Agenda and minutes
Venue: Bainbridge Room, The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven. CA28 7SJ
Contact: Clive Willoughby Tel: 01946 598328
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Anne Bradshaw, John Burns, John Dirom, Fred Gleaves, Michael Guest, Ian Hill, Alan Jacob, John Kane, William Kirkbride, Brian O’Kane, Peter Stephenson and Peter Tyson.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2018 be signed by the Chair as a correct record.
Arising from the minutes;
Councillor Graham Sunderland stated that although the minutes were comprehensive and very thorough, it would help if the Officers present were also shown and asked if this could be done in future. This was agreed.
Councillor Jackie Bowman referred to a Code of Conduct complaint against her late husband and asked for an update as no communication had been received.
The Head of Corporate Resources advised that following consultation with the Head of Paid Service, the complaint would not be proceeding.
In a supplementary question, Councillor Bowman asked why she had not been advised of this.
The Head of Corporate Resources apologised and assured Councillor Bowman that this would be done.
At this point Councillor Martin Barbour sought clarification regarding the dispensation granted and which the Solicitor provided.
Councillor Michael McVeigh raised the Employability Fund and stated his question had previously been answered by an Officer.
Declarations of Interest in Agenda Items:
The Head of Governance and Commercial (Monitoring Officer) advised Council that all Members present had requested and received a dispensation, which enabled them to take part in the debate and vote on the budget proposals.
Councillor Joan Hully declared a non-pecuniary interest on all agenda items relating to benefits.
Councillor Graham Sunderland declared a pecuniary interest in agenda item 13 (Proposals for Council Tax Discount and Premium Scheme) due to being a private landlord.
The Chairman stated that he had agreed to accept a further item for the agenda, Item 13 ‘Proposals for Council Tax Discount and Premium Scheme’. This Item would be taken between Items 8 and 9.
Members who had not yet collected their tablets were reminded to do so.
During the discussion that followed, further clarification was sought regarding the dispensation given and the need to declare.
Councillor Ray Gill asked that the additional item (Item 13 Proposals for Council Tax Discount and Premium Scheme) be deferred to the next meeting due to being received late and said he would raise at the appropriate time.
As a result of the clarification given previously, Councillors Martin Barbour, Ged McGrath and Carla Arrighi declared a pecuniary interest in agenda item 13 (Proposals for Council Tax Discount and Premium Scheme) due to being second home owners.
Councillor David Moore declared an interest in the same item due to being a landlord.
Questions from Members of the Public - Must relate to business on the agenda.
To receive questions from members of the public. Maximum time allowed 30 minutes. Questions must be submitted to the Executive Director Operations at lease three working days prior to the meeting.
It was noted that no questions had been received from members of the public.
Questions by Members - Must relate to business on the agenda
Written questions to the Mayor or any other Member of the Council
in relation to content of any recommendations or reports before the
Council. Questions must be submitted in
writing to the Executive Director Operations at least three working
days prior to the meeting. (45 minutes allowed) – Procedure
b) Oral questions to the Mayor on any matter where the Council has powers or duties or which affects the Borough. (60 minutes allowed plus any unused time from (a) above) – Procedure Rule 11.1.
(a) Written questions from Members.
Councillor Bob Kelly asked the following question:
“Is there any possibility for the budget to include some financial support to help the important resource of Millom Network Centre be maintained in its present role?”
The Mayor, Mike Starkie, replied as follows:
“The Millom Network Centre is owned by Cumbria County Council and is indeed annexed to Millom Secondary School. The Network is an independently constituted body governed by a small number of trustees, two of whom have sadly died quite recently this has reduced their capacity and numbers even further.
Copeland Council over a period of time has had numerous requests to help fund budgetary shortfalls at the Network Centre to deal with what is a financially poor situation for a local service, which relies on grants, contracts and rental income. Whilst there is an absolute understanding for your request for more financial assistance, perhaps the best course of action would be to look again at the Network Centre.
This should include its finances, its aspirations, its uses etc. and its ongoing relationship with the community in Millom in developing and delivering its vision.
I’ve asked the Millom Network Centre to provide our Chief Financial Officer with an up to date business plan to enable their situation to be thoroughly assessed. Once I have that information I will be able to provide you with a more detailed answer.
In a supplementary question, Councillor Kelly said “Can I stress the importance of this because there is a wide spread theory in Millom that if the County Council take over this building it will then re-house the central library we have in Millom town and the council services perhaps. This would be another building in Millom Town Centre that might be at risk. Thank you for your answer but we need your help.”
The Mayor, Mike Starkie, replied as follows:
“I agree entirely there are a number of activities of the County Council that concern me greatly. There has been a tri-party meeting at a drop in centre in Millom. The Town Council, Borough Council and County Council were all there looking at the whole service provision for Millom and taking into account the geographical isolation. Yes, I am concerned and will be looking very closely at what we are doing going forward.”
Councillor Keith Hitchen raised aPoint of clarification stating that the Millom Network Centre was owned by the trustees.
In clarifying, the Mayor confirmed the building is owned by Cumbria County Council
(b) Oral questions from Members.
Councillor GillianTroughton referred to agenda Items 9 and 13 to do with Council Tax Setting and Discounts. Councillor Troughton stated that Council was criticised in previous years by internal and external auditors for not explicitly approving the papers and asked if these could be circulated and agreed so as to avoid the same problem.
Councillor Troughton also stated that a Council Tax Setting Committee was required to set the Council Tax and this did not ... view the full minutes text for item C63
Councillor David Moore introduced the Independent Remuneration Panel’s report on Members Allowances 2019/20.
In doing so, Councillor Moore stated that this is undertaken yearly, however, their recommendations had not been taken up for the previous two years.
Councillor Moore further stated that in recommending the report to Council, the Conservative group would not be accepting any increase in the allowances.
Councillor Gillian Troughton raised a point of order that accepting the allowances was a personal choice and any Member in receipt of benefits would have their benefits affected.
The Mayor emphasised that this was an independent report, which he supported and agreed that accepting an allowance was a personal choice.
Councillor Ray Gill opposed the report and asked that the status quo be maintained. He further stated that under normal circumstances he would support the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendations but with only a couple of months before the elections suggested that the status quo be maintained.
Councillor Gill put forward an amendment that the status quo be maintained for the current year and the IRP be asked to revisit immediately once the new Council was in place with the reduced number of Councils.
The amendment was seconded
Councillor Joan Hully asked if printed papers would be made available to her if the Council broadband was removed.
Councillor Moore confirmed this would be looked at.
Councillor Felicity Wilson sought clarification if the allowances included public transport.
Councillor Moore confirmed those using public transport were reimbursed.
Councillor Keith Hitchen believed it would be too early for the IRP to come in immediately after the election as they would have no evidence to look at.
In response to an earlier comment made by Councillor Moore, Councillor Chris Reay said
“It is wrong for Councillor Moore to say things like that. He is putting this side of the Council in a very poor light especially as it will get into the press as you lot have turned things down on this and we haven’t said anything. If you had made a straightforward statement, we may not have put in an amendment but you have politicised it and now you have an amendment facing you.”
Councillor Gillian Troughton stated the Independent Remuneration Panel will have to look at the increased workload and backdate any increase to the start of the new council.
Councillor Troughton agreed with Councillor Hitchen that it may take a little longer than the first couple of weeks.
The question was about members with disabilities and there was still no scheme for members with disabilities to pay for their own carer to enable them to attend meetings and committees, we are not meeting our needs under the disability discrimination act, we need to sort this.
In response Councillor Moore said we would have to look at this case-by-case because each one can be very different. If someone is in that position, they should come and discuss it with the officer. It was further stated that it would be referred to the equalities ... view the full minutes text for item C64
Consideration was given to the Pay Policy Statement 2019/20.
During the discussion that followed, Councillor Joan Hully asked if the Council was fully staffed and was advised it was.
Councillor Graham Sunderland sought and received clarification regarding Chief Officer performance.
Councillor Sam Pollen raised the issue of Zero Hours Contracts and asked if Council could stop the use of zero hours contracts.
In response, the Mayor stated that “it’s not quite as straight forward as you put it there, the situation is we applied to be a living wage organisation and we didn’t get the accreditation because we have some zero hours contract workers attached to the Beacon. There is a pool of about 20 with varying skills and at any one time we could be using about three of them. So do we make twenty employed? Do we make three employed? It’s a pretty complex situation given that if we spoke to all of them each and every one would tell us a zero contract is what they want. We do pay them the same rates of pay as if they were employed. This has been referred to a Task and Finish Group to look at all the issues concerned around this. We have a record to be proud of, our apprentices are probably the best paid apprentices in Copeland because every single one of them is on the living wage and every member of staff is above living wage.
We have made great strides in the way staff are rewarded over the last twelve months. This issue around the Beacon is extremely complex because the Beacon works on extremely fine margins and by removing zero hour contracts we could be removing opportunities altogether. We have to question do we want to make it that people can’t work and also as an accredited living wage employer to maintain that accreditation means that when we are looking at commercial developments and creating employment from scratch that might for a short time facilitate zero hour contracts it would remove any accreditation given at that time. This issue has gone to a task and finish group within the Council to discuss the various complications. What I want is the best interests of all the people who are employed by the Council. What we don’t what to do is put the business at risk or remove people for an opportunity because zero hours contracts suit those individuals. It suits them and all 20 of the people we have on those contracts will tell you that is exactly what they want because it suits their individual circumstances. I will update the Council once the Task and Finish Group makes its report back.”
RESOLVED – That the Pay Policy Statement 2019/20 be approved.
Proposals for Council Tax Discount and Premium Scheme
Note: Councillor Graham Sunderland left the room, took no part in the debate and did not vote on this item.
Councillor Ray Gill proposed that this item be deferred to the next council meeting as insufficient time had been given for it to be given due consideration. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Paul Whalley
On a vote of 21 For, 13 Against, 3 Abstentions, the amendment was carried
RESOLVED - that the Proposals for Council Tax Discount and Premium Scheme be deferred until the next meeting of Council on 19th February 2019 at 6:00pm. The Chairman further stated that this meeting would be held in the Bainbridge Room, The Copeland Centre, Whitehaven.
It was then moved by Councillor Joan Hully duly seconded and agreed that a 10 minute adjournment take place and the meeting stood ADJOURNED.
The Chairman advised Council that his decision to hold the next Council meeting in the Bainbridge Room was made in good faith, however, he was prepared to allow Council to decide and put it to the vote.
Councillor Bob Kelly stated that although he was not particularly objecting about the move from Millom to Whitehaven, because he wasn’t actually aware the next meeting was in Millom, he did want to make the point that Council had decided that it was going to move between places in the Borough.
On a vote of 19 For, 15 Against, 2 Abstentions, 1 No vote, it was
AGREED - that the next Council meeting on 19 February 2019 would be held in Whitehaven.
The Mayor introduced his budget saying:
“Today I present to you my fourth budget for your consideration. On taking office in May 2015 our budget was £9.1m and now it is reduced to 8.6m which means in real terms we have had to find savings of more than 16% of the entire budget.
Trying to find these savings has been a very difficult undertaking which officers and colleagues in the room have worked hard to achieve. I would very much like to, on your behalf thank Steven Brown, his team and indeed my Executive colleagues for their hard work over the last few months.
The Cyber-attack, which targeted our organisation, was simply devastating and has resulted in a total redesign of our IT infrastructure, security and working practises. It caused severe and direct inconvenience to our residents and extensive challenges for our management and staff and indeed our reputation. It was interesting to note that our Chief Executive Pat Graham spoke at the Local Government Association Annual Conference in July of last year on the very subject of the causes, effect, cost and lessons learnt following the Cyber-attack that we sustained.
I do appreciate that Members were also affected and I thank you for your patience.
On a more positive note, we have been readmitted into the Cumbria Business Rate Pool for 2019/20.
I would now like to take you through the highlights of the budget.
There will be no cuts to frontline services.
I am pleased to confirm that our Council Tax increase is limited to 1.95% although that could have been raised to 3% if we had chosen to do so. As I have said before, I absolutely refuse to do that as many of our residents have enough financial pressures without us asking them for more money.
Car Parking Charges will be frozen.
We must do all that we can to encourage motorists to use our car parks and I feel it would be wrong to increase charges at this time.
We are investing over £1m in our Bereavement Services.
These monies relate in principal to the installation of a second cremator, but also includes a programme of extension and improvement works at Whitehaven cemetery and other locations.
This investment also demonstrates this Council’s acknowledgement of its responsibility not only to Copeland but to West Cumbria, as we build resilience into the vital bereavement services we provide.
I also want to say that in the latter part of last year we held meetings with concerned residents in respect of the state of some of our cemeteries and I am pleased that through consultation, and action in partnership with Whitehaven Town Council there is now in place a programme of action for this year and beyond.
2019 will see a Tourist Information Centre open in Copeland.
We have a great place in Copeland to visit and how fortunate we are to live here. I am sure we all want visitors to enjoy and appreciate all that we have ... view the full minutes text for item C67
Council received an update on Copeland Borough Council’s Economic Regeneration Programme.
During the discussion, Councillor Jackie Bowman asked for and received an explanation of the High Street Fund, from the Mayor.
Note: Councillor Keith Hitchen left the meeting.
Councillor Sam Meteer made a request for list of schemes funded by the Copeland Community Fund, which Councillor Moore agreed to obtain.
RESOLVED – that
a) The half year progress made against the corporate KPI be noted,
b) It be agreed to receive and spend the external funding during 2018/19 and
future years against current grant offers of £734,000 from Sellafield Ltd Social
c) In line with successful applications and grant conditions, it be agreed to receive
and spend the external funding of up to £3,198,327 against current
applications to a combination of Coastal Communities Fund, Sellafield Ltd Social
Impact Fund and Copeland Community Fund across 2018/19 and 2019/20,
d) The programme approach that is being developed with the nuclear industry to
align the Council’s economic regeneration programme with social impact
delivery and funding be noted.
Council was notified of an Urgent Action decision to approve £50,700 of reserves to fund the continuation of the additional recycling team.
RESOLVED: that the Urgent Action be noted.
Date and Time of the Next Meeting:
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 19 February 2019 at 6:00pm, venue to be confirmed.
It was noted that the next meeting of Council would be held at 2:00pm on Tuesday
19th February 2019 in the Bainbridge Room, The Copeland Centre, Whitehaven.