Agenda and minutes

Council
Friday, 1st March, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Shekinah Room - Jubilee Church Life Centre, 1-5 London Road, Grantham. NG31 6EY. View directions

Contact: Jo Toomey 

Items
No. Item

69.

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: Phil Gadd, Grantham

    To: Councillor Nick Neilson, the Cabinet Member for Housing

     

    “The residents at Riverside flats used to organise meals for themselves twice per week as a social event in the community centre on site.  A small charge was made to cover the costs of the food. Afterwards, they would play cards or bingo, it was a chance for the elderly to meet, socialise and avoid loneliness.

     

    However, SKDC decide a couple of years ago that if a friend or family member attended a charge of £20 for each 3 hours was incurred for the hire of the centre. So, the additional costs of £60 per week made the meals and activities too expensive.  The meals and socials no longer take place.

     

    Mr Cooke said at the Rural Overview and Scrutiny Committee “The council was transforming itself by using more technology and also becoming more commercial”

     

    It is good to see that the Council are becoming more commercially aware but should they not have some discrimination between voluntary and commercial organisations?”

     

    In response to Mr. Gadd’s question, the Cabinet Member for Housing stated that commercial rates were only charged where the booking or hiring of a venue would generate a commercial profit for the organisation. For the purposes of providing food and meals for the residents of Riverside, and for people who did not live there, a charitable fee would be charged rather than a commercial rate (£5.15 for up to three hours or £10.30 for the day). There were other schemes across the district at which meals were organised for residents; these were charged at the charitable rate.

     

    Mr. Gadd responded, stating that commercial rates had been applied to the previous meals scheme that had been run at the complex; bookings were required 3-months prior to the event with payment in advance. He referred to the Belvoir Hunt, stating that the activity of a commercial organisation was being supported by the Council. Mr Gadd suggested that the Council should review its policy. The Cabinet Member stated that it was something that the Council would look into and agreed to speak to Mr. Gadd after the meeting.

     

    Question 2

     

    From: Phil Gadd, Grantham

    To: Councillor Nick Neilson, the Cabinet Member for Housing

     

    Riverside Flats, Grantham

     

    “I understand that the heating and hot water issue raised at last month’s meeting are planned for permanent repairs later this year – many thanks.

     

    However, it appears that the issue could have been resolved earlier if ALL the complaints had been correctly logged. I have received a spreadsheet from SKDC and Liberty gas which shows heating and hot water issues were only logged from December 2018.

     

    Many calls were made throughout the previous years, none of these were logged. If they had been it would have highlighted an ongoing problem within the site.

     

    Could you please explain why residents’ complaints were unrecorded from previous years?”

     

    The Cabinet Member for Housing stated that the Council should have taken action to ensure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.

70.

Apologies for Absence

71.

Disclosure of Interests

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

    Minutes:

    Councillors K Cooke and Lee disclosed an interest in agenda item 7: ‘Budget 2019/20: A district that works for everyone, delivering opportunity’, because they were both Directors of InvestSK.

     

72.

Minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2019 pdf icon PDF 226 KB

73.

Communications (including Chairman's Announcements) pdf icon PDF 37 KB

    A list of the engagements undertaken by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

    Minutes:

    The Council noted the Chairman’s engagements. The Chairman also drew Members’ attention to his Gala concert, which was taking place on 22 March 2019, and encouraged them to get their tickets.

     

74.

Pay Policy Statement 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 195 KB

    Report of the Chairman of the Employment Committee on the Pay Policy Statement 2019/20.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Leader of the Council proposed the recommendations in the report on the Pay Policy Statement 2019/20. He explained that the Council was required to produce an annual Pay Policy Statement that set out the reasoning behind its pay policy and that served as a statement of intent to increase staff pay by 2%. He drew Members’ attention to the fact that the Council had its own pay policy but followed national advice. The proposition was seconded.

     

    One Member asked whether the Pay Policy Statement applied only to those officers who were employed directly to the Council or whether it extended to staff employed by any of the Council’s companies. Another Member stated that she felt the document should have been subject to Equality Analysis to ensure that any gender pay gap issues were addressed.

     

    In summing up, the Leader stated that the Pay Policy Statement only applied to those staff who were employed directly by the Council. He explained that the content of the document had to adhere to national Regulations. He added that if any further information was needed in relation to gender issues, the Head of Paid Service would be able to provide reassurance or meet with the Councillor to discuss any concerns.

     

    The proposition was put to the vote and the Council AGREED:

     

    To approve the Pay Policy Statement 2019/20

     

75.

Budget 2019/20: A district that works for everyone, delivering opportunity pdf icon PDF 276 KB

    Report of the Cabinet Members for Finance and Housing to approve the Budget proposals in respect of:

     

    ·         Appendix A– Revenue summary – General Fund (GF) & Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

    ·         Appendix B – Capacity Bids – GF

    ·         Appendix C – Saving proposals - GF

    ·         Appendix D – Capital Programme and financing – GF and HRA

    ·         Appendix E – Reserves – GF and HRA

    ·         Appendix F – Fees & Charges

    ·         Appendix G - Treasury Management Strategy

    ·         Appendix H – Capital Strategy

    ·         Appendix I – Property Investment Policy

    ·         Appendix J - Equality Impact Analysis

    ·         Appendix K – Part B Council Tax Resolution

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    It was proposed, seconded, and on being put to the vote, agreed, for this item only, to suspend Article 4.11.4 of the Council’s Constitution, which limited the amount of time for which Members could speak to five minutes, and instead allowing them to speak for up to ten minutes.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the ‘Budget 2019/20: a district that works for everyone, delivering opportunity’ and proposed the recommendations within the report. In making his proposition he stated that the proposed Budget supported the Council’s ambition and promise to residents to make the district a better place to live, work and invest. He reminded Members that the Council was legally required to set a balanced budget; he added that the proposals before Members had been robustly scrutinised by the Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Finance explained that the Council’s reserves were higher than a large number of authorities and that the Budget proposed using a proportion of them to support the Council’s growth ambitions and projects designed to create assets and increase income for the future. The Budget included funding for the acquisition, facilitation and development of strategic sites that brought the Council opportunities to achieve returns through a balanced portfolio. Provision had been made in the Budget for funding to support InvestSK and EnvironmentSK.

     

    Members were advised that 2019/20 was the final year of a four-year settlement with government and the final year of the Council being able to increase Council Tax by £5 on a Band D property. Council Tax proposals had been subject to public consultation earlier in January/February 2019, when 53.3% of respondents supported an increase. The Cabinet Member for Finance added that the Council needed to continue to work hard to find efficiencies and savings to offset reduced Government support from 2020/21. Reference was made to proposals for fees and charges as well as a 1% decrease in housing rents.

     

    The Cabinet Member concluded his proposition by stating that the Budget would also allow delivery of existing priorities, including the cinema and the public realm project. He stated that the Budget was designed to strike a balance between the financial challenges that the Council would face and taking steps to meet those challenges.

     

    In seconding the proposition, the Leader of the Council referred to the design of the Budget which focussed on delivery and ensuring people had the chance to benefit from the new opportunities that the Council was helping to create. He spoke about the progress the Council had made in achieving its aims, which were supported by the adoption of a new Corporate Plan that focussed on resource, capacity and capability. He spoke about the work InvestSK had been undertaking with a range of partners and stakeholders across the district and the imminent launch of DeliverSK. He spoke of a desire to design and commission the best, most competitive services for communities across the district and referred to some specific projects, including the Big Clean

     

    The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.

76.

Appointment of the Independent Person pdf icon PDF 192 KB

    Report of the Chairman of the Employment Committee asking Council to appoint an Independent Person.

    Minutes:

    The Chairman of the Employment Committee presented his report, which proposed the appointment of George Welsh and Gordon Grimes to the post of Independent Person. The recruitment of the Independent Person was delegated by the Employment Committee to the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council. Interviews had taken place in February and the individuals named in the report were nominated to the position. The proposition was seconded and, on being put the vote, the Council AGREED:

     

    To appoint George Welsh and Gordon Grimes to the post of Independent Person with immediate effect for a period of four years.

     

77.

Changes to the Leader's Scheme of Delegation pdf icon PDF 189 KB

78.

Arrangements for the operation of the Council's Committees from May 2019 pdf icon PDF 256 KB

    Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council on proposed changes to the operation of the Council’s committees.

    Minutes:

    The Deputy Leader of the Council proposed the recommendations in his report on arrangements for the operation of the Council’s Committees from May 2019. In so doing, he explained that the review process began when comments had been made during a full Council meeting in relation to the Council’s Committees and the overview and scrutiny function of the Council. He felt that it was important to complete the review prior to the election and to do so, a cross-party working group had been set up. He expressed his thanks to Ben Bix, the Council’s former Head of Governance, who had supported the review.

     

    The Deputy Leader outlined the proposals, which included a reduction in the number of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees, with a change to the name of the Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee so it was more clear which items it would consider, and the joining of the Communities and Rural Overview and Scrutiny Committees because of the overlap in their remits. The revised overview and scrutiny committees would receive the support of a dedicated scrutiny officer.

     

    The Deputy Leader highlighted changes to the Development Management Committee, which would see it renamed the Planning Committee and reduce from 15 members to 13.  He also stated that it was proposed that all major applications would be considered by the Committee and outlined a change to the process through which Members could call-in decisions for consideration by the Committee.

     

    The Deputy Leader concluded his overview by saying that each committee would determine the time, location and day of its meetings. The proposition was seconded.

     

    There was some discussion about ensuring that all political groups were represented on the new Planning Committee as there was concern that, once the political balance rules had been applied, the smaller number of seats could mean that opposition groups would not be represented. Consideration was given to the proposition of an amendment that would require representation from all political groups on the Planning Committee. The Leader stated that he could not accept such a proposition but stated that he was keen for all groups to be represented and had gifted seats to groups in the past to ensure that they could play an active role in the Council’s Committees. In a gesture of good faith, no amendment was tabled. A suggestion was made that the Planning Committee could meet in the new municipal year to discuss its terms of reference, which could include the number of members. Some Members spoke against this suggestion as they felt that it was the Committee’s role to work within the terms of reference set out in the Constitution as prescribed by the Council. The number of Members on the Committee had been the source of debate in the working group; the recommendation was based on the average number of Members who attended the meeting, the size of other councils’ planning committees and the need to ensure that expertise was not lost.

     

    Comments were made about the benefits of effective  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.

79.

Minutes of Cabinet meetings approved since 31 January 2019 pdf icon PDF 190 KB

    Report of the Leader of the Council for noting.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Leader presented his report, attached to which were the Cabinet minutes from the meeting held on 17 January 2019. In presenting the report, the Leader took the opportunity to thank those Members who were not seeking re-election for their service and wished them the very best. He also asked that his thanks to the Members of his Cabinet be placed on record.

     

    One Member asked about street lighting, which had been the subject of recommendations from the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Recommendations had been submitted to Cabinet, which had sent the report back to the Committee with a number of questions to be addressed. The member of the Council who raised the matter understood that the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee had referred the matter back for determination. The Leader stated that it as a matter that was important both to him and the Cabinet Member for Environment but that there were a number of questions that still needed to be answered before the Cabinet considered the Committee’s recommendations. He suggested that the Committee work with the Cabinet Member for Environment and that the Cabinet would be happy to consider the Committee’s recommendations when its report was ready.

     

    Another Member referred to the visitor guide for the district and commended its quality.

     

    Members noted the report.

80.

Notices of Motion given under Article 4.9:

80a

Councillor Ashley Baxter

    This Council pledges to hold at least one formal meeting (e.g. an OSC meeting) in each of the 3 smaller towns (Stamford, Bourne and Market Deeping) during each calendar year.

    The Council mandates the Chief Executive to liaise with relevant Members and Officers to organise suitable dates and venues.

    Minutes:

    Councillor Baxter presented his motion:

     

    “This Council pledges to hold at least one formal meeting (e.g. an OSC meeting) in each of the 3 smaller towns (Stamford, Bourne and Market Deeping) during each calendar year.

     

    The Council mandates the Chief Executive to liaise with relevant Members and Officers to organise suitable dates and venues.”

     

    In proposing his motion, Councillor Baxter referred to previous occasions when he had brought the matter before Council. He made refence to meetings held by Cabinet in each of the district’s four towns and the support that they had received. He then referred to the locations that had been used for the overview and scrutiny committees. He said that holding meetings in other locations showed a willingness to engage with communities around the district, and his suggestion was to hold three meetings a year outside of Grantham. The motion was seconded.

     

    Reference was made to visits that were undertaken by the Rural Overview and Scrutiny Committee which had seen it travel to locations across the district and how useful they had been to help Members understand the vagaries of the different areas.

     

    In speaking against the proposal, the Leader stated that he was not going to instruct the Chairman of each committee or the Chief Executive on the venue of meetings, but suggested that members of those committees should have their own debate. He suggested that it might be appropriate for a committee to hold a meeting in an alternative location if there was a matter that related specifically to that area on the agenda. He said that he had found value in the meetings that the Cabinet had held away from Grantham.

     

    Councillor Baxter was given the opportunity to sum up and stated that the proposal was about getting Members out and about and experiencing the rest of the district.

     

    A vote was taken and the Council AGREED:

     

    To not support the motion submitted by Councillor Baxter

     

80b

Councillor Phil Dilks

    This Council is committed to maintaining the highest standards of probity in its actions, demonstrating openness and transparency and delivering best possible value for council tax payers’ money:  Given the numerous concerns and increasing costs associated with the restructure of the Council’s senior management team, it is resolved to urgently review the process to date to establish whether it has been:

     

    a) Consistent with the Council’s objectives;

    b) Fair to all staff members who have been impacted;

    c) Best value for money.

     

    It is hoped this review will provide an opportunity to both reassure those we seek to serve of the integrity of the process and enable any lessons to be learned for the future.

    Minutes:

    Councillor Dilks proposed his motion:

     

    “This Council is committed to maintaining the highest standards of probity in its actions, demonstrating openness and transparency and delivering best possible value for council tax payers’ money:  Given the numerous concerns and increasing costs associated with the restructure of the Council’s senior management team, it is resolved to urgently review the process to date to establish whether it has been:

     

    a) Consistent with the Council’s objectives;

    b) Fair to all staff members who have been impacted;

    c) Best value for money.

     

    It is hoped this review will provide an opportunity to both reassure those we seek to serve of the integrity of the process and enable any lessons to be learned for the future.”

     

    In proposing his motion, Councillor Dilks reflected on the changes that had been made in respect of the Council’s senior management structure over the previous 18-months. He suggested that it would be prudent to review the process that was followed to identify any lessons to be learned and address concerns and questions over the way appointments had been made. He referred to his role on the Employment Committee and conversations he had had with some officers about their perceptions on recruitment. He wanted to ensure that through any such process staff were treated fairly. He concluded by saying that he was proposing the review to reassure those that the Council serves of the integrity of the process and ensuring the highest standards of transparency, openness and accountability. The proposition was seconded.

     

    During the seconder’s speech, they referred to conversations that they had had with members of staff and their experiences of the recent review.

     

    A number of Members spoke against the proposition, with their comments including:

     

    ·         Confidence in the current senior management team

    ·         The success of a council was dependent on its political leadership and the quality of its staff

    ·         Three factors had been borne in mind during the re-structure: the long-term interests of the Council, HR and legal advice and protecting the dignity of the individual concerned

    ·         Group Leaders were asked about the process that should be undergone for all of the vacant posts (external advert, internal advert, etc.)

    ·         Scrutiny was provided through the Employment Committee

     

    Those Members who spoke in support of the motion stated that it was not indicating that the Council had done something wrong, but suggested it could learn lessons about what could be improved in the future. Reference was made to feedback from the 2018 staff survey, which indicated that officers did not believe that policies were applied fairly across the Council; recruitment and selection was amongst the areas that were covered by the question.

     

    The proposer was given the opportunity to sum up. He reiterated that his motion was not intended as a criticism and expressed his support for the current senior team. He reiterated that the motivation was ensuring transparency and accountability.

     

    A vote was taken and the Council AGREED:

     

    To not support the motion submitted by Councillor Dilks

     

81.

Grantham Hospital

    Minutes:

    Councillor Morgan had been granted permission by the Chairman to make an announcement.

     

    She stated that she had been contacted earlier in the day about a meeting held by the Lincolnshire Community Health Services Group at which the future of Grantham Hospital was discussed. She updated Council on a number of proposed changes and initiatives relating to the operation of Grantham Hospital, all of which would be subject to consultation later in the year. She concluded by saying that she hoped that the Council would continue to back the fight to save the hospital.

82.

Close of meeting