Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 3rd December, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Frank Jeffrey  on 01483 743012 or email  frank.jeffrey@woking.gov.uk

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes.

To approve the minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 15 October 2020, as published.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED

That the minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of the Council held on 15 October 2020 be approved and signed as a true and correct record.

2.

Apologies for Absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Colin Kemp and Councillor Nancy Martin.

3.

Mayor's Communications.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor reported on events held in recent months, noting that opportunities to celebrate Woking had continued to be held, with many being held virtually.  The annual Arts Awards had been held virtually and on the following day the Mayor was due to attend a virtual Carol Service in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind.  The Mayor advised that she had recently recorded a Christmas message with Talking Newspapers, a local charity which provided an audio recording of local news and events for blind and visually impaired residents.  Other events had including the AGM of Citizens Advice Woking, the opening of the Cards for Good Causes shop and the opening of the new Boots store in the Victoria Square development.

4.

Urgent Business.

To consider any business which the Chairman rules may be dealt with under Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No items of Urgent Business were considered.

5.

Declarations of Interest. pdf icon PDF 50 KB

(i)         To receive declarations of interest from Members and Officers in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.

(ii)        In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor D J Bittleston declares a non-pecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that speaking and voting are permissible.

(iii)      In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor A Azad declares a non-pecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which she is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that speaking and voting are permissible.

(iv)      In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor C S Kemp declares a non-pecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that speaking and voting are permissible.

(v)       In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor D Harlow declares a non-pecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which she is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that speaking and voting are permissible.

(vi)      In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor G S Cundy declares a non-pecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that speaking and voting are permissible.

(vii)     In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Chief Executive, Ray Morgan, declares a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that Mr Morgan may advise the Council on those items.

(viii)    In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Deputy Chief Executive, Douglas Spinks, declares a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that Mr Spinks may advise the Council on those items.

(ix)      In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Director of Legal and Democratic Services, Peter Bryant, declares a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that Mr Bryant may advise the Council on those items.

(x)       In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Director of Finance, Leigh Clarke, declares a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which she is a Council-appointed director.  The companies are listed in the attached schedule.  The interests are such that Mrs Clarke may advise the Council on those items.

(xi)      In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Director of Housing, Louise Strongitharm,  ...  view the full agenda text for item 5.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor D J Bittleston declared a non-pecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which he was a Council appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that speaking and voting were permissible.

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor A Azad declared a nonpecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which she was a Council appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that speaking and voting were permissible.

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor C S Kemp declared a nonpecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which he was a Council appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that speaking and voting were permissible.

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor D Harlow declared a nonpecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which she was a Council appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that speaking and voting were permissible.

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor G S Cundy declared a nonpecuniary interest in any items concerning the companies of which he was a Council appointed director. The companies are listed in the attached schedule. The interests were such that speaking and voting were permissible.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Chief Executive, Ray Morgan, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he was a Council-appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that Mr Morgan could advise the Council on those items.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Deputy Chief Executive, Douglas Spinks, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he was a Council-appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that Mr Spinks could advise the Council on those items.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Director of Legal and Democratic Services, Peter Bryant, declared a disclosable personal interest (nonpecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he was a Council-appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that Mr Bryant could advise the Council on those items.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Director of Finance, Leigh Clarke, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which she was a Council-appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached schedule. The interests were such that Mrs Clarke could advise the Council on those items.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Director of Housing, Louise Strongitharm, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which she was a Council-appointed director. The companies were listed in an attached  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Petition - Withdrawal of Modified Site Allocations Development Plan Document and Resubmission of a New Plan WBC20-031. pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a report on a petition seeking the Borough Council to withdraw the modified Site Allocations Development Plan Document and submit a new Plan based on current information and proposed legislation.  The petition had been signed by 2,739 individuals and was presented at the meeting.  The Mayor welcomed Fiona Syrett, representative for the petitioners. 

The Petitioner spoke in support of the petition, emphasising the concern of residents over the loss of green belt land in the east of the Borough and the level of development proposed for the area.  It was noted that a local fundraising campaign would be undertaken to raise funds to secure legal advice on behalf of local residents.  Members were invited to ask questions of the petitioner before moving to the debate.

The report set out the background to the Development Plan Document and advised that withdrawing the Document at this stage, as requested by the petition, would lead to unacceptable delay and potential loss of control of the Council’s ability to manage development across the Borough.  It was noted that the Document was going through an Independent Examination and that the Petitioners could choose to submit the petition as part of their representation to the consultation currently underway on the main modifications to the Document, the deadline for which was 14 December 2020.

The matter was debated in full by the Members of the Council and, whilst the concerns of the residents were noted, the Council was not in a position to withdraw the Development Plan Document which had been drawn up over a number of years.  Councillor Barker considered that the Council should review the infrastructure challenges faced by the east of the Borough.  Councillor Barker moved and Councillor Davis seconded the following motion:

“Council calls for a study on the future infrastructure requirement of the east of Woking, based on both current demand and future demand if developments go ahead.”

Councillor Azad advised that such a study should be undertaken in partnership with Surrey County Council as the Highway Authority and proposed an amendment to the motion as follows:

“Council calls for a joint study with other authorities and partners on the future infrastructure requirements of the east of Woking, based on both current demand and future demand and that the terms of the study come to the next meeting of the Executive.”

Councillor Barker and Councillor Davis confirmed that they were happy to accept the amendment to the motion.  The Director of Legal and Democratic Services outlined the recommendations before the Council following the debate namely that:

i)        the petitioner be thanked for the presentation;

ii)       the Council notes the comments set out in the petition and that it was inappropriate to take the action sought by the Petitioners; and

ii)       Council calls for a joint study with other authorities and partners on the future infrastructure requirements of the east of Woking, based on both current demand and future demand and that the terms of the study come  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Petition - Determination of Major Planning Applications WBC20-032. pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a report on a petition seeking the Borough Council to not consider any planning applications for more than ten dwellings until the new Site Allocations Development Plan Document had been adopted.  The petition had been signed by 473 individuals and was presented at the meeting.  The Mayor welcomed Hugh MacDonald, representative for the petitioners. 

The Petitioner spoke in support of the petition, emphasising the concern of residents that Officers could unknowingly aid developers against public opinion and recommend proposals that would otherwise be unacceptable.  The petition indicated that, in event the Council could not take the action of deferring any such applications, the Council should take the decision that all applications of more than ten dwellings should be subjected to the comments, recommendations and contents of the Development Plan Document, including public opinion and the Inspector’s reports.

The report provided the advice of Counsel on the ability to defer the determination of major planning applications and noted that the legislation did not provide for Authorities to take such action, that the Council had a statutory obligation to accept all planning applications submitted, including those for more than 10 dwellings and could not lawfully decide not to consider them.  The Council was also reminded that, when determining planning applications, the local planning authority gave due weight to any development plan document being produced as well as taking into account representations received on all planning applications.

Members were invited to ask questions of the petitioner before moving to the debate.  Whilst Members acknowledged that applications could not be deferred until such time that the Development Plan Document had been adopted, it was felt that the second element of the petition could be supported.  Councillor Forster moved and Councillor Morales seconded that:

“The Council agrees that decisions made by the Planning Committee and Planning Officers will take into account the proposed DPD and other emerging planning policies.”

Councillor Azad subsequently moved and Councillor Ashall seconded an amendment to the substantive motion that:

“The Council agrees that decisions made by the Planning Committee and Planning Officers will take into account the proposed DPD and other emerging planning policies and that the concerns of residents be sought as part of the consultation on the new Town Centre Masterplan announced by the Leader of the Council.”

In accordance with Standing Order 10.8 the names of Members voting for and against the amendment to the substantive motion were recorded.

In favour:                           Councillors M Ali, S Ashall, A Azad, T Aziz, D Bittleston, G Cundy, K Davis, G Elson, D Harlow, S Hussain, R Mohammed, M I Raja, C Rana, and M Whitehand.

Total in favour:                  14

Against:                             Councillors J Bond, M Bridgeman, A Boote, G Chrystie, D Hughes and L Morales.

Total against:                     6

Present not voting:            The Mayor, Councillor Mrs Hunwicks, A-M Barker, W Forster, K Howard, I Johnson, R Leach, L Lyons and J Sanderson

Total present not voting:   8

The amendment to the substantive motion was therefore carried by 14 votes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Questions. pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To deal with written questions submitted by Members under Standing Order 8.1.  Copies of the questions and of the draft replies (which are subject to amendment by the Leader of the Council) will be laid upon the table.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Copies of questions submitted under Standing Order 8.1 together with draft replies had been circulated to Members in advance of the meeting. Supplementary questions had been received and replies were given at the meeting.

9.

Recommendations of the Executive WBC20-036. pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To receive and consider recommendations from the Executive.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor A Azad moved and Councillor S Ashall seconded the reception and adoption of the report and recommendations from the meeting of the Executive held on 19 November 2020. 

9a

Review of Fees and Charges 2021-22 EXE20-027.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Ashall introduced the recommendations of the Executive in respect of the fees and charges for the coming financial year and advised that the majority of the Council’s fees and charges would remain at the existing level.  A summary of the changes had been set out in the original report to the Executive. 

Attention was drawn to the proposed increase for taxi licensing fees and the Council questioned whether this was the right time to do so, taking into account the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the taxi trade.  It was noted that the costs of the meals on wheels service would be increasing after having been kept at the same level for a number of years.  It would be important to ensure that no-one was put off using the service as a result of the change.

Councillor Ashall responded to the points raised before moving to the recommendation of the Executive.

RESOLVED

That the discretionary fees and charges, as set out in Appendices 1 – 4 of the report, be approved.

9b

Next Steps Accommodation Programme EXE20-125.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it recommendations for the acquisition of 121 Chertsey Road for use as move-on accommodation for rough sleepers who had been accommodated during the Covid-19 pandemic. The recommendations were introduced by Councillor Harlow, Portfolio Holder for Housing, and were welcomed by the Council.

          RESOLVED

That (i)    subject to the Government grant funding being secured, the acquisition of 121 Chertsey Road for use as move-on accommodation be approved at a total cost of up to £6.7million; and

          (ii)   the Director of Housing, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing, be authorised to take all necessary actions to secure the grant funding and deliver the scheme.

9c

Draft Investment Programme 2020-21 to 2024-25 EXE20-031.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Ashall, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Financial Planning and Policy, introduced the recommendations of the Executive in respect of the draft Investment Programme 2020-21 to 2024-25.  The considerable impact of the Covid pandemic on local government finances was noted, together with the high level of uncertainty going forward.  In order to protect the Council’s reserves from the financial impact of the pandemic, a number of projects had been temporarily removed from the funded Investment Programme, including some of the Borough’s flood defence proposals.

Councillor Ashall responded to the points raised during the debate following which the Mayor referred the Councillors to the recommendation before them which proposed an increase in the loan facility to Thameswey Energy for the expanded Poole Road Energy Centre.

RESOLVED

That the loan facility provided to Thameswey Energy Ltd for the expanded Poole Road Energy Centre be increased to £35.6m.

9d

Calendar of Meetings 2021-22 EXE20-028.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the proposed calendar of meeting for the forthcoming year.  A concern was raised that the proposed dates would result in a significant period time between the Council meeting at the beginning of April and the subsequent Council meeting at the end of July. 

The Leader of the Council explained that the Council’s accounts had to be approved by the end of July and that the proposed Calendar ensured that ample time was provided for the development of the accounts.  The calendar would be revisited in the event changes to the regulations for the accounts altered the statutory timescale.

RESOLVED

That the Calendar of Meetings 2021/22 be approved as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.

9e

Management Arrangements EXE20-123.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Azad, Leader of the Council, moved and Councillor Ashall seconded a proposal to defer consideration of the management arrangements to the next meeting of Council.  No requests for a formal named vote were received and the proposal was therefore agreed nem con.

RESOLVED

That the recommendations of the Executive in respect of management arrangements be deferred to the meeting of Council in February 2021.

10.

Redesignation of the Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum WBC20-037. pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council was presented with a report proposing the re-designation of the Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum.  The Neighbourhood Forum had been designated in 2014 and the Council was advised that the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 specified that a Neighbourhood Forum ceased to have effect after five years.  The report therefore recommended the re-designation of the Forum to ensure that it continued to represent the community in preparing, reviewing or monitoring the delivery of the Pyrford Neighbourhood Plan.

The application had been widely publicised and consulted on, with details published on the Council’s website for eight weeks, a press release prepared and notices published in local newspapers.  In addition, letters had been sent to all households within the Neighbourhood Area.  Six individuals had submitted representations, details of which were set out in the report.

RESOLVED

That (i)    pursuant to Section 61F(5) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) the Council approves the re-designation of the Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum for a further period of 5 years for the purposes of supporting the future review of the Pyrford Neighbourhood Plan and to ensure the effective delivery of its requirements; and

          (ii)   the effective date for the re-designation of the Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum should be the date of the Council’s decision on the application, in this regard, 3 December 2020.

11.

Polling Place Designation - Walton Road Polling District WBC20-030. pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report before the Council advised that a new polling place would be required for the Walton Road polling district of the Canalside ward as the Red Cross Centre was no longer available for hire.  There were no suitable venues within the polling district and it was therefore proposed to use the Maybury Centre on Board School Road which lay just outside the polling district.  It was noted that the existing parking controls at the Maybury Centre would not apply on the day of the election to ensure no voters were charged for their visit.

RESOLVED

That the Maybury Centre be designated the polling place for the Walton Road polling district (B3) of the Canalside Ward.

12.

Standards Hearings Sub-Committee - 13 October 2020 WBC20-033. pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a report which advised of a recent decision made by the Standards Hearings Sub-Committee on 13 October 2020 in regard to a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct.  The Sub-Committee had taken the decision to report its findings to the Council meeting.

RESOLVED

That the findings of the Standards Hearings Sub-Committee on 13 October 2020 be noted.

13.

Appointment of Members to Committees and Working Groups WBC20-034. pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council was invited to approve a number of changes to the membership of Committees and Working Groups, details of which were set out in the report.  A further change, to the Governance Review Task Group, was proposed at the meeting.

RESOLVED

That the changes to the Committees and Working Groups of the Council as set out below be agreed.

Appeals Cttee

Cllr N Martin to replace Cllr G Elson

Overview and Scrutiny Cttee

Cllr D Bittleston to replace Cllr C Rana

Planning Cttee

Cllr G Cundy and Cllr M Whitehand to replace Cllr S Ashall and Cllr G Elson.

Standards and Audit Committee/Standards Hearings Sub-Cttee

Cllr R Mohammed and Cllr N Martin to replace Cllr G Elson and Cllr M Whitehand.

Housing Task Group

Cllr M Whitehand to replace Cllr C Kemp.

Sheerwater Regeneration Delivery and Oversight Panel

Cllr M Whitehand to replace Cllr S Ashall.

Victoria Square Oversight Panel

Cllr S Ashall to replace Cllr N Martin.

Governance Review Task Group

Cllr A Azad to replace Cllr M Whitehand.

 

14.

Nomination for Appointment Available through the Surrey Leaders' Group WBC20-035. pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(NOTE: Councillor Johnson declared an interest in this item in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, arising from a relative’s position on the Trust.  The interest was such that Councillor Johnson left the meeting during consideration of the item.)

The Council was invited to make a nomination to a position available through the Surrey Leaders’ Group on the Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.  Councillor Azad moved and Councillor Ashall seconded the nomination of Councillor Whitehand to the position.  No further nominations were received and it was accordingly

RESOLVED

That Councillor Whitehand be nominated to the appointment available on the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (Mental Health Foundation Trust).

15.

Notices of Motion. pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To deal with anymotions received in accordance with Standing Order 5.0.  Any motions received before the deadline has passed for the receipt of motions will be published and a copy of the list will be tabled at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor referred to a report published earlier in the day which set out the details of three Notices of Motion received from Councillors following the publication of the agenda but before the deadline for Notices of Motion.

Councillor L Lyons

The following motion was moved by Councillor Lyons and seconded by Councillor Barker.  At the request of Councillor Lyons, the Notice of Motion was debated and determined on the night.

“The current Design Supplementary Planning Document does not provide clarity on the permissible height and scale of new buildings across Woking, particularly those in the town centre.  It is therefore proposed that officers should produce a report at the earliest opportunity, setting out existing guidance, along with the consequential impacts which may arise from any changes, with a view to updating the Design Supplementary Planning Document, if appropriate.”

Councillor Lyons introduced his motion, explaining that it had been drawn up in light of concerns over the number of planning applications received by the Council for large scale tower blocks and the changing character of the Town Centre.  The Councillors discussed the merits of the motion and welcomed the proposal to receive a report at a future meeting on the current guidance and the possibility of adopting restrictions for the height of buildings in the Town Centre.

RESOLVED

That the motion be supported.

Councillor T Aziz

The following motion was moved by Councillor Aziz and seconded by Councillor Lyons and referred to the Executive on 14 January 2021 in accordance with Standing Order 5.7.

“Motion on viability of affordable homes

Since 2012 WBC has been relying on the opinion of a sole company to determine viability of affordable homes on site for developments.  This has resulted in almost all cases being declared unviable by that company.

It’s good practise to seek multiple opinions and not limit to sole opinion.

This motion calls that WBC to employ services of more than one company to determine the viability of affordable homes in future developments before being presented to planning committee.”

Councillor T Aziz

The following motion was moved by Councillor Aziz and seconded by Councillor Barker.  At the request of Councillor Aziz, the Notice of Motion was debated and determined on the night.

“While the importance of collecting unpaid Council Tax and Business Rate debt is fully appreciated this Council requests that Officers:-

1)      act compassionately with residents and businesses during these COVID times and provide flexibility in making suitable payment arrangements that reduce the risk of severe hardship; and

2)      consider the adoption of the CAB Protocol (link below) or similar and report thereon to a future meeting of the Executive.

This motion be considered in this meeting today (3rd Dec 2020)

CAB Protocol

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/Council%20Tax/Citizens%20Advice%20Council%20Tax%20Protocol%202017.pdf”

At the request of Councillor Aziz, the motion was considered on the night.  Councillor Aziz introduced the motion and spoke in support of the proposal, expressing sympathy for those struggling financially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Barker welcomed the motion and suggested  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.