Venue: District Council Offices, Mill Lane, Wingerworth, Chesterfield S42 6NG
Contact: Alan Maher
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors M Smith, C Renwick, S Fawcett, K Tait, and M Emmens.
Apologies were also received from Councillor P Antcliff and Councillot K Gillott, who would be required to leave before the end of the meeting.
Declarations of Interest
Members are requested to declare the existence and nature of any disclosable pecuniary interest and/or other interests, not already on their register of interests, in any items on the agenda and withdraw from the meeting at the appropriate time.
Councillor M E Thacker MBE declared an interest in Item 11 – Stonebroom Community Governance Review, as a member of the Rykneld Board. The company was undertaking a re-development project in the area covered by the review. He indicated that he would remain in the meeting and participate in Council’s deliberations and determination on the Item.
Councillor M Roe also declared an interest in Item 11 - Stonebroom Community Governance Review, as a local resident and Member of Stretton Parish Council. He indicated that he would remain in the meeting and participate in Council’s deliberations and determination on the Item.
To approve as a correct record and the Chairman to sign the attached Minutes of the Annual Council meeting held on 22 May 2023.
RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the meeting held on Monday, 22 May 2023 were approved as a true and accurate record.
Chairman of the Council's Announcements
The Chairman of the Council, Councillor M E Thacker MBE, paid tribute to former District Councillor, Clive Hunt, following the sad news of his death. The Chairman of the Council praised former Councillor Hunt’s kindness and consideration and offered his condolences to his family on their loss. He asked Members to observe a moment of personal reflection.
Councillor M E Thacker MBE explained that he had taken part in events to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Council’s partnership with the Landkreis of Darmstadt-Dieburg in Germany. The Chairman of the Council indicated that he had met the costs of this visit personally.
The Chairman of the Council informed Members he had attended the Annual Pilgrimage to the Crich War Memorial, to honour those soldiers of the Mercian Regiment and its predecessors who had died in conflict; many of whom were from or had close links to the District.
Councillor M E Thacker MBE reiterated his support for Ashgate Hospice as his Charitable Appeal for the year. He highlighted several events, which he hoped Members would support. In this context, he thanked Councillor N Barker and Councillor P Elliot for agreeing to participate in his planned Canal Barge-pulling event.
RESOLVED – That Council noted the announcements of the Chairman of the Council, Councillor M E Thacker MBE (by acclamation).
Leader of the Council's Announcements
The Leader of the Council, Councillor N Barker, paid tribute to former Councillor
Clive Hunt. He praised former Councillor Hunt’s contribution to the local community, as both a Parish and District Councillor and how he would be missed by family and friends.
Members were informed that the Leader of the Council had attended the Local Government Association (LGA) Annual Conference. He had also attended the Annual General Meeting of East Midlands Councils. The Leader of the Council explained the issues covered at these events and the opportunity which they had provided to represent the views of the Council and the interests of the District.
Councillor N Barker explained that he had also met with Cllr B Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council to discuss the Vision Derbyshire initiative.
Councillor N Barker reminded Members that an ‘Introduction to Housing’ training session had been arranged as part of the on-going programme of development events for Members, that had been organised by the Council.
RESOLVED – That Council noted the announcements of the Leader of the Council, Councillor N Barker (by acclamation).
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 8 to allow members of the public to ask questions about the Council’s activities for a period up to fifteen minutes. The replies to any such questions will be given by the appropriate Cabinet Member. Questions must be received in writing or by email to the Monitoring Officer by 12 noon twelve clear working days before the meeting.
No questions have been submitted under Procedure Rule No 8 for this meeting.
There were no questions from the public.
Report of Councillor N Barker, Leader of the Council
The report to Council set out the draft Council Plan for 2023 to 2027.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor N Barker and Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor P Kerry, moved and seconded a Motion that the draft Council Plan be approved. Councillor N Barker explained how the Plan would build on the new Administration’s vision, that by putting Strong Community Leadership at the heart of everything which the Council does, we would create a Great Place. In particular, he explained that the Council would aim to create a place where people could earn a decent living, have a comfortable home, live long, happy and healthy lives, feel safe in their communities and be conscious of and care for their environment.
Councillor N Barker made clear that the Plan was intended to evolve and grow over the four-year term of the Council, and that it would be delivered in an inclusive and transparent way. The Council would do this in collaboration with other public sector organisations, businesses, voluntary organisations and the District’s communities as a whole.
Prior to speaking on the Motion, Councillor A Dale, expressed his sorrow at the death of former Councillor Clive Hunt and offered his condolences to his family.
Councillor A Dale then spoke on the Motion. He welcomed its continuity with many of the goals of the previous Council Plan but expressed concerns about the draft Plan. He indicated that the Conservative Group would abstain on the Motion.
Councillor C Cupit contended that there had been insufficient consultation on the Plan. She also thought that it lacked detail, especially on key issues such as growth and town centres.
Councillor R Shipman and Councillor D Hancock expressed concerns that Council was being asked to agree general aims rather than a plan for how these would be achieved.
Cllr N Barker responded by reiterating that the Council Plan was intended to be an evolving document and that the specific targets, goals and objectives, along with an appropriate suite of performance measures, were now being developed, which Members would be able to consider. In particular, specific aspects of the Plan would be referred to the relevant Scrutiny Committees, who would be asked to consider how the Plan was being delivered as part of their ongoing work programmes.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Motion was put to the vote and was approved.
RESOLVED – That the draft Council Plan for 2023 to 2027 is approved.
Report of the Assistant Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer
The report to Council set out the proposed Terms of Reference of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees. Members were reminded that the structure of the Scrutiny Committees had been reviewed, and that new Scrutiny Committees were established by Council at its Annual Meeting, on 22 May 2023. It was also agreed that the Terms of Reference for the new Committees should be developed and then submitted to Council for approval.
It was explained that the four Scrutiny Committees had been briefed on the emerging Council Plan and in particular, how their proposed Terms of Reference would focus on the relevant parts of the Plan, monitoring how specific initiatives were being implemented and assessing what results had been achieved.
Following on from this, Standards Committee considered the proposed new Terms of Reference and the Scrutiny Protocol for the four new Scrutiny Committees. Standards Committee endorsed the proposed Terms of Reference and recommended them to Council for approval.
Councillor K Gillott, Chair of the Standards Committee, and Councillor J Birkin moved and seconded a motion to approve the proposed Terms of Reference and Scrutiny Protocol for the Scrutiny Committees. Councillor K Gillott reserved his right to speak.
Cllr A Dale expressed concern that focusing the Scrutiny Committee Terms of Reference on the Council Plan might prevent them from addressing other important issues that emerge, but which are not covered by the Plan. He also asked for and received clarification of the role of the Joint Scrutiny Committee and the technical reasons why it was required.
Cllr K Gillott made clear that the Terms of Reference of the Scrutiny Committees would be assessed by Standards Committee as part of its ongoing annual review of the Constitution. If any changes to the Scrutiny Committees Terms of Reference proved to be necessary, then these could be determined as part of that process.
The Motion was put to the vote and approved (by acclamation).
RESOLVED – That the attached Terms of Reference and the Scrutiny Protocol for the Scrutiny Committees were approved.
Report of the Assistant Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer
The report to Council sought agreement to incorporate an additional ‘Value’ into the Constitution. Members were reminded that the Constitution currently sets out four Values for the Council. To be honest, open and accountable, To treat everyone fairly and with respect, To listen, involve and respond, and To embrace change and innovation.
The proposed additional Value was intended to represent the view of the new Administration that the Council’s business should be dealt with as openly and as transparently as possible by: Being collaborative, open and transparent.
Councillor N Barker and Councillor J Birkin proposed and seconded a Motion that the proposed additional Value be included in the Constitution.
The Leader, Councillor N Barker, informed Members of the Administration’s genuine desire to be as open and transparent as possible in line with the proposed Value.
Councillor A Dale and Councillor R Shipman emphasised that it would be important for this new Value to be seen consistently in the actions of the new Administration.
Upon the conclusion of the discussion the Motion was put to a vote and approved (by acclamation).
RESOLVED – That Council approved the addition of the fifth Value to the Constitution.
Report of the Assistant Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer
Council was presented with the proposed schedule of Meetings for the remainder of the 2023-24 Municipal Year.
Councillor J Birkin and Councillor N Barker moved and seconded a motion to approve the proposed schedule of meetings.
The motion was put to the vote and approved (by acclamation).
RESOLVED – That Council approved the proposed Schedule of Meetings for the 2023-24 Municipal Year.
Report of the Assistant Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer
Members were reminded that on 12 September 2022 Council had considered the arrangements for a Community Governance Review for Stonebroom. A Working Group was subsequently established to carry out the required consultation and following on from this the Group recommended to Council that a separate Parish Council for Stonebroom be not established and to keep the existing arrangements/boundaries at the current time.
The Working Group’s recommendations were submitted to Council at its meeting on 28 November 2022. It agreed at that meeting to ask the Working Group to carry out further, more extensive consultation into the possibility of a separate Parish Council for Stonebroom. This can be seen at Minute Number COU/55/22-23 of the 28 November 2022 meeting of Council.
The report to Council explained that this further consultation had been carried out and following on from this the issue was now being brought to Council for a decision. Council was asked to consider several possible recommendations. The Monitoring Officer informed Council that recommendation 2, as contained within the report, was outdated and would not be voted on.
Cllr J Birkin thanked the previous Working Group and the elections staff for their work on the Review. He suggested that following on from the additional Consultation Option 1b – Not to establish a separate Stonebroom Parish Council – be adopted, but with an additional provision that the wards be established for the Shirland and Higham Parish.
Councillor J Birkin and Cllr N Barker moved and seconded a motion that recommendation 1b as contained within the report, with the additional provision that parish wards be put in place for the Shirland and Higham Parish Council prior to its next full elections, be approved.
Councillor C Cupit, Councillor D Hancock and Councillor M Foster indicated their support for the Motion.
Councillors C Cupit and D Hancock signalled their disappointment that the review could not remain open while the warding was trialled.
The Monitoring Officer reminded Members that although the Review could not remain open while the warding arrangements developed, another Review could be carried out, if this was requested.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Motion, was put to the vote and agreed (by acclamation).
RESOLVED – That:
To answer any questions from Members asked under Procedure Rule No 9.2
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 9.2 to allow Members to ask questions about Council activities. The replies to any such questions will be given by the Chair of the Council or relevant Committee or the appropriate Cabinet Member. Questions must be received in writing or by email to the Monitoring Officer by 12 noon twelve clear working days before the meeting.
The following questions have been submitted.
Question ‘A’ – Cllr H Liggett to Cllr S Pickering, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place
Are the Labour Group going to honour The Conservative groups commitment to carry on the emptying of the Green Bins on throughout the winter period i.e. 12 months of the year straight through?
Question ‘B’ – Cllr C Cupit to Cllr N Barker, Leader of the Council
Could you confirm your commitment to continuing the previous administration’s pledged replacement of The Bungalows in Stonebroom with new bungalows in line with the agreed timeframes and plans?
Question ‘C’ – Cllr M Foster to Cllr J Barry, Portfolio Holder for Growth and Assets
Will the Portfolio Holder confirm that the new administration will honour the financial commitments already made by the Council in relation to its allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the Investment Plan?
Question ‘D’ Cllr A Dale to Cllr N Barker, Leader of the Council
On 22 May, the Leader of the Council announced his new administration would, as a key priority, be looking at what other measures could be introduced to support residents with the cost of living challenges. Could he confirm what steps the administration has so far taken and meaningful progress made in this endeavour, other than appointing to the Community Outreach Worker posts which were created under the last administration?
Question ‘E’ Cllr W Jones to Cllr S Pickering, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place
With the increasing focus on climate change driven by the demonstrable change in the weather profile across the UK, including NE Derbyshire, and given the previous administration had committed to SPDs and other measures to support them, what pragmatic sustainability steps utilising the current planning legislation plus the Local Plan, do you intend to take to ensure all new build homes are environmentally sustainable and how will this be satisfactorily demonstrated to our residents ?
The Chairman of the Council confirmed that five questions have been received.
Question ‘A’ from Councillor H Liggett to Councillor S Pickering, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place
A question had been submitted by Councillor H Liggett to Councillor S Pickering, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place on whether the Council would empty green waste bins throughout the winter period. The full text of the question from Councillor H Liggett, marked as Question ‘A’, was set out in the Agenda for the meeting.
The Portfolio Holder thanked Cllr H Liggett for her question. He questioned whether the previous administration had fully thought through or understood the implications of the issues involved. He informed her that residents had been consulted through the Citizens Panel and that following on from this the period when Green Bin Collections were suspended had been reduced by three weeks. Councillor S Pickering stressed that the Council was committed to providing an effective and efficient green waste collection service and that an investigation would be undertaken to determine whether the amount of green waste collected from a further reduction in the suspension period could be justified in terms of the additional Carbon emissions that would be generated in order to collect it.
Councillor H Liggett expressed her disappointment with the response, given the impact which Climate Change has had on growing seasons during the winter months.
Question ‘B’ from Councillor C Cupit to Councillor N Barker, Leader of the Council
A question had been submitted by Councillor C Cupit to Councillor N Barker, the Leader of the Council on whether the Council would commit to continuing to replace the Bungalows in Stonebroom with new bungalows in line with agreed timeframes and plans. The full text of the question from Cllr C Cupit, marked as question ‘B’, was set out in the Agenda for the meeting.
The Leader of the Council responded by confirming the Administration’s commitment to this and that the project would form part of the Council’s plans for increasing affordable housing in the District.
Cllr C Cupit asked a supplementary question about whether the Leader would commit to working with herself, Cllr H Liggett and Cllr M Roe on the replacement scheme.
Cllr N Barker responded that he would commit to do so.
Question ‘C’ from Councillor M Foster to Councillor J Barry, Portfolio Holder for Growth & Assets
A question had been submitted by Councillor M Foster to Councillor J Barry, the Portfolio Holder for Growth & Assets on whether the Council would honour its financial commitments in relation to its allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the Investment Plan. The full text of the question from Cllr M Foster, marked as question ‘C’, was set out in the Agenda for the meeting.
The Portfolio Holder for Growth and Assets responded that the Council would be honouring and delivering the NEDDC Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan.
Cllr M Foster asked a supplementary question asking for assurance that the town centre and landscape improvements for ... view the full minutes text for item COU/32/23-24
Chairman's Urgent Business
To consider any other matter which the Chairman is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
There was no urgent business.
To consider any Motions from Members under Procedure Rule No 10
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 10 to consider Motions on notice from Members. Motions must be received in writing or by email to the Monitoring Officer by 12 noon twelve clear working days before the meeting.
The following Motions have been submitted.
Motion ‘A’ – Proposed by Cllr R Shipman
Council notes the rising number of empty homes in North East Derbyshire.
Recent figures from Action On Empty Homes show that 1.51% of all homes in North East Derbyshire (a total of 720) are either second homes or long term empty homes.
This means that 1 in 66 homes in our area are not available to local people as places to live.
The accelerating number of family homes being lost in our area is a matter of great concern for local residents who may be struggling to get their foot on the property ladder or find a secure home in the rented sector.
Council notes the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is on its passage through Parliament. This bill will grant councils in England new powers to incentivise bringing empty homes and second homes back into use as family homes.
These powers will include the option to add a 100% Long Term Empty Premium onto Council Tax for homes that have been empty for over a year. In addition Councils will be able to charge a higher rate of Council Tax for empty furnished properties – such as second homes.
The power to issue these extra charges is set to come into force from 1 April 2024.
Council believes we should do everything we can to encourage empty homes and second homes being brought back into residential use for local people. Council also believes the Government must provide local authorities with more powers to manage the issue of empty homes, second homes and holiday homes in their area.
This includes changing planning law to require a change of use permission to convert a family home into a holiday let, and for increased powers to issue Empty Dwelling Management Orders that are currently heavily restricted.
Council therefore resolves to:
Bring a report to the Communities Scrutiny Committee to explore how new powers will be implemented and further ways North East Derbyshire District Council can bring empty homes back into use, with a view to;
Committing to use new powers when they are introduced next year to charge a 100% Council Tax premium on Long Term Empty Properties and Second Homes for the first year, 200% for the second year, and then 300% for 3 years onwards.
Motion ‘B’ – Proposed by Cllr D Hancock
Local public sport and leisure infrastructure across the country faces an extraordinary financial crisis due to the ongoing impacts from COVID-19, the cost of living and the energy crisis.
The concerns raised by the Local Government Association and hundreds of other organisations across the country to the Prime Minister citing “the failure to identify bespoke support for the sector (and schools operating sports facilities) as ... view the full agenda text for item COU/34/23-24
Members considered a motion submitted by Cllr R Shipman, which called on the Council to explore further ways that empty homes could be brought back into use, and in particular by using new powers when they are introduced to charge an increasing Council Tax premium on Long Term Empty Properties and Second Homes. The full text of Cllr R Shipman’s Motion, set out as Motion ‘A’. was included on the agenda for the meeting.
Councillor D Hancock seconded the motion but reserved his right to speak.
The Leader of the Councillor responded to the Motion. He explained that it was unnecessary to support it as the Council had recognised this challenge and had agreed to review the Council Tax discretionary policy. The relevant Scrutiny Committee would be asked to review this in the autumn.
Cllr A Dale signalled broad support for the Motion but argued that it was important to be mindful of any potential impact on tourism across the District.
Cllrs R Shipman and D Hancock replied that if the Council was already committed to the steps outlined by the Leader of the Council, then there would be no reason not to support the Motion.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Motion was put to the vote and defeated.
Members considered a motion submitted by Cllr D Hancock, which called on the Council to write to the Prime Minister about the need for further support for leisure centres across the District, such as access to the higher level of energy price discount and setting out a plan for growth for the sector. The full text of Cllr D Hancock’s motion, set out as Motion ‘B’, was included on the agenda for the meeting.
Cllr R Shipman seconded the motion but reserved his right to speak.
Cllr A Dale spoke against the motion. He argued that the motion was scaremongering as it did not reflect the investment into the leisure centre and the support received from Government in recent years.
Cllr N Barker indicated his support for the motion. He recognised that the leisure centres within the District were performing well but that the Motion sought the additional funding required for the Council’s leisure centres and placed an emphasis on lobbying central government for increased funds.
Cllr R Shipman emphasised that the motion was not based around Capital Investment but on the day to day running costs of the centres and so should be supported.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Motion was put to the vote and agreed.
RESOLVED – That Council Instructs the Leader to write to the Prime Minister, copied to Lee Rowley MP and Mark Fletcher MP urging the Government to act swiftly with three key measures: