Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Wednesday, 7 December 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: The Ridgeway, The Beacon, Portway, Wantage, OX12 9BY

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

Items
No. Item

39.

Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Janet Shelley,

Elaine Ware, Catherine Webber and Richard Webber.

40.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 406 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Council minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2022. 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to approve the minutes of the Council meeting held on 12 October 2022 as a correct record and agree that the Chair sign them as such.

41.

Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, other registrable interests and non-registrable interests or any conflicts of interest in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 

  

Minutes:

Mark Stone, the council’s Returning Officer and Patrick Arran and Steven Corrigan, both deputy returning officers, declared interests in agenda item 11 – Elections – scale of fees and charges, as likely recipients of fees agreed by Council.

42.

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 provided an update on her recent engagements.

43.

Public participation

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

Minutes:

The following question was submitted by Need Not Greed Oxfordshire (NNGO) and circulated to all councillors prior to the meeting. No representative was in attendance to ask the question.

 

Following the demise of the Oxfordshire Plan, each Council is now assessing its own housing numbers but, as we know, decisions taken by Oxford City are likely to have significant ramifications for the surrounding Districts.  A high level of due diligence over the process is therefore required.

Our understanding is that Oxford City Council is proposing to use an alternative method to calculate (and thereby increase) its housing “need”.   The City's housing figures are being prepared by the same consultants who prepared the original Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment.  We believe they will almost certainly be inflated by overly optimistic economic growth projections and substantial affordable housing uplifts and will not align with what most of us understand to be actual housing need.   And this is being proposed by the City in the full knowledge that it will be looking to the District Councils to provide the housing for this unmet "need".

Need not Greed Oxfordshire would therefore like to ask the Vale of White Horse District Council whether:

1.    It is supportive of Oxford City’s proposal to use an alternative method to calculate (and to thereby increase) its housing “need”?

2.    It intends to cooperate with Oxford City Council by agreeing to meet its unmet housing, even when this does not represent need as assessed by the Standard Method?

3.    It agrees it would be beneficial for the City to use different consultants from those used to prepare the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment which was widely regarded as not fit for purpose? 

4.    It agrees that, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, it would be wise for each of the Oxfordshire Local Authorities to avoid the use of housing market assessment consultants who receive substantial amounts of their income from developers?  

 

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Cabinet member for strategic partnerships and place, provided the following response:

Q1. It is supportive of Oxford City’s proposal to use an alternative method to calculate (and to thereby increase) its housing “need”?

The Government’s Planning Practice Guidance sets out “there is an expectation that the standard method will be used, and that any other method will be used only in exceptional circumstances”. To use an alternative method, the City Council must demonstrate that such exceptional circumstances exist. As we set out in our recent response to Oxford’s Local Plan consultation, the situation has changed significantly since the last round of local plans meaning that the original exceptional circumstances would not continue to justify a departure from the standard method. In our view Oxford City has not yet demonstrated that the exceptional circumstances threshold is met to justify a departure from the standard method, so we would expect need to be calculated using the Standard Method.

Vale of White Horse District Council’s response to the Oxford City Local Plan consultation, November 2022, is available on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

Petitions

To receive any petitions from the public. 

Minutes:

None.

45.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 11 November 2022, considered the report of the head of finance on a review of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. 

 

Cabinet supported changes to the scheme to help local residents during the current cost-of-living crisis and beyond. 

 

RECOMMENDATION: that for the 2023/24 financial year onwards, the council continues to adopt the previous 2022/23 Council Tax Reduction scheme but with the following amendments:

·       to remove the 91.5 per cent limit (cap) when calculating the council tax bill,

·       to remove the band E restriction for all residents, so that qualifying residents will have their Council Tax Reduction calculated at 100 per cent of their council tax bill, after any deductions and based on their property’s actual council tax band, and

·       to reintroduce the second adult rebate scheme to working age residents, in order to give a maximum 25 per cent reduction where they live with another adult on a low income. 

 

Minutes:

Council considered Cabinet’s recommendations, made at its meeting on 11 November 2022, on a review of the council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

 

RESOLVED: that for the 2023/24 financial year onwards, the council continues to adopt the previous 2022/23 Council Tax Reduction scheme but with the following amendments:

·       to remove the 91.5 per cent limit (cap) when calculating the council tax bill,

·       to remove the band E restriction for all residents, so that qualifying residents will have their Council Tax Reduction calculated at 100 per cent of their council tax bill, after any deductions and based on their property’s actual council tax band, and

·       to reintroduce the second adult rebate scheme to working age residents, in order to give a maximum 25 per cent reduction where they live with another adult on a low income. 

 

46.

Council tax base 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 276 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 2 December 2022, will consider a report on the council tax base for 2023/24.

 

The report of the head of finance, which Cabinet will consider on 2 December, is attached.

 

Cabinet’s recommendations will be circulated to all councillors following the Cabinet meeting.

 

Minutes:

Council considered Cabinet’s recommendations, made at its meeting on 2 December 2022, on the council tax base for 2023/24.

 

RESOLVED: to

 

1.    Approve the report of the head of finance for the calculation of the council’s tax base and the calculation of the tax base for each parish area for 2023/24.

 

2.    Agree that, in accordance with The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations 2012, the amount calculated by Vale of White Horse District Council as its council tax base for the year 2023/24 is 56,664.9.

 

3.    Agree that, in accordance with The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations 2012, the amount calculated by Vale of White Horse District Council as the council tax base for the year 2023/24 for each parish be the amount shown against the name of that parish in Appendix A of the report of the head of finance to Cabinet on 2 December 2022

 

47.

Appointment of an independent member to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee pdf icon PDF 257 KB

At its meeting on 15 November 2022, the Joint Audit and Governance Committee considered a report on the principle of the appointment of an independent person to the committee. The report also proposed that the Independent Remuneration Panel consider an appropriate level of allowance for such a position and the independent persons who assist the monitoring officer with code of conduct matters.

 

The report of the monitoring officer, considered by the committee at its meeting on 15 November 2022, is attached.

 

The committee supported the recommendations subject to the inclusion in the committee’s terms of reference of the power to dispense with the service of any independent person who is not adding value.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION: to

1.       agree to co-opt one independent person on to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee on a non-voting basis;

2.       approve the person specification attached at appendix 1 to the report of the monitoring officer to the meeting of the Joint Audit and Governance Committee meeting held on 15 November 2022;

3.       authorise the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer and the section 151 officer, in consultation with the Joint Audit and Governance Committee co-chairs, to undertake the recruitment process and appoint an independent person to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee for a period of four years until May 2027;

4.       authorise the head of legal and democratic to make changes to the councils’ constitution to reflect the appointment;

5.       ask the Independent Remuneration Panel to consider an appropriate level of remuneration for the role of independent person to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee and the independent persons dealing with code of conduct matters if the committee consider that the roles should be remunerated.

 

Minutes:

Council considered the recommendations of the Joint Audit and Governance Committee, made at its meeting on 15 November 2022, on the appointment of an independent person to the committee and a proposal that the Independent Remuneration Panel consider an appropriate level of allowance for such a position and the independent persons who assist the monitoring officer with code of conduct matters.

 

RESOLVED: to

1.    co-opt one independent person on to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee on a non-voting basis;

2.    approve the person specification attached at appendix 1 to the report of the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer to the meeting of the Joint Audit and Governance Committee held on 15 November 2022;

3.    authorise the head of legal and democratic and monitoring officer and the section 151 officer, in consultation with the Joint Audit and Governance Committee co-chairs, to undertake the recruitment process and appoint an independent person to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee for a period of four years until May 2027;

4.    authorise the head of legal and democratic to make changes to the councils’ constitution to reflect the appointment;

5.    ask the Independent Remuneration Panel to consider an appropriate level of remuneration for the role of independent person to the Joint Audit and Governance Committee and the independent persons dealing with code of conduct matters.

 

48.

Review of the council's constitution pdf icon PDF 787 KB

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

 

Minutes:

Council considered the report of the head of legal and democratic on proposed changes to the council’s constitution.

 

RESOLVED: to

 

1.    adopt the following sections of the Constitution with immediate effect:

a)    the Procurement Procedure Rules, set out in Appendix B of the report of the head of legal and democratic to Council on 7 December 2022, as Part 4 (8);

b)    the Anti-Fraud, Corruption and Bribery Policy, set out in Appendix C of the report of the head of legal and democratic to Council on 7 December 2022, as Part 5 (8);

c)    the Whistleblowing Policy, set out in Appendix D of the report of the head of legal and democratic to Council on 7 December 2022, as Part 5 (3); and

 

2.    authorise the head of legal and democratic to make these changes and any further minor or consequential amendments to the Constitution. 

 

49.

Elections - scales of fees and charges pdf icon PDF 173 KB

To consider the report of the returning officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark Stone, the council’s returning officer, and Steven Corrigan, a deputy returning officer, left the room during the debate and vote on this item. Patrick Arran, a deputy returning officer, was unable to hear or observe the debate or vote on the item.

 

Council considered the report of the returning officer on the setting of fees and charges for district and parish elections.

 

RESOLVED: to

1.    agree the scales of fees for district and parish council elections, parish polls and neighbourhood planning referendums as set out in the Appendix to the report of the returning officer to Council on 7 December 2022;

2.    agree that the scales of fees for staffing positions are amended to reflect those adopted by Oxfordshire County Council and authorise the returning officer to make such changes; 

3.    agree to continue to charge parish and town councils for running elections on their behalf.

 

50.

Report of the leader of the council

To receive the report of the Leader of the council.

 

Minutes:

Councillor 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.

 

As part of her address Councillor Smith confirmed her resignation as Leader of the council and that she would continue to serve as councillor for Botley and Sunningwell Ward.

 

On Behalf of Council, Councillor Crick, Chair of council, thanked Councillor Smith for her time as Leader of the council and wished her well in her career.

 

51.

Election of leader of the council

Councillor Emily Smith has given notice that she is resigning as Leader of the council effective from 7 December 2022.

 

Council is invited to elect a leader of the council in accordance with the Cabinet arrangements and procedure rules as set out in the council’s constitution for a term of office beginning immediately and ending on the date of the annual Council meeting in May 2023 (following the district council elections scheduled for May 2023).

 

The leader of the council will be invited to report on:

·       the appointment of the deputy leader of the council

·       the membership of the Cabinet and the allocation of portfolios

·       the leader’s scheme of delegation to cabinet members and officers

 

Minutes:

Councillor Smith proposed and Councillor Thompson seconded the appointment of Councillor Thomas as Leader of the council.

 

RESOLVED: to elect Bethia Thomas as Leader of the council for a period ending on the day of the next post-election annual meeting in 2023.

 

Councillor Thomas advised of the appointment of Councillor Neil Fawcett as Deputy Leader of the council and gave details of the Cabinet portfolio responsibilities set out in her Leader’s scheme of delegation with other appointments.

 

Councillor Thomas presented Councillor Smith, former Leader of the council, with a bouquet of flowers and thanked her for her contribution as Leader of the council.

 

 

52.

Questions on notice pdf icon PDF 236 KB

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

 

1.    Question from Councillor Hayleigh Gascoigne to Councillor Judy Roberts, Cabinet member for development and infrastructure

 

Great Western Park has been almost complete for a few years now, and community assets, such as community centres, parks and green space have over this time been gradually transferred from the developer, Taylor Wimpey to the Council.

There has been some frustration from the community at not being able to use some of these facilities until this happens. Can you give an update on the handover of the parks and land to the Vale?

 

2.    Question from Councillor Bob Johnston to Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the Council

Given that consultation is now underway on the proposed Botley West Solar Farm spanning ours and two other districts, would the Leader agree with me that to deprive local councils of the power to determine the outcome would be an egregious example of centralised decision making? 

 

3.    Question from Councillor Alison Jenner to Councillor Debby Hallett, Cabinet member for Corporate Services and Transformation

 

New regulations on Voter ID include a limited list of acceptable documents for citizens wishing to exercise their right to vote. The Act they refer to addresses a problem which does not exist and the list to which is refers is very restricted. Most documents are ones for older people; very little provision is made for the sort of documents young people are likely to have; as not every young adult has a passport or a driving licence, each of which cost money to obtain.

I would like to ask the Cabinet member responsible for electoral issues what we, as a council, can do to enable voting by young people in good time to ensure their documentation is suitable for consideration at the polling station?

 

4.    Question from Councillor Val Shaw, to Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of the Council

 

Several months ago, we voted on a Food and Farming motion, part of which specified the appointment of a Food and Farming Champion.  Would you give us an update on this and what the council is considering in support for this sector?  What contact has there been so far with this sector, and have we had any feedback from them?

 

Minutes:

1.    Question from Councillor Hayleigh Gascoigne to Councillor Judy Roberts, Cabinet member for development and infrastructure

 

Great Western Park has been almost complete for a few years now, and community assets, such as community centres, parks and green space have over this time been gradually transferred from the developer, Taylor Wimpey to the Council.

There has been some frustration from the community at not being able to use some of these facilities until this happens. Can you give an update on the handover of the parks and land to the Vale?

 

Written answer

The council has continued to engage proactively with the developer Taylor Wimpey to press for the transfer and adoption of various assets at Great Western Park.  Officers also send a regular update to local ward members to advise on progress, aware that this remains an issue of local concern.  Members will recognise that there are processes to be followed and these are reliant on the provision of compliant information by the developer.

The latest position is that Taylor Wimpey have identified that some areas practically completed over 5 years ago have now fallen below transferable standards, in their words these are “no longer in a condition for handover”.  Officers have made it clear to Taylor Wimpey that they expect the developer to transfer at completion standard and that the council will not take transfer until the standard is as required by the S106 agreement.

To support the officers’ position, I intend as cabinet member to write to the Managing Director of Taylor Wimpey to seek an update and clear timescale for ensuring these transfers can happen.

 

2.    Question from Councillor Bob Johnston to Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the Council

Given that consultation is now underway on the proposed Botley West Solar Farm spanning ours and two other districts, would the Leader agree with me that to deprive local councils of the power to determine the outcome would be an egregious example of centralised decision making? 

 

Written answer

 

In 2008 the Government introduced a process to streamline decision making for major infrastructure projects, a Development Consent Order (DCO). They say this is fairer and faster for communities and applicants. Such infrastructure projects often cover several administrative areas and a national, regional or sub regional planning assessment is required. 

 

The Planning Inspectorate is responsible for management of the (DCO) process and there are six stages: Pre-application, Acceptance, Pre-examination, Examination, Recommendation and Decision, and Post-decision. 

 

Regarding the Botley West Solar Farm proposal, the promoter of the solar farm is carrying out informal local consultation. Formal pre-application has not started. If an application for development consent is submitted, the Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to consider whether it meets the standards required to be accepted for examination and as a scheme under the National Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

 

While a DCO is a planning process, similar to that which we oversee at council level, I share Councillor Johnston's concerns about ensuring the voices of local residents, businesses and members are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Motions on notice

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

 

(1)       Motion to be proposed by Councillor Emily Smith, seconded by Councillor Bethia Thomas:

 

Local councils are on the frontline, working to support residents and businesses survive a cost-of-living crisis. Our council has worked hard to support our residents through Covid and provide support for local businesses over this period, but demand on our services is increasing rapidly.

 

Between 2010-11 and 2020-21, district councils saw a 35% real terms reduction in overall spending power.

 

Analysis by the District Councils Network (DCN) suggests a collective budget gap for district councils of almost £400m in 2022-23. The DCN expects this to rise to at least £600m in 2023-24 (17% of net expenditure), due to the combined impact of the measures in the Autumn Statement and the latest inflation forecasts.

 

Council Notes that:

·       The Autumn Statement does not do enough to cover the budget pressures that councils face due to fuel, energy, pay inflation and pressures on services due to the cost-of-living crisis.

·       Without a multi-year financial settlement from government, our council is hindered in our efforts to plan the use of our limited resources efficiently.

·       The Autumn Statement was silent on several key points, including reforms to the New Homes Bonus, a business rates re-set, the future of DEFRA’s waste consistency reforms and the Fair Funding Review.

Council Resolves to:

·       Continue to do all we can with the limited resources we have to ensure residents and local businesses are supported during the cost-of-living crisis.

·       Continue to liaise with the District Councils Network, Local Government Association and South East Councils partnerships to share information and lobby for sufficient funding to be devolved to local government.

·       Ask the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer setting out the concerns raised in this motion and asking for:           

o   A multi-year financial settlement for local government including certainty on the timing of any changes to the New Homes Bonus and the Business Rates reset and the DEFRA waste reforms

o   Greater financial flexibility for efficient, low spending councils like the Vale

o   The ability to recover the full cost of providing planning and licensing services; at a minimum the early implementation of increases to planning fees proposed earlier in 2022

o   Additional funding to address the inflationary cost pressures the council is facing and resources to help address increasing demand for council services

 

(2)       Motion to be proposed by Councillor Diana Lugova, seconded by Councillor Judy Roberts:

 

Two-thirds of new homes built in England in the year to the end of March 2022 use gas for central heating and will require retrofitting at some point in the future. New homes should be built to be low-carbon, energy, and water efficient, climate resilient and no new homes should be connected to the gas grid.  

 

This council is working towards the district being carbon neutral by 2045 but in relation  ...  view the full agenda text for item 53.

Minutes:

(1)       Councillor Emily Smith moved and Councillor Bethia Thomas seconded the motion as set out in the agenda at agenda item 14.

 

After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.

 

RESOLVED: That Local councils are on the frontline, working to support residents and businesses survive a cost-of-living crisis. Our council has worked hard to support our residents through Covid and provide support for local businesses over this period, but demand on our services is increasing rapidly.

 

Between 2010-11 and 2020-21, district councils saw a 35% real terms reduction in overall spending power.

 

Analysis by the District Councils Network (DCN) suggests a collective budget gap for district councils of almost £400m in 2022-23. The DCN expects this to rise to at least £600m in 2023-24 (17% of net expenditure), due to the combined impact of the measures in the Autumn Statement and the latest inflation forecasts.

 

Council Notes that:

·       The Autumn Statement does not do enough to cover the budget pressures that councils face due to fuel, energy, pay inflation and pressures on services due to the cost-of-living crisis.

·       Without a multi-year financial settlement from government, our council is hindered in our efforts to plan the use of our limited resources efficiently.

·       The Autumn Statement was silent on several key points, including reforms to the New Homes Bonus, a business rates re-set, the future of DEFRA’s waste consistency reforms and the Fair Funding Review.

Council Resolves to:

·       Continue to do all we can with the limited resources we have to ensure residents and local businesses are supported during the cost-of-living crisis.

·       Continue to liaise with the District Councils Network, Local Government Association and South East Councils partnerships to share information and lobby for sufficient funding to be devolved to local government.

·       Ask the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer setting out the concerns raised in this motion and asking for:           

o   A multi-year financial settlement for local government including certainty on the timing of any changes to the New Homes Bonus and the Business Rates reset and the DEFRA waste reforms

o   Greater financial flexibility for efficient, low spending councils like the Vale

o   The ability to recover the full cost of providing planning and licensing services; at a minimum the early implementation of increases to planning fees proposed earlier in 2022

o   Additional funding to address the inflationary cost pressures the council is facing and resources to help address increasing demand for council services

 

(2)       Councillor Diana Lugova moved and Councillor Judy Roberts seconded a motion as set out in the agenda at agenda item 14.

 

After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.

 

RESOLVED:

That Two-thirds of new homes built in England in the year to the end of March 2022 use gas for central heating and will require retrofitting at some point in the future. New homes should be built  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.