Full Cabinet – 17 September 2008

PRESENT: Councillor Kirk in the chair.

Councillors Foster (vice chair), Carlile, Gosling, O’Sullivan, Regan and Swift.

Councillors Barker, B Briggs, Bunyan, England, Glover, Poole, Mrs Redfern, Smith, Whiteley and Wilson also attended the meeting.

Simon Driver, Richard Stiff, Caroline Barkley, Sean Brennan, Mike Briggs, Adrian Capon, Liesel Dickinson, Barry Fleetwood, Keith Ford, Denise Hyde, Rachel Johnson, Neil Laminman, David Lea, Dave Watson, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams, Sarah Williamson, Mike Wood and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.

755 DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – Councillor Mark Kirk declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 5 as a member of Yorkshire Forward and Councillor Tony Gosling declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 4 as a member of the Humber Bridge Board.

756 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of cabinet held on 9 July 2008, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.

757 (71) OUTSTANDING ACTION FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS OF CABINET – The Service Director Legal and Democratic submitted a report which contained a schedule of outstanding issues on which cabinet had requested reports to future meetings.

Resolved – That the report be noted.

758 (72) HUMBER BRIDGE – PROPOSED TOLL INCREASE – The Chief Executive submitted a report which indicated that the Humber Bridge Board was seeking approval from the Secretary of State for Transport to increase the toll for all classes of vehicle, under Section 10(1) of the Humber Bridge Act 1971. If approved, the Bridge Board would implement the increase “as soon as practically possible”. Individuals and organisations had until 6 October 2008 to object in writing to the Secretary of State for Transport. A copy of any objection must also be sent to the Humber Bridge Board.

The Secretary of State for Transport, before making an Order under Section 10 of the Act and having considered the level of objections can require a public inquiry to be held.

The Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) supported the four Humber unitary councils opposition to the level of tolls on the Humber Bridge. The FSB in July 2008 consulted its members on both banks of the Humber and a total of 84% said scrapping the tolls would be of “great benefit” or “some benefit” to them. Over 8 out of 10 businesses (83%) said the removal of the tolls would encourage greater economic activity on the other side of the bridge than is presently the case.

In the light of cabinet’s long held opposition to higher tolls on the Humber Bridge – and the adverse impact they had on local residents and businesses – it would be consistent with this to call on the Secretary of State for Transport to hold a local public inquiry on the proposal to increase tolls under Section 10 of the Humber Bridge Act 1971.

The report contained further detailed information about this issue including options for either objecting to the increase or not.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet agrees to make representations on the proposed toll increase on the Humber Bridge, citing the adverse economic, social and environmental consequences likely to arise if the increase is approved; (b) that cabinet calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to hold a public inquiry to allow the council and other interested parties to make known their opposition to a further increase in the tolls; (c) that the Leader and Chief Executive agree the contents of the council’s objections to the planned toll increase, and (d) that cabinet agrees that council is formally represented if a local public inquiry is held and that discussions with the other unitary councils and partners in the sub region be held on how best to pool resources and expertise.

759 (73) NEW ENTERTAINMENTS VENUE FOR SCUNTHORPE – PROGRESS REPORT – The Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report updating cabinet on progress on the redevelopment of the Baths Hall site to provide a new entertainments venue for Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire.

In September 2007, cabinet had agreed to redevelop the Baths Hall site to provide a new entertainments venue (minute 683 refers). In February 2008, council had resolved to create a venue for audiences of up to 1200 seated and 2000 standing. The report outlined progress to date on a number of issues including project governance and management, progress on site, a business plan, the design for the venue, management options and future decisions which were expected to be taken by cabinet.

The closure of the Baths Hall had been opposed by some members of the public and there had been a campaign to retain the venue. Concern had also been expressed at the loss of the 1931 frontage. The council’s proposals addressed these concerns. The Scunthorpe Town Team had been informed of the proposals and supported the project and around 1,100 respondents had completed a web based survey. The outcomes were reported to the 20 February council meeting and the comments and observations made had played a key role in the development of the project proposals.

The report indicated that further consultation was planned including a drop in event for local residents and the public in general on 12 September and a further opportunity for members of the public to see and comment on the designs on 26 and 27 September. A design briefing for members of the council had been held on 11 September. In addition, the council’s website provided information about the design and the opportunity for interested parties to comment. Media briefings would support these activities.

The Deputy Chief Executive updated cabinet orally on these events.

Resolved – That the report be noted.

760 (74) LOCAL GOVERNMENT WHITE PAPER. LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH ACT 2007 – ‘COMMUNITIES IN CONTROL: REAL PEOPLE, REAL POWER’ – A report was submitted by the Chief Executive providing an update on the key developments arising from the Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities, the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and summarising the recently published White Paper ‘Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power’.

Following on from the White Paper ‘Strong and Prosperous Communities’ which was published in October 2006, the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act had received Royal Assent in October 2007. Cabinet had considered the main aspects of this Act in November 2007 and April 2008. Some of the guidance and implementation information had been published and others were still awaited. A summary of guidance published since April 2008 and recommendations for taking these forward were detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.

The recently published White Paper entitled ‘Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power’ contained significant proposals which would have implications for the council and for local government generally. Appendix 1 to the report contained some of the detail.

Resolved – (a) That the recommendations contained in Appendix 1 be noted and approved; (b) that further briefings be arranged for all elected members and senior officers as guidance is published; (c) that the council’s strategic action plan be refreshed in line with future national and local requirements; (d) that further reports be submitted to cabinet on key areas and implementation as and when guidance is received, and (e) that the offer made by the Audit Commission be approved and that arrangements be made for a presentation to all members of the council prior to 20 October, 2008 to enable a response to be made to the consultation.

761 (75) FRAMEWORK FOR A FAIRER FUTURE – THE EQUALITY BILL 2008 – The Chief Executive submitted a report which provided an outline of the Equality Bill 2008. This Bill would be introduced in the next parliamentary session (December or early 2009). The Bill aimed to declutter, simplify and strengthen the law relating to equality. For public authorities the Bill would provide for a new public sector equality duty, which would bring together the three existing duties (race, disability and gender) extending the new duty to include gender reassignment, age, sexual orientation, religion and belief. It would also provide for annual reporting on rates of pay by gender and employment of people from ethnic minorities and disabled people. In addition, the Bill would enable the phasing in of laws prohibiting age discrimination and access to public and private sector goods, facilities and services, broaden the scope of positive action and strengthen enforcement.

The report submitted summarised the recent framework and response to consultation documentation that had been published including the Green Paper, Discrimination Law Review: A Framework for Fairness: Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain together with the Government’s response to the framework and discrimination law consultation.

The report contained further information in relation to this matter.

Resolved – (a) That the report be noted; (b) that briefings be made available to elected members and senior officers as and when the Bill becomes legislation and further guidance becomes available, and (c) that further reports be submitted to cabinet on key areas affecting implementation in due course.

762 (76) REVIEW OF COUNCIL MEDIA AND ADVERTISEMENTS – ACTION PLAN – The Service Director Community, Planning and Resources submitted a report seeking consideration of an action plan in response to the Economic Development and Corporate Issues Scrutiny Panel report on a review of council media and advertisements.

At its meeting held on 9 July 2008, cabinet had considered a report of the Economic Development and Corporate Issues Scrutiny Panel in relation to a review of council media and advertisements (minute 754 refers). That report contained five main recommendations which had been approved by cabinet and referred to the Service Director Community, Planning and Resources with a view to the preparation of an action plan.

The report now submitted contained the detailed action plan for taking forward the recommendations of the scrutiny report.

Resolved – That the action plan attached as an appendix to the report be approved and adopted.