Agenda and draft minutes

Full Council - Wednesday, 30th March, 2022 7.30 pm

Venue: Ashurst Main Hall - The Charis Centre. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: democratic.services@crawley.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosures of Interest pdf icon PDF 128 KB

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.

Minutes:

The disclosures of interests made by Councillors are set out in Appendix A to these minutes.

2.

Minutes - Full Council 23 February 2022 pdf icon PDF 300 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Full Council held on 23 February 2022.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Full Council held on 23 February 2022 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Deputy Mayor.

3.

Minutes - Extraordinary Full Council 2 March 2022 pdf icon PDF 180 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Extraordinary Full Council held on 2 March 2022

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Extraordinary Full Council held on 2 March 2022 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Deputy Mayor.

4.

Communications

To receive and consider any announcements or communications, including any additional Cabinet Member announcements.

Minutes:

The Head of Legal, Governance and HR addressed the Full Council and spoke in respect of the limited attendance at the Full Council meetings held on the 15 December 2021 and 2 March 2022.  It had been agreed prior to those meetings that the number of Councillors present be limited on health and safety grounds for the December meeting following the rise in the number of Covid cases at that time and due to the extraordinary and urgent nature of the March meeting.  As such, the reason for the absence of all Councillors listed as having sent their apologies was clearly stated in those minutes.  However, it has been acknowledged that those Councillors’ attendance figures would have been affected by those arrangements so, for those Councillors who had not been required to attend, the Democratic Services Team has identified a way of adjusting the ‘Expected’ status in the Modern.gov system to ensure that attendance records were not negatively affected.

 

The Deputy Mayor updated the Council on events since the last meeting.  The British Down Syndrome Swimming Championships would be held at K2 Crawley later in the year and a launch event had been held to capture the interest and enthusiasm generated by the fantastic performance of athletes. There had also been the opportunity to watch the Forward Motion dance performances.  The Deputy Mayor also spoke about the Easter Egg Drive with Spotted Crawley and the ongoing effort for Ukraine.

 

To conclude, Councillor Brenda Smith was thanked for her long and dedicated service with the Authority and the town as this was her last meeting of the Full Council.

5.

Public Question Time

To answer public questions under Full Council Procedure Rule 1.1-E.  The questions must be on matters which are relevant to the functions of the Council, and should not include statements.

 

One supplementary question from the questioner will be allowed.

 

Up to 30 minutes is allocated to Public Question Time.

Minutes:

Questioner’s Name

Name of Councillor Responding

 

Karen Sudan - Ifield

 

 

My question relates to the Leader’s column in the Crawley Observer today, but I think it’s directed to the Cabinet Member for Housing.  In the column the Leader has referred to the cost-of-living crisis and mentioned how it is causing hardship in Crawley because of low income and high housing costs.  I would like to ask if he would agree that charging council tenants higher rents is exacerbating this hardship?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplementary Question –

More money has gone into the Housing Revenue Account because the Council are charging the higher affordable rent for new tenancies.  Does that extra amount match the amount lost to the Housing Revenue Account because the rents from the garages no longer go into the Housing Revenue Account?

 

Councillor Ian Irvine

(Cabinet Member for Housing)

 

I know we share a passion for council housing and the people that rent them.  When renting a council house it’s important to look at the whole picture. I regret that council rents have to rise but I believe that Crawley provides a very good housing service as the people that rent the houses do not have to pay for them to be maintained.  But that housing service has to be paid for and if we do not put up the council rents then that housing service does not have as much money as it should have. This year we have been faced with enormous challenges, rising costs of raw materials for example, and we certainly do not want a failing housing service. I receive a lot of emails about housing but I have not received communication from tenants saying they cannot afford the rent. The communications are from those desperate to be on the housing register. Crawley Homes needs to be a forward-looking organisation.

 

The Housing Revenue Account is a dynamic account as there is money coming in and out.  When garages was transferred to the General Fund, which is something that nearly every other council has done, it was carried out during the first year of Covid during a challenging year for council finances . Some of the money that gets generated from the affordable rents can get put back into building new council properties which is something the Council had to be proud of. 

 

Winnie Duggan, Ifield

 

 

Have any new council homes been built in Crawley since 2012 for which tenants have not been charged the affordable rent?

 

Supplementary Question –

Does the Cabinet Member accept that using the term ‘affordable’ implies the existence of ‘unaffordable’, at least for some people?  What are Crawley people expected to do if we can’t afford to live here?

Councillor Ian Irvine

(Cabinet Member for Housing)

 

I have only been the Cabinet Member for Housing for 3 years, but I believe houses at Forge Wood are not affordable council properties.

 

 

I’m not entirely sure how the terms ‘affordable’ and ‘social rent’ have made their way into the language.  I prefer ‘council rent’.  People  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Crawley Towns Fund Project Business Cases - PART B (Recommendation 1)

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor informed the Full Council that it was the intention to hold the discussionon Recommendation 1 – Crawley Towns Fund Project Business Cases (report PES/399 of the Head of Economy and Planning) from the Cabinetheld on16 March 2022in Open– PublicSession (PartA), notingthat the report was an exempt report.

 

The report had sought approval of the business cases for various Town Fund projects as set out in the Crawley Town Investment Plan Heads of Terms (confirmed by the Government in July 2021). It was recognised that the businesses would hope to attract and retain opportunities within the borough to enable residents’ employment prospects.  It was also noted that whilst the town had been through challenging times resulting from the pandemic it was now important to invest in alternative skills and diversify the economy.  Councillor Lambmoved the recommendation which was seconded by Councillor P Smith, who thanked officers for their work on the project.

 

Councillors Crow and Lanzer also spoke in support ofthe recommendation.

 

At the end of the item, Councillor Lanzer took the opportunity to thank Councillor P Smith for his work on the programme, partnership work and the Planning and Economic Development Cabinet portfolio, as this was to be his last Council meeting. 

 

Councillor P Smith stated it had been an honour to be a Cabinet Member and he felt proud of what had been achieved.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Full Council approves to the following items:

 

a)           to add the following new capital schemes to the capital programme and the respective capital allocations to each project as set out below, worth a total of £18.1m, subject to a viable business case and to the receipt of the Towns Fund government funding.

·         1B – “Invest in Skills for Crawley” - Skills training facilities - £4.4m

·         1C – Green Tech Business Grants / Business Premises green

·         retrofit - £2m

·         2A – Crawley Bus Station Transformation - £2m

·         2B – Town Centre-Manor Royal-Gatwick cycle route - £2m

·         3A – Manor Royal “Gigabit” connectivity / business park - £1.95m

·         4A – Crawley Town Centre Cultural Quarter design - £250,000

·         4B – Manor Royal Business Environment Improvements £1.5m

·         4C – “Green Retrofit” decarbonisation of homes in Crawley - £4m

 

b)         to allocate up to £500,000 of Towns Fund revenue funding to the following Towns Fund projects, subject to a viable business case and to the receipt of the government funding.

·         1B – “Invest in Skills for Crawley” - Skills training facilities -

·         £100,000

·         1D – Commercial Eastern Gateway design - £150,000

·         3A – Manor Royal “Gigabit” connectivity / business park - £50,000

·         4A – Crawley Town Centre Cultural Quarter design - £200,000

7.

Metcalf Way Depot and Workshop - Redevelopment - PART B (Recommendation 2)

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor informed the Full Council that it was also the intention to hold the discussionon Recommendation 2 – Extension Metcalf Way and Workshop – Redevelopment (report HPS/31 of the Head of Major Projects and Commercial Services) from the Cabinetheld on16 March 2022in Open– PublicSession (PartA), notingthat the report was an exempt report.

 

The Leader of the Council introduced the item which had sought agreement for progressing the redevelopment of the depot and workshop at Metcalf Way, project analysis and feasibility, together with the finances required. It was recognised that the Metcalf Way Depot was currently under-utilised, and Neighbourhood Services intended to continue the move to a more dispersed model of smaller neighbourhood patch depots. The recommendations supported the move to more localised depots and facilitated redevelopment of the Metcalf Way site and it was hoped a further seminar would be arranged. The recommendations were seconded by Councillor Jhans who advised that a Councillor seminar on the redevelopment would be arranged as soon as practicable.

 

CouncillorsCrow, McCarthy and Burrett also spoke on this item.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

Thatthe FullCouncil approvesthe following items:

 

a)    to increase the capital programme by £995,000 funded from the capital programme reserve to fund the next stage of the scheme. In so doing, support the endorsement of the redevelopment of the Metcalf Way Depot.

 

b)    that £300,000 be transferred from the General Fund Reserve to the Transformation and Project Delivery reserve and the rental in the short term is funded from this reserve.

8.

Code of Conduct for Councillors (Recommendation 3)

Minutes:

Councillor McCarthy, introduced report LDS/178of the Head of Legal, Governance and HR which identified some minor changes to the Code of Conduct for Councillors (“the Code”) and confirmed the procedure for dealing with complaints under the Code. The changes proposed incorporated some of the elements from the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Model Code of Conduct and formalised the Council’s current process for dealing with complaints, including that any individual who was the subject of a complaint would be informed of the complaint made against them.  The report was seconded by Councillor Lunnon.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

Thatthe FullCouncil approves the minor changes proposed in Appendix A (Code of Conduct for Councillors) and Appendix B (Procedure for Dealing with Code of Conduct Complaints) to report LDS/178 for incorporation in the Council’s Constitution in time for the new municipal year, namely from the 9 May 2022.

9.

Outside Bodies (Recommendation 4)

Minutes:

Councillor McCarthy, introduced the item, which had sought to adopt that, where the Council makes an appointment to an Outside Body with two or more Council representatives, at least one position was given to each of the largest political Groups on the Council (where those Groups had made a nomination), and that the Constitution be amended to reflect that arrangement.  Further to receiving feedback from several Outside Bodies it was noted that the majority did not place importance on political proportionality but were keen that any representative appointed was engaged in its cause and attended its meetings.  The item was seconded by Councillor Lunnon.

 

CouncillorCrow also spoke on the item.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

Thatthe FullCouncil agrees that when the Full Council, normally at the Annual Meeting, appoints representatives to a Council Outside Body with two or more Council seats, at least one position is given to each of the largest political Groups on the Council (where those Groups have made a nomination), and that the Constitution be amended to reflect this arrangement.

10.

Notification of Decision Protected from Call-In (Recommendation 5)

In line with the Call-In Procedure Rule 8.3, which is set out in the Council’s Constitution, the Council is required to be informed when the Chief Executive has protected a decision from Call-In.

 

The Leader, under the Urgent Action decision making powers set out in the Constitution, took the following decision which was also protected from Call-In (in accordance with Call-In Procedure Rule 8).

 

The decision, which was taken on 15 March 2022, was to approve the Council Tax Government Discretionary ‘Energy Rebate’ Guidelines and give delegated authority to designated senior officers to make relief awards within these Guidelines.  This decision was protected from Call-In so that an online application process can become live to enable the Council to start supporting eligible residents as soon as possible. The decision was reported in Councillors’ Information Bulletin IB//1122.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION 5

 

The Full Council is requested to note the use of the Protection from Call-In provision by the Chief Executive in respect of the decision taken by the Leader relating to the

Council Tax Government Discretionary ‘Energy Rebate’ Scheme which was taken on 15 March 2022.

Minutes:

The Leader,Councillor Lambintroduced theitem, whichwas setout onpage 3 of the Agenda. Councillor Lamb had recently used the Urgent Action decision making powers set out in the Constitution and had also protected the decisionfrom Call-In (in accordance with Call-In Procedure Rule 8).

 

The decision, which was taken on 15 March 2022, was to approve the Council Tax Government Discretionary ‘Energy Rebate’ Guidelines and gave delegated authority to designated senior officers to make relief awards within those Guidelines. The decision was protected from Call-In so that an online application process could become live to enable the Council to start supporting eligible residents as soon as possible.  The decision was reported in Councillors’ Information Bulletin IB/1122.

 

CouncillorLamb movedthe recommendation,which wasseconded byCouncillor P Smith.

 

CouncillorCrow also spoke on this item.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

The Full Council notes the use of the Protection from Call-In provision by the Chief Executivein respectof thedecisions takenby theLeader ofthe Councilrelating tothe approval Council Tax Government Discretionary ‘Energy Rebate’ Guidelines and give delegated authority to designated senior officers to make relief awards within these Guidelines which were taken on 15 March 2022.

11.

Notification of Urgent Action Taken by the Returning Officer: Polling Place for Three Bridges Ward (LMC) - (Recommendation 6)

On 17 March 2022 the Chief Executive (as Returning Officer) took a decision under the Urgency provisions as set out in the Constitution.

 

The designated Polling Place for Poling District LMC in Three Bridges was the Holiday Inn Express however, the Council had not been able to make a confirmed booking with Holiday Inn Express to accommodate a Polling Place for the election on 5 May 2022.  In light of this, the Chief Executive took the urgent decision to temporarily allocate the Limelight Room at The Hawth Theatre as the Polling Place for Polling District LMC for the 5 May 2022 election only.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION 6

 

That the Urgent Action taken by the Chief Executive (as Returning Officer) in respect of the temporary change to the Polling Place for Polling District LMC (Three Bridges) for the 5 May 2022 election be noted.

Minutes:

Councillor McCarthy introducedthe item,which wasset outon page 3 of the Agenda. The Chief Executive (as Returning Officer) took a decision under the Urgency provisions as set out in the Constitution.

 

The designated Polling Place for Poling District LMC in Three Bridges was the Holiday Inn Express however, the Council had not been able to make a confirmed booking with Holiday Inn Express to accommodate a Polling Place for the election on 5 May 2022. In light of this, on 17 March 2022, the Chief Executive took the urgent decision to temporarily allocate the Limelight Room at The Hawth Theatre as the Polling Place for Polling District LMC for the 5 May 2022 election only.  It was acknowledged that the decision was urgent due to the deadline for the polling cards to be printed and issued as these would document the voting location as required under legislation.

 

Councillor McCarthy informed the Full Council that the Governance Committee had debated the Urgent decision at its meeting held on 21 March 2022 and in doing so had requested that it be fed back to the Returning Officer that, in future, where an urgent change to a Polling Place was necessary, Ward Councillors should be informed.  The item was secondedby Lunnon.

 

Councillors BJ Burgess, Nawaz, RG Burgess also spoke on this item.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

The Full Council notes the Urgent Action taken by the Chief Executive (as Returning Officer) in respect of the temporary change to the Polling Place for Polling District LMC (Three Bridges) for the 5 May 2022 election, which was taken on 17 March 2022.

12.

Councillors' Questions Time

There will be a maximum of 30 minutes for Councillors’ Question Time (CQT). Councillors may ask questions relating to either a portfolio issue or with regard to the functions delegated to a Committee.

 

There are two methods for Councillors asking questions:

 

1.     Councillors can submit written questions in advance of the meeting and written answers will be provided on the evening of the Full Council.

 

2.     Councillors can also verbally ask questions during the CQT.

 

Councillors have the opportunity to ask oral supplementary questions in relation to either of the methods above.

Minutes:

Nameof Councillorasking Question

Nameof CabinetMember Responding

Councillor Crowto theCabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development -

 

As this is Councillor Smith’s last Full Council meeting I would like to wish you well and a happy retirement. In your early days you often talked about the market and how you would like to do more for the market. Prior to 2014 the market was in the High Street and it is now near the Bus Station and McDonald’s but not moved to Queensway as planned in the Town Centre Regeneration Programme. We did have the Council act as the operator for several years. Do you think you could have done more to improve the market and do you have any words for your successor to get the market in a good place to bring more people in?

 

 

Supplementary Question –

The market move would cost money to move to Queensway. Surely that should have been considered when formulating the plans as we have spent money on being able to accommodate the market but it has yet to move.  Does he have any idea on how long it may take and long is the Council likely to remain the operator as it is a cost to the Council?

 

CouncillorP Smith, CabinetMember for Planning and Economic Development -

 

 

Thank you Councillor Crow.  The work we have done on the Town Centre Regeneration Programme did include provision for a new market and we did take over the running of it in 2014. As part of the design of the Queensway and The Pavement we have included the technology, fixtures and fittings for the market to be located there and we have had reports as to how a bigger market could be run which could complement the existing businesses.  Unfortunately there is not sufficient funds to roll out the market in an efficient way and it needs to be economically viable for the stallholders and the town.  Footfall in the town is already returning to 2019 levels.

 

 

 

We have worked in partnership with the LEP and WSCC.  In terms of planning ahead we have a range of ambitious items to improve the town but it is a challenging time.  There is a plan, but there are currently no revenue funds so I’m not able to say when we will be able to roll it out.

CouncillorBob Burgessto theLeader of the Council -

 

Last week the new housing development which has been called Geraint Thomas House was officially opened. This is a development that I have personally welcomed, providing much needed accommodation in a town that continues to grow.  I also believe that only two Councillors were in attendance at this opening namely yourself and Councillor Irvine. The Constitution in section 6.5 states “When an opening ceremony or photo opportunity is being held in an individual ward to mark the opening or installation of a new or upgraded facility or service provision, all Councillors  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Receiving the Minutes of the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Other Committees including Items for Debate pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive the minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Committees, as listed on page 23,  and set out in the appendices to this item and to debate any Reserved Items contained within those Minutes.

 

NB:  In advance of the meeting Political Groups can identify any items they wish to debate as a Reserved Item.  These Reserved Items will then be the only matters to be the subject of debate.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

Thatthe followingreports bereceived:

 

Licensing – 1 March 2022

Planning Committee – 8 March 2022

Overview and Scrutiny Commission – 14 March 2022

Audit Committee – 15 March 2022

Cabinet – 16 March 2022

Governance Committee – 21 March 2022

 

The following item which was not a Recommendation to the Full Council was selected as an Item for Debate:

 

Agenda  Page no.

Committee/

Minute no.

 

Item

 

 

p.66

 

Licensing Committee

1 March 2022

(Minute 4)

 

Councillor Crow

 

Review of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy(Consultation Feedback).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.

Item for Debate - Review of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy (Consultation Feedback) - Licensing Committee, 1 March 2022 (Minute 4)

Minutes:

Councillor Malik declared a personal and prejudicial interest, left the room and took no part in the debate.

 

Councillor Crow then explained the rationale for bringing this item for debate and raised concerns regarding the recent decision taken at the Licensing Committee.  Councillor Crow stressed that he was speaking as an individual Councillor and not on behalf of the Conservative Group.  It was recognised that the Council had declared a climate emergency and also more recently voted on reducing its emissions and net zero targets. Older vehicles potentially generated greater emissions than those of newer vehicles.

 

Although Councillor Crow acknowledged it was admirable to assist small businesses, he emphasised that public safety standards of the service were of paramount importance and, whilst vehicles over 4 years of age must undergo six-monthly Certificate of Compliance checks, it was felt that granting a further age limit extension could leave the Council open to potential legal challenge which could potentially be problematic.

 

Both support and opposition of the Licensing Committee’s resolution was expressed with Councillors, McCarthy, Jones, T Belben, C Mullins, BJ Burgess, Ayling, Lamb, Ali, Nawaz and Buck speaking on the item.  Those in support of the resolution emphasised that the Licensing Committee had considered the issue in depth and had asked relevant questions of officers before the decision was taken.  They maintained that many licensed drivers had experienced a loss of earnings throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and it was considered important to assist small businesses when the Council was able to do so. A further extension may allow those whose vehicles were approaching 11 years old more time to recuperate earnings before needing to purchase a new vehicle.  It was also acknowledged that the Certificate of Compliance checks and MOTs awere in place to ensure the safety of passengers.  Those against the resolution were of the opinion that the safety of passengers should be the primary focus of the Council as Licensing Authority and were of the view that extending the age limit of taxis was contrary to that.

 

Councillor Jaggard responded on this item as Chair of the Licensing Committee and expressed her disappointment with the decision taken by the Committee. The item had summarised the results of the consultation process on a policy that promoted public safety, which was the primary purpose of the licensing regime. Concern had been raised that there had been an increase in MOT advisories in the last year.  With regards to the consultation itself, although there had been 57 respondents to the (both taxi drivers and residents) only 3 people had commented upon the age of the vehicles.  The rationale for the further extension was the loss of earnings, however many businesses had suffered during the pandemic and drivers could have taken advantage of the government business grants or SORN their vehicles off the road. Nevertheless, the 12 month extension had been considered and carried by the Committee.

Appendix A: Disclosures of Interest pdf icon PDF 134 KB