Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, The Shire Hall, St Peter's Square, Hereford, HR1 2HX

Contact: Matthew Evans, Democratic Services 

Items
No. Item

34.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Graham Andrews.

35.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To receive declarations of interest in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the Council in respect of items on the agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor Roger Phillips declared an other interest as the vice chairman of the national joint council (NJC) for local government services.

36.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 354 KB

To approve and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 October 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman outlined two changes to the accuracy of the minutes of the previous meeting as outlined below:

 

Minute 32, bullet point 2 the wording ‘the risk was currently being assessed’ to be replaced with the wording ‘the correspondence provided assurance that that it was unlikely that the £850k would be called upon’.

 

Minute 32, bullet point 15 (the last bullet point) the wording ‘his election material explained that he did not support road schemes’ to be replaced with the wording ‘ a number of members of the administration had been elected on the basis that they did not support the planned road schemes’.

 

RESOLVED: That, subject to the changes outlined above, the minutes of the meeting 11 October 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

37.

CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE'S ANNOUNCEMENTS pdf icon PDF 192 KB

To receive the Chairman and Chief Executive’s announcements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council noted the Chairman’s announcements as printed in the agenda papers.

 

The Chairman introduced his announcements and informed Council of a suggestion to rename the cycle bridge at the outfall works and the path from Rotherwas to the bridge Canary Bridge and Canary Way respectively.

 

The chief executive introduced his announcements and provided an update from Public Health England regarding coronavirus.

 

It was requested that a briefing note was provided by the end of the day to provide an update on the phosphate levels in the river Lugg catchment.  

38.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC pdf icon PDF 241 KB

To receive questions from members of the public.

Deadline for receipt of questions is 5:00pm on Monday 10 February.

Accepted questions and answers will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting. At the budget meeting of the full Council questions must relate to items on the agenda. Please send questions to councillorservices@herefordshire.gov.uk.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A copy of the public questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers, is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 1.

39.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To receive any written questions from members of the Council.

Deadline for receipt of questions is 5:00pm on Monday 10 February.

Accepted questions and answers will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting. At the budget meeting of the full Council questions must relate to items on the agenda. Please send questions to councillorservices@herefordshire.gov.uk.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A copy of the Member questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers, is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 2.

40.

CORPORATE PLAN - THE COUNTY PLAN 2020/24 pdf icon PDF 245 KB

To approve the council’s corporate plan – county plan 2020/24.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Leader which set out the proposed corporate plan. The Leader moved the report and proposed the corporate plan, now to be referred to as the county plan 2020/2024, for approval. The Leader outlined the priorities contained in the plan, consisting of environment, community and economy and explained that the plan set the direction of the council for the next four years.

 

The deputy leader seconded the report and outlined the consultation that had taken place in the development of the Plan and the importance of highlighting the work undertaken with partners and the involvement of young people.

 

In discussion the following principal points were raised:

 

·        It was important that connectivity for small, rural communities was acknowledged. It was hoped that villages without services and infrastructure would not be required to accept housing targets in the review of the core strategy;

·        The Talk Community initiative was raised and good practice around adults’ social care.

·        A comment was made that the delivery of the priorities and objectives in the Plan was key, not merely their presentation.

·        The Plan should contain details of depressed wages locally and relatively expensive housing and travel costs. Average earnings were below levels in the local region.

·        It was felt that there should be greater reference to key partners in the Plan.

·        Some members felt that they could not support the Plan without the western bypass to drive growth. The loss of funding resulting from the discontinuation of the scheme would impact on growth and undermine the delivery of the priorities in the Plan.

·        The Plan represented a shift of emphasis that placed residents and the community at the heart of decisions that affected them.

·        The western bypass would not relieve the congestion caused by the local residents travelling in the City which accounted for 85% of journeys.

·        Local businesses should be supported by the Plan to drive jobs and growth.

·        The promotion of tourism was important.

·        The Plan ensured that the environment and response to the climate emergency were at the heart of the council’s work.

 

The County Plan 2020/2024 was put to the vote and carried by a simple majority.

 

RESOLVED: That the County Plan 2020/2024, as set out in appendix A to the report, is approved.

41.

2020/21 COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To approve the council tax reduction scheme for 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Leader to agree the council tax reduction scheme for 2020/21.

 

The Leader moved the report and proposed the current council tax reduction scheme for approval. The scheme proposed for approval had been originally adopted in 2015 and it was considered the scheme continued to provide an appropriate level of reduction.

 

The cabinet member finance and corporate services seconded the report and explained that the retention of the current scheme was supported by responses to the budget consultation. The scheme provided support to vulnerable residents and those suffering hardship. In effect the scheme resulted in a reduction in council tax to the council of £10.9 million. Over 80% of council tax billed to claimants of the reduction scheme was collected; a rate which had remained consistent across the period of the current reduction scheme.

 

The principal points below were raised during the debate:

 

·         The provision of relief of up to three months to local residents forced to leave their homes following flooding was raised and what further relief could be provided after three months.

·         There was concern at those local residents who did not meet the threshold to claim the reduction but who were just about managing.

·         The number of claimants for a reduction highlighted the high number of people in the county on low incomes.

 

A named vote was held to agree the council tax reduction scheme set out in the report. The scheme was approved unanimously.

 

FOR (52): Councillors Paul Andrews, Polly Andrews, Bartlett, Bartrum, Bolderson, Boulter, Bowen, Bowes, Chowns, Crockett, Davies, Durkin, Fagan, Foxton, Gandy, Guthrie, Hardwick, Harrington, Harvey, Hewitt, Hey, Hitchiner, Howells, Hunt, I’Anson, James, Jinman, Johnson, Graham Jones, Mike Jones, Kenyon, Lester, Marsh, Matthews, Millmore, Milln, Norman, Phillips, Price, Rone, Seldon, Shaw, Stark, Stone, Summers, Swinglehurst, Symonds, Tillett, Toynbee, Tyler, Watson and Wilding.

 

Against (0)

 

Abstentions (0)

 

RESOLVED: that the council tax reduction scheme for 2020/21, attached at appendix 1, is approved with the same parameters as the existing scheme.

42.

CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2020/21 ONWARDS AND CAPITAL STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 425 KB

To approve the capital investment budget and capital strategy for 2020/21 onwards.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Leader to approve the capital investment budget and capital strategy 2020/21 onwards.

 

The cabinet member finance and corporate services moved the report and proposed the recommendations. She explained that the capital programme of the previous administration had been largely retained with additions including: school improvement; the Talk Community initiative; care home facilities; employment facilities; and infrastructure investment. Environmental improvements were also proposed through the programme including waste reduction initiatives. The majority of investment proposed through the capital programme was from grant funding with a small amount from borrowing.

 

The Leader seconded the report and explained that the capital plan reflected the county plan and proposed investment across market towns and rural areas.

 

In discussion the following points were raised in the debate concerning the Cabinet’s capital budget:

 

·        The impact of the loss of grant funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership was raised and where new grant funding would be identified in its place. Support was expressed for a capital strategy that proposed a bypass but it was noted that funding for such an initiative had been withdrawn.

·        A shortfall in social and affordable housing was raised and the need for investment in this area.

·        The importance of a review of the processes around the capital programme and risk management of capital schemes was raised.

·        Support was expressed for the investment in schools and superhubs.

·        Welcome was expressed for climate specific projects in the capital programme including electric buses. The programme proposed integrated action on environment and economy and the future carbon management strategy would set out how the capital programme could contribute to initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.

·        Support was expressed for projects to construct care homes.

·        There was requirement for investment in the road network, in particular drainage issues.

 

Amendment 1 – Proposed by Councillor Bob Matthews, seconded by Councillor Bernard Hunt. To allocate £2.2m of the capital receipts monies to rural verges management and any remaining funding from New Homes Bonus, not used for phosphate issue or climate change, will also be allocated. The funding will be used to commence work to provide adequate passing bays on the county’s minor road network to help prevent the destruction of the grass verges alongside these B and C class Highways which contain a wide range of valuable and rare flora and fauna, and would be a means of protecting the rural environment generally.

 

Councillor Bob Matthews proposed the amendment and explained that recent public surveys had established that highway improvements were a priority for the public. The amendment proposed the use of capital receipts from the smallholdings sale to improve minor roads. Passing places along minor roads formed naturally over time; the amendment would formalise these passing places which would help protect rural roads and reduce the incidence of potholes.

 

Councillor Bernard Hunt seconded the amendment and explained that the amendment represented additional investment for rural roads which were in need of improvement.

 

In discussion the following points were raised in the debate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

SETTING THE 2020/21 BUDGET AND UPDATING THE MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY AND TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 605 KB

To approve the 2020/21 budget and associated medium term financial strategy and treasury management strategy.

Additional documents:

44.

PAY POLICY STATEMENT 2020 pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To approve the 2020 pay policy statement for publication.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the chairperson of the employment panel to approve the pay policy statement for 2020.

 

The report and recommendation was moved by the Leader (as chairperson of the employment panel) and seconded by the cabinet member for finance and corporate services.

 

During the discussion it was requested that in future the report should include detail of the gender pay gap at the council.

 

The pay policy statement was put to the vote and approved unanimously.

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

(a) the pay policy statement at appendix A is approved

45.

PROCEDURE FOR QUESTIONS AT SCRUTINY COMMITTEES AND CABINET pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To approve changes to the procedure for questions at scrutiny committees and Cabinet as recommended by Audit and Governance Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the solicitor to the council regarding the procedure for public and member questions at scrutiny committees and Cabinet. The correction supplement was noted.

 

Councillor Shaw proposed and Councillor Bolderson seconded the recommendation in the report.

 

Amendment – Proposed by Councillor Bob Matthews and seconded by Councillor Bernard Hunt – That the constitution at section 4.4.11 (part c) in the cabinet rules is amended to include group leaders being able to ask questions of the relevant cabinet member(s) at cabinet meetings.

 

Councillor Hunt proposed the amendment and explained that it was democratic and essential that group leaders were able to ask questions of cabinet members at meetings of the cabinet.

 

In the debate concerning the amendment it was acknowledged that if it was approved it could lead to a lot of questions being raised at cabinet however it was considered that it would be more democratic and accountable.

 

Councillor Jim Kenyon seconded the amendment and explained that good chairmanship would ensure democracy and transparency.

 

Councillor Shaw replied to the debate on the amendment and explained that he had sympathy with the amendment but such proposals should be considered at the audit and governance committee before determination at full Council.

 

The amendment was put to the vote and was carried by a simple majority.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the constitution at section 4.4.11 (part c) in the cabinet rules – is amended to include group leaders being able to ask questions of the relevant cabinet member(s) at cabinet meetings.

 

The substantive motion, as amended above was put to the vote and carried by a simple majority.

 

RESOLVED:That:

(a)         

(a)     the council approve the process for public and member questions at scrutiny and the deadline for cabinet questions with implementation with effect from the council meeting on 14 February 2020, including the amendment agreed above; and

 

(b)    authority be delegated to the solicitor to the council to make technical amendments (grammatical, formatting, and consistency) necessary to finalise the revised constitution.

 

46.

COUNCILLORS' ALLOWANCE SCHEME AND LINK TO THE NATIONAL JOINT COUNCIL (NJC) INDEX pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To consider arrangements for the indexing of the annual adjustment of councillors’ allowances.

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the solicitor to the council concerning the index linking of the increase to councillors’ allowances to the National Joint Council rates.

 

The monitoring officer introduced the report and explained that following a request from the Chairman a dispensation had been provided to all members to be present and vote on the report.

 

The recommendation in the report was proposed by the Leader and seconded by Councillor Nigel Shaw.

 

The recommendation in the report was put to the vote and approved by a simple majority.

RESOLVED: That:

(a) The National Joint Council (NJC) pay award applying to the basic allowance and the special responsibility allowances received by councillors in 2020 and 2021 be approved.

47.

ADDITIONAL ITEM - URGENT NOTICE OF MOTION pdf icon PDF 285 KB

To consider a Notice of Motion concerning an urgent matter.

Minutes:

Council considered an urgent motion regarding the appeal against the rejection of the Ledbury viaduct planning application by the planning committee.

 

In moving the motion Councillor Liz Harvey made the following points:

 

·         The motion was intended to provide an opportunity for members of the planning committee and local ward members to express a view on the appeal of the Ledbury viaduct planning application and the monitoring officer’s decision as to whether the council would contest the appeal.

·         The planning committee had rejected the application, in part because it felt that a single access for the proposed site was inadequate. The developer had been asked to consider a second access under the viaduct but such a proposal had not been included in the report submitted to the planning committee in December.

·         In reaching its decision the planning committee had taken the views of the local community into account.

·         An appeal would be taking place and legal advice provided to the council from counsel stated that the appeal should not be contested. The legal advice considered that there were insufficient grounds to defend the decision of the planning committee and by not contesting the appeal the potential financial risk to the council would be reduced.

·         The legal advice of counsel undermined the decision of the planning committee. The motion was intended to collate the thoughts of members to assist the monitoring officer to decide whether to defend the appeal.  

 

Councillor Tony Johnson seconded the motion.

 

The following principal points were raised during the debate:

 

·         Developments of the size proposed at Ledbury viaduct generally had more than one access.

·         Ledbury Town Council would make representations at the inquiry that considered the appeal.

·         There was substantial evidence concerning the application that needed to be considered at inquiry including contradictory highways assessments.

·         The local community of Ledbury opposed development on the site where there was only a single access.

·         To contest the appeal could result in significant costs against the council.

·         Without the development of the viaduct site the council’s three and five year housing land supply targets were threatened.

·         The prospect of success in the appeal was queried. The monitoring officer explained that counsel advice indicated that there was not a good chance of success.

·         If the decision of the planning committed was consistent with planning policy the appeal should be defended.

·         It was noted that if the council defended the appeal it might become liable for the legal costs of the appellant.

·         It was confirmed that there was strong feeling against the application among the members of the planning committee however the single access had been considered adequate by officers.

·         It was acknowledged that the monitoring officer would need to assess the legal advice received in deciding whether to defend the appeal.

 

In closing the debate Councillor Harvey explained that it was a point of principle to defend the decision of the planning committee. To not defend the decision would run counter to localism and democracy.

 

The motion was put to the vote  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.