Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 28th November, 2019 1.00 pm

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

Contact: Jo Toomey 

Items
No. Item

A minute’s silence was held for Linda Neal who had recently passed away and who had served as a Member of South Kesteven District Council for 20 years before stepping down in 2015.  For 13 of her 20 years’ service she had been Leader of the Council.

 

The Chairman reminded Members that the meeting was being held during a period of heightened sensitivity and that questions and answers should be entirely factual throughout the meeting. .

 

 

59.

Public Open Forum

    The public open forum will commence at 1.00 p.m. and the following formal business of the Council will commence at 1.30 p.m. or whenever the public open forum ends, if earlier.

    Minutes:

    Question 1

     

    Question to: Councillor Barry Dobson

    From: Phil Gadd, Grantham

     

    “Since December 2016 I have continued to highlight issues regarding the failure of the communal hot water and heating supplies to 90 SKDC controlled flats at Riverside. Earlier this year I asked questions at both the January and March meetings of this council relating to the problems.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Housing outlined and apologised “for errors made in 2016 including finding evidence of the risk assessments that were undertaken at the time”.

    He also stated this year

     

    “I assure you we have the most competent officers working on this”

     

    “I can answer nobody in that complex will be out of pocket because of the problems”

    Deputy Leader Kelham Cooke also added

     

    “wanted to say sorry to the residents”

     

    “we will reimburse reasonable costs. I am very sorry for how this has happened”

     

    At the March meeting I thanked the Council for promising to complete the repairs before winter.

     

    At that meeting - The Cabinet Member confirmed that surveyors and contractors had been on site carrying out assessments and scheduling the work that was involved in delivering the new pipes and that work was scheduled to start in April 2019.

     

    It eventually started in May and since that time has been a catalogue of errors, bad management, missed deadlines and has finally caused health and safety issues to over 100 elderly residents.

     

    The system was totally shutdown on the 28 August. The letter from SKDC stated the work would be completed within 4-6 weeks. That deadline was missed.

     

    The switch -on was extended twice again until the end of October. That also failed to be delivered.

     

    Since August the residents have relied on 1 or 2 oil filled radiators for heating and a small wall mounted heater for washing.

     

    Then after nearly a year (November 2019) we find asbestos backed tiles, despite inspections, assessments, risk assessments, surveyors and a lengthy lead in time.  But, by this time the main piping ducts had still not been excavated, the main system was not completed, so the boilers or main underground ducts could not be pressure tested – confirmed at the meeting 13 November. The pipes under the community room were not installed and connected until Friday 15 November. The pressure testing began on Monday 18th November when the boilers were restored. So, despite the ‘asbestos’ tiles problem no-one could be restored until 20/11/19 in any event.  

     

    1.     Could SKDC confirm that a full enquiry will be carried out led by an independent person because lessons have not been learnt by SKDC since 2016. I would also like to provide evidence as would several residents.

    2.     Confirmation that a substantial compensation payment will be made for the Fourth winter of suffering endured by some of these elderly residents. The sum being calculated pro-rata depending on how long they have been residents, since problems were highlighted in December 2016”.

     

    Before he asked his questions, Mr Gadd said that the people who had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Apologies for Absence

61.

Disclosure of Interests

Point of Order

One Member raised a point of order in relation to the meeting. In the Constitution it allowed for motions to be put to Council.  None had been allowed for this meeting and the Member asked for an explanation as to why, especially as one of the motions related to the Riverside flats which he felt was a tenant/landlord issue and not a political issue.

 

The Chief Executive replied that he and the Monitoring Officer had taken a decision not to include notices of motion on the agenda.  The decision had been reached by applying the relevant law and guidance.   The Local Government Act 1986 (as amended) and the advice from the Local Government Association provided advice to all councils and public bodies on purdah.  The decision also took account of advice that had been given by the Government for civil servants.   Pre – election rules restricted activity more widely than publicity.  Councils were required to consider whether events, including council meetings were appropriate.  Some councils had cancelled all meetings during the purdah period, this Council had taken a more proportionate approach. 

 

A request had been made for the other motions submitted to be circulated. The Chief Executive was happy to provide these with a written explanation of the relevant legislation and guidance setting out why the motions had not been included on the agenda for this Council meeting. The motions would be rolled forward to the next meeting of the Council as requested by the Members who submitted the motions.

 

62.

Minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2019 pdf icon PDF 319 KB

    Minutes:

    The Chairman stated that the approval of the minutes were for accuracy only.  The minutes were available well in advance of the meeting so that if Members had any typographical or printing errors these could be forwarded to the relevant officer before the meeting to enable better time management of council meetings. 

     

    The minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2019 were proposed, seconded and agreed as a correct record.

     

63.

Communications (including Chairman's Announcements) pdf icon PDF 111 KB

    List of Chairman’s engagements.

    Minutes:

    The Council noted the Chairman’s engagements.

     

    The Chairman was complimented on the number of Remembrance events that she had attended but was asked whether she shared a vehicle with the Mayor of Grantham.  The Chairman replied that Remembrance events were close to her heart and she tried to attend as many as she could across the whole district not just Grantham.    She car shared with the Mayor where possible.

     

64.

Members of the Cabinet and the Leader's scheme of delegation

65.

Gambling Statement of Principles pdf icon PDF 199 KB

    Report of the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations informed the Council that as Licensing Authority, under the Gambling Act 2005 it was required to review and publish a Statement of Gambling Principles every three years.  The current statement was due for renewal in January 2020.  He drew Members attention to page 40 of the report which proposed some minor amendments including updates to the current number of licenced premises and permits in the district and to include more robust local risk assessment requirements.    There was no change to the intent or direction of the Statement proposed.  Changes to the statement had been highlighted and appended to the report circulated with the agenda.  He proposed the recommendations as set out in the report; this was seconded.

     

    A comment was made in relation to the consultation process and the way the consultation had been carried out, and points 6.2 and 6.3 of the report were referenced. 

     

    The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations replied that the consultation had been carried out as required with all statutory bodies.  When the document was reviewed three years ago there were no issues and he was happy to circulate and clarify the meaning of points 6.2 and 6.3 to Members.

     

    On being put to the vote it was AGREED:

     

    That the amended South Kesteven District Council Gambling Statement of Principles was adopted.

     

     

66.

Appointment of Independent Person pdf icon PDF 192 KB

    Report of the Leader of the Council.

    Minutes:

    The Leader presented his report which dealt with the appointment of an additional Independent Person to add resilience.  He proposed Fred Mann be appointed to the role until 1 March 2023. He explained that the increase in the number of complaints about councillors (including parish councillors) required a further Independent Person to be appointed. The candidate was familiar with the Council as he had been the former Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee.  He was currently the Independent Person for North Kesteven District Council. The proposition was seconded.

     

    One Member indicated that it would have been helpful if more information on the candidate had been included in the report, such as his career and background.  He also felt that the report should mention which Independent Person had gone and their reasons for going, was it the workload or personal circumstances. The Chief Executive stated that George Welsh was Independent Person that was no longer available because of changes in his personal circumstances, not workload.  

     

    The Leader stated that there was a need to have an additional Independent Person to deal with the number of complaints that were being received.   The current Independent Person could not accommodate the current workload and additional capacity was needed.  A question was asked about the number of times the Independent Person had been called on in the last year to investigate cases of Member against Member.  The Leader did not have the figure to hand but stated that there had been an increase.   One Member commented on what had been said and indicated that figures should have been brought to back up the statement made by the Leader.

     

    It was AGREED:

     

    To appoint Fred Mann to the post of Independent Person with immediate effect until 1 March 2023.

     

     

67.

Appointments to Committees pdf icon PDF 189 KB

    Report of the Chief Executive.

    Minutes:

    The Council was notified that Councillor Bellamy would fill the vacancy for the Conservatives on the Planning Committee and Councillor Moran would be replaced with Councillor Knowles for the Independents Group on the  Companies Committee.

     

    It was proposed, seconded and AGREED:

     

    That Councillor Bellamy be appointed to the Planning Committee to fill the Conservative vacancy and that Councillor Knowles would replace Councillor Moran on the Companies Committee.

     

     

68.

Meetings of the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 190 KB

    Report of the Leader of the Council.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet minutes from the meeting held on 12 November 2019 had been circulated for noting. 

     

    A question was asked about the University Centre.  In October 2018 the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had put out press information indicating that the University Centre would be open in the summer of 2019 and he asked the reason for the delay and when the centre would be open.  The Cabinet Member for Growth stated that the delays were nothing more than the continuing efforts by the University of Lincoln, the LEP and the South Kesteven District Council to ensure the building and the provision of services would be fit for purpose.  The project was progressing and details were being finalised for the fit out of the University Centre.  It was noted that the courses would not be delayed, even if the centre was not finished as they would be run at other locations within the town.    It was hoped that the centre would be open early 2020.    InvestSK had worked to fill the first round of courses and they were on track to fill the second round.

     

    A further comment was made about the modifications to the Local Plan and the change in target of affordable housing which had been reduced from 30% to 20% in Grantham following the viability test that Government had set.    A Member stated that there were a significant number of residents in Grantham who could not afford to buy a home which was eight times the standard income currently.  More houses were being built which the residents could not afford, which she considered unacceptable and remained a concern.    She then made a comment about the provision of land for travellers that had been picked up by the Planning Inspector.  The Chief Executive stated that this was a topic covered by one of the motions referred to earlier and it was felt that any discussion should be avoided at the present time.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Planning clarified that earnings were 7.9 and it was district wide not just Grantham. He then went on to state that the 20% was in connection to feasibility studies that had been carried out by developers and the provision of affordable homes.  If the projects were not viable for the developers, then no affordable homes would be developed at all.  A 20% requirement was therefore considered right for Grantham.  He confirmed that the travellers land had been picked up by the Planning Inspector and once the Local Plan had been adopted by Council this would be reviewed.

     

    A question was asked about when the Council would start to build Council houses again and have a proper programme in place.  It was felt that the question was verging into a political statement and had been mentioned in manifestos and therefore no further discussion took place.

     

    Members noted the Cabinet minutes.

     

     

69.

Members' Open Questions

    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 Planning Committee, Licensing and Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Committees and Governance and Audit Committee.

    Minutes:

    Question 1

     

    Councillor Dilks asked about Riverside Flats and thanked the Leader and Deputy Leader for their commitment to an independent inquiry and compensation where appropriate. He referred to provisions within that stated that during winter a heating or hot water supply breakdown should be dealt with within one working day. He referred to the length of time residents at Riverside had been experiencing problems and asked that an absolute assurance be given by the Leader that a permanent fix would be in place by the end of the week. He also asked for details about how the independent inquiry would be set up and when.

     

    The Leader replied that he wanted Members to be involved in the independent inquiry as well as tenants and for the inquiry to be reviewed by the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  The Cabinet Member for Housing stated that the system had come to a point where it needed to be renewed. When the breakdown occurred, residents were immediately given facilities for heating and hot water. The last five properties where access had been an issue were being dealt with, but it was expected that they should be finished by Saturday.

     

    The Leader clarified that an independent body would be carrying out the inquiry and he wanted the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee to look at the inquiry report.

     

    Question 2

     

    Councillor Lee stated that his question was in relation to agenda item 8, the Independent Person.  When he contacted Mr Welsh when he had resigned to say he was sorry that he had left, Mr. Welsh said he had not resigned. When corresponding Mr. Welsh was asked by Councillor Lee what he wanted him to do about it, he requested that it was raised at the meeting. He asked the Chairman to consult with the Chief Executive on how matters stood in light of the decision made at agenda item 8. 

     

    The Chief Executive stated that a full response would be provided for Members outside the meeting.

     

    Question 3

     

    Councillor Bisnauthsing asked about the protection of jobs specifically in relation to page 8 of the minutes from the last meeting, which referred to the Cummins site in Stamford, given the decline in industry in the Stamford area.

     

    The Leader stated that currently the economy was very challenging and the uncertainty around Brexit added to that.  The site at Stamford, St Martin’s Park was moving forward with businesses enquiring about the site. It was going to the market in January 2020 and working in partnership with Burghley, the project would be moved forward.

     

    Question 4

     

    Councillor Wood stated that the Independent Group had put together a ten-point plan with regard to the budget and he asked the Cabinet Member for Finance if they could have a constructive meeting to discuss it. The Cabinet Member for Finance replied that he was happy to listen to the proposals.

     

     

    Question 5

     

    Councillor Selby asked the Leader of the Council whether he agreed that the visit by Andrew  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.

70.

Close of Meeting