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Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest
To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Armstrong and Reeve.
Councillor Pavitt gave his apologies as a guest of Cabinet (Leader of the Uttlesford Independents).
To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 29 March 2022.
The minutes of the meeting on 29 March 2022 were approved as a correct record.
Questions or Statements from Non-Executive Members of the Council (standing item)
To receive questions or statements from non-executive members on matters included on the agenda.
Councillor Smith asked whether the Leader anticipated remaining within the four week extension to the Local Plan.
The Leader of the Council confirmed that this was still under review and that she would update Members when she knew more.
Consideration of reports from overview and scrutiny committees (standing item)
To consider any reports from Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Gregory provided a report on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee.
He informed Cabinet that the Scrutiny Committee had met twice since the previous Cabinet meeting. The Local Plan Scrutiny Meeting had reminded the Executive of the need to follow the agreed process in terms of the monitoring and oversight of the Local Plan process as agreed by Full Council and this Cabinet in 2020.
They had noted that many aspects of the process were on time and that appropriate reports were being submitted to Local Plan Leadership Group.
They were subsequently informed of the second delay to the process and there was a lengthy discussion two weeks ago at the most recent Scrutiny Meeting attended by the Leader of the Council, who answered seventeen questions.
That discussion had identified a sharp distinction between negative delays to the Local Plan where things had gone wrong or not been properly anticipated, and positive delays where material changes in circumstances required consideration for the benefit of residents, the District and the Council. The Committee were mindful of that approach and would be keeping it under review.
He said that they would like more attention to the details of process and the formal reporting mechanisms but understood and sympathised with the reasons for the delays which appear to be sound and well based.
He thanked the Executive for their openness and clarity for the way the delays had been addressed and requested that Scrutiny Committee were kept updated regarding any future changes at the earliest opportunity.
Councillor Gregory said that the Climate Change Action Plan was also discussed at the most recent Scrutiny meeting. The presentation had demonstrated that significant progress had been made with the Action Plan and this had been welcomed.
He noted that Members had hoped for further detail on specific expenditure both internal and in terms of grants received by the Council. They had asked for further clarity in identifying actions that have been achieved which were the responsibility of this administration and those that had been in process for a considerable period of time. He went on to detail examples of good and on occasion best practice demonstrated by South Cambridgeshire District Council in the implementation of their Action Plan. This had been referred to relevant Officers and the Portfolio Holder. He suggested that a series of meetings should be established with the Council.
Councillor Caton echoed Councillor Gregory`s comments and noted his concern that consultations on some of the evidence base being reviewed, such as the car parking review that offer a short consultation period, would be restrictive for Parish Councils to return comments. He also noted his disappointment that at the last Energy and Climate Change Working Group (ECCWG) meeting the carbon footprint report was only circulated after the meeting had taken place. He noted that this substantive document should have been interrogated by the ECCWG and they had not had the opportunity to do so.
The Leader of the Council noted the general predisposition of ... view the full minutes text for item CAB4
Report of Delegated Decisions taken by Cabinet Members (standing item)
To receive for information any delegated decisions taken by Cabinet Members since the previous Cabinet meeting.
· Additional S106 funding for the Foresthall Play Ground Improvement Project – published on 3 May 2022
· Freezing the Section 44a Relief – published on 4 May 2022.
· Energy Rebate Scheme – published on 4 May 2022.
· Carver Barracks Running Track - Longstop Extension – published on 24 May 2022.
Cabinet noted the following Executive Decisions taken by Cabinet Members:
· Additional S106 funding for the Foresthall Play Ground Improvement Project
· Freezing the Section 44a Relief
· Energy Rebate Scheme
· Carver Barracks Running Track – Longstop Extension.
Report on assets of community value determined by the Assets of Community Value and Local Heritage List Committee (standing item)
To receive for information any decisions made by the Assets of Community Value committee since the previous Cabinet meeting.
· No decisions to receive for information.
There were no decisions to report.
To consider the report on Section 106 Affordable Housing Funds.
To approve that the Section 106 Affordable Housing contributions are utilised within the HRA development programme.
Councillor Coote presented the report on the Section 106 Housing Funds.
Councillor Freeman said that the challenge was the lack of Council owned land that houses could be built on. He recommended the purchase of land through compulsory purchase where necessary and recommended that Members sought out sites as they travel round the district.
Councillor Evans confirmed that a report on Essex County Council owned land is anticipated and may identify suitable land for development.
Councillor Caton noted that the call for sites had identified sites that the County Council had put forward, alongside some redundant depot land which could be considered for internal land transfer.
Councillor Lees that there were three parties interested in the land in question and that these would be democratically considered and voted upon.
Councillor Coote agreed with Councillor Freeman and confirmed that a white paper would be coming forward imminently about the compulsory purchase of land. He confirmed that it would be helpful if Members could identify sites of any size with potential.
Councillor Coote proposed approval of the report. This was seconded by Councillor Hargreaves.
RESOLVED: That the Section 106 Affordable Housing contributions are utilised within the HRA development programme.
To consider the Local Council Tax Support Scheme proposals for 2023-24.
RESOLVED to approve that the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2023/24 is consulted on the same basis as 2022/23:
I. The contribution rate is frozen for the ninth consecutive year at 12.5%.
II. The Council continues to protect Vulnerable and Disabled Residents and Carer’s on a low income.
Councillor Hargreaves presented the report on the Local Council Tax Support Proposal Scheme 2023-24.
Councillor Gregory commended the administration for providing the most generous tax support scheme in Essex and one of the most generous in the country. He asked whether Councillor Khan`s amendment to the scheme for 2022-23 could be extended for 2023-24 in response to the cost of living crisis.
He acknowledged that the overall financial situation must be considered but noted that the amendment was welcomed by the administration and had met with universal assent from Members.
Councillor Hargreaves said that this could be considered, but noted that additional proposals relating to one aspect of this support scheme would come forward to the July Full Council meeting.
Councillor Caton asked whether the Chancellor had provided additional funds for residents in greatest need.
The Assistant Director of Resources confirmed that the Chancellor had recently given additional funding to County Councils which was being cascaded down.
She confirmed that £325,304 was received from the government to provide additional emergency support during the pandemic for claimants of the Local Council Tax Support (LCTS). Of that £19,870 remained and was eligible to be carried forward into the Funding for Exceptional Hardship Scheme with a budget of £17,000. She noted that the scheme was heavily promoted in 2021 but there had not been as much claim on the fund as was anticipated. She said that this small fund did not have the capability to provide much support to the 1800 LCTS claimants alongside any other resident that found themselves in exceptional hardship.
Councillor Coote said that he didn`t disagree with Councillor Gregory, but noted that as a small Council with relatively few funds he believed that political parties should be pushed to help residents with these particular issues. He said that the party in power have the ability to really help and that the proposed tax support scheme was the best that could be achieved by this Council.
Councillor Evans asked whether the statistics were sufficiently detailed to enable Officers to compare the percentage of claimants in Saffron Walden with more rural claimants to identify where additional support would be best targeted.
The Assistant Director of Resources confirmed that the data could be supplied broken down by town and parish.
Councillor Hargreaves proposed approval of the scheme. This was seconded by Councillor Coote.
RESOLVED: To approve that the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2023/24 is consulted on the same basis as 2022/23:
I. The contribution rate is frozen for the nineth consecutive year at 12.5%.
II. The Council continues to protect vulnerable and disabled residents and carers on a low income.
To appoint the members to Committees of Cabinet for 2022-23.
RESOLVED to appoint members to Committees of Cabinet as follows:
RESOLVED: To approve the appointments of Committees to Cabinet 2023-24.
To consider the terms of reference for Cabinet Working Groups.
RESOLVED to approve Cabinet Working Groups’ Terms of Reference as set out in report, subject to increasing the number of members to seven on the Community Services Review Working Group.
Councillor Smith requested that a member of his party be added to the Community Services Review Working Group.
Members agreed to add a Member of the Conservative party to the Community Services Review Working Group. Councillor Smith confirmed that he would join the working group.
The Leader of the Council proposed approval of the Cabinet Working Group Terms of Reference. This was seconded by Councillor Pepper.
RESOLVED: To approve the Cabinet Working Group Terms of Reference, subject to increasing the number of members to seven on the Community Services Review Working Group.
To appoint the membership of Cabinet Working Groups.
RESOLVED to appoint members to Cabinet Working Groups as setout in the report, subject to Councillor Smith being appointed to the Community Services Review Working Group.
RESOLVED: To approve the appointments to Cabinet Working Groups, subject to Councillor Smith being appointed to the Community Services Review Working Group.
To consider appointments to Outside Bodies.
RESOLVED to appoint members to Outside Bodies as set out in the report.
Councillor Evans recommended that the representatives of the outside bodies were asked to provide an annual report.
Members agreed that this was appropriate.
The Leader of the Council proposed approval of the Appointments to Outside Bodies. This was seconded by Councillor Freeman.
RESOLVED: To approve the Appointments to Outside Bodies
To consider appointments to the North Essex Parking Partnership and the West Essex Wellbeing Joint Committee.
RESOLVED to appoint members to the North Essex Parking Partnership and West Essex Wellbeing Joint Committee as follows:
North Essex Parking Partnership:
Substantive Member: Councillor R Freeman
Substitute Member: Councillor A Armstrong
West Essex Wellbeing Joint Committee:
Substantive Members: Councillors M Sutton and M Tayler
The Leader of the Council proposed approval of the Appointments to the North Essex Parking Partnership and the West Essex Wellbeing Joint Committee. This was seconded by Councillor Freeman.
RESOLVED: To approve the Appointments to the North Essex Parking Partnership and the West Essex Wellbeing Joint Committee.
Exclusion of public and press
To exclude the public and press in order to consider reports containing exempt information within the meaning of section 100I and paragraph 3 part 1 Schedule 12A Local Government Act 1972.
The Chief Executive confirmed that there was no need to exclude the press and public to discuss the next agenda item, as long as the commercially sensitive purchase price was not revealed.
Acquisition of Section 106 Properties by the Housing Revenue Account
To consider the report regarding the Acquisition of Section 106 Properties by the Housing Revenue Account.
i. Approve the purchase by the HRA of 18 x 1 bed flats and 1 x 2 bed flat from Barratts Homes as per the details outlined in the restricted report..
ii. Request that Full Council endorses the acquisition and to authorise the required borrowing.
Councillor Coote presented the report and welcomed the proposed purchase of nineteen additional properties by the Housing Revenue Account. He commended the Housing team for their hard work in bringing the proposal to Cabinet.
Councillor Gregory asked why the properties would be set at affordable rental rates, rather than social rents.
Councillor Coote said he would rather have offered social, not affordable, rent but that cost considerations made it necessary for this proposal.
Councillor Gregory asked whether the rent could be reviewed if the financial situation improved in the future.
Councillor Coote agreed that the rent could be reviewed at a later date.
Councillor Coote recommended that Members recommend to Full Council to approve the acquisition of Section 106 properties by the Housing Revenue Account. Councillor Evans seconded the proposal.
I. Approve the purchase by the HRA of 18 x 1 bed flats and 1 x 2 bed flat from Barratts Homes as per the details outlined in the restricted report.
II. Request that Full Council endorses the acquisition and to authorise the required borrowing.