Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Thursday, 1st July, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford

Contact: Helen Tambini  0115 9148320

Items
No. Item

9.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

10.

Minutes of the meeting held on 20 May 2021 pdf icon PDF 311 KB

To receive as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 20 May 2021.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 20 May 2021 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.

11.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Council that whilst her last few months had not been as full of engagements as she expected them to be, there were a few highlights she was able to share. She had enjoyed playing table tennis in Bingham marketplace to celebrate U3a day and had participated in the Great British Spring Clean in Lady Bay where residents were following the positive example set by Cotgrave by going ‘plastic free’ in local shops. She also mentioned the Lady Bay festival, the Queen’s birthday service and raising the flag for Armed Forces Day. The Mayor concluded with an update of her walking tour of the borough and thanked fellow Councillors for their support in aid of her three charities.

12.

Leader's Announcements

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council welcomed all Councillors back to the Council Chamber. He went on to thank officers for the efforts they had undertaken to ensure Councillors felt safe returning and informed Council that this also extended to external meetings in Council facilities. Just this afternoon he had attended a meeting of the East Midlands Global Gateway (Freeport) in the Chamber, the Council’s external partners were very impressed with the facility, and the meeting was an excellent showcase of what Rushcliffe had to offer. The Leader especially welcomed back Councillor Jeffreys following her illness and congratulated Councillors J Walker and Begum on their new positions as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.  The Leader was proud to share a few statistics with Councillors that had been published that morning. Rushcliffe, he reported, had the country’s third best collection rate for Council tax, the sixth best collection rate for Business Rates, and the second-best combined collection rate over the last twelve months. Finally, the Leader informed Council that the extension to the Coronavirus restrictions had led to the Proms in the Park celebration being postponed to September 2021, resulting in the Council’s first major event being the Taste of Rushcliffe food festival in West Bridgford this coming weekend.

13.

Chief Executive's Announcements

Minutes:

There were no Chief Executive’s Announcements.

14.

Citizens' Questions

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

Minutes:

There were no Citizens’ Questions.

15.

Business from the last Council meeting

Questions from Councillors

 

To answer questions submitted by Councillors under Standing Order no.11(2)

 

The CIL charge includes amounts collected for Leisure Centres and Playing Fields, which are held by Rushcliffe to be spent by Rushcliffe. Please provide a statement showing how much money has been collected to date under these two categories of expenditure and how much has been spent.

 

Councillor C Thomas

Minutes:

Question from Councillor Thomas to Councillor Moore

 

The CIL charge includes amounts collected for Leisure Centres and Playing Fields, which are held by Rushcliffe to be spent by Rushcliffe. Please provide a statement showing how much money has been collected to date under these two categories of expenditure and how much has been spent.”

 

Councillor Moore informed Council that to date, since the adoption of the Community Infrastructure Levy in October 2019, the Council has collected £815,402.13 of strategic CIL from developments across the Borough; no expenditure has happened to date.  The CIL operated on the basis of a roof tax with monies received held in a Borough wide fund and not initially collected or apportioned for specific projects or types of infrastructure.  Money would be spent on items in the infrastructure list and would be apportioned based on the identified funding gaps for each of the items on the list. The detail of this allocation would be the subject of a scrutiny review in October after which it would be considered at Cabinet. Councillor Moore outlined the items on the infrastructure list as:

 

·       Provision of Park and Ride along the A52 corridor and bus priority measures in West Bridgford.

·       Provision of or improvements to playing pitches and ancillary facilities.

·       Provision of or improvements to indoor leisure provision.

·       Provision of additional secondary school places across the Borough through new provision or extension to existing provision.

·       Provision of health facilities across the Borough through new provision or extension to existing provision.

 

Supplementary question

 

Councillor Thomas asked what the identified funding gaps for each of the five items on the CIL infrastructure list were.

 

Councillor Moore agreed to forward that information to Councillor Thomas.

16.

Approval of the Scrutiny Annual Reports 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 316 KB

The report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Service is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson 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 2020/21. The Leader invited each of the Scrutiny Group Chairmen to deliver a brief summary of the work of each Group over the year.

 

Councillor Combellack, Chairman of the Corporate Overview Group, reported that despite being a very difficult year for all, scrutiny had been successful. The transition from the previous scrutiny arrangements had been completed and reviewed, and the new arrangements were working well. The Corporate Overview Group continued to meet throughout Covid to manage the work programmes of all the scrutiny groups as well as scrutinising important topics such as quarterly finance and performance monitoring, health and safety, and customer feedback.  Councillor Combellack had continued to meet with other councils via the East Midlands Scrutiny Network and reported that virtual meetings had increased membership and engagement within that group. She concluded by thanking all Scrutiny Group Chairmen and Vice Chairmen for their time and efforts over the last twelve months as well as the officers involved in supporting scrutiny meetings.

 

Councillor Clarke, Chairman of the Growth and Development Group, thanked his Vice Chairman, Councillor Virdi, and congratulated him on his new role with the Governance Scrutiny Group. He outlined a number of the important items his Group had scrutinised during the year such as the crematorium, a new policy for planning enforcement and the new development at Abbey Road, which he hoped would prove to be an exemplar of energy efficient housing that others could follow. He also commended Councillors on the other side of the chamber for raising the management of open spaces as an item for scrutiny which led to a very interesting and productive discussion.

 

Councillor Purdue-Horan, Chairman of the Governance Scrutiny Group, stated that the work of the Group was extremely important to the governance of the Council. He commended the tremendous amount of work both officers and external partners had produced this year to bring forward items such as internal audit, the Constitution review, a review of risk management, the Statement of Accounts, treasury and asset investment update, the Capital Investment Strategy, external audit, the Annual  Governance Statement, a report on the Redmond Review, and the Council’s Annual Fraud Assessment. The Group had also received an additional item assessing the impact of Covid-19 on the Council’s operational stability – the ‘going concern’ report. Councillor Purdue-Horan thanked supporting officers and members of the Group, especially his Vice Chairman, Councillor J Walker.

 

Councillor Wheeler, Chairman of the Communities Scrutiny Group, stated that meetings of the Group had been very varied, with challenging issues to consider and he thanked all members of the Group for their excellent work.  It was noted that the Group had made a number of recommendations and scrutinised some issues more than once, and all Councillors were welcomed to provide the Group with feedback  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Councillors' Learning and Development Policy 2021-2025 pdf icon PDF 396 KB

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

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Customer Access, Councillor Moore presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services, explaining that the Councillors’ Learning and Development Policy had been reviewed following the 2019 Borough Council election, to reflect current practice and the needs of Councillors in terms of training and development. The Policy, developed in conjunction with Member Development Group, ensured that Councillors were adequately trained, having the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes, to deliver effective decision making within the Borough. It provided both face-to-face and online training opportunities from both internal officers and external partners covering a wide range of topics. Councillor Moore concluded by reminding Councillors that training was vitally important and that, in his opinion, there was always something new to be learnt.

 

Adoption of the Policy was seconded by Councillor Brennan who thanked officers and the Member Development Group for updating this important Policy. She recognised that it was difficult to get the balance right between training that was essential to maintaining the good governance of the authority and keeping Councillors safe, and that which was desirable and designed to help Councillors undertake their roles more effectively. This was made more difficult because each person had a different skill set when elected as a councillor and a varied set of experiences to bring to the role.

 

Councillor J Walker commented that the training she had received both from officers and external providers had been of excellent quality and that she was happy to support the adoption of this Policy.

 

Councillor Major thanked the Member Development Group for its hard work in ensuring that Councillors were fully trained and supported to undertake their role and was happy to support the adoption of this Policy.

 

Councillor R Mallender welcomed this Policy coming forward for adoption and informed Council of the debate held at Member Development Group on the two occasions the Policy had come to the Group. He stressed the importance of Councillors being appropriately trained to carry out their roles, urged Councillors to go online and undertake the essential e-learning courses and to speak to officers if they identified any specific training, they would like to undertake which could be funding from the Members’ Training budget. 

 

Councillor Shaw reported that as a member of the Member Development Group he was also very happy to recommend the adoption of this Policy.

 

RESOLVED that the Councillors’ Learning and Development Policy 2021-2025 be adopted.

18.

Ruddington Neighbourhood Plan pdf icon PDF 324 KB

The report of the Director – Development and Economic Growth is attached.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Business and Growth, Councillor Edyvean presented the report of the Director – Development and Economic Growth, providing information on the Ruddington Neighbourhood Plan. Councillor Edyvean advised that the documents had been introduced by the Localism Act 2011 and were recognised by the National Planning Policy Framework, with local residents empowered to shape the future of their community. A plan had to in general conform with the strategic policies of the local planning authority and if the plan was made part of the Local Development Plan, then planning applications within that area would be determined in accordance with both the Rushcliffe Local Plan and the relevant Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan had been promoted by the Parish Council, publicised, consulted on, examined by an independent Examiner and considered by the Borough Council. If the Plan was approved, it would then proceed to a referendum and if more than 50% of those voting voted “yes” then the Borough Council was required to “adopt” the Plan. If the result was “no”, then the Parish Council would have to decide what it wanted to do.

 

Councillor Inglis, in seconding the recommendations, stressed the importance of an adopted Neighbourhood Plan to support communities wishing to influence development in their local area. The Ruddington Neighbourhood Plan was an excellent and detailed Plan and the community deserve the opportunity to adopt this through a referendum.

 

Councillor Gaunt recognised the massive effort behind the detailed Plan and thanked the Neighbourhood Planning team in Ruddington for their time. He extended this thanks to the parish councillors and volunteers who had spent the last four years consulting and engaging with the community to shape the document. The Neighbourhood Plan could not have come at better time for Ruddington where the community had really come together over the last twelve months through the pandemic to support local residents and businesses.

 

Councillor Major recognised the time, energy and passion of local people in Ruddington and their desire to influence the future of their community.

 

Both Councillors R Mallender and Thomas congratulated the community on an excellent Neighbourhood Plan and wished them luck at the polls.

 

RESOLVED that, subject to a majority vote in the referendum:

 

a)             the Ruddington Neighbourhood Plan be adopted; and

 

b)             that the Director – Development and Economic Growth be granted delegated authority to issue a statement setting out this decision as soon as possible following the referendum.

19.

Revisions to the Council's Constitution pdf icon PDF 306 KB

The report of the Monitoring Officer is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Monitoring Officer that outlined revisions to the Constitution. Councillor Robinson reminded Councillors that the Constitution was a live, working document that was reviewed throughout the year. The amendments outlined in the report were mainly due to the internal restructure undertaken by the Chief Executive, delegated decisions, the changes required to remove reference to remote meetings during the pandemic, and the trial arrangements for the Planning Committee moving forwards. All amendments to the Constitution were listed in the appendix to the report to make it clear what had been amended. Councillor Robinson informed Council that the Governance Scrutiny Group had considered the changes to the Constitution last month. The Leader highlighted an error in section 4.5 of the report which related to the date of this meeting which should read 24 June 2021.

 

Councillor Robinson focused on the changes to the start time of Planning Committee, which would be trialled for six months. He highlighted the success of previous trials on changes to processes, such as the changes to scrutiny in 2019, the introduction of e-learning and paperlite for Councillors and encouraged Councillors to give it a go even though they might have some reservations.

 

Councillor Gowland asked to move an amendment to the recommendation, that Council approved the revisions to the Constitution, without the change to Standing Orders to allow Planning Committee meetings to move to the afternoon. 

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Begum.

 

Councillor Gowland stated that although she appreciated that the change to the start time for Planning Committee was to be a trial, she considered that there were other alternatives, which could solve the issues that had been identified.  It was noted that sometimes residents who had attended evening meetings had been unable to speak, as meetings had been adjourned due to the lateness of the evening; however, it was important to realise that by moving the meetings to the daytime, many people who worked would have to take time off to attend.  It was accepted that sometimes less attention might be given to applications, if it was very late; however, it was hoped that other alternative solutions could be found, rather than moving the start time of the meeting.  It was important to ensure that people who worked were not discriminated against, and the impact that this would have on Councillors should also be acknowledged.  By moving meetings to the afternoon, it could mean that fewer Councillors who worked would be able to sit on the Committee. Although employers should give time off work to allow Councillors to attend meetings, it was noted that this often was not the case, and some employers were not supportive.  Councillor Gowland reiterated that although this was a trial, she considered that the issue should be revisited, with other alternative options, before this significant change was made.

 

Councillor Begum reiterated the comments made by Councillor Gowland and stated that some Councillors  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Notices of Motion

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

 

a)             This Council notes the alarming decline in number of hedgehogs and threat of extinction and pledges to:

 

(i)       Adopt landscape management practices on land it owns and manages that are supportive to hedgehogs and their habitat.

(ii)       Encourage other agencies/councils operating in Rushcliffe to do likewise.

(iii)      Conduct a public awareness campaign to encourage the public to adopt supportive practices. 

(iv)      Include appropriate conditions and advisory notes on planning consents to support the species.

 

Councillor L Way

 

b)             This Council understands the concerns that our residents have about infrastructure not being developed alongside housing and resolves to: 

 

(i)             Proactively work to ensure that developer contributions for the infrastructure items that are Rushcliffe’s responsibility, whether collected through S106 or CIL, are spent in a timely fashion to mitigate the impacts of development, providing regular progress reports.  

(ii)            Proactively monitor the contributions collected with respect to Rushcliffe housing developments on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council and other agencies, (regardless of signatory), to likewise ensure that contributions are spent promptly and relevant to the developments. 

(iii)          By such timely spending on infrastructure, reduce over time the total amount of developer contributions held by Rushcliffe and any reliance on this to service the Council’s cash flow 

(iv)          Provide, as part of the budget reporting round, annual reports of S106 and CIL contributions held, collected and spent during the year, including which developments attracted the charges and what the money was spent on, with locations.

 

Councillor C Thomas

Minutes:

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

 

This Council notes the alarming decline in number of hedgehogs and threat of extinction and pledges to:

 

(i) Adopt landscape management practices on land it owns and manages that are supportive to hedgehogs and their habitat.

 

(ii) Encourage other agencies/councils operating in Rushcliffe to do likewise.

 

(iii) Conduct a public awareness campaign to encourage the public to adopt supportive practices. 

 

(iv) Include appropriate conditions and advisory notes on planning consents to support the species.”

 

Councillor Way informed the Council in moving the motion that in the first half of the 20th century there were estimated to be over 30 million hedgehogs in Britain, but this number has now fallen to around one million. It was noted that, despite a petition for the government to review the inclusion of hedgehogs to be protected under section 5 of the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981, local action could not be instigated to protect the species before the petition be debated in Parliament on 5 July 2021.

 

Councillor Way stated that much of the decline in the number of hedgehogs was due to the loss of habitat by developers. Councillor Way provided the example of the Rempstone Road development in East Leake where hedges had been removed and replaced by an open seeded grass area which is of no benefit to any wildlife. It was also noted that the guidance provided by the Council for developers stated that hedges should not be removed during hibernation periods in the winter however, hedges had been removed in February 2021 on Lantern Lane, East Leake. Councillor Way was concerned that despite the Council intending to prevent this from happening, there was little being done to ensure compliance. 

 

It was suggested that the Council could protect hedgehogs by either reducing or eliminating strimming under hedges, which would save animals from injury, more areas could be included in the ‘no-mow’ scheme and the reduction of the use of pesticides. Additionally, areas where it was known that hedgehogs were known to be active would benefit from the use of road signs to encourage drivers to slow down. Also, it was noted that the Council should encourage its partners to follow this guidance and that with good practice others would follow. Councillor Way stated that a comprehensive and widespread publicity campaign needed to be undertaken and support given to groups trying to promote the welfare of hedgehogs. It was noted that the Council should encourage residents to provide hedgehogs with areas in their gardens to be reconnected such as planting hedges, providing rough areas for shelter or making small holes in walls or fences so they could move freely around in search of food and mates. Therefore, this would provide the public with advice on how to provide habitats for hedgehogs and inform them of the benefits of encouraging wildlife into their gardens.

 

Councillor J Walker seconded the motion and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Questions from Councillors

To answer questions submitted by Councillors under Standing Order No. 11(2)

Minutes:

a)             Question from Councillor Thomas to Councillor Moore

 

Please provide a statement showing how much CIL has been collected since introduction of the levy in October 2019, how much has been distributed (itemised by town, parish, West Bridgford etc) and what has been spent on the five items on the Infrastructure List (which includes playing fields and leisure centres), giving a description and location of each project.”

 

Councillor Moore informed Councillor Thomas that information had been pulled together by officers and that she could collect that after the meeting.

 

The below information highlighted the amount of CIL that had been collected and distributed. Funds were distributed twice a year in April and October (the difference between the amount distributed in Keyworth and the amount collected was due to funds not being received before April, the remaining £9,301.58 would be paid over in October).

 

CIL Admin (5%) £51,229.43

Strategic CIL £815,402.13

 

East Bridgford NCIL (15%) £626.22 (with £634.10* distributed to the parish council)

Keyworth NCIL (25%) £12,514.15 (with £3,212.57* distributed to the parish council)

Kneeton NCIL (15%, capped) £2,500.00

West Bridgford NCIL (15%) £63,604.64

 

Supplementary question

 

Councillor Thomas asked if it was true that £20million was currently held by the Borough Council and remained unspent.

 

Councillor Moore agreed to forward that information to Councillor Thomas.

 

b)             Question from Councillor Gowland to Councillor Brennan

 

“The bowls club has been a long-standing feature of the Arena from well before the building was redeveloped, and clearly we might expect the generally more elderly membership to drop during a pandemic. Please can you explain how the Council has supported bowls club to increase its membership, prior to any changes that the Council might make that would limit the viability of the club.”

 

Councillor Brennan responded that Rushcliffe Indoor Bowls Club was an independent club, which had historically received far more support than any other sports club from both Council officers and the leisure operator, to aid the administration of the Club and support membership growth. The Council supported the Club through facilitating events, coaching courses, marketing and accessing grants to purchase equipment.  The Council and the leisure operator had met regularly over the years with the Club and discussions had continued during the Pandemic.  Unfortunately, there was a decline in membership pre-pandemic, and that had continued. The bowls hall was the subject of a Cabinet paper on 13 July 2021, and the papers for that would be published shortly.  There was an opportunity to raise a question at the Cabinet meeting via Group Leaders once those papers were published.

 

Supplementary question

 

Councillor Gowland asked if Councillor Brennan could reassure her that any Equality Impact Assessments undertaken would take account of the age distribution of people involved in the Club.

 

Councillor Brennan responded in the positive.