Agenda and draft minutes

Full Council - Wednesday, 27th March, 2024 7.30 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms A B & C - Town Hall. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosures of Interest pdf icon PDF 55 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 pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Full Council held on 21 February 2024.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Full Council held on 21 February 2024 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.

 

3.

Communications pdf icon PDF 55 KB

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

Minutes:

The Mayor then provided the Full Council with a brief update on the Mayoral events attended since the last meeting which included commemorating the invasion of Ukraine with many members of the Ukrainian community and other residents of Crawley, as well as welcoming HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh at Manor Green College.  Last week the fountains in Queens Square were switched back on with a large crowd in attendance, particularly children.

 

Cabinet Member Councillor S Mullins provided the Full Council with further context to their Cabinet Member announcements, as contained within the Supplementary Agenda (Order Paper).

 

4.

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:

Questions asked in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9 were as follows:

           

Question

Response

 

Mr Burnham - (Bewbush)

 

 

The Council recently declared a Housing crisis. Therefore, is it not the case that any idea to resolve or relieve the housing crisis should be supported and implemented?

 

Supplementary Question –

As everyone knows, in July 2022 I submitted a petition ‘stop affordable housing, borrow money to build council housing at council rents using housing cooperatives’.  Unfortunately the Council did not vote for this.  Since then, I have given up on this petition itself, and asked Leaders of both parties to meet with me to get the petition issue put forward and voted upon.  This is being put forward via the notion of motion and I hope everyone supports this.

Councillor Irvine (Cabinet Member for Housing)

 

Yes. Any measures that come forward to increase our housing stock would be welcomed and investigated but we would have to wait for those to come forward. If there is a viable proposition, then it would be considered.

 

5.

Recommendation 1: Review of the Constitution

Minutes:

The Full Council considered report LDS/215of the Head of Governance, People and Performance. Councillor Lamb as the Chair of Governance Committee introduced the report which recommended proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution, namely in relation to the guillotine procedures, Licensing Sub Committee (Hearings) Procedure Rules, and the Order of Business for the Annual Meeting of the Full Council. The changes would ensure consistency and that the Constitution remained transparent and accessible.

 

The recommendations were seconded and supported by Councillor Crow.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Full Council approves that:

 

a)    The Guillotine procedure for Committees be amended to enable Committees to vote to continue after the meeting had reached 2½ hours (mirroring the Full Council Procedure Rules), with a “hard” Guillotine for Committees being retained to come into effect at 11pm when a Committee was held outside the Town Hall.

 

b)    The Licensing Sub-Committee (Hearings) Procedure Rules be amended as set out in the Appendix to the minutes of the Governance meeting 5 March 2024.

 

c)     The following be added in as new paragraph 2.1(l) (Order of Business for the Annual Meeting of the Full Council) to the Full Council Procedure Rules: “Consider a No Confidence Notice of Motion regarding the current Leader of the Council (if required).”

 

 

6.

Recommendation 2: Second Home Council Tax Premium

Minutes:

The Full Council considered report FIN/648 of the Head of Corporate Finance. The Leader of the Council presented the report and the recommendation. It was noted that the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act came into force on 26 October 2023. The Act allowed Council's to charge higher Council Tax on properties that were defined as long term empty homes and properties that were only occupied occasionally (second homes). The additional charge was intended to encourage owners to bring properties back into use and could boost the supply of properties in the borough, whilst also assisting in providing additional money for other council services.

 

The recommendations were seconded and supported by Councillor Irvine.

 

Councillors Crow, Burgess and Jones also spoke on this item.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That Full Council:

 

a)    Approves a Premium of 100% for dwellings which are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished (Empty Homes Premium) after 1 year, instead of two years from 1 April 2025.

 

b)    Approves the application of a premium for dwellings Occupied Periodically (Second Homes) charged at 100% (twice the current Council Tax Amount) from 1 April 2025.

 

c)     Delegates authority to the Head of Corporate Finance (Section 151 Officer) to implement this Council’s policy on premiums in line with statute and any subsequent guidance issued by the Secretary of State following the outcome of the consultation (Appendix A of report FIN/648) which recommends exceptions to the second homes premium in certain circumstances.

 

7.

Notice of Motion - Supply and affordability of Social Housing pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider, in accordance with Full Council Procedure Rule 1.1-H, the following Notice of Motion to be moved by Councillor Crow and seconded by Councillor

Millar-Smith.

Minutes:

The Full Council considered the Notice of Motion – Supply and Affordability of Social Housing – as set out on page 71 of the agenda.

 

The Motion was moved and presented by Councillor Crow, who in doing so gave further explanation of the reasoning behind the Motion, which had followed the submission of a petition in July 2022 and the Full Council’s resolution  declaring a housing emergency in February 2024.  It was seconded and supported by Councillor Millar-Smith.

 

Councillor Jones moved and presented Amendment 1 to the Notion of Motion (as shown in the Supplementary Agenda), along with a verbal amendment for accuracy purposes which replaced Natural England as a ‘Government department’ with a ‘non-departmental public body sponsored by DEFRA’. The amendment was seconded by Councillor Irvine.

 

A single debate occurred on both the recommendation and the proposed amendment. Councillors Lanzer, S Mullins, Charatan, Burgess, Nawaz, C Mullins, Mwagale, Lamb and Millar-Smith all spoke during the debate.

 

Councillor Crow used his right to reply on the proposed Amendment and on what had been debated.

 

The Mayor then called for a vote on the proposed Amendment in respect of Notice of Motion 1 – Supply and Affordability of Social Housing, which was carried by 20 votes in favour, 0 against and 13 abstentions.

 

The Mayor then called for a vote on the substantive Notion of Motion – Supply and Affordability of Social Housing (as amended), which was carried unanimously.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Full Council notes that:

 

At the meeting of the Full Council in July 2022, the following petition was submitted under the Petition Scheme, signed by over 1,000 Crawley residents.

 

“We need truly affordable, publicly owned homes for Crawley people. We, the undersigned, are appalled at Crawley Borough Council’s decision to charge council tenants so-called affordable rents at the maximum 80% of the market rate. This policy is causing unnecessary hardship and must be scrapped. Instead, we call upon the Council to borrow the money to build council houses at rents comparable to existing stock and use housing cooperatives to reduce the cost.”

 

It was presented and after discussion, it was agreed to note the petition and for councillors to be provided with information relating to the charging levels for affordable rents, which was subsequently done.  It was also noted that at the time of the meeting, only 4% of Crawley Homes stock was charged at the higher affordable rate, a percentage which remains broadly the same at the current date.

 

That the Full Council further notes:

 

Since July 2022, we have seen increased housing costs for all tenures, including for council tenancies charged at social and affordable rent levels.

 

At the February 2023 meeting of the Full Council, the following items occurred:

·       The annual budget was passed, with it being highlighted how exceptionally high temporary housing accommodation costs would become financially unsustainable for the council.

 

·       A motion declaring a Housing Emergency for Crawley was passed with unanimous support.

 

·       A written question was submitted and answered, which showed that in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Councillors' Questions Time pdf icon PDF 86 KB

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:

Name of Councillor asking Question

Name of Cabinet Member Responding

Councillor Hellier to the Cabinet Member for Leisure and Wellbeing

 

Supplementary question to written question -

Thank you for your response. I just wanted to seek clarification that the site is going to remain for use by children because the response mentions ‘development of the site’.

 

Councillor C Mullins, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Wellbeing

 

The site is still being used by children as there is a nursery using the facility and there isn’t the intention to change that.  However the site itself has limits on its popularity and development. There was an approach by a tennis association for Paddle Tennis but that did not come forward.  I cannot guarantee the site will remain purely for children’s use as the site needs a use that will be beneficial and work, particularly as there are now the 2 main centres within the town.  It is not the intention to close the site, but we want to investigate all options and consider all proposals and consult local councillors and residents.

Councillor McCarthy to the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development

 

With the recent news that Marks and Spencer is the latest shop to leave Crawley town centre, how does the current administration score its performance on preventing the loss of high profile retailers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplementary question –

What actions specifically are in the pipeline to make the town centre more desirable?

Councillor Nawaz, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development

 

It is sad news for the town and a great loss for the town centre.  I can’t say I agree with the decision, but it is one that Marks and Spencer have made based on what they believe to be the most profitable business model for them in the future. We will work with Employ Crawley to help any members of staff who do not wish to be transferred to another store and we will continue to invest in improving in the town centre to make it attractive for businesses and retailers.

 

 

We will do public art, improvement grants, update shop fronts and regeneration improvements to The Boulevard, The Marlets and the Station Gateway.  Whilst the majority of properties are owned by private companies we will help the owners in any way we can to find a suitable replacement tenant in the current building. Vacancy rate in Crawley town centre is 11% which is below the national average (which is 14%).  Recent data from Town Centre BID shows that Crawley is outperforming the neighbouring towns.  With BA Holidays and Varian moving into the town it is hoped this will attract further businesses and retailers to the town.

Councillor Charatan to the Leader of the Council

 

I’m aware we recently had a visit from the Home Secretary, and I understand you recently wrote to the Home Secretary and perhaps you were a little disappointed that he didn’t take the time to speak to you following the borough housing emergency?

Councillor Jones, Leader of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Receiving the Minutes of the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Other Committees including Items for Debate

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:

Moved by Councillor Kiran Khan (as the Deputy Mayor):-

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the following reportsbe received:

·         Governance Committee – 5 March 2024

·         Planning Committee – 6 March 2024

·         Overview and Scrutiny Commission – 11 March 2024

·         Audit Committee – 12 March 2024

·         Cabinet – 13 March 2024

 

There were no items for debate.

 

Appendix A: Disclosures of Interest pdf icon PDF 55 KB