Venue: Council Chamber Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
The Mayor welcomed all those present to the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor Salman Akbar, Juma Begum, Alex Fogg, Nyear Nazir and Gareth Prosser.
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.
Councillor Sid Khan declared a pecuniary interest in Minute Item No. 61 – Urgent Business – Record of Decisions - in his capacity as a private sector landlord. However, Members were advised that declarations were not required on this occasion as the decision had already been taken and the item was for information only.
The Mayor advised that a typographical error had been identified in the minutes, whereby Councillor Juliet Barker Smith had not been recorded as present at the meeting when she had been in attendance.
subject to the amendment detailed in the preamble above, the minutes of the meeting of Council held on Monday 10th October 2022 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.
a) The Mayor’s Announcements
The Mayor circulated a list of 33 civic engagements that she had attended since the previous meeting of Council (Appendix 1).
The Mayor highlighted the following engagements that had taken place during this period:
· The awards distributed at the children’s reading club held on 10th October 2022.
· The Redditch Business Awards evening on 23rd October 2022, which had been the first such event in the town. Members were informed that there had been over 800 nominations.
· The Kingfisher 10k on 30th October, which had been well attended by residents from a range of ages and diverse backgrounds.
· The Remembrance Sunday service on 13th November 2022, which had been well attended.
b) The Leader’s Announcements
The Leader advised that since the previous meeting of Council, he had attended meetings of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board as well as the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP). There had also been a meeting of the young Business Leader’s Group at St Augustine’s High School.
During consideration of this item, the Leader thanked the Royal British Legion for their hard work organising the Remembrance Sunday commemorations. Members were asked to note that, in addition to the service in Redditch town centre, the event at Astwood Bank had also been well attended.
c) Chief Executive’s Announcements
The Chief Executive confirmed that he had no announcements to make on this occasion.
Two Questions on Notice were considered in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.
Section 106 Funding
“How much section 106 money has been raised during this financial year, and what current and future projects will this fund?”
The Leader responded by explaining that Section 106 agreements were legal obligations entered into only where it was necessary to mitigate the impacts of a development proposal, to make it acceptable in planning terms. As a result of this criteria, so far during the 2022/23 financial year, no Section 106 agreements had been required to enable the granting of planning permission in the Borough. However, monies had been received during the financial year as a result of the trigger points being met for Section 106 agreements that had been attached to planning permissions granted in earlier financial years.
So far, in the 2022/23 financial year, a total of £115,403.63 had been received by the Council for Section 106 obligations. Specifically, £19,994.47 had been received by the Council to be forwarded to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) as funding towards acute and planned healthcare services. A further £72,366.04 had been received towards mitigation for open space, play and sports facilities. This would fund projects at Glover Street, Bromsgrove Road, Batchley Pond, Rowan Crescent, Heronfield Close and Petton Close/Costers Lane. In addition, £17,764.32 had been received for improvements to the public realm in Redditch town centre and would contribute to funding of The Canopies project. A further £3,016.80 had been received to cover the cost of providing bins to new dwellings on Edward Street.
There was a £2,262 monitoring fee that had been received to fund the cost of officers monitoring and reporting on Section 106 agreements. Since 2019, there had been a requirement to submit a monitoring report to Government in December each year known as the Infrastructure Funding Statement (IFS). The IFS for 2021-22 was in the process of being prepared to be reported in December and would be uploaded to the Council's website. The IFS for 2020-21 was already available to view on the Council's website.
Additional background information was also provided by the Leader in response to this Question on Notice. This provided the following breakdown in detail for each development project:
· 19/00134/FUL land at Ipsley Street:
- £6,438.06 for open space at Glover Street.
- £20,563.16 for play at Glover Street.
- £8,120.46 for sports at Redditch Cricket, Hockey and Rugby Club.
· 19/01630/FUL St Benedict's Social Club, Rowan Road:
- £25,927.29 total index link for contributions for open spaces, sport, play and pitches.
- £4,864.18 (plus index linking) for open spaces and sport at Batchley Pond.
- £14,488.80 (plus index linking) for play at Rowan Crescent.
- £3,451.57 (plus index linking) for pitches at Rowan Crescent.
· 20/01060/FUL Land adjacent to Clive Works, Edward Street:
- Monitoring fee £2,262.
- Town centre contribution £6,813.08.
- Waste and recycling contribution - £3,016.80 – to fund the cost of providing ... view the full minutes text for item 55.
The Mayor advised that two Motions on Notice had been received prior to the Council meeting.
Bulky Waste Collection
Councillor Sid Khan submitted the following Motion on Notice for Members’ consideration:
“Council is concerned about the cost-of-living crisis having a new impact on fly tipping, with the cost of bulky waste collection becoming a disincentive for many residents. Council calls upon the Head of Environmental Services to bring a report to the Executive, to consider the costs, consequences and benefits of a pre-booked, free household bulky waste collection service for those Redditch residents who are low paid, elderly, disabled or in receipt of benefits, which will enable Members to consider options and determine what action, if any, to take.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor Sid Khan and seconded by Councillor Sharon Harvey.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor Khan commented that by approving the Motion, Members would help to reduce the levels of fly tipping in the Borough. The Motion would also support efforts to address the green thread, which was one of the key priorities for the authority in the Council Plan. A similar Motion had recently been considered at a Council meeting at Worcestershire County Council, although that had requested a free Bulky Waste Collection service. By contrast, the Motion that Councillor Khan had submitted was requesting that the matter be investigated further by Officers, who could subsequently present a report on the subject at a meeting of the Executive Committee. There were a number of other Councils in the country, including Reading Borough Council, which had already made allowances for the provision of free bulky waste collection services, which demonstrated that this was possible to implement.
In seconding the Motion, Councillor Harvey commented that the Motion was being proposed at a time of a cost of living crisis. Many residents, particularly those who were vulnerable or on low incomes, would struggle to pay for a bulky waste collection service, even when they had items that needed to be collected. A free service for residents in this position would help them to dispose of domestic goods. The Motion called for the potential provision of a free bulky waste collection service to be investigated further and reported back to the Executive Committee.
Members subsequently discussed the Motion and in so doing noted that the Council had a duty to provide a bulky waste collection service. Some Members questioned whether a free bulky waste collection service would deter certain residents and unscrupulous businesses from fly tipping.
Reference was made to the businesses that offered to collect bulky waste items, both from households and from companies. Members commented that many of these companies were reputable and disposed of goods in an appropriate manner. However, there were also disreputable companies that charged to collect items and then resorted to fly tipping to dispose of those items. It was suggested that the activities of these businesses should be investigated further.
Consideration was also given to the costs involved in facilitating a bulky ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
Town Hall Hub
The Leader of the Council presented a report on the subject of the Town Hall Hub. Officers were thanked for their hard work on the report, particularly the Interim Section 151 Officer and the Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services. The report formed part of ongoing work on the regeneration of Redditch town centre.
During consideration of this item, Members raised the following points:
· The length of time that had passed since the Council first started to consider regeneration of Redditch town centre as part of work on the One Public Estate project, which was debated by Council in March 2018.
· The range of public services that would be accommodated in the Town Hall Hub.
· The extent to which it would be appropriate for the central library in Redditch to relocate to Redditch Town Hall to form part of the Hub.
· The level of public support in the local community for the relocation of the library to Redditch Town Hall.
· The consultation that had already been undertaken by Redditch Borough Council in respect of proposals for the regeneration of the town. Members commented that public consultation had taken place in 2020/21, although the forms of consultation available at that time had been restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
· The public consultation that was in the process of being undertaken by Worcestershire County Council as the lead authority responsible for the provision of Library Services.
· The potential for there to be a vibrant public sector hub without the library being moved into the Town Hall.
· The risks to the Council involved in working on the project, including the relocation of the library.
· The potential challenges for the Council, in terms of the external auditor’s expectations following the issuing of the Section 24 Notice, should the works at the Town Hall fail to be delivered on time and on budget. Members were reminded that the Section 24 Notice related to the non-submission of the Council’s 2020-21 accounts and not to financial sustainability.
· The fact that the introduction of a public sector hub in the Town Hall formed part of the regeneration plans for the town, which also included redevelopment of the railway quarter and establishing an innovation hub.
· The impact that the relocation of the library might have on the area in the town centre where the existing library was located.
· The extent to which the Council and partner organisations would be able to attract businesses, including restaurants, to the public square area that would be created as part of the plans, should the library be relocated.
· The disposal of Council assets and whether this had the support of the public.
· The benefits to residents arising from the NHS and Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) renting space in the Town Hall.
· The future location of the Redditch archives should the library be relocated into Redditch Town Hall.
· The condition of the current building in which the central Redditch library was based.
· The fact that there was no guarantee that the ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
Section 24 Notice
Council considered the Section 24 Notice that had been issued to the authority by the external auditors, Grant Thornton. Members agreed that the Council should accept the Section 24 Notice and the points that the external auditors had raised in this notice, which related to the non-submission of the Council’s 2020-21 accounts.
Reference was made to discussions that had taken place at a meeting of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee held on 10th November 2022 in respect of this matter. During this meeting, Members had been advised that there were three key factors which had contributed to the delays in submitting the accounts:
· Problems with the implementation of the new Tech1 finance system, particularly the cash receipting part of this system, which had been introduced at the Council in 2021.
· Signficant staff turnover in the Corporate Financial Services department at the time when the new system was being introduced.
· The Covid-19 pandemic.
Consideration was given to the hard work that had been undertaken by officers to rectify problems with the Tech1 system, once new staff had been appointed to the Financial Services team. Members thanked Officers for their hard work and expressed their hopes that the action that had already been taken would enable the Council to return to submitting accounts in a timely manner in future.
Members noted that the external auditors had indicated at the meeting of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee that the Council might need to pay an additional fee for the audit of the 2020-21 accounts once these were submitted, depending on the amount of work required. Questions were raised about how much this additional fee was likely to cost the Council. The Interim Section 151 Officer explained that the additional fee would depend on the level of extra work required from the external auditors to audit the accounts, but it was likely this could be approximately £20,000.
The additional training in respect of the Tech1 finance system that was due to be provided to staff was also discussed. Members queried the length of time that would be required to deliver this training to staff as well as the financial costs. The Interim Section 151 Officer explained that there would be a two-day training session held between the completion of the 2020-21 accounts and start of work on the 2021-22 accounts. This training would be in addition to the general expenditure training which had been provided to staff on an ongoing basis.
Concerns were raised about the delay in submitting the Council’s 2020-21 accounts and Officers were asked to clarify whether the authority’s 2019/20 accounts had been submitted and whether the delays with the 2020-21 accounts would impact on submission of the 2021-22 accounts. The Interim Section 151 Officer explained that the Council’s 2019-20 accounts had already been submitted. Councils could only work on one set of accounts at a time, so the 2021-22 accounts had not yet been started. However, as soon as work on the 2020-21 accounts ... view the full minutes text for item 58.
To note any decisions taken in accordance with the Council’s Urgency Procedure Rules (Part 9, Paragraph 5 and/or Part 10, Paragraph 15 of the Constitution), as specified.
(None to date).
The Mayor advised that there had been one urgent decision, on the subject of the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Regulations 2015, since the previous meeting of Council.
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.)
The Mayor explained that she had agreed to receive an item of urgent business for consideration at the meeting, following consultation with the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer. This urgent business requested a waiver on the six-month rule, for attendance at Council and Committee meetings, for Councillor Gareth Prosser, due to continuing ill health. The decision was taken to consider this as urgent business as a request to extend the time for non-attendance beyond six months had to be approved at a Council meeting before that six-month period was due to expire and there were no further Council meetings due to take place before Councillor Prosser’s six months since last attending a meeting would have passed.
Members considered the report and in doing so expressed their hopes that Councillor Prosser would experience a full recovery soon. In addition, Members commented that their thoughts were with Councillor Prosser and his family at this time.
in accordance with Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972,
Council approves Councillor Gareth Prosser’s non-attendance at meetings until the end of the 2022/23 municipal year on the grounds of continued ill health and that the Council’s best wishes be conveyed to him.