Venue: Council Chamber, Corby Cube, George Street, Corby, NN17 1QG
Contact: Paul Goult
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Tim Allebone, Cedwien Brown, Jon-Paul Carr, Steven North, Jan O’Hara, Geoff Shacklock, Joseph Smyth, Kevin Thurland, Malcom Ward and Kevin Watt.
The minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 28th July 2021 to be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 28th July 2021 had been circulated.
The Chair MOVED and Councillor Andy Mercer SECONDED that the minutes be approved.
RESOLVED that: -
(i) The minutes of the Council meeting held on 28th July 2021 be agreed as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Members to declare any interest as appropriate in respect of items
to be considered at the meeting.
Members were requested to declare whether they had any personal or pecuniary interest in any item to be considered by the meeting. No declarations were made
To receive any announcements from the Chair.
The Chair read out to Council a letter of thanks received from HM The Queen’s Private Secretary’s Office regarding the condolence letter sent by the Chair on behalf of the Council on the recent death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
To receive any announcements from the Leader of the Council.
Councillor Jason Smithers (Leader of the Council) gave a brief address to Council highlighting that the 6-month period since Vesting Day fell in 2-days’ time. The Leader provided details of the Council’s achievements during that 6-month period, whilst recognising that there were still challenges ahead and that work was still on-going on developing the structures and service delivery models of the new unitary council.
(i) Public Statements
(ii) Public Questions
A number of members of the public had requested to address the Council.
Ms O’Dowd and Councillor Towns spoke against the recommendation (b) contained in Agenda Item 12 Constitutional Amendments. In addition, a written statement from Ms Robinson had been circulated.
Mr O’Brien, Ms O’Dowd, Mr Esler and Councillor Towns spoke in favour of the motion to be discussed under Agenda Item 13. In addition, written statements from Ms Robinson and Mr Padwick had been circulated.
The Chair thanked the public speakers for their contributions.
There were no public questions on this occasion.
To receive questions from members.
“How many vacancies does North Northants Council have in each directorate, and have these numbers increased or decreased since May 2021?”
Councillor Jason Smithers (Leader of the Council) responded –
“On 1st April 2021, the staffing establishments from each predecessor authority were migrated to the new Council. All vacancies at that time were included and did not necessarily reflect the requirements of the service or indeed whether the posts were funded in the longer-term.
The Council is currently undertaking a review of the staffing establishment, which will include posts highlighted as vacant, to determine whether posts are funded and still required.
The vacant posts that were reported on the Council’s establishment back in May totalled 786. This figure included vacant relief posts, elected member posts as well as employee posts.
A report produced by the Council’s systems this week shows that there has been an increase in the number of vacant posts, which total 939. This figure also includes a range of different types of vacant post.
Given the number of staff the Council employs, the number of vacant posts will change upwards and downwards regularly reflecting the transitionary nature of the organisation’s workforce and the related recruitment activity.
A breakdown of the vacant posts as reported by the Council system this week has been provided below:
A question had been submitted by Councillor John McGhee which read -
“Will Councillor Smithers as Leader of North Northants Council join West Northants Council and a great number of charities and residents by writing to the prime minister to ask that the government stop the proposed cut to universal credit and working tax credit?
This cut will affect thousands of our residents already struggling and goes against the levelling up agenda. Indeed, this cut will put many people in to further debt and poverty at a time when the cost of living is rising dramatically.”
Councillor Smithers (Leader of the Council) responded. In his response Councillor Smithers noted the measures taken by Government during the pandemic to ensure that citizens were provided additional financial assistance where required. Councillor Smithers indicated that he would write to the Government congratulating them on the measures taken to date.
"What are the initial predictions for increased expenditure with the announcement of new National Insurance (NI) taxation for both NNC and external contractors working for the Council? This to be based on this year’s NI bills projected forward for the financial year 2022-23".
Councillor Smithers (Leader of the Council) responded -
“The initial forecast cost of implementing the new funding levy for Health and Social Care, which is equivalent to 1.25% of National Insurance (NI) contributions, is estimated as circa £0.7m for the employer ... view the full minutes text for item C/39
To receive any presentations from the Executive.
There were no presentations on this occasion.
To seek adoption of the Part 2 Local Plan for Corby as recommended by the Executive
The report before Council sought councillor approval to adopt the Part 2 Local Plan for Corby as recommended by the Executive.
It was noted that the former Corby Borough Council had resolved to submit a local plan on 24th October 2019. Following submission, the Secretary of State appointed a planning inspector to undertake a public examination of the plan. The local plan examination process assessed whether the plan had been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements, and also whether it was “sound” by applying four tests set out in the national Planning Policy Framework.
The former Corby Borough Council facilitated and participated in the public examination which involved hearing sessions between 29th September – 1st October 2020. The outcome of the examination was a judgement by the Planning Inspector that the plan produced by the Council was acceptable subject to certain modifications being made to it. The report before Council set out the background to the process and a summary of the Planning Inspectors conclusions.
Councillor David Brackenbury took the opportunity to thank all officers and councillors involved in the process and highlighted the importance of the Plan and its potential impact on the continuing growth and development of Corby and surrounding area.
RESOLVED that: -
(i) The Part 2 Local Plan for Corby (set out in Appendix A to the report) be adopted;
(ii) Delegated authority be granted to the Executive Member for Growth and Regeneration, in consultation with the Executive Director of Place and Economy, to make any further Additional Modifications to the Part 2 Local Plan for Corby or its accompanying Policies Map that relate exclusively to factual updates, grammatical corrections, and formatting for the purposes of publishing the plan to presentational standard; and
(iii) Delegated authority be granted to the Executive Member for Growth and Regeneration, in consultation with the Executive Director of Place and Economy, to prepare and publish the Adoption Statement (Appendix E) and the Sustainability Appraisal Statement and fulfil other duties required under Regulation 26 and 35 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.
To seek approval to amend the budget of the Cheltenham Road housing development and resume construction following delays caused by the discovery of Great Crested Newts in a neighbouring garden
The report before Council sought approval to amend the budget for the Cheltenham Road housing development and resume construction on site following delays caused by the discovery of Great Crested Newts in an area adjoining the site.
Council noted that the Cheltenham Road housing development was a scheme to build 18 new homes on a vacant site in Oakley Vale, Corby. Approval for the development had been agreed by the Former Corby Borough Council, and a development budget allocated from the Council’s Housing Revenue Account.
However, work on site had been halted on 29th October 2020 due to the discovery of Great Crested Newts in the area. As these newts were a protected species, construction work had to be suspended pending an investigation by Natural England.
Natural England had issued a new licence in June 2021. Following works to trap and remove the newts, the site would be ready for the contractor to resume work in October 2021.
Building costs had increased since work on the site had been suspended. An amendment to the previously agreed budget was being recommended, increasing the overall budget from £3,195,000 to £3,861,380.
Councillor Andy Mercer in introducing the report felt that it was a good scheme, and whilst the proposed increase to the budget was unfortunate, it would continue to provide additional well-built social housing in the area.
Councillor David Jenney had registered a number of concerns prior to the Council meeting regarding the report and proposal. Whilst he supported the overall recommendations, Councillor Jenney felt there were still a number of specific issues and questions that needed to be resolved. Councillor Jenney felt that it was important the Council ensured value for money was being achieved, and that any requests for additional costs by the contractor were appropriately scrutinised.
Councillor Andy Mercer confirmed that the Cheltenham Road scheme was just one of a number of projects underway across North Northamptonshire to increase the Council’s stock of social housing.
Councillor Andy Mercer MOVED the recommendations within the report; Councillor Helen Howell SECONDED the recommendations.
RESOLVED that: -
(i) The amendment of the budget for the Cheltenham Road scheme to £3,861,380 be approved so that construction can resume following delays caused by the discovery of Great Crested Newts; and
(ii) Delegated authority be granted to the Executive Member for Housing and Communities, in liaison with the Assistant Director Housing and Communities, to take any further decisions and/or actions required to conclude this procurement and deliver this capital programme.
To seek approval of the Outside Bodies Procedure Rules for inclusion in the Council’s Constitution and to agree appointments to the Outside Bodies
Full Council were being requested to endorse a set of procedure rules in relation to how the Council’s Outside Bodies list would be collated and maintained. The Council had an important role to play in a variety of organisations at national, regional, and local level.
It was important that Council involvement in any organisation was of benefit and constructive, and that councillors felt confident that their individual involvement was meaningful and provided value.
It had been agreed at Full Council in May 2021 that a review would be commenced into Outside Bodies and appointments made to them on behalf of the Council. Work had been undertaken since then to understand the Outside Bodies previously appointed to by the predecessor Councils and the nature of the appointments to them.
The Democracy and Standards Committee received a copy of the draft Outside Bodies Procedure Rules at its meeting held on 16th September 2021 and were invited to comment. The Committee endorsed the Rules for formal discussion by Council and recommended approval. The Procedure Rules would ensure that there was a clear procedure for appointments to Outside Bodies.
The Procedure Rules would be supplemented by Guidance to Members about Outside Bodies. In addition, the Council would develop fact sheets for each of the Outside Bodies throughout the year to ensure that Members were advised on key information about the appointment such as whether there were indemnities and insurance in place, how often the meetings were and how they should report back to the Council. These would be developed with those Members who were appointed in 2021/22 and would be ready for the Annual Meeting to be held in May 2022.
The Scrutiny Commission at its meeting held on 24th August 2021 agreed to establish a Scrutiny Panel in order to draft a suggested list of approved Outside Bodies for consideration by Council for 2021/22. The Scrutiny Panel firstly determined whether the Council should make appointments to the organisations on the Outside Body list. They also categorised the Outside Bodies into categories of Key Strategic Partnerships and Community Partnerships. Those that were identified as Strategic would be appointed to by the Leader of the Council. The Outside Bodies listed in Appendix B would be appointed by Full Council.
It was noted that a review of Outside Bodies would be undertaken each year by a Scrutiny Panel to enable appointments to be made prior to or at the Annual Meeting. Those Members who were appointed to Outside Bodies would be asked to complete an annual review submission to assist the Scrutiny Panel in their review.
Councillor John McGhee agreed that it was important that the Council monitored its involvement with Outside Bodies, including costs associated with any membership. Under this item Councillor McGhee also hoped that a review of officer involvement with external organisations would be conducted, to ensure appropriate benefit to the Council was being achieved.
Councillor Maxwell supported the proposal that clear and regular information was fed back to all councillors from representatives ... view the full minutes text for item C/43
To consider amendments to the Council’s Constitution
Full Council were requested to consider potential amendments to the Council’s Constitution.
The suggested amendments covered three areas: - · Substitute Allocations · Start time of Full Council Meetings · Presentation of Planning reports.
The Constitutional Working Group had received a copy of the draft Constitutional Amendments at its meeting held on 23rd August 2021 and were invited to comment. The Group endorsed the Rules for formal discussion by the Democracy and Standards Committee and recommended approval. The Democracy and Standards Committee considered these items at its meeting of 16th September 2021. Following discussion, the Committee agreed for these recommendations to be forwarded to Council for determination.
With regard to Substitute Allocations as detailed in Appendix A, currently there was no clear guidance relating to the substitute arrangements for all of the Council’s committees. The purpose of the proposal was to ensure this guidance was put in place. This would assist recognised political groups in knowing what nominations were required and assist in the arrangements for Annual Council in the number of positions which needed to be filled. The Committee were recommending support for this proposal.
With regard to the Start Time of Full Council Meetings as detailed in Appendix B, it was suggested that the normal start time of Full Council meetings was moved from 7:00 pm to 2:00 pm with the Full Council Budget meeting starting at 10:00 am. Some concern was expressed by members in discussion that bringing the start time of Full Council meetings forward may create difficulties for some councillors, however it was noted that Full Council meetings were infrequent, that Full Council meetings that may run late into the evening created issues for some councillors, that the proposed start time still allowed for work etc in the mornings, and that councillors were allowed in some circumstances time off from work for public duties. Following debate, the Committee were recommending that the start time be brought forward but be subject to review prior to Annual Council 2022.
With regard to the Procedures for speaking at planning committees the Committee considered the normal order of speakers at Planning committee meetings. Some concern was expressed regarding the inability within the existing procedure rules for the Planning Officer presenting a report to address issues raised by public speakers. It was agreed that it was important for Planning Officers to present their reports to Committee, including the provision of any relevant update information. This information would also be of interest to public speakers ahead of them being called by the Chair to address Committee. It was also felt important that the Planning Officer had the ability to address Committee following all public contributions. In order to clarify the procedure, it was being suggested that the existing 2.2 of the procedure be amended to read: - “For each item, the Committee Chair will introduce the item and ask the Planning Officer to present their report and any updates. The Chair will then call any registered speakers to present their comments to the Committee.” ... view the full minutes text for item C/44
Motions on Notice
To consider motions received in accordance with Meeting Procedure Rule 17 as follows:-
To be proposed by Cllr Emily Fedorowycz and seconded by Cllr Dez Dell:-
“This motion proposes that all planning meetings include 30 minutes total for public speakers to speak for and against a planning application. This would allow a maximum of 5 speakers for and against, with 3 minutes each
The following motion was MOVED by Councillor Dez Dell and SECONDED by Councillor Sarah Tubbs: -
“This motion proposes that all planning meetings include 30 minutes total for public speakers to speak for and against a planning application. This would allow a maximum of 5 speakers for and against, with 3 minutes each”.
Several councillors expressed concern that the current provision for the public to speak at planning committee meetings was inadequate. The reliance on the Chair of the respective committee to increase the number of speakers could be arbitrary in nature and vary from committee to committee. It was felt that where there were a significant number of public objectors the re needed to be the greater ability to participate.
It was recognised that there was a possibility by increasing public participation this may prolong meetings, however by careful agenda management this could be avoided. Applications which attracted significant levels of public objectors and interest should be included on single-item agendas.
During the debate the Chair MOVED, and Councillor Howell SECONDED that the guillotine provision (10.1) of the Meeting Procedure Rules be suspended to allow the completion of business on the agenda. This was agreed by Full Council.
Some councillors raised concern that the motion as proposed would be unworkable, leading to prolongation of meetings, even those with a limited agenda.
Councillor David Brackenbury reported to Council that there was a current review of planning management and discussion of best practice. The review would take on board the views of all interested parties. It was intended to be an all-embracing review of the Council’s approach to delivering the Council’s Planning Authority responsibilities and duties.
The motion was put to a vote. The motion fell.
Close of Meeting