Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday, 29th September, 2021 7.00 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: Trinity Methodist Church, East Grinstead, RH19 2HA

Contact: Email: committees@midsussex.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Opening Prayer.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked Sandra Prail for attending the meeting for item 11.  The opening prayer was read by the Chairman.

 

2.

Appointment of Vice Chairman.

Minutes:

The Chairman proposed that Councillor P. Coote be elected as Vice-chairman of the Council for the 2021/22 Council year. This was seconded by Councillor Ash-Edwards and with no further nominations put forward, this was agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

That Councillor P. Coote be elected as Vice-chairman of the Council for the 2021/22 Council year.

 

3.

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

Minutes:

Question from Ms Helen Frost

 

In June the UK Climate Change Committee published an assessment of UK climate risks which set out the priority risks and opportunities for adaptation.  In presentations accompanying the report Lord Deben and Baroness Brown emphasised the importance of local decision making and praised the adaptation plans of some local councils.  However, they noted that typically there was a lack of preparedness for changes in UK climate which are already inevitable.  Have key members of MSDC familiarised themselves with the CCC report and looked for any opportunities to increase the resilience of local homes, businesses, and environment to climate change?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery

Thank you for your question. The Council recognises its role and has taken opportunities to increase the resilience of local homes, businesses, and environment to climate change.

 

Our approach is embedded in the policies of all our strategies including the District Plan, the current Sustainability Strategy and the District Wide Design Guide - all of which emphasise the importance of sustainability.

 

We work in partnership with a number of bodies to address this issue, such as the GBEB and Homes England where the principles of sustainable design and construction and place shaping will be delivered as an integral part of the Northern Arc Development. Not only have they designed local neighbourhoods (where all new residents will be able to access goods and services within a 10 minute walk), but they will be delivering a comprehensive network of walking and cycling infrastructure; tree lined streets; sustainable urban drainage systems; EV charging points; and 23% biodiversity net gain.

 

Finally, we are currently preparing a Sustainable Economy Strategy and the work on this is being overseen by a cross party Member Working Group. As part of this work key reports, including the CCC Report, are being considered alongside specifically commissioned experts to work on carbon baselining of the District’s and Council’s premises. The Sustainable Economy Strategy will take a broad approach and will look at a range of projects which can be implemented to reduce carbon emissions and ensure the environmental resilience of our communities.

 

4.

To confirm Minutes of the meeting of Council held on 30 June 2021. pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Salisbury noted that when he was appointed as a Cabinet Member he had also resigned as Vice-chairman of the Charity Trustees.   The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 30 June were agreed as a correct record of the meeting.  

 

5.

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

Minutes:

Councillor Eggleston declared a personal interest in item 15 as he is a trustee of the Beehive CIO. 

 

Councillor Pete Bradbury declared he is the Chairman of West Sussex County Council.

 

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 attendance at Lindfield and Haywards Heath Day,  Shorinjiryu Renshinkan Karate DO Film Screening,  East Grinstead Hockey Club Junior Open Day, Annual Church Service of Sussex Freemasons, The Yews 10 Year Anniversary Lunch, NHS Social Care and Frontline Workers Day and East Grinstead Rugby Club Statue Unveiling to commemorate Matt Ratana.

 

8.

Making of the Copthorne Neighbourhood Plan. pdf icon PDF 291 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Forbes moved the item, this was seconded by Councillor Phillips who reserved his right to speak.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning welcomed the Copthorne Neighbourhood Plan and noted the importance of the documents.  He thanked all those involved for the work they had done and he endorsed the plan.

 

Councillor Chris Phillips confirmed the document had taken 9 years to complete.  He thanked Councillor Mike Livsey and the public who helped with the plan, he supported the recommendation.

 

The Chairman took Members to a vote on the recommendation which was taken by a show of hands.   The recommendation was approved.

 

RESOLVED

 

Council noted the outcome of the Copthorne Referendum; and agreed to formally ‘make’ the Copthorne Neighbourhood Plan part of the Development Plan for the Copthorne and Worth ward.

 

9.

Report of the Returning Officer as to the person elected as District Councillor for the Ward of Ardingly & Balcombe on 8 July 2021. pdf icon PDF 11 KB

Minutes:

The Returning Officer introduced the report and Councillors were asked to note the election of Councillor Jenny Edwards and Council noted this.

 

RESOLVED

 

Council noted the election of Councillor Jenny Edwards as District Councillor for the Ward of Ardingly and Balcombe.

 

10.

To Receive the Report of the Monitoring Officer: Political Balance Section 15 Local Government and Housing Act 1989; The Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990. pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer introduced the report which set out the political balance, Council was asked to approve the recommendations.

 

The Chairman took Members to a vote on the recommendation which was taken by a show of hands.   The recommendation was agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

Council agreed that for the year 2021/22:

(i)      The Scrutiny Committees each comprise of 15 members, consisting of 9 Conservative, 4 Liberal Democrat, 1 from the Green and Burgess Hill Independent Group and 1 from the Independent Councillors on the Scrutiny Committee of Leader Finance and Performance and on the Scrutiny Committee for Housing Planning and Economic Growth. The Scrutiny Committee for Community Customer Services and Service Delivery is comprised of 9 Conservative, 4 Liberal Democrat and 2 from the Green and Burgess Hill Independent Group.

(ii)     Two Planning Committees each comprise 12 members, consisting of 8 Conservative on each of the 2 committees, 3 Liberal Democrat on the District Planning Committee and 2 on the Planning Committee, 1 from the Independent Councillors for the Planning Committee and 1 from the Green and Burgess Hill Independent Group on the District Planning Committee and on the Planning Committee;

(iii)   The Licensing Committee comprises 15 members, consisting of 10 Conservative, 3 Liberal Democrat, 1 from the Green and Burgess Hill Independent Group and 1 from the Independent Councillors;

(iv)   The Standards Committee comprises 6 Council members consisting of 4 Conservative (other than the Leader), 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 from the Green and Burgess Hill Independent Group and 4 representatives of town/parish councils.

 

11.

Mid Sussex District Council Governance Review Summary. pdf icon PDF 497 KB

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer introduced the summary report and noted an earlier workshop attended by the Members.  He asked Members to approve the recommendations and the implementation plan.

 

The Leader, Councillor Ash-Edwards moved the item and he thanked Sandra Prail for undertaking the governance review following the election of many new Members.  He noted it was a constructive process and he thanked the Members for their engagement. The pandemic has impacted the way the Council works.  The review concluded the Council’s governance framework is not atypical for a district council and the Constitution meets the statutory requirements.  A review of the scrutiny process was suggested to consider best practice and use resources more efficiently.  He thanked all group leaders for their cross-party work and regular meetings, he highlighted the Parking Strategy and Sustainability Economy Strategy working groups.  A Member welcomed the independent review and a key recommendation for Members to work collaboratively for the benefit of Mid Sussex. In response to a concern raised, the Leader confirmed the Standards Committee had reviewed the recent conduct of a Member, and whilst they had not found a Code of Conduct breach, he urged all Members to always take care to treat each other with courtesy and respect.

 

Councillor Webster seconded the item noting Members were all working well towards the recommendations.

 

The Chairman took Members to a vote on the recommendations which was taken by

a show of hands.   The recommendations and implementation plan were approved.

 

12.

Recommendations from Cabinet held on 26 July and 13 September 2021. pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Minutes:

 

Councillor Ash-Edwards moved the item in relation to budget management.  

 

Councillor Webster seconded the item and welcomed the report.

 

The Chairman took Members to a vote on the recommendations which was taken by a show of hands.   The recommendations were approved.

 

RESOLVED

 

Council agreed:

 

(i)      that £432,728 grant income relating to Homelessness Prevention be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraphs 26 of the Cabinet report;

(ii)     that £6,400 grant income relating to the Cold Weather Fund be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 27 of the Cabinet report;

(iii)    that £563,194 grant income relating to the Covid-19 Test and Trace Contain Management Outbreak Fund (COMF) be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 28 of the Cabinet report;

(iv)    that £21,215 grant income relating to Implementing Welfare Reform be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 29 of the Cabinet report;

(v)     that £27,618 grant income for new burdens relating to Verify Earnings & Pensions be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 30 of the Cabinet report;

(vi)    that £5,000 grant income in respect of a payment for Rough Sleepers be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 31 of the Cabinet report;

(vii)   that £2,973 grant income relating to Revenues and Benefits New Burdens be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraph 32 of the Cabinet report;

(viii)  that £166,800 grant income in respect of New Burdens Local Authority Discretionary funding be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 33 of the Cabinet report;

(ix)    that £33,632 grant income relating to Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation funding be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraphs 34 of the Cabinet report;

(x)    that £25,000 grant income relating to Additional Emergency Accommodation funding be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraphs 35 of the Cabinet report;

(xi)    that £107,395 grant income relating to Admin Subsidy be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraphs 36 of the Cabinet report;

(xii)   the variations to the Capital Programme contained in paragraph 50 of the Cabinet report in accordance with the Council’s Financial Procedure rule B3.

(xiii)  that £50,000 grant income received to fund the Burgess Hill Station project be transferred to Specific Reserves as detailed in paragraph 29 of the Cabinet report;

(xiv)  that £445 grant income relating to New Burdens funding for Council Tax data submissions be transferred to Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 30 of the Cabinet report;

(xv)   that £14,000 be reallocated to the Planning Performance Agreement Specific as detailed in paragraph 31 of the Cabinet report;

(xvi)  that £100,000 be transferred to the Gatwick DCO Specific Reserve as detailed in paragraph 32 of the Cabinet report; Council - 29 September 2021 42;

(xvii)  the variations to the Capital Programme contained in paragraph 39 of the Cabinet report in accordance with the Council’s Financial Procedure rule B3.

 

13.

To receive the Leader's Report

Minutes:

He welcomed Members to East Grinstead which is an important part of the District.  He also extended a welcome to Councillor Jenny Edwards. The national Cabinet reshuffle was highlighted, and he thanked the outgoing Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP for his excellent engagement with council leaders.  He noted that the decision on levelling up fund bids had not yet been made.  He confirmed there is an established arrangement in West Sussex to resettle refugees and several Afghan refugee families had already been successfully settled in the area.  The scheme to resettle local personnel who worked with British Forces is operated by the Home Office and the Council is fully engaged in the process; more refugees are expected.  This may cause some pressure on the Council’s temporary housing stock in the District.

 

He noted that Gatwick Airport has published their formal proposal to bring the standby runaway into permanent use and the public consultation is underway.  The Council has already appointed external advisors and a member workshop will be held to help formulate a response. He highlighted the wide-ranging effect of a dual runway airport,  the benefit of job opportunities for Mid Sussex and the impact on the environment and infrastructure. The unmet housing need of Crawley was noted, however the Council had no control how any land reserved would be used if Gatwick gave it up.   He noted the apologies of the Deputy Leader who was unable to attend and highlighted the decisions in the recent Member Information Service bulletin and the workshop on the Burgess Hill Growth Programme.

 

Members discussed the information released at  recent party conferences in relation to additional housing provision in the District and the impact on the infrastructure, they sought reassurance on the progression of the redevelopment of Burgess Hill and queried the generation of sustainable energy, and requested more detail on the number of the refuges rehomed in West Sussex.  A Member thanked the Leader for the workshop and requested more publicity of the beneficial joint public and private funding streams for the Burgess Hill Growth Programme.

 

The Leader noted the wider economic benefits of the growth programme for the District and the joint venture is one of the largest in the South East which has been achieved with substantial help from the Government.  The Council’s aspirations for the redevelopment of Burgess Hill are on record and highlighted the sustainable energy benefits and biodiversity of the Northern Arc development.  He declined to give further information on the refugees for their privacy and security, he reassured Members that Mid Sussex would play its part in rehoming Afghan refugees. 

 

14.

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

Minutes:

Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

 

The Cabinet Member noted that the work of the  Sustainable Economic Strategy was on schedule thanking the Chairman Councillor Pulfer and the group members.  The work on the Inward Investment Marketing Plan was progressing and the brochure should be ready in November.  He confirmed the ongoing strong links with the Business Associations and  key businesses and the release of the second Newsletter.  Service Level Agreements  with the Business Associations will provide a clear understanding of expectations when applying for grant funding support.    He confirmed that officers have been working hard with the Towns & Parishes in relation to developing our bid to the Welcome Back Fund, officers are now supporting them through the procurement process.  

 

Members requested an expansion of the fund to other villages, sought clarity on the use of the fund and discussed bringing empty business properties back into use.  He confirmed that the grants to town and parish councils, from the fund to provide vinyl prints on empty shop fronts on private land is permitted as there is no direct benefit to the landowners.  He advised he would check that the engagement of all towns and parishes on applications for the fund and would consider whether the fund could be opened to other applicants.  It was noted that the Council had little control over empty buildings in private ownership.

 

Cabinet Member for Customer Services

 

The Cabinet Member highlighted the number of grants paid out by the Revenues and Benefits department, the free debt advice service and the end of the furlough scheme.  She noted that help is now available for parents and guardians if children are notified by Test and Trace to self-isolate, a communication on this is being developed.  She urged Members to ensure eligible businesses apply for discounts as NNDR collections are down on last year.  Mid Sussex Matters will be published in November.  Digital and Technology are  working to improve the customer experience, digitally and those calling customer services to make interacting with the Council easier and clearer.  Customer satisfaction figures will include electronic submissions, and she will check that all electronic submissions are acknowledged.  She drew Members’ attention to the safeguarding policy for voluntary and community groups which was recently published in MIS. Phases 1 and 2 of the Digital Infrastructure Project are complete and work is progressing on the network and service providers on the commercialisation phase,  which will be supported by a website in late October.  She noted that the project is providing local employment. 

 

Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery

 

The Cabinet Member provided an update on the fuel situation and driver shortage in relation to the provision of the council’s services.  Waste collections by Serco will continue as normal but ID Verde are not working to normal capacity and have been asked to prioritise grass and pitch cutting and bin emptying. The Council continues to monitor the performance at the Leisure Centres through an open-book reconciliation process, subject to both parties agreement it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Motions on Notice. pdf icon PDF 314 KB

MOTION A:     The Future of the Clair Hall site

 

Proposed by: Cllr Richard Bates                             

Seconded by: Cllr Robert Eggleston           

 

Mid Sussex District Council notes that:

·       The public consultation on the future of the Clair Hall site closed on 22nd September.

·       Clair Hall continues to provide a valuable service to the community of Haywards Heath and Mid Sussex as an NHS covid vaccination hub.

·       At some point, in the near term, the NHS will hand Clair Hall back to Mid Sussex District Council when it is no longer required.

This Council recognises that: 

  • Community and cultural provision in towns take many forms but facilities, such as Clair Hall, are an important part of the mix of provision.
  • The loss of Clair Hall without the provision of a replacement would have a detrimental impact on Haywards Heath and the surrounding area.
  • The public consultation exercise can only form one part of the review of community and cultural provision in Haywards Heath and that further work will be required by officers and consultants to establish the viability of the range of expectations that have emerged following the public consultation.

·       Any plan for the use of the Clair Hall site and the reprovisioning of community and cultural services will require time to develop and consider.   

 

In the light of the above this Council resolves to:

·       As soon as practicable, but before the NHS leaves Clair Hall, prepare a report on the work required to bring Clair Hall back into use to enable it to provide the same range of services that it provided prior to its pre NHS closure. This would include:

 

o   The cost of repairs and refitting which would be necessary immediately.

o   The cost of the running and repairing the building over the next three years.

 

·       Make recommendations as to the options for the running and management of Clair Hall over a three-year period.

·       Determine how the repair and refitting costs can be met. 

·       Set up a Working Group to:

o   Take on board the findings of the public consultation exercise.

o   Commission external market consultants to carry out a market study to provide evidence on the type of facilities for which there would be demand in the community, the extent of the use of the facilities and the cost of using the facilities which users would be willing to bear.

o   Commission consultants to work up an indicative operational budget for a modern replacement facility.

o   Examine where the venue would be located and whether it would be associated with another development.

o   Examine whether there is scope for grants or subsidy to support the building and operational costs of the venue.

o   Propose how and by whom the venue should be managed and operated.

o   Present proposals on how and where the capital for a new facility will sourced and an indicative timetable for potential delivery.

 

MOTION B:  Climate Change

 

Proposed by:  Cllr Paul Brown

Seconded by:  Cllr Anne Eves

 

This Council:

 

·       recalling its own resolution of 26th  ...  view the full agenda text for item 15.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

MOTION A: Clair Hall

 

The motion was not proposed by Councillor Bates who advised that he was withdrawing the motion. The matter would be debated once the report following the consultation on Clair Hall was available.  The motion would have been seconded by Cllr Eggleston and, he agreed with the withdrawal of the motion.

 

MOTION B:  climate change

 

The motion on the order paper was proposed by Councillor Brown who cited the Inter-Government report on Climate Change which concluded that climate change is occurring everywhere and is affecting everyone. He noted that these changes will increase in frequency and intensity with further CO2 emissions and warming. He confirmed the Council has commissioned a report from Ricardo on carbon dioxide emissions to identify how they can be reduced.  This motion is to intensify Council’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions throughout the District, to take a lead in helping residents reduce their own carbon footprints and to play its full part in the national effort to achieve net zero by 2035.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Eves.

 

          Councillor Henwood proposed an amendment by way of an addition to the motion “by asking officers to review the Friends of the Earth “ Climate Action Plan for Councils” and to report back to the Sustainable Economy Strategy Working Group noting which of the steps the Council could seek to adopt“ This was seconded by Councillor Hicks who stated Members of all parties are concerned with climate change and it was important to act as soon as possible.  The Chairman asked Councillors Brown and Eves to confirm their acceptance of the amendment to the original motion. They agreed to include this amendment in their motion.

 

Councillor Pete Bradbury proposed a further amendment as follows:

 

Seconded by:  Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards

 

This Council:

 

·       Recalling its own resolution of 26th June 2019 to “note and support the declaration by Parliament on 1st May 2019 of an environment and climate change emergency and… the responsibility it has to protect our own environment and tackle climate change”.

·       Recognising the authoritative IPCC report of June 2021 stating that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5c or even 2c will be beyond reach

·       Aware of the impending COP26 world climate conference in Glasgow

·       Taking into account advice it has commissioned on how this district can achieve net zero emissions

·       Acknowledging the greater urgency of the need for action compared with the situation back in 2019

·       Notes that the Council is already taking significant and tangible actions to protect the environment.

·       Notes that the Council has already established a cross-party working group to produce a new Sustainable Economy Strategy for Mid Sussex.

·       Notes that data presented to the Sustainable Economy Strategy Working Group shows that carbon emissions in Mid Sussex fell by more than a quarter over the last decade and that carbon emissions per capita are lower than the national average.

·       Notes that the Council has already commissioned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Questions from Members pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.2

Minutes:

Question from Cllr Robert Eggleston on behalf of Cllr Alison Bennett:

1.          What is the nature of the commercial relationship between ichoosr, MSDC and WSCC?

2.          What costs and/or revenue arise for the Council because of this partnership?

3.          Where is the assessment that this has the highest impact on climate change per £ spent?

4.          Given this is by its nature for the more well-off residents given they need to own their roof, what programme is being offered to ensure other residents are also able to benefit from policies to cut their electricity bills particularly those on universal credit?

Response from the Cabinet Member for  Environment and Service Delivery

 

1.       What is the nature of the commercial relationship between ichoosr, MSDC and WSCC?

Solar Together is a partnership. WSCC is the lead contractor and they have entered into an agreement with ichoosr which is a group independent of WSCC and MSDC to deliver Solar Together for Sussex.  All the local district and borough authorities of West Sussex have supported participation of this contract. 

2.       What costs and/or revenue arise for the Council because of this partnership?

The scheme is cost neutral although there is the potential for a small amount of revenue to be generated after mailing costs are recovered and any income arising will be allocated to the fuel poverty fund which is held by WSCC.

3.       Where is the assessment that this has the highest impact on climate change per £ spent?

Regarding the questions to impact on climate change per pound spent schemes cost neutral to the council if that was the question.

4.          Given this is by its nature for the more well-off residents given they need to own their roof, what programme is being offered to ensure other residents are also able to benefit from policies to cut their electricity bills particularly those on universal credit?

Regarding the point about needing to own your own roof there are a wide range of schemes across the county which don’t depend on house ownership.  If you go through  https://www.westsussexenergy.co.uk  and then click on advice in your area, you will see for Mid Sussex there are sections on home energy support, a number of different  energy efficient schemes, and housing repair and heating grants and they are available to a variety of different owners and tenants.   So certainly, supporting those who are less well-off than others in the district.

Supplementary Question:

Councillor Eggleston noted that he had not received a letter about the scheme.  He thought that some vulnerable residents might be concerned if they receive a letter like this, as people are inundated with email scams, phishing and unsolicited mail.   He had completed some research on Google and asked whether there is some other way to   communicate the robustness of the scheme to our residents to allay any concerns.

The Cabinet Member acknowledged the point raised and confirmed this would be looked into for future communications.