Agenda item

Minutes:

Questions had been submitted under Procedural Rule A9 by Councillors Ford, Christie and Hicks.  

 

In accordance with the Constitution written answers to the questions had been circulated to all members.

 

Question from Councillor Ford

 

Please could you put forward the following question. 

 

Having had several in depth and positive meetings with the Chief Exec in recent weeks, I was informed that DBS are on a voluntary basis. I was wrongly of the opinion they were compulsory. Could this council make them mandatory as soon as possible as to adhere to best practice, may I suggest it would be appropriate for Cllr. Hackett to forward a notice of motion at the next full council to enact this change? However, if this is not acceptable I will introduce a motion in my name. 

 

Response

 

I have copied below an extract from TDCs Constitution, which details the position on DBS checks for Councillors.

 

It’s contained within our Member Code of Conduct

 

Councillors are expected and encouraged to undertake DBS checks and a record of those undertaken will be published on our website”

 

It was previously debated at Full Council back in 2018 when the intention was to make it mandatory, but we have found that it is not possible hence the entry in the members Code of Conduct.  The minutes from that meeting are:

 

  

Constitution update 2018

 

The Senior Solicitor & Monitoring Officer presented the report, the purpose of which was for Member approval of the updates to the Constitution detailed on the attached Appendices to the report. 

 

The report was broken into 2 sections, the first section covering 2 more significant amendments:

 

Members Code of Conduct to include a requirement that newly elected Members undergo a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

 

Members were asked to consider whether or not all newly elected Councillors

should be asked to undergo DBS check.  The Senior Solicitor & Monitoring Officer outlined the current legislative provision and advised that, although not a legal requirement, introduction of the proposal would promote public confidence.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hellyer, seconded by Councillor Pennington and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the Members Code of Conduct be amended to include a requirement that newly elected Members undergo a DBS check.

 

(Vote: For 25, Against 4)

 

 

As mentioned above we did explore whether could make them compulsory for Councillors as is the case for officers within relevant posts. This point was discussed when the amendments were presented to FC in September 2020 and through the Constitution WG.  It was originally in the Constitution as mandatory but was amended in the recent update because there’s nothing we can do to make Members undertake DBSs.

 

In addition to that entry it is also recorded against each Councillors’ profile on our website whether or not they have undertaken the check as highlighted below.

DBS Check:  Completed

In the absence of Councillor Ford, the question and response were noted.

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Question from Councillor Christie

 

This council has been given nearly £800,000 which has to be spent on repairing the riverside wall at Brunswick Wharf and officers have indicated they will be having talks with the developer of the Wharf site over possible changes to his plans in the light of this subsidy. Can officers say what they will be asking for?

 

Councillor P Christie

10 June 2021

 

Response

 

The announcement of funding was made last week and officers have only met briefly with the developer in advance of it being made public.  We have asked that the developer considers the impact the injection of funding will have on the overall development.

 

 

Councillor Christie thanked officers for the answer and requested that the 3 East-the-Water Councillors be kept apprised of any discussions with the developer.  Councillor Christie asked when the ”Land Release” funding was applied for and when had it been signed off by members, as, in light of the fact that it concerned the sale of public land, there may well be material considerations in respect of planning.

 

The Chief Executive confirmed that a written response will be provided to Councillor Christie.

 

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Question from Councillor Hicks

 

Re: Planning at Mambury Farm, East Putford 

Planning Ref No. 1/1106/2020/FUL

 

“How does the Council justify taking 6 months and still making no decision in respect of a planning application for a slurry store which is desperately needed to avoid a pollution of water courses and an SSSI this winter?”

 

 

Councillor R Hicks

11 June 2021

 

Response

 

Application 1/1106/2020/FUL - Extension to agricultural building and creation of slurry pit at Mambury Farm, East Putford.

 

The site (Mambury Farm) is within close proximity to Mambury & Stowford Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Thorn & Doves Moors SSSI, Kismeldon Meadows SSSI and Bradworthy Common SSSI, which are all component site if the Culms Grassland Special Area of Conservation (SAC). These important areas are sensitive from air pollutants such as can be associated with the development proposed.  The closest being the Mambury and Stowford Moors SSSI/Culm Grassland SAC within 600m.  Manure stores are a major source of emissions of ammonia which is directly toxic to vegetation. Ammonia is also a major contributor to the deposition of nitrogen, which reduce habitat biodiversity.

 

Natural England in their consultation response dated the 21st December 2020, advised this application contains insufficient information to enable Natural England to provide a substantive response.  In this case there is insufficient information provided in relation to air quality impacts.

 

The increase in slurry storage (which this application is proposing) means a greater surface area of slurry which means an increase in ammonia emissions and the potential for greater air quality impacts on designated sensitive site (such as the SSI and SAC).

 

Natural England have requested a SCAIL (Simple Calculation of Atmospheric Impact Limits) measurement for the extension to an agricultural building and slurry pit and the existing farm holding. Natural England have confirmed they need to assess the ‘in combination’ air quality effect.   This is necessary because the background at the SSSI is already high, so it’s required to assess where it’s coming from/looking at everything that is potentially causing that exceedance.  It’s also necessary as evidence to enable TDC as Local Planning Authority to do their Habitat Regulations Assessment.

 

Natural England (Clare Guthrie) has justified their request for more information and advised this proposal is similar in many ways to other high profile cases such Beckland Farm that Torridge DC has previously dealt with. The principles and approach with regard to air quality assessment are well established.

 

From reviewing the case officer notes, a request for this additional information has been consistently requested since January 2021.  Without this information, Natural England have confirmed they may need to object to this proposal.

 

The agent e-mailed the case officer on the 7th June 2021, who advised an Environmental Consultant is preparing a full SCAIL measurement for the whole farm to send to Natural England. 

 

Once the case officer has been provided the SCAIL measurement/Assessment this will be forwarded to Natural England for further comments.   The case officer is aware that there are mitigation measures that Natural England could suggest to reduce the air quality impact, eg, putting a lid on the slurry pit or re-locating this away from the SSSi.  The case officer will have a proactive discussion with Natural England to move this case forward once an ‘in combination’ SCAIL measurement has been submitted.

 

To sum up, Natural England advise that there is currently not enough information provided in the application to determine whether the likelihood of significant effect can be ruled out to the SSSI and SAC.  The agent has agreed (on the 7th June 2021) to do a whole farm SCAIL measurement to move this application forward.

 

Councillor Hicks explained that this very large dairy farm was trying to deal with the water pollution problem and had submitted a planning application in December 2020 and suggested that TDC’s officers need to get the necessary knowledge to proceed themselves and not rely in natural England.