Venue: The Assembly Room - Town Hall, Macclesfield SK10 1EA. View directions
Contact: Katie Small Tel: 01270 686465 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillors M Addison, B Evans, L Gilbert, A Martin, K Parkinson and R Vernon.
Declarations of Interest
To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.
The Mayor advised Members that they did not have to declare an interest as a Council Tax payer, or as a member of a parish council, on the item of business relating to the Council Tax, as there was a dispensation in place which removed this requirement. The Mayor further advised that there was a dispensation in place for members, if they had requested one, in respect of any disclosable pecuniary interest which would arise as a result of a receipt of an allowance or other remuneration in respect of Council duties or directorship of Council owned ASDV. Such Members were therefore permitted to participate and vote on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy 2023-27 item.
Councillor S Gardiner referred to Item 12 - Notices of Motion, and in particular the Notice of Motion on Leasehold Reform and stated that this was a matter he was involved with in his paid employment and, if the Motion was debated, he would leave the Chamber in order not to be prejudiced.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings of Council held on 14 December 2022 and 1 February 2023.
1 the minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2022 be approved as a correct record, subject to the inclusion of Councillor S Gardiner in the list of those giving apologies for the meeting.
2 the minutes of the meeting held on 1 February 2023 be approved as correct record.
To receive such announcements as may be made by the Mayor.
The Mayor, in summary
1 stated that this was the last full Council meeting before the elections in May and wished those standing for re-election and those standing down all the best for the future.
2 reported that on Friday it would be the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that a national moment of silence would be held and encourage all to support this.
3 reported that during his year as Mayor he had attended several events organised to support Ukraine refugees and thanked all those involved in these events.
4 reported that he had been raising money for Ukraine refugees as one of the Mayor’s Charities and, to mark the anniversary, encouraged Members to make a small donation and that the Civic Office would be contacting all Members outlining how donations could be made if wished to do so.
Public Speaking Time/Open Session
In accordance the Council Procedural Rules, a total period of 30 minutes is allocated for members of the public to speak at Council meetings. Individual members of the public may speak for up to 2 minutes, but the Chair will have discretion to vary this requirement where they consider it appropriate.
Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days’ in advance of the meeting and should include the question with that notice. Questions should be submitted to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Colin Townend spoke in relation to the provision of residential charging points for electric vehicles, which allowed owners to charge their vehicle from their solar panels, or charge overnight on half-price off-peak electricity. However, if the owner did not have off-street parking and had to park on the street outside, the charge cable would be a trip hazard. He referred to a Macclesfield company which sold a product for £35 that would solve this problem and stated that councils in Bath and Somerset were arranging a trial of this and similar products and asked if this could be done in Cheshire East.
In response Cllr C Browne, Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, stated that the Council had published a draft EV Charging Strategy and was close to finalising this following recent public consultation and market engagement. The Council had secured £150k from the Government’s On-Street residential EV Charge point Scheme to install a number of charges in places where residents have no option for off-street charging on driveways. The Council intended to use the national Low Emission Vehicle Infrastructure fund to create a boroughwide network of EV charges, by working with the commercial sector. Guidelines were expected to be published on the standards for “cable channels” such as that proposed by Mr Townend. The Council’s Highways Service was aware of the product referred to and they were looking to identify trial sites for this and alternative solutions. The Council would be interested in the outcomes of trials elsewhere, including Bath and Northeast Somerset Council.
Mr Robert Douglas spoke in support of Councillor Williams’ proposed Notice of Motion to implement a buffer zone of 1,000 metres between new and extensions to existing silica sand quarries and residential areas.
Mr Paul Buttrick, President of Knutsford & District Lions Club, spoke in objection to the proposal to close the Stanley Centre in Knutsford. He referred to the closing of Bexton Court, which he said was becoming a derelict building, and stated he did not wish to see the Stanley Centre in the same situation. He stated it was time to have a joined-up vision for the health and wellbeing of the area with the medical practice, a dementia unit, convalescence unit and social care facility built on the current site before the facility was decommissioned.
Ms Charlotte Peters Rock spoke in relation to the Stanley Centre, Knutsford, and the potential impact that the closure of the Centre would have on the community, and particularly disabled residents.
Cllr J Rhodes, Chair of Adults and Health Committee, responded and stated that the Stanley Centre provided day services for people with learning disabilities, with 20 people currently using the service routinely, and that all of those people would continue to receive services to meet their needs if Council agreed the proposal. In November 2021, the Adults and Health Committee had agreed a new Day Opportunities Strategy, which had been developed with people who use services. Based on what people had experienced during the pandemic ... view the full minutes text for item 69.
Leader's and Deputy Leader's Announcements
To receive such announcements as may be made by the Leader and Deputy Leader.
The Leader, in summary:
1 reported that the Council had re-signed the Cheshire Armed Forces Covenant and was working towards the gold employer recognition award, having been awarded the bronze award in 2020 and silver award in 2022. He thanked Councillor A Farrall for his work as the Council’s Armed Forces Champion.
2 reported that he would be attending and speaking at the Cheshire East ‘Achieving Net Zero’ conference at Reaseheath College. The event provided an opportunity to promote the commitment to make the entire Borough carbon neutral by 2045. The Council had set an ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2025 with the Carbon Neutral Action Plan setting out the details on how this target would be achieved. He thanked Councillor Q Abel for his work as the Council’s Environment and Climate Change Champion.
4 reported that this month was LGTB History Month and that the rainbow flag would be flying at Council offices.
5 stated that at the coming weekend the Ukrainian Flag would be flying at Council offices to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He thanked all those who had opened their homes to Ukrainians seeking refuge from the war.
6 referred to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria and reported that the Government had match funded £5m of donations to the Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. In response to a question at the Corporate Policy Committee, he reported that any donations made now would not be match funded by the Government.
7 reported that due to the significant budgetary challenges facing the Council, it would not be able to allocate the same level of funding to support community events to mark the King’s Coronation as it had for previous celebrations. However, officers were exploring the option of waiving the costs associated with road closures for events during the Coronation Bank Holiday weekend and details would be announced in due course.
8 reported on the Town Centre Vitality Plans, which had been developed by Council officers, Town Councils, local stakeholders, and external expert advisors. The Plans set out an agreed set of priority actions for each town centre and asked that the Plans were used to enhance and protect the town centres.
9 reported that a grant scheme was being introduced in Crewe to enable businesses to take on vacant commercial premises in the town centre. It was hoped the scheme would reduce the number of vacant premises and also create new jobs, strengthen the mix of businesses and increase the footfall into the town centre.
10 made reference to the fact that this was the last Council meeting before the elections and thanked all those councillors who were not seeking re-election for their service to their communities.
The Deputy Leader, in summary:
1 provided an update on HS2 Hybrid Bill and that the Select Committee had been formed and heard opening statements from HS2 Ltd in January and the initial forward plan of petition hearings had been announced. The Select Committee ... view the full minutes text for item 70.
To consider the recommendations from the Corporate Policy Committee.
Appendix A – Recommendations to Council page 45
Appendix B - Corporate Plan (summary) page 47
Appendix C - Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023 to 2027 can be viewed from this link:APPENDIX C - MTFS 2023-2027 Council
Annex B – Summary of Responses can be viewed from this link: CE Budget Engagement 2023 - 2027
The Corporate Policy Committee, at its meeting on 9 February 2023, had considered a report on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy for Cheshire East Council for 2023-27.
The Corporate Policy Committee had recommended to Council the recommendations set out in Appendix A to the report.
The recommendations were proposed and seconded, and during the debate an amendment was proposed.
1. That Cheshire East Council, as the local highway authority, develops a Lane Rental Scheme and to prioritise its implementation, following approval by the Secretary of State
2. That this item is added to the Highways and Transport Committee work programme (2023/24) and the Highways Team are asked to identify associated, process, costs and benefits of a scheme for Cheshire East Council with the intent to introduce potential benefits in the MTFS from 1st April 2024.
3. That the benefits of the scheme, (financial and operational) are evaluated annually, as required under the legislation.
The amendment was moved and seconded. The mover and seconder of the recommendations from the Corporate Policy Committee to Council agreed to accept the amendment and therefore the amendment became part of the substantive proposition.
Following debate on the substantive recommendations, these were put to the vote, and in accordance with legislation, a recorded vote was carried out with the following results:
Councillors Q Abel, S Akers Smith, L
Anderson, J Barber, L
Councillors R Bailey, M Beanland, M Benson, D Brown, J Clowes, S Davies, T Dean, S Edgar, JP Findlow, A Gage, S Gardiner, P Groves, G Hayes, S Holland, A Kolker, C Leach, S Pochin, P Redstone, J Saunders, M Sewart, M Simon, L Smetham, J Smith, D Stockton, L Wardlaw, J Weatherill, J Wray and N Wylie.
Councillors R Fletcher, D Marren and B Murphy.
The motion was declared carried with 41 votes for, 28 against and 3 not voting.
That Council notes
1 the report of the Council’s Chief Finance Officer (Section 151 Officer), contained within the MTFS Report, regarding the robustness of estimates and level of reserves held by the Council based on these budget proposals (Appendix C to the report, Report from the Section 151 Officer).
That Council, having given due regard to the report of the Chief Finance Officer, approves:
2 The Revenue estimates for the 2023/24 budget and the medium-term Capital Programme estimates 2023-2027, as detailed in the Medium-Term Financial Strategy Report (MTFS) 2023-2027 (Appendix C to the report).
3 Band D Council Tax of £1,707.39 representing an increase of 4.99%. This is below the referendum limit (including 2% ... view the full minutes text for item 71.
To set the Council Tax for Cheshire East for the financial year 2023/24
Consideration was given to a report relating to the setting of the Council Tax for 2023/24.
It was reported that there was an error in the report in paragraph 3.1.1 - second line, as the Council Tax amount had a full stop rather than a comma after the number 6. The figure should read £271,096,891 and it was this figure that the Council was being asked to approve.
As a billing authority Cheshire East Council was responsible for the billing and collection of Council Tax from local taxpayers and must, therefore, make a resolution to set the overall Council Tax level. This meant the Authority also collected Council Tax income to cover not only its own services but also precepts set by other authorities.
The Council Tax levied was therefore made up of four elements:-
The motion in respect of the setting of the Council Tax was proposed and seconded. Following debate, in accordance with legislation a recorded vote was carried out in respect to this item, with the following results:-
Councillors Q Abel, S Akers Smith, L
Anderson, J Barber, L
Councillors R Bailey, M Beanland, M Benson, D Brown, J Clowes, S Davies, T Dean, S Edgar, JP Findlow, A Gage, S Gardiner, P Groves, G Hayes, S Holland, A Kolker, C Leach, B Murphy, S Pochin, P Redstone, J Saunders, M Sewart, M Simon, L Smetham, J Smith, D Stockton, L Wardlaw, J Weatherill, J Wray and N Wylie.
Councillors R Fletcher and D Marren
The motion was declared carried with 41 votes for, 29 against and 2 not voting.
1 the Council Tax for Cheshire East Council for the financial year 2023/24, at £271,096,891 in accordance with the formal resolutions as shown in Section 14 of the report, as follows:
1. That it is noted that on 14 December 2022 the Council calculated the Council Tax base 2023/24.
(a) for the whole Council area as 158,778.54 (item T in the formula in Section 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended (the “Act”)).
(b) for individual parishes, as in Appendix A to the report.
2. That the Council Tax requirement for the Council’s own purposes for 2023/24 (excluding Parish precepts) is £271,096,891.
3. That the following amounts be calculated for the year 2023/24 in accordance with Sections 31 to 36 of the Act:
a. £740,744,041 being the aggregate of the amounts which the ... view the full minutes text for item 72.
To consider the recommendations of the Corporate Policy Committee.
Consideration was given to the recommendations of the Corporate Policy Committee in respect of the Pay Policy Statement for 2023/24.
The Corporate Policy Committee, at its meeting on 9 February 2023, had considered the draft Pay Policy Statement and resolved that Council be recommended to approve and publish the Pay Policy Statement 2023/24 and agree the Pay Policy Statement for 2023/24 be reviewed in-year and any further changes be approved by the Monitoring Officer and published accordingly.
1 the Pay Policy Statement for 2023/24 be approved and published accordingly; and
2 the agreed Pay Policy Statement for 2023/24 be reviewed in-year and any further changes be approved by the Monitoring Officer and published accordingly.
To appoint the Vice Chair of the Finance Sub Committee.
Consideration was given to the appointment of the Vice Chair of the Finance Sub Committee.
That Councillor B Puddicombe be appointed as the Vice Chair of the Finance Sub Committee.
To consider making a nomination for Mayor for 2023/24, who will also act as Chair of the Council, and a nomination for Deputy Mayor for 2023/24.
Consideration was given to the nominations for the office of Mayor and Deputy Mayor for 2023/24.
Mayor for 2023/24
It was proposed and seconded that Councillor Rod Fletcher should become Mayor Elect for 2023/24.
Councillor Fletcher declared an interest in respect of this item and left the Chamber during its consideration.
That Councillor Rod Fletcher be designated as the Mayor Elect with a view to their formal election and appointment as Mayor for Cheshire East for 2023/24, at the Mayor Making ceremony to be held on 24 May 2023.
Councillor Fletcher returned to the meeting.
Deputy Mayor for 2023/24
It was separately proposed and seconded that Councillor David Brown, Councillor David Edwardes and Councillor Marilyn Houston be designated as Deputy Mayor Elect.
Councillors Brown, Edwardes and Houston declared an interest in respect of this item and left the Chamber during its consideration.
A vote was taken in respect of the three nominations with Councillor Edwardes receiving the fewest vote. He was therefore removed from the contest.
Councillor Edwardes returned to the meeting.
A vote was taken in respect of the two remaining nominations withCouncillor Houston receiving the most votes.
That Councillor Marilyn Houston be designated as the Deputy Mayor Elect, with a view to their formal election and appointment as Deputy Mayor for Cheshire East for 2023/24, at the Mayor Making ceremony to be held on 24 May 2023.
Councillors D Brown and M Houston returned to the meeting.
To consider any Notices of Motion that have been received in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules.
Consideration was given to the Notices of Motion which had been submitted in accordance with the Council’s Procedural Rules.
1 Establishment of a 1,000-metre buffer around silica extraction sites
Proposed by Councillor P Williams and Seconded by
Quarrying and extraction is important to the economy of our Borough with its rich deposits of salt, silica and sand. The industry is, quite rightly, well-regulated but there remain concerns about the health and environmental impacts. These concerns are particularly acute where quarrying silica extraction takes place close to residential areas. Airborne dust and noxious fumes can have serious health implications for people, particularly children, older adults and others with existing disease, exposed to them for prolonged periods.
Matt Western MP issued a Private Members’ Bill in the UK Parliament in December 2021 calling for a buffer zone of at least 1,000 metres between new or proposed quarries of silicates and residential areas. The Bill is supported by a number of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.
We ask that Cheshire East Council should implement a distance restriction of at least 1,000 metres when considering applications for quarrying or silica extraction. We propose that the relevant environmental and planning committees and the Council’s emerging minerals strategy take account of this issue for the well-being of residents.
2 Leasehold Reform
Proposed by Councillor L Crane and Seconded by
This Council notes:
Government promised to tackle the leasehold reforms through two pieces of legislation. The first to help new ‘leases’ and the second to help ‘Existing’ leaseholders. The first part was delivered earlier this year via The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022. This was to be followed swiftly by the second part of the promised reforms, but this has been further delayed and leaves over 6 million existing leaseholders struggling to navigate a system that is currently stacked against them.
As a result of this delay, sales are falling through on many leasehold properties due to the ground rents. Many remain in leasehold limbo, with no affordable way out in the middle of a Cost-of-Living Crisis.
This Council further notes that:
Developers may have moved away from building leasehold homes but they have replaced this with another model by creating the Private Residential Estate model (PRE's) for new build developments.
Historically, estate infrastructure would be adopted by the local authority.
It is now increasingly common that at least some of the estate’s infrastructure is not adopted and for homeowners to pay maintenance. These charges can cover a large range of items: public open spaces, play areas, landscaped or ecological buffer areas, roads, highways, ground maintenance, street lighting, games areas, administration & management fees & public liability insurance.
Unlike leasehold properties homeowners of freehold properties with these private estate charges have no mechanism to challenge these charges/services. They are unregulated. There is no transparency and ... view the full minutes text for item 76.
In accordance the Council Procedure Rules, opportunity is provided for Members of the Council to ask the Mayor or the Chair of a Committee any question about a matter which the Council, or the Committee has powers, duties or responsibilities.
At Council meeting, there will be a maximum question time period of 30 minutes. A period of two minutes will be allowed for each Councillor wishing to ask a question. The Mayor will have the discretion to vary this requirement where they consider it appropriate.
Cllr Q Abel referred to climate change and asked if Cheshire East had a water management plan for drought, possibility of wildfires and the potential for huge quantities of water falling in a short period of time causing extensive damage. He asked if, as the lead flood authority, the Council had applied for and received grants, how any grants had been spent and which committee did this responsibility sit under.
Cllr C Browne, Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, responded that the Council did have a water management plan. As a lead local flood authority, the Council had a statutory duty to participate in a six-year cycle identifying flood risk areas, and there was also a flood risk management plan, which was a national strategic plan, that had measures or actions that were identified in flood risk areas. The flood risk management plans were published by the Environment Agency, who obviously work closely with the Council, but also with other risk management authorities as well to produce them. In addition, the Council itself had a local flood risk management strategy that considered measures to help reduce flood risk including everything from better planning of new developments to ensuring emergency responders had a better understand where the greatest risks are. In relation to the question about where the responsibility sat, Cllr Browne reported that this was recently the subject of a report which went to the Highways and Transport Committee for consideration entitled ‘It’s Not Just Water’ and the Committee unanimously agreed that at this particular time oversight of that statutory function was retained under the remit of the Highways and Transport Committee. Cllr Browne undertook to provide a written response in relation to the grants received and how the money had been spent.
Cllr J Clowes referred to the Council receiving nearly £4.5m of additional Household Support Grant funding and asked how the Council would implement these additional funds and, in particular, take advantage of the examples of good practice that the Government had identified that all local authorities should take on board where applicable.
She also asked when she would receive a definitive answer on the transfer of maintenance of the closed church yards in Wybunbury to Cheshire East Council.
In response Cllr A Stott, Chair of the Finance Sub Committee, stated that the funding had come through very recently and the scheme was similar to previous covid 19 schemes, so although the funding would not impact on the Council’s budget as such, it would impact on workload. The Council would be responsible for passporting the funds out to residents as appropriate.
Cllr D Edwardes referred to EV charging points and asked what grants the Council had applied for to allow the instalment of chargers, how much money had been received, and did the Council have a policy on charging infrastructure in Cheshire East.
In response Cllr C Browne, Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, stated that the Council had a policy, which was adopted by the Highways ... view the full minutes text for item 77.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
The reports relating to the remaining item on the agenda has been withheld from public circulation and deposit pursuant to Section 100(A)(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended on the grounds that the matters may be determined with the press and public excluded.
The Committee may decide that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of confidential information as defined in Section 100(A)(3)(A) and Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.
That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item pursuant to Section 100(A) 4 of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended on the grounds that it involves the likely discussion of confidential information as defined in Section 100(A)(3)(A) and of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of part 1 of the Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.
Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2
To consider the report.
Consideration was given to the report on the Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2.
That the recommendations as set out in the report be approved.