations from the group that had been endorsed by Cabinet.


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


RESOLVED that the Equality Annual Report 2021 be endorsed.



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