Agenda and draft minutes

Council
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual meeting

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

Note: Joining instructions for members of the public: To watch the virtual meeting, you must copy the following link to your internet browser: https://tinyurl.com/y7qegvzg When your web browser opens, select “Watch on the Web instead” button and then when the “Welcome to the live event!” window opens, select “join anonymously”. 

Items
No. Item

81.

Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence.

Minutes:

None.

82.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Council minutes of the meetings held on 12 and 19 February 2020 - attached. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to approve the minutes of the meetings held on 12 and 19 February 2020 as correct records and agree that the chair sign them as such.

83.

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.

84.

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.

 

She invited Council to observe a minute’s silence in memory of those residents of the Vale who had lost their lives as a result of Covid-19.  

85.

Chief Executive's update

To receive any updates from the chief executive.

Minutes:

Mark Stone, Chief Executive, addressed Council. His address is available on the council’s website

86.

Public participation

To receive any written questions or written statements from members of the public. 

Minutes:

Councillor Goodman of Wantage Town Council and Chairman of the Wantage & District Chamber of Commerce submitted a written statement in support of Motion 1 on the agenda. His statement is set out at Minute 93.

 

87.

Petitions

To receive any petitions from the public. 

Minutes:

None.

88.

Recommendations from Cabinet, individual Cabinet members, and committees

At its meeting on 1 June 2020, the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee considered a public statement from Extinction Rebellion Abingdon regarding the creation and improvement of cycling infrastructure. The committee noted that Oxfordshire County Council was working on the promotion of active travel and considering traffic restriction measures and welcomed this move. The committee resolved to ask its chair to write to the county council to show support of the active travel and traffic restriction measures being developed and support these to become a permanent measure.  The committee also asked Cabinet to recommend to Council that it writes to the county council to show the district council’s support for these measures.

 

Any recommendation of Cabinet will be reported to Council. 

 

Minutes:

Council was advised that Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 July 2020, considered a recommendation from the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee to recommend to Council that it writes to the county council to show the district council’s support for its work on the promotion of active travel and the consideration of traffic restriction measures to improve cycling infrastructure. In light of the fact that Council would consider a motion at this meeting (Motion 5 on the agenda) calling on the Leader of the council to write to the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council on similar issues, Cabinet had not made any recommendation to Council.

 

89.

Progress on approved Council motions pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To note progress on the approved Council motions – report attached.

Minutes:

Council received and noted a progress report on motions approved by Council since May 2019.

 

Council welcomed the report. A suggestion was made that those actions which had been actioned and resolved should be removed from future update reports.

 

90.

Virtual meeting procedure rules and scheme of delegation pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider the report of the head of legal and democratic – attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered the report of the head of legal and democratic on proposed changes to the council’s virtual meeting procedure rules to allow public participation to resume and clarification of the scheme of delegation to the head of planning.

 

RESOLVED: to

1.    adopt the revised Virtual Meeting Procedure Rules attached at appendix one to the report of the head of legal and democratic to Council on 15 July 2020 which provide for public participation at virtual formal council meetings, to apply from the date of this meeting;

2.    agree corrected wording for the head of planning’s delegation 1.1 a i in the council’s constitution to clarify call-in of planning applications by ward councillors as set out in appendix two to the report of the head of legal and democratic to Council on 15 July 2020, to apply from the date of this meeting;

3.    note the intention to resume Planning Committee site visits but authorises the head of planning, in consultation with the chair of the Planning Committee, to suspend them if at any time it becomes unsafe to do so;

4.    authorise the head of legal and democratic to make the necessary changes to the constitution and to make any minor or consequential amendments to the constitution and the rules for consistency and to reflect the council’s style guide.

 

91.

Report of the leader of the council

To receive the report of the leader. 

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.

92.

Questions on notice pdf icon PDF 66 KB

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

 

A.   Question from Councillor Simon Howell to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Emily Smith

In March, this Council launched a COVID-19 Grant Scheme aimed at supporting community initiatives in our respective areas to respond to the pandemic.  Three months on, I believe that there is no visibility as to how much has been spent and what remains of this funding.  Can the Leader provide an update on the status of this scheme and whether community groups can still apply for any funds still available?

 

B.   Question from Councillor Nathan Boyd to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Emily Smith

 

On 27 May 2020 the Leader wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP regarding the behaviour of one of his advisors, Dominic Cummings. Considering the reluctance of the administration to even support the proposal of writing a letter on a planning matter, which directly affected this council previously, can the leader please explain why it was appropriate to write, on behalf of the council, with no motion being put before council beforehand?

 

C.   Question from Councillor Elaine Ware to Councillor Helen Pighills Cabinet Member for Community Services

In July 2019 the Leader reported that a Health & Well-being Strategy was being developed. What progress has been made in preparing this strategy?

 

D.   Question from Councillor Hayleigh Gascoigne to Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the Council

We were all horrified to hear in the world media about what happened to George Floyd at the hands of the Minnesota Police Department, and all the other similar events that have been highlighted, involving wrongful killing of black people at the hands of the very people who are meant to protect them. This has spurred a huge movement across the UK to address racism. In our own district, a number of groups have formed such as Black Lives Matter Didcot, and Black Lives Matter Abingdon and they are fiercely committed to tackling racism. One of their demands is “Accountability in Council Policy & Decision Making”.

What are we doing as a district council to tackle racism within our own operations and within our communities? How can we strive for better representation of ‘the Black voice’?

 

 

Minutes:

 

A.   Question from Councillor Simon Howell to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Emily Smith

In March, this Council launched a COVID-19 Grant Scheme aimed at supporting community initiatives in our respective areas to respond to the pandemic.  Three months on, I believe that there is no visibility as to how much has been spent and what remains of this funding.  Can the Leader provide an update on the status of this scheme and whether community groups can still apply for any funds still available?

Answer

On 25 March 2020, we launched an Emergency Councillor Grant Scheme that gave each councillor £2,000 to award to community groups delivering community initiatives in their ward to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, particularly those supporting vulnerable residents. 

For audit purposes, we provided councillors with a spreadsheet for capturing and recording all the requests they receive and the awards they chose to make.  Councillors will be aware that officers have recently requested updates on their individual emergency councillor grant budgets, and to offer their support in connecting them with groups that still need funding towards their work supporting vulnerable residents. 

As we ease out of lockdown, and in anticipation of the national shielding programme coming to an end on 1 August 2020 and the potential for a second response spike or wave of positive cases, it is our intention to keep the scheme open until the end of September 2020.  By then, we’ll hopefully have more certainty nationally that we’re in the recovery phase of the pandemic and officers can put a further call out for grant budget returns.  It is at that point we’re likely to recover any unspent funds if a second wave has not materialised and is considered unlikely.   

 

    Supplementary question

   

        Councillor Smith undertook to provide a written response to a supplementary question regarding the possible widening of the Covid-19 Grant Scheme to help communities with innovative and creative ways to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic.    

           

B.   Question from Councillor Nathan Boyd to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Emily Smith

On 27 May 2020 the Leader wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP regarding the behaviour of one of his advisors, Dominic Cummings. Considering the reluctance of the administration to even support the proposal of writing a letter on a planning matter, which directly affected this council previously, can the leader please explain why it was appropriate to write, on behalf of the council, with no motion being put before council beforehand?

Answer

The actions taken by this individual had the potential to undermine the vital public health message that our staff and partners were actively working so very hard to promote to our communities to keep residents safe and protect the NHS.  If evidence was ever needed that this individual operates entirely within the political sphere, I would draw your attention to the fact that he subsequently then gave a televised account of his actions from the Rose Garden of 10  ...  view the full minutes text for item 92.

93.

Motions on notice

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

 

Motion 1: Councillor Simon Howell to propose, Councillor Nathan Boyd to second.

 

Establishment of a Local Economy Resilience Advisory Committee.

 

Council recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown both the national and local economy into a state of turmoil and crisis.  The impact on our local businesses and our local communities will only grow in the coming months and requires an immediate response.

This Council will urgently set up a new committee called the Local Economy Resilience Advisory Committee, to guide this council’s response to this crisis.  Following the model of the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, this new committee will be advisory to the Cabinet and should be made up of seven members in total based on political balance (the head of legal and democratic to make appointments to the committee seats and substitute positions in accordance with the wishes of the relevant group leader).  The term of reference for the new committee should be drawn up by the Acting Deputy Chief Executive – Place, in consultation with the Cabinet member for development and regeneration and group leaders.   It will operate alongside and have equal weight to the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, to ensure this council works cross party and does everything it can to help local business, the high streets of our market towns and villages, and our communities survive this economic shock.

 

 

Motion 2:  Councillor Nathan Boyd to propose, Councillor Elaine Ware to second

 

Future publication of all communication within five days.

Council notes that when a councillor is asked a question or a follow up, the constitution states that the response should be published within five days. It is only right that all communications from ministers or government departments that either thank officers and councillors for their hard work on behalf of residents or bring up any shortcomings or failures of the council are published in a similar way. This seems only fair to our residents and would help us further abide to the principles of Objectivity, Accountability and Openness that The Nolan Principles demand.

Therefore Council requests that all future official central government correspondence to and from the Vale of White Horse District Council is published within five working days so that there is openness and transparency in how central government correspondence influences decisions we make for our residents and that any embargoed or confidential correspondence is circulated to councillors in the same timeframe.

 

Motion 3: Councillor Nathan Boyd to propose, Councillor Matthew Barber to second.

 

Local Government Re-organisation

This Council recognises the excellent work of all local government staff across Oxfordshire during the COVID-19 crisis. Councils have worked together in difficult times, showing that organisational barriers to joint working can be overcome.

All Councils have gone the extra mile in delivering services to our residents that prioritise the most vulnerable. This has inevitably incurred additional costs.

All Councils acknowledge the additional Government funding to date, but we have a  ...  view the full agenda text for item 93.

Minutes:

Motion 1: Councillor Simon Howell moved, and Councillor Nathan Boyd seconded the motion as set out in the agenda at agenda item 13.

 

“Council recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown both the national and local economy into a state of turmoil and crisis.  The impact on our local businesses and our local communities will only grow in the coming months and requires an immediate response.

This Council will urgently set up a new committee called the Local Economy Resilience Advisory Committee, to guide this council’s response to this crisis.  Following the model of the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, this new committee will be advisory to the Cabinet and should be made up of seven members in total based on political balance (the head of legal and democratic to make appointments to the committee seats and substitute positions in accordance with the wishes of the relevant group leader).  The term of reference for the new committee should be drawn up by the Acting Deputy Chief Executive – Place, in consultation with the Cabinet member for development and regeneration and group leaders.   It will operate alongside and have equal weight to the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, to ensure this council works cross party and does everything it can to help local business, the high streets of our market towns and villages, and our communities survive this economic shock”.

 

The following written statement was submitted by Councillor Goodman of Wantage Town Council and Chairman of the Wantage & District Chamber of Commerce in support of the motion.

“Council,

Thank you for taking the time to read/read out this statement.  I had hoped to present to you in person, but sadly we are constrained in the current environment. 

I wish to address you in respect of Motion 1 on the Agenda papers.

In Wantage I have watched as shops have come and gone, empty units have stood deserted and then were refilled over the last few years, with some new, successful, local businesses. The pandemic turned every town into a ghost town, and while people are now coming back to our shops and cafés, we don’t know how long those businesses will last in this harsh environment, or what will happen if there is a second wave. We need to do “whatever it takes” to secure the future for our wonderful local businesses.

The committee proposed in this evening's motion would be a great starting point to help us with our recovery, locally. I know we already have a great business team in the Vale, but with what could come around the corner, and how hard recovery is set to be, local businesses will need all the support they can get.

I am very reassured to see that the suggestion is that it will follow the model of the already well-established Climate Emergency Advisory Committee. This existing committee has already shown how much of its consultation can make a difference to policy of the council, and businesses will need such a committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93.