Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary, Council
Thursday 18th March, 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: Online meeting - Livestreamed. View directions

Contact: Katie Mogan  Tel: (01279) 502174 Email:  katie.mogan@eastherts.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

428.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Members to the Council meeting being held as a virtual meeting on Zoom. He also welcomed those that there were watching the meeting live on the East Herts District YouTube channel.

 

The Chairman advised that the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on Saturday 4 April 2020 to enable councils to hold remote committee meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic period. This was to ensure local authorities could conduct business during this current public health emergency.  This Extraordinary Council meeting was being held remotely under these regulations, via the Zoom application and was being recorded and live streamed on YouTube.

 

The Chairman asked that Members use the raised blue hand function to indicate if they wished to speak. Due to a Zoom update, the raise hand function would now be used to vote on items. The Chairman said he would call out ‘for’, ‘against’ and ‘abstain’ and members would need to raise their virtual hand at the appropriate moment and the result be declared at the end.

 

The Chairman read out a statement as follows:

At the meeting of the Council held on 2nd March 2021, during the recorded vote on the East Herts budget, a remark was made by a councillor that was inadvertently broadcast to the wider meeting.

 

The comment of “you silly girl” made by Councillor Michael McMullen immediately following Councillor Mary Brady’s abstention, whilst not intended to be heard, was nevertheless inappropriate.

 

Councillor McMullen accepts that he should not have made the comment, irrespective of the circumstances or intention, and wishes to offer an unreserved apology to Councillor Mary Brady, and to any others who were offended by the remark.

 

Some equalities training is also being arranged for the end of the month, which Councillor McMullan, and any other members wishing to, will attend.

 

The Chairman announced that Tuesday 23rd March would be a national day of reflection on the first anniversary of the United Kingdom entering its first lockdown. The day would be used for the nation and communities to come together to remember, grieve and celebrate those who have died from Covid-19 and show support for family and friends who were grieving. There would be a minutes silence and 12 noon and people would be invited to stand outside with a light at 8pm.

 

429.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any Members’ apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bolton, Drake, Frecknall, Hollebon, Ranger, Rowley and Wyllie. Upon taking a roll call of Members, it was established that Councillor Jones was absent.

 

430.

Minutes - 2 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 328 KB

To approve as a correct record and authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 2 March 2021.

 

Minutes to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Alder proposed, and Councillor Reed seconded, a motion that the Minutes of the meeting held on 2 March 2021 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. 

 

The motion to approve the Minutes being put to the meeting, and a vote taken, it was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 2 March 2021 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

431.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members' declarations of interest.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

432.

Suspension of Council Procedure Rules

To move that under Council Procedure Rule 24.1 in the Constitution, Council agrees to temporarily suspend Council Procedure Rule 4.2 to allow for Members and the public to submit questions to the meeting.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was proposed by Councillor Cutting and seconded by Councillor Deering to suspend Council Procedure Rule 4.2 to allow for Members and the public to submit questions to the Extraordinary Council meeting.

 

RESOLVED – That Council Procedure Rule 4.2 be suspended for this meeting to allow for Members and public questions.

 

433.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 240 KB

To receive any public questions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman invited the public to ask their questions. He said that members of the public who were present at the meeting would read out their questions and other questions that had been submitted were published under the Supplementary agenda. A response would be provided by the relevant Executive Members at the end that would cover all the points raised.

 

Simon Baker asked the following question:


If the various companies and individuals that represent the arts in Bishop’s Stortford are saying that the spaces you are creating in the new cinema/arts space are too small for us to use, and therefore as experienced arts professionals we don’t believe it would be viable to use them, how does that change your mind on the design or indeed the concept of your proposal?”

 

Jill Goldsmith asked the following question:


“The report to Council on the Business Case for the ORL stipulates the deliverables the Council is committing to in the regeneration project but no detail on the contracts the Council has already entered into (with CityHeart, appointed in 2019, Glenn Howells architect, Theatreplan and Barker Langham) or on future contracting to inform the public on how it will achieve these deliverables.”

 

“The Council’s Contracts Register discloses none of the existing ORL related contracts, in contravention of the Local Government Transparency Code, which requires local authorities to publish details of any contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000. At paragraph 20 of the Code it specifically states that “Local authorities should expect to publish details of contracts newly entered into – commercial confidentiality should not, in itself, be a reason for local authorities to not follow the provisions of this Code.””

 

“Paragraph 8 in the report to Council mentions the risk of delay from the SPD process, but the effect of such impact is not spelled out. It says nothing about other contractual or financial risks, such as the risk of developer non-delivery after it has bought the land from the Council from operating the site after its development. It does not set out any safeguards the Council may have.”

 

“Can you detail the impacts and specific financial risks there would be for the Council if the project gets delayed or set back and what mitigations the Council has put in place?”

 

Stuart Purton asked the following question:


“As there has been widely publicised criticism of the rushed rework of the scheme, what efforts have or can be made to include members of the local creative community in the process? The voices of commercial interests will be amplified by their money how will you ensure those without financial clout are given equal credence?”

 

Simon Gilliver asked the following question:

 

“Almost uniquely for a town of its size, Bishop's Stortford has no venues of any description large enough to hold large scale concerts or events. The previous plans for ORL addressed this need, whereas the proposal now merely duplicates facilities  ...  view the full minutes text for item 433.

434.

Members' questions pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To receive any Members' questions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mione Goldspink asked Cllr Linda Haysey, Leader of the Council:

“Would the Leader of the Council please clarify some points about the proposals for the Old River Lane development –

1)                      What are the plans for the United Reformed Church Hall (now owned by the Council)?


2) Has the size of the proposed Arts Centre been reduced from the original proposals?


3) What is the justification for adding a Care Home block of 90 units/beds?”

 

Councillor Haysey responded as follows:

1)    “Under the existing plans the URC will be demolished and the space will be used to provide parking spaces which are required for the main scheme.”

2)    “Yes, the Arts Centre has reduced in size quite considerably.”

3)    “There are no plans to build a care home at the Old River Lane development. The proposal is to provide a form of supported living for older people who are no longer able to live independently, but don’t necessarily require 24 hour care in a residential care home or nursing home. This type of housing enables individuals or even couples to live with a degree of independence. Facilities such as those proposed make a significant impact on the lives of older people and can delay the need for people to go into care home facilities. The Developer will work with District and County Council colleagues to ensure that the final proposal meets local needs.”

4)     

Supplementary question from Councillor Goldspink

“There seems to be some confusion about the size of the Arts Centre as you say it will be smaller but on page 12 of the report at paragraph 4.4, it states the redesign will mean it will be over a larger footprint. Could you please clarify what is correct?”

 

Councillor Haysey responded as follows:

 

“The original design had an Arts Centre with residential units on the side. Due to discussions with the architect, we have been able to reduce and take away the residential aspect away from the development as we no longer need the income from these sales to make the site work. The Arts Centre itself has been reduced in size”

 

435.

Old River Lane Business Plan pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Williamson, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Financial Sustainability, presented a report on the Old River Lane Business Plan. He ran through the history of the project from when the Council bought the site five and a half years ago and the council have shaped and refined its ambition and vision for the site to be a complete regeneration of the Old River Lane area to drive footfall into the area and revitalise the local economy by welcoming people into the town. The plans have progressed and have been presented to Council at various key stages however, at the Council meeting in January, members were asked to look again as several factors have emerged over the last 12 months which have impacted the plans. One change is in the financing of the main site as the plans did allow for residential and commercial units with an agreed buy back model for the Council to retain full ownership as the landlord and receive rental income. However, the government changed the rules on borrowing so that local authorities could no longer get lending for projects primarily for yield and this had made this option unavailable. The Council recognised that the only option was to sell the leasehold to Cityhold and would receive the leasehold receipts. This outcome has the merit of reducing the council’s overall borrowing requirement for the project. Council approved the revised scope for the project in January which removed the auditorium as an increase in costs and the reduced ability for subsidising the project was no longer viable and the future financial burden was unaffordable.

Councillor Williamson said that removing some of the residential and community elements made significant savings on the build costs. The capital requirements had fallen from £23.5 million to £15.5 million with a return on investment increased from £4.1 million to £6.9 million. The redesign of the scheme has included extra care housing on the scheme which would add £700k to the capital receipts.

Councillor Williamson said there had been a lot of comment around further consultation with stakeholders and the community therefore he amended the wording of recommendation 1 to:

 

“That Council approve that Officers proceed with the delivery of the Old River Lane Arts Centre development and the Old River Lane Main Scheme development, as set out in this report and on the basis of the financial viability demonstrated in the business case and that through the detailed design and planning stages public engagement and statutory consultation will be undertaken.”

 

Councillor Williamson proposed the two recommendations with the amendment to recommendation one. Councillor E Buckmaster seconded the recommendations and reserved his right to speak.

 

Councillor Goldspink felt the amended recommendation did not go far enough and therefore proposed an amendment to recommendation one and was seconded by Councillor Wilson and reserved his right to speak. The amendment was as follows:


“That Council approve that Officers proceed with the delivery of the Old River Lane Arts Centre development and the Old River Lane  ...  view the full minutes text for item 435.