Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Tuesday, 5th October, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: John Armstrong, Democratic Services and Elections Manager  Tel: (01483) 444102

Media

Items
No. Item

CO41

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Paul Abbey, Christopher Barrass, and Liz Hogger and Honorary Freemen Andrew Hodges and Jen Powell, and Honorary Aldermen Catherine Cobley, Jayne Marks, Terence Patrick, and Lynda Strudwick.

 

 

 

CO42

Disclosures of interest

To receive and note any disclosable pecuniary interests from councillors. In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.

 

If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.

 

Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

 

CO43

Minutes pdf icon PDF 795 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 28 July 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council confirmed, as a correct record, the minutes of the Meeting held on 28 July 2021. The Mayor signed the minutes.

 

CO44

Mayor's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Mayor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor informed the Council that she was hosting a charity fund raiser for Shooting Star Children’s Hospices and the Mayor’s Local Support Fund on Sunday 31 October 2021.

 

The Mayor invited councillors to assist with this year’s Poppy Appeal collection in Guildford town centre on either Friday 5 November or Saturday 6 November.

 

The Mayor reported that, in August, she had attended Guildford Chess Club’s 125th anniversary event comprising a 125-Board simultaneous display on Guildford High Street, involving nine Masters, who took on all-comers, with each Master facing between 12 to 15 opponents simultaneously.  There were three playing sessions throughout the day and over 410 games were played!

 

Also, in August I visited Mrs Ethel Caterham at Abbey Wood Care Home in Ash Vale to celebrate her 112th birthday. For the record, Mrs Caterham is the second oldest lady in Britain and it was a real privilege to meet her. Mrs Caterham was as sharp as a needle and had quite a lot to say on environmental issues. She even said that one of the worst things the world has introduced was plastic!

 

Last week I visited HM Prison Send, a closed category women’s prison. I spent the morning with the Chaplaincy to learn about and see the Making Connections Programme which in conjunction with the charity the Nazareth Way, supports prisoners as they prepare to leave prison.

 

The programme is run by some pretty amazing volunteers and it is offered to all prisoners at HMP Send who are preparing for release, parole, Home Detention Curfew or Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL). Its aim is to improve prisoner’s capability to adapt to life outside of prison and to reduce reoffending.

 

The morning went extremely quickly, and I experienced a huge range of emotions. I had the opportunity to speak to two ladies who were preparing for release, one who had spent over 25 years in prison. They explained quite candidly just how valuable Making Connections was to them in helping them to be better prepared when they leave prison. I have to say it really opened my eyes to our criminal justice system or can I say some of the injustices. If you want to know more about this programme, I have some leaflets with me and I am also happy to talk to you after the meeting.

 

CO45

Leader's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader reported that Covid cases were currently at around 300 per 100,000 in the borough, which was in line with both Surrey and the south-east, and cases remained highest in the 10 to 19 year old age group. In the previous week, there had been only 30 new hospital admissions at Frimley Park Hospital and 14 at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Guildford, as a borough, had high vaccination rates but our urban area was amongst the worst in the county despite a more aggressive communication campaign.

 

The Leader urged those who had not been vaccinated to make an extra effort to before the winter, and noted that the new vaccination centre on Artington Park and Ride was open and ready to receive those requiring vaccination. 

 

The Leader commented on the Car Free Day in Guildford on 23 September 2021, which had been organised to heighten awareness of using modes of transport other than cars, whilst helping residents picture the benefits of further pedestrianisation of our town centre could bring.  The Leader had received many messages congratulating the Council on the day and he thanked everyone involved in organising and supporting the event.

 

The Leader was pleased to report that nearly 11,000 households had signed up to “My Guildford”, which was almost double our target for 2021.

 

Finally, the Leader was pleased to announce that the Council had been awarded a ‘Pawprints’ award by the RSPCA for the third year running for animal activity licensing, which recognised that we exceeded our requirements in five areas of good practice.

 

In response to questions from councillors, the Leader confirmed that:

 

(1)   he would be happy to share the feedback received in respect of the Car Free Day with councillors;

 

(2)   the annual Christmas Lights switch on event was not supported by Experience Guildford as retailers did not see an uptake in business as a result.  In conjunction with Experience Guildford and town centre businesses, the event would be replaced by a programme of smaller events that would bring more people into the town over a longer period to celebrate the Christmas period. It was also felt that holding one large event with a great deal of uncertainty with the Covid pandemic over the winter months, would be inappropriate.

 

CO46

Public participation

To receive questions or statements from the public.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following question had been received from Mr Daniel Hill:

 

“The Truth

You have all been misled by James Whiteman, Joss Bigmore and James Steel. During my allocated time I will elaborate but for now this is a summary and can be fully verified.

 

1. Pirbright residents are very concerned about all contamination and pollution But ESPECIALLY the potential toxic waste leaking from the old dump.

 

2. Renowned Environmental expert Gareth Simkins is not satisfied with the Environment Agency’s “visual” assessment of Stoney Castle. He said water and soil samples need to be taken ASAP.

 

3. GBC, SCC and EA have had the details of the landowner of the old dump for over 33 years but refused to take legal action.

 

4. Since 2009 GBC, SCC and EA have had the details of the people occupying Stoney Castle and illegal dumping waste but refused to take legal action.

 

5.Robin Hill does not own the Old dump at Stoney castle. He owns the land next door which only has about 5% of the waste which has been dumped by the occupiers (who agencies have details of since 09)

 

6. GBC are aware that the Powers of Attorney ACT 1971 allows me to sign paperwork and make decisions relating to my dad's assets which are in his best interest. It does not make me legally responsible for the land.

 

BACKGROUND 

 

The history of illegal waste dumping has been well documented in the Surrey Advertiser and Guildford Dragon. With this question I will be concentrating on the barrels of PCB (toxic waste )

 

19 June 2021 - Environmental Expert Gareth Simkins - sent email to Environment Agency " I have been aware for some time about the saga of the Stoney Castle illegal waste site, between Farnborough and Woking. I saw a tweet a moment ago from campaigners seeking to have the site shut down and cleaned up, featuring a picture of chemical drums there. One (if you turn it upside down) appears to say 'INSULATING OIL'. To my mind, that means PCBs - formerly used in electrical transformers but banned for many years.If I am right, and if this was not known already, I think the importance of resolving the matter of Stoney Castle has just leapt up. I look forward to hearing back from you all as soon as possible."

 

24th June 2021 Daniel hill email to James Whiteman MD - "Hi James, Can you please tell me what is happening about the toxic waste"

 

26th June 2021 Daniel Hill email to James Whiteman MD -  "I had an email last week from a guy called Gareth Simkins. Who said Toxic waste has been found on the site. Not only that everyone on Twitter is talking about it."

 

28th June 2021 James Whiteman MD email to Daniel Hill "Thank you for your email.  There is nothing further to add I’m afraid."

 

28th June 2021 Daniel Hill to James Whiteman MD-  Hi James, Is this a joke what do  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO46

CO47

Questions from Councillors

To hear questions (if any) from councillors of which due notice has been given.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)       Councillor Keith Witham asked the Lead Councillor for Development Management, Councillor Tom Hunt, the following question:

 

What policies/procedures does the Council have to deal with those who are serial offenders with regard to the use of Retrospective Planning Applications, those motivated by greedy self-interest, who know the planning and enforcement regulations as well as – if not better - than any planning or enforcement officer, and as a result keep on staying one step ahead of the Planning Authority and any enforcement action?”

 

The Lead Councillor’s response was as follows:

 

“Planning determinations are made in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise and these matters are related to land use matters (s38(6) Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) not past conduct of the individual applicants which may vary with each individual case.

 

I think it is important to remember that carrying out works without planning permission is not in breach of any law.  However, the developer performs such work entirely at his own risk, as he may be required to comply with a subsequent enforcement notice. 

 

It is also important to note that the vast majority of organisations (individuals and companies) that develop property in Guildford Borough do so reasonably, following the proper processes.  Some may choose to build unauthorised developments, but the law does not permit the Council to treat these organisations any differently.  

 

In order to deal with an enforcement notice, one approach to this that you mention is for the developer to apply for retrospective planning permission.  Such an application is treated no differently to any “normal” planning application, nor should it be treated differently.  Unlike licensing legislation, planning legislation does not generally allow discretion to be applied when dealing with an application.  If there is no planning harm caused by the unauthorised development, planning permission will be approved.

 

Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is illegal, and a developer can be prosecuted for this.  In extremis, and only once actual breaches of planning control or clear evidence of apprehended breaches of planning control have been identified, an injunction may be secured, but this is unusual given the high bar the courts set on granting injunctions.

 

The simple fact of the matter is that planning law does not allow discretion to be exercised to deal with “serial” offenders.  Each planning application, retrospective or otherwise, must be dealt with on its own merits”.

 

In his supplementary question Councillor Witham asked whether the Lead Councillor would contact each of the Members of Parliament who represent parts of Guildford Borough to ask them to support a private member's bill on the issue of retrospective planning applications, which included the creation of a national database of planning enforcement cases, and a requirement upon any applicant for a retrospective planning application to declare any previous retrospective applications, with criminal sanctions for persistent offenders.  In response, the Lead Councillor did not agree that this private Member's Bill should be supported unequivocally and noted that there were many  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO47

CO48

Capital and Investment outturn report 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 558 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the Capital and Investment Outturn report for 2020-21, which had set out:

 

·       a summary of the economic factors affecting the approved strategy and counterparty updated

·       a summary of the approved strategy for 2020-21

·       a summary of the treasury management activity for 2020-21

·       compliance with the treasury and prudential indicators

·       non-treasury investments

·       capital programme

·       risks and performance

·       Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP)

·       details of external service providers

·       details of training

 

In total, expenditure on the General Fund capital programme had been £29.4 million against the original budget of £171.5 million, and revised budget of £28.8 million.  Details of the revised estimate and actual expenditure in the year for each scheme were set out in Appendix 3 to the report. The budget for Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) had been £1.64 million and the outturn was £1.29 million.  This was due to slippage in the capital programme in 2019-20.

 

The Council noted that one of the strands of the Savings Strategy was to review the projects in the capital programme.  At its meeting on 24 August 2021, the Executive had agreed to remove three schemes due to the length of time they had been in the programme, and as such the original proposal was no longer relevant and a new business case would need to be prepared if any of the schemes were to come forward in the future.  These were:

 

·       Guildford Gyratory and Approaches - £10.967 million on the provisional capital programme in 2024-25

·       Stoke Park Office Accommodation - £665,000 on the provisional programme in 2024-25

·       Stoke Park – Home Farm redevelopment - £4 million on the provisional programme in 2024-25

 

The Council’s investment property portfolio stood at £155 million at the end of the year. Rental income had been £8.1 million, and income return had been 5.8% against the benchmark of 4.6%.

 

The Council’s cash balances had built up over a number of years, and reflected a strong balance sheet, with considerable revenue and capital reserves.  Officers carried out the treasury function within the parameters set by the Council each year in the Capital and Investment Strategy.  As at 31 March 2021, the Council held £159.1 million in investments, £310.5 million in long-term borrowing of which £118.5 million was short-term borrowing, and £192 million in respect of long term borrowing related to the HRA, resulting in net debt of £151.4 million.

 

The Council had borrowed short-term from other local authorities for cash flow purposes and aimed to minimise any cost of carry on this.  No additional long-term borrowing was taken out during the year. 

 

The report had confirmed that the Council had complied with its prudential indicators, treasury management policy statement and treasury management practices (TMPs) for 2020-21.  The policy statement was included and approved annually as part of the Capital and Investment Strategy, and the TMPs were approved under delegated authority.

 

Interest paid on debt had been lower than budget, due to less long-term borrowing taken out on the general fund because of slippage in the capital  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO48

CO49

Councillor Email Signature Guidance pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council noted that, following a councillor misconduct complaint which had been referred for investigation, the investigator had identified an issue that needed to be addressed by the Council. The issue was the apparent confusion around the email signatures used by some councillors who tended to list various non-Council roles in their signature, resulting in confusion in respect of the capacity in which a councillor was communicating with a correspondent. The matter had been referred to the Corporate Governance Task Group for consideration.

 

The Task Group considered the matter initially on 12 April and, more recently, on 16 August 2021 and had drafted the guidance for councillors.  The Task Group recommended that the guidance be adopted and that all councillors be advised to apply the template, content, and format as set out so as to provide clear communication when conversing with residents and other correspondents. The draft guidance was subsequently considered by the Corporate Management Team (CMT), and then by the Executive at its meeting held on 21 September 2021.  The Executive approved the guidance, incorporating a number of amendments, which were appended to the report submitted to the Council.

 

The Task Group had also recommended, and the Executive agreed, that it should be a requirement in the Councillors’ Code of Conduct that councillors comply with this guidance, in the same way that it was agreed last year that the Code of Conduct should include a requirement for councillors to comply with the adopted Social Media Guidance for Councillors. 

 

Any amendments to the Code of Conduct can only be approved by full Council.

 

Upon the motion of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, and seconded by the Chairman of the Corporate Governance Task Group, Councillor Deborah Seabrook, the Council:

 

RESOLVED: That the following amendment be made to paragraph 9 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct:

 

‘9.      In addition to compliance with this Code of Conduct, you are also expected to comply with:

 

(i)         the relevant requirements of the Protocol on Councillor/Officer Relations, the Social Media Guidance for Councillors, the Councillor Email Signature Guidance, and the Probity In Planning – Councillors’ Handbook, and

 

(ii)        any reasonable request by the Council that you complete a related party transaction disclosure.

 

Reason:

To ensure clarity for the recipients of emails sent by ward councillors in which capacity they are writing.

 

CO50

Protocol on the appointment, role, status, rights and obligations of Honorary Freemen and Honorary Aldermen pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors noted that, in 2014, the Council had adopted a Protocol on the appointment, role, status, rights and obligations of Honorary Freemen and Honorary Aldermen.

 

At the request of the Leader of the Council and in anticipation of the Council conferring the title of Honorary Alderman upon five former councillors at a meeting to be specially convened for the purpose on 2 December 2021, the Corporate Governance Task Group had been asked to review the Protocol, particularly in relation to the requirement that Honorary Freemen and Aldermen should refrain from making public statements which were critical of the Council.  

 

The Task Group had suggested a number of changes to the Protocol, which were considered by the Corporate Governance & Standards Committee at its meeting on 23 September 2021. The Committee agreed with the Task Group’s suggested changes and had recommended that the Council adopts the revised Protocol, a copy of which was appended to the report submitted to the Council.

 

Upon the motion of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, and seconded by the Chairman of the Corporate Governance and Standards Committee, Councillor George Potter, the Council:

 

RESOLVED: That the revised Protocol on the appointment, role, status, rights and obligations of Honorary Freemen and Honorary Aldermen, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report submitted to the Council, be adopted.

 

Reason:

To bring the Protocol up to date, including for the purpose of clarifying the rights and obligations placed upon Honorary Freemen and Honorary Aldermen.

 

CO51

Appointments to External Organisations: vacancy for trustee on Guildford Poyle Charities pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor informed the Council that that the only nomination received in respect of the appointment of a trustee representative on Guildford Poyle Charities had been submitted by Councillor Ruth Brothwell.  Therefore, under the existing delegation to the Democratic Services and Elections Manager, Councillor Brothwell’s appointment had been confirmed and this matter was therefore withdrawn from the agenda.

 

CO52

Minutes of the Executive pdf icon PDF 228 KB

To receive and note the attached minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 20 July 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received and noted the minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 20 July 2021.

 

CO53

Exclusion of the Public

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Upon the motion of the Mayor, Councillor Marsha Moseley, and seconded by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Dennis Booth, the Council

 

RESOLVED:

 

That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), the public be excluded from the meeting for consideration of the item of urgent business set out in the urgent item of business in Agenda Item 12a on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information, as defined in paragraphs 1 and 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

CO54

Item of Urgent Business - Proposed Redundancy Termination Payment

Minutes:

At its extraordinary meeting on 6 July 2021, the Council had considered options for collaborative working with Waverley Borough Council and had resolved to pursue the option of creating a single management team with Waverley Borough Council, comprised of statutory officers (Head of Paid Service; Chief Finance Officer; Monitoring Officer), Directors and Heads of Service. The two councils would share a management structure, which would be responsible for recommending any further collaboration, service-by-service.

 

At the Council meeting on 28 July 2021, Council had agreed that the redundancy and any settlement costs incurred as a result of the recruitment of a Joint Chief Executive shall be shared equally between the councils and that any pension strain costs would remain the responsibility of the employing authority of the affected officer. 

 

Consultation with both affected employees had taken place between 10 August 2021 and 9 September 2021 and they were aware of the proposed redundancies of their posts.  Feedback and representations received during the consultation process had been reviewed by the Joint Appointments Committee at its meeting on 22 September 2021.  Following this review, any minor amendments that had been made to the proposals had been confirmed to the employees at their end of consultation meetings held on 28 September 2021.

 

Expressions of Interest had been invited for the Joint Chief Executive post from both affected employees.  The Council’s Managing Director had notified the Leader of the Council that he did not wish to be considered for the role and had requested voluntary compulsory redundancy.  The report to the Council had sought approval to make a termination payment to James Whiteman in line with the Council’s Early Termination of Employment Discretionary Compensation Policy.

 

The Council had the option of setting a policy where it could use new capital receipts to fund revenue expenditure that would generate ongoing savings.  Officers were seeking to use this option to finance the implementation costs of the Guildford and Waverley collaboration project and in particular the redundancy and pension strain costs.  A strategy on the Flexible use of Capital Receipts was appended to the report, which the Council was asked to approve. 

 

Whilst suitable receipts were anticipated during 2021-22, there was a risk that the receipts might be delayed.  If sufficient capital receipts were not received during the financial year 2021-22, officers had sought approval to finance the redundancy costs from the invest to save reserve.

 

The Council considered a report on this matter and was invited to consider the proposed redundancy termination payment which exceeded the £95,000 threshold referred to in the Council’s adopted Pay Policy Statement for 2021-22.

 

The report had also been considered by the Employment Committee on 4 October 2021.  The Committee had endorsed the proposed redundancy termination payment and had recommended the payment to Council for approval.

 

The Council noted the correction to paragraph 3.5 of the report in respect of the pay-back period, which should have stated 4.3, rather than 0.9, years.

 

Upon the motion of the Leader of the Council,  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO54

CO55

Common seal

To order the Common Seal to be affixed to any document to give effect to any decision taken by the Council at this meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council

 

RESOLVED: That the Common Seal of the Council be affixed to any documents to give effect to any decisions taken by the Council at this meeting.