Venue: Council Chamber, 13 Church Street, Clitheroe, BB7 2DD
Contact: Olwen Heap
The meeting began with a minute’s silence in respect of Councillor Brian Holden, who had recently died.
The Leader paid tribute to Councillor Holden stating that he was a man of integrity and a great strategic thinker who was committed to the Council, Longridge and his family. It was noted that Councillor Holden’s active participation in debates about investing in Longridge will leave a lasting legacy, of which his wife and family can be proud of.
The Leader of the Opposition reiterated the comments of the Leader and offered condolences to Councillor Holden’s friends and family.
Rev L McLean then opened the meeting with prayers
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence from the meeting were received on behalf of Councillors B Buller, I Brown, G Hibbert, J Hill, S Hore and R Sherras.
The minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2022 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
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.
The Mayor reported on a wide range of events that he had attended since the last meeting.
Report of Director of Resources enclosed
Consideration was given to the report of the Director of Resources which informed the Members of the meeting with national non-domestic rate (NNDR) representatives about the Council’s 2023/24 budget proposals.
This year’s meeting was held on 22 February 2023 and was attended by Whalley Chamber of Trade.
Report of Director of Resources
The Director of Resources submitted a report setting the budget for 2023/24 and to set the different amounts of council tax for different parts of the area where special items apply (Parish precepts).
The report set out the budget summary of the financial year 2023/24 which contained details of revenue and capital requirements.
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 despite a £5 increase in Council tax, the Council still has the lowest District Council tax in the North of England. He reported that there have been no cuts to service, there remains weekly waste collections and no charges for collection of green waste.
The Leader noted that whilst a key element of the Council’s funding has been significantly reduced in recent years, the Council is still financially strong with significant reserves. He was pleased that a balanced budget was being presented.
The Leader expressed gratitude to the Director of Resources and the Officers for the well prepared report.
Approval of the budget proposals contained in the report was proposed by Councillor S Atkinson and seconded by Councillor A Brown.
The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor S Fletcher, proposed on an amendment to the budget to include the building of solar panels on the Council office building and at Roefield. The Leader agreed with this amendment and it became part of the substantive motion put forward.
Councillor D Berryman then proposed a further amendment, stating that rather than building the solar panels on the Council office building and at Roefield immediately, that the issue should first be referred to the Climate Change working group for consideration.
A recorded vote was taken on the budget amendment.
The amendment was carried.
Members then returned to the amended substantive motion. A recorded vote was taken.
The Leader stated that the previous agenda items discussed lay out the challenges to Local Government finance and that there are serious issues if there is not meaningful reform in the proposed Local Government Finance review at the start of the next Parliament. As part of making sure that this review is fit for purpose, the Leader has asked MP Nigel Evans to arrange a meeting with the Minister.
The Leader was pleased that the Council has been fiscally conservative, compared with some other Borough Councils that are now heavily in debt.
The Leader noted that despite all the ongoing financial challenges, the Policy Finance Committee and Community Committee will be providing grants of nearly £100,000 to community and voluntary organisations in the coming month.
The Leader reported that the Council has also started spending the first year’s allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, with a further £200,000 allocated for Longridge. This brings the total investment in capital schemes to £680,000, including the Kestor Lane play area that was completed recently.
The Leader confirmed that there has been a recommendation from the working group for £800,000 for Clitheroe and £400,000 for Whalley. He urged the residents of Whalley to come up with a deliverable scheme by October 2023 so that a significant opportunity is not missed for them.
The Leader reported that the Council is still awaiting details of the rural elements of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to enable investments in the villages around the Ribble Valley.
The Leader confirmed that this year the Clitheroe Food Festival is being enhanced to a week long event, now called the Ribble Valley Taste Fest. This will incorporate themed walks, cheese making demonstrations, brewery tours, gin tasting at farms and food venues through the Borough.
The Leader went on to report that the Council will be trialling Bio Diesel for our Diesel vehicles next month, and if successful, it will reduce the Council carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90%. Subject to the Climate Change working group, the Council will be looking to build solar panels on the Council offices and at Roefield. He reminded Members that the Council needs to continually focus on improvements in efficiency to support the revenue budget and this has started with the E-recruitment system.
The Leader reiterated that the most important relationship the Council has is with its residents and a people’s survey has been conducted. The results of which will help the Council to inform overriding strategies for the benefit of the residents in the future.
The Leader advised that Ribble Valley residents continue to benefit from the Household Support Fund and the Council will be working with the Government to conduct the required checks for the prompt release of £400 payments for Energy Bill Support Scheme.
The Leader reported that last year the Grade 2 listed Punch Bowl was demolished without planning permission. Ribble Valley enforced the rebuilding of this pub but the applicant appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. The Leader was pleased ... view the full minutes text for item 757.
Leader's Question Time
The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Fletcher, stated that he had never missed a meeting of Clitheroe Town Council and could say with confidence that the Town Council were not consulted regarding the works that have recently taken place on King Street. Councillor Fletcher asked the Leader if Ribble Valley Borough Council were consulted, and if not, when and how were the Council informed.
The Leader confirmed that the Council was not consulted. He advised that the Council received a standard letter from Lancashire County Council confirming that works were going to take place. The letter was received approximately one week before work commenced.
In a supplementary question, Councillor Fletcher asked if the Leader would agree that the lack of communication from Lancashire County Council does not bode well for any future, hypothetical, collaborative projects.
The Leader confirmed that he attends the Lancashire Leaders Meeting and he has asked for this to be put on the agenda for Lancashire 2050.
Next Councillor Fletcher noted that the Council has worked hard to publicise the new requirements for voter ID in the upcoming elections, and to provide the opportunity for those without ID to obtain it free of charge. However, he noted that, at national level, the take up of such schemes appears to be very low. He asked the Leader if the Government should be doing more if they actually want people to vote. He also asked how many applications for voter ID had the Council received so far.
The Leader confirmed that the Government has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the need for voter ID in advance of the elections in May 2023. He understood that this will include television adverts and advertising space in newspapers and on billboards. The Leader assumed that the intensity of this will increase as the elections and the deadlines to apply for a vote authentication certificate approach. The Leader further confirmed that the Council has received 13 applications for voter authentication certificates to date.
In a supplementary question, Councillor Fletcher noted that those without internet access are currently required to bring photos with them when applying for ID. He asked if the Council can offer to take these photographs for applicants and to remove a financial impediment for something that is intended to be free.
The Leader stated that the Council is conscious to ensure that all of the electorate is able to obtain a voter authentication certificate if they require one and has already put in place arrangements to allow the election staff to take photographs for applicants.
Finally Councillor Fletcher stated that not only are paper agendas extremely wasteful, if handled injudiciously they may inadvertently allow for the unauthorised sharing of sensitive information. Given the successful roll-out of new devices, he asked the Leader if the Council could now dispense with paper agendas.
The Leader advised that the Council is committed to ensuring that it is run in an efficient and cost-effective manner and of its commitment to reducing ... view the full minutes text for item 758.
To receive and consider, where appropriate, the minutes of the committees since the last meeting (items marked *** are referred to Council for decision).
1. Policy and Finance Sub-Committee – 2 December 2022
2. Licensing Sub-Committee – 15 December 2022
3. Community Services Committee – 10 January 2023
4. Planning and Development Committee – 12 January 2023
5. Policy and Finance Sub-Committee – 16 January 2023
6. Personnel Committee – 18 January 2023
7. Health and Housing Committee – 19 January 2023
8. Policy and Finance Committee – 24 January 2023
9. Economic Development Committee – 26 January 2023
10. Policy and Finance Sub-Committee – 31 January 2023
11. Licensing Committee – 31 January 2023
12. Parish Councils Liaison Committee – 24 June 2023
13. Licensing Sub-Committee – 3 February 2023
14. Accounts and Audit Committee – 8 February 2023
15. Special Policy and Finance Committee – 14 February 2023
16. Planning and Development Committee – 16 February 2023
17. Accounts and Audit Sub-Committee – 17 February 2023
That the minutes of the above committees be received with the exception of Minutes numbers 599, 638, 642 and 676.
Minute 599 – Pay Policy Statement 2023/24
That the Council approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2023/24.
Minute 638 – Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2023/24
That the Council approve the Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2023/24 with minor changes to keep it in line with the Housing Benefit Scheme and uprate applicable amounts and premiums etc
Minute 642 – Amendment to Committee meeting schedule
That the Council approve the date for Policy and Finance Committee to be amended from 4 April 2023 to 28 March 2023.
Minute 676 – Amendment to Committee meeting schedule
That the Council approve the date for Licensing Committee to be amended from 28 March 2023 to 21 March 2023.
Exclusion of press and public
There were no items of business under this heading.