Venue: Virtual Teams Meeting
Contact: Committee Services
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS BY COUNCILLORS
Councillor Carter declared a local non-pecuniary interest in Item 11, in his capacity as Vice-Chair of Mid Suffolk Disability Forum.
It was RESOLVED:-
That the Minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on 11 November 2020 be confirmed and signed as a true record and be signed at the next practicable opportunity.
It was RESOLVED:-
That the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2020 be confirmed and signed as a true record and be signed at the next practicable opportunity.
40.1 The Chair referred to Paper MC/20/17 which was for noting. He announced that the Stowmarket Dementia Group thanked Members for their contributions.
40.2 The Chair welcomed Councillor Eburne back to the Council after her absence.
40.3 Councillor Eburne thanked Members for the Cards and flowers she had received during her absence.
41.1 The Chair invited the Leader, Councillor Morley to make her announcements.
41.2 Councillor Morley made the following announcements:
This second COVID-19 wave was worse than the first last Spring and she was horrified to see the current level of daily deaths and hospital admissions.
The Council was in a third national lockdown, but it was going to take a long time before a significant reduction in rates of infection, hospitalisations and deaths was seen.
Suffolk had been badly hit like all regions; and the public awareness and messaging campaign must continue. Mid Suffolk needed everyone to stay at home and follow the lockdown rules and she urged Members to promote these messages across all their communities.
The District Council was of course continuing to support residents, communities and businesses in response to Covid-19 and she wanted to highlight a couple of particular elements from all the information Councillors received on a fortnightly basis.
Firstly, the Closed Business Lockdown Payment grants, the Council had started to pay qualifying businesses this week. As the Council already held the data regarding many businesses, automatic payments were being made and these will reach approximately 70% of the businesses with a rateable value who were eligible. In addition, new grant applications had been launched for any businesses, who had not previously received a lockdown grant from the Council. The website had been updated accordingly and it was the best place to refer any businesses in Councillors’ Wards that may have contacted them.
(www.midsuffolk.gov.uk/business/business-rates/grant-funding-schemes/ - Just in case)
There were now a variety of Government grants available and full details were on the Council’s website, including a comprehensive infographic describing them all; and the Council was guiding businesses through this to make it as simple as possible to ensure businesses swiftly receive all of the money that they were entitled to.
Secondly regarding the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Many of the Districts most vulnerable residents have already received their first vaccination.
Concerned residents had contacted Councillors as to when they would receive their jabs, how they would be informed, where they would need to go and how they would get there. These are exactly the conversations that she had been having, alongside Councillor Hicks, Councillor Passmore, and fellow Council Leaders at the Local Outbreak Engagement Board meetings to ensure that the communication to all residents was effective, clear and timely.
There were now 19 (Primary Care Network) vaccination sites in place across Suffolk. For Mid Suffolk these are located at:
· Debenham Leisure Centre
· The Mix, Stowmarket
· Woolpit Health Centre
In addition, all three hospitals – James Paget, West Suffolk & Ipswich were all vaccinating, and an additional large site would be provided in Ipswich shortly. Two further pharmacy sites (Ipswich & Lowestoft) have also been approved.
There was also an increasing supply of the Oxford vaccine available. This vaccine did not have some of the same logistical challenges as the Pfizer vaccine which should enable more people to be vaccinated more quickly. At the moment however there ... view the full minutes text for item 41.
TO RECEIVE NOTIFICATION OF PETITIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULES
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 11, the Chief Executive will report the receipt of any petitions.
The Chairs of Committees to answer any questions from the public of which notice has been given no later than midday three clear working days before the day of the meeting in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.
43.1 The Chair invited Sharon Head, a member of the public to ask her question.
Question from Sharon Head to the Cabinet Member for Environment:
One of the key recommendations for meeting Government climate change targets, in the 2020 report by Government advisory body the Climate Change Committee, was ‘Low-cost, low-regret actions to encourage a 20% shift away from all meat by 2030 rising to 35% by 2050, and 20% shift from dairy products by 2030’.
Good quality plant-based meals are healthier and can be cheaper. They can also be more inclusive, as the same meal can be shared by a wide variety of people - including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu people and those with dairy allergies.
There is good evidence that a shift in diets away from meat and dairy products to more plant-based options is good for both climate change mitigation and for human health.
Will the District Council commit to implementing menu changes that remove bias towards meat and dairy, within its own sphere?
Response from Councillor Fleming, Cabinet Member for Environment:
Thank you for your question requesting a commitment from the Council to promote a plant-based diet, which you suggest might be brought in incrementally over time. This is not something that we would support for many reasons, including the fact that the Council is not actively involved in catering or supplying food. Pandemic aside, we share catering services with other organisations at Endeavour House and are pleased to report that for the most part, sourcing is local, and the food is varied and excellent with options for all tastes. However, I do believe there is widespread support for better farming and food production practices, and local sourcing to reduce food miles and emissions. We take the position that these kinds of choices are for individuals, and the Council caters for individual preferences very effectively and is continually seeking opportunities to improve the environmental footprint of all our services.
“Will you regularly advise food outlets in the district, during visits and via bulletins, about the climate and food hygiene advantages of vegetarian and plant-based menus?"
Response from Councillor Fleming, Cabinet Member for Environment:
We do not have a regular bulletin to food outlets in the district currently, though we are building a database of emails so this could be done in the future. However, our Food Safety Team who do speak with the businesses on a regular basis can and do talk to them about potential changes to their menus to reflect current wants and needs. Of those still operating, most are trying to contend with managing new takeaway services and it does not feel the right time to talk to them about changing their operation. We continue to support our businesses in every way we can, and should businesses want to talk to us about how they can change their offer, we would be more than willing to help.
QUESTIONS BY COUNCILLORS IN ACCORDANCE WITH COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULES
The Chairman of the Council, Chairs of Committees and Sub-Committees and Portfolio Holders to answer any questions on any matters in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affect the District of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13.
Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee
45.1 The Chair invited the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Welham to present his report.
45.2 Councillor Welham introduced Paper MC/20/18 and answered questions from Members.
45.3 Councillor Field referred to the Planning Enforcement performance and that residents often felt that the Council did not enforce the breaches of planning restrictions.
45.4 Councillor Welham responded that there were a lot of alleged breaches reported to the Council and that officers were not as good at passing on information regarding the alleged breaches that were not planning issues, but this has been tightened up. Historically there had been a lot of outstanding cases which had been reviewed. A new software programme had been introduced and there was now a process in place to log all new cases reported and to follow the progress of each case. There were still a lot of cases which had to considered and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had therefore suggested that a Task and Finish Group be organised as per the recommendations.
45.5 Councillor Warboys queried if there was a space for feedback to indicate if a case had been settled satisfactorily or not.
45.6 Councillor Mansel commented that residents had felt frustrated as they had not even received an automated response when submitting cases and the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee responded that the new software logged every case and assigned a case officer.
45.7 Councillor Norris asked if Members could be provided to Members and the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny responded that this was being considered.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND REPORTS FROM CABINET / COMMITTEES
Co-Chair of Joint Audit and Standards Committee.
At its meeting on 30 November 2020, the Joint Audit and Standards Committee considered Paper JAC/20/3 – Half Year Report on Treasury Management 2020/21. The recommendations set out in the report were accepted.
It was RECOMMENDED TO BOTH COUNCILS:
1) That the Treasury Management activity for the first six months of 2020/21 as set out in the report and Appendices be noted.
2) That it be noted that both Councils’ Treasury Management activity for the first six months of 2020/21 was in accordance with the approved Treasury Management Strategy, and that the Council has complied with all the Treasury Management Indicators for this period.
Note – It is a requirement of the Code of Practice on Treasury Management that full Council notes the Half-Year position.
47.1 The Chair invited the Chair of the Joint Audit and Standards Committee, Councillor Muller to introduce Paper JAC/20/3.
47.2 Councillor Muller provided a summary of the Report and MOVED the recommendations in the Report, which was SECONDED by Councillor Caston.
47.3 Councillor Matthissen questioned the borrowing for CIFCO and Gateway 14, which he felt was large in comparison to other loans, and whether the borrowing from the PWLB for council houses would be more difficult it the Council continued to invest in CIFCO.
47.4 The Assistant Director – Corporate Resources, explained that investment into CIFCO would be completed at the end of this financial year. However, in the next financial year the Council would have to borrow more for Gateway 14 but this would not jeopardise borrowing from the PWLB for housing development as Gateway 14 is primarily an economic regeneration site.
47.5 In response to further questions from Councillor Matthissen, the Assistant Director – Corporate Resources, clarified that if the £50m had not been fully invested into CIFCO by the end of March then no further investments would be made in the new financial year.
47.6 Councillor Mansel asked for clarification for paragraph 2.3 of the report, for the debt yield activity for borrowing rates and whether the Council would not be able to borrow at lower rates. The Assistant Director – Corporate Resources explained that the Council would be able to access loans from the PWLB and that in 2021/22 there would not be anything in the Capital Programme that would be subject to yield activities, so the Council would be able to borrow. Since the announcement about the changes to PWLB lending the rate had been reduced by 1% bringing it back down to competitive levels.
47.7 Councillor Field queried the Schroder Fund performance, which currently was evaluated at £800k less than expected (Page 52, Table 6.2) and if that was a concern for the Council.
47.8 The Assistant Director explained that the investment market had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and then detailed how the investment fund was monitored and that if the market value was less than that invested and the investment was sold at that point, the money would have to be taken from the General Fund Budget to cover the loss, but the investment is a long-term one.
47.9 Councillor Eburne referred to Appendix B, page 45 paragraph 2.2, and if the Council had reviewed its housing ambition in the light of the lower rate available and it not whether the Council would be taking advantage of this rate to invest in sustainable housing.
47.10 The Assistant Director – Corporate Resources confirmed that the Council would be able to access the lower rate for housing and that the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan would include this moving forward.
47.11 Members debated the issues and Councillor Stringer asked that it be noted that he would vote for the paper but under protest as he thought that some of the indicators in the ... view the full minutes text for item 47.
Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee
At its meeting on 23 November 2020, the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered Paper JOS/20/3 – Review of Outside Bodies.
The Committee’s Recommendations to Council are attached as Paper MC/20/19.
48.1 The Chair invited the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to introduce Paper MC/20/19.
48.2 Councillor Welham summarised the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s reasoning behind the recommendations to the Councils and explained that Members had considered the benefits and value of representation on each of the Outside Bodies.
48.3 Councillor Welham PROPOSED Recommendations 1.1 to 1.6 and the tabled recommendation, which was SECONDED by Councillor Matthissen.
48.4 Councillor Brewster explained that the circumstances had changed for representation on Haven Gateway Partnership due to recent developments.
48.5 Council Mansel queried the cost of the subscription fee for the East West Rail Consortium. She added that she did not feel that she could vote on the recommendations on block as some of the recommendations were for consideration, and she was unsure of what was involved with a ‘recommendation to consider’.
48.6 The Chair advised Members that the cost for subscription for East West Rail Consortium was £1500 per year.
48.7 Councillor Welham explained that some Members had been elected as representatives to Outside Bodies, which either did not exist or no longer required member representation. Some of the issues required that the Council debated the representation before a decision could be made.
48.8 Councillor Passmore queried how much the Council currently paid to Haven Gateway Partnership.
48.9 Councillor Welham suggested that each recommendation was voted for individually.
48.10 The Chair proposed that Members voted on the recommendations as follows:
Recommendations 1.1, 1.4 and 1.5 together
Recommendations 1.2 and 1.3, 1.6 and 1.7 separately.
48.11 Councillor Welham APPROVED the suggested split of the recommendations.
48.12 In response to Councillor Field’s question regarding Haven Gateway Partnership, Councillor Brewster explained that Haven Gateway Partnership was working with the free ports and that this could be beneficial for projects such as Gateway 14 and could bring some positive developments to the Council.
48.13 The Chair informed Members that the Council paid £5k to the Haven Gateway Partnership per year.
48.14 Councillor Matthissen queried the tabled recommendation and Councillor Welham explained that the recommendation was for a representative to be appointed to the Suffolk Disability Forum but that it may be more appropriate for a Member to be appointed to the Mid Suffolk Disability Forum.
48.15 In response to Members questions on the appointment process for representation on Outside Bodies, the Monitoring Officer explained that the Leader appointed the Outside Bodies representatives and that the recommendations provided a steer to the Leader of the wishes of the Council. Once the Leader had decided the representatives, they would be brought back to Council to agree.
48.16 Councillor Carter queried if the Leader decided not to appoint to a Outside Body would Members be advised of the reason why.
48.17 Members debated the recommendations and representation on Outside Bodies including:
· That it was important that Council was represented on the East West Rail Consortium, to be involved with any issues relating to train lines in the District.
· That the contribution of £5000 to Haven Gateway Partnership would ... view the full minutes text for item 48.
49.1 The Chair invited the Monitoring Officer to introduce Paper MC/20/20, which was for noting.
49.2 The Monitoring Officer introduced the report and in response to Councillor Mansel’s question assured Members that going forward, officers would endeavour to bring these reports to the next available Council meeting.
It was RESOLVED: -
That Council notes the decisions taken under delegated powers by the Chief Executive as detailed in Appendix A of Paper MC/20/20.
Cabinet Member for Assets and Investments
The meeting was adjourned between 7:54 pm and 8:10 pm.
Note: Councillor Geake left the meeting at 8:06 pm.
50.1 The meeting had reached the guillotine deadline and the Chair asked for a proposer and seconder for the meeting to continue.
50.2 Councillor Carter PROPOSED that the meeting continued, which was SECONDED by Councillor Muller.
50.3 Members approved by consensus and none spoke against the proposal.
It was RESOLVED: -
That the meeting continued beyond the guillotine deadline, until all business was concluded.
50.4 The Chair invited the Cabinet Member for Assets and Investments, Councillor Gould to introduce Paper MC/20/21.
50.5 Councillor Gould introduced the report and MOVED the recommendation in the report, which was SECONDED by Councillor Morley.
50.6 Councillor Field referred to paragraph 7.3 and asked if there would be any briefings for the opposition and other Members of the Council and not just for Cabinet Members. He thought that the opposition would like to have the opportunity to be constructive.
50.7 Councillor Gould responded that in many of the activities of the projects Members had opportunities to be involved and that the expectation was that Members would be briefed.
50.8 In response to Councillor Passmore’s question, the Assistant Director – Assets and Investments confirmed that the evaluation of the total value of the assets was undertaken by an external party, as this was a CIFCO requirement and that this was carried out on a rolling basis of three or five years.
50.9 Councillor Welham referred to page 103, bullet points 1 and 3 and asked if the Carbon Reduction Management Plan would ensure that all new council facilities were energy efficient and delivered to sustainable specifications, and that the Council would insist on this.
50.10 The Assistant Director – Assets and Investments explained that standards applied to council housing developments and the Council’s own occupational houses. The carbon reduction plan was key to the Council and the Strategic Asset Management Plan would support the Carbon Reduction Plan in relation to the delivery of new build housing and require assets. There would be an appropriate approach to ensure sustainable new build houses, similar to operational properties.
50.11 Councillor Stringer queried page 81 regarding the timeframe of the ‘pipeline’ delivery of houses, to which Councillor Gould explained that the long term ‘pipeline’ delivery timeframe was for the overall plan and that some of the development would be completed sooner rather than later.
50.12 Members debated the report and Councillor Richardson thanked Councillor Gould for the report. He thought that that there was a broader impact of the Council owned assets, such as that 61% was open and amenities spaces, which had an impact on the wellbeing of residents and communities.
50.13 Councillor Field thought that the document did not represent a whole Council vision but a restricted one, though he was in agreement with some aspects of the plan. He considered whether the Council should be a vehicle for investments to deliver what residents required. He thought that there ... view the full minutes text for item 50.
Leader of the Council
51.1 Councillor Morley introduced Paper MC/20/22 and MOVED the recommendation in the Report.
51.2 Councillor Brewster SECONDED the recommendation.
51.3 In response to Councillor Field’s question regarding electronic calendars, the Assistant Director – Governance and Civic Office explained that there was an issue with IT and that officers were working with SCC IT and Modern.gov to resolve the issue.
51.4 Councillor Matthissen stated that there were not enough Council Meetings on the Timetable.
By 28 votes for and 2 votes against, 1 abstention.
It was RESOLVED:-
That the draft Committee Timetable for 2021/22 be approved.
MOTION ON NOTICE
Motion received from Councillor Morley
To consider the Motion on Notice received from Councillor Morley:
This Council expresses alarm at the rise in antisemitism across the UK in recent years. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) guidelines on antisemitism, negotiated and agreed at an international level, were adopted by the UK Government in 2016. These guidelines define antisemitism thus:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
· Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
· Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
· Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
· Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
· Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
· Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
· Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
· Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
· Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
· Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
· Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
This Council hereby adopts the above definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and adopted by the UK Government, and pledges to combat this anti-Jewish racism.
Proposer – Cllr Suzie Morley
Seconder – Cllr Lavinia Hadingham
Note: Councillor Norris left the meeting at 8:53 pm.
53.1 The Chair invited the Leader, Councillor Morley to introduce her Motion.
53.2 Councillor Morley said that the District of Mid Suffolk had a long and proud association with the Jewish community and was a refuge for children fleeing persecution by Nazi Germany through the Kindertransport, who came to live with foster families in the district. Sadly, many of the 10,000 children who arrived in the UK were never reunited with their birth parents, who died during the Holocaust. A painful reminder of why tackling hate crime was so important and the potential consequences that could arise when it was allowed to go unchecked. On Wednesday, 27 January, the UK were marking Holocaust Memorial Day, and remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kurdistan and Darfur. This was a timely opportunity to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism – as part of the Council’s commitment to tackling hate crime in all its forms.
53.3 This definition, which was adopted by the UK government in 2016, outlaws all forms of hatred towards Jewish people, including rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism. Adopting this standard did not mean the Council placed any religion, faith or creed above another. It did however, send a clear message, that the Council recognised the definition of anti-Semitism ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, and that the Council supported the Jewish community, as the Council support all communities within the district and to live here safely.
53.4 She urged all councillors to support the motion and send a clear message to those who seek to sow seeds of hatred.
53.5 Councillor Morley MOVED her Motion which was SECONDED by Councillor Hadingham
53.6 Members debated the Motion and there was generally agreement that:
· Suffolk had a long history of taking in refugees.
· Over 1000 hate crimes had been recorded in Suffolk last year.
· That understanding for minority groups must be supported.
· That the Motion was appropriate now, as the Memorial Day was being commemorated the following week.
· Some were surprised that anti-Semitism was an issue in Suffolk but supported the motion.
· Some Members shared personal experiences of family history from the Second World War persecution of Jews and others shared memories of visits to concentration camps.
· Any hate crime should be prevented and stopped at any cost.
· The Motion should have been adopted sooner.
· There could be no tolerance for discrimination of any groups in any form.
· As the District became more cosmopolitan a more powerful statement to include all groups should be considered.
· Concerns for the escalation of anti-Semitism and that that this kind of crime was a blight on society.
· Some Members had personal experience of war crimes and atrocities of hate and had experienced how no policies, or regulation could control this kind of chaos.
53.7 A few Councillors felt that it was fundamentally wrong to single out one minority group and not ... view the full minutes text for item 53.
There were none.