Cabinet Members will answer questions from Members on their Portfolios.
Cllr Warren addressing the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration asked that: we now have an up to date Local Plan which we are advised removes all the problems which we have been experiencing over recent years of having out of date policies and at one point failing to have a 5 year housing land supply. During the process of a current appeal, the appellant raised the issue of a 5 year land supply and challenged the council’s claim that it had a 7.43 year supply, this was later reduced to 5.78 and then conceded that 60 houses were necessary on a particular site to support the 5 year land supply figures. We appear to be working from 2018 figures which were refreshed in 2019 but we did not have firm 2020 figures. Can you please assure members that we can defend a position of having a 5 year land supply with the appropriate buffer and that we are working from up to date 2020 figures?
The Cabinet Member stated that: we have met to discuss issues in relation to the 5 year land supply in the context of a planning appeal, you will remember that I explained that the Local Plan Inspector confirmed to his satisfaction that the housing land supply in the Local Plan Review is robust. In coming to that conclusion, the inspector had regard to the supply requirements and an appropriate buffer. Council will recall adopting the plan at a recent meeting. In the words of the inspector, the plan is well capable of achieving a rolling 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites. Officers are seeking to update the deliverability of the information, housing deliverability will inform us of land supply and that he was keeping a close eye on that.
Councillor Wilce addressing the Leader stated: you will be aware that part of the recording of the cabinet meeting held on the 9th July, which was open to the public, was edited by Officers, without any precedent, policy, or regulation, to remove reference to the potential liability to the Council of its loans to 3 Rivers. Members of the public were present, as was a member of the press. Since it is not possible to erase the memories of those persons present and given that the purpose of the recording is to provide a true and accurate record of the meeting, do you agree with me that this action is undemocratic and that the full recording of the meeting should be made public?
And, that having recently acknowledged that the loans made to 3 Rivers were ‘substantially without security’ can you update members on the current level of potential indebtedness of the Council and the security of those loans, given that the build at St George’s Court has not resumed?
The Leader stated that you are aware that Cabinet has been seriously looking into the situation of 3 Rivers and Cabinet is on the point of having discussions as to the future of 3 Rivers. In terms of actions that we are taking, there is an action plan in place which is updated on a regular basis to address issues that have been raised by various outside bodies and in terms of the situation at St Georges Court, that is within sight of Cabinet and when there is something substantive to report, that will be reported to all members.
With regard to recordings, there has been discussion with the Head of Legal on this, in future there will be greater interest and oversight as to what is edited and for meetings, together with notes and minutes and reporting of anything that happens in Part II. In future we would be hoping that for every subject that comes forward for consideration at any committee there will always be a Part I paper with an appendix if necessary if there are Part II items, this will ensure greater transparency going forward for any matter which is raised within this council.
Councillor F W Letch addressing the Leader congratulated him on his successful amendment and asked whether he had any plans on how he could unite a slightly disjointed Cabinet.
The Leader stated that he had a meeting on Friday with the Leaders of GESP and they would be taking in account the votes in the various Local Authorities, there would be a paper produced with options which would be presented on Friday and they will be discussed and he would report back as appropriate to members. He would work with the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration and the Cabinet Member and would be at the centre of the discussions going forward as for the future shape for presentation to and for consultation with members.