Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Thursday, 16th July, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions

Contact: Helen Tambini  0115 9148320

Items
No. Item

11.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

12.

Minutes of the meeting held on 2 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 326 KB

To receive as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 2nd July 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 2 July 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.

 

13.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Councillors that she had attended two engagements in the 14 days since taking office. She had the pleasure of opening the Lady Bay Open Garden’s event virtually from her own garden and attended a socially distanced 100th Birthday Street Party in Rempstone.

 

14.

Leader's Announcements

Minutes:

The Leader notified Council that he and the Chief Executive had recently met with representatives of the Boundary Commission who would be undertaking a review of Rushcliffe later in the year. They would be looking at the number of councillors, size of wards, and the physical boundaries of wards.

 

The Leader informed Council that officers were now receiving regular updates on Covid-19 infection rates within the county, which would enable the Council to react quickly if there was a local spike such as that seen recently in Leicester. He went on to reassure Council that although the hospitality and retail sectors had been badly hit by the lockdown, the Council was working hard to support them in reopening and continuing to operate. The Leader confirmed that the Council’s leisure centres would be opening with a phased approach from 25 July 2020, and that officers were working closely with Parkwood and Mitie to allow users through the doors as quickly and safely as possible.

 

The Leader also paid tribute to Councillor Ron Hetherington who had resigned recently due to ill health. Councillor Hetherington had played a considerable role in the Council over several years, as part of the Cabinet and various scrutiny groups.  He had been elected Mayor, and had represented his wards in East Leake and, more recently, Sutton Bonington.

 

15.

Chief Executive's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chief Executive made no announcements.

 

16.

Citizens' Questions

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

Minutes:

There were no questions.

 

17.

Business from the last Council meeting

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

 

Having regard to the extent of approved building in Rushcliffe and evidence of non-compliance by developers, the Council will review its planning enforcement policy with a view to increasing efforts to enforce compliance with approved plans, conditions and Council planning documents in conjunction with the Growth Scrutiny Group and report any recommendations back to Cabinet.

 

Councillor R Jones

 

Questions from Councillors

 

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

 

Do any of the Council’s Contact Centres enable EU nationals and their family members to book an appointment to use the digital document verification service for European Settlement as part of their application for settled or pre-settled status thus enabling applicants to retain their passports/biometric residence cards instead of having to post them to the Home Office?

 

Councillor R Jones

 

In view of the research by Queen Mary University Hospital of London and others which established beyond doubt that exposure to levels of particulate 2.5 greater than 10 per cubic metre results in changes to the structure of the heart; would you ask the Local Development Framework to consider adopting the World Health Organisations guidelines of no more than 10 per cubic metre instead of the much higher level of 25 in current planning applications?

 

Councillor R Jones

 

In light of the fact that East Leake is bathed in sewage whenever there is heavy rainfall, are you able to explain how Rushcliffe ensures that Severn Trent Water meets its responsibility to increase the capacity of its sewerage systems to deal with the cumulative additional demands of new homes and other development?

 

Councillor C Thomas

 

By becoming a Councillor I have learnt that Trent Valley internal Drainage Board are experts at managing drainage dykes and ditches efficiently and effectively, and at a recent meeting they stated that they are open to considering adopting drainage channels on new developments. It seems preferable to have essential drainage dealt with by a statutory body, rather than leaving it to the vagaries of management companies. What are the advantages and disadvantages to RBC of asking Trent Valley Internal Drainage Board to adopt drainage-ways upstream, downstream or through new developments, possibly using money from CIL, Section 106 or developers?

 

Councillor P Gowland

 

The 21% of new homes built in the flood zone in Rushcliffe was the highest for anywhere in Nottinghamshire. The Environment Agency, The Labour Party and even Boris Johnson in his election campaign have all categorically stated that building on flood plains should be halted.

 

Will the Council pledge to call an immediate halt to all building on flood plains in the Borough?

 

Councillor M Gaunt

 

Minutes:

Notices of Motions

 

The following Notice of Motion was proposed by Councillor Jones and seconded by Councillor R Mallender.

 

“Having regard to the extent of approved building in Rushcliffe and evidence of non-compliance by developers, the Council will review its planning enforcement policy with a view to increasing efforts to enforce compliance with approved plans, conditions and Council planning documents in conjunction with the Growth Scrutiny Group and report any recommendations back to Cabinet.”

 

Councillor Jones highlighted that, since he had first submitted this motion in March 2020, a review of planning enforcement had been programmed for the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group. He explained that many residents wanted to stay in the Borough and that planning applications for home renovations continued to be submitted. He outlined his concerns regarding the Council’s use of its planning enforcement powers including investigations and prosecutions. Councillor Jones reminded the Council that there would be a 28% increase in house building across the Borough in the next few years but that, as far as he was aware, there had not been a commensurate increase in staff for enforcement. There were two planning enforcement officers and for a significant period of last year, this had fallen to one officer, which was an alarmingly fragile situation. Councillor Jones gave a number of examples from his own ward where he felt there had been insufficient planning enforcement to protect residents’ quality of life. He concluded that the Council focused on bringing forward development but needed to focus equally on compliance with planning conditions and enforcement when those were not adhered to.

 

Councillor R Mallender reminded Council that its role in terms of planning did not end with the approval of an application. Enforcement was essential to ensure that work was undertaken in accordance with the approved plans. He stated that it was necessary to have the resources, means to monitor, and follow-up on reported breaches to ensure that existing residents and amenities were not harmed by new developments.

 

Councillor Upton stated that he did not have the enforcement statistics to hand, and offered to respond to Councillor Jones with this information within the week. He considered that it was important to achieve a balance in terms of resourcing enforcement and that two officers, given the amount of development within the Borough, was considered sufficient. He also remarked that Councillor Jones’ suggestion that all developers were not complying was disingenuous.  Councillor Upton proposed an amendment to the motion:

 

“Having regard to the amount of approved building for Rushcliffe and evidence of non-compliance with planning conditions by some developers, this Council supports a review of its planning enforcement policy through the task on the current work programme for the Growth Scrutiny Group and any recommendations will be reported back to Cabinet.”

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Clarke, who reserved his right to speak.

 

Councillor Gray agreed that the amendment encapsulated the spirit of original motion and he noted that there was expected to be considerable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Asset Management Plan pdf icon PDF 154 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Transformation is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Business and Economic Growth presented the report of the Executive Manager – Transformation, which detailed how the Council would manage its assets over the next five years. The Portfolio Holder noted that the Council owned a variety of assets, which included community assets such as community centres, parks and open space serving the residents of the Borough, through to commercial and investment property, providing income to the Council and accommodation for local businesses. The Asset Management Strategy would assist the Council to ensure that properties were fit for purpose; set out efficient management strategies, to use land and buildings to stimulate regeneration, growth and improvement to the local place; encourage new business to the area; and also aligned the management of the asset portfolio across the organisation, considering individual service needs and strategies, ensuring a holistic and comprehensive ‘one Council’ approach. The Portfolio Holder advised that the Asset Management Plan set out how the above would be delivered and was embedded within the Asset Management Strategy. The Strategy would be a living document with on-going activities and projects that would be aligned to the Council’s priorities.

 

The Portfolio Holder was pleased to note that the Council’s assets provided great value for the wellbeing of its residents as well as providing a financial income for the Council and noted that amendments to the strategy had been made to emphasise this.

 

The report was moved by Councillor Upton and seconded by Councillor Moore who reserved the right to speak.

 

Councillor Gaunt thanked officers for producing such a comprehensive document, including a sensible and responsible strategy, which provided good returns for residents. The Asset Management Plan would ensure that rental income for the Council would stay within local communities, and thereby increase wealth locally. Councillor Gaunt was pleased to note that the Council was supporting local businesses by providing stability and good value for money and he considered that the Council should promote the strategy to parish councils, as they too could acquire assets through the ‘general powers of competence’ which was introduced by the Localism Act (2011).

 

Councillor Gaunt believed that the asset challenge process, in which an asset could be re-purposed or disposed of if it was not performing effectively and efficiently should be thoroughly scrutinised, with public consultation, before a decision was made regarding a community asset, as it was important that community owned investments should be maintained for future generations.

 

Councillor Jones was pleased to note the amendments that had been made to the Strategy and agreed that the priorities of the Council were important.  He stated that the Council’s assets should increase resident’s quality of life through the community facilities that they could access, including green spaces. Councillor Jones hoped that community owned facilities such as allotments would increase for new residents to use, as many now lived in accommodation with smaller gardens. 

 

Councillor R Mallender supported the Asset Management Strategy and explained that the Council held a wide range of assets  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Revisions to the Council's Constitution pdf icon PDF 227 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 continually throughout the year. The amendments outlined in the report were mainly due to changes in the law over the last twelve months and those required to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. All amendments to the Constitution were listed in the document to make it clear what had been amended. Councillor Robinson informed Council that the Governance Scrutiny Group would be considering further improvements to the Constitution at their meeting at the end of the month and any suggestions should be put forward to the Chairman, Councillor Purdue-Horan.

 

The report was moved by Councillor Robinson and seconded by Councillor Mason.

 

Councillor Gray reported that he had reviewed the changes with great interest and was looking forward to participating in the scrutiny exercise later in the month. Councillors Jones, R Mallender and Thomas advised that they were all happy to support the recommendations outlined in the report.

 

It was RESOLVED that the revisions to the Council’s Constitution be approved and that the revised scrutiny arrangements be formally adopted.

20.

Notices of Motion

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

 

a)                    We call on this Council to actively support alternative forms of transport into Nottingham, in particular cycling, and ask that a detailed piece of work is undertaken by Scrutiny and reported back to Cabinet on improvements that could be made to the cycling network and infrastructure in Rushcliffe using the newly available funds from Central Government.

 

Councillor J Walker

 

b)                    We have all probably seen photographs of the flowery, bee-friendly waysides that have been planted in Rotherham and have no doubt we have all been asked by residents to achieve the same for our own wards. Rushcliffe Borough Council resolves:

 

To ask Scrutiny to review the feasibility of sowing native wild flower seeds along the road verges that it manages and put forwards recommendations to the Cabinet.

 

Councillor P Gowland

 

c)                     This Council resolves to develop a fair, transparent, and consultative process to allocate the portions of the Community Infrastructure Levy on its Infrastructure List collected for "provision of or improvements to playing pitches and ancillary facilities" and for "provision of or improvements to indoor leisure provision.” Furthermore, the Council resolves to allocate these funds for spending in a timely fashion so that the infrastructure to support development is provided sooner rather than later.

 

Councillor C Thomas

 

Minutes:

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

 

“We call on this Council to actively support alternative forms of transport into Nottingham, in particular cycling, and ask that a detailed piece of work is undertaken by Scrutiny and reported back to Cabinet on improvements that could be made to the cycling network and infrastructure in Rushcliffe using the newly available funds from Central Government.”

 

Councillor J Walker, in moving the motion, reminded the Council that its tagline was; ‘Great Place, Great Lifestyle, Great Sport’. That tagline encapsulated all that the Council wanted to work towards for its residents, but it needed to be more than just a tagline. The most recent Cycling Strategy published by the Authority dated back to 1995 and she questioned how the Council expected developers to plan for sustainable cycling routes if the Council did not make it clear what it required.  Councillor Walker considered that the Borough had been let down by Nottinghamshire County Council this week in relation to provision for cycle paths within the Borough. The County had come 75th out of 78 local authorities in bidding for funding to help people walk or cycle during the Covid-19 pandemic and keep public transport free for those that have no alternative transport. The County Council had only been awarded £260,000 out of a total of £573,000 available. Councillor Walker stated that she would like the Council to develop a document to complement the County Council’s Cycling Strategy, which linked new developments through to existing infrastructure and she believed that scrutiny was the right forum for that to happen.

 

Councillor Bansal seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.

 

Councillor Clarke strongly supported the need to encourage cycling within the Borough; however, he considered that it would be misplaced to ask scrutiny to develop a Rushcliffe Strategy. Councillor Clarke advised that he would prefer to see a more joined up and collaborative approach in partnership with the County Council, as the Highways Authority. Scrutiny should not be used for issues over which the Borough Council had no control. Councillor Clarke reminded all Councillors that they could lobby their County Councillors to make improvements to the cycling network within the Borough. He highlighted that further funding under the same scheme was being made available in the coming week. Councillor Clarke proposed an amendment to the motion:

 

“This Council supports alternative forms of transport in and around Rushcliffe, in particular cycling, and will strive to work with Nottinghamshire County Council, as Highway Authority, to identify improvements that could be made to the cycling network in Rushcliffe.”

 

Councillor Cottee seconded the amendment and reserved the right to speak.

 

Councillor Gray advised that the substantive part of the original motion was to work with Nottinghamshire County Council as the Highways Authority. He did not believe that the phrase ‘strive to work’ had the same emphasis and consequently he would not be supporting the amendment as he considered that  ...  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 J Walker to Councillor Mason

 

The sadness and uncertainty we have collectively had to face since the beginning of the pandemic has also been coupled with a wonderful community spirit shown by many in our borough.  Towns, villages and hamlets across Rushcliffe have come to together to support their most vulnerable neighbours and shown what community and society can do at a grassroots level.  In my ward, Ruddington, the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group set up before the announcement of lockdown saw key institutions come together and mobilise hundreds of volunteers in a matter of days.

 

What can we do at Rushcliffe Borough Council to continue to nurture and inspire our residents to volunteer in their communities, keeping this energy and good spirit functioning into the future?” 

 

Councillor Mason responded that the Council had always supported and worked with communities and that this was never more so than in the last few months. She reminded Councillors that, whilst the lockdown restrictions had been lifted, things had not changed, and that the country might well see another Covid-19 spike in the winter, so it was imperative that the Council did all that it could to keep the community support volunteers enthused. She referred to the Rushcliffe Reach project, which had been awarding grants to individuals and groups working hard in their communities to support vulnerable people and she asked Councillors to encourage groups to come forward for grants.

 

Councillor Mason urged Councillors to help communities to build upon what they had achieved in the last few months and to make plans for the winter months to ensure that vulnerable people had the support they needed if asked to shield again.

 

Supplementary question

 

Councillor J Walker asked if there was a way that the Council could organise practical support across the Borough.

 

Councillor Mason replied that she felt it was important to keep the support at a local level so that it could be appropriate and responsive to each individual community.

 

b)               Question from Councillor Gowland to Councillor Inglis

 

“What homeless prevention measures have RBC used during lockdown?”

 

Councillor Inglis responded that addressing homelessness was an ongoing commitment and not one specific to the Covid-19 pandemic. Councils across Nottinghamshire had pledged that no one should need to be homeless within the county. In addition to the Government’s positive action on preventing landlord evictions, the Council had continued to work with residents at risk of becoming homeless, through the provision of advice and support along with the Council’s partners, including Citizens’ Advice. As part of the Local Resilience Forum, the Council had also been instrumental in encouraging the provision of the two additional temporary domestic abuse refuges, which were providing a vital safe-haven for those fleeing difficult situations in the home. Furthermore, the Council had also responded to the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative and had offered accommodation for rough sleepers who had been found in the Borough.

 

Supplementary question

 

Councillor Gowland asked whether the ‘Everybody In’ initiative had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.