Agenda and minutes
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Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence
To receive any declarations of interest
Councillor Rayner declared a personal interest in the item ‘Petition for Debate – Maidenhead Golf Course/Great Park’ as several of the sites listed in Appendix 2 were owned by her family. She would not participate in the debate or vote on the item.
Councillor Price declared an interest in the item ‘Petition for Debate – Maidenhead Golf Course/Great Park’ as she was a member of the golf club. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that as Councillor Price’s interest was a potentially prejudicial interest, she had granted Councillor Price a dispensation to enable her to speak on the item as a local member to facilitate the debate.
The deadline for public questions (which must be related to an item on the agenda) is midday on Wednesday 24 February 2021. A supplement listing valid questions received will be added to the agenda after the deadline.
(The Council will set aside a period of 30 minutes to deal with public questions, which may be extended at the discretion of the Mayor in exceptional circumstances. The Member who provides the initial response will do so in writing. The written response will be published as a supplement to the agenda by 5pm one working day before the meeting. The questioner shall be allowed up to one minute to put a supplementary question at the meeting. The supplementary question must arise directly out of the reply provided and shall not have the effect of introducing any new subject matter. A Member responding to a supplementary question will have two minutes to respond).
a) Alison Carpenter of Eton and Castle ward asked the following question of Councillor Hilton, Lead Member for Finance and Ascot:
I am concerned that the tone of the funding section of the leaflet is unreasonably focussing on potential costs to residents rather than the potential benefits. Can it be amended to show competencies will be tailored towards the available budget e.g., there is no precedent, as highlighted in section 6.36 for WTC to take on responsibility for street lighting?
Written response from Councillor Cannon (Vice Chairman on behalf of the Community Governance Review Working Group) as per Part 2 C9.2 of the council constitution:Both the draft recommendations document and the consultation leaflet for the second stage consultation on the potential for a Windsor Town Council have been drafted by the cross-party Member Working Group following detailed consideration of the responses to the first round of consultation and research undertaken into establishing a town council.
Whilst it is recognised that many respondents to the first round of consultation were supportive of the concept of a Windsor Town Council, some respondents raised concerns and questions about the potential costs of an additional layer of local government. The Working Group felt it was important to include in the draft recommendations a detailed explanation of how a town council is funded, the administrative costs of running a town council and the potential impact on the precept for services provided by a town council. Aside of the precept other opportunities for revenue raising are not guaranteed and therefore cannot be relied upon to meet the funding needs of the town council. Table 5 in the draft recommendations document lists the precept for a number of other town councils in Berkshire providing a realistic comparison of potential costs.
The aim of the leaflet is to raise awareness of the consultation and encourage people to respond, having considered all the information in the draft recommendations document which will be published on the website if approved by full Council. The leaflet includes a section on potential costs but also includes a section on the benefits of a town council therefore presents a balanced approach to the issue.
By way of a supplementary question, Ms Carpenter Alison Carpenter asked what did the panel envisage in terms of other services that the principal council might look at transferring in the first year? What safeguarding was there to protect a Town Council from the borough offloading competencies and costs?
Councillor Cannon responded that the Working Group would be working with officers to understand what were the appropriate services to transfer to equate to the Special Area Expense that paid for the precept. The only service definitely being transferred was allotments as that was a statutory requirement. After the second consultation period, these would come back to the full Council to decide if they were appropriate.
b) John Webb of Clewer and Dedworth East ward asked the following question of Councillor Hilton, Lead Member for Finance and Ascot: ... view the full minutes text for item 86.
The Constitution provides for a maximum time of 30 minutes to debate petitions; this can be overruled at the Mayor’s discretion.
In accordance with the Constitution, the order of speaking shall be as follows:
a) The Mayor may invite the relevant officer to set out the background to the petition
b) The Lead Petitioner to address the meeting on the petition (5 minutes maximum)
c) The Mayor to invite any relevant Ward Councillors present to address the meeting. (5 minutes maximum each)
d) The Mayor to invite the relevant officer to provide any further comment.
e) The Mayor will invite all Members to debate the matter (Rules of Debate as per the
Adrien Waite, Head of Planning explained that the item before Members was a petition for debate asking that a new park be created on the site of Maidenhead Golf Course, in order to create a green lung.
The golf course was the largest site allocation in the Borough Local Plan (BLP) which Council had voted to submit to the planning inspectorate last year, and had subsequently been through an examination in public. The site was in a sustainable location and if allocated in the BLP would provide significant provision of new housing. This included much needed family and affordable accommodation necessary to provide a home for existing residents and those who wished to live in the borough. It would also provide facilities contributing to the educational, leisure and recreational needs of residents.
The allocation within the Local Plan would seek to require the retention of existing areas of woodland and mature trees, the enhancement of local biodiversity, and the creation of new areas of publicly accessible green space to include a ‘green spine’ through the entire development. In essence the proposed allocation would create parks or equivalent open spaces, albeit this may not be of the type or scale of the park envisaged by the petitioners.
The proposed BLP was part of a well thought out spatial strategy based on extensive evidence and a process of public engagement. The evidence base considered by the Council previously included the Open Space Study 2019 which confirmed that Maidenhead was well served by public parks and gardens. The council was already expanding provision by establishing informal natural space at Battlemead Common and, were the site allocated in the BLP, this would further enhance publicly accessible space in the area.
The BLP had also been supported by a full sustainability appraisal which concluded that the loss of green space on the site needed to be weighed against other factors that would be delivered by the allocation and that the development would lead to strong positive effects for housing, health, community, transport, education and waste. In summary, the current proposal to allocate the site for the purposes in the BLP would lead to a high quality sustainable development which would incorporate green space and contribute to a variety of strong positive effects for all residents of the borough and be delivered within a 10 year timescale. As the largest site allocation in the BLP it was key to the success of the placemaking strategy for the borough.
Supporting the petition would undermine the ability of the council to proceed with its well thought out local plan. If the site was not made available for development, alternative sites would need to be identified to accommodate the development which would likely involve allocation of green belt sites such as those identified in Appendix 2. This would lead to a less sustainable pattern of development and overall a poorer strategy for development in the borough and less benefits for residents. It would also make it more difficult to ... view the full minutes text for item 87.
Referrals from other bodies
To consider referrals from other bodies (e.g. Cabinet)
Members considered the draft recommendations of the Community Governance Review (CGR) Working Group on the proposal for a Windsor Town council.
Councillor Shelim reminded Members that in July 2020 full Council had approved the Terms of Reference to formally commence a CGR to consider the formation of a town council for Windsor. This included the establishment of a cross-party CGR Working Group to manage the CGR process. The Working Group comprised five elected members: himself as (Chairman), Councillor Cannon (Vice Chairman), Councillor Davies, Councillor Hilton and Councillor Knowles.
Supported by officers from across the council, the CGR Working Group had held ten meetings. A first round of consultation was held between July and October 2020 to determine the appetite for a town council in the area. Following analysis of the consultation responses, the cross-party CGR Member Working Group had drafted a set of recommendations for the formation of a Windsor Town Council for consultation.
Councillor Shelim thanked his fellow councillors from all parties for their help in concluding this stage of the review, including Councillor Story who had left the group when he had become Mayor. He also thanked the Head of Governance and the Electoral & Information Governance Services Manager for their help in putting together the report. Councillor Shelim thanked all those who had responded to the first round of the consultation; he looked forward to hearing more from residents as the process continued.
Councillor W. Da Costa stated he was grateful for the opp He commented that w
To consider the above report
Members considered the programme of meetings for 2021/22.
Councillor Johnson highlighted that the programme had been drafted in a way that accommodated the request to avoid school holidays wherever possible following feedback in the previous year. The programme also sought to more evenly spread out the meetings of full Council.
Councillor Davies commented that she had raised the school holiday issue and full Council and she was therefore pleased that this had been taken into account. Although no one could have envisaged the changes in working practices a year ago, the small move to being more family friendly was a good thing.
Councillor Baldwin echoed the comments of Councillor Davies. In relation to frequency and predictability to allow Members to plan their time, he was concerned that there had been frequent Extraordinary Council meetings in 2020/21.He requested some effort in advance by the administration to give Members as much forward notice as possible. Predictability and some consultation would be welcomed.
Councillor L. Jones agreed that getting more certainty and the programme being more family friendly was brilliant. However she raised a concern that when the council returned to face to face meetings, a 6.15pm start could be unachievable for those who worked and also lived some distance form Maidenhead. Before COVID-19 the general start time was 7pm.
Councillor Knowles acknowledged things had been different on the last year but he commented that there had been 11 full Council meetings, some of them quite long. He requested that the Mayor and leader be mindful of the length of meetings. He was also concerned about extraordinary meetings that transacted important business as they did not have the same functionality as an ordinary meeting, for example Members were not able to submit Motions on Notice.
Councillor Cannon echoed the comments of Councillor Jones that 7pm was an appropriate start time when the council returned to face to face meetings.
Councillor Bateson thanked the Democratic Services team for putting the draft programme of meetings together as she knew it was a difficult job.
Councillor Rayner commented that the programme showed the wide range of responsibilities the council had as a unitary authority and its efforts in support of transparency. She thanked the Democratic Services team for managing all the events.
Councillor Johnson commented that he accepted the valid point about start times. Once there was greater clarity on when the council would be able to return to face to face meetings, this would be factored in. He also recognised the request for as much notice as possible for extraordinary meetings and the need to manage lengthy meetings. There had been a number of extraordinary meetings required during the year, in part driven by the wider situation in the world. He highlighted that the petition for debate could have been deferred to a future ordinary meeting but it was felt important to hold the debate as soon as possible, therefore an extraordinary meeting had been called.
It was proposed by Councillor Johnson, seconded by Councillor ... view the full minutes text for item 89.
To consider the above report
Members considered delegating authority to enable the Returning Officer to re-designate new Polling Places where such became unavailable or unsuitable before an election.
Councillor Johnson explained that the report reflected the realities of holding an election during a pandemic. The proposal was to give the Returning Officer additional flexibility to re-designate at short notice new polling places where the existing station was either unavailable or unsuitable before an election.
The proposal was being made principally in the context of the pandemic but also to reflect the broader point that as the constitution currently stood it would require full Council to authorise any change to a polling station. For example if a polling station happened to be flooded or became unavailable for another reason at incredibly short notice, this would provide the Returning Officer with an additional logistical challenge as well as actually facilitating the smooth running of an election.
Councillor Tisi commented that she agreed it was sensible to have a back-up plan. She referenced Kipling Court in her ward, Clewer East. The voting took place in the lounge of the accommodation and the impact of needing COVID-friendly sites meant it would not be an appropriate venue. She requested reassurance that the powers would only be used in case of emergency such as fire, flood or pandemic and not just if the council decided to change a polling station.
Councillor Rayner commented that it was an important paper in light of the return to democracy. In the borough the 6 May elections would include the Police and Crime Commissioner election, alongside a Neighbourhood Plan referendum and a number of parish by-elections. It was important to add the flexibility to allow democracy to take place. Councillor Rayner confirmed that as detailed in the report, the Returning Officer would take into account the views of ward councillors; this was important as ward councillors knew their ward best.
Councillor Johnson reassured Members that the powers would only be used in an emergency and would take into account views of ward Members. The default polling stating would remain but the delegation would allow for ad hoc late changes in an emergency situation.
It was proposed by Councillor Johnson, seconded by Councillor Rayner, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That full Councilnotes the report and:
i) Approves amendments to the constitution detailed in Appendix A.
ii) Delegates authority to the Monitoring Officer to update as appropriate and publish the council constitution.