Agenda and minutes

Lewes District Council Full Council - Monday, 21st February, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, St Anne's Crescent, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1UE

Contact: Committee Services on 01273 471600 

Note: This meeting is a public meeting. The number of public seats, however, are limited at the moment and need to be carefully managed to ensure that the meeting remains Covid-secure. For this reason, in line with the requirements for this meeting venue, we would like to ask that anyone intending to attend as a member of the public, contacts the Democratic Services team in advance by email: committees@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk. In addition, anyone attending the meeting is recommended to wear a face covering and take a lateral flow test. This meeting will be webcast. 

Media

Items
No. Item

66.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2021 pdf icon PDF 262 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Council dated 22 November 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2021.

 

67.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Davis, Jones and Rutland.

 

Councillor Peterson had indicated that he needed to leave the meeting after agenda Item 9c and gave apologies for the remainder of the meeting.

 

Councillor Adeniji and O’Keeffe had advised that they would arrive slightly late.

 

68.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

 

69.

Announcements pdf icon PDF 223 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that a list of her engagements as Chair of the Council held since the last meeting were set out in the agenda.  She advised that the last item listed ‘Opening of Landport Community Café had had to be cancelled.

 

70.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no urgent items to consider.

 

71.

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).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No questions had been received from members of the public.

 

72.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No petitions had been received.

 

73.

Urgent decisions taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet members pdf icon PDF 129 KB

In accordance with Policy and Performance Procedure Rule 17, to receive details of any urgent decisions taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet members since the previous meeting. The following decisions have been made by the Leader of the Council:

 

Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme – 14 January 2022

 

COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme – 31 January 2022.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In accordance with the Policy and Performance Procedure Rule 17, the Council received details of two decisions which had been taken by the Leader of the Council under special urgency procedures, the ‘Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme’ on 14 January 2022 and the ‘Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme’ on 31 January 2022.

 

74.

Recommendations from Cabinet, Committees and Other Council bodies

Additional documents:

74a

Council Budget and Setting of the Council Tax 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 427 KB

Report of the Chief Finance Officer and Councillor Nicholson on behalf of the Cabinet.  Referred from Cabinet on 3 February 2022, incorporating the recommendations from the Cabinet reports on:

 

·         General Fund Revenue Budget 2022/23 and Capital Programme

·         Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators 2022/23, Capital Strategy and Investment Strategy.

·         Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Revenue Budget and Rent Setting 2022/23 and HRA Capital Programme 2021-25

 

Please note that 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:

Minutes:

Councillor Nicholson moved and Councillor MacCleary seconded the recommendations set out in the agenda, in relation to the Council Budget and setting of the Council Tax for 2022/23.  This incorporated recommendations from Cabinet on 3 February 2022 regarding the General Fund Revenue Budget 2022/23 and Capital Programme, Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators 2022/23, Capital Strategy and Investment Strategy and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Revenue Budget and Rent Setting 2022/23 and HRA Capital Programme 2021-25.

 

Councillor Linington moved and Councillor Turner seconded the following amendment as set out in an addendum tabled at the meeting:

 

“To allocate funds from the Regeneration and Planning budget to employ an additional Enforcement Officer.  The post to be initially for two years with a view to making it a permanent post, subject to a review of effectiveness and availability of funding.  The timing of appointment and source of funding to be at the discretion of the Director of Regeneration and Planning in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer.”

 

Councillor Nicholson then spoke to the budget proposals.  She reflected on the impact on the impact of Covid 19, the energy crisis, and the cost of living crisis on the community and on the Council.  She thanked Council directors and managers for their hard work in delivering on savings plans and continuing to provide excellent services to residents in extraordinary times and confirmed that this was a balanced budget.  Councillor Nicholson highlighted how the budget was focused on supporting the most vulnerable in the community, on community wellbeing, on improving green spaces and play spaces, improving biodiversity, and on a green recovery.  She confirmed that she was happy to support the opposition amendment for the employment of an additional enforcement officer.

 

Councillor Linington responded on behalf of the opposition to the budget and her amendment.  She highlighted the importance of funding an additional enforcement officer.  She highlighted that although there was a lot in the budget the opposition group could support, there was much that they could not.  In particular, it was felt that it would be better to have had a zero Council Tax rise which would be to the benefit of all, rather than supporting a smaller number of people through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. 

 

The Council then debated the budget and amendment together.  The Council received advice from the Council Solicitor that the first vote would be on the budget with the amendment and would be a named vote in accordance with legislation, and if carried there was no need for a further vote in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules.

 

Prior to moving the vote, Councillor Nicholson was given the opportunity to sum up.

 

The motion with the amendment was then put to a recorded vote and declared carried by 20 votes to 0 with 16 abstentions.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.          To approve the recommendations as detailed in the reports from the Chief Finance Officer to Cabinet on 3 February 2022 as summarised below:

 

(i)          To approve the General Fund budget for 2021/22 (Revised)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74a

74b

Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the Working Age 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 272 KB

Report of Councillor Nicholson on behalf the meeting of Cabinet on 9 December 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Nicholson moved and Councillor MacCleary seconded the recommendation on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the Working Age 2022/23, subject to an additional recommendation circulated from the Director of Service Delivery on an agenda supplement.  This amendment was required as a result of regulations made on 10 February 2022 under the Energy Rebate Scheme 2022, which required all local council tax support schemes to disregard Energy Rebate Scheme payments in determining a person’s eligibility for a council tax reduction and the amount of any such reduction with effect from 1 April 2022.

 

The recommendations were debated by the Council in full and then put to a vote by show of hands and declared carried.

 

RESOLVED:

1.          To agree the revised Local Council Tax Reduction (LCTR) Scheme for the working age for 2022/23, comprising the features proposed at paragraph 2.1 of the Cabinet report, to:

·              Calculate LCTR on 100% of a claimant’s council tax liability.

·              Not apply the minimum-income floor to self-employed claimants.

·              Not have a minimum award below which a claimant does not receive a reduction.

 

2.          To continue the Exceptional Hardship Scheme in 2022/23; and

 

3.          To delegate authority to the Director of Service Delivery, in consultation with the Cabinet Member For Finance And Assets, to add provisions to the 2022/23 scheme, to comply with the Council Tax (Demand Notices and Reduction Schemes) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

 

74c

Arrangements for Appointing External Auditors pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Report of the Chief Finance Officer.  Referred from Audit and Standards Committee on 17 January 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Peterson moved and Councillor Ross seconded the recommendation of the report of the Chief Finance Officer, to opt in to Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) national scheme for the appointment of the Council’s External Audit arrangements post for the 2023/24 financial year onwards, in line with the recommendations of the Audit and Standards Committee.

 

In making these recommendations, as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Audit and Standards Committee, Councillor Peterson and Ross expressed their disappointment that this was the only real option available to the Council due to the risks and anticipated costs involved in procuring an auditor directly. They confirmed that the Audit and Standards Committee had asked officers to write to the Secretary of State with concerns around the lack of a real choice in the current process, to continue to raise concerns with the PSAA over external audit delay and timeliness, and seek assurance that capacity, standards and quality would be managed through the procurement and contract management process.  In addition, it was being requested that the Council would not be allocated the same auditor in future, but this was not guaranteed.  They thanked the Chief Finance Officer and Deputy CFO for their work with Members on this matter.

 

The recommendations were debated, put to a vote and declared carried.

 

RESOLVED -

1.     That the Council approves the Audit and Standards Committee’s recommendation to accept the Public Sector Audit Appointments’ (PSAA’s) opt-in invitation into the sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors from 1st April 2023; and

2.     That delegated authority be given to the Section 151 Officer to complete and submit the ‘opt in’ form (Appendix B) to PSAA by the deadline of the 11March 2022.

(Note – Councillor Peterson left the meeting at the end of this item at 19:32)

74d

Approval of Licensing Fees 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Report of Councillor Macleod on behalf of the Licensing Committee, referred from the meeting of Licensing Committee held on 20 January 2022 and to recommend an amendment to Appendix 1 received from the Director of Services Delivery to include an additional line 15a for a ‘Fee for training of new drivers – including safeguarding, disability training and English test of £130’.  This is highlighted in the revised Appendix 1.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Macleod moved and Councillor Robinson seconded the recommendation of the Licensing Committee of 21 February 2022, to approve the licensing fees to apply from 1 April 2022.  The fees were set out in Appendix 1 to the referral report, which had been updated to include an additional fee for new taxi drivers in relation to English Language, disability and safeguarding training. Councillor Macleod confirmed the costs of training for existing drivers could be funded from ring-fenced licensing reserves, along with a new IT system.  The proposals would keep the level of reserves to minimum operating levels.

 

The Council considered the recommendation, and it was put to a vote and declared carried. 

 

RESOLVED:

To approve the licensing fees proposed within revised Appendix 1 to apply from 1 April 2022.

75.

Notices of motion.

There are no notices of motion for this meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no motions notified.

 

76.

Members' Allowances Scheme pdf icon PDF 326 KB

Report of the Head of Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report of the Head of Democratic Services, which recommended that the Council revisited the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommended changes to the Council’s Allowances Scheme, in particular in relation to basic, special and IT allowances, as agreed in the Full Council resolution in November 2020.  All other aspects of the report had been determined in November 2020.

 

Cllr Nicholson moved and Cllr MacCleary seconded a proposal set down on the agenda supplement as follows:

 

“(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)      Further to (1), that all allowances to Members including Basic, Special Responsibility and IT allowances continue at the current levels subject to indexation in line with percentage increase in staff salaries up until 2024.

(3)      That the Head of Democratic Services be authorised to make any necessary amendments to the Council’s Members’ Allowances Scheme each year in line with indexation changes backdated to 1 April 2021 when the percentage increase in staff salaries is known.”

 

Members discussed the recommendation and there was support across the Council for the allowances to remain unchanged given the current economic climate and financial pressures.  However, there was broad support for an increase in allowances to be considered when next reviewed by an Independent Remuneration Panel, in recognition that the current levels of allowances were low compared to other similar sized Councils, and that an uplift would be needed to attract a diversity of Councillors to the role.

 

The proposal was put to a vote and declared carried.

 

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.          Further to (1), that all allowances to Members including Basic, Special Responsibility and IT allowances continue at the current levels subject to indexation in line with percentage increase in staff salaries up until 2024; and

3.          That the Head of Democratic Services be authorised to make any necessary amendments to the Council’s Members’ Allowances Scheme each year in line with indexation changes backdated to 1 April 2021 when the percentage increase in staff salaries is known.

 

77.

Calendar of Meetings 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To agree the proposed Calendar of Meetings for 2022/23.

 

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor MacCleary moved and Councillor Nicholson seconded that the proposed calendar of meetings for 2022-23 be agreed.  It was noted that the dates would be subject to formal ratification at annual council in line with legislation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Calendar of Meetings 2022-23 be approved.

 

78.

Written questions from Councillors

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).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No written questions had been received from Councillors.

 

79.

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 of the text of the question 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).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that two questions had been notified prior to the start of the meeting from Councillor O’Connor and Councillor Adeniji.

 

a)     Councillor O’Connor asked the following question to the Leader:

 

“I note that East Sussex County Council Library service is currently arranging to move the Peacehaven and Telscombe library where it currently has a space of 970m2 to a cupboard at the Joff Youth Centre with just 39m2.  In addition, the holding of books will reduce from 20,500 to just 4,500. This tremendous reduction in provision seems to be contrary to the aim of providing a decent service to residents of Peacehaven and Telscombe.  The reasoning behind this is that the Meridian Centre, where the library is situated is about to be redeveloped whereas the site owners have not submitted any proposals.  I would like to ask the Leader to set out her view on this issue and does she think that Lewes District Council should be concerned about this potential move?”

 

Councillor Nicholson responded that this was a serious issue for the residents of Peacehaven and Telscombe, and confirmed that she had raised the issue of the lack of library service and the economic impact of moving out of Meridian Centre with the Leader of East Sussex County Council.  She confirmed that the District Council would like to be part of the discussion on the future of the centre, the service for residents, and the potential for the District Council might be to use part of the centre for a touchdown space or residents help desk. 

 

b)    Councillor Adeniji asked the following question to the Leader:

 

“The scaffolding at Talland Parade Seaford is a blight on our lovely town. I have been made aware that Lewes District Council has tried “everything”, including all possible legal actions, at resolving this issue.

 

Can the Leader advise if Independent Legal Counsel opinion and the support of the Local Government Association has been sought regarding this issue, as well as detailing to me in writing all legal steps and legal actions with dates that have been taken by the Council to address this issue as well as the outcome of the Independent Legal advice and the LGA’s comment?”

 

Councillor Nicholson advised that she would respond in part to the question and would then ask Councillor Gauntlett (Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure) to provide additional details.  Councillor Nicholson confirmed that it was a matter of great concern, and the Council had sought legal advice and written to the LGA, but the instruments available to the Council were limited.  However, Councillor Adeniji would receive a detailed written response as requested.  Councillor Gauntlett advised that he shared the concern and was asked about it on a daily basis.  He confirmed that Officers had searched extensively on the potential options, and those available to the Council were either limited, cumbersome and ineffective.  The main power would be to take away the right of the developer to complete the development, which would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79.

80.

Standards Panel Decision pdf icon PDF 209 KB

In accordance with Council’s adopted Code of Conduct Hearings Procedure, a copy of a decision made by a Standards Panel held on 23 November 2021 in respect of allegations made against Councillor Linington is attached for information.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In accordance with the Council’s adopted Code of Conduct Hearings Procedure, the Council received a copy of a decision of a Standards Panel held on 23 November 2021 for information.  

81.

Ward issues

To deal with ward issues which councillors wish to raise (if any).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no ward issues raised for discussion. 

 

82.

Reporting back on meetings of outside bodies pdf icon PDF 232 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

  • Wave Leisure – Councillor O’Connor
  • Impact Seaford – Councillor Brett
  • Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor Brett
  • Armed Forces Champion update – Councillor Davy
  • South Downs National Park Authority (SDNP) and other SDNP meetings – Councillor Meyer.

 

Councillor Davy paid tribute to the armed forces and their importance in the current climate.  Councillor Macleod advised that in his role as Mental Health Champion, he was able to advise that a ‘taxi-watch’ pilot scheme was being rolled out to taxi drivers in Lewes, along with other areas of the country, to offer to them with suicide prevention training.  He also apologised that he was unable to report back on the recent 3VA meeting due to a family emergency preventing him from attending.

 

83.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 23 May 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that the next scheduled meeting was on 23 May 2022 at 6 pm.