Venue: During the Covid-19 outbreak Committee meetings are taking place on Skype for Business
Contact: Democratic Services
The Mayor welcomed all those present to the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was received on behalf of Councillor Juliet Brunner.
Declarations of Interest
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.
There were no declarations of interest.
the minutes of the meeting of Council held on Monday, 21st September 2020 be approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Mayor.
To consider Announcements under Procedure Rule 10:
a) Mayor’s Announcements
b) The Leader’s Announcements
c) Chief Executive’s Announcements.
The following Announcements were made during the meeting:
a) The Mayor’s Announcements
The Mayor advised that he had attended a number of engagements since the previous meeting of Council. This included attendance at the virtual Remembrance Sunday commemorations. The Mayor and the Deputy Mayor had also attended an Armistice Day service on 11th November 2020.
b) The Leader’s Announcements
The Leader announced that he had attended a number of important meetings since the previous meeting of Council. This included meetings of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board and the Worcestershire Local Outbreak Board.
Members were advised that unfortunately the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Redditch was 344 per 100,000 population. Those aged 60 or over, who were more vulnerable if they contracted Covid-19, were testing positive at a rate of 222 per 100,000 population which was very worrying. The Leader invited Members to join him in communicating the need for all residents to be as careful as possible and to observe the rules in respect of social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing.
c) The Chief Executive’s Announcements
The Chief Executive confirmed that he had no announcements to make on this occasion.
Questions on Notice (Procedure Rule 9)
There were no Questions on Notice on this occasion.
Motions on Notice (Procedure Rule 11)
There are no Motions on Notice on this occasion.
There were no Motions on Notice on this occasion.
Members considered the Council’s response to the Planning for the Future Government White Paper. In proposing the recommendations detailed in the report, Members thanked Officers for their hard work in reviewing and responding to the proposals detailed in the white paper.
During consideration of this item the following matters were discussed:
· Information had been shared with Members about the content of the white paper at a recent meeting of the Planning Advisory Panel (PAP).
· Whilst the deadline had passed for feedback in the white paper consultation process, Members had been assured that they could submit comments after this point.
· Some of the proposals in the white paper would help to make the local planning process more efficient and streamlined.
· Concerns were raised that other proposals in the white paper would result in the centralisation of the planning system, removing power from the local level.
· The role of local Councils in the existing planning system was discussed and it was noted that on occasion, whilst the Council might have granted planning permission, the developer chose not to act immediately and this could cause delays.
· In future Local Plans would take into account three zonings; growth areas, renewal areas and protected areas. Members queried how decisions would be made about classifying land in accordance with these zones and who would make the decision.
· The proposals, should they be agreed, would remove the right for the public to be heard. The Council’s response was suggesting that this should remain in place.
· The proposals would raise the threshold for affordable housing to be included in applications, from developments of 11 or more houses to those of 40 or 50 houses.
· Concerns were raised that, should these proposals in relation to affordable housing be incorporated into legislation, this could result in a reduction in social housing.
· Members noted that the organisation Shelter had recently reported that an increase in demand for Council houses was anticipated as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
· The Council was in the process of building Council houses which would help to meet the needs of Redditch residents.
· There was no guarantee that all of the changes proposed in the Government White Paper would be incorporated into legislative changes.
the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday, 27th October 2020 be received and all recommendations adopted.
Members discussed proposed changes to Part 5 of the Constitution: The Scheme of Delegation. Two areas of proposed changes, in respect of Section 106 funding and the planning process, had been discussed at a recent meeting of the Constitutional Review Working Party. A further recommendation had been presented which built on previous decisions to delegate authority to officers in respect of taxi licensing for a temporary period.
The following points were discussed in respect of the proposed new delegations:
· The three proposals detailed in the report and the extent to which they would help to streamline processes at the Council.
· The changes that had been proposed to planning delegations and the impact that this might have on the local democratic process.
· The potential for Members to continue to call in applications that might not automatically go before the Planning Committee, should changes be agreed to the number of objections required to trigger a debate at Committee.
· The role of the Chair of the Planning Committee moving forward and the potential for the Chair to call for specific planning applications to be debated at a Committee meeting which would otherwise be resolved under delegated authority to Officers.
· The reduction in local influence over the planning process should the proposals in the Government White Paper in respect of the future of the planning process be approved and the need for Members to retain some involvement in the process.
· The significant number of planning applications that were being considered by the Planning Committee under existing rules, including those where there was no material reason, and the impact that this had had on the number of Planning Committee meetings that had been required during the year.
· The potential for Planning Officers to engage with members of the public when dealing with applications under delegated authority.
· The need for transparency in respect of decisions about important areas such as planning applications.
· The timescales that would apply to the extension of the temporary delegation in respect of taxi licensing to the end of the 2020/21 municipal year.
· The discussions that had been held at the meeting of the Constitutional Review Working Party earlier in the month. Members noted that a further recommendation would come forward in May 2021 in respect of the membership of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee.
· The delegations that had been granted to Officers over the previous 18 months and the extent to which Officers should be provided with more authority to determine local matters.
During consideration of this item an amendment was proposed to the wording of the third recommendation in the report by Councillor Bill Hartnett. This amendment was seconded by Councillor Greg Chance.
The amended wording of recommendation 3 was as follows:
“For a temporary period, up to the end of January 2021, the delegation to the Head of Regulatory Services (Worcestershire Regulatory Services) shall be to determine all matters in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Operators, Vehicles and Drivers.”
In proposing the amendment Councillor Hartnett ... view the full minutes text for item 47.
To note any decisions taken in accordance with the Council’s Urgency Procedure Rules (Part 8, Paragraph 17 and/or Part 9, Paragraph 5 of the Constitution), as specified.
Urgent decision have been taken on the following matters since the previous meeting of Council.
a) Rubicon Leisure Management fee
b) Business Rates Pool 2021/22
Members were informed that there had been three urgent decisions taken since the previous Council meeting. These urgent decisions related to the management fee for Rubicon Leisure Limited, the Council’s participation in the Worcestershire Business Rates Pool in 2021/22 and Green Homes Local Authority Delivery grant funding.
Urgent Business - general (if any)
To consider any additional items exceptionally agreed by the Mayor as Urgent Business in accordance with the powers vested in him by virtue of Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
(This power should be exercised only in cases where there are genuinely special circumstances which require consideration of an item which has not previously been published on the Order of Business for the meeting.)
There were no general items of urgent business for consideration on this occasion.