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Declarations of Interest
Members and officers must declare any pecuniary or personalinterest in any business on the agenda. They should also make declarations at any stage such an interest becomes apparent during the meeting. Consideration should be given to leaving the meeting if the nature of the interest warrants it. If in doubt please contact Democratic Services before the meeting.
54.1 Cllr Boram declared a personal interest in relation to the item as an Adur District Councillor.
The Director of Law and Assurance has agreed to call-in the proposed decision by the Cabinet Member for Finance concerning the New Monks Farm - Withy Patch land surplus to service need and development agreement FIN 18 (19/20) decision, published on the Executive Decision Database on 2 March 2020 and in the Member’s Bulletin on 4 March 2020.
The decision report asked the Cabinet Member for Finance to agree:
1. That the current Withy Patch Gypsy and Traveller Site be declared surplus to service operational requirements on the basis that the County Council enters into a development agreement with The Community Stadium Limited (TCSL) for TCSL to construct a new Gypsy and Traveller site, to an agreed specification, within the New Monks Farm development; and that
2. Authority is delegated to the Director of Property and Assets in consultation with the Director of Law and Assurance to complete the development agreement and the land transfer transaction.
The decision report by the Director of Property and Assets is attached as Annex 1 and Appendix A site plan. The supplementary information report to the call-in is attached as Annex 2 with Appendix 1 the consultation details and Appendix 2 detailed site plans.
The call-in was initiated by Mr Michael Jones supported by Ms Karen Sudan, Mr Brian Quinn, and Mr Chris Oxlade. The decision has not previously been previewed by the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee.
Mr Jones has been invited to outline the reasons for the call-in request to the Committee.
Mr Hunt, Cabinet Member for Finance, has been invited to address the Committee and answer questions.
55.1 Cllr Jones introduced the request to call-in the decision by the Cabinet Member for Finance concerning the New Monks Farm – Withy Patch land surplus to service need and development agreement FIN 18 (19/20) decision, (call-in request appended to the signed minutes). Cllr Jones explained that his concerns related to the land transaction as well as the effects on the residents of the Withy Patch gypsy and traveller site. Summarising his concerns he highlighted the following:
· There appears to be a lack of clarity in how the development agreement with The Community Stadium Limited (TCSL) has been agreed.
· The Council’s duty of care to this protected group may not have been fulfilled as an equality impact assessment (EIA) has not been undertaken, and he has concerns that the site residents have not been fully consulted.
· Physical concerns regarding the new pitches, including pitch size, whether space for car parking is included within the pitch, location on the periphery of the development and site layout changes which may reduce privacy for residents.
· Concern that new increased rent costs have not been agreed by the Council prior to the development commencing.
· Environmental impact considered by the District council during the Planning process should also be considered by the County Council.
55.2 The Cabinet Member for Finance responded. He noted that the proposed changes to the Withy Patch site had been discussed at a number of informal meetings he had had with Mr Jones, via written questions to Full Council, a Notice of Motion to Full Council, and a debate at Full Council, and therefore have received significant officer and Member engagement. The concerns raised in the call-in are addressed in the supplementary information report. Before the decision was taken to declare the land surplus the Cabinet Member for Finance had full engagement with other Cabinet Members and officers, and considered comments from the wider membership. He understood that most residents appreciated the benefits of the scheme, and highlighted there was also a duty to use the opportunity offered from the developer to benefit all West Sussex residents. The Withy Patch site improvements come at no cost to the Council due to the land swap, in which the Council will swap a 1.6 acre site in need of improvement for a 2.5 acre purpose built site with enhancements, and this represents good value for the Council. The section 106 monies have been agreed with the developer to benefit the local area, and the development will create investment and boost the local economy in the Adur area. The Cabinet Member for Finance took all factors into account prior to making his decision.
55.3 The Cabinet Member for Fire & Rescue and Communities responded to Cllr Jones’ comments in relation to the site residents. He highlighted that the site development was a great opportunity for the residents and will provide enhanced facilities, including four extra pitches on the site, plus an amended site layout and increased pitch footprint which would enhance the service for residents. ... view the full minutes text for item 55.
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Friday 15 May 2020 at 10.30am at County Hall, Chichester.
Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 4 May 2020.
56.1 The Committee notes its next meeting will take place on Friday 15 May, commencing at 10.30am.