Agenda and minutes
Venue: via Remote Video Link
Contact: Email: CommitteeServices@horsham.gov.uk Direct Line: 01403 215465
To approve as correct the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 14 October 2020
(Note: If any Member wishes to propose an amendment to the minutes they should submit this in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 24 hours before the meeting. Where applicable, the audio recording of the meeting will be checked to ensure the accuracy of the proposed amendment.)
The minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 14 October were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Members' Interests
To receive any declarations of interest from Members
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman of the Council, the Leader, Members of the Cabinet or the Chief Executive
The Leader of the Council made two announcements:
- Councillor Peter Burgess had asked to stand down as Cabinet Member for Horsham Town because he thought that the role did not warrant a Cabinet allowance. The Leader confirmed that he did not currently intend to replace this position, and Councillor Burgess would continue to advise on matters pertinent to Horsham Town. He thanked Councillor Burgess for his contribution as a Cabinet Member.
- The Leader, who had been responsible for the Finance & Assets portfolio since May 2019, was combining this portfolio with the Local Economy & Parking portfolio to form one Cabinet position. Councillor Paul Clarke, the Current Cabinet Member for Local Economy & Parking would be responsible for this portfolio.
The Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling & Waste stated that he had written an article for the County Times regarding the importance of recycling, which was particularly relevant over the Christmas period. The Cabinet Member also thanked the operatives and other staff who had achieved uninterrupted roadside collections throughout the pandemic.
The Cabinet Member for Community Matters & Wellbeing gave an update on measures being taken by the Council and Turning Tides, their outreach partner, to tackle homelessness and find accommodation for rough sleepers in the district. The Council was also working with a number of other community groups and statutory organisations. Instead of the usual winter night shelter, which was not possible because of the pandemic, bed spaces had been reserved with accommodation providers to meet any additional seasonal demand.
The Cabinet Member for Local Economy & Parking made two announcements:
- The Council had appointed Chichester College to deliver an innovative programme to support local high street business. They have offered a series of free on-line interactive webinars to help businesses after lockdown. The programme will continue next year providing advice and support.
- Two DWP funded programmes were being established; a work information and support hub will be launched in January to support young adults with employability skills and training; and Into Work, focussed on the over 25s, that will address labour market challenges caused by the pandemic.
Questions from the Public
To receive questions from the public under Rules 4a.2(f) and 4a.8-18
Mr Paul Kornycky asked the following question:
‘Members will be aware that at Full Council Meetings they have a right, enshrined in the constitution, to ask ‘a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the District’.
Prior to the ‘new’ constitution, residents had an equivalent right albeit with less generous timings. This right was in practice for many years and was clearly laid out in the Council published guidance on public speaking.
In December 2017 this right was severely restricted to ‘only Agenda business’ despite it putting Horsham District completely at odds with all other district or borough councils in West and East Sussex, perhaps all of England, where presumably such Councils welcomed the active participation of their residents, as part of a healthy democracy.
Article 1 of Horsham’s constitution states the purposes of the constitution, and includes:
- Support the active involvement of people in the process of decision-making
- Create a powerful and effective means of holding decision-makers to public account
- Ensure that those responsible for decision making are clearly identifiable to local people and that they explain the reasons for decisions.
The blocking of an ‘open’ public question time is clearly contrary to these principles and is a black mark for Horsham’s openness, transparency and accountability.
Please explain why Horsham District Council may, in Agenda Item 7, Governance Minute GO/16, continue to restrict this participative right of residents when most, if not all, equivalent councils embrace such free input as an essential part of a 21st century democracy?’
Councillor Ray Dawe, Leader of the Council, replied:
‘At the heart of this question is a reference to 21st Century democracy and the ability of residents to have what you describe, Mr Kornycky, as free input to the Council. You suggest that by allowing only questions that are relevant to a Council meeting agenda the ability for any resident to have free input to the Council is somehow diminished. To respond to your words, looking at 21st Century democracy, it must surely be reasonable to compare it to 20th Century democracy. How did it work then? How was a resident some 20 odd years ago and beyond that time to raise a point or ask a question of a Council Member or Council Officer? Basically this was by letter or by a telephone call.
Compared to that pre-internet age, how does this Council now, again to use your words, embrace free input? Well that ability to write a letter or make a phone call of course still exist. We now have the internet. Not only does that give the public immediate access to all Council meeting papers and minutes but most of all it enables any member of the public to email and ask a question at any time they choose; of a Member or an Officer or indeed of any named selection of Members or Officers and get an answer. It is ... view the full minutes text for item CO/36
To receive the recommendations from the meeting of Cabinet held on 26 November 2020 and, if approved, to adopt the recommendations therein:
Update on the Council’s financial position (report of the Cabinet Member for Finance & Assets is online at: Agenda Item 6 )
Horsham’s First Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) (report of the Cabinet Member for Horsham Town is online at: Agenda Item 8)
Approval of amendment to Business Cases for Horsham District Homes for affordable homes in Billingshurst (report of the Cabinet Member for Community Matters & Wellbeing (Agenda Item 14) is exempt by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 - information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information))
Update on the Council’s Financial Position
Councillor Ray Dawe, Leader of the Council, presented the report on the Council’s current and future financial position. He advised that, because of the degree of uncertainty caused by the pandemic and Brexit it was impossible to prepare a full Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) at this stage, and when it is produced in January or February 2021 there would be a degree of uncertainty.
The overspend of £5m this Financial Year, as set out in the report, had risen to £5.4m due to the November lockdown and it was recognised that substantial action was still required to achieve a balanced budget in 2021/22. He outlined the recommendations from the Cabinet meeting on 26 November relating to the pricing structure for Southwater County Park, and the proposed capital budget for bin-weighing software to make trade waste collections more efficient.
i) That the new pricing structure at Southwater County Park car park as set out in Appendix A of the Cabinet report be approved.
ii) That the transfer of the budget and associated operational responsibilities for the Southwater Country Park car park to Parking Services for 2021/22 be approved.
iii) That a £89k capital budget in 2020/21 for business waste bin weighing technology and equipment be approved.
i) The Council needs to acknowledge the highly unpredictable nature of the national and local situation occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge impact this is having on its financial position both in the short and longer term. This has moved the Council from what has been a long term healthy financial position to one with predicted large deficits unless action is taken.
ii) To standardise parking hours across the year and help manage demand for car parking at Southwater Country Park during busy periods.
iii) To streamline
internal reporting processes and have all parking related services
within the Parking service budgets.
iv) The bin weighing technology and equipment will help the business waste service more accurately and efficiently manage the service by identifying trends and overladen bins, ensuring the Council is not subsidising customer disposal costs.
Horsham’s First Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)
Councillor Peter Burgess presented the recommendation from Cabinet to adopt the proposed LCWIP. West Sussex County Council had approached local authorities with a view to creating LCWIPs for major towns in West Sussex and the adoption of Horsham’s LCWIP would feed into a cycling and walking network for the county.
The plan focused on cycling and walking corridors within Horsham town, or into town from surrounding settlements, that were the result of evidence based research and consultation. Councillor Burgess confirmed that local authorities with LCWIPs would be better placed to secure future funding. Councillor Liz Kitchen seconded the motion.
Councillor Ruth Fletcher stated that in the light of the level of competition for funding, a more detailed priority list of routes was required to be able to take advantage of funding opportunities. She therefore moved an amendment to the ... view the full minutes text for item CO/37
To receive the recommendation from the Governance Committee held on 13 October and, if approved, to adopt the recommendations contained therein:
Public Speaking at Full Council and Formal Cabinet Meetings (resolution of Governance Committee is online at Minute No GO/16 )
To receive the recommendation from the Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 7 December in the event that the recommendation is agreed by the Committee:
Final report of the Off Street Parking Task and Finish Group (report of the Chairman of the Task & Finish Group is online at: Agenda Item 4 )
Standards Committee: To receive a verbal update from the Chairman of the Committee regarding the appointment of a second Independent Person
Public Speaking at Full Council and Formal Cabinet Meetings
Two members of the public addressed the Committee in objection to the recommendation from the Governance Committee.
Councillor Andrew Baldwin, Chairman of the Governance Committee, gave the background to the recommendation, which would bring consistency between the procedures for public speaking at full Council meetings and those for formal Cabinet meetings. The Majority Group considered there was no need for members of the public to make statements on agenda items, and that it was appropriate for questions to be relevant to the business of the meeting. He outlined the number of ways in which members of the public could contact the Council and Councillors.
Councillor David Skipp, Vice Chairman of the Council and member of the Governance Committee, questioned why there should be limitations on the subject of public questions when there were mechanisms to prevent vexatious or inappropriate questions. He was concerned that the recommendation was inconclusive and moved that:
The recommendation be deferred back to the Governance Committee or further consideration and debate on the rules and procedures for public engagement at meetings.
Councillor Frances Haigh seconded the motion. After further debate, the motion was declared lost.
The Chairman of Governance Committee advised that the Committee had already agreed that procedures relating to public engagement at meetings would be clarified in the constitution. The substantive motion was then put and declared carried.
That the following wording be added to the Constitution at 4a.8 (Council procedure rules: Questions by the Public)
‘A maximum time of 15 minutes is to be allowed in the meeting to receive oral questions and answers (not statements) which, in the opinion of the person presiding at the meeting, are relevant to the business to be transacted at that meeting. A copy of any such questions must be submitted in writing no later than three working days prior to the relevant meeting. Questions can only be asked by residents who are identified as such from the voters list, or from anyone who satisfies the Monitoring Officer that they work wholly or in substantial part in Horsham District. As deemed appropriate, in the absolute discretion of the person responding, answers may be given either orally or else in writing within three working days of the relevant meeting
To ensure that the opportunity for members of the public to speak at Council meetings is not exploited by campaigning organisations or individuals to further a cause not directly related to the business of that meeting.
Final Report of the Off Street Parking Task & Finish Group
Councillor Tony Bevis, Chairman of Overview & Scrutiny Committee introduced the report of the Off Street Parking Task & Finish Group. He considered that there had been insufficient debate of the recommendation of the report because the Committee meeting had been curtailed. He was uncomfortable with the recommendation and therefore invited the Chairman of the Task & Finish Group, Councillor Brian Donnelly, to move the recommendation.
Councillor Donnelly presented the report, which recommended that ... view the full minutes text for item CO/38
To receive a report from the Chief Executive
The Chief Executive reminded Members that in April Council had agreed that he could make decisions under emergency powers to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic. In November he had cause to use these powers for the first time to ensure that local businesses impacted by the pandemic could benefit from two new government grant schemes before Christmas.
He confirmed that his decision was made in consultation with the Leader, Finance & Assets portfolio holder and the Leader of the Opposition. He would update Council in February if another scheme that was coming forward required him to use these powers again.
That the decision made by the Chief Executive under his Head of Paid Service powers outlined in section 1.4 be noted.
i) The Council needs to make this decision to regularise actions already taken.
ii) The decision made under Emergency Powers helped expedite the processing of Local Authority Additional Restrictions Discretionary Grants Fund. This will help mitigate the effect of the second lockdown on those businesses that qualify for the Grants.
Reports of representatives
To receive reports from representatives on outside bodies
No reports of representatives on outside bodies were received.
Members' Questions on Notice
To receive questions from Members under Rules 4a.20(b)-25
No questions had been received.
To consider matters certified by the Chairman as urgent
There was no urgent business.