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Council Minutes 14th December 2023

10:59 am, Thursday, 1st February 2024 - 1 month ago

Present:    Councillor Lindley (in the Chair)

Councillors Aisthorpe, Astbury, Batson, Beasant, Boyd, Brasted, Brookes, Cairns, Cracknell, Croft, Dawkins, Downes, Farren, Freeston, Goodwin, Haggis, Harness, Hasthorpe, Henderson, Holland, Hudson, Jackson, McLean, Mickleburgh, Morland, Parkinson, Patrick, Pettigrew, Reynolds, Shepherd, Shreeve, Shutt, Silvester, K Swinburn, S Swinburn, Westcott and Wilson.

 

Officers in Attendance:

  • Rob Walsh (Chief Executive)
  • Simon Jones (Monitoring Officer and Assistant Director Law and Governance)
  • Eve Richardson-Smith (Deputy Monitoring Officer)
  • Paul Windley (Democratic and Scrutiny Team Manager)
  • Paul Wisken (Civic and Mayoral Officer)
  • Sharon Wroot (Executive Director of Place and Resources)

The proceedings were opened with prayers by the Mayor’s Chaplain.

NEL.53      MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Mayor welcomed everyone in attendance to this meeting.  He noted that there would be an Eighties Disco Night fundraiser event on 2nd February 2024 and a 24 hour dance marathon on 21st March 2024, both in support of the Mayor’s charities.  He looked forward to Members’ support for these events.

NEL.54      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence from this meeting were received from Councillors Robinson, Sandford, Smith and Wheatley.

NEL.55      MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council held on 28th September 2023 and the special meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council held on 30th November 2023 were approved as a correct record.

NEL.56      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

There were no declarations of interest in relation to any item on the agenda for this meeting.

NEL.57      QUESTION TIME

 The following question was submitted by Mr Marc Lawless to the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, in accordance with the Council’s procedures. 

“I am asking your help to address a pressing issue that affects our community – the presence of discarded trolleys scattered throughout the borough of North East Lincolnshire. As a frequent observer and participant in action to improve the local environment, it is disheartening to witness the increasing number of abandoned trolleys throughout our streets, parks, and waterways. These abandoned trolleys are an eyesore, but they are also a hazard to pedestrians and other members of the public, cyclists and wildlife and they frequently cause damage to parked cars and other property. The West Marsh, East Marsh, and Heneage Wards are some of the areas most affected. A solution to this issue requires collaboration between the local council, supermarkets and residents. I believe an open exchange of ideas and a concerted effort is required to find a solution and by working together we can address this challenge and make a positive impact on our environment.

The following actions must be worthy of consideration:

  • increasing awareness and educating the public about the negative consequences and cost implications of abandoning trolleys.
  • encouraging supermarkets to implement effective control measures to prevent the removal of trolleys from their premises.
  • working closely with supermarkets and conducting regular rounds to collect abandoned trolleys promptly.
  • implementing a deposit system, which is already used successfully in other areas, and incentivises the return of trolleys. The recent introduction of a deposit at one local supermarket has virtually eliminated the problem at this site.
  • making use of existing legislation to discourage the removal of trollies from supermarket premises by issuing a fixed penalty notice for fly tipping to any person removing a trolley from the premises of supermarket that owns it.

Councillor Jackson has previously justified the present system which makes use of Trolleywise as a time and cost-effective solution, but while the use of Trolleywise may be time and cost free, Asda and some other large retailers do not even participate in the scheme. Trolleywise is failing to address the problem and more action is urgently needed.”

Councillor Swinburn, the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, responded that abandoned shopping trolleys were a national problem and the responsibility for retrieval rests with the owner of the trolley.  Trolleywise was funded by supermarkets to collect abandoned trolleys, to fulfil their legal obligations.  The Council’s fly tipping collection resources were already very stretched and it was therefore our preference to allow the companies responsible for this problem the opportunity to resolve the situation, instead of stepping in.

When the council received reports of shopping trolleys on the highway or Council land, we collect them within 5 days and keep them in our depot until Trolleywise can collect.  If trolleys were abandoned on private land or in the part of the river Freshney which was not managed by the council, the responsibility sat with the supermarket or the landowner to remove. In these cases, Trolleywise are left to resolve the situation and charge back the supermarket accordingly for the retrieval, which sometimes takes a bit longer.  The council recognised that it had powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 to collect abandoned trolleys and charge companies back for this. However, having shared best practice with other Local Authorities, we understand that the administration process for this is burdensome, rarely cost neutral to the Local Authority and it delivered limited benefits compared to the national Trolleywise operation. Taking legal action against supermarkets for abandoned trolleys was also not recommended unless we had first given them an opportunity to rectify the problem, which again would involve a report to Trolleywise.  A publicity campaign was held last year and this had a positive impact on the number of trolleys abandoned.  The council can commit to write to all the supermarkets if needed to highlight the issue being experienced with abandoned trolleys and recommend all trolleys were fitted with automatic locking devices for the area of the supermarket.

NEL.58      THE LEADER’S STATEMENT

The Council received a statement from the Leader of the Council.

The Leader reported that the findings of the most recent Ofsted Children’s Services monitoring visit had recently been published and he was pleased to note the significant improvements that were now apparent.  There was specific mention of improved partnership working and workforce stability, with a significant increase in permanent staff.  Whilst on the subject of staffing, the Leader welcomed the new permanent Director of Children’s Services, who was now in post.  Permanent appointments to other senior management roles within Children’s Services had also been made, at a time when recruitment nationally was very difficult.  This would further bolster workforce stability and accelerate improvement.  The Leader thanked Janice Spencer, the outgoing interim Director, for her hard work and the massive improvements she had spearheaded over the past year or so.

Progress had continued with Greater Lincolnshire Devolution Deal, which was now subject to public consultation.  Early indications were that there was considerable interest in the deal from both the public and businesses across Greater Lincolnshire, with most respondents very positive about it and the benefits it would bring.

The Leader noted that the 2024/25 budget setting process had commenced, with all members having had the opportunity to attend informal budget briefing meetings.  Local authorities up and down the country were financially challenged and North East Lincolnshire Council was no exception, the government would continue to be lobbied via our MPs and various other routes.  Whilst the 2024/25 financial settlement was still awaited from government, this administration was confident that a balanced budget would be delivered for the forthcoming year at the February Full Council meeting.

Cabinet was due to consider a report recommending public consultation on a draft revised Local Development Plan.  This was one of the most important documents for determining the future direction of the borough.  The draft included various scenarios on which we wanted to hear the public’s view before a final version was produced for a further round of consultation.  There was a strong focus on publicising this consultation and maximising public engagement.

The Leader referred to the Planning Committee’s recent approval of an application for a salmon farm on Associated British Ports’ land to the east of the Port of Grimsby.  He felt that this pioneering development was an exciting opportunity for our area.  It would bring more well-paid jobs and prosperity to North East Lincolnshire, making us a leader in this technology, and further bolstering our thriving seafood processing sector, providing locally sourced salmon with a significantly lower carbon footprint.

The Leader was pleased with the recent conclusion of a deal with Associated British Ports for the purchase of 28 acres of the development land from the Council, which previously formed part of the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme.  Associated British Ports was running short of land on the Port of Immingham and would bring forward development on the purchased site, delivering new businesses and new jobs, far more quickly than the council would, as a local authority.  Furthermore, the council would benefit from a £20.5 million capital receipt, which could be used to transform and improve the delivery of services to North East Lincolnshire residents, as well as retaining all the Enterprise Zone business rates from developments on the site.  He felt that this was an example of this Conservative administration pragmatically facilitating and enabling change, intervening only where appropriate and necessary, but then stepping aside to let the private sector do what it did best.

A deal was recently agreed for the council to purchase the former House of Fraser building in Grimsby Town centre.  The property was taken to the market in 2017 for offers in excess of £12.75 million.  The council had paid just £350,000 for it.  The property formed an integral part of the Freshney Place footprint, and this pragmatic purchase ensured that it could be embraced as part of our ambitious plans for the repurposing, redevelopment and regeneration of Grimsby town centre.  An appraisal of potential uses was being prepared, alongside engagement with Historic England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Homes England.  The intention was that a business case and potential funding bids would be developed with the aim of bringing, as a minimum, the ground floor back into beneficial and viable occupation.  That would be along the same lines as has been followed in Freshney Place, where diversification and prudent rental models were bringing significant benefits.

The Leader reported that, as a very busy 2023 drew to a close, this administration was delivering for the residents of North East Lincolnshire, with positive change and exciting new developments.  He took the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and greater prosperity in the New Year.

The Leader concluded by noting that the latest Council action tracker and a paper setting out the Special Urgency decisions taken by Cabinet since the last scheduled full Council, had been tabled at this meeting. 

NEL.59      POLLING DISTRICT AND POLLING PLACES REVIEW

The Council considered a report from the Chief Executive and Electoral Registration Officer setting out the feedback received to the consultation phase which was undertaken between 2nd and 31st October 2023.

Councillor Patrick move an amendment to recommendation 2 in the report, asking that alternative arrangements be investigated to allow polling district HE1 within the Heneage ward to have its own unique polling station.  This was seconded by Councillor Wilson.

The amendment was put to the vote and the amendment was lost.

RESOLVED –

1.   That the responses to the consultation on the polling district and polling place review, set out in Appendix 1 of the report now submitted, be noted.

2.   That the polling districts and polling places as set out in Appendix 2 of the report now submitted, be agreed with effect from the date the electoral register was published.

3.   That the Returning Officer be asked to consider the proposed changes to the polling stations, as set out in Appendix 2 of the report now submitted, for use at the May 2024 elections.

4.   That the Electoral Registration Officer be authorised to undertake the remaining administrative tasks to conclude the review, including re-numbering polling districts if appropriate and amending the polling places for the outstanding polling stations.

NEL.60      WARD BOUNDARY REVIEW

The Council received a report from the Chief Executive seeking to establish a working group to prepare the draft submission on behalf of the Council in relation to the forthcoming Local Boundary Review.

Councillor Wilson moved an amendment to recommendation 3 of the report to ensure that the Ward Boundary Review Working Group contained representation from minor opposition groups in a more balanced way to ensure that their views were taken into account.  This was seconded by Councillor Morland.

The Chief Executive advised Council that the Local Government Boundary Commission would want to see all views properly recorded and he provided an assurance that this would be done. He commented that he would confer with all political group leaders on the make-up of the working group to ensure that no groups were excluded from the process.  He further noted that the terms of reference for the working group allowed for representation from all political groups on the Council.

The amendment was put to the vote and the amendment was lost.

RESOLVED –

  1. That a Ward Boundary Review Working Group be established to prepare the necessary submissions in relation to Council Size and Ward Boundaries when required before consideration of Council.
  2. That the Terms of Reference, laid out at appendix 1 of the report now submitted, be agreed.

3. That Members be appointed to the Ward Boundary Review Working Group in accordance with the recommended composition as laid out in the Terms of Reference at appendix 1 of the report now submitted.

4.   That the time scales for the Review, laid out by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England at appendix 2 of the report now submitted, be noted.

NEL.61      PARISH COUNCIL COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE REVIEW

The Council considered a report from the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets setting out the outcome of the second consultation phase of the Parish Council Community Governance Review.

RESOLVED –

  1. That the feedback received during the second consultation phase of the parish council community governance review as set out in Appendix 2 of the report now submitted, be received and noted.
  2. That, with the exception of Immingham Town Council, Barnoldby Le Beck Parish Council and Waltham Parish Council, the governance, and electoral arrangements of all of the current parish councils in North East Lincolnshire remain unchanged.

3. That no new parish or town councils be established in North East Lincolnshire at this time.

4. That, for Immingham Town Council, no change be made to the existing governance and electoral arrangements, with the exception of the Town Council Wards which will be changed from the current three Town Wards to a North and South Town Ward split along Pelham Road (as per the map in Appendix 1), with 7 Town Councillors representing the North Town Ward and 8 Town Councillors representing the South Town Ward.  These changes will be implemented with effect from the next full Immingham Town Council elections in May 2027.

5. That for Barnoldby Le Beck and Waltham Parish Councils, no changes be made to the governance or electoral arrangements.  With regard to the parish boundary on Bradley Road, a third period of public consultation shall take place regarding three options (see plans at Appendix 3 of the report now submitted for details of the proposed boundaries):
No change
Move five properties on Bradley Road from Waltham Parish Council into Barnoldby Le Beck Parish Council. Move all of those properties on Barnoldby Le Beck side of Bradley Road into Waltham Parish Council. 

6. That the results of the third consultation phase be reported back to the Communities Scrutiny Panel on 22nd February 2024 and that the Panel be asked to make a recommendation to Council on 14th March 2024 on the final parish boundary for Barnoldby Le Beck and Waltham Parish Councils, based on the feedback from the third consultation period.

NEL.62      CALCULATION OF THE COUNCIL TAX BASE FOR 2024/25

The Council considered a report from the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets on the setting of the Council Tax Base for 2024/25 and outlining the proposed Council Tax Support Scheme for the forthcoming year.

Councillor Wilson raised concerns regarding the decision-making process for taking forward the suggested migration to a banded Council Tax Support Scheme from April 2025.

The Monitoring Officer advised that any change would be subject to consultation and Council consideration prior to being implemented.

RESOLVED –

1.That the proposed Council Tax Support Scheme for 2024/2025 which maintains the maximum discount of 65% for all working age residents, be supported.  

2. That it be agreed to issue communication of the intention to implement the second home premium from April 2025.

    3. That the implementation of the revised empty homes premium for properties empty over 12 months, be agreed.

    4. That the Council Tax Base for the Council and other precepting bodies in 2024/2025 be set at 46,801.2 Band D equivalents (as detailed in Appendix A of the report now submitted).

    NEL.63      FLEXIBLE USE OF CAPITAL RECEIPTS STRATEGY – 2023/24 UPDATE

    The Council considered a report from the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets presenting the updated Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Strategy which outlines how the Council plans to utilise additional capital receipts to fund transformation.  This report was considered by Cabinet at its special meeting on 30th November 2023 and is referred to Council for approval.

    RESOLVED – That the updated Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Strategy be approved.

    NEL.64      NOTICE OF MOTION

    To consider a Notice of Motion, to be proposed by Councillor Croft and seconded by Councillor Shepherd, submitted in accordance with the Council’s Standing Orders as set out below:

    The Scartho Top development was given approval in 1990. Some 33 years later there has been significant development in housing and infrastructure of a retail shop, a care home and now recently a new school.

    This Council urges the developers of Scartho Top to make the completion of the road infrastructure of Matthew Telford Park to Bluebell Drive its number one priority allowing better access and egress to this growing development.

    It is essential for further development of this project given the significant traffic increase.

    An amendment to the Motion had been received, in accordance with the Constitution, and was moved by Councillor Patrick, seconded by Councillor Wilson, requesting that paragraph two of the motion be amended to read as follows:

    This council requests our Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport to urge the developers of Scartho top to make the completion of the road infrastructure of Matthew Telford Park to Bluebell Drive it’s number one priority allowing better access and egress to this growing development.

    Members debated this amendment and at the conclusion of the debate, the amendment was put to the vote.  A recorded vote was held in accordance with the requirements of the Council’s Standing Orders; the votes cast were recorded as follows:

    For the amendment:

    Councillors Downes, Farren, Goodwin, Haggis, Mickleburgh, Morland, Patrick, Shutt and Wilson (9 votes).

    Against the amendment:

    Councillors Aisthorpe, Astbury, Batson, Beasant, Boyd, Brasted, Brookes, Cairns, Cracknell, Croft, Dawkins, Freeston, Harness, Hasthorpe, Henderson, Holland, Hudson, Jackson, Lindley, McLean, Parkinson, Pettigrew, Reynolds, Shepherd, Shreeve, Silvester, K Swinburn, S Swinburn and Westcott (29 votes).

    Therefore, the amendment was declared lost and the debate returned to the substantive motion.  During the course of the debate, Councillor Shutt proposed a further amendment seeking to make reference to housing developments across the Borough where similar issues could be found.  The Monitoring Officer advised that the proposed amendment did not meet the requirements of the Council’s Standing Orders, principally, due to the specific nature of the substantive motion, that it had not been submitted on notice and it did not arise from the debate on the notice of motion.

    The substantive motion was put to the vote.  A recorded vote was held in accordance with the requirements of the Council’s Standing Orders; the votes cast were recorded as follows:

    For the motion:

    Councillors Astbury, Batson, Boyd, Brasted, Brookes, Cairns, Cracknell, Croft, Dawkins, Freeston, Harness, Hasthorpe, Henderson, Hudson, Jackson, Lindley, Parkinson, Pettigrew, Reynolds, Shepherd, Shreeve, Silvester, K Swinburn, S Swinburn and Westcott (25 votes).

    Against the amendment:

    Councillors Downes, Farren, Goodwin, Haggis, Holland, Morland, Patrick, Shutt and Wilson (9 votes).

    Abstained

    Councillors Aisthorpe, Beasant, McLean and Mickleburgh (4 votes).

    The motion was declared carried and it was:

    RESOLVED – That this Council urges the developers of Scartho Top to make the completion of the road infrastructure of Matthew Telford Park to Bluebell Drive its number one priority allowing better access and egress to this growing development.

     

    NEL.65      QUESTIONS ON NOTICE

    The Chair invited Councillor Henderson to present the following question to the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Orders.

    “To what extent is it true that NELC intends to charge RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) a fee to cover the loss of revenue from lost parking spaces on Cleethorpes promenade?”

    Councillor Swinburn, the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, responded that it was correct but the Council had worked closely with RNLI to support them throughout the project. When it became clear that their allocated contractor wanted space for a site compound we looked at multiple options. Many of these could be provided free of charge, whilst some of them would result in a loss in income so the council requested assistance to make it cost neutral.   RNLI and their contractor opted for the convenience of the current solution, instead of any free options and had not raised concerns with the need to re-imburse the Council for lost income.  The council had worked closely with RNLI to limit the cost to the absolute minimum, including ceasing charging during the stand still period where their contractor went into administration.   The council did not make a profit from car parking income. Instead, all income received was reinvested in maintaining car parks including sweeping, litter picking and emptying bins.  Car parking income from Cleethorpes supported the management of the resort and if income decreased because bays were out of action, this loss would need to be supplemented from Council tax funding. Central Promenade is one of the council’s busiest car parks, which was why the loss of income in this location was higher than other alternatives. Councillor Swinburn noted that the council worked with a lot of charities and community interest companies. The council limited any charges made to them to cost recovery only, but it was unable to waive charges for all of the voluntary sector without significant financial impact and it was important to treat all of the voluntary sector in the same way.

    In a supplementary question, Councillor Henderson asked if Councillor Swinburn’s response could be published and made available via a media release.

    Councillor Swinburn confirmed that there would continue to be regular media releases on the issue and it had been well documented throughout the media.

    The Chair invited Councillor Holland to present the following question to the Leader of the Council, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Orders.

    “The consultation process is now open for North East Lincolnshire residents to be able to express their opinions on the proposed Mayoral Combined County Authority. The link on the NELC website is ironically headlined ‘Have Your Say.’ The simple, but key question that is missing from the ‘consultation’ questionnaire is “Do you want a directly elected mayor for the whole of Greater Lincolnshire?” Why has this question been omitted from the consultation?”

    Councillor Jackson responded that it was a consultation and not a referendum.

    In a supplementary question, Councillor Holland noted that a referendum would be required to have a directly elected mayor for North East Lincolnshire and he asked why this did not apply for Greater Lincolnshire.

    Councillor Jackson responded that the public were being asked their views on the proposed level three devolution deal and the additional powers and funding it would bring.  He felt that, by implication, this was also consulting on the question of an elected mayor.

    The Chair invited Councillor Holland to present the following question to Councillor Harness, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Orders.

    “There have been wild rumours circulating on social media that NELC is facing bankruptcy in the near future in a similar manner to many other councils. Can the Portfolio Holder give an assurance to our residents that the budget will balance for this financial year and that a balanced budget will be set early in 2024 for the forthcoming financial year?”

    Councillor Harness, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets responded by providing such an assurance.

    In a supplementary question, Councillor Holland asked for assurance from the portfolio holder that residents would not have to face cuts to services.

    Councillor Harness provided such an assurance and noted that all Members would be able to participate in the formulation of the council’s medium term financial plan.

    At this point, it was moved by Councillor Jackson and seconded by Councillor Shreeve, that the Council’s Standing Orders governing the length of meetings be suspended to permit this meeting to continue beyond 10.00 p.m. if required.  Upon a show of hands, the motion was carried and it was 

      RESOLVED – That the Council’s Standing Orders governing the length of meetings be suspended to permit this meeting to continue beyond 10.00 p.m.

    The Chair invited Councillor Patrick to present the following question to the Portfolio Holder for Children and Education, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Orders.

    “Has there been a complete assessment done of the adverse effects of the proposal to close three cherished nurseries in our community this year, with a clear plan to support against the adverse impacts? “

    Councillor Cracknell, Portfolio Holder for Children and Education, responded that the nurseries had met with Cabinet members and officers of the council and stated their wish to keep the settings open, negating any adverse effects on residents.  The nurseries were currently producing business plans and forecasting their positions for the short and medium term future.  Officers had provided data to assist with this process.  She understood that each nursery was exploring every opportunity to meet the needs of its communities, particularly having regard to the expansion of early years entitlement offered by changes in legislation.  She confirmed that further meetings were planned for the new year.

    In a supplementary question, Councillor Patrick enquired whether the portfolio holder agreed that it was time to apologise for the damage that this proposal had caused.

    Councillor Cracknell responded that everyone was doing their best to reach a satisfactory conclusion and dialogue continued.

    The Chair invited Councillor Patrick to present the following question to Councillor S Swinburn, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Orders.

    “Corporation Road Bridge, over time and over budget, what went wrong? “

    Councillor Stewart responded that nothing had gone wrong. The Corporation Bridge project aimed to improve the condition of the bridge structure to extend the life of the heritage asset by undertaking major restoration works.  As works had progressed, further damage and deterioration has been unveiled by the contractor, with the beams underneath found to be in a much worse, corroded condition than originally expected.  Initial visual inspections were carried out by specialist contractors on the bridge in 2018 before the major restoration works commenced.  These inspections were undertaken as part of the feasibility before progressing with a business case to seek approval to progress.  The investigations included physical inspections of the bridge to those areas of the structure which could be physically accessed.  The underneath of the structure was inspected but the upper sections of the beams which abut to the steel plate which the road surface deck was laid on, were not visible.  The surveys identified corrosion to the beams and contingency budgets were identified to fund additional works.   However, only when full unrestricted access had been made available and the paintwork had been stripped and taken down to the bare steel had the contractor been able to fully understand the severity of the condition of span one, with the condition of some beams being worse than original believed.   Once the condition was known, specialist surveys were instructed on the six spans to the underneath of the bridge.  As the surveys had been undertaken, instructions had been provided to the contractor to start the process of replacing those beams which had deteriorated to a condition where remedial repairs were not able to be undertaken.  Where remedial repair had been able to be undertaken, these had been progressed too.  Access to the underside of the bridge was further constrained by operational processes placed on the scheme by The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) licence, which had a criteria which permitted up to four spans to be worked on at any one time.  This was to ensure the flow of water in Alexandra Dock was not restricted.  Only when the results of the detailed assessments had been returned and the condition established would we be able to determine the extension in the programme required for the works including a revised reopening date of the bridge to traffic. Further updates would be provided once there was a clearer understanding of timescales. The feedback from the surveys was expected in January 2024.

    Councillor Swinburn noted that the full extent of the severity of the deteriorated condition was not known at this time and the detailed assessment would provide the required information to progress safely and effectively. Before corroded beams were removed, the adjoining beams could also need to be temporarily supported. Some areas may be repaired rather than replaced, but the assessment and any subsequent design works would provide this information.

    A contingency budget was identified prior to the start of the works, however, the contract cost for the contractor increased by £750k prior to award of contract and material prices, in particular steel, increased due to market conditions.  Therefore, the contingency budget was used to fund the additional contract cost.

    The Chair invited Councillor Patrick to present the following question to the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Order.

    “The Welholme Galleries is an iconic building in the Heneage Ward, it is currently on the open market to try to part plug a huge budget shortfall, does the portfolio holder agree with me that it actually belongs to the community and should be kept as a council asset for the benefit of the residents?”

    Councillor Harness, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets, noted that the building was purchased by the council in 2010 but became surplus to requirements and required works in excess of £1m. The previous administration agreed to the principle of a freehold disposal in 2018.  There was a subsequent Cabinet decision in March 2022 to deliver a disposals programme of surplus assets to support the funding of transformational activities.  Sadly, there had been very little interest in the property.  If a proposed interest came in from the community then he would be happy to consider it as a community asset transfer.

    In a supplementary question, Councillor Patrick enquired whether the portfolio holder would commit to taking the building off the open market to allow time for a community group to look at the feasibility of taking on the property.

    Councillor Harness noted that this was subject to a Cabinet decision but he did provide a commitment to ensure that the very best was done to move this matter forward.

    NEL.66      MINUTES OF THE CABINET AND COMMITTEES OF THE COUNCIL

    The Council received the minutes of decisions taken under delegated powers at the following meetings:

    • Cabinet – 20th September and 15th November 2023
    • Freshney Place Cabinet Sub Committee – 15th November 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Children and Lifelong Learning – 21st September and 27th September 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Communities – 7th September and 2nd November 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Economy – 12th September and 7th November 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Health and Adult Social Care – 4th October 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Tourism and Visitor Economy – 5th October 2023
    • Crime and Disorder Committee – 12th October
    • Health and Wellbeing Board – 21st September 2023
    • Audit and Governance Committee – 14th September and 9th November 2023 
    • Planning Committee – 146th September 4th October and 1st November 2023
    • Licensing Standards and Adjudication Committee – 8th November 2023
    • Appeals Sub Committee – 16th August 2023

    The Mayor advised that no questions on notice had been received on the above minutes.

    RESOLVED – That the minutes of the following meetings of Cabinet and the Committees of the Council be approved and adopted:

    • Cabinet – 20th September and 15th November 2023
    • Freshney Place Cabinet Sub Committee – 15th November 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Children and Lifelong Learning – 21st September and 27th September 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Communities – 7th September and 2nd November 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Economy – 12th September and 7th November 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Health and Adult Social Care – 4th October 2023
    • Scrutiny Panel Tourism and Visitor Economy – 5th October 2023
    • Crime and Disorder Committee – 12th October
    • Health and Wellbeing Board – 21st September 2023
    • Audit and Governance Committee – 14th September and 9th November 2023 
    • Planning Committee – 146th September 4th October and 1st November 2023
    • Licensing Standards and Adjudication Committee – 8th November 2023
    • Appeals Sub Committee – 16th August 2023

    There being no further business, the Mayor wished everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful, healthy New Year and declared the meeting closed at 9.54 p.m.