Agenda and minutes

Council - Tuesday, 15 December 2020 6.30 p.m.

Contact: Inge Booth 

Link: View the live stream of the meeting here

Items
No. Item

C/73

Chairman's Introduction

Minutes:

Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, the Chairman welcomed everyone to the virtual meeting.  He referred to the new Government legislation allowing councils to conduct remote meetings and explained in detail to all taking part, and for the benefit of members of the public observing, the procedures for the meeting.  The Chairman then asked the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) to carry out a roll call, during which all Members present indicated by which means they were taking part and confirmed that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting.  The Chairman referred to officers present who would introduce themselves when asked to address the meeting.

C/74

Emergency Non-Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 545 KB

To receive the following Emergency Non-Executive Decision taken by the Chief Executive in accordance with Part 3 of the Council’s Constitution 3. (B 1) (1.1) and to note any spending outside any budgetary provision:-

Minutes:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the Emergency Non-Executive Decision (016 13-11-20 Local Restrictions Support Grants (Closed)) taken by the Chief Executive in accordance with Part 3 of the Council’s Constitution 3.(B 1) (1.1) be received; and

 

(2)        any spending outside any budgetary provision be noted.

C/75

Public Participation

Any member of the public who wishes to ask a question, make representations or present a deputation or petition at this meeting should apply to do so by no later than 0:01am (one minute past midnight) two working days before the meeting.  Information on how to make the application can be obtained by viewing the Council’s Website www.southlakeland.gov.uk or by contacting the Committee Services Team on 01539 733333.

 

(1)        Questions and Representations

 

            To receive any questions or representations which have been received from members of the public.

 

(2)        Deputations and Petitions

 

            To receive any deputations or petitions which have been received from members of the public.

Minutes:

Mr Ian Kell was connected to the meeting via audio and introduced by the Chairman.  He addressed Council with regard to Agenda Item No.6 – Report from the Independent Remuneration Panel for 2021/2022 to 2024/25.

 

Mr Kell suggested that a vote would shortly be taken for Members to take nearly 3% of total Council funds for themselves.  They would be invited to vote for a four-year escalator and an automatic increase each year of probably over 2% each year.  Mr Kell said that, as Council funds shrunk and social demands grew ever more costly, Members would probably take for themselves an ever bigger slice from the diminishing public purse.  He referred to Tim Farron, Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale, having in October called a similar increase proposed for M.P.s “deeply inappropriate”; another local M.P. had referred to it as “utterly staggering”; and on the previous Friday, Mr Kell pointed out, the Regulator had stopped the M.P.'s increase.

 

Mr Kell’s concern was not so much with this award to Members but with the systemic gerrymandering, in their name, of the Panel which determined it.  Mr Kell had, over time, examined the workings of the Panel and, through eight applications to join it, had come to a decision that the “Independent” in Independent Remuneration Panel was a misnomer.  Mr Kell said that the membership of the Panel was selected and restricted to ensure a uniform and unquestioning adherence to officers' interpretation of its role under the 2003 Local Government Act. He believed that the Panel was gerrymandered in several ways:-

 

·        By gagging - under the Council’s officers’ rules, by addressing this Council meeting, Mr Kell said that he was debarred from membership of the Panel.

·        By restriction - historically five in number, officers, Mr Kell explained, had reduced the Panel to three, only later to be persuaded to four by a Councillor's intervention.

·        By political favouritism - for example recruiting to the Panel a triple-hatted Liberal Democrat councillor less than six months after that individual having stood down from the District Council.

·        By unethical interviewing - having one of the candidates for two Panel vacancies on the interview panel for the other candidates.

·        By ageism - advertising membership of the Panel in schools to school children as an “earn and learn” opportunity but not advertising to, for example, the old and wise of the U3A or Age Concern.

·        By that classic question of a candidate, “inside or outside the tent?”

 

Mr Kell strongly believed that this issue required addressing.

C/76

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive declarations by Members of interests in respect of items on this Agenda and to consider any dispensations.

 

Members are reminded that, in accordance with the revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests.  (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting.)

 

Members may, however, also decide, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other registrable or other interests.

 

If a Member requires advice on any item involving a possible declaration of interest which could affect his/her ability to speak and/or vote, he/she is advised to contact the Monitoring Officer at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

Minutes:

The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) reminded Members of the dispensation provided in the previous year by herself and the Independent Member under Part 3 of the Council’s Constitution, Responsibility for Council Functions, paragraphs 2.7 and 4.12, for a four year period, relating to Agenda Item No. 6 (Report from the Independent Remuneration Panel for 2021/2022 to 2024/2025).

 

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder, referred to Agenda Item No.7 and the request for approval of the use of monies in relation to funding in relation to Kendal Vision.  Councillor Ashcroft declared an Other Registrable Interest in this part of Item No.7 by virtue of the fact that, although not part of the Community Interest Company, he was a member of the Kendal Futures Board, having been appointed by South Lakeland District Council to that role.  He explained that, whilst he had no financial interest, for the sake of transparency he would first provide an overview in relation to the matter before disconnecting from the meeting prior to discussion and a vote being taken.  Councillor Susanne Long, declared an Other Registrable Interest for the same reason, although having been appointed to the Board by Kendal Town Council, and indicated that she too would disconnect at the same stage in the proceedings.

C/77

Local Government Act 1972 - Excluded Items

To consider whether the items, if any, in Part II of the Agenda should be considered in the presence of the press and public.

Minutes:

There were no excluded items on the agenda.

C/78

Chairman's Announcements pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive announcements by the Chairman (a list of official engagements attended by the Chairman is attached).

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to his list of formal engagements, namely wreath laying at Kendal Market Place and the Kendal Parish Church Service on Remembrance Sunday.

C/79

Report from the Independent Remuneration Panel for 2021/2022 to 2024/2025 pdf icon PDF 235 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel for 2021/2022 to 2024/2025.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Sally Parnaby, Chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) was connected to the meeting via audio, having been invited by the Chairman to present the Panel’s report to Council.

 

The IRP had recommended the following:-

 

·        a four year term of the Members’ Allowances Scheme (the Scheme) subject to any request to review as outlined in the Scheme;

·        for the period from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2025 that uplift for Basic Allowances be in line with the agreed public sector staff pay award for each year of the Scheme;

·        a detailed review and report by the Independent Remuneration Panel will be presented to the Council meeting in December 2024 for implementation for the next 4 years effective from 1 April 2025;

·        to reduce the number of Independent Remuneration Panel members from 5 to 4 effective from 1 April 2021 and that the Chairman of the Panel be given power to exercise the casting vote if ever required; the Independent Remuneration Panel Terms of Reference are amended accordingly;

·        co-optees Allowance is uplifted in line with the agreed public sector staff pay award for each year of the Scheme;

·        Planning Committee Substitute Members continue to receive £250 allowance;

·        to agree the draft advert and job description for recruiting IRP members;

·        the IRP Panel will continue to meet at least once each year to review the index levels used in calculating the Scheme in each year.  Council Members, Officers and IRP Panel members will be able to request a review of the Scheme during the Term of the Scheme if there are reasonable grounds for doing so. Reasonable grounds include changes to Members’ roles, creation of additional Members’ Portfolio roles or external factors such as Local Government re-organisation;

·        no amendments to current Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) (however, planning substitute to continue to receive £250.00);

·        other than the Group Leader’s Allowance, Members should receive no more than one SRA;

·        out of County Mileage Allowance to remain as part of the single travel allowance scheme as per the previous year;

·        travel expenses to be in accordance with the maximum rates set by HMRC without attracting a tax charge (currently 45p per mile), this to apply to the first 150 miles of a return journey regardless of the destination and 25p per mile thereafter;

·        subsistence expenses to increase by RPI as at 1 April 2021 and each year as applicable; and

·        no change to Childcare/Dependant Carers’ Allowance.  Payments to remain at a maximum allowance of £15 per hour.  The Allowance to be paid from the time the recipient leaves home to time of return.

 

In presenting the report, Mrs Parnaby thanked those Members who had responded to the invitation for comments for their valuable input.  She informed Members that the IRP had carried out a light touch review this year, mindful of the additional demands being placed on officers and the challenges of remote and virtual working.  Mrs Parnaby drew particular attention to the proposal for a four year term of the Members’ Allowances  ...  view the full minutes text for item C/79

C/80

Corporate Financial Update Quarter 2, 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 375 KB

To consider the corporate financial update for Quarter 2, 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Andrew Jarvis, Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the Corporate Financial Monitoring report which summarised the position of the Council at the end of Quarter Two of 2020/21.  He reminded Members that the financial reports were more complicated than usual this year due to the by the Covid-19 crisis and the amendments that were made to the budget earlier in the year.

 

Councillor Jarvis focussed first on the latest view of the impact of Covid-19 on the Council’s budget drawing attention to a net cost to the Council of £1.67m and although higher than initially expected, the increase would be more than offset by the 75% compensation for lost income.  He further referred to the fact that since preparation of the report, a combination of additional grants and strong car-parking income had further improved the outlook and, consequently, the cost of Covid-19 for this year presented to Cabinet in the last version of the Medium Term Financial Plan was closer to £1.3m.

 

Councillor Jarvis informed Members as regards the “business as usual” performance of the Council and a forecast overspend on this year’s activities of approximately £216,000, with a further £75,000 to be carried forward to next year.  He provided details regarding specific requests in respect of the revenue budget.  The report also provided an update on the Capital Programme, the full year budget for capital for 2020/21 being a little over £22m.  Councillor Jarvis explained how the pandemic had impacted on many of the projects being worked on, resulting at the end of Quarter 2 in just under £2m in capital being spent.  Capital expenditure had, therefore, been reviewed for the remainder of the year, with a proposal for just over £10m to be reprofiled.  He stressed, however, that at this stage no capital expenditure had been cancelled although projects’ timing and feasibility would need to be further reviewed in the light of Covid-19 and he expected to provide more information on this during the Medium Term Financial Plan cycle.

 

Councillor Jarvis referred to Sundry Debts, the report highlighting that collection of Council Tax, Business Rates and sundry debts was running well below last year.  Until recently, enforcement of recovery had not been possible due to the closure of the courts.  The Council was also very aware of individual and corporate difficulties due to lockdowns.  A recovery specialist had recently been employed and the Council was trying to approach this issue in a very sensitive manner.  However, Councillor Jarvis pointed out that the Council had a duty to all tax payers and had to ensure that those who could pay did so.  He drew attention to help on offer through the local Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the related hardship scheme.  Importantly, he explained that any deficit on Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rates would not hit this year’s budget, but would exacerbate the financial situation in future years.

 

Councillor Jarvis acknowledged that the Council’s staff were under great pressures at the moment with the Covid-19 crisis and  ...  view the full minutes text for item C/80

C/81

Request for Authorised Absence from Council and Council Committee Meetings – Councillor D Khan pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To consider a request from Councillor D Khan for his absence from Council and Committee meetings.

Minutes:

Councillor Philip Dixon, Customer and Commercial Services and People Portfolio Holder, asked Members to support a request from Councillor Dave Khan for his absence from Council and committee meetings in accordance with Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 due to having to care for a family member who was unwell.  Councillor Dixon informed Members that Councillor Robin Ashcroft, also a District Ward Member for Grange, had undertaken to take on board Councillor Khan’s work, as necessary.  In addition, Council Dixon explained that it was Councillor Khan’s wish for his Members allowance during this time to be added to the Personal Financial Resilience Reserve as per other allowances which were not taken up by Members.

 

Councillor Dixon having moved the proposal was seconded by Councillor Helen Irving.  Councillor Ashcroft confirmed that he would be able to deal with any matters raised by residents in the Grange Ward.  Whilst attention was drawn to the fact that Grange was a three Member Ward now being run by a one single councillor, warm support was expressed for the proposal and for Councillor Khan and his family.

 

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That, in accordance with Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972, Councillor Dave Khan’s absence from Council and committee meetings until and including 27 July 2021, for the reasons set out in the report, be authorised.

C/82

Leader's Announcements and Cabinet Question Time, including the Composite Report of the Cabinet (1 Hour Maximum) pdf icon PDF 283 KB

Council is asked to receive the Executive Reports from the Leader and Cabinet and to deal with any questions raised by Members to the appropriate Cabinet Members on the contents of the reports.

 

To receive announcements from the Leader and, in accordance with Paragraphs 10.2 and 10.3 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure, to deal with any questions to the Leader and/or Portfolio Holders on any topic which is within the jurisdiction or influence of the Council and is relevant to their Portfolio.  Any Member who poses a question will be entitled to ask one supplementary question on the same topic.

 

Members are encouraged to give 24 hours’ written notice of questions to the Monitoring Officer of questions to be raised under the Agenda Item.  If no notice is received, then the Portfolio Holder can reserve the right to give a written answer.  Where written notice of questions has been given, these will be taken first.  Should a Member wish to ask more than one question, questions should be listed in order of priority.  If more than one Member sends in a question, these will be taken in alphabetical order of Members’ names, alternated from meeting to meeting.  Each question and each response is restricted to three minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Giles Archibald, Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder, presented the Cabinet Members’ Executive Reports.

 

Councillor Archibald informed Members that he had, earlier in the day, addressed the Council’s staff, on behalf of all Members expressing appreciation for the work that they had carried out during 2020 during the pandemic.   Staff had continued to empty the bins, keep the streets clean and deliver on our normal services.  Officers had paid out thousands of grants, helped the vulnerable, helped businesses at risk, reorganised rates, established virtual working, established a marshal program, had been an intergral part of the response to the pandemic and, under extreme pressure, had delivered the Council’s part of track and trace.  On top of all this, they had responded magnificently to the challenge thrown at the Council by the desire of some to choose now as a time for local authority reorganisation.  Councillor Archibald thanked the Chairman for his patient guidance of the Council through a new way of meeting and the staff that had worked with him to make this happen.  Councillor Archibald also wished to thank all Members, the Council having pulled together in these difficult times.  The opposition leaders had fully participated in briefings, asked constructive questions and had been supportive of the pandemic response.  Councillor Archibald was most grateful for this collaborative effort.                       

 

Councillor Archibald took the opportunity to briefly update Council on the possible reorganisation.  The business case for the Bay had been submitted on 9 December, co-sponsored by Barrow Borough and Lancaster City councils.  It had been was voted through by the three councils by a majority of 110 to eight, with seven abstentions.  Business cases for three other structures had also been submitted to Government.  On Friday, a request had been received from the Minister to meet with him on Monday to present the proposal.  The Leader and his fellow leaders had been able to present to him the main features of the proposal.  The Minister had given very little away other than to say that he felt that he there would probably be an indication in February as to which proposals would go forward for consultation.

 

Councillor Archibald turned to Covid-19 and asked everyone to take care over Christmas, stressing that the virus was still rampant.  He informed Members that it was planned that there would be at least three vaccination centres in the District.  Officers were working with the authorities to ensure as efficient roll out of vaccinations as possible.  The pandemic had made these very difficult times.  The Council’s job was to support the Government, support the County and provide local leadership out of this crisis. Members and officers had done so, and this was terrific.

 

Councillor Archibald referred to the forthcoming new challenge of Brexit and the need to be prepared for a no deal outcome from the negotiations.  Ministers have asked the Council to be prepared and to be available over the new year to meet any consequences.

 

Councillor Archibald finally, made reference to  ...  view the full minutes text for item C/82

C/83

Minutes of Meetings

To receive Chairmen’s comments (if any notified) in respect of the minutes of the Committee meetings held between 13 July and 9 October 2020.

Minutes:

No comments or questions had been received in respect of the minutes of committee meetings held between 13 July and 9 October 2020.

C/84

Questions to Chairman of the Council or Chairman of any Committee or Sub-Committee

To deal with any questions under Rule 10.6 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure, of which due notice has been given and/or the Chairman allows as a matter of urgent business and which are in relation to any matter over which the Council has powers or duties or which affect the area.

Minutes:

No questions had been received under Rule 10.6 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure.

C/85

Urgent Decisions pdf icon PDF 92 KB

In accordance with the Constitution, to receive details of any urgent Executive Decisions taken since the last scheduled meeting of Council on 6 October 2020, and to consider any urgent non-executive decisions, if necessary.

Minutes:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That the details relating to an urgent Executive Decision taken since the last ordinary meeting of Council on 6 October 2020, namely CEX/79 (Local Government Reform (Building a Case for Change)) be received.

C/86

Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 407 KB

To note the following Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions taken by the Chief Executive in accordance with the Leader’s decision noted by Cabinet at CEX/104 (2019/20):-

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That the following Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions taken by the Chief Executive, in accordance with the Leaders decision noted by Cabinet at CEX/104 (2019/20), be noted:-

 

(1)        010 09-10-20 Test and Trace Support Payment Schemes; and

 

(2)        011 13-11-20 Local Restrictions Support Grants (Closed).