Report to MDTC Full Council 13th March 2019
from ASHLEY BAXTER, the Deepings’ only Independent District Councillor.
I have attended sixformal meetings during the last month.
Thismeeting was convened in response to a question I asked at January’s FullCouncil regarding whether or not a Council’s Chief Executive had properly declared all his relevant business interests. Most of the meeting was held in secret but the Council subsequently issued the following statement:
“Following comments made in full Council last month in relation to SKDC’s CEO, the Council has carried out a full and thorough review of the issues raised, and presented a comprehensive report to its Employment Committee. The committee accepted the report’s findings that SKDC’s Chief Executive had acted in accordance with all legal requirements and that no aspect of the code of conduct had been breached.
“We can confirm that the Council did use Davidson and Partners, a well-known recruitment company for the public sector, in some of its senior appointments. This did not include the appointment of the CEO. Davidson and Partners were selected following a fair and transparent procurement process. The Council’s CEO did not have any involvement in the procurement of Davidson and Partners. The Council has no involvement with LKS Quaero Ltd.”
26/02/2019 DevelopmentManagement Committee
This meeting was exclusively concerned with an outline proposal to develop 3,700 homes at Spitalgate Heath ‘Garden Village’ on the South side of Grantham. The application was received in 2014 and agreed ‘in principle’ in 2017. However, a extraordinary meeting of the planning committee was called on 26th February because someone realised the development was about to miss a deadline for a £71m funding application! Needless to say, it was approved.
TheCouncil was mostly concerned with approval of the budget for the forthcomingyear which included agreeing to raise Council Tax by £5 per annum (for a Band Dproperty).
- A £10 million capital bid for an “investment and regeneration strategy” (details unspecified)
- £103,000 for a very large LED TV screen
- In response to a request from Cllr Charmaine Morgan (Lab), an additional £15,000 was added to support Foodbanks across the district.
I argued against the budgetas a whole (but not against the foodbank money) because the budgeting process had become a laughing stock because a) the Council has failed to deliver so many of last year’s predicted ‘ambitious’ savings: and b) there have been so many adjustments during the current financial year.
I was the only Councillorto vote against the budget.
05/03/2019 DevelopmentManagement Committee
Only one item was discussed which was an application by SKDC to build four new dwellingsin Grantham.
The Cabinet announced further details of the proposed new leisure centres for Stamford and the Deepings. Unfortunately, the details didn’t include the likely cost of the leisure centres, nor the management arrangements, nor the proposed locations. In fact, during a series of questions that I asked it was evident that everything that has been planned so far is open to consultation and change.
TheLeader, who Chairs the Cabinet, left the meeting halfway through in order tospeak to the national media about the possible resurfacing of Red Lion Squarein Grantham.
I asked about for formal confirmation that the Deepings Saturday Market will be launched on Easter Saturday and was told that it will. I also asked why Streetlighting had not been discussed by Cabinet and was told that this was the fault of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
12/03/2019 EnvironmentOverview and Scrutiny Committee
Once again, thismeeting was almost complete waste of time. The agenda was extremely light andno paperwork was distributed before the meeting other than the minutes of thelast meeting. The relevant portfolio holder was not in attendance and neitherwas the vice-Chair of the Committee.
The committee discussed four consultations on recycling which have recently been published by the government. These include proposals for: producer responsibility; plastics tax and a more consistent approach to recycling across all local authorities. There was some consternation regarding how SKDC would respond bearing in mind the Council elections take place on Thursday 2nd May and so the structure of the committee will change shortly before the deadline response deadline of May 13th
At my suggestion, the issue of textiles recycling was put on the agenda and we briefly discussed the pros and cons of putting textile recycling banks on SKDC car parks and other land. This would cost nothing and would raise revenue for the council and for charities as well as increasing textiles recycling and decreasing the contamination in the silver bins. Unfortunately, the Chair refused to allow a recommendation that Officers be allowed to proceed with implementation, even of a pilot scheme, saying that all such recommendations have to follow the process of being added to the workplan, subject to a written report to committee, recommendation to Cabinet before any action is taken. I argued that it is this kind of pointless bureaucracy that gives local government a bad name.
The committee also discussed the continued lack of progress on street-lighting but I cannot tell you what was said because a majority of members voted that the press and public should be excluded from that part of the meeting. I have asked the Monitoring Officer to adjudicate on whether this was a correct and legal decision.
As we approach the end of term, it is interesting to compare Councillors’ attendance at formal meetings.
As ever, if you need more information on anything within this report, please do get in touch.
Cllr Ashley Baxter
Market and West Deeping Ward