Agenda and minutes

Council
Monday, 16th April, 2018 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Iram Malik 

Items
No. Item

20.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Honorary Aldermen: M Oram and Mrs K M Peatey. Councillors: S Adoh, M Asif, R Gaffney, Maz Hussain, G Peart, S Saddique and R Wilson.

21.

MINUTES

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings of Council held on 22 February 2018  

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 22 February 2018 be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chairman.

22.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To receive any disclosure of disclosable pecuniary interests by Members relating to items on the agenda. If any member is uncertain as to whether an interest should be disclosed, he or she is asked if possible to contact the District Solicitor prior to the meeting.

 

Members are reminded that if they are declaring an interest they should state the nature of that interest whether or not they are required to withdraw from the meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

23.

CHAIRMAN`S ANNOUNCEMENT

To receive such communication as the Chairman of the Council may wish to make.

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that she had undertaken many engagements since the last ordinary meeting of the Council, but did not intend to list each one. Instead she highlighted the following.

 

(a)  Chiltern Ranger Scrub Bash

 

 This had taken place on 23 February, and had been the source of much fun helping to tidy up by cutting and removing unwanted shrubs.

 

(b)  Church Service Chesham

 

 The Chairman had attended the BCC church service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RAF. This was followed by a parade, and was also attended by Mayors, Chairmen, High Sheriffs, and the RAF.

 

 

 

24.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

Written questions may be asked of the Leader or any Cabinet Member if submitted to the Head of Democratic, Legal and Policy Services no later than 12 noon on Monday 9 April 2018. Questions will be submitted in the order in which they were received.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

(a)Question from Mr R B Colomb to the Leader of the Council

“In light of the Secretary of State indicating that he is minded to approve a single Unitary Authority for Buckinghamshire, I would assume that the Leader has had a considerable number of meetings with the other District Council Leaders, who all support the twin Unitary Authorities approach as a more effective option since the Secretary of State’s announcement. Have they agreed to appoint professional expertise to put the case to the Secretary of State and also devised a plan to galvanise local taxpayers to lobby the Secretary of State in support of the twin approach during the consultation period, which I believe ends on 26 May 2018”?

Response from Councillor Ms K Wood (Leader of the Council)

 

“Yes, we have.  Just to clarify the consultation actually ends on 25 May.

 

We have put in place an approach which fights this decision on a number of fronts. One is to raise public awareness about the decision and to highlight the serious consequences for communities across Buckinghamshire who will lose representation and in return could see further Council tax rises at both parish and unitary level. 

 

We are also challenging the basis of the decision; the secretary of state has not set out the reasons for his decision and we have written requesting an explanation.  We do not believe that the representation period should start until we have been provided with this information.

 

For example the Minister says that there is local support for a single unitary but that is simply not evidenced – four out of the five councils support two; more parish councils support two; more residents support two.  In fact the only area where the majority support a single unitary is MPs.  I would therefore urge as many residents as possible to write to their MP and let them know how residents of Buckinghamshire feel and help them to see how damaging it will be if this decision is allowed to go ahead. 

 

Residents in this area know what kind of service they have received from the County Council.  They know that Ofsted has judged the services to our vulnerable children to be inadequate not once but twice; that the roads in this County have been allowed to deteriorate to a dangerous level; that the cost of providing adult social care has been allowed to spiral out of control and they have no faith that a single new council forced to operate across the wrong geography and to work against the communities it seeks to serve will be any different 

 

We urge residents in Wycombe District not to remain silent and accept this but to speak out and make their voice heard.” 

 

Supplementary Question

 

“It would be helpful to High Wycombe residents if you could send more information regarding services, and the likely financial effects of the single unitary Council. In other words, in an unparished town there will be a requirement to establish a Town Council,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS

Questions to the leader or any Cabinet Member must be submitted by 12 noon on Monday 9 April 2018. Questions shall be taken first from the Group Leaders of the political parties who shall be entitled to ask an initial Leader`s question from his/her group, of which written notice shall have been given to the head of Democratic, Legal and Policy Services prior to the meeting.

 

The order of questions shall then permit the first question from each other Councillor to be asked before any subsequent questions from the same Councillor. One question will be taken in turn from the same Councillor unless there are no other questions to be asked.

 

Every member asking an oral question is permitted to ask one supplementary question without notice provided that it is not substantially the same as a question that was put to a Council meeting during the past 6 months.

 

The appropriate Member will respond to any questions remaining unanswered at the expiry of 30 minutes in writing. Any question remaining unanswered after 30 minutes will be answered within 10 working days in writing after the meeting by the appropriate Member and appended to the minutes of the meeting.  

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

(a)Question from Councillor R Raja to the Leader of the Council

“The initial decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for the future of Buckinghamshire under a unitary system of local government is potentially devastating for WDC residents.

Is the leader of the Council happy with her own inept and weak advocacy of a two unitary option for Bucks?”

 

Response from Councillor Ms K Wood (Leader of the Council)

 

I’m sorry but I must have missed the letters the Labour group has had published in the Bucks Free Press advocating two options; the public meetings and the invitations to stakeholders; the publicity of any kind from the opposition denouncing this decision and I have not been copied into the representations your group has made to the Minister.  My group, is talking to government and we are working with the District Councils Network, and talking to other authorities who are also affected. We are talking to the press, to local stakeholders and are communicating with our community through published and social media.  You can use this situation to waste time and snipe at me or you can follow my example and that of my group and do everything we can to fight this, and get the right decision that our residents deserve.”

 

Supplementary Question

 

“The Leader cannot absolve herself from taking responsibility for this debacle. You did your best but it was not good enough, so you should consider your position and resign letting another leadership team take us further.”

 

Supplementary Response

 

“No need to do that, I am happy with the way this has been led and am satisfied we are doing our utmost to fight this.”

 

(b)Question from Councillor M Knight to the Leader of the Council

“This is what some residents of the Wycombe District said to me about the recent increase in Council Tax.

"Increase in Council Tax but decrease in services. How is that fair?"

"I personally would rather a 1% increase every year than a 6% rise out of the blue."

"I have big increases this year on my bill. I am a single mother who works but struggle to pay and have fallen behind year in year out. Yet again I'm going to fall behind and they will charge me more. I will never be free."

As Leader of the tax collecting authority how would you respond to these comments?”

 

Response from Councillor Ms K Wood (Leader of the Council)

 

“Thank you Cllr Knight for your question.

 

As you know as the billing authority we act on behalf of the County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Fire and Rescue Authority, Parish Councils and the District Council.

 

The charge for the services delivered by the District Council only makes up 8% of a typical bill for High Wycombe Town residents. The largest charge is set by the County Council at 76% of the bill, the Police and Crime Commissioner precept is 11% of the bill and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

PETITIONS

(i)            Council to receive any petition from a member of the public who lives, works or studies within the district or from a Councillor on his/her behalf as notified by the deadline of 5pm on Monday 9 April 2018.

 

(ii)          Council to consider any petition already received that meets the required number of signatures to qualify for a debate by Full Council. (The petition organiser will have 5 minutes to present the petition and then the Council will debate the matter for a maximum of 15 minutes and decide how to respond to the petition).

  

 

 

Minutes:

No petitions were received by the deadline of Monday 9 April 2018.

27.

MODERNISING LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report was submitted which requested that delegated power be given to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader over the wording of the representations to be made to Government regarding the `minded to` decision on modernising Local Government. The report also sought agreement for a contribution of funds to be allocated towards awareness raising amongst interested parties regards the opportunity to make representations. In addition it was proposed that a member group on MLG be re-established to oversee the processes above.

 

The proposed decision for consideration before Council had also been considered at the Special Cabinet meeting immediately prior to this meeting where Members had approved the proposals detailed within the report. 

 

The Leader rose to present the item, and commenced by providing a brief summary of the background. She stated that on 12 March the Secretary of State had announced his “minded to” decision to replace the existing 5 councils in Bucks with a single county wide unitary subject to parliamentary approval. This decision she emphasised was not set in stone, and that the 4 district councils in Bucks were making the strongest possible representations against this decision, prior to 25 May whereby interested parties could make further representations to the Secretary of State.

 

The Leader went on to explain that she wished to secure the best possible outcomes for the residents of the district, and that in collaboration with the other 3 district councils concerned had jointly procured legal advice regarding the published decision. She also emphasised that the legal advice had made it clear that the Council had a responsibility to ensure that residents and others were aware of the opportunity to make representations. For this purpose, she was seeking to allocate some resources from the Contingency Fund and she also referred to the leaflet that had been distributed to all households in the southern districts of Buckinghamshire. Residents in the northern district of Buckinghamshire would receive the leaflet electronically.    

 

In her closing remarks she gave mention to the fact that the Government`s proposals would give rise to the biggest change in Local Government in Bucks for over 40 years which would affect the way that local services were provided for residents. It was vital therefore that residents, businesses, public services organisations, community and voluntary groups and charities were made aware of the consequences and given the opportunity until 25 May to put forward their view to the Government. She reiterated that the 4 District Councils did not believe that a single county unitary was in the best interests of those affected.

 

The Leader subsequently opened up the debate to Members. A number of points were raised.

 

One Member rose to express the view that the County`s proposals would create local hubs replicating the current system but lacking the democracy, and disregarding the current track record of accountability. As such he did not consider this a good way forward, and strongly supported the Leader`s comments/arguments.

In addition, comments were made during the debate about how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

CABINET

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meeting:

 

Cabinet                      12 March 2018

Special Cabinet       16 April 2018(to follow)

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 12 March 2018 be received, and the recommendations as set out at minute number 76 be approved and adopted.

 

29.

CABINET

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 16 April be received, and the recommendations as set out at minute number 86 be approved and adopted.

 

30.

STANDARDS COMMITTEE

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meeting:

 

Standards Committee                     20 March 2018

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 20 March 2018 be received.

 

31.

IMPROVEMENT & REVIEW COMMISSION

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meeting:

 

Improvement & Review Commission                   14 March 2018                    

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice- Chairman of the Committee rose to present the minutes.

 

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Improvement & Review Commission held on 14 March 2018 be received.

 

 

 

32.

JNC STAFFING MATTERS COMMITTEE

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meeting:

 

JNC Staffing Matters Committee               22 February 2018

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that minute number 28 was a ‘resolved’ item and not ‘recommended’ as had been set out.

 

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the JNC Staffing matters Committee held on 22 February 2018 be received.

 

33.

LICENSING COMMITTEE

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meeting:

 

Licensing                  28 March 2018

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 28 March 2018 be received.

 

34.

PERSONNEL & DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meeting:

 

Personnel & Development Committee                5 March 2018

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Personnel & Development Committee held on 5 March 2018 be received.

 

35.

PLANNING COMMITTEE

To receive the minutes of and consider any recommendations from the following meetings:

 

Planning Committee                       14 February 2018

Planning Committee                       7 March 2018                                               

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Planning Committee held on 14 February and 7 March be received.

 

36.

ELECTORAL REGISTRATION OFFICER - DELEGATION OF POWERS

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report was considered which requested that the Head of Democratic, Legal & Policy Services and the Democratic Services Manager be appointed Deputy Electoral Registration officers and that the constitution be updated accordingly.

 

The report stated that currently the responsibilities for the discharge of duties relating to the registration of electors lay with the Chief Executive in her capacity of Electoral Registration Officer (ERO). However recent guidance issued by the Electoral Commission had suggested that the ERO should ensure that deputy arrangements were put into place in the event that they were unable to act personally in certain circumstances.

 

RESOLVED: That the Head of Democratic, Legal & Policy Services and the Democratic Services Manager be appointed Deputy Electoral Registration Officers and the Constitution be updated accordingly.

 

 

37.

NOTICE OF MOTION

To consider the following Notice of Motion submitted by the deadline of noon Thursday 5 April 2018.

 

The following Notice of Motion was submitted by Councillor M Clarke and seconded by Councillor Ms K Wood.

 

This Council agrees that the High Wycombe Town Committee can be granted delegated powers to take decisions in relation to non-executive matters where those delegations are approved by Council; and that the attendance of the Leader of the Council or the Deputy Leader, in their absence, be welcomed at meetings of the High Wycombe Town Committee where any executive decision is proposed.”

 

 

Minutes:

The following notice of motion was submitted and proposed by Councillor Mrs L M Clarke (OBE) and seconded by Councillor Miss K Wood.

 

This Council agrees that the High Wycombe Town Committee can be granted delegated powers to take decisions in relation to non-executive matters where those delegations are approved by Council; and that the attendance of the Leader of the Council or the Deputy Leader, in their absence, be welcomed at meetings of the High Wycombe Town Committee where any executive decision is proposed.”

 

In proposing and seconding the motion both Members wished to reserve their right to speak until they had heard the rest of the debate from amongst the floor. Members of the Council gave their views and opinions relating to the motion under consideration.

 

Some felt that this was a step in the right direction, contributing to an increase of power and authority of the High Wycombe Town Committee. Other Members felt that this was too little too late, and questioned both the timing and the motives behind the proposals. The motion was also criticised for having been brought forward to council without first consulting with the residents concerned, thereby affording them the opportunity to express how they wished to be governed. 

 

In seconding the motion, the Leader stated that she had been very conscious of the issues surrounding the role of the Committee and had sought ways of how this could be improved. She explained about the timing of the planned changes, and that it would have been considered earlier within the proposed constitutional review, but that this had been subsequently put on hold in the light of the Secretary of State`s announcement on Modernising Local government.

Councillor Mrs L M Clarke (OBE) following the comments addressed the Council, and stated that she was pleased to propose the motion and acknowledged that the Leader was now taking a personal interest in the workings of the Town Committee. She reminded Members as to the objective of the motion, which in essence was to formalise the powers of the Committee, primarily through the provision of non-executive powers similar to that of a town council, and a voice of residents of an unparished area. In addition it would make the executive aware of precept calculations. It was emphasised that the motion would also help to protect the charter Mayor`s position. 

 

The proposer closed her comments by stating that she commended that the Town Committee continue with the proposed powers for deciding non- executive matters as its members gave exceptional value for money to the residents of the area. She reminded Members that the establishment of a town or parish council would be a costly affair for residents, putting up the precepts considerably.

 

Following summing up by the proposer of the motion, and upon it being put to the vote, the Chairman declared the Motion carried as a result of more than half of those Members present voting in favour of the Motion.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

“This Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

QUESTIONS UNDER STANDING ORDER 11.2

Minutes:

There were none.

39.

COMMITTEE CHANGES/APPOINTMENTS

COMMITTEE CHANGES

 

Currently, the Personnel & Development Committee comprises 8 Members. The Joint Staff Committee has 5 Members (Joint Staff also have staff representatives who attend). A proposal has been submitted by the Chairman of the Personnel & Development Committee for both Committees to have 5 Members on it, with the same membership. With regard to the Staff representation on the Joint Staff Committee, it is also proposed to permit deputies to attend meetings throughout the year where the staff member on the Committee is unable to attend/leaves to allow for flexibility and full membership at all times.

 

Both Committees are subject to the political proportionality rules for Committee places. The implications of reducing the membership of the Personnel & Development Committee by three seats results in both committees having the same balance proportion of 4 Conservative Councillors and 1 Labour Councillor. It does not affect the overall balance elsewhere. 

 

The proposal is for this change to come into effect for the new Municipal Year, 2018/19. The Leader of the Council has been consulted in relation to this proposal.

 

Council is invited to consider the proposal and determine whether to implement it or not.

 

OUTSIDE BODIES

 

Councillor M Harris be appointed to the Marlow Bid Company (Globe Park)

 

 

Minutes:

This item was withdrawn.

 

 

 

 

40.

URGENT ACTION TAKEN BY CABINET OR INDIVIDUAL CABINET MEMBER

i)             Making the Longwick-cum-llmer Neighbourhood Development Plan.

 

ii)            Use of additional Government funding to enable installation of a modular adaptation pod with disabled shower room and bathroom to provide essential facilities.

 

Minutes:

The urgent action taken by Cabinet or individual Cabinet Member as set out in the summons was noted.