Agenda and minutes

Council - Tuesday, 21st September 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: The Alive Church, Newland, Lincoln, LN1 1XG

Contact: Cheryl Evans, Democratic Services and Elections Manager  (01522 873439)

Items
No. Item

16.

Mayoral Announcements

Minutes:

Mayor’s Engagements

 

The Mayor referred to her engagements since the last meeting of Council, which had included:

 

·         the opening of the St John’s Ambulance Service Training Centre, by HRH the Princess Royal;

·         the Digby Annual Families Day;

·         the Royal Anglian Regiment’s Day at Duxford;

·         Army benevolent fundraising evenings;

·         an event to mark the completion of works at Boultham Park; and

·         the Autumn Fair at the Arboretum.   

17.

Confirmation of Minutes - 27 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 27 July 2021 be confirmed. 

 

(Note:Councillors Matthew Fido and Naomi Tweddle requested that it be recorded that they had abstained from the vote, as they were not present at the meeting on the 27 July 2021.)

18.

Declarations of Interest

Please note that, in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct, when declaring interests members must disclose the existence and nature of the interest, and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) or personal and/or pecuniary.

Minutes:

Councillors Tom Dyer, Hilton Spratt and Eddie Strengiel declared a personal interest in Minute 22 (Business and Planning Act 2020), by virtue of their membership of Lincolnshire County Council.

19.

Receive Any Questions under Council Procedure Rule 11 from Members of the Public and Provide Answers thereon

Minutes:

Question from Helen Young

 

Given the humanitarian crisis happening in Afghanistan and the arrival of refugees to the UK, will Lincoln City be co-ordinating an effort to help them? I only ask as I have been on the gov.uk website: https://www.help-refugees-uk.service.gov.uk/ where you can look up different local authorities within the different areas of the country, and state what type of support you can give, but Lincoln is not listed.  Thank you for your time regarding this question. 

 

Reply from Councillor Ric Metcalfe, the Leader of the Council

 

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, the Leader of the Council, replied that the Council had been working closely with all district councils and the County Council to respond to the request for helping people evacuated from Afghanistan over the last few weeks.  All key partners, including local authorities, adult care, children's services, health and education were part of an existing partnership, which was co-ordinated by North Kesteven District Council.  The partnership had come together to ensure a comprehensive and consistent response was provided across Lincolnshire.

 

The City Council, Councillor Metcalfe continued, had a good record responding to this type of crisis.  In this case the City Council had responded to the government's request to source some longer term accommodation and the Council was waiting for the Home Office to match three families to the three properties, which the Council had sourced to date in Lincoln.    All evacuees had been accommodated in a hotel for quarantine purposes on arrival in the UK and were gradually being relocated to other hotels across the country.  There were two hotels being used by the Home Office in Lincolnshire to accommodate families pending their offer of more settled accommodation. 

 

Councillor Metcalfe explained that with respect to donations, it was no surprise that the Council had been inundated by offers from a vast range of sources from the faith sector to individual members of the public.  The Council had been taken aback by people's kindness and generosity.  The partnership had agreed that there was a need to make sure that the right things were being collected; and donations had to be collected and distributed in a co?ordinated way to ensure Afghan families were helped quickly and correctly.  Many of the families had fled their country with absolutely nothing.  

 

A hub and spoke arrangement had been set up across the county.  Colleagues at Compassionate Lincoln were co?ordinating the collection of donations in Lincoln and they would be transferred to areas where items were required.  Grantham Churches Together was also playing a role in distributing items across the county. 

 

Donations of help would be appreciated over the next few months.  There was a need to make sure the items donated matched the requirements of the families. The Council looked forward to giving a warm welcome to the families.

 

Supplementary

 

Helen Young asked where all the information that had been reported could be found, for example where not only useful items, but also volunteer time could be donated, as people were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Receive Any Questions under Council Procedure Rule 12 from Members and Provide Answers thereon

Minutes:

Councillor Tom Dyer to Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council

 

Question

 

Can the Leader outline how the reduction in supply and thus increase in material costs have impacted City Council capital projects?

 

Reply

 

Councillor Ric Metcalfe stated that the City Council's capital projects had of course been impacted as a result of the current challenges in the construction sector, particularly around the supply of skilled labour, the availability of materials and their costs, which had been affected by inflation.  The Council's officers continued to work hard to minimise these impacts. 

 

Much depended on the relationship between the Council and its contractors and the Council was fortunate in that it had good contractor relationships, such that the Council could work collaboratively with them to minimise the impact of cost increases.  For example, the sorts of things that could be used were: rescheduling the programme to absorb delays; changing materials where appropriate; accepting some delay without imposing a time penalty, so the contractor would not charge more to reflect the increase in costs; the use of contingency sums, which were always included in contracts; and looking for a quid pro quo from contractors, to share any escalation of costs.

 

Inevitably some projects had been or would be delayed in terms of completion dates, leading to some cost impacts.  All of these would be reported in the normal way; and the Council was doing all it could to minimise any impact.

 

Supplementary

 

Councillor Tom Dyer referred to the expectation that the shortage of materials would continue for the rest of 2021, with prices increasing further in the short term.  Between July 2020 and July 2021, the cost of materials had risen by circa 20%, according to the Office for National Statistics.  Councillor Dyer asked whether, assuming a major scheme such as the western growth corridor were to be approved later this year, the Leader of the Council could outline how the current market would impact on the Council's ability to deliver this project.  This was asked specifically because of the time-limited nature of the grants that would help fund the western growth corridor project.    

 

Reply

 

Councillor Ric Metcalfe stated that he would not be commenting on specific projects, such as the western growth corridor.  He made reference to the principle that where a contract referred to a fixed-price cost, any increase in costs would be met by the contractor.  An example of this was the contract for the crematorium, which was a fixed price contract.  Thus a large part of the answer was that it would depend on the content of the contract.

 

Supply issues would lead to delay in some programmes and would mean later completion dates, where rescheduling the programme and the use of contingencies within the programme could not be applied.  The De Wint Court contract was an example of this circumstance.  

 

In other projects, where there had been a negotiation of a fixed price for costs, the Council had either reached an overall agreed financial position without achieving  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Receive Reports under Council Procedure Rule 2 (vi) from Members

21a

Report by Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Portfolio Holder for Our People and Resources 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 803 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Portfolio Holder for Our People and Resources, presented his report to the Council which had been set out on pages 13 to 34 of the agenda.  Councillor Metcalfe paid tribute to the all Council's staff, who had risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic.  The Council had raised its game in terms of improving the wellbeing of staff. 

 

Councillor Metcalfe also referred to the improving budgetary position of the Council, when compared to twelve months before.  He stated he was confident that the budget could be balanced in the next two years.  He also stressed the importance of the 'one council' agenda, which would affect the delivery of all services. 

 

The Council was provided with an opportunity to ask questions, where the following points were noted:

 

  • Western Growth Corridor – The planning application for the Western Growth Corridor would be determined by the Council, sitting as the Planning Committee.  This was currently expected by the end of 2021 and all councillors would be offered a briefing on this.   
  • Towns Fund Bid – This represented a good example of partnership working, which had included Karl McCartney as the local MP, who had supported the process. 
  • Staff – It was important that all staff were thanked for their efforts during the pandemic.  Their work had provided an excellent example of the importance of local authorities and their links to local communities. 
  • Energy Costs – The Leader of the Council would advise Councillor Tom Dyer in writing of the arrangements for the Council's purchase of gas, together with any impact of recent price increases.  
  • Apprenticeships – The Council was proud of its longstanding support for the apprenticeship programme. 
  • Guildhall – The Council paid tribute to the Mayor's Officer, Richard Storey, who had represented the heritage of Lincoln, including the Guildhall, in a recent television programme called Britain’s Historic Towns on Channel 4. 
  • Greyfriars Regeneration Project – The project for the regeneration of the Greyfriars was welcomed, as it was an important building with a long and interesting history. 

 

The report was noted.

21b

Report by Councillor Chris Burke, Portfolio Holder for Customer Experience and Review 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 529 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Chris Burke, Portfolio Holder for Customer Experience and Review, presented his report to the Council which had been set out on pages 35 to 44 of the agenda.  Councillor Burke reiterated the tributes to staff for their efforts during the pandemic. 

 

The Council was provided with an opportunity to ask questions, where the following points were noted:

 

  • IT Costs – Councillor Chris Burke offered to provide a written answer to Councillor Tom Dyer on the costs of the roll-out of new IT equipment to staff and which budget this had been funded from.
  • Fix My Street App  - Councillor Chris Burke undertook to consider the use of the Fix My Street app for reporting matters within the City Council's remit. 

 

The report was noted.

21c

Report by Councillor Bob Bushell, Portfolio Holder for Remarkable Place 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 602 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Bob Bushell, Portfolio Holder for Remarkable Place, presented his report to the Council, which had been set out on pages 45 to 68 of the agenda.  Councillor Bushell added that on 20 September 2021 the Executive had approved an updated environmental policy, which would require all decision reports to include environmental implications.   Councillor Bushell also thanked staff and the Council's contractors who had continued to work hard during the challenges of the pandemic. 

 

The Council was provided with an opportunity to ask questions, where the following points were noted:

 

  • Parks and Open Space Maintenance – Reduced grass cutting had supported the increase in wildflowers. 
  • Boultham Park – A number of trees had been removed following the advice from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust, with a view encouraging more wildlife.  There was an intention to introduce a boating platform on the lake, which would be designed and managed to ensure it could not be misused.  Members of the Lincolnshire Angling Association, which controlled fishing from the lake, were also members of the Boultham Park advisory group. 
  • Hartsholme Country Park and Camp Site – A green flag was expected to be confirmed for Hartsholme Country Park during October 2021, which would be the third green flag park across the city.  Trees would continue to be maintained as and when required.  
  • Council's Investments – In response to a suggestion that the council invested into environmental schemes, rather than leaving money in reserves, it was advised that it was hoped that more investment could be made in environmentally sustainable schemes generally.
  • Syston Green – It was advised that a councillor had been informed by an officer that the cost of the required maintenance to Syston Green would exceed the reserves for unmaintained land.  However, this area was in need of maintenance.  Councillor Bushell undertook to investigate the issue of the maintenance of Syston Green.
  • Net Zero for Housing Revenue Account – A report from the Portfolio Holder for Housing had previously outlined the activities to reduce the carbon footprint of the housing function. 
  • Tree Survey – A tree survey was undertaken on a regular basis to ascertain whether any of the trees, including any newly planted trees, required maintenance.
  • Shortage of HGV Drivers – The national shortage of HGV drivers had not to date impacted the Council's contractors.
  • Fly Tipping – An anti-fly-tipping strategy had been introduced by the Lincolnshire Waste Partnership.  It was hoped that the re-opening of the household waste recycling centre would reduce incidences of fly-tipping across the county.

 

The report was noted.

21d

Report by Councillor Jane Loffhagen, Chair of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Jane Loffhagen, Chair of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee, presented her report to the Council, which had been set out on pages 69 to 72 of the agenda. 

 

Councillor Loffhagen highlighted that any recommendations from the Committee’s consideration of the two issues relating to the Covid-19 Pandemic, were fed into the Council’s response to the pandemic report, via the senior officers who attended the meetings of the Committee.

 

The report was noted.

22.

Business and Planning Act 2020 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Minutes:

A report on the function of granting pavement licences under the Business and Planning Act 2020 was submitted, which invited the Council to consider the delegation of its functions under the legislation to Lincolnshire County Council.

 

The recommendations in the report were moved by Councillor Neil Murray and seconded by Councillor Ric Metcalfe.

 

On being put to the meeting, the motion was declared carried.

 

RESOLVED

 

(1)         That approval be given to the City of Lincoln Council entering into an agreement with Lincolnshire County Council, following the proposal from the County Council to assume the function of pavement licences under the Business and Planning Act 2020. 

 

(2)         That the Strategic Director of Communities and Environment, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, be delegated authority to finalise the terms of the delegation within the parameters set out in the report.

 

(3)         That the function of granting pavement licences under the Business and Planning Act 2020 be delegated to the Highways Department of Lincolnshire County Council.