Agenda and minutes

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No. Item




The Mayor welcomed Members to the Meeting.  The Democratic Services Manager took the roll call of those present.





Prayers were led by Rev Canon Ling




To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the Meetings of the Council held on 10 September  and 8 October 2020   (previously circulated).



RESOLVED:   The minutes of the Meetings of the Council held on 10 September  and 8 October 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor. 



Please indicate if there are any interests which should be declared.  A declaration of an interest should indicate the nature of the interest (if not already declared on the Register of Interests) and the agenda item to which it relates.  If a disclosable pecuniary interest is declared, the member should withdraw from the room whilst the matter is discussed.







To receive Mayor’s communications and announcements.



The Mayor congratulated Councillor Stuart Dark on his award of the MBE which had recently been announced.



To receive any items of business which in the opinion of the Mayor are urgent. 






To receive petitions and public questions in accordance with Standing Order 9.


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The Mayor invited Brenda Kent to ask her Public Question of Council.


"May I first of all congratulate the Council on the efficiency with which I understand homeless people have been housed during the pandemic. 


Looking to the future and with avoiding building on precious green open spaces and wildlife habitats in  mind, could you tell me please whether the Council keeps statistics on how much long-term vacant property there is in the Borough that is already designated for residential use or which could be converted into high standard residential accommodation; and are there any schemes or incentives which would encourage and help owners to offer such properties for sale or rent?"



Councillor Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Housing gave the following response:


“The council recognises the importance of bringing long term properties back into use, for a number of reasons including to ensure that the best use is made of the areas existing housing stock. The councils Long Term Empty Homes Strategy can be viewed on the website. The majority of empty homes are owned by individuals, but there have been some landlords with significant numbers of stock in management that have had a number of vacant schemes over an extended period of years. The council seeks to incentivise owners of empty properties to bring them back into use, will proactively look at problem solving, where that might include identifying a third party to sell the property to, or enforcement action where appropriate.  There are records continually maintained on the number of empty homes. There is no discount for an empty and unfurnished property, and after two years of it being empty an additional levy of 100% of the annual council tax is payable (so they pay double council tax).  From 1 April 2020, after 5 years of being empty the levy goes up to 200%, and from 1 April 2021 after 10 years of being empty the levy goes up to 300%.


Over the years there have been a number of targeted central government funding streams that we have used in conjunction with housing association partners to either acquire or lease homes that have been long term empty properties where appropriate. In these scenarios homes are brought back into use as social housing.   


The Council is currently looking at opportunities in the town centre to re-purpose vacant commercial building and convert upper floors. There are several aligned government funding streams for this type of work including the Town’s Fund and the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. There have been some changes to planning use class orders over the summer that create greater flexibility in the context of re-purposing retail space.


Finally, on the point of wildlife habitats and open spaces – these are thing considered as part of planning decision making processes. The encouragement (through policy mechanisms) to utilise brown-field land or existing property needs to be considered in the context of economic and commercial perspectives.”  ...  view the full minutes text for item C:119



In accordance with Standing Order 11.1 to receive reports from Cabinet Members in the following order and under Standing Order 11.2 (a) Members of the Council may ask questions of the Cabinet Member on their reports and Portfolio areas:


(Councillors are reminded that this is a question and answer session not a debate.)




Business Development - Councillor G Middleton pdf icon PDF 164 KB


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Councillor Middleton presented his report and in doing so outlined the current pots of funding which were currently available from government funding awarded for the area.  He confirmed the Action Plan for the public realm work would be considered by the Regeneration and Development Panel in order for them to have input.


Councillor Middleton undertook to give an update of the cycling and walking infrastructure plan once it was available and members would be consulted.


Commercial Services - Councillor P Kunes pdf icon PDF 105 KB


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Councillor Kunes presented his report and gave an update on the situation with the Gayton Road cemetery, and the fact that an alternative site was being sought for when it was full.    He also confirmed that visits were being carried out to hospitality premises as required.  With regard to a question on temporary event notices being granted for “raves”, Councillor Kunes confirmed the council’s hands were tied by legislation although lobbying of Government was taking place to include the TEN notices for consideration of the risks of covid.



Development - Councillor R Blunt pdf icon PDF 170 KB


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Councillor Blunt presented his report, and informed members that as the Upwell neighbourhood Plan was supposed to have gone to referendum before now its contents would be included as part of planning considerations.  He agreed to email the number of parishes involved in the Neighbourhood Plan process.


Councillor Blunt responded to questions on the planning appeal decision in Fairstead and undertook to ascertain why interested parties hadn’t been notified by the Planning Inspectorate directly.  He also confirmed that lobbying was being carried out on the requirements of the housing delivery test particularly during the current climate.  He also responded to questions of the local plan policy on the waterfront  and cycling and walking strategy.


Housing - Councillor A Lawrence pdf icon PDF 111 KB


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Councillor Lawrence presented his report.  He updated members on  the Homechoice figures which he didn’t have available at the time of writing.  In response to questions on rough sleepers accommodation he confirmed that officers and partners were looking for alternative accommodation for the homeless as the covid restrictions for the night shelter severely limited the numbers that could be accommodated there.    He also confirmed that officers were working with those persons identifying as likely to be evicted and would continue to try to help.


He responded to questions about the housing IT system, and confirmed the number of empty properties in the borough was high, but work was being undertaken to reduce the number.


Project Delivery - Councillor P Gidney pdf icon PDF 109 KB


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Councillor Gidney presented his report and undertook to provide information on the level of enquiries for the pontoons and the level of Conservancy Board fees charged for the longer pontoons.  He also explained investigations were taking place for a support building for the pontoons. 


Councillor Gidney also responded to points made about future development on  Hardings Way.




Deputy Leader and Culture, Heritage and Health - Councillor Mrs E Nockolds pdf icon PDF 20 KB


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Councillor Nockolds presented her report and made reference to a change in approach of encouraging visitors to the area.  She also confirmed that the football viewings being held in the corn exchange was being done in a covid secure manner and the attendance at the cinema showings had been good.



Leader and Resources - Councillor B Long pdf icon PDF 197 KB


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Councillor Long presented his report and corrected that the reintroduction of staff to King’s Court had been slowed, not curtailed. He also responded to questions on the doctors surgery at Fairstead and that the Council would be guided by the healthcare experts, but that council would stand by the decisions it had made on the site, and would support the provision of new facilities acknowledging that the facilities  at centre point needed car parking in order to operate.   In response to a question on the tackling of deprivation within the budget Councillor Long commented that the issues raised would take a long time to address. 


Councillor Long also informed members that a portfolio holder for the Environment would be made in due course, and undertook to ascertain if funding had been sought for cycle ways  and pedestrian access in air quality grants.   He also confirmed that some funding had been received to assist with the covid enforcement in public areas.

Councillor Long also confirmed that tree planting had not taken place in the current climate.






In accordance with Standing Order 11.2 (b), Members of the Council may ask any questions of the Chair of any Council Body (except the Cabinet).




At 18.20 the Council took a 10 minute adjournment and reconvened at 18.20 where a roll call was again called.



(Members are reminded this is a debate, not a question and answer session)

To consider the following recommendations to Council:



Cabinet: 22 September 2020 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

CAB166 Climate Change Policy

CAB167 Notice of Motion 1-20 - Climate Change

CAB168 Revised Revenue Budget 2020-21

CAB170 Scrutiny and Executive Protocol


NB: the following item was called in so is therefore not included on this agenda - CAB171 Review of Standing Orders and Articles



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Councillor Long proposed CAB166 Climate Change Policy. This was seconded by Councillor Nockolds.  It was confirmed that members would be able to have informal discussions without officers present (not decision making meetings) to help move this forward.


Councillor Ryves moved the following amendment to add to the existing recommendation “….and a target of 2040 be set for carbon neutrality”.  This was seconded by Councillor de Whalley.


Council debated the amendment, and being put to the vote the amendment was lost.


Council then debated the substantive motion and on confirmation of no dissenters the recommendation was agreed.


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Councillor Long then moved CAB167 Notice of Motion 1-20 - Climate Change, this was seconded by Councillor Nockolds.  Council debated the motion and the recommendations from Cabinet.  On being put to the vote the recommendations from Cabinet were approved and the Motion rejected.


RESOLVED:            The recommendations above from the Cabinet meeting held on 22 September 2020 were approved.


At 19.41 Council took a vote on whether to continue to sit, where it was agreed not to continue to sit.


The following items would be referred to the next Council meeting:

CAB168 Revised Revenue Budget 2020-21

CAB170 Scrutiny and Executive Protocol