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Forest of Dean District Council
Council Offices
High Street
Coleford
Glos
GL16 8HG

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council@fdean.gov.uk

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The Forest of Dean District Council - Agenda for Full Council on Thursday, 1st March, 2012, 7.00 pm

Agenda and minutes

Full Council
Thursday, 1st March, 2012 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Coleford

Listen to this meeting: Play Audio

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

On behalf of the council the chairman, Cllr Stephens, congratulated Cllrs Martin and Sterry on the birth of their grandchildren. He noted that Cllr Smart was still waiting for her next grandchild.

 

Apologies were received from the Head of Paid Service and the Group Manager for Finance and Property and from Cllrs Carole Allaway Martin, Gethyn Davies, Brian Edwards, Diana Edwards, Frankie Evans, Jackie Fraser, Paul Hiett, Bruce Hogan, Gabriella Kirkpatrick, Lynn Sterry and Roger Sterry

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15 December 2011.

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

3.

Urgent Business

The chairman to identify any items of urgent business.

Minutes:

The chairman identified no items of urgent business on this occasion.

4.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest in any matter to be discussed at the meeting.  Members and officers are requested to identify the nature of the interest and indicate whether it is personal or prejudicial.

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012, but Cllrs Morgan, Quaile, Glastonbury and Morgan declared personal interests in item 15 as members of Gloucestershire County Council.

5.

Chairman's announcements

5.1

Welcome Councillor Roger Sterry

The Chairman to welcome Councillor Roger Sterry the new Councillor for the Cinderford West Ward after the by election on 12 January 2012.

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

5.2

Localism Conference

The chairman to inform members that a session on the Localism Act will be held on Thursday 29 March at 7pm for District and Parish Councillors.  This session is being presented with Gloucestershire Association of Parish and Town Councils.

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

6.

Public question time

To answer questions asked by members of the public. The constitution requires that questions are received three working days before the meeting (deadline 4.00pm on Monday, 20 February)

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

7.

Member questions

7.1

Councillor Maria Edey

How much influence do developers have on this Council?

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

7.2

Councillor Maria Edey

Given the size of this authority does the Council need two Strategic Directors?

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

7.3

Councillor Maria Edey

How many agency workers does this Council employ?

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

7.4

Councillor Peter Ede

Can the constitution rules be changed so that the relevant ward member may have their say at a stage 3 complaints panel meeting?

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

8.

Councillor Allowances Scheme 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

David Rees, Independent Remuneration Panel Chairman, to present report LD.389 relating to Councillor Allowances for 2012/13.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

9.

Budget and Council Tax 2012/13

9.1

Treasury Management Strategy 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy 2012/2013, as detailed in report F.153, noted at the Audit Committee on 26 January 2012 and agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 9 February  2012. 

 

Council is recommended to adopt :-

 

 

a.      the Treasury Management Strategy for 2012/2013 to 2014/2015 contained in Annex B.

b.      the prudential and treasury indicators and limits for 2012/2013 to 2014/2015 contained in Annexes A, B and B2 of this report.

c.      the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) statement at paragraph 14 of Annex A of this report which sets out the Council’s policy on MRP.

d.      the Authorised Limit prudential indicator contained at paragraph 14 of Annex B to this report.

e.      the Investment Management Strategy for 2012/2013 contained in paragraphs 28 to 33 of Annex B of this report.

f.  the detailed criteria included in paragraph 44 of annex b to this report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

9.2

Council Budget 2012/2013 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2011/2015 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present the Council’s final budget proposals for 2012/13 and medium term financial plan for the period to 2015 as detailed in report F.152 and agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 9 February  2012. 

 

The Council is recommended by Cabinet to agree:

a)     to note the assurance of the Chief Financial Officer who has reviewed the financial risks being faced by the Council and given his opinion on the robustness of the estimates and adequacy of reserves in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2003;

b)     a net budget for 2012/2013 of £10,373,280 and a council tax requirement of £4,783,880;

c)      that there be no increase in council tax for 2012/2013 (a freezing of Band D council tax at £162.29); and

d)     the 2012-2015 capital programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

9.3

Council Tax Resolution 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present report F.151. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

10.

Core Strategy (Formal Adoption) pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy to present report EDP.48 and the recommendation that the Council formally adopt the Core Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

11.

Cinderford Northern Quarter Area Action Plan (Formal Adoption) pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Leader of the Council, Councillor Patrick Molyneux to present report EDP.49 and the recommendation that the Council formally adopt the Cinderford Northern Quarter Area Action Plan.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was considered at the meeting held on 23 February 2012.

12.

Review of Parliamentary and Local Government Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations 2011 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider report LD.394 relating to the review of Parliamentary and Local Government Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations 2011.

Minutes:

The chairman introduced report LD.394, commenting that it was a straightforward report for decision.

 

Cllr Horne, Vice Chairman of the Council, expressed her pleasure that Rudford Village Hall would once again be used as a polling station.

 

Cllr Horne proposed and Cllr Lawton seconded the recommendations in the report as at the agenda.

Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.

 

RESOLVED - to

1.      Create a new polling district for the northern part of the existing NJB register (Fairways Estate, Coleford)

2.      Request that the Returning Officer seek an additional polling station at the Main Place Coleford

3.      Note the proposed changes to polling stations at Mitcheldean and Rudford & Highleadon and;

4.      Request the Returning Officer to investigate whether there are any alternative premises to be used as a polling station for Newnham polling district(OV)

13.

Pay Policy Statement 2012/13 (LOCALISM ACT 2011) pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy to present report LD.396.  The Council to consider and adopt the Pay Policy Statement to meet the statutory obligations of Section 38 (1) of the Localism Act 2011. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, presented report LD.396, explaining that the Staff Joint Consultative Panel and the Cabinet had already considered it. The council was now required to have a pay policy statement and Full Council had to approve any individual officer's pay over £100,000, which currently did not apply to the council. He highlighted the Hutton report comments on pay differentials as at agenda page 343, paragraph 5.5, noting that the council differential between the highest and lowest paid member of staff was 5.8 times, well below the maximum of 20 times set in the Hutton report.

 

Cllr Robinson clarified for Cllr Winship that the term 'scoping officer' applied to chief officer and that the £15.19 meeting allowance was for a whole meeting.

 

Cllr Lawton asked why the policy stated that an employee made redundant would not be re-employed by the council.

The Solicitor to the Council replied that it was viewed as bad practice, since the individual would have gone through a process of possible redeployment before being made redundant.

 

The Solicitor to the Council confirmed for Cllr Birch that the council did not pay any bonuses. It operated an honorarium scheme for temporary additional duties, which was rarely used.

 

Referring to the council's pay differentials, Cllr Bill Evans asked how it could justify the upper limit of a factor of eight between the highest and lowest paid as at agenda page

Cllr Robinson emphasised that the factor of eight was a limit. He was comfortable with the current factor of 5.8, but believed the figure of 20 to be unreasonable. If the council set the limit at six, at any time in the future when a new post might be proposed at a salary just above that figure, it would need to come back to Full Council, hence the slightly higher maximum of eight.

 

Cllr Robinson proposed and Cllr Molyneux seconded the recommendation as at the agenda.

Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.

 

RESOLVED - To adopt the Pay Policy Statement as at annex A to report LD.396

14.

Council Response to the Progress report of the Independent Panel on Forestry pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Councillor Andrew Gardiner, Cabinet Forest Champion to present report SD.86 relating to the response from the Council to the progress report of the Independent Panel on Forestry.

Minutes:

Cllr Quaile, Cabinet Member for the Environment, presented report SD.86, highlighting paragraph 2.2 on agenda page 350, which detailed Cllr Gardiner's work as the Cabinet's Forest Champion in involving all interested parties in the community. He invited Cllr Gardiner to give some more detail.

Cllr Gardiner began by emphasising that the overarching aims of the work of the previous 18 months had been the retention of the statutory forest, the designation of heritage woodland and the retention of the Forest Estate in public ownership. He hoped that the Forest of Dean would become a model of excellence in managing its forest, with a need for the Independent Panel on Forestry (the Panel) to visit the district again to see how it was proposed to involve young unemployed people in that management.

He had arranged a number of meetings with bodies such as Transition, which was concerned with sustainable lifestyles not reliant on oil.

He urged all members to support this very important report, remaining loyal to the principles behind the council's delegation to Westminster in 2011.

He commented that the Panel's interim report advocated increasing the woodland cover across the country to mitigate climate change effects. He urged the use of disease resistant timber. The report also proposed no land sell-off to make up for funding shortfalls.

He said that the council needed to find ways to bring about sustainability, working together and sitting down with the Panel. It was crucial to adjust the recommendation to reflect the fact that the council would not be responding by the intended date of 29 February 2012.

 

The Solicitor to the Council confirmed that there was no deadline for responses, but advised that the council's response be sent as soon as possible. She explained that the matter had not been considered at the previous week's Full Council meeting, because statutory issues had taken precedence.

 

Cllr Molyneux, Leader of the Council, thanked Cllr Gardiner, Cllr Quaile and officers for meeting with the Woodlands Advisory Group and the Panel. He said that Cllr Gardiner had done excellent work in presenting the forest to the Panel and asked for a unanimous endorsement for the report recommendations.

 

Cllr Gardiner proposed and Cllr Thomas seconded the recommendations as at the agenda, adjusted to remove the words by 29 February 2012.

Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.

 

RESOLVED -

a)     To note the response at Annex A to report SD.86.

b)     To delegate to the Strategic Director, in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder and Cabinet Champion, authority to make minor editorial and presentational changes to the response prior to submission.

15.

Bus Links Scrutiny Inquiry pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Councillor Marion Winship, Panel chairman to present report LD.395 relating to the Bus Links Inquiry. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Winship, chairman of the bus links inquiry, presented report LD.395, commenting that the panel had been thorough in its examination of the issues. She thanked members of the panel for their work in undertaking research and one who had taken the notes for a meeting. The panel had met the four local community transport providers, when it had become clear that the council needed to support them. It had also interviewed the Urban Transport Manager from the county council, who had agreed to go back to transport providers concerning issues around breakdowns, 'scruffy' buses and running out of fuel and integration.

The panel had concluded that, while the council had no responsibility for transport, it was a crucial service for residents.  The Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee had agreed the recommendation for a councillor champion to follow up issues and take to the county council. The panel had felt strongly that service needed to be even more integrated and Cllr Winship commented that the service to Lydney station had been improved. However there remained a need for councils to talk to each other, particularly in relation to bus pass usage across borders.

She ended by saying that it was important for the champion to be appointed by Full Council and for the councillor appointed to commit the time needed to fulfil the role.

 

Cllr Molyneux agreed that the role was very important, and in the light of the report identifying an urgent need, Cllr Winship had agreed to be Cabinet champion to begin the work, so that when the council champion was appointed in May they could continue the work already begun. He also emphasised that to do justice to the role, the appointed councillor would need to be able to give it time, energy and enthusiasm.

 

Cllr Burford, chairman of the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee, thanked Cllr Winship and her panel for their work and urged a unanimous vote.

 

Cllr Baynham, the council's health champion, welcomed the report and in particular the desired outcome relating to improved links to medical facilities, explaining how difficult it was for residents to get to those places in Gloucester and Cheltenham. He believed that the champion should work hard to ensure that local people had access to those services. He said that the Health Forum had repeatedly asked that the Park and Ride go to the hospital and for a new Park and Ride to be located on the district's side of Gloucester.

 

Cllr Winship proposed and Cllr Martin seconded the recommendations as at the agenda.

Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.

 

RESOLVED -

a)     To agree the recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Cabinet as at the annexes to report LD.395.

b)     To refer the appointment of a transport champion to the Annual Meeting on 24 May 2012

16.

Notice of motions

16.1

Councillor Marrilyn Smart OBE

That this Council very much welcomes the agreement between the public sector in Gloucestershire and the Armed Forces that will pave the way for more integration of Armed Forces Personnel in their community and enable funding for community initiatives.

Minutes:

Cllr Smart read the following statement in support of her motion

 

'This motion is about an Armed Forces Community Covenant, which is a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces community – in this case serving and former members of all 3 services and their families either working or resident in Gloucestershire. It is intended to complement, at a local level, the Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces.

The aim of a Community Covenant is to encourage local communities to support the Service Community in their area and promote understanding and awareness amongst the public of issues affecting the Armed Forces Community.  Many people have become involved in supporting the Service Community through Service Charities, or more recently participating in Armed Forces Day.  They have shown their support through fund-raising, military celebrations and open days, attending homecoming parades and repatriation ceremonies and offering commercial discounts.  The community Covenant scheme aims to build on this local level of support.  The overall aim is to end up with a countywide covenant signed by all 3 services, leaders of public sector bodies, representatives from the voluntary sector and the Veterans Advisory and Pension Committee.  A formal signing Ceremony took place on Monday 27 February 2012.

As Members will recall there has always been a strong tradition of links between the Forest of Dean District Council and the Gloucestershire Regiment, in which many local people served in both world wars and in peacetime.  Whilst lamenting the loss of its County Regiment, which received the Freedom of the District in 1984, this Council warmly welcomed 1 Rifles to their permanent base at Beachley Barracks in 2007, which despite a Chepstow postal address, is very much part of the Forest of Dean.

On the 27 June 2009 this Council provided a public expression of its support for the Battalion by laying on a community event for soldiers, their families and local people after a Freedom Parade in Coleford. Since then members and staff at the District Council have raised money for the Rifles welfare fund charities through a variety of sponsored events and “dress down” days.  In addition members and staff have also contributed to welfare parcels for the troops when they were deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011.

Through its annual support for Armed Forces Day the council recognises and applauds the contribution that the entire Armed Forces Community has made to the nation. The Council demonstrates similar support to the Royal British Legion through annual Poppy Day collections and, this year providing the use of some of our premises at no cost for use in support of the Poppy Appeal.

The Council has also actively supported one member of Staff in recently becoming a member of the Royal Navel Reserve and is now working on the production of a policy that supports volunteering, including service in the reserves.

 

This motion also refers to Report SD  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.1

16.2

Councillor Jane Horne

That this Council marks the momentous events of this year namely the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games by planting two trees in the Arboraetum and a Diamond Jubilee rose in the Council garden.

Minutes:

Cllr Horne confirmed for Cllr Winship that she hoped to plant English oaks.

 

Cllr Molyneux explained the change from the motion published with the agenda, saying that the number of trees had been increased in discussion with the Forestry Commission to show that it was a tribute from the district, rather than just the council. The council's memento would be the rose planted in the council garden, in keeping with the current financial situation. The Forestry Commission had assured the council that it could manage the upkeep of the proposed trees, which would be bought by sponsors. He invited members to contribute to the sponsorship fund.

 

Cllr Gardiner cautioned against planting trees that might be susceptible to disease.

 

Cllr Quaile explained that the vision was to engage the community by arranging for primary school children to plant the trees later in the year under the supervision of the Forestry Commission. In this way those children would remember the occasion later in life.

He had been reminded that both Queen Elizabeth 1st and Queen Elizabeth 2nd had planted oaks near Speech House during visits to the district.

 

Along with Cllr Morgan, Cllr Pugh was pleased that the number of proposed trees had been increased to 60. He was particularly happy to second the motion, as the forest was internationally important for wildlife, containing all but three of the raptor species in the UK and other rare breeds such as the pie spotted flycatcher and lesser-spotted woodpecker.

 

Summing up, Cllr Horne said that she was glad that everyone supported the proposal and was sure that the district would make it an occasion to remember.

 

Cllr Horne proposed and Cllr Pugh seconded the motion.

Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.

 

RESOLVED - That this Council marks the momentous events of this year, namely the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games, by planting 60 trees at Beechenhurst, (which the Forestry Commission has agreed to assist), one for each year of the Queen’s reign.

This will be a lasting monument and tourist attraction for the district. We are confident that the £4,000 will be sponsored.

Also, a Diamond Jubilee Rose for the Council garden.

16.3

Councillor Paul Hiett

I move that this Council establishes a cross party task group to investigate models of governance as a credible and inclusive alternative to the current system.  This task group will be politically balanced, having the power to elect its own chair and make recommendations back to Full Council for a decision.

Minutes:

In the absence of Cllr Hiett, Cllr Martin proposed the motion, hoping for another unanimous vote in support, as with the previous motion. She commented that other councils had already decided to introduce different models of governance, but that the task group should not pre-empt any particular model. She informed members that the political group leaders had discussed the matter. Any member would be able to become involved in the review.

 

Cllr Molyneux said that he was happy to second the motion. He believed that the cabinet system had merit and worked well, being better than the previous system operated by the council. However he also believed that it was right to explore all options and decide what was best for the district. However, the chosen option must be one that got things done in a timely and businesslike way. It was important to involve all councillors and he thought that the council was not far away from that currently. He asked that task group members approach the review with an open mind, looking at the facts and not making decisions based on emotions.

 

Cllr Gardiner supported the motion saying that it was far sighted, but wished to see the involvement of the local MP in the governance arrangements.

 

Cllr Edey hoped for an outcome that would be fair, democratic and involve all members and she reminded members of her own motion, which had been deferred.

 

Cllr Pugh asked members to note that the recommendations from the cross-party task group would come back to Full Council, which would make a final decision on governance arrangements.

 

Cllr Morgan hoped for a review that was not political, but that explored a system that would be more inclusive than the current one. He thought that some members felt disenfranchised 'looking in from the outside'. However he did not wish to see the return of the old committee system, which had not been businesslike.

 

Cllr O'Neill emphasised the need to enter the enquiry with no pre-conceived ideas, but that the outcome must have addressed inclusivity and have sought input from all members.

 

Summing up, Cllr Martin believed that there was a consensus for this review to happen, but that the matter was for this council, not the local MP.

 

 

Cllr Martin proposed and Cllr Molyneux seconded the motion.

Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.

 

RESOLVED - that this Council establishes a cross party task group to investigate models of governance as a credible and inclusive alternative to the current system.  This task group will be politically balanced, having the power to elect its own chair and make recommendations back to Full Council for a decision.

16.4

Councillor Andrew Gardiner

For this Council to consider further the Council Woodland Advisory Group’s response to the Independent Forestry Panel’s interim progress report, including an  open invitation for  the Independent Forestry Panel to make a return visit to the Royal Forest of Dean to consider the setting up of a School of Forestry Excellence at the  Northern United Buildings along with the site and buildings at the cable works in  Stowfield. This site was identified for the Panel’s visit last year 2011. However at this crucial and delicate  stage of the IFP work to inform the Government relating to the future direction of Forest policy, it is imperative that the associated status quo is maintained until they complete their final report and outcomes. “Therefore  this Council urges its partners at the Cinderford Regeneration Board, The Forestry Commission and Homes & Community Agency – to delay their  proposals to demolish the heritage buildings of Northern United Colliery to allow this option to be fully considered.”

Minutes:

Cllr O'Neill raised a point of order, asking if the motion was allowable, given the previous week's council resolution to agree the Cinderford Area Action Plan.

The Solicitor to the Council confirmed the chairman's view that the motion could be debated, saying that the site in question was owned by the Housing and Communities Agency, which had notified the council of its proposal to demolish the buildings.

 

Cllr Thomson raised a second point of order, saying that he understood that the council had to respond to the proposed demolition by 28 February 2012.

The Solicitor to the Council replied that it was still a matter for the owners of the site. The council's planning team was involved.

 

Cllr Gardiner said that he believed his motion to be innocent and innocuous. He had sought guidance from officers and the last thing he wanted was to compromise the work of the Woodland Advisory Group. He did not want the matter to become a political football and withdrew the motion.

17.

Cabinet and scrutiny committee reports pdf icon PDF 107 KB

The Leader of the Council and the Chairman of the scrutiny committee to report on recent activities, followed by questions from members. Depending on time the Chairman will rule and only take one question per member relating to reports.

a)     Cabinet – Councillor Patrick Molyneux

b)     Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor Philip Burford

Minutes:

There were no questions on the reports.

 

Cllr Burford, chairman of the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee, announced that the keynote speaker for the annual scrutiny event in July would be Cllr Dennis Andrewartha, chairman of the county council's Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee. He hoped to invite scrutiny members from across the county. More details would be sent to members as they were confirmed.