Venue: The Council Chamber, Moorlands House, Stockwell Street, Leek. View directions
Contact: Pat Trafford, Democratic & Community Services Officer. Tel. 01538 395551
DECIDED – That the Minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 18 April 2018 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Urgent items of Business, if any (24 hours notice to be provided to the Chairman)
There were no urgent items.
Declaration of Interests:
i. Disclosable Pecuniary Interests;
ii. Other Interests.
There were no declarations of interest made.
Questions to Portfolio Holders, if any
Question to Councillor Sybil Ralphs from Councillor Peter Wilkinson:-
Q. Can the portfolio holder for planning and/or the finance department inform me when and where the Section 106 money from the recently completed Turners Pasture development (ST10 1FR) will be spent?
“The Council is yet to receive the section 106 money from the Turners Pasture Development. There are two trigger points for the release of the sums from the developer. The first of these triggers is on occupancy of the first home on the development, the second after the 18th house is occupied. As far as we are aware no home is yet being used.
Use of the cash will be consistent with the original draft unilateral declaration made by the developer when the initial planning application was submitted, on 11 February 2015, and in accordance with the Deed of Variation signed on 25 May 2018. Both of these documents dictate use of the money will be for the cost of maintaining open space in Cheadle. The signed variation also provides for an additional £3,600 for town centre improvements.
The intention is to use the larger of the two contributions towards the much needed improvements to the sports pitch drainage system at Thorley Drive, which qualifies as maintenance under the agreement. When the cash is in the bank we would like to work with the Town Council regarding the £3,600 and indeed the larger sum if it can be used as leverage funding to make wider improvements, notwithstanding Thorley Drive is our first priority.”
By way of a supplementary question, Councillor Wilkinson stated that when the Planning Permission in question was granted, an informative was included to state that the contribution was to be spent on the Churchill Road Recreation Ground, Cheadle. Why was this point not contained within the S.106 agreement? In response, Councillor Ralphs confirmed that the relevant legal documents had since been validated and that the developer was aware that the figure was now required. Similar projects were taking place elsewhere in Cheadle which were being financed from other sources.
Councillor Ralphs introduced the 4th Quarter (2017/18) details, with headlines as follows:-
Councillor Ralphs thanked the officers involved in the preparation of the report.
RESOLVED – That the Panel NOTED the Fourth Quarter 2017/18 financial, procurement and performance position as detailed in the report.
FURTHER RESOLVED – That the Panel NOTED the proposed allocation of the surplus on the General Fund Revenue Account to reserves as explained in Appendix A to the report.
Councillor Ralphs presented the report to members which:-
· Provided members with an opportunity to scrutinise the draft Performance Framework and associated targets for 2018/19;
· Presented the findings from the Annual Report and how these had influenced the Framework and Corporate Plan refresh;
· Outlined the suggested approach and timescale for approval of the 2018/19 Performance Framework.
Progress in all geographic areas was highlighted as follows:-
· Leek – Work was ongoing on bringing the railway back into Leek and there were plans to extend the railway to Moneystone Park; Proposals were in place to provide extra units and also a Hotel at the Churnet Works site; Work had been done on a bid to renovate Brough Park, including the John Hall Gardens, currently used by the ‘Rethink’ team.
· Biddulph – Proposals in place to extend the Victoria Business Park, which was now full to capacity; Proposals were in place for a Housing/Retail development at Wharf Road.
· Cheadle – Under the revised Cheadle Masterplan (revised and more ambitious than the previous version), partnerships were being explored for greater use of Cheadle Hospital; Plans were being put in place for a 2nd petrol station in the town.
· Rural – Efforts made to increase rural employment provision including the Boltons site at Froghall.
Elsewhere in the report, the high percentage of targets being met within the authority was an indication of the hard work being done and showed a bright future which many authorities would be very pleased with.
Members made points as follows:-
· The original Cheadle Masterplan identified the need for an Hotel in the town. The existing Hotel had been converted into flats and was now up for sale;
· Members needed more information regarding proposals within their own ward. The Boltons site proposals had not been forwarded to Ward members. Ongoing work at the site was encouraging but more employment units were needed.
· No Hotel plans in Biddulph. All proposals were subject to the approval of the Local Plan.
RESOLVED – That the Performance Framework 2018/19 (incorporating the Annual Report 2017/18 and revised Corporate Plan 2018 – 2019) be recommended for APPROVAL BY CABINET.
Claire Hazeldene – Finance, Income & Procurement Manager – gave a presentation to members via the screens in the Council Chamber to clarify details regarding the Council’s recovery of Council Tax.
The slides showed:-
· the hierarchy of responsibility for payment of the tax;
· when occupiers / owners were liable to pay;
· joint & several liability to pay;
· recovery procedures followed and the principles applied within those procedures;
· who had the responsibility to write-off amounts;
· collection rates and how they compared nationally; and
· numbers of recovery documents issued each year.
Members raised points as follows (responses in brackets):-
· How were empty properties’ status policed? (Reliance on honesty, use of credit information, 3rd party information, inspections in some cases).
· Local knowledge available from Ward members should be made more use of.
· Was there a choice of dates for Direct Debits to be taken? (Yes, a choice of 3 dates spread through the month.)
· Were bailiff fees a set amount irrespective of the debt owed? (Yes.)
· Was the Register of Electors used as a tool to establish who was resident at a property? (Yes. We also use Land Registry checks, Credit footprinting and other tools to assist us.)
· Could the presentation be shared more widely? (Yes.)
· In cases where compassionate grounds were found, whose decision was that? (Officers dealing with the case.)
The Chair offered thanks to the officers who attended the meeting.
Any additional items to be added to the Work Programme:-
i. Chairman’s items;
ii. Members’ items;
iii. Forward Plan.
Andrew Stokes – Executive Director & Chief Finance Officer – advised that he had approached the Valuation Office Agency with a view to arranging a visit to the Panel by a Valuation Officer to explain the Business Rates Re-Valuation process. This was proving difficult but he was hoping to secure a visit as soon as possible.
Councillor Davies requested the addition of an item to the Work Programme to clarify the workings of Section 106 Planning obligation agreements.
The Chair asked for the addition to the Work Programme of an item on the methodology regarding informing local members of local developments.
RESOLVED – That the Work Programme for 2018/19 be NOTED.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
The Chair to move:-
“That, pursuant to Section 100A(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings whereby it is likely that confidential information as defined in Section 100A (3) of the Act would be disclosed to the public in breach of the obligation of confidence or exempt information as defined in Section 10 I (1) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act would be disclosed to the public by virtue of the Paragraphs indicated.”
RESOLVED – That, pursuant to Section 100A(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings whereby it is likely that confidential information as defined in Section 100A (3) of the Act would be disclosed to the public in breach of the obligation of confidence or exempt information as defined in Section 100 I (1) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act would be disclosed to the public by virtue of the Paragraphs indicated.
Exempt Minutes of the previous meeting
RESOLVED – That the Exempt Minutes of the meeting of the Panel on 18 April 2018 be APPROVED as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Alliance Environmental Services Update
The Panel received a report on the latest stages of the implementation of the Alliance Environmental Services company.