Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021 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


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No. Item


Roll Call and Virtual Meeting Explanation.


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


Opening Prayer.


The opening prayer was read by the Vice-Chairman.


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


The following question was received from Mr Brooks:


As the UK takes the Presidency of the G7 and we head towards COP26, PM Boris Johnson has announced an ambitious Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Environment Bill is passing through Parliament and, building on the world leading pledge to meet net-zero emission by 2050, Johnson has set a target of a 68% fall in emissions by 2030. Does the council have its own clear 'roadmap' in line with this? And what plans are there to show direction and leadership at a local level to support community engagement?


Response from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery, Councillor J Belsey


Thank you for your question.


The Council has had a Sustainability Strategy in place since 2018. This strategy sets out the leadership role the Council has in encouraging and enabling sustainable initiatives and developments. Importantly it also sets out the Council’s own contribution to sustainability.


However, we recognise that we can go further particularly in post Covid recovery but also in the light of the emerging Environment Bill which we hope will receive Royal Assent in Autumn this year. 


You will hopefully be aware that our current Corporate Plan commits to the development of a new Sustainable Economy Strategy. This will bring together two strategies that need refreshing in the light of the pandemic but that are also critical to our Covid recovery.  This will provide a clear roadmap to the delivery of the full potential of our District without compromising the needs of our future communities and of course it will take account of new and emerging legislative requirements including those set out in last year’s Environment Bill which is currently working its way through the Parliamentary process.  I am sure all members and residents will welcome that the Bill is intended to provide a legal framework for environmental governance as well as making provision for specific improvements of the environment, including measures on waste and resource efficiency, air quality, water, nature, biodiversity and conservation. 

Your question is timely in that the first steps towards the development of this new Council strategy will be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for Leader Finance and Performance next week.


Mr Brooks was unable to pose a supplementary question due to experiencing technical difficulties during the virtual meeting.


To confirm Minutes of the meeting of Council held on 27 January 2021. pdf icon PDF 261 KB


The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 27 January 2021 were agreed as a correct record of the meeting. 


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




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




Chairman's Announcements.




Recommendations from Cabinet held on 8 February 2021. pdf icon PDF 101 KB


The Deputy Leader moved the item, noting that the recommendations are made against a projected net overspend of £1.93m at end of this financial year. She summarised the recommendations, drawing attention to the variations to the Capital Programme which include £1.4m to purchase 5 properties for temporary accommodation, the upgrading of the property management system, playground improvements at Scaynes Hill and St Johns Park and Hurst Farm development costs.  She noted that revenue projects included in the report are the ‘About the Place’ public art project and electronic access gates to John Pears recreation ground tennis courts. The final recommendation is regarding the debt in respect of Horsham District Council’s £115,000 contribution to the Census Partnership. The recommendations were seconded by the Leader.


The Chairman took Members to a vote on the recommendations which were approved with 46 in favour.




That Council approve:


(i) that £500,000 be transferred to a Leisure Covid Support Reserve from General

Reserve as detailed in paragraph 19 of the Cabinet report;


(ii) that £38,170 grant income relating to Rough Sleepers Initiative be transferred

to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 32 of the Cabinet report;


(iii) that £76,500 grant income relating to New Burdens funding to cover the cost of

administering the new Business grants in respect of Covid be transferred to

Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 33 of the Cabinet report;


 (iv) that £48,631 grant income relating to Local Authority Compliance and

Enforcement grant be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph

34 of the Cabinet report;


(v) that £9,663 grant income relating to New Burdens funding for Housing Benefit

Accuracy Award Initiative and Severe Disability Premium Gateway Initiative be

transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 35 of the Cabinet



(vi) that £75,000 grant income relating to support in respect of Covid-19

preventative interventions delivered by Environmental Health teams be

transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 36 of the Cabinet



(vii) that £61,418 grant income in respect of Journey to Work funding, to fund work

being undertaken by the Employment Projects Co-ordinator be transferred to

the Revenues and Benefits New Burdens Specific Reserve as detailed in

paragraph 37 of the Cabinet report;


(viii) that £26,026 grant income to Implement the Test and Trace Support Payment

scheme be transferred to the Revenues and Benefits New Burdens Specific

Reserve as detailed in paragraph 38 of the Cabinet report;


(ix) the variations to the Capital Programme contained in paragraph 48 of the Cabinet report in accordance with the Council’s Financial Procedure rule B3;


(x) that prior year debtors in respect of Horsham District Council’s Contribution to the Census Partnership be written off as detailed in Appendix A of the Cabinet report.



Corporate Plan and Budget For 2021/22. pdf icon PDF 264 KB

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The Leader moved the item, noting that Members had received an updated report which corrects Council Tax figures for the year ahead. He noted that Members last met in person a year ago to debate the Corporate Plan and had asked about scenario planning in the face of the impending pandemic. The Leader’s reply at the time noted the Council’s ability to be agile in its response and this year has proven this to be the case.


He noted that over the last year, the Council has worked to an unprecedented scale in establishing new services such as the business grants programme and support for vulnerable and shielding residents, as well as continuing existing services with rising demand. It has also had to respond to an ever-changing landscape as Leisure Centres and the local economy closed and reopened as multiple lockdowns were imposed.  He acknowledged the cost of the pandemic both to the country and the Council and noted that the current year will result in over £2m deficit which will need to be funded from reserves, even after the support received from Government has been utilised.


The Leader confirmed that a balanced budget is presented, but only as a result of windfall income from business rates retention and the Council’s finances are not on a sustainable footing over the medium term and the Council’s reserves will reach a perilous position within the next four years. Regrettably therefore, a 2.9% increase to the District Council’s share of Council Tax is necessary next year but the Council Tax Support Scheme means that those residents on the lowest incomes are supported with the cost of this bill.


The Leader drew Members attention to the clear priorities contained in the Corporate Plan which include supporting the economic recovery, with work being done alongside Mimms Davis M.P. and the Department of Work and Pensions at Haywards Heath College, and the rollout of the Council’s infrastructure programme including the Northern Arc and gigabit speed full fibre. Other key priorities include ensuring that the Council has an environmentally friendly recovery by developing a Sustainable Economy Strategy, continuing to help vulnerable people in the communities and the critical task of beginning to rebuild the Council’s finances after the impact of the pandemic


The Deputy Leader seconded the item reiterating the need to build towards the future even if it is uncertain.


Several Members congratulated Officers on the work involved to present a balanced budget in difficult circumstances.


A Member queried what plans are in place to respond to the call on reserves over years 2-5 of the budget, particularly regarding the proposed Science and Technology Park and ways to bring manufacturing back into the District. The Leader acknowledged that it was hard to know at this stage the true effect of the deficit, but he expected improvements to be evident once the Government restrictions begin to lift. The Council will continue to provide services as efficiently as possible and seek to diversify its income base as quickly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.