Agenda and minutes

Council - Tuesday 14 June 2022 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Claire Skoyles: Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item




Before commencing business, the Chair reminded those present that it was exactly 40 years since the Falklands War came to an end when Argentine forces surrendered to the British. All attendees were asked to stand and observe a minute’s silence to remember the service and sacrifice of the British Armed Forces, their families, and the civilian communities who contributed.


In addition, the Chair asked that attendees remember former Forest Heath District Councillor Chris Barker, who had sadly died recently. The Chair made a statement of condolence, reflecting on Councillor Barker’s contribution during his time on Forest Heath District Council.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meetings held on 22 March 2022 and 17 May 2022 (annual and extraordinary meetings of Council) (copies attached).


Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings held on 22 March 2022, 17 May 2022 (Annual Meeting) and 17 May 2022 (extraordinary meeting) were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Chair's announcements pdf icon PDF 366 KB

To receive announcements (if any) from the Chair.


A list of civic events/engagements attended by the Chair and Vice-Chair since their election at the Annual Meeting of Council on 17 May 2022 are attached.


The Chair reported on the civic engagements and charity activities which he and the Vice-Chair had attended since their election at the Annual Meeting on 17 May 2022.



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 Trevor Beckwith, Sarah Broughton, Simon Brown, John Burns, Simon Cole, Andy Drummond, Rachel Hood, Beccy Hopfensperger, Victor Lukaniuk, David Nettleton, Richard Rout, David Smith, Julia Wakelam, Cliff Waterman, Nick Wiseman and Phil Wittam.


Councillors Max Clarke, Jason Crooks and Peter Thompson 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.


Leader's statement (Paper number: COU/WS/22/011) pdf icon PDF 340 KB

Paper number: COU/WS/22/011 TO FOLLOW


Council Procedure Rules 8.1 to 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 Griffiths, Leader of the Council, presented his Leader’s Statement as outlined in paper number: COU/WS/22/011.


Members confirmed that they had received copies of the statement, which had been circulated following the distribution of the agenda for the meeting.


In his introductory remarks, Councillor Griffiths:


a.       Personal remarks: expressed his condolences to the family and friends of former Forest Heath District Councillor Chris Barker.


b.       Platinum Jubilee events and celebrations: congratulated Her Majesty The Queen on her Platinum Jubilee and paid tribute to those supporting celebratory public events being held in and by local communities. He also acknowledged the people and organisations of West Suffolk that had been formally recognised in HM The Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List.


c.       UK Shared Prosperity Fund: outlined details of the Council’s opportunity to obtain a sizeable amount of new Government funding for investment through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The deadline for submitting the Council’s investment plan to Government was 1 August 2022, therefore, to ensure all members had the opportunity to consider the proposed investment plan allocations following Cabinet’s planned consideration on 19 July 2022, Councillor Griffiths announced that with the agreement of the Chair, an extraordinary meeting of Council would be formally called to consider this matter on 26 July 2022.


The Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:


a.       Support for small businesses: that the Council was supporting the growth of small businesses not only in Haverhill but throughout West Suffolk. Examples included working in partnership with MENTA in Brandon and Haverhill, together with its recent investment in incubation units at Suffolk Business Park, Bury St Edmunds. Should any specific opportunities arise where the Council might be able to provide support to small businesses, the Economic Growth team would welcome suggestions.


b.       Social rented properties: that the four new properties available for social rent in Brandon, as referred to in paragraph 26. of the Leader’s Statement had not been built by Barley Homes. Any social rented property required a significant grant from Government and Barley Homes did not qualify for that. Where possible, the housing associations that worked in partnership with the Council were actively encouraged to apply for Government grants to try and fund more social rented properties within the district.  The topic of ‘Right to Buy’ and the implications associated with that was acknowledged as being significant and the Council, with partners, was lobbying Government on a variety of measures to try and help people in need, which included those faced with housing challenges and the impact of the rising cost of living. 


c.       Grass cutting schedule: in respect of whether the current grass cutting schedule was providing an effective delivery of service, Councillor Griffiths gave recognition to the Operations team that provided the grass and grounds maintenance service. Working with partners such as town and parish councils, housing associations and Suffolk County Council, West Suffolk Council made every effort to meet the challenges of delivering this service in a timely manner, much of which was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 224.


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.


(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.


The Constitution allows that a person who wishes to speak must register at least 15 minutes before the time the meeting is scheduled to start.  Weurge anyone who wishes to register to speak to notify Democratic Services by 9am on the day of the meeting so that advice can be given on the arrangements in place.


As an alternative to addressing the meeting in person, written questions may be submitted by members of the public to the Monitoring Officer no later than 10am on Monday 13 June 2022. The written notification should detail the full question to be asked at the meeting of the Council.


No members of the public in attendance had registered to speak.


Referrals report of recommendations from Cabinet

The last meeting of Cabinet arranged for 24 May 2022 was cancelled, therefore on this occasion, there are no referrals emanating from Cabinet.


Council noted that the last meeting of Cabinet arranged for 24 May 2022 was cancelled, therefore on this occasion there were no referrals emanating from Cabinet to Council.


Review of political balance and appointment to committees 2022 to 2023 (Report number: COU/WS/22/012) pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Report number: COU/WS/22/012

Additional documents:


Council considered this report, which sought approval for the political balance and the allocation of seats to committees for 2022 to 2023.


Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including that he had requested that a full review of the political balance and the proposed allocation of seats and substitute seats on committees. This was due to a relatively significant change in political composition of the Council since the last review was undertaken and presented to the Annual Meeting of Council on 17 May 2022.


The changes to the composition of Council were summarised in the table at paragraph 1.1 of the report, with the allocations of seats and substitute seats that had been proposed in accordance with the political balance rules (section 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989) set out in section 2.


Subject to the approval of the revised political balance, and the allocation of seats and substitute seats on the relevant committees, the Group Leaders were asked to notify the Monitoring Officer with their nominations for which members from their groups would be appointed to which seats within 14 days of the day of the meeting. Thereafter, the Monitoring Officer would confirm the appointments.


One of the non-grouped independent members, Councillor Paul Hopfensperger, stated that he would not be taking one of the places offered on either the Officer Appeals Committee or Officer Appointments Committee. In accordance with the political balance rules, non-grouped members were not automatically entitled to seats on committees, however, the aforementioned had been proposed to promote member inclusivity across the Council. If approved, the opportunity for the two non-grouped members to sit on either of these committees would remain and membership would be addressed should the occasion arise for either committee to meet.      


On the motion of Councillor Griffiths, duly seconded by Councillor Carol Bull, it was put to the vote and with the vote being 43 for the motion, none against and one abstention, it was


Resolved: That


1.       The revised political balance and allocation of seats and substitutes on committees as per Appendix A to Report number: COU/WS/22/012, be approved.


2.       A return to the membership of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee to a total of 12 members in accordance with the terms of reference at Part 3b, section 2 of the Council’s Constitution, be approved.


3.       The appointment of the non-grouped independent members to 1 seat on the Officer Appeals Committee and 1 seat on the Officer Appointments Committee, be approved.


4.       Delegation be given for Group Leaders to nominate members from their Groups to seats and as substitutes on committees.


West Suffolk Annual Scrutiny Report 2021 to 2022 (Report number: COU/WS/22/013) pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Paragraph 7.5.1 of Article 7 of the Council’s Constitution requires that:


 ‘The Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee must report annually to the Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods if appropriate’.


Report number: COU/WS/22/013

Additional documents:


Council received and noted the West Suffolk Annual Scrutiny Report for 2021 to 2022.


Article 7 of the Council’s Constitution required that ‘the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee must report annually to the Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods if appropriate.’


Councillor Ian Shipp, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee drew relevant issues to the attention of Council.  He placed his thanks on record to the Committee, its partners and to Cabinet, and acknowledged the work of officers that had supported him and the Committee.


Councillor Ian Houlder, Chair of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee, drew attention to the specific work of that Committee and its two sub-committees. He placed his thanks on record to the Committee and to the teams in Finance and Internal Audit for their continuing support.


No questions were asked.


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.