Venue: Council Chamber, The Arc, Clowne
Contact: Nicola Calver Governance Manager
Apologies For Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Tracey Cannon, Anne Clarke, Tricia Clough, Paul Cooper and David Downes.
The Chair stated he would use this item to allow Members to speak on the sad passing of Councillor James Watson.
Councillor Ross Walker paid tribute to Councillor James Watson by describing him as his friend who he had achieved many things with. He called Councillor James Watson a special and unique man the likes of which he would never meet again, and added how much of a powerful figure he was at Council meetings in his pursuit of truth and justice.
Councillor Mary Dooley expressed her sincere condolences and stated that all Members were thinking of Councillor James Watson’s family and friends during this sad time.
Councillor Allan Bailey thanked Councillor Ross Walker for his kind tribute and expressed his condolences to the family of Councillor James Watson.
The Chair asked Members to observe a minute of silence in memory of Councillor James Watson.
Declarations of Interest
Members should declare the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and Non Statutory Interest as defined by the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of:
a) any business on the agenda
b) any urgent additional items to be considered
c) any matters arising out of those items
and if appropriate, withdraw from the meeting at the relevant time.
No declarations of interest were received.
To receive any announcements that the Chair of the Council may desire to lay before the meeting.
The Chair had no announcements.
To approve the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 16th September
The minutes were moved by Councillor Chris Kane and seconded by Councillor Rita Turner.
RESOLVED that the minutes of a meeting of Council held on 16th September 2020 be approved as a true and correct record
Questions from the Public
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8, to allow members of the public to ask questions about the Council’s activities for a period of up to fifteen minutes. A question may only be asked if notice of seven clear working days has been given.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8, Members of the Public were able to ask questions to an Executive Member about the Council’s activities for a period of up to 15 minutes.
The Chair indicated that no questions had been submitted.
Questions from Members
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9, to allow Members to ask questions about Council activities. A question may only be asked if notice of seven clear working days has been given.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9, Members of Council were able to ask questions about the Council’s activities to either the Chair of the Council, the Chairman of a specific Committee or a relevant Portfolio Holder.
The Chair indicated that no questions had been submitted.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10, to consider motions on notice from Members.
Motion submitted by Councillor Ross Walker
Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant hardship in our
communities; help provided to young people needing emotional
support at secondary school has been drastically curtailed.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10, Councillors were able to submit Motions on Notice for consideration at this meeting.
The Chair noted that one motion had been submitted by Councillor Ross Walker.
a) Motion from Councillor Ross Walker:
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant hardship in our communities; help provided to young people needing emotional support at secondary school has been drastically curtailed.
Council resolves to encourage the Executive to engage with every Secondary School within the District to explore how the Council can help fill this gap in provision and therefore help our young people to better succeed at school.
Councillor Ross Walker moved the motion, and believed mental health issues in schools were rife in the pandemic. He stated that Derbyshire County Council had removed £8.5m from its child health budget and he felt children with mental health issues were being let down as a result. He added his belief that Bolsover District Council needed to act now to help support these children.
Councillor Derek Adams seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.
Councillor Allan Bailey spoke on the motion and stated he would support it. He felt children were struggling greatly during the pandemic, and the impact on their mental wellbeing might not be fully understood until years into the future.
Councillor Dan Salt spoke on the motion and stated he would support it. He believed children have fragile minds, so we needed to look after these children because they would make up the next generation.
Councillor Deborah Watson spoke on the motion and said she would not support it. She stated that she completely agreed with the sentiment of the motion about protecting children, but education in the County was the responsibility of Derbyshire County Council so Bolsover District Council stepping in to provide alternative support was impossible.
Councillor Natalie Hoy wished to ask Councillor Ross Walker if he had spoken directly to Derbyshire County Council about the issue. The Chair indicated that a response to this question would be provided once Members had spoken on the motion.
Councillor Sandra Peake spoke on the motion. She stated that she sympathised with the matter, but reiterated the statement made by Councillor Deborah Watson that it was the responsibility of Derbyshire County Council and school governors. She added that Bolsover District Council had already done many recent things to support children, like setting up the Young Voice Youth Council, raising money for YoungMinds mental health charity and employing a family practitioner.
The Chair wished to add to this point as the school governor of a Primary School, stating his hope that the needs of children at Primary School level were not overlooked.
Councillor Mary Dooley spoke on the motion and said she agreed with many of Councillor Ross Walker’s points, adding that as a school governor herself, it was becoming increasingly difficult to have any influence on secondary schools since they became academies. She felt that Bolsover District Council was doing as much as it ... view the full minutes text for item CL37-20/21
Report of the Portfolio Holder – Corporate Governance
Councillor Duncan McGregor (Deputy Leader of the Council) presented a report seeking approval of the draft Agile Working Policy. He stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had drastically changed how people worked, and the policy would aim to make Working from Home processes simpler for managers and employees, fit the corporate context and supportive working environment the Council has in place, and adhere to legislation and Best Practice guidelines. He added that the Agile Working Policy drafted before the pandemic was now not fit for purpose.
Councillor Duncan McGregor informed Members that the draft Policy had been unable to go to Union/Employee Consultation Committee for consideration, but Trade Unions had been consulted with on its content, as had SAMT and the New Ways of Working Group.
Councillor Duncan McGregor outlined the reasons for recommending the draft Policy such as providing clear direction for managers when undertaking people management processes, services and supporting employees and other stakeholders in the workplace.
The Chair invited questions from Members on the content of the draft Policy.
Councillor Sandra Peake referred to the Policy’s risk assessment and asked if employees were able to take home adjustable seats from the office, and it was confirmed that they were. She also asked if provisions would be in place for making sure employees have home insurance to protect equipment and the Human Resources and Organisational Development Manager explained that employees would be asked for information about home insurance arrangements.
Councillor Deborah Watson believed the Policy would tie employees down for twelve months, which she felt would be an area of concern in such rapidly changing times, so she could only support the proposals if this was a six month period instead. She added that current Working from Home arrangements had resulted in contact issues.
N.B - At this point Councillor Dexter Bullock joined the meeting.
Councillor Liz Smyth referred to the part in the ‘Principles of Agile Working’ section, which noted that employees would be contactable at all times. She asked if there would be some sort of calendar sharing system so Members could see if other officers were available in a department in the absence of their colleagues.
Councillor Derek Adams had data protection and GDPR related concerns about confidential papers being stored at homes, because children and family members could possibly see them. He also asked if for the compressed hours part of the Policy, provisions to continue service delivery were in place if a number of officers in a department choose the same day to not work.
Councillor Andrew Joesbury expressed concerns that the Policy had not been considered by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee or the Union/Employee Consultation Committee. He also shared Councillor Deborah Watson’s concerns that the Policy appeared to be setting working arrangements in stone during times that were changing constantly.
Councillor Maxine Dixon expressed concerns that if an employee wanted to take their adjustable chair and were spending half their time in the office and half at home, they might have to ... view the full minutes text for item CL38-20/21
Report of the Leader of the Council
The link to the appendix will be circulated in a supplementary pack.
Councillor Steve Fritchley (Leader of the Council) presented a report to Members updating them on Vision Derbyshire/Local Government Reform and seeking their approval of the report’s five recommendations.
Councillor Steve Fritchley explained that the recommendations sought to continue to engage with other Councils in Derbyshire, but to not give away the Council’s sovereignty as part of the Vision Derbyshire ‘Case for Change’.
The recommendations were moved by Councillor Steve Fritchley and seconded by Councillor Ray Heffer.
Councillor Mary Dooley thanked Councillor Steve Fritchley for his hard work in liaising with Derbyshire Councils about the ‘Case for Change’. She felt that the Case for Change in its current form was incomplete and would lead to job losses, which is why she would support the report’s recommendations.
Councillor Graham Parkin stated he would support the report’s recommendations and asked Councillor Steve Fritchley if all members of the Vision Derbyshire stakeholder group had an equal say. Councillor Steve Fritchley felt that although he seemed like a lone voice as part of the group, he believed he did get a fair say.
Councillor Duncan McGregor stated he would support the report’s recommendations and he believed that some of the financial ideas proposed by the group would lead to financially secure local authorities like Bolsover District Council propping up others that were not. He added his belief that government should be kept local.
Councillor Natalie Hoy stated she would support the report’s recommendations because she felt it was important that all of the Councils involved get the Case for Change right. She thanked Councillor Steve Fritchley for always being willing to discuss matters like this.
Councillor David Dixon stated he would support the report’s recommendations because he felt the Case for Change would risk jobs and local representation.
On being put to the vote it was RESOLVED that Council:
(i) Notes the update on Vision Derbyshire.
(ii) Rejects Vision Derbyshire and the Case for Change at this time.
(iii) Notes the Government’s plans to publish a White Paper on Devolution and Local Recovery and the potential implications for local government reform in Derbyshire.
(iv) Notes the announcement (extract at 1.3.2 of the report) from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Robert Jenrick) made recently in relation to local government reform.
(v) Authorises the Leader of the Council to continue to engage with other Councils across Derbyshire on the issue of devolution and working collaboratively and to report back to Council any alternative proposals that emerge.
(Head of Leader’s Executive/Governance Manager)
Report of The Leader of the Council
The Director of Environment and Enforcement and the Director of Development left the meeting for discussion of this item.
Councillor Steve Fritchley (Leader of the Council) presented a report seeking to continue with the Senior Management arrangements put in place in March 2020 and continue with a structure with no Chief Executive Officer. It also proposed that a further report be presented to Council in due course on the role of the Head of Paid Service.
The recommendations in the report were moved by Councillor Steve Fritchley and seconded by Councillor Duncan McGregor.
On being put to the vote it was RESOLVED that:
(i) The Authority continues with the arrangements that have been put in place since March 2020 and with a formal management structure that doesn’t include a Chief Executive Officer.
(ii) With effect from the 1st September 2020 the Directors receive an increase in salary of £2000 per annum (pro rata for the joint Directors) to the top of the pay grade to reflect additional responsibility as a result of removing the Chief Executive Officer’s post from the establishment.
(iii) A further report is presented to Council in due course on the role of the Head of Paid Service.
(Head of Leader’s Executive/Governance Manager)
Exclusion of the Public
That the public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of the following items of business to avoid the disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, (as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006). [The category of exempt information is stated below each item].
Before the exclusion of the public was moved, Councillor Ross Walker asked the Chair if he could read out an additional tribute to Councillor James Watson on behalf of the absent Councillor Tracey Cannon. The Chair accommodated the request.
Message from Councillor Tracey Cannon:
“After careful consideration and with great sadness, I feel unable to attend this meeting. Councillor James Watson has been both a great friend and an ally of mine over the years, and at this moment in time I am still coming to terms with this extremely sudden and sad loss. In my opinion, Councillor Watson upheld the highest standards of public life. In public office, he carried an intellect and courage to challenge for the greater good and remain true to his principles. I feel that many of us can learn from James’s approach. James did not carry hypocritical and false sincerity. Rest in peace, Councillor James Watson. You will be truly missed.”
Councillor Tom Munro moved and Councillor Mary Dooley seconded that the public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of the following items of business to avoid the disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006).
On being put to the vote it was RESOLVED that the public be excluded from the meeting during discussion of the following items of business.
Culverts Remedial Works at Pleasley Vale Business Park
Report of the Portfolio Holder - Housing and Community Safety
(Exempt – Paragraph 3)
Councillor Liz Smyth presented a report to Members proposing that work is addedto the Capital Programme for 20/21 to allow the Facilities team to appoint OnSite Central Ltd to carry out identified culvert remedial works at Pleasley Vale Business Park for the sum of £105,000.00.
On being put to the vote it was RESOLVED that this work be added to the Capital Programme for 20/21 to allow the Facilities team to appoint OnSite Central Ltd to carry out identified culvert remedial works at Pleasley Vale Business Park for the sum of £105,000.00.
(Section 151 Officer)
Chairman's Closing Remarks
The Chair thanked everybody in attendance for their contributions on the passing of Councillor James Watson.
Councillor Mary Dooley wished to place on record her thanks to Aldi for providing free mince pies to the vulnerable.