Venue: Civic Suite, Pathfinder House, St Mary's Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TN
Contact: Mrs Lisa Jablonska, Elections and Democratic Services Manager, Tel No. 01480 388004/e-mail Lisa.Jablonska@huntingdonshire.gov.uk
The Reverend D Busk, Vicar of St Mary’s Parish Church, Godmanchester opened the meeting with prayer.
The Chairman presented to the Council an account of the activities that he and the Vice-Chairman Councillor R C Carter had attended since the last meeting. In so doing, referred to the successful cake sale held at Pathfinder House that had been supported by Councillor A Dickinson in aid of Dementia UK. The Chairman reported upon his attendance at the Mayor making ceremony on Godmanchester in May 2017 and Members present congratulated Councillor Mrs S J Conboy in her new role. Members were informed of his visit to the MS Centre, Huntingdon accompanied by his consort Councillor Ms J Tavener, and referred to the courage of the sufferers that attended the Centre. Further reference was made to his attendance at the Waresley Cricket Club Outreach, wreath laying ceremony at Madingley Cemetery with 104 wreaths having been laid, the Mayor’s open day at Peterborough City Council, Armed Forces Flag Raising Day and attendance at the St Neots Choral Society.
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 17th May 2017.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on the 17th May 2017 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive from Members declarations as to disclosable pecuniary, non-disclosable pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests in relation to any Agenda item. See Notes below.
No declarations were received.
STATE OF THE DISTRICT 2017 (ANNUAL REPORT)
The Executive Leader, Councillor R B Howe to address the Council on the State of the District.
(The Chairman will invite the Leaders of the Opposition to respond to the address. A Member may speak once in the ensuing discussion).
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12, the Chairman invited the Executive Leader, Councillor R B Howe to address the Council on the State of the District. In support of his presentation, a copy of the Annual Report 2016/17 had been laid on the table together with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation (copies of which are reproduced in the Minute Book).
Councillor Howe reported upon the uncertain times that the Council had been experiencing currently, particularly with the House of Commons and the effect of Brexit on jobs, taxes, migration and the economy as a whole. He also made reference to the pervasive threat of terror with the recent terrorist attacks around the country. With this in mind Councillor Howe indicated the importance of ensuring high quality services for the residents of Huntingdonshire continuing to be provided with fair value. Attention was drawn to improvements made to the operational services of the Council, with new arrangements for grass cutting and weed management resulting in a reduction of customer requests. The round reconfiguration for refuse collection resulted in a number of persistent problems during March and April 2017 and Councillor Howe placed on record a formal apology to the residents for these issues that had resulted from these changes.
In referring to the Annual Report 2016/17 that highlighted the achievements in the previous year and outlined the strategic objectives, the Council noted the objective of sustainable growth and Councillor Howe referred to the Gross Value Added (GVA) of incomes into new businesses in Huntingdonshire was significantly less than neighbouring Cambridge, as many residents commuted to other areas for work. With this in mind Members’ attention was drawn to the importance of the Oxford to Cambridge corridor and the St Neots Market Town Masterplan, together with planned improvements to the infrastructure to support further employment opportunities in the area.
Councillor Howe reported upon the continuing problem of insufficient affordable homes, despite the acceleration of house building in the District, and indicated that the emergence of a new Housing Strategy had been developed to identify and accelerate the development of affordable homes. He was hopeful that this combined with an innovative approach to land use utilising rural exception sites and consideration of modular homes, as well as revising the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) rules could assist in achieving a better supply of new and affordable housing.
Members’ attention was drawn to the development of policies and priorities, whereby Councillor Howe referred to ensuring the governing of the Council was an inclusive and democratic process for all Councillors and the appointment of Councillor Ms A Dickinson as Executive Councillor for Community Resilience and Well Being would support this role through her work on the Market Town Strategy Programme and engagement of more Members in the process and referred to the forthcoming Members’ Summit that had been designed to engage Members more in shaping policy development.
Further attention was drawn to policy priorities, including the strong emphasis on upgrading the main trunk roads and strategic road ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Actions: 30 Minutes.
EXECUTIVE COUNCILLOR PRESENTATIONS
(a) Councillor D Brown, Executive Councillor for Commercialisation and Shared Services to present on the commercialisation of CCTV and the Document Centre.
(b) Councillor S Cawley, Executive Councillor for Transformation and Customers to present on Transformation.
(c) Questions to other Members of the Cabinet.
(Notes: Executive Councillor Presentation 10 Minutes
Questions 10 Minutes
Questions to the Cabinet 10 Minutes)
Actions: 40 Minutes.
Councillor D Brown, Executive Councillor for Commercialisation and Shared Services
Councillor D Brown, Executive Councillor for Commercialisation and Shared Services, addressed the Council on the commercialisation of CCTV and the Document Centre. A copy of Councillor Brown’s PowerPoint presentation is appended in the Minute Book.
Councillor Brown outlined to Members the vision and process for the commercialisation project by way of generating additional income through joint ventures with the District Council and the commercial sector. Members noted that a Holding Company had been established with the appointment of Councillors Brown and Mrs S J Conboy as Non-Executive Directors and the Managing Director as Executive Director. Work was underway to progress with the finding and selecting of business partners with the ultimate outcome of a planned £50k of efficiency savings in the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2017-2021.
In relation to CCTV, Councillor Brown explained that the Council wished to develop a joint venture company to offer a range of CCTV services to public, private and third sector organisations, with the intention of making CCTV cost neutral by 2021. Attention was drawn to how the existing shared CCTV service would work alongside a joint venture partner and the viability of identifying and contracting with an external partner.
With regard to the Document Centre, Councillor Brown reported that the potential commercial partnership was under development and development of a final business case to support this working model. Attention was drawn to the company structure and governance arrangements, with the process of identification and appointment of a partner to commence imminently.
In response to a question from Councillor T D Sanderson on the impact of the proposals on existing Service Level Agreements with Town Councils supporting 25% of the costs and any variation to such agreement would need a minimum of 12 months’ notice, Councillor Brown explained that there would be no variation to the service and the benefit to such proposals would be the potential for the profits to be put back in and ultimately may result in a significant savings to Town Councils.
Councillor B S Chapman indicated his concern that there appeared to be no provision to remove a Director when they ceased to be a District Councillor and questioned the level of assets transferring and in response Councillor Brown explained that the removal would be agreed by the Board of the Trading Company and the District Council would be transferring £100k. It was suggested that a further dialogue be undertaken with the Managing Director on this project.
By way of a question by Councillor D A Giles on the criteria for Board Membership, Councillor Brown explained that appointments would be made on individual merits and the number of appointments would depend upon how many joint ventures would be established.
In commending the presentation, Councillor P D Reeve outlined his concern with which the Council would have an input into scrutinising decisions of an arm’s length business, whereby Councillor Brown explained that the existing governance arrangements of decision making through Overview and Scrutiny and onto the Cabinet allowed for full engagement ... view the full minutes text for item 17a
Councillor S Cawley, Executive Councillor for Transformation and Customer
The Chairman invited Councillor S Cawley, Executive Councillor for Transformation and Customers to update the Council on Transformation. A copy of Councillor Cawley’s PowerPoint presentation is appended in the Minute Book.
Firstly Members’ attention was drawn to the new name of the Transformation Programme – Mosaic, Councillor Cawley proceeded to outline to the Council the goals and objectives of the Programme and updated Members on the new work streams – Customer, Business, People, Work Smart and Commercial, each headed up by a lead Senior Officer and supported by a Project Manager. Councillor Cawley reported upon the success under the Customer Work Stream and the recent award to the Council’s Digital Team for the website achieving four stars. He also explained how the Council had been reviewing its services through a LEAN based approach and encouraged all Members to attend the Members Summit to discuss this in more detail.
In light of the comments made previously by Councillor M F Shellens (Minute No. 16 ante refers), Councillor Cawley explained that through the People Work Stream work was being undertaken looking at people policies, transferring skills and opportunities for staff to be identified for upskilling, alongside a People Strategy that would be addressing the availability of staff.
Members noted the growing expectations of its customers and Councillor Cawley indicated that inefficiency needed to be eliminated to increase productivity and the development of services with customers as the primary focus delivering services efficiently and effectively. In order to enable this, Members noted that technology would need to drive transformation and empower staff to manage relationships with our customers and respond to their changing expectations.
Councillor Cawley explained that Mosaic was a three year plan designed to transform work through the five work streams and the proposal for a single point of contact for customers and Members so issues could be dealt with at the first point. He referred to the launch event that took place on 26th June 2017 for all staff and Councillor Cawley reported upon the responsiveness of staff involved, together with identified opportunities for the Council.
In welcoming the assurance by the Executive Leader that the Customer Service Centres would now remain open, Councillor Mrs S A Giles referred to the collection of a petition of signatures against the closure of the facility in St Neots and the lack of consultation with Members on the original decision to close the facilities. In accepting the petition, Councillor Cawley explained that the timing of the planned closures had been incorrect and the decision to close the Customer Service Centres had been a Council decision taken through the budget setting process.
Councillor T Hayward outlined his concerns for the fear of losing face to face contact for customers, whereby Councillor Cawley provided reassurance that although technology would be embraced to undertake jobs more efficiently and effectively it had always been the intention to continue to support customers through the Customer Service Centre in Huntingdon to meet those customers in most need of the ... view the full minutes text for item 17b
Questions to other Members of the Cabinet
Arising from a question from Councillor J M Palmer on the changes to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) that had not been reflected fairly across the District, with particular reference to East Cambridgeshire District Council that operated a differential zoning charge across their District, Councillor G J Bull explained that the concept of zonal charging for CIL had been investigated at its inception but had been found to be problematic in its implementation. It was noted that the Council would await the outcome of the report on CIL that had been presented to Government that may be reported in the Autumn statement and undertook to look at this issue further on receipt of further information.
In response to a question from Councillor T Hayward on public rights of way, Councillor J White explained that it was a County Council function to maintain the public rights of way but the Council had continued to strive to achieve the highest standards in areas of its responsibility. He further reported that the County Council had recently appointed a Rights of Way Officer for Huntingdonshire and would be working within the Council area to maintain public rights of way in the District.
Councillor M F Shellens raised a question in relation to the availability of electronic car charging points across the District in comparison to other local authority areas, whereby Councillor White indicated that it had been a very relevant issue that had been incorporated into the draft Local Plan to 2026 and would be included in the strategic review of car parking in the District. The Council had been in the process of finalising a new contract for a new supplier and the overall strategic review would be addressing the availability of charging points.
In light of the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Councillor Mrs S J Conboy questioned whether the District Council had any buildings deemed to be at risk or others in the Council’s investment portfolio. Whereby, the Managing Director, Mrs J Lancaster, reported that there was one building identified over the prescribed height but had not been a clad building. As the Fire Authority was the enforcing agency they had been actively engaged in a review process with a focus on residential properties and then move towards commercial buildings. At this point it may be necessary to review the Council’s commercial stock. Mrs Lancaster also reported that the County Council had already undertaken some local research into the make-up and construction of schools and buildings and private sector accommodation for vulnerable adults.
With reference to a question raised at Council previously (Minute No.66 of the meeting of the Council held 22nd February 2017 refers), Councillor Mrs S L Taylor reported upon the continuous problems with street signs that had not been repaired, whereby Councillor Brown undertook to get exact details following the meeting to proceed with this issue.
In relation to Councillor D Brown’s presentation (Minute No. 17a ante refers), Councillor T D Sanderson questioned whether Town and Parish Councils had ... view the full minutes text for item 17c
CAMBRIDGESHIRE AND PETERBOROUGH COMBINED AUTHORITY
Councillor R B Howe, Executive Leader to present on the activities of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
Councillors R C Carter and T Hayward to provide an update on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
In accordance with the Protocol agreed at the February 2017 meeting, this item provides an opportunity for District Council Members to ask questions and comment on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority issues.
If Members wish to raise questions or issues requiring a detailed response, it would be helpful if they can provide prior notice so that the necessary information can be obtained in advance of the meeting.
(Notes: Update 10 Minutes
Questions 10 Minutes).
Councillor R B Howe presented an update of the activities of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority by way of a PowerPoint presentation. A copy of the presentation is appended in the Minute Book and would be circulated to all Members. Councillor Howe also reported upon the outcome of the Combined Authority meeting held earlier that day and informed Members that it had been agreed that the Mayor of the Combined Authority would receive a remuneration of £70k and they had appointed Mr M Whiteley as their Chief Executive.
Members also noted that a business case had been presented for Peterborough University funded by the LEP and Combined Authority and then out to Government and private institutions to fund in the region of £60m, accommodating 20k students to degree level courses. A presentation was received on the Interim Local Transport Plan with preliminary findings into the extension of the A47, development of the A10, extension of the M11 and A428 corridor development. Councillor Howe also reported that the Mayor had been asked to investigate the provision of a light railway solution between St Neots and Whilttlesey.
In referring to the 100 day plan commitments, a document that had been circulated to all Members previously, Councillor Howe reported upon the RAG status of the commitments set out in the plan.
With reference to recent conflicts in the provision of roadworks conflicting with use of the A1(M) as reported by Councillor T Alban, Councillor Howe explained that the Combined Authority was not currently responsible for this area but responsible for strategic development.
Arising from a question by Councillor Ms L A Duffy on the ability of the Combined Authority to take forward provision of a suitable rural bus service, Councillor Howe explained that the new Transportation Strategy that had been published today combined the plans of Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council and although buses would feature, the Combined Authority had also been keen to develop other forms of public transport.
Councillor Mrs S J Conboy highlighted her concern of the speed of decision making of the Combined Authority and ability to ensure Members are kept abreast of any decisions, whereby Councillor Howe explained that it had been agreed to publish a monthly newsletter and update report to all Members, together with a concise digest of what the Combined Authority had achieved in the previous period and decisions taken.
Arising from the report of development of a light railway solution, Councillor B S Chapman questioned the timescale for development of such a project, whereby Councillor Howe reported that the Combined Authority had authorised for the commissioning of a transport feasibility study to be undertaken, including the provision of an underground system in Cambridge, with proposals reported within 6-9 months.
Councillors R C Carter and T Hayward provided an update on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee. A copy of their PowerPoint presentation has been appended in the Minute Book. They reported upon their attendance at ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
Actions: 20 Minutes.
In accordance with 17.3 of the Council’s Access to Information Procedure Rules, the Executive Leader Councillor R B Howe to present the annual report on executive decisions taken using the Special Urgency provisions set out within the District Council’s Constitution.
Consideration was given to a report by the Executive Leader on the use of special urgency provisions taken throughout the previous year (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book). Councillor Howe advised Members of the procedure to consider a key decision that had not been included on the Notice of Key Decisions and reported that this provision had been used on one occasion in the previous year to consider the procurement of a Commercial Investment Strategy asset. Whereupon, it was
that the contents of the report be noted.
Actions: 5 Minutes
An opportunity for Members to raise any issues or ask questions arising from recent meetings of the Council’s Committees and Panels.
A list of meetings held since the last Council meeting is attached for information and Members are requested to address their questions to Committee and Panel Chairmen.
A copy of the list of meetings held since the last meeting of the Council held on the 17th May 2017 is appended in the Minute Book and Members were advised that any issues or questions could be raised in relation to these meetings.
Councillor T Hayward directed a question to Councillor T D Alban, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny (Communities and Environment), asking for an update on the takeover of Hinchingbrooke Hospital. In so doing, Councillor Alban declared a non-statutory disclosable interest in this item by virtue of his employment and reported that a meeting of the Cambridgeshire County Council Health Committee was being held the following week and Councillor Ms J Tavener had been appointed as the Council’s representative on this Committee and would be reporting back to the Panel upon progress.
Actions: 10 Minutes.
VARIATIONS TO THE MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEES AND PANELS
Group Leaders to report on variations to the Membership of Committees and Panels if necessary.
There were no changes to report.
The meeting ended at 9.55pm.
Actions: 5 Minutes.