Agenda and minutes

Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC) - Wednesday, 27th November, 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR

Contact: Janette Collier, Senior Democratic Services Officer  01205 314227 email:  janette.collier@boston.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

32.

APOLOGIES

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

None.

33.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 178 KB

To sign and confirm the minutes of the last meeting held on the 2nd October 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting, held on the 2nd October 2019, were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

34.

UPDATE ON ACTIONS FROM THE MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING

To report progress on outstanding actions from the minutes of the last meeting, for information only.

Minutes:

The Head of Place and Space reported that £333.40 had been received from the scrap value of the cast iron bins.  Letters of thanks would be sent to express appreciation of the work of the volunteers involved with the Christmas events following the successful Switch-On evening.  The remaining actions contained in the minutes had been carried out. 

35.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

To receive declarations of interests in respect of any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

The Members who were also Cabinet Members made declarations as follows.  Councillor Martin Griggs declared that he had attended the Cabinet meeting of 23rd October, but had taken no part in discussion of BTAC’s recommendation on the Events Programme.  Councillor Yvonne Stevens declared that, as she had not attended the BTAC meeting at which the recommendation had been agreed, she had taken part in Cabinet’s consideration of it and, therefore, she would abstain in this matter.

36.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

To answer any written questions received from members of the public no later than 5 p.m. two clear working days prior to the meeting – for this meeting the deadline is 5 p.m. on 22nd November 2019.

Minutes:

Question from Mr Darron Abbott:

 

“Mr Chairman at the last meeting of this Committee a request for an additional £27,000 was requested by the relevant department at the Council to fund additional events for the year 20/21.

 

“This request was granted unanimously by the committee, as the chairman were you aware that at no time had a proper budget been drawn up to arrive at the amounts requested?

 

“I have supplied you with a copy of an email from one of the Senior officers and the contents of that email states that there is no breakdown of how the whole £66,500 is to be spent. Are you aware of this fact and that no breakdown will be available until March of next year?”

 

Dear Mr. Abbott

 

I refer to your recent e-mail regarding your request for a breakdown of how the money for each event is going to be spent. 

 

Cabinet at its 23rd October meeting was asked to approve the budget allocation for events within the 2020/21 financial year as the total exceeded the BTAC delegation limit. The Cabinet did not approve the recommendation and instead deferred its decision until the next Cabinet on the 4th December.  The individual projects themselves are matters for BTAC, but at this point, the budget has yet to be approved and individual events developed.  Officers will continue to develop detailed costings based on formal budgets that will be approved by Members in March 2020. 

 

Regards

Phil Perry

 

Answer from the Chairman:

 

“I am aware.  BTAC sets the budget parameters for Officers to work to and report back on as necessary.”

 

As a supplementary question, Mr Abbott asked whether the Chairman’s proposal (Minute 38 refers) was a deliberate attempt to avoid having to provide a financial breakdown. 

 

In response, the Chairman explained that there had been no efforts to avoid scrutiny and the information was available for all to see.  He had asked officers to provide him with full costings and he was confident his proposal could be delivered.  BTAC’s recommendation for an additional £27,000 for the Events Programme for 2020/21 had been brought to Cabinet by the Portfolio Holder, but he then left and the Chairman did not know if he had had detailed proposals.

 

37.

PUBLIC SPEAKING TIME

To allow members of the public to address the Committee.

Minutes:

Mr Abbott addressed the Committee, again referring to the Committee’s decision at its last meeting to recommend that Cabinet approve an additional £27,000 for the 2020/21 Events Programme, asserting that the Committee should have asked for a detailed breakdown to check it was proposed to be spent properly and that that was the reason that it was deferred by Cabinet. 

 

Mr Abbott then referred to the new proposal for £9,999.99 additional money and asserted that a breakdown of proposed expenditure should be provided to satisfy the Nolan Principles in terms of accountability. 

 

 

Inspector Fran Harrod, Boston’s Policing Inspector, then addressed the Committee and gave an update as follows.

 

General Policing

 

In October, there had been 1,245 calls to the police, which was a decrease.  The number of crimes had also gone down to 545.  Crime reporting online had gone up to 55, which was encouraging. 

 

Many calls did not relate to police matters and often involved welfare matters, some of which were the responsibility of Social Services.  One issue that persisted, and the highest number of calls, related to incidents involving mental health issues.  About one-third of calls had an element of this.  The suicide rate was high and many reports involved a crisis, which meant the police spent a significant amount of time keeping people alive.

 

Crime types

 

The top types of crime had changed very little.  Assault accounted for 74%, showing an increase across the county.  Of these, 26% were now recorded as a second crime under the new crime-counting rules in order to record crimes that involved controlling and coercive behaviour, which meant every domestic abuse case was recorded as two incidents. 

 

Across Boston, there had been a significant increase in drug offences recorded; this was welcome news, as it meant that people were being caught and arrested. 

 

Street drinking

 

Last month, under the incremental warning system operated with the Council’s Community Safety team, six people had received the first warning letter and one person had been issued with a second.

 

Urination and defaecation

 

This had been discussed with the Community Safety team and the plan from now on was that, where there was a photo or video of an incident, the offences would be treated as littering, which the Council could prosecute.  Details could be provided by email and the press could publicise offenders in the same way as the “name and shame” littering offenders.  A fixed penalty ticket of £150 was issued.  Members were urged to encourage members of the public to make reports.  It would be well-publicised and it was hoped it would make a difference.

 

Anti-social behaviour reports

 

From 15th November, improvements had been put in place to update people who reported anti-social behaviour should receive a call back to update them on what action was taken as a result and what action they could take themselves.  This would be monitored by the Community Safety team. 

 

Homelessness

 

Following a conference organised by Boston’s former Policing Inspector, and the hard work of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

2020-21 EVENTS PROGRAMME UPDATE pdf icon PDF 124 KB

(An item presented by the Chairman, Councillor Paul Goodale)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

[The Members who were also Cabinet Members made declarations as follows.  Councillor Martin Griggs declared that he had attended the Cabinet meeting of 23rd October, but had taken no part in discussion of BTAC’s recommendation on the Events Programme.  Councillor Yvonne Stevens declared that, as she had not attended the BTAC meeting at which the recommendation had been agreed, she had taken part in Cabinet’s consideration of it and, therefore, she would abstain in this matter.]

 

The Chairman presented a report which provided an update on the outcomes of BTAC’s recommendation to the 23rd October Cabinet Meeting, when it considered the planning programme of events for the 2020/21 financial year, with an increased budget of £27,000 to support the delivery.

 

The Chairman advised BTAC that he had attended the meeting to address Cabinet when it was decided that the request for approval of an additional £27,000 expenditure for the 2020/21 events programme be deferred until the next meeting of the Cabinet, for a detailed report on the proposed events and associated expenditure to be considered. 

 

The Chairman commented that he had no more detail than BTAC had and did not know what information was wanted; therefore, as he was unable to report to Cabinet, he asked officers to draft an alternative proposal that did not require Cabinet’s approval as an alternative option and this was attached to the report. 

 

The proposal was based on Option Two, which would have cost an additional £12,000.  Where Option One aimed to keep all the free community events and add/combine some of the existing larger scale events, Option Two focused on larger scale events within the BTAC funded events programme with a more limited programme of smaller scale community events delivered principally through the Boston Big Local funding stream.  The revised Option re-profiled some events to reduce the Option Two additional cost by £2,000 to keep within the £10,000 BTAC delegated authority. 

 

The Chairman stressed the report had not been submitted in order to avoid scrutiny.  Officers had been asked to provide detailed costings, which they had done, though this was a budget and the amounts might not all be spent.  He had tried to include as many events as possible within his proposal; in particular, Party in the Park, which the Committee had been in favour of.  The Committee had already committed to holding the Through the Ages event, though Members could discontinue the event after 2020 if they wished. 

 

The recommendation was for the Committee to determine the way forward and the Chairman welcomed debate, adding that he had previously supported Option Two, for an additional amount of £12,000 and that the former Portfolio Holder had supported the option for an additional £27,000.  A decision needed to be made as delaying the matter until January would leave too short a timescale for arranging events. 

 

The Chairman proposed that the proposal set out in the appendix to the report for £9,999.99 for the 2020/21 Events Programme be approved and this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

SETTING UP A TOWN COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 4 KB

(An item presented by the Chairman, Councillor Paul Goodale)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee looked at the background information attached to the agenda pack, which had been requested by the Chairman in response to requests from some Members, to assist the Committee to consider whether BTAC should be a Town Council before asking for a report to be drafted with detailed information.

 

It was noted that the process for setting up a town council had to be triggered by a 1,800-signature petition followed by a Governance Review, which would take a year. 

 

One Member who had requested the information expressed the view that a Town Council was needed in order to address a “democratic deficiency”.  Other areas in the borough were covered by parish councils, but the town wards were covered by BTAC, which did not have the same powers, and more needed to be done for the residents of the town. 

 

Others agreed, particularly as the town’s population was growing.  It would be a significant step to take, but would achieve self-determination and it would be worthwhile investigating the options. 

 

In particular, there was frustration that the Committee had to have Cabinet approval for higher levels of expenditure and that the Committee’s recent recommendation to Cabinet for funding for the events programme had been deferred.  However, it was suggested that the recommendation might have been approved had the former Portfolio Holder been present to present it and another suggestion was to ask that the limit on BTAC’s expenditure be raised. 

 

There was also a view that a town council would create another layer of government and additional work for officers when the Committee worked well as it was.  The Committee currently had a good budget and officers; a town council would need new members, officers and clerk as well as a base to meet and would have to pay for services such as emptying litter bins and lighting the streets. 

 

It was then proposed and seconded that the matter of setting up a town council should not be considered.

 

During further debate, the Chief Executive pointed out that BTAC had executive powers, delegated from Cabinet, and advised Members to consider what they believed they could do as a town council that they could not presently do as BTAC.  Officers would investigate the options if Members wished.  It would be a decision for Cabinet to consider if BTAC wished to recommend that the financial limit on its expenditure be raised. 

 

In response to a suggestion that the Committee could also investigate moving back to the full committee system, the Chairman advised Members that this would have to be considered by Full Council, not BTAC. 

 

[The meeting adjourned temporarily and Councillor Viven Edge left at this point.]

 

An amendment was then proposed and seconded that the matter be deferred to a future meeting and when put to the vote this was approved as the substantive motion.  A vote was then taken on the substantive motion and it was:

 

RESOLVED: That consideration of the possibility of setting up a town council be deferred to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

BTAC 2019/20 FINANCIAL POSITION UPDATE AS AT 31 OCTOBER 2019 pdf icon PDF 120 KB

(A report by Paul Julian, Chief Finance Officer) 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Accountancy Manager presented a report which provided the Committee with a report on BTAC’s financial position, showing the budget and projected outturn (full year spend) for the 2019/20 year, and the projected BTAC reserve at the year-end 31st March 2020.

 

A Member referred to the difficulty of understanding financial information. 

 

Action: PJ/TS

Add a third sheet to the financial report to give a ‘bottom line’ statement. 

 

Members were advised that a finance workshop had been arranged for the Committee, to take place on 8th January 2020.

41.

UPDATE ON TOWN CENTRE OPERATIVES ACTIVITY pdf icon PDF 118 KB

(A report to be presented by Phil Perry, Head of Place and Space)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Place and Space presented a report which provided an update on the BTAC Operatives’ Activity through October and November.

 

·         £333.40 had been received for scrappage for the old litter bins, which would go to the Operatives’ budget to carry out other work. 

·         39 more bins had been refurbished, 110 new bins had been installed with cigarette reservoirs, (90 funded by BTAC and 20 funded by Town Centre improvement fund).

·         Since the end of August, Local Authority Support, the Council’s enforcement partners, had  issued 161 fixed penalty notices for cigarette litter.

·         The Operatives were working with “Voice From The Gutter”, a lady who wished to remain anonymous who volunteered for 2 very early mornings each week cleaning various areas mainly around John Adams Way and Wide Bargate.

·         232 Volunteers had now signed up as Community Litter Champions, lots of these had been involved in the Big Boston Clean Up and decided they wanted to keep their own residential areas clean on a regular basis.

·         From 1st November 2018 until 31st October 2019 1,255 fly tips were collected and

o   211 were collected the same day they were reported

o   977 were collected within 2 working days (approximately 77%)

o   67 were outside of 2 days (this was primarily due to enforcement investigations and increased volume reported)

 

Members expressed their appreciation once again for the great work carried out by the Operatives and commended the Environment & Sustainability Officer.  It was suggested the improvements achieved be publicised, in line with the feedback from the Peer Review. 

 

The Head of Place and Space confirmed that Members could send details of any work required for the Operatives to carry out by using the BTAC enquiry email address: BTAC.enquiries@boston.gov.uk or they could speak directly to the Environment & Sustainability Officer.

 

Action: PP

1.    Publish the list of improvements carried out by the BTAC Operatives on the Council’s website.

2.    Advise Members of the action the Council can take regarding littered private land.

42.

PROPOSED REMOVAL OF BT PAYPHONES pdf icon PDF 54 KB

(An item presented by the Chairman, Councillor Paul Goodale)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had been consulted by BT regarding proposals to remove eight payphones in the Borough.  Three of these payphones were within the BTAC area and the Environment and Performance Committee asked the Committee to consider whether it wished to object to the proposals.  Any comments had to be received by the Development Management Department in writing by17:15 on 6th December 2019.

 

During debate, there was a view that one of the phones, located on Carlton Road, should be retained by BT, as it was in a key location and the consultation documents indicated it was used heavily.  It was pointed out that the payphone was in a particularly poor condition; it was damaged as well as dirty. 

 

Action: PP/JC

Write to BT to request that the payphone on Carlton Road be cleaned and repaired. 

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee objects to the removal of the payphone on Carlton Road on the grounds that the high volume of calls indicates it is significantly needed and this objection should be relayed to the Development Management Department to be included in the Council’s consultation response. 

 

43.

WORK PROGRAMME 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

(For Members to note/discuss)

Minutes:

A copy of the 2019/20 BTAC Work Programme was attached in the agenda.