Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 6.00 pm

As of May 2021, decision making of meetings of the Council have returned to in-person sessions. A number of meetings remain virtual, with appropriate Councillors attending via remote video link. Public access to these meetings is via a live stream video through the Council’s official YouTube channel

Venue: via Remote Video Link

Contact: Email: committees@midsussex.gov.uk 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Roll Call and Virtual Meeting Explanation.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. The Vice Chairman took a roll call of Members present. The Head of Regulatory Services provided a virtual meeting explanation.

 

2.

Opening Prayer

Minutes:

The opening prayer was read by the Vice-Chairman.

3.

To receive questions from members of the public pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 9.

Minutes:

The following question was received from David Wooley:

 

13 months ago, MSDC adopted an 18-point motion on Environment and Climate Change built on commitments in the Sustainability Strategy 2018-2023. We must mitigate climate change wherever we can and without delay.

 

The motion included several Key Performance Indicators. Will council now publish these pre-Covid historical KPI results for 2018-2019 and also 2019-March 2020 (with particular emphasis on the provision and maintenance of EV charge points), and commit to publishing these KPI results quarterly or 6-monthly from now?

Will council introduce Sustainability Impact Assessments and require that all council projects adhere to the Sustainability Strategy?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member Cllr. J Belsey

This Council has a number of Performance Indicators that relate to our Sustainability work.  These are published quarterly and considered by the Cabinet and the Leader, Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee. The reports for 2018-19 and 2019-20 years are therefore already publicly available. The 18 point list in the Motion were actions that this Council had already taken towards delivery of our strategy.  We continue to build on these actions to deliver this work - for example:

·            We now have 58 establishments, amounting to 88 outlets, signed up to the Refill programme, 

·            25,745 kwh of the electricity used at the Oaklands campus was generated by the solar PV panel in 2019-20 providing an 8.3% reduction in our need for grid-supplied electricity, saving 6,500kg CO2

·            The British Heart Foundation kerbside collection pilot of textiles and small electrical equipment resulted in 46 tonnes of clothing being collected in the trial period,

We continue to invest in our parks and open spaces. We have successfully secured commitments from developers to support sustainability measures and interventions.  As I reported to the last Council meeting, work to procure a new EV Charge Point Operator for the provision and maintenance of EV charge points, in collaboration with all the other West Sussex District and Borough Councils and County Council, will result in a new operator being in place by the end of the year.  I would also stress that councils have no obligation to provide EVCPs and we are doing so to help to stimulate the market.

With regard to the introduction of Sustainability Impact Assessments; this Council continues to have regard to a range of assessments of impact. For example, this includes assessments across a wide range of its activities as is relevant in each matter and it will continue to do so.  

Achieving sustainable development is also at the core of the Council’s planning service in line with national policy set out in the NPPF. The District Plan and the emerging Sites DPD are legally required to be subject of a Sustainability Appraisal which demonstrate how social, environmental and economic issues have been considered in the preparation of the plan.  Planning applications are subject to Environmental Impact Assessments and all applications are considered against policies in the District Plan.

 

As part of our ongoing work to assess the impacts, challenges and opportunities to do  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

To confirm Minutes of the meeting of Council held on 24 June 2020. pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 24 June were agreed as a correct record of the meeting. The Chairman confirmed that the minutes are summary of discussion held during the meeting and that the full recording is available on the Council’s website.

 

5.

To receive declarations of Interest from Members in respect of any matter on the Agenda.

Minutes:

None.

6.

To consider any items that the Chairman of the Council agrees to take as urgent business.

Minutes:

None.

7.

Chairman's Announcements.

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that nominations for the Mid Sussex Applauds 2020 are now open and asked for Member’s support in promoting this as widely as possible within local communities.

 

With regard to the order of business, the Chairman noted that due to significant public and Member interest in item 11, this item will be discussed first, with the other substantive items following after.

 

8.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy 2020/21 - 2022/23. pdf icon PDF 678 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Pulfer moved the item. This was seconded by the Deputy Leader. 

 

A tabled amendment (published online) was proposed by Councillor Hicks, seeking the Council to commit to explicitly adopting an ethical investment policy to encourage socially responsible investment. This was seconded by Councillor Eggleston. 

 

The Deputy Leader drew Member’s attention to the report which states that ‘the Council’s shared service will research the range of “green” and “ethical” investments that is developing’. She noted that the proposed overarching policy would tie the hands of the Audit Committee and it raises issues on what is defined as ‘green ‘ and ‘ethical’ from various different standpoints.

 

Members discussed the amendment. Some Members felt that the amendment was mild, well intentioned and would move forward the Council’s commitment to research a range of investments.  Other Members felt that the terminology of ‘explicitly adopting’ could affect the Audit Committee’s ability to seek the best investment to protect the funds managed on behalf of residents to provide key Council services. It was noted that the Audit Committee will consider the research into green and ethical investments at its meeting in September.

 

The Chairman took members to a vote on the amendment. 30 Members voted against and 18 voted for, therefore the amendment was lost.

 

The Chairman took Members to the original recommendations which were agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

Council agree:

 

(i) the proposed Treasury Management Strategy Statement (TMSS) for 2020/21 and the following two years,

 

(ii) the Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) and the Minimum Revenue Provision Statement (MRP) as contained in Sections 4 and 2.3 respectively of the report;

 

(iii) the Prudential Indicators contained within this report.

 

9.

MSDC Pay Policy Statement 2020/21. pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor de Mierre moved the item noting that since the Localism Act of 2011 the Council has a statutory obligation to produce the statement annually. This was seconded by the Deputy Leader.

 

The Chairman took Members to the recommendations which were agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

Council agreed the Pay Policy at Appendix A, to comply with the requirements of the Localism Act.

 

10.

Equality and Diversity Scheme 2020 - 2024. pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Webster moved the item noting that it has been reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee in February 2020 and consultation with a number of key groups within the District including Mid Sussex Voluntary Action, Citizens Advice, Town and Parish Councils, Age UK and Mid Sussex Older People’s Council. It also includes the Governments request that all Councils formally adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. This was seconded by the Deputy Leader.

 

Members commended the policy, especially noting that against the backdrop of the Covid 19 pandemic, it highlights the immediate need to reflect on how the Council can continue to protect the most vulnerable. Members also welcomed the adoption of the definition of antisemitism and thanked Officers for training provided on equalities issues. The issue of hate crime both in person and on social media was discussed and the Cabinet Member confirmed that Sussex Police are actively promoting the need to report hate crimes so that action can be taken.

 

The Chairman took Members to the recommendations which were agreed. 

 

RESOLVED

 

Council agreed to:

(i)         approve the proposed Equality and Diversity Scheme 2020-24 attached at

Appendix 1

 

(ii)        adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and guidelines attached at          Appendix 2.

 

11.

Site Allocations Development Plan Document Submission Draft (Regulation 19). pdf icon PDF 460 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr MacNaughton moved the item, noting that a politically and geographically balanced constitutional Working Group was set up to monitor the work, meeting 16 times in total and providing 8 updates to the Scrutiny Committee for Housing, Planning and Economic Growth.  The criteria used by the group was designed to enable comparison of one site against another to determine the most suitable and developable site in accordance with National Planning Policy Framework. A significant buffer of sites is required especially in the current climate, to ensure the Council can maintain its five-year housing land supply.

 

He noted a recent request by Ardingly Parish Council to remove site SA25 . They have been advised to submit their comments to the Inspector. Should the draft Site Allocation Development Document (Sites DPD) be approved for consultation, it will enable an eight-week public consultation to begin on 3 August. Even after inspection, all sites will still be required to apply for planning permission.

 

The item was seconded by Councillor Peacock who noted that a lengthy and detailed process had been followed and reiterated the crucial need to maintain the Council’s five-year housing land supply.

           

Members of the Working Group thanked Officers for the extensive training and technical detail that was provided to enable them to make informed decisions about the sites, based on fact. It was noted that Members have to view the document at District level, rather than from a parish perspective. It is crucial that the Council maintains a delivery plan as requested by the Inspector as part of the District Plan.

 

Discussion was held on the importance of maintaining biodiversity at a number of sites. The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Council understands the importance of protecting biodiversity, and habitat surveys specific to each site will be required to identify areas that need to be conserved and enhanced.

 

Members raised concern over sites that have been included in areas that have already met the minimum requirements set out in DP6, and that by inclusion in the Site Allocations DPD, it makes it easier for permission to be granted. There was also concern over sites that bordered other Districts and any delay this may cause in progressing applications. A query was also raised on the delivery of an appropriate cycle network. The Cabinet Member provided reassurance that regular contact is made with bordering Local Authorities, with no delays anticipated. He also reiterated that developers for each site would have to submit applications which would be considered against the relevant policies at the time.   Regarding the cycle network the Cabinet Member confirmed that the majority of the network will be provided by Homes England and requested an email on the specific routes that were queried in order to provide a written response.

 

A tabled amendment (published online) was proposed by Councillor Eggleston, seeking to remove site SA12 and SA13 from the Site Allocations DPD, noting a number of objections to the inclusion of these sites, due to traffic impacts. He also noted that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Recommendations from Cabinet held on 6 July 2020. pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader proposed the item, which was seconded by the Leader.

 

A Member expressed appreciation that the demolition of the library in Burgess Hill can progress.  Regarding the cost implications, the Deputy Leader confirmed that asbestos removal is required but the price will be competitive as consultants are revisiting costs with a number of contractors.

 

The Chairman took Members to the recommendations which were agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

BURGESS HILL LIBRARY DEMOLITION 2020

 

Council approved:

(i) that this project is added to the Capital Programme 2020/21, financed from the General Reserve, and that the Head of Corporate Resources is delegated to contract with those bodies necessary to achieve the project outcomes.

 

(ii) and that a further report is to follow to Cabinet detailing the project costs.

 

 

BUDGET MANAGEMENT 2020/21 PROGRESS REPORT APRIL TO MAY 2020

 

Council approved:

(i) that £357,996 grant income relating to Homeless Support Grant be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraphs 25 of the Cabinet report;

 

(ii) that £5,483 grant income relating to Cold Weather Fund Payment Grant be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 26 of the Cabinet report;

 

(iii) that £8,428 grant income relating to Local Authority Data Sharing Programme Grant be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 27 of the Cabinet report;

 

(iv) that £34,629 grant income relating to Implementing Welfare Reform Grant be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 28 of the Cabinet report;

 

(v) that £25,242 grant income relating to New Burdens Verify Earnings & Pensions Grant be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 29 of the Cabinet report;

 

 (vi) that £1,233 grant income relating to New Burdens Transparency code and £1,380 grant income relating to New Burdens Severe Disability Premium changes be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 30 of the Cabinet report;

 

(vii) that £695,753 grant income relating to COVID 19 Council Tax Hardship Fund be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 31 of the Cabinet report;

 

(viii) the variations to the Capital Programme contained in paragraph 38 of the Cabinet report in accordance with the Council’s Financial Procedure rule B3.

13.

To receive the Leader's Report.

Minutes:

The Leader noted that the Council continues to prioritise work undertaken as part of the Covid 19 response.

 

He highlighted the ongoing difficult negotiations over the costs of closing and reopening Leisure Centres within the District and confirmed that in common with most Councils in contract with Places Leisure, the centres will not be reopening on Saturday 25 July when the Government lifts the restrictions.  It is unlikely that they will reopen in August. This is due to cost implications, and not because of safety concerns.  The Council needs to consider the costs and what tax-payer subsidy can be justified, with issues carefully modelled and assessed.

 

He noted that work is ongoing towards a revised budget and Corporate Plan which will be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in August and Council in September. He welcomed a recent Government announcement offering more support to Councils, of which Mid Sussex is entitled to £170,000, along with a scheme to support low income households. He also noted the Council’s need to focus on the economy, and in helping businesses to restart and thrive, and people to return to work or gain employment.

 

Discussion was held on the reopening of leisure centres and Members requested a standard communication that they could provide to residents on the matter. The Leader agreed to make available his Leaders report as well as further information. He shared the concern of a Member that staff at Places Leisure were potentially not aware of the situation and hoped they are briefed accordingly by their employer.  He also reiterated that it is not straightforward to open the centres even partially as The Coronavirus Act 2020 has interrupted contracts for all Council’s with external leisure contractors, resulting in the need for complex negotiations and clarity from the Government on how the loss of income will be addressed.

 

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 17.2, the Chairman took Members to a vote on whether to continue the meeting beyond 9.00pm. 32 Members voted in favour of continuing and 14 voted against.  The meeting adjourned for a 5-minute break, resuming at 8.55pm.

14.

Report of Cabinet Members, including questions pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.1.

Minutes:

Report of the Deputy Leader

 

The Deputy Leader noted that the Council is proceeding with property plans as far as possible and drew Member’s attention to the Colliers website where the sale of land with planning permission for 5 houses and 3 flats is advertised, to assist with income generation.

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

 

The Cabinet Member reported that work undertaken with partners to make High Streets Covid 19 safe has completed. Some adjustments are needed in Hurstpierpoint and he agreed to provide details in writing. He noted that it was too early to assess the true ramification of the Covid 19 pandemic on the economy, but work is underway in order to be prepared when reassessing the Council’s economic strategy.

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Customer Services

 

The Cabinet Member noted that Mid Sussex Matters has been published and assured Members that the magazine aims to reflect a balance of projects across the towns and villages. She also noted that virtual Play Days have begun online, and confirmed the number of business grants that have been issued. By the end of July, a further Hardship Grant will be available for anyone in receipt of Council Tax support and those in arrears seeking financial advice.

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery

 

The Cabinet Member noted that playgrounds are legally open now and Government guidance gave owners and operators discretion to decide when it is safe to open individual areas. The Council has risk assessed all play areas and deep cleaned and prepared 50 sites which are now open. The guidance is being monitored before any further sites are opened. He confirmed that Officers can provide expertise or advice to Town and Parish Councils if required.

 

Discussion was held on the Blue Heart scheme to provide wildflower areas in some parks. It is currently a trial scheme and if successful may be possible to extend to other areas. The Cabinet Member agreed to provide a written update with details of the scheme and an update on a query over St John’s Park where it was felt that the blue heart area potentially occupied valuable leisure space in a popular location.

 

Discussion was also held on litter collections and a clean-up exercise along the A23. The Cabinet Member requested that any specific issues be emailed to the Council via the Council’s website, or by emailing wastematters@midsussex.gov.uk or parksopenspaces@midsussex.gov.uk.

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Community.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that the annual Air Quality report has been submitted to DEFRA for approval and once approved will be shared with Ward Councillors before publishing on the Council’s website. The anticipated timescale for this is September 2020. He confirmed that the air quality assessment does measure particulates to the level that satisfies the legal requirement.

 

Report of Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Planning Department continues to exceed performance targets, and the Housing Department are dealing with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Questions from Members pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.2

Minutes:

None.