Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Monday 4th November 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Lisa Cooper  01424 787813

Items
No. Item

CB19/51.

Minutes

To authorise the Leader to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.

Minutes:

The Chairman was authorised to sign the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.

CB19/52.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor J.M. Johnson.

CB19/53.

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.

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest made.

CB19/54.

Proposed Changes to Public Speaking at Planning Committee pdf icon PDF 365 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Chairman of the Planning Committee that proposed a number of changes to the Public Speaking Scheme at Planning Committee meetings.  The report had also been considered by the Planning Committee on 12 September 2019 and scrutinised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) on 14 October 2019.  The minutes from both meetings were appended to the report at Appendices 5 and 6 respectively.

 

Following consideration of the comments / suggestions made by the Planning Committee and OSC, some of which had been taken on board, Cabinet was supportive of the proposed revised public speaking scheme as outlined at Appendix 3 and revised Code of Practice document at Appendix 4 to the report.  It was also agreed that the scheme be subject to a 12 month review.  It was noted that the five Minutes for Ward Members to speak, interspersed within the Planning Committee debate, would be timed, as at full Council meetings.

 

RECOMMENDED: That:

 

1)    the proposed revised publish speaking scheme as set out in Appendix 3 to the report and revised Code of Practice document as set out in Appendix 4 to the report be agreed; and thereafter any minor changes to the public speaking system and/or the Code of Practice to be delegated to the Executive Director in consultation with the Chairman of Planning;

 

2)    non-Planning Committee Ward Members speaking under the scheme be encouraged to submit a brief summary of the issues they would raise in advance of the meeting to be circulated to the Planning Committee;

 

3)    the word ‘interspersed’ be added in the Ward Member column in the table at Appendix 3 to the report;

 

4)    Members calling in an application must attend the relevant Planning Committee, send a Member on their behalf or provide an apology / reason for non-attendance; and

 

5)    the revised scheme be reviewed after 12 months.

CB19/55.

1066 Country Walk Pathways - Grant Funding pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Minutes:

The Council had been successful in securing a grant of £163,272.60 for the 1066 Walk Pathways Project (WPP) from the Rural Payments Agency under the European Agricultural Funding for Rural Development Tourism Infrastructure Grant Programme. 

 

1066 WPP aimed to promote and improve the signage infrastructure of the Pevensey to Rye 1066 Country Walk route.  East Sussex County Council (ESCC) currently maintained the route, however improved signage and raised awareness was required. 

 

The project would create and install bespoke visitor interpretation panels along the route reflecting local history, visitor attractions, eateries, accommodation etc.; along with two bespoke sculpture pieces, bespoke seating and sculpture trails, as well as promote the route.  It was hoped that the project extended into Hastings and Bexhill off the main Pevensey to Rye route to capture the major population centres.

 

Necessary investigations and consultations with relevant partners had been completed and it was noted that a total of £14,500 had been committed from 1066 Country Marketing, ESCC and Wealden District Council towards the project.  The Council would commit an additional £6,250 from the Tourism Budget and be responsible for maintaining the art installations for a period of five years. 

 

A sister project was also being developed namely the 1066 Walk Puddings and Pathways Festival, to promote local food outlets along the route.  Funding sources were currently being explored.

 

Cabinet agreed that the grant provided much needed investment into the green tourism sector, would help to promote this valuable asset and represented excellent value for money.

 

RECOMMENDED: That the provision of £163,272.60 be made in the Council’s Revenue Budget to accommodate costs incurred in delivery of the 1066 Walk Pathways project, to be recovered by way of grant from the Rural Payments Agency.

CB19/56.

District of Rother (Off-Street) Parking Places Order 2019 pdf icon PDF 279 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director on the District of Rother Parking Places Order (PPO).  The Council currently operated its designated car parks under the District of Rother (Off Street) PPO 1983 and despite a number of small variations, had not been significantly updated since that time.  In December 2018, Cabinet had recommended a number of changes and resolved that officers draft and consult on a new PPO.

 

The overall objective of the new PPO was to improve the ability of the Council to manage all car parks effectively, meet the cost of maintenance and enforcement.  There was also a desire to provide greater controls to the Council within ‘amenity open space parking areas’ and certain rural car parks which were not named in the current PPO and, therefore, were largely unenforceable.

 

The proposed draft PPO was appended to the report at Appendix A and included the following changes: allowed recreational vehicles to park during the daytime; reduced maximum waiting period to 23 hours; removed devolved car parks; varied payment methods; included a number of parking areas currently designated as ‘amenity open space parking areas’; and included rural car parks.  The reduction in maximum waiting periods in car parks would allow improved enforcement of cars that were abandoned and or left for long periods of time.  Local residents who used amenity car parks to park vehicles safely off the highway where there was no alternative parking would not be penalised if parked overnight.  

 

The inclusion of the car park at the Bear at Burwash was queried as it was thought that this was being devolved to Burwash Parish Council who was awaiting a lease; this would be investigated by officers. 

 

A consultation was held between 17 May to 26 July 2019 and the Council had received 302 responses; the executive summary was detailed in Appendix B to the report with full details available in the Members’ Room.  Feedback indicated that the majority of responders were supportive of the proposed changes.  Two additional changes were put forward for Members’ consideration, firstly, to include an electric vehicle charging clause to future proof the provision of electrical charging points and whether to award ‘Disabled Person’s Badge’ holders free parking for the first three hours of any one day, in-line with neighbouring authorities.  Should the Council agree to this it would result in a loss of £50,000 income per annum.

 

Members felt that the provision contained within PART I, Operative and General Provisions of the PPO, paragraph 23 (a) that a driver of a vehicle in respect of which a standard charge had been incurred had to pay the standard charge within seven days was insufficient time.  Cabinet suggested that this be amended to 21 working days and officers agreed to seek legal advice on this and advise accordingly for full Council on Monday 11 November.   

 

Cabinet was pleased with the level of engagement and considered that all the suggested amendments to the proposed PPO were welcome, however, the suggestion  ...  view the full minutes text for item CB19/56.

CB19/57.

Revenue Budget and Capital Programme Monitoring Quarter 2 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 351 KB

Minutes:

Members received and considered the report of the Executive Directors on the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme Monitoring Quarter 2 2019/20.  The report contained details of the significant variations of the Revenue Budget and updated Capital Programme.

 

Since the last report to Cabinet, there had been two reportable virements.  The Council had provided an additional grant of £193,000 to the De La Warr Pavilion Charitable Trust to meet the pension shortfall and a staffing post had been transferred from the Resources to Housing and Community Service to improve operational efficiency.

 

Overall the cost of services identified a deficit of £1.2m which was 7.5% greater than the revised budget and represented an increase of £980,000 from the Quarter 1 2019/20 report.  Currently reserves were being used to support the Revenue Budget however this would not be sustainable long term.  The Council’s Rother 2020 programme envisaged delivering ongoing services based on savings and it was forecast in the financial plan that staff cuts would be required.  The Strategic Management Team would be reviewing all vacant posts and seeking expressions of interest for voluntary redundancies.  Costs of redundancies would be built into the Medium Term Financial Strategy and recovered within a year.

 

The main reasons for the variations were attributed to underspends / savings on employment related costs and staff vacancies.  The deficit was attributed to election costs, planning fee and land charges income, costs associated within the Acquisitions, Transformation and Regeneration and Resources Services, waste services, provision of temporary accommodation, replacement of faulty Leisure Centre equipment and cemeteries income.

 

Investment returns were in-line with the budget.  The final year end position would depend on treasury management and property investment decisions made between now and March 2020.  2019/20 Reserves were expected to meet £704,000 compared to the original budget assumption of £1.67m.  Due to the reduction of reserves it was recommended that the Council did not continue to provide grass cutting of £40,000 per annum to East Sussex County Council in 2020/21.

 

The Council Tax collection rate was forecast to be broadly in-line with the annual estimate and the Business Rates collection performance would be higher than the budget by £170,000.  Appendix B to the report, showed the Capital Programme for the period 2019/20 to 2024/25 which included £46,000 for upgrading Camber Car Park.

 

Capital spend to the end of September 2019 totalled £9.3m which included the purchase of Glovers House, Bexhill, as identified in Appendix A to the report.  The significant save of £300,000 on the works at the untarmacked car park at Camber, following a review of the projected costs, was highlighted.

 

It was noted that following the forthcoming Corporate Peer Challenge follow up visit from the Local Government Association, if considered appropriate, a peer review on finance may be requested.

 

RECOMMENDED: That the updated Capital Programme at Appendix B to the report, be approved.

 

AND

 

*RESOLVED: That

 

1)     the report and actions being undertaken by the Strategic Management Team to address the projected overspend be noted;  ...  view the full minutes text for item CB19/57.

CB19/58.

Land at the Salts, Rye pdf icon PDF 746 KB

Minutes:

In September 2018, Cabinet authorised the disposal of an area of land at the Salts, Rye to Rye Amenity Community Interest Company (RACIC) to create a ‘managed wildflower meadow’.  Prior to the disposal, the Council was required to advertise the proposed disposal of public open space; an official notice was advertised across the district for a two week period.  Four letters of objection had been received which detailed the following issues: unsightly; weed control; long-term maintenance; lack of consultation; lease details; public access; and setting precedent for future disposals.  Full details were highlighted at Appendix 3 to the report.

 

Whilst Members acknowledged that the consultation followed the due legal process for disposal, as Rye Town Council had not responded to the consultation nor been specifically consulted and the wishes of the local residents for this piece of land was unknown, the request should be refused.  It was also considered that this was not the correct location for a wild flower meadow and that this piece of land could be put to better community use.   

 

RESOLVED: That the request to dispose of the land by way of a 25 year lease to Rye Amenity Community Interest Company be refused.

CB19/59.

Development of Land at Barnhorn Green, Bexhill pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Executive Director which sought approval to proceed with developing a recently acquired commercial site, and to use £10m of the £35m approved budget for the Property Investment Strategy (PIS).

 

The Council had recently acquired land for commercial purposes on the Barnhorn Green mixed-use scheme (known locally as Rosewood Park) for the sum of £600,000.  The Property Investment Panel (PIP) had approved the purchase on 25 April 2019 and the sale was completed on 5 July 2019; a plan of the site was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The site measured approximately 1.5 hectares and the commercial element comprised of 25.5 hectares.  Barnhorn Green was allocated as a key commercial development project in the Council’s Corporate Plan.  Outline planning permission was granted in 2014 for up to 3,500sqm of employment office / light industrial floorspace, as well as a doctors’ surgery to accommodate up to 10 GPs.  The site was expected to generate approximately 200-230 jobs dependent on the final use of the buildings.

 

It was noted that the site was subject to an overage agreement which would remain in force until 19 January 2089 or the date all buildings were constructed pursuant to planning permission.  Should the site be developed outside the permissions of the granted outline planning, the Council would be liable to beneficiaries under the overage agreement for 30% of any uplift in value once planning permission was obtained or the site was sold.

 

Advice had been sought from the external valuer regarding options for varying the mix of uses, subject to planning consent.  Several options were presented to the PIP for consideration.  The lowest risk and opportunity to generate income would be to replace office space with light industrial accommodation.  Any variation would require additional planning consent.

 

Members were advised that the development of a doctors’ surgery would represent an opportunity for the Council to facilitate improved local healthcare facilities, as well as generate a secure income stream.  Discussion had commenced with the Clinical Commission Group and East Sussex Healthcare Trust and good progress was being made.  Development of a new, modern GP facility was considered essential to support the existing population and potential housing growth in the area.

 

Following completion, it was anticipated that the combined rental income of the commercial floor space (under the existing approved mix) and doctors’ surgery would be in excess of £640,000 gross of voids.  The net yield was projected to be in excess of £160,000 per annum.

 

The Council had approved borrowing of £35m for investment under the PIS; £10m was required and would be allocated from the Capital Programme.  The additional income generated formed part of the overall financial strategy to reduce the net cost of the Council and achieve a balanced Revenue Budget.  It also contributed to the regeneration strategy for the district, providing jobs and business space.

 

Once approved, officers would commence the procurement process for professional services.  It was anticipated that full planning consent would be achieved  ...  view the full minutes text for item CB19/59.

CB19/60.

Bexhill Town Centre Steering Group pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Executive Director that detailed proposed amendments to the Bexhill Town Centre Steering Group’s (BTCSG) Terms of Reference (ToR) and allocation of funds to develop a Town Centre masterplan.

 

The BTCSG was initially established in 2010 to shape a new vision, develop a regeneration plan and strategy for the Town Centre.  The Bexhill Town Centre Strategy (BTCS) was published in 2013 after a period of consultation with relevant key stakeholders.

 

In October 2018, to undertake a more strategic approach to defining the shared vision for the Town Centre, the BTCSG approved a revised ToR and timescale for delivery.  To develop a new strategy, in March 2019 a series of focused workshops with key stakeholders were held and in April 2019, the Council submitted a bid to the Future High Streets Fund.  Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.  However, the process demonstrated that there was a need for a coherent strategy and masterplan to be developed to provide an improved chance of securing external funding.

 

Following the district elections in May 2019 and change of political control and Cabinet Portfolio Holder, it was decided that the original timetable was insufficient to develop the BTCS.  Therefore the timetable had been reviewed and ToR amended accordingly.  The revised ToR was appended to the report at Appendix 1.  It was proposed that the membership be increased to include a local resident, to be selected through an open process by application and appointed by the BTCSG, as well as a representative from Rother Voluntary Action.  It was also proposed that the Bexhill Town Team be removed and that a number of priorities identified during the workshop sessions be included within the BTCSG objectives.

 

Cabinet agreed to increase the number of local residents appointed to the membership from one to two and to appoint Bexhill Councillors Timpe and Thomas.  The Cabinet Portfolio Holder and Chairman of the BTCSG gave assurances that the two business representatives would be appointed in consultation with the local Chamber of Commerce.

 

To ensure that future bids were achievable / successful it would be necessary to develop a visionary masterplan for the physical environment of the Town Centre.  Specialist assistance would be required therefore it was recommended by officers that the remaining £41,370 of the Town Centre Section 106 funding be allocated to develop the masterplan. 

 

However, Members were not supportive of allocating this amount of money and agreed in the first instance to allocate £10,000 to commence early developmental work leaving a balance of £31,370.  This funding could be put to good use on small scale projects across the Town Centre that would enable residents to see that improvements were being made.  Members noted that there had already been a lot work already done and this could also be drawn on to save costs, including the public realm work previously undertaken by the authority. 

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

1)    the revised Terms of Reference for the Bexhill Town Centre Steering Group be approved and the membership  ...  view the full minutes text for item CB19/60.

CB19/61.

Land at Little Common Recreation Ground pdf icon PDF 649 KB

Minutes:

Prior to introducing the report, the Contracts Manager confirmed that he had a personal interest in this matter as his son played for Little Common Football Club (LCFC). 

 

In order to allow football teams to participate in different leagues of County football, football grounds were required to meet certain criteria set by the Football Association (FA).  Members were advised that LCFC had requested that further ground grading work be undertaken at Pitch 4 at Little Common Recreation Ground.  In order for LCFC to continue to play in their current league, the FA had advised that capacity be increased to the spectator stand and a fence be erected around the pitch.  It was noted that LCFC would meet all costs.

 

Members were advised that the first team currently played their home games at Eastbourne United (EU).  EU had given notice that LCFC would not be able to play at their ground after the current 2019/20 season.  LCFC had until 31 March 2020 to notify the League as to where they would be playing home games for the 2020/21 season.  It was noted that ground grading improvements had already been undertaken to enable LCFC to progress and continue to play at Little Common up until the end of the 2016/17 season.  Erection of a fence could imply the loss of public open space.  LCFC proposed to keep the pitch accessible by including gates in the fencing which would be open at all times except on match days when a closed gate would be necessary, which would be advertised in advance.  Planning permission would be required for any alterations and a route diversion for a public footpath as identified on Appendix C to the report would need to be applied for.  All costs would be met by the Club.

 

Legally, the Council was required to advertise the proposed disposal of public open space in the local paper for a two week period and consider any objections received.

 

Members were supportive in principle and after discussion, it was agreed that the proposed disposal of be advertised in accordance with Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 and that subject to no objections being received, an eight year lease at £500 per annum be granted to LCFC until 2027 when the pavilion lease expired.  Should objections be made a further report would be made to Cabinet to agree the disposal or not. 

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

1)     the proposed disposal by lease of Pitch 4 at Little Common Recreation Ground, shown at Appendix A, be advertised on two consecutive weeks as required by Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972;

 

2)     if objections are received a further report be presented to Cabinet; OR

 

3)     if no objections are received, a lease be granted to Little Common Football Club for a term of eight years at £500 per annum rent to tie in with the expiry of the pavilion lease and other terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the Executive Director, without further recourse  ...  view the full minutes text for item CB19/61.

CB19/62.

Fees and Charges pdf icon PDF 741 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cabinet gave consideration to the report of the Executive Director that detailed the latest review of the Council’s fees and charges for 2020/21 and the proposed recommended increases.  Fees and charges were reviewed each year taking into account the increased need to recover the total cost of the services provided and the cost of inflation, assumed at 1.7%.  The anticipated income from these charges was built into the draft Revenue Budget for 2020/21.

 

The majority of the fees and charges within the appendices were recommended to increase at 1.7% with the following exceptions:

 

Car Parking (Appendix 4): In December 2017, it was agreed that car parking charges would remain unchanged until Civil Parking Enforcement was implemented and had been operation for some six months.  CPE was scheduled to commence in June 2020 and the Council’s CPE Task and Finish Group would be reconvened in December 2020.  Therefore, it was recommended that the car parking charges remained unchanged for 2020/21.

 

Garden Waste Collections (Appendix 5b): The charge for garden waste had been set in December 2015 at £35 and fixed until July 2019.  For comparison the garden waste subscription charges in neighbouring authorities were confirmed as Hastings £66; Eastbourne £52; Lewes £70 and Wealden £50 (under review).

 

The income generated from the current £35 per week charge per bin at the current rate of subscribers for 2019/20 was approximately £745,000, leaving a deficit of £35,000 against the annual operating costs and capital costs of the wheelie bins.  It was therefore recommended that the annual subscription be increased to £50 per annum which would result in an income of £939,000 and generate an annual surplus of £195,300.  There were no legal restrictions preventing the Council making a surplus from this activity and this provided a legitimate tool for Members to generate income for the Council to protect other services and assist in meeting the funding gap.

 

Members were not supportive of increasing the subscription to £50 which represented a 43% increase and agreed an increase of £5.00 per year over the next three years.   

 

Members requested that the soon to be established Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group be tasked with looking at how the Council could support residents on low incomes across the district by reducing certain charges for residents who were in receipt of certain benefits.  Tasking this consideration to the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group would enable officers to take due legal advice and cost out any proposals coming forward in a considered way as part of the work of this Group.       

 

Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (Appendix 6): It was recommended that the charges for scrap metal remain unchanged for 2020/21.

 

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) (Appendix 7):  As a revisit to rate a premises under the FHRS was not a statutory duty, it was recommended that the scale of fees in the appendix to the report was introduced.

 

Health Certificates (for food exported) (Appendix 8): Food exported to countries outside the EU required a health certificate.    It was  ...  view the full minutes text for item CB19/62.