Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 31st January, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Shekinah Room, Jubilee Church Life Centre, 5 London Road, Grantham, NG31 6EY

Contact: Jo Toomey 

Items
No. Item

58.

Public Open Forum

    The public open forum will commence at 2.00 p.m. and the following formal business of the Council will commence at 2.30 p.m. or whenever the public open forum ends, if earlier.

    Minutes:

    Question 1

     

    From: Philip Gadd, Grantham

     

    To: Councillor Matthew Lee, the Leader of the Council

     

    Riverside Flats, Grantham is an SKDC maintained housing complex. Its residents are mainly elderly, infirm or vulnerable people. They are not the sort of people who would complain about issues within the complex.

     

    In the summer of 2016, the heating system was replaced by heat exchangers. Within weeks of its completion problems became apparent because of lack of hot water and heating. Many complaints were made to both SKDC and Liberty Gas in the run up to winter 2016.

     

    A complaint made on 1st December 2016 resulted in this statement from SKDC to Grantham Matters.

     

    “We are aware of issues at the Riverside complex and will be on site on December 2nd to make further assessment and repairs as necessary” That was 2ndDec ---2016!

    Mr Boles MP was asked for help on the 4th Jan 2017 and St Wulfram’s Ward Cllr Mr Wootten was also asked to raise the issue in the summer of 2017. All of these requests for help have achieved little. Recently Cllr Smith was also contacted because the heating and water issues at the complex had reached a crisis point for some of the elderly.

     

    I also understand the warden has continually logged the residents’ complaints and passed them on during this period.

     

    Could you please explain WHY we are in the THIRD winter of problems and permanent repairs have still not been completed by SKDC and Liberty Gas. Could he also consider a compensation payment for the years of hardship the residents have had to put up with regarding the lack of hot water and heating.

     

    The question was referred to the Cabinet Member for Housing who provided historical context on the installation of the heating system and stated that the action taken in 2016 in response to the issue were being investigated, including finding evidence of any risk assessments that were undertaken at that time. He provided assurance that the Council was now moving towards a programme of planned preventative maintenance with the piping system scheduled for replacement in April 2019. It was noted that it was possible that some of the pipes in individual flats may need replacing.

     

    The Cabinet Member apologised for errors made in 2016 and gave assurance that measures were being put in place to resolve the issues that had occurred. As an interim measure temporary heating was being provided to all residents, service charges had been waived and residents would be refunded for all reasonable costs for the use of electricity.

     

    The Deputy Leader also apologised about the situation and the amount of time it was taking to get the matter resolved. He added that residents were being provided with contact details for senior officers and reiterated that no resident would be financially worse off as a result of the situation.

     

    Councillor Wootten raised a point of personal explanation as he had been named in Mr. Gadd’s question. He stated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Apologies for Absence

    Minutes:

    Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Coutts, Craft, Forman, Kingman, Lee, I. Stokes, S. Stokes, Brenda Sumner, Turner, Webster and Wilkins.

     

    The Chairman referred to the requirement that Councillors attend one meeting in a 6-month period or they automatically cease to be a Member of the authority unless their non-attendance was for a reason approved by the Council. He therefore proposed that the Council approve the absences of Councillors Coutts and Turner until the end of their term of office (7 May 2019) because of ill health. The proposition was seconded and, on being put to the vote, the Council AGREED:

     

    To approve Councillors Coutts and Turner’s absence until the end of their term of office on 7 May 2019 because of ill health.

60.

Disclosure of Interests

61.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 211 KB

62.

Communications (including Chairman's Announcements) pdf icon PDF 43 KB

    List of the Chairman’s engagements for noting.

    Minutes:

    The Council noted the Chairman’s engagements, which had been circulated in the agenda pack. The Chairman also drew Members’ attention to the Rotary Club Swimarathon that was taking place on Friday 1 February 2019. He stated that a team of Councillors, (Councillors Goral, K. Cooke, Robins and Dr. Moseley), had entered a team. He encouraged Members to support the team and stated that a sponsorship form was being circulated.

63.

Designation of Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 100 KB

    Report LDS348 of the Chairman of the Employment Committee.

    Minutes:

     

    14:30 - The Assistant Chief Executive, Transformation and Change left the meeting during discussion of the following item

     

    The Chairman of the Employment Committee presented report number LDS348. In doing so he explained that the Council’s former Monitoring Officer had left the local authority in December 2018 and at its last meeting the Employment Committee considered options for the designation of to the role of Monitoring Officer. He added that all Councils were statutorily required to have a Monitoring Officer and it was the recommendation of the Chief Executive that Lee Sirdifield, the Assistant Chief Executive, Transformation and Change be appointed as the interim Monitoring Officer until a permanent arrangement for provision of the role had been identified. The Employment Committee had supported the nomination but had agreed that there should be a time limit attached to the appointment to provide momentum in identifying a permanent arrangement. He proposed the recommendation as written in the report with an addition that the designation should be “for a period of up to 12 months.”

     

    In the seconding of the proposal, recognition was made to the service of the previous Monitoring Officer, Lucy Youles. Members expressed their gratitude and commended Mrs. Youles for 30 years of exemplary service to the Council and commented how they had always found her to be an able advocate for the Council.

     

    During debate on the proposition, one Member suggested that attaching a time limit to the designation was beneficial to both the authority and Mr. Sirdifield and would fit within the context of a wider review of Legal and Democratic Services. Following the review, the Employment Committee would be presented with recommendations for provision of this function. Reference was also made to the meeting of the Employment Committee held on Wednesday 9 January. One Member stated that he had abstained from voting at that meeting as he had been concerned about the legal aspect of the post, however he now felt happy to support the proposal.

     

    Reference was also made to one of the functions of the Monitoring Officer, which was the maintenance of the Council’s Constitution. A suggestion was made that it may be an appropriate time to conduct a review of the Constitution. Reassurance was given that a review of the Constitution was planned; the review would be undertaken by the Constitution Committee, which would then make recommendations to Council.

     

    On being put to the vote, the Council AGREED:

     

    To appoint the Assistant Chief Executive, Transformation and Change, Lee Sirdifield, as the Council’s Monitoring Officer for a period of up to 12 months.

     

    14:38 - The Assistant Chief Executive, Transformation and Change returned to the meeting

64.

Changes to Budget Framework 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

    Report CFM484 of the Cabinet Member for Finance.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Finance proposed the recommendations in report number CFM484, which contained proposed changes to the Budget framework that was approved by Council on 1 March 2018. He added that in accordance with the Constitution, Council approval was required to amend the Budget framework.

     

    The Cabinet Member explained that the report detailed the projected income of £1.95m that the Council would receive as part of the 2018/19 business rate pilot for Lincolnshire. The report set out proposals for the use of this additional income, which included balancing the revenue budget, funding new priority growth projects, funding of one-off urgent items arising in 2018/19, the formation of a property maintenance reserve to fund emergency repairs arising during the financial year and the remainder being set aside in a specific reserve to finance future growth and regeneration projects.

     

    He explained that the opportunity had been taken to review the Council’s earmarked reserves as part of the preparatory works for the development of the 2019/20 Budget proposals to ensure that the funds were earmarked in line with priorities and to consolidate reserves where appropriate.

     

    The report also proposed adjustments to the 2018/19 Budget in respect of the cinema development in Grantham. The Cabinet Member for Finance stated that the Council had been successful in its bid to the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership for £2m towards the delivery of a new Technology and Innovation Centre as part of the project in partnership with a higher education provider. The success of the funding bid would reduce the funding commitment from the Council’s Capital Reserve. The project required a change to the Budget to reflect the costs of the fit out of the facility; there was also a requirement for one-off revenue funding for the first year and additional costs in respect of project management. The proposition was seconded.

     

    Debate ensued, during which reference was made to the previously agreed and adjusted budgets in respect of the cinema project, including the Budget adjustment for the public realm works. The grant of funding from the Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership was welcomed, however one Member was concerned that Council would be asked again in the future to adjust the Budget in respect of the project. Members were reassured that there should not be any additional requirement to adjust this project. Members were also reminded that the grant funding from the Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership had the result of reducing the requirement for Council funding by £1.020m.

     

    Members were interested in whether the cinema project was on schedule and when it was anticipated that the facility would be opened. A question was also asked about the process that was undertaken to select the operator. It was hoped that a date for the handover of the cinema shell to Savoy would be announced shortly, it would then be up to the operator to fit out the cinema and determine the date on which it would open. It was anticipated that the public realm works would be completed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

The Leader's report on urgent decisions pdf icon PDF 93 KB

66.

Minutes of Cabinet meetings approved since 22 November 2018 pdf icon PDF 91 KB

    Report LDS343 of the Leader of the Council.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members noted the minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 1 November 2018 and 20 December 2018 as appended to report number LDS343 of the Leader of the Council.

     

    Members were invited to ask questions in respect of the Cabinet minutes. The first question related to the report on leisure provision within the district, which was referred to in the Cabinet minutes as being scheduled for consideration on 7 February 2019. The Deputy Leader explained that the report on leisure provision across the district would be presented to Cabinet on 7 March 2019. This was because of the volume of work required to produce a full options appraisal and identify potential sites. He added that the report would include images of what the new facilities could look like and that work would be undertaken with residents to identify demand for different types of leisure provision, including accessing outdoor facilities.

     

    The second question related to a strategic land acquisition within the district. A Member asked whether the Council was in a position to confirm the where and what the site was. The Deputy Leader stated that it was the Cummins Generator Technologies site in Stamford.

67.

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

    Minutes:

    Question 1

     

    Councillor Ray Wootten asked the Deputy Leader whether he supported asking the Secretary of State to publish his report on Grantham Hospital and the call to open Grantham’s Accident and Emergency Department 24/7 as soon as possible.

     

    The Deputy Leader stated that he did support this. He said that since the reduction in Accident and Emergency provision in August 2016, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust had continued to say that they wished to be honest and open about the hospital but he felt the Trust continued to hide its plans. He also suggested that, as the Chairman of the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it would be appropriate for Councillor Wootten to write a letter on behalf of the Committee asking why there had been such a delay.

     

    Question 2

     

    Councillor Jeal asked a question of the Cabinet Member for Growth and Communications about fundraising activity by the Grantham Community Heritage Association and the reliance of Grantham Museum on such donations and the volunteers who ran it.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Growth and Communications said that community-run organisations such as Grantham Museum were the life-blood of local communities and made a significant contribution to the district. She highlighted the museum’s importance as a place for people to learn about and understand heritage and to provide somewhere for people to volunteer to gain experience and allow isolated members of the community to meet people. She stated that she had previously sat on the Museum’s board as a volunteer and therefore had a first-hand appreciation of the commitment and dedication that went into keeping the building open. She added that without the funding project, the Museum would not be able to remain open. She praised the team at the Museum and wished them success in making the project a reality.

     

    Question 3

     

    Councillor Selby referred to a recent event at Wyndham Park in Grantham, where a new facility had been opened. He stated that the Mayor of Grantham had not been invited and that, while the Chairman had been present, the facility had been formally opened by a Member of the Cabinet. He asked who would be opening the cinema complex.

     

    The Deputy Leader stated that the Mayor would be invited to the opening of the new cinema complex but that at this time no decision had been made as to who would cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony.

     

    Question 4

     

    Councillor Baxter asked a question of the Chairman of the Employment Committee. He referred to a company that had provided HR consultancy services to the Council and one of the directors of that company. Councillor Baxter asked whether the Employment Committee was aware that the Council’s Chief Executive was a Director of another company with the Director of that HR company and whether that had been disclosed in the officers’ register of interests.

     

    The Chairman of the Employment Committee stated that the issue had not been discussed but he was happy to include it on the agenda  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.

68.

Close of meeting