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to approve as a correct record and authorise the Chairman to sign the minutes of the Panel held on 13 June 2019
The minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 13 June 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Members are invited to declare any personal or disclosable pecuniary interests, including the nature and extent of such interests they may have in any items to be considered at this meeting;
Members and officers were invited to declare any interests in the items of business to be considered during the course of the meeting. These were recorded as follows:-
Cllr D M O’Callaghan declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in agenda item 7(c): ‘Executive Forward Plan: Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21’ (Minute O&S.12/19(c) below refers) by virtue of being in receipt of some monies in accordance with this Scheme. Whilst Cllr O’Callaghan had submitted a question to be raised in relation to this agenda item, the Chairman confirmed that he would ask it on her behalf.
A period of up to 15 minutes is available to deal with issues raised by the public;
In accordance with the Public Forum Procedure Rules, the Chairman informed that three questions had been received for consideration during this agenda item.
1. Question from Mr Peter Scott
‘In the drafting of South Hams’ Climate Action Plan, what opportunity will (a) South Hams residents and (b) expert organisations in the South Hams have to influence:
(a) The remit, target date and policy areas to be included in the Plan;
(b) The timetable and consultation procedures involved in drawing up the Plan;
(c) An early outline draft of the Plan;
(d) The final policy recommendations, targets and indicators of progress?’
The Leader responded that there was presently a recommendation to the Special Council meeting on 25 July 2019 that a Climate Change Emergency be declared and an Action Plan produced. It was too early to provide exact details of how the Action Plan would be developed and exactly who would be involved. Residents and expert organisations would be involved and/or consulted through the Action Planning process and/or through the Devon Carbon Plan that was proposed by the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG).
2. Question from Mr Robert Vint
‘Teignbridge District Council has invited this Council to work with it on drafting a Climate Action Plan, it has set up an Action Group consisting of representatives of key community organisations and last week hosted the first public meeting of Teignbridge Climate Emergency Action Group attended by around 200 residents. How has this Council responded to Teignbridge’s invitation and does it plan to set up an equivalent Action Group to actively involve residents and key community organisations in the drafting of this Plan?’
In response, the Leader informed that the lead officer for Climate Change had been in contact with Teignbridge regarding the benefits of working together, for example, through joint procurement. Officers would continue to work closely with them, and other partners, where it was beneficial to do so.
At present, there was a recommendation to the Special Council meeting on 25 July 2019 that a Climate Change Emergency be declared and an Action Plan produced.
It was too early to provide exact details of how the Action Plan would be developed and exactly who would be involved. Residents and community organisations would be involved and/or consulted through the Action Planning process and/or through the Devon Carbon Plan that is proposed by the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG).
3. Question from Mr Gordon Nicholson
‘How will the need to reduce local carbon emissions in response to the Climate Emergency be taken into account in decisions that the Executive will take this month on Renewable Energy Investment, Electric Vehicle Charging Points, the Air Quality Action Plan and also in relation to future development of Langage Energy Park?’
In response, Cllr Pearce emphasised that the need to reduce carbon emissions was recognised and the declaration of a Climate Change Emergency had been recommended by the Executive and would be considered at the Special Council meeting on 25 July 2019. ... view the full minutes text for item O&S11/19
Note: If any Member seeks further clarity, or wishes to raise issues regarding any future Executive agenda item, please contact Member Services before 5.00pm on Monday, 8 July 2019 to ensure that the lead Executive Member(s) and lead officer(s) are aware of this request in advance of the meeting.
(a) Investing in Kingsbridge –Verbal Report (at the prior request of the Panel Chairman)
The Panel was presented with the most recently published Executive Forward Plan. In accordance with Procedure Rules, formal requests had been made for three future Executive agenda items to be first considered by the Panel. These items were as follows:
(a) Investing in Kingsbridge
The Deputy Leader introduced this item and advised that the officer report had now been published with the Executive agenda. The report highlighted that the Kingsbridge Hotel development project and Business Case was originally approved by the Executive in December 2018 (Minute E.62/18 refers). Since this initial approval, the Deputy Leader informed that the business case had been changed therefore requiring a revised approval from the Executive so as to proceed. It was noted that the key changes were:
- That the cost of the project had increased from £9.10 million to £10.13 million;
- That the scale of the development had changed from 76 rooms to 85 rooms; and
- The height of the development had been reduced from 5 storeys to 4.
At this stage, the Chairman invited the local Ward Members in attendance to address the Panel. In so doing, they raised a number of points that included:-
- the apparent lack of public consultation that had been undertaken to date;
- the apparent lack of an independent assessment of the Business Case to underpin the project;
- it being somewhat misleading to state that Kingsbridge Town Council was largely supportive of the project. In light of the Town Council recently calling for a public meeting on the proposals, a Member felt that the Executive decision should be deferred pending the outcome of this meeting;
- a number of misgivings over the timing and presumptive tone of the press release that had been published earlier in the week. In addition, disappointment was expressed that they had not been consulted prior to the press release being issued;
- the local Neighbourhood Plan being in the early stages of development;
- the perception that the car park was underutilised was incorrect. As a result, the Members questioned where the hotel users would park; and
- there being local demand for high skilled employment.
In countering a number of these points, the Deputy Leader stated that:-
- Hotel accommodation was currently much needed in Kingsbridge;
- whilst some negative comments had been expressed, the Town Council had confirmed its support for the principle of these proposals;
- the vast majority of local traders were also supportive of the proposals;
- the Council was committed to working closely with the Town Council and engaging with local residents on the development and there would be two opportunities for the public to make their comments to the Council. Firstly, there would be a public consultation exercise following the Executive meeting and there would then be a second opportunity as part of the planning process;
- the Council was not viewing these proposals as an income generation project for the Council. Instead, the Panel was advised that the main drivers ... view the full minutes text for item O&S12/19
A report was considered that presented the Council’s Assets Register.
In emphasising the importance of local Member involvement and feedback on the Register, it was PROPOSED and SECONDED and when put to the vote declared CARRIED that:
‘The Panel request that Democratic Services and Assets officers arrange a series of Drop-in Sessions for local Ward Members, with the intention being to consider the Assets Register in more detail before it is then forwarded to Town and Parish Council Clerks for their information and reference.’
It was then:
That the Panel:
1. note the content of the presented agenda report and the Assets Register; and
2. request that Democratic Services and Assets officers arrange a series of Drop-in Sessions for local Ward Members, with the intention being to consider the Assets Register in more detail before it is then forwarded to Town and Parish Council Clerks for their information and reference.
Consideration was given to a report that provided Members with the latest version of the Peer Challenge Action Plan.
During the ensuing discussion, reference was made to:-
(a) the perception of backbench Members that they still felt excluded from the decision-making process. In response to some Members being of the view that this remained an issue following the May elections, the Leader advised that she was committed to changing the culture of the organisation and she was aware of measures being implemented that included:
- the greater use of all Member Workshops and Briefings;
- Member drop-in sessions with the Senior Leadership being re-established; and
- Executive Members being available and accessible to the wider membership.
In response to a specific request, it was agreed that it would be more appropriate for the principle of appointing Shadow Executive Members to be considered by the Political Structures Working Group;
(b) the Member Briefing session on the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) restructure. The Chairman thanked the Leader and Chief Executive for arranging a Member Briefing on the SLT restructure before the Special Council meeting on 25 July 2019;
(c) the need to engage more with Town and Parish Councils. The Panel was informed that the Leader and Deputy Leader of Council had extended an offer to attend Town and Parish Council meetings. As a result, local Ward Members were encouraged to promote this offer amongst their local town and parish councils.
(d) the next Action Plan update. The Panel felt that it was reasonable for the next update to be presented to its 23 January 2020 meeting.
It was then:
1. That the progress to date on delivery of the Peer Challenge Action Plan be noted; and
2. That the next update be presented to the Panel meeting on 23 January 2020, with this update including more in-depth information around the current perception of backbench Members that they still feel excluded from the decision-making process.
The Panel considered a report that provided an overview of the Waste Procurement project that detailed the successes, lessons learnt and the realisation of any immediate benefits.
During the ensuing discussion, reference was made to:-
(a) the amount of work undertaken by lead officers. A number of Members paid tribute to the amount of work that had been undertaken by the lead officers in delivering such a successful project;
(b) the three outstanding project risks. By way of an update, the Project Specialist advised that the installation of the bespoke IT solution was still in progress and the draft construction contract was currently with the contractors legal representatives. Finally, the Specialist informed that the Business Continuity Plan was now in place and part of the formal contract.
When questioned, the Specialist assured the Panel that he was confident that the outstanding risks would be overcome before the end of the summer months;
(c) monitoring of the Waste Contract. In noting the ongoing role that was played by both the Waste Procurement Board and the Waste and Recycling Working Group, the Panel concluded that it should be in receipt of a formal contract monitoring report at its meeting on 27 February 2020.
It was then:
1. That the contents of the report be endorsed; and
2. That the formal Waste Contract monitoring report be presented to the Panel meeting on 27 February 2020.
Members considered a report that provided an update to the Resilience Report that was presented to the Panel at its meeting on 28 June 2018 on both the work that had been completed to date and the proposed further service improvements.
During the ensuing discussion, the following points were raised:-
(a) Officers confirmed that there were alternatives to Microsoft and they were constantly reviewing the feasibility of alternative service providers;
(b) Whilst there had been problems with the rollout of the Member IT devices, a Member wished to put on record his thanks at the level of support that he had received from officers during this difficult period;
(c) For security reasons, officers advised that unmanaged devices (e.g. personal mobile phones) were not permitted access to the Council’s internal network.
It was then:
That the progress made to date in maintaining resilient IT systems and networks since June 2018 be noted.
Devon Climate Emergency Response Group -Verbal Report
(NB. Further information available via the following weblink:
The Specialist Manager – Customer First provided a verbal update on the work of the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG) and, in so doing, made reference to:
- the importance of Members keeping a close eye on the regular updates that were available via the following weblink:
- the DCERG being hosted by Devon County Council;
- the Council being represented at meetings of the DCEG by either himself or the Chief Executive;
- a commitment to circulate minutes arising from the DCERG and its sub-groups to Members via the Bulletin. In response to a request, the officer agreed to raise at the next meeting whether these meetings were open to members of the public to attend.
The Panel proceeded to discuss the update and made particular reference to:-
(a) some concerns over the lack of any reference to date on biodiversity and tree loss. In reply, the Panel was advised that Devon County Council had not included biodiversity in its Climate Change Declaration but the officer gave an assurance that he would raise this matter at the next Sub-Group meeting;
(b) the importance of working together with other local authorities and agencies to tackle such a significant and complex piece of work was recognised;
(c) an officer training session that had been convened to take place on Tuesday, 23 July 2019; and
(d) a joint all Member session with West Devon Borough Council Members would be held at the Woolwell Community Centre on Wednesday, 18 September 2019.
Consideration was given to a report that presented the Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report.
In the debate, officers committed to providing a Member with a response to some specific queries relating to the Neighbourhood Planning process and Section 106 Agreements outside of the meeting.
It was then:
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N.B.Legal and financial officers will not, as a general rule, be present throughout all meetings, but will be on standby if required. Members are requested to advise Member Services in advance of the meeting if they require any information of a legal or financial nature.
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MEMBERS ARE REQUESTED TO SIGN THE ATTENDANCE REGISTER
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During consideration of the latest version of the Panel’s Annual Work Programme, the following additions, amendments and deletions were made:
(a) The Council Tax Reduction Scheme item be added to the Programme for consideration at the Panel meeting on 17 October 2019 (Minute 12/19(c) above refers);
(b) Members were reminded of the earlier decision for the next progress update on the Peer Challenge Action Plan to be added to the Programme for consideration at the Panel meeting on the afternoon of 23 January 2020 (Minute O&S.14/19 above refers);
(c) It was noted that a Waste Contract Monitoring Report agenda item would be scheduled for consideration at the Panel meeting on 27 February 2020 (Minute O&S.15/19 above refers).