Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, HP19 8FF.

Contact: Ian Hunt - Email: democracy@buckinghamshire.gov.uk 

Media

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Items
No. Item

1.

Chairman's opening remarks

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The Chairman welcomed members, and Mr George Anson, the High Sheriff, to the meeting. The Chairman also welcomed the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police (TVP), John Campbell. The Chief Constable was accompanied by three Local Police Area Commanders, Chief Superintendent Michael Loebenbery (Aylesbury Vale area), Superintendent Amy Clements (Chiltern and South Bucks area) and Superintendent Emma Burroughs (Wycombe area). Unfortunately, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, was unable to attend the meeting and sent apologies.

 

The Chairman extended deepest condolences on behalf of the council, members and officers, to the Leader, Councillor M Tett, and his family on the recent passing of Mrs Sue Tett, wife of the Leader of the Council.

2.

Mrs Sandra Crook and Mr Frank Downes

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Tribute was paid to two past councillors, Mrs Sandra Crook and Mr Frank Downes, who had recently passed away. The Chairman recorded sincere condolences to both families on their sad losses.

Sandra Crook was a Member of Wycombe District Council from May 1999 to May 2007, representing the Hazlemere Central Ward from 1999 to 2003, and then the Hazlemere South Ward from 2003 to 2007. Sandra was Cabinet Member for Internal Affairs from 2004 to 2006, and Vice-Chairman of the Audit Committee between 2002 to 2003. She also served on numerous committees including the Audit Committee, Personnel & Development Committee and the Joint Staff Committee.

Frank Downes was a past Buckinghamshire County Council and Wycombe District Council Councillor. Frank was a member of Buckinghamshire County Council from 2001 to 2013, representing the Stokenchurch electoral division from 2001to 2005, and the Stokenchurch, Radnage and West Wycombe electoral division from 2005to2013. Frank was the Cabinet Member for Resources from 2005 to 2011.

Members then observed a minute`s silence in memory of Sandra Crook and Frank Downes.

3.

Past Chairman

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The Chairman presented Mr Richard Scott, who was Chairman of the Shadow Authority for Buckinghamshire 2019 to 2020 and the first Chairman of the new Buckinghamshire Council 2020 to 2021, with his past Chairman’s badge.

 

The Chairman spoke to Richard’s long history of service. Richard had served over 45 years to the local community including being a Buckinghamshire County Councillor from 2009 to 2017, Wycombe District Councillor 2008 to 2019 (including Council Leader 2013 to 2015), Buckinghamshire Council 2019 to 2021, and has been and continues to be a Marlow Town Council Councillor since 2003.

 

Mr Richard Scott then addressed the council, and expressed thanks to the Chairman for the badge. Mr Scott described his time as Chairman during the covid-19 pandemic and the challenges this posed to the role. As Mayor of Marlow, Mr Scott would continue to carry out his civic duties, and wear his past Chairman’s badge with pride.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 557 KB

To agree as correct record the minutes of the Full Council meeting 15 September 2021.

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An amendment was made to the minute item 8. Members noted that the question to the Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor S Broadbent, relating to traffic congestion and parking (i) was with reference to Wooburn and Bourne End and not Hazelmere.

 

Resolved:

 

That the minutes of the council meeting held on 15 September 2021, be agreed as correct record, subject to the additional information, as noted.

5.

Declarations of Interest

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There were none.

6.

Chairman's Update

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Members were advised of a number of events attended by the Chairman recently.

·       The chairman spoke of Remembrance Sunday events that were held across the county, thanked all including the many members of the public and others that attended, and paid tribute to those that had sacrificed their lives in war. The Chairman’s Office was pleased to be able to support members with the provision of wreaths for Remembrance events across Buckinghamshire.

·       The Chairman attended the Chilterns MS Centre in Wendover and encouraged members to show support for the work of the centre.

·       The Chairman congratulated Councillor M Walsh, ward member for The Risboroughs, who had been recognised as Councillor of the Year by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) at the Star Council Awards 2021.

·       Members were encouraged to visit the Community Support Team stand in The Oculus, to sign the White Ribbon Pledge to end violence against women and girls, and show support by picking up a white ribbon to wear on White Ribbon Day (25 November 2021).

·       The Chairman had attended the Road Deaths Memorial Service ran by TVP to pay tribute to those that had lost their lives in road traffic incidents.

·       The Chairman was leading on a tree planting initiative week commencing 29 November 2021 and would be planting trees over the week.

7.

Petitions

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Two petitions were presented to Full Council.

Councillor P Fealey presented an e-petition on behalf of constituents requesting that pre-planning webpages are improved. The Chairman accepted and referred the petition to the Cabinet Member Planning and Regeneration for response. The Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, Councillor G Williams, thanked residents for their work on the petition and advised that he would provide a written response to the petition in due course.

Councillor P Martin presented an e-petition on behalf of constituents relating to sewage discharge in Buckinghamshire. The Chairman accepted and referred the petition to Councillor B Chapple OBE, Chairman of the Transport, Environment and Climate Change Select Committee. Councillor Chapple wished to reassure to the petitioner that the select committee would consider the matter of pollution and rivers in the county, next year.

8.

Presentation from the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable

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John Campbell QPM, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, was in attendance to present to members on the work of TVP in Buckinghamshire over the last year. The Chief Constable was accompanied by three Local Police Area Commanders, Chief Superintendent Michael Loebenbery (Aylesbury Vale area), Superintendent Amy Clements (Chiltern and South Bucks area) and Superintendent Emma Burroughs (Wycombe area). The following key points were highlighted:

·       Over the past year, TVP had welcomed a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in May 2021, and there had been a number of changes to roles and responsibilities within the Force.

·       The Chief Constable gave an overview of the work of TVP over the past year, which included but was not limited to, responding to major incidents, supporting local and national distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), supporting a number of high profile events, and lawful business and peaceful protests. Further, responding to high volumes of covid-19 calls and issuing Fixed Penalty Notices in relation to crime and covid-19.

·       Over the past 12 months, there had been a reduction in residential burglary (46%), knife crime (18%), robbery (21%) and serious violence (18%), and an increase in positive outcomes (7%).

·       A number of operation and projects were happening to support crime prevention and disruption in Buckinghamshire. This included but was not limited to, fraud in the digital environment, speed enforcement, anti-social behaviour, preventing sexual violence and cross border crime, and disrupting illegal activity.

·       The team were looking at how to tackle open space drug dealing.

·       101 call wait times for October 2021 had been longer than the year average, and was something that the Chief Constable was looking at improving. Over the year to date, the average time to answer a 101 call was 1 minute 48 seconds.

·       Recruitment work to increase diversity in the Force was ongoing. The Force had doubled the number of recruits from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds over the past year.

·       Members were given an overview of the work of teams, operations and projects in the Aylesbury and Wycombe areas specifically.

·       It was noted that the Chiltern and South Bucks and Wycombe Local Policing Area’s (LPAs) were due to be merged in April 2022 to make efficiencies and maximise opportunities. This would also enable the Force to work more consistently with the council.

A question and answer session followed the presentation. Thanks were expressed by members for the hard work of officers and all that they did to protect the public.

(i)                  Protecting the public at Halloween and Bonfire Night – members were advised that a focus on education prior to these events was important in preventing incidents of anti-social behaviour, as well as the monitoring of the sale of fireworks. 

(ii)                Taxi services – TVP recognised that taxi drivers and services were a key part of the community providing a service that many people relied on.

(iii)              Time taken to answer 101 calls – it was noted that reference numbers were given to some callers depending on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Buckinghamshire Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 620 KB

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Members considered the Buckinghamshire Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2021 – 2022. The Cabinet Member spoke to the report, which set out details of progress made against agreed outcomes for children and young people, priorities and future challenges for the partnership for 2021 – 2022. Further, the plan highlighted partnership arrangements and the budget position for the Youth Offending Service Partnership. The following key points were highlighted:

·         The council were required to produce a plan each year with the aim of stopping offending, re-offending and reduce custody.

·         In response to a question as to how closely the education department was working with individuals with Individual Health Care Plans (IHCP), members were advised that, since last year, targeted advisors were put into schools to identify individuals involved and provide support. The member was encouraged to contact the Cabinet Member directly for more detailed information.

·         The Cabinet Member agreed that future reports should give focus to young people obtaining justice, as well as preventing offending. 

·         In response to a question as to how children’s mental health was looked after, the Cabinet Member informed members that this was the most important part of the programme and that there was a great deal of mental health support available. Some of the provisions in place included trained mental health advisors in schools, and psychologists who are able advise children and teachers around mental health issues.

·         It was noted that a 3% budget cut was set out within the report but lacked detail on what exactly would be cut. Members were reassured that any cuts would not impact on young people and the council would maintain its duty to young people. Savings could be made through, by way of example, efficiencies, realignment of staffing responsibilities, collaboration with partners, and access to funding through partners.

Resolved:

that the 2021 – 2022 Youth Justice Strategic Plan be agreed.

10.

Buckinghamshire Council Licensing Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 641 KB

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Members considered the draft Licensing Policy Statement for Buckinghamshire Council. The following key points were highlighted:

·       Local authorities were required by law to publish a Licensing Policy Statement.

·       The Licensing Committee considered and agreed to recommend the draft statement to Full Council at their meeting 20 October 2021.

·       In response to a question as to how the policy would be applied retrospectively, the member was advised to write to the Cabinet Member, who would respond in writing due to the technical nature of the question.

·       In response to a question as to how the issues of single plastics could be addressed through licensing, the member was advised to write to the Cabinet Member, who would respond in writing.

·       It was suggested that the environmental aspects referred to in the report be strengthened. The member was advised to write to the Cabinet Member, who would compose a response in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment.

·       It was asked whether a risk assessment had been done in relation to para 4.1 and the change to 24-hour licensing. The Cabinet Member advised that the university status of Buckingham had been taken into account, and the behaviour of students was such that it was deemed acceptable to bring forward the changes. It was noted that Buckinghamshire Town Council had been consulted on the proposed changes. 

Resolved:

1.      that the draft Licensing Policy Statement for Buckinghamshire Council as required under the Licensing Act 2003 for publication, prior to a proposed implementation date of 1 February 2022 be agreed; and

2.      that the Head of Service for Licensing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services, be authorised to change the implementation date of the Policy if necessary to any date on or before 1 April 2022.

Note 1: a comfort break was taken from 17.53 to 18.05.

11.

Reports from Cabinet Members pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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Members received reports from Cabinet Members. There was an opportunity for members to ask questions of individual Cabinet Members about matters and issues affecting their portfolios.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Martin Tett

(i)      Future investment in Chesham - a levelling up fund bid had been submitted to government focussing on regeneration in Chesham, however this had not been approved. It was noted that none of the levelling up fund bids that had been submitted by Buckinghamshire Council had been approved by government. The Leader would continue to submit bids at every opportunity to support regeneration across the county.

(ii)    Local ward member consultation on decisions affecting their wards – the Leader reiterated that Buckinghamshire Council was a member-led authority. It was noted that there was a requirement for local members to be consulted on all cabinet reports, and that the Leader had previously rejected reports where local member views had not been included within reports.

(iii)  Suitable support for Afghan families – members were advised that suitable support had been put in place for Afghan families that had resettled in Buckinghamshire. It was noted that a constraint was finding suitable accommodation in the family’s ideal location, as accommodation was difficult to find; the council worked closely with families to meet their needs.

Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, Councillor Gareth Williams

The Cabinet Member encouraged members to complete the planning survey that had been circulated via the select committee, which would help to inform the council what members wanted to see from the planning service.

(i)      Backlog in planning applications it was noted that figures for backlogs differed depending on area (e.g., enforcement, major applications). There was a 42% increase in applications received by the council year on year. The team had done a phenomenal job of reducing backlogs and turnover of applications was 25% up on last year. The Cabinet Member recognised there was more work to do and had directed teams to work on backlogs specifically.

(ii)    Buckinghamshire Design Code – the council had been given £50,000 funding from government as part of a pilot scheme which had funded ‘Bucks Place’, an online design tool. Comments from Bucks Place would feed into the formation of the Buckinghamshire Local Plan.

(iii)  Winslow group the Cabinet Member welcomed the invitation to meet with the group to discuss development in Winslow.

Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Steven Broadbent

One of the council’s key priorities was the clearing of drains and gullies, which the council had invested significant sums into the budget to supporting. The Cabinet Member was pleased to announce that half of the 85,000 gullies across the county were cleared, and teams continued to deliver the outstanding works at pace.

(i)      Gully clearing in Gerrards Cross – a graphic would soon be uploaded onto the members portal detailing gully clearing progress by ward.

(ii)    Timeline for repairing street lights – it was noted that since April 2021, approximately 795 street lights had been repaired, and work was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 457 KB

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(i)      Environment Bill

The motion was proposed by Councillor Robin Stuchbury and seconded by Councillor Stuart Wilson -

Buckinghamshire Council is a riparian owner of large sections of river within the County, it has two of the UK’s major rivers, the River Thames and the River Ouse, and also highly sensitive chalk streams within South Buckinghamshire. As a Council we want to do everything we can to maintain the ecology contained within those areas alongside protecting public health. 

Recently the Government voted for more moderate measures in the Environment Bill than those proposed by the House of Lords which would have restricted the discharge of raw sewage into our water courses and place a legal duty on water companies to invest in the necessary infrastructure to protect and improve our waterways.  

This Council calls on the Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment to:  

1.      Write to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and to all Buckinghamshire Members of Parliament, expressing our grave concern about the weakened legislation that fails to markedly restrict the discharge of raw sewage into our rivers and streams; and to 

2.      Write to the Chief Executive(s) of those water companies with sewage treatment works discharging raw sewage into the Thames, Ouse, Wye and other waterways across Buckinghamshire to seek assurance that they will pursue a programme of capital investment that will “demonstrate improvements in the sewerage systems and progressive reductions in the harm caused by untreated sewage discharges” per the Lords’ Amendment. 

An amendment to the motion was proposed by Councillor Martin Tett, seconded by Councillor Peter Strachan, and accepted by the proposer and seconder of the original motion. The amendment was then put to the meeting as the substantive motion. The wording of the first two introductory paragraphs were unchanged. 

“This Council calls on the Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment to: 

1.      Write to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and to all Buckinghamshire Members of Parliament, expressing our grave concern about the weakened legislation that fails to markedly restrict the discharge of raw sewage into our rivers and streams; and to making known the concerns of this Council and emphasising the importance of the Government bringing forward a clear strategy for ceasing this environmentally damaging practice as a matter of priority 

2.      Write to the Chief Executive(s) of those water companies with sewage treatment works discharging raw sewage into the Thames, Ouse, Wye and other waterways across Buckinghamshire to seek assurance that they will pursue a programme of capital investment that will “demonstrate improvements in the sewerage systems and progressive reductions in the harm caused by untreated sewage discharges” per the Lords’ Amendment.” 

It was proposed by Councillor J Macbean, and seconded by Councillor S Bowles that the substantive motion be put to a vote, which was carried. By a show of hands, it was -

Resolved:

that the Leader and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Questions on Notice from Members pdf icon PDF 370 KB

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The written responses to questions from members, published as a supplement to the agenda, were noted.

14.

Report for information - Key Decisions Report pdf icon PDF 423 KB

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A list of decisions taken by the Leader since the last Full Council meeting on 15 September 2021 were received and noted.

15.

Date of Next Meeting

Wednesday 23 February, 2022, at 4pm

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4pm, Wednesday 23 February 2022.