Meeting documents

Council
Wednesday, 16th November, 2016

Place: Shield Room, Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland, PR25 1DH

 Present: Cllr Mrs L R Woollard (Mayor)

Cllr Mrs A A Ball, Cllr Ms J Bell, Cllr W L Bennett, Cllr D Bird, Cllr Mrs R N Blow, Cllr C J Clark, Cllr C Coulton, Cllr M D Donoghue, Cllr W Evans, Cllr D B Forrest, Cllr P A Foster, Cllr Mrs M Green, Cllr M A Green, Cllr H G Hancock, Cllr J Hesketh, Cllr J M Higgins, Cllr D Howarth, Cllr J C Hughes, Cllr K E L Jones, Cllr Mrs S Jones, Cllr J D Marsh, Cllr K J Martin, Cllr Ms E J Mawson, Cllr Mrs C J Moon, Cllr Mrs J A Mort, Cllr P Mullineaux, Cllr Mrs B A B Nathan, Cllr M Nathan, Cllr M R Nelson, Cllr Mrs R J Noblet, Cllr A F Ogilvie, Cllr J Patten, Cllr Mrs M R Smith, Cllr P J Smith, Cllr Mrs S C Snape, Cllr D H Suthers, Cllr M J Titherington, Cllr C W Tomlinson, Cllr M V Tomlinson, Cllr J G Walton, Cllr Mrs K Walton, Cllr I D Watkinson, Cllr D J Watts, Cllr P J H Wharton, Cllr J L Woodcock, Cllr D Wooldridge, Cllr B Yates
 In attendance: Interim Chief Executive (Jean Hunter), the Legal Services Manager (David Whelan) and Democratic Services Officer (Dave Lee)

Honorary Freeman Breakell
 Public attendance: 22
 Other Officers: 14

Item Description/Resolution Status Action
OPEN ITEMS
58 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Miss Hamilton and Rainsbury.


Noted   
59 Declarations of Interest

Councillors Hancock and Wooldridge declared prejudicial interests in the Penwortham Neighbourhood Development Plan item as they were members of the working group on Penwortham Town Council that considered this matter. Councillor Wooldridge indicated that he would make representations under the Code of Conduct for Elected Members. They both would leave the meeting during the discussion and voting thereon.

Councillors Howarth, Martin, Patten and Watkinson declared personal interests in the Penwortham Neighbourhood Development Plan item as they were members of Penwortham Town Council.

The Interim Chief Executive (Jean Hunter) and the Legal Services Manager (David Whelan) declared prejudicial interests in the Appointment to the Positions of Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and Returning Officer/Electoral Registration Officer item and indicated that they would leave the meeting during the discussion and voting thereon.


Noted   
60 Minutes of the Last Meeting
Held on Wednesday 5 October 2016, to be signed as a correct record (57K/bytes) attached

RESOLVED (unanimously):

That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 October 2016 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor subject to minute no. 48 (page 38, 6th paragraph) being amended to read ?Councillor Ogilvie had reservations about the amendment to appoint the Head of Shared Assurance Services to the Head of Paid Service position due to potential perception of the conflict of interest as Head of Internal Audit but to move forward would support this until it would be reconsidered by Council at the next meeting.?.


Agreed   
61 Mayor's Announcements

The Mayor provided an update on the events she had recently attended and her forthcoming engagements.


Noted   
62 Report of the Cabinet
Report (27K/bytes) attached

The Leader, Councillor Mullineaux, presented the report of the Cabinet meeting held on 26 October 2016. The report was seconded.

Council Tax Support Scheme 2017-18

Councillor Forrest felt that the Council Tax Support scheme equated to the ?Bedroom Tax? that triggered off the distress to those least able to pay. Although this had not attracted the same publicity as that however he believed that this would allow the level of contribution to be increased from ?3.50 to the possibility of ?5.00 per week. Councillor Forrest commented on how difficult this effect would have on people in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers? Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. He expressed his concern that since the transfer of the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme to this scheme in April 2013, the number of summons issued had increased by a third over this period. Councillor Forrest referred members to Ken Loach?s recent film ?I Daniel Blake? and the programme on BBC iPlayer ?Cathy Come Home? about homelessness/people struggling on benefits and urged the Council to carefully consider this matter.

Councillor Bennett noted the suggestions/comments made by Councillor Forrest and stated that he understood that this was part of the yearly practicalities of the budget process in a few months? time.

Councillor Foster felt that if this was part of the budget process the Council was deferring a decision to allow the Cabinet Member to impose tax. Accordingly, he stated that he (and his group) could not support the recommendations.

Private Sector Housing Grants Programme

Councillor Ms Bell referred to a recent Member Learning Hour on Decent Housing and expressed her concern that an officer was heavily criticised at the session. Councillor Ms Bell highlighted the importance of working together on policies and although she acknowledged that not every member could find something agreeable to all but they should not criticise officers.

Taxi Licensing Review - budgetary matters

Councillor K Jones referred to the Scrutiny Review of Taxi Licensing and asked whether the decision to incur this expenditure had been ultra vires; what steps were being taken to explore this possibility; and what possibilities there were to recover these sums of monies from the individuals concerned.

Councillor Foster pointed out that on page 3 (bottom of 2nd paragraph), the end of the last sentence should read ???the council?s former Section 151 Officer?. Councillor Foster indicated that as the Cabinet had not yet implemented the Scrutiny Review Action Plan he found it difficult to support the Cabinet?s recommendation to approve ?95k of supplementary revenue for the review. He also believed that this expenditure had not been formally approved.

Councillor Moon was pleased that Councillor Clark (at the recent Cabinet meeting) confirmed that the expenditure for the external review did not exceed the Licensing Service budget and it had been carried out appropriately. Councillor Mrs Moon supported Councillor Foster?s comments and welcomed any legal advice on this matter.

Councillor Howarth expressed his concern that although there was a non-published delegated decision of ?25k the overall cost for external solicitors had now appeared in the region of around ?200k. He felt that there should have been terms and conditions set out in a contract with the firm of solicitors. He added that he also found it difficult to support the supplementary revenue for the review because it did not appear that the administration accepted any responsibility and it was not clear who had done what.

Both Councillors Mrs Moon and Bennett indicated that they were happy to take full responsibility for setting the ?25k budget for an external review of licensing. They both felt that it was properly established/monitored budget.

Councillor Titherington commented that he had enquired at the recent Cabinet meeting as to the reason why ?3,080 was allocated to the Scrutiny budget. He understood that this was for the visit of the external solicitors to present the report they were commissioned for by this Council. Notwithstanding the expense involved, he felt that this amount should not be charged against the Scrutiny Review as it was the external solicitors? responsibilities (directed or placed upon them by this Council). Councillor Titherington reiterated that the Scrutiny Review did not incur expenditure up to ?18k. Information had been circulated to all members explaining the expenditure that was involved and the way it was commissioned. He urged the Council to end the debate and any innuendos/suggestions/intended slurs toward the finances and spending for the review.

Councillor Howarth thanked the members for taking responsibility for the ?25k unfortunately this had left this Council with a black hole of ?171,536 of expenditure. Although there was a special meeting of the Cabinet arranged to consider this matter, he felt that it was still unknown as to what this money was spent on; who spent it; who authorised it; and how it came about. Councillor Howarth pointed out that until the administration take responsibility and provide clear answers, this matter would drive this Council closer to special measures.

Councillor Clark noted the comments made and felt that he had to respond as this was within his portfolio at the time. Councillor Clark confirmed that this money was to address the financial expenditure already incurred/authorised. Councillor Clark added that the Interim Chief Executive had initiated an internal audit and until that investigation had been completed he could not respond to any further questions on this matter.

The Legal Services Manager explained that there were various elements in the figure of the ?94k expenditure. Although legal advice was provided on the initial amount of ?25k and the Scrutiny Review expenditure, the Legal Services Manager indicated that he was not involved in between that. He was aware that there was an action plan being suggested for a full internal audit review of all expenditures in a report for the next scheduled meeting of the Governance Committee on 23 November 2016. Until the outcome of that review, the Council would not be in a position to comment further. The Legal Services Manager added that in terms of the actual decision of the Cabinet asking the Council to approve a supplementary revenue estimate, this were monies already been incurred/spent. This would be shown as overspend in the Council?s account if this was not approved. The Legal Services Manager felt that on that basis the Council was not being ultra vires but there was a clear need for fundamental audit review of this expenditure. The Council could have a fuller debate on this issue when the audit review had been completed.

Insurance Procurement

Councillor Foster congratulated the Council for the procurement exercise which was performed particularly well and asked members to look at the good work detailed in the Cabinet report.

RESOLVED: that:

1) the report be noted [unanimously];

2) Council Tax Support Scheme 2017-18 [YES ? 27, NO ? 21, ABSTENTION ? 0]

1. delegated authority be granted to the Revenues+ Manager in consultation with the Cabinet member for Corporate Support and Assets to make all necessary updates to this council?s Council Tax Support Scheme to comply with any prescribed requirements that may be issued by central government. This may be by the making of specific regulations, or by amendment to the Local Government Finance Acts of 1992 and 2012;

2. delegated authority be granted to the Revenues+ Manager in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support and Assets to make all necessary amendments to the Council?s scheme to uprate the allowances and premiums in accordance with the revised Housing Benefit Circular when it is issued by the DWP. This process is a requirement of the prescribed elements of the scheme;

3. approval be given to the publication of the updated scheme in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 2012; and

4. approval be given to the level of the deduction to be applied to Working Age recipients of Council Tax Support from 1st April 2017 be finalised and agreed in accordance with South Ribble's Scheme and as part of the Council's Budget and Council Tax Setting at the Council Meeting on the 1st March 2017. This figure would continue to be within the range (between ?3.00 and ?5.00 per week) which was consulted upon during the introduction and implementation of the council's scheme in 2012.

3) Taxi Licensing Review ? budgetary matters [YES ? 27, NO ? 21,
ABSTENTION ? 0]

approval be given to a supplementary revenue estimate in the sum of ?94,167 in 2016/17 to cover the estimated costs.


Agreed   
63 Report of the Scrutiny Committee
Report (34K/bytes) attached

Councillor Titherington presented the report of the meeting of the Scrutiny Committee held on 25 October. The report was seconded.

Councillor Titherington particularly thanked the former Leader (Councillor Mrs Smith) for her hard work and involvement she had on the improvements to Leyland Railway Station.


Noted   
64 Questions to the Leader

Councillor Forrest had submitted the following written question to the Leader in advance of the meeting.

?Post Brexit it would not be surprising our European cousins felt we were retreating to our island and turning a hostile face to them.

On the contrary I feel that while we may be hostile to the EEC we are in fact anxious to emphasise our continued friendship for our fellow Europeans.

Does the leader agree with this view and in which case what are his plans to refresh our relationship with our twin town of Schleswig-Flensburg??

The Leader commented that he was very supportive of town twinning. He said that unfortunately the Council had not been involved for 4/5 years as other things had taken priority. The Leader added that the Council would need to look at a lot of things some of these being the cost; formation of a Town Twinning Committee; funds etc. The Leader stated that he was keen to try and resurrect this if the Council had enough support from people who were willing to get involved.

In response to a question from Councillor Evans as to the reason why a local organisation had been advised that the banqueting suite was closed for functions, the Leader stated that he was not aware of this issue and that he would investigate the matter.

Councillor Bennett referred to High Speed 2 (HS2) and the monies towards infrastructure projects (growth through improved connectivity) and he asked whether the Leader could potentially work with other authorities within Lancashire (together with combined authorities) to move plans forward for the new bridge to link Preston/South Ribble. The Leader indicated that HS2 was tremendous news. He referred members/members of the public in the audience to recent reports on how well South Ribble was progressing. The Leader stated that although this Council had received negative news over the months but this was excellent news not just for this borough but to Central Lancashire and the wider region. The Leader noted the comments made by Councillor Bennett and indicated that he would continue to look into this matter. The Leader took the opportunity to thank the former Leader (Councillor Mrs Smith) for her hard work for the plans for the new bridge.

Councillor Foster asked the Leader whether he agreed with everything he read on Twitter/Facebook.

The Leader indicated that he did not use social media however he did hear a lot of information which had caused a lot of sadness. He commented that people appeared to put anything they wanted on Twitter (true/false) at the present. The Leader indicated that he had been contacted recently by people informing him of what certain things had been said on Twitter about Councillors Foster and Miss Hamilton which he found unbelievable. The Leader urged Councillor Foster that if this was the case, he would ask him to clarify this at this Council meeting that he had nothing to do with the matter. The Leader pointed out that if this was true it was unacceptable and it would fill him with real sadness. The Leader felt that it was diabolical to think that it was known to Councillor Foster (and Councillor Miss Hamilton) that certain things had been leaked from this Council. The Leader understood that although it was very difficult to try and come back from things said on Twitter/Facebook, he hoped that Councillor Foster (as Leader of the Labour Group) would explain to this Council what the situation was and to clear his name. The Leader added that because of this, this Council had been taken down over the months for divulging confidential information. This matter had nothing but caused this Council pain and anguish. The Leader went on to suggest that if Councillor Foster had been involved in this matter he should step down from this Council until a full investigation had taken place.

Councillor Foster felt that the Leader clearly believed Councillor Hamilton?s tweet in question although she had removed this from her Twitter account. He also felt that the Leader believed that himself and Councillor Ms Bell covered up child safeguarding issues. Councillor Foster referred to the accusations and asked the reason why ?Backhand Barrie? and all those tweets about ?Cabinet Members being muppets? had not been challenged. Councillor Foster explained that there was a vile smear campaign going around and some of the things he had been subjected to was completely/utterly untrue because it suited a huge agenda behind the scenes of this Council. He stated that there were people in this Council that knew what was going on as they were cahoots with this. Councillor Foster indicated that he had discussed a lot with a Detective Chief Inspector including some very serious allegations that was being investigated by the Mail on Sunday with the assistance of some members of this Council. Councillor Foster expressed his concern that although these members claimed that these related to serious potential safeguarding issues they decided to use the media instead of reporting this to the Council?s Chief Executive. He asked those members whether they had not learnt from the past 12 months what this Council had been through.

Councillor Foster stated that he was very annoyed and upset of being part of this smear campaign. He felt that anybody that was going near to this licensing issue had been smeared/subjected to serious inappropriate tweets some of these being the former Leader, former Chief Executive, Interim Chief Executive etc. The Head of Lancashire Safeguarding Board of Lancashire, Councillor Lowton (Senior Member of the LGA), the Scrutiny Committee chairman along with some members of that committee were all harassed and belittled for their findings/recommendations. Councillor Foster added that it was important to note that the interim report did not bring this Council down but it was the content of the findings for the failings of this executive and the internal toxic dispute within the Conservative Group.


Councillor Foster believed that this was a smoke screen and he would never divulge anything. He felt that there were good members within the Conservative Group and he asked those members to consider the timing of this as the member that comforted Councillor Hamilton after her tweet was sat within the Conservative Group. He added that this was a huge stitch up as the timing was perfect for the Conservative Group to get back as one group. There were serious issues that were not being dealt with by the executive when the interim report was leaked that this Council had still not recovered from.

Councillor Foster reiterated that he was not covering up any child safeguarding issues and he did not leak the interim report. Councillor Foster stated that this whole affair was awful and he would continue with the Labour Group to hold the administration to account for the failings exposed in that report. Councillor Forrest concurred with the comments made by Councillor Foster.

Councillor Howarth felt that although he fully supported members of the public attending these meetings and participating however he felt that there was inappropriate behaviour from the public (in the audience) when Councillor Foster was addressing the Council. He was not prepared to sit at the meeting and listen to people shouting from the audience and accusing members of the Council.

The Leader commented that it was a sad day for the Labour Group in South Ribble as he did not think that they would be able to clear their names at all. The Leader felt that they were still saying one thing and doing another. The Leader stated that it was easy to throw the issue across the Council Chamber and blame the administration however this was not about his group. The Leader indicated that although he noted the comments made by Councillor Foster he questioned whether the interim report had been passed over to be leaked. The Leader added that what Councillor Hamilton said on Twitter was unbelievable and he had found it difficult to believe that the Labour Group did not know about this. The Leader again urged Councillor Foster (as Leader of the Labour Group) to clear the names of those concerned and to allow the Council to move on. In respect of a question from Councillor Yates, the Leader indicated that he had made it clear to Councillor Foster on how this issue should be addressed.

Councillor Foster apologised to the member of the public in the manner he had spoked to her earlier in the meeting. Councillor Foster then questioned as to where the interim report came from that was leaked. He wondered whether Councillors Bennett, M Green and Mrs Moon had handed this over when they were in a meeting. Councillor Foster reiterated that he did not disclose any information. Councillor Foster explained that Councillor Miss Hamilton had said what she said, ?some of what she said was true and some of what she said was factually incorrect?.

The Leader asked Councillor Foster what things were true in Councillor Miss Hamilton?s tweet.

Councillor C Tomlinson asked the Leader whether he would condemn the vile and defamatory things posted on social media about members in recent weeks and commit to take action against the behaviour of any members who were found to be involved.

The Leader concurred with the comments made by Councillor C Tomlinson and indicated that he acknowledged that this was upsetting for lots of people. The Leader explained that the Council had now reacted and permission had been obtained from those people affected to take action/act on their behalf. This would allow the Council to investigate this matter further. The Leader assured the Council that as soon as these people were traced action would be pursued by the Council. The police may also be involved.

Councillor Mrs Moon indicated that Councillor Foster said some things back in April 2016 which he had since apologised for. Councillor Mrs Moon explained that when she had safeguarding concerns in July 2015 she fully adhered to the policy of this Council by addressing it appropriately with the Chief Executive. Referring to an earlier remark made by Councillor Foster she confirmed that she had never made reference to the Head of the Safeguarding Board of Lancashire and she categorically refuted that any comment had been made. Councillor Mrs Moon urged Councillor Foster to withdraw this statement unless he could provide any evidence.

Councillor M Green indicated that he could understand the anger of certain members when certain allegations had been made about them covering up safeguarding issues and a few members had been in that situation. He concurred with Councillor Howarth?s comments over intervention from members of the public but he recalled that this came after they were shouted at by an experienced member of this Council. Councillor M Green felt that members have a duty to treat not only themselves with respect but to the public as well.

Councillor M Tomlinson indicated that he was sick and tired of this as members had been elected to run this Council on behalf of residents. Councillor Tomlinson stated that people were not interested in who said what/when; who put what on Twitter; who emailed etc. He felt that this was a massive story in a tiny teacup and it was about time this Council drew a line under this by fully disclosing everything into the open. The Council could then move on and give residents the confidence that we were now doing everything that we should be. The Scrutiny Review had been considered by both Scrutiny Committee and the full Council and he looked forward to the special meeting of Cabinet on 6 December 2016 to hear what the Leader had to say. Councillor M Tomlinson asked if the Leader agreed with him that we needed to move on in the best interest of this Council and its residents.

The Leader indicated that as far as he was concerned the residents of this borough were interested in what was going on and the Council needed to address this situation. The Leader felt that it was unacceptable to dismiss these issues and he would continue to try and clear this matter up and stop it from happening.

Councillor Ms Bell indicated that she was very annoyed at the comments made on social media by Councillor Miss Hamilton which was not true. She stated that she did not cover up any child protection issues. Councillor Ms Bell added that for the last 30 years her home was used as a place of safety for young people. Councillor Ms Bell expressed her concern on behalf of all those people that had been hurt during the course of this embargo.

Councillor Howarth asked the Leader that in view of what had been said whether malicious communication/tweets were best dealt with by the police under the Malicious Communications Act. Councillor Howarth also commented that this ?knock around? with the Leader/Councillor Foster across the chamber was not doing this Council any good and this tit for tat across the room should be stopped.

The Leader concurred with the comments made by Councillor Howarth with regard to social media. The Leader stated that most members had been attacked/humiliated in certain ways and as soon as these people were traced/identified the Council would then take action.

A member of the public referred to recent press reports on ?Boom Town? and asked who provided the photograph of a non-existence century garden feature in Worden Park. The Leader indicated that he was not aware of this.

A member of the public asked the Leader whether there was going to be an internal investigation into the leaked interim report. The Legal Services Manager confirmed that there would be a thorough investigation into how both reports were leaked together with how other forms of data were disclosed. The police had been involved in the earlier stage however it was envisaged that the matter would almost certainly be passed to somebody external who would be totally independent to look into this.


Noted   
65 Questions to Members of the Cabinet

Corporate Support & Assets

No questions were asked.

Finance

Councillor Wharton had submitted the following written questions to the Cabinet Member in advance of the meeting.

"The business rate retention scheme resulted in councils facing an increasing amount of financial risk, mostly arising from potential losses of income due to appeals and avoidance schemes. What measures do South Ribble Borough Council have in mind to establish the size of the issue in respect of rate avoidance schemes?"

The Cabinet Member indicated that the nature of empty business rates avoidance meant that it was difficult to forecast as it occurs when a property became empty. However, the Council would take a robust approach to tackling empty business rates avoidance where it occurs by challenging ratepayers and rating agents. When it was appropriate, legal action was undertaken to protect the Council?s position with proceedings currently ongoing in several cases.

The Cabinet Member added that with regard to assessing the financial risk posed by the appeals process, all Appeals submitted to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) were available to the Council for analysis. The Council would monitor closely the throughput of Appeals with the VOA and assess success rates and reduction rates. As part of the year end process the Council would forecast the impact of future appeals and it would have a Provision for Appeals within the Collection Fund to offset the impact of any appeals awarded that were backdated back to 2010 (the date of the last ratings list). Assessing the impact of appeals yet to be decided upon by the VOA was inherently difficult, however, the Council?s methodology and professional judgement was scrutinised by its External Auditors as part of the Statement of Accounts year-end audit and had consistently received a clean bill of health.

"The introduction of business rate retention meant that from April 2013, a significant part of a council?s budget became dependent on the amount of business rates collected from its area. The revaluation which will come into effect in April 2017, will use estimated property values as at 1st April 2015. This will have a significant impact on the money coming into our council. What steps have you taken to evaluate this and bridge any funding gap, as a result of the revaluations?"

The Cabinet Member explained that when the Government introduced the 50% business rate retention scheme it signalled that it would adjust each authority?s tariff or top up following a revaluation to ensure, as far as it was practicable, that their retained income was the same after revaluation as immediately before, and the government was currently consulting on how this would be achieved.

Following the re-valuation, the total national rateable value increased by 9.6%. However South Ribble, in common with most Lancashire authorities, saw a reduction in rateable value, which was 6.1%. A business rates re-valuation had to be cost neutral on a national basis, so the multiplier that was used to calculate the amount to be paid would reduce by 9.6%, before taking account of inflation. The net effect of this in South Ribble was that business rates bills would reduce on average by 15.1% before taking account of inflation and transitional relief.

The Cabinet Member added that the Shared Financial Services Team was currently undertaking an extensive modelling exercise following the issuing of the Revaluation data and attendance at the relevant seminar to assess the impact of the revaluation exercise. Assurances had been given that any reduction of income resulting from revaluation would be compensated for within the Local Government Finance Settlement due to be published in December 2016 and this was currently being tested so that it could be brought into this budget setting round.

Neighbourhoods & Street Scene

Councillor Martin had submitted the following written question to the Cabinet Member in advance of the meeting.

?Since the introduction of the additional gate to allow access to Penwortham Holme by vehicles, we have seen two occasions where travellers have used that new entrance
to gain access to Penwortham Holme. This has affected the use of the green as well as the criminal damage to the allotments and retaining fence.

As this is an access to a car park, what measures are you putting in place to prevent a third break in to Penwortham Holme, improve Holme Road and guarantee peaceful enjoyment of the allotments by its tenants?

How much has it cost the council so far to evict the Travellers each time including clearing up, compensating the allotment holders for their loss and reinstating the green and gate??

The Cabinet Member explained that in order to prevent further access to this site a height barrier had been commissioned and would be installed in the very near future. This would be positioned at the entrance to Holme Road (off Liverpool Road) and would prevent large vehicles from leaving Liverpool Road and accessing Holme Road without the barrier previously being opened for access.

The Cabinet Member added that the combined cost of the clean-up and repairs following the last two visits to this site had been in the region of ?7,000.

Councillor Martin suggested that it would be much more appropriate if the barrier was put on Leyland Road. The Cabinet Member noted the comment made.

Councillor M Tomlinson thanked the Cabinet Member for accompanying members of the Scrutiny Committee on the recent tour of Worden/Hurst Grange Parks. Councillor M Tomlinson felt that the Derby Wing at Worden Park was an underused asset and he asked the Cabinet Member whether there were any plans to develop this. Councillor M Tomlinson then went on to ask what the Council?s intention was in supporting Friends of Hurst Grange Park?s redevelopment of the Coach House.

The Cabinet Member felt that the visits to the parks was very productive. The Cabinet Member indicated that he was aware that Friends of Hurst Grange Park had submitted a lottery bid to restore the Coach House building and that the Council had ?50k in the budget to support the development of the park and to provide any match funding for the Coach House project.

The Cabinet Members added that a recent survey had been completed at Worden Hall on the structural basis. He explained that the Council was currently looking at plans/development in that area and investment in Worden Hall.

Councillor Howarth referred to recent letters sent out by the Council regarding residents? views on car parking amenities in the borough. He asked the Cabinet Member whether all members could have a copy of any consultation letters sent to the public in the future. The Cabinet Member noted the comment made.

A member of the public expressed concern over a number of problems/nuisance in the Parkgate Drive area some of these being criminal damage to properties and parking issues etc from Worden Park. The Leader commented on the way in which the member of the public raised questions at Council meetings and urged him put this in an email or writing in future. The Council could then look into the matters in more detail. The Cabinet Member agreed that he would liaise with the member of the public.

In respect of a question from a member of the public as to whether flood lighting could be installed at the World War I Memorial at Lostock Hall, the Cabinet Member indicated that he would look into this matter.

Public Health, Safety & Wellbeing

A member of the public provided an update on the current position with regard to the Emergency Department at Chorley & South Ribble District General Hospital. Councillor M Tomlinson then referred to the Stability and Transformation Plan (STP) and asked the Cabinet Member whether she was intending to respond to the Our Health Our Care consultation on behalf of this Council and if she was how she intend to consult residents of the borough before doing so. The Cabinet Member noted the comments made by the member of the public/Councillor M Tomlinson and indicated that she would look into the matter.

Regeneration & Leisure

Councillor Martin had submitted the following written question to the Cabinet Member in advance of the meeting.

?The success of the football played on Penwortham Holme and turn out is very impressive, and pleasing that so many enjoy the green, event and facilities.

However, we have had a number of issues with parking.

We had the white lines refreshed to stop parking on the curved part of Leyland Road, however, cars are parking near the entrances to Holme Road, Valley Road and the local businesses. This is causing a hazard. Cars park now completely blocking the pavement at times. The numbers of cars is in excess of 50 most times while the football is on at the green.

This is not only against the law, but is creating a hazard for people crossing the road or accessing the allotments, car wash and Valley Road. There is a fear that there may be injury or worse.

The Police have said they will attend if we use the 101 number, however, it would depend on the availability of officers. That is not the answer.

As with the teams that use Worden Park, please let the clubs who use Penwortham home that this is unacceptable and can you instruct the Leisure Trust to take some action with regard to this?

Could you also let me know how much the council have spent on car parking on the Holme and the plans to increase the capacity??

The Cabinet Member thanked Councillor Martin for providing advance notice of the questions and concerns relating to Penwortham Holme Recreation Centre. The Cabinet Member explained that the recent success achieved by all associated with the development of Junior Grassroots Football was something to behold.

In recent years the Council had seen the users of the playing pitches increased from approximately 100 mainly adults per weekend, to an average of over 900 children playing small sided football in a non-competitive and safe environment.

This success was mainly down to the forward thinking of South Ribble Community Leisure Limited (Leisure Trust) and the Mid-Lancashire Junior Football League.

The League used the facilities at Penwortham Holme Recreation Centre to assist in the development of football for those aged under 8 years old. Penwortham Holme Recreation Centre was the central venue for all Under 7?s and Under 8?s non-competitive across South Ribble, with close on 92 teams now using the facilities. This was perhaps the most successful development league in the North of England, if not the country. This controlled environment not only allowed children to develop their true potential, but also provided coaches, parents and referees a good grounding for what was expected in the sphere of junior football.

The Cabinet Member added that unfortunately this success came with some minor issues, one of which was parking and this was something that both the Leisure Trust and the League had looked to address.

A number of discussions had taken place with representatives of Lancashire Constabulary, and actions had been taken as a result of concerns raised. The actions/improvements which had been introduced included:

? The redundant ?Redgra? Football Pitch was now being used as a car park facility, as was the redundant Netball Court area.

? New entrance gate and ramp had been installed by the Council.

? One way system was operational on site, which allowed for controlled safe access and egress.

? Car Park attendants had been employed by the League to ensure that the car park was managed appropriately.

? ?Temporary? No Waiting restrictions by virtue of No Waiting Cones were now regularly used on Leyland Road to ensure that safe access and egress was afforded to entrances etc.

? The League had advised all participants of the new parking arrangements and also advised following consultation with the Police that any infringement of legislation associated with unacceptable parking would be dealt with appropriately, this may involve a fixed penalty notice and/or penalty points.

This Council had spent in the region of ?6,500 during the last 3 years to improve access to the facilities, including installation of additional new gates, creation of an access ramp and link roadway and new separation fencing, all of which had contributed to a significant increase in parking capacity.

The Cabinet Member understood that officers from Lancashire Constabulary had recently visited the facilities on numerous occasions since the introduction of the new parking arrangements and had found little or no contravention of any Road Traffic Offences. The Council would take any concerns on board. The Cabinet Member suggested that discussion may be held with all interested parties, with a view to determining potential options to improve the parking situation further.

Councillor Coulton referred to negative comments made recently in respect of My Neighbourhood Forums and asked if the Cabinet Member agreed with him that he wholeheartedly disagreed with all the criticism.

The Cabinet Member concurred with the comment made by Councillor Coulton. The Cabinet Member felt that there were a whole host of positive highlights produced by My Neighbourhood Forums some of these being St Catherine's Park (planting around the area, interconnection of the pathways and the footbridge); Bamber bridge improvements etc. These were all funded through the City Deal. The Cabinet Member added that unfortunately some members did not get involved but those members that did noticed the great benefits under this unique system the Council had. The Cabinet Member explained that it was very much project led/driven and some of these successful schemes included Club Street car park (funded by Baxi); bridleway works extension at Moss Side; Penwortham Heritage Trail etc.

Strategic Planning & Housing

No questions were asked.


Noted   
66 Questions to Chairmen of Committees and My Neighbourhood Areas

No questions were asked.


Noted   
67 Questions to Member Champions and Representatives on Outside Bodies

No questions were asked.


Noted   
68 Notice of Motion

Councillor Wharton indicated that after discussions with the Leader he had been informed that the draft report he had requested in his motion had not yet been finalised and therefore the Council was not in a position to distribute this information to members. Accordingly, Councillor Wharton indicated that he would like to withdraw his motion.

The agenda item was subsequently withdrawn.


Noted   
69 Membership of Committees and Representatives on Outside Bodies
Report (107K/bytes) attached

The Leader presented the amended report (circulated at the meeting) outlining the nominations for membership of committees for the remainder of the 2016/17 municipal year. The report was seconded.

The Leader indicated there was a change to the papers circulated. In respect of the membership of the Governance Committee, Councillor Mrs Moon would replace Councillor Nelson.

Councillor M Green indicated that he would like to take the opportunity to thank Councillor Hesketh for his good chairmanship/service of Planning Committee over the years.

Councillor Foster felt that it was staggering to find that the structure of committees had been changed, changed again and now members had received further changes at this time of the evening. Councilor Foster reminded members that this Council was almost going into special measures and he understood that the next meeting of the Local Government Association (LGA) peers would take place in due course. Councillor Foster added that if they were not satisfied that this Council was robust with its scrutiny/governance arrangements (taking into account the mess this Council was in) they may decide to call the LGA in. Councillor Foster then questioned the reasons why certain experienced members were taken off certain committees at this crucial stage/delicate time this Council was in, some of these being Councillor Mrs Smith taken off the Standards committee; Councillor Hesketh removed from the chairmanship of the Planning committee (Councillor Foster felt that under Councillor Hesketh this committee was one of the most best run meetings in this Council); Councillor Mrs Green being taken off the Planning Committee (in the earlier published report) and placed on the Licensing committees as vice chairman etc. Taking into account that this Council had been advised to robustly improve its systems, he felt that these changes did not make any sense especially if the LGA Improvement Panel was to look at this. Councillor Foster also referred to the appointment of Councillor Bennett on the Appeals Committee and expressed his concern that he understood that Councillor Bennett had been very critical of those officers who have been suspended. Councillor Foster felt that it was unfair on those officers as Councillor Bennett would then consider potential appeals if there were some from those officers who he wanted to face disciplinary action. Councillor Foster then turned to the Governance Committee and he felt that the proportionality was incorrect as it had twice the number of Conservative members. This committee should have equal seats as this was important on the Council moving forwards

Councillor Hesketh thanked members from both sides of the Council Chamber for the generous comments made. Councilor Hesketh indicated that he very much appreciated the support he had over the years as chairman of the Planning Committee.

The Leader noted the comments made by Councillor Foster. The Leader stated that he had consulted his group and he did not have to explain the reasons why certain members had been taken off/placed on certain committees. As far as special measures was concerned the Leader added that this Council would see how this would go and how this Council would now start to improve. The Leader then commented that it did not help if members try and block anything this administration was trying to do within this Council.

Councillor M Tomlinson concurred with the comments made by Councillor Foster. Councillor M Tomlinson indicated that although he accepted that the Leader could put whatever/whoever he wanted to on any committee, he felt that this was not the way to run the Council. Councilor M Tomlinson suggested that the Council should bring the most willing and capable members to the places where they could contribute the most. Councillor M Tomlinson referred to the Boundary/Appeals Committees and urged the Leader to reconsider the positions.

Councillor Mrs Smith explained that the Leader put her on the Standards Committee with the very best intention/interest. Councillor Mrs Smith added that she had made it clear to the Leader that she did not wish to sit on any committee at this moment in time as she was enjoying some freedom from all the responsibilities she previously had. The Leader kindly resolved this for her. Councillor Mrs Smith hoped that this Council would be in a better shape in due course and we would have all moved on to a brighter future. Councillor Mrs Smith thanked Councillor Titherington for his kind remarks earlier in the meeting and she wished the Leader the very best.

Councillor Forrest concurred with the comments made by Councillor Foster. Councillor Forrest believed that the whole question of committees should be a matter for consultation because balance was crucial to put these committees together. He asked whether an explanation could be provided to the Council in respect of the proportionality of committees.

Councillor Mrs Green thanked Councillor Foster for his kind words and the Leader for giving her the opportunity of being vice chairman on the Licensing Committees. Councillor Mrs Green added that she agreed that she had never been a member of the Licensing Committees but she was confident that with the required training she would be able to take that role on board in her very best ability.

The Legal Services Manager explained that political proportionality was not an exact science. This was worked on with regard to principles and calculated as accurate as possible. The Legal Services Manager had a table of the figures of how this was calculated and he indicated that he was happy to circulate this information to members. The Legal Services Manager noted the comments made by members however he felt that the overall figures were accurate across the board. In respect of the Councillor Foster?s comments about the proportionality of the Governance Committee, the Leader added that this had not changed for quite some time.

Councillor Howarth indicated that he could not understand why there was a Boundary Committee when there was no boundary review being undertaken imminently. He also asked the reasons why General and Licensing Act Committees could not be merged. The Leader explained that the Boundary Committee would have to take place to look at parish boundaries. The Leader concurred with the comments made by Councillor Howarth with regard to the Licensing Committees and he indicated that he would look at this in the very near future.

Councillor M Tomlinson asked which parishes were being drawn again as he was aware that there was an Act of Parliament that went through that re-parished the major parishes in the South Ribble area as part of the final County Council boundaries drawn. The Legal Services Manager stated that he was aware that this only dealt with the parishes in Penwortham. He added that he was happy to provide Councillor M Tomlinson with further details/clarification on this matter.

Councillor P Smith commented that there were complex boundaries between Leyland and Farington East/West. This was an outstanding matter that had been considered by former members of the Boundary Committee and would need to be addressed in the near future.

In respect of an enquiry made by a member of the public, Councillor M Tomlinson indicated that Scrutiny Committee Working Groups were made up of members of the Scrutiny Committee and did not have to be politically proportionate.

RESOLVED (YES ? 27, ABSTENTION ? 4, NO ? 17):

That the membership of committees for the remainder of the 2016/17 municipal year as detailed in the attached schedule be approved.


Agreed   
70 Appointment to the Positions of Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and Returning Officer/Electoral Registration Officer
Report (38K/bytes) attached

(The Interim Chief Executive and the Legal Services Manager declared prejudicial interests in this item, and left the meeting during the consideration thereof. The Director of Development, Enterprise and Communities (Denise Johnson) and the Senior Solicitor (Tasneem Safdar) took their places respectively for this item.)

The Leader presented the report on the appointment of the Chief Executive to the positions of Head of Paid Service, Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer and the Deputy Monitoring Officer to the position of Monitoring Officer. All appointments would be on an interim basis. The report was seconded.

Councillor Foster indicated that he was happy to see the points raised at the last Council meeting addressed. Councillor Foster then referred to the appointment of the Interim Monitoring Officer and he believed that the existing Deputy Monitoring Officer would be able to conclude/complete all the roles and duties of the Monitoring Officer without the need to appoint an Interim Monitoring Officer. He wondered how this could be perceived whilst an independent investigation was ongoing. He did not want this Council?s decision to jeopardise/compromise the independence and validity of any actions being taken at the moment.

The Senior Solicitor explained that in accordance with the Local Government Act 1989 (section 4(7)) the Monitoring Officer shall perform the actual duties personally and where the officer was unable to act (or in absence or illness) the Deputy Monitoring Officer would take up the post but this would only be on a temporary basis. The Senior Solicitor added that the appointment of an Interim Monitoring Officer would make this more tangible. This would only be on an interim basis and if the Monitoring Officer resume his position that interim appointment would then come to an end. The decision to appoint a Deputy Monitoring Officer would be up to the Monitoring Officer.

The Leader believed that it was necessary and good practice to appoint an Interim Monitoring Officer. Best practice specified that the Council had to have a Monitoring Officer in position and if there was a need for a Deputy Monitoring Officer the Council had other authorities? support. In respect of appointing the Interim Chief Executive as Head of Paid Service, the issues were looked into after the last Council meeting and following further advice it was acceptable.

Councillor Howarth indicated that although he noted the Leader?s explanation that the Council had external support/other resources, he still had concern with regard to the conflict of interest of certain Cabinet Members? involvement. This was referred to by the Monitoring Officer about certain documents being signed off by these members in the Scrutiny Review of Licensing.

Councillor Mrs Moon commented that she was one of those members referred to in the report. She felt that some members were always going to fall in some sort of conflict of interest as the Council had officers advising those members previously. Councillor Mrs Moon indicated that she had had advice and she was absolutely comfortable with this position.

RESOLVED (unanimously) that the Council appoint on an interim basis ?

1. the Interim Chief Executive to the positions of: -

? Head of Paid Service

? Returning Officer

? Electoral Registration Officer; and

2. the Deputy Monitoring Officer to the position of Monitoring Officer.


Agreed   
71 Penwortham Neighbourhood Development Plan
Report attached

(Councillors Hancock and Wooldridge declared prejudicial interests in this item as they were members of the working group on Penwortham Town Council that considered this matter. Councillor Wooldridge made representations under the Code of Conduct for Elected Members. Both Councillors Hancock and Wooldridge left the meeting during the discussion and voting thereon.

Councillors Howarth, Martin, Patten and Watkinson declared personal interests in this item as they were members of Penwortham Town Council.)

The Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Housing presented the report on the progress of the Penwortham Town Council Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). The report was seconded.

Councillor Wooldridge indicated that the Town Council had decided to take up the challenge set by government to form a working group to consider a Neighbourhood Development Plan that guided and shaped developments in the local area. The working group consisted of members from cross section and the community. The Town Council had consulted on the Supplementary Planning Policy and this was submitted to this Council. Once the process was completed it would allow the Town Council to receive a further 10% of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies. This report was part of that process in considering the date for the NDP to be taken to referendum and let local residents decide.

Councillor Foster indicated that Councillor Wooldridge (Leader of Penwortham Town Council) had put a lot of work into this and he (and his group) would like to see the whole of the borough parished as opportunities were available to Parish Councils. Councillor Foster added that he fully supported this as it would allow residents in Penwortham to decide.

Councillor Bennett commented that although the report indicated that the Council was able to claim back ?20k of funding but it did not actually specify how much the referendum was going to cost.

Councillor Howarth indicated that although this would allow the Town Council to obtain CIL monies but most importantly it would also identify and protect listed/historic buildings valuable to the community within the plan.

RESOLVED (unanimously) that:

(a) the contents of the Examiner?s Report be noted;

(b) the content of the draft Decision Statement shown at Appendix 2 to enable its publication be agreed; and

(c) the date of 9 February 2017 for the Penwortham Town Council Neighbourhood Development Plan to be taken to referendum be agreed.


Agreed   
72 Gambling Policy
Report (58K/bytes) attached
Appendix (133K/bytes) attached

The Cabinet Member for Public Health, Safety and Wellbeing presented the report on proposed changes to the Council?s Gambling Policy. The policy was updated following revised guidelines/legislation from the Gambling Commission since the last policy was published.

The key changes was in section on page 9 of the policy which referred to Local Risk Assessment. This had been strengthened and made more robust. The report was seconded.

Councillor Foster expressed his concern over fixed odd high stake betting machines situated in bookmakers. He was aware that people had literally lost wages in minutes. Statistic showed that 33% of weekly users of those type of machines ended up with some form of gambling addiction. Councillor Foster believed that this was a real problem in particular to the younger generation. Councillor Foster indicated that he was happy to work with the Cabinet Member and look at this matter further.

Councillor Forrest concurred with the comments made by Councillor Foster and added that he was aware that the Sports Minister was currently conducting a review on these fixed odds high stake machines. He then asked the Cabinet Member whether she could express her concern on behalf of this Council to the Sports Minister and seek advice on whether this Council could have more control over the use of these machines.

The Leader stated that he agreed wholeheartedly with the comments made. He assured the Council that the Cabinet Member would look into the issues. Councillor Nelson added that he fully supported the comments made however he indicated that unfortunately this was led by central government.

Councillor P Smith indicated that he agreed with all the points/comments made. He explained that this had been the third time this policy had been to the Council. The Licensing Act Committee had looked at it several times in great deal and unfortunately the council was unable to amend primary legislation. Councillor P Smith added that the Council had been fully supportive of the Local Government Association (LGA) in looking at licensing in general. The LGA was in the process of producing reports on this matter for central government.

The Cabinet Member thanked members for their views/comments and she indicated that she was happy to work with Councillor Foster on this matter.

A member of the public commented that there were a high number of bookmakers? internet websites that provided similar games which people could access easily through their mobile/tablet devices.

RESOLVED (unanimously): that the revised Policy be adopted.


Agreed   

  Published on Thursday 22 December 2016
9.10pm