Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices. View directions

Contact: Angela Cox, Democratic Services Specialist - 01935 462148  Email: angela.cox@southsomerset.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

28.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Jason Baker, Martin Carnell, Nick Colbert, Charlie Hull, Sue Osborne, Tiffany Osborne, Mike Stanton, Martin Wale and Colin Winder.

29.

Minutes

To approve and sign the minutes of the previous meeting held on Thursday, 20th June 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Council meeting held on 20th June 2019, copies of which had been previously circulated, were approved as a correct record of the meeting and signed by the Chairman.

 

30.

Declarations of Interest

In accordance with the Council's current Code of Conduct (as amended 26 February 2015), which includes all the provisions relating to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI), personal and prejudicial interests, Members are asked to declare any DPI and also any personal interests (and whether or not such personal interests are also "prejudicial") in relation to any matter on the Agenda for this meeting.

Members are reminded that they need to declare the fact that they are also a member of a County, Town or Parish Council as a Personal Interest.  Where you are also a member of Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council within South Somerset you must declare a prejudicial interest in any business on the agenda where there is a financial benefit or gain or advantage to Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council which would be at the cost or to the financial disadvantage of South Somerset District Council. 

Minutes:

At the time the item was discussed, Councillor Peter Gubbins declared a personal interest in Agenda item 7: Presentation from the Yarlington Housing Group as his daughter-in-law was employed by them.

31.

Public Question Time

Minutes:

The Council were addressed by three members of the Extinction Rebellion.  Their comments included:-

 

·         This is a climate emergency.

·         Somerset is susceptible to raised sea levels and if the sea continues to rise much of Somerset will become a casualty.

·         This is a global social and ecological emergency; the planet is going to change; people will suffer and people must act. 

·         A full independently run Citizens Assembly is demanded by Extinction Rebellion as the starting point.

·         We must adapt the structure of our global society to the changes to our environment.

·         The European Eel has recently been added to the endangered species list.

·         We welcome your declaration in recognition of a ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency’ and hope your Environment Strategy will address these issues.

·         We invite you to join us in London on 7th October for the International Rebellion.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Environment responded that the European Eel was a significant species for Somerset and taking into account its critically endangered status, its conservation should be considered by the relevant authorities. The eels complex lifecycle made it particularly vulnerable to habitat changes, this coupled with climate change and the operations across the Levels post flooding, must have had an impact on the populations that have been able to successfully use Somerset as part of their migratory & breeding routes.  The eel had current and historic strong links to the River Parrett, of which a large proportion sat in the district of South Somerset. A combination of the Environment Agency, Wildlife Trust, County ecological team and Somerset Rivers Authority would be the key players in considering a conservation plan for the eel.  She hoped that positive management works would be recommended as a follow on from the investigative work being carried out by the Steart Eels Project by the West Country Rivers Trust.

 

She concluded that it would be appropriate for South Somerset to recognise its role in liaising with human communities on the rivers and rhynes in relation to any conservation works that may play out, engaging with the smaller rivers groups (like the Rivers Trust) that may also have a role in supporting the larger organisations in surveying and voluntary works.  She noted that SSDC had already started engaging with some of these groups through the Environment Strategy preparation work.

 

32.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman congratulated the Chief Executive and his wife on the recent birth of their daughter.

 

The Chairman reported that he would be touring the Council, visiting all sites and departments during the following weeks to thank all staff on behalf of Members for their work during Transformation.

 

The Chairman advised that he had recently attended the Somerset Chairmans Awards for Community Service where awards were presented to charities and individuals from across Somerset.  He said it had been remarkable to hear the stories of individuals who gave their time and skills and efforts to help others.  He was also pleased to see many other SSDC Councillors supporting the event.  

 

The Chairman concluded by reporting the tragic death of Jeb Farrah, Chard Regeneration Project Manager on 21 June.  He said she had been a talented officer and had been a key player to deliver the Chard Regeneration Scheme. He led Members in a minutes silence in her memory.

 

33.

Chairman's Engagements pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Minutes:

The list of Chairman’s engagements were noted.

34.

Presentation from the Yarlington Housing Group pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Caroline Moore (Managing Director) and Simon Shewry (Head of Enterprise and Service Change) of the Yarlington Housing Group to present the work of their organisation in South Somerset.

 

The Managing Director’s presentation included information on:-

 

·         The group started in 1999 when it bought the SSDC housing stock for £70m.  They spent the first 10 years updating the housing stock and the second ten years developing new housing stock.

·         Their turnover was £60m with assets of £1.3bn and they were a not-for-profit organisation so profit was reinvested into new homes and the community.

·         The group had gone through a programme of Transformation 18 months ago to bring customers onto a digital platform, they had their own Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) to carry out repairs, and, they ran their Inspired to Achieve programme to help and encourage residents into employment and training.

·         They were currently discussing a partnership approach with a neighbouring Housing Association to enable more influence at a national and regional level and to deliver more new houses.

·         There would be considerable savings in bringing the two organisations together in procurement and delivering 1,000 new homes per year and also to help local communities and address homelessness.

·         Yarlington were actively building homes in the area and these were in part subsidised through market sales of houses as the rent paid did not cover the borrowing costs of building a property. 

·         30 new homes had been completed in Yeovil and Somerton in Q1 and 135 more were in-contract to be built in South Somerset alone.

·         Prefer now not to wholly rely on Section 106 development sites due to control of quality and delivery time of properties and prefer to develop our own land sites.

·         They had 369 shared ownership properties in South Somerset which were usually more affordable than private rented and a national campaign was about to be launched to raise awareness of them nationally.

·         SSDC and Yarlington had been working together on a land project to identify pockets of land owned by SSDC and Yarlington to develop for housing.  Currently 4 sites had been identified which could provide a capital receipt for both parties.

 

The Head of Enterprise and Service Change’s presentation included information on:-

 

·         Yarlington also provided value added services to their residents, including Independent Living for older residents, Inspired to Achieve to provide employment and training support, and provided careers guidance to 5 local schools.

·         Next Gen – their corporate strategy introduced the My Yarlington digital platform for residents to access services on-line.

·         The Government’s social housing green paper set out new expectations for housing providers to have a relationship with the people they housed.  In response Yarlington developed the Voice of the Customer (VOC) for them to shape the services provided. 

·         A community forum was launched with 10 Community Ambassadors who work alongside staff and partners to co-ordinate new community plans for rural living, health and well-being and youth. 

·         The Financial Responsibility team provide budgeting and welfare benefit advice to residents and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.

35.

Presentation from the Fire Brigade Union on the Safer Together Consultation pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Minutes:

It was noted that this item had been withdrawn from the agenda.

36.

2018/9 Treasury Management Activity Report pdf icon PDF 775 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council agreed to:-

 

a.

note the Treasury Management Activity for the 2018/19 financial year;

 

 

b.

note the position of the individual prudential indicators for the 2018/19 financial year;

 

 

c.

note the outlook for the investment performance in 2018/19;

 

 

d.

note the council operated within all of the Prudential Indicators during 2018/19.

Reason:

To review the treasury management activity and the performance against the Prudential Indicators for the 2018/19 financial year as prescribed by the CIPFA Code of Practice and in accordance with the Council’s Treasury Strategy, Annual Investment Policy and Treasury Management Practices

(Voting: unanimous in favour)

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Legal and Democratic Services introduced the report and advised the Council’s pooled funds had performed particularly well and he drew Members attention to the summary of investments on page 14.  He also noted that the Council had 11 Prudential Indicators and had operated within all of them during 2018/19.  He concluded that there had been some commercial acquisitions as the treasury management period was concluding which were not contained within the report.  He thanked officers for their work

 

In response to a question, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Legal and Democratic Services said the financial risks mentioned in paragraph 4 of the report were a statement of fact but the Council had not in fact suffered any losses although the risks remained.  The Council’s Treasury Strategy and Annual Investment Policy sought to mitigate any risks and it was regularly monitored by the Audit Committee.

 

At the conclusion of the debate, Members were content to note the Treasury Management Activity for the 2018/19 financial year and individual prudential indicators.

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council agreed to:-

 

a.

note the Treasury Management Activity for the 2018/19 financial year;

 

 

b.

note the position of the individual prudential indicators for the 2018/19 financial year;

 

 

c.

note the outlook for the investment performance in 2018/19;

 

 

d.

note the council operated within all of the Prudential Indicators during 2018/19.

Reason:

To review the treasury management activity and the performance against the Prudential Indicators for the 2018/19 financial year as prescribed by the CIPFA Code of Practice and in accordance with the Council’s Treasury Strategy, Annual Investment Policy and Treasury Management Practices

 

37.

Appointment of an Independent Person to the Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council:-

 

a.

approved the appointment of an independent person to sit on Audit Committee for a period of two years;

 

b.

approved the advert, role description, skills and competencies and person specification at Appendix A.

Reason:

To approve the appointment an independent person to the Audit Committee.

(Voting: unanimous in favour)

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Legal and Democratic Services advised that the report had arisen from a suggestion at Council in May that an independent person could bring specialist knowledge and insight to the Audit Committee.

 

In response to a question the Democratic Services Specialist confirmed that the appointment did not currently attract an allowance but reasonable travel expenses would be paid.  Any change to this would only be with the agreement of Council.

 

There was no debate and Members were content to approve the appointment of an independent person to sit on Audit Committee for a period of two years and approve the advert, role description, skills and competencies and person specification at Appendix A.

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council:-

 

a.

approved the appointment of an independent person to sit on Audit Committee for a period of two years;

 

b.

approved the advert, role description, skills and competencies and person specification at Appendix A.

Reason:

To approve the appointment an independent person to the Audit Committee.

(Voting: unanimous in favour)

38.

Membership of Committees - Appointment of New Councillor to Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

In accordance with Section 16 (1) Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and the duty therein to give effect to the wishes of the political group to which seats on any committee are allocated, the Council confirmed that:-

a)     Councillor Robin Bastable be appointed to the Audit Committee

Reason:

To confirm an amendment to the Audit Committee membership following the appointment of Councillors to various committees and working groups at Council on 21st May 2019 and 20th June 2019. 

(Resolution passed without dissent)

Minutes:

Members were content to confirm the appointment of Councillor Robin Bastable to the Audit Committee.

 

RESOLVED:

In accordance with Section 16 (1) Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and the duty therein to give effect to the wishes of the political group to which seats on any committee are allocated, the Council confirmed that:-

a)     Councillor Robin Bastable be appointed to the Audit Committee

Reason:

To confirm an amendment to the Audit Committee membership following the appointment of Councillors to various committees and working groups at Council on 21st May 2019 and 20th June 2019.

 

(Voting: unanimous in favour)

39.

Report of Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Minutes:

The Leader of Council advised that the Allowenshay Private Water Supply report had been deferred by the District Executive for clarification on the use of the Wessex Home Improvement Loan Scheme and an assessment of other private water supplies in the district and possible costs required to bring them up to an acceptable standard.  She confirmed that every application for funding was considered on its individual merits.

 

The Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Linda Vijeh, expressed her concern at the development management service, the length of time it took to validate planning applications and the difficulty in which residents had in contacting the service. 

 

The Portfolio Holder for Protecting Core Services, including Transformation, Councillor Tony Lock, advised that staff reductions had been completed on time but the infrastructure had not been in place to allow the new ways of working so there was an extended transition period. The Scrutiny Committee would be monitoring this on a quarterly basis.

 

The Chief Executive clarified that the anticipated savings of £2.5m in staff costs had been achieved when the Council’s budget had been set but because of delays in infrastructure, staff costs were being put back into some services to deliver a better service but this was a one-off solution and it only delayed £0.5m saving.

 

The report of executive decisions was noted.

40.

Motions

No Motions have been submitted by Members.

Minutes:

There were no Motions submitted by Members.

41.

Questions Under Procedure Rule 10

There have been no questions submitted under Procedure Rule 10.

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted under Procedure Rule 10.

42.

Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Minutes:

Members noted that the next scheduled meeting of the Full Council was a reserve date of 15th August 2019. 

 

Unless there was any urgent business to progress on this date, the next scheduled meeting of the Full Council would take place on Thursday, 19th September 2019 in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, Brympton Way, Yeovil commencing at 7.30 p.m.