Venue: CIVIC SUITE, (LANCASTER / STIRLING ROOMS), PATHFINDER HOUSE, ST MARY'S STREET, HUNTINGDON PE29 3TN
Contact: Mrs Lisa Jablonska, Elections and Democratic Services Manager, Tel No. 01480 388004 / e-mail Lisa.Jablonska@huntingdonshire.gov.uk
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Mr Phil Hayes to open the meeting with a ‘Thought for the Day’.
Contact: 5 Minutes.
A ‘Thought for the Day’ was presented by Mr Phil Hayes.
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 22ndFebruary 2023.
Contact: 2 Minutes.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on the 22ndFebruary 2023 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
To receive from Members declarations as to disclosable pecuniary, other registerable and non-registerable interests in relation to any Agenda item. See Notes below.
Contact: 2 Minutes.
No declarations were received.
To note the Chair and Vice-Chair’s engagements and announcements since the last Council meeting.
Contact: 5 Minutes.
The Chair referred to the recent death of former District Councillor and Chairman Alan Mackender-Lawrence who had served four years as a District Councillor for the Huntingdon North Ward. Members then observed a moments silence in memory of the former Councillor. Further tributes were then paid by Councillors T D Sanderson, S R McAdam and J A Gray.
The Council noted those engagements attended by the Chair and Vice-Chair since the last meeting (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book).
NOTICES OF MOTION
Councillor R J West to move –
a) Notes the data collected by the National Air Traffic Service regarding the recent flight path changes at London Luton Airport;
b) Notes the increased noise and pollution experienced by Huntingdonshire residents caused by descending aircraft
c) Urges London Luton airport to abandon its recent flight path changes which have led to additional aircraft mileage above rural Huntingdonshire communities; and
d) Requests that the Leadership write to the Civil Aviation Authority as part of their Post Implementation Review of flight path changes.
Contact: 15 Minutes.
Councillor R J West moved and it was duly seconded by Councillor I D Gardener that
a) Notes the data collected by the National Air Traffic Service regarding the recent flight path changes at London Luton Airport.
b) Notes the increased noise and pollution experienced by Huntingdonshire residents caused by descending aircraft.
c) Urges London Luton airport to abandon its recent flight path changes which have led to additional aircraft mileage above rural Huntingdonshire communities.
d) Requests that the Leadership write to the Civil Aviation Authority as part of their Post Implementation Review of flight path changes.
In presenting his motion, Councillor West made specific reference to planes flying over Abbotsley at 5,000 feet applying their air brakes and the unpleasant nature of this noise for local residents. He went on to thank Councillor Ferguson for chairing the public meetings on the matter, together with South Cambridgeshire District Council Cabinet Member Councillor Hawkins and MPs Jonathan Djanogly and Anthony Brown for their support in meeting with the aviation minister.
In responding, Councillor S Ferguson the Executive Councillor for Customer Services thanked Councillor West for raising the issue. He went on to explain that he and Councillor West received thousands of noise complaints from residents of Abbotsley, Waresley, the Gransdens, Toseland and Yelling and the whole of Southern Cambridgeshire as a result of up to 40 flights heading into London Luton each day. Council were informed that there had been two public meetings held on the matter and excellent support had been received from Jonathan Djanogly MP and Anthony Brown MP on the matter.
Councillor Ferguson also drew attention to the problems that had been experienced during the consultation on these changes, whereby there had been very little parish engagement and no opportunity to comment on noise issues.
Councillor Ferguson also urged caution to those in the South of the District following the recent announcement of plans for Luton to expand its passenger numbers from 18M to 32M a year, which would almost double the number of flights in and out of the airport.
Finally, whilst the Executive Councillor supported the spirit of the motion, Council were informed that for technical reasons he could not support the entire wording of it because of his responsibilities for Environmental Health. However, he urged colleagues within the Joint Administration and Members to vote in solidarity with the rural communities across the District at this time.
A debate then ensued during which Councillors Davenport-Ray, Alban, Cawley, Sanderson and Gardener spoke in favour of supporting the motion. In so doing, comments were made regarding the negative impacts on the quality of life experienced by Huntingdonshire residents living in the area, the inaccuracy and apparent abandonment of previous statements made by the Civil Aviation Authority on the matter regarding the height of the aircraft approaching London Luton, the desire to protect residents from pollution and noise and the previous commitment made for the Authority to be an agent for influencing environmental change.
Having been put ... view the full minutes text for item 74.
QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
To answer any questions submitted by the public in accordance with the Constitution.
The deadline for the receipt of public questions is five days prior to the meeting and must be submitted to the Monitoring Officer.
The Chair reported that there had not been any public questions received by the deadline for consideration by the Council.
QUESTIONS TO MEMBERS OF THE CABINET
In accordance with the Council Procedure Rules, all questions -
v Must be relevant to an item which the Council has powers or duties;
v Must not relate to an item which is included elsewhere on the Agenda
v Should be limited to obtaining information or pressing for action; and
v Should not exceed two minutes in duration.
Questions should not divulge or require to be divulged, confidential or exempt information.
Contact: 15 Minutes.
In relation to a specific situation in his ward, Councillor T D Alban sought clarification regarding those sites in Huntingdonshire that benefited from planning permission for housing development, which were in the ownership of a housing association or associated / subsidiary companies or had been granted as a rural exception site where either no construction work had started or where construction work had started but there remain homes unbuilt. In response, Councillor Sanderson explained that unfortunately the information was not held in the format requested and planning applications could only be searched by the name of applicant as opposed to the registered provider. Applications from agents would also need to be cross referenced. However, he did undertake to follow this up and provide a more detailed written response. In response to a supplementary question, Councillor Sanderson agreed that it would be helpful for individual members to provide specific details of sites within their wards if they had similar experiences.
Councillor R J West with reference to a recent excellent performance report regarding bin collections, recycling and street cleansing rates asked Councillor Taylor if she would carry on with the present policies and build on the work initiated by the previous administration. In response to which, the Executive Councillor for Leisure, Waste and Street Scene praised the excellent work of the District Council’s Operations Teams who would continue to operate in the same vein. Any opportunities to make further improvements would always be investigated and looked at favourably.
With reference to two pending planning applications concerning an industrial site in Great Staughton, Councillor S Cawley enquired when the residents of Great Staughton could expect a decision on these applications. In response to which, the Executive Councillor for Planning explained that although he was unable to give a specific date as to when the applications would be determined, the overall backlog in applications had been reduced by 28%. These specific applications had been reassigned to a case officer in January 2023 who was seeking to bring this to a conclusion. Councillor T D Sanderson undertook to respond further to Councillor Cawley once he had spoken with the case officer concerned.
In response to a question from Councillor D Shaw regarding the progress which has been made thus far to achieve the goal within the Climate Strategy to replant more trees and rewild the land, the Executive Councillor for Leisure Waste and Street Scene reported that the planting of 151 standard trees had been achieved 150 whips. Within these targets 115 purple leaf plum trees had been planted at the Oxmoor, with crocuses and daffodils planted in between.
Arising from a question from Councillor C M Gleadow regarding planning applications and enforcement, the Executive Councillor for Planning explained that there were currently 224 planning applications over 26 weeks for determination which was down by 88 since the last data collection, a reduction of 28%. In terms of planning enforcement, it was reported there are currently 663 active enforcement cases, compared to over 1,400 ... view the full minutes text for item 76.
Councillor S J Conboy, Executive Leader and Chair of the Cabinet to present the Place Strategy for Huntingdonshire – ‘Huntingdonshire Futures’ for approval by the Council.
(The Strategy was considered at the meeting of the Cabinet on 21st March 2023 and the Executive Leader will provide an update on the Cabinet’s deliberations).
Contact: 45 Minutes.
With the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation, the Executive Leader Councillor S J Conboy, presented the report by the Interim Managing Director (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book) to which was attached the proposed Place Strategy for Huntingdonshire – known as Huntingdonshire Futures.
As part of the presentation, the Executive Leader reported upon the work undertaken to date to develop the Strategy which would be owned by Huntingdonshire and its stakeholders and communities based upon the engagement that had been undertaken. The document would be a living and working one, driving forward the ambitions for Huntingdonshire over the next 20 to 30 years, working in conjunction with partners. The Strategy sought to influence, engage and empower Huntingdonshire via five outcomes; Price on Place; Environment Innovation, Inclusive Economy, Health Embedded and Travel Transformed.
In concluding her presentation, Councillor Conboy moved the recommendations which were duly seconded by the Deputy Executive Leader Councillor T D Sanderson.
In welcoming the Strategy as one which looks forward to the future, Councillor N Hunt indicated that he was aware of the challenges facing the District, with an over reliance on cars, a lack of local opportunities, the struggling high streets and emphasised that was refreshing to see these challenges acknowledged and a desire shown to tackle these issues. Councillor Hunt went on to thank all those involved in the creation of the Strategy and expressed specific thanks to the outreach work which had been undertaken with young people. Having urged Members to support this Strategy, Councillor Hunt also indicated his support and excitement of a Youth Climate Council.
In responding to the Executive Leader’s presentation, Councillor J A Gray made several comments relating to the Strategy and its production. He referred to the comments made by the focus groups regarding the need to ensure that decision making, and funding was equitable and inclusive and driven by the people that it is meant to serve. In indicating his qualified support for the Strategy, Councillor Gray reiterated that he had been reassured that work to refine the Strategy would be an iterative process and it was his expectation that this would be clearly evidenced. He also referred to the importance of the importance of the availability of an Action Plan in Quarter 1 of 2023/24 to monitor the success of the Strategy.
Councillor Conboy in confirming that it would be an iterative process and that there would be an Action Plan forthcoming, indicated that there would be some capacity challenges to overcome. She also thanked the previous administration, from whom the Joint Administration had inherited the preparation of this Strategy as a visionary piece of work and reiterated her hope that this set a new way collective working for the future.
It having been previously moved and seconded, upon being put to the vote it was
that the Place Strategy for Huntingdonshire – Huntingdonshire Futures be adopted (as attached at Appendix 3 of the report now submitted).
Councillor S J Conboy, Executive Leader and Chair of the Cabinet to present the Corporate Plan 2023-28 for approval by the Council.
(The Plan was considered at the meeting of the Cabinet on 21st March 2023 and the Executive Leader will provide an update on the Cabinet’s deliberations).
Contact: 30 Minutes.
The Executive Leader, Councillor S J Conboy, introduced a report by the Business Intelligence and Performance Manager (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book) to which was attached the proposed Corporate Plan for the period 2023-2028, which sets out the Council’s proposed priorities, outcomes, actions and operational performance indicators for approval.
With the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book), the Executive Leader presented the Council’s proposed Plan for 2023-28 – ‘Do, Enable and Influence’ which had been prepared to reflect feedback from councillors, businesses and other stakeholders and align with the newly co-developed Huntingdonshire Futures Place Strategy.
Attention was then drawn to the three key priorities set out within the Plan and the Executive Leader spoke in detail about the activities which incorporated each priority. These included –
1. Improving quality of life for local people
2. Creating a better Huntingdonshire for future generations
3. Delivering good quality, high value-for-money-services with good control and compliance with statutory obligations.
With specific reference to the first of the two priorities and the Council’s budgetary limitations, the Executive Leader reiterated that the District Council did not have an infinite budget and that some of the projects would be undertaken by enabling and influencing other organisations to take these forwards, following the direction which the Council has set.
The Council were reminded that much of the Council’s ‘Business as Usual’ activities sat within Priority Three and it was in this area where 80% of the Council’s resources continued to be aligned. The Executive Leader explained that this third priority focused on continuing to deliver good quality services and to set an excellent example to our communities. She explained that although ‘Business as Usual’ may not always grab the headlines, given the scale of these activities, it was important to seek to provide exceptional service in these areas - a reason it had been made a standalone priority in own right.
In concluding, Members were advised that there would be a new approach to performance reporting including plans to monitor and report on a range of contextual outcome measures which would show how outcomes for the District and its residents are changing.
Councillor Conboy then moved the recommendation and was duly seconded by Councillor T D Sanderson.
In addressing the meeting, Councillor B Pitt outlined his support for the preparation of this Corporate Plan. In doing so, he drew attention to the specific statement ‘the desire to focus on the efforts of the Council and the priorities that matter to out residents’ which was an important message to be carried out through in all councillor’s work.
In response to the Executive Leader’s presentation and on behalf of the Conservative Group, Councillor J A Gray indicated his support for the priorities contained within the Plan, although in doing so, suggested that there was some resemblance to those adopted by the previous administration. However, Councillor Gray expressed his concerns with regards to the absence of ... view the full minutes text for item 78.
The Executive Leader to present a report by the Elections and Democratic Services Manager summarising the conclusions of the Independent Remuneration Panel following their recent review of Members Allowances.
Contact: 20 Minutes.
The Managing Director presented a report by the Elections and Democratic Services Manager summarising the conclusions of the Independent Remuneration Panel following their recent review of Members Allowances. (Copies of which are appended in the Minute Book).
Having been invited to speak, Councillor S J Conboy, Executive Leader, indicated that she had misgivings in relation to some of the recommendations given that the proposed increase was beyond that of the 4% pay award made to Council Staff. With this in mind, she tabled an amendment (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book). The amendment proposed –
‘The replacement of recommendations a), b) and j) and the addition of recommendation k) with: -
a) that the level of basic allowance payable for all members of Huntingdonshire District Council be £4,918 per annum (an increase of 4% on the current rate).
b) that the levels of Special Responsibility Allowances be set in accordance with the basic allowance specified in a) above and the calculations as previously applied by the Independent Remuneration Panel, now revised, as detailed in the attached Appendix.
j) the indices to be used for indexation purposes to enable the Members' Allowances Scheme to be adjusted for a period from May 2024 of up to three years.
k) that the proposed allowance for Assistant Deputy Executive Leader be not paid until this role has been formally established within the Council’s Constitution’.
Councillor Conboy then moved the amendments, which were duly seconded by Councillor T D Sanderson.
Following debate and being put to the vote, the amendments were declared to be CARRIED.
Councillor D Keane then moved the following amendment to the recommendations which were duly seconded by Councillor T Alban –
‘In the light of the current financial pressures on both Huntingdonshire District Council and the general public, this Council resolves:
1. To note the report of the IRP
2. To freeze Members Allowances at current 2022/23 levels
3. To revisit this decision after the Annual Council meeting in 2024.’
In debating the matter, a number of Councillors spoke in support of the proposed amendment.
Councillor S J Corney and Councillor C Lowe emphasised the difficulties in voting for an increase in members allowances in the current economic climate and the cost-of-living crisis. Councillor J A Gray commented on the poor quality of the report and the idiosyncrasy of some of the recommendations which did not reflect the evolution of the workload which had taken place since the last review. Councillor P Hodgson-Jones commented on the need for Special Responsibility Allowances to reflect the respective and relative responsibilities of the postholders and not simply be a notional calculation.
Councillor R J West re-iterated that the situation should be reconsidered in a year’s time, with a new report which better met the Council’s requirements. This was supported by Councillor Keane who called upon the leadership to undertake a more thorough review.
Councillor T D Alban suggested that it was not the right time to be increasing allowances, ... view the full minutes text for item 79.
Following the Great Gransden Neighbourhood Plan Referendum held on Thursday 9th March 2023, the Deputy Leader and Executive Councillor for Planning to present a report seeking approval to make the Great Gransden Neighbourhood Plan to enable it to become part of the Statutory Development Plan for Huntingdonshire.
Contact: 10 Minutes.
Having regard to a report by the Chief Planning Officer (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book) on the referendum of the Great Gransden Neighbourhood Plan held on 9th March 2023, the Executive Councillor for Planning acquainted Members with the results of the referendum with 91.27% voting in favour of supporting the making of the Neighbourhood Plan. Members noted that the turnout was just over 28%. Councillor Sanderson expressed his appreciation to the Parish Council for their efforts in preparing the Neighbourhood Plan.
As the result exceeded the 50% threshold, the Council was required to make the Neighbourhood Plan part of the Statutory Development Plan for Huntingdonshire.
In opening the item for debate, Councillor S Ferguson commented on the many hours of dedicated work that had gone into the production of the Great Gransden Plan and urged Members to support it. He also urged other Members to encourage their own Parish Councils to start constructing and consulting on their own neighbourhood plans as this would become increasingly important as the Council moves towards the development of a new Local Plan. In thanking Councillor Ferguson for his remarks, Councillor West also urged Members to support the vote on the Plan.
The Deputy Executive Leader and Executive Councillor for Planning also took the opportunity to encourage parishes to develop their own their neighbourhood plan work. In doing so, he reiterated that they would receive an uplift of 25% in the Community Infrastructure Levy contributions.
With reference to a specific situation recently involving his own parishes and having paid specific tribute to Councillor I D Gardener, Councillor Alban reiterated the value that could be obtained from parishes working together and being enthused by other successful parishes. He emphasised the value in encouraging peer to peer training in this way.
Whereupon, it having been duly proposed and seconded it was
that the Great Gransden Neighbourhood Plan as attached at Appendix 1 to the report now submitted be adopted with immediate effect to become part of the Statutory Development Plan for Huntingdonshire.
CAMBRIDGESHIRE AND PETERBOROUGH COMBINED AUTHORITY - UPDATE
Councillor S J Conboy, Executive Leader to present on the activities of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
Councillors D B Dew and M A Hassall to provide an update on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor S J Corney to provide an update on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Audit and Governance Committee.
In light of the dates on which the meetings were held there are no decision summaries attached to the Agenda for March 2023 on this occasion. All reports will be verbal.
In accordance with the Protocol agreed at the February 2017 meeting, this item provides an opportunity for District Council Members to ask questions and comment on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority issues.
If Members wish to raise questions or issues requiring a detailed response, it would be helpful if they can provide prior notice so that the necessary information can be obtained in advance of the meeting.
Contact: 20 Minutes.
The Executive Leader, Councillor S J Conboy presented an update of the activities of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. The Council were advised of the availability of a new Monthly Highlights report which provided a general update on the key activities of the Combined Authority, copies of which could be provided to all Members.
Members noted that the Improvement Programme was making good progress, although there was still further work to be done around procurement and value for money. It was also reported that changes to the Combined Authority Governance Arrangements and Constitution had also been approved and details of the Oxford Pan-Regional Partnership were also starting to emerge.
The Executive Leader was pleased to report that a funding request under the Market Towns Programme for Huntingdon and St Ives Market Town had been successful so funding would be available for Broadway (St Ives) Cycle Link Scheme, St Ives Community Bandstand, Shop Front Grant Scheme, Cromwell Museum Expansion and Huntingdon Bid Visitor Information. Amendments to the St Neots Masterplan had also been agreed.
Council then received a brief update on the Greater Southeast Net Zero Hub Local Energy Advice Demonstrator Projects and noted that more retrofit schemes were in the pipeline. Members were also advised that Skills Committee had recommended more funding for Cambridgeshire Regional College including the Huntingdon site and an increase in multiple maths courses. It was also reported that Peterborough were developing a new electric bus depot and the Executive Leader reiterated that she was still lobbying for transport in the northwest and buses and was expecting further information shortly.
Finally details of the newly appointed Chief Executive of the Combined Authority were reported to the Council meeting. Arising from which and having welcomed the new appointment, Councillor Gray sought clarification as to what the Executive Leader considered to be his most pressing challenges.
In response to a question from Councillor R J West, Councillor Conboy reiterated that it was important to be clear about what Huntingdonshire gets from the Combined Authority. She indicated that there was an ongoing challenge to be addressed which hindered the ability for the planning of large-scale strategic projects This point would continue to be made to Government at every opportunity.
Councillor Ferguson requested that the Executive Leader remind the new Chief Executive that after Peterborough, Huntingdonshire was the most populous District in the County.
With the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book), Councillors M A Hassall and J Neish provided an update on the activities of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
In doing so, the Council’s attention was drawn to the areas of focus incorporated within the reframed Improvement Plan. Improvement Framework which had been reframed. Work was ongoing to improve the effectiveness of the Committee and several improvement proposals were now in place to improve the situation. It was hoped to see an improvement by June 2023.
There was no update from the Cambridgeshire and ... view the full minutes text for item 81.
An opportunity for Members to raise any issues or ask questions arising from recent meetings of the Council’s Committees and Panels.
A list of meetings held since the last Council meeting is attached for information and Members are requested to address their questions to Committee and Panel Chairs.
Contact: 10 Minutes.
A copy of the list of meetings held since the last meeting of the Council held on 22ndFebruary 2023 is appended in the Minute Book and Members were advised that any issues or questions could be raised in relation to these meetings.
There were no questions arising.
VARIATIONS TO THE MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEES AND PANELS
Group Leaders to report on variations to the Membership of Committees and Panels if necessary.
Contact: 5 Minutes.
There were no changes to report.
The meeting ended at 9.36pm.