Agenda and minutes

Council
Wednesday, 7 October 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Steven Corrigan, Democratic Services Manager 07717 274704 Email: steven.corrigan@southandvale.gov.uk 

Note: To watch this virtual meeting, follow this link to the council’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTj2pCic8vzucpzIaSWE3UQ 

Items
No. Item

94.

Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence.

Minutes:

None.

95.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 177 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Council minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2020 - attached. 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2020 as a correct record and agree that the chair sign them as such.

 

96.

Declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.  

Minutes:

None.

97.

Urgent business and chair's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair. 

Minutes:

The chair advised councillors of general procedures to be followed in virtual meetings.

 

98.

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

 

Four members of the public had registered to ask a question.

 

A.   Councillor James Goodman, Wantage Town Councillor and Chairman of the Wantage & District Chamber of Commerce, asked the following question

"Following the Liberal Democrat administration’s decision to scrap plans for a new leisure centre covering Wantage, Grove and surrounding villages, please would they explain where the S106 funding, which was previously allocated to this project, has now been re-allocated, or spent?"

Councillor Helen Pighills, Cabinet member for healthy communities, provided the following response:

 

“The previous administration, at a Cabinet meeting on 7 December 2018, paused a number of capital projects, including the proposed Wessex Leisure Centre, on the basis that there was no certainty that funding for the scheme would ever be available.

 

They did not then allocate funding for the project in their February 2019 budget.

 

It is clear that the amount of Section 106 developer contributions that are available to the council to spend on leisure fall well below the amount that would be needed to fund the proposed centre, so the new administration made the sensible decision to stop any further work on the project.

 

Of the original £18.8 million project, £5.9 million of funding was identified to be raised from S106 contributions. To date only £1.7 million of this has been received and the balance will become due as further housing completions are delivered by the developers.  None of this S106 funding has yet been accessed or spent. 

 

All available S106 funding can be viewed on the council website. 

 

Contributions that were not specifically for the project are available for use on other schemes and will form part of future budget decisions by the Council.

 

Officers are working with the council’s legal team on the contributions that specifically mention the Wessex Leisure Centre to ensure that these funds can be used for other leisure purposes within the communities that were intended to benefit.

 

Officers are progressing the development of a new Active Communities Strategy which will identify ways that S106 funding can be used for leisure activities across all communities of the Vale”.

 

 

B.   Mr Andrew Coker, Church Warden of the parish of Abingdon, asked the following question

 

“Why would you think of selling Old Abbey House when as you have said on many occasions it could play such an important community role?”

 

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, provided the following response

 

“Thank you for your question and for your comments about the importance of Old Abbey House. Both in terms of its position at the centre of the town and the affection local people have for the building. It is incredibly sad to walk past the building all boarded up, and with maintenance costs mounting up as a result of it being empty for far too long, I am anxious to see it back in use.

 

Speaking personally, I would be delighted if a viable community use could be found. The council continues  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

Petitions

To receive any petitions from the public. 

Minutes:

In accordance with the council’s petition scheme, which provides for a Council debate if a petition is signed by in excess of 500 people, Council considered a petition, which had received in excess of 1,600 signatures, calling on Vale of White Horse District Council to:

1.    Keep Old Abbey House in public or community ownership/use for the benefit of the growing population of Abingdon.

2.    Support the creation of a mixed usage, flexible community facility which could include space to host art, cultural and musical events, a restaurant, room hire for start-ups/community groups/societies and help attract residents and visitors to the historic heart of Abingdon

 

Julie Kelly addressed Council in support of the petition. She expressed concern regarding the current state of Old Abbey House and shared the comments and proposals people had made on the petition about the possible uses for the building.

 

In responding to the petition Councillor Smith, Leader of the council, thanked Julie Kelly for starting the petition and presenting it to Council. She acknowledged that the petition showed the strength of feeling and affection local people have for Old Abbey House and its place at the heart the town.

 

She referred to the answers to questions provided earlier in the meeting which showed that the council is working to find a viable and sustainable use for Old Abbey House. Several suggestions, bids and proposals have been made via the council’s property team and agents. She did not think it would be appropriate for the Council to simply agree or reject the action requested by the petition without information about the legal and cost implications, but the petition does need to be considered as part of the decision about the future of Old Abbey House.

 

She proposed that Council refer the petition to Cabinet to consider at its meeting on 4 December 2020 to consider alongside the bids and businesses cases that have been received for Old Abbey House at that point together with the legal and cost implications.

 

A number of councillors expressed concern at the current state of the building and stressed the importance of listening to the views of local residents in agreeing a future use for the building. Council agreed that the petition should be considered as part of the decision about the future of Old Abbey House.

 

 

RESOLVED: to refer the petition to Cabinet for consideration alongside the bids and businesses cases that have been received for Old Abbey House.

 

100.

Making the Great Coxwell Neighbourhood Development Plan Review pdf icon PDF 89 KB

At its meeting on 7 October 2020, Cabinet will consider a report on the progress of the Great Coxwell Neighbourhood Development Plan Review and the relevant considerations in relation to whether the revised plan should be made (formally adopted).

 

The report of the head of planning, which Cabinet considered on 25 September 2020, is attached.

 

RECOMMENDATION: to 

 

  1. make the revised Great Coxwell Neighbourhood Development Plan, as set out in Appendix 2 of the head of planning’s report to Cabinet on 25 September 2020, so that it becomes part of the council’s development plan; and 

 

  1. authorise the head of planning, in consultation with the Cabinet member for corporate services and transformation, and in agreement with the Qualifying Body, to make non-material changes, such as the correction of any spelling, grammatical, typographical or factual errors together with any improvements from a presentational perspective.

 


Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered Cabinet’s recommendations, made at its meeting on 25 September 2020, on the progress of the Great Coxwell Neighbourhood Development Plan Review and the relevant considerations in relation to whether the revised plan should be made (formally adopted).

 

Concern was expressed that neither of the local ward councillors were consulted or were aware of the process. Councillor Hallett, Cabinet member responsible for neighbourhood plans, shared the concern and undertook to investigate and respond to the two ward councillors.

 

RESOLVED: to 

 

  1. make the revised Great Coxwell Neighbourhood Development Plan, as set out in Appendix 2 of the head of planning’s report to Cabinet on 25 September 2020, so that it becomes part of the council’s development plan; and 

 

  1. authorise the head of planning, in consultation with the Cabinet member for corporate services and transformation, and in agreement with the Qualifying Body, to make non-material changes, such as the correction of any spelling, grammatical, typographical or factual errors together with any improvements from a presentational perspective.

 

101.

Treasury outturn 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 25 September 2020, considered the report of the interim head of finance on the outturn performance of the treasury management function for the financial year 2019/20.

 

The report of the interim head of finance, which the Joint Audit and Governance Committee considered on 22 September 2020 and Cabinet considered on 25 September 2020, is attached.

 

The Joint Audit and Governance Committee noted the treasury management outturn report 2019/20 and was satisfied that the treasury activities were carried out in accordance with the treasury management strategy and policy.

 

RECOMMENDATION: to

 

1. approve the treasury management outturn report for 2019/20; and

 

2. approve the actual 2019/20 prudential indicators within the report. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered Cabinet’s recommendations, made at its meeting on 25 September 2020, on the outturn performance of the treasury management function for the financial year 2019/20. The Joint Audit and Governance Committee and Cabinet had considered the interim head of finance’s report and were satisfied that the treasury activities had been carried out in accordance with the treasury management strategy and policy.

 

RESOLVED: to

 

1.         approve the treasury management outturn report 2019/20; and

2.         approve the actual 2019/20 prudential indicators within the report. 

 

102.

Budget 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 2 October 2020, will consider the report of the interim head of finance on changes to the 2020/21 budgets to reflect the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, and other matters, on the council.

The report, which Cabinet will consider on 2 October 2020, is attached.

 

Cabinet’s recommendations will be circulated to all councillors.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered Cabinet’s recommendations, made at its meeting on 2 October 2020, on changes to the 2020/21 budgets to reflect the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, and other matters, on the council.

The majority of councillors supported Cabinet’s recommendations. Views were expressed, that whilst recognising the challenges facing the council at an unprecedented time, the report lacked detail and included costs not directly related to Covid-19.

 

RESOLVED: to 

 

(a)      agree that the net revenue expenditure budget for 2020/21 be increased to £15.835 million, with the increase to be funded from revenue reserves; and 

 

(b)      agree the additions to the capital programme to be funded from capital receipts, as detailed in Appendix 2 of the interim head of finance’s report to Cabinet on 2 October 2020.

 

 

103.

Corporate Plan 2020-2024 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 2 October 2020, will consider the report of the acting deputy chief executive – transformation and operations on the corporate plan 2020-2024.

The report, which Cabinet will consider on 2 October 2020, is attached.

 

Cabinet’s recommendations will be circulated to all councillors.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council noted that the papers published for the meeting did not include the revised appendix four which was drafted following the Scrutiny Committee meeting held on . In light of this Council agreed to defer consideration of this item to a further meeting to be held before the end of October.

 

Mark Stone, Chief Executive, apologised to councillors for this error.

104.

Delegation of enforcement functions from Oxfordshire County Council to Vale of White Horse District Council under Covid-19 legislation pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 2 October 2020, will consider a report on the  delegation of functions granted to Oxfordshire County Council under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restriction) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 that give local authorities powers relating to the control and prevention of coronavirus.

The report, which Cabinet will consider on 2 October 2020, is attached.

 

Cabinet’s recommendations will be circulated to all councillors.

 

Minutes:

Council considered Cabinet’s recommendations, made at its meeting on 2 October 2020, on the  delegation of functions granted to Oxfordshire County Council under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restriction) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 that give local authorities powers relating to the control and prevention of coronavirus.

RESOLVED to:

 

1.    accept the delegation of functions from Oxfordshire County Council to enable Vale of White Horse District Council to carry out the enforcement actions detailed in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restriction) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020; 

 

2.    authorise the head of legal and democratic to enter into all necessary contracts and agreements to implement the delivery of the enforcement actions on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020; 

 

3.    authorise the head of legal and democratic to enter into all necessary contracts and agreements to implement the delivery of the enforcement actions on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council for any further period for which The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020may be extended by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and any enforcement actions which Oxfordshire County Council may delegate to the council in pursuance of any other provision (whether by statute, regulation or direction) by which The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 may be replaced, amended or supplemented; 

 

4.    authorise the head of housing and environment to perform the enforcement actions set out in any such agreements referred to (1) to (3) above, and to authorise other officers to exercise any of these actions. 

105.

Report of the leader of the council

 

1.       To receive the report of the leader of the Council

 

 

2.         Urgent cabinet decisions

 

In accordance with the Scrutiny Committee Procedure Rules, a Cabinet or Cabinet member decision can be taken as a matter of urgency, if any delay by the call in process would seriously prejudice the council’s or the public’s interest or that the decision cannot reasonably be deferred.  Treating the decision as a matter of urgency must be agreed by the chair of the Scrutiny Committee and must be reported to Council, together with the reasons for urgency.

 

Council is requested to note the details of the following urgent decisions.

 

 

Discretionary grants fund

 

On 29 May 2020, Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, took a decision to approve the eligibility and funding level to distribute the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (DGF) and authorise the acting deputy chief executive – place, jointly with the interim head of finance, to award the grants.

 

The chair of the Scrutiny Committee agreed to waive call in due to the Government requirement for the grant fund to open from 1 June 2020.

 

Discretionary business grants round two

 

On 19 June 2020, Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, took a decision to approve Round Two of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (DGF) and authorise the acting deputy chief executive – place, jointly with the interim head of finance, to award the grants.

 

The chair of the Scrutiny Committee agreed to waive call in to ensure grants could be awarded to eligible businesses as soon as practicable.

 

Discretionary business grants top up fund

 

On 10 August 2020, Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, took a decision to approve a top-up grant round of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (DGF) and to authorise the acting deputy chief executive – place, jointly with the interim head of finance, to award the grants.

 

The chair of the Scrutiny Committee agreed to waive call in due to the Government requirement for the grant fund to close on 28 August 2020.

 

Emergency Assistance Grant policy

 

On 28 August 2020, Councillor Debby Hallett, Deputy council Leader (in the absence of Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council) approved a grants policy and eligibility criteria to distribute the Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for food and other essential supplies.

 

The chair of the Scrutiny Committee agreed to waive call in due to the urgent need to open the grant scheme to allow the council to distribute the funds to support those in need.

 

Commercial negotiations with Capita and the review of Exchequer Services and Finance IT systems

 

Cabinet, at its meeting on 25 September 2020, considered a confidential report on the above issues.

 

The chair of the Scrutiny Committee agreed to waive call in to allow for the early implementation and progress of Cabinet’s decisions.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, provided an update on a number of matters. The text of her address is available on the council’s website.

 

Council noted the details of urgent decisions taken by Cabinet members and Cabinet as set out on the agenda in respect of the following issues:

 

·         Discretionary grants fund

·         Discretionary business grants round two

·         Discretionary business grants top up fund

·         Emergency Assistance Grant policy

·         Commercial negotiations with Capita and the review of Exchequer Services and Finance IT systems

 

 

106.

Update on Oxfordshire Growth Board pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To receive a written update on the Oxfordshire Growth Board from Councillor Neil Fawcett, Cabinet member for strategic partnerships and place – attached.

 

Minutes:

Council received a written update report on the Oxfordshire Growth Board from Councillor Neil Fawcett, Cabinet member for strategic partnerships and place.

 

In response to a question regarding the Frilford Junction Improvements and Relief to Marcham, Councillor Fawcett responded that there was funding for a feasibility study, but the project had not moved forward. In terms of the implications of the projects not proceeding, he responded that without infrastructure improvements, required by both Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council policies,  it was difficult to see further large scale development proceeding in the area although this would be a matter for any planning application.   

107.

Oxfordshire Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Steering Group

At its meeting on 12 February 2020, Council appointed Councillor David Grant as the council’s representative on the Oxfordshire Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Steering Group.

 

Following the recent changes to Cabinet member portfolios made by Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, Council is asked to appoint Councillor Catherine Webber, Cabinet member for climate emergency and environment, to the steering group.

 

RECOMMENDATION: to appoint Councillor Catherine Webber as the council’s representative on the Oxfordshire Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Steering Group.

 

Minutes:

At its meeting on 12 February 2020, Council appointed Councillor David Grant as the council’s representative on the Oxfordshire Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Steering Group.

 

Following recent changes to Cabinet member portfolios made by Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the council, Council considered a recommendation to appoint Councillor Catherine Webber, Cabinet member for climate emergency and environment, to the steering group.

 

RESOLVED: to appoint Councillor Catherine Webber as the council’s representative on the Oxfordshire Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Steering Group.

 

108.

Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel

At the annual meeting of Council held on 15 May 2019 Councillors Andy Cooke, Hayleigh Gascoigne and Matthew Barber were appointed to the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.

 

Council is invited to appoint Councillor Jenny Hannaby in place of Councillor Hayleigh Gascoigne.

 

RECOMMENDATION: to appoint Councillor Jenny Hannaby as a member of the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.  

Minutes:

At the annual meeting of Council held on 15 May 2019 Councillors Andy Cooke, Hayleigh Gascoigne and Matthew Barber were appointed to the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.

 

Council considered a recommendation to appoint Councillor Jenny Hannaby in place of Councillor Hayleigh Gascoigne.

 

RESOLVED: to appoint Councillor Jenny Hannaby as a member of the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.  

 

 

109.

Planning Committee membership

At its annual meeting held on 15 May 2019, Council resolved to allocate one of the Liberal Democrat seats on the Planning Committee to the Conservative Group. Officers have been advised that the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Groups would like to restore the political balance on the committee from 2 November 2020.

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

1.    That Council rescind the decision taken at the at the annual meeting held on 15 May 2019 to allocate one of the Liberal Democrat seats on the Planning Committee to the Conservative Group.

 

2.    That Council appoints Councillor Shelley to the Conservative seat and Councillors Batts, Boyd and Howell as substitute members.

 

3.    That Council appoints Councillor Avery to the Liberal Democrat Group seat.

 

4.    That these changes become effective from 2 November 2020.

 

Minutes:

At its annual meeting held on 15 May 2019, Council resolved to allocate one of the Liberal Democrat seats on the Planning Committee to the Conservative Group. Council considered a recommendation to rescind this decision to restore the political balance on the committee from 2 November 2020.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    To rescind the decision taken at the at the annual meeting held on 15 May 2019 to allocate one of the Liberal Democrat seats on the Planning Committee to the Conservative Group;

2.    To appoint Councillor Shelley to the Conservative seat and Councillors Batts, Boyd and Howell as substitute members;

3.    To appoint Councillor Avery to the Liberal Democrat Group seat;

4.    That these changes become effective from 2 November 2020.

 

 

110.

Review of the council's constitution pdf icon PDF 173 KB

To consider the report of the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer on proposed changes to the council’s constitution – attached.

 

Minutes:

Council considered the report of the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer on proposed changes to the council’s constitution. This set out a series of recommendations discussed by the Joint Constitution Review Group.

RESOLVED: for Vale of White Horse District Council to

 

(a)       amend the Summary and Explanation section of the constitution as follows:

(i)              to use ‘Chair’ as the default term throughout the constitution,

(ii)       that the minutes of all meetings should record when councillors arrive late for a meeting or leave early,

(iii)      to add a definition of the leader of the opposition, as set out in paragraph 10 of the report of the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer to Council on 7 October 2020;

 

(b)       amend the Council, Cabinet and all committee procedure rules to include:

“The Chair may choose to indicate how they wish to be addressed, according to personal preference.”

 

(c)       amend the Council procedure rules as follows:

(i)        procedure rule 4 be amended so that when the budget is discussed at Council meetings, questions and motions from councillors will follow consideration of the budget,

(ii)       procedure rule 33 be amended to allow councillors to also ask questions of representatives appointed to outside bodies or joint committees,

(iii)      procedure rule 36 be amended to require written answers to councillors’ questions at Council meetings, to be provided to Democratic Services for circulation at least 24 hours before a Council meeting to allow more time for councillors to digest the answer and draft a supplementary question,

(iv)      procedure rule 40 be amended to state that motions to Council may not relate to a decision on an individual case, or a decision made on an individual case under planning, licensing or other regulatory legislation;

 

(d)       amend the Joint Audit and Governance Committee procedure rules to clarify that only South Oxfordshire District Council members should vote on matters that solely relate to South Oxfordshire, and Vale of White Horse District Council members should only vote on matters that relate solely to the Vale; 

 

(e)       retain the following Planning Committee procedure rules:

(i)            procedure rule 4 to continue to exclude Cabinet members from being committee members, and to continue to exclude ward members from participating and voting on applications within their ward,

(ii)          procedure rule 22(c) to continue the committee’s ability to ask public speakers questions of clarification;

 

(f)         amend the Joint Staff Committee procedure rules terms of reference by replacing “to undertake development and performance reviews for the chief executive and head of paid service (based on the objectives and targets for the chief executive and head of paid service set by the leaders)” with: 

To review the objectives and targets set by the leaders for the chief executive and review the formal performance and development reviews undertaken by the leaders.”;

 

(g)       amend the scheme of delegation to the chief executive to add a delegation to allow the authorisation of additional senior officers to sign documents and to attest the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 110.

111.

Local Authorities (Members' Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 - proposal to re-appoint a joint Independent Remuneration Panel pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider the report of the head of legal and democratic on the appointment of a joint independent remuneration panel with South Oxfordshire District Council – attached.

Minutes:

Council considered the report of the head of legal and democratic on the appointment of a joint independent remuneration panel with South Oxfordshire District Council to undertake a review of the councillors’ allowances scheme and make recommendations to Council.

RESOLVED: that, subject to the agreement of South Oxfordshire District Council, to:

1.    appoint a joint independent remuneration panel with South Oxfordshire District Council to carry out reviews of the councillors’ allowances schemes at both councils and make recommendations on any changes to the schemes to the relevant Council;

2.    make the appointment of the Joint Independent Remuneration Panel effective until May 2024, one year after the 2023 district council elections;

3.    to appoint South East Employers as one of the members of the Joint Independent Remuneration Panel, to act as chair and provide training to new panel members;  

4.    authorise the head of legal and democratic to make appointments to the Joint Independent Remuneration Panel. 

112.

Re-appointment of independent persons to advise on code of conduct issues pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To consider the report of the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer on extending the term of office of two independent persons to advise on code of conduct issues – attached.

 

Minutes:

Council considered the report of the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer on extending the term of office of two independent persons to advise on code of conduct issues.

 

RESOLVED: to authorise the monitoring officer to extend the terms of office of Chris Smith and Martin Wright, the council’s independent persons for code of conduct matters until 31 May 2021.

 

113.

Questions on notice pdf icon PDF 174 KB

To receive questions from councillors in accordance with Council procedure rule 33. 

 

A.   From Councillor Andy Foulsham to Councillor Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets


Could the Cabinet member outline the impact on the district council's finances of the measures to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on local residents, and of the inevitable reduction in income to the council? Could he also identify how much additional funding has been received from central Government to cover the expenditure incurred at their request?

B.   From Councillor Sarah Medley to Councillor Judy Roberts, Cabinet Member for Development and Infrastructure

At the full Council meeting in July, we highlighted the concerns of many residents in Harwell and Didcot regarding the cycle accessibility and safety of the proposed design of the B4493 roundabout as part of the plans for the Valley Park development. We have since been raising this issue with the relevant decision-makers at all levels, including calling meetings with Vale and County Council officers and the local county councillor, and we are pleased to see that the roundabout design is now being reviewed. However, this is just one of many aspects of the Valley Park proposals which are less than optimal with regards to sustainability and active travel. Can we be assured that the Valley Park development will be built to safely accommodate and encourage cyclists, and that it will follow the garden principles that guide the development of Didcot?

 

C.   From Councillor Jenny Hannaby to Councillor Judy Roberts, Cabinet Member for Development and Infrastructure

 

If the changes to the current planning system that were proposed in the government consultation of that name get adopted, what effect would that have on Vale of White Horse District Council’s ability to deliver affordable housing?

 

D.   From Councillor Amos Duveen to Councillor Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets


Given the disturbing reporting of human rights violations in various supply chains around the world, especially (but not limited to) the forced labour camps in Xinjiang, China, where Uyghur Muslims are being detained, can Councillor Crawford please confirm that the procurement policy he is developing will have an ethical dimension so that Vale residents can be assured that in future, so far as is possible, their council tax will not be spent on the products of such gross abuses?

 

Minutes:

 

A.   From Councillor Andy Foulsham to Councillor Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets


Could the Cabinet member outline the impact on the district council's finances of the measures to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on local residents, and of the inevitable reduction in income to the council? Could he also identify how much additional funding has been received from central Government to cover the expenditure incurred at their request?

Written answer

As shown in the revised budget report – agenda item 9 of tonight’s papers – officers currently estimate a net cost to the council of over £400,000 due to COVID-19.  This represents a combination of additional costs and loss of income totalling over £3.5 million.  We have received over £1.5 million in government grant funding, and expect to receive over £1.7 million as compensation for lost income.  In total, government funding is not expected to cover all our losses, hence the need for Council to agree to increase the revenue budget tonight.  This Council’s financial situation as a result of COVID-19 mirrors that of most authorities of all political hues around the country many of which are also finding themselves needing to establish an interim budget. On the income side there are 3 main categories which have impacted us. Firstly, initiatives which we have chosen to take in order to increase the safety of our residents – for example the decision to suspend car parking fees during the lockdown period. Second, the indirect results of government decisions such as the slow-down of house building during lockdown and the inevitable consequence that has had on planning fee income. Finally, direct results of government legislation to close down certain sectors of the economy such as community establishments like the Beacon which have resulted in a direct loss of income. In deciding to reimburse only just over 70% of lost income, the government have effectively required Local Authorities to finance these deficits from their own resources – ultimately the Council Tax Payer.

 

A further consequence of COVID-19 on our finances, and this is likely to be significant although difficult to quantify, is the impact of staff resources being diverted from their normal functions to dealing with the pandemic for our local residents. This Council had planned a series of initiatives to both increase income and reduce expenditure through 2020/21. Our staff have truly risen to the challenges which COVID-19 has created and we owe them a debt of gratitude. However, in doing so activities on transforming the financial health of this Council have been inevitably delayed and this in turn will have a negative impact on our finances and create further challenges when we come to considering the full year budget for 2021/22.

Supplementary question

 

In response to a supplementary question, Councillor Crawford responded that it was not possible to estimate the impact of the new Covid-19 restrictions, likely to last a further six months, on the council’s finances either direct or indirectly, or whether the additional financial  ...  view the full minutes text for item 113.

114.

Motions on notice

To consider motions from councillors in accordance with Council procedure rule 38. 

 

(1)      Motion to be proposed by Councillor Alison Jenner, seconder to be notified:

 

This Council notes:

 

The publication by Government of the White Paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ on 6 August 2020, which set out proposals on reforms to the planning process for the future, falsely frames the problem in housing supply as an issue resulting from council limitations.

·         That the vast majority of planning applications are given the go ahead by local authority planning committees, with permission granted to around 9 out of 10 applications.

·         That research by the Local Government Association has said that there are existing planning permissions for more than one million homes that have not yet been started.

·         As of the 1 April 2020 there is permission for 10,843 (or full permission for 5,055 number) homes in the Vale that have not yet been built. Construction has only started on site for 40% of these (or equivalent 85% for those with full permission).

 

This Council is concerned that the proposals in the White Paper seek to:

·         Reduce or remove the right of residents to object to applications near them.

·         Grant automatic rights for developers to build on land identified as ‘for growth’.

·         Remove section 106 payments for infrastructure and their replacement with a national levy.

 

This Council further notes:

·         The Royal Institute for British Architects called the proposals ‘shameful and which will do almost nothing to guarantee delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes’. RIBA also said that proposals could lead to the next generation of slum housing.      

·         The Local Government Association and District Councils Network are both working on responses to reflect the serious concerns raised by their member councils from across the country.  

 

 This Council believes:

·         That existing planning procedures, as currently administered by our own team in Vale of White Horse, allow for local democratic control over future development, and give local people a say in planning proposals that affect them.

·         That proposals for automatic rights to build in ‘growth’ areas, and increased permitted development rights, risk unregulated growth and unsustainable communities.

·         That local communities must be in the driving seat on shaping the future of their communities, and local determination of the planning framework and planning applications play an important part in this process.

This Council resolves to:

1.  Take part in the consultation in the planning proposals, and to make representations against the proposals in the areas outlined in this motion.

2.  Write to both of our Members of Parliament explaining the position of Council on these proposals, urging them to support the intentions of this motion by objecting, where necessary to those proposals, and for any reply from them to be placed on the council’s website.

3.  Highlight its concerns over these proposals with the public and local residents.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Alison Jenner moved, and Councillor Paul Barrow seconded the motion as set out in the agenda at agenda item 21

 

Whilst the majority of councillors supported the motion, the view was expressed that the changes would retain a role for local authorities and that the proposed infrastructure levy would benefit smaller developers.  

 

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 67, which provides for a recorded vote if three members request one, the chair called for a recorded vote on the motion which was declared carried with the voting as follows:

For

Against

Abstentions

Councillors

Councillors

Councillors

Jerry Avery

Matthew Barber

Paul Barrow

Nathan Boyd

 

Ron Batstone

Simon Howell

 

Samantha Bowring

Janet Shelley

 

Cheryl Briggs

 

 

Andy Cooke

 

 

Andrew Crawford

 

 

Margaret Crick

 

 

Eric de la Harpe

 

Amos Duveen

 

 

Neil Fawcett

 

 

Andy Foulsham

 

 

Hayleigh Gascoigne

 

David Grant

 

 

Debby Hallett

 

 

Jenny Hannaby

 

 

Alison Jenner

 

 

Bob Johnston

 

 

Diana Lugova

 

 

Robert Maddison

 

Sarah Medley

 

Patrick O’Leary

 

 

Helen Pighills

 

Mike Pighills

 

 

Judy Roberts

 

Val Shaw

 

 

Emily Smith

 

Bethia Thomas

 

 

Max Thompson

 

 

Catherine Webber

 

 

Richard Webber

 

Total: 31

Total: 4

Total: 0

 

 

RESOLVED:

That Council notes:

 

The publication by Government of the White Paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ on 6 August 2020, which set out proposals on reforms to the planning process for the future, falsely frames the problem in housing supply as an issue resulting from council limitations.

·         That the vast majority of planning applications are given the go ahead by local authority planning committees, with permission granted to around 9 out of 10 applications.

·         That research by the Local Government Association has said that there are existing planning permissions for more than one million homes that have not yet been started.

·         As of the 1 April 2020 there is permission for 10,843 (or full permission for 5,055 number) homes in the Vale that have not yet been built. Construction has only started on site for 40% of these (or equivalent 85% for those with full permission).

 

That this Council is concerned that the proposals in the White Paper seek to:

·         Reduce or remove the right of residents to object to applications near them.

·         Grant automatic rights for developers to build on land identified as ‘for growth’.

·         Remove section 106 payments for infrastructure and their replacement with a national levy.

 

That this Council further notes:

·         The Royal Institute for British Architects called the proposals ‘shameful and which will do almost nothing to guarantee delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes’. RIBA also said that proposals could lead to the next generation of slum housing.      

·         The Local Government Association and District Councils Network are both working on responses to reflect the serious concerns raised by their member councils from across the country.  

 

 That this Council believes:

·         That existing planning procedures, as currently administered by our own team in Vale of White Horse, allow for local democratic control over future development, and give local people a say in planning proposals that affect them.

·         That proposals for automatic rights to build in ‘growth’ areas, and increased permitted development rights,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114.

115.

Exclusion of the public

To consider whether to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for the following items of business under Part 1 of Schedule 12A Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 and as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 on the grounds that:

(i)        they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, and

(ii)       the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for the following item of business under Part 1 of Schedule 12A Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 and as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 on the grounds that:

(i)        it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, and

(ii)       the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

 

 

 

116.

Impact of Covid-19 on leisure facilities

Cabinet, at its meeting on 2 October 2020, will consider the confidential report of the interim head of development and regeneration on the impact of Covid-19 on leisure facilities.

 

The confidential report of the interim head of development and regeneration, which Cabinet will consider on 2 October 2020, is attached.

 

Cabinet’s recommendations will be circulated to councillors.

 

 

Minutes:

At its meeting on 2 October 2020 Cabinet considered the confidential report of the interim head of development and regeneration on the impact of Covid-19 on leisure facilities. Cabinet made no recommendation to Council at this time.

 

Councillor Helen Pighills, Cabinet member for healthy communities, provided a verbal update to Council.

117.

Budget 2020/21

The confidential appendices to the budget 2020/21 item (agenda item 9) are attached.

Minutes:

Council noted the revised confidential appendix 1, circulated following the Cabinet meeting on 2 October 2020, and confidential appendix 2 to the interim head of finance’s report to Cabinet on 2 October 2020.