Scottish Borders Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Newtown St. Boswells

Contact: Louise McGeoch Tel 01835 825005  email  lmcgeoch@scotborders.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Convener's Remarks.

Minutes:

1.1     The Convener represented the Inspire Award to Lisa Allan, CEDAR Co-ordinator (Children Experiencing Domestic Abuse Recovery) which she had received for her work with a group of 8 young people over the past 18 months.

 

1.2     The Convener advised that the Tweedbank Masterplan had been highly commended by AJ Architecture Awards.  The Architects’ Masterplan (Proctor and Matthews) for the Tweedbank Village Extension had received the following comment “this is an outstanding and thoroughly worked-through scheme which does something beautiful for a beautiful site”. 

 

1.3     The Convener thanked Councillor Thornton-Nicol for ensuring that all Councillors were now trained as “dementia friends”.

 

          DECISION

          AGREED that congratulations be passed to those concerned.

 

2.

Minute pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Consider Minute of Scottish Borders Council held on 29 November 2018 for approval and signing by the Convener.  (Copy attached.)

 

Minutes:

The Minute of the Meeting held on 29 November 2018 was considered. 

 

DECISION

AGREED that the Minute be approved and signed by the Convener.

 

3.

Committee Minutes pdf icon PDF 24 KB

Consider Minutes of the following Committees:-

 

(a)     Major Contracts Governance Group                 6 November 2018

(b)     Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer

          Communities Board                                           9 November 2018

(c)     William Hill Trust                                                 14 November 2018

(d)     Lauder Common Good Fund                             14 November 2018

(e)     Civic Government Licensing                              16 November 2018

(f)      Local Review Body                                            19 November 2018

(g)     Executive                                                           20 November 2018

(h)     Galashiels Common Good Fund                       20 November 2018

(i)      Community Planning Strategic Board               22 November 2018

(j)      Peebles Common Good Fund                           28 November 2018

(k)     Chambers Institution Trust                                 28 November 2018

(l)      Executive                                                           4 December 2018

 

(Please see separate Supplement containing the public Committee Minutes.)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the following Committees had been circulated:-

 

Major Contracts Governance Group                                         6 November 2018

Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer Communities Board              9 November 2018

William Hill Trust                                                                        14 November 2018

Lauder Common Good Fund                                                     14 November 2018

Civic Government Licensing                                                     16 November 2018

Local Review Body                                                                    19 November 2018

Executive                                                                                   20 November 2018

Galashiels Common Good Fund                                               20 November 2018

Community Planning Strategic Board                                       22 November 2018

Peebles Common Good Fund                                                   28 November 2018

Chambers Institution Trust                                                         28 November 2018

Executive                                                                                   4 December 2018

        

DECISION

APPROVED the Minutes listed above.

 

4.

Budget update on the Local Government Finance Settlement pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Consider report by Chief Financial Officer.  (Copy attached.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There had been circulated copies of a report by the Chief Financial Officer providing an initial assessment of the planning assumptions that should now be followed in constructing the revenue plans for 2019/20 and in subsequent financial years following the publication of the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20 on 17 December 2018.  Now the draft Settlement had been received, the report updated the financial challenge facing the Council and set out a recommended approach to be followed to balance the budget. Reductions in the level of government grant being provided to the Council totaled 2.3% next year.  This would see the resources available to the Council reduced by £4.604m when compared to resources available in 2018/19.  The comparable figure for Local Government in Scotland was a cash reduction of 2.4%.  Officers in planning for the settlement had been assuming a reduction in government grant of 1% in 2019/20 which was in line with average assumptions across Scotland.   The actual cash reduction of 2.3% was significantly higher than estimated and presented greater challenges to the organisation.  The settlement also contained a number of new statutory burdens which authorities were expected to deliver in 2019/20.  This included a requirement to increase the funding available to the Integration Joint Board (IJB) by £2.496m when compared to the 2018/19 recurrent delegated budgets. Coupled with the reduction in Government grant, the Council would have to fund significant cost pressures next year that would require increases in the Council Tax, increases in fees & charges and a significant programme of cost reductions in order to balance the budget and protect core services.  The settlement permitted the Council to increase the council tax by up to 3% to fund local services and offset the impact of grant reductions.  The Settlement noted that £120m had been made available nationally and would be transferred from the health budget to local government in year for further investment in integration, including delivery of the living wage and uprating of free personal care.  This funding was in addition to the £7.347m of delegated budget from the Integration Joint Board (IJB) in 2018/19.  This funding was baselined and would continue.  2019/20 would be the second year of the 5 year financial plan which commenced in 2018/19.  This longer term corporate approach to the budget would, by the end of 2018/19 have delivered over £60m of cost reduction savings thereby ensuring the Council had balanced its budget and delivered a small underspend in each year since the 5 year planning approach was first adopted in 2013/14.  A corporate approach was again being taken to the development of the budget in 2019/20 focussed on transforming Council services, investment in new technology to reduce costs, greater operational efficiency, new ways of working and the prioritisation of core Council services.  Members discussed the settlement and in response to a question the Chief Financial Officer advised that inflation was currently 2.3% which increased the budget challenge.

 

DECISION

NOTED the outcome of the local government settlement and the planning  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Council Tax 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Consider report by Chief Financial Officer.  (Copy attached.)

Minutes:

There had been circulated copies of a report by the Chief Financial Officer providing information on the estimated impact of a 3% proposed increase in Council Tax in 2019/20.  The report explained that Council Tax funded around 20% of local government net revenue expenditure in the Scottish Borders, the remainder coming from Government in the form of direct revenue support grant.  The Council Tax in the Scottish Borders was the sixth lowest in mainland Scotland and 9th lowest overall once the island Councils were included.  Council Tax was a tax on domestic property which were banded based on their valuation at the 1991 levels and any new properties were also assessed on estimated values from 1991 and allocated to one of the 8 property bandings (A-H).  The property bandings and the numbers of properties in each band for the Scottish Borders were listed in the report.  An increase of 3% would generate an additional £1.8m of income.  Members agreed that they would have preferred to only increase the rate by 1.5% but had no choice to accept a 3% increase.

 

DECISION

AGREED to increase all Council tax bands A - H by 3% from 1 April 2019.

 

6.

Fees and Charges 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Consider report by Chief Financial Officer.  (Copy attached.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There had been circulated copies of a report by the Chief Financial Officer providing a schedule of proposed 2019/20 fees and charges as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.  The report explained that for 2019/20 the fees and charges were based on the approved 2018/19 charges plus an inflationary increase of at least 3% unless there was a business reason not to do so, such as charges being set nationally or if the increase would have a negative effect on usage.  The increase in fees and charges was expected to generate an additional income of £150k.  Members noted that the increase was in-line with inflation.

 

DECISION

AGREED to approve the fees and charges schedule with effect from 1 April 2019, as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

7.

Byelaws to Prohibit the Consumption of Alcohol in Designated Public Places pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Consider report by Service Director Regulatory Services.  (Copy attached.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

DECLARATION OF INTEREST

Councillor Moffat declared an interest in the following item of business in terms of Section 5 of the Councillors Code of Conduct and left the Chamber during the discussion.

 

With reference to paragraph 4 of the Minute of 29 November 2018, there had been circulated copies of a report by the Service Director Regulatory Services providing an update on the current position regarding the Alcohol Byelaws and the next steps required should Council wish to progress the byelaws. The report explained that following engagement with the then five Area Forums, the Community Councils and the public over a seven month period in 2013/2014 a report on “Byelaws to Prohibit the Consumption of Alcohol in Designated in Public Places” was considered by Council in March 2014.  The Service Director Regulatory Services was instructed to take matters forward under the statutory process.  In terms of the statutory process, Letters of Content were required from the Police and the Procurator Fiscal.  Draft Byelaws were forwarded to the relevant parties for their comment which took some time to be received.  On receipt of the comments further revisals were required to the draft Byelaws.  At this stage the Council’s Licensing Officers’ views on the comments received were also requested.  Due to the comments received from all parties the draft Byelaws were further revised and fresh Letters of Content requested from the Police and Procurator Fiscal.  The Council’s decision of 2014 now required Officers to submit the draft Byelaws to the Scottish Government for comment, along with the Letters of Content from the Police and Procurator Fiscal.  Thereafter a formal public consultation exercise would be carried out in terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Fuller details of the process are outlined in Section 4 of this Report.  It had been over four and a half years since Council last considered this matter and it had therefore taken an exceptionally long period of time for this juncture to have been reached. For this reason, Members were being asked to consider whether or not they wished Officers to proceed as originally agreed.  Members discussed the position and were divided on both whether such byelaws should be introduced and if there should be further consultation.

 

VOTES

Councillor Greenwell, seconded by Councillor Edgar, moved that recommendation (b)(i) continue to progress the draft byelaws as originally agreed.

 

Councillor S. Hamilton, seconded by Councillor Brown, moved as an amendment recommendation (b)(ii) cease the current process and not submit to Scottish Government.

 

Councillor Laing, seconded by Councillor Turnbull, moved as an amendment recommendation (b)(iii) start a new consultation process to consider the need for Bye-laws in the Scottish Borders.

 

The Clerk to the Council explained thatas the Amendment by Councillor S. Hamilton proposed no further action and as such in terms of Standing Orders involved the direct negative a vote for and against that would be taken first.  If this amendment was defeated then there would be a second vote placing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Tweedbank Development Update pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Consider report by Executive Director.  (Copy attached.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

With reference to paragraph 8 of the minute of 28 June 2018, there had been circulated copies of a joint report by the Executive Director and Service Director Assets and Infrastructure providing an update on the development of all projects being undertaken at Tweedbank together with an update on the concluded acquisition of Lowood Estate.   The report explained that this was the first opportunity to provide a single update on all of the Tweedbank projects in the public domain, a number of the previous reports having been considered in private given the commercial nature of the issues being addressed. The report detailed the current position in respect of the four Council owned sites in Tweedbank, the acquisition of Lowood Estate, the development of the Tweedbank Masterplan, the City Deal and economic development associated with the Borders Railway Blueprint.  The Executive Director provided further information and advised that the Scottish Government had now confirmed funding for site 1.  Economic data would continue to be updated and Supplementary Guidance on the development of the Lowood Estate would be developed.  The Convener reminded Members that they should not raise any matter previously included in a private report and in response to a question on the content of a statement by Councillor Bell the Chief Legal Officer advised that she had been consulted in advance of the meeting and considered that it contained no confidential matters.  Members discussed the various projects, and views both for and against the acquisition of the Lowood site were expressed.  With regard to the City Deal it was anticipated that the full business case would be available for Council consideration at the meeting on 31 January 2019 with any necessary amendments being brought to the 28 February meeting.

 

DECISION

(a)        NOTED:-

 

          (i)      the content of the report and the progress of development in respect of the projects at Tweedbank;

 

          (ii)     the details of the acquisition of Lowood Estate; and

 

          (iii)   the continued development of the City Deal proposals

 

(b)     AGREED the proposed timing of report(s) to Council in respect of considering the Full City Deal Business Case.

 

MEMBER

Councillor Aitchison left the meeting.

 

9.

South of Scotland Enterprise Bill - Parliamentary Consultation Response pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Consider report by Executive Director.  (Copy to follow.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There had been circulated copies of a report by the Executive Director seeking approval of the Council’s response to the Scottish Parliament’s call for views on the recently introduced South of Scotland Enterprise Bill.  The report explained that the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 24 October 2018 with the aim of ensuring that the new Agency was operational by 1 April 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval.  The consultation on the Bill would close on 7 January 2019.  Given the importance of the call for views to the Scottish Borders, it was vital that Scottish Borders Council submitted a considered and comprehensive response before that deadline.  As part of Stage 1 of the Bill process the Council had been called to give evidence and Councillor Rowley, Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, would give evidence on behalf of the Council at a Parliamentary Committee meeting on 14 January 2019.  It was recommended that Appendix 2 to the report was submitted to the Scottish Parliament as the formal response from Scottish Borders Council, subject to final agreement after discussions with South of Scotland Alliance partners.  Councillor Robson advised that he felt there was an omission from the Bill regarding consultation with local authorities which was included at Part 1, Section 5 – 1(b) in the Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Bill 1990 setting up Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  It was agreed that this be added to the Council’s response.

 

DECISION

AGREED:-

 

(a)     to note the significant progress being made in moving towards the establishment of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency;

 

(b)     that the draft response set out in Appendix 2 to the report subject to the amendment detailed in the narrative above be submitted to the Scottish Parliament as the Council’s formal response to the call for views on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill;

 

(c)     to delegate responsibility for finalising the call for views submission to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader, the Executive Member for Business and Economic Development and the Leader of the Opposition, and subject to further detailed discussions with South of Scotland Alliance partners; and

 

(d)     to delegate responsibility for agreeing the response to the Finance and Constitution Committee’s call for views to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader, the Executive Member for Business and Economic Development and the Leader of the Opposition, and subject to further detailed discussions with South of Scotland Alliance partners.

 

10.

Scottish Borders Child Protection Committee Annual Report 2017-2018 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Consider report by Chief Social Work and Public Protection Officer.  (Copy attached.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There had been circulated copies of a report by the Chief Social Work and Public Protection Officer detailing the activities of the Child Protection Committee during the period 1st August 2017 – 31st July 2018 aimed at protecting children and young people in the Scottish Borders from abuse and neglect.  The Annual Report covered the main activities of the multi-agency Child Protection Committee (CPC) and its Sub Committees.  The report highlighted the continuing work being undertaken in the Scottish Borders to meet the Council’s statutory duties to protect children and young people at risk of harm.  This included information on the work of the Child Protection Committee, the statistical information collated and the significant training and development that had been provided in this area.  Mr Michael Batty, Independent Chair of the Committee, was also present at the meeting.  He explained that full membership of the Committee had been included for the first time and highlighted where referrals to the Committee were received.  He advised that new national guidance was expected in January 2019 and this might impact the production of future reports.  Members thanked Mr. Batty and the Committee for the work they were doing to keep children safe.  The Convener commented on the sad death of Ann Blackie earlier in the year and her significant contribution to the work of the Committee which would be sorely missed.

 

DECISION

NOTED the content of the Child Protection Committee Annual Report.

 

11.

Committee Membership

Consider appointment of Executive Committee Member of the Community Planning Strategic Board.

Minutes:

It was noted that a Member of the Executive Committee required to be appointed to the Community Planning Strategic Board.  Councillor Haslam, seconded by Councillor Greenwell, moved that Councillor Turnbull be appointed and this was approved.

 

DECISION

AGREED that Councillor Turnbull be appointed to the Community Planning Strategic Board.

 

12.

Motion by Councillor Laing

Consider Motion by Councillor Laing in the following terms:-

 

“From January 2019 there will be a total ban on burning of plastics on farms and farmers will be expected to find other means of disposal, primarily through recycling.  Farmers will be required to recycle LDPE Silage Wrap, LDPE crop covers, LDPE polytunnel plastic, PP fertiliser bags, PP washed pails and HDPE drums and other items. 

 

This is a welcome step in the battle to recycle all plastics and it will hopefully reduce the level of plastic ending up in landfill.   Given the constant need to raise public awareness of the importance of recycling, we now ask officers to design and run a public information campaign to ensure all Borders residents better understand which materials, including plastics, can be recycled and know the best means of recycling them.”

 

Minutes:

Councillor Laing, seconded by Councillor S. Hamilton, moved approval of her Motion as detailed on the agenda in the following terms:-

 

“From January 2019 there will be a total ban on burning of plastics on farms and farmers will be expected to find other means of disposal, primarily through recycling.  Farmers will be required to recycle LDPE Silage Wrap, LDPE crop covers, LDPE polytunnel plastic, PP fertiliser bags, PP washed pails and HDPE drums and other items. 

 

This is a welcome step in the battle to recycle all plastics and it will hopefully reduce the level of plastic ending up in landfill.   Given the constant need to raise public awareness of the importance of recycling, we now ask officers to design and run a public information campaign to ensure all Borders residents better understand which materials, including plastics, can be recycled and know the best means of recycling them.”

 

Councillor Laing circulated some information from Zero Waste Scotland and spoke in support of her Motion.  Councillor Bell proposed that the words “to be led by Councillors” be added after the words “public information campaign” and this was accepted.  The Motion was unanimously approved.

 

DECISION

AGREED the Motion above as amended.

13.

Open Questions pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Minutes:

The questions submitted by Councillors Bell, Ramage, Robson and Aitchison were answered.

 

DECISION

NOTED the replies as detailed in Appendix I to this Minute.

14.

Private Business

Before proceeding with the private business, the following motion should be approved:-

 

“That under Section 50A(4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the relevant paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 7A to the aforementioned Act.”

Minutes:

DECISION

AGREED under Section 50A(4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 to exclude the public from the meeting during consideration of the business detailed in Appendix II to this Minute on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1, 6, 8 and 9 of Part I of Schedule 7A to the Act.

 

      SUMMARY OF PRIVATE BUSINESS

 

 

15.

Minute

Consider private Section of Minute of Scottish Borders Council held on 29 November 2018.  (Copy attached.)

Minutes:

The private section of the Council Minute of 29 November 2018 was approved. 

16.

Committee Minutes

Consider private Sections of the Minutes of the following Committees:-

 

(a)     Major Contracts Governance Group                 6 November 2018

(b)     Civic Government Licensing                              16 November 2018

(c)     Galashiels Common Good Fund                       20 November 2018

(d)     Chambers Institution Trust                                 28 November 2018

 

(Copies attached.)

Minutes:

The private sections of the Committee Minutes as detailed in paragraph3 of this Minute were approved.

 

17.

Scottish Water Tank at South Common Farm, Selkirk

Consider report by Service Director Assets and Infrastructure.  (Copy attached.)

Minutes:

Members approved a recommendation from the Selkirk Common Good Fund Sub-Committee regarding the sale of land.

 

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