The SHBC Full Council meeting of 15 December 2021 included:
Cllr Sarah Jane Croke, Mayor of Surrey Heath, presented a video of the many events she has attended since the previous Council meeting, including events associated with commemorating Armistice Day.
SHBC Leader Cllr Alan McClafferty welcomed SHBC’s new Strategic Director of Finance & Customer Services, Bob Watson, to the Council and thanked Amanda Fahey for her work when covering the role on an interim basis. He also paid tribute to the Surrey Heath Police Borough Commander, Alick James, who would be moving to a new role in Guildford, and advised that Acting Inspector Samantha White would be covering the role until Inspector Gemma Taylor took up the role in the New Year.
Cllr McClafferty also updated on the following:
- The refurbishment works to the exterior of the Camberley Theatre had been completed on schedule.
- Since the launch of the Household Assistance Grants at the end of November, approximately 900 applications had been received and £15,000 had been granted to date.
- The building and refurbishment work for the new emergency housing accommodation had been completed and the facility has been handed over to the Hope Hub on schedule.
- A second interim garden waste collection has been arranged for the weeks commencing 10 and 17 January 2022. The Garden Waste service is still suspended due to shortages of HGV drivers.
- The anticipated White Paper on levelling up and local government reform had been delayed until the New Year. The Leader also advised that, in view of the ongoing pandemic, the Council continued to lobby for Councils to hold meetings virtually and had written to the MP for Surrey Heath and the Leader of the House of Commons on the matter.
Executive, Committees and Other Bodies
Executive meetings, 16 November and 7 December 2021
It was resolved that the minutes of the meetings of the Executive held on 16 November and 7 December 2021 be received and the recommendations be adopted as set out below:
- Calculation and Setting of the Council Tax Base for 2022/23
It was resolved that with effect from 1 April 2022 the Empty Homes Premium be introduced at the maximum levels allowed in the legislation where the property has been empty for 2, 5 or 10 more years and the Council Tax Exceptional Hardship Policy remains unchanged for 2022/23, and the fund available remains at £80,000.
It was resolved that this Council believes that:
- all governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate and Ecological Breakdown; local authorities should not wait for their national governments to change their policies;
- all tiers of local government are well placed to lead the way in reducing carbon emissions and tackling the ecological emergency as they have closer links with their residents;
- having already declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and committed to carbon neutrality by 2030, there is also an ecological emergency;
- the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill needs the full support of local government to highlight the urgency of the twin climate and ecological emergencies;
The Council declares an ‘Ecological Emergency’ to accompany the Climate Emergency it has already declared;
The Council commits to:
- leading by example and promoting the good work it is currently undertaking;
- working with partners and volunteers locally and regionally to drive coordinated leadership and collaborative action to aid the recovery of nature and natural environments and identify areas for greater biodiversity;
- ensuring irreplaceable habitats are protected, the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy is followed and that net biodiversity gain is fully implemented;
- reviewing and implementing a borough-wide Tree Strategy;
- continue to review Surrey Heath’s Green Infrastructure Strategy;
- demanding that new developments contribute to increasing biodiversity and ecological improvement
- register its support for the CEE Bill with the CEE Bill Alliance;
- write an open letter, to be shared through local media; and
- write to the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath to urge him to sign up to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.”
Governance Working Group
The Council received a report detailing the items considered at the recent meeting of the Governance Working Group, which included recommendations on updating the following documents:
- Members’ Code of Conduct,
- Arrangements for Dealing with Allegations of Misconduct,
- Planning Code of Practice for Councillors and Officers,
- ICT Code of Practice for Members.