Proposed venue: Council Chamber, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions
Contact: Jane Fulton
Note: To complete Agenda Items 8 and 9 from the meeting that was adjourned on 1 March 2023
The Chair confirmed that the Special Meeting of the Council held on 1 March 2023 had been adjourned part-way through at Item 8 [Arun District Council Budget 2023/24]. That meeting had been adjourned to today, 9 March 2023 to allow the Council to seek professional advice regarding the process from this point forward.
The Chair explained that for tonight’s meeting, once the standing items of Apologies and Declarations of Interest had been covered, the meeting would resume at the point that last week’s meeting had been adjourned during Item 8. At that time, she would invite the Monitoring Officer to set out his advice to the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
Declarations of interest
The Declaration of Interest Sheet set out below confirms those Members who had made a declaration of their personal interest as a Member of a Town or Parish Councillor or a West Sussex County Councillor, as confirmed in their Register of Interest as these declarations could apply to any of the issues to be discussed at the meeting.
The Chair reminded Councillors of the restrictions on voting outlined in Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as this confirmed that where a Member had at least two months arrears of Council Tax they must no vote on any other matter relating directly to the setting of the next year’s Council Tax, though they could remain in the meeting and could speak.
Councillors Walsh and Pendleton both declared Personal Interests in Agenda Item 8 [Arun District Council Budget – 2023/24] as Members of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel as there could be reference made to that precept as part of the debate.
Questions from Members with Pecuniary/Prejudicial Interests
No questions were asked.
The Chair invited the Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer to provide advice to the meeting and to confirm the procedure that would be followed.
The Monitoring Officer reconfirmed that the Special Meeting of the Council held on 1 March 2023 had been adjourned to allow Officers to seek professional external advice. It was confirmed that all Councillors had been sent that advice during the course of the week.
There had been several questions that had been left with Officers at the point of adjourning the last meeting. The Monitoring Officer provided a response to these and summarised the advice that had been received:
· The amendment that had been carried to freeze Council Tax was a valid amendment.
· Once a Motion had been amended, the motion as amended could not be withdrawn by the original proposer. This meant that Full Council would now move into debating the substantive recommendations, as amended.
· The mover of the original Motion, Councillor Gunner, might feel that he was no longer able to support the motion, as amended, and so could vote against it.
· The motion, as amended, was now in the hands of the mover of the amendment [Councillor Bennett].
· In debating the substantive recommendations, further amendments could be moved
· An amendment seeking to alter the now amended [Recommendations d) and e) could not be moved.
· Upon voting on the recommendations as amended, if passed the Budget would be set and confirmed.
· If the recommendations, as amended, were voted down, provided the meeting had not closed - under the urgency provisions outlined in Council Procedure Rule 4.2 (vii), the original budget report could be reconsidered at this meeting provided the Chair, in consultation with the Chief Executive, considered that the business was of such urgency that it required Council’s immediate attention. The Monitoring Officer advised that in needing to set the Council’s Budget for 2023/24 that requirement would, in his view, be fulfilled.
· There was no statutory provision or reported case law that would enable the Council to extend the budget setting deadline of 11 March 2023.
· If a budget were to be set after that date, then there would be serious financial implications for the Council in terms of the ability of the Council to issue bills or arrange direct debits for collection.
· There was also a risk of Judicial Review challenge should the Council not set a budget by 11 March 2023.
The Chair returned to the substantive recommendations as amended as displayed to the meeting and invited debate. The amendments carried from 1 March 2023 in relation to all of the recommendations are set out below:
1.1.It is recommended that the Council:
(a) Notes that the Interim Group Head of Finance, in consultation with the Leader of the Council has approved a tax base of 64,159 for 2023/2024;
(b) Notes the submission of the Council’s NNDR1 return (the estimate of the Council’s Business Rate income for 2023/24) to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).