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DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest made.
To consider the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 15 June 2022.
The committee considered the minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 June 2022.
Councillor Moffat commented that she felt the minutes did not fully express the weight of concern raised at the meeting regarding the Local Plan. She suggested if the minutes had included more about this item then the Cabinet may have made a different decision when they considered the Issues and Options report at their 19 July, 2022 meeting. She also suggested that including Members names should be recorded against their comments in minutes.
The Chair responded that if Members wished for a specific point to be noted in the minutes then the process was to request this during the meeting.
Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2022 be agreed as a correct record.
The committee had been convened to consider a Call-In made in relation to the decision of Cabinet on 19 July 2022 regarding the Local Plan – Issues and Options. Cabinet had resolved:
1) The feedback on the Newcastle under Lyme Local Plan Issues and Strategic Options consultation be noted; and
2) The feedback received from the Economy and Place Scrutiny Committee be noted.”
The Chair introduced this item. He noted that the item had been scrutinised at the meeting in June and all Members had the ability at that point to make any statements, observations or put forward any other procedural issues on the Local Plan. The committee had come to the view that the report and recommendations on the Local Plan be accepted and this view was submitted to Cabinet. He was surprised to then receive a Call-In on an item that had already been scrutinised. He noted the costs in resourcing an additional meeting and asked that Members bear this in mind at any future scrutiny committee debates.
The Chair reminded Members of the provision in the Scrutiny Procedure Rules to declare the existence of the Party Whip; there were no declarations.
The Chair reminded the committee of the key reasons for the Call-In as stated in the Call-In notice:
1. Late adoption of paper-based submissions, resulting in a reduced window of opportunity for residents who struggle with access, or literacy with online methods.
2. Lack of in-person consultation events in certain ward areas (Bradwell) despite requests from local councillors. Limiting residents’ ability to access information or clarifications on the plan.
The Chair then outlined the procedure that would be followed at the meeting, in accordance with the constitution.
The Call-In was introduced by Councillor Moffat as lead Call-In Member. She referred to the Chair’s comments relating to time and asked that it be recorded in the minutes that time was a significant factor in relation to the Local Plan report. At the previous meeting of the committee, when consideration was given to the Local Plan – Issues and Options report the Planning Policy Manager in her introduction noted the meeting had already been underway for some time. Councillor Moffatt highlighted the need to ensure sufficient time was given to scrutinise the items brought to scrutiny and that additional meetings may be necessary.
Councillor Moffat then expanded on the points in the Call-In notice as follows:
· Low number of responses to the consultation which represented a very small proportion of the population of the Borough. She raised concern that the low response rates could bring the council into disrepute.
· Difficulties in navigating the online portal and the failure of the online portal being a contributory factor in the low response rate.
· An expectation by members of the public that comments made at in person events would be taken on board and comprise part of the final report.
She recommended that the consultation should be re-run with a community-led design approach. She felt that there was ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
Any member of the public wishing to submit a question must serve two clear days’ notice, in writing, of any such question to the Borough Council.
There were no public questions.
To consider any business which is urgent within the meaning of Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There was no urgent business.