Agenda item

Questions under Rule 11.2


Question 1


Councillor Ecclestone asked the Leisure and Community Portfolio Holder a number of questions regarding the Longmeadow Hall in Andover.


·  Can the portfolio holder confirm that some GBP 9675 was paid to Romsey Community School  Ltd and charged to the residents of Andover via the Levy?


Councillor Jeffrey replied that over the last four years, no funding that has been paid to Romsey Community School or Romsey Community Service Ltd (RCS) who manage the centre that has subsequently ended up being charged to the levy.


·  Can the portfolio holder confirm that Romsey Community School Ltd is a commercial company and not a Community Interest Corporation?


Councillor Jeffrey replied that information regarding the status Romsey Community Services Ltd is freely available on the Companies House website


·  Can the portfolio holder reassure councillors and Andover residents that none of the directors of the Romsey Community School have any connection to TVBC members of officers (past or present).


Councillor Jeffrey replied that he had no knowledge of whether the directors have ‘any connection’ to TVBC members or officers past or present. 


·  RCS has paid up share capital of one pound only. As at the 31st of August 2019, the company had liabilities of GBP388,640. Can the portfolio holder assure councillors and the Andover public that no part of the levy monies were employed (either directly or indirectly) to subsidise the interest that RCS must pay on these debts?


Councillor Jeffrey replied that the sum charged to the Special Expenses Levy represents works carried out to the fabric of the building in accordance with the Council’s lease obligations.


·  Can the portfolio holder confirm that Romsey Community School Ltd is wholly-owned by an organisation called Gateway Multi-Academy Trust (a company limited by guarantee).


Councillor Jeffrey replied that this information is freely available at Companies House.  Share capital / liabilities listed are those stated in the last set of accounts submitted on the 26th March 2020 held on Companies House.


Romsey Community Services Ltd is controlled by Gateway Multi Academy Trust (which is the Academy Trust for Romsey Community School) and holds 100% of the company’s share capital.


·  Over and beyond all the former, can the portfolio holder inform councillors and Andover ratepayers as to why a commercial company from Romsey is running the Longmeadow hall and NOT a local community association?


The services provided from the Longmeadow Centre are for the benefit of the local community and include education, skills training and family support.


With strong links between Romsey Community School, Harrow Way Community School and Andover Adult & Family Learning an agreement was reached for Romsey Community Services Ltd to take over and continue to offer the services provided by Andover Adult & Family Learning.


Romsey Community Services Ltd have also been a longstanding partner of the Test Valley Partnership and have played a significant role in supporting the community response in regards to COVID and over the years key government programmes such as Supporting Families.


·  Councillor Ecclestone commented that the £9,675 charged out in the Andover Levy was charged out in a spreadsheet which the previous Head of Finance had sent to him last year so it was recorded that this was charged out to the Andover Levy.


Councillor Flood reported that the £9,675 referred to by Councillor Ecclestone is  part of Test Valley’s leasehold responsibility for maintaining the property. She will discuss this with Councillor Ecclestone.


Question 2


Councillor Ecclestone asked the Finance Portfolio Holder to provide a year by year summary of the subsidy to the community hall, formerly called the Rendezvous that was paid by Andover Levy contributors since 2010? Will the residents be subsidising the commercial tenant, Valley Leisure, going forward?


Councillor Flood explained that part of the maintenance costs of The Rendezvous was first included in the Andover Levy in 2014/15. The Andover Levy is fully recalculated on a triennial basis, with reviews carried out in advance of the 2014/15, 2017/18 and 2020/21 financial years. The amount included for the Rendezvous at each review was £11,461 in 2014/15, £12,228 in 2017/18 and £2,866 in 2020/21. In years between full recalculations the amount of the levy has largely been increased, or frozen, in line with this Council’s main precept. Valley Leisure will be taking a commercial tenancy of the Rendezvous and can confirm that no costs in respect of the Rendezvous feature in the budget proposals before us today for the Andover Levy.


Question 3


Councillor Parker asked the Planning Portfolio Holder “What were the results of the latest Housing Delivery Test for both north and south areas and what is the consequential risk of the presumption in favour of sustainable development rule having to be applied in either area?”



Councillor Adams King replied that the test is a percentage measurement of the number of homes delivered against the number of homes required over a rolling three year period. The consequence of applying the presumption in favour is to take away the primacy of the local plan in determining residential planning applications. However there are several steps to reach before that is triggered based on how serve the shortfall in delivery is.


·  If housing delivery falls below 95% the authority needs to publish an action plan of how it intends to get delivery back on track.


·  If housing delivery falls below 85% a 20% buffer is applied to the Council’s five year land supply. This is instead of the 5% buffer required by Government guidance for all authorities


·  If housing delivery falls below 75% then the presumption in favour of sustainable development is applied.  


The level of construction and completions on housing sites across the Borough has put the Council in a healthy position with the most recent delivery test results for the Borough being at 173%.  The consequence of this result is that it does not trigger Cllr Parker’s concern of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.


Bringing forward the next local plan, our proposals for the two masterplans and, more pressingly, unlocking the back log of applications caused by nitrates will help continue to keep the Council in that positive position.


Councillor Parker asked a supplementary question ‘ Given that our borough Local Plan is now over 5 years old, could you confirm that the next housing delivery test will be against the local housing needs formula rather than numbers in our Local Plan?


Councillor Adams- King is confident that the Local Plan is still robust and at a forthcoming Cabinet meeting he will bring a paper that confirms that the Local Plan  has been assessed by the Planning Advisory Service who have stress tested it against the NPPF and checked it is up to date.  There are no major differences with the national target compared with our Local Plan however in future years there are pressing issues to deal with such as the nitrates issue and a new Local Plan.