Agenda and minutes

Lewes District Council Full Council - Monday, 22nd February, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: via Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Committee Services on 01273 471600 

Note: This meeting is being held remotely using Microsoft Teams in accordance with section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and section 13 of the related regulations. You can view the meeting via the Council’s YouTube page.  


No. Item




The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and advised that it was being held remotely in accordance with published government regulations.



Introductions and apologies for absence


The Chair invited members to introduce themselves for those watching the meeting.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Liz Boorman.



Declarations of interest

Disclosure by councillors of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the councillor regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.



There were no declarations of interest made in relation to the items on the agenda.



Minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2020. pdf icon PDF 398 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Council dated 23 November 2020.



Resolved – To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2020.



Announcements pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To receive any announcements from the Chair of the Council, Leader of the Council, Members of the Cabinet or the Chief Executive. A list of the Chair of the Council's engagements since the previous meeting is enclosed.


The Chair advised that a list of his engagements as Chair of the Council since the last meeting were set out in a supplement to the agenda and these were noted.



Urgent items

Items not on the agenda which the Chair of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency by reason of special circumstances as defined in Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no items to be considered as a matter of urgency.


Questions from members of the public

To deal with questions which members of the public may wish to put to members of the Cabinet in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11 (if any).


No questions had been received from members of the public.




To receive petitions from councillors or members of the public in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13 (if any).


No petitions had been received.


Urgent decisions taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet members pdf icon PDF 133 KB

In accordance with Policy and Performance Committee Procedure Rule 17, to receive details of any urgent decisions taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet members since the previous meeting.  Copies of the decision-notices of three decisions by the Leader of the Council are attached to this agenda relating to:


·        Local Restrictions Support Grants – 16 November 2020

·        Additional Restrictions Grant Scheme – 19 November 2020

·        Local Restrictions Support Grant 'Open' - 2 December onwards – 24 December 2020


Additional documents:


In accordance with the Policy and Performance Committee Procedure Rule 17, the Council received details of three decisions which had been taken by the Leader of the Council under special urgency procedures, in relation to Grant Schemes and made on 16 November, 19 November and 24 December 2020.



Recommendations from Cabinet


Council Budget and Setting of the Council Tax 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 279 KB

Report of Councillor Nicholson on behalf of the Cabinet.  Referred from Cabinet on 2 February 2021, incorporating the recommendations from the Cabinet reports on:


·        General Fund Revenue Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme

·        Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Revenue Budget and Rent Setting 2020/21 and HRA Capital Programme 2019-23

·        Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators 2020/21, Capital Strategy and Investment Strategy


Please notethat the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 requires named votes to be taken and recorded when setting the annual budget and council tax, including on substantive motions and any amendments.


Additional documents:


Councillor Nicholson moved and Councillor MacCleary seconded the

the recommendations set out in the agenda, in relation to the Council Budget and setting of the Council Tax for 2021/22.  This incorporated recommendations from Cabinet regarding the General Fund Budget 2021/22 and Capital Programme, Housing Revenue Account Revenue Budget and Rent Setting 2021/22 and HRA Capital Programme 2020-24, the Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators for 2020/21, Capital Strategy and Investment Strategy.


Councillor Nicholson (Portfolio Holder for Finance and Assets) spoke to the recommendations in detail, setting out the choices being made including to invest in the environment, economy and target support to those who really needed it. She offered sympathy to all those who had lost loved ones due to Covid, and paid tribute to the response from staff, public sector, the community and voluntary sector. She thanked the Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer and their teams in achieving £1.4m in savings, to enable a balanced budget to be presented.


Councillor Miller as chair of the Policy and Performance Committee responded first on behalf of the opposition, and highlighted that Cabinet had chosen not to accept the recommendations of the Committee to freeze Council tax, and believed this should have been supported for the benefit of local residents.  Councillor Burman as shadow portfolio holder for finance joined with Councillor Miller in thanking officers for preparing the budget, he indicated his support for many of the recommendations for investing locally, but advised he could not support the budget as a whole due to the Council tax rise proposed.


The budget was then debated in full by the Council, and Councillor Nicholson was given the opportunity to sum up at the end.


The Chair advised that by legislation the Council would take a recorded vote in respect of this report.


The recommendations were put to the vote and declared carried by 21 votes to 16, with 1 abstention, and the voting recorded as follows:


For: Councillors Amy, Banks, Bird, Brett, Carr, Clay, Collier, Denis, Gauntlett, MacCleary, Macleod, Makepeace, Manley, Meyer, Nicholson, O’Brien, O’Connor, O’Keeffe, Robinson, Ross and von Kurthy (21).

Against: Councillors Adeniji, Bikson, Burman, Davis, Davy, Duhigg, Jones, Linnington, J Lord, S Lord, Maskell, Miller, Papanicolaou, Peterson, Rigden and Rutland (16).

Abstention: Councillor Saunders (1).



1.             The recommendations as detailed in the reports from the Chief Finance Officer and the Director of Service Delivery to Cabinet on 4 February 2021 be approved as summarised below:

      i.         To approve the General Fund budget for 2020/21 (Revised) and 2021/22 (Original).

     ii.         To approve an increase in the Council Tax for Lewes District Council of £5 resulting in a Band D charge for general expenses of £197.08 for 2021/22.

    iii.         To approve the revised General Fund capital programme 2021/22.

   iv.         To endorse the continuation of the Flexible use of Capital Receipts.

     v.         To approve the Treasury Management Strategy and Annual Investment Strategy for 2021/22.

   vi.         To approve the Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement for 2021/22.

  vii.         To approve the Prudential and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61a


Recommendation from Committees and Other Council Bodies


Approval of Licensing Fees pdf icon PDF 295 KB

Report of Councillor Macleod on behalf of the Licensing Committee. Referred from the meeting of Licensing Committee held on 17 December 2020.

Additional documents:


Councillor Macleod moved and Councillor Robinson seconded the recommendation of the Licensing Committee to approve the Licensing Fees for 2020/21, set out in the agenda and agenda supplement.


Councillor Macleod highlighted the key recommendations including a reduction in the majority of the fees, and an increase only in relation to market trader operators’ fees. 


Councillors welcomed the reduction in fees.  Councillor Saunders asked a specific question as to the breakdown in the number of market operators in different towns in the district, what the impact of the increase would be for them, and how the level of increase was arrived at. Councillor Macleod agreed to arrange for a written response after the meeting. 


Resolved –

To formally ratify the scale of licensing fees proposed within Appendix 1 to the report, to apply with effect from 1 April 2021.



Notices of motion.


Motion 1 - To support proportional representation pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To consider a motion to be moved by Councillor Robinson and seconded by Councillor Denis.


Councillor Robinson moved and Councillor Denis seconded a motion in support of replacing the ‘first past the post’ voting system with proportional representation and to write to the Government and Local Government Association to ask for changes in electoral law.


Councillor Robinson set out the reasons for the motion which had been included in the agenda papers.


The motion was debated by the Council with views for and against expressed.


An amendment was moved by Councillor Linington and seconded by Councillor Burman to replace the words that ‘the Council asks the Chief Executive to write’, with ‘the Council asks the Leader of the Council’ to write.


The amendment was put to the vote and declared lost.


The original motion was put to the vote and declared carried.



To agree that a move to the use of proportional representation for local elections would boost turn-out, make the Council more representative of the political make-up of its residents, and improve the quality of its decision-making, thereby benefiting all Lewes District residents.


This Council therefore asks the Chief Executive:


?        To write to the Government to request that it changes electoral law to permit such a move; and

?        To contact the Local Government Association asking them to assess the Welsh policy and investigate the legal options for improving democracy and participation in local government in England.


Motion 2 - To support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To consider a motion to be proposed by Councillor Bird and seconded by Councillor Brett.


Councillor Bird moved and Councillor Brett seconded a motion in support of the climate and ecological emergency (CEE) Bill.


Councillor Bird set out the reasons for the motion which had been included in the agenda papers.


The motion was debated by the Council, with views expressed for and against the Bill itself, but with broad agreement with the need for the Council to declare an ecological emergency.


Councillor Saunders proposed an amendment to replace the words that ‘the Council asks Leader of the Council’ with ‘the Council asks the Chief Executive’ to write, however this was not seconded.


The original motion was put to the vote and declared carried.


Resolved -

That the Council lends its support to the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill that was presented to Government on the 2 September 2020 as follows:

1.  To welcome and support the Bill and ask the Leader of the Council to write to all local MPs asking them to support the CEE Bill in Parliament and in public.

2.  Where not already happening, to seek to align the Council’s strategies (when new or reviewed) with the aims and goals of the CEE Bill.

(Note – at the end of this agenda item the Council took a 10-minute recess and returned at 8.30 pm.  Councillor Manley left at this point and gave her apologies for the remainder of the meeting).


Motion 3 - To support ExcludedUK and those excluded from Covid Support Schemes. pdf icon PDF 430 KB

To consider a motion to be proposed by Councillor Makepeace and seconded by Councillor Banks.


Councillor Makepeace moved and Councillor Banks seconded a motion in support of ExcludedUK and those excluded from Covid Support schemes.


Councillor Makepeace set out the reasons for the motion which had been included in the agenda papers.


The motion was debated by the Council and had cross-party support.


The motion was put to the Council and approved. 


Resolved - 

1.       To support the ‘Excluded UK’ campaign and its efforts to support ‘the excluded’;

2.       To ask the Leader on behalf of the Council to sign ExcludedUK’s open letter to the Chancellor that calls for such consideration, calling on the Government to address the disparities in support, to ensure that all can receive support they need at this time; and

3.       To continue to promote the support available from organisations focused on financial inclusion and support in the District including by:

a)         Requesting the Cabinet to consider what additional practical steps the Council can offer to support and advise whenever possible those affected; and.

b)         Continuing to promote the Council’s community hub that can assist with such matters as help with any support needs.



Calendar of Meetings 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To agree the proposed Calendar of Meetings for 2021/22. 


Please note: The Council dates will be subject to final approval at the annual meeting of the Council, in accordance with legislation.



Councillor Macleod moved and Councillor Brett seconded the adoption of the proposed Calendar of meetings for 2021/22.  It was noted that this would be subject to approval at Annual Council.


Questions were raised as to the timing and frequency of the Planning Application Committee meetings, and implications for Town and Parish Planning meetings.  Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure explained the reasons that officers had recommended a change in frequency in response to complaints received and in order to enable sufficient time for residents to be notified of meetings and to have the opportunity to register a speech.  However, she advised that she had suggested to the Head of Planning First that a review be carried out after six months to assess the impact. Councillor Davy, Chair of the Planning Applications Committee, confirmed that these changes had been discussed, but asked for confirmation from Officers that the meeting would return to a 5 pm start when in-person meetings returned.


The Chair suggested that Democratic Services confirm the position on the Planning Applications Committee timings to the Chair and Councillor O’Brien after the meeting and this was confirmed by the Head of Democratic Services.


Resolved – To note the proposed Calendar of Meetings for 2021/22, with the final version to be approved at Annual Council.



Written questions from Councillors pdf icon PDF 183 KB

To deal with written questions which councillors may wish to put to the Chair of the Council, a Lead Councillor on the Cabinet or the Chair of any committee or sub-committee in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12 (if any).  Any such questions notified to the Head of Democratic Services by 5 pm on 16 February will be circulated in an agenda supplement.


Two written questions had been received in accordance with procedure rule 12, from Councillor Macleod and Councillor Banks both to the Leader of the Council, and notified to Councillors in an agenda supplement.


Question 1 – Councillor Macleod asked the following question:

" Would the Leader agree that, as we are facing a climate emergency, it is madness to progress the building of a new billion-pound dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate? Would it not make more sense and be a lot cheaper to cut fares on the parallel railway and encourage drivers to switch from road to rail? Will he put on record his opposition to a new offline road through the Downs?”


Councillor MacCleary indicated his opposition to the proposal for a new offline dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate, and then asked Councillor O’Brien to respond in full.  Councillor O’Brien confirmed her opposition to the scheme, which ignored the vocal opposition from local villages and the impact on the countryside and would only marginally improve travel times.  She felt that the money could be better spent on effective public transport and Wi-Fi infrastructure.


Councillor Macleod asked a supplementary question – “Could the Leader of the Council write to the MP Maria Caulfield to get a clear answer as to her view on the proposals, as she has expressed different views to different groups of residents?”


Councillor MacCleary responded that he was happy to write to the MP.


Question 2 – Councillor Banks asked the following question:

“We have all now seen the horrifying news that the number of dwellings Lewes District Council is being forced to find land for is set to more than double to 782 per year or 15,640 across a 20 year period.  This would be devastating for our countryside and our open spaces across the district.  Can the Leader of the Council provide an update on what the plans are to urgently lobby the government to stop this and revert to a lower number which reflects what our communities need?”


Councillor MacCleary asked Councillor O’Brien to respond in detail but confirmed his concern as to the numbers arising from the standard method calculation.  Councillor O’Brien advised that she shared his great concern at the target of 15,000 new homes over 20 years, which would mean an increase of a third on the current number of houses in the District.  She confirmed that a letter had been received from the Government (MHCLG) to confirm that the Council had calculated the target correctly.  The Council was unable to appeal the target figure and algorithm, but would put forward the evidence to an future planning inspector as to why it could not be met and would continue to appeal to the Government to amend the target.


Councillor Banks asked a supplementary question ‘What are the plans to move the lobbying up a gear on this issue?’.


Councillor MacCleary advised that he would write to the Government to protest the calculation formula, and invited the Leader of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.


Questions to the Leader of the Council

To deal with questions (if any) which Councillors may wish to put to the Leader of the Council. It will be at the Leader’s discretion to re-direct questions to relevant Members of the Cabinet. A Councillor wishing to raise a question must notify the Chair of the Council by email of the text of the question by 4.45 pm prior to the commencement of the meeting.


(Note - This item is limited to a maximum of 5 questions, with no more than 1 question being asked per councillor. If a question requires a detailed or technical response, the Leader may decide that a written response is more appropriate).


No verbal questions had been received for the Leader of the Council.



Ward issues

To deal with ward issues which Councillors wish to raise (if any), as notified by 5 pm on 16 February 2020.


No ward issues had been raised.


Reporting back on meetings of outside bodies pdf icon PDF 556 KB

To receive any reports from the Council's representatives who serve on outside bodies in respect of meetings they have attended.

Additional documents:


The following reports had been received on outside bodies set out in the agenda and agenda supplement:

  • Team East Sussex – Cllr MacCleary and Cllr Nicholson
  • Aspiration Homes – Cllr MacCleary and Cllr Nicholson
  • Lewes Homes Investment Company Ltd – Cllr MacCleary and Cllr Nicholson
  • Greater Brighton Economic Board – Cllr Nicholson
  • Health and Wellbeing Board – Cllr Nicholson
  • East Sussex Strategic Planning Group – Cllr O’Brien
  • South East England Councils – Cllr O’Brien
  • Seaford to Brighton Steering Group – Cllr O’Brien
  • West Sussex and Greater Brighton Strategic Planning Board – Cllr O’Brien
  • Impact Seaford – Cllr Brett
  • Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (ESCC) – Cllr Gauntlett
  • Wave Leisure Trust – Cllr O’Connor
  • Joint Action Group – Cllr Macleod
  • Mental Health Champion – Cllr Macleod
  • Citizens Advice Bureau – Cllr Makepeace
  • South Downs National Park Authority and Planning Meetings – Cllr Meyer
  • South East Coastal Group – Cllr Bird
  • Upper Ouse Flood Protection and Water Retention Works Working Group – Cllr Bird


A question was asked as to why no Conservative Councillors had submitted reports. Councillor Linington responded that there were very few Conservative Councillors appointed to outside bodies, but she agreed to seek to bring back a report herself to the next meeting and other Conservative Councillors confirmed their intention to do so in future.



Date of next meeting

The next meeting of Full Council is scheduled to take place on 27May 2021 at 6 pm.


It was noted that the next scheduled meeting was the Annual Council Meeting on 27 May 2021 at 6 pm.