Venue: Meres Leisure Centre, Trent Road, Grantham. NG31 7XQ
Contact: Democratic Services
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.
No questions or statements were received.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors David Bellamy, Louise Clack, Mrs Rosemary Kaberry-Brown, Jane Kingman, Matthew Lee and Nikki Manterfield.
Disclosure of Interests
Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.
Councillor Ashley Baxter noted for openness and transparency that his family were frequent users of the Deepings Leisure Centre and his daughter was a Member of the Deepings Swimming Club.
No other interests were disclosed.
The Council noted the Chairman’s engagements and were delighted that, since the lifting of restrictions put in place due to the pandemic, she was able to attend many more events.
The Deputy Chief Executive advised that it had recently been drawn to his attention that notices for public meetings had not been displayed on the public notice board at the Council Offices, as had been previous practice prior to the pandemic and periods of lockdown. He provided Council with the assurance that sufficient notice of the date, time and business to be transacted for the Council’s meetings held since the commencement of the pandemic had been given, but that the good practice of placing a hard copy of the agenda pages on the public notice board for all future meetings would be re-instated.
It was confirmed that a notice for the current meeting and other scheduled meetings where the agenda had been published, were currently on display on the public notice board.
Members thanked the Deputy Chief Executive for highlighting the matter and his reassurance that best practice would resume.
Members considered the minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2021 and the following observations were made:
· Councillor Penny Robins advised that she did not ask question 6, under minute number 20 – Members’ Open Questions.
· Councillor Philip Knowles advised that he did ask question 6 under minute number 20 – Members’ Open Questions and requested that it be amended to reflect this.
· Councillor Philip Knowles also advised that the minute text under that item, nor who the question was addressed to, was correct.
Full Council discussed the content of question 6, it was proposed and seconded that approval of the minutes be deferred until the 25 November meeting of full Council, to allow officers to provide more accurate wording.
Following a vote, it was AGREED.
That approval of the 15 July 2021 full Council minutes be deferred until the 25 November meeting, to allow officers to provide more accurate wording.
Members considered the minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 2, September 2021.
Thanks were given to the officers who had provided a revised set of minutes.
The revised minutes added greater clarity to the debate, particularly in terms of the original motion proposed, associated amendments and the substantive motion, ensuring a more comprehensive and coherent record of the meeting.
The minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 2 September 2021 were proposed and seconded.
Following a vote, they were AGREED as a correct record.
That the minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 2 September 2021 be approved as a correct record.
To consider the designation of the Council’s Monitoring Officer.
Members were presented with a report of the Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance on the Designation of the Council’s Monitoring Officer.
It was highlighted to Members that Section 5 (1) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 required the Council to designate an officer as the Council’s Monitoring Officer. The Monitoring Officer may not be the Council’s Chief Finance (Section 151) Officer nor the Head of Paid Service (Chief Executive).
The former Monitoring Officer, Assistant Director - Law and Governance, left the Council’s employment on 31 August 2021. The duties of the Monitoring Officer, for the interim period, had been undertaken by the Head of Democratic Services in his capacity as Deputy Monitoring Officer.
As per the terms of reference of the Employment Committee, proposals to appoint a new Monitoring Officer were considered at its meeting held on 22 September 2021. The Committee recommended to full Council the appointment of Alan Robinson, Deputy Chief Executive, to the post.
Mr Robinson had previously held the post of Monitoring Officer at West Lindsey District Council for 8 years, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role.
Members commented on notable work undertaken by the Assistant Director - Law and Governance, whilst in post as Monitoring Officer. She had established the Council’s partnership with Legal Services Lincolnshire, bringing a robust service to assist with the authority’s legal requirements. A great deal of work had also been undertaken in commencing the review of the Council’s Constitution, ensuring a clear direction was in place. Members noted their appreciation and wished for their warm wishes and thanks to be passed onto the outgoing Monitoring Officer.
Members considered the recommended appointment and the consensus was that the Deputy Chief Executive would fulfil the role thoroughly. There was an overwhelming agreement that Alan Robinson was flexible and accommodating, conducting himself with great integrity.
The recommendation was proposed and seconded.
Following a vote, it was AGREED.
That Council designated Alan Robinson, Deputy Chief Executive, as South Kesteven District Council’s Monitoring Officer from 30 September 2021.
(The Deputy Chief Executive left the meeting at 13:21 and returned at 13:28, during consideration of the above item).
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.
Question 1: Councillor Gloria Johnson to Councillor Robert Reid (Cabinet Member for Housing and Property)
Councillor Gloria Johnson noted her shock that the Council had referred itself to the Housing Regulator, but very much appreciated that it was the correct course of action. She requested an update from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Property on the progress being made, whilst working with the Regulator.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property agreed that it was disappointing the Council had needed to refer itself to the Regulator. It was however a positive step that the Council had made. There had been a significant amount of activity taking place; An improvement Plan had been embedded and was continually monitored, regular meetings between the Regulator, the Chief Executive and the Director for Housing and Property were taking place.
The Cabinet Member was also pleased to advise that the Fire Safety Management Plan was now in place. Fire Risk Assessments were being completed, with 99.2% compliance. Only a few were outstanding due to access issues for those properties, legal proceedings were underway to ensure access could be granted.
The Housing Regulator had informed the Chief Executive that South Kesteven District Council had made a mammoth achievement so far.
Question 2: Councillor Mark Whittington to Councillor Adam Stokes (Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources)
Councillor Mark Whittington enquired whether it had been investigated how much the cost of an independent inquiry into the Deepings Leisure Centre would likely be and how any such inquiry would be funded.
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources noted that it was difficult to assess the cost of an inquiry until the scope of such an inquiry had been agreed. He advised that there was no allocated budget for such an inquiry, costs would have to be sourced where there would be no adverse impact on any established budgets.
Question 3: Councillor Ray Wootten to Councillor Kelham Cooke (The Leader of the Council
Councillor Ray Wootten asked The Leader whether he agreed with and welcomed, the proposed change to the model Members’ Code of Conduct to include abuse on social media.
The Leader stated that he did agree with and welcomed the proposed change to the model Member’s Code of Conduct. The Leader expressed that by adopting the Local Government Association’s model Code of Conduct, the Council could ensure a robust system was in place in terms of addressing poor behaviour.
Question 4: Councillor Paul Wood to Councillor Dr Peter Moseley (Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations)
Councillor Paul Wood asked the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations about an illegal dumping site at Long Bennington. He was aware that there was currently a multi-agency approach and requested an update on what work was being undertaken.
The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations advised that the Environment Agency was taking the lead and South Kesteven District Council were offering their support, via the Environmental Health Team.
Question 5: Councillor Phil Dilks to Councillor Barry Dobson (The Deputy ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
Membership of Committees
To appoint Conservative Group Councillors to fill a vacant seat on the following Committees:
- Constitution Committee
- Planning Committee
- Rural Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Following the resignation of Councillor Helen Goral and the recent passing of Councillor Mike Exton, there was a requirement to appoint a Conservative Group Member, to each of the following Committees:
· Constitution Committee
· Planning Committee
· Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee
The Leader of the Council made the following proposals:
· Constitution Committee – Councillor Ray Wootten, to be appointed as Vice Chairman
· Planning Committee – Councillor Judy Stevens
· Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Be deferred until after the by-election, when the current vacancy would be considered further and filled.
The proposals were seconded.
Following a vote, the proposals were AGREED:
1. That the following Committee vacancies be filled as follows:
· Constitution Committee – Councillor Ray Wootten as Vice Chairman
· Planning Committee – Councillor Judy Stevens
2. That the vacancy on the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee be left vacant until after the scheduled by-election had taken place.
To consider a proposed process for undertaking and implementing a comprehensive review of the Council’s Constitution.
The Chairman of the Constitution Committee presented full Council with a report on the review of the Council’s Constitution.
The Local Government Act 2000 placed a duty upon Local Authorities operating Executive Arrangements to maintain a document that set out how the Council operated, how decisions were made and rules and procedures which were followed to ensure that these were efficient and transparent. A model Constitution was made available for Councils to adopt and amend to reflect the individual characteristics of their area.
The Chairman of the Constitution Committee encouraged non-committee members to attend meetings of the Constitution Committee, as their input would be invaluable.
It was noted that the outcome of the Planning Services Review had been anticipated to be considered by full Council in November 2021. After an informal meeting of Planning Committee, it had been decided that further work was to be undertaken before any recommendations were put forward for inclusion within the Council’s Constitution. A date for a further informal meeting of the Planning Committee would be confirmed in due course.
Members were impressed with the comprehensive report and agreed that the current Constitution was not a “user friendly” document. The proposed new structure was much more logical and would provide greater transparency.
It was requested that a timetable of the review and how all Members could be involved be communicated. The Head of Democratic Services drew Members’ attention to the table at item 1.10 of the report, this advised the proposed timescale for the review and opportunities in which all Members could be involved in the process.
Members of the Constitution Committee advised that they had been provided with a draft copy of the Constitution in its proposed new format. They agreed a great deal of work would need to be undertaken to ensure Members were aware of what exactly the changes were by demonstrating the proposals alongside the current document.
The recommendations of the report were proposed and seconded.
Following a vote, they were AGREED.
1. Approved, in principle, the revised format of the Council’s Constitution based on seven main sections as set out in paragraph 1.4 of the report.
2. Approved the proposed process to be followed for undertaking and implementing a comprehensive review of the Council’s Constitution, commencing with a review of the proposed “Responsibility for Functions” section, to include Financial Procedure Rules and Contract Procedure Rules.
3. Approved the proposed engagement with elected members and senior officers as part of the review and respective proposed timescales as set out in paragraph 1.10 of the report.
(14:24 The Chairman called a brief recess after consideration of the above item, the meeting reconvened at 14:50).
Notices of Motion given under Article 4.9 of the Council's Constitution:
Councillor Graham Jeal
“That the Council approves the commencement of a Community Governance Review in relation to the establishment of a Town Council for Grantham”.
The motion, as set out in the agenda, was proposed and seconded.
Councillor Graham Jeal highlighted to Members that Grantham had ‘Charter Trustees’ and was not a Town Council. This was a very unusual arrangement and he felt that a Governance Review of Grantham would allow the residents of Grantham to decide if they wished to change from Charter Trustees to a Town Council.
Members debated the proposal and the following points were made:
· A Town Council would enable decisions about Grantham to be taken by representatives, elected by the residents of Grantham.
· Ensured greater and more transparent democracy.
· Would bring Grantham in line with most other local Councils who followed the Local Government Act 1972.
· Provide a more familiar model of Governance for the residents of Grantham.
· Allow local representatives and residents to have an input into planning applications. .
· Clarity on the costs of a potential Town Council would need to be provided as part of a Governance review, so that residents could make an informed decision.
The proposer of the motion clarified that the motion was to commence a Community Governance Review and not to establish a Grantham Town Council. The outcome of the review would inform the Council if the residents of Grantham wished to support the establishment of a Town Council.
On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:
Councillor Ian Selby requested that his vote FOR the proposal be recorded.
That the Council approves the commencement of a Community Governance Review in relation to the establishment of a Town Council for Grantham.
Councillor Charmaine Morgan
“This Council believes that healthy high streets are essential for community cohesion, civic pride, employment, shopping, services and leisure. But many shops and businesses were struggling even before the Covid pandemic: high street retail employment fell in more than three-quarters of local authorities between 2015 and 2018 according to the Office of National Statistics and more than half of all UK consumers were shopping online before the pandemic.
This Council notes that retail is among the sectors most affected by the coronavirus pandemic and retail workers have been on the frontline of the crisis throughout. The almost complete shutdown of non-essential shops between March and June 2020 has hit businesses hard, and the need for social distancing has changed the way many businesses operate, reducing footfall. The pandemic has accelerated what, in many cases, has been a longer trend of lower footfall and changing shopping habits. As the Portas Review a decade ago acknowledged, the form and function of many high streets needs to radically change if they are to adapt and survive. This Council welcomes the willingness of Government to acknowledge the problems and come forward with initiatives in response to these challenges such has the furlough scheme, the Covid support business loans, and the High Street Taskforce. However, as the Treasury Select Committee stated in 2019, the current system of Business Rates places an unfair burden on “bricks and mortar” businesses compared to online ones, and the Business Rate system needs radical overhaul.
This Council resolves to:
· Write to the Government to urge them to undertake an urgent review of business rates in order to support high street businesses recover from the pandemic and level the playing field between online and high street businesses, to make it fair and sustainable for all.
· Sign up to the Co-operative Party’s Unlock the High Street Campaign and explore what local action can be taken to revive our high streets now whilst business rates are reviewed.
· Sign South Kesteven District Council up to the Co-operative Party’s campaign to devolve the Towns Fund, Levelling Up Fund, UK Shared Prosperity Fund and other national funding pots, to give local communities, councils and regions the ultimate say in how it is spend in their area.
· Explore the creation of Community Improvement Districts to reconnect communities with the levers that drive economic development in town centres and create an equal partner-ship of business and community organisations to galvanise action at a local level.
· • Make any data held by the council on ownership of high street properties public and in an accessible format, so that community groups seeking to buy empty shops through a community share offer have the information they need to do so.
· Make full use of S215 planning enforcement powers where empty units are attracting antisocial behaviour or creating an eyesore on the high street.
· Proactively contact landlords of vacant premises (and work with Chambers of Commerce, Landlord Associations and BID managers) to explore meanwhile use options and/or encourage alternative rental models ... view the full agenda text for item 39b
The motion, as set out in the agenda, was proposed and seconded.
Councillor Charmaine Morgan urged Members to support her proposal as it was important to all Members and residents to do as much as possible to maintain High Streets.
During debate of the proposal the following points were raised:
· South Kesteven District Council had been proactive in the regeneration of the high street, with a successful bid for £5million from the Future High Streets Fund.
· Great support from InvestSK Ltd to seek further bids had been received.
· Work was being undertaken to encourage a pedestrian area within Grantham Town Centre.
· The Government review of Business Rates was integral, Members felt it was prudent to wait for the outcome, which was anticipated to be in late 2022.
· The proposal did highlight a huge national issue with many challenges.
· With families finding costs continually rising, the cheaper option, which was often by making an online purchase was the more cost effective one.
On being put to the vote, the proposal was LOST.
Councillor Ashley Baxter
Public Consultation regarding Planning Service Review and Action Plan
The Council has paid over £40,000 to a private consultancy (Cratus) to undertake a review of the SKDC Planning Service. The review has been presented to the Governance and Audit Committee and Planning Committees and contains 29 recommendations. It is said to recognise the importance of planning as a critical component in supporting economic growth and unlocking future prosperity of local communities.
The Planning Service Review has received a mixed and luke-warm response from Councillors. If implemented via constitutional and other procedural amendments, it will have a massive impact on the way in which planning applications are dealt with by the Council including a significant change in the level of involvement and influence that Councillors can have.
The Council instructs the relevant Cabinet Member co-ordinate a public consultation or residents and stakeholders before any further decision on Cratus is taken to Constitution Committee, Cabinet or Council.
Councillor Ashley Baxter withdrew his motion.
Councillor Phil Dilks
“The Deepings Leisure Centre
This Council welcomes the recent frank admission by the Leader that decades of failure have led to The Deepings currently having an unusable Leisure Centre.
Council resolves to launch an urgent independent inquiry to investigate all aspects of what led to the current situation including:
The motion, as set out in the agenda, was proposed and seconded.
Councillor Phil Dilks stated that the Council should learn from the Deepings Leisure Centre currently being in an unusable condition and an independent inquiry would achieve that.
During debate, the following points were raised:
· Some Members felt that the current situation could have been avoided as questions surrounding the integrity of the building had been asked over a number of years.
· To put in place an inquiry at the present time would not be appropriate as work was to be undertaken to survey the building, to establish its current condition – funds had been allocated to the survey and architects had been commissioned
· Options were being considered to refurbish the building and officers were working hard to look at possibilities, depending on the outcome of the survey.
· The current leisure market was struggling and South Kesteven was fortunate enough to have 4 leisure centres.
· Disappointment that previous promises made for a new leisure centre in the Deepings had not been fulfilled.
· Queries around the allocated funds for the architect’s survey, which appeared to be excessive.
A request was made that a recorded vote be taken on the proposal. As the request was supported by ten or more Members of the Council, in accordance with Article 4.13.4 of the Council’s Constitution, a recorded vote was taken.
For: Councillors Ashley Baxter, Harrish Bisnauthsing, Phil Dilks,
Paul Fellows, Jan Hansen, Anna Kelly, Philip Knowles,
Penny Milnes, Virginia Moran, Charmaine Morgan, Lee Steptoe, Amanda Wheeler, Jane Wood and Paul Wood. (14)
Against: Councillors Mrs Pam Bosworth, Kelham Cooke, John Cottier, Helen Crawford, John Dawson, Barry Dobson,
Breda-Rae Griffin, Graham Jeal, Gloria Johnson, Annie Mason,
Dr Peter Moseley, Robert Reid, Nick Robins, Penny Robins,
Susan Sandall, Jacky Smith, Mrs Judy Smith, Judy Stevens,
Adam Stokes, Ian Stokes, Jill Thomas, Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, Sarah Trotter, Dean Ward, Hannah Westropp, Hilary Westropp, Mark Whittington, Sue Woolley, Linda Wootten and Ray Wootten. (30)
Abstain: Councillors Bob Broughton, Ian Selby (2)
The vote was LOST.
Close of meeting
The Chairman closed the meeting at 16:17.