Venue: Conference Chamber, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3YU
Contact: Claire Skoyles: Democratic Services Officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2019 (copy attached).
The minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
To receive announcements (if any) from the Chair.
The Chair reported on the civic engagements and charity activities which he and the Vice-Chair had attended since his election at the Annual Meeting on 22 May 2019.
Members noted that a full list of engagements and events attended by the Chair and Vice-Chair since the preceding meeting of Council would in future, be attached to the agenda for perusal.
Apologies for Absence
To receive announcements (if any) from the officer advising the Chair (including apologies for absence).
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Patrick Chung, Lisa Ingwall King, Pat Hanlon, Richard Rout and Frank Warby.
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/WS/19/001 TO FOLLOW
(Council Procedure Rules 8.1 – 8.3) The Leader will submit a report (the Leader’s Statement) summarising important developments and activities since the preceding meeting of the 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 John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, presented his Leader’s Statement as outlined in Paper No: COU/WS/19/001.
Following the publication of the paper, Councillor Griffiths reported that:
(a) West Suffolk Council had once again achieved Green Flag awards for its parks and open spaces, with Brandon Country Park achieving this accolade for the first time.
(b) A report was due to be presented to Cabinet on 23 July 2019 which included a recommendation for investing £1.8 million in Newmarket Leisure Centre facilities.
(c) A ground breaking ceremony had taken place at RAF Lakenheath to launch the F-35 Fighter programme. This project was expected to bring millions of pounds of opportunities for local businesses and create jobs in and around the base.
The Leader then referred to the motion on notice contained on the agenda at Item 9, with particular attention drawn to the fact that he recognised the need for action on tackling climate change. He reminded Members that he had announced at the Annual Meeting that he would be proposing to set up two taskforces, one of which would be requested to look at ways in which the Council could improve on its current and previous actions taken to mitigate the effects of adverse environmental factors and climate change.
Report No: CAB/WS/19/016 had been published that day, which was due to be considered by Cabinet on 23 July 2019. It contained proposals for the terms of reference for the Environment and Climate Change Taskforce that had been announced at the Annual Meeting in May 2019. In summary, the Taskforce would aim to ensure that the Council used the opportunity to review and assess its existing activities and future opportunities in response to increased societal awareness of environmental issues. The Taskforce would explore how the Council could enhance its environmental stewardship, recognising the need for balance with other urgent social and economic priorities.
The motion on notice would be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution when the agenda item was reached.
The Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:
(a) that the West Suffolk Rural Taskforce would be looking at a range of services required for the rural areas, which would include provision for young people.
(b) That Cabinet was aware of proposals by the Department for Transport to strengthen and increase the financial penalty for vehicles idling whilst parked/stationary, he would provide a written response regarding whether there was an expected timeline for such fines to be introduced.
(c) That the recently established West Suffolk Grants to External Organisations Review Group would be reviewing the Council’s existing grants schemes, which was expected to include analysing the remit and operation of the Councillor locality budget scheme.
(d) The suburban areas of the district would be looked at in context by the Rural Taskforce and if specific issues were highlighted in suburban areas that appeared to require further investigation, this would be addressed separately.
Council Procedure Rules Section 6) Members of the public who live or work in the District may put questions about the work of the Council or make statements on items on the agenda to members of the Cabinet or any Committee. 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/statements are dealt with sooner, or if there are no questions/statements, the Council will proceed to the next business.)
Each person may ask one question or make one statement only. A total of five minutes will be allowed for the question to be put and answered or the statement made. If a question is raised, one supplementary question will be allowed provided that it arises directly from the reply and the overall time limit of five minutes is not exceeded.
If a statement is made, then the Chair may allow the Leader of the Council, or other Member to whom they refer the matter, a right of reply.
Written questions may be submitted by members of the public to the Monitoring Officer no later than 10.00 am on Monday 15 July 2019. The written notification should detail the full question to be asked at the meeting of the Council.
The following member of the public spoke under this agenda item:
1. Julia Wakelam of Bury St Edmunds, made a statement in connection with Agenda Item 9, Motion on Notice. Ms Wakelam expressed her support for the proposed commitment and actions requested of the Council, as set out in the motion (Paper No; COU/WS/19/003), emphasising the need for tackling climate change and its effects now, and how she felt the Council needed to be leaders and not followers in this area. Ms Wakelam also provided examples of appropriate actions the Council might wish to take.
Councillor Griffiths, Leader of the Council, duly responded to the statement, reiterating the actions the Council were already taking and had taken as the former Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils. He considered the Council was presently leading by example, and aimed to do more where it reasonably could, as referred to during the presentation of his Leader’s Statement (minute 15 above).
There being no further questions or statements the Chair moved to the next item of business.
(Councillor Terry Clements joined the meeting at 6.56 pm during the consideration of this item.)
Report No: COU/WS/19/002
Council considered this report which sought approval for the establishment of a Constitution Review Group in accordance with the proposed terms of reference and membership set out in the report.
The Constitution for the new West Suffolk Council was approved by West Suffolk Shadow Council in February 2019. At that time it was recognised that it would be helpful to assess how it was operating, and make recommendations to Council where necessary. In particular, the former Joint Constitution Review Group recognised the need to assess the Scheme of Delegation for both executive and non-executive functions to ensure they were operating as was intended when the Constitution was agreed.
Councillor Carol Bull, Portfolio Holder for Governance, explained that in order to facilitate review of the Constitution, a small review group, the Constitution Review Group, should be formed with similar terms of reference to the former Joint Constitution Review Group. These were attached to the report as Appendix A. Membership of the Review Group would be based on the proposals set out in paragraph 2.3.
On the motion of Councillor Bull, seconded by Councillor John Griffiths, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was
That the Constitution Review Group be formed in accordance with the terms of reference attached at Appendix A to Report No: COU/WS/19/002 and the membership as set out in section 2.3 of the report.
Representation on Suffolk County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee: 2019/2020
The Council is asked to nominate one Member and one substitute member to serve on Suffolk County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee. These should ideally be from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, although this is not essential as the necessary training will be given by the County Council.
The Committee, on 13 June 2019, considered nominations for a representative and a substitute Member for 2019/2020.
It is RECOMMENDED that Councillor Margaret Marks be nominated as the Council’s representative and Councillor Paul Hopfensperger as the nominated substitute Member on the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee for 2019/2020.
Council considered a narrative item, which sought approval for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s nominations to Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) Health Scrutiny Committee.
On 13 June 2019, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered nominations for a representative and substitute to sit on behalf of West Suffolk Council on SCC’s Health Scrutiny Committee in 2019/2020. Members should ideally be sought from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, although this was not essential as training would be given by the County Council.
The Committee had recommended that Councillor Margaret Marks be appointed as the Council’s nominated representative on this body, and for Councillor Paul Hopfensperger to be the substitute, as set out in the Council agenda.
Councillor David Nettleton, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including proposing the Committee’s recommendation and the reasons for it. This was duly seconded by Councillor Joe Mason.
Councillor Ian Shipp proposed an amendment to the substantive motion, that Councillor Paul Hopfensperger should be appointed as the Council’s nominated representative on the Health Scrutiny Committee for 2019/2020. This amendment was duly seconded by Councillor Don Waldron.
Councillor Paul Hopfensperger spoke on the amendment, setting out his reasons why he felt that, after approximately three and a half years as the former St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s representative on this body, he had the necessary knowledge and expertise to remain on the Committee. He emphasised that he felt continuity of membership on this body was important.
The seconder of the substantive motion, Councillor Joe Mason, spoke on the amendment, indicating his reasons for not supporting the amendment and why he considered Councillor Margaret Marks had the necessary knowledge and qualities to take on the role.
Other Members spoke for and against the amendment, outlining their reasons for supporting or not supporting the amendment.
Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council considered that whilst both Councillors Marks and Hopfensperger were both excellent candidates and they (and possibly others) may have the necessary expertise, knowledge and qualities to carry out the role, Council had delegated its powers to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to consider nominations which had duly put forward a recommendation to Council. Given that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had given the nominations careful consideration, he felt it was appropriate that Council should accord with that recommendation.
The amendment to the substantive item was put to the vote, and with the vote being 14 for the motion, 41 against and 4 abstentions, the amendment was defeated.
The substantive motion was then put to the vote, and with the vote being 45 for the motion, 9 against and 5 abstentions, it was
That Councillor Margaret Marks be nominated as the Council’s representative and Councillor Paul Hopfensperger as the nominated substitute Member on the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee for 2019/2020.
Councillors Max Clarke and Cliff Waterman have given notice under paragraph 9.1 of the Council Procedure Rules of the motion attached as Paper No: COU/WS/19/003.
Paragraph 9.6 of the Council Procedure Rules states:
‘Any motion on notice under paragraph 9.1 above of these Rules, on being moved and seconded, will usually, without discussion, be referred to the appropriate forum for consideration. If the Chair considers it appropriate, allow the motion to be dealt with at the meeting at which it is moved and seconded provided that the motion, if carried, would:
(a) Not involve the Council incurring expenditure not included in the Council’s approved revenue or capital budget.
(b) Not involve the Council being committed to take action which would usually require public consultation or a statutory process to be followed prior to it being made.’
Councillors Max Clarke and Cliff Waterman had given notice of a motion for consideration by Council. This was attached to the agenda as Paper No: COU/WS/19/003.
Councillor Clarke was duly invited to put his motion adding that the Council should not rely on the Government to take a lead on tackling climate change and its effects as he felt ministers were failing to act quickly enough. He considered the motion was bold and that by accepting it, including declaring a Climate Emergency, the Council would demonstrate its commitment in this area to its residents and their children’s futures. Councillor Clarke accepted that the Council was already taking action but felt it needed to do more.
Councillor Waterman was duly invited to second the motion. He considered that climate change could not be halted by individuals alone; explained how quickly he felt climate change was happening; and how several other local authorities had already declared Climate Change Emergencies and West Suffolk Council should do the same. He provided examples of how he considered the Council should address the issue, including ensuring that climate change should be taken seriously; actively demonstrate that the Council was determined to do all it could to mitigate it; and the need to produce a framework by which to work.
In accordance with the Constitution, the Chair stated his intention to refer this matter to the appropriate forum, without debate, as if carried, the motion was likely to have budgetary implications. The Chair sought clarification from the Leader of the Council that the appropriate forum would be Cabinet, given that the issue would be discussed at its meeting on 23 July 2019, as already explained under Agenda Item 5 (minute 15 above).
In response, Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, stated that he recognised the challenges of climate change. The contents of the motion would inform and, subject to Cabinet’s approval regarding its establishment and associated terms of reference, would be analysed in detail by the Cabinet’s proposed Environment and Climate Change Taskforce. The draft terms of reference had been circulated to all Group Leaders for comment and it was hoped that membership to the Taskforce would be drawn from all Groups, regardless of political affiliation. It was expected that final, meaningful, purposeful recommendations emanating from the Taskforce would be presented to Cabinet for approval and subsequent action in 2020.
The Chair referred the motion to Cabinet for further consideration, without debate, and moved to the next agenda item.
Any Other Urgent Business
To consider any business, which by reason of special circumstances, should in the opinion of the Chair be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.
There were no matters of urgent business considered on this occasion.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider whether the press and public should be excluded during the consideration of the following items because it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt categories of information as prescribed in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, and indicated against each item and, in all circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
As the next item on the agenda was exempt, on the motion of Councillor John Griffiths, seconded by Councillor Carol Bull, and duly carried, it was
That the press and public be excluded during the consideration of the following item because it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the item, there would be disclosure to them of exempt categories of information as prescribed in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, and indicated against the item and, in all circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Exempt Item: Referrals Report of Recommendations from Cabinet (para 3) (Exempt Report No: COU/WS/19/004)
Exempt Report No: COU/WS/19/004
(A) Referrals from Cabinet: 28 May 2019
There are no referrals emanating from the Cabinet meeting held on 28 May 2019.
(B) Referrals from Cabinet: 25 June 2019
1. Exempt Item: Investing in our Commercial Asset Portfolio (para 3)
Portfolio Holder: Cllr Susan Glossop
Council considered the Referrals Report of Recommendations from Cabinet, as contained within Exempt Report No: COU/WS/19/004.
(A) Referrals from Cabinet: 28 May 2019
Council noted that there were no referrals emanating from the Cabinet meeting held on 28 May 2019.
(B) Referrals from Cabinet: 25 June 2019
1. Investing in our Commercial Asset Portfolio
Council was advised of the opportunity to acquire a commercial property investment as set out in the exempt report. Attached to the Council report was the full exempt Cabinet report (Exempt Report No: CAB/WS/19/009). It was considered that the commercial element of the property would complement the Council’s existing commercial property portfolio. The overall investment would also be in line with the Council’s principles of its Investing in Growth Strategy.
Councillor Susan Glossop, Portfolio Holder for Growth, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council.
In respect of a question asked by Councillor John Burns, Council was informed that a written response would be circulated to all Members for perusal in due course.
On the motion of Councillor Glossop, seconded by Councillor Andy Drummond, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was
That the recommendations, as set out in Exempt Report No: CAB/WS/19/009, be approved.
(This decision and associated papers will be available in the public domain in due course)