Agenda and minutes

Council - Tuesday 20 February 2024 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Claire Skoyles: Democratic Services Officer  Email:

Note: The link to view the livestream broadcast of the meeting is shown in 'Media' below. Please ensure the device in which you wish to view the broadcast allows access to YouTube. The livestream will commence from 7pm on Tuesday 20 February 2024. 


No. Item




Before commencing business, all members were asked to stand and observe a minute’s silence in remembrance of former Forest Heath District Councillor Bill Bishop, and former St Edmundsbury Borough and West Suffolk Councillor Mary Evans who had both sadly died recently. The Chair made a statement of condolence, reflecting on each of the late councillors’ contributions during their time on their respective councils.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 224 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2023 (copy attached).



The minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2023 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Chair's announcements pdf icon PDF 381 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 19 December 2023 are attached.


The Chair firstly reported that in response to the concerning news that His Majesty King Charles III had been diagnosed with cancer, he had written on behalf of West Suffolk Council to His Majesty to wish him well and a speedy recovery.


The Chair then announced the following forthcoming events and encouraged members to attend:


·         Sunday 17 March 2024 at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds at 6.30pm: The Chair’s Charity Concert. This would feature a performance by The Voice Squad.

·         Monday 8 April 2024 at St Edmundsbury Cathedral at 11am: Memorial service to celebrate the life of the late former Councillor Mary Evans.

·         Friday 10 May 2024 at 7pm (venue to be confirmed): The Chair’s Civic Dinner.


The Chair subsequently reported on the civic engagements and charity activities which he and the Vice-Chair had attended since the last ordinary meeting of Council on 19 December 2023.


Specific attention was drawn to the ‘819th traditional opening ceremony of the King’s Lynn Mart’ that the Chair had attended on 14 February 2024.


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 Michael Anderson, Pat Hanlon, John Griffiths, Andrew Martin and Tracy Whitehand.


Councillor John Augustine was also unable to attend the meeting.


Declarations of interests

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any disclosable pecuniary interest, other registerable or non-registrable 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.


Public participation

Council Procedure Rules Section 6. Members of the public who live or work in the district may put questions 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. The Chair may use their discretion to extend or reduce the time allowed if they feel it appropriate. 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 (subject to the Chair’s discretion).


The member to whom the question is directed may refer it to another member or may choose to give a written response. 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 by no later than midday on Friday 16 February 2024.This can be done online by sending the request together with their statement or question in full and confirmation of their address or workplace to or telephoning 01284 757176 / 01638 719363.


See section 6.8 of the Council Procedure Rules of the Constitution regarding the scope of questions/statements that may be asked/made.


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


1. Mr Aaron Leeves, a resident of the district, had previously submitted a question in connection with the impacts of achieving carbon net zero in Bury St Edmunds, together with the effects on the local economy.


However, as required by the Council Procedure Rules contained in the Constitution, Mr Leeves failed to ask the question he had submitted and raised matters unrelated to the Council agenda. Despite the Chair politely asking Mr Leeves to ask the question he had submitted, Mr Leeves continued to talk over the Chair.


As Mr Leeves ignored the Chair’s requests for the previously submitted question to be asked, in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules, the Chair asked Mr Leeves to leave the meeting. Mr Leeves continued to speak over the Chair and ignored requests to leave so a security officer was required to step in and assist with Mr Leeves’ removal from the Conference Chamber.


Once Mr Leeves had left the Chamber, the Chair then welcomed the next registered public speaker to the meeting.


2. Dr Rachel Wood, a resident of the district, made a statement in connection with agenda item 10, ‘Motion on Notice – West Suffolk Archives’.


Dr Wood’s statement was in response to Suffolk County Council’s recent decision to close the West Suffolk archive facility in Bury St Edmunds and centralise the service at The Hold in Ipswich.


Dr Wood placed emphasis on the fact that the existing archives office in Bury St Edmunds held historical records for the whole of the western half of Suffolk and provided examples of archives that she felt were of such historical importance that they should remain in Bury St Edmunds. Access to these, and other records currently stored in Bury St Edmunds was considered to be at risk if relocated to Ipswich. 


It was acknowledged that some collections may remain in Bury St Edmunds; however, Dr Wood feared that what was being suggested would break up the heritage of western Suffolk.


Councillor Cliff Waterman, Leader of the Council, thanked Dr Wood for her detailed and eloquent statement. The motion on notice at item 10 on the agenda broadly addressed the issues she had raised. He urged members to consider what Dr Wood had said when the debate on the motion on the notice was held later in the meeting.


No further questions were asked or statements made. The Chair concluded this item and invited the members of the public present to remain in the meeting to observe the following agenda items should they wish to do so.


Leader's statement (Paper number: COU/WS/24/001) pdf icon PDF 319 KB

Paper number: COU/WS/24/001


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.


The Leader will introduce the statement and members may ask the Leader questions:


a.       On the Leader’s statement

b.       On any Council matter


A total of 30 minutes will be allowed for all 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.


The Chair may use their discretion to extend or reduce the time allowed if they feel it appropriate.


Councillor Waterman, Leader of the Council, presented his Leader’s Statement as outlined in paper number: COU/WS/24/001.


Following the distribution and publication of the agenda and papers for this meeting, a typographical error had been identified in paragraph 13. of the Leader’s Statement in respect of the following sentence, which should read, as indicated by emboldened text:


‘When the County Council looked at relocating the archive in early 2023, they considered the option of moving to Western Way costing around £3.5 million or staying at Raingate Street at around £5 million.’


In his introductory remarks, Councillor Waterman:


a.       Budget: reported that the budget had been formulated within the context of the new recently adopted strategic priorities. A two-year balanced budget had been achieved whilst delivering much needed, quality services to the residents of West Suffolk. Proposals would bring the new priorities to a reality, together with income from investments. Certainty regarding future funding was however imperative, and stringent lobbying of central government to seek that certainty would continue.


b.       Engagement: he and his Cabinet had visited the district’s towns and engaged with ward members to better understand strengths, issues and challenges within the towns and their communities. Further engagement was planned for visiting the rural areas. Councillor Waterman thanked his Cabinet for their work and commitment to these and for additional hours spent in meetings.


c.       Local Government Association (LGA) Corporate Peer Challenge: explained that every five years, as part of its membership requirements, the Council was required by the LGA to undertake a peer review. The review, which was due to be undertaken between 23 July 2024 and 26 July 2024, was amongst other criteria, was expected to measure the effectiveness of the Council’s ability to deliver against its ambitions. This would be the Council’s first review since the creation of West Suffolk Council in 2019.


d.       Environment: reported that ten properties at Euston Estates and four Metcalfe Almshouses in Hawstead had been successfully retro-fitted to improve energy efficiency and warmer homes utilising government schemes and private investment. In addition, Suffolk Public Sector Leaders were offering grants for better loft insulation to eligible applicants in Suffolk.


Part A: Questions on the Leader’s statement


In accordance with the recently amended Council Procedure Rules, the Leader firstly responded to a range of questions relating to his statement itself:

a.       Budget gap forecast: whilst a budget gap of £5.7 million for 2026 to 2027 and £6.28 million for 2027 to 2028 had currently been forecast, this was largely due to uncertainty from government regarding grant levels that may be received in the medium to longer term. Best and worst case scenarios were set out in Report number: COU/WS/24/003, which also explained the level of reserves the Council had which may need to be utilised to bridge the gap, if necessary.


b.       Staff costs: the relatively small increase in the staff establishment and associated costs, were set out in Report number: COU/WS/24/003. Some were due to the improvements being made to the grounds maintenance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 335.


Referrals report of recommendations from Cabinet (Report number: COU/WS/24/002) pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Report number: COU/WS/24/002


A.      Referrals from Cabinet: 6 February 2024


1.       Treasury management report (December 2023)

          Portfolio holder: Councillor Diane Hind


2.       Financial Resilience Strategy Statement 2024 to 2025 and Treasury Management Code of Practice

          Portfolio holder: Councillor Diane Hind


3.       Budget and Council Tax setting 2024 to 2025 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024 to 2028

          Portfolio holder: Councillor Diane Hind


(The recommendations emanating from this item, together with Cabinet’s approval of the recommendation contained in Report number: CAB/WS/24/007 ‘Recommendation of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee: 25 January 2024 - Delivering a sustainable medium-term budget’ have been incorporated into the main budget setting report due to be considered later on this Council agenda at item 8. No decision is therefore required at this stage.)


Council considered the referrals report of recommendations from Cabinet, as contained within report number: COU/WS/24/001.


A.      Referrals from Cabinet: 6 February 2024


1.      Treasury Management Report (December 2023)


Approval was sought for the Treasury Management Report (December 2023).


Councillor Diane Hind, Portfolio Holder for Resources drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, which included thanking the Financial Resilience Sub-Committee and Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee for their work in scrutinising the treasury management report.


On the motion of Councillor Hind, seconded by Councillor Donna Higgins, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was




That the Treasury Management Report (December 2023), as contained in Report number: FRS/WS/24/001, be approved.


2.      Financial Resilience Strategy Statement 2024 to 2025 and Treasury Management Code of Practice


Approval was sought for the Financial Resilience Strategy Statement 2024 to 2025 and Treasury Management Code of Practice.


Councillor Diane Hind, Portfolio Holder for Resources drew relevant issues to the attention of Council.


On the motion of Councillor Hind, seconded by Councillor Donna Higgins, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was





1.       The Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2024 to 2025 as set out in Appendix 1 to Report number: FRS/WS/24/002, be approved.


2.       The Treasury Management Code of Practice, as set out in Appendix 2 to Report number: FRS/WS/24/002, be approved.


3.      Budget and Council Tax setting: 2024 to 2025 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024 to 2028


The recommendations emanating from the Cabinet’s consideration of this report, together with its approval of the recommendation contained in Report number: CAB/WS/24/007 ‘Recommendation of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee: 25 January 2024 - Delivering a sustainable medium-term budget’ were contained within Report number: COU/WS/24/003 ‘Budget and Council Tax setting: 2024 to 2025 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024 to 2028’, for consideration as agenda item 8 on the Council agenda.


Members therefore noted that no decision was required at this stage.


Budget and Council Tax setting 2024 to 2025 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024 to 2028 (Report number: COU/WS/24/003) pdf icon PDF 380 KB

Report number: COU/WS/24/003

Additional documents:


(Councillor Frank Stennett declared that he was the Chair of Newmarket Cricket Club and left the meeting when it moved into private session and did not take part in the debate on the exempt business cases. He returned to the meeting when back in public session.)


Council considered this report, which presented proposals for the budget and council tax setting in 2024 to 2025 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2024 to 2028. 


Councillor Diane Hind, Portfolio Holder for Resources, drew relevant issues to the attention of the Council.  The budget had been created to invest in West Suffolk’s future, improve services and keep charges low.  It invested in a fair, thriving and sustainable future for West Suffolk and improved essential services, whilst meeting significant national and local financial challenges.  The budget would support and help drive the delivery of the authority’s ambitious strategic priorities.  Investment in these areas included:


·         Strengthening essential services such as improving grass cutting and grounds maintenance operation making tidier streets and better biodiversity.

·         Funding leisure improvements as well as protecting swimming pools from closing due to high utility costs, better equipment and investment in our leisure centres, play areas and open spaces.

·         Ways to bring more affordable homes to West Suffolk and reduce the risk of people becoming homeless.

·         Working alone and together with partners to improve and rent out property for businesses to create jobs and help our town centres as well as improve skills.

·         Funding commissioning work around Brandon and potential economic benefits on the A11, A1307 and A14 corridors.

·         Improving parking facilities across West Suffolk.

·         Supporting crucial groups and volunteers that are the backbone of society and provide vital support for local communities.

·         Topping up the Net Zero fund totalling now £11.75 million to support further investment in council assets, including the leisure portfolio and the authority’s highly successful solar for business scheme.

The Council would continue to invest in initiatives that generated income and wider benefits, such as Solar for Business.  In addition, £1 million would be made in savings or new local income over the next two years as part of the Council’s forthcoming service improvement and behaving commercially programmes.  This would be in addition to the £1 million already achieved in the current year’s budget to make the Council as efficient as possible.


West Suffolk Council was forecasting a two-year balanced budget despite an additional £5 million in pressures (around six per cent of the overall £78 million gross budget). This had been caused by increased inflation, cost of living and higher demand for services, additional demands from Government and traditional reduced funding.


This year Government had given a settlement that did not meet the costs of running services and expected in their calculations that all councils put up Council Tax to the maximum amount available (2.99 per cent). On 6 February 2024, the Cabinet recommended to Council that the level of Band D council tax for 2024 to 2025 be set at £197.82, which represented a Band  ...  view the full minutes text for item 337.


Calendar of meetings 2024 to 2025 (Report number: COU/WS/24/004) pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Report number: COU/WS/24/004

Additional documents:


Council considered this report, which sought approval for the proposed calendar of meetings for West Suffolk Council in 2024 to 2025.


Councillor Gerald Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Governance and Regulatory, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including that the calendar took into account known events which could have a widespread impact on attendance such as school holidays.


No venues were stipulated on the calendar as this allowed for meetings to be held at West Suffolk House, Mildenhall Hub or other venues as appropriate and in liaison with the relevant Chair. Under current legislation some meetings were also able to be operated entirely virtually (for example, Staff Consultative Panel, Financial Resilience Sub-Committee) and it was envisaged that would continue and would be at the discretion of the Chair of the meeting.


The practice of scheduling two additional reserve meetings of Council and three additional reserve meetings of Cabinet had been continued and those meetings would be held if needed. The meetings would continue to be publicised as normal, and members would receive notification of these in accordance with current processes.


On the motion of Councillor Kelly, seconded by Councillor Peter Armitage, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was




That the Calendar of Meetings 2024 to2025, as attached at Appendix A to Report number: COU/WS/24/004, be approved.


Motion on notice - West Suffolk archives (Paper number: COU/WS/24/005) pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Councillor Cliff Waterman has given notice of a motion under section 9.3 of the Council Procedure Rules, as attached as Paper number: COU/WS/24/005.


Paragraphs 9.6 to 9.11 of the Council Procedure Rules states:


Each member may put one motion on notice at each Council meeting.  A maximum of three motions may be considered at each Council meeting unless the Chair agrees, by virtue of special urgency, that additional motions may be considered. Any motions that cannot be considered at the meeting will be deferred for consideration at a future meeting of Council.


The motion on notice can be moved and seconded at the meeting by any member.  If the motion on notice is not moved, it will be treated as withdrawn and may not be moved without another notice in accordance with these rules.  A motion may be withdrawn at any time by the proposer of the motion.


Once the motion has been moved and seconded, the Chair will invite members to debate the motion.  Only five members, in addition to the proposer and seconder, may speak to the motion.  Each member may speak only once, for a maximum of three minutes on the motion.  The proposer has the right of reply at the conclusion of the debate for three minutes.


The Chair has the discretion to extend the time allowed and/or the number of speakers to discuss the motion, to allow for the proposer (with the agreement of the seconder) to amend the motion, or to allow for the proposer to respond to questions or points of clarification on the motion.


At the conclusion of the debate, the motion shall be put to a vote and determined by a simple majority of those present and voting.


Where an agreed motion on notice refers a matter to a committee for consideration, then a report shall be presented in due course to the Council on how the motion on notice was considered by that committee and any consequential outcomes as a result.’


(For openness and transparency, Councillor Patrick Chung declared that he was a trustee of the Bury St Edmunds Society. He remained in the meeting and voted on the motion.) 


Under section nine of the Council Procedure Rules detailed in the Constitution, Council had been given written notice of a motion submitted by Councillor Cliff Waterman, Leader of the Council, as set out in Paper number: COU/WS/24/005 accordingly.


As previously advised, the Chair called upon Councillor Julia Wakelam to introduce and move the motion. Councillor Wakelam drew attention to a number of issues relating to Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) proposal to close the West Suffolk archives branch in Raingate Street, Bury St Edmunds and centralise this service to The Hold in Ipswich.


While recognising the severe financial pressures faced by the County Council, Councillor Wakelam expressed her deep sadness regarding this proposed closure. She felt that the anticipated revenue savings of around £140,000 a year for SCC as a result of the consolidation of Suffolk archives was a relatively insignificant sum within the context of SCC’s entire budget and considered an alternative solution could be found. She urged members to support the motion which called for SCC to suspend the implementation of the change and work with all local stakeholders, including West Suffolk Council and Bury St Edmunds Town Council, to explore all alternative options within the County Council’s available capital and revenue budgets for keeping access to local historical records within West Suffolk.


Councillor Wakelam thanked Dr Wood, the registered public speaker that had spoken on this matter earlier in the meeting, and others that wished to keep the archives in West Suffolk.


Councillor Wakelam provided a history of the West Suffolk archives, examples of records stored at the Raingate Street branch and the rationale for keeping them in West Suffolk, as set out in the paper. She felt gravely disappointed that no public consultation on SCC’s proposal had been held and the impact on residents regarding accessibility to the archives not only in terms of travel costs inflicted for visiting The Hold in Ipswich but also the ease in which to find a specific record. Concern was also expressed that The Hold had insufficient storage provision to accommodate the West Suffolk archives.


Councillor Wakelam encouraged members to support the motion and hoped that if sufficient pressure was put on SCC, it would rethink its proposal and engage with stakeholders to explore alternatives options.


The motion was duly seconded by Councillor Victor Lukaniuk.


In accordance with the Council Procedure Rules regarding the debating motions on notice, the Chair reminded members that only five other members may speak on the motion for a maximum of three minutes each. The Chair exercised his discretion and permitted six members to speak.


The majority of members that spoke on the motion were in support and echoed Councillor Wakelam’s concerns.


A request was made for a recorded vote, which was duly supported by more than the Constitutionally required ten members.


Councillor Nick Clarke, Leader of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 339.


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.


See minute 337. above.


Exempt appendices: Budget and Council Tax setting 2024 to 2025 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024 to 2028 (paragraph 3)

Exempt Attachment D, Appendices 2d, 2e and 2f to Report number: COU/WS/24/003 (exempt business cases to support new strategic capital projects)


See minute 337. above.