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Apologies For Absence
To receive apologies for absence from the meeting
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Brown, Bushby, Craigie and Hepple.
15 minute period for public contributions
Mrs Annie Brenton expressed the view that there was a democratic deficiency in the way Torridge District Council handled certain procedures. She made reference to the Full Council meeting held on 28 October where 7 Notices of Motion had been brought forward. In accordance with the Constitution, no discussion had been permitted. Mrs Brenton was of the opinion that members of the public had a right to hear debates on subjects which were of concern to them.
Mrs Brenton went on to speak about the recent court case and other projects and urged new councillors, particularly those who stood for greater transparency.
Declarations of interest
Members with interests to declare should refer to the Agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is being discussed.
Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.
Agreement of Agenda Items Part I and II
It was moved by the Chair that as much of the discussion as possible be held in Part I to provide members of the public with a record. He instructed Members that no Officer should be mentioned by name and that the proposals for the way forward would be dealt with in Part II. Further clarification was given that the Council as a whole will be responsible for taking the matter forward and “the Council” encompassed both Officers and Councillors.
Councillors were invited to put questions on the judgement to the Officers.
A ballpark figure of anticipated costs was requested and these were detailed as follows:
The Senior Solicitor set out the timetable for the appeal process and confirmed that preparation of the appeal case, if Members were minded to appeal, would be carried out in house. She also advised Members that submitted costs were based initially on an estimate of costs up until the trial at which point the judge then set the costs budget. Kivells had exceeded that budget and the matter had been referred to a judge who specialised in costs.
· The appointment of the barrister and his evaluation of the case
· Site visits, attempts at mediation and meetings which had taken place between Kivells and Councillors
· The way the matter had been handled by the previous administration and reassurance was given by the Head of Paid Service that the previous Leader and Deputy Leader and the current Leader and Deputy Leader had been kept informed of the proceedings. Other Councillors who had enquired had also been updated throughout.
Councillor Boughton declared an interest – he is a farmer and has dealings with Kivells.
The Senior Solicitor re-iterated that there had been many negotiations with Kivells which had ended in stalemate and the case being brought against Torridge District Council. TDC had 2 options:
1. to pay £1.1m costs
2. to defend Torridge District Council’s position
Exclusion of Public
The Chair to move:
“That the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting because of the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972”
It was proposed by Councillor Laws, seconded by Councillor Watson and –
That under Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act (as amended) the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business because of the likely disclosure of exempt information by virtue of Paragraph 3 of Part 1 and Paragraph 10 of Part 2 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
(Vote: For 26, Against 5)
PART II - (CLOSED SESSION)
Items which may be taken in the absence of the public and press on the grounds that exempt information may be disclosed.
Update on recent legal case and judgement
Verbal update from the Head of Paid Service and Senior Solicitor
The Senior Solicitor outlined the appeal process and the steps she had taken already to reserve the Council’s position.
Councillor Ford left the meeting.
A supplement pack had been circulated prior to the meeting but several Councillors did not feel they had had enough time to digest the information.
In accordance with the Council Constitution it was proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded by Councillor Hutchings and –
Resolved: That standing orders be suspended to allow Members to speak more than once on the matter.
(Vote: For – 29, Abstentions 1)
The Head of Paid Service gave a brief overview of the site and a short history of the development. The figures relating to the claim were explained.
Having given details of the negotiations which had taken place, the Senior Solicitor told the meeting that the court order must now be addressed.
Members debated the recommendations in the report.
It was proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Jones and –
That the first recommendation in the report be discounted..
(Vote: For 28, Abstentions 2)
Councillor Rossi left the meeting.
It was proposed, seconded and –
That the second recommendation be approved.
(Vote: For – unanimous)
It was proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Hicks and –
That the Leader, the Deputy Leader, the Planning & Economy Manager and the Strategic Manager (Resources) meet with Kivells to move the business relationship forward.
(Vote: For – unanimous)
It was proposed by Councillor Hicks, seconded by Councillor Hackettt and –
That the fourth recommendation be discounted.
(Vote: For – unanimous)
Councillor Manley left the meeting.
It was proposed by Councillor Watson, seconded by Councillor Hackettt and –
That consideration be given to the final recommendation with a report being brought back to Full Council.
(Vote: For 22, Against 6, Abstentions 1)
It was proposed by Councillor Hutchings, seconded by Councillor McGeough and –
That the Leader and Deputy Leader formulate a press release.
(Vote: For 27, Against 2)
It was proposed by Councillor Brenton and seconded by Councillor McGeough that the press and public be re-admitted.
(Vote: For – Unanimous)