Members are reminded of the need to consider whether they have a disclosable pecuniary, prejudicial or other (personal) interest to declare in any items on this agenda. Details of any interest must be declared at the start of the meeting or as soon as any interest becomes apparent during the meeting. The attached form must also be completed. Any advice required should ideally be sought before the day of the meeting.
Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff declared a personal interest in agenda item 10, Destination Business Improvement District (DBID) - Independent Investigation into the Council's role in carrying out the DBID ballot, since she had previously had discussions with Hero Sumner and the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers' Association, but had made it clear that when the Stanyon report was commissioned she would approach his findings with an open mind.
Councillor Jefferson declared a personal interest in agenda item 10, Destination Business Improvement District (DBID) - Independent Investigation into the Council's role in carrying out the DBID ballot, in her capacity as President of Scarborough and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce and owner of a business in Scarborough.
To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2020 attached.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Public Question Time
Public questions of which due notice has been given and which are relevant to the business of the Cabinet.
The Chairman reported the receipt of several public questions by Mr James Corrigan which were read out on his behalf and by Ms Hero Sumner who was present at the meeting. The questions and answers given at the meeting are set out below.
1. On 8 July 2020 I submitted some questions to the Overview & Scrutiny Board that were addressed during the meeting. My Question 7 was
“How many times in the last 12 months has the Council had a planning decision quashed by Judicial Review in the High Court?”
The Commercial Director Richard Bradley stated
“There have been no such occasions”
This has now been acknowledged to me that this statement was incorrect and has thereby misled the Overview and Scrutiny Board. I cannot believe that the other Directors present at that meeting were not aware of the circumstances.
i Will the Cabinet please explain why when there were 2 other Directors (Head of Legal and the Section 151 Officer) present at that meeting that they did not correct this statement?
Reply: Mr Bradley shared his email already sent to Mr Corrigan:
‘Judicial Review proceedings were issued in the High Court against Scarborough Borough Council in May 2019, in relation to a decision of the Planning and Development Committee of the Council. The Claimant was successful at the first stage of the court process and was granted leave to pursue their claim. The Council sought legal advice at an early stage, and taking into account this advice and the public interest, the Council reached a settlement of the matter with the Claimant. The terms of this settlement were embodied within a Consent Order confirmed by the High Court. Initially this case was not considered as falling within the scope of the question asked, as it was dealt with by settlement between the parties rather than through a full trial of the matter in the High Court. However on a review of the question asked, it is now deemed appropriate to disclose this case.
I have discussed this with the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny.’
ii Does the Cabinet agree that this incorrect statement has misled the Overview and Scrutiny Board?
Reply: The Leader answered no.
2. The following questions relate to the Council’s Commercial Property Investment Strategy approved by Cabinet on 17 April 2018 (RB 18/87)
i How many investment properties does the Council hold as at the date of this meeting that have been acquired under the Commercial Property Investment Strategy? Please confirm the number in Stream 1 and the number in Stream 2?
Reply: The Council has acquired one property under Stream I. No properties have been actually acquired under Stream II.
ii If any of the Council’s Investment Properties held under the Commercial Property Investment Strategy are to be sold, will the Council undertake an extensive marketing exercise to ensure that the best price is obtained?
Reply: The Council’s Constitution sets out requirements for land and property disposals. As a general rule all land ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To review the Cabinet’s Forward Plan (reference 20/132) attached.
The Cabinet considered the Forward Plan (Reference 20/132). With the permission of the Chairman, Councillor Phillips addressed the meeting seeking an update on progress with the independent Review of Members’ Allowances. The Chairman reminded the meeting that the independent Review of the Members’ Allowances Scheme had been put on hold pending the outcome of the Council’s governance review since the Council’s committee structure had clear financial and other implications for the Members’ Allowances Scheme. With the governance review now almost complete, the independent report was scheduled to be considered by the Cabinet in September.
RESOLVED that the Forward Plan be approved.
Progress of Scrutiny of Executive Decisions
To receive an oral report by the Chief Executive.
The Chief Executive reported that the Cabinet’s decision dated 16 June in respect of the redevelopment of the former Argos site and regeneration of the wider area was called in for scrutiny and considered by the O&S Board on 8 July. At that meeting, the O&S Board agreed to uphold the Cabinet’s decision. Further, the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods’ decision dated 17 July in respect of Crematorium and Cemeteries Services fees and charges had been called in for scrutiny on 20 July and would be considered by the O&S Board in due course.
With the permission of the Chairman, Councillor Phillips addressed the meeting in respect of the Cabinet’s decision concerning the redevelopment of the former Argos site and regeneration of the wider area. Her question was as follows:
‘The Conservative Group on Scarborough Borough Council today asks that the Leader and Cabinet refer the above project to the Audit Committee for a thorough review of the process and finances involved in light of the current financial position faced by our Borough. If they are concerned at what they find it should be deferred and taken back to full council to allow all the elected members a voice.
The present administration are relying upon support for the decision by a total of 5 elected members on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, 4 others on the same committee did not support the project. Effectively 32 other non-executive members have been disenfranchised. How can the administration believe they have a mandate to proceed without full council being able to revisit the decision made a year ago, it is a "pre-Covid decision for a post-Covid world".
Are the present administration so worried about this project being properly scrutinised that they are seeking to push this through whilst the council is still in limbo and unable to meet physically? It seems to the casual observer that there is an indecent amount of haste being shown. Will it be the rate payers of the whole Borough who are left paying for the legacy of a minority administration?’
The Chairman responded that the Conservative Group’s concerns were all addressed in great detail at the Cabinet meeting and two O&S Board meetings when the redevelopment of the former Argos site was considered. Advice has already been given why constitutionally, the Cabinet was the appropriate body to make this decision. Virtual technology had allowed for public, in-depth pre- and post- decision scrutiny of the project at the O&S Board. He therefore stood by the Cabinet’s decision of 16 June. He further acknowledged that this was how democracy worked, referring to the previous administration’s decision to demolish the Futurist Theatre which was approved by full Council by a similarly narrow margin.
To consider the report of the Director (LD) (reference 20/99) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (LD) (Reference 20/99) in respect of a review of the Council’s governance structure. Members were reminded that the review had been instigated by the new administration in May 2019 to establish whether the Council’s governance arrangements remained fit for purpose, in particular with regard to the role of non-executive Members in the Council’s decision making process and policy formulation, transparency and inclusiveness in Council business, and councillors’ community leadership role. In addition to the work of officers and consultation with Members, the review had been supported and informed by the Centre for Public Scrutiny, and latterly the LGA Peer Review. Of the different governance options appraised in the report, Option 2 (Leader and Cabinet model with enhancements) was the recommended model along with other measures to support the councillors’ community leadership role including the potential development of locality budgets. The Director, Mrs Dixon then reported the receipt of a question by Councillor Trumper in respect of the Council’s governance to which she provided the reply set out below.
Q: Due to having no representation from Whitby and the northern area on Cabinet will you re-establish the Northern Area Committee?
A: Area committees were disbanded in 2016 following a governance review and facilitation of a member/senior management workshop by external consultants. The feedback from the workshop was that 'although each area committee performed differently, the format itself was tired, and attracted little or no public interest (with the odd exception).' However, the area committees' fate was sealed in 2016/17 with the loss of budget provision for their area committee community grants due to ongoing cuts to local government funding and the need to identify savings. In short, the chief reason behind the disbandment of the area committees, was the conclusion reached that local issues could best be tackled through a vigorous scrutiny function, or at least, in alternative ways to a council committee of local members which tended to duplicate matters referred to scrutiny. That being said, the peer challenge has recommended that the Council undertake work to reengage with its local communities and consider the introduction of some form of area based budgeting. For this reason, we will be exploring various options around this as part of response to the peer challenge.
RESOLVED that Cabinet recommends that Council:
i notes the work undertaken to review the Council’s governance structure;
ii notes the feedback received from the recent LGA Peer Challenge Review of the Council in respect of using the governance review as an opportunity to refresh the scrutiny function to make better use of its powers, whilst supporting councillors in their community leadership roles through member training on community engagement and overview and scrutiny and the potential development of councillor locality budgets;
iii tasks officers with developing proposals for councillor locality budgets for consideration by the Governance Working Group, the Cabinet and full Council;
iv approves the adoption of Option 2 (Leader and Cabinet model with enhancements), as outlined in Section 5 ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the report of the Director (LD) (reference 20/129) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (LD) (Reference 20/129) in respect of the Council’s Annual Report and Improvement Plan 2020/21. Introducing the report, the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Jefferson noted the significant impact of the COVD-19 pandemic on Council services and, as a consequence, officers had not been able to collect performance data for the last quarter of 2019/20. Members were further advised by the Policy and Governance Manager that this would be the final report on the targets and actions in the current Corporate Plan, as a new Corporate Plan was being developed and would be presented to Members for approval shortly. This plan was therefore shorter than usual as it did not contain details of new targets and projects – these would need to be established when the new Corporate Plan had been approved. Achievements to note included:
· Completion of the £13.453 million scheme to stabilise the cliffs behind the Scarborough Spa complex
· Delivery of the Community Led Development scheme projects
· Securing of £560,000 funding for the establishment of a permanent Skills Village on the High Eastfield Farm site at Middle Deepdale
· £1.1 million government funding package secured to be spent on the Scarborough to Whitby Cinder Track
In terms of Performance Indicators, 80.5% of Performance Indicators showed improvement or no change, or being within tolerance and 76.6% meeting or within tolerance of targets. Referring to an error in the report, it was noted that in respect of the numbers of Affordable Housing delivered the total of 48 for was just the shared ownership units. 157 was the overall figure including rented units. This would be corrected in the final document. The good performance overall was particularly pleasing as the COVID-19 pandemic had adversely impacted on a number of Council services. Services have been required to divert resources to provide support to communities and deal with the on-going situation; in addition, the pandemic had resulted in the temporary closure of a number of venues, and cancellation of events. This had had a detrimental effect on performance in a number of areas, which had been unavoidable under the current unprecedented circumstances.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet:
(i) Note the significant achievements made over the last 12 months, including:
a. Completion of the £13.453 million scheme to stabilise the cliffs behind the Scarborough Spa complex
b. Delivery of the Community Led Development scheme projects
c. £560,000 of funding secured for the establishment of a permanent Skills Village on the High Eastfield Farm site at Middle Deepdale
d. £1.1 million government funding package secured to be spent on the Scarborough to Whitby Cinder Track
(ii) Note that this will be the final Annual Report which relates to the current Corporate Plan, ‘Towards 2030’.
(iii) Recommend to Council that approval be given for publication of the Annual Report and Improvement Plan 2020/21
Current best practice and rules on Data Transparency require the Council to publish its performance information and to make the details available to the public and partners in as ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To consider the report of the Director (NE) (reference 20/122) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (NE) (Reference 20/122) in respect of the Council’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy. Members were advised that the Council had responded well to the challenges of the pandemic with a priority to provide support to the Borough’s communities. Examples included the redeployment of staff to support the most vulnerable in society, ensuring that business support grants were processed and paid quickly, facilitating virtual council meetings and working with partners to provide testing and tracing support into the future. The proposed Recovery Plan provided a coordinated approach over the next 12 months to recovery which supported both the national COVID recovery strategy and the North Yorkshire wide recovery framework. The Plan set out an overarching vision to:
• Provide a safe environment building on an inclusive and sustainable future for all
• Be ambitious in our approach
• Listen to the voices of all to help shape the future
This vision would be delivered by a number of thematic work streams around different aspects of the Borough's recovery. These work streams would progress at different speeds and may have to change and adapt as the country moved between recovery and response should there be a second wave of the pandemic. In addition to the focus on repairing the damage caused by the pandemic, it was important too to recognise some of the positives resulting from lockdown such as a new community cohesion and widespread volunteering and reduced climate impacts and build these into the recovery plans. Members then commented on the report. Councillor Maw commended the report, notably the humanitarian section in the plan which demonstrated through the community hub how well the public, private and voluntary sector had worked collaboratively to assist the most vulnerable. He thanked all the volunteers from across the sectors, including Council staff, but noted too that these volunteers were needed as much as ever, since demand had not decreased since the end of lockdown. He trusted too that the council would learn from this sustainable community-led model of service delivery going forward. Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff referred to the critical weaknesses in the country’s economic system which had left vulnerable people in society making huge sacrifices during lockdown, and to the potential long term impact of the pandemic on mental health, particularly of younger people. She could not stress enough the gravity of the economic crisis facing the borough and country, and the need for government and the public sector to intervene to kick start local economies. However, on the positive side, the pandemic had illustrated how citizens could significantly reduce their carbon footprints, and perhaps would accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. Councillor Jefferson commended the report too and the council staff who had worked tirelessly in support of the council’s response to the pandemic, highlighting staff involved in front line services, the development of virtual committee meetings, and the allocation of government grants to local businesses. She noted that the council had paid out £58.65m in business ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To consider the report of the Director (RB) (reference 20/124) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (RB) (Reference 20/124) in respect of a proposed devolution deal for North Yorkshire and York. Introducing the item, the Chairman noted the long-held ambition to bring devolved powers to Yorkshire, an agenda which had been considerably advanced by the new government, and centring on a deal for North Yorkshire and York. Members were advised that the Council Leaders of York and North Yorkshire had written on 13 February 2020 to government to open up a dialogue to be able to negotiate a devolution deal for the region to increase funding and provide additional flexibilities for the benefit of the region. The negotiation process was designed so that the councils developed a series of “asks” from government concerning greater funding and powers to be devolved to the local area. The next stage of the negotiations was to submit a series of proposals to government of what should be included in the deal. This submission did not bind any authority to proceed with a devolution deal. It simply allowed government to consider the proposals and then respond with their formal offer of what a devolution deal would entail for the region. The ‘asks’ to government had been developed with input from all potential constituent authorities, the LEP and with assistance from Price Waterhouse Coopers to ensure that collectively this was both an ambitious deal which government could realistically deliver. Group Leader and all Member briefing sessions had been provided on the proposals set out in summary and full detail in the report and appendix. There were significant sums of devolved powers and budgets requested in relation to transport, digital infrastructure, skills, housing and supporting agri- and bio-tech businesses, either new or existing. The unique ambition was for the region to be a carbon negative, high value, circular economy and each of the component asks contributed to this ambitious overall ask. If approval were obtained from all constituent authorities regarding the proposal, it would be sent to central government for their consideration. Members then commented on the report. Councillor Colling welcomed the proposed deal and the opportunity to attract significant sums of money to boost the local and regional economy under a strategic plan, which was now more important than ever; however, she was concerned how local the decision-making would be. Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff expressed a similar view noting the regional directly elected mayor’s ability to lobby for and represent the region to government ministers, and to oversee significant infrastructure projects such as Teesside Airport which local authorities could not do alone. She commended too the carbon negative economic aspirations and the skills agenda integral to the deal. Other Cabinet Members also spoke in support whilst noting the importance of retaining local decision-making.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet approve the submissions to government of the devolution proposal for North Yorkshire and the City of York and to delegate authority to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader to make any necessary amendments as a result ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
(i) The extract resolution of the Audit Committee meeting dated 25 June 2020
(ii) the report of the Director (NE) (reference 20/76) attached
The Cabinet considered:
(i) The extract resolution of the Audit Committee meeting dated 25 June 2020;
(ii) The report of the Director (NE) (Reference 20/76) concerning the independent investigation of the Council’s role in carrying out the ballot for the Destination Business Improvement District.
Members were reminded that this review had been commissioned by full Council last year and undertaken by the Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, Peter Stanyon. The review had concluded, and had reported, as agreed by full Council, to the Audit Committee on 25 June. That committee had then made a series of recommendations to the Cabinet, highlighting in particular recommendation (vi):
(i) Notes the difficult circumstances in which the Borough’s businesses find themselves as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and asks the Yorkshire Coast BID company and the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board to explore all options available to the Yorkshire Coast BID company to assist these businesses, by the Overview and Scrutiny Board inviting the Yorkshire Coast BID company to a meeting to review this matter together.
Members then commented on Mr Stanyon’s report and the Audit Committee’s recommendations. Portfolio Holder, Councillor Colling used this opportunity to set out the Cabinet’s position on this long running and contentious issue. The Cabinet’s view was that the DBID company should not be collecting levies for 2020/2021, nor pursuing uncollected levies for 2019/2020. In respect of the Council’s potential powers under Regulation 18, Councillor Colling confirmed that following the receipt of external legal advice, the Council did not have powers to terminate the BID, since the required criteria were not met, including that the BID company had insufficient funds. However, the BID company did have the power to vary the levy to next to nothing without a ballot (Regulation 16) or (with a ballot) Regulation 17 and the Cabinet would urge them to look at this option, Generally, the Cabinet was very unhappy with the BID company on a number of counts:
· Failure of communication with businesses
· Lack of visibility and support for businesses throughout COVID
· No visibility on plans to support businesses through COVID recovery, although she understood that the BID company on 20 July had released some details of plans for activity mainly for 2021: too little to late.
Councillor Colling maintained that the BID company needed to engage about its plans going forward indeed if it was to go forward at all. The Chairman and other members of the Cabinet wholeheartedly endorsed Councillor Colling’s comments, referring to the DBID company’s abject failure to engage with businesses during the public health and economic crisis.
With the permission of the Chairman, member of the Audit Committee, Councillor Chance then addressed the meeting. He fully supported the Cabinet’s position but was disappointed that the full minutes of the Audit Committee meeting had yet to be published, and felt that the resolution of the Audit Committee referred to the Cabinet did not fully reflect the committee’s decision, particularly in its wish to see the ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
To consider the joint report of the Directors (NE) and (RB) (reference 20/118) attached
The Cabinet considered a joint report by the Directors (NE) & (RB) (Reference 20/118) in respect of the sale victims of domestic abuse and violence. Introducing the report, the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Maw commented that following the Cabinet’s decision in May to give in-principle agreement to sell the land at Danes Dyke to Beyond Housing for the development of a refuge, this report provided details of public objections to the advertised sale of land. Many of these concerns centred on planning related matters such as traffic congestion, environmental impact and community safety which would be considered as part of the subsequent planning process for the development. The Housing Manager, Andrew Rowe then added in response to the objection that a more appropriate alternative site should be found, noted that this site had been identified following a detailed assessment of suitable criteria for a refuge, and that currently the council did not have an alternative or better site at its disposal to develop such a facility. He acknowledged the concerns in some quarters, but ultimately these had to be balanced against the imperative to develop a much needed refuge facility within the Borough. The report therefore recommended that the sale proceeded subject to planning permission. With the permission of the Chairman, Councillor Heritage then addressed the meeting. He began by relating residents’ concerns about the proposed location of the refuge, not the principle of the refuge itself. These included the anti-social behaviour associated with ex-partners presenting themselves at the refuge and that the street was a cul-de-sac. His questions and answers are set out below:
1. Have the highway matters previously highlighted, and were a condition in the original planning application being approved, now been resolved?
2. What guarantees can you give to the elderly residents, most of whom live on their own, for their safety when ex’s turn up causing trouble?
Reply: The report recommends that the sale proceeds subject to planning permission being granted. As set out in paras 5.4, 5.5 and 5.6 of the report. NYCC Highways and North Yorkshire Police are both statutory consultees within the planning process. Considerations around the impact of additional development of the capacity of the roads and measures to reduce the risk of crime and promote community safety are all matters for the Planning Committee to consider when determining whether to grant permission for the development or not.
3. It was in 2009 the Cabinet considered report reference 09/737 where an interdepartmental group looked at suitability of council-owned land for a women's refuge. This is over 11 years ago, a lot has changed in the Borough since then. Has a recent report been done?
Reply: As set out in para 5.10. the Council does not have an alternative or better site available to it to develop a refuge facility. The Councils portfolio of land has not increased since the original assessment of options was undertaken. Should the Council decide to re-open the process of looking for alternative sites, including sites outside of its ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Exclusion of the Public
To consider the following motion:
“that in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (and subject to consideration of the public interest under Paragraph 10 of Part 2 of Schedule 12A of the Act) the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information (as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act), namely information;
(a) relating to any individual;
(b) which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual; and/or
(c) relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)”.
RESOLVED that in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (and subject to consideration of the public interest under Paragraph 10 of Part 2 of Schedule 12A of the Act) the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information (as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act), namely information;
(a) relating to any individual;
(b) which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual; and/or
(c) relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
Leisure Operating Contract: Impact of COVID 19 (A ITEM)
To consider the report of the Director (RB) (reference 20/131) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (RB) (Reference 20/131) in respect of proposals for business recovery, risk management and financial support relating to the sports centres within the Borough, specifically Scarborough Sports Village, Whitby Leisure Centre and Pindar Leisure Centre.
RESOLVED that the recommendations in the report be approved, which are recorded in the Council's Restricted Minute Book.