Agenda and minutes

Council - Tuesday 25 February 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Conference Chamber, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3YU

Contact: Claire Skoyles: Democratic Services Officer  Email: claire.skoyles@westsuffolk.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

52.

Remembrance

Minutes:

Before commencing business, all Members were asked to stand in order to observe a minute’s silence in remembrance of former Forest Heath District Councillor, Tony Wheble, who had sadly died recently.

53.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 235 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2019 (copy attached).

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

54.

Chair's Announcements pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To receive announcements (if any) from the Chair.

 

A list of civic events/engagements attended by the Chair and Vice-Chair since the last ordinary meeting of Council held on 17 December 2019 are attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair reported on the civic engagements and charity activities which he and the Vice-Chair had attended since the last ordinary meeting of Council on 17 December 2019.

 

The Chair welcomed Aaron Macintyre and Emily Jones, Chair and Vice Chair of the Western Assembly of Youth (WAY) to the meeting. WAY was a Youth Council comprising young people appointed from the upper schools in West Suffolk. Attention was drawn to the background of WAY, and its aims and aspirations.

 

Together with the Council’s Families and Communities Team, the Chair was delighted to announce that he would be working with WAY to create awards for under 18s in recognition of exceptional work and contributions demonstrated by young people in eight specific categories. An overall winner would also be decided and all category winners would be invited to collect their awards during a ceremony due to be held at West Suffolk House in July 2020.

 

The Chair then announced that HMS Vengeance would be exercising their Freedom of West Suffolk with a series of events during week commencing 2 March 2020, which would include parading in Bury St Edmunds on 4 March 2020.

 

Members were also encouraged to attend the Chair’s Civic Dinner on 27 March 2020 in the Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds. Councillors were reminded how to purchase tickets and to whom they should respond. 

55.

Apologies for Absence

To receive announcements (if any) from the officer advising the Chair (including apologies for absence).

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Tony Brown, Max Clarke, Jason Crooks, Andy Drummond, Mary Evans, Robert Everitt, David Gathercole, John Griffiths, Rachel Hood, Paul Hopfensperger, Lisa Ingwall-King and Frank Warby.

56.

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.

Minutes:

Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.

57.

Leader's Statement (Paper No: COU/WS/20/001) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Paper No: COU/WS/20/001

 

(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.

 

In the absence of the Leader, Members may ask the Deputy Leader questions on the content of both her 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.

Minutes:

As Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, had given his apologies for absence for this meeting, Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, Deputy Leader presented Councillor Griffiths’ Statement on his behalf, as outlined in Paper No: COU/WS/20/001.

 

In her introductory remarks, Councillor Mildmay-White drew attention to the following, that:

 

a.       Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) was expected to commence in West Suffolk (and parts of Mid Suffolk) from 1 April 2020.

 

b.       Together with partners, she had attended a Delivery Infrastructure meeting at Westminster on behalf of the Leader. This principally had provided the opportunity for West Suffolk Council and its partners to lobby for better rail and road infrastructure in the East of England and the vital contributions the East had made in supporting the prosperity of the UK as a whole.

 

c.       Ground works had started on Barley Homes’ Westfield site in Haverhill.

 

d.       The Council was continuing to invest in property and businesses within West Suffolk’s town centres, such as the 17-18 Cornhill in Bury St Edmunds; AXA insurance in Haverhill and Omar Homes in Brandon; however it was acknowledged that the vitality of the town centres and high streets had been affected in recent years which was largely due to a fundamental change in people’s shopping habits. Councillor Mildmay-White’s announcement at the Cabinet meeting held on 11 February 2020 regarding the Council’s intention to hold a Town Centre Summit was reiterated. The aim was to gather local business representatives together to ascertain what collectively could be done to improve and enhance West Suffolk’s town centres.

 

e.       Council would be considering under Agenda Item 10, its proposed budget and council tax for 2020/2021 and its Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2020 - 2024. Specific areas had been proposed for future investment, including developing the health and well-being agenda; increased support to rough sleepers; and supporting new businesses.

 

The Deputy Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:

 

a.       that the Council’s Housing Team worked with partners, namely Suffolk County Council’s social services and teams in the health and wellbeing and mental health sectors to support those in extreme need, where possible.

 

b.       In the context of referring to a case where he stated that temporary accommodation had been sought in Haverhill via Homelink but the persons had been referred to Brandon, Councillor John Burns asked the following:

 

What efforts are being made to ensure temporary accommodation provision in Haverhill matches demand and that all residents of all areas of West Suffolk receive a level playing field of provision?

 

Councillor Sara Mildmay-White commended the work of the Housing Team and how they worked tirelessly to accommodate persons appropriately. A written response would be provided to the above question and would be shared with all Members in due course.

 

Additional comments on the Leader’s Statement included recognition from Councillor Victor Lukaniuk on the proposed investment in Brandon Leisure Centre and thanking those that had been instrumental in helping to bring the Havebury Housing development in Brandon forward.

 

Recognition was also given  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Public Participation

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 24 February 2020. The written notification should detail the full question to be asked at the meeting of the Council.

Minutes:

The following members of the public spoke under this agenda item:

 

1. Andrew Appleby of Newmarket, made a statement in connection with the car parking review that was recently undertaken by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s West Suffolk Parking Review Group. Particular reference was given to the decision making process followed to consider and approve the recommendations emanating from the review; the engagement process undertaken as part of the review; the implications of the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement in Newmarket; the rationale for the new parking charges in Newmarket; and how he welcomed the proposed forthcoming town centre summit.

 

Mr Appleby concluded his statement by suggesting that the Cabinet reviewed its decisions made on the car parking review.

 

In response, Councillor Stevens, Portfolio Holder for Operations stated that a written reply would be provided to the above statement and would be shared with all Members in due course.

 

No supplementary question was asked.

 

2. Frank Stennett of Fornham All Saints, asked a question in connection with the decision making process that was followed to consider and approve the recommendations emanating from the car parking review.

 

In response, Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, Deputy Leader explained the decision making process that was followed, including that approval for the recommendations was sought from the Cabinet, as the decision expected to be taken on this matter accorded with the functions of the executive (Cabinet).

 

The decision taken was a treated as a ‘Key Decision’ which required certain procedures to be followed, as prescribed in relevant legislation and in line with the Council’s Constitution.

 

No supplementary question was asked.

59.

Referrals Report of Recommendations from Cabinet (Report No: COU/WS/20/002) pdf icon PDF 365 KB

Report No: COU/WS/20/002

 

(A)    Referrals from Cabinet: 14 January 2020

 

1.       Delivering a Sustainable Medium-Term Budget 2020-2021

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr Sarah Broughton

 

(This item has been amalgamated with (B) (3) below)

 

2.       Treasury Management Report – September 2019

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr Sarah Broughton

 

3.       Draft West Suffolk Strategic Framework 2020-2024

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr John Griffiths

 

(B)    Referrals from Cabinet: 11 February 2020

 

1.       Treasury Management and Strategy Statement 2020-2021 and Treasury Management Code of Practice

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr Sarah Broughton

 

2.       Treasury Management Report – December 2019

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr Sarah Broughton

 

3.       Delivering a Sustainable Medium-Term Budget 2020-2021

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr Sarah Broughton

 

4.       Budget and Council Tax Setting 2020/2021 and Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Portfolio Holder: Cllr Sarah Broughton

 

This item will be considered separately under Agenda Item 10 below.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered the Referrals Report of Recommendations from Cabinet, as contained within Report No: COU/WS/20/002.

 

(A)    Referrals from Cabinet: 14 January 2020

 

1.       Delivering a Sustainable Medium-Term Budget 2020-2021

 

This recommendation asked for specific proposals to be included in the budget.  This had been undertaken, and the budget would be separately considered by Members later on the agenda. No decision was therefore required to be taken at this stage.

 

 

2.       Treasury Management Report – September 2019

 

Councillor Sarah Broughton, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council.

 

On the motion of Councillor Broughton, seconded by Councillor Clive Springett, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Treasury Management Report (September 2019), being Report No: FRS/WS/19/004, be approved.

 

 

3.       Draft West Suffolk Strategic Framework 2020-2024

 

The preparation of the new West Suffolk Strategic Framework had been taking place as part of a wider piece of work aimed at ‘Planning for the Future’, in which a joined-up approach is being taken to the Strategic Framework, West Suffolk Local Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy.

 

The advent of the new council and the aligned timetables of the three documents gave a good opportunity for West Suffolk Council to develop a single, coherent narrative and approach to what councillors wished to see achieved in West Suffolk in coming years.

 

Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, Deputy Leader of the Council, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council on behalf of the Leader in his absence. Such issues included that section 1 of the report detailed the process that had been undertaken to produce the draft Strategic Framework, which included holding Member workshops. The first workshop sought exploration of specific questions, the feedback from which had been used to inform both the Strategic Framework and the initial scoping of the new West Suffolk Local Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy.  The second workshop considered in more detail what might be the best approach to achieving growth in West Suffolk in future years. 

 

The input from Members was then combined with the existing commitments and priorities, plus those of partner organisations, to produce a draft Strategic Framework document.

 

Members noted that in developing the Framework, the key points to acknowledge and as set out in further detail in the report, were:

 

a.       The document was not comprehensive;

b.       It was proposed that the Council’s strategic priorities remained the same.

c.       West Suffolk’s contribution was only part of the picture.

d.       The document included a new emphasis on the Environment and Rural issues.

 

On 14 November 2019, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered the draft document and had made a number of comments which were set out in section 3 of the report.

 

Having considered the document (Appendix B), the Leader’s Foreword (Appendix A) and the comments of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Cabinet was supportive of recommending its adoption by Council. For completeness and ease of reference, the final draft was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Newmarket Neighbourhood Plan: Referendum and Decision to 'Make' (adopt) as a West Suffolk Development Plan Document (Report No: COU/WS/20/003) pdf icon PDF 213 KB

Report No: COU/WS/20/003

Minutes:

Council considered this report, which sought approval for Council to ‘make’ (adopt) the Newmarket Neighbourhood Plan as a West Suffolk Development Plan Document.

 

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced into the planning process by the Localism Act 2011. Their aim was to allow local communities to take responsibility for guiding development in their area. This approach was subsequently embedded in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012, and subsequent revisions in 2018 and 2019.

 

Legislation required a neighbourhood to meet a set of basic conditions, as summarised in the report. In addition, in order for a Neighbourhood Plan to become part of the development plan it must follow a statutory process involving public consultation at each formal stage including the designated of the plan’s area, pre-submission, submission, examination and finally by referendum.

 

Section 3 of the report summarised the above process that had been followed, which culminated in a referendum being held on 30 January 2020. The referendum asked the question "Do you want West Suffolk Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Newmarket to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?" The Neighbourhood Plan was successful at the referendum with a clear majority of 1,361 people voting ‘Yes’ and 263 ‘No’ from a turnout of 13.85%.

 

Councillor David Roach, Portfolio Holder for Local Plan Development and Delivery, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council including that the Council had a duty to support communities who were preparing Neighbourhood Plans and the Council’s responsibilities in respect of providing this support were clearly set out in the relevant Regulations.  The Plan had been independently examined and agreed by West Suffolk Council to meet the Basic Conditions; it had been endorsed by the community having been subject to a referendum and had otherwise complied with all the legal requirements of plan production. It was considered that the Plan met European legislation and was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998 and Council was therefore urged to ‘make’ the Plan to become part of the development plan for West Suffolk.

 

During the debate, Newmarket Town Council, and in particular the designated Newmarket Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, were commended for the exceptional efforts that had been made to develop an appropriate and acceptable Neighbourhood Plan. Through positive engagement between stakeholders and residents, it was considered that this Plan provided a workable template for the ongoing prosperity of Newmarket. Further ongoing positive engagement was encouraged to achieve appropriate delivery of the Plan’s policies and proposals.

 

On the motion of Councillor Roach, seconded by Councillor Robert Nobbs, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

That:

 

1.       the Newmarket Neighbourhood Plan (Referendum version) be ‘made’ (adopted), so that it becomes part of the statutory development plan, and a material consideration for determining planning applications in the Newmarket Neighbourhood Area; and

 

2.       delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Growth) and the Service Manager (Strategic Planning), to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Review of Members' Allowances and Expenses (Report No: COU/WS/20/004) pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Report No: COU/WS/20/004

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered this report, which sought approval for the Members’ Allowance Scheme and associated matters, following an interim review undertaken by the West Suffolk Independent Remuneration Panel.

 

In May 2019, the Council ratified the Scheme of Members’ Allowances that had been recommended to it by the West Suffolk Shadow Council. At that time, it was recognised that the scheme had been developed whilst the Council was forming and it was not fully clear how the Council may evolve.  With this in mind, Council had requested that a further review be undertaken within the financial year to evaluate whether the scheme is working as intended or requires further amendment.”

 

Richard Cooper, Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) was in attendance and was duly invited to present the report of the Panel. He explained that the IRP reformed in October 2019 and had received evidence from Councillors, through a survey and interviews; reviewed relevant guidance and legislation, and had also considered evidence from comparative authorities (which included the review of East Suffolk Council, which concluded in February 2020).

 

The IRP’s report was attached at Appendix 1.  In summary, the IRP were satisfied that the Scheme of Allowances was working as intended, and thus did not require further substantive revision. However, at the time of their previous review, the IRP had highlighted two specific areas which required further assessment before an allowance rate could be established, namely Cabinet support posts and minority group leaders.

 

As set out in their report, the IRP considered that at this stage, an allowance should not be provided to Cabinet support posts. However, taking into account the Members’ Remuneration Regulations 2003 which legally required the payment of an allowance to minority group leaders, and other evidence and expectations in respect of the role, the IRP recommended an allowance should be provided for minority group leaders at the following rates:

 

Size of minority group

Recommended allowance

Rationale

21-32 Councillors

£2,106

Equivalent to Tier 7 rate of allowance

11-20 Councillors

£1,404

Being 2/3 of the Tier 7 rate of allowance

3-10 Councillors

£702

Being 1/3 of the Tier 7 rate of allowance

 

The IRP had also recommended a number of minor amendments to the scheme criteria, as set out in Appendix B to their report. Appendix C contained the full Members’ Allowances Scheme, approval of which was required.

 

Councillor Carol Bull, Portfolio Holder for Governance, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including placing her thanks on record to the IRP for their work on the interim review.  She added that it was proposed for this Scheme to be adopted until February 2024, at which stage a further review would be required.  The IRP had also suggested criteria, as set out in section 9 of their report, for when an interim review should be undertaken and it was proposed the Council should adopt these criteria.

 

The current IRP were appointed in September 2018, until 31 May 2021.  If the Council were to require an interim review  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Budget and Council Tax Setting 2020/2021 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2020-2024 (Report No: COU/WS/20/005) pdf icon PDF 355 KB

Report No: COU/WS/20/005

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered the above report, which presented the proposals for Budget and Council Tax Setting in 2020/2021 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2020-2024.

 

Councillor Sarah Broughton, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including that Report No: COU/WS/20/005 provided details of the Council’s proposed revenue and capital budgets for 2020/2021 and in the medium term.  The Cabinet had previously considered the 2020/2021 budget and had recommended to Council the level of council tax required to help fund this budget (as set out in Section 3 of the report and summarised below).

 

West Suffolk Council (and its predecessor councils Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils) had a good track record of not only delivering high quality services that its communities demanded and value but had a strong vision and programme to deliver, through the West Suffolk Strategic Framework 2020-2024, to bring greater prosperity for its communities and businesses.  This followed the £5 million in annual savings made from shared services, transformation and the creation of the new single council to put the Council on a stronger financial footing.  A common-sense budget meant the Council could continue delivering high quality services, invest in leisure, skills and jobs as well as the health, environment and prosperity of West Suffolk’s people and area, while at the same time reduce the impact of national challenges to local government funding.

 

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 decade just passed. The changes were numerous and continuous, and Members noted that there was little doubt the 2020s would bring even more changes.

 

The report provided examples of those changes and the financial challenges facing the 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. The Council recognised and already took 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 Council must, therefore, maintain and where appropriate grow the local income it currently received 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 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 2020/2021, the Council’s medium term 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,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Calendar of Meetings: 2020/2021 (Report No: COU/WS/20/006) pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Report No: COU/WS/20/006

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered the above report, which sought approval for the proposed calendar of meetings for West Suffolk Council in 2020/2021.

 

Councillor Carol Bull, Portfolio Holder for Governance, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Council, including that other bodies not listed in the Council’s Constitution and those arranged on an ‘as required’ basis would be scheduled throughout 2020/2021 and Members would be advised of these separately.

 

Members noted specific changes proposed to previous years’ calendar of meetings, as set out in Section 2 of the report.

 

On the motion of Councillor Bull, seconded by Councillor Simon Cole, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Calendar of Meetings 2020/2021, as attached at Appendix A to Report no: COU/WS/20/006, be approved.

64.

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.

Minutes:

There were no matters of urgent business considered on this occasion.