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Policy and Resources Committee Meeting - 16 October 2006

Minutes

TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL

POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE

Committee Room, Riverbank House, Bideford

16th October 2006

PRESENT: Councillor Mrs P A Ferguson (Chairman)

Councillor S E L Clarke (Vice Chairman) (Left meeting 9.00pm)

Councillors A I Bewes, G Boundy (Substitute for R H Hicks),

P R Collins, D J Daniel, W G Isaac, R E Johns, J Morrish,

Mrs S A Mounce (Substitute for Mrs M Brown), T Sillifant and

R M M Tisdale

ALSO PRESENT: Councillor P J Sturges

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs M Brown, G C Broyd, R H Hicks and D H Shadrick.

61.

MINUTES

Resolved: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 11th September 2006 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

62.

NOTICE OF MOTION

Councillor W G Isaac moved the following Notice of Motion, which had been submitted by Councillor P J Sturges, which was duly seconded:

"That this Committee supports the principle of training and competency testing for Members sitting on quasi-judicial Committees (specifically Planning and Licensing) and that the Member Development Working Group be charged with developing a Plan for the implementation of such training and competency testing prior to the next Election."

The Committee discussed the need for adequate and appropriate training for Members sitting on quasi-judicial Committees.

Councillor Sturges, at the invitation of the Chairman, also addressed the meeting and referred in particular to the Nolan Report which recommended training for such Committees, and pointed out that this requirement could well be imposed on local authorities at some date in the future.

Resolved: That the Notice of Motion be approved.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

63.

CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION

The Committee considered the report of the Solicitor which sought approval to include the following additional paragraph in the Constitution under Section A6.1 (Proposing and Seconding of Motions) of the Rules of Debate relating to Full Council:

"Where the motion is one for which written notice has been given under A5.1, once the motion has been moved and seconded under this rule a vote shall be taken on whether the motion shall be referred to the appropriate Committee with no further discussion, other than to allow for an alteration to the motion or a withdrawal of the motion under Rules A6.7 and A6.8 respectively.

For the sake of clarity, no amendments under Rule A6.6 will be permitted.

If a motion for which written notice has been given under A5.1 is not seconded under this Rule, or if the vote to refer the motion to the appropriate Committee is lost, the notice shall lapse and the motion shall not be moved without further written notice."

In addition approval was also sought to delete the note in italics contained at A5.2(f) of the Constitution relating to the suspension of Council procedure rules to allow reference back of a delegated decision.

SOL

Recommended: That the following recommendations of the Constitution Working Group be endorsed:-

(i) That paragraph A6.1 detailed above be added to Part 4, Chapter 1, A6.1 of the Constitution.

(ii) That the existing note at A5.2(f) within the Constitution be deleted.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

64.

TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (GENERAL REGULATIONS) 1992 - LAND AT EAST-THE=WATER

In accordance with Minute 56, Members were asked to approve the first planning resolution in respect of the land at East-the-Water.

CPM

Resolved: That pursuant to Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Regulations) 1992 that an application for outline planning permission be made by Torridge District Council to develop the land at East-the-Water for residential development.

(Vote: 10 For, 1 Against and 1 Abstention)

In accordance with the Constitution, Councillor W G Isaac asked that his vote against this proposal be recorded.

65.

DISCRETIONARY RATE RELIEF POLICY

Councillor S E L Clarke declared a prejudicial interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (property owner).

Councillor P R Collins declared a prejudicial interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (Director of Barometer World - business owner).

Councillor W G Isaac declared a personal interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (Chairman of Torridge Voluntary Services which is a charity in respect of rate relief).

Councillor J Morrish declared a prejudicial interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (Chief Executive of Charity).

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) relating to the Authority's discretionary rate relief policy. Members noted that there was a requirement for Local Authorities to regularly review their policies, and that the District Council's current policy had been adopted in November 2003.

The report detailed proposals to amend this policy, and copy of the proposed revised document, bringing up to date and removing any anomalies, was attached to the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources).

The report concluded by advising that it was not anticipated that the revised policy would affect the current eligibility for discretionary relief.

SD(R)

Resolved: That the amended Discretionary Rate Relief Policy attached to the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) be approved.

(Vote: 8 For, 0 Against and 4 Members Out of the room)

66.

WRITE-OFF OF DEBT

The Committee considered the report of the Head of Financial Services, which in accordance with their previous request detailed in Minute 39(5), provided information on the value of debts written off in the last six years. The report provided information on the procedures and the variety of recovery techniques used together with information on the current collection rates.

Attached to the report was an Appendix showing the value of debt written off in the last six years by category, and it was noted that a further report appeared in Part 2 of the Agenda requesting additional write offs.

HFS

Resolved: That the report of the Head of Financial Services be noted.

(Vote: 11 For, 1 Against)

In accordance with the Constitution, Councillor J Morrish asked for his vote against this proposal to be recorded.

67.

RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY REVIEW

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) relating to the Authority's Risk Management Strategy. The report advised that since the introduction of the first Risk Management Strategy in 2003, detailed work had been undertaken by Officers to compile a service based risk register and a corporate risk register.

Members noted that the Risk Management Group, consisting of Officers and Councillor G Boundy as Member Champion, had been updating the strategy, and a revised version, together with an implementation check list was attached to the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources).

SD(CR)

Resolved: That the revised Risk Management Strategy be approved and adopted and further reports received by the Committee in due course relating to the Corporate Risk Register.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

68.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMITTEES

There were no recommendations of Committees to be considered.

69.

MINUTES - TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL/NORTHAM TOWN COUNCIL LIAISON COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Torridge District Council/Northam Town Council Liaison Committee held on the 19th September 2006 were presented.

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and noted.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

70.

MINUTES - TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL/BIDEFORD TOWN COUNCIL LIAISON COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Torridge District Council/Bideford Town Council Liaison Committee held on the 25th September 2006 were presented.

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and noted.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

71.

MINUTES - TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL/GREAT TORRINGTON LIAISON COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Torridge District Council/Great Torrington Liaison Committee held on the 27th September 2006 were presented.

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and noted.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

72.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 (AS AMENDED)

Resolved: That under Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

73.

RELOCATION OF WESTCOMBE DEPOT

Councillors A I Bewes, G Boundy, D J Daniel, Mrs P A Ferguson and J Morrish declared a personal interest in this item (know SEL Clarke).

Councillor S E L Clarke declared a prejudicial interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (property owner).

Councillor W G Isaac declared a prejudicial interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (one of the sites evaluated is owned by a fellow Councillor who is a friend).

The Committee considered the confidential report of the Head of Operational Services which provided details of the evaluation process undertaken in respect of the relocation of Operational Services and the Responsive Repairs Team away from Westcombe Depot, Bideford. Details were provided of the driving issues that had been the catalyst for the relocation proposals together with information on the views of the District Valuer on the value of the site.

Full details were provided on the proposals which had been given consideration and a cost evaluation matrix provided. Following careful consideration of the report, it was;

HOS

Resolved:

(1) That the Operational Services and the Responsive Repairs Team remain at Westcombe Depot, and further investigations urgently take place into other relocation alternatives.

(2) That urgent Health and Safety issues at the Depot be addressed to a value of £10,000 to be found from existing budgets.

(Vote: 10 For, 0 Against and 2 Members Out of the room).

Members adjourned for a 5 minute comfort break and reconvened at 8.05pm.

74.

WRITE-OFF REPORT

The Committee considered the confidential report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) which sought approval to write off old irrecoverable debts. Full details of the debts were appended to the report, and in this connection it was reported that the non domestic rate detailed in reference number 260736619 was to be further investigated following the receipt of additional information from a Member. This meant that the figures within the report would be adjusted accordingly.

SD(R)

Resolved:

(1) That the Council Tax cases detailed in the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) totalling £10,804.63 be written off.

(2) That the NNDR accounts totalling £10,496.77 detailed in the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources), as amended verbally at the meeting, be written off.

(3) That the sundry debtors detailed in the report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) totalling £10,180.62 be written off.

(Vote: 11 For, 1 Against)

75.

CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2006/2007 - 2008/1009

The Committee considered the confidential report of the Head of Financial Services relating to the 2006/2007 - 2008/2009 Capital Programme.

The Head of Financial Services drew attention to Appendix 1 of the report which provided the revised Capital Programme with reviewed timing for projects together with monitoring information for the period April to September. Members noted that there were no significant issues to draw to their attention.

HFS

Resolved: That the revised Capital Programme for 2006/2007 - 2008/2009 be approved and the 2006/2007 monitoring information noted.

(Vote: 12 For, 0 Against)

76.

EAST-THE-WATER INDUSTRIAL LINK ROAD

The Committee considered the confidential report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) relating to the payment of the additional costs in respect of the completion of the East-the-Water Industrial Link Road. Information was provided on the legal advice obtained in connection with these costs, and the further detailed information sought from the County Council.

Members debated the report before them and asked the Officers to pursue the issue of professional liability insurance.

It was moved, and seconded, that

(1) An increase in the 2006/07 Capital Programme from £289,000 to £585,000 be approved.

(2) That the sum of £296,000 required be funded from the Useable Capital Receipts.

(3) That the Overview & Scrutiny 1 Committee be asked to scrutinise the figures and confirm they are correct before payment is made.

In accordance with the Constitution, Members called for a recorded vote on this motion.

For the Motion: Councillors Mrs P A Ferguson, S E L Clarke, A I Bewes, D J Daniel, W G Isaac, R E Johns, T Sillifant, P R Collins and Mrs S A Mounce (9)

Against the Motion: Councillor J Morrish (1)

Abstentions: Councillors G Boundy and R M M Tisdale (2)

SD(CR)

Resolved: That the above motion be approved.

(Vote: 9 For, 1 Against and 2 Abstentions)

77.

SD(CR)

(SOL)

THE QUAY BUILDING CONTRACT

Councillor C L Clarke declared a prejudicial interest in this item and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (friend of the former proprietor of W H Tolley & Son).

The Committee considered the confidential report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) relating to the Quay Building contract, together with details of the confidential advice received from the Council's Legal Advisers and the recommendations contained therein.

It was moved, duly seconded, and;

Resolved: That in view of the time and in accordance with the Constitution the meeting should continue.

It was proposed, and seconded, " That the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) be given the authority to negotiate with the administrators as recommended by the Legal Advisers in their letter, subject to the cost of the defects being deducted from the offer."

Councillor P R Collins proposed an amendment, which was duly seconded, "that a specific offer in settlement be made which did not make any adjustment in respect of the outstanding defects."

On being put the vote the amendment was lost by 4 votes to 7.

The substantive motion was then put to the vote and it was;

Resolved: That the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) be given the authority to negotiate with the administrators as recommended by the Legal Advisers in their letter, subject to the cost of the defects being deducted from the offer.

(Vote: 8 For, 1 Against and 2 Abstentions)

78.

REALIGNMENT

The Committee received a progress report on the re-alignment from the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources).

Details were given as to the progress being made towards recruitment to the other Strategic Director post plus the Heads of Legal Services, Corporate Services and Community Planning and Development.

Information was also presented on termination costs actually paid and due to be paid. The Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) confirmed that costs were still within the projected budget.

Resolved: That the report be noted.

(Vote: 11 For, 0 Against)

79.

COUNCIL INVESTMENTS

The Head of Financial Services submitted a list of Council's deposits with various organisations.

Resolved: That the report be noted.

(Vote: 11 For, 0 Against)

The meeting commenced at 6.30 pm and ended at 10.05 pm