Agenda and minutes

Lewes District Council Full Council - Monday, 23rd November, 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Remote Meeting on Microsoft Teams

Contact: Committee Services on 01273 471600 

Note: This meeting is being held remotely using Microsoft Teams. Use the link below to view the meeting. Alternatively you can telephone in to listen to the meeting by calling: +44 20 3855 5316 and enter the ID: 428 864 745# (You will be muted on arrival and must remain so for the duration of the meeting)  

Media

Items
No. Item

32.

Welcome

Minutes:

The Chair of the Council advised that the meeting was being held remotely on Microsoft Teams in accordance with published Government regulations.

 

33.

Period of Silence

Minutes:

Prior to the start of the formal business, the Chair of the Council invited members to hold a short period of silence in respect of the two fishermen who were missing, now presumed to have lost their lives, off the coast at Newhaven, and also to recognise the bravery and dedication of the life boat service, coast-guard and local people who participated in and supported the search.

34.

Introductions and Apologies for absence

Minutes:

The Chair of the Council invited members to introduce themselves for those watching and listening to the meeting.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Amy and Councillor Manley.

 

35.

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.

Minutes:

Councillors Bank declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest in respect of Item 14b ‘Motion 2 – Government Changes to our Planning System’, as an employee of the LGA whose figures he intended to quote in his pre-amble to the motion. He remained in the meeting and took a full part in the discussion and vote.

 

36.

Minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2020. pdf icon PDF 256 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Council dated 17 September 2020.

Minutes:

Resolved – To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2020.

37.

Announcements. pdf icon PDF 224 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.

Minutes:

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

2.    The Leader of the Council provided an update on what the Council had been doing in response to the second lockdown to provide support to the local community, reopening the community hub helpline, liaising with local and voluntary groups who could offer support, working closely with East Sussex County Council, and administering business support grant distribution.  He paid tribute to the continued hard work of Council staff, and members of the local community. He noted that the numbers of cases in Lewes were currently fairly low in comparison to other areas (92 per 100,0000), a tribute to the way in which the community had responded.

 

38.

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.

Minutes:

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

 

39.

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).

Minutes:

No questions had been received from members of the public.

 

40.

Petitions

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

Minutes:

No petitions had been received.   

 

41.

Urgent decisions taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet members

In accordance with Policy and Performance Advisory Committee Procedure Rule 17, to receive details of any urgent decisions taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet members since the previous meeting.

Minutes:

No urgent decisions had been taken by Cabinet or Cabinet Members.

 

42.

Designation of Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Report of the Chief Executive.

Minutes:

Councillor MacCleary moved and Councillor Linington seconded the recommendations set out in the report for the appointment of Oliver Dixon as the Council’s statutory monitoring officer.

 

In moving the recommendation, Councillor MacCleary paid tribute to Catherine Knight the former Assistant Director – Legal and Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer for her service to the Council over 27 years, as an invaluable source of advice and support, and to whom the Council owned a huge amount of gratitude and he wished her well for the future.

 

Councillor Linington, in seconding the recommendation, congratulated Oliver Dixon in this new role, but also extended her thanks to Catherine Knight for her assistance over many years, her advice, calm manner, ability to find the perfect wording, and the scrupulously fair, firm and kind way in which she had advised Councillors.  Councillor Linington said that Catherine would be thoroughly missed and wished her a long and happy retirement.

 

Catherine Knight responded and thanked Councillors for their kind words and support over many years and advised that it had been a pleasure to work with them.

 

The recommendations were put to the Council and agreed.

 

Resolved – That the Council designates Oliver Dixon, Head of Legal Services, to be its statutory Monitoring Officer with immediate effect.

 

43.

Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2020. pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Report of the Head of Elections.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Denis moved and Councillor Collier seconded the recommendations set out in the report, arising from a consultation process on polling districts and places.

 

The recommendations were put to the Council and agreed.

 

Resolved

1)    To consider and note the result of the consultation process;

2)    To approve the Returning Officer’s proposals for Polling Places and Polling Districts as set out in Appendix 1 to the report; and

3)    That the Head of Elections, on behalf of the Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer, be authorised to implement the Council’s decisions in respect of the review.

 

44.

Members allowances scheme - Independent Remuneration Panel report. pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Report of the Head of Democratic Services and the Independent Remuneration Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received for consideration the report by an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) making recommendations in respect of the Members Allowance Scheme, and the report of the Head of Democratic Services setting out the options available to the Council.

 

Councillor MacCleary moved and Councillor Linington seconded a proposal set out in an addendum circulated in advance of the meeting, to reject the Panel’s recommendations in relation to the basic and special responsibility allowances at this time due to the current financial climate, but to agree other recommendations and to review the allowances recommendations again in 2022. 

 

The proposal was put to the Council and agreed.

 

Resolved -

1)    Having considered the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) as set out at Appendix 1 to the report, the Council is grateful to the Panel for its work and recognises the logic of the recommendations put forward, but is unable to accept them in full in light of the current financial challenges facing the Council whilst responding to the Covid 19 pandemic;

2)    The Council resolves as follows in relation to each of the recommendations:

a)    To set the basic allowance payable to all members of Lewes District Council at the current level of £3,260 per annum for April 2021 onwards, and to review the IRP’s report again in February 2022 to consider if it would be possible to adopt the higher level of basic allowance recommended from April 2022 subject to any future indexation that may apply;

b)    To accept the recommendation that no Councillor shall be entitled to receive at any time more than one Special Responsibility Allowance and that this One SRA Only Rule be adopted into the Scheme of Allowances;

c)    To retain the current levels of remuneration for all Special Responsibility Allowances, and to review the IRP’s report again in February 2022 to consider if it would be possible to adopt the IRP’s recommendations in relation to the Special Responsibility Allowances from April 2022 subject to any future indexation that may apply;

d)    That further to c) above, to retain the existing allowance for the Scrutiny Committee Chair and attribute it to the Chair of the Policy, Performance and Advisory Committee and retain the existing allowance for Employment Committee and attribute it the Chair of the Joint Staff Advisory Committee in the years in which this Joint Committee is chaired by a Lewes District Councillor;

e)    To accept the recommendation that travelling and subsistence allowances should continue to be payable to Councillors and any co-opted members in connection with any approved duties in accordance with the current scheme of allowances;

f)      To accept the recommendation that the Dependants Carers’ Allowance should be based on two criteria.  Rate one for Childcare should be at the market rate, reimbursed upon production of receipts, with no monthly maximum claim.  Rate two should be for specialist care based at cost upon production of receipts and requiring medical evidence that this type of care is required. There should also be no  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

Recommendations from Cabinet and other council bodies

45a

Annual treasury management report. pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Report of Councillor Nicholson on behalf of the Cabinet.  Referred from Cabinet on 24 September 2020.

Minutes:

Councillor Nicholson moved and Councillor Peterson seconded the recommendation referred from the Cabinet meeting held on 24 September 2020, to approve the Annual Treasury Management report for 2019/20 and to approve the 2019/20 prudential and treasury indicators.

 

The proposal was put to the Council and agreed.

 

Resolved

1)    To agree the Annual Treasury Management report for 2019/20; and

2)    To approve the 2019/20 prudential and treasury indicators included in the Cabinet Report to the meeting on 18 November 2020.

 

46.

Notices of motion.

46a

Motion 1 - To ensure no resident of Lewes District is prevented from voting by any new Voter ID legislation. pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To consider a motion submitted by Councillor Collier.

Minutes:

Councillor Collier moved and Councillor Denis seconded the motion set out on the agenda, in respect of voter ID. 

 

The matter was debated by the Council members. The motion was put to the vote and approved by majority.

 

Resolved - We call on the Council to request that legal officers produce a report to Cabinet detailing the implications of Voter ID on residents in the district once the draft legislation and guidance for Voter ID has been published with the aim of identifying the mitigations that could be practically implemented to prevent the loss on any individual’s democratic right and ensure that elections within Lewes District are free for all once the legislation comes into force.

 

46b

Motion 2 - Government changes to our planning system. pdf icon PDF 340 KB

To consider a motion submitted by Councillor Banks.

Minutes:

Councillor Banks moved and Councillor Makepeace seconded the motion set out on the agenda, in respect of the next steps the Council can take in relation to the Government White paper on planning changes. 

 

The matter of was debated by the Council members. The motion was put to the vote and approved by majority.

 

Resolved - This Council resolves to use the existing comments submitted by Lewes District Council:

1.     To ask the Leader or Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure to write to and lobby both of our Members of Parliament, urging them to oppose the Government proposals; and

2.       For the Council to continue to make representations against the proposals as already submitted by the Council and highlight those concerns with local residents.

 

47.

Written questions from Councillors pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To deal with written questions which Councillors may wish to put to the Chair of the Council, a Cabinet Member, Chair of any committee or sub-committee, or Council representative on an external body in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12 (if any).  Any such questions notified to the Head of Democratic Services by 5 pm on 17 November will be circulated in an agenda supplement.

Minutes:

A written question was received from Councillor Burman to Councillor Peterson, Chair of the Audit and Standards Committee as follows:

 

“Recognising the audit delays experienced by many Councils across the country, please can the Chair of the Audit and Standards Committee provide the Council with an update on the audit of the accounts for 2018-19 and 2019-20.  Can he provide us with an update on any matters which could help to address the delays and on how to avoid them in future?”

 

Councillor Peterson responded in full, setting out the steps that had been taken, and concerns raised by the Committee.  It was noted that there had been an agreement with the auditors to delay the completion of the 2018-19 from July to November 2019, in order to ensure they were thorough and supported by sound working papers.  However, subsequently Deloitte has found difficulty in reallocating staff resources to complete the work given its commitments to other clients.  It was recognised that this was an issue experienced by many other Councils nationally, which had resulted in the Government commissioning Sir Tony Redmond to undertake an independent review of the effectiveness of local audit and transparency of local authority financial reporting. The Council had also raised its concerns to the Public Sector Audit Appointments company.

 

Officers had advised that despite many months of effort to work with Deloitte, there was still no clear path to resolution of when the External Audit for 2018/19 would be completed, a situation that was now putting at risk the audit of 2019/20 accounts and beyond.  The Committee at its meeting on 16 November had received an update from Deloitte and agreed to schedule a special meeting within the next few weeks for Deloitte to provide an update and for the Committee to receive a log of all outstanding actions on both sides. 

 

Councillor Burman asked a supplementary question as to whether all Councillors could attend the additional Audit and Standards Committee on this matter and what it was hoped to achieve.

 

Councillor Peterson responded that he would encourage all Councillors to attend and advised that it was hoped that the meeting would set out a clear way forward for the completion of the statement of accounts.

 

48.

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.

 

(NB 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).

Minutes:

No questions to the Leader of the Council had been submitted.

49.

Ward issues pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To deal with ward issues which Councillors wish to raise, as notified by 5 pm on 17 November 2020. 

 

One matter has been raised to date by Councillor Gauntlett, in relation to Talland Parade, High Street, Seaford (Planning Application LW/11/132), a copy of which is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Gauntlett raised a ward issue, set out in full in the agenda, in respect of the scaffolding erected five years ago to facilitate the work required in respect of Talland Parade, High Street, Seaford (Planning Application LW/11/1321 etc), and which still remained in place.  He requested that:

 

1.    The Council writes to the developer in the strongest possible terms expressing the anger and frustration of Seaford residents.

2.    It be noted that Lewes District Council Officers are engaging with the developer to understand the current stage they are at with the building works and the likely end date, including when the scaffolding will be taken down.

3.    It be noted that Officers can only work within current legislation and any information supplied by the developer in relation to these points cannot be binding and prosecution for non-adherence is not possible.

4.    Lewes District Council write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting urgent attention to this area of the Law to enable Planning Enforcement Officers to require developers to carry out work within agreed  timescales on behalf of local communities.

 

Councillor Brett and Councillor Jim Lord as neighbouring ward councillors both spoke in support of the concerns raised.

 

Councillor O’Brien as Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure responded that Officers would continue to work to address the issues on site, including the actions requested in relation to writing to the developer.  Officers had given assurances that the site was subject to regular inspections and was up to date with building control safety standards.  However, she confirmed she would write to the Government to request the additional powers required for councils to take enforcement action in these circumstances, and advised that the Chief Executive would report back to a future Cabinet meeting on the actions taken.

 

50.

Reporting back on meetings of outside bodies pdf icon PDF 354 KB

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

Minutes:

Councillors had provided reports on the outside bodies to which they were appointed by Full Council as follows:

 

Councillor Johnny Denis – Police and Crime Panel

Councillor Christine Brett – Impact Seaford and Seaford Head Nature Reserve Committee. 

 

A request was made for additional outside body updates to be made at the next meeting.

 

51.

Date of the next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 22 February 2021.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of Full Council was scheduled to take place on 22 February 2021 at 6 pm.