Agenda and minutes

Council
Tuesday, 28th April 2020 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Committee Room B. View directions

Contact: Debbie Chambers, Democratic Services - telephone (01524) 582057 or email  dchambers@lancaster.gov.uk 

Note: Link to the meeting - you will need to have downloaded Microsoft Teams to view: - https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_Y2ZiYWE1MTEtY2U2Ny00OGQ4LTgzNjAtNDUzY2JmMGMyZjY3%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%2261b49b28-22c1-4c9b-8830-70288744880e%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%220da7cf21-4021-4eb1-b50b-5de1ed62368b%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d 

Items
No. Item

160.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

The Mayor welcomed Councillors and the public to the first meeting of full Council to be held remotely. He asked for patience whilst Members and Officers adapted to the new equipment and procedures.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Stephie Barber, Michael Mumford, Jack O’Dwyer-Henry, Faye Penny and Katie Whearty at this point.

 

Councillor Dennison presented apologies for Councillor Anderson later in the meeting under ‘Declarations of Interest’.

161.

MINUTES

To receive as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting of the City Council held on 18 March 2020 (previously circulated). 

Minutes:

It was proposed by Councillor Yates, seconded by Councillor Wood:

 

“That the minutes of the Council meeting held on 18 March 2020 be accepted as a correct record.”

 

Councillors present who had attended the March meeting confirmed their approval of the minutes.

 

Resolved:

 

That the minutes of the Council meeting held on 18 March 2020 be accepted as a correct record.

 

The Mayor noted that he would sign a paper copy of the minutes at the earliest opportunity for the Council minute-book.

162.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To receive declarations by Councillors of interests in respect of items on this Agenda. 

Councillors are reminded that, in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests. (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting). 

Whilst not a legal requirement, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9 and in the interests of clarity and transparency, Councillors should declare any disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, at this point in the meeting. 

In accordance with Part B Section 2 of the Code Of Conduct, Councillors are required to declare the existence and nature of any other interests as defined in paragraphs 8(1) or 9(2) of the Code of Conduct. 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Pritchard declared an interest that would require her to withdraw from Item 11, Mayor Making and the Annual Council Meeting, because the seniority list indicated that she might be invited to become Mayor in 2022/23.

 

At this point in the meeting, Councillor Lewis asked the Mayor if the meeting could be adjourned, because several Councillors were experiencing problems attending remotely. Councillor Gardiner seconded the request to adjourn, which the Mayor agreed to.

 

The meeting adjourned at 6.15pm, reconvening at 6.30pm.

 

Councillor Greenall declared an interest in relation to Item 11, Mayor Making and the Annual Council Meeting, because he was due to hold the office of Mayor in 2021/22.

 

At this point, it became clear that several Members using iPads were unable to join the meeting. Councillor Lewis suggested that these Members ‘pair’ themselves via phone call or facetime with Councillors who had remote access, so that they could contribute and be heard at the meeting using speakerphone.

 

The Mayor adjourned the meeting for a further five-minute break, to allow time for ‘pairing up’.

 

The meeting adjourned at 6.35pm, reconvening at 6.40pm.

 

 

163.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

To receive any announcements which may be submitted by the Mayor or Chief Executive.  

Minutes:

The Mayor conveyed his thanks to the NHS and other public services, care workers, volunteers and the community for their work in the fight against COVID-19. He noted that it was International Workers’ Memorial Day, commemorating those who have lost their lives at work, and that a one minute silence had been observed earlier in the day at 11am to remember NHS workers and carers who had lost their lives during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Council sent its thoughts to their families.

164.

QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC UNDER COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 11

To receive questions in accordance with the provisions of Council Procedure Rules 11.1 and 11.3 which require members of the public to give at least 3 days’ notice in writing of questions to a Member of Cabinet or Committee Chairman. 

Minutes:

No questions from the public had been received.

165.

PETITIONS AND ADDRESSES

To receive any petitions and/or addresses from members of the public which have been notified to the Chief Executive in accordance with the Council's Constitution. 

Minutes:

No petitions or addresses had been received.

166.

LEADER'S REPORT pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To receive the Cabinet Leader’s report on proceedings since the last meeting of Council (this report was marked “to follow”, and was published on 25 April 2020).

 

Minutes:

Councillors considered the Leader’s Report and additional information from the Leader, recently received, that the City Council would receive £1,443,734 of the £1.6 billion COVID-19 emergency funding for local authorities.

 

The Leader responded to questions from Councillors.

 

Resolved:

 

That the report be noted.

167.

Combined Authority for Lancashire with an Elected Mayor pdf icon PDF 271 KB

Report of the Chief Executive (this report was marked “to follow”, and was published on 25 April 2020).

Minutes:

The Leader presented a report of the Chief Executive to enable Council to form an in-principle decision regarding a Combined Authority for Lancashire, with an Elected Mayor.

 

Councillors asked a number of questions, which the Leader responded to.

 

Councillor Lewis, seconded by Councillor Gardiner, proposed:

 

“That Council supports ongoing work at a pan-Lancashire level to develop a model for a combined authority with a mayor.”

Following debate, a vote was taken. The proposition was clearly carried.

Resolved:

That Council supports ongoing work at a pan-Lancashire level to develop a model for a combined authority with a mayor.

 

 

 

 

 

168.

Remote Meetings - Procedure Rules pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Report of the Monitoring Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer had submitted a report setting out draft additional procedures for remote meetings for Council to consider and approve.

 

There were no questions. Councillor Reynolds moved:

 

“That the draft procedure rules for remote meetings (appended to the report), be approved for inclusion in the Constitution.”

 

Councillor Hanson seconded the motion, which was clearly carried when put to the vote.

 

Resolved:

 

That the draft procedure rules for remote meetings (appended to the report), be approved for inclusion in the Constitution.

 

(The procedure rules are appended to these minutes)

 

169.

Mayor Making and the Annual Council meeting pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Report of the Democratic Services Manager (this report was marked “to follow”, and was published on 23 April 2020).

Minutes:

Council considered a report of the Democratic Services Manager regarding Mayor Making and the Annual Council meeting 2020 in light of recently introduced regulations which had lifted the obligation to hold an annual meeting (the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020).

 

Councillor Black made the following proposition:

 

“That Council agrees to hold both of its annual council meetings scheduled for May 2020 at 6pm on Monday 18th May 2020.”

 

Councillor Hanson seconded the proposition, that both meetings be combined to take place on 18th May.

 

In response to a query, the Democratic Services Manager clarified that, if the proposition was carried, the customary celebratory meal for the new Mayor could be held at a point later in the year when it was deemed safe to hold such a large gathering.

 

After a short debate, a vote was taken. The proposition was carried unanimously.

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

That both of the City Council’s annual Council meetings scheduled for May 2020 be held at 6pm on Monday 18th May 2020.

 

 

 

170.

Six Month Attendance Rule (Section 85 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972) pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Report of the Democratic Services Manager (this report was marked “to follow”, and was published on 23 April 2020).

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager submitted a report to enable Council to consider extending the period of absence for any Councillor who was unable to attend meetings for a six-month period, for a further three-month period. This recommendation was to apply during the period when remote meetings were necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions, to avoid any unnecessary disqualifications from office.

 

The Leader asked about the extension period of three months, given that remote meetings may have to be in place for some time. The Democratic Services Manager clarified that a longer automatic extension period could be proposed. For example, Members may feel that six months would be preferable to three months. That would allow the usual six-month entitlement, plus an extra six- month extension automatically, if required.

 

Taking this information into account, Councillor Robinson proposed:

 

“That, during the period when remote meetings are necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions, any Councillor who becomes unable to attend meetings of the authority for six months will automatically have their period of absence extended for a further six months by Council. This is pursuant to Section 85 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972.”

 

Councillor Wood seconded the proposition.

 

There was no debate. The proposition was carried unanimously when put to the vote.

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

That, during the period when remote meetings are necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions, any Councillor who becomes unable to attend meetings of the authority for six months will automatically have their period of absence extended for a further six months by Council. This is pursuant to Section 85 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972.”

 

171.

QUESTIONS UNDER COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 12

To receive questions in accordance with the provisions of Council Procedure Rules 12.2 and 12.4 which require a Member to give at least 3 working days’ notice, in writing, of the question to the Chief Executive. 

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Councillors that one question on notice had been received for the meeting, from Councillor Dant to Councillor Whitehead, as follows:

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the work of Lancaster City Council as it has responded to the crisis in supporting its residents with food parcels, information and the coordination of volunteer efforts. The cost of this support together with the suspension of parking charges, the closure of leisure services and the foregoing of substantial amounts of rent and rate income mean that the budget agreed in February is going to need substantial revision. The impact of the lockdown on the economy of the UK as a whole will have a significant and lasting effect on business and commerce and there is every likelihood that the world economy will enter a recession.

 

Nonetheless, to my surprise, some aspects of the Council’s work have continued regardless of these changed circumstances. Under the Chief Executive’s ‘urgent business’ powers, a decision was taken on the 17th March to purchase commercial property in Morecambe as part of the Property Investment Strategy and the Capital Finance Strategy Group have since pursued investment in other commercial property.

 

On 30th January 2019, Full Council approved a Property Investment Strategy to buy land with sitting commercial tenants whose rent would provide an income to the Council to help meet its funding gap. On the 18th December 2019 Full Council approved a major uplift in the amount the Council can borrow (the total figure was not specified in the minutes) in order to purchase a series of commercial properties identified by the Capital Strategy Group. To date the investment strategy has been focussed solely on purchasing property currently occupied by commercial businesses paying rent.

 

In the light of the substantial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the Council’s budget and the likely effect on the UK economy including local commercial businesses, will the Portfolio Holder for Finance suspend the Investment Property Strategy agreed by Full Council on the 30th January 2019 and seek a review of that strategy to be undertaken by the Budget and Performance Panel?

 

Councillor Whitehead responded:

 

First of all, I should like to thank Council Officers for their quick and decisive action and tremendous efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic to support vulnerable people and businesses in our district, whilst maintaining vital frontline services as much as possible.

 

This pandemic will inevitably have a financial impact on residents, businesses, public sector organisations, charities, and the community and voluntary sectors. As a Council, we will incur costs related to the pandemic as well as losses due to reduced income from council tax, business rates and fees and charges. Today, Central Government have offered the Council approximately £1.4 million towards our costs.

 

Over the last few years, the value of all usable reserves increased significantly, and we are more financially resilient than some other Councils. That is why we were able to allocate  £2million of reserves to help mitigate the impact of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 171.