Council Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 19th January, 2017
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Spirella Ballroom, Icknield Way, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor John Booth (Chairman), Councillor Alan Millard (Vice-Chairman), Councillor Ian Albert, Councillor Mrs A.G. Ashley, Councillor D.J. Barnard, Councillor Clare Billing, Councillor Judi Billing, Councillor John Bishop, Councillor P.C.W. Burt, Councillor Paul Clark, Councillor Julian Cunningham, Councillor Bill Davidson, Councillor Faye S Frost, Councillor Jane Gray, Councillor Jean Green, Councillor Gary Grindal, Councillor Nicola Harris, Councillor Steve Hemingway, Councillor Cathryn Henry, Councillor Fiona Hill, Councillor T.W. Hone, Councillor Tony Hunter, Councillor S.K. Jarvis, Councillor Lorna Kercher, Councillor David Levett, Councillor Ben Lewis, Councillor Bernard Lovewell, Councillor Ian Mantle, Councillor Jim McNally, Councillor Gerald Morris, Councillor M.R.M. Muir, Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham, Councillor Frank Radcliffe, Councillor Deepak Sangha, Councillor Valentine Shanley, Councillor Adrian Smith, Councillor Harry Spencer - Smith, Councillor Martin Stears - Handscomb, Councillor Terry Tyler and Councillor M.E. Weeks.
In attendance:
Chief Executive, Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance, Corporate Legal Manager, Head of Revenues, Benefits and IT, Democratic Services Manager and Committee and Member Services Manager.
Also Present:
Ed Franklin and Michael Goddard (Members of the Independent Remuneration Panel).
1 member of the public.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
76 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Simon Harwood, Sandra Lunn, Paul Marment, Janine Paterson, Mike Rice, Mrs C.P.A. Strong and R.A.C. Thake.
77 MINUTES
The Leader of the Council (Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham) made a statement in relation to Minute 69 - Public Participation. She advised that, in the speech made by Mr David Leal-Bennett, he had stated that it was inconceivable that the Chief Executive did not discuss the proposition of mediation with her.

For the sake of clarity and for the record, Councillor Needham explained that no such discussion took place and, moreover, it would have been wholly inappropriate for such a discussion to have taken place. Such a statement from Mr Leal-Bennett exemplified the complete lack of understanding in the way that the Council’s Standards regime operated and in the role of the leader of the Council. Given the matters before the Council at its meeting on 24 November 2016, she had not felt that it would have been appropriate to raise this matter at that time, but in approving the minutes of that meeting this evening, she asked for this statement to be appended to those minutes.

It was moved by Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham, seconded by Councillor T.W. Hone, and

RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 24 November 2016 be approved as a true record and signed by the Chairman.
78 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
No additional business was presented for consideration by the Council.
79 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Chairman stated that, at the conclusion of his first two announcements, he would be inviting all present to participate in a minute’s silence.

(1) Holocaust Memorial Day

The Chairman announced that Holocaust Memorial Day would be taking place on 27 January 2017. This day was to remember the millions of people murdered or whose lives had been changed beyond recognition due to the Holocaust, Nazi persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

(2) Former Councillor Carol McNelliey

The Chairman had the sad duty to announce that former Councillor Carol McNelliey, who represented the Letchworth South East Ward from 2000 to 2004, had passed away in late November 2016.

The Chairman asked everyone stand to observe a Minute’s silence in respect of Holocaust Memorial Day and in memory of former Councillor Carol McNelliey.

(3) Declarations of Interest

The Chairman reminded Members that, in line with the Code of Conduct, any Declarations of Interest needed to be declared immediately prior to the item in question.
80 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
81 MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES SCHEME 2017/18
The Council considered the report of the Chief Executive in respect of a proposed Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2016/17. A paper, containing some minor corrected errors was tabled at the meeting. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix A - The advice of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP); and
Appendix B - A draft Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2017/18 based on the advice of the Panel.

The Leader of the Council thanked the Independent Remuneration Panel for their hard worked and diligence. She invited the Chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel (Mr Ed Franklin) to introduce the Panel’s report. Mr Franklin thanked those councillors who had completed the Members’ Allowances survey, and advised that he had nothing to add to the report.

It was moved by Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham, and seconded by Councillor T.W. Hone,

“(1) That the advice of the Independent Remuneration Panel be considered and noted; and

(2) That the Members’ Allowances Scheme set out at Appendix B to the report and incorporating the corrected errors tabled at the meeting be agreed for the financial year 2017/18.”

Members were grateful to the IRP for a comprehensive report. Some Members were supportive of the IRP’s recommendations, whilst others were not prepared to support them due to the Council’s uncertain financial position. It was acknowledged that councillors who were not supportive of the proposed scheme had an option whether or not to receive any uplifted allowances.

At the conclusion of the debate, and in accordance with Standing Order 4.8.16(h), Councillor Frank Radcliffe requested that a Recorded Vote be undertaken on the motion.

(Voting:

For: Councillors Allison Ashley, David Barnard, John Bishop, John Booth, P.C.W. Burt, Julian Cunningham, Bill Davidson, Faye S. Frost, Jane Gray, Jean Green, Nicola Harris, Steve Hemingway, Cathryn Henry, Fiona Hill. T.W. Hone, Tony Hunter, David Levett, Ben Lewis, Bernard Lovewell, Jim McNally, Alan Millard, Gerald Morris, M.R.M. Muir, Mrs L.A. Needham, Valentine Shanley, Harry Spencer-Smith and Michael Weeks - 27

Against: Councillors Ian Albert, Clare Billing, Judi Billing, Paul Clark, Gary Grindal, S.K. Jarvis, Lorna Kercher, Ian Mantle, Frank Radcliffe, Deepak Sangha, Adrian Smith, Martin Stears-Handscomb and Terry Tyler - 13

Abstentions: 0

The motion was carried.).

RESOLVED:

(1) That the advice of the Independent Remuneration Panel be considered and noted; and

(2) That the Members’ Allowances Scheme set out at Appendix B to the report and incorporating the corrected errors tabled at the meeting be agreed for the financial year 2017/18.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Council meets statutory requirements.
82 ELECTORAL SERVICES - SCALE OF FEES 2017/18
The Council considered the report of the Chief Executive in respect of Electoral Services - Scale of Fees 2017/18. The following appendix was submitted with the report:

Appendix A - Recommended Scale of Fees 2017/18.

It was moved by Councillor J.M. Cunningham, seconded by Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham, and

RESOLVED: That the Scale of Electoral Services Fees for 2017/18, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be approved.

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable the Council to set a Scale of Fees for 2017/18.
83 COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME 2017/18
The Council considered the report of the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology in respect of a proposed Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) for 2017/18. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix 1 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2017/18;
Appendix 2 - Glossary of Terms;
Appendix 3 - Current Costs of the Scheme; and
Appendix 4 - Summary of Changes to Temporary Absence Rules.

The Executive Member for Finance and IT advised that there were no major changes to the 2017/18 Scheme from the previous one approved for 2016/17, and that the percentage by which each award to each recipient in the Non-Protected Groups was reduced at 25.00% for 2017/18 was unchanged from 2016/17 He explained the changes to the Temporary Absence Rules set out in Section 8.3 of the report; the removal of Severe Disability Premium for persons where Universal Credit (Carers Element) is in payment set out in Section 8.4; and the removal of the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component for all new Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group claims set out in Section 8.5.

It was moved by Councillor T.W. Hone, seconded by Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham, and following debate and upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED:

(1) That the Scheme attached as Appendix 1 to the report be approved as the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) for North Hertfordshire for 2017/18;

(2) That, in accordance with Section 59A.1 of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme referred to in (1) above, the percentage by which each award to each recipient in the Non-Protected Groups is reduced at 25.00% for 2017/18, which represents no change from 2016/17; and

(3) That the amount to be distributed to the Local Precepting Authorities for Council Tax Reduction Scheme Grant be £38,885, and that this be distributed in proportion to the total awards of CTRS in each Local Precepting area.

REASON FOR DECISION: To comply with the requirement to approve any changes to the local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the coming financial year by the deadline of 31 January 2017.
84 QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS
There were no questions from Members.
85 NOTICE OF MOTIONS
(A) Legal Aid

[Prior to the consideration of this motion, Councillor Adrian Smith made a Declarable Interest in the matter, as he was employed by a firm in Watford as a solicitor specialising in Legal Aid issues. He advised that he would speak on the matter and then withdraw from the meeting before the motion was debated.]

Due notice having been given in accordance with Standing Order 4.8.12, it was moved by Councillor Martin Stears-Handscomb, and seconded by Councillor Frank Radcliffe,

“1. That the Council notes the unavailability of legal aid for cases relating to debt, benefits and employment and the lack of a provider of housing legal aid in the district or within accessible distance;

2. That the Council supports a review of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 ("LASPO") and wider provision of legal aid to improve access to justice;

3. That the Council will write to local MPs in order to request their support for a review of LASPO and wider provision of legal aid to improve access to justice; and

4. The Council will consider the provision of funding to improve access to justice in the area, will contact neighbouring authorities to discuss how this may be effectively done and report the findings to Full Council at the meeting on 11 April 2017.”

Councillor Adrian Smith spoke in favour of the motion, following which he withdrew from the meeting.

Following debate, and being put to the vote, the motion was lost.

(B) Fly Tipping in North Hertfordshire

Due notice having been given in accordance with Standing Order 4.8.12, it was moved by Councillor Jim McNally, and seconded by Councillor Michael Weeks,

“That this Council recognises the need for constant vigilance in order to protect the environment and countryside of North Hertfordshire from environmental crime such as fly tipping. We would like to acknowledge the professionalism and commitment of the NHDC Community Safety Team for the work they do, gathering evidence and preparing cases against those people involved in such anti-social offences and Legal Services for bringing such cases to court expeditiously and efficiently. The Community Safety Team, in particular, is at the forefront of our recent successful campaign to tackle fly tipping and are to be commended for their work. Through this campaign, we are sending a message to those who are tempted to fly tip their rubbish that the Council has a zero tolerance to this form of environmental crime and will pursue a prosecution wherever possible.”

Following debate, and being put to the vote, the motion was carried.
Published on Thursday, 26th January, 2017
8.59pm