Venue: Council Chamber - Follaton House. View directions
Declarations of Interest
Members are invited to declare any personal or disclosable pecuniary interests, including the nature and extent of such interests they may have in any items to be considered at this meeting;
Members and officers were invited to declare any interests in the items of business to be considered during the course of the meeting and these were recorded as follows:-
Cllr J P Green declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in Item 5: ‘Review of Fees and Charges for 2017/18’ (Minute OSDM.2/16 below refers) specifically in relation to the proposed fee for Acupuncture, Tattooing, Ear-piercing and Electrolysis by virtue of his wife being an acupuncturist. In the event of this particular fee being debated, Cllr Green advised that he would then leave the meeting during the discussion and he abstained from the vote on the recommendation;
Cllr J D Hawkins declared a Personal Interest in Item 5: ‘Review of Fees and Charges 2017/18’ (Minute OSDM.2/16 below refers) by virtue of being a member of the Dartmouth Royal Regatta Committee and remained in the meeting during the debate and vote on this agenda item; and
Cllrs R J Foss and P C Smerdon both declared a Personal Interest in Item 5: ‘Review of Fees and Charges 2017/18’ (Minute OSDM.2/16 below refers) by virtue of having a private water supply and remained in the meeting during the debate and vote on this agenda item.
The meeting considered a report that set out proposals for fees and charges for all services for 2017/18.
In discussion, reference was made to:-
(a) the findings of the Events Task and Finish Group. It was confirmed that the Group would be presenting its final recommendations in the upcoming months. As a principle, a Member proceeded to emphasise his opposition to the Council continuing to offer an exemption for events on its land that were being held for charity events;
(b) play area inspections. Officers confirmed that the play area inspections service was subject to open competition, with other providers also able to bid to undertake these works. However, it was also noted that the proposed increase in charges (from £100 + VAT to £130 + VAT) was still a very competitive price;
(c) car parking charges. A number of Members expressed their disappointment at the lack of related information that had been made available to this meeting. As a consequence, Members felt that it was difficult to be able to make a recommendation on car parking charges without being in receipt of modelling work in relation to factors such as: comparative analysis figures; the projected impact of different percentage price increases; and the proposed increases shown in monetary value. In response, Members were reminded of the ‘Community-led tariff’ approach that had been adopted by the Council. This approach enabled Members to agree an income target for the whole district, with a consultation exercise then being undertaken with local communities around how their allotted proportion of the total income could be best achieved.
Nonetheless, based upon the information provided, some Members were of the view that they could not recommend any increase in car parking charges and the following motion was PROPOSED and SECONDED as follows:
‘That car parking charges be frozen for 2017/18.’
In discussion, some Members felt that this motion was too restrictive at this time and, such was the budgetary pressures facing the Council, that it was incumbent that consideration was given to increasing car park charges.
When put to the vote, this motion was declared LOST.
A further motion related to car parking charges was then PROPOSED and SECONDED as follows:
‘That further modelling work be undertaken (and presented to the Executive meeting on 2 February 2017) on car park charges being increased by either 1% or 2%.’
Having been invited to express their views, officers confirmed that they were confident that both the 1% and 2% increase options were achievable.
When put to the vote, this motion was declared CARRIED.
In addition, a Member asked that consideration be given to any increased income that was generated from car park charges being used to upgrade the appearance of the car parks. Taking this point a step further, officers also gave a commitment to investigate the merits of installing electric charging points and solar energy schemes at Council owned car parks.
Finally on car parking charges, during the community consultation exercise, a Member ... view the full minutes text for item OSDM.2/16
Members considered a report that asked for consideration of the draft Budget proposals for 2017-18 and that presented the outcomes of the recent Members’ Budget Workshop.
In presenting this agenda item, the Section 151 Officer tabled an additional paper that outlined a summary of the changes to the report that had been initially considered by the Executive at its meeting on 15 December 2016 (Minute E.50/16 refers).
In discussion, reference was made to:-
(a) the 2017/18 Local Government Finance Settlement. Having been informed that the provisional settlement for the Council would see funding reduced by a further 39.3% between now and 2019/20, a number of Members expressed their deep frustrations at this announcement. In acknowledging these concerns, the Section 151 Officer advised that she had compiled a strongly worded consultation response letter to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which she would ensure was circulated to all Members. When questioned, the Section 151 Officer advised that many district councils were in the same position as the Council whereby they would be in receipt of no Revenue Support Grant from Central Government by 2018;
(b) the Development Management service. A Member stated that, such was the reputational damage incurred through the service currently being provided by Development Management, that a further detailed review should be undertaken by the Overview and Scrutiny Panel. In reply, other Members referred to the improved performance figures that were being monitored monthly by the Development Management Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Panel already being committed to a review of progress being made on the Peer Review Action Plan.
A Member also expressed the view that the adopted T18 Model was not conducive to the Development Management service. Whilst officers acknowledged that the new Model had not initially worked as intended for the service, this was now being rectified. For example, the current practice whereby Specialists had still been validating planning applications would cease within the next two weeks;
(c) the additional planning resources. Since the Development Management service was already under immense pressure, some Members questioned whether the proposed additional resources would be sufficient. In response, it was noted that the Senior Leadership Team had considered this matter in great depth and the proposed increases in resource represented their best predictions of future service need to ensure that performance improvements are maintained. Nonetheless, some Members were of the view that there was a requirement for more resources in the service and a motion was PROPOSED and SECONDED as follows:
‘That an additional cost pressure to that proposed in the draft budget papers of £50,000 be added to reflect a permanent increase to the staffing establishment for dedicated Development Management service resource for South Hams District Council.’
In support of the motion, some Members reiterated the massive resource pressures being suffered by the service. In contrast, other Members felt that the predictions of the Senior Leadership Team should be trusted.
When put to the vote, the motion was declared LOST.
An alternative ... view the full minutes text for item OSDM.3/16
Members considered a report that set out the Capital Bids to the 2017/18 Capital Programme totalling £2,525,000 and a suggested way that these Bids could be funded. The report highlighted that all items in the proposed Capital Programme were based on budget estimates and would be subject to the normal project appraisal procedures.
In light of Members wishing to discuss elements of the exempt appendices, it was then:
That in accordance with Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item of business as the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act is involved.
In discussion on the exempt appendices, the following points were raised:-
(a) There was widespread opposition expressed amongst Members to the proposed Council Chamber refurbishment project being undertaken at this time. As a consequence, it was PROPOSED and SECONDED that
‘The proposed Council Chamber refurbishment project should be removed from the list of proposed capital projects.’
When put to the vote, this proposal was declared CARRIED.
(b) Officer confirmed that the Market Square, Totnes Project would be undertaken in consultation with the town council.
Once all Members were content that they had no further issues to raise in exempt session, it was then
That the public and press be readmitted to the meeting.
In discussion on the report, particular reference was made to:-
(i) Private Sector Renewals (including Disabled Facilities Grants). A Member urged the Council to be firm in its negotiations to ensure that the Council did not have to use any of its own Capital contributions. In response, it was noted that the Council was being firm and it was hoped that a further update in this regard would be available in time for the Executive meeting on 2 February 2017;
(ii) Affordable Housing. A number of Members expressed their strong support and emphasised the importance of the proposal to include an annual contribution of £230,000 towards affordable housing provision.
It was then: