Agenda item

Motions on Notice (to follow)

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 explained that 4 Motions on Notice had been received for consideration at this meeting, including 1 urgent Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor Robinson.


It was explained that in advance of the meeting, it had been agreed by the Councillors who had submitted their Motions, that the order in which they would be considered would be changed from that shown in the supplementary agenda pack.  Therefore, Members would start by considering Councillor McDonald’s Motion, followed by Councillor Robinson’s Motion, before then going back to Councillor Hotham’s Motion and ending with Councillor Hunter’s Motion.  Members were informed that this change had been made to ensure that the urgent Motion could be considered earlier in the meeting.


Excess Winter Deaths


Council considered the following Motion on Notice that was submitted by Councillor P. McDonald:


“The Office for National Statistics recorded a six-fold increase in excess winter deaths last winter — 63,000 compared to 10,320 in winter 2020/21. Many of the excess deaths were attributed to cold related illnesses including pneumonia. This shows just how seriously the economic crisis is impacting on our oldest and most vulnerable and teachers spotting the signs that pupils haven’t eaten.


Many fear a repeat of last winter’s increase in the number of excess winter deaths, with many facing unprecedented threats to their health amid the cost-of-living crisis. With many parts of Bromsgrove slowly sinking into poverty.


That this Council calls on the Cabinet to set up a 'Doorstep Engagement Unit' as a pioneering response to this unfolding financial crisis and includes the finances to support this in the budget setting process."


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


In proposing the Motion, Councillor McDonald commented that due to the current cost of living crisis residents were subject to soaring energy prices and increased mortgage repayments. As a result, many households were living in fuel poverty, with a large proportion of these being lone parent households and those who were the most vulnerable.


It was with this in mind that the Motion was being proposed and the suggestion of ‘doorstep engagement’ would enable increased human contact at a time of need for some families. Members were informed that this initiative would also provide an opportunity for residents to share any difficulties they were experiencing and to be provided with information regarding support and any benefits available.


In seconding the Motion, Councillor Rone-Clarke suggested that the increased deaths were due to increased levels of cold, flu and pneumonia and that this could be linked to poorly insulated housing and the cost of living crisis. Furthermore, that ‘doorstep engagement’ with local residents would be a positive step for people living within the District.


The Leader responded to this Motion and in doing so queried the data analysis that had been used. Members were informed that the data was from the Census 2021 Data analysis, and whilst the excess winter mortality index in England was significantly higher than all winters since the series began in 1991 to 1992; COVID-19 was the leading cause of excess winter mortality in 2020 to 2021 accounting for 85% of all excess winter deaths in England. As a result, it was stated that this data was not directly linked to the current economic challenges taking place nationally, and that the current cost of living challenges had begun in February 2022 when the war in Ukraine had commenced.


Members were informed that the Council continued to work proactively with partner organisations to support residents in this unfolding financial crisis through a Cost of Living Group chaired by the Chief Executive.  In addition to this, it was stated that the Group was established to work together to support residents as effectively as possible in a joined up way and was always willing to consider any ideas.  Further information was provided regarding the membership of the Cost of Living Group, which included the following:


·       Citizens Advice Bromsgrove and Redditch

·       Act on Energy

·       BDHT

·       Age UK Bromsgrove

·       Redditch and Wyre Forest, Foodbanks

·       WCC

·       The Department for Work and Pensions

·       NewStarts

·       Library services

·       Public Health, Bromsgrove Primary Care Trust (PCN)

·       Churches Together

·       Officers from various teams within the District Council


The Leader reported that the Cost of Living Group recognised that there was a lot of support available both nationally and locally.  However, this in itself could be confusing for residents to navigate.  As a result, it was confirmed that a cost of living leaflet had been created, alongside a digital campaign and the creation of Cost of Living webpages on the Council’s website.  The aim it was to signpost residents to key agencies and support.  A more detailed leaflet was also devised by the Starting Well Team, aimed predominately at families.


Council was informed that both the ‘at a glance’ and more detailed leaflets had been distributed by Council Officers, Councillors and partner organisations, in order to ensure it was available in as many venues and settings as possible.   Efforts had been specifically made in order to reach those who may be digitally excluded, and the leaflet therefore included phone numbers alongside web links. It was highlighted to Members that a second version of the cost of living leaflet was currently being devised for inclusion in the Council Tax notification which would be issued to all households.


Further information was provided regarding additional support agreed by the Cost of Living Group. This included the Cost of Living / Wellbeing Support Events that had taken place in the larger libraries across the County. Of particular note, was an event due to take place at Bromsgrove Library on Friday 27th January 2023 from 10am to 1pm.  It was reported that this event would offer residents in-person advice, guidance, and support from partner organisations in one place.  The Group were also keen to consider how they could facilitate further events across the District.


The Leader explained that through the Household Support Fund, Bromsgrove residents who were struggling with the cost of household essentials could access support with food, energy and other household costs.  These specifically were noted as follows:


·       Act on Energy who could help with energy costs, energy debt and broken heating systems; and

·       Citizens Advice Bromsgrove and Redditch, who were working closely with Bromsgrove District Council’s Financial Inclusion Team and were helping residents who were struggling and needed support with food and wider essentials, alongside their usual debt and advice services.


In addition, Councill was advised that there was extra support for eligible pensioners, carers of any age and people with disabilities or long term health conditions.  Furthermore, Worcestershire Advice Network (WAN) was working with WCC to identify those who were eligible for an additional £75 voucher.  It was clarified that Citizens Advice Bromsgrove and Redditch and Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wyre Forest were part of WAN and were also part of the Cost of Living Group, helping to ensure a joined up approach, therefore ensuring eligible residents benefited from this extra support.


Further information was provided in respect of BDHT, who, it was confirmed, were working with the Council and proactively identified and supported local residents who needed extra support.


Members were advised that the community builders had information to use, as appropriate, when engaging with residents, as well as a wide range of partner organisations and Councillors too, through the Cost of Living Partnership bulletins to help ensure anyone living or working in the District knew how to access support should they need it.


The Leader highlighted that a cost of living survey, devised by Bromsgrove District Council with the help of partner organisations via the Cost of Living Partnership Group, was being launched in January 2023 to help obtain further information from local residents in order to help draw up an action plan to ensure that every area was being investigated in order to alleviate pressures being faced by residents during this challenging time.


Members were informed that partner organisations were keen to support the setting up of a social supermarket, and NewStarts were leading on this work looking at the best model for Bromsgrove.  Further information was provided in respect of the potential for a pilot to run out of one of the foodbanks, with a desire to also consider how this could support the Environment with a reduction in food waste.   It was hoped that this pilot would commence in February 2023.


The Leader confirmed that vulnerable households were being targeted by the Bromsgrove Primary Care Network (PCN), through the social prescribing services and that data was also being used to target communication.  Information was also provided regarding discussions with WCC, Bromsgrove PCN and Act on Energy as the Council had requested Bromsgrove District be part of a ‘warm home prescription’ pilot in Worcestershire.  It was reported that, should this pilot go ahead, it would be supported by social prescribing services and would involve GPs identifying vulnerable people with both cold-sensitive health conditions and low incomes who needed help to stay warm and well at home. 


Members were further advised that an initiative, similar to the proposed Doorstep Engagement scheme, was undertaken during Covid-19 using volunteers. However, it was noted that the number of volunteers had significantly declined over the last 12 months.  Therefore, it was stated that continuing the existing approach of partnership working was an effective way in supporting residents at this time.



During the debate, some Members thanked Officers for the provision of the cost of living flyers and explained that they had been a very useful tool when engaging with their communities and that Members were already in a position to engage with their residents on their doorsteps and provide information supplied on the flyer. It was suggested that a number of excess deaths during this period could be attributed to Dementia. However some Members commented that this could be attributed to failures in social care provision nationally.


There was also a discussion regarding the Fuel Poverty Task Group’s investigation, which had taken place in 2022 and had seen successful results through engagement with partner organisations and health experts in order to tackle Fuel Poverty.


In summing up, Councillor McDonald suggested that although the information provided had highlighted the positives, there were many residents suffering at this time as a result of the cost of living.


At this point in the meeting, Councillor Mallett raised a Point of Order in respect of the chairmanship of the meeting. He explained that he had felt that Councillor Laight, in his role as Chairman, had curtailed the speaking time of some of the Members. It was with this in mind that he proposed a vote of no confidence in the Chairman. Officers confirmed that, as per the Constitution, this could be proposed at the next meeting of the Council in a formal Motion on Notice if he so wished.


In accordance with Procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken on Councillor McDonald’s Motion and the voting was as follows:


Members voting FOR the Motion:


Councillors P. McDonald, L.C.R Mallett and H. Rone-Clarke (3)


Members voting AGAINST the Motion:


Councillors A. Beaumont, R. Deeming, G.N Denaro, M, Glass, S. Hession, A. Kriss, K. May, M. Middleton, P. Thomas, M. Thompson, J. Till, S. Webb and P. Whittaker (13).


Members ABSTAINING in the vote on the Motion:


Councillors S. Colella, S. Douglas, A. English C. Hotham, R. Hunter, J. King and S. Robinson (7).


The vote on the Motion was therefore lost.


The Ryland Centre – Urgent Motion


The following Notice of Motion was submitted in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.4 by Councillor S. Robinson:


“Council calls on the cabinet to urgently explore opportunities for keeping the Ryland Centre in public ownership and commission a business case to establish whether BDC can take over its management.”


In proposing the Motion, Councillor Robinson explained that the Ryland Centre was an asset to the community that provided accessible and reasonably priced facilities. In addition, the running track, provided a facility for local schools. Councillor Robinson explained that she understood there were covenants on the site regarding its use for sport and youth only, however, she felt it was important to understand what this meant for the community and whether there was a potential to interpret the covenants differently should a third party take ownership of the site in the future. 


Council was informed that the Motion was in respect of the preparation of a business case to better understand whether there was the potential for the Council to take ownership of the site in the future. Councillor Robinson explained that she felt that there was a lot at stake for the local community, including local netball clubs who used the facilities and that the centre needed to be protected.


The Motion was proposed by Councillor Robinson and seconded by Councillor Hunter.


The Leader responded to the Motion and explained that Sandwell Leisure Trust (SLT) had given notice to WCC, the owners of the site, that they would cease their contract to deliver services at the Ryland Centre on 31st March 2023.  At that time, a new provider would need to start delivery of services/ownership of the site as from 1st April 2023, as WCC did not want an ongoing liability.


Council was informed that following conversations with WCC, in November 2022 significant works were required on the running track.  This included re-laying in the medium term, drainage works which were linked to changing rooms not being able to be used and the building itself.  The County Council had to show best value in selling these assets and so could not transfer them to Bromsgrove District Council at no cost. The current estimate for the works was between £500k to £1m, andit was reported that these works would need to be undertaken very quickly. In addition, given the requirement for the Energy Efficiency of Council buildings to be in the top 3 ratings by 2026, there was also the potential of works having to be undertaken in this area as well.  Therefore, should the Council purchase the site, the cost effectiveness of delivery of the service with these costs, even with them spread over multiple years, would be questionable.


As stated earlier in the meeting, it was confirmed that there were covenants on the site which limited its use to sport and youth. As Sport England had part funded the track, if the site were to be used for another reason, an equivalent sports centre would need to be built as a replacement.


The County Council had indicated that there was a potential buyer who understood the site and would deliver these works, meaning that WCC would not have the ongoing liability for the works or the site. This would mean upgraded facilities for users. It was reported that the key point for the Council and residents of Bromsgrove was negotiation of Community Use Agreements in liaison with WCC for ongoing access to the facilities to ensure continued access.


During the debate, consideration was given to the appropriateness of public discussion of this Motion due to potentially commercially sensitive information being raised. However, in summing up, Councillor Robinson, confirmed that there was no need to discuss specific information as it was merely about commissioning a business case to better understand whether taking ownership of the Ryland Centre was a viable proposition for the Council going forward.


In accordance with Procedure Rule 18.3 a recorded vote was taken on this Motion and the voting was as follows:


Members voting FOR the Motion:


Councillors S. Colella, S. Douglas, A. English C. Hotham, R. Hunter, J. King, P. McDonald, L.C.R Mallett H. Rone-Clarke and S. Robinson (10)


Members voting AGAINST the Motion:


Councillors A. Beaumont, R. Deeming, G.N Denaro, M, Glass, S. Hession, A. Kriss, K. May, M. Middleton, P. Thomas, M. Thompson, J. Till, S. Webb and P. Whittaker (13).


Members ABSTAINING in the vote on the Motion:




The vote on the Motion was therefore lost.


Following consideration of this Motion and as the time limit for consideration of Motions had been exceeded, in accordance with Council Procedure rule 10.16 a vote was taken by the Council, and it was agreed not to consider the remaining two Motions at this meeting.  Instead, Members were advised that these Motions would be considered at the following meeting of Council.


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