Agenda and draft minutes

Budget, Council - Wednesday, 26th February, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Jenny Shade, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

103.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Council, held on 29 January 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of Council held on the 29 January 2020 were approved as a correct record.

104.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Mayor is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.

105.

Declaration of Interests

To receive any declaration of interests from Members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

106.

Announcements on behalf of the Mayor or the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor announced he had held a fund raising event at Amazon for his charity, Giving for Thurrock (GiFT), where mayors from as far as Folkestone had attended.

 

The Mayor thanked all Members for their contributions this year, thanked those Members who would be retiring at the upcoming elections and sent good luck wishes to those Members up for re-election.

 

The Leader also thanked those Members who would be retiring at the upcoming elections.

 

The Leader stated the Council’s working relationship with Essex Police had some excellent results taking drug dealers off the streets of Thurrock and securing convictions. Another eight criminals had been arrested and either pleaded guilty or been found guilty thanks to the excellent work carried out by Essex Police Operation Raptor Team. During Op Raptor Essex Police had arrested 42 people, they had seen a 12% decrease in reports of Anti-Social Behaviour in Grays and Lakeside areas and in the last year alone had managed to secure a total of 42 years jail time for 16 C17 members. With Thurrock Council playing a significant role in providing funding and supporting the work being carried out by the team and would continue to work closely with Essex Police to see excellent results taking criminals off our streets.

 

The Leader referred to two consultations taking place in Grays. Plans for the regeneration of Grays Town Centre, which the Council wanted to get residents feedback on. Grays was set to be transformed with redevelopment stretching from the banks of the Thames to the very heart of the town. With £200m investment already secured including an underpass at Grays Station, which had received £11m funding from the Government through the Local Growth Fund. A further £49m had been bid for via the Future High Street Fund and the Towns Fund for Grays.

 

The other consultation was the Grays Public Space Protection Order and again would like to hear views from local residents and businesses who want to live and work without being affected by those intent on street drinking. The Leader reminded Members that both of these consultations can be completed through the Council website ‘Have my Say’ pages.

 

The Leader stated Highways England had launched a new round of consultation on their proposals to build the Lower Thames Crossing in Thurrock. Their first consultation had received more than 28,000 responses and had been instrumental in them making some significant changes to the proposals including scrapping plans for a rest, service and maintenance area. This new consultation was another opportunity to make sure residents of the borough had their voice heard and had another opportunity to make Highways England reconsider their proposals. The Council would continue to challenge Highways England and provide constructive feedback and objection to their proposals. The Leader reminded Members the consultation was available online until 25 March 2020.

 

The Leader was delighted to say in commemoration of VE Day the Council had planned to install a memorial in Grays Town Park, this would include  ...  view the full minutes text for item 106.

107.

Questions from Members of the Public pdf icon PDF 98 KB

In accordance with Chapter 2, Part 2 (Rule 14) of the Council’s Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A copy of the transcript of questions and answers can be viewed under the relevant meeting date at http://democracy.thurrock.co.uk/thurrock and are attached at Appendix A at these minutes.

108.

Petitions from Members of the Public and Councillors

In accordance with Chapter 2, Part 2(Rule 14) of the Council’s Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mayor informed Members in accordance with the Council’s petition scheme, two requisition of notice had been given to present a petition at the meeting.

 

Councillor Little presented a petition on behalf of residents requesting Council and the Portfolio Holder to remove the Ridgwell Avenue proposal from the consultation document that went to Overview and Scrutiny on Tuesday 11 February and to Cabinet on 12 February 2020.

 

Councillor Potter presented a petition on behalf of residents calling Thurrock Borough Council to carry out a public consultation on parking in the following roads: Lime Close; Copper Beech Road; Church Crescent; Cliff Place; The Green; Peartree Close; Tyssen Place; Cheelson Road; Wilsman Road; Nelson Road; Hall Lane; and Canterbury Parade.

109.

Petitions Update Report pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report on the status of those petitions handed in at Council meetings and Council offices.

110.

Revised Political Balance pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Gledhill presented the report that requested Council to confirm the calculations relating to the allocation of seats on committees following Councillor Allen becoming an Independent Councillor on 3 February 2020.

 

The Mayor called a vote on this item to which Members voted unanimously in favour.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.         That the political balance and allocation of seats, as set out in Appendix 1, was approved.

 

2.         Council noted the manual adjustment requirements outlined in 2.8 and 2.9 and agreed those adjustments proposed by Group Leaders at the meeting.

111.

Appointments to Committees and Outside Bodies, Statutory and Other Panels

The Council are asked to agree any changes to the appointments made to committees and outside bodies, statutory and other panels, as requested by Group Leaders.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor enquired whether Group Leaders wished for any changes to be made to the appointments previously made by Committees and Outside Bodies, statutory and other panels.

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Gledhill, informed the Chamber he had the no changes to make.

 

Councillor Pothecary, Leader of the Labour Group, informed the Chamber she had the following changes to make:

 

For Councillor Abbas to replace Councillor Rice on the William Palmer College Educational Trust.

 

Councillor Spillman, Leader of the Thurrock Independent Group, informed the Chamber he would like to relinquish seats on the Planning Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Licensing Committee.

 

For the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force, Councillor Spillman gifted the vacant appointment to Councillor Allen to which Councillor Allen accepted and agreed by Members.

112.

Appointment of Director of Children's Services pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Gledhill stated that following a robust search and selection process, the General Services Committee had unanimously agreed to recommend Sheila Murphy be appointed Corporate Director of Children’s Services. The report presented this eventing was to seek the agreement of Council. Councillor Gledhill thanked Roger Harris for covering the interim period.

 

Councillor Pothecary extended her best wishes and congratulations to Sheila Murphy on her appointment and stated this would be a good opportunity to look at processes on the recruitment of directors to ensure processes in place were the best.

 

Councillor Spillman congratulated Sheila Murphy on her appointment and also thanked Roger Harris for this hard work during the interim period.

 

Councillor Okunade thanked Roger Harris for covering the interim period and congratulated and wished Sheila Murphy well in her new role.

 

Councillor Little stated Sheila Murphy had been the best person for the job and sent her congratulations. Councillor Little also thanked Roger Harris for the work undertaken during the interim period especially with the Ofsted inspection.

 

Councillor Redsell thanked Sheila Murphy with the work undertaken on the Corporate Parenting Committee.

 

Councillor Gledhill summed up by thanking the stakeholder panel members and members for their contributions.

 

Upon being put to the vote, Members voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation, whereupon the Mayor declared this to be carried.

 

RESOLVED

 

That Sheila Murphy be appointed the Director of Children’s Services.

113.

Annual Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 337 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Huelin, Portfolio Holder for Central Services and Communities, presented the report which sought the approval of the Council’s Annual Pay Policy Statement. That Thurrock’s statement included a pay policy for all categories of employees which reflected the existing employment terms and conditions.

 

Councillor Pothecary thanked Councillor Huelin for the report and welcomed the increase across the Council and thanked the Council’s front line staff for all the work they undertook for residents.

 

The Mayor called a vote on this item to which Members voted unanimously in favour.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Annual Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 was agreed in line with the Council’s obligations under the Localism Act 2011, the Collective Agreement, the recommendations by the independent market assessment and the output of the pay review project (as agreed by General Services Committee on 8 October 2018).

114.

Capital Strategy 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Hebb, Portfolio Holder for Finance, presented the Capital Strategy report that covered the Council’s borrowing for capital purposes and included investments which were instrumental in financing capital programme that was designed to regenerate the borough and improve the borough’s open spaces. Last year the Council had received over £31m income from investments and projected for the coming year to be over £33m which equated to around 25% of this Council’s non grant income. Councillor Hebb stated the Investment Strategy had worked since October 2017 with statutory services safe and secure until at least mid-2023 and would fund additional services for the benefit of local residents such as £1m new fully warranted Police Constables, £0.5m injection funding to help primary care and education sector, front line environmental and highways department and £0.5m to help improve air quality in the borough.

 

Councillor Pothecary thanked Councillor Hebb for the report but had concerns on the high level of debt which had risen without a huge amount of democratic oversight and there being a lack of transparency of the level of debt the Council was currently in. The Capital Strategy Review had met and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny had made recommendations to improve member involvement to scrutinise the process and would not be agreeing to any increase until these recommendations had been fully implemented and would be voting against the capital strategy at this time.

 

Councillor Spillman thanked Councillor Hebb for the report and stated he had been very supportive of the investment strategy with demand rising and the Council had looked at more initiative ways to bring money into the borough to ensure the level of services continued. Although there were still questions to be answered such as the overspend on the A13 widening project.

 

Councillor Rice raised concerns the Council would be looking to borrow over £2m and asked for reassurance this had been managed in the proper manner. Councillor Rice also requested information on the capital programmes such as the A13 widening and the Stanford Le Hope rail station which was both overspent and questioned when the projects would be completed.

 

Councillor Duffin thanked Councillor Hebb and Officers for the report and voiced his support for the report. The report had been positive and proved how well things were going and the Council should be proud of this and should continue the trend to raise more investments to bring money into the borough.

 

Councillor Gerrish expressed this concern on the staggering level of debt that had arisen without any democratic overnight which was very risky and as Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee had asked for more accountability had been disappointment the report contained no clear plan. Councillor Gerrish suggested that an investment committee be formed to overview and scrutinise those decisions.

 

Councillor Halden referenced the majority of the Council’s investments were short term and all the debts the Council had incurred were stable debts and Members should be proud of the capital plan delivered this evening by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114.

115.

General Fund Budget Proposals pdf icon PDF 346 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor invited the Leader of the Council. Councillor Gledhill, to introduce the budget and advised he had 20 minutes to do so.

 

Councillor Gledhill

 

Thank you Mister Mayor and it is at this point that I really wish I would have visited Specsavers about three months ago, or indeed brought my reading glasses.

 

Yet again it is my pleasure to present to this chamber a budget that sees no cuts in services. What it is a budget for, is a budget that delivers more money to be spent on social care, more money to be spent on the environment, and more money to be spent on tackling anti-social behaviour across the borough. This is all done at the same time as having the maximum recommended amount in reserves at £11m for this year, but also…quite clearly I need to give up…but at the same time as the £11m in reserves, earmarked reserves of a further £10m to deliver transformation and ensure budget resilience as we move forward as a council.

 

So now to some of the detail. Members will see at appendix 2, page 115 a comprehensive list of the revised current budget envelopes and the proposals for next year’s spend in those areas. You will note in Adults, Health and Housing, an increased spend of £1.95 million; in Children’s Services, half a million; Environment £1.1 million. Indeed, with the exception of corporate cost, which covers council tax and benefit administration budget, all areas are seeing more money spent on them to deliver the services that residents need and expect. Indeed, overall it was about £5million extra spend across the board.

 

I would of course remind Members that this increase is on the current revised in-year budget totals. So, if we compared them to the original budget totals in 2019/20, so the beginning of this municipal year, we would see the increase as such: social care increase £4m, £1 million… sorry one third of £1 million in general fund homelessness support, and £1.2m extra spent on the environment team. So as we know social care for both adults and children is a very complex matter, and it just takes a few extra cases can put extreme pressure, not just on the services workload, but also on their finances. We are very fortunate to have a surplus at the moment that can absorb this in-year unexpected increase in demand, and this was a demand over and above the increase that we put in the end of the last financial year into these budgets. This is one of the reasons we are increasing the budget envelopes in these areas to ensure that as we move forward our most vulnerable are still looked after. Obviously, it is not just those in social care; it equally applies to those presenting themselves as potentially homeless, under our new duties under the Homelessness Prevention Act. Of course no one likes to see an overspend in a budget, but equally I’m sure not one of us  ...  view the full minutes text for item 115.

116.

Questions from Members pdf icon PDF 197 KB

In accordance with Chapter 2, Part 2 (Rule 14) of the Council’s Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor informed the Chamber no questions to the Leader had been received and nine questions to Cabinet Members.

 

A copy of the transcript of questions and answers can be found at Appendix A to these minutes.

 

The Mayor stated those Members whose questions were not heard a written response would be provided.

 

At 9.36pm, Councillor Maney called Point of Order in regards to Council Procedure Rules, 14.17, Supplementary Questions that Members may ask two supplementary questions but must not extend into a statement. Councillor Maney stated that Members were abusing this rule.

 

At 9.50pm, Councillor Holloway called Point of Order in regards to Article 5, 3.1 (d) of the constitution, Mayor's Functions and Responsibilities, (d) to ensure that the Council meeting was a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community. Councillor Holloway stated that the Mayor was not allowing Members to have such a debate.

 

At 9.54pm, Councillor Byrne called Point of Order to notify the Mayor that he was still waiting for a written response from the Portfolio Holder to a question submitted at January Council.

117.

Reports from Members representing the Council on Outside Bodies

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor informed the Chamber that no reports had been received.

118.

Minutes of Committees

Name of Committee

Date

Planning Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee

9 October 2019

Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee

7 November 2019

General Services Committee

17 October 2019

General Services Committee

6 November 2019

General Services Committee

12 November 2019

General Services Committee

18 November 2019

Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee

8 October 2019

Cleaner Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee

3 October 2019

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force

13 January 2020

Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee

1 October 2019

Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee

29 October 2019

Planning Committee

9 January 2020

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of Committee as set out in the Agenda were received.

119.

Update on motions resolved at Council during the previous year pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received an information report updating the progress in respect of Motions received at Council.

120.

Motion submitted by Councillor Halden pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Motion, as printed in the Agenda was proposed by Councillor Halden and seconded by Councillor Gledhill. The Motion read as follows:

 

The Chamber thanks those members retiring at the upcoming election for their service to the borough.

 

Councillor Halden presented the Motion by stating when Members were elected they sign up for a period of four years and within that time they are committed to the role and the functions associated with it and Members often had to take compromises on family life when undertaking the role in representing their constituents.

 

Councillor Halden specifically mentioned Councillor Gerrish, Councillor Spillman, Councillor Duffin and Councillor Watkins who would be retiring in May 2020 and wished them well.

 

Councillor Halden summed up by stating that on behalf of all 49 Members and residents he thanked all those retiring members for their service.

 

Members voted unanimously in favour of this Motion to which the Mayor announced the Motion carried.

121.

Motion submitted by Councillor Redsell pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Motion, as printed in the Agenda was proposed by Councillor Redsell. The Motion read as follows:

 

Council calls on Cabinet to consider a new wood and bluebells to be planted on a piece of land at the edge of Woodside.

 

Councillor Redsell stated the plans would be for a place for trees and greenery to grow which would lead to a wood being created for the future of Thurrock’s children. That planting trees was a way to tackle air pollution, a great way to reduce carbon footprint and for the health and wellbeing of residents. This was now a good time to start with plans which could only getting bigger over time. Councillor Redsell stated conversations were taking place with the developers who owned the piece of land.

 

The Mayor called a vote on the Motion.

 

Members voted unanimously in favour of this Motion to which the Mayor announced the Motion carried.

122.

Motion submitted by Councillor Rigby pdf icon PDF 196 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Motion, as printed in the Agenda was proposed by Councillor Rigby. The Motion read as follows:

 

The high use of fireworks in the borough was causing distress and injury to pets and wildlife with an impact on air quality. Members therefore call on the Council to request the Government; via a letter to George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with copies sent to our two local Members of Parliament, Jackie Doyle - Price and Stephen Metcalfe; review current legislation to include the following:

 

           Reduce the time period fireworks can be purchased.

           Reduce the decibel level of fireworks for private use.

           Restrict use of fireworks to official dates such as Bonfire night, Diwali, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year. All other times, for example weddings, requiring a licence.

 

We also request the Council provide improved notification of big scheduled events.

 

Councillor Rigby stated the Motion was not seeking to ban fireworks but to have more control over when fireworks could be used. To have reduced time periods and fixed dates when fireworks can be used and to have tighter controls.

 

The Mayor called a vote on the Motion.

 

Members voted unanimously in favour of this Motion to which the Mayor announced the Motion carried.