Venue: Conference Chamber, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds IP33 3YU
Contact: Helen Hardinge (Democratic Services Officer) Email: email@example.com
This was the last meeting of the Shadow Council before it’s dissolution on 6 May 2019. As a result, the minutes of the meeting remain as drafted following the meeting and cannot be confirmed by the Shadow Council and signed by the Chair. This is consistent with all other dissolved committees and bodies.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2019 (copy attached).
The minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
No announcements were made by the Chair on this occasion.
Apologies for Absence
To receive announcements (if any) from the officer advising the Chairman (including apologies for absence)
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Michael Anderson, Chris Barker, John Bloodworth, Rona Burt, Jason Crooks, Paula Fox, John Griffiths, Diane Hind, Jane Midwood, Clive Pollington, Alaric Pugh, Nigel Roman, Sarah Stamp, Frank Warby and Patsy Warby.
Councillors Andy Drummond and Louise Marston were also unable to attend the meeting.
Declarations of Interests
Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary or local non pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda no later than when that item is reached and, when appropriate, to leave the meeting prior to discussion and voting on the item.
Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.
Paper No: COU/SA/19/004
(Shadow Council Procedure Rules 8.1 – 8.3) The Leader will provide a written statement summarising important developments and activities since the preceding meeting of the Shadow Council where these have arisen. These developments and activities will solely relate to the development of the Shadow Council, and matters related to the future West Suffolk Council.
Members may ask the Leader questions on the content of both his introductory remarks and the written statement itself.
A total of 30 minutes will be allowed for questions and responses. There will be a limit of five minutes for each question to be asked and answered. A supplementary question arising from the reply may be asked so long as the five minute limit is not exceeded.
Councillor James Waters, Leader of the Shadow Council, presented his Statement, as contained in Paper No: COU/SA/19/004.
Councillor Waters specifically drew attention to a number of topics, including:
(a) the proposed budget for West Suffolk Council in 2019/20 and in the medium term, which would contribute to ensuring the new council was in a strong position both for the future of the authority itself but within the wider strategic local, regional and national context;
(b) the issues and challenges facing the Council in response to the Government’s second consultation on its Fairer Funding Review and how these had been taken into account within the proposed budget;
(c) giving recognition to the recent improvement works to Haverhill Leisure Centre;
(d) the recently launched ‘Love Local’ Bury Free Press campaign which aimed to support independent shops and businesses in Bury St Edmunds; and
(e) paying tribute to John Durrant, General Manager of Newmarket Open Door, who had sadly died recently.
In response to (b) above, Councillor Peter Stevens explained that he was the West Suffolk Councils’ representative on the Rural Services Network. This organisation sought to provide a strong co-ordinated approach to ensure councils with extensive rural areas throughout Suffolk were supported through issues and challenges such as lobbying for fairer funding and better broadband.
(Shadow Council Procedure Rules Section 6) Members of the public who live or work in the West Suffolk area are invited to put one question of not more than five minutes duration about the work of the Shadow Council to members of the Shadow Executive. A person who wishes to speak must register at least fifteen minutes before the time the meeting is scheduled to start.*
(Note: The maximum time to be set aside for this item is 30 minutes, but if all questions are dealt with sooner, or if there are no questions, the Shadow Council will proceed to the next business.
Each person may ask one question only. A total of five minutes will be allowed for the question to be put and answered. One further question will be allowed arising directly from the reply, provided that the original time limit of five minutes is not exceeded.
Written questions may be submitted by members of the public to the Interim Monitoring Officer no later than 10.00 am on Monday 18 February 2019. The written notification should detail the full question to be asked at the meeting of the Council.)*
*For further information, see Public Information Sheet attached to this agenda.
The following members of the public spoke under this agenda item:
1. Paul Rynsard of Bury St Edmunds, asked a question in connection with proposed future plans of West Suffolk Council for tackling idling engines of vehicles, particularly in the vicinity of children and schools.
In response, Councillor Susan Glossop, one of the Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Members for Planning and Growth, stated that the West Suffolk Councils were aware of the potential issues regarding vehicle idling, especially around sensitive locations such as schools. Together with other councils in Suffolk, steps had been taken to create an anti-idling campaign which would be launched in the coming months. Significant research had been undertaken to understand the best approach to tackle this issue and evidence had shown that campaigns developed between local authorities and other stakeholders were the most effective way to reduce vehicle idling.
Councillor Glossop added that evidence from around the country had shown that where enforcement of anti-idling legislation had been trialled, this had not proved effective; however, this did not rule out the use of the powers, but it was not the intention to use them routinely. Councillor Glossop also provided examples of where the Councils were currently working on projects to improve air quality.
As a supplementary closing statement, Mr Rynsard asked if the Shadow Council had taken note of the recent national children’s campaign on climate change, to which Members indicated their acknowledgement.
2. Therese Laker of Bury St Edmunds, asked a question in connection with whether the Shadow Council had a carbon management plan that set out how it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and whether there was a capital budget linked to this plan.
In response, Councillor Lance Stanbury, the other Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Member with the responsibility for Planning and Growth, stated that the Councils monitored and managed greenhouse gas emissions and the potential environmental impacts. This was overseen by an environmental management group, which monitored progress and performance regarding this work. Councillor Stanbury provided examples of the Councils’ adopted greener environment management policies, and where capital investments had been made which not only promoted greater use of green energy, but also provided an income for the Councils, most notably the Toggam Solar Farm which was owned by Forest Heath District Council (FHDC). FHDC was the first carbon neutral district council in the country.
No supplementary question was asked.
3. Robert Possnett of Great Barton, asked a question in connection with whether the Shadow Council had plans for improving air quality through reducing its use of diesel vehicles.
In response, Councillor James Waters, Leader of the Shadow Council, explained that the waste management vehicles operated with diesel fuel, however, these were replaced when necessary with vehicles that generated less emissions. A review of waste collection rounds had been undertaken relatively recently which resulted in the adaptation of rounds which resulted in fewer diesel miles being driven and thus fewer CO2 emissions. The car fleet had petrol engines, with some having ... view the full minutes text for item 72.
Report No: COU/SA/19/005
The Shadow Council considered the Referrals Report of Recommendations from the Shadow Executive (Cabinet), as contained within Report No: COU/SA/19/005.
(A) Referral from Extraordinary Shadow Executive (Cabinet):
8 January 2019
1. West Suffolk Statement of Licensing Policy 2019-2022
Approval was sought for a new West Suffolk Statement of Licensing Policy to cover the period 2019-2022.
All councils were required to have a Statement of Licensing Policy and to update it at least every five years. Forest Heath’s Statement of Licensing Policy was last renewed in December 2018; St Edmundsbury’s was last updated in December 2017. The policy content of both documents was identical.
The Shadow Council needed to adopt a Statement of Licensing Policy for West Suffolk Council before 1 April 2019. The document attached at Appendix A to Report No: EXC/SA/19/002, contained the same wording as the Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Council documents, but with proposed changes, as set out in paragraph 1.2 of the Shadow Council report.
Councillor Lance Stanbury, one of the Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Members with the responsibility for Planning and Growth, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Shadow Council, including that in order to abide by the requirement for Statements of Licensing Policy to be renewed every five years, West Suffolk Council would need to adopt a new policy by December 2022. This would be preceded by consultation, allowing consultees in St Edmundsbury the opportunity to give comments and feedback within five years of the previous policy covering the area being adopted.
Attention was also drawn to the revised guidance, adoption and publication of the two Cumulative Impact Assessments in West Suffolk, namely Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, which were required to be renewed every three years.The Bury St Edmunds Cumulative Impact Assessment was adopted in December 2017, and would therefore require renewal in December 2020.
Whilst supportive of the Policy itself, Councillor David Nettleton expressed his concern regarding the adoption of the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) for Bury St Edmunds, which he considered was ineffective and discriminated against businesses wishing to operate within the CIA area. Other Members spoke in support of the CIAs, specifically the CIA in Newmarket, which had been particularly effective since its introduction. Upon review of each CIA at the appropriate time, evidence would be required to warrant its renewal to ensure it remained effective.
On the motion of Councillor Stanbury, seconded by Councillor Susan Glossop, and duly carried, it was
(1) the West Suffolk Statement of Licensing Policy 2019-2022, attached at Appendix A to Report No: EXC/SA/19/002, be adopted; and
(2) the Cumulative Impact Assessments for Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds as contained within the West Suffolk Statement of Licensing Policy, be adopted.
(B) Referrals from Shadow Executive (Cabinet): 5 February 2019
1. Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2019-2020 and Treasury Management Code of Practice
Approval was sought for the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2019-2020 and Treasury Management Code of Practice.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Code of Practice on ... view the full minutes text for item 73.
Report No: COU/SA/19/006
The Shadow Council considered the above report, which presented the Report of the West Suffolk Independent Remuneration Panel.
Agreement had previously been given by the Shadow Council to appoint a new West Suffolk Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP). The IRP’s principal responsibility was to recommend a Scheme of Allowances for West Suffolk Council. The process undertaken by the IRP to draw together a proposed scheme was set out in Section 2 of Report No: COU/SA/19/006.
The work of the IRP had now concluded and it was pleased to present its draft report, as attached as Annex A. The following appendices were also attached to Annex A:
Appendix 1: proposed Members’ Allowances Scheme
Appendix 2: supporting material considered by the IRP to aid their work
Appendix 3: Councillor remuneration questionnaire
Appendix 4: comparative rates of allowances across other similar authorities
Richard Cooper, Chair of the West Suffolk Independent Remuneration Panel, was in attendance and was invited to present the report of the Panel. The rationale behind the proposals was also provided.
Councillor Ruth Bowman, one of the Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Members with the responsibility for Future Governance, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Shadow Council, including placing her thanks on record to Mr Cooper for the presentation of the IRP’s comprehensive report and for the extensive work of the Panel in reaching this point.
Councillor Bowman emphasised that the review of the Scheme of Allowances undertaken by the IRP was not about comparing past Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury schemes, but to develop a scheme which provided appropriate remuneration and expenses to enable those councillors elected on 2 May 2019 to perform their role as new West Suffolk Councillors.
Whilst the review looked to the past for background, it had taken external reference and comparators, sought views from existing Members, and brought forward new concepts to the proposed scheme, such as introducing a tiered approach to Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA), and a single all-encompassing basic allowance payment.
Members also noted the rationale from the Panel regarding the proposed timeframe for implementation of the Scheme as set out in Section 10 of its report (Annex A). A sensible and pragmatic approach had been taken for the new scheme to take effect from 6 May 2019 (when the term of existing councillors would end) rather than from 1 April 2019 when West Suffolk Council was created. Until this point, Members would continue to receive the rate they currently received under Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils’ existing schemes. Members were supportive of this approach.
Councillor Ruth Bowman moved the recommendations, as set out in Report No: COU/SA/19/006, and the motion was duly seconded by Councillor Carol Bull.
A detailed discussion was held with Members acknowledging the extensive work of the IRP. Particular recognition was given to:
(a) that the new Scheme would deliver a total saving of £30,566 (or 5.7%) to the Council compared to existing costs;
(b) that mileage and expenses incurred for Members’ work within their wards had ... view the full minutes text for item 74.
Report No: COU/SA/19/007
The Shadow Council considered the above report, which presented the proposals for Budget and Council Tax Setting in 2019/2020 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2019-2023.
Councillor Stephen Edwards, one of the Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Members with the responsibility for Resources and Performance, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Shadow Council, including that Report No: COU/SA/19/007 provided details of the new West Suffolk Council’s proposed revenue and capital budgets for 2019/2020 and in the medium term. The Shadow Executive (Cabinet) had previously considered the 2019/2020 budget for the new authority and had recommended to Shadow Council the level of council tax required to help fund this budget (as set out in Section 2 of the report, and summarised below).
In the history of local government there had been few times that had seen such a transformation in the funding of local services as the current decade. The changes were numerous and continuous, and there was little doubt that the 2020s would bring even more changes.
The report provided examples of those changes and the financial challenges facing the new West Suffolk Council.Councils could no longer traditionally just deliver services if they were to meet the financial challenges and be able to continue to serve their communities. West Suffolk Council recognised and would take a proactive investment role, not only to meet the challenges brought by funding for councils, but also importantly to manage growth and ensure prosperity for its communities. The new Council must, therefore, maintain the income currently received by Forest Heath District Council (FHDC) and St Edmundsbury Borough Council (SEBC) and also deliver the investment projects, enable the building of homes and increase the business base so that new income streams would be delivered to replace those lost. This would enable the new Council to continue delivering the services and wider community support which people valued and made West Suffolk an attractive place to live, work and invest.
In 2019/2020, the Council’s financial plans would see further reliance on delivery of its strategic projects. Some of the projects required considerable investment, both in money - including creating new funds where needed through borrowing (supported by robust business cases) - resources and time, but that investment would build a more financially resilient and self-sufficient council, with less reliance on uncertain national or other funding. That focus on income-generating projects, which may span several years before they delivered a return, meant the Council no longer looked simply to balance a budget for one year. Importantly, these economic growth projects would bring wider long term benefits to the West Suffolk areas than purely financially robust councils, such as jobs, better health outcomes and investment in working with communities and place based initiatives.
Members considered the report in detail, which included the following issues for securing a balanced budget for 2019/2020 and in the medium term to 2022/2023, together with corresponding detailed appendices:
Section 1.2: Local Government Provisional Finance Settlement 2019/2020
Section 1.3: Council tax referendum requirements 2019/2020 ... view the full minutes text for item 75.
Report No: COU/SA/19/008
The Shadow Council considered the above report, which sought approval for the new Constitution for West Suffolk Council.
West Suffolk Council would be taking on the powers, functions and responsibilities of Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils on 1 April 2019. A new Constitution was required to be adopted, to ensure there was clarity on how West Suffolk Council would operate and make decisions. Adopting a new Constitution also provided the opportunity to analyse and review the present methods by which the West Suffolk Councils currently operated and whether changes could be made for the benefit of the new council.
Attached as Appendix 1 to the report, was the draft West Suffolk Council Constitution, with a summary of the proposed changes made from the existing Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Constitutions contained in Appendix 2.
Councillor Carol Bull, one of the Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Members with the responsibility for Future Governance, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Shadow Council, including the proposed changes to the Scheme of Delegation, arrangements for the operation of the Development Control Committee, and the definition of a ‘key decision’, as summarised in Section 2 of the report.
Members commended the new Constitution and expressed their thanks to the Joint Constitution Review Group for their sterling work, which was ably assisted by Leah Mickleborough, Service Manager (Democratic Services) and Sharon Turner, Democratic Services Officer, in producing an excellent, streamlined, fit-for-purpose document by which the new Council could operate in its decision making. Particular recognition was given to the usage of gender neutral terminology.
In response to questions, the Shadow Council was informed that:
(a) Member/Officer Protocol: specifically, where it stated in relation to the Local Member Protocol: ‘Members should be informed about matters that affect their wards for example community events, activities with community groups, new developments…..’ that this would generally be the case and every effort would be made to inform the local ward member/s; there may be occasions where it was impractical or not be feasible to do so; and
(b) Approval of Minutes of Previous Meetings: proposed Committee Procedure Rule 17.1.4 made reference to the fact that those Members who were present at the meeting to which the minutes related would take part in the vote on the confirmation of the minutes as a correct record.
On the motion of Councillor Bull, seconded by Councillor Ruth Bowman, and duly carried, it was
That the West Suffolk Council Constitution, as attached at Appendix 1 to Report No: COU/SA/19/008, to come into effect on 1 April 2019, be adopted.
Report No: COU/SA/19/009
The Shadow Council considered the above report, which sought approval for a number of arrangements for implementation between 1 April 2019 and 6 May 2019.
On 1 April 2019, the new West Suffolk Council would come into being, with the new Constitution, as agreed by Shadow Council (see minute 76. above), having effect.
Arrangements had been proposed to ensure there was minimum disruption to the Council’s decision making arrangements in the short period of time between the new Council coming into being, and the May elections. The principal issues that needed to be addressed were arrangements:
(a) for Appointments to Committees;
(b) regarding the appointment of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee;
(c) regarding the operation of the Development Control Committee’s Delegation Panel;
(d) for Civic Representation; and
(e) for Outside Body Representation.
Each of the above were considered in turn, including a suggested approach regarding the handling of each, together with the rationale.
Appendix 1 attached to the report contained the political balance calculation and the proposed allocation of seats to the politically balanced committees. An amended version had been circulated prior to the meeting to reflect a very recent change in political Group membership.
Councillor James Waters, Leader of the Shadow Council, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Shadow Council, including conveying his thanks to Councillors Brian Harvey and Margaret Marks for accepting the roles of civic representatives across the predecessor areas of Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury during the transition period.
Members supported the suggestions made in the report and agreed it was a sensible, pragmatic approach for addressing the aforementioned issues during this relatively short period.
On the motion of Councillor Waters, seconded by Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, and duly carried, it was
(1) the allocation of seats to committees, as listed in Appendix 1 (as amended) to Report No: COU/SA/19/009, be approved;
(2) during the period 1 April to 6 May 2019, any references in the West Suffolk Council Constitution to the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny should be the “Chairs of the former Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Overview and Scrutiny Committees”, be agreed;
(3) during the period 1 April to 6 May 2019, any references to the constitution of the Delegation Panel in the West Suffolk Council Constitution should be the “Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the former Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Development Control Committees”, be agreed. One Member of each former Council must be present for the Delegation Panel to be quorate;
(4) it be agreed that Councillor Margaret Marks and Councillor Brian Harvey should act as civic representatives of West Suffolk Council during the period 1 April to 22 May 2019; and
(5) the approach to representation on outside bodies, as set out in paragraphs 5.5 and 5.6 of Report No: COU/SA/19/009, during the period 1 April to 22 May 2019, be agreed.
Report No: COU/SA/19/010
The Shadow Council considered the above report, which sought approval for the proposed calendar of meetings for West Suffolk Council in 2019/2020.
Councillor Ruth Bowman, one of the Shadow Executive (Cabinet) Members with the responsibility for Future Governance, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Shadow Council, including that other meetings not listed in the new Council’s Constitution and those arranged on an ad-hoc basis would be scheduled throughout 2019/2020 and Members would be advised of these separately.
The meetings that had been arranged, as contained in Appendix A, were in accordance with the Council, Cabinet, Committees and Sub-Committee structure proposed within the new Constitution. All committees, sub-committees and other panels/groups constituted by Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council would no longer exist following the dissolution of these two councils and the creation of West Suffolk Council on 1 April 2019. This had therefore been reflected in the meetings calendar for 2019/2020.
On the motion of Councillor Ruth Bowman, seconded by Councillor Carol Bull, and duly carried it was
That the West Suffolk Council’s Calendar of Meetings for 2019/2020, attached as Appendix A to Report No: COU/SA/19/010, be approved.
Urgent Questions on Notice
The Shadow Council will consider any urgent questions on notice that were notified to the Interim Monitoring Officer by 11am on the day of the meeting.
No urgent questions on notice had been received.
Report on Special Urgency
Part 4, Access to Information Procedural Rules, of the Shadow Constitution (paragraph 18.3) requires the Leader of the Shadow Council to submit quarterly reports to the Shadow Council on the Shadow Executive decisions taken (if any) in the circumstances set out in Rule 17, (Special urgency) in the preceding three months.
Accordingly, the Leader of the Shadow Council reports that no shadow executive decisions have been taken under the Special Urgency provisions of the Shadow Constitution.
The Leader reported that no executive decisions had been taken under the Special Urgency provisions of the Shadow Constitution.