Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Thursday, 5 November 2020 10.00 a.m.

Contact: Inge Booth  Senior Committee Services Officer

Link: View the live stream of the meeting here

Items
No. Item

CEX/70

Chairman's Introduction

Minutes:

Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, the Leader 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, the procedures for the meeting.  He then invited Members of the Cabinet, the Shadow Cabinet and the Leader of the Labour Group to introduce themselves, to advise whether they were taking part by video or audio and to confirm that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting.  All Members present, including the Leader himself, having indicated that this was the case, he referred to officers present at the meeting who would introduce themselves when asked to address the meeting.

 

The Leader took the opportunity to express gratitude to all officers involved in supporting the Council’s virtual meetings, acknowledging the large amount of effort involved, and he asked the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) to pass on his thanks.

CEX/71

Cabinet Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 351 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 9 September 2020.

Minutes:

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

 

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 9 September 2020.

CEX/72

Delegated Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To receive the Delegated Executive Decisions made by Portfolio Holders or Officers on 10 September 2020.

Minutes:

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

 

RESOLVED – That the Delegated Executive Decisions made by Portfolio Holders or Officers on 10 September 2020 be received.

CEX/73

Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions taken by the Chief Executive since the last meeting of Cabinet in accordance with the Leader’s decision noted by Cabinet at CEX/104 (2019/20).

Minutes:

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

 

RESOLVED – That the Emergency Delegated Executive Decision made by the Chief Executive on 9 October 2020 (010), in accordance with the Leader’s decision noted by Cabinet at CEX/104 (2019/20), be received.

CEX/74

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) referred to her recent briefing note on interests and reminded Members that a dispensation had been granted to all Members with regard to allowances in respect of matters relating to Local Government Reform and Devolution for a period of four years.

 

The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) informed Members that, for Agenda Item Nos. 9 and 10 regarding Local Government Reform, councillors who were dual-hatted, i.e. District Councillors and County Councillors, would have an Other Registrable Interest under the Code of Conduct.  The other registrable interest would be recorded and, unless any Member considered themselves to be biased or predetermined, they could speak and vote on both items.

 

The Leader having asked if there were any other declarations of interest, it was

 

RESOLVED – That it be noted that, in respect of Agenda Item No.12, Councillor John Holmes, for the purpose of transparency, explained that he was a Director on the Board of South Lakes Housing.

CEX/75

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.

CEX/76

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:

No questions, representations, deputations or petitions had been received in respect of this meeting.

CEX/77

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To note the contents of the Forward Plan published on 27 October 2020.

Minutes:

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

 

RESOLVED – That the contents of the Forward Plan published on 27 October 2020 be noted.

CEX/78

Local Government Reform - Proposal for Bay Area pdf icon PDF 499 KB

To consider a proposal for a Bay Area Unitary Authority (Appendix 1 – Outline Proposal for a Bay Unitary Authority – to follow).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

Copies of Appendix 1 to the report, which had been marked “to follow” on the agenda, had been circulated to Members and published on the Council’s Website on 2 November 2020.

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder reported that, at its meeting on 6 October 2020, Council had authorised himself and the Chief Executive to work with Barrow Borough and Lancaster City councils to explore devolution, including the development of a high level case for a new unitary council for the area comprising the three districts.  It had also been noted that the Secretary of State may then invite the Council to put forward a formal proposal which would be subject to future agreement.

 

Prior to consideration of a high level case, on the 9 October 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in exercise of his powers under Part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, had invited any principal authority in the area of the county of Cumbria to submit a proposal for a single tier of local government, in accordance with the following criteria:-

 

·         by 9 November 2020, authorities must at least submit an outline proposal, and if a full proposal had not been submitted by that date, the full proposal must be submitted as soon as practicable thereafter and by no later than 9 December 2020;

·         authorities must have regard to the guidance from the Secretary of State; and

·         an authority may either make its own proposal or make a proposal jointly.

 

In exploring devolution around the Bay area, Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland Councils had now developed the initial work to prepare an outline proposal to meet the guidance set out by the Secretary of State in responding to an invitation.

 

The draft Outline Proposal formed Appendix 1 to the report.  The Outline Proposal set out the rationale for developing a new unitary council.  The proposal indicated the opportunities, strengths and strategic needs of the area’s communities and economy and how they may best be addressed through the leadership and resources of local government based on the geography of the functioning economic area and health services footprint.

 

In addition to structural change, the proposal indicated the benefits which could be realised through public service reform, within local government and collaboratively with other service providers.  The area offered the population scale envisaged by the Government’s invite, with a population circa 320,000.

 

The proposal acknowledged the historic and current associations between places and communities across the Morecambe Bay area.  This strengthened the rationale for the organisation of local government at a scale and footprint readily identified by residents and businesses.  This enabled locally based, accessible and engaged local government.

 

The development of further information, proposal and detail would be identified and set out in an action plan to establish the Full Proposal.  This would include, for example, further assessment of:-

 

·         the degree of local support for the proposal;

·         functions currently performed by the County Councils  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/78

CEX/79

Local Government Reform (building a case for change) pdf icon PDF 216 KB

To consider a report on the work required to consider and submit a proposal for a single tier of local government.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Note - The Constitution stated that the call-in procedure should not apply where a decision being taken by the Cabinet was urgent and any delay likely to be caused by the call-in process would, for example, seriously prejudice the Council’s or the public’s interests.  In accordance with paragraph 16(j) of the Constitution, the Chairman of the Council had been consulted and had agreed that the decision proposed was reasonable in all the circumstances and for it to be treated as a matter of urgency and that the call-in process should be waived.

 

Summary

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder presented a report seeking additional funding to support the work required to consider and submit a proposal to Government for a single tier of local government.

 

Council, on 6 October 2020, had approved exploring Local Government Reform and devolution, including the development of a high level case for a new Unitary Council for the area comprising Barrow Borough, Lancaster City and South Lakeland councils.  It had also been noted that the Secretary of State may then invite the Council to put forward a formal proposal which would be subject to future agreement.

 

Prior to consideration of a high level case, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in exercise of his powers under Part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, had now invited any principal authority in the area of the county of Cumbria to submit a proposal for a single tier of local government, in accordance with the following criteria:-

 

·         by 9 November 2020, authorities must at least submit an outline proposal, and if a full proposal had not been submitted by that date, the full proposal must be submitted as soon as practicable thereafter and by no later than 9 December 2020;

·         authorities must have regard to the guidance from the Secretary of State; and

·         an authority may either make its own proposal or make a proposal jointly.

 

In exploring devolution around the Bay area, Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland Councils had started work to prepare a high level case.  This work would be considered in terms of the Outline Proposal required to meet the guidance set out by the Secretary of State in responding to an invitation to make a proposal.  If the Outline Proposal was approved for submission, work would continue in developing a Full Proposal for consideration by Cabinet and Council prior to the submission deadline of 9 December 2020.

 

The three Councils were equally sharing the costs of developing the proposal.  Additional resources would be required to support this and extra funds of £65,000 were requested to be set aside from existing budgets (GTH Other Items budget) to help develop the proposal for submission.

 

A decision on whether to submit a proposal would be presented to a future meeting of the Cabinet and Council prior to submission to the Secretary of State.

 

In presenting the report, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/79

CEX/80

Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 2 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 427 KB

To monitor progress against the measures of success as detailed within the Council Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

Copies of the tourism data which had been missing from page 145 of Appendix 2 to the report had been circulated to Members and published on the Council’s Website on 2 November 2020.

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder presented an update report on progress with the current Council Plan for Quarter 2 of 2020/21.  Monitoring the success of the Council Plan demonstrated improvements and ensured that Council services addressed the needs of residents in an open and transparent way.  The Council was committed to delivering high quality, cost-effective services that met the needs of residents and improved quality of life.  The performance management process helped the Council to demonstrate how well it was doing.

 

The measures listed within the report showed very good performance, demonstrating that South Lakeland was a very desirable place to live, work and explore.  However, in line with the national trend and the influence of Covid-19, the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation was increasing.

 

The report also included the Council’s Strategic Risk Register at Appendix 1.  Following a review of the Strategic Risks for Quarter 4 2019/20, it could be seen that 65% of risks were now above tolerance.  The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder expressed strong concern at this significant change which was due to the pressures brought about by Covid-19 which had completely changed the outlook for the Council and its residents and, in particular, the most vulnerable.  He pointed out that the report demonstrated that these were difficult times for  the Council and its residents.  This was not likely to change soon and, until a vaccine for Covid-19 arrived, there would be risks to address and manage.

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder drew attention to a new and dedicated Appendix 2 which had been produced in light of the current situation regarding Covid-19 and which provided sight of business and economic health for the District.

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder referred to Risk 6 – Medium Term Financial Planning – delivery of a balanced budget.  He drew attention to the latest round of Government funding to councils for Covid-19 which, he said, was highly disadvantageous to South Lakeland.  This funding for Covid-19 was based on the levels of deprivation in a district in 2019 and, as a consequence, he said, took no recognition of the specific pressures faced by South Lakeland.  The district had experienced above average cases and deaths within the vulnerable and older population, there had been a huge impact on the hospitality business, the area had had amongst the highest rates of furlough in the country and had been hit hard in terms of poverty, with massive increases in Universal Credit.  He hoped that Members would continue to campaign to urge Government to recognise South Lakeland’s specific needs in relation to Covid-19 and to work to try to get proper support from Government without which there was a major financial risk both this year and in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/80

CEX/81

Affordable Housing - Suggested Approach to Mortgagee in Possession Clauses pdf icon PDF 350 KB

To consider a proposed approach to the treatment of requests for Mortgagee in Possession clauses within Section 106 agreements entered into under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act “Section 106 Agreements”.

Minutes:

Note – The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) drew attention to paragraph 7 of the report relating to legal implications and advised that it would be noted within the minutes that Members present who were also Members on the Planning Committee would reserve their position, with, as outlined at paragraph 7.7, a number of applications having already obtained approval and which had subsequently requested inclusion of a mortgagee in possession clause due to be taken back through Planning Committee or delegation sought for officers to deal with outstanding matters, when each case would be considered on planning merits.

 

Summary

 

The Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder presented a report which referred to development proposals where affordable housing delivery was being secured by Section 106 Agreements in those parts of South Lakeland District Council outside the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks (i.e. the area for which South Lakeland District Council was the local planning authority).  In the National Parks, Section 106 Agreements were negotiated with the relevant national park authority, although still advised by South Lakeland District Council as Housing Authority.

 

Mortgagee in possession clauses were currently being sought on a number of sites affecting the delivery of affordable homes.

 

The report explained in detail what a mortgagee in possession clause was.  A mortgagee in possession was a lender (person or body) which had entered into a mortgage in respect of a dwelling constructed on the proposed development site or part of the proposed development site and had taken action, in the form of taking possession of the said dwelling, following a default by the borrower in respect of the repayment due under that mortgage.

 

In the context of Affordable Housing, as defined at Annex 2 of the National Planning Policy Framework June 2019, mortgagee in possession clauses were increasingly being sought in Section 106 Agreements by Housing Associations (Registered Providers) – both in new Section 106 Agreements and via modifications to existing Section 106 Agreements.  Most Mortgagee in Possession clauses sought to nullify requirements in Section 106 Agreements related to restrictions on sale price, rental, occupancy, income eligibility and local needs requirements in the event of ownership of the property transferring to a mortgagee from the housing association (Registered Provider, or owner of shared ownership or discounted sale property) through the inclusion of mortgagee in possession clauses.

 

The argument being put forward by applicants and housing associations (Registered Providers) as regards seeking mortgage in possession clauses was that lenders and (in the case of schemes supported by grant aid) Homes England were either making support for schemes conditional on mortgagee in possession clauses or development finance was being made available on less favourable terms.  It was, therefore, argued that the absence of mortgagee in possession clauses was preventing the delivery of affordable housing.

 

The mortgagee in possession clause issue related to the (very rare) circumstance in which a Housing Association (Registered Provider) failed and its assets had to be disposed of.  Assets might include affordable homes  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/81

CEX/82

Planning White Paper - Planning for the Future pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider the Council’s response to the consultation on the Planning White Paper and the comments made to the related consultation on changes to the current planning system.

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder presented the report, explaining that in July, the Government had produced a white paper proposing a comprehensive redesign of the planning system, replacing the current system of local plans and development management with a rules-based system based on zoning, design codes, nationally set development management policies, nationally set housing requirements and permissions in principle, increased permitted development rights and technical approvals based on rules based policies with most community engagement to take place at the local plan stage.  The White Paper called ‘Planning for the Future’ was attached to the report in the supporting documents and was had been out for consultation until the end of October 2020.  Because the date of the Cabinet meeting had moved from 28 October to 5 November, due to competing priorities around Local Government Reform, a response to this significant White Paper had had to be submitted ahead of the Cabinet meeting which had originally been scheduled to take place on 28 October.  Endorsement of that response, attached as Appendix 1 to the report, was, therefore, being requested.

 

The implementation of the new system would require primary legislation and, as an interim measure, a number of measures were also proposed to amend the existing system.  These included:-

 

·         changes to the Standard Method used by Government for calculating local housing need;

·         changes to Affordable Housing including the introduction of a requirement for a proportion of ‘first homes’ (essentially discounted homes for sale) as part of affordable housing contributions;

·         a temporary increase in the minimum size of site required to provide affordable housing from ten to 40-50 for a limited period of 18 months (not applicable in designated rural areas); and

·         extending the right to apply for Permission in Principle to major development.

 

These were considered within the report and the detailed response attached as Appendix 2.

 

The report further outlined details relating to delivery and information on the timetable for delivery.

 

A lengthy discussion ensued.  Concern was raised with regard to the impact on rurality and communities, and at the lack of detail on the future and protection of the environment.  Concern was further raised regarding the provision of affordable houses and the proposal that Section 106 agreements be substituted with a development levy.  A problem already existed with developers raising arguments around viability and seeking reductions in the percentage of affordable housing on developments.  It was felt that the same argument could be used with regard to a development levy.  This could result in problems for housing associations that depended on acquiring additional properties through Section 106 agreements and, if this opportunity disappeared, this raised the question of how the development grant was worked and provided back to them to fund new building.  This could lead to housing associations developing their own estates, which was very costly, given the value of land, which would make it increasingly difficult for affordable housing to be developed.  Also raised was the need to raise building regulations and  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/82