Decisions

Use the below search options at the bottom of the page to find information regarding recent decisions that have been taken by the council’s decision making bodies.

Alternatively you can visit the officer decisions page for information on officer delegated decisions that have been taken by council officers.

Decisions published

08/02/2024 - 23/00919/CC - FORMER PIN GREEN PLAYING FIELDS ref: 3380    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Council raises No Objection to the proposed development, subject to the County Council ensuring the proposed development does not prejudice highway safety and has an acceptable drainage strategy.  Furthermore, the Council recommends that appropriately worded conditions are imposed to any permission issued as specified in the report.

 


08/02/2024 - 23/00920/FPM - LAND TO THE WEST OF LYTTON WAY, STEVENAGE ref: 3379    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that Application 23/00920/FPM be REFUSED for the following reason:

 

The removal of the undercroft parking together with the increase in the number of flats would leave insufficient off-street parking for the proposed development, which would likely result in increased on-street parking on roads to the north and west of the site. This will likely result in a situation which would be prejudicial to the safety and operation of these roads. The development proposal is therefore contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (2023) and National Planning Practice Guidance, Policies SP6 and IT5 of the Stevenage Borough Local Plan 2011 - 2031 (adopted 2019) and the Council's Parking Provision and Sustainable Transport SPD (2020).

 

As the Committee voted to refuse the application for the residential development on the land to the West of Lytton Way, the application to vary the S.106 agreement was also REFUSED.

 

 


08/02/2024 - 23/00482/FP - CINNABAR OLD STEVENAGE, 56-58 HIGH STREET ref: 3378    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that application 23/00482/FP be GRANTED planning permission subject to the conditions set out in the report, and with the addition of the words ‘located within a conservation area’ in the reason for Condition 4, after the word development.

 


08/02/2024 - 22/01052/ENF - 20 MARKET PLACE, STEVENAGE ref: 3381    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that in relation to Application 22/01052/ENF:

 

1.    An Enforcement Notice be issued and served by the Assistant Director (Planning and Regulation) and subject to an appointed solicitor by the Council being satisfied as to the evidence requiring the removal of the existing extension located within the rear service to the property known as 20 Market Place.  The precise terms of the Enforcement Notice, including all time periods, to be delegated to the Assistant Director (Planning and Regulation).

2.    That subject to an appointed solicitor by the Council being satisfied as to the evidence, the Assistant Director (Planning and Regulation) be authorised to take all steps necessary, including prosecution or any other litigation/works in default to secure compliance with the Enforcement Notice.

3.    That in the event of any appeal against the Enforcement Notice, the Assistant Director (Planning and Regulation) be authorised to take any action required to defend the Enforcement Notice and any appeal against the refusal of planning permission.


08/02/2024 - URGENT PART II BUSINESS ref: 3376    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

None.


08/02/2024 - EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC ref: 3375    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

Not required.


08/02/2024 - URGENT PART I BUSINESS ref: 3374    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

None.


08/02/2024 - INFORMATION REPORT - APPEALS/CALLED IN APPLICATIONS ref: 3373    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

Noted.


08/02/2024 - INFORMATION REPORT - DELEGATED DECISIONS ref: 3372    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

Noted.


08/02/2024 - MINUTES - 9 JANUARY 2024 ref: 3371    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Planning and Development Committee held on 9 January 2024 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


08/02/2024 - APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ref: 3370    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Planning and Development Committee

Made at meeting: 08/02/2024 - Planning and Development Committee

Decision published: 12/02/2024

Effective from: 08/02/2024

Decision:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Julie Ashley-Wren, Adam Mitchell and Anne Wells.

 

Councillor Stephen Booth and Conor McGrath were in attendance as substitutes for Councillors Ashley-Wren and Wells.

 

There were no declarations of interest.


07/02/2024 - STEVENAGE CYCLE HIRE SCHEME - REPORT AND PUBLIC CONSULTATION FEEDBACK ref: 3367    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

The Executive considered a report providing an overview of the work undertaken, including public consultation, to develop a Stevenage Cycle Hire Scheme.

 

In reply to a series of Member questions, officers commented:

·         Discussions would be ongoing with the operator regarding the programme/timescales for Phases 1A and 1B of the Scheme, with the intention of both phases being implemented as soon as practicably possible; and

·         Officers were requested to liaise with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) officers with a view to HCC providing a financial contribution to support the Scheme through use of Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy funds.

A discussion ensued regarding the locations of the bike storage units and electrical charging points, and it was agreed that Ward Members should be consulted about these before any works commenced.  It was suggested that it might be appropriate for an event to be held after the May 2024 Elections, in order that the views of newly-elected Members could be taken into account.  This could take the form of an all-Member overview meeting, followed by individual area/ward meetings (similar to the Policing Priority meetings).

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.          That the progress made in the Stevenage Cycle Hire Scheme and work undertaken by officers up to September 2023 (as set out in Appendices A, B, C, D, E and F of the report) be noted.

 

2.          That the ongoing strategic direction and final steps for the Cycle Hire Scheme, to further develop the proposal for a scheme in Stevenage, be approved.

 

3.          That it be noted that the comments of the Environment & Economy Select Committee have been sought and considered on the content of the report.

 

4.          That it be noted that engagement with key stakeholders will continue, ahead of incorporating the Cycle Hire Scheme.

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.


07/02/2024 - FINAL CAPITAL STRATEGY 2023/24 - 2028/29 ref: 3365    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

The Executive considered a report in respect of the final Capital Strategy for 2023/24 – 2028/29.

 

It was RESOLVED that the following proposals be recommended to Council on 21 February 2024:

 

1.          That the Revised General Fund Capital Budget for 2024/25 of £33.6Million, as set out in Appendix B to the report, be approved.

 

2.          That the Draft Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital Budget for 2024/25 of £54.9Million, as set out in Appendix C to the report, be approved.

 

3.          That the updated forecast of resources 2024/25 be approved (set out in the report at Section 4.4 – General Fund, and Section 4.10 – HRA).

 

4.          That the General Fund capital budget re-profiling of £2.6Million from 2023/24 to future years be approved (as set out in Paragraph 4.1.4 of the report).

 

5.          That the General Fund capital budget savings (as set out in Paragraphs 4.1.3 and 4.1.5 of the report) be approved.

 

6.          That the approach to resourcing the General Fund capital programme, as outlined in the report (Paragraph 4.4), be approved.

 

7.          That the General Fund growth bids identified for inclusion in the Capital Strategy (as set out in Paragraph 4.2 and in Appendix A to the report) be approved.

 

8.          That the HRA budget increases identified for inclusion in the Capital Strategy (as set out in Section 4.9 and Appendix C to the report) be approved.

 

9.          That the approach to resourcing the HRA capital programme, as outlined in the report (Paragraph 4.10), be approved.

 

10.       That HRA capital budget re-profiling of £1.45Million from 2023/24 to future years be approved (as set out in Paragraph 4.9.3 of the report).

 

11.       That the HRA growth bid (IT £21,000) identified for inclusion in the Capital Strategy (as set out in Paragraph 4.9.4 of the report) be approved.

 

12.       That the 2024/25 de-minimis expenditure limit (set out in Section 4.11 of the report) be increased from £7,500 to £9,999.

 

13.       That up to £500,000 of any revenue surplus in any year can be allocated to the capital reserve to support capital expenditure be approved.

 

14.       That the comments from Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as set out in Paragraph 4.13.4 of the report, be noted.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.


07/02/2024 - STEVENAGE WORKS SKILLS FRAMEWORK - UNLOCKING JOBS, SKILLS AND OPPORTUNITY FOR LOCAL PEOPLE ref: 3363    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

The Executive considered a report in respect of the consolidation of the ongoing work around skills development into a skills framework approach involving key sectors in the town, building several tangible actions to help further support the work that was underway, and co-ordinating key internal resources to further aid delivery.

 

The Executive was supportive of the Stevenage Works Skills Framework, and thanked the Portfolio Holder for Co-operative Council & Neighbourhood Communities, officers and Adrian Hawkins for driving forward the Skills agenda for the Council and the town.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.          That the proposed ’Stevenage Works Skills Framework’ be approved for implementation and publication.

 

2.          That delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director (TP), having consulted with the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Communities, Co-operative Councils & Young People and the Leader of the Council, to make any final changes to the Skills Framework and to oversee the continued development of the associated ‘Stevenage Works Skills Framework Action Plan’.

 

3.          That delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director (TP), having consulted with the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Communities, Co-operative Councils & Young People and the Leader of the Council, to make any structural or other organisational changes which may be necessary to support the implementation of the ’Stevenage Works Skills Framework’.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.


07/02/2024 - PART II MINUTES - EXECUTIVE - 17 JANUARY 2024 ref: 3362    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024


07/02/2024 - STEVENAGE CYCLE HIRE SCHEME - REPORT AND PUBLIC CONSULTATION FEEDBACK ref: 3368    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024


07/02/2024 - FINAL GENERAL FUND AND COUNCIL TAX SETTING 2024/25 ref: 3364    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

The Executive considered a report in respect of the Council’s final General Fund, Council Tax Support Scheme and final proposals for the 2024/25 Council Tax.

 

It was RESOLVED that the following proposals be recommended to Council on 21 February 2024:

 

1.          That the 2023/24 revised net expenditure on the General Fund of £13,571,480 be approved, as set out in Paragraph 4.10.1 of the report.

 

2.          That the draft General Fund Budget for 2024/25 of £12,762,310 be approved, with no contribution from balances and a Band D Council Tax of £239.26 (assuming a 2.99% Council Tax increase), and as summarised in Appendix G to the report.

 

3.          That the updated position on the General Fund Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), as summarised in Section 4.12 of the report, be noted.

 

4.          That the minimum level of General Fund reserves of £3,537,794, in line with the 2024/25 risk assessment of balances, as shown at Appendix C to the report, be approved.

 

5.          That the contingency sum of £400,000 within which the Executive can approve supplementary estimates, be approved for 2024/25 (reflecting the level of balances available above the minimum amount).

 

6.          That the 2024/25 Balancing the Budget options, as set out in Section 4.7 and Appendix A to the report, totalling £1,223,852 and £95,063 for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) respectively, be approved.

 

7.          That the events options, as set out in Paragraph 4.7.4 of the report, be approved for 2024/25.

 

8.          That the Growth options included in Section 4.8 of the report be approved for inclusion in the 2024/25 General Fund (£167,120) and HRA (£47,265) budgets.

 

9.          That the pressures identified in Sections 4.2 and 4.9 of the report be noted.

 

10.      That the use of £200,000 of Business Rates in the base budget be approved, and any gains above that be used only once realised, and be ring fenced for use to maintain the Council’s financial resilience.

 

11.      That the use of ‘pooling gains’ of £220,000, as set out in Paragraph 4.4.9 of the report, be approved.

 

12.      That the comments of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as set out in Section 4.16 of the report, be noted.

 

13.      That the Equalities Impact Assessment appended to the report at Appendix D be noted.

 

14.      That key partners and other stakeholders be consulted and their views considered as part of the 2024/25 budget setting process.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.


07/02/2024 - MINUTES OF THE OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE AND SELECT COMMITTEES ref: 3358    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

In respect of Minute 3 of the minutes of the meeting of the Community Select Committee held on 8 January 2024, the Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development confirmed that she would be responding to the recommendations of the Housing Repairs scrutiny review by the prescribed deadline.

 

It was RESOLVED that the following Minutes of meetings of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and Select Committees be noted –

 

Community Select Committee – 8 January 2024

Environment & Economy Select Committee – 16 January 2024


07/02/2024 - MINUTES - 17 JANUARY 2024 ref: 3357    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 17 January 2024 be approved as a correct record for signature by the Chair.


07/02/2024 - APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ref: 3356    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

The Chair welcomed Adrian Hawkins OBE (Chair of the Stevenage Development Board) to the meeting.  He stated that Adrian would be addressing the Executive in relation to Item 4 on the agenda – Stevenage Works Skills Framework: Unlocking Jobs, Skills and Opportunities for Local People.

 

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillor Mrs Joan Lloyd.

 

There were no declarations of interest.


07/02/2024 - URGENT PART II BUSINESS ref: 3360    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

None.


07/02/2024 - EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC ref: 3361    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.          That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in Paragraphs 1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.

 

2.          That the reasons for the following reports being in Part II were accepted, and that the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.


07/02/2024 - URGENT PART I BUSINESS ref: 3359    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

None.


07/02/2024 - ANNUAL TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY INCLUDING PRUDENTIAL INDICATORS 2024/25 ref: 3366    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 07/02/2024 - Executive

Decision published: 09/02/2024

Effective from: 07/02/2024

Decision:

The Executive considered a report in respect of the Annual Treasury Management Strategy, including Prudential Code Indicators for 2024/25, for onward recommendation to Council.

 

The Strategic Director (CF) referred to two corrections to the report, as follows:

 

·     Paragraph 4.1.1 - the sentence should read that the returns on investments had averaged 5%, not 3.48%, and the total interest earned was £1.9Million and not £1.29Million; and

 

·     The table in Paragraph 4.15.1 should read that the total Housing Revenue Account (HRA) loans equalled £233.231Million and not £234.231Million, and the total Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) debt at 31 December 2023 equalled £234.987Million and not £224.987Million.

 

It was RESOLVED that the 2024/25 Treasury Management Strategy be recommended to Council for approval.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.


24/01/2024 - FINAL HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT (HRA) BUDGET SETTING AND RENT REPORT 2024/25 ref: 3353    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Council considered a report seeking approval to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget and Rent Setting for 2024/25.

 

In moving the motion, the Executive Member for Housing & Housing Development (Councillor Jeannette Thomas) advised that the HRA budget had been set in line with the assumptions used in the revised 30-year Business Plan that was approved by the Executive in November 2023.  The aim of the budget was to balance the needs of the existing housing stock, while allowing investment in new replacement homes for those lost under the Right to Buy system.  The budget included funding for £37Million on revenue and capital works to existing homes and £29Million of investment in new housing stock for residents.  These investments were part of the Council’s ten-year plan to improve the maintenance of its homes and ensure that tenants had good quality, safe and sustainable homes to live-in, particularly in response to the climate crisis.

 

The Executive Member for Housing & Housing Development stated a key priority would be to maintain full compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure that tenants’ homes remained safe.  The Council would further progress its low to medium rise flat block refurbishment programmes and would undertake further building safety and refurbishment works to the Council’s five high rise flat blocks.  Over the next three years of the Council’s decent homes programme, 995 new kitchens or bathrooms would be installed, there would be 1,875 heating upgrades, 1,500 window or door upgrades and 1,400 properties would receive works to improve their energy efficiency with the aim for all properties to be at an energy performance rating of C by 2030.

 

The Executive Member for Housing & Housing Development commented that in the next 5 years the budget would contribute towards the delivery of 447 new homes in line with the Council’s 5 Star promise. This was on top of the over 500 homes that the Council had delivered to date.

 

The Executive Member for Housing & Housing Development explained that the revenue growth included within the 2024/25 budget totalling £2.4Million would enable the Council to meet additional costs relating to void properties and support the work in clearing the current backlog of fencing repairs and replacements.  Work would continue to implement improvements to the Council’s Repairs and Voids service, to ensure it offered choices to tenants and delivered cost-effective repairs and improvements. Further proposals in this regard would be presented to the Executive in due course.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development advised that additional resources had also been allocated in response to new and ongoing operational challenges, including higher levels of arrears, and the introduction of new and revised social housing standards and regulations.  This would be alongside growth of £419,000 that would enable transformation projects, which would deliver service improvements and help offset pay awards and IT related pressures.  As part of the Council’s climate change commitment, the vehicle fleet would be switching (where possible) to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil fuel from October 2024.

                                        

The Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development commented that, as always, rent provided the main source of funding for the HRA and these had been increased by 7.7%, in line with the Government’s rent setting guidelines, using September CPI plus 1%.  This meant that average weekly rents would increase by £8.56 for social rents, £10.09 for Low Start Shared Ownership homes and £13.30 for affordable rents.  However, due to a large reduction in utility costs, some tenants in the Council’s flat blocks would see an overall reduction in their combined rent and service charges next year.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development explained that new loans totalling £37.6Million and £18.8Million were expected to be taken in the current and next financial year.  However, the timing of this borrowing would be reviewed weighing up the cost and the Public Works Loan Board interest rates.  The interest payable in 2023/24 and 2024/25 was estimated to be £8.9Million and £9.4Million, respectively.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development stated that, since the draft budget was presented to Members in December 2023, recharges between the HRA and the General Fund had been finalised.  Overall, this had increased costs to the HRA by £179,000 and the HRA deficit for the year by £261,000.  This would be funded from balances and adjusted in future revisions of the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

 

The motion was seconded by the Executive Member for Culture, Leisure & Information Technology (Councillor Loraine Rossati).

 

In response to various questions raised during the debate on the motion, the Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development stated:

 

·     in relation to the decarbonisation of the Council’s housing stock, the Council had to bid each time for Government funding for these works.  SBC had been successful in two such bids, and work was ongoing in some of the Council’s older housing stock;

·     the Council did not currently benchmark its services against Housing Associations nor other local authorities with their own housing stock, although this could be looked at in the future; and

·     the corporate and democratic costs allocated to the HRA was its proportion re-charged to the General Fund.

 

Upon the motion being put to the vote, it was RESOLVED:

 

1.          That Housing Revenue Account (HRA) dwelling rents be increased (week commencing 1 April 2024) by 7.7%.  This equates to an average increase of £8.56 for social rents, £13.30 for affordable rents and £10.09 for Low Start Shared Ownership homes per week (based on a 52-week year).

 

2.          That the 2024/25 service charges be approved, as set out in Paragraph 4.2 of the report.

 

3.          That the HRA budget for 2024/25, as set out in Appendix A to the report and as revised from the January 2024 draft budget report (as explained in Paragraph 4.8.1 of the report), be approved.

 

4.          That the 2024/25 growth options, as set out in Section 4.4 of the report, be approved.

 

5.          That the 2024/25 Fees and Charges, as set out in Appendix B to the report, be approved.

 

6.          That the minimum levels of balances for 2024/25, as shown in Appendix C to the report, be approved.

 

7.          That the Rent Increase Equalities Impact Assessments, appended to the report in Appendix D, be noted.

 

8.          That the contingency sum of £400,000, within which the Executive can approve supplementary estimates, for 2024/25 (unchanged from 2023/24) be approved.

 

9.          That the comments from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as set out in Paragraph 4.10.2 of the report, be noted.

 

10.       That key partners and other stakeholders be consulted and their views considered as part of the 2024/25 budget setting process.


24/01/2024 - PAY POLICY STATEMENT 2024/25 ref: 3355    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Council considered a report in respect of a proposed Pay Policy Statement for 2024/25.

 

It was moved by Councillor Richard Henry, and seconded by Councillor Sandra Barr, that the recommendations set out in the report be approved.

 

Upon the motion being put to the vote, it was RESOLVED:

 

1.          That the Pay Policy Statement 2024/25 set out in accordance with the Localism Act 2011 and the Local Government Transparency Code 2015, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved.

2.     That the Pay Policy Statement be placed on the Council’s website.


24/01/2024 - MEMBERS' ALLOWANCES SCHEME 2024-2025 - REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL ref: 3354    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Council considered a report in respect of the proposed Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2024/25, as recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP).

 

It was moved by Councillor Richard Henry and seconded by Councillor Jeannette Thomas that the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel set out in the report be agreed.  In moving the motion, Councillor Henry asked that the next IRP Review should include benchmarking information with comparator authorities which, like SBC, still possessed their own Housing stock.

 

Following debate, and upon the motion being out to the vote, it was RESOLVED:

 

1.          That the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel be noted and, subject to Members’ consideration, that the findings of the report form the basis of the formal Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2024/25, including:

 

·        with the exception of the proposal for the Majority Opposition and Minority Opposition Group Leaders set out below, the Basic Allowance and Special Responsibility Allowances remained unchanged from 2023/24, and

·        the Special Responsibility Allowances payable to the Majority Opposition and Minority Opposition Group Leaders be combined, and be re-distributed pro rata to the number of Members in their respective Groups.

 

2.          That, in accordance with the recommendations of the Panel regarding payment of Dependant Carers’ allowances, the hourly rates remain unchanged from 2023/24, but that the scheme be changed from a monthly maximum of 20 hours to a maximum of 360 hours over the year (with the Leader having discretion to increase this maximum allowance where demonstrably necessary).

 

3.          That, in the light of Resolutions 1. and 2. above, the draft formal Members’ Allowances Scheme, as shown at Appendix B to this report, be approved for 2024/2025.

 

4.          That an Independent Remuneration Panel be reconvened in the Autumn of 2024 to consider the Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2025/2026 onwards.


24/01/2024 - QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS TO COMMITTEE CHAIRS / PORTFOLIO HOLDERS ref: 3352    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Council received five questions from Members to Committee Chairs/Portfolio Holders.  The responses to the five questions had been published in the supplementary agenda for the meeting.

 

(A)       Question from Councillor Margaret Notley re: the Council’s telephone enquiry system.

Supplementary question: “Please could the Executive Member remind the Customer Services Centre Team to be mindful of those residents whose experience in contacting the Council had not been good, and challenge the Team to get telephone waiting times down even further?”

 

The Executive Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure & Information Technology replied that the Council was always looking to improve the service.  If the questioner had the names of specific members of the public who had experienced difficulties she would be happy to discuss those cases with the Transformation and Customer Services Teams.

 

(B)       Question from Councillor Andy McGuinness re: the Councillors’ locality budget scheme.

In the absence of Councillor McGuinness, Councillor Robin Parker CC asked the following supplementary question – “Please could the split in spending between Revenue and Capital items in the SBC Councillors’ Locality Budget as a whole be provided, and will there be guidelines given to councillors as to how they would be able to spend their locality budgets?”

 

The Executive Portfolio Holder for Co-operative Council & Neighbourhood Communities replied that she would consult officers and provide a written answer to this question.

 

(C)       Question from Councillor Bret Facey re: the payroll systems for staff and councillors.

Supplementary question: “Can the Leader of the Council guarantee that there were no other questionable use of resources (like the previous councillor payroll system) causing a small, but unnecessary, cost to the Council?”

 

The Leader of the Council replied that there were quirky accounting processes in most local authorities across the UK.  He was pleased that the Council had taken steps to integrate councillors’ payroll into the existing staff system.  However, he was aware that Hertfordshire County Council had separate staff and councillor payroll systems and had no plans to change to a single system.

 

(D)       Question from Councillor Robin Parker CC re: the effect of changes in the local media on the Council’s Communications Team.

Supplementary question: “Does the Council provide all help to the Local Radio, and is the SBC studio at the rear of the Council Chamber still used and, if not, why not?”

 

The Leader of the Council reminded the questioner that the Labour Group had supported a Council motion submitted by his Group stressing the importance of radio as a means of communication.  He was unaware of the studio mentioned in the question, but would liaise with officers to find out.  He was aware that the SBC Communications Team were in regular contact with all forms of media, and did what they could to work with Local radio in publicising the Council’s work.

 

(E)       Question from Councillor Adam Mitchell CC re: the impact of Right to Buy sales of the Council’s housing stock on the town and residents.

Supplementary question: “Given the discounts available to tenants for Right to Buy, how are these opportunities communicated to them and how often?”

 

The Executive Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development replied that all of the details on how tenants could apply for Right to Buy were available on the Council’s website.


24/01/2024 - NOTICE OF MOTIONS ref: 3351    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

Impact of the Government’s Autumn Statement on Local GovernmentFinance

 

Councillor Richard Henry moved and Councillor Jeannette Thomas seconded the motion set out in the agenda papers.

 

During the debate, Councillor Henry agreed to accept a suggested re-wording of the second paragraph of the motion from “Conservative-Liberal Democrat Alliance government” to “Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government”.

 

Following further debate, and upon the re-wording motion being put to the vote, it was RESOLVED that:

 

1.      This Council notes with deep concern the significant impact of de-funding local government by Conservative-led governments since 2010.

 

2.      This Council recognises that local government in England has been actively stripped of funding under successive Conservative-led governments, including the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Alliance government. All English local authorities have been forced to cut spending on nearly every aspect of their services since 2010. Poorer areas have been hit disproportionately, leading to councils having to make harsh cuts, including to services such as parks, libraries, refuse collection, and children's centres. Following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Chair and leaders of the four main parties in the Local Government Association (LGA) wrote an open letter to the Chancellor warning of “low financial resilience across the sector following a 27.0 per cent real-terms reduction in core spending power1 since 2010/11. The Local Government Association estimates that there is a “funding gap” of almost £3bn over the next two years.

 

3.    This Council notes that since 2010, several councils have issued Section 114 notices (under the Local Government Finance Act 1988) and more look likely to follow. Both the Local Government Association (LGA) and the County Councils Network (CCN) undertook surveys of their member councils immediately after the Autumn Statement. The Local Government Association reported findings of a "growing financial crisis”, with almost one in five of its members at risk of running out of funds either this year or next.

 

4.    A report by The National Audit Office (NAO) have published data that shows Stevenage’s Core Spending Power has reduced by 64.5% in real terms when comparing 2010/11 to 2020/21.  The Council’s own government funding reduced by £5.3Million to 2019/20 and the need to fund inflationary pressures has meant the Council has had to find over £14Million of savings to stay financially resilient. This Council has had to make some very hard decisions – and those decisions get harder and harder each year as we are cut to the bone.  It has to stop.

 

5.    This Council:

 

a.      Condemns the reduction of funding to local government since 2010 by successive Conservative-led governments and calls for immediate action by the current Government to provide a sustainable funding model for the sector, thereby stopping this assault on local democracy.

b.      Calls on the Chancellor to listen to the voices of the leaders of the Local Government Association (of which Stevenage Borough Council is a member) in their letter of 13 October, 2023 and, in particular:

·  Address funding sufficiency and certainty issues faced by councils.

·  Take steps to strengthen the local government workforce.

·  Strengthen councils’ role in key national policy areas such as housing and net zero.


24/01/2024 - UPDATE FROM SCRUTINY CHAIRS ref: 3350    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee advised that the Committee had only met once since the previous Council meeting.  The Committee had primarily discussed the various Budget reports, including the final Housing Revenue Account and Rent Setting report for 2024/25.  The Committee also debated “Making Stevenage Even Better”, the Council’s proposed new Corporate Plan

 

The Chair of the Community Select Committee advised that the Committee had met on 8 January 2024 at which it had concluded its work on the scrutiny of the Housing Repairs Service.  In that regard, the Committee had agreed 9 constructive recommendations for improvements to the Service, which had been supported by officers.

 

The Chair of the Environment & Economy Select Committee advised that the Committee had finalised its scrutiny reviews of Bus Services and the Cost of Living crisis.  Looking forward, the Committee would be carrying out some work in February on its plans for the 2024/25 Civic Year, followed by a session on bio-diversity and the Climate Change Strategy, and in March would be carrying out some work relating to the Decarbonisation of the Council’s Housing stock.


24/01/2024 - LEADER OF THE COUNCIL'S UPDATE ref: 3349    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Phil Bibby CC, advised that he had received comments from Indoor Market stallholders about reduced footfall following the siting of the Bus Interchange, in particular less mobile people.  He therefore asked the following question:

 

“What can the Council do with stallholders to improve their businesses to increase footfall and cater for those that had difficulty in walking from the Bus Interchange to the Indoor Market?”

 

The Leader of the Council replied that he was not aware of any evidence to support the matter raised in the question, but he and the Deputy Leader would investigate further with officers.

 

The Council then received updates from the relevant Executive Portfolio Holders on the following matters:

 

·         Coronation Living Heritage Fund;

·         Flat Block Recycling Pilot;

·         Co-operative Neighbourhoods: Walkways Cleansing Programme;

·         SBC Business Support Programme;

·         Wenta; and

·         Stevenage Works.

The Leader of the Opposition advised that Members had recently received an e-mail regarding the maintenance of Play Areas.  The Programme had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consultation was being re-run.  He was not sure why as Members had previously been told that 50 Play areas were to be maintained in good working order.  He asked if the £1.5Million budget was sufficient to cover the costs of the works.

 

The Leader of the Council replied that he would ask the Portfolio Holders for Environment & Performance and Culture, Leisure & Information Technology to investigate the matter.


24/01/2024 - QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC ref: 3348    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

Question from Mr Jim Borcherds

 

The Council noted that a response to the question submitted by Mr Borcherds regarding the principles the Council had in place for new and existing external lighting on buildings and structures in the town with respect to wildlife and dark skies had been published in the supplementary agenda for the meeting.

Mr Borcherds was present at the meeting and he asked the following supplementary question:

 

“In view of the amount of unnecessary lighting both in the Stevenage Bus Interchange and the new Railway Station Multi-Storey Car Park (MSCP), can SBC urgently produce a Strategy document on lighting across the town so that the correct lighting can be installed in the right places, cutting light pollution whilst at the same time enabling people to move about safely?”

 

The Portfolio Holder for Environment & Performance (Councillor Simon Speller) replied that he would ask officers to look at the lighting levels at the Bus Interchange and new Railway Station MSCP.  He commented that lighting standards should be applied on all planning applications, with the strategy document overseeing such matters being the Stevenage Local Plan.  He offered to invite Mr Borcherds to a meeting with him, the Assistant Director (Planning & Regulation) and the Engineering Services Manager to discuss the matter in more detail.


24/01/2024 - QUESTIONS FROM THE YOUTH COUNCIL ref: 3347    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

There were no questions from the Youth Council.


24/01/2024 - PETITIONS AND DEPUTATIONS ref: 3346    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

There were no petitions or deputations.

 


24/01/2024 - COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS ref: 3345    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

There were no community presentations.


24/01/2024 - MAYOR'S COMMUNICATIONS ref: 3344    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

The Mayor announced that the Stevenage Motto, “The Heart of a Town Lies in its People”, truly reflected the Borough’s community.  She paid tribute to the author of the Motto, Richard John Ingle, who had passed away aged 81 in December 2023.  Richard compiled the words when he as a pupil at Barclays School.  The Mayor was privileged to have attended Richard’s funeral, which was a celebration of his life. He deserved great praise and recognition for compiling the town’s motto.

The Mayor commented that she had attended 238 Mayoral Engagements since May 2023.  Engagements such as those with Stevenage Community Trust, Stevenage Works Community Chest funds and The Betty Game Opportunities Trust were great examples of how local people were working together to help and support others by giving grants and funds to those in need.  These Trusts were groups of people and businesses in the town who had the generosity at their core.  She thanked them all.

Th Mayor announced that, during January 2024, she had attended a tree planting in memory of former Councillor John Gardner, the launch of Hertfordshire Covenant from all Faiths, Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition at the Stevenage Library, and visited the Covid Cobra first pillar in Grace Way, with thanks to Junction 7 Creatives and Community Development Team.  She would shortly be visiting the Business Technology Centre(BTC), and thanked WENTA (based at the BTC) for their generous donation to the Mayor's charity funds.

The Mayor congratulated Sarah Pateman (Head of Community Advice and Support) for receiving the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her work and services to the Victims of Domestic Abuse in Hertfordshire.

The Mayor reminded Members that Stevenage had been recognised as a Dementia Friendly Community, and a dementia badge for Councillors and staff to wear had been produced.  She hoped that wearers would support the initiative with a donation to the charity.

The Mayor announced that Don Hills had also passed away recently.  Don had worked as a journalist for 50 years.  He was the Press Officer with Stevenage Development Corporation from 1960 to 1980 and Public Relations and Information Officer for Stevenage Borough Council from 1976 to 1992.  He had the unique role of working for both authorities for few years.  He and the late Margaret Ashby had also written a very interesting book on the history of Stevenage.

At the Mayor’s invitation, a number of Members paid personal tributes to Don Hills.


24/01/2024 - MINUTES - 20 DECEMBER 2023 ref: 3343    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 20 December 2023 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.


24/01/2024 - APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ref: 3342    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Council

Made at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council

Decision published: 31/01/2024

Effective from: 24/01/2024

Decision:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Julie Ashley-Wren, Chris Howells, Mrs Joan Lloyd, Andy McGuinness, Baroness Taylor of Stevenage and Tom Wren.

 

There were no declarations of interest.