Agenda and minutes

Council (SMDC) - Wednesday, 2nd December, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Linden Vernon 01538 395613  Email: linden.vernon@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk

Media

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

56.

Councillor Ian Whitehouse

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Having opening the meeting the Chairman asked Members of the Council to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the late Councillor Ian Whitehouse.

 

 

 

 

57.

Minutes of the previous meetings

Additional documents:

57a

Full Council - 26 February 2020 pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 26 February 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

57b

Council Assembly - 9 September 2020 pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Council Assembly held on 9 September 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

58.

Declarations of interest

1.    Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

2.    Other Interests

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following declaration was made:

 

Agenda Item

Member Declaring Interest

Nature of Interest

Agenda Item 10.2 Notice of Motion – Use of Fireworks

Cllr. K. Flunder

Director of a company that uses fireworks – will withdraw from meeting.

 

59.

Chairman's or Leader's announcements and correspondence, if any.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Council thanked the High Sheriff of Staffordshire for his visit to Covid-19 Support Groups in the Staffordshire Moorlands on 29 October 2020.  The Chairman also announced that there would be a special meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 22 December 2020 that would provide an update on the Coronavirus pandemic in the District.

60.

Decisions made under the Council's urgency provisions

·       18 March 2020 - Temporary Management Structure and Appointment of Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer.

 

·       18 March 2020 - Appointment of Authorised officers - Neil Rodgers (Executive Director - Place) and Claire Hazeldene (Acting Executive Director – Finance and Customer Services).

 

·       30 March 2020 - The affixing of the Council’s Common Seal be attested by the Chief Executive or Monitoring Officer or by some other person authorised by either of them in writing to do so.

 

·       7 May 2020 - Dispensation granted to all councillors for non-attendance at meetings until 30 September 2020.

 

Recommendation

 

That the decisions be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the following decisions made under the Council’s urgency provisions be noted.

 

·       18 March 2020 - Temporary Management Structure and Appointment of Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer.

 

·       18 March 2020 - Appointment of Authorised officers - Neil Rodgers (Executive Director - Place) and Claire Hazeldene (Acting Executive Director – Finance and Customer Services).

 

·       30 March 2020 - The affixing of the Council’s Common Seal be attested by the Chief Executive or Monitoring Officer or by some other person authorised by either of them in writing to do so.

 

·       7 May 2020 - Dispensation granted to all councillors for non-attendance at meetings until 30 September 2020.

 

 

61.

To consider and debate any recommendations from the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Panels and Committees.

Additional documents:

61a

Resources Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Recommendation

 

That the report be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

 

61b

Standards Committee - Annual Report pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Recommendation

 

That the report be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

 

61c

Audit and Accounts Committee - Annual Treasury Management Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 175 KB

Recommendation

 

That the Annual Treasury Management Report 2019/20 be recommended for approval.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Annual Treasury Management Report 2019/20 be approved.

61d

Audit and Accounts Committee - Treasury Management Update 31 May 2020 pdf icon PDF 328 KB

Recommendation

 

That Members note the current Treasury Management position as at 31st May 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Treasury Management position as at 31st May 2020 be noted.

 

62.

Audit and Accounts Committee - Treasury Management Update - 30 September 2020 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Recommendation

 

That Members note the current Treasury Management position as at 30th September 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Treasury Management position as at 30th September 2020 be noted.

 

62a

Audit and Accounts Committee - 2019/20 Annual Review of the Effectiveness of the Audit & Accounts Committee pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Recommendation

 

That the Audit & Accounts Committee’s terms of reference be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Audit & Accounts Committee’s terms of reference be approved.

63.

Notices of Motion in accordance with Procedure Rule No. 8.

Additional documents:

63a

Organisation of Local Government - Cllr S. Ralphs MBE

“Councillors will be aware of recent reports in the media with regards to potential changes to the organisation of Local Government including reference to the creation of a ‘Greater Stoke’ unitary authority.

 

In the Staffordshire Moorlands we have a strong track record of working in partnership with Staffordshire County Council, town/parish councils and the voluntary sector to improve the quality of life for our residents and ensuring that the voices of our communities are heard.  The Coronavirus Pandemic has illustrated how we can successfully work together to support the population in the Staffordshire Moorlands by quickly addressing local needs whether by delivering food parcels to vulnerable people or by issuing grants to businesses. 

 

I therefore propose that this Council writes to Government to make clear our view that the current two tier working between Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Staffordshire County Council be retained and that there should not be a move to create a ‘Greater Stoke’ unitary authority.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors will be aware of recent reports in the media with regards to potential changes to the organisation of Local Government including reference to the creation of a ‘Greater Stoke’ unitary authority.

 

In the Staffordshire Moorlands we have a strong track record of working in partnership with Staffordshire County Council, town/parish councils and the voluntary sector to improve the quality of life for our residents and ensuring that the voices of our communities are heard.  The Coronavirus Pandemic has illustrated how we can successfully work together to support the population in the Staffordshire Moorlands by quickly addressing local needs whether by delivering food parcels to vulnerable people or by issuing grants to businesses. 

 

I therefore propose that this Council writes to Government to make clear our view that the current two tier working between Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Staffordshire County Council be retained and that there should not be a move to create a ‘Greater Stoke’ unitary authority.”

 

During debate members deliberated a range of issues that included

the importance of services being delivered locally, the importance of three-tier working and the lack of a white paper on the issue of local government re-organisation, a named vote having being called, voting was as follows:

 

Those voting FOR :

 

Councillors: Aberley, Bowen, Davies, Deaville, Emery, Fallows, Flunder, Hall, Hart, Hawkins, Heath, Herdman, Holmes, Hughes, Hulme, Johnson, Jones, Lawson, Lea, Malyon, Martin, McNicol, Plant, Plimley, Porter, Ralphs, Redfern, Riley, Roberts, Routledge, Scalise, Sheldon, Wain, Ward, Wilkinson and Worthington. (36)

 

ABSTENTIONS:

 

Councillors: Atkins, Bentley, Brady, Cawley, Gledhill, Hoptroff, Jackson, Page, Price, Salt, Swindlehurst and Yates. (12)

 

No councillor voted against.

63b

Use of fireworks - Cllr. L. Malyon

“Fireworks are used by people throughout the year to mark different events. While they can bring much enjoyment to some people, they can cause significant problems and fear for other people and animals. They can be a source of fear and distress for many animals (including pet animals, farm livestock and wildlife). Animals affected not only suffer psychological distress but can also cause themselves injuries – sometimes very serious ones – as they attempt to run away or hide from the noise. I therefore propose that this Council resolves:

 

·       To require all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people

·       To actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks

·       To write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays

·       To encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Councillor Flunder, having declared an interest, withdrew from the meeting for this item.  Councillor Roberts took the Chair).

 

“Fireworks are used by people throughout the year to mark different events. While they can bring much enjoyment to some people, they can cause significant problems and fear for other people and animals. They can be a source of fear and distress for many animals (including pet animals, farm livestock and wildlife). Animals affected not only suffer psychological distress but can also cause themselves injuries – sometimes very serious ones – as they attempt to run away or hide from the noise. I therefore propose that this Council resolves:

 

·       To require all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people

·       To actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks

·       To write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays

·       To encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display.”

 

An AMENDMENT was PROPOSED that the Council should also write to the District’s Members of Parliament with regards to this notice of motion.

 

Having been SECONDED, upon being put to the vote, the AMENDMENT was

CARRIED unanimously.

 

64.

Ban on the burning of peatlands - Cllr J. Porter

“Peatland occupies around 12% of the land area in the UK and is a natural carbon sponge. Our peatlands are worth around 15 years of UK carbon emissions and are a vital carbon lock. They are the UK’s rainforests and a vital part of addressing climate change. 

 

Unfortunately, they can currently be developed on, dug up and used for horticulture, or burned. The lack of protection has resulted in many peatland fires in recent years, including the fire at The Roaches in the summer of 2018. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service and Staffordshire Police have been working hard to address this locally. 

 

Research has found that burning peatland degrades habitats, releases carbon emissions, reduces biodiversity and increases flood risk. The burning of peatland is believed to be the most environmentally damaging of this activity. 

 

Peatlands are an important habitat for plants and wildlife, can store water to prevent flooding and also stores carbon if it is in a healthy state. But when peatland is degraded, drained and burned it releases carbon, worsening climate change. 

 

As a District Council, we call upon the Government to introduce an outright ban on the practice of peatland burning and to ensure the protection of peatlands across the UK for the sake of future generations. It would demonstrate the UK’s climate leadership in the run up to next year’s UN climate talks being held in the UK and would show the Prime Minister’s commitment to protecting 30 percent of the UK’s land for nature.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

“Peatland occupies around 12% of the land area in the UK and is a natural carbon sponge. Our peatlands are worth around 15 years of UK carbon emissions and are a vital carbon lock. They are the UK’s rainforests and a vital part of addressing climate change. 

 

Unfortunately, they can currently be developed on, dug up and used for horticulture, or burned. The lack of protection has resulted in many peatland fires in recent years, including the fire at The Roaches in the summer of 2018. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service and Staffordshire Police have been working hard to address this locally. 

 

Research has found that burning peatland degrades habitats, releases carbon emissions, reduces biodiversity and increases flood risk. The burning of peatland is believed to be the most environmentally damaging of this activity. 

 

Peatlands are an important habitat for plants and wildlife, can store water to prevent flooding and also stores carbon if it is in a healthy state. But when peatland is degraded, drained and burned it releases carbon, worsening climate change. 

 

As a District Council, we call upon the Government to introduce an outright ban on the practice of peatland burning and to ensure the protection of peatlands across the UK for the sake of future generations. It would demonstrate the UK’s climate leadership in the run up to next year’s UN climate talks being held in the UK and would show the Prime Minister’s commitment to protecting 30 percent of the UK’s land for nature.”

 

An AMENDMENT was PROPOSED that the last paragraph of the motion should also include reference to a ban of the burning of vegetation.

 

Having been SECONDED, upon being put to the vote, the AMENDMENT was

CARRIED unanimously.

 

 

 

 

 

65.

To answer questions asked under Procedure Rule No. 10. pdf icon PDF 77 KB

(At least two clear days notice required, in writing, to the Proper Officer in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.3.)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.     Question to the Leader of the Council received from Councillor B. Cawley:

 

“The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life is carrying out a review of the institutions, processes and structures in place to support high standards of conduct in public office. There is a consultation period that ends on the 18th December. How does SMDC ensure that the seven principles of public life are adhered to by its public office holders?”

 

Response:

 

“In order to ensure that the seven principles of public life are adhered to by its public office holders the Council has a range of agreed policies and processes in place.

 

Section 27 (1) of The Localism Act 2011 requires the Council to promote and maintain high standards of conduct for its elected and co-opted members.  To ensure high standards of ethical behaviour and good governance throughout the Authority the Council has adopted a number of policies.

 

These various policies are drawn together within one document to clarify their place and role within the Council’s Local Ethical Framework.  This is published on the Council’s website with its Constitution, to provide a route map for all Members, Officers and the public to identify and consider the policies and procedures which the Council has in place.  The Framework sets out the standards of behaviour that the Council expects of its members and staff in all areas of their conduct and also clarifies roles and responsibilities for the interaction between members and staff.

 

A number of key documents are included within the Framework including:

 

·       Member Code of Conduct

·       Code of Conduct for Council Employees

·       Register of Interests

·       CIPFA/SOLACE Local Public Services Senior Managers’ Code of Ethics

·       The Council’s Code of Corporate Governance

·       The Council’s Constitution

·       The Protocol for Member/Officer Relations

·       Equalities and Diversity Policies

 

The Council holds regular seminars on the Code of Conduct for members which are open to all district, town/parish councillors and parish/town clerks. Delivered by the Council’s Monitoring Officer these include reference to case studies and consistently receive very positive feedback.

 

Although, following the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, the Council is no longer required to hold meetings of its Standards Committee it continues to do so to demonstrate its commitment to upholding the seven principles of public life.

 

At its last meeting on 19 November 2020 the agenda included a regular update on the complaints received by the Council.  These are dealt with accordance with a robust process for dealing with standards allegation complaints (including consulting with Independent Persons) and processes for the investigation of complaints and hearings as agreed by all members at Full Council.

 

The Council has always taken part in consultation exercises, via the Standards Committee, with regards to the standards framework and complies with best practice guidelines as recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.  These include regular reviews of the Code of Conduct for Members, the complaints process and updates on standards issues at all political group leader meetings.

 

The last agenda of the Committee also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.