Venue: Council Chamber, 13 Church Street, Clitheroe, BB7 2DD
Contact: Michelle Smith
Rev A Froud opened the meeting with prayers.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence from the meeting were received on behalf of Councillors D Berryman, I Brown, S Carefoot, R Elms and K Horkin.
Declarations of disclosable pecuniary, other registrable and non registrable interests
There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary, other registrable or non-registrable interests.
Public participation session
There was no public participation.
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2022 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Mayor reported on the events he had attended since the last meeting.
Presentation of RV Plaque to Past Mayor Cllr S Brunskill
The Mayor presented Councillor Brunskill with a Ribble Valley plaque in recognition of her role as Past Mayor.
Long Service Awards for staff
The Mayor made a presentation to Chris Shuttleworth, who had retired from his post of Emergency Planning Officer at the beginning of the year, after 50 years of service. Chris has spent his entire working life with the Council and its predecessor, Clitheroe Borough Council.
The Mayor also made presentations to staff who had achieved 25 years’ service with the Council. He presented gifts to:
· Mark Edmondson – Head of Revenues and Benefits;
· Michelle Haworth – Principal Policy and Performance Officer.
The Mayor thanked the staff for their loyalty and commitment to the Council and for all their dedicated work over the years.
Report of Director of Resources enclosed.
Consideration was given to the written report of the Director of Resources concerning the budget for 2022/23 and the setting of the different amounts of Council Tax for different parts of the Council’s area where special items applied (Parish Precepts).
The report set out the budget summary of the financial year 2022/2023 which contained details of revenue and capital requirements. Approval of the budget proposals contained in the report was proposed by Councillor S Atkinson and seconded by Councillor S Hore.
The Leader presented his budget speech outlining the key economic issues that had been taken into account in setting the budget. He was pleased that it was proposed to remove the 12% reduction in support to working age local council tax support claimants.
As a consequence, Policy and Finance Committee had recommended a £5 increase in Council Tax for the financial year 2022/23.
The Leader recommended the Council’s budget and Council Tax for 2022/2023.
The Leader expressed his thanks for the time and effort Committee, Officers and the Budget Working Group had dedicated to achieving the budget as presented.
In supporting the proposals, Councillor Fletcher hoped that the Council would retain ownership of the Over 60’s premises in Longridge and the former Salvation Army premises in Clitheroe. He also hoped that the Council’s Discretionary Council TaxRebate funding would be targeted at those most vulnerable residents.
The following Members voted for the motion:
The motion was carried unanimously.
RESOLVED: That the Council:
1. approve the following submitted by the Policy and Finance Committee:
a) the revised estimates of 2021/22 and the revenue estimates for 2022/23;
b) the revised capital programme for 2021/22 and the forward capital programme for 2022/23 to 2024/25.
2. approve the Prudential indicators, borrowing limits and MRP Policy Statement as set out in Annex 1 of the report;
3. note that under delegated powers in accordance with Section 84 of the Local Government Finance Act 2003, the Council determined the following amounts for 2022/23, in accordance with the Local Authority’s (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulation 1992 (as amended) as its Council Tax base for the year:
a) 24,553 being the amount of its Council Tax Base for the whole district [item T and the formula in Section 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended (the Act)], and
The Leader began by expressing his support for the people of the Ukraine, in light of recent events. He reported that he had had a briefing from the Housing Strategy Officer on how the Council might be involved in supporting refugees coming to the Ribble Valley.
The Leader also said that the Council’s thoughts were with residents and families who had been affected by a house fire on Queen Street in Whalley earlier in the day. This had affected 5 households and the Council had been involved in helping with residents find alternative accommodation.
The Leader reminded Members that at the last Council meeting, it had been unanimously agreed to take forward the County deal to Government. He noted that the Levelling Up white paper had been published on 2 February 2022 and that Lancashire’s request as agreed, did not fit the governance structures that the Council had voted for but he was pleased to report that after further discussions the agreed position was to take forward the deal that had been presented to Council to Government.
The Leader reported that the Government had announced that the replacement to the European Regional Development Funding would be known as the UK Shares Prosperity Funding UK. Unlike the European Funding, there would be an allocation to every lower tier Council, although like the existing European Funding, the most deprived areas would receive a higher allocation, however the Council was expected to receive a multi-year funding package soon.
The Leader went on to update Members on a recent meeting with Lancashire County Council’s Leader and Chief Executive to discuss a number of matters relating to Ribble Valley.
Finally, the Leader updated Members on a recent TV commission which had been filmed in the borough and was due to be aired on TV in June and a project to shoot a major feature film in the borough. He noted the importance of such projects to our visitor economy and thanked all the officers who had worked hard to deliver the projects.
Leader's Question Time
The Leader of the opposition, Councillor Fletcher, asked the Leader how the Council would help and support those directly affected by the current conflict in the Ukraine.
The Leader thanked Councillor Fletcher for his question and confirmed that the Council would support a wider Refugee Settlement Programme if one was introduced by the Government.
He noted that currently there were two visa schemes, one for those with family links in the United Kingdom and another for refugees sponsored by Churches and Community Groups. He awaited details of how the sponsorship scheme would work. He noted that the situation was a very fast moving humanitarian crisis and one that the Council would be watching closely to see how it could help.
In a supplementary question, Councillor Fletcher asked if the Council could agree to send a letter of support to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people. The Leader confirmed that, with the Council’s support, he would send a letter of support to the Ukrainian Embassy on the Council’s behalf.
Next Councillor Fletcher noted that Suffolk County Council had taken the decision to sever ties with the Russian owned energy company Gazprom and other Council’s were taking similar measures. He asked if the Leader could confirm whether the Council had any contracts with Russian suppliers, and if so, was it looking for alternatives.
The Leader confirmed that the Council was reviewing all its contracts to see if there are any links with Russian businesses. The Council’s gas supplier had already confirmed that they had no trading or other relationships with Gazprom or Russia.
Finally, Councillor Fletcher referred Members to a quote from the official record of Parliamentary Proceedings (Hansard) from 1957 which noted investigations that had been taken into excessive pollution in the Ribble Valley. Councillor Fletcher noted that the borough was still experiencing unacceptable levels of pollution in its watercourses and asked how the Council could pressure the Environment Agency into taking action. The Leader noted that where cases of pollution were brought to the attention of the Council they were reported to the Environment Agency, although he had found that recent response to any such incidents had not been as comprehensive as in the past. He was hopeful that a representative from the Environment Agency would attend a meeting of Health and Housing Committee in the near future to discuss concerns with pollution in the Ribble Valley.
To receive and consider, where appropriate, the minutes of the committees since the last meeting (items marked *** are referred to Council for decision).
1. Planning & Development committee – 6 January 2022
2. Community Services committee – 11 January 2022
3. Personnel committee – 12 January 2022
4. Health and Housing committee – 13 January 2022
5. Policy & Finance committee – 18 January 2022
6. Economic Development committee – 20 January 2022
7. Emergency committee – 25 January 2022
8. Parish Councils Liaison committee – 27 January 2022
9. Licensing committee – 1 February 2022
10. Accounts & Audit committee – 2 February 2022
11. Planning and Development committee – 10 February 2022
12. Special Policy & Finance committee – 22 February 2022
That the minutes of the above committees be received with the exception of Minute numbers 557 and 650.
Minute 557 – Pay Policy Statement
That the Council approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2022/23.
Minute 650 – Opting into the National Scheme for External Auditors Appointments
That the Council accepts Public Sector Audit Appointments invitation to opt into the sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors to principal local government and police bodies for five financial years from 1 April 2023.
Exclusion of press and public
There were no items of business under this heading.