Full Council Meeting

December 8th 6.15pm
Wychavon District Council – Full Council Meeting
Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Pershore         

My 5th council meeting, and an agenda with sadness, joy, questions and motions. From my point of view, a respectful atmosphere was called for, as well as a business like meeting that allowed all points of view to be heard, while keeping the agenda items flowing.         

Councillor Ron Cartwright, a district councillor since Wychavon came into being, had died at the age of 83. Ron, a previous chairman, was well liked and his views respected and it was right and proper that the meeting started with a minutes silence.         

Councillor Cartwright         

Councillor Ron Cartwright         

         

Councillors John Smith OBE and John Grantham MBE spoke of Ron’s long life and achievements. Ron’s normal chair in the chamber, was tilted over as a mark of respect. 
Cllr Cartwright was first elected to Wychavon in 1983 and served continuously until this year apart from a break in service in the 1990’s. He was an active member of the Housing Committee and was also particularly interested in the employees of the Council, chairing the Personnel sub-committee in the early 1990’s with particular involvement in equalities work.  Latterly he was a member of the Development Control Committee. He was well known in the Council for his love of racing and “having a flutter” – although he rarely gave tips on successful runners!     

Item 2 Declarations of Interest
Item 3 Apologies for Absence
Item 4 Minutes of the previous Meeting     
Item 5 is Chairman’s announcements and I had the pleasure of rewarding 2 people of exceptional dedication and service. Here is what I said:-         

Tonight, I have the pleasure of awarding two individuals for continued work well done.
The first is an annual event and I am delighted to welcome the winner of the Police Trophy Award 2009… Police Sergeant Diane Summerton. I am also pleased to welcome a number of senior police colleagues, underling the importance the police give this award.
The award, recognises Sergeant Summerton’s dedication and commitment, in providing a continuous quality policing service to the communities of Wychavon, over the past 15 years. Sergeant Summerton commenced her duties as a response officer at Evesham, before becoming a local beat officer in Broadway and then back in Evesham.  As a beat officer, she renewed and strengthened links, with local partners and community groups, ensuring the view of victims and the vulnerable were heard and acted upon, by the policing team. Since gaining promotion to Sergeant, Diane has worked tirelessly with her team at Evesham, to instil the best qualities of public service and has remained dedicated to the needs of her local community. Sergeant Summerton is someone who inspires confidence and reassurance, in all those with whom she comes in to contact. A very well deserved winner, Congratulations!         

         

Winner of this years Wychavon Police Trophy Award – Diane Summerton         

         

 Sargent Diane Summerton supported by L-R Cheif Superintendant Jane Horwood and Inspector Sean Kent         

Next to recieve recocnition was Lew Hammond         

         

I am particularly pleased to be the one to present this next award as I greatly admire and respect this person.         

At the end of the month, Lew Hammond will be taking a very well deserved retirement, after 13 years of service to Wychavon district council and 37 years of service to the country through his previous army career. Lew joined Wychavon in 1996, as visiting officer for the Benefits Team, where I’m sure his army skills came in good use. Then, in 1998 he became a monitoring officer for our Public Toilets. We have been winning Loo of the Year awards ever since.
His enthusiasm and organisational skills for public toilets, led Lew to being appointed in 2000, with the challenging new role of looking after the town centres in Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore. He is still remembered fondly by businesses and organisations in all 3 towns with legacies such as, historical brine features in Droitwich and the replacement of wonderful trees in Broad Street, Pershore. As the result of the market town initiative, he was of course appointed in 2002, as the Evesham Market Town Partnership manager and as they say, the rest is history.
With Lew’s capacity for hard work, original thinking and skilled partnership building, he has been a major force in helping Evesham and the surrounding area, survive 2 major floods, international terrorism, a foot and mouth outbreak and more recently, the recession. The list of projects he has delivered is too long to recall tonight but I would like to highlight two areas of work which particularly deserve our thanks. He has overseen transformational improvements to Evesham’s riverside which has attracted wide attention, culminating in the national market town award. To add value to this investment, Lew has helped develop an events programme, which is the envy of many towns around the country.
Wychavon and Evesham in particular is certainly a much better place because of him.  I wish him a long and comfortable retirement. Can I therefore ask Lew to come up and receive a certificate in recognition of his service at Wychavon and give him my personal thanks for all his hard work which has been an inspiration to us all.  I then went on to say:-        

May I congratulate Cllr Mrs Stephanie Vale on her recent by election victory and welcome you to your first full council meeting. I hope you find your time here fulfilling and enjoyable.
Since our last meeting quite a lot has happened on the charity fundraising front. On Friday November 13th, unlucky for some but not for me, because Cllr Anna Mackison arranged a Christmas Fayre here in the Civic Centre. The day was very successful and I know a lot of hard work went into it. Thank you Anna.
My main fundraiser of the year was the Gala Evening on November 28th and was spectacular. Thank you to the 105 people who attended and the many more who bought raffle tickets. It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by everybody. I would like to thank all those who helped and made donations of prizes and made it the success it was. Karen Peters and Mandy Ladds, put in a huge amount of work, as did the graphics and printing sections in this building. They produced all the invitations, raffle tickets, Wanchovys, even the souvenir card tricks were done in house. Thank you to everyone here who had some input. We won’t know for some time exactly how much we raised, because there will be a donation coming from the photographer but the minimum figure will be £3200. A very worthwhile result and a very special evening.
The Vale Magazine has been running a photographic competition entitled the Wonders of Wychavon. Over the last 4 months the competition has attracted 109 entries and two of the winning pictures, taken in Broadway and Evesham, have featured on the front covers of the magazine. Each month the winning photographer receives a £20 Jessops voucher. The overall winner of the photographic competition will be invited to our end of term celebrations next May. All the pictures, as are everything else Wendy and I have been up to, are on my blog.
Invitations since our last council meeting have included Christmas lights with on, School visits, church services, awards ceremonies, a charity race night, a visit to Long Lartin prison, a visit to Wychavon from Princess Anne, and many more, in fact an enormous range of functions, I have been on the TV twice and the radio once. All most enjoyable and meaningful. Without doubt the most inspiring and emotional day, was last Thursday, when Wendy and I had the privilege of witnessing the official homecoming of the 2nd battalion Mercian regiment at Worcester Cathedral followed by the regiment march through Worcester. A very moving occasion.
Congratulations are due to Cllr Mrs Pearce, who’s nomination to the Committee of European Municipalities and Regions has been accepted by the foreign secretary Right Honourable David Milliband. This is a great feather in Wychavon’s cap,  and we will be hearing a lot more about this important appointment in the fullness of time.
And if that were not enough, can you contain yourselves, we have won another award…….. for Wychavon’s  Loo’s – Congratulations goes to Cllr Mrs Anna Mackison who will tell us more.
And finally, may I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year. Please join Wendy, Linda, Maurice and me for mulled wine and some Christmas nibblies in the members room immediately following this meeting.  Thank you.        

 Item6 – Petitions from Members of the Council
To receive petitions (if any) from Members of the Council – None        

 Item 7 Public Participation
A period of up to 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to put comments and/or questions to the Council and present petitions.
A copy of the comments and/or questions must be provided to the Head of Legal and Support Services by 2.15pm on the day of the meeting.  There was a letter from Dr Stephen and Mrs Maureen Martin as follows:-   
Question from Dr Stephen and Mrs Maureen Martin, Evesham    

We are part of Evesham Vale Transition Initiative, set up earlier this year. The transition movement aims to build resilience in local communities to meet the twin challenges of climate change and the imperative to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Has the Council got an action plan for carbon reduction in Wychavon District with priorities and targets to meet the deep cuts set out in the UK Government’s Climate Change Act?”
Councillor Mrs D A Mackison, Executive Board Member for Environment and Contracted Services responded as follows:-
Yes, the Council does have a plan for carbon reduction, which was approved in 2008 and contains 41 targets for 2008-2011. The Plan was developed with the help of the Carbon Trust and Energy Savings Trust. We set a 5 year target to
34 reduce energy use in our own estate and the wider community by 9% on 2005 evels by 2011. We also have targets specified in the Local Area Agreement for Wychavon on NI186 (carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the local authority). In addition we have signed up to Worcestershire Climate Change Pledge and Nottingham dclaration.
Item 9 Leader’s Report and Question Time 
The Leader has prepared the enclosed report updating the Council about major issues affecting the District. As well as receiving this report, up to 30 minutes is allowed for Councillors to ask questions of the Leader on non-operational matters for which the Council is responsible and matters which affect the District or residents.
Item 10. Report of the Executive Board Member for Planning, Housing and Health Councillor Mrs J Pearce will present the enclosed report about her portfolio and take questions from Councillors. 
Item 11 Gambling Act 2005 – Statement of Principles To consider the enclosed report presenting a revised Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005. This has previously been considered by the Licensing Committee and Executive Board and both recommended it for approval. 
Item 12. Minutes of Meetings  
To receive and consider the Minutes of the following meetings:-  
(a) Executive Board – 13 October 2009 The Board makes the following recommendations to the Council:  Minute no. 60 – Contract Procedure Rules and Financial Regulations and Minute  no. 68 – Evesham: Council Depot   
(b) Development Control Committee – 15 October 2009   
(c) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – 27 October 2009   
(d) Licensing Committee – 4 November 2009   
(e) Standards Committee – 11 November 2009   
The Standards Committee makes the following recommendation to the Council: Minute no. 29 – Protocol for the Conduct of Members and Officers on Planning Matters  
(
f) Development Control Committee – 12 November 2009   
Minute no. 121 – Protocol for the Conduct of Members and Officers on Planning 
Matters  (please note that this was discussed at the Standards Committee held on 11 November 2009 as detailed above)
(g)      Executive Board – 24 November 2009
 
Questions (if any) from Members of the Council
The following question was received from Councillor A G Anderson in accordance with the Council’s Constitution:-
“The recent investigation into those claiming single person’s discount by the revenues and benefits shared service has been successful in identifying many people incorrectly claiming the discount. This is clearly to be welcomed especially given the current financial crisis. However, the approach taken to this investigation has also caused concern in a significant number of residents. Everyone is entitled to be treated with courtesy and respect and many residents have expressed concern about the rude, threatening and secretive approach taken by the company employed by the shared service to this investigation. To upset residents in this manner is totally unacceptable and it must be remembered that, although the investigation was carried out by an external company employed by the shared service, it is the good name of Wychavon District Council that is at stake, as well as the health and happiness of our residents. Many councillors have been contacted by residents who are upset by the letters and/or phone calls they have received during the investigation – many of these residents are totally supportive of the investigation, but are distressed at the tone taken with them. Concerns raised have also made headlines in the local press. It is vital to understand that many people who have been targeted by this investigation are particularly vulnerable. This does not seem to have been adequately considered when deciding on the approach to be taken to the investigation. Since the initial letters have been sent out, much effort has gone into dealing with the concerns and complaints raised by residents and into briefing members on the changes that have been made to the approach taken by Capita during this investigation. Should Wychavon District Council – its officers, Executive Board and/or members – take a more proactive approach to ensure that shared service communications with its residents, whether coming from a shared service directly or from an outside company employed by a shared service, are appropriate and meet the same standards of consideration, openness and courtesy applied to communications coming directly from the Council?”
Councillor R W Banks, Executive Board Member for Resources responded as follows:-
 “Can I thank Councillor Anderson for his question on this important subject. I would agree that the exercise has been very worthwhile and it has ensured that those who should not be claiming single person discount no longer do so – this is a direct benefit to all Wychavon taxpayers. We have written over 12,000 letters to customers across South Worcestershire and the number of complaints we have received is less than 30. The single person discount review process was agreed by Joint Committee and members saw and agreed the letter. As I have stated, only a small minority of residents complained about the ‘tone’ of the letter. Some residents perceived this letter as threatening but it is right and a legal requirement to include certain information regarding Data Protection and the fact that telephone calls are recorded. The purpose of the review is to identify erroneous claimants and already 1000 people have admitted to claiming the discount when they are no longer entitled. We have done all we can to identify vulnerable residents but in reality this is difficult. We do not hold date of birth information on Council Tax records so we are not always aware of the age of residents. Where a date of birth is available we have excluded anyone we know to be over 80 years. As for other vulnerable persons, we have no way of identifying who they are. All complaints have been investigated fully. All phone calls handled through the Capita call centre are recorded and when a complaint is made the recording is listened to. There has been no evidence of call centre operators being rude despite, on occasion, having to deal with some pretty challenging individuals. They ask for confirmation of entitlement, they do not explore the actual data which has been found and the call centre operator is not made aware of any specific data about the customer. The Head of Service has visited the Coventry call centre and listened in on calls. He noted a high degree of professionalism in the work he observed. Capita take their reputation very seriously and have co-operated fully in dealing with complaints. They are made aware of all complaints we received and conduct their own investigation in addition to anything we do. All feedback and complaints information is used to help us improve the process for the future including the wording of correspondence. Members have been apprised of the final stage of the review so that they are in possession of details of the process and a copy of the letter should they be contacted by local residents. A press release has also been released to coincide with the final letter drop. Clearly, we will continue to deal with any concerns about the process and our Head of Service is very happy to meet with Members about their individual concerns.”
Councillor Anderson then came back to say that he was trying to look forward to the future to ensure a more pro-active and properly audited approach before any further letters on behalf of a shared service or Wychavon were sent out. Councillor Banks acknowledged his comments and advised that the Chair of the Joint Committee was well aware of the concerns raised. 

Notices of Motion (if any) from Members of the Council  
1. Consideration was given to the Notice of Motion detailed in the agenda papers which was proposed by Councillor R C Adams and seconded by Councillor Mrs A Gopsill. In proposing the motion to write to the Mayor of Wootton Bassett expressing the Council’s thanks and appreciation for the town’s support, Councillor Adams referred to the official homecoming of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment in Worcester which was supported by a much younger crowd than a similar event two years ago. He also added that the situation was similar in Wootton Bassett where there only used to be a small number of people marking repatriations whereas nowadays there was always a large crowd. Councillor Adams also thanked the staff at the hospitals that took injured soldiers, Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham and Headley Court in Surrey.  
Resolved 
That the Chairman, in conjunction with Councillor R C Adams, be requested to write to the Mayor of Wootton Bassett on behalf of the Council expressing thanks and appreciation for the support shown by the Town Council, local branch of the Royal British Legion and residents.    

I have written as follows:-   

Councillor Steve Bucknell
Mayor of Wootton Bassett
117 High Street
Wootton Bassett
Wiltshire SN4 7AU   

Dear Councillor Bucknell,
At our council meeting on 8/12/2009 a notice of motion was put forward by Councillor Adams and seconded by Cllr Mrs Gopsill as follows:-
“This Council notes with gratitude the safe return of soldiers from the Mercian Regiment from their campaign in Afghanistan.  This was marked by a homecoming service and parade in Worcester on 3rd December. This Council also recognises the support of the people of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire in marking the repatriation of service men and women. The number of repatriations reached 100 earlier in the autumn. I propose that the Chairman writes to the Mayor of Wootton Bassett expressing on our behalf thanks and appreciation for the support shown by the Town Council, local branch of the Royal British Legion and residents.”
The motion was unanimously carried.I had the pleasure of being present at the homecoming parade, mentioned in the motion and it was a very moving and memorable experience. It is with great pleasure that I write on behalf of this council to thank you, and all the people of Wootton Bassett for their continued support of our troops coming through your town, under such tragic circumstances.   

Yours sincerely   

Andrew L Dyke
Chairman   

2. The Council considered the motion as detailed in the agenda papers with the following recommendation:-  
We therefore call on Wychavon District Council to support the aims and ambitions of the 10:10 campaign and to sign up for the 10:10 campaign. 
The motion was proposed by Councillor Mrs A M Rowley who acknowledged that Wychavon had already made a good start in reducing its carbon footprint and therefore it would be good if the Council could sign up to the campaign as Worcestershire County Council had already done, and seconded by Councillor C G J Tucker. 
Councillor Mrs Mackison gave some background information on how the 10:10 campaign was started and updated Members on the work that was already being done by Wychavon in terms of carbon/energy saving. She also added that she felt that, as the Council was already working hard to save energy, it would be unnecessary at this time to join the 10:10 campaign but that a report could be brought back to the Council at the end of 2010 showing what the Council had actually achieved. It was suggested that this could be referred to the Executive Board for further consideration and this option was supported by some Members, however it was acknowledged that there were lots of organisations with similar aims so the question was asked as to why the Council should choose to support this campaign. Councillor P Middlebrough proposed an amendment to the recommendation:- That this Council does not sign up to the 10:10 campaign because its wide aims are not relevant to Wychavon, but that Wychavon District Council renews its policy to reduce energy and water consumption as part of the promises for next year’s budget and the 5 year programme. 
This amendment was seconded by Councillor Mrs A Steel and a vote was taken on the amended motion.  
There were 21 votes for, with 12 against and no abstentions. The amendment was carried and became the substantive motion. In accordance with the Council’s Constitution a named vote was requested by Councillor Mrs A M Rowley and supported by the requisite number of  
Members. Voting was recorded as follows:-      

FOR  – AGAINST – ABSTENTIONS  
R C Adams D B Lee Mrs G A M Amphlett Mrs E A Eyre  R W Banks Mrs D A Mackison A G Anderson Mrs L Robinson  M C J Barratt M M Mathews Mrs W J Carter  Mrs P E Davey T V McDonald A M G Darby  Mrs J C Dowty P Middlebrough Mrs A Gopsill  A L Dyke A P Miller J T Grantham  D W Folkes R J Morris Mrs A M Rowley  P J Haycock Mrs J A Pearce C G J Tucker  M T King Mrs J E Sandalls Mrs E B Tucker  Mrs R W Kirke J H Smith Mrs S M Vale  D S Lawley Mrs A Steel K N Wright      

TOTALS    FOR – 22 AGAINST – 11 ABSTENTIONS  – 2      

It was therefore  Resolved  
That this Council does not sign up to the 10:10 campaign because its wide aims are not relevant to Wychavon, but that Wychavon District Council renews its policy to reduce energy and water consumption as part of the promises for next year’s budget and the 5 year programme.  
The Meeting closed at 8.05 p.m.      

I hope the above gives a flavour of one of our council meetings. You can get more detail here :- http://www.e-wychavon.org.uk/modern.gov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=322&MId=2797&Ver=4 

Sorry about the font changes. Copy and paste from Word/PDF files, this program does not like 😦

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