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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Mold CH7 6NA

Contact: Sharon Thomas 01352 702324  Email: sharon.b.thomas@flintshire.gov.uk

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Items
No. Item

110.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that a personal interest would be recorded on behalf of all Members present for agenda item 8, the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) Annual Report for 2019.

Minutes:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that a personal interest would be recorded on behalf of all Members present for agenda item 8, the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) Annual Report for 2019.

111.

Petitions

To receive any Petitions.

Additional documents:

Decision:

None were received.

Minutes:

None were received.

 

Councillor Ron Davies gave notice of a forthcoming petition on the proposed withdrawal of buses 12 and 13, and was advised that the petition could be submitted in advance of the next Council meeting.  As Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Countryside, Councillor Carolyn Thomas clarified that the two bus services had been withdrawn by Arriva and that she was due to meet with residents.

112.

Public Question Time

This item is to receive any Public Questions: none were received by the deadline.

Additional documents:

Decision:

None were received.

Minutes:

None were received.

113.

Questions

To note the answers to any questions submitted in accordance with County Council Standing Order No. 9.4(A): none were received by the deadline.

Additional documents:

Decision:

None were received.

Minutes:

None were received.

114.

Notice of Motion pdf icon PDF 40 KB

This item is to receive any Notices of Motion: two were received by the deadline:

 

Councillor David Healey - Reform of the Council Tax system

 

Councillor Bernie Attridge - Lucy’s Law national campaign

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)       That the Notice of Motion from Councillor David Healey on the reform of the Council Tax system be supported, with the addition that a formal letter be written to the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and Welsh Government working group on local government reform; and

 

(b)       That the Notice of Motion from Councillor Attridge on Lucy’s Law be supported.

Minutes:

Two Notice of Motion were received:

 

(i)         Reform of the Council Tax system - Councillor David Healey

 

‘Flintshire County Council urges Welsh Government (WG) to seize the opportunity provided by the devolution of new powers to undertake a radical reform of the Council Tax system so that a more fair and progressive system can be used for the raising of revenue for local government in Wales.’

 

The Motion was seconded by Councillor Bernie Attridge.

 

In support of his Motion, Councillor Healey said that the current system took no account of household income, that it divided communities and was the main reason for a disconnect between residents and local councils in Wales.  The assumption by WG for councils to increase Council Tax levels by 6.5% before even considering their individual requirements meant that the burden of austerity was being passed to residents.  Whilst a recent WG report on Welsh Tax Policy recognised the possibility of reform, it failed to acknowledge the unfairness of the current system and the need to administer a national system of income tax which could be passported to local level.

 

As Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Aaron Shotton welcomed the Motion which was about identifying a more progressive and fairer system for residents across Wales.  The plea for local tax reform in Wales would accompany representations on the retention of business rates to support local services.  He referred to the budget debate at the previous meeting and the position on national funding which had led to the increase in Council Tax for 2019/20.  He said that the Council Tax system was particularly unfair to the younger generation many of whom did not own their own homes.  If agreed by the Council, he proposed that a formal letter be written to the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and WG working group on local government reform to ask that they consider the Motion.

 

A number of Members spoke in support such as Councillor Peers who said that the WG Minister was already aware that the system was broken and that the impact was different between North and South Wales.  Councillor Chris Bithell said that residents across Wales were equally affected and Councillor Billy Mullin described reform as long overdue.  Whilst Councillor Gladys Healey pointed out that the current system did not contribute to the WG’s own tax principles, Councillor Carver raised concerns that a different system could be even worse and Councillor Heesom said that Council Tax should be used to address the issues with the funding formula.  Councillor Carol Ellis said that the inconsistency of property bandings should be evidenced in the proposed letter and Councillor Tudor Jones called for the Council to build on the Motion to identify a fairer solution across Wales.

 

In responding to comments from some Members about the Council Tax increase for 2019/20, Councillor Carolyn Thomas said that the amendment put forward at the previous meeting would have put Council services in jeopardy and that the issue was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114.

115.

Council Tax setting for 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)       That the 2019-20 Council Tax be set as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report;

 

(b)       That the continuation of the policy of not providing a discount in the level of Council Tax charges for second homes and long-term empty homes be endorsed.  Also where exceptions do not apply, to charge the Council Tax Premium rate of 50% above the standard rate of Council Tax for second homes and long-term empty dwellings; and

 

(c)       That approval be given for designated officers to issue legal proceedings and appear on behalf of the Council in the Magistrates’ Court for unpaid taxes.

Minutes:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer introduced the report to formally set the Council Tax charges and associated statutory resolutions for 2019/20 as part of the wider budget strategy on the basis of the decision taken by the Council on 19 February.

 

The Revenues Manager spoke about the three separate precepts which made up the overall level of Council Tax charges against each property.  He advised that the proposed increase in Flintshire’s precept was 8.75% (resulting in a charge of £1,280.68 for a Band D property; an annual increase of £103.08).  A 7.74% increase was reported on the precept for the Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales, and the individual precept requirements for the 34 Town and Community Councils across Flintshire (total increase 2.13%) were appended to the report.  The overall amount raised by Council Tax consisted of the County Council’s total precept of £82,369.496, the North Wales Police & Crime Commissioner’s total precept of £17,886,558 and collective precept of £2,929,690 across Town and Community Councils.

 

In accordance with other procedural matters, Members were asked to endorse the continuation of the Council Tax Premium scheme and the practice for designated officers to lead on legal proceedings on behalf of the Council.

 

The Chief Executive explained that the resolution was to formally set the Council Tax following closure of the budget process for 2019/20 at the previous meeting.  The prescribed figures would be set out in Council Tax bills along with payment instalment options.  Due to the statutory limitations on information contained on Council Tax bills, this year they would be accompanied by a budget infographic explaining how the total amount was made up.

 

In moving the recommendations, Councillor Aaron Shotton referred to the lengthy budget debate which had resulted in a difficult decision, recognising the need to protect services and consider the future impact of austerity.  He welcomed the infographic of factual information produced by officers and encouraged Members to share this to help understanding of the situation.

 

This was seconded by Councillor Bernie Attridge.

 

Councillor Mike Peers said that the proposed increase in Council Tax was not supported by all Members and that the amount spent to recover outstanding debt could have been better used towards the shortfall in funding.  On the report’s third recommendation, he spoke about the level of unpaid Council Tax which had been reported to Overview & Scrutiny and asked about actions to improve collection rates.

 

The Chief Executive clarified that debt was capital borrowing debt only and that a report on Council Tax collection would be scheduled for the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

 

Councillor Richard Jones said that the report provided more detail on the impact of the budget decision and that every valuation band would be set at over £1,000 per year, particularly affecting those with lower incomes.  He commented that the proposed 8.75% increase for the Council’s precept was the highest set by Flintshire and amongst the highest in Wales for 2019/20.  He went on to refer to the scale of the increase over  ...  view the full minutes text for item 115.

116.

Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) Annual Report for 2019 pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)       That the decisions which the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales has made on Member salaries for 2019/20 be noted; and

 

(b)       That the County Council notes that a further report will be made to the June meeting, once all appointments to senior salary posts have been made following the Annual General Meeting on 7 May 2019.

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) Annual report for 2019/20 which determined the rates of payment for elected and co-opted Members of Welsh Local Authorities for the next financial year.  The draft proposals had been considered on 20 November 2018 when Members had opposed the proposed increases as being unjustifiable.

 

Members were reminded of the obligation to apply the determinations of the IRPW (as set out in the report) unless they chose to independently and voluntarily write to the Democratic Services Manager to forego all or any element of the payment.  A further report would be submitted to the County Council in June, once all appointments to senior salary posts had been made following the Annual General Meeting.

 

The recommendations in the report were proposed by Councillor Bernie Attridge and seconded by Councillor Ian Dunbar.

 

Councillor Richard Jones asked about the possibility of all Members voting to forego the increase and was advised that such representations must be made in writing (by letter or email) by individual Members.

 

Councillor Aaron Shotton said it was unfortunate that the timing of the report coincided with the Council Tax setting and that the same level of scrutiny did not apply to appointments to other public bodies across Wales.  In reiterating the views expressed at the November meeting, he said that he would not be accepting the proposed increase.

 

The Chief Executive said that the report was submitted annually to the County Council and that consideration may be given to how this was done in future, given that all the information was published.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Dunbar, the Chief Executive advised that as the Council was entirely responsible for paying allowances, any decision by Members to refuse their increase would have the effect of reducing this specific budget pressure.  Alternatively, Members may wish to pass the increase on to a third party if they wished.

 

Councillor Carol Ellis proposed an amendment that Members vote on whether to accept the increase in advance of writing to the proper officer, in order to reduce the budget pressure.  This was seconded by Councillor Richard Jones.

 

To assist the debate, the Chief Executive said that such a vote would only be advisory but raised concerns that this could put pressure on Members in considering their individual circumstances.

 

Councillor Ellis confirmed that she wished her amendment to stand.

 

On hearing the officer advice, Councillor Jones withdrew his seconding of the amendment.

 

The amendment was subsequently seconded by Councillor Helen Brown.

 

Councillor Neville Phillips spoke against the amendment on the basis of the officer advice.

 

Whilst Councillor Mike Peers understood the rationale behind the amendment, he agreed with the officer advice that Members should not vote and instead make their own decision on whether to opt out of the increase.

 

Having been proposed and seconded, the Chief Executive summarised the amendment as a third recommendation which was agreed by Councillor Ellis as follows: That the County Council invites all Members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.

117.

Petitions received at Council pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the report be noted.

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented a report on the outcomes and actions of petitions submitted to County Council during 2018/19.  As agreed at the October meeting, a similar report would be submitted to the last scheduled County Council meeting of each municipal year.

 

The recommendations of the report were moved by Councillor Bernie Attridge.

 

In response to comments from Councillor Clive Carver, the Chief Executive suggested that any Members who needed clarity on the outcomes of specific petitions should contact the Democratic Services Manager.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

118.

Members of the Press and Public in Attendance

Additional documents:

Decision:

There were seven members of the public and one member of the press in attendance.

Minutes:

There were seven members of the public and one member of the press in attendance.

 

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