Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford
Contact: Helen Tambini 0115 9148320
Declarations of Interest
Councillor Parekh declared an interest in Item 11a.
To receive as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on Thursday, 13 July 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 13 July 2023, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
The Mayor informed Council that she had been a lot busier than she thought she would be over the last few months, and she was thoroughly enjoying it. The Mayor mentioned that she had hosted afternoon tea for some local Korean War veterans, enjoyed the summer sunshine at the Cinema in the Park event and at a number of cricket matches. She stated that she had particularly enjoyed the Hickling Scarecrow Festival, and thanked Councillor Combellack for showing her around. Councillor Mason informed Council about her successful Civic Dinner last week, which had 180 community volunteers coming together to celebrate the contribution they made within the Borough and highlighted her charity fund raising afternoon tea next Thursday, to which there were still a small number of tickets available.
Councillor Clarke announced that the Council had recently won a collaborative working initiative along with neighbouring authorities from the Association of Public Service Excellence, for the Green Rewards scheme, which incentivised residents to take action to reduce their impact on their environment as part of the Council’s Carbon Clever initiatives.
Councillor Clarke also brought Council’s attention to the recently awarded Green Flag award for Rushcliffe Country Park, its seventeenth consecutive award, and the first Green Flag award for Sharphill Wood. He congratulated the two ‘Friends of’ groups for all of their hard work in achieving those nationally recognised awards.
Finally, Councillor Clarke highlighted that nominations were now open for the Rushcliffe Community Awards and encouraged Councillors to put forward suggestions from their communities in the many award categories before the 15 October deadline.
Chief Executive's Announcements
The Chief Executive brought Council’s attention to the two paper slips on each desk this evening and asked Councillors to complete these before leaving the Council Chamber this evening.
To answer questions submitted by Citizens on the Council or its services.
A Citizens’ Question had been submitted by Mr Terry Galloway. Mr Galloway attended the meeting to provide Council with insight into his very personal and traumatic experience of the care system before directing his Citizens’ Question to the Leader of the Council:
“Do you accept that the voice of care experienced people should be heard in all policy decisions and service design?”
Councillor J Wheeler thanked Mr Galloway for his question and for sharing his experience and reassured Mr Galloway that the Council had a robust process for undertaking Equality Impact Assessments when undertaking significant policy shifts or reforms to service provision. Councillor Wheeler also brought the motion under agenda Item 11 to the attention of Mr Galloway and Council, where he expected further debate on this important issue.
No petitions had been submitted.
Business from the last Council meeting
Questions from Councillors
To answer questions submitted by Councillors under Standing Order No.11(2)
a) Councillor Birch
b) Councillor J Walker
c) Councillor Plant
Question from Councillor Birch to Councillor Clarke.
“Rushcliffe Borough Council has spent £9,597 of taxpayer money applying for, and attending, the?MJ Achievement Awards in London.?Do you consider this to be an appropriate use of taxpayer money during a cost of living crisis?”
Councillor Clarke responded by saying that it was five years since Rushcliffe Borough Council had last attended the MJ Achievement Awards in London. The Council was the only district council to be shortlisted as a finalist for the Local Authority of the Year alongside five unitaries and counties, and as the only shortlisted district council it was possible to infer that Rushcliffe was indeed the best district council in the sector at this time, which was a magnificent achievement. The Awards were part of the sector’s work to promote best practice and continuous improvement and the shortlisting reflected well on Councillors of all parties and the officers who delivered the Council’s priorities. There was a cost to entering and attending such events; however, Councillor Clarke considered that the benefit to workforce morale and recruitment was immeasurable, and the benefits to the profile and high esteem in which the Council was held was the reward.
The Council did not budget to enter such awards and it was due to the excellent running of the Council, that it was in a position to be able to afford this from in-year budget efficiencies. In the context of the Council’s gross budget of £39.7m that amounted to 0.02% and Council was reminded that Rushcliffe had the lowest Band D Council Tax in Nottinghamshire and was within the lowest 25% in the country. Thus, the Council played its part to assist those struggling with the challenge of living costs, keeping Rushcliffe taxes low and continuing to provide excellent services to its residents.
The Mayor asked if Councillor Birch had a supplementary question.
Councillor Birch asked the Leader to justify to tax payers why it was necessary to spend £954 on an overnight stay for three people before giving a presentation at the shortlisting stage of the process.
Councillor Clarke informed Council that the expenses were incurred as this was the best way of attending to ensure that the presentation was delivered in the best possible way and that had resulted in the shortlisting and to the benefits already highlighted.
Question from Councillor J Walker to Councillor Brennan.
“Considering the new appointment of this Council's Leader and his relationship with the Chair of scrutiny, how will this Council ensure there is transparency and rigour around our scrutiny process?”
Councillor Brennan informed Council that the governance of the authority was dependent upon the integrity and robustness of processes it used to deliver its services, including its scrutiny process.
Proposed topics for scrutiny were put forward by Councillors or officers and the definition of scope of scrutiny as well as clear lines of enquiry and the driving factors behind the request must be clearly set out. Those were firstly considered by officers, as ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
The report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.
The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough-wide Leadership, Councillor Clarke presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services providing a review of the work undertaken by the Council’s four Scrutiny Groups during 2022/23.
In moving the recommendation, the Leader was pleased to endorse the important work undertaken by the scrutiny groups, providing challenge to the Executive, being a critical friend, whilst also undertaking equally important policy development, and he invited each of the Scrutiny Group Chairs to deliver a brief summary of the year.
Councillor Brennan seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.
Councillor J Wheeler, Chair of the Corporate Overview Group for 2022/23 thanked officers for their support, in particular the Service Manager – Finance and Corporate Services, as the lead officer. Councillor Wheeler referred to a key highlight, which was the introduction of asking Councillors to come to meetings to present their scrutiny matrix, which he felt made a key difference. Councillor Wheeler reiterated how important scrutiny was and hoped that all Councillors would play their part as it could make a real difference.
Councillor Virdi, Chair of the Governance Scrutiny Group advised that the Group had responsibility for and approved the Council’s finances, monitored its approach to risk, as well as other corporate issues, and its work could not be under stated. Councillor Virdi referred to the importance of having a robust governance framework in place, which ensured that the Council remained accountable. It was important that appropriate scrutiny and review was undertaken, to provide assurance to the auditors that the correct controls and processes were in place, and given the ongoing financial uncertainty nationally, it was vital that the Council effectively managed risk. The report highlighted the key areas considered by the Group throughout the year and progress made, and Councillor Virdi wished the new Chair, Councillor Edyvean and the Group, a successful year. Councillor Virdi thanked his Vice-Chair, Councillor Gowland for her support, together with other Group members, partners who had attended meetings, and officers, in particular the Director – Finance and Corporate Services and the Service Manager – Finance for their continued support.
Councillor Williams, Chair of the Communities Scrutiny Group, reported that the Group had covered a wide range of issues, which touched the lives of many residents, including the Sports Development programme looking at future activity and wellbeing, and highlighted the initiatives and achievements that had been implemented. The Group had also looked at how the Council engaged with the community through the External Communications Strategy and the Customer Access Strategy, which highlighted new and improved ways to increase engagement with residents. Councillor Williams thanked his Vice-Chair, former Councillor Murray for her support, together with other Group members, for their invaluable input during meetings. Councillor Williams thanked the Service Manager – Neighbourhoods, as the lead officer, other officers who had attended meetings to present their reports and answer questions, and to Democratic Services for its support.
Councillor Clarke, Chair of the Growth and Development Group ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
Notices of Motion
To receive Notices of Motion submitted under Standing Order No.12
a) Councillor Gowland
This Council resolves to treat people with care experience as if they have a Protected Characteristic.
b) Councillor Birch
1) Make a formal written offer to Bingham Town Council to take over the proposed car park project by purchasing the land off them (subject to a business case being approved and on the condition that the land will be solely used for a long-stay car park).
3) Liaise with Nottinghamshire County Council to find holistic solutions to Bingham’s parking problems, including dealing with the traffic chaos on Long Acre, improving parking in the Market Square and eliminating unwanted (and unsafe) parking on residential streets near the town centre through parking enforcement.
rite to Network Rail to request an explanation as to why, specifically, they oppose the new car park at Butt Field.
3) Formally write to East Midlands Railway and Network Rail to ask for a clear explanation as to why step-free access has not so far been provided for Bingham’s disabled residents and to obtain assurances that they would support this project should grant funding be obtained.
c) Councillor Combellack
Water and flooding are becoming increasingly a concern for residents.
We have an extensive programme of housing and therefore need to be certain that any new development, large or small impacting water courses and infrastructure, does not alter water flow or inadvertently overload the drainage systems which, in many cases, are very old. Currently “wind fall” or minor sites are not commented upon by the water agencies as they are considered too small. However, several small sites can have considerable impact upon drainage.
Farming practice has become increasingly mechanised – whilst we need to support our farmers, the impact of modern practice is compounding flooding issues.
Removal ... view the full agenda text for item 35.
Councillor Parekh left the room for consideration of the item.
a) The following Notice of Motion was proposed by Councillor Gowland and seconded by Councillor Polenta
“This Council resolves to treat people with care experience as if they have a Protected Characteristic”
In moving the motion, Councillor Gowland referred to the thought provoking comments made by Mr Terry Galloway earlier in the meeting regarding the significant trauma often carried by care leavers, and even without that trauma, those people would most likely still be without the infrastructure and support that the majority of young people enjoyed. Councillor Gowland stated that care leavers required extra support and the purpose of the motion was to ensure that going forward the Council looked at its policies and procedures to ensure that care leavers and their needs were considered in general. The Children’s Social Care Act 2017 related to young people up to the age of 25, which meant that the Council could be considered as a Corporate Parent and Rushcliffe had a Care Leavers Offer, which should be continuously reviewed. Councillor Gowland confirmed that currently care leavers did not have a protected characteristic and if this motion was accepted it would mean that they would be included in Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs), which could then impact on how they were treated, for example, in respect of Council Tax collection and homelessness. Council was advised that 52 councils had already passed this, and it was hoped that Rushcliffe would join them today.
Councillor Polenta seconded the motion and reiterated the comments made by Councillor Gowland regarding the significant inequalities, discrimination and disadvantages faced by care leavers at every stage and in all aspects of their lives. Councillor Polenta referred to the difficulties faced by children in care, when they were placed great distances away from any support networks they did have, which further exacerbated problems for them going forward. Councillor Polenta stated that she hoped that the Equalities Act would soon be amended to include care leavers, and in the meantime over 52 councils had voted to include care leavers as a protected characteristic and she stated that it was the Council’s responsibility to be champions of children in care.
Councillor J Wheeler thanked Councillors Gowland and Polenta for bringing this motion forward and referred to the Council’s strong track record of supporting care leavers and acknowledged that some care experienced people could face significant barriers open leaving the care system. Councillor Wheeler advised that the Council undertook a range of service measures to support care leavers, including being a signatory to the County Council’s Partnership Strategy for Looked after Children and Care Leavers. Support provided included a Joint Care Leaver Local Housing Offer, which any care leaver could apply to, priority on the Housing Register was already offered, as was free access to the Council’s leisure facilities and discounted Council Tax. The Council was represented at the Notts Care Leavers Partnership meetings and Councillor Wheeler confirmed that the Council did consider the impact ... view the full minutes text for item 35.
Questions from Councillors
To answer questions submitted by Councillors under Standing Order No. 11(2)
Question from Councillor Thomas to Councillor Virdi:
“Please provide breakdown of expenditure and income for Rushcliffe-run events in the past year, including West Bridgford Christmas Lights, Proms, Lark in the Park, Taste of Rushcliffe, Cinema etc, Remembrance, Armed forces day, Civic Services etc including identification of any grant funding and recharge to West Bridgford Special Expense.”
Councillor Virdi advised that due to the detailed nature of the request, a handout was being circulated to the meeting, and it showed that for a number of excellent events there was a net direct cost of £40k.
Councillor Thomas asked a supplementary question:
“Is providing free outdoor cinema in an affluent area of the country a reasonable use of public funds allocated to the so called Levelling Up Fund given the state of our hospitals and schools and the hardship being endured by many families?”
Councillor Virdi responded by stating that events referred to were for all residents, with Proms in the Park having over 8,000 attendees. He advised that the cinema event was actually funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) rather than the Council.
Question from Councillor Grocock to Councillor J Wheeler:
“I'd like to thank Councillor J Wheeler for his prompt and positive support in confirming to me that the Council continues to ban live animals being awarded as prizes at events on Council land in line with a national RSPCA campaign. Will the Council provide evidence to the RPCSA, perhaps the record of this meeting that we have such a ban in place and can be added to the list of councils that support their campaign to ban this inhumane practice?”
Councillor J Wheeler confirmed that in the Council’s booking terms and conditions for any activities on its land, it was clear that live animals could not be given away as prizes, which he was very proud of and he stated that the Council would be contacting the RSPCA to ask it to update its records.??
Councillor Grocock asked a supplementary question:
“Additionally, given our Town and Parish Council partners own and manage a number of parks, playing fields and open spaces in the borough, should we also encourage their adoption of this ban, perhaps at the forthcoming Town and Parish Forum on 10?November?at the Bingham Arena, so we can fully eradicate this outdated practice in Rushcliffe?”?
Councillor J Wheeler responded by agreeing that the Council should work in partnership with town and parish councils to ensure that this practice was banned, if they wished to do so, as it was a matter for individual councils. Councillor Wheeler advised that this issue would be raised in the next Town and Parish Councils Newsletter and encouraged all Councillors to raise this where appropriate in their wards.???
Question from Councillor Grocock to Councillor Inglis.
“Given the fact that national legislation will soon legally require local authorities to collect and recycle food waste separately from general waste and recycling, should Rushcliffe Borough Council implement a similar pilot to the ... view the full minutes text for item 36.