Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Council - Tuesday, 27 February 2024 2.00 p.m.

Venue: Council Chamber - South Cambs Hall. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  01954 713000 Email: democratic.services@scambs.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive Apologies for Absence from Members.

Minutes:

Apologies for Absence were received from Councillors Stephen Drew, Sue Ellington, Jose Hales, Carla Hofman, William Jackson-Wood, Annika Osborne, Dr Aidan Van de Weyer and Natalie Warren-Green.

 

Councillors Carla Hofman and Natalie Warren-Green joined the meeting online.

2.

Declaration of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Richard Stobart declared an Other Registerable Interest as a Board Member of the South Cambs Investment Partnership. He left the chamber when Council discussed agenda item 8b and did not participate in the debate or vote.

 

Councillor Heather Williams and Councillor Paul Bearpark declared an Other Registerable Interest as a member of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly.

 

Councillor Anna Bradnam declared Other Registerable Interests as a Cambridgeshire County Councillor and as a member of the Combined Authority Scrutiny and Overview Committee.

 

Councillors Michael Atkins, Henry Batchelor, Mark Howell, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes and Dr Susan van de Ven all declared Other Registerable Interests as County Councillors.

 

Councillor Peter Fane declared an Other Registerable Interest as a Director of the Shire Homes Lettings.

 

Councillor Peter Sandford and Councillor Dr James Hobro both declared an Other Registerable Interest as a non-executive director of South Cambs Ltd trading as Ermine Street Housing. They left the Chamber when agenda item 8g was discussed and did not participate in the debate or vote.

3.

Register of Interests

Members are requested to inform Democratic Services of any changes in their Register of Members’ Financial and Other Interests form.

Minutes:

The Chair reminded Members that Democratic Services should be informed of any changes to their Register of Members’ Financial and Other Interests form.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To authorise the Chair to sign the Minutes of the meetings held on the 20 November 2023 and 30 November 2023 as a correct record.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting on 20 November were agreed as a correct record subject to the removal of the duplicate set of apologies and the inclusion of Councillor Mark Howell’s apologies. 

 

The minutes of the meeting on 30 November were agreed as a correct record subject to the removal of the duplicate set of apologies and the correct spelling of Councillor Annika Osborne’s name.

5a

Announcements from the Chair

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

Minutes:

The Chair reminded members that an event would be held on Wednesday 20 March to celebrate the Council’s 50th anniversary.

5b

Announcements from the Leader and Cabinet

To receive any announcements from Leader and Cabinet.

Minutes:

The Leader announced that the Council has been shortlisted for two awards due to its four-day week initiative at both the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards and the Local Government Chronicle awards.

5c

Announcements from the Head of Paid Service

To receive any announcements from the Head of Paid Service.

Minutes:

None.

6.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 5 KB

If you would like to ask a question or make a statement, then please refer to the Document called Public Speaking Scheme (Physical Meetings)

and contact Democratic Services by no later than 11.59pm three clear working days before the meeting.

Minutes:

The Chair reminded the meeting of the Council’s public speaking rules. 

6a

From Cllr Frances Amrani, Chair of Teversham Parish Council

There are a number of developments in progress or proposed (Hartree, Cambridge East, Spingstead and Marleigh etc.) which cross City/ SouthCambs areas. I am concerned about investment property being left empty on some of these sites. Why are these being marketed to international buyers as an investment before local residents, given that one of the main reasons for building them is to satisfy the local need for housing?  Is there anything the Council can do to ensure local sales marketing is conducted in advance or at least in tandem with any international marketing? 

Minutes:

The Chair reported that Councillor Frances Amrani, Chair of Teversham Parish Council was unable to attend the meeting. Councillor Dr Tumi Hawkins explained that whilst the Council was able to add conditions when granting planning permission it had no control over wider market forces.

6b

From Mathew Setchell

Dear Councillors

 

I would like to know what value and priority the council has to businesses within the district.  Specifically in the case of Highgate Farm Willingham where the businesses suffer from issues with physical and internet access in to the site. 

 

Examples of this are:

 

No ultrafast internet at the site. Resulting in business issues

No pathed access in to the site. Resulting in reduced able and non able bodied access into the site.

Minutes:

The Chair stated that in the absence of Mr Setchell a written response would be provided.

6c

Question from Mireshini Naidu

Minutes:

Dr Mireshini Naidu asked why the Council was not applying to the magistrates court for an injunction or a planning enforcement order to remove wrongly erected, obstructing fences, which would cause a delay in response during a fire emergency?

 

Councillor Dr Tumi Hawkins explained that this matter had been investigated by planning officers and no breach of planning rules had been found. She offered to meet with Dr Naidu as a gesture of good will and further explain the Council’s position.

 

As her supplementary question, Dr Naidu stated that mandatory fire access was being restricted and asked why her property did not have turning facilities for vehicles. Councillor Dr Hawkins reiterated that there had been no breach of planning conditions and the Council could not take any further action. She hoped that a meeting could be held with Dr Naidu and the local member for Cambourne to discuss this matter further.

7.

Petitions

To note all petitions received since the last Council meeting.

Minutes:

No petitions had been received. 

8.

To Consider the Following Recommendation:

8a

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024-29, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 578 KB

Recommended that Council consider the report and, if satisfied, to:

 

A)        Acknowledge the projected changes in service spending and the overall resources available to the Council over the medium term to 2028/2029.

 

B)        Approve the updated financial forecast at Appendix A.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council

 

Agreed          to

 

A)        Acknowledge the projected changes in service spending and the overall resources available to the Council over the medium term to 2028/2029.

 

B)        Approve the updated financial forecast at Appendix A.

 

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams presented this report on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy that the Council reviewed twice a year in accordance with best practice. He explained that the predicted deficit of £4.8m at the end of the five year period was mainly due to assumptions regarding the Government’s Fair Funding review. The implementation of this had been delayed by the Government and these uncertainties made medium term planning difficult. It was hoped that the Transformation Programme would realise £1.6m of savings.

 

Councillor Bridget Smith expressed concern regarding the Government’s polices and the effect these were having on local government. However, this Council was in a strong financial position due to the decisions taken by the current administration and the efforts of officers.

 

Councillor Heather Williams expressed concern that the amount of savings identified this year was less than last year, which was increasing the budget gap and unlike Huntingdonshire District Council, this authority had not made provision for the financial impact of the MRF contract. Councillor John Williams replied that net expenditure would reduce next year and so the financial situation was improving. Councillor Henry Batchelor, Lead Cabinet Member for Environment and Licensing, stated that the MRF contract was going out to tender and so there was not even an approximate figure to be put into the Strategy.

 

Councillor Dr Richard Williams asked if the possibility of a financial penalty being imposed by the Government due to the four-day week should be included in the Strategy. Councillor John Williams stated that this would be premature as any decision to make the four-day week permanent would be taken after the end of the trial in March by full Council and the size of any possible fine was unknown.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith seconded the recommendations in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows;

 

In favour (27):

Councillors Michael Atkins, Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Ariel Cahn, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Dr Tumi Hawkins, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, Dr Susan van de Ven, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (8):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Mark Howell, Lina Nieto, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (1):

Councillor Daniel Lentell.

 

Council

 

Agreed          to

 

A)        Acknowledge the projected changes in service spending and the overall resources available to the Council over the medium term to 2028/2029.

 

B)        Approve the updated financial forecast at Appendix A.

8b

2024-2025 Business Plan Action Plan, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 221 KB

It is recommended that Council:

 

A)        Consider and approve the proposed Business Plan Action Plan for 2024-25 at Appendix A.

 

B)        Authorise the Chief Executive to make any minor wording changes required to final drafts, in consultation with the Leader.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council

 

Agreed to

 

A)          Consider and approve the proposed Business Plan Action Plan for 2024-25 at Appendix A.

 

B)          Authorise the Chief Executive to make any minor wording changes required to final drafts, in consultation with the Leader.

 

C)          Authorise the Chief Executive to make any factual changes to the final drafts.

Minutes:

Councillor Bridget Smith presented this report on the annual review of the Council’s Business Plan Action Plan. She explained that the recent Peer Review had made recommendations that the Plan was now addressing. This included having a Member Development Programme for councillors.

 

Councillor Graham Cone asked if the figure 36.14 in Objective 5 could be quantified. It was noted that this related to a reduction in tonnes of carbon dioxide. Councillor Heather Williams stated that the figure of £2m savings from the Transformation Programme needed to be corrected so that it was consistent with the figure of £1.6m in the Medium Term Financial Strategy. It was agreed that the Chief Executive should be authorised to make these two factual amendments to the Plan.

 

Councillor Heather Williams asked if the mystery shopper exercise could be extended to other departments and not just focus on the contact centre. She also suggested that e-mails should be monitored as the Council was receiving far more e-mails than it was sending out, which indicated that some e-mails were not being answered. Councillor Bridget Smith explained that the mystery shopper exercise had highlighted the excellent service being provided by the Contact Centre. More context would need to be provided with regard to monitoring e-mails as not all e-mails needed a response and some e-mails were replied to with a phone call.

 

Councillor Heather Williams asked what steps would be taken to ensure the safety of officers and councillors with regards to the renting out of office space. Councillor Peter McDonald assured Council that the security of officers and councillors was of paramount importance to the administration and a combination of different options of using security officers and card-based technology would be considered by the Scrutiny and Overview Committee in due course.

 

Councillor Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya asked why there was no reference to Cambourne High Street in the Plan, as there had been no progress on this issue since 2018. Councillor Peter McDonald replied that Shared Prosperity funding would become available in April and the Cambourne High Street and other projects would be invited to bid for this.

 

Councillor Daniel Lentell welcomed the Council’s commitment to providing a community centre at Northstowe but asked when a health care service would be set up in the town. Councillor Bridget Smith stated that this was the responsibility of the NHS and the Council would ensure that local views were heard on this matter.

 

Councillor Dr Richard Williams asked what mitigation would be put in place to address the impact of the East West rail line, whether the Leader would reject any future proposals for road charging in the District and how plans to make online transactions easier would be assessed. Councillor Bridget Smith replied that it was difficult to put mitigation plans in place regarding the East West rail line until the route was announced. Service users would be asked if they found the website easier to use. Councillor Brian Milnes said that there were no plans for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8b

8c

Capital Strategy, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Council is

 

Recommended       To consider the report and, if satisfied, approve the updated Capital Strategy attached at Appendix A to the report which sets the policy framework for the development, management and monitoring of capital investment, including Capital Prudential Indicators.

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

Council   

 

Agreed          to approve the updated Capital Strategy attached at Appendix A to the report which sets the policy framework for the development, management and monitoring of capital investment, including Capital Prudential Indicators.

 

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams presented this report on the annual review of the Capital Strategy.

 

Councillor Heather Williams expressed concern regarding short-term loans and the proposed increase of the authorised debt limit. Councillor John Williams replied that the debt limit was set by the prudential indicators and it did not mean that the Council would borrow up to this limit. It was noted that the Council’s largest debt was the £205 million imposed on the Housing Revenue Account by the Government in return for being able to keep rent and capital receipts.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows:

 

In favour (26):

Councillors Michael Atkins, Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Ariel Cahn, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Dr Tumi Hawkins, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, Dr Susan van de Ven, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (8):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Mark Howell, Daniel Lentell, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0):

 

Council  

 

Agreed          to approve the updated Capital Strategy attached at Appendix A to the report which sets the policy framework for the development, management and monitoring of capital investment, including Capital Prudential Indicators.

8d

Treasury Management Strategy, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 337 KB

Council is

 

Recommended       To consider the report and, if satisfied, to approve the updated Treasury Management Strategy attached at Appendix A to the report which sets the policy framework for the Council’s treasury management activity, including (i) the Treasury Management Policy Statement, (ii) Minimum Revenue Provision Policy and (ii) Treasury Indicators.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams presented this report on the annual review of the Treasury Management Strategy.

 

Councillor Graham Cone expressed concern that additional borrowing was to be made by the Council at the end of the year. Councillor John Williams explained that this related to the borrowing of Ermine Street Housing Ltd, which would be referred to later in the meeting.

 

Councillor Heather Williams asked about the associated risks with short term and long term borrowing and whether the Council would borrow on a variable or fixed interest rate. She expressed her opposition to the proposed increase in external borrowing. Councillor John Williams stated that there was risk associated with any forms of borrowing and the Council made suitable provision when any loans were taken out. Flexibility was important when looking for the best rates and the recent peer review had praised the Council’s financial management.

 

Councillor Michael Atkins stated that he was satisfied that the Strategy’s borrowing and investment programme was prudent and the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee would scrutinise its implementation.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows:

 

In favour (27):

Councillors Michael Atkins, Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Ariel Cahn, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Dr Tumi Hawkins, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, Dr Susan van de Ven, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (8):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Mark Howell, Daniel Lentell, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0)

 

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the updated Treasury Management Strategy attached at Appendix A to the report which sets the policy framework for the Council’s treasury management activity, including (i) the Treasury Management Policy Statement, (ii) Minimum Revenue Provision Policy and (ii) Treasury Indicators.

 

8e

Local Council Tax Support, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 215 KB

Decision:

Minutes:

The Lead Cabinet Member for Resources presented this item, which recommended that Council approve the Localised Council Tax Support Scheme for 2024/25. He stated that the scheme had been successful and an increase of 6.7% was proposed, in line with the Consumer Price Index. It was noted that unlike neighbouring authorities, the poorest residents in the District would receive 100% support.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bill Handley seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and unanimously

 

Council   

 

Agreed          to approve the continuation of the successful 2023/24 LCTS scheme, with a reasonable uprating of 6.7% for the upcoming financial year 2024/25.

8f

Review of Revenue Reserves, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Council is requested to consider the report and, if satisfied, to approve:

 

A)        That the Reserves as summarised at paragraph 12 of the report be released and transferred to the General Reserve or transferred to other reserves as appropriate on 31 March 2024.

 

B)        That the movement in Reserves in 2023/2024 as set out in Appendix A, and the estimated balance of Reserves of £36.132 million, be noted.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council agreed  to approve

 

A)     The Reserves as summarised at paragraph 12 of the report be released and transferred to the General Reserve or transferred to other reserves as appropriate on 31 March 2024.

 

B)     The movement in Reserves in 2023/2024 as set out in Appendix A, and the estimated balance of Reserves of £36.132 million, be noted.

Minutes:

The Lead Cabinet Member for Resources presented this report, which reviewed the Council’s Earmarked Revenue Reserves, as part of the 2024/25 budget settling process.

 

Councillor Heather Williams expressed concern about the amount of money in the Transformation Reserve and how those funds were being spent.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith seconded the recommendations in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows:

 

In favour (27):

Councillors Michael Atkins, Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Ariel Cahn, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Dr Tumi Hawkins, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, Dr Susan van de Ven, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (8):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Mark Howell, Daniel Lentell, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0)

 

Council agreed  to approve

 

A)     The Reserves as summarised at paragraph 12 of the report be released and transferred to the General Reserve or transferred to other reserves as appropriate on 31 March 2024.

 

B)     The movement in Reserves in 2023/2024 as set out in Appendix A, and the estimated balance of Reserves of £36.132 million, be noted.

8g

Ermine Street Limited - Additional Funding, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 270 KB

It is recommended that Council agrees:

 

A)        To allow Ermine Street Housing (ESH) additional borrowing from the Council of up to £20 million to take advantage of new investment opportunities where viability assessments provide a positive return with an interest rate of 1% above base rate. This arrangement is to be reviewed annually.

 

B)        To allow ESH to purchase single person properties for homeless people to prevent the use of expensive temporary accommodation, using the interest rate applying to ESH (currently 4.25%). This rate recognises the initiative as a ‘spend to save’ investment, providing savings to homelessness budgets.

 

C)       To allow the Head of Housing, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, to authorise individual purchases (and therefore borrowing) up to the value of £2 million as per the current arrangements. 

 

D)       To note that this proposal is subject to the agreement of the Ermine Street Housing Board.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Sally Ann Hart was unanimously elected as Vice-Chair for this item.

 

Councillor John Batchelor, the Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, presented this report, which recommended that an investment fund of £20 million be made available to the Council owned company South Cambs Limited trading as Ermine Street Housing. He hoped that all councillors would support this and would accept that Ermine Street Housing, which had been founded by the previous administration, had been a great success. It was noted that Ermine Street Housing had made a significant contribution to tackling homeless in the District by providing homes to those on the waiting list.

 

Councillor Graham Cone expressed his support for Ermine Street Housing and commended the work of the Board, which was run by officers and councillors. Councillor Mark Howell stated that Ermine Street Housing had been established by the previous administration and was now being well run by the current administration and the Council was justifiably proud of it. Councillor Heather Williams expressed her support for Ermine Street Housing and its work.

 

Councillor John Batchelor proposed and Councillor John Williams seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and

 

Council unanimously

 

Agreed

 

A)       To allow Ermine Street Housing (ESH) additional borrowing from the Council of up to £20 million to take advantage of new investment opportunities where viability assessments provide a positive return with an interest rate of 1% above base rate. This arrangement is to be reviewed annually.

 

B)       To allow ESH to purchase single person properties for homeless people to prevent the use of expensive temporary accommodation, using the interest rate applying to ESH (currently 4.25%). This rate recognises the initiative as a ‘spend to save’ investment, providing savings to homelessness budgets.

 

C)       To allow the Head of Housing, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, to authorise individual purchases (and therefore borrowing) up to the value of £2 million as per the current arrangements. 

 

D)       To note that this proposal is subject to the agreement of the Ermine Street Housing Board.

 

8h

Capital Programme 2024/25 - 2028/29, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 271 KB

It is recommended that Council:

 

A)        Consider and approve the proposed Business Plan Action Plan for 2024-25 at Appendix A.

 

B)        Authorise the Chief Executive to make any minor wording changes required to final drafts, in consultation with the Leader.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council   

 

Agreed          to approve the revised General Fund Capital Programme outlined at Appendix A.

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams, the Lead Cabinet Member for Resources, presented this item on the Council’s Capital Programme for the financial years 2024/25 to 2028/29, which recommended the updated General Fund Capital Programme for approval.

 

Councillor Richard Stobart declared a Registerable Interest as a director of South Cambs Investment Partnership and left the Chamber. He did not participate in the debate and did not vote. Councillor Mark Howell asked if a pathway and cycleway could be added to the development proposed in Cambourne on the Business Park. Councillor John Williams stated that he believed that there would be both cycle and pedestrian access to this development.

 

Councillor Heather Williams stated that whilst her Group did support some of the individual projects described in the report they did not support the SCIP proposal, which did not benefit Cambourne residents and did not have the support of the Cambourne Secondary School.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows:

 

In favour (24):

Councillors Michael Atkins, Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Dr Tumi Hawkins, Pippa Heylings, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Dr Susan van de Ven, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (8):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Mark Howell, Daniel Lentell, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0)

 

Council  

 

Agreed          to approve the revised General Fund Capital Programme outlined at Appendix A.

 

8i

Summary General Fund Revenue Budget 2024/25, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 366 KB

It is recommended that Council considers the report and, if satisfied:

 

A)   Review the detailed budgets presented at Appendix B, and summarised at Appendix A, with an estimated General Fund Gross Operating Expenditure for 2024/2025 of £76.887 million, estimated Gross Operating Income of £48.331 million and estimated General Fund Net Operating Expenditure of £28.555 million.

 

B)   Acknowledge the key factors which have led to the proposed 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget, with service pressures summarised at Appendix C and offsetting efficiency savings/policy options summarised at Appendix D.

 

C)   Acknowledge that the 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget gross expenditure is covered by forecast income sources (assuming no change in Government grant) and, therefore, any addition(s) to expenditure that are made by the Cabinet or Council will need to be met from the General Fund Balance.

 

D)   Approve the 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget taking into account the statement by the Chief Finance Officer on the risks and robustness of the estimates as required under Section 25 of the Local Government Act 2003 (reproduced at Appendix F).

 

E)   Set the Council Tax Requirement for 2024/2025 at £11,688,648.

 

F)   Approve an increase in the District element of the Council Tax of £5 per annum, giving an average Band D Council Tax of £170.31, plus the relevant amounts required by the precepts of the Parish Councils, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Cambridgeshire Fire Authority and The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).

 

G)  Approve the estimates of the amounts required to be made under the Non-domestic Rating (Rates Retention) Regulations 2013 as set out in paragraphs 38 - 41.

 

H)   Approve the use of the additional income from the Business Rate Pool, estimated at £1,100,000 in 2024/2025, for transfer to the established Renewables Reserve for priority projects.

 

I)     Subject to any changes to the recommendations above, Council approves:

(i)      The 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget based on known commitments at this time and planned levels of Service/functions resulting in a Budget Requirement of £37.132 million.

(ii)     The District Council Precept on the Collection Fund (Council Tax Requirement) of £11.689 million in 2024/2025 (based on the final Government Settlement) and a Band D Council Tax of £170.31.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council agreed to

 

A)        Review the detailed budgets presented at Appendix B, and summarised at Appendix A, with an estimated General Fund Gross Operating Expenditure for 2024/2025 of £76.887 million, estimated Gross Operating Income of £48.331 million and estimated General Fund Net Operating Expenditure of £28.555 million.

 

B)        Acknowledge the key factors which have led to the proposed 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget, with service pressures summarised at Appendix C and offsetting efficiency savings/policy options summarised at Appendix D.

 

C)        Acknowledge that the 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget gross expenditure is covered by forecast income sources (assuming no change in Government grant) and, therefore, any addition(s) to expenditure that are made by the Cabinet or Council will need to be met from the General Fund Balance.

 

D)        Approve the 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget taking into account the statement by the Chief Finance Officer on the risks and robustness of the estimates as required under Section 25 of the Local Government Act 2003 (reproduced at Appendix F).

 

E)        Set the Council Tax Requirement for 2024/2025 at £11,688,648.

 

F)        Approve an increase in the District element of the Council Tax of £5 per annum, giving an average Band D Council Tax of £170.31, plus the relevant amounts required by the precepts of the Parish Councils, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Cambridgeshire Fire Authority and The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).

 

G)       Approve the estimates of the amounts required to be made under the Non-domestic Rating (Rates Retention) Regulations 2013 as set out in paragraphs 38 - 41.

 

H)        Approve the use of the additional income from the Business Rate Pool, estimated at £1,100,000 in 2024/2025, for transfer to the established Renewables Reserve for priority projects.

 

I)          Subject to any changes to the recommendations above, Council approves:

(i)     The 2024/2025 General Fund Revenue Budget based on known commitments at this time and planned levels of Service/functions resulting in a Budget Requirement of £37.132 million.

(ii)    The District Council Precept on the Collection Fund (Council Tax Requirement) of £11.689 million in 2024/2025 (based on the final Government Settlement) and a Band D Council Tax of £170.31.

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams, the Lead Cabinet Member for Resources, presented this report, which provided a summary of the General Fund Revenue Budget for 2024/25 and recommended that Council approve the Revenue Budget. He thanked officers for their work in identifying savings and generating income of over £7m a year. He listed the various projects the Council was funding.

 

Councillor Heather Williams proposed and Councillor Graham Cone seconded an amendment to the budget, as laid on page 225 of the agenda. Councillor Heather Williams explained that the amendment proposed changes to the Budget that her Group disagreed with, whilst maintaining the parts the Group supported. She asserted that due to the cost-of-living crisis the Council should not be increasing its Council Tax. The Contact Centre and Planning Enforcement required more resources, as did tackling isolation and the amendment made provision for this. Savings could be realised by scrapping the four-day week and reducing funding for the Transformation project, Members’ Special Responsibility Allowances and the South Cambs News magazine.

 

Councillor Tom Bygott supported the amendment as increasing the Council Tax was an unacceptable burden on residents who were facing so many other financial pressures. Councillor Dr Richard Williams agreed with Councillor Bygott and he added that the backlog of Planning Enforcement cases justified the amendment, as did the current costs of the Transformation project. Councillor Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya expressed her support for the amendment, as the Council should be doing more to tackle isolation and loneliness in the District, especially as the population was becoming more diverse, which made integration a bigger challenge.

 

Councillor Brian Milnes opposed the amendment and asserted that the Conservative Government was partly responsible for the financial pressures faced by residents. Councillor James Hobro opposed the amendment as the Council had a duty to deliver value for money services and the four-day week initiative was delivering this by making it easier to recruit, especially to the Planning service. Councillor Helene Leeming explained that the proposed reduction in the Transformation budget would adversely affect the services of the Communications, Communities team, HR, Facilities Management and the Policy team, which came under the Transformation umbrella. This would do great harm to the Council and so she could not support the amendment. Councillor Richard Stobart expressed his support for accurate data collection which the amendment would reduce funding for, so he opposed the amendment. Councillor Dr Susan van de Ven stated that the increase in Council Tax would allow the authority to support its most vulnerable residents and South Cambs magazine reached those who did not have access to the internet. For these reasons she did not support the amendment. Councillor Bridget Smith stated that the amendment was irresponsible as freezing Council Tax would create a budget gap that could only be covered through further cuts to services. Not all the extra officers proposed in the amendment were required and halving the number of editions of South Cambs magazine would isolate some residents. Councillor John Williams opposed the amendment, which would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8i

8j

Housing Revenue Account Revenue & Capital Budget 2024/25, Cabinet 6 February pdf icon PDF 785 KB

Recommended that Council   

 

Housing Revenue Account (HRA): Revenue

 

A)        approve the HRA revenue budget for 2024/2025 as shown in the HRA Budget Summary as presented at Appendix A.

 

HRA: Review of Rents and Charges

 

B)        Approve that council dwelling rents for all social rented properties be increased by 7.7%, recognising that inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at September 2023, plus 1% results in an increase of 7.7%.

 

C)        Approve that affordable rents (inclusive of service charge) are also increased by 7.7% in line with the increase for social rents.

 

D)        Approve that rents for affordable shared ownership properties are increased by 5.4%, recognising that inflation measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI) at January 2024 plus 0.5% results in an increase of 5.4%.

 

E)        Approve that garage rents be increased by 7.7% in line with the increase for social rents.

 

F)        Approve the proposed service charges for HRA services and facilities provided to both tenants and leaseholders, as shown in Appendix D.

 

HRA: Capital

 

G)        Approve the required level of funding for new build investment between 2024/2025 and 2028/2029 to ensure that commitments can be met in respect of the investment of all right to buy receipts currently retained or anticipated to be received by the authority for this period. This expenditure will take the form of HRA new build, with the 60% top up met by other HRA resources.

 

H)        Approve the HRA Medium Term Financial Strategy forecasts as shown in Appendix B.

 

I)          Approve the Housing Capital Programme as shown in Appendix C.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council agreed to

 

Housing Revenue Account (HRA): Revenue

 

A)       approve the HRA revenue budget for 2024/2025 as shown in the HRA Budget Summary as presented at Appendix A.

 

HRA: Review of Rents and Charges

 

B)       Approve that council dwelling rents for all social rented properties be increased by 7.7%, recognising that inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at September 2023, plus 1% results in an increase of 7.7%.

 

C)       Approve that affordable rents (inclusive of service charge) are also increased by 7.7% in line with the increase for social rents.

 

D)       Approve that rents for affordable shared ownership properties are increased by 5.4%, recognising that inflation measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI) at January 2024 plus 0.5% results in an increase of 5.4%.

 

E)        Approve that garage rents be increased by 7.7% in line with the increase for social rents.

 

F)        Approve the proposed service charges for HRA services and facilities provided to both tenants and leaseholders, as shown in Appendix D.

 

HRA: Capital

 

G)       Approve the required level of funding for new build investment between 2024/2025 and 2028/2029 to ensure that commitments can be met in respect of the investment of all right to buy receipts currently retained or anticipated to be received by the authority for this period. This expenditure will take the form of HRA new build, with the 60% top up met by other HRA resources.

 

H)       Approve the HRA Medium Term Financial Strategy forecasts as shown in Appendix B.

 

I)          Approve the Housing Capital Programme as shown in Appendix C.

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams, the Lead Cabinet Member for Resources presented this report, which invited Council to approve the Housing Revenue Account budget.

 

Councillor John Batchelor, Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, explained that the Council was responsible for the upkeep of 5,600 homes and as the HRA was ring-fenced this had to be funded through rent. 40% of the Council’s tenants were in receipt of benefits that paid some if not all of their rent. The proposed weekly rent was far less than the market level and represented good value for money for the area.

 

Councillor Heather Williams explained that whilst her Group supported the new build in the capital programme, they could not support the increase in rent. Councillor John Williams explained that the capital programme was dependent on the increase in rent.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor John Batchelor seconded the recommendations A-F in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows:

 

In favour (21):

Councillors Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Geoff Harvey, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (6):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Daniel Lentell, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0)

 

Councillor John Williams explained that since 2018 there had been a net gain of 46 homes in the Council’s housing stock, despite those lost through right to buy.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor John Batchelor seconded recommendations G-I in the report. A vote was taken and unanimously

 

Council agreed to

 

Housing Revenue Account (HRA): Revenue

 

A)       approve the HRA revenue budget for 2024/2025 as shown in the HRA Budget Summary as presented at Appendix A.

 

HRA: Review of Rents and Charges

 

B)       Approve that council dwelling rents for all social rented properties be increased by 7.7%, recognising that inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at September 2023, plus 1% results in an increase of 7.7%.

 

C)       Approve that affordable rents (inclusive of service charge) are also increased by 7.7% in line with the increase for social rents.

 

D)       Approve that rents for affordable shared ownership properties are increased by 5.4%, recognising that inflation measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI) at January 2024 plus 0.5% results in an increase of 5.4%.

 

E)        Approve that garage rents be increased by 7.7% in line with the increase for social rents.

 

F)        Approve the proposed service charges for HRA services and facilities provided to both tenants and leaseholders, as shown in Appendix D.

 

HRA: Capital

 

G)       Approve the required level of funding for new build investment between 2024/2025 and 2028/2029 to ensure that commitments can be met in respect of the investment of all right to buy receipts currently retained or anticipated to be received by the authority for this period. This expenditure will take  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8j

9.

Council Tax Resolution 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 284 KB

Recommended       That the Council Tax Resolution, detailed at Appendix A, be approved.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council  

 

Agreed          That the Council Tax Resolution, detailed at Appendix A, be approved.

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams, Lead Cabinet Member for Resources, presented this report which recommended that Council approve the total Council Tax for the District, including the Council Tax requirements of precepting organisations. Councillor Heather Williams explained that her Group opposed the increase for reasons already stated earlier in the meeting.

 

Councillor John Williams, Lead Cabinet Member for Resources, proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith, Leader of Council, seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follow:

 

In favour (21):

Councillors Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Corinne Garvie, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (6):

Councillors Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya, Graham Cone, Daniel Lentell, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0)

 

Council  

 

Agreed          That the Council Tax Resolution, detailed at Appendix A, be approved.

10.

Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2023, Civic Affairs Committee 14 December pdf icon PDF 223 KB

Civic Affairs Committee

 

Recommends that   Council approves the adoption of a revised schedule of Polling Districts and Places as laid out at Appendix A.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the adoption of a revised schedule of Polling Districts and Places as laid out at Appendix A, with the following amendments:

·         The polling place for Over and Willingham SD3 was amended to “Parish of Willingham and Northstowe Town”.

·         The polling places for Whittlesford WG1 and WG2 were amended to “The Parish of Thriplow and Heathfield”.

·         Maps to be included showing the boundaries between both Girton and Madingley and Willingham and Northstowe.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Peter Fane, Chair of the Civic Affairs Committee, presented this report, which recommended the adoption of a revised schedule of Polling Districts and Places, as laid out in Appendix A.

 

Councillor John Williams asked for a map for the development at Marleigh, to show where the boundary was. Councillor Heather Williams expressed concern regarding the long-term sustainability of having a polling station at someone’s home in Tadlow.

 

In response to concerns from Councillor Daniel Lentell, the Elections and Democratic Services Manager and Deputy Electoral Registration Officer explained that the polling district of Willingham South had been created because the ward boundaries currently differed to those of the parliamentary constituency. When this was resolved this polling district would be removed. He agreed to provide a map showing the boundary between Willingham and Northstowe and the boundary for the development at Marleigh.

 

It was noted that the parish of Thriplow had been renamed Thriplow and Heathfield and that Northstowe was now a town.

 

Councillor Peter Fane proposed and Councillor Paul Bearpark seconded the recommendation in the report, as amended. A vote was taken and by affirmation

 

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the adoption of a revised schedule of Polling Districts and Places as laid out at Appendix A, with the following amendments:

·         The polling place for Over and Willingham SD3 was amended to “Parish of Willingham and Northstowe Town”.

·         The polling places for Whittlesford WG1 and WG2 were amended to “The Parish of Thriplow and Heathfield”.

·         Maps to be included showing the boundaries between both Girton and Madingley and Willingham and Northstowe.

 

 

11.

Pay Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 132 KB

It is recommended that the Council consider and approve the updated Pay Policy Statement as required by the Localism Act 2011.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the updated Pay Policy Statement as required by the Localism Act 2011.

Minutes:

Councillor John Williams, Lead Cabinet Member for Resources, explained that due to the Localism Act 2011 the Council was required to have a Pay Policy Statement. He reported that the gender pay gap was in favour of females and the pay ratio from the highest to the lowest paid was 6 to 1.

 

Councillor Heather Williams suggested that the Council should have a policy on its pay ratio and the four-day week trial should have been referred to in the report. She asserted that the Council should aim to have no gender pay gap and instead there should be a guarantee that the best person for the job was being employed.

 

Councillor John Williams proposed and Councillor Bridget Smith seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and by affirmation

 

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the updated Pay Policy Statement as required by the Localism Act 2011.

12.

Swavesey Byeways Rate 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 222 KB

The Swavesey Bye-ways Advisory Committee Recommends to Council that:

 

It retains the level of the Swavesey Bye-ways rate at £1.20 per hectare for land within the charge paying area for the period 2024/25 in order to fund the required level of maintenance.

 

Decision:

Council

 

Agreed           to retain the level of the Swavesey Bye-ways rate at £1.20 per hectare for land within the charge paying area for the period 2024/25 in order to fund the required level of maintenance.

Minutes:

Councillor Henry Batchelor presented this item on the annual meeting of the Swavesey Bye-ways Advisory Committee on 25 January 2024, which had recommended that the rate remain at £1.20 per hectare. He thanked Councillor Sue Ellington who had led the negotiations on this matter. Councillor Heather Williams read out a statement from Councillor Ellington justifying the recommendation.

 

Councillor Henry Batchelor proposed and Councillor Heather Williams seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and by affirmation

 

Council

 

Agreed          to retain the level of the Swavesey Bye-ways rate at £1.20 per hectare for land within the charge paying area for the period 2024/25 in order to fund the required level of maintenance.

13.

Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel - Members' Allowances Scheme 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 229 KB

It is recommended that Council:

 

(a)       Agree a revised Scheme of Members’ Allowances for 2023/24 (see Appendix A), including:

(i)        An increase in the Basic Allowance to £5,800 (equivalent to a 5.44% increase) back dated to 1 April 2023; and

(ii)       An increase to all the Special Responsibility Allowances of 5.44%, back dated to 1 April 2023; and

(iii)      The awarding of a new Special Responsibility Allowance of £580 to members of the following three committees of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority: Transport & Infrastructure, Environment & Sustainable Communities and Skills & Employment.

 

(b)       Authorise the Head of Transformation to implement and advertise the new scheme and make any consequential amendments required to the Scheme of Members’ Allowances in Part 6 of the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council agreed to

 

A)        Agree a revised Scheme of Members’ Allowances for 2023/24 (see Appendix A), including:

(i)        An increase in the Basic Allowance to £5,800 (equivalent to a 5.44% increase) back dated to 1 April 2023; and

(ii)       An increase to all the Special Responsibility Allowances of 5.44%, back dated to 1 April 2023; and

(iii)      The awarding of a new Special Responsibility Allowance of £580 to members of the following three committees of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority: Transport & Infrastructure, Environment & Sustainable Communities and Skills & Employment.

 

B)        Authorise the Head of Transformation to implement and advertise the new scheme and make any consequential amendments required to the Scheme of Members’ Allowances in Part 6 of the Constitution.

Minutes:

The Elections and Democratic Services Manager presented this report, which recommended an increase of 5.44% to Members Allowances for 2023/24.

 

Councillor Brian Milnes explained that there had been a delay in bringing this recommendation to Council due to the need to replace a member of the Independent Remuneration Panel. He stated that the recommended increase was lower than inflation and that Council had agreed increases lower than those proposed by the Independent Remuneration Panel twice since 2018.

 

Councillor Heather Williams opposed an increase in allowances whilst residents were going through a cost-of-living crisis. Councillor Daniel Lentell also opposed the increase, asserting that it was wrong for councillors to increase the tax and rent burden on residents and then increase their allowances at the same meeting. He suggested that councillors should only be allowed to receive an increase in their allowances after they were re-elected. Councillor Dr Richard Williams also opposed the increase and suggested that it was inconsistent to pay an allowance to members of various bodies of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority but not to members of the Joint Development Control Committee.

 

Councillor Peter McDonald thanked the members of the Independent Remuneration Panel for their work. He stated that the authority’s allowances were below those of neighbouring authorities and East Cambridgeshire District Council had increased their basic allowances by 12% and so the proposed increase of 5.44% was not excessive. Councillor Tom Bygott interjected that East Cambridgeshire District Council had not increased its Council Tax.

 

Councillor Brian Milnes proposed and Councillor Peter McDonald seconded the recommendations in the report. A vote was taken and were cast as follows:

 

In favour (22):

Councillors Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Paul Bearpark, Anna Bradnam, Dr Martin Cahn, Libby Earle, Peter Fane, Bill Handley, Sunita Hansraj, Sally Ann Hart, Pippa Heylings, Dr James Hobro, Helene Leeming, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dr Lisa Redrup, Judith Rippeth, Peter Sandford, Bridget Smith, Richard Stobart, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.

 

Against (5):

Councillors Tom Bygott, Graham Cone, Daniel Lentell, Heather Williams and Dr Richard Williams.

 

Abstain (0)

 

Council agreed to

 

A)        Agree a revised Scheme of Members’ Allowances for 2023/24 (see Appendix A), including:

(i)        An increase in the Basic Allowance to £5,800 (equivalent to a 5.44% increase) back dated to 1 April 2023; and

(ii)       An increase to all the Special Responsibility Allowances of 5.44%, back dated to 1 April 2023; and

(iii)      The awarding of a new Special Responsibility Allowance of £580 to members of the following three committees of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority: Transport & Infrastructure, Environment & Sustainable Communities and Skills & Employment.

 

B)        Authorise the Head of Transformation to implement and advertise the new scheme and make any consequential amendments required to the Scheme of Members’ Allowances in Part 6 of the Constitution.

14.

Calendar of Meetings 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To approve the Calendar of Meetings of 2024/25.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the Calendar of Meetings 2024/2025, as set out in Appendix A.

Minutes:

Councillor Brian Milnes proposed and Councillor Graham Cone seconded the proposal that Council be able to continue beyond its duration of four hours. This was agreed by affirmation.

 

The Elections and Democratic Services Manager presented this report, which recommended that Council agree the calendar of meetings for 2024/25. Councillor Heather Williams requested that the provisional dates for meetings of Council for March and April 2025 be retained.

 

Councillor Peter Fane proposed and Councillor Anna Bradnam seconded the recommendation in the report. A vote was taken and by affirmation

 

Council

 

Agreed          to approve the Calendar of Meetings 2024/2025, as set out in Appendix A.

15.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority pdf icon PDF 889 KB

To receive two reports summarising the work of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority from November 2023 and January 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Heather Williams expressed concern on reports of bullying at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority as safety of officers and councillors was of paramount importance. She asked if any members of this authority had seen the full report, when only the redacted version had been made public. Councillor Bridget Smith stated that she had not seen the full report, this matter had been discussed at the last meeting of Council and she expressed her disappointment at the fact that this was being raised again. The recommendations of an independent panel had been accepted by the Mayor and that the accusations of bullying and harassment were unfounded. She concluded that the Combined Authority needed to move on from this matter and get on with the job of serving its residents. Councillor Daneil Lentell asserted that when £1m had been spent on the investigation the full report should be made public. It was imperative that staff felt safe at work. The Chief Executive stated that she had no concerns about staff safety at the Combined Authority.

 

Council noted the report.

16.

Greater Cambridge Partnership pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a decision summary from the Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board meeting on 4 January 2024.

 

Minutes:

Council noted the report.

17.

Oxford to Cambridge Regional Partnership pdf icon PDF 229 KB

It is recommended that Council note the report.

Minutes:

Councillor Heather Williams requested that future reports contain more information on this project. Councillor Bridget Smith recommended that councillors look at the project’s website for the latest updates.

18.

Membership of Committees and Outside Bodies

Note resignation of Cllr Annika Osbourne of Old West Internal Drainage Board, leaving Councillors, Martin Cahn, Bill Handley and Eileen Wilson as the members of the Board.

Minutes:

It was noted that Councillor Dr Lisa Redrup had replaced Councillor Judith Rippeth on the Planning Committee. Councillor Corinne Garvie was now a substitute on this Committee.

 

Councillor Peter Fane had replaced Councillor Judith Rippeth on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Stobart had been appointed as a substitute.

 

Councillor Martin Cahn had been replaced by Councillor Paul Bearpark on the Scrutiny and Overview Committee.

 

Councillor Tom Bygott had replaced Councillor Graham Cone as a substitute on the Joint Development Control Committee.

19.

Questions From Councillors

A period of 30 minutes will be allocated for this item to include those questions where notice has been provided (as set out on the agenda below) and questions which may be asked without notice.

 

Members wishing to ask a question without notice should indicate this intention to the Interim Democratic Services Team Manager prior to the commencement of the item.  Members’ names will be drawn at random by the Chairman until there are no further questions or until the expiration of the time period. 

Minutes:

Councillor Peter McDonald asked if councillors could receive written responses to their questions in order to reduce the length of the meeting. Councillor Heather Williams replied that this would prevent councillors from asking supplementary questions, if they so wished. The Chair decided to proceed with councillors’ questions as normal.

19a

From Councillor Helene Leeming

How is the council going to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of South Cambridgeshire District Council?

Minutes:

How is the Council going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of South Cambridgeshire District Council?

 

Councillor Peter Fane reported that an event would be held on Wednesday 20 March at 6 pm at South Cambridgeshire Hall. A tree would be planted, entertainment would be provided by local groups and the Deputy Lieutenant would be there. Speeches were planned and a brief history of the authority would be on display. All councillors were invited to attend.

 

There was no supplementary question.

19b

From Councillor Sally Ann Hart

Can the leader comment on the implementation of the new bin rounds, as well as on how the holiday period affected waste collection?

Minutes:

Can the Leader comment on the implementation of the new bin rounds, as well as on how the holiday period affected waste collection?

 

It was noted that in the absence of Councillor Sally Ann Hart, a written response would be provided.

19c

From Councillor Eileen Wilson

Could the leader update the council on the uptake of the council’s cost of living support this winter – as well as how well the council is signposting support to residents?

Minutes:

Could the Leader update the Council on the uptake of the Council’s cost of living support this winter – as well as how well the Council is signposting support to residents?

 

Councillor Bill Handley explained that the Council had been delivering innovative solutions to tackle the cost-of-living crisis for some time. This included the provision of 500 electric blankets and the use of mobile food hubs to assist those who most needed it. Local adverts had resulted in the doubling of the number of visits to the Council’s cost of living webpage and training had been provided to community volunteers.

 

There was no supplementary question.

19d

From Councillor Sunita Hansraj

Can the leader give the council an update regarding the newly opened Sports Pavilion in Northstowe?

Minutes:

Can the Leader give the Council an update regarding the newly opened Sports Pavilion in Northstowe?

 

Councillor Bill Handley reported that the pavilion had opened in January and was being used by local clubs. The artificial pitch had been made available for young people, free of charge.

 

There was no supplementary question.

19e

From Councillor Dan Lentell

Following the welcome decision that this Council will be pursuing White Ribbon accreditation, will the Leader outline what support could be provided to other organisations in the South Cambridgeshire District looking to follow this commendable path?

Minutes:

Following the welcome decision that this Council will be pursuing White Ribbon accreditation, will the Leader outline what support could be provided to other organisations in the South Cambridgeshire District looking to follow this commendable path?

 

Councillor Daniel Lentell stated that he would be happy to receive a written response to his question.

19f

From Question Heather Williams

At a recent parish council meeting, the Chief Executive suggested staff would most likely continue working a four-day week after March 2024 while the data was assessed and a decision was made. Can the Leader confirm how long this will take and therefore when all councillors will finally get a vote on the four-day week?

Minutes:

At a recent parish council meeting, the Chief Executive suggested staff would most likely continue working a four-day week after March 2024 while the data was assessed and a decision was made. Can the Leader confirm how long this will take and therefore when all councillors will finally get a vote on the four-day week?

 

Councillor John Williams reported that this matter had been addressed in recent member briefings and was covered in the report to the next Employment and Staffing Committee meeting. He concluded that it had been made clear in November that the four-day week trial would continue until the report had been produced.

 

Councillor Heather Williams asked if the length of wait before the Council made a decision on this important matter was acceptable. Councillor John Williams explained that in order to make an informed decision that the data had to be gathered at the end of the trial, including that of the Waste Service where the four-day week had been more recently introduced.

19g

From Councillor Graham Cone

Is the Leader aware that the staff directory for councillors on Insite is not being updated, and how does the Leader think this may affect the essential services councillors provide to residents of South Cambridgeshire?

Minutes:

Is the Leader aware that the staff directory for councillors on Insite is not being updated, and how does the Leader think this may affect the essential services councillors provide to residents of South Cambridgeshire?

 

Councillor Brian Milnes explained that a new version of Insite had been launched the week before but it was still being developed. He thanked the communications team for their work on this. Councillor Graham Cone asked if information on Insite could be kept up to date and not only include when staff were in the office but also provide alternative phone numbers to call if they could not be contacted. Councillor Brian Milnes agreed to pass this request on to those developing Insite, although he did not think it was appropriate to include the location of officers on Insite. It was agreed that officers should be contactable.

19h

From Councillor Tom Bygott

Staff have reported shorter or fewer meetings to increase productivity – but this is not reliant on the four-day week trial itself and can be done working five days a week. Can the Leader explain how they are telling the difference between performance changes as a consequence of having a day off each week, and performance changes due to changing methods of working?

Minutes:

Staff have reported shorter or fewer meetings to increase productivity – but that is not reliant on the four-day week trial itself and can be done working five days a week. Can the Leader explain how they are telling the difference between performance changes as a consequence of having a day off each week, and performance changes due to changing methods of working?

 

Councillor John Williams agreed that shorter meetings could be more productive. The benefits to working a four-day week included improvements in officers’ mental health and a good work life balance. Officers were sharing ways in which they could be more productive on the Intranet. These improvements were being recorded.

 

Councillor Tom Bygott stated that his question had not been answered. He asked what method was being used to record the correlation between fewer meetings and the four-day week. Councillor John Williams explained that key performance indicators were recording improvements in productivity and he did not consider recording the number and length of all meetings at the authority to be a sensible use of resources. Councillor John Williams agreed to provide Councillor Tom Bygott with a full written response to his question.

19i

From Councillor Mark Howell

Before councillors vote on whether the four-day week should become permanent, will the Leader provide assurance that a proper business case will be done?

Minutes:

Before councillors vote on whether the four-day week should become permanent, will the Leader provide assurance that a proper business case will be done?

 

In the absence of Councillor Mark Howell it was agreed that he would be provided with a written response.

19j

From Councillor Dr Richard Williams

Does the Leader believe the financial cost of the four-day week should have been calculated prior to undergoing the trial?

Minutes:

Does the Leader believe the financial cost of the four-day week should have been calculated prior to undergoing the trial?

 

In the absence of Councillor Dr Richard Williams it was agreed that he would be provided with a written response.

19k

From Councillor Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya

Can the Leader confirm if there will be a public consultation before councillors vote on the four-day week trial?

 

Minutes:

Can the Leader confirm if there will be a public consultation before councillors vote on the four-day week trial?

 

In the absence of Councillor Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya it was agreed that she would be provided with a written response.

19l

From Councillor Bunty Waters

Why does the Council now have 105 staff working in Transformation, up from 43 in 2018/19?

Minutes:

Why does the Council now have 105 staff working in Transformation, up from 43 in 2018/19?

 

In the absence of Councillor Bunty Waters it was agreed that she would be provided with a written response.

20.

Notices of Motion

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for each Motion to be moved, seconded and debated, including dealing with any amendments. At the expiry of the 30 minute period, debate shall cease immediately, the mover of the original Motion, or if the original Motion has been amended, the mover of that amendment now forming part of the substantive motion, will have the right of reply before it is put to the vote.

20a

Standing in the name of Councillor Daniel Lentell

This Council notes the following:

 

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales for the survey year ending March 2022, a staggering 1 in 30 women aged 16 years and over were victims of sexual assault;

 

The Office for National Statistics states that for the year ending September 2022, 70,633 rapes were recorded by the police: the highest number ever recorded;

 

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) states in its ‘Still just a bit of banter?’ 2016 report that ‘more than half (52%) of all women polled have experienced some form of sexual harassment’ at work;

 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for UN Women, in March 2021, recorded that 86% of women aged 18-24 said they had been sexually harassed in a public space, whilst 71% of women of all ages said the same;

 

Ofsted states in its ‘Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges’ that 9 in 10 girls and young women in schools, say sexist name-calling and being sent unwanted images of a sexual nature happens to them or their peers.

 

These distressing statistics show how endemic is violence against women and girls in our society and how normalised is sexist behaviour, from which this is borne.

 

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls. Their mission is to prevent violence against women and girls by addressing its root causes: working with men and boys to change long-established, and harmful, attitudes, systems and behaviours around masculinity that perpetuate inequality and violence. The work is preventative; White Ribbon want to stop violence before it starts.

 

All organisations, large and small, can help end violence against women. This is why the charity has developed two programmes to facilitate organisational change: Accreditation and Supporter Organisations.

 

Men’s violence — in all its forms — has a negative impact on the health and safety of employees, their wellbeing and productivity. It impacts  workplace culture and it can impede an organisation’s success. White Ribbon UK’s Accreditation and Supporter programmes provide frameworks to support organisations work towards ending harmful attitudes and behaviours in the workplace and throughout the local community.

 

This Council notes that the neighbouring councils of East Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City have attained White Ribbon accreditation.

 

This Council believes that White Ribbon accreditation, in addition to the other accreditations already achieved, is appropriate in order to address potential issues within the Council workplace and to demonstrate our collective leadership on this serious issue.

 

To this end we request that the Scrutiny Committee agree to set up a Task and Finish Group on the matter.

Decision:

Council agreed the following motion:

 

Council notes:

Domestic abuse can encompass a wide range of behaviours. It can but does not have to involve physical acts of violence and can include threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, emotional, psychological, sexual and/or economic abuse. Domestic abuse can involve abuse facilitated and perpetrated online or offline. It is widely recognised that the perpetrator’s desire to exercise power and control over the victim is at the centre of abusive behaviours. Many victims will experience abusive behaviours simultaneously, perpetrators may demonstrate a wide range and use different tactics to gain power and control.

 

Sexual violence, sexual harassment, and domestic abuse are endemic in modern society, highlighted recently by the appalling murders of Sabina Nessa, Sarah Everard, and sisters Bibba Henry and Nicole Smallman.

 

A recent OFSTED review into sexual harassment in schools has found that sexual harassment, including online sexual abuse, has become ‘normalised’ for children and young people.

 

The Council already holds accreditation with the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance.

 

The Lead Cabinet Member for Housing has directed officers to work towards obtaining White Ribbon Accreditation.

 

Council recognises:

The Domestic Abusing Housing Alliance (DAHA) is a UK based charity that since 2014 has supported housing providers improve their response to domestic abuse. DAHA’s accreditation standards have been endorsed by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England & Wales, Nicole Jacobs, who encouraged all local authorities and housing providers to adopt them.

 

White Ribbon is a charity in the UK with a mission to end violence against women and girls and is part of the global White Ribbon movement which arose from a campaign started in Canada in 2004.

 

Council believes:

The problem of domestic abuse needs addressing in all forms of relationship, including but not limited to abuse perpetrated by men towards women, by women towards men, within LGBTQ+ relationships, within family structures and within relationships between carers and those being cared for.

 

The prevalence of gender-based abuse is part of a broader culture of misogyny in society.

 

It is incumbent on everyone to work towards a society in which everybody can feel safe and secure and in which domestic abuse, including gender-based abuse, is a thing of the past.

 

By seeking White Ribbon accreditation, the Council will build upon its existing DAHA accreditation and will reaffirm its position that domestic abuse, including gender-based abuse, are never acceptable and we continue this fight against this scourge in society.

 

Council resolves to:

Endorse the decision of the Lead Cabinet Member for Housing to direct officers to work towards White Ribbon accreditation; and as part of this, mark White Ribbon Day on 25 November each year and encourage participation among councillors, council staff and local organisations.

 

Request the Leader to write to the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to request further work be done in support of all elements of this motion.

 

Call out all forms of sexual objectification and all its negative outcomes and encourage others  ...  view the full decision text for item 20a

Minutes:

Councillor Daniel Lentell explained that the motion was in response to the excellent public question asked by Elizabeth McWilliams at the previous meeting. He was pleased that the Council had now committed to White Ribbon accreditation. Councillor Judith Rippeth reported that violence against women often went unreported and the White Ribbon campaign sought to empower women and educate boys and men. She stated that unchallenged misogynistic behaviour was often at the root of violence against women. She asserted that White Ribbon accreditation would complement the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation that the Council had achieved.

 

Councillor Judith Rippeth proposed an amendment to the motion which was accepted by her, the seconder of the motion, and seconded by Councillor Daniel Lentell the proposer of the motion. This was therefore accepted without debate. Councillor Judith Rippeth explained that it was important to write to the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as all levels of Government needed to tackle this issue to reduce violence against women. Councillor Daniel Lentell stated that action was required to effect change and he spoke of the importance of educating men on this issue.

 

Councillor Dr Martin Cahn supported the motion and the amendment, which he believed improved the motion. He reported that research had shown that a third of men were a potential risk due to their attitudes to women and relationships. These men needed to be targeted and their behaviour needed to be modified.

 

Councillor Helene Leeming explained that she was aware of cases of domestic violence and the accompanying statistics in her role on the area’s domestic safety partnership. She supported the motion which complemented the work of community safety partnership teams and the Council’s DAHA accreditation.

 

Councillor Sunita Hansraj stated that she saw evidence of domestic violence in her professional life and the problem was multi-faceted. There was currently insufficient resources to tackle domestic abuse and she expressed her support for the motion.

 

Councillor Graham Cone supported the amended motion. He suggested that the motion could have been simplified and just supported White Ribbon accreditation and its objectives.

 

Councillor Heather Williams supported the motion, but expressed concern at the amendment, which amounted to a complete rewrite of the motion and this risked setting a dangerous precedent regarding the actions of the ruling Group. She suggested that the letter should be sent by either the Chief Executive or Chair of Council instead of the Leader. Councillor Daniel Lentell replied that he had received assurance that the letter would reflect the non-partisan support of Councillors for this motion. The Chair believed that the amended motion had the support of councillors and he assured Council that he would carefully review any future amendments to motions.

 

Councillor Daniel Lentell proposed and Councillor Judith Rippeth seconded the following motion. A vote was taken and

 

Council unanimously agreed the following motion:

 

Council notes:

Domestic abuse can encompass a wide range of behaviours. It can but does not have to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20a

20b

Standing in the Name of Councillor Heather Williams

This Council requests that the Cabinet expands its Cost of Living Support scheme to include providing free sanitary products to those who may not be able to afford them.

Decision:

Council agreed the following motion:

 

This Council requests that the Cabinet expands its Cost of Living Support scheme to include providing free sanitary products to those who may not be able to afford them.

Minutes:

Councillor Heather Williams stated that period poverty was an important issue, as the cost of a single sanitary towel was expensive and the correct change was required for using a vending machine. Pain medication also needed to be made available.

 

Councillor Bill Handley reported that the Council already provided free sanitary products and he supported the motion which could expand the assistance already provided to the poorest residents. Councillor Brian Milnes stated that Meadow Community centre provided free sanitary products and he supported the motion. Councillor Richard Stobart explained that period poverty had a disproportionate impact on younger women, particularly those in education. He supported the motion, which he hoped could help address this issue. Councillor Helene Leeming expressed her support for the motion.

Councillor Judith Rippeth stated that she worked in a state secondary school and was pleased to report that free products were offered across the sector; she supported the motion.

 

Councillor Graham Cone explained that agreeing this motion would bring the Council in line with public charities and the education sector. Councillor Heather Williams thanked councillors for their support. She explained that period poverty not only affected young women, but also women who had just given birth and women going through the menopause, as their periods could be harder to predict.

 

Councillor Heather Williams proposed and Councillor Graham Cone seconded the motion. A vote was taken and

 

Council unanimously agreed the following motion:

 

This Council requests that the Cabinet expands its Cost-of-Living Support scheme to include providing free sanitary products to those who may not be able to afford them.

20c

Standing in the name of Councillor Anna Bradnam

This Council notes:

-       Care-experienced people face significant barriers that impact them throughout their lives.

-       Despite the resilience of many care-experienced people, society too often does not take their needs into account.

-       Care-experienced people often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system.

-       Care-experienced people may encounter inconsistent support in different geographical areas.

-       The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies, such as councils, to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation of people with protected characteristics.

 

This Council believes:

-       Councillors should be champions of children and young people in care and challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists in all aspects of society.

 

This Council therefore resolves, in support of similar resolutions made by Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority:

-       It recognises that care experienced people are a group who are likely to face discrimination.

-       It recognises that Councils have a duty to put the needs of disadvantaged people at the heart of decision-making through co-production and collaboration.

-       Future decision, services and policies made and adopted by the Council should be assessed through Equality Impact Assessments to determine the impact of changes on people with care experience, alongside those who formally share a protected characteristic.

-       In the delivery of the Public Sector Equality Duty the Council includes care experience in the publication and review of Equality Objectives and the annual publication of information relating to people who share a protected characteristic in services and employment.

-       This Council will treat care experience as if it were a Protected Characteristic.

-       This Council formally calls upon all other bodies to treat care experience as a protected characteristic until such time as it may be introduced by legislation including:

i.              working to establish South Cambridgeshire as a District where all local government treats our care leavers similarly.

ii.            calling on towns and parishes as well as the Greater Cambridge Partnership to also pass this motion to enable us all to work together to protect and provide for our care experienced young people.

-       To continue proactively seeking out and listening to the voices of care experienced people when developing new policies based on their views.

Decision:

Council agreed the following motion:

 

This Council notes:

-     Care-experienced people face significant barriers that impact them throughout their lives.

-    Despite the resilience of many care-experienced people, society too often does not take their needs into account.

-    Care-experienced people often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system.

-    Care-experienced people may encounter inconsistent support in different geographical areas.

-    The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies, such as councils, to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation of people with protected characteristics.

 

This Council believes:

-       Councillors should be champions of children and young people in care and challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists in all aspects of society.

 

This Council therefore resolves, in support of similar resolutions made by Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority:

-       It recognises that care experienced people are a group who are likely to face discrimination.

-    It recognises that Councils have a duty to put the needs of disadvantaged people at the heart of decision-making through co-production and collaboration.

-    Future decision, services and policies made and adopted by the Council should be assessed through Equality Impact Assessments to determine the impact of changes on people with care experience, alongside those who formally share a protected characteristic.

-    In the delivery of the Public Sector Equality Duty the Council includes care experience in the publication and review of Equality Objectives and the annual publication of information relating to people who share a protected characteristic in services and employment.

-    This Council will treat care experience as if it were a Protected Characteristic.

-    This Council formally calls upon all other bodies to treat care experience as a protected characteristic until such time as it may be introduced by legislation including:

i.              working to establish South Cambridgeshire as a District where all local government treats our care leavers similarly.

ii.            calling on towns and parishes as well as the Greater Cambridge Partnership to also pass this motion to enable us all to work together to protect and provide for our care experienced young people.

-       To continue proactively seeking out and listening to the voices of care experienced people when developing new policies based on their views.

Minutes:

Councillor Anna Bradnam explained that there were 652 children in care in Cambridgeshire and the County Council had passed a similar motion last summer recognising them as a protected characteristic. She hoped that the Council could agree the motion that would help these children with their education, work, benefits payments and accommodation.

 

Councillor Heather Williams supported the motion to assist those who had grown up in care, as it was important that regardless of the start a person had in life, they should be given every opportunity to become the best they could be. Councillor Graham Cone also supported the motion, as it indicated how the Council could best assist vulnerable children in the District. Councillor Eileen Wilson explained that these children often received no support when they left care and so she supported the motion.

 

Councillor Pippa Heylings explained that giving care leavers a protected characteristic placed a responsibility on public bodies to prioritise their needs. She explained that it was important for Councils to agree motions such as this one, as unfortunately the Government had decided against adopting the necessary legislation. Councillor Anna Bradnam explained that it was important that care leavers were given the same opportunities as all other children.

 

Councillor Anna Bradnam proposed and Councillor Pippa Heylings seconded the motion. A vote was taken and

 

Council unanimously agreed the following motion:

 

This Council notes:

-    Care-experienced people face significant barriers that impact them throughout their lives.

-    Despite the resilience of many care-experienced people, society too often does not take their needs into account.

-    Care-experienced people often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system.

-    Care-experienced people may encounter inconsistent support in different geographical areas.

-    The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies, such as councils, to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation of people with protected characteristics.

 

This Council believes:

-     Councillors should be champions of children and young people in care and challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists in all aspects of society.

 

This Council therefore resolves, in support of similar resolutions made by Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority:

-    It recognises that care experienced people are a group who are likely to face discrimination.

-    It recognises that Councils have a duty to put the needs of disadvantaged people at the heart of decision-making through co-production and collaboration.

-    Future decision, services and policies made and adopted by the Council should be assessed through Equality Impact Assessments to determine the impact of changes on people with care experience, alongside those who formally share a protected characteristic.

-    In the delivery of the Public Sector Equality Duty the Council includes care experience in the publication and review of Equality Objectives and the annual publication of information relating to people who share a protected characteristic in services and employment.

-    This Council will treat care experience as if it were a Protected Characteristic.

-    This Council formally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20c

21.

Chair's Engagements

To note the Chair’s engagements since the last Council meeting:

 

Date

Venue / Event

10 November 2023501st Wing Commander, Colonel Landon Phillips Veterans Day Ceremony, Madingley American Cemetery

5 December 2023   Carol service at King’s College Chapel

6 December 2023   Haverhill carol service

19 December 2023Mayor of Huntingdon Civic Carol service (attended by Vice Chair)

20 January 2024     Ribbon cutting Western Park Pavilion, Northstowe

 

Minutes:

The Chair stated that in addition to the engagement listed, on 26 January he had attended the citizenship awards on behalf of the Council. Council noted the Chair’s engagements.