Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet - Tuesday 12th October 2021 6.00 pm

Items
No. Item

1.

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

2.

Apologies

Minutes:

Councillor Matt Golby sent apologies

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 304 KB

Minutes:

The minutes from the Cabinet meeting of the 14th September were approved and signed as a true and accurate record

4.

Chair's Announcements

To receive communications from the Chair.

Minutes:

None

5.

Urgent Business

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

 

Minutes:

None

6.

Old Black Lion Pub and St Peter’s Church – Northampton Towns Fund pdf icon PDF 452 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions:  It agreed that Cabinet:

 

a) Approved the business case for the Old Black Lion and St Peter’s Church project to draw down

on £315,000 of Towns Funding

b) Delegated authority to the Head of Major Projects and Regeneration to finalise the Grant

Funding Agreement with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT)

c) Delegated authority to the Assistant Director of Assets and the Environment to agree terms of

the lease on the Old Black Lion Pub.

 

 Reason for Resolutions

 

The recommendation was made so the regeneration of Northampton Town Centre can take place as set within the Town Investment Plan.

 

Alternative Options

 

None

Minutes:

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Lizzy Bowen presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated. The committee was advised that the report also included information about St Peters Church which was a 12th century listed building. It was advised that Northampton Forward was leading on this project, there were also a number of key stakeholders involved both private and public. The committee was advised that the Church’s Conservation Trust (CCT) had been in conversation with the National Bell Ringers association regarding moving their headquarters to the area and potentially using this site. It had been highlighted in the report that a local pub operator would take over the running of the pub. WNC would maintain links to the project.

 

Councillors made the following comments.

·         The report mentioned a ‘proper pub’ several times, could there be clarification with what this means?

·         It was noted that after any consultation there were at times members of the public who claimed to have not been consulted. It was queried whether how the consultation process is conducted could be revisited.

·         It was noted that Northampton Forward had already pre-approved this decision before it had come to Cabinet.

·         It was advised that many of the constituents of Spring Boroughs were unhappy about this proposal as the community already had various facilities like this one.

·         The community was a diverse one and it was questioned whether the project proposal taken this into account as a shared secular space had been requested by the community.

·         A proper business case for the project was requested. There had been a pub on site previously which had failed, would this be any different?

 

Councillor Lizzy Bowen made the following comments.

·         The board make up was a government requirement and WNC had followed guidelines on this.

·         With regards the Business Plan there wasn’t much more that could be provided and it had been a thorough process.

·         There had been a local emphasis on the lease arrangements, communication with Phipps Brewery Company had taken place regarding this.

·         It was noted that the diversity of the community might not have been appreciated as much as it should have but the committee was advised that this project was not just for Spring Boroughs but for the whole of Northamptonshire.

 

The Chairman advised that there had been active dialogue with the local breweries.

 

7.

Local Enforcement Plan for West Northamptonshire pdf icon PDF 566 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions: It was agreed that the Executive Leadership Team Adopt the Draft WNC Local Enforcement Plan

 

Reason for Resolutions:

 

A.   It outlined a consistent approach to Planning Enforcement across West Northants.

B.   It was written in a style that easy is for the public to read and understand.

C.   It identified clear targets and timeframes for dealing with Planning Enforcement cases.

 

AlternativeOptions.

 

We can either carry on as we are with three separate enforcement plans in place, or we can adopt a new, unified approach across West Northamptonshire.

 

Minutes:

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Rebecca Breese presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated. Cabinet was informed that each sovereign authority had had its own plan, one was now needed for WNC to bring all the authorities together. The draft had been produced by officers from all local authorities and had been written in a specific style in order to avoid jargon.

 

Councillors made the following comments.

·         Concern was raised about the lack of staff in planning. It was queried how officers would have the time to deal with breaches over the whole of Northants when they were short staffed.

·         There had been much emphasis on new builds while some older terraced houses were vacant, could these houses not be renovated and used.

·         It was felt that certain parts of the plan could potentially give developers the opportunity to exploit the situation that the council finds itself in.

·         It was asked how residents could be sure that any breaches would be investigated.

 

 

The Executive Director of Place & Economy advised that staffing levels were being looked at and the policy presented to Cabinet reflected the legislature and best practice that was available at the time.

 

8.

Neighbourhood Development Plans: Hackleton, Overstone and Clipston - Hackleton pdf icon PDF 828 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions: It was agreed that Cabinet:

Hackleton

 

a) Noted and welcomes the significant progress in making the neighbourhood development plan (NDP) by the Hackleton community.

b) Accepted the examiner’s recommended modifications in respect of the Hackleton NDP.

c) Accepted the examiner’s recommendation that the Hackleton NDP, as modified in accordance with recommendation (b) above, should proceed to a referendum of voters within Hackleton Parish.

d) Approved the proposed decision statement set out in Appendix 1, subject to recommendations (b) and (c) above and any necessary factual alterations.

e) Agreed that delegated authority be given to the Interim Head of Planning and Climate Change Policy to make further minor editorial changes to the NDP to address any factual and typographical errors and to reflect the fact that the document will be in its intended final form.

f) Agreed that the costs of the referendum be met from the existing budget for

neighbourhood planning.

 

 Reason for Resolutions

 

In order for a Neighbourhood Development Plan (“NDP”) to be ‘made’ (adopted) the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012 No. 637) require the Council to make a decision regarding the examiner’s recommendations before agreeing to subject the NDP to a referendum.

 

Alternative Options

 

None

 

Resolutions: It was agreed that Cabinet:

Overstone

 

a)    Noted and welcomed the significant progress in making the neighbourhood development plan (NDP) by the Overstone community

b)     Agreed the Examiner’s recommended modifications in respect of the Overstone NDP with the exception of the recommendation relating to important view V6

c)    Considered the responses to the consultation on proposed deletion of important view V6 and confirms deletion of the view

d)     Agreed the Examiner’s recommendation that the NDP, as modified in accordance with recommendation b) and c), should proceed to a referendum of voters within Overstone Parish

e)    Approved the proposed decision statement set out in appendix 1, subject to recommendations b) and d)

f)     Agreed that delegated authority be given to the Interim Head of Planning and Climate Change Policy to make further minor editorial changes to the NDP to address any factual and typographical errors and to reflect the fact that the document will be in its intended final form

g)    Agreed that the costs of the referendum be met from the earmarked reserve for neighbourhood planning.

 

Reason for Resolutions

           

In order for a NDP to be “made” (adopted) the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 ((SI 2012 No. 637) require the council to make a decision on the Examiner’s recommendations before agreeing to send it to referendum. In this case, the council was required to decide whether it is appropriate to make a different decision to the examiner in respect of one issue

 

Alternative Options

 

None

 

Resolutions: It was agreed that Cabinet:

Clipston

 

a)    Noted and welcomed the significant progress in making the NDP by the Clipston community.

b)    Agreed the Examiner’s recommended modifications in respect of the Clipston NDP are accepted and further minor modifications as set out in appendix 1 are also made

c)    Agreed that  ...  view the full decision text for item 8.

Minutes:

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Rebecca Breese presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated. The committee was advised that approval of the reports would allow all three of the plans to move onto the next part of development.

 

A councillor asked whether Cabinet would actively encourage communities to invest in development plans, taking value versus cost into account.

 

The Executive Director of Place & Economy advised communities that wish to have development plans to be clear about the objectives that they wish to meet, and stated he was happy to attend parish council meetings to discuss.

 

9.

Bus Service Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 584 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions; It was agreed that Cabinet

 

a.    Noted the work undertaken on developing a draft Bus Service Improvement Plan and the outline BSIP in Appendix A;

b.    Agreed delegated authority to the Executive Directors for Place, Economy and Transport and for Finance, in consultation with the Cabinet Members with responsibility for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste and for Finance, to agree the final Bus Service Improvement Plan (in consultation with a cross party working group of up to 6 members) prior to submission to the Department for Transport and publication on the Council’s website by 31 October 2021.

c.    Asked Scrutiny to facilitate the establishment of a task and finish group to input to and review progress on the establishment of the Enhanced Partnership.

 

Reason for Resolutions

 

a.    To improve bus services in West Northamptonshire and minimise the risk of any communities losing their bus service;

b.    To facilitate climate and environmental benefits through increasing bus use and the operation of more low emission buses;

c.    To contribute to the implementation of the Northamptonshire Transportation Plan (the Local Transport Plan);

d.    To enable the Council to access the funding being made available by Government to support the National Bus Strategy

e.    To meet the deadlines set by the Department for Transport

 

Alternative Options

 

None

Minutes:

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Phil Larratt presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated. Apologies were given for the report not being completed and as in depth as was wanted.

 

As discussed at Cabinet in June the implementation of the plan meant forming an enhanced partnership with bus operators, this would be required before any funding could be released. The committee was advised that the plan was a progressive one but at the moment not fully complete. It was hoped that a completed draft would be ready in the next week, the plan would then be revisited. It was advised that a task and finish group of cross party members would be required for this project. The Council had hoped to restore many of the features and routes that had been lost.

 

Councillors made the following comments.

  • It was advised that there had been a lack of engagement with bus drivers on this plan and concerns had been raised at full council.
  • The Bus Implementation Strategy should be bold and ambitious.
  • It was noted that work should be done in order to reach the Council’s carbon neutral goal.
  • Some villages currently had no bus services and these are essential for rural life.
  • There were private services in place for University transport which could cost up to £200 per term per student.
  • Cabinet was urged to read the CPRE report, it was full of important information pertaining to countryside accessibility.
  • Although a cross party working group had been discussed at the June Cabinet meeting this had still not happened.
  • It was advised that some councillors felt uncomfortable with delegating authority to Cabinet on this issue.
  • Affordability was discussed, specifically bus fees, it was noted that costs had gone up significantly.
  • It was noted that Stagecoach had extended some of their services but there were still serious connectivity issues.
  • It was asked that routes be changed in a timely manner if found to not be working.

 

Councillor Phil Larratt made the following comments.

  • The value of public transport, especially in rural areas was understood.
  • The gold service buses by Stagecoach were an example of a good bus service.
  • It was noted that Milton Keynes had engaged consultants to help them with the process. WNC could not afford this, so the work had been undertaken by officers.
  • Once the whole plan is available it will be shared, leader from every group will receive a copy.
  • The Bus Back Better initiative would be an opportunity to give back bus services to areas that had lost them.

 

The Executive Director of Place & Economy noted that this plan would be reviewed every year and informed Cabinet that various park and rides had been discussed.

 

Councillor Adam Brown suggested an amendment to the recommendations.

Agree delegated authority to the Executive Directors for Place, Economy and Transport and for Finance, in consultation with the Cabinet Members with responsibility for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste and for Finance, to agree the final Bus Service Improvement Plan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

24 Guildhall Road refurbishment and relocation of Northampton Arts Collective Limited pdf icon PDF 501 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions; Cabinet;

 

a.     Noted the work done to date by WNC officers and Northampton Arts Collective Limited on securing the £1.15m of GBF funding for the refurbishment of 24 Guildhall Road, the design development and procurement that has been undertaken to date and the next steps that are required to take forward this project.

b.    Delegated authority to the Assistant Director of Planning, Economic Growth and Regeneration to enter into a partnership agreement between the Council and Northampton Arts Collective Limited. This will include, for example (but is not limited to), the establishment of the governance and project arrangements on the refurbishment project and the working relationship beyond completion as referenced in the cabinet report dated 9th September 2020.

c.    Delegated authority to the Assistant Director of Assets and Environment to agree heads of terms for a lease and enter a 25-year lease on the lower ground, upper ground and first floors at a peppercorn rent. This is subject to a service charge to Northampton Arts Collective and all documentation related to the project will be completed on simultaneous basis.

d.    Delegated authority to the Head of Major Projects and Regeneration to approve the final design for phase one of the refurbishment project. Page 363

e.    Accepted further reports on any matters generally or risks pursuant to paragraphs 6.23 to 6.30 that arise that are different to what is proposed in this report.

 

 Reason for Resolutions

 

a.    The refurbishment project will make use of a WNC building, the former NCC offices, that has no other use.

b.    The recommendations above are required to progress this important cultural regeneration

 

Alternative Options

 

None

Minutes:

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Lizzy Bowen presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated. The lease agreement for this property had been for a peppercorn rent for 25 years with a get out clause at year 10 if needed. It was advised that further funding for this project had come from the Towns Fund. The project had gone through a business case which found that although more money could have been achieved on the open market, funding then wouldn’t have been an option. There had been assurance that once approval had been received the project should be completed by March 2022.

 

Councillors made the following comments.

  • It was asked who the other tenants of the building would be.
  • It was noted that the previous councils had a history of badly managed projects.
  • Many historical sites had been lost over the years, so this project was an exciting one.
  • It was queried as to whether the staffing levels for this project were enough.

 

Councillor Lizzy Bowen advised that recruitment was almost up to full capacity and that securing other tenants was in hand

11.

Hardingstone Bike Park - Update and Operator Arrangements pdf icon PDF 818 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions: That Cabinet

 

a)    Noted the work to date undertaken in the development and delivery of the bike park project

b)    Approved the revised budget in line with appendix 1 of this report

c)    Delegated Authority to the Assistant Director Economic Growth and Regeneration to enter the SE (Places to Ride) grant agreement, subject to being satisfied with financial and legal due diligence

d)    Delegated authority to the Assistant Director Housing and Communities to agree the terms of the operation and maintenance agreement (OMA) with the bike park operator (which shall include back-to-back requirements of the SE Grant condition), subject to being satisfied with financial and legal due diligence

e)    Delegated Authority to the Assistant Director Assets & Environment to grant a lease to the proposed operator of the bike park for 25 years on terms acceptable to the Council, subject to being satisfied with financial and legal due diligence

f)     Received a further report in the event any issues arise with the financial and legal due diligence exercise where the risks listed in paragraphs 5.15.1 to 5.15.6 materially impact on the delivery of the project and/or the grant funding conditions

 

Reason for Recommendations

 

The recommendations establish financial and requisite delegated authorities to proceed with the project. Whilst there are a number of outstanding risks and interdependencies on this project, these approvals are necessary to enable the project to continue.

 

Alternative Options

 

None

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that this report contained exempt appendices and should any discussion involve them then the committee would move into private session.

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Lizzy Bowen presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated.

The Cabinet was informed that this had been an NBC led proposal, which now had various stakeholders including WNC, with a peppercorn rent being offered. There were very few bike parks in the country, the nearest one being nearly 2 hours away so this was an exciting venture. The section used would be a disused section of the Delapre gold course, which would include various routes for different needs.

Provisional parking is to be provided which was a requirement of the grant, with forecasted costs having increased mainly due to the price of raw materials. Cabinet was informed that some Section 106 money had been made available for this project but that there had been no firm price on the works as yet. It was hoped that work would start next year.

 

Councillors made the following comments.

  • The maintenance of the bike park was a concern and it was questioned whether this would end up falling solely to WNC.
  • It was noted that the fees had gone up significantly, this was a concern.
  • Concern had been raised about the idea of delegated authority, should this not be a collaboration with all councillors involved.
  • It was queried why a peppercorn rent was approved for some options but not for others.
  • It was noted that a lot of emphasis had been placed on NSport.
  • Could there be confirmation that should this not work, the land would not be used for a housing development.

 

Councillor Fiona Baker advised that having worked with NSport over a period of time she had found them to be exceptional at delivering their projects.

 

Councillor Lizzy Bowen agreed with the concerns raised about the price of the project, but after having investigated other parks costings found the price given was a fair one. Peppercorn rent would be used in areas where nothing else had been achieved in order to help the wellbeing of the people of the county.

 

Councillor Malcolm Longley advised that the Assistant Director Assets & Environment would be in charge of the project and he was very confident in his ability to complete the project. It was advised that the project was a full funded one.

 

Councillors Phil Larratt and Mike Hallam agreed and felt this was an excellent use for the site and would attract people to the area.

 

12.

Approach to Community Funding for 2021/22 and 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 709 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolutions: That Cabinet;

 

a)    Approved the proposed interim Community Funding Grant Policy for West Northants Council 2021 to end of March 2023.

  

b)    Approved delegated authority to Director for Adults, Communities and Wellbeing (DASS) for awarding community funding as set out in the new policy.  Where appropriate to adjust the policy in consultation with the relevant Portfolio Holder.  

 

c)    Approved the Councillor Covid Support Fund of £232,500 for 2021/22 to aid Covid recovery of our local communities, note the use of Covid Recovery Fund to finance this scheme in 2021/22 and agree that officers complete a review of the scheme and its funding source prior to 2022/23.

 

Reason for Resolutions;

 

Community Funding Grant Policy:

 

a)    WNC acknowledged there has been a six-month gap (since Vesting Day) in the council awarding small grants to our local community and voluntary organisations (CVS).  This presents a risk to the continuation of essential local support and services.  Therefore, Cabinet approval is sought to enable WNC to launch the interim Community Funding Grant Policy. 

b)    The recommendation to produce one interim policy with one community funding scheme for West Northants provides a consistent approach to community funding grant awards across West Northants.

c)    The policy enables the council to take a more strategic approach to investment into CVS organisations, aligned to meet identified needs and the councils adopted corporate priorities.

d)    Approval of the policy enables the application and award for grants process, in turn benefiting our local communities through funding that helps sustain and invent new activity to address the local needs.

e)    WNC has an increased Scheme of Delegation limits for officers, and with grant awards capped at maximum £15,000 no grant award will be classified as a Key Decision of the Council. The Cabinet will set the strategic direction of community funding through its decision to approve the proposed community grant funding policy and the policies alignment to the council’s corporate priorities.  However, there will be cross-party oversight of the implementation of the Community Funding Grant Policy to ensure adherence to the new policy, that grant awards are allocated to meet identified local needs, and that community funding is distributed in a fair and equitable manner. 

f)     The recommendation for delegated authority to officers will ensure applicants receive funding awards in the most expedient timescale. 

 

Councillor Covid Support Fund 2021-22:

 

a)    To support our local communities to recover from the impact of Covid during the remainder of the 2021-22 financial year.

b)    To provide WNC Councillors with a consistent and expedient mechanism for making local grant awards to community and voluntary groups.

c)    To draw upon the local knowledge of Councillors best placed to identify local groups, organisations and/or communities at most risk due to Covid impact and in most need for grant awards.  

 

Alternative Options

 

a)    Continuing the model of sovereign council community funding.  This model would see decision making and awarding of community funding implemented on a locality basis (Northampton; Daventry; South Northants). This option is not recommended  ...  view the full decision text for item 12.

Minutes:

At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor David Smith presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated.

 

Councillors made the following comments.

  • The report was welcomed as many organisations in the charity sector had lacked clarity with regard to funding.
  • This system would allow organisations to target a specific area for funding.
  • It was noted that there had been no detailed timescales presented in the report.
  • It was asked if the Council had the correct amount of staff in place in order to process requests in a timely fashion.
  • Exceptional circumstances were mentioned in the report, could there be some clarification as to what was meant by that?
  • A councillor queried what would happen to any money that was left over in this fund at the end of the year.
  • A larger pot of money for the voluntary sector had been expected.
  • It was noted that the current grant cycle was 1 year, could this be increased to 3, this would be helpful to organisations such as Age Concern.

 

Councillor Mike Hallam advised that this would allow the Council to move forward as required, and that increasing to a three year cycle could be looked at. He advised that parish councils can’t apply, but that they have other avenues open to them.

 

Councillor Adam Brown noted that use of this fund would be monitored.

 

Councillor Fiona Baker had been disappointed with the time taken to create this but understood that a lot of work had taken place. Many voluntary organisations had not been able to fund raise due to covid, so this fund would be important.

 

Councillor Phil Larratt queried whether councillors could go through parish councils in order to fund some organisations, noting that some smaller ones might not have bank accounts etc.

 

Councillor Malcolm Longley advised councillors that this had been a one-off fund that was covid related, which meant care needed to be taken when allocating funds. Councillors must be sure, for this fund, that any projects should be covid-related.

 

13.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following report(s) contain exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1, Schedule 12A of Local Government Act 1972.

.

 

Paragraph 3 – Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

 

Members are reminded that whilst the following item(s) have been marked as exempt, it is for the meeting to decide whether or not to consider each of them in private or in public. In making the decision, members should balance the interests of individuals or the Council itself in having access to the information. In considering their discretion members should also be mindful of the advice of Council Officers.

 

Should Members decide not to make a decision in public, they are recommended to resolve as follows:

 

“That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraph 3 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

14.

Hardingstone Bike Park - Update and Operator Arrangements - Appendix 1 & 3