Agenda and minutes

Council - Thursday 24th February 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Great Hall, The Guildhall, St Giles Street, Northampton, NN1 1DE

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: democraticservices@westnorthants.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Aziz, Cali, Davenport, Duffy, G Eales, Gonzalez de Savage, Herring, Hill, Joyce, Samiotis, Haque, Morgan, and Strachan. Councillor M Brown would be arriving late.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting.

 

Minutes:

None.

3.

Minutes of Council pdf icon PDF 307 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 2nd December 2021.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of Council held on 2nd December 2021 were agreed and signed by the Chairman.

4.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive communications from the Chairman of the Council.

 

Minutes:

There were no Chairman’s Announcements on this occasion.

5.

Public Participation

Minutes:

Jane Wood of Climate Action West Northamptonshire addressed Council and asked how the outcomes from the October 2021 Climate mini summit had been progressed, and also asked how the consultation had fed into and influenced the 2022-23 budget. Regarding the investment policy, she asked what progress had been made towards developing and implementing an ethical and responsible investment policy. A new study showed that big oil companies’ decarbonisation strategies were dominated by pledges rather than concrete actions. She noted that in July 2021, the Cabinet agreed to a proposal made by the Environment Task and Finish Group to procure 100% green energy for its property portfolio, with effect from October 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter, also including an increase of £50,000 in the 2022-23 budget. She asked if this had been included, if so, how it was being spent.

 

Ken Ritchie addressed Council and stated that when responding to the budget consultation, it was difficult to take a view with the information provided. He stated that research carried out by the LGA predicted over 1 million new jobs in the low carbon and renewable energy sectors, making them sectors with the greatest potential for growth. Mr Ritchie stated that he could not see anything in the budget that would give West Northamptonshire an edge or any funds to train local entrepreneurs who wanted to develop their own green enterprises.

 

Kate Simpson, Chair of Northampton’s Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, addressed Council and noted that less than one third of West Northamptonshire’s residents voted in the last local election; she believed this was due to anger and disillusionment because residents knew they would be facing cuts, increased council tax and fees, regardless of who they voted for. She welcomed the Council’s use of its reserves and the lack of cuts in the budget but stated that this was only because there was nothing left to cut. Ms Simpson implored Council to bring back services that had been cut over the last few years, including libraries, after school clubs, childcare services, elderly respite and domestic violence support. She asked that the Council give consideration to the Zero Cuts People’s Budget complied by working class people from West Northamptonshire, including several low paid essential workers, students, and people with disabilities.

6.

Final Budget 2022-23 and Medium Term Financial Plan pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Longley submitted a report which sought approval for the final budget 2022-23 and Medium-Term Financial Plan for West Northamptonshire Council. The report incorporated feedback from the budget consultation, relevant public consultations, and the scrutiny process. He gave his thanks to staff who had contributed to the budget and highlighted the salient points within the report:

·       The first year of West Northamptonshire Council had been a year of discovery. The latest forecast for 2021-22 suggested there would be a small underspend.

·       The £5m contingency would be maintained.

·       He believed the budget setting process had been as open as it could be.

·       The Council was mandated to harmonise Council Tax within three years.

·       The next budget for the Council was £342.32m (excluding Dedicated Schools Grant).

·       This included allowance for increased demand on service and payment of all staff above the foundation living wage to £10 per hour.

·       Capital investment would be available for proposals that could reduce revenue expenditure.

·       He summarised the key points of the budget for each council service.

 

Councillor Rumens seconded the report and commented that the Council was in a difficult position, but it was working on generating additional funds through transformation; this was the best thing to be done to improve the lives of residents.

 

Councillor Stone proposed and amendment to the budget, which had been tabled prior to the meeting. She noted that CIPFA, FSA and the LGA recommended reserves of 5%; 10% was prudent given the current circumstances. The amendments proposed by the Labour Group would alleviate hardship, grow community resilience and provide the Council with a platform for growth and ensure the wellbeing of communities.

 

Councillor Barrett seconded the amendment and highlighted the prevalence of food bank use both nationally and locally. He noted that the Council had the resources to end the need for food banks in the town and lamented the reliance of the voluntary sector to help those most in need.

 

Members debated the amendments. At the conclusion of the debate, there voted for the amendments:

 

Councillors Alwahabi, Ashraf, Baker, Barrett, Beardsworth, Harris, Holland-Delamere, Humphreys, Jolley, Meredith, Purser, Randall, E Roberts, J Roberts, Sharps, Z Smith, Stone, Tarasiewicz.

 

There voted against the amendments:

 

Councillors Bagot-Webb, Bambridge, Barter, Bignell, Bowen, Breese, A Brown, Chantler, Chauhan, Clarke, Clubley, Connolly, Cooper, Cribbin, Dyball, Eastwood, Fowler, Frost, J Gilford, T Gilford, Golby, Grant, Hallam, Harrington-Carter, Hawes, Hibbert, Hinch, Hughes, Irving-Swift, James, Kilbride, King, Lane, Larratt, Lister, Longley, Lunn, Matten, McCord, Morton, Nunn, Parker, Patel, Pritchard, Rumens, Russell, Shephard, D Smith, Solesbury-Timms, Stevenson, Sturges-Alex, Warren.

 

There abstained:

 

The Chairman Councillor Addison, Councillor Manners.

 

The amendment was lost.

 

Councillor Harris proposed and an amendment to the budget, which had been tabled prior to the meeting. Proposed were increased investment to Children’s Services, funds for proper development of early action around climate initiatives, and for climate standards training. Reorganisation of the Transformation Team was also proposed. The amendment also included the proposal that the Council become an accredited White Ribbon Organisation and to further develop community-based programmes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Housing Revenue Account Final Budget 2022-23 and Medium Term Financial Plan pdf icon PDF 841 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Longley presented a report which set out the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Final Budget 2022-23 and Medium-Term Financial Plan for West Northamptonshire Council and sought Council’s approval of the HRA revenue and capital budget 2022-23 and sought to set out the future years’ projections to 2026-27.

 

Councillor A Brown seconded the report.

 

Council debated the recommendations contained within the report. The following points were raised during the debate:

·       Increasing rents by 4.1% would have a serious impact on residents who were also facing increased fuel bills.

·       It was acknowledged that the increase would allow for an increased investment in social housing.

·       New social housing stock should be constructed to be as energy efficient as possible.

·       The Labour Group had some concerns but would vote in favour of the Housing Revenue Account Final Budget.

·       The proposed rent increase was not an easy decision, but assurance was given that residents in receipt of Universal Credit Housing Benefit would see that benefit rise in line with the increase.

 

There voted for the recommendations:

 

The Chairman Councillor Addison, Councillors Alwahabi, Bagot-Webb, Baker, Bambridge, Barrett, Barter, Bignell, Bowen, Breese, A Brown, Chantler, Chauhan, Chowdhury, Clark, Clarke, Clubley, Connolly, Cooper, Cribbin, Dyball, Eastwood, Fowler, Frost, J Gilford, T Gilford, Golby, Grant, Hallam, Harrington-Carter, Hawes, Hibbert, Hinch, Holland-Delamere, Hughes, Irving-Swift, James, Jolley, Kilbride, Lane, Larratt, Lister, Longley, Lunn, Manners, Matten McCord, Morton, Nunn Parker, Patel, Pritchard, Purser, Randall, E Roberts, J Roberts, Rumens, Russell, Sargeant, Sharps, Shephard, D Smith, Z Smith, Solesbury-Timms, Stevenson, Stone, Sturges-Alex, Tarasiewicz, Warren.

 

There voted against the recommendations:

 

Councillor Meredith.

 

There abstained:

 

Councillors Beardsworth, Harris, Humphreys.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Council approved:

 

a)    An average maximum rent increase of 4.1% per dwelling, in line with the legislation and the government’s national rent standard, to take effect from 4th April 2022.

b)    The HRA budget for 2022-23 of £56m expenditure detailed in Appendix 1.

c)     The HRA capital programme for 2022-23, including future year estimated commitments, and proposed sources of finance, as set out in Appendix 2.

d)    The proposed service charges listed in Appendix 3.

e)    The Total Fees proposed for NPH to deliver the services in scope for 2022-23 detailed in Appendix 4.

8.

2022-23 Council Tax Calculations and Council Tax Resolution pdf icon PDF 432 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Longley presented a report which detailed the calculations for the amounts of Council Tax for West Northamptonshire Council for the financial year 2022-2023.

 

Councillor Rumens seconded the report.

 

Council debated the recommendations contained within the report. The following points were raised during the debate:

·       The question of how the hardship fund was publicised was raised, so take-up could be improved.

·       The Labour Group would not support this item.

·       Concern was expressed about the impact of council tax harmonisation on Daventry residents.

 

There voted for the recommendations:

 

The Chairman Councillor Addison, Councillors Bagot-Webb, Baker, Bambridge, Barter, Bignell, Breese, A Brown, Chantler, Chauhan, Chowdhury, Clark, Clarke, Clubley, Connolly, Cooper, Cribbin, Dyball, Eastwood, Fowler, Frost, J Gilford, T Gilford, Golby, Grant, Hallam, Harrington-Carter, Hawes, Hibbert, Hinch, Hughes, Irving-Swift, James, Kilbride, Lane, Larratt, Lister, Longley, Lunn, Manners, Matten, Morton, Nunn, Parker, Patel, Pritchard, J Roberts, Sargeant, Sharps, Shephard, D Smith, Solesbury-Timms, Stevenson, Sturges-Alex, Warren.

 

There voted against the recommendations:

 

Councillors Alwahabi, Ashraf, Barrett, Beardsworth, Harris, Holland-Delamere, Humphreys, Jolley, Meredith, Purser, Randall, E Roberts, Russell, Z Smith, Stone, Tarasiewicz.

 

There abstained:

 

Councillor McCord.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Council:

 

1.     Noted that the Cabinet agreed the Council Tax Base for 2022-2023 on 21 December 2021:

§  For the whole Council area as 139,604.04 (item T in the formula in Section 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1991, as amended (the “Act”) and;

§  For dwellings in those parts of its area to which a Parish Precept relates as shown in the attached Appendix B

2.     Approved the Council Tax requirement for the Council’s own purposes for 2022-2023 (excluding Parish Precepts but including Special Expenses) as £225,213,425

3.     Approves the additional Council Tax Resolutions as set out in Appendix A of this report

4.     Note that Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has issued precepts to the Council in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 for each category of dwelling in the Council’s area as shown in the table at 6.4 below:

5.     Approves that, in accordance with Sections 30 and 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, hereby sets the amounts shown in Appendix D as the amounts of Council Tax for the year 2022-2023 for each part of its area and for each category of dwellings.

6.     Notes Appendix E which sets out in detail how the charge is made up for each town and parish council area and by Council Tax band.

7.     Note that the Council’s basic amount of Council Tax for 2022-2023 is not deemed to be excessive in accordance with principles approved under Section 52ZB Local Government Finance Act 1992.

9.

Pay Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 664 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Hallam presented a report which is produced in accordance with the requirements of Section 38(1) of the Localism Act 2011. The Local Authority was required to update it annually and it sets out pay for the directly employed workforce (excluding schools).

 

Councillor Chauhan seconded the report.

 

Upon a vote, the recommendations contained within the report were agreed.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Council approved the Pay Policy Statement for 2022-23.

10.

Future Appointment of External Auditor pdf icon PDF 698 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Longley presented a report which set out proposals for appointing an external auditor to the Council for the accounts for the five-year period from 2023/24.

 

Councillor Irving-Swift seconded the report.

 

Upon a vote, the recommendations contained within the report were agreed.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Council accepted Public Sector Audit Appointments’ invitation to opt into the sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors to principal local government and police bodies for five financial years from 1 April 2023.

11.

Urgent Business (previously agreed with the Chairman)

The Chairman to advise whether they have agreed to any items of urgent business being admitted to the agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business on this occasion.