Venue: Council Chamber
Contact: Lisa Cooper 01424 787813
To authorise the Leader to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 July 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.
The Chairman was authorised to sign the minutes of the meeting held on 29 July 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.
Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Disclosure of Interests
To receive any disclosure by Members of personal and disclosable pecuniary interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the Member regards the personal interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct. Members are reminded of the need to repeat their declaration immediately prior to the commencement of the item in question.
Declarations of interest were made by Councillors in the Minutes as indicated below:
Mrs Bayliss Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as she was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Byrne Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as he was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Brewerton Agenda Item 8 – Personal Interest in so far as she was the Council’s appointed representative on Rother Voluntary Action and former trustee.
Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as she was Vice-Chair of Bexhill Community Land Trust.
Coleman Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as he was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Drayson Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as he was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Gray Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as she was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Langlands Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as she was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Madeley Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as she was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Oliver Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as he had assisted Bexhill Heritage on previous projects.
Timpe Agenda Item 11 – Personal Interest in so far as she was a member of Bexhill Heritage.
Vine-Hall Agenda Item 10 – Personal Interest in so far as he had convened Rother’s Neighbourhood Forum.
Members received and considered Minute OSC19/14 arising from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting held on the 22 July 2019 that had considered a recommendation from the Member Development Task Group regarding introducing a formal substitute procedure for Committees.
Research had been undertaken with neighbouring authorities to devise a simplistic, uncomplicated procedure that suited the Council’s decision making structure and available resources. It was noted that provision already existed in the Council’s Constitution for Group Leaders to change membership and appoint substitute members to Task and Finish Groups. The OSC was supportive of the recommendations and noted a number of key points outlined in the draft procedure.
Cabinet was keen to introduce the changes and recommended that full Council approve and adopt the procedure identified at Appendix A to the report with effect from 17 September 2019. It was also recommended that Group Leaders nominated one substitute Member each in respect of Licensing and General Purposes Committee, OSC and Planning Committee at the full Council meeting scheduled to be held on 16 September 2019 and that the Council’s Constitution be amended accordingly.
1) the proposed substitute procedure for formal committees, set out at Appendix A to the report be recommended for approval and adoption by full Council;
2) the system be implemented with effect from 17 September 2019;
3) Group Leaders be requested to nominate one substitute Member each in respect of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Planning Committee at the full Council meeting to be held on 16 September 2019; and
4) consequential amendments be made to the Council’s Constitution.
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director which identified various options for the Council to acquire property to use as temporary accommodation. Under the Housing Act 1996, the Council had a duty to accommodate homeless households. Investing in property meant that the Council had greater control over the quality and quantity of provision, whilst reducing the net cost of provision.
The Council would continue to use a number of privately owned (15 including eight self-contained properties) well-managed temporary accommodation establishments. The budget for 2019/20 was £775,000 offset by £369,500 of income predominantly recovered through housing benefit; net cost was £385,500.
Requests for temporary accommodation were increasing. Between March 2015 and March 2019 homeless households had risen from 17 to 57. To date 66 homeless households were in B&B accommodation. Appendix 1 to the report identified the types of households the Council had placed in temporary accommodation during 2018/19. Members noted that the Council had no duty to provide self-contained accommodation for single people. The Council, in collaboration with East Sussex County Council and wider partners was currently reviewing the provision of supported accommodation for all groups and, in particular, single people with complex needs.
Members noted that the average length of stay in temporary accommodation across all household types was 77 days. The net cost of placing single households or childless couples and households with children was on average £1,360 and £2,900 respectively. If the Council purchased its own property, over a twelve month period, average costs of £6,000 – £13,000 per household could be avoided.
The report identified the financial assessment and investment required to purchase a range of properties. It also included an illustration of the costs which could be avoided by placing households in local authority rather than private accommodation. The projections were verified in consultation with neighbouring local authorities who delivered similar schemes. An overall net saving of £70,000 per annum was projected.
The Council’s Temporary Accommodation Strategy (TAS) was appended to the report at Appendix 4. The TAS outlined the types of properties the Council intended to acquire, alongside how properties would be purchased, managed, maintained and repaired. Property management risks were outlined in Appendix 5 to the report. An audit of the in-house skills required for property management had been completed and highlighted that resources/expertise would be required for managing rental income recovery and out of hours residents’ enquiries. In the short-term, these functions would be externally purchased while the Council built its own portfolio of properties; ongoing skills reviews would be necessary.
Should the need for temporary accommodation reduce, the Council could review its assets. Assets could be sold and the capital receipt reinvested into Council budgets.
During discussion the following was noted:
· properties would be purchased in urban areas across the district, however specific need at the moment was particularly focused in Bexhill;
· all households would be supported by the Council to acquire any furnishings they required;
· important to establish in-house expertise or collaboration with other local authorities ... view the full minutes text for item CB19/39.
Members received and considered Minute OSC19/16 arising from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 22 July 2019 which considered the Corporate Plan Delivery Programme.
Following discussion, Cabinet approved the programme for a review of a new Corporate Plan to enable adoption in December 2020 and agreed that the timetable proposed provided the opportunity for an in-depth consultation within available staff resources. It was clarified that Cabinet would be kept abreast of the Corporate Plan’s progression.
RESOLVED: That the programme for a review of a new Corporate Plan be approved to enable adoption in December 2020.
Rother Voluntary Action (RVA) had requested a grant from the Council towards the cost of match-funding for a European Union (EU) Interreg 2 Seas funded project, known as Healthy Aging and Innovation in Rural Europe (HAIRE). HAIRE was a project designed to increase rural community capacity in Rother by empowering people to play an active role in the design and delivery of local services. Members were advised that RVA had applied for funding through the Council’s Community Grant Scheme however the application had failed to meet the required criteria.
The Leader welcomed Jan Cutting from RVA to the meeting who provided a brief introduction on the merits of the project. RVA was encouraged to contact/liaise with the Parish and Town Councils who currently ran similar programmes/schemes.
RVA had been operational since 2006, was a longstanding and respected organisation, who had invested significant resources into the district to develop community groups, encourage community action and support volunteering. It held a membership base of approximately 500+ local organisations and had a strong relationship with the Council. The Council consistently contributed core funding via a Service Level Agreement which had enabled RVA to acquire additional investment of approximately £4m from other funding sources.
Rother had a high proportion of older persons (aged 65+) which was projected to increase further by 2031. The HAIRE project would tackle issues that contributed to rural isolation, negative health and wellbeing, as well as develop appropriate solutions e.g. improvements to local transport, usage of the internet, establish good neighbour schemes, access benefits and support the development of local services etc.
RVA required £73,000, of which they had committed £33,000 therefore a further £40,000 would be required over a 3-year period. Once secured, £110,000 of additional investment would be brought into the district from the EU 2 Seas Interreg Fund. The report identified funding costs and how these would be allocated which included staffing costs, supporting activities, design and delivery of services, improvements to quality of life etc.
During discussion, a question was raised regarding whether the project was being funded from the appropriate budget, as it had failed to meet the Community Grant Scheme (CGS) criteria and whether it should be funded from the Council’s reserves. The Assistant Director Resources advised that as the Council’s CGS was funded from Earmarked Reserves additional funding could be added later in the year, if approved.
Cabinet was supportive of awarding RVA a total grant of £40,000 over a 3-year period from the CGS budget within Earmarked Reserves, subject to specific conditions. It was acknowledged that RVA provided valuable support to local groups, research into strategic and local issues, reduced the sense of isolation in communities and acted as a crucial information source for the Council.
RESOLVED: That a total grant of £40,000 be awarded to Rother Voluntary Action, towards the cost of match funding for a European Union Interreg 2 Seas funded project – Healthy Aging and Innovation in Rural Europe (£15,000 in Year 1 FY 2019/2020), £15,000 in Year ... view the full minutes text for item CB19/41.
The Council’s Community Grant Scheme (CGS) made provision for up to £130,000 per annum to be made available to community groups or organisations that met the specific grant criteria of the Scheme. The Panel had delegated authority to grant awards up to £500 and had approved £500 to Peasmarsh Memorial Hall for hot water system improvements.
Members gave consideration to the applications listed in Appendix 1 and each grant was considered in turn as follows:
1. Beckley Parish Council: the Panel had recommended an award of £18,500 to transform the old tennis court into a multi-use games area.
2. Beckley Village Hall: the Panel had recommended an award of £5,000 to upgrade the kitchen in the village hall.
3. Beulah Baptist Church, Bexhill: the Panel had recommended an award of £20,000 to improve access to the first floor rooms and toilet facilities, install a lift and provide more circulation spaces in the reception area on the ground floor.
4. Crowhurst Village Hall: the Panel had recommended an award of £3,000 towards redesigning and improving the kitchen facilities.
5. Flimwell Village Hall: the Panel had recommended an award of £1,400 to provide furnishings and equipment for the new village hall.
6. Iden Parish Council: the Panel had recommended an award of £14,920 towards modernising and improving play facilities at Iden playing fields.
7. Rye Cricket Club: the Panel had recommended an award of £3,746 to upgrade disabled access / facilities at the pavilion.
8. Sedlescombe Village Hall: the Panel had rejected the award of £25,822 requested by Sedlescombe Village Hall (SVH) to improve the acoustics, as insufficient evidence of the benefits of the scheme had been provided. It was noted that SVH had raised £9,000 instead of £4,000 as indicated in the report towards the project.
9. Winchelsea New Hall: the Panel had recommended an award of £975 towards resurfacing the entrance to the hall.
In 2018/19, Westfield Parish Council (WPC) was awarded a £25,000 grant towards the development of a new pavilion for Westfield Cricket Club. This was subject to all funding being secured. Members were advised that, to date, WPC had only secured £5,000 towards the project and that Rother’s CGS could provide match-funding only. Therefore, in order to progress the project, it had been recommended by the Panel that an early drawdown of the grant to the value of £5,000 be agreed subject to a strategy being submitted outlining how the shortfall would be funded. WPC had also been advised to consider obtaining a Public Works Board Loan.
Cabinet was reminded that conditions were applied when awarding grants; specifically, that full funding was required to be obtained in advance of any Rother payments being made and that Rother District Council was acknowledged in any publicity and promotional material associated with any project. After discussion, Cabinet approved all eight grants as detailed above, as well as the £5,000 drawdown grant to WPC.
Members were supportive of a £10,000 Council ... view the full minutes text for item CB19/42.
The Leader confirmed that Agenda Item 10, Battle Neighbourhood Plan – Proposed Local Green Space Designations had been withdrawn from the Agenda.
(Councillor Vine-Hall had declared a personal interest at the commencement of the meeting in this matter as he had convened Rother’s Neighbourhood Forum).
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director which updated Members on the Community Led Housing (CLH) Programme including funding agreements and project progress.
In December 2016, the Government allocated community housing funds to 148 councils to provide additional homes and affordable housing within their communities. Rother had received a total of £748,899 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the largest amount in East Sussex. In July 2017, full Council approved to ring-fence £50,000 of the Community Housing Fund (CFH) allocation for revenue spend, supporting start-up fees of CLH groups and pre-development costs, as well as meeting any funding gaps to ensure community groups had the financial means to progress schemes. To date £31,049 had been allocated to deliver 22 affordable homes. Additionally, it was agreed that £598,899 would be used to support capital funding of affordable housing delivery.
In July 2018, the Government announced that a further £163m CHF allocation would be available for communities across England. Bidding for this funding would need to be made to Homes England and would only be available up to 2020. Future funding was currently under review and the Government had recently asked the CLH sector to collate a strong evidence base, demonstrating the need for funding to be extended beyond 2020. Therefore, CLH groups and local authorities were encouraged to progress all projects as quickly as possible.
To deliver CLH projects and in conjunction with nine other local authorities across Sussex, full Council approved 4-year funding of £25,000 per annum and the development of the Sussex Community Housing Hub (SCHH). The SCHH had successfully held a number of events to grow the sector, helped to establish community groups across the county, provided business planning assistance, project management and general advice etc.
The report identified the current CLH schemes in Rother, as follows:
· Main Road, Icklesham: A rural exception site delivered by Icklesham Parish Community Land Trust (IPCLT) in partnership with Hastoe Housing Association. In May 2019, planning permission was granted for 15 affordable homes, subject to section 106 agreement. It was noted that to progress the site, IPCLT would require additional CHF provision.
· Cemetery Lodge, Bexhill: Situated on the corner of Turkey Road and St Mary’s Lane. Early discussions with planning indicated that as a cleared site the land had potential for 5-8 dwellings, subject to specific conditions including demolition of Cemetery Lodge and relocating the entrance of the cemetery to St Mary’s Lane. However Bexhill Heritage has raised concerns over the demolition of Cemetery Lodge and requested other options for development be considered that retained the Lodge. Bexhill Community Land Trust Steering Group (BCLTSG) had agreed to consider all options for developing the site and their current preferred option was for a cleared site. In order for BCLTSG to progress the site and deliver a viable CLH scheme it was proposed that the Council sold the site at a capped existing use value (current form) to BCLT.
· Sidley Allotments: Identified for small scale ... view the full minutes text for item CB19/44.