Agenda and minutes

Council - Thursday, 21st September, 2017 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Jo Toomey 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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    Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ashwell, Cook, Forman, Griffin, Mapp, Dr. Moseley, Neilson, Ian Stokes and Sarah Stokes.


Disclosure of Interests

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    Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.


    No interests were disclosed.


Minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2017 pdf icon PDF 212 KB

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    The minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2017 were proposed, seconded and agreed as a correct record.


    One member sought clarification on the term “Proper Officer”, which was used on page 4 of the minutes (minute item 26).


    A typographical error was identified in the first paragraph on page 6 of the minutes (minute item 26), which should have read: “Further comments were made about the importance of transparency, with a comparison being drawn with Lincolnshire County Council where votes were also taken by a show of hands…”


    A further typographical error was identified on page 15 of the minutes (minute number 32), question four, where Councillor Mike Cook was identified as Councillor Mike Cooke.


Communications (including Chairman's Announcements) pdf icon PDF 51 KB

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    The Council noted the Chairman’s engagements.


Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

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    Report number LDS226 of the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee 2016/17        (Enclosure)

    Additional documents:


    As the Chairman of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee during 2016/17, the Chairman of the Council presented report number LDS226 and the attached Scrutiny Committee Annual Report for 2016/17. He explained that the report summarised the varied topics that the Committee had scrutinised during the year. All of the reports presented to the Committee and the action notes of its meetings were available on the Council’s website, and he directed any Members with questions on specific topics to the Committee’s support officers. He concluded by thanking the members who had served on the Committee for their work and commitment through the year.


    The Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee in 2016/17 spoke about how important the work of scrutiny was. She explained that the report related to the old arrangements where the Council operated one Scrutiny Committee and three policy development groups. She added that work done by the Committee through 2016/17 had been thorough and well-received and hoped that the new arrangements would work as well, if not better, than the previous arrangements.


    A further comment was made that the former Committee had undertaken some good scrutiny. It was also stated that the new arrangements needed time to become embedded before they would be able to prove themselves.


    The Leader thanked the Chairman of the Council for his work during his tenure as the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee. He added that the report for 2017/18 would be compiled in consultation with the Chairmen of each of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and would be presented by the Chairman of those Chairmen. He finished by saying that change was important to ensure that the Council continued to move forwards.


    The Council noted the report.


The Leader's Report on Urgent Decisions pdf icon PDF 80 KB

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    Report number CAB025 of the Leader of the Council                   (Enclosure)

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    The Leader introduced report number CAB025 which gave details of an urgent key decision that was taken by the Cabinet Member for Retail and Visitor Economy to approve a new discretionary business rate relief scheme following a national revaluation of all commercial properties in April 2017.


    Since the publication of the agenda, two urgent non-key decisions had been made; copies of both decisions were circulated to members at the start of the meeting as part of a pack of supplementary papers. These related to changes to the approved draft of the Housing Strategy for consultation and the signing of the armed forces community covenant.


    A number of members made comments on the Housing Strategy decision. Figures relating to the number of homes delivered had increased between the draft strategy approved for consultation by Cabinet on 7 September 2017 and the draft approved for consultation as part of the non-key decision; it was clarified that the revised figure of 2,040 was an update to the figure of 1,457, which was the legacy of an early draft of the strategy.


    Reference was also made to the identified level of housing need; the draft strategy stated that there was a requirement of 625 homes per annum, the alternative figures that were listed in the draft strategy (680 and 720) related to uplifted targets of 8% and 15%, which had been built into the local plan to provide a cushion. Members noted, however, that a recently released consultation arising from the Housing White Paper prescribed a calculation to determine housing need, which indicated that the figure could increase to 780 homes per annum. The proposal would be subject to consultation until November 2017 but it was considered likely that the figure would persist. Members were advised that consultation on the draft strategy had already commenced when the announcement was made but they were reassured that before the final version of the strategy was presented for decision, the most up-to-date figures would be included.


    Some of the amendments made to the draft Housing Strategy related to comments that had been raised at the Cabinet meeting on 7 September 2017. A Councillor who was not a member of the Cabinet made a representation about affordable housing and how he felt that the draft document should demonstrate a firmer commitment to delivery of affordable housing.


    Further comments were made about housing need for, and the shortage of, affordable housing. The traditional definition of affordable housing was social housing for rent or shared ownership however this was broadened by the Housing White Paper to include starter homes and subsidies for first-time buyers. It was anticipated that in future the Council’s affordable housing target could be split between the traditional forms of affordable housing and starter homes. Support was also voiced for the proposals in the strategy to work with private sector landlords.


    Some concern was expressed about the potential impacts of the imminent introduction of universal credit. Council members were advised that the Cabinet was discussing possible responses  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Overview and Scrutiny Committee remits pdf icon PDF 100 KB

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    Report number LDS234 of the Deputy Leader of the Council      (Enclosure)


    The Deputy Leader, as the Cabinet Member whose remit included governance, presented report number LDS234, which informed Council of the remits that had been agreed by each Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The lists were not exhaustive and future updates would continue to be made and reported. He added that the formulation of remits was the responsibility of each Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman and not the Leader or Cabinet.


    Some members who sat on overview and scrutiny committees spoke about information and agenda items that they had requested seeking clarity on the appropriate process to follow. Members were advised that it was for a Committee to make requests for information and it was not for members of the Cabinet to intervene.


    One of the comments related to a request for a breakdown of costs associated with the big clean project. The response was given that the project had reached the 6-week mark and figures would not be released before the 12-week project’s conclusion.


    The Council noted the contents of the report.


Meetings of the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 94 KB

    Report number LDS232 of the Leader of the Council.                   (Enclosure)

    Additional documents:


    Since the Council had last met on 15 June 2017, the Cabinet had met on three occasions. Paperwork related to those meetings was circulated in the agenda pack appended to report number LDS232. The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 7 September 2017 were circulated at the meeting as part of the pack of supplementary documents.


    The Leader announced that he was making some changes to Cabinet Members’ remits. Councillor Jacky Smith’s remit would change from Major Development Projects to Heath and Wellbeing and Skills. The Leader explained that he had made the changes because of the increasing importance of the agenda around health and wellbeing, and that he wanted to dedicate time to this area at a senior level. The remit would also include the skills agenda and the cinema aspect of the St. Peter’s Hill development, plus any other special projects allocated by the Leader. This change would lead to consequential changes to the remits of Councillors King and Neilson. Members were informed that they would be sent an e-mail detailing the revised remits and the changes would be formally reported at the Council meeting on 23 November 2017.


    Clarification was sought about which Cabinet Member’s remit would include universal credit; the response was given that it would remain within Councillor Neilson’s remit.


    During discussion of the Cabinet papers a question was raised in relation to a non-key decision made for a lease renewal. The Deputy Leader, who had made the decision, stated a discrepancy had been identified regarding the outstanding lease during a full review of all of the Council’s assets and properties. He added that he was continuing to work with the relevant officer to complete the review.


    The contents and appendices of report number LDS232 were noted.


Members' Open Questions pdf icon PDF 97 KB

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    A 45-minute period in which members may ask questions of the Leader, Cabinet Members, the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and opposition group leaders excluding the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Development Management Committee, Licensing and Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Committees and Governance and Audit Committee.


    ·         Report number LDS231 of the Cabinet Member for Finance  (Enclosure)


    Question 1


    By way of introduction to his question, Councillor Wootten made reference to a recent interview where Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of NHS England said he wanted to encourage people in each of the 44 STP areas to make their own decisions as they had a much clearer idea of local needs than people sitting in London. He proceeded to ask whether the Leader supported the decision made by the Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee at a recent meeting to call on United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust to consult with the community on the future of Grantham Hospital and healthcare in Lincolnshire.


    The Leader’s responded that Grantham Hospital was important to the future of the town. There were plans in place that would see Grantham’s population increase from 44,000 to 53,000; stating that the town needed first class health facilities today and as it grew and developed. He then read a recent statement made by the MP for the Grantham and Stamford Constituency, Nick Boles. In the statement Mr Boles stated that there was no plan to downgrade the existing A&E service at Grantham and turn it into an urgent care centre. He added that the option being discussed was the retention of the existing A&E service from early morning until late evening and re-opening it at night with the staffing appropriate for an urgent care centre or minor injuries unit. He stated that other options would be explored and consulted on but felt that the option noted above should be pursued as it offered the prospect of restoring a 24/7 service in Grantham that was not dependent on the recruitment of A&E doctors.


    The Leader concluded by saying he welcomed the call by the Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee to involve the people of Grantham and that he also expected that this district council would be involved.


    Question 2


    Councillor Bryant referred to report number LDS231, which was circulated with the Council agenda pack. The report related to a question that he had raised previously and the subsequent written answer had been supplied by the Cabinet Member for Finance. He queried whether the answer should have been copied to all members of the Council in the first instance and asked whether the relevant Committee could look at how to deal with supplementary questions.


    The Leader stated that if a question could not be answered during a Council meeting, a copy of the written answer would be sent to the Councillor who posed the question and a copy sent to all Councillors. He stated that any further correspondence on the matter should then take place privately between the relevant Members.


    Question 3


    Councillor Reid asked the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Retail and Visitor Economy to provide an update of the Business Rate Relief Scheme.


    The Cabinet Member stated that the government had made £568k available for a four-year period with £332k available in the first year. It had been anticipated that 1,000 businesses would benefit from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


Close of meeting

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    The meeting was closed at 15:34.