Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Coalville
Contact: Democratic Services 01530 454512
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors A Bridgen, R Canny, M French, L Gillard and K Merrie.
Councillor A C Saffell joined the meeting at 6.50pm.
Declaration of Interests
Under the Code of Conduct members are reminded that in declaring interests you should make clear the nature of that interest and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest, registerable interest or other interest.
There were no interests declared.
The Chairman advised that the 11th of July is recognised internationally as the Remembering Srebrenica day. It was intended that a minute’s silence be observed to pay respects at the nearest Council meeting which was to be on 21st June. Unfortunately, that meeting was cancelled so he invited all present to observe a minute’s silence to remember Srebrenica.
The Chairman welcomed Allison Thomas, Chief Executive to her first Council meeting.
He then went on to report on some of the events he had attended since the last meeting of Council which included a police and fire service open day, the opening of the new Range store in Coalville, the Ashby Show, and a number of civic events hosted by neighbouring authorities.
Leader's and Portfolio Holders' Announcements
Members are reminded that under paragraph 11.1 of part 4 of the Constitution, questions can be asked of the Leader and Cabinet Members without notice about any matter contained in any address. Questions shall be limited to five minutes in total for each announcement.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor R Blunt announced the Council’s plans to address the cost-of-living crisis. He spoke about the uncertainty faced by all residents on what the future would bring in terms of the cost of living in the coming months, a situation which was instigated by the war in Ukraine.
Whilst accepting that there was nothing that could be done about the cause, there were steps that could be taken to manage the consequences which included the establishment of an internal task force which would identify the issues and see what could be done to address them. This would include the provision of additional funding to supplement the help already available, examples being access to the discretionary housing pot, help with applications for the housing support fund, and help to maximise access to the existing grants available such as the £150 council tax rebate. Help was already being offered to tenants to assist with debt recovery and easier access to food banks to ensure that this was aimed at those who needed it most. Our close working relationship with partners, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau would continue. Work was also ongoing when looking at council homes and what could be done to maximise energy efficiency. Whilst longer term, energy efficiency would be vital in the coming months and years as it appeared that high energy prices could be with us for some time ahead. Sessions would also be held across the district which would enable residents to access advice and support. Communication would be crucial to advise how and when the support could be accessed. The Leader referred to a Communication Plan which would be commenced from today and was pleased to see that the Community Scrutiny Committee would closely consider the matter and he looked forward to seeing their report.
In response to comments and questions, Councillor Blunt advised that he shared members’ concerns about what the future holds but we have got through some tough times in recent years and he was confident that collectively we would get through it. With reference to the 50th anniversary of the Council, it was recognised that this would occur in 2023 but after the elections so any initiatives to recognise this will fall to the administration at that time. Reference was made to Councillor Bridgen not being able to live and work in the district which is why he found it difficult to attend many meetings and his position as a councillor going forward was a matter for him and the electorate. On being asked if the council or its partners will be providing warm spaces for the public, the Leader confirmed that this would be the case with the Fire Service already having made an offer. He confirmed that he had responded to the complainant who referenced an article in the Leicester Mercury which likened Coalville to Beirut and agreed that a joint leaders’ statement should be made to counter the comments in the said ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
To receive questions from members of the public under procedure rule no.10. The procedure rule provides that members of the public may ask members of the Cabinet any question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the District, provided that three clear days’ notice in writing has been given to the Head of Legal and Commercial Services.
There were nine questions asked which are set out below together with the responses.
Question by Claire Palmer
“How does not taking the opportunity to convert the many derelict sites in Leicester City into residential property but instead shifting this housing quota to decimate prime agricultural rural sites in NWLDC concord with the levelling up agenda?”
“Leicester City Council through its Local Plan is seeking to secure the redevelopment of brownfield sites across the City, as required by government policy. However, government policy has also significantly increased the amount of housing that the City needs to provide. This requirement is more than can be achieved on the brownfield sites in the City. The District Council is required by government policy to work with the other authorities in Leicestershire to address the unmet need. The distribution proposed in the Statement of Common Ground achieves this. The failure to agree a redistribution represents a significant risk to the Council’s local plan which in turn would leave the district vulnerable to unwanted planning applications”
Question by Gerald Palmer
“In light of the conflict in Ukraine exasperating the issue, how will Britain ever be able to be sustainable for grain production if all our fields are built on?”
“The District Council is required by government policy to work with the other authorities in Leicestershire to ensure that all of the Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area housing needs are met. This includes agreeing how the unmet need in Leicester City can be accommodated elsewhere. A failure to do so represents a significant risk to the Council’s local plan which in turn would leave the district vulnerable to unwanted planning applications. Even without the unmet need, it is inevitable that some agricultural land will need to be released for development. The amount of land that this entails represents only a very small proportion of the district”.
Question by Simon Haggart
“If the housing need proposed for Leicester City is to address the expected population increase in Leicester City residents, how will this population be best served by housing them in a rural environment, lacking all urban amenities and disconnected entirely from Leicester City? (They won’t want to live there and we don’t want the housing here, destroying yet more Countryside)”
“The District Council is required by government policy to work with the other authorities in Leicestershire to ensure that all of the Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area housing needs are met. The distribution proposed in the Statement of Common Ground achieves this. The proposed distribution has regard to a whole range of factors, including not just the functional relationship of each authority area with Leicester City, but also the balance of jobs and homes in each authority area and deliverability of the distribution of development. It is the balance between jobs and homes that has driven the figure for North West Leicestershire rather than the functional relationship with the City. The failure to agree a redistribution represents a significant risk to ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
To receive members’ questions under procedure rule no.11. The procedure rule provides that any member may ask the Chairman of a board or group any question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the District, provided that three clear days’ notice in writing has been given to the Head of Legal and Commercial Services.
Nine questions were received, and these are set out below with the response. Each member who asked a question was invited by the Chairman to ask one supplementary question which is also set out below together with the response.
Question by Councillor Eynon
“What memorial events has this Council held in 2022 as part of the UK-wide Remembering Srebrenica initiative?”
Response by Councillor T Gillard
“The 11th of July is recognised internationally as the Remembering Srebrenica day. I had intended to propose that we take a minute to pay our respects at the nearest Council meeting which was to be on 21 June. Unfortunately, that meeting was cancelled. I am pleased however that we have been able to provide remembrance by marking a minute’s silence this evening.
In addition to Remembering Srebrenica there are a number of other memorial days which have relevance to the people of North West Leicestershire. I have asked our new Chief Executive to produce a list of dates that this council may wish mark, with the intention of producing a corporate memorial calendar”
Supplementary question and response
Councillor Eynon asked whether a belated minute’s silences was the best way to recognise ‘Remembering Srebrenica’ day and, if there is to be a corporate calendar, how will this be communicated, and will it capture all the other commemorative days? Councillor Gillard advised that the silence at tonight’s meeting was done because the nearest meeting at which it could be done did not take place and this meeting was therefore the most appropriate. The corporate memorial calendar will capture all appropriate dates and will be communicated.
Question by Councillor D Bigby
“What is the estimated cost of repairs expected to be necessary to ensure Hood Park Lido remains open to the public for the medium to long term?”
Response by Councillor A Woodman
“The Council’s leisure partner, Everyone Active (EA), has identified a potential issue with the lido pool tank at Ashby Leisure Centre and Lido. Under the terms of the contract and the lease, EA has a responsibility to ensure facilities are maintained and kept open to the public, and they continue to do that. In order to understand the nature of the issues, EA has so far had one contractor visit site who has offered an opinion as to what the issue is, a potential solution and an indicative cost rather than a formal quotation. As this information has been supplied to EA by a contractor, the Council is unable to share it due to the commercially sensitive nature. EA is also seeing what alternative options may be available and so have engaged additional contractors to understand if the issue is as identified, and to fully understand any different solutions that could be considered”.
Supplementary question and response
Councillor Bigby asked whether the authority was confident that Ashby Lido can remain open next year and that the maintenance costs would not be passed on to the users either directly or indirectly. Councillor Woodman reiterated that ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
To consider any motions on notice under procedure rule no. 12.
No motions were received.
To receive petitions in accordance with the Council’s Petition Scheme.
No petitions were received.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 10 May 2022.
Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting held on 10 May 2022.
It was moved by Councillor R Boam, seconded by Councillor J Bridges and
RESOLVED THAT: Subject to the following amendment to the paragraph where Councillor Bayliss was providing a Portfolio Holder’s announcement
“This saves the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) £312 per annum in interest charges and is now available to the current and future HRA budgets” to read ““This saves the HRA £312k per annum in interest charges and is now available to the current and future HRA budgets”
The minutes of the meeting held on 10 May 2022 be approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Report of the Strategic Director
Councillor R Ashman presented the report to members.
There were mixed views across the Chamber with some members fully supporting the recommendations given the extensive level of cross-party consultation and consideration given to this matter; and others advising that they did not support the recommendations as it was felt that this authority was taking on a disproportionate increase when compared to neighbouring authorities. Reference was made to the lack of any connection with Leicester, specifically in relation to transport links and lack of transparency regarding the decision-making processes in reaching conclusions, the latter point being strongly disputed.
It was moved by Councillor R Ashman and seconded by Councillor R Morris.
It was requested that a recorded vote be undertaken which is detailed below.
RESOLVED THAT: Council approves the signing of the Leicester and Leicestershire Statement of Common Ground relating to Housing and Employment Land Needs, April 2022.
Report of the Head of Finance/Section 151 Officer
Councillor N J Rushton presented the report to members.
In relation to LED lighting in car parks, Councillor Sheahan sought an update on the position regarding Measham Library Car Park and whether works would be completed this year. He also asked for an update on the refurbishment of Queensway House and asked for a briefing on the regeneration works in Coalville. Councillor Rushton advised that he provide a written update on the first two points and questioned the reason for raising the last point given that as the Leader of the opposition group, briefings go without saying.
It was moved by Councillor N J Rushton, seconded by Councillor D Harrison and
RESOLVED THAT: Council approves the revised General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital Programmes as documented in appendices A and B.
Report of the Strategic Directors
Councillor R Ashman presented the report to members.
The report was fully supported.
It was moved by Councillor R Ashman, seconded by Councillor R Blunt and
RESOLVED THAT: Annual Scrutiny Report 2021/22 be received and noted.
At the close of the meeting Members gave a round of applause to both Melanie Long and Louise Scott as this was the last Council meeting before they both retire.