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Minutes of the meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council held on 28th September 2023

11:28 am, Thursday, 12th October 2023 - 6 months ago

Present:           Councillor Lindley (in the Chair)
Councillors Aisthorpe, Astbury, Batson, Boyd, Brasted, Brookes, Cairns, Cracknell, Croft, Dawkins, Downes, Farren, Goodwin, Harness, Hasthorpe, Henderson, Holland, Hudson, Jackson, Mickleburgh, Morland, Parkinson, Patrick, Reynolds, Shreeve, Shutt, Silvester, Smith, Westcott, Wheatley and Wilson.

Officers in Attendance:

  • 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.37      MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Mayor welcomed everyone in attendance to this meeting.  He noted that a coffee morning would be held on 20th October 2023 in support of the Mayor’s charities.  He was also planning a major fundraising event in March 2024 and an announcement on this was expected in November.

NEL.38      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence from this meeting were received from Councillors Beasant, Freeston, Haggis, Pettigrew, Robinson, Sandford, Shepherd, K Swinburn and S Swinburn.

NEL.39      MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council held on 27th July 2023 and the special meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council held on 7th September 2023 were approved as a correct record.

NEL.40      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

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

NEL.41      QUESTION TIME

There were two questions submitted by members of the public for this meeting, in accordance with the Council’s procedures.

The first question was submitted by Mr Tasker to the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport.  Mr Tasker attended the meeting and put the question as set out below.

“When is the parking permit situation going to be sorted for Oole Road [in Cleethorpes]? Residents of the street have been left in limbo for years with no update, word has got around that no permits are required.  Other locals, tourists and council workers are now using the street to park and residents are being negatively impacted. This has been compounded by the council filling the car park adjacent with unbranded MG cars (without visible permits I may add so encouraging others to park without permits during chargeable times). Families, elderly and disabled residents especially are being hugely inconvenienced having to park streets away. Mentally this creates dread and anxiety about trying to find a parking space when you do have to go out in your car. We want a resolution where we can park in the street where we live and others can’t.”

In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, Councillor Jackson, Leader of the Council, responded that Oole Road was a narrow one-way residential street which ran north to south and was located to the west of the Civic Offices and Cleethorpes Town Hall.  A residents-only scheme was not a suitable option for Oole Road given the narrowness of the carriage way.  If permission was given to allow parking on Oole Road this may encourage vehicles to mount the footway, presenting an increased road safety risk. A proposed resistant-only parking scheme Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) was advertised in 2017 to include Oole Road residents-only parking. The TRO was made, sealed, and made operational apart from Oole Road.  This was because an objection was received regarding road safety concerns.  A consultation process with the police and other emergency services resulted in a decision being taken to remove the Oole Road residents-only parking scheme.  The council continued to investigate alternative provision for residents’ parking.

As for Mr Tasker’s concern regarding the MG vehicles, these were part of the Council’s social worker fleet.  They had electronic permits and were not required to display a windscreen permit. They were allowed to park in any eligible council car park.  Once the transfer of staff social workers to Grimsby town centre accommodation was completed, these fleet vehicles would be parked in Abbey Walk Car Park, therefore releasing parking spaces in Cleethorpes town hall car park.  This may help alleviate the pressure for parking in Oole Road.

The second question was submitted by Mr Emmerson to the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport.  Mr Emmerson attended the meeting and put the question as set out below.

“The recent delays and inconvenience with the recycling service, in which virtually all residents had to wait 8 weeks for both the blue and grey bins to be emptied respectively has shown how council enforced decisions has come back to haunt the Council’s Cabinet. Promises of weekly bin collections, reduction in garden waste tax, borough wide food waste recycling and retention of bring to recycling sites were never delivered. Recycling collections swiftly moved to monthly overnight, garden waste charges increased, virtually all bring to recycling sites have been removed and the food waste trial has quietly ended with no plans for expansion and all reference deleted from the council’s website. Furthermore, the council’s 25 year contract with Newlincs is due to expire next year, but residents have not been informed how this will be replaced and whether they will be consulted.   Given all the mentioned examples, does the cabinet member believe the waste and recycling service in North East Lincolnshire is going backwards and has recently become a failure and what will he be doing to drastically improve both the low recycling rate in North East Lincolnshire and how the tax payer can have trust, faith and value for money within the service?”

In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, Councillor Jackson, Leader of the Council, responded that recent service disruptions were caused by unofficial industrial action following a job evaluation / pay regrading application.  In this situation, the suspension of recycling services was the standard response to manage business continuity issues.  Residual domestic waste and garden waste services continued to operate normally.  The Council had a good relationship with the trade unions and this relationship proved to be pivotal in getting the service fully operational again.  Last week the bin collection rate was back to 99-100%. 

The current recycling service was introduced following a period of consultation and engagement and reflected the feedback of residents who wanted to see the wheeled bin system expanded to replace the previous Labour administration’s shambolic box collection system.  The revised recycling scheme had proved very popular and had seen an increase in recycling rates from 35% in 2019/20, when it was introduced, to 43% currently.  The increased kerbside recycling capacity that it provided for residents meant that most bring-to sites became unnecessary.  They were often abused and became a target for fly-tipping.  The decision to remove most of them had saved considerable resources and improved the local environment.

Proposals regarding potential free garden waste collections and the roll out of food waste collections feature in the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which is awaiting legislation to support formal implementation across England.  In the meantime, our garden waste charge increased this year, for the first time under this Administration, by the rate of inflation but an additional collection had been provided in December.  This was, of course, a discretionary service available to those who chose to use it.  The charge was not a tax and was comparable to or lower than other neighbouring councils.

Regarding the food waste collection, the Council ran a very successful two-year pilot scheme. Government had indicated that a free, nationally funded food waste collection scheme would be introduced by 2023. That date had now been put back to at least 2025, and currently this authority did not have the budget to continue the scheme.  Implementation of a full food waste service required significant capital and revenue funding; the service had been paused to await further details about the future roll out and funding arrangements. 

The waste disposal contract with Newlincs was not, in fact, scheduled to end until 2029.  The council’s waste and recycling service was certainly not going backwards as Mr Emmerson alleged; recycling rates had improved significantly over the past four years and the council continued to look at ways to continue that trend, including how we encourage greater engagement from those who currently were unable or unwilling to recycle.

NEL.42      THE LEADER’S STATEMENT

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

The Leader reported that the council had today hosted a visit by the Chairman of Homes England and an effective working relationship had been developed with Homes England regarding our ambition for aspirational brownfield housing in Grimsby town centre and Alexandra Dock in particular.  The Leader added that the public consultation on the refresh of the North East Lincolnshire Housing Strategy had opened today.  This highlighted the future of housing in North East Lincolnshire and the challenges that must be overcome to ensure every person in the borough had access to good and affordable homes.  It would also play into the review of the Local Development Plan, which was also currently underway.

Turning to children and young people, the Leader noted that strengthening our children’s services leadership arrangements was key to delivering sustained improvement and positive, lasting change. Therefore, he welcomed the the appointment of Ann Marie Matson to the critically important role of Director of Children’s Services – an individual with a strong and highly respected leadership and delivery track record, who was joining us from a local authority that was currently outstanding for children’s services. 

The Leader reported that our local Family Hubs were set to reopen in the next six months, offering vital services to children and families in North East Lincolnshire.  Immingham was the first Family Hub to reopen last weekend.

The Leader updated on a significant number of regeneration initiatives across the borough.  Detailed plans had been submitted which, if approved, would transform Grimsby’s iconic Ice Factory into a multi-purpose building, with offices, studios and research and development space for the green maritime sector, as well as a leading exhibition, conference and live performance venue with a 1000-seat capacity.  It would also include leisure and food and beverage space with car, coach and cycle parking facilities.  This proposed development sat alongside ABP’s ambitious plans for the regeneration of the historic buildings in the Kasbah area of the port and would help to ensure that the Port of Grimsby was a thriving part of the local economy for many years to come.  Plans had also been submitted for a 161-room, five-storey hotel providing a hospitality facility for people attending conferences and events at the Ice Factory, as well as providing much needed hotel accommodation for the offshore wind sector based in the port.

Still in the Port of Grimsby, RWE Renewables UK had announced multi-million pound expansion plans for its Royal Dock base, due to complete next year. The significantly enhanced state-of-the-art operations and maintenance facility would play a national role, further reaffirming the Humber’s role as a leading location for the sector and generating many new jobs in North East Lincolnshire.

CATCH had today announced ambitious plans for the development of a £60 million state-of-the-art training facility at its Stallingborough headquarters, with the intent of tackling the engineering construction skill shortages anticipated in the Humber cluster and across the UK.  This was in anticipation of a series of Net Zero projects set to commence from 2024 which were expected to generate 20,000 new industrial jobs, necessitating an unprecedented, rapid upscaling of the existing skills pipelines.  The expansion plans had funding support from key industrial sponsors and this was clearly a very exciting development for North East Lincolnshire.  The Leader added that Cabinet had last month approved a Skills Action Plan for North East Lincolnshire and he thanked scrutiny for its well-considered input.  The Leader highlighted some of the key skills challenges faced in North East Lincolnshire in the context of plans for future growth.  Earlier today he had opened a workshop for local representatives in the education and business sectors to discuss how they could best collaborate to help deliver the new Skills Strategy.

The Leader referred to the Projekt Renewable container park that was due to open on the Alexandra Dock next month.  This ground-breaking scheme promised not only to celebrate the opportunities presented by sustainable energy production in the area but to act as a catalyst for bridging the gap between the industry and the local community, showcasing exactly how versatile, accessible and promising renewables were, for everyone.  Projekt Renewable would be an aspirational beacon for Grimsby and beyond, especially for children and young people, showcasing the opportunities available in this exciting new area of the local economy. 

Last week the Leader attended the launch event of the Grimsby Town Centre 2025 Group, consisting of representatives from the retail sector and other businesses.  Funding had been secured for an 18-month project to help the town centre become a vibrant place, encouraging local businesses and communities to “be part of the positive”, with a view to improving civic pride and addressing negative perceptions about the town.  This very upbeat event included presentations from businesses investing heavily in the town centre, such as the Horizon Onside YouthZone, Parkway Cinema, and the NHS Community Diagnostic Centre, and emphasised the positive changes which would be delivered in Grimsby town centre over the next two years.  However, anti-social behaviour and crime remained an area of concern in the town centre, whether it was genuine or perceived.  The Leader reported that a multi-agency project, valued at £330k over 18 months, had been developed to minimise the threat of crime and disorder in the town centre.  Interventions included a youth hub on Osbourne Street to divert young people away from causing anti-social behaviour and crime, improving business security, enhancing the street scene (including at night time), and removing graffiti. 

Whilst on the subject of law and order, the Leader reported that North East Lincolnshire Council and Humberside Police were intending to vary three Public Space Protection Orders to address the anti-social behaviour that was connected to the consumption of alcohol in Grimsby Town Centre, Peoples Park and Cleethorpes Town Centre and seafront.  This would be subject to a public consultation.  In addition, a new initiative launched by the Home Office and Humberside Police aimed to clear estates of crime.  ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ had seen an increase in officers aiming to eradicate organised crime from certain hotspots in different areas.  In North East Lincolnshire, police were focusing on the Nunsthorpe estate. 

The Leader reported on a new landmark building set to be created in the heart of Cleethorpes.  A three-storey building would be constructed at the former Waves site on the corner of Sea Road and the Promenade, comprising of state-of-the-art public amenities and changing facilities, as well as commercially lettable space across all floors of the building.  This was one of three Cleethorpes Masterplan  projects to be funded from £18.4 million of Levelling Up Funding awarded earlier this year.  In the coming weeks, more information would be released about the site along with the neighbouring Pier Gardens and Market Place as those developments moved forward.

A new National Nature Reserve had been launched on the Greater Lincolnshire coast, which marked the first in the new King’s Series of National Nature Reserves committed to enhancing biodiversity and nature recovery whilst connecting people with nature.  This provided an excellent opportunity for Cleethorpes to attract more visitors throughout the year and connect with nature.

The Leader noted that brand new funding opportunities had been released to the local creative sector at the launch of Create North East Lincolnshire earlier in the week.  Building on the success of Grimsby Creates, and following a successful bid to the Arts Council England, the work had been expanded to cover the whole of North East Lincolnshire for the next three years.  The funding pots would focus on three strands: children and young people; green and sustainable; and digital. 

The Leader reported that negotiations were well advanced with Government around a Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal.  The focus was on devolved powers and funding as well as governance arrangements.  North East Lincolnshire would be hosting this year’s Lincolnshire Day celebrations on 29th September, and welcoming guests from across Greater Lincolnshire to the Port of Grimsby.

The Leader concluded by noting that there were no special urgency decisions taken by Cabinet or portfolio holders since the last ordinary meeting of Council in March.  The tracking of Council actions update had been circulated to members.

NEL.43      POLLING DISTRICT AND POLLING PLACES REVIEW

The Council considered a report from the Chief Executive and Electoral Registration Officer seeking approval of plans for a statutory review of polling districts and polling places within the borough.

RESOLVED –

  1. That a compulsory polling district and places review commence on Monday 2nd October 2023.
  2. That the proposed timetable as set out at paragraph 1.8 of the report now submitted, be approved.
  3. That the current and proposed polling stations incorporating the comments of the Acting Returning Officer, detailed at appendix 1 of the report now submitted, be used as the basis of the consultation.
  4. That the Electoral Registration Officer be authorised to take the necessary measures as soon as possible to give effect to parliamentary constituency changes, ensuring that the register reflects existing and new constituencies until the boundaries are fully in force.
  5. That power to designate polling districts in accordance with section 18 and 18A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 be delegated to the Chief Executive and Electoral Registration Officer.
  6. That power to designate polling places in accordance with section 18 and 18B of the Representation of the People Act 1983 be delegated to the Chief Executive, and for such power to be exercised only where a decision was required at short notice and it was not possible to await a decision of Council.

NEL.44      TREASURY OUTTURN REPORT 2022/23

The Council received a report from the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets containing details of treasury management arrangements, activity and performance during the 2022/23 financial year.  This report was referred to Council by Cabinet at its meeting on 19th July 2023.

RESOLVED – That the report and the treasury management activity during 2022/23 be noted.

NEL.45      APPOINTMENT OF SECOND INDEPENDENT MEMBER TO THE AUDIT AND GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE

The Council considered a report from the Monitoring Officer seeking ratification of a recommendation from the Audit and Governance Committee that the committee’s membership be increased to include a second independent member and detailing the recruitment process to be undertaken.

RESOLVED –

1.   That the membership of the Audit and Governance Committee be increased to include a second independent member.

2.   That the Independent Remuneration Panel be invited to advise the Council on an appropriate rate of remuneration for this role.

3.   That a recruitment panel be established, with membership as set out in paragraph 1.7 of the report now submitted, to undertake the recruitment process.

4.   That a further report be submitted to Council at the conclusion of the recruitment process to confirm the appointment of the successful candidate and to confirm the level of remuneration for this role.

NEL.46      APPOINTMENT OF CO-OPTED MEMBER TO THE CHILDREN AND LIFELONG LEARNING SCRUTINY PANEL

The Council considered a report from the Monitoring Officer advising of a proposed appointment of a non-voting trade union representative as a co-opted member of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel.

RESOLVED – That Carole Harrison be appointed as a non-voting trade union co-opted member of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel, with immediate effect.

NEL.47      NOTICE OF MOTION

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

This Council notes with serious concern the evident mismanagement of the Council’s finances by the ruling Conservative administration, led by Councillor Phillip Jackson.

This Council is alarmed by the £7 million overspend forecast at the end of the first fiscal quarter of 2023, a financial situation that jeopardises the future of essential services and demonstrates poor fiscal responsibility.

This Council decries the dangerously low levels of contingent reserves, which expose the Borough to an untenable financial risk in case of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.

This Council disapproves of the high rates of Council Tax increases, which disproportionately burden our residents while failing to yield noticeable improvements in services.

This Council observes the widely held view that the quality of services in the Borough is deteriorating, evidenced by delays in basic infrastructure repairs.

This Council sees the aforementioned issues as not isolated but as a continuation of a pattern of mismanagement, evidenced by the suspension of recycled waste collection, threatened nursery closures, and children’s services now subject to central government intervention.

This Council is gravely concerned about the absence of vision and leadership, especially when contrasted with East Midlands Combined Authorities and South Yorkshire Combined Authorities, who have already secured a deal to bring much needed new money into their areas.

Therefore, this Council concludes that Councillor Phillip Jackson and his ruling Conservative Group has failed to manage the council’s coffers, failed to get a grip on services, failed to protect our children and young people, and has failed to conclude a devolution deal—leaving our communities and businesses at a disadvantage.

Recommendations –

a) This Council calls for an immediate, thorough, and transparent financial audit and financial stress test to be conducted by an independent body.

b) This Council demands that contingency plans be made to rectify the overspend and bolster the contingent reserves.

c) This Council calls for a progress report to be provided to the next meeting of full council on matters a) and b).

Following a debate, the 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 Farren, Goodwin, Henderson, Mickleburgh, Morland, Patrick, Shutt, Wheatley and Wilson (9 votes).

Against the Motion:

Councillors Aisthorpe, Astbury, Batson, Boyd, Brasted, Brookes, Cairns, Cracknell, Croft, Dawkins, Harness, Hasthorpe, Hudson, Jackson, Lindley, Parkinson, Reynolds, Shreeve, Silvester, Smith and Westcott (21 votes).

Abstained:

Councillors Downes and Holland (2 votes).

The motion was declared lost.

NEL.48      QUESTIONS ON NOTICE

The Chair invited Councillor Aisthorpe 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.

Two months have passed since the unanimous agreement on the Liberal Democrat motion, which called upon this Council to take local action in response to the issue of raw sewage being dumped into our local rivers.

This issue has serious implications for tourism in our area. During the summer holiday season, a time when families typically visit Cleethorpes beach, we have witnessed an alarming increase in sewage pollution alerts. Specifically, there have been 9 additional alerts issued by the Environmental Agency for Cleethorpes beach since the last meeting on this issue, totalling 29 sewage alerts so far this year, at Cleethorpes beach alone.

Could the portfolio holder please inform us on what work has been done so far, in line with the agreed recommendations of the motion, which were as follows:

*     Ensure the Council’s ‘Natural Assets Plan’ and the ‘Local Plan’ supports river and coastal recovery.

*     Embed river recovery in all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to decisions by the Council

*     Create an online portal on the Council website to update the public on the river and coastal recovery process.

*     Write to Anglian Water to request details of their plans to eradicate the practice of untreated sewage discharge to local rivers and coastal waters.

*     Work where possible with Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, Grimsby and Cleethorpes MPs, Coastal Partnerships, and other agencies, to combat threats to the quality of water in our local rivers and coastal waters.”

In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, Councillor Jackson, the Leader of the Council responded that, at the most recent Environment Board held on the 11 August 2023, the matters agreed in the motion were considered to ensure the Natural Assets Plan and Local Plan supported river and coastal recovery.  Recognising that the council does not have any enforcement powers, its role is one of challenge and influence.  The Environment Board recognised the importance of ensuring river and coastal recovery was embedded and consolidated within council strategies, and the benefits of collaborative partnership working with Anglian Water and the Environment Agency. Better regional collaboration with government agencies around water formed part of the negotiations we were having with government as part of the Greater Lincolnshire Devolution Deal. This would give us a stronger regional platform from which to influence.   The Leader added that officers were reviewing current strategies with a further discussion scheduled for the next Environment Board meeting to demonstrate how supporting river and coastal recovery had been incorporated into the Council’s strategies.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Aisthorpe asked whether there had been any progress with the introduction of an online portal for updating the public.

Councillor Jackson responded that he would ensure that this was followed up at the next Environment Board meeting.

The Chair invited Councillor Aisthorpe 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.

“At a Council Meeting held on 23rd February, the portfolio holder pledged to speed up the development process of Selective Licensing outlined in the Council Plan Refresh, which originally stated that ‘a business case for selective licensing will be developed by 2023 – 2026’.

I note that even with the huge staffing problems North Lincolnshire Council are suffering, they are already actively engaged in a consultation process with a clear plan to Implement Selective Licensing by June 2024.

This appears to be well ahead of us.

Currently in our area, a substantial number of residents in the East Marsh and in other wards across the borough, continue to suffer with unsafe housing conditions, neighbourhood deterioration and tenant exploitation. These issues not only affect the well-being of our community, but also have considerable implications on the Council’s finances and resources.

In view of these pressing concerns, could the portfolio holder provide a new, more detailed, projected timeline in his efforts to speed up the development of a business case for selective licensing, as initially pledged?”

Councillor Jackson responded by noting that the Council was currently updating its Housing Strategy and the draft revised strategy had gone out to consultation this week.  This would provide an overall strategic approach to support Selective Licensing, which as a tool cannot be used in isolation.  The time line for the Housing Strategy to be approved was scrutiny in November and Cabinet in December. This would allow the council to start looking at a business case for Selective Licensing from January 2024.  Advice and experience from other local authorities was to expect a time scale of 12-months from start of business case to Selective Licensing consultation.  The business case would include a review of the eligibility of a proposed designated area.  Consultation would be needed to ensure all stakeholders were fully aware of the proposed scheme.  Once complete, the council would need to publish the responses to evidence how these had been acted on or not and taken into consideration those views.  He noted that there could be an overwhelming response not to go ahead with a scheme. 

A decision would then be made by Council based on the outcome of the business case and consultation. There was also the chance that the Secretary of State would be required to approve the scheme, depending on the size and number of wards included in the scheme. Once a decision was made (subject to the scheme being approved), there was a further three months before it could be brought into force.  The Leader concluded that, whilst the council was keen to explore Selective Licensing, there was quite a journey to go before we would know if it could be implemented.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Aisthorpe asked if the Leader agreed that Selective Licensing should be mentioned in the Housing Strategy to raise public awareness.

Councillor Jackson did not agree as the housing Strategy was not about setting a timeline for Selective Licensing.  He did not want to raise hopes about its effectiveness as implementation of Selective Licensing nationally had been fairly patchy.  He cautioned that there were no easy answers to some of the issues faced with private sector housing in North East Lincolnshire.

The Chair invited Councillor Aisthorpe 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.

“Our community in North East Lincolnshire seems to be facing a significant discrepancy in allotment rent costs.  Our cheapest plot to rent costs £98.24 per year and the most expensive is £113.32 per year. While in Scunthorpe, the charges are significantly lower at £35 per year and in Skegness £35 per year. In Louth the most expensive plot size is £30 per year.

How does the council justify the significant difference in allotment rent costs in our community compared to neighbouring areas, especially considering the importance of allotment gardening for community well-being and the current cost of living crisis?”

Councillor Harness, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets responded that, as part of a review of allotments in the Borough, a full valuation was completed in 2017 and the rent cost was based on the agricultural value of the land at that time. Since 2022, allotment costs had increased by 2% annually, which was below inflation rates.  It was understood that different authorities had varying units of measurement for their allotment plots and therefore annual costs varied across authorities. When considering the valuation of allotment plots, further factors were considered such as greater intensity of use of the land, site maintenance, land quality and the level of additional services provided by the council to its tenants such as, allotments officer time, water supply, roads, site fencing etc.   Our annual surveys indicated that our tenants had a good level of satisfaction with the allotments and the services provided. The demand for our allotments was currently high with six of the seven allotment sites occupancy levels between 92% and 100%, which showed the popularity and enjoyability of the services being provided.  Councillor Harness set out the concessions that were available and noted that the annual rent was inclusive of water for a standard plot.  The concessionary rate was £54.15 and, although not all neighbouring authorities appeared to advertise their concessionary rate, this was in line with that charged by Hull City Council.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Aisthorpe enquired how the portfolio holder intended to make allotments more accessible to working people.

Councillor Harness responded by noting the difficulty in comparing like to like and cited the example of the Humberston allotments which were run by the parish council with much lower overheads.  He felt that further benchmarking work may be required and suggested that Councillor Aisthorpe contact Democratic Services for ideas on how this could be taken forward.

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

“It is right that North East Lincolnshire Council encourages people to get more exercise by cycling and walking whenever possible. We have to acknowledge, however, that as vehicular traffic continues to increase in line with added housing development, the risk to other road users including cyclists is also increased.

On a daily basis we see hundreds of cyclists, including many school pupils, riding around our streets without cycle helmets. It is particularly noticeable that the majority of children are not wearing cycle helmets.  The use of electric scooters is also on the increase and it is not uncommon to see young parents ferrying children as young as five years old to and from school travelling ‘two up’ at high speed. Again, it is rare to see cycle helmets being worn.

Would the Portfolio Holder be supportive of a Borough-wide campaign led by North East Lincolnshire Council, with the support of schools and other agencies to raise cycling and electric scooter safety awareness, in order to especially encourage the wearing of cycle helmets?”

In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities, Councillor Jackson, the Leader of the Council, responded that North East Lincolnshire Council currently supported, through our schools and colleges, the “Bikeability” scheme run and supported by the Government.  Attendance was not mandatory.  Parents had choice and the guidance to children and, indeed adults, was to wear protective head equipment.  Councillor Jackson advised that a current private members bill was at its second reading stage in the House of Commons. The Road Safety (Cycle Helmets) Bill was being sponsored by Conservative MP Mark Pawsey with a view to making cycle helmets compulsory, and the portfolio holder supported this.  The current situation regarding E bikes and scooters in North East Lincolnshire required further clarity and guidance from Government. The current policy of Humberside Police was awaiting outcomes specifically on new trials of E bikes and scooter hire in nearby Scunthorpe. The description of E Bikes was not clear, with some electrically assisted with pedals and others specifically made to be used at high speed.  The portfolio holder was seeking and awaiting further guidance and clarity on the use of these devices. He was clear, under the current guidance and advice, that he could not support the use of high-speed E bikes or scooters without further legislation.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Holland enquired whether the portfolio holder would be amenable to an informal meeting on a cross-party basis to consider the approach to be taken.

Councillor Jackson responded that he could not speak for the portfolio holder but suggested that he approached the portfolio holder direct.

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

“Could you please update me on the progress of Swan House, including any consultations with neighbours?”

Councillor Jackson responded that there would shortly be a planning application to request change of use, and consultation would continue to take place with all interested parties throughout the process.  The building was currently being furnished with a view to moving people in throughout October 2023 with an opening event on 27th October. Initially the building would be for people who were ready for independent living and the council intended to consult fully with the local community and have planning consent in place before considering housing anyone with higher support needs. The Homelessness Prevention Service would move people in from bed and breakfast and support them to maintain their tenancy.  The council had been careful to ensure there was limited access to the building, installed additional CCTV cameras and had 24/7 security on-site which would continue until the building was fully utilised and a housing management company procured to have 24/7 staffing in place by the end of 2023. 

An event had been arranged 2-4 pm and 5-7 pm on 29th September 2023 to give the public, ward councillors, police and other interested parties the opportunity to come and look around the building and talk to relevant officers to understand the intended use. A leaflet drop had been undertaken in the Gilbey Road, Newhaven Terrace and Elsenham Road area. The leaflet included a telephone number if anyone wanted to talk to officers or had any concerns about the building to report.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Wilson asked whether the Leader would take into account the fear and trepidation within the local community and seek, through the consultation process, to allay those fears as much as possible.

Councillor Jackson was more than willing to give that assurance and understood the concerns.  He hoped that any particular concerns would be made known to the council so that they could be addressed.  He added that the change of use would require planning consent and residents could also make use of that process to make their views known.

The Chair invited Councillor Wilson to present the following question to the Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities, the question having been submitted on notice in accordance with Council’s Standing Order.

“Has there been any prosecutions for flytipping on Corporation Road, in particular using evidence from the camera looking at the Bring-to site located near to Farndale Way?”

In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities, Councillor Jackson, the Leader of the Council, responded that the bring-to site on Corporation Road has been subject to numerous bouts of fly tipping.  CCTV had been fitted to capture evidence and deter those who would fly tip at these bring-to locations.  It had clearly been effective as the frequency of offences had decreased.  Those who fly tip in this area were often local people.  They may not be aware of the Council’s bulky waste disposal service, and the Leader encouraged ward councillors to promote this service.  He reiterated it was not the Council’s responsibility or policy to clear waste on private land.  Fly-tipping adversely affected everyone. It was unsightly, often unhygienic and costly for this authority and the council tax payers to clear.  The council would continue to pursue those who fly-tip.  Our environmental teams gain evidence from the waste fly-tippers leave and use this evidence to pursue the perpetrators through the courts.  Currently there were four ongoing investigations relating to this site, but the Leader could not comment on those at this stage. The portfolio holder had pledged to supply a more detailed list of prosecutions relating to this site in writing.  Some offences had occurred over multiple sites and had been dealt with by the courts.  As stated in the response to an earlier question, many bring-to sites had been removed due to the abuse by fly tippers.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Wilson enquired what else could be done to catch the perpetrators of fly-tipping in this area.

Councillor Jackson responded that the new CCTV system was helping but more co-operation was needed from the local community and the people responsible needed to stop doing it.

The Chair invited Councillor Wilson 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.

“Does the portfolio holder think that the street cleaning in the West Marsh is sufficient, so that residents can have pride in the area?”

In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, Councillor Jackson, the Leader of the Council responded that he did.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Wilson asked why streets were not being cleaned within the cycle that they used to be.

Councillor Jackson responded that he was not aware of any changes to the cleaning cycle during the current financial year.   

NEL.49      MINUTES OF THE CABINET AND COMMITTEES OF THE COUNCIL

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

The Mayor advised that three questions on notice had been received on the above minutes. They would be dealt with in the order in which they had been received; each questioner would be permitted one supplementary question and there would be no debate on the questions asked or the answers given.

(1)      A question on notice was submitted by Councillor Farren to Councillor Shreeve, the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution as follows:

Health and Well Being Board – 10th July 2023 HWBB.5 (Mental Health 999 Calls)

How satisfied are you that the police and mental health partners can operate safely, given the recent change to the arrangement for handling 999 calls in respect to mental health?

Councillor Shreeve, the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, responded that he had requested a report from the police on this matter and he felt that the minute was an accurate record of the discussion.  He was assured that the police and Navigo were working together to ensure that residents were being looked after and the police had made clear that, as a matter of safety, they would always respond to such calls.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Farren asked whether the Chair was confident that operational safety was being provided for residents.

Councillor Shreeve responded that he would request a further report for the next Board meeting to confirm whether progress was being made.

(2)      A question on notice was submitted by Councillor Wilson to Councillor Shreeve, the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution as follows:

Health and Well Being Board – 10th July 2023 HWBB.5 (Mental Health 999 Calls)

Having received a verbal update on the arrangement for handling mental health calls coming through the 999 emergency telephone number, is the Health and Well Being Board going to commission a strategy on what support we expect that these vulnerable mental health patients might expect?

Councillor Shreeve responded that he was broadly satisfied that there was an existing strategy in place.  As mentioned in the response to the previous question, he would request a report for the next Board meeting to establish how these revised arrangements were supporting our vulnerable residents and to allow the Board to consider any further actions required.

(3)      A question on notice was submitted by Councillor Wilson to Councillor Shreeve, the Chair of the Appeals Sub Committee, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution as follows:

     Appeals Sub Committee – 19th July 2023  APL.10 (Appeal Ms L.S.)

The resolution of the sub-committee for the appeals panel made a resolution on behalf of the Council, namely “that the appeal be upheld and Ms L.S be reinstated to her position with a final written warning” has this instruction been carried out as written?

Councillor Shreeve, the Chair of the Appeals Sub Committee, confirmed that action was taken in accordance with the minute.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Wilson asked for an assurance that the Chair would look into this matter to ensure the resolution was not usurped in any way.

Councillor Shreeve responded that he would.

RESOLVED –

1.   That the minutes of the following meetings of Cabinet and the Committees of the Council be approved and adopted:

  • Cabinet – 19th July and 23rd August 2023
  • Freshney Place Cabinet Sub Committee – 19th July 2023
  • Portfolio Holder Environment and Transport – 18th July and 21st August 2023
  • Portfolio Holder Safer and Stronger Communities – 18th June 2023
  • Scrutiny Panel Children and Lifelong Learning – 20th July 2023
  • Scrutiny Panel Communities – 6th July and 15th August 2023
  • Scrutiny Panel Economy – 11th July 2023
  • Scrutiny Panel Health and Adult Social Care – 2nd August 2023
  • Scrutiny Panel Tourism and Visitor Economy – 27th July 2023
  • Joint Scrutiny Panel Children and Lifelong Learning and Economy – 17th July 2023
  • Health and Wellbeing Board – 10th July 2023
  • Audit and Governance Committee – 13th July 2023 
  • Planning Committee – 14th June, 12th July and 9th August 2023
  • Licensing Sub Committee – 31st July 2023
  • Standards and Adjudication Committee – 26th July 2023
  • Appeals Sub Committee – 8th June, 19th July and 20th July 2023
  • Standards Referrals Panel – 11th July and 11th August 2023
  • Appointments Committee – 21st August and 31st August 2023

2.   That with regard to minute APT.13 of the meeting of the Appointments Committee on 31st August 2023 and the appointment of Ann Marie Matson as the Director of Children’s Services, the salary level be agreed as required under the Council’s Pay Policy Statement.

There being no further business, the Mayor declared the meeting closed at 9.47 p.m.