Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Thursday, 4th March, 2021 7.00 pm

Contact: Helen Tambini  0115 9148320

Items
No. Item

42.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

43.

Minutes of the meeting held on 3 December 2020 pdf icon PDF 332 KB

To receive as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 3 December 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 3 December 2020, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.

44.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Council that not much had occurred since the last meeting in December 2020, due to the further Covid-19 lockdown. However, she was aware that the Council’s tree planting scheme, as part of the Climate Change Action Plan, had continued. She informed Councillors that she would be presenting an award at the weekend to a plastic-free business in Keyworth, and that she had started walking the Borough Boundary to raise funding for her charities – The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, Music Works and Trent District Community First Responders – she hoped that some of her fellow Councillors would join her for a socially distanced walk as she passed through their wards. The Mayor also mentioned that she had instigated a toilet twinning exercise for the toilets at Rushcliffe Arena to aid development of clean sanitation in poorer countries. She congratulated Rushcliffe resident Jeanie Richardson on reaching her 108th birthday recently and also wished Councillor Christine Jeffreys a swift and full recovery from her present illness. On a more positive note, the Mayor concluded by informing Council that she had been for her Covid vaccine earlier that day at the vaccination centre at Gamston Community Hall; the process was very smooth and she thanked all of the staff and volunteers rolling out the vaccine programme.  

 

45.

Leader's Announcements

Minutes:

The Leader also praised the efforts of staff at the Gamston vaccination centre, and informed Council that Rushcliffe had been recognised as the top district council across the whole country for delivering grants to businesses during the pandemic. He thanked officers for their commitment and perseverance in delivering multiple different grants as quickly as they could to support local businesses. The Leader summarised further Covid-related support announced by the Government as part of the recent budget for both individuals as well as businesses. Next, he referred Councillors to a potential expression of interest being considered to explore the use of fusion technology at the site of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, as part of the Government’s STEP project. This was to be the subject of a Cabinet paper next week and could be part of the Government’s bid to tackle climate change. Finally, the Leader was delighted to update Council on the announcement, as part of the national budget, of a Freeport for the East Midlands which was expected to create an additional 60,000 jobs in the area.  

 

46.

Chief Executive's Announcements

Minutes:

There were no Chief Executive’s announcements.

 

47.

Citizens' Questions

To answer questions submitted by Citizens on the Council or its services.

Minutes:

There were no questions.

 

48.

Leave of Absence for Councillor Christine Jeffreys pdf icon PDF 223 KB

The report of the Monitoring Officer is attached.

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Monitoring Officer, outlining the reasons behind the request for an authorised Leave of Absence for Councillor Christine Jeffreys due to ill health. He invited all Councillors to join together in wishing Councillor Jeffreys a speedy recovery.

 

Councillor Gray seconded the recommendation and added his best wishes to those of the Leader.

 

It was RESOLVED that:

 

a)    the requirements of Section 85 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972 be waived for a period of up to six months from 24 March – 24 September 2021 for Councillor Christine Jeffreys; and

 

b)    payment of the Councillor allowance continues for the duration of the authorised absence.

 

49.

East Midlands Development Corporation pdf icon PDF 280 KB

The report of the Chief Executive is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Chief Executive providing an update on the current position with regard to the East Midlands Development Corporation.

 

Councillor Robinson referred Council to the earlier paper on this matter discussed at the previous meeting. The current paper presented an update on the proposals and spending plan for the East Midlands Development Corporation, including a request for the first tranche of funding to support development. The update also provided information about how the Council would be represented on the Interim Vehicle and confirmed the appointment of the Leader as a shareholder and the Chief Executive to the non-executive board.

 

Councillor Edyvean seconded the recommendations and called the Development Corporation a very important step forward for prosperity in Rushcliffe.

 

Councillor Gray reminded Council that the East Midlands Development Corporation was vital for the economic health of the region and stated that he would be happy to support the recommendations. He went on to say that councils, businesses and universities were coming together to create jobs and attract new businesses to the region. Unfortunately, compared to other regions, the East Midlands had not fared well in terms of external investment and he considered that the Council must play its part in ensuring the region received its fair share of public funding to attract high quality businesses and graduates to the area.

 

Councillor Major highlighted that the Development Corporation had been discussed at length previously and thanked the Chief Executive for the update which demonstrated that momentum was being maintained in this exciting project. She expressed concern that the Council might lose sight of existing towns and villages within the Borough and that they would require the Council’s support, especially in terms of recovery following the pandemic.  

 

Councillor R Mallender expressed concerns about the newly announced Freeport and the potential development of nuclear fusion technology at the site but also recognised the joint aims of the Development Corporation to attract funding and new jobs to the region.

 

Councillor Thomas expressed her misgivings in regard to this project and asked the Chief Executive to ensure a number of review points were included in the project plans, to enable the Council to withdraw in the future if the initiative was no longer beneficial to the Borough.

 

Councillor R Walker reminded Council that local communities needed to be involved in the development of the area to ensure they were kept informed and engaged.

 

Councillor Edyvean responded to a number of questions raised by Councillors and Councillor Robinson addressed the misgivings expressed by some Councillors and highlighted the extensive scrutiny that development in this area was likely to be exposed to over the coming years including regular community forums, a member working group and the oversight of significant planning issues within this area of the Borough.

 

It was RESOLVED that:

 

a)    the first year of funding for the Development Corporation (£167,000) be paid over in advance of Government financial contributions being  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

Budget and Financial Strategy 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 460 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services outlining the Council’s Financial Strategy and Budget for 2020/21.

 

Councillor Robinson reflected on his presentation of the 2020/21 budget twelve months ago. It had been a sound budget and he had been optimistic about the year ahead – no one could have predicted the national lockdown that had been enforced ten days later and the year that had followed. The budget picture this year was very different. The Council’s income had been decimated, and the pandemic had significantly increased expenditure. However, he wanted to focus on three principles underpinning the budget for the coming year – consolidation, ambition and recovery.

 

Councillor Robinson drew Council’s attention to the 20% and 10% reduction in the Council’s projected income (such as that from car parking and community hall bookings) as the community recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic and the two year pay freeze for all Council officers. He highlighted the anticipated budget deficit of approximately £1.5m over the next two years as a result of Covid-19, which would be funded by Council reserves built up over the last few years, before the Council moved into a surplus position in 2023/24, allowing reserves to be replenished.

 

Councillor Robinson recognised that additional Government grants had helped significantly in managing the cost of the pandemic, before outlining the Council’s ambitious Capital Investment Projects amounting to £38m over the next five years, delivering a new leisure centre, community facility and office complex in Bingham, as well as a Crematorium for the Borough in Stragglethorpe; he reminded Council that the Capital Programme was also used to improve and maintain existing assets, to protect investment and respond to market demands. He went on to focus on the green credentials of all new capital projects within the Borough, linking into the Council’s climate change commitments. Good news was balanced with risk analysis, Councillor Robinson mentioned both the Fairer Funding Review and the much anticipated Business Rates Review, which were both outstanding. Both were areas of uncertainty for the Council, but must be seen in the context of other projects the Council was able to influence, such as the creation of new jobs through investment in the Development Corporation. He concluded by recognising that the outlook remained challenging, but the budget was robust, affordable, deliverable and ambitious before asking the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services to pass on his sincere thanks to the Finance Team for their efforts in bringing forward a balanced budget. 

 

Councillor Edyvean thanked the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services and his team for presenting a prudent and balanced budget, despite the difficulties faced by the Council this year.

 

Councillor Gray reported that, as usual, the proposed budget had been the source of much debate within the Labour Group. The Council had weathered the pandemic well, but the full effects have not yet been realised. He was pleased to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Council Tax Resolution 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 426 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services outlining the Council’s position on Council Tax for the year 2021/22.

 

Councillor Robinson confirmed that this was a statutory duty to approve the Council Tax for 2021/22, and this resolution reflected the consolidation of all the precepts for Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Nottinghamshire Fire Authority, parish and town councils and Rushcliffe Borough Council. Rushcliffe’s Council Tax remained the lowest in Nottinghamshire and within the lowest quartile nationally. Councillor Robinson also thanked all Councillors who had participated in the Budget Workshops before Christmas which had helped to shape the difficult decisions that had needed to be made this year.

 

Councillor J Walker raised concerns regarding the proposed rise in Council Tax for this year and saw it as a further burden on the poorest in the Borough. She reminded Council that the Council Tax system was long overdue reform and criticised the Council for further increasing the chasm between the Borough’s wealthiest and poorest residents especially at a time when the poorest in the Borough’s communities were already significantly disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic.

 

Councillor Jones agreed that the Council Tax system did not adequately reflect disparities in wealth of both individuals and geographic areas and stated that the Liberal Democrat Party would be supporting the Council Tax rise reluctantly. 

 

Councillor R Mallender agreed that the Council Tax system was outdated and imperfect but reminded Council that it was the only system at the moment. He called on national Government to find a fairer and more equitable way to fund local government.

 

Councillor Edyvean responded to the points raised by Councillors and remined them that town and parish councils set their own precepts to fund local development projects, those funds were not used to subsidise the Borough. He expressed the view that the Council’s finances were robust and healthy as a result of effective budget management over a number of years not because of over-taxation.

 

Councillor Robinson reminded Council that people wanted to live in Rushcliffe and, as a result, the Council was a victim of its own success.  The Council needed to support a growing community, attract new business and create jobs for local people; and to do that the Council had to levy a Council Tax, as required by national policy. He reminded Councillors that it was illegal not to set the Council Tax and that by refusing to support the recommendations, Councillors would not be acting responsibly or in the best interests of local residents.

 

It was RESOLVED that the Council Tax Resolution for 2021/22 as detailed at Appendix A be approved.

 

52.

Electoral Review of Rushcliffe pdf icon PDF 245 KB

The report of the Chief Executive is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Chief Executive outlining the proposed electoral review of Rushcliffe.

 

Councillor Robinson informed Council that the review had been requested by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to address electoral inequality in certain wards across the Borough now and in the future.

 

Councillor Robinson highlighted the key parts of the report including the anticipated 18% growth across the Borough between 2020 and 2027, taking the average number of electors per Councillor from 2,058 to 2,509. He summarised the content of the main areas of the review document for Council including strategic leadership, accountability and community involvement, and thanked Councillors for participating in the review process. To ensure local democracy was protected despite the anticipated growth in the Borough, the review recommended an increase of two Councillors at an additional cost to the Council of approximately £11,000.

 

Councillor Gray reported that the Labour Group had taken part in the review and read the report with interest. They noted the substantial growth expected in the Borough and believed that two additional councillors would assist with the delivery of the additional workload.

 

Councillor Howitt welcomed the positive step the Council was proposing to ensure appropriate representation in areas that were predicted to grow in coming years.

 

Councillor R Mallender considered that the recommendation was reasonable given the predicted growth the Borough was expecting.

 

Councillor Thomas reported that she would have preferred to see no increase in Councillor numbers but was more interested in the next stage of the process where she hoped the opportunity to influence the drawing of ward boundaries that better respected community identity would be offered.

 

Councillor Edyvean welcomed the review and its recommendation which he felt struck the right balance between the number of Councillors and the representation of a growing community.

 

Councillor Robinson thanked Group Leaders and Councillors for their participation in this important piece of work.

 

It was RESOLVED that:

 

a)    the Review of Council Size which proposes an increase in the number of councillors for Rushcliffe Borough Council to 46 Councillors is endorsed; and

 

b)    the Chief Executive should make arrangements for the Review to be sent to the Commission completing the first part of the review process.

53.

Planning Enforcement Policy pdf icon PDF 339 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Communities is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Housing, Councillor Upton presented the report of the Executive Manager – Communities outlining the Council’s Planning Enforcement Policy.

 

Councillor Upton advised that the Council currently had a Planning Enforcement Code of Practice which was due for review and renewal in March 2021. Therefore, in line with the recommendations in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a draft Planning Enforcement Policy had been produced, which was more detailed and would replace the Code of Practice. Councillor Upton noted that the draft Policy had been considered by the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group and following amendments, the Group had resolved that the updated Planning Enforcement Policy be referred to Cabinet for approval. Councillor Upton informed the Council that Cabinet had resolved that the draft Planning Enforcement Policy be approved for the purposes of public consultation, prior to the Policy being referred to Council for adoption.

 

Councillor Upton noted that some changes had been made following public consultation but not all suggestions have been incorporated. However, it was hoped that the new Policy would reassure residents that the Council was willing to take a proactive and reactive approach to enforce planning controls despite the challenge of staffing resources and the financial costs of enforcing planning controls. Councillor Upton also highlighted that further planning enforcement issues such as planning enforcement controls in conservation areas would be discussed by the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group in April 2021.

 

Councillor Inglis seconded the recommendations outlined in the report and informed the Council that the new Planning Enforcement Policy would be more effective and robust than the current Code of Practice. It was noted that the Planning Enforcement Policy would ensure that breeches of planning conditions would be investigated with timely resolutions. Councillor Inglis recognised that there were staffing and budget constraints but believed that the Planning Enforcement Policy would inform developers how the Council would carry out its enforcement functions and therefore, would set a strong precedent for the Council.

 

Councillor Gowland emphasised the stress and grief caused by developers and residents by not following approved plans and conditions and provided an example of the demolition of a dwelling on Bridgford Road, West Bridgford. It was noted that the integrity of the Council depended on residents knowing that the Council would act and enforce planning conditions if necessary. Councillor Gowland raised concerns that the Policy concentrated too much on planning enforcement being a discretionary service but noted that the Policy was a great step forward for the Council and would inform residents of its implementation. 

 

Councillor Major endorsed the recommendations of the report and was pleased to see that the Council was willing to deliver an effective service for its residents. Councillor Major thanked the officers and those who had taken part in the consultation process. It was hoped that the Planning Enforcement Policy would provide clarity and confidence to ensure that planning conditions were followed correctly.  

 

Councillor R Mallender was pleased to note that this overdue Policy was recommended to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Notices of Motion

To receive Notices of Motion submitted under Standing Order No.12

 

a)    Rushcliffe Borough Council, along with the other district councils in the East Midlands, are on the precipice of change.  We have made the initial steps towards a more sustainable future by acknowledging the climate emergency; auditing our carbon footprint and committing to divestment away from fossil fuels; and these actions are welcomed. But Covid-19 has accelerated the need to for a rethink about whether our current economic models is environmentally, socially or even economically sustainable. 

 

Community wealth building is a people-centred approach to local economic development. It reorganises local economies to be fairer and more democratic. It stops wealth flowing out of our communities, towns and cities. Instead, it places control of this wealth into the hands of local people, communities, businesses and organisations. Community wealth building promotes the progressive procurement of goods and services, as this spending power can be a means through which greater economic, social and environmental benefits can be achieved. By adapting their procurement processes and decision making, anchor institutions can anchor institutions can create dense local supply chains and ecosystems of businesses that are more likely to support local employment and have a greater tendency to recirculate wealth and surplus locally. 

 

We call upon this Council: 

 

1)         To investigate Community Wealth Building as a means of ensuring that money is kept circulating in our local economies.

 

2)         To support our local economy and businesses particularly SME’s accepting procurement law and to engage with other anchor institutions in Rushcliffe to encourage them to procure locally wherever possible.  

 

3)         To investigate the possibility of establishing Community Land Trusts or working through Public-Commons Partnerships as a means of transforming the ownership of many under-utilised public assets by transferring decision making to citizens through common ownership.

 

Councillor J Walker

 

b)    Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt in Rushcliffe, the UK and around the world. Global temperatures have increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm) and continue to rise. This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity. Without more significant and sustained action, the world is set to exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit between 2030 and 2040. Therefore, the current UK target of net zero by 2050 is not satisfactory. It is too little too late.

 

The increase in harm caused by a rise of 2°C rather than 1.5°C is significant. This is described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C published in October 2018. According to the IPCC, limiting heating to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and local communities. The costs of failing to address this crisis will far outstrip the investments required to prevent it. Investing now will bring many benefits in the form of good jobs, breathable cities and  ...  view the full agenda text for item 54.

Minutes:

a.  The following Notice of Motion was proposed by Councillor J Walker and seconded by Councillor Gaunt.

 

Rushcliffe Borough Council, along with the other district councils in the East Midlands, are on the precipice of change. We have made the initial steps towards a more sustainable future by acknowledging the climate emergency; auditing our carbon footprint and committing to divestment away from fossil fuels; and these actions are welcomed. But Covid-19 has accelerated the need to for a rethink about whether our current economic models is environmentally, socially or even economically sustainable.

 

Community wealth building is a people-centred approach to local economic development. It reorganises local economies to be fairer and more democratic. It stops wealth flowing out of our communities, towns and cities. Instead, it places control of this wealth into the hands of local people, communities, businesses and organisations. Community wealth building promotes the progressive procurement of goods and services, as this spending power can be a means through which greater economic, social and environmental benefits can be achieved. By adapting their procurement processes and decision making, anchor institutions can anchor institutions can create dense local supply chains and ecosystems of businesses that are more likely to support local employment and have a greater tendency to recirculate wealth and surplus locally.

 

We call upon this Council:

 

1)    To investigate Community Wealth Building as a means of ensuring that money is kept circulating in our local economies.

 

2)    To support our local economy and businesses particularly SME’s accepting procurement law and to engage with other anchor institutions in Rushcliffe to encourage them to procure locally wherever possible.

 

3)    To investigate the possibility of establishing Community Land Trusts or working through Public-Commons Partnerships as a means of transforming the ownership of many under-utilised public assets by transferring decision making to citizens through common ownership.”

 

Councillor J Walker informed Council, in moving the motion, that community wealth building was the modern economic version of social responsibility. It was a people centred approach to economic development which stopped wealth flowing out of communities and placed financial control in the hands of local people, providing resilience and local economic security. In a post Brexit world, it also gave communities control over procurement where a preference for local supply chains could be prioritised. Councillor Walker also talked about the importance of anchor institutions, such as the Council, Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, Nottingham Forest and the larger academy chains, in showing smaller organisations the importance of local investment. In summary, Councillor Walker informed Council that corporate wealth building encouraged businesses to think about employment beyond the provision of jobs to the modern take on corporate social responsibility.

 

Councillor Gaunt seconded the motion and reminded Council that the UK was the sixth most unequal country in the world according to the OECD. He referenced incomes below the poverty line, even though people were in work, and the profits of businesses being extracted by shareholders rather than being reinvested back into local communities. He felt  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Adjournment

Minutes:

The Mayor announced that as it was now 10.00pm the meeting would conclude, and the remaining item would be carried forward to the next ordinary meeting of Council in July 2021. She thanked Councillors for their attention through such a long evening.

 

It was RESOLVED that in accordance with the Council’s Constitution, the Mayor closed the meeting at 10.00pm and all remaining items were adjourned to the next ordinary Council meeting in July 2020.