Agenda and draft minutes

On the completion of the meeting beforehand, Council - Wednesday, 21st July, 2021 7.02 pm

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

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

Media

Items
No. Item

31.

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.

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Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.

32.

Declaration of Interests

To receive any declaration of interests from Members.

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

33.

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

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Minutes:

The Mayor welcomed Members back to the chamber and stated as she had not provided any refreshments this evening she would be making a donation to Thurrock Carers. Members were informed the Mayor would be providing refreshments before the beginning of September Council in the Mayor’s Parlour. The Mayor would be holding an Afternoon Tea at Stifford Hall on the 15 September in aid of her two charities, Little Havens Thurrock and Thurrock over Fifty’s Forum (TOFF).

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Gledhill, made the following announcements:

 

·       COVID Update - The country had seen significant growth in the number of people testing positive for COVID but like the rest of the country that growth had fortunately not been reflected in the number of people being hospitalised or dying. With the lifting of legal restrictions now was not the time to throw caution to the wind and had to remain mindful of both the ongoing risks of COVID and other people’s decisions on whether they want to continue distancing from others and wearing face-coverings in indoor public spaces. That it had been clear that the vaccination was an extremely important factor in our journey through the summer and urged residents those ready for their second dose not to delay in getting the extra protection that would offer. Also the Leader urged anyone over the age of 18 who had not taken up the offer of a vaccine to do so without hesitation and reminded residents that double vaccination was not immunity to COVID but it would help stop the spread and for those who did contact the virus double vaccination meant it was less likely to be seriously affected. As of Monday the seven day figures for Thurrock were:

 

·       485 people tested positive

·       Rate of 278 per 100,000 people

·       We are 127th UTLA in the country

·       177,555 vaccine doses have been given - 101,723 first doses and 75,832 second doses

·     Was pleased to announce that on 7 and 14 August, the Thames Clipper would be running an Uber boat from Tilbury to the City via river taking just 60 minutes to the heart of the capital. The service would leave at 10.00am returning to Tilbury at 6:30pm. There were plans for the service to be accessible from Tilbury and Grays but this was to demonstrate to residents how the service could be used by residents to get to docklands and the city on a regular basis.

·     Extended the Council’s thanks to the England Football team following their tremendous performance in the Euros with the entire team truly doing us proud and were a credit to the nation.

34.

Questions from Members of the Public pdf icon PDF 5 KB

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

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Minutes:

No questions from members of the public were received.

35.

Petitions from Members of the Public and Councillors

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

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Minutes:

Mr Williams presented a petition on behalf of residents on Save the Thameside Complex.

 

Councillor Muldowney presented a petition against the proposed sale of the 6.8 acres of green fields opposite Cole Avenue, RM14 4JQ by Thurrock Council.

 

36.

Petitions Update Report pdf icon PDF 116 KB

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Minutes:

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

37.

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.

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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 following change to make:

To add Councillor Thandi to the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education Committee.

 

Councillor Holloway, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, informed the Chamber she had no changes to make.

 

Councillor Byrne, Leader of the Thurrock Independent Group, informed the Chamber he had no changes to make.

 

38.

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and Children's Social Care pdf icon PDF 681 KB

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Minutes:

Councillor Johnson presented his portfolio report by placing on record his sincere thanks to all key workers and in context to his report thanked all educators and children service providers for being absolutely amazing in delivering the services during these unprecedented times. That their commitment to duty had done you all proud. Councillor Johnson made thanks to the Conservative Government in agreeing to support the free school meals over the summer and in line with the holiday activities provision over a four week period would ensure that those eligible would continue to receive good quality meals. There had been an amazing partnership working between the local authority and education and it was Councillor Johnson’s intention to visit as many schools as possible. Members were referred to the Headstart Housing Project to ensure young school leavers had a safe and secure base, the exemption for foster carers from council tax, Thurrock school pupils despite the many challenges faced this year had shown real resilience and some truly fantastic results, must continue to support children and young people and their families or carers as we begin the recovery phase of COVID, look how to bridge gaps not just in education but in social skills, important that all services and that of the Council’s partners ensure parents and carers were involved as much as possible, work collaboratively with the homelessness team to ensure all investigation work was undertaken to identify any household with children and the threat of homelessness and put measures in place to stop this becoming a reality, look to expand SEND education provision within Thurrock schools, find ways of improving the speed of ECHP assessments, Thurrock saw its fair share of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and to ensure the Council participated fully in the agreement across the East of England and provide good corporate parenting to those and indeed for all our children looked after, for Children Service’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to continue to scrutinise, explore better ways of expanding Thurrock’s based foster carers and adopters by building on already exciting ideas for retention and recruitment, the Prevent working group had the remit to include investigations into preventing unaccompanied asylum seeker children being involved in human or gang association, continue to ensure Thurrock had enough school places required and look to improve the placement in first-choice schools.

 

Councillor Muldowney thanked Councillor Johnson for the report and also added her thanks to all staff working in schools and social services for their extraordinary hard work this year and to Thurrock’s children for giving up a lot of keep their parents, grandparents and older members of the community safe. That the care and safety of Thurrock children had enough to eat which had always be a cross party priority and asked Councillor Johnson to join her in addressing child poverty by making it one of his key priorities this year by refreshing Thurrock’s child poverty strategy and setting new and ambitious targets to tackle child poverty in our area. Councillor Johnson  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Report of the Cabinet Member for Adults and Communities pdf icon PDF 532 KB

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Minutes:

Councillor Huelin presented her portfolio report by stating this past year had seen some very difficult times for staff and residents who had lost loved ones due to the pandemic and her heart went out to all those affected. That COVID had shown the strengths and ability to not just being flexible and reactive to situations but to proactively lead as a borough. There would always be a debt of gratitude to those serving the borough from front line workers across all services to countless charity organisations and volunteers, cabinet, councillors, officers, directors, chief executive and that honesty, openness and trust in each other across all areas had got us through and kept us ahead of that curve. PPE had been provided to services, informal carers and community groups, had led a multi-agency hub to oversee COVID protocols and manage exposures, testing protocols for care home workers months before national arrangements were made, a 24/7 access to public health advise. Council workers formed through the COVID Community Action Group sent to support 5000 vulnerable residents, supported people discharge from hospital who could not go home because of self-isolating. Councillor Huelin thanked Councillor Halden and Roger Harris for their hard work and dedication last year providing us with a solid base to build on this year. There would be successful pilot schemes of health and wellbeing teams in Tilbury and Chadwell, social worker apprenticeships, working with the volunteer sector and health partners to access mental health facilities and support, provide a more flexible care package for residents based on understanding through long term care relationships, the micro enterprises scheme had won an national award giving the flexible support to residents such as offering lunch, clubs, handymen and gardeners. It had been a tough year for libraries with lockdowns and changing guidelines but during the times of closure had facilitated services and outreached supplies by phone, on-line and hand deliveries. Joined a library consortium and installed a new management system. Arts, cultural and museum volunteers had during the year done some amazing work such as rearranging bookings, creating educational packages and interactive online offers for students, teachers and care homes and had organised outdoor museum exhibitions. The Council was particularly supportive of community led projects and continued to support creative people and places in their bid to arts for funding. Councillor Huelin concluded that we were on the road to recovery with some difficult decisions to be made and was proud of our collaborative community approach and would continue to work with partners to deliver community driven arts and heritage across the borough that improved the quality of life, health and wellbeing of all residents.

 

Councillor Holloway questioned with the strength of the feeling against the closing of Thameside Theatre not just this evening but in the weeks since the closure had been confirmed would the portfolio holder consider reversing the decision. Councillor Huelin stated that no decision had yet been made and this was an opportunity to be open and frank  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Questions from Members pdf icon PDF 96 KB

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

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Minutes:

The Mayor informed the Chamber one question to the Leader had been received and five questions to Cabinet Members. Those questions not heard would either receive a written response or have the option to withdraw and resubmit.

 

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

 

41.

Reports from Members representing the Council on Outside Bodies

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Minutes:

No reports were presented.

42.

Minutes of Committees

Name of Committee

Date

Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee

16 March 2021

General Services Committee

15 June 2021

Planning Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee

9 February 2021

Standards and Audit Committee

11 March 2021

 

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Minutes:

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

43.

Update on motions resolved at Council during the previous year pdf icon PDF 141 KB

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Minutes:

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

44.

Motion submitted by Councillor J Kent pdf icon PDF 188 KB

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Minutes:

The Mayor agreed that Councillor J Kent’s motion could be deferred to the September Council.

45.

Motion submitted by Councillor Rigby pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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Minutes:

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

Her Majesty the Queen will be celebrating her Platinum Jubilee next June. To commemorate such a momentous occasion, the Council calls on the Cabinet to plant an established tree in each ward, between October and March, with a plaque. This will be in line with The Queen's Green Canopy project and will provide a lasting legacy of Her Majesty's devotion to the Commonwealth.

Councillor Rigby presented her motion by stating that next year Her Majesty the Queen would be celebrating her 70th year reign and as part of the Queen’s green canopy project would be seeking to inspire individuals, communities and businesses to plant a tree which would be there for generations to come. That trees would provide an important habitat, shelter and food for many species of birds and help to combat climate change. Ward councillors would work with Officers to choose a suitable tree and location which would be a fitting tribute to the longest serving British monarch.

 

Councillor Gledhill supported the motion by agreeing that this was a way of commemorating the 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign by putting a tree into each ward with each ward member having a say on the type and location of the tree. There was a need to ensure the right tree was planted so that they were not just here for five to ten years but for longer than Her Majesty’s reign. Councillor Gledhill stated that if the motion was agreed he would be happy to endorse as soon as was possible.

 

Councillor Pothecary stated her support to this motion and agreed that it would be a fitting tribute but stressed that the Council worked with local communities, community groups and resident associations in terms of where these trees should be sited.

 

Councillor Redsell stated her full support for the motion and commented that following her Motion to plant more trees in the borough the Council had done really well and that over 1000 trees had been planted with trees that come down being replaced with new ones.

 

Councillor Rigby summed up by thanking Members for their support.

 

The Mayor called a vote on the Motion.

 

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

 

46.

Motion submitted by Councillor Watson pdf icon PDF 178 KB

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Minutes:

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

 

This Council notes with concern the Government proposals to change planning law. This Council believes planning works best when developers and the local community work together to shape local areas and deliver necessary new homes; and, therefore, the Council resolves to write to our local members of parliament asking them to protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications legislation.

 

A proposed amendment to the Motion had been submitted by Councillor Gledhill. The amended Motion read as follows:

 

This Council notes the Government proposals to change planning law.

This Council believes planning works best when developers and the local community work together to shape local areas and deliver necessary new homes; and, therefore, the Council resolves to write to our local members of parliament asking them to protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications in the forthcoming legislation.

 

Councillor Watson presented her motion by agreeing to the amendments and stated the Government had published a controversial proposal to reform the planning system and a concern of Councillor Watson and others was the proposal to remove local resident’s right to object to individual planning applications in their own neighbourhoods if that area had been zoned for growth or renewal. These reforms would endanger affordable and social housing and would allow developers to build bad quality homes, high density as well as not enough affordable house for the borough. In the new reform the Council would have some say in the designated areas of growth, renewal or protection for some of the zones but after that residents and members would be almost powerless to influence development in growth areas. That development proposals would be automatically granted for outline planning permission with detailed plans being delegated to planning officers. In regards to new areas there would be an expectation in favour of developments with some types of developments receiving an automatic planning consent. Councillor Watson asked all Members to accept the amended motion.

 

Councillor Gledhill thanked Councillor Watson for accepting the amendments to the motion and hoped to see a swift unanimous support across the whole chamber. Councillor Gledhill stated that the points made by Councillor Watson were valid and well made. There had been for decades a call for planning reform and this Government had been clear in its intention to deliver that. The current system where residents were allowed at the last minute of an application to have a say needed to be changed. That as part of the local plan it would introduce the engagement with communities long before the application would be put to local residents, their needs taken from this and understood with the standards being set for developers to follow on upcoming developments. That the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government had announced the formation of the new office of place that outlined plans  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.