Agenda, decisions and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

136.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Malcolm Cavill, Nick Colbert, Garry Shortland and Alan Smith.

137.

Minutes

To approve and sign the minutes of the previous meeting held on Thursday, 19th March 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Council meeting held on 19th March 2020, copies of which had been previously circulated, were approved as a correct record of the meeting and signed by the Chairman.

 

138.

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:

There were no declarations of interest made by Members.

139.

Public Question Time

Minutes:

The Council were addressed by the leader and co-founder of Somerset Independents, a group formed during the Covid-19 emergency by local residents to voice the democratic rights of the residents of Somerset.  He advised that at a poll conducted in 2007, 82% of residents had voted against a proposed Unitary Authority at that time.  He suggested that another poll be held to gauge public opinion on the latest proposed Unitary Authority and a Citizens Assembly be held to discuss changes to how Somerset would be governed.  He said they had written to all Councillors and he thanked those who had responded on this request.  He concluded by asking Members to commit the Council by a motion to hold a referendum to gauge public opinion on the latest proposed Unitary Authority and to show their support through social media.

 

The Council were then addressed by a further representative of the Somerset Independents group regarding Agenda item 6: The Future of Local Government in Somerset: "One Somerset" Business Case for a single unitary council.  She noted comments made by Councillors at the District Executive meeting earlier that day and regretted that the unitary bid was being made during the current pandemic.  She suggested that that the Council should make plans with the other Somerset Authorities to hold a referendum of the people of Somerset on this issue the following year.

 

140.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Councillor Oliver Patrick, the new Parrett ward member to his first Council meeting.  He also welcomed the new Section 151 Officer to the meeting.

 

The Chairman noted that the Lead Specialist for Development Management was leaving the authority and he wished him all the best for his future career.

 

The Chairman concluded by recognising the Council’s response to the Covid-19 emergency.  He said the Council’s Leader, Chief Executive and senior officers had shown true leadership and officers had responded magnificently to the challenges of redeployment.  He said all should be proud to be part of the organisation.

 

141.

The Future of Local Government in Somerset: "One Somerset" Business Case for a single unitary council pdf icon PDF 589 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council agreed the following response to Somerset County Council’s “One Somerset” Business Case:-

That South Somerset District Council recommends that Option (c) of the report is adopted, with the commentary that follows

Option c. Agree that [SSDC] does not support the business case overall, with supporting commentary on the reasons why it does not support the business case; where it feels more work or clarification is required; and any aspects of the business case it does support.

Commentary

Summary statement:

“SSDC believes that this is a solution put forward by a discredited authority based on failed examples of change, with inadequate evidence and a high risk of bad outcomes for residents and communities.”

The reasons why SSDC does not support the business case; and where more work or clarification is required

1.   The proposed unitary authority is based on failed examples of local government which have lost vital local services and democratic accountability. SSDC cannot support a risky experiment to suffer a similar fate:

-        Currently, residents, businesses and communities are supported by high-performing districts that have demonstrated sound financial management and digital transformation, and have a mandate to deliver valuable discretionary services (such as town centre regeneration, theatres and swimming pools). The county administration has focussed on tax cuts not needs, reducing budgets to the point of service failure (transport, social care, special educational needs and disabilities) and abandoning other service areas, relying on others to fund them (youth services). This business case extends that approach over key services delivered by Districts which are valued by business and residents.

-        The ‘One Somerset’ business case relies on evidence from other single county unitaries, including neighbouring Wiltshire, and recent unitaries where it is too early to measure success. Wiltshire is reported to be on the verge of issuing a S114 bankruptcy notice. Wiltshire’s Local Council Networks (Area Boards) have been a conspicuous failure with little funding, autonomy and officer resource, and very limited devolution to parish and town councils. Local Council Networks on this model will in no measure replace the quality of service of the District Councils. Dorset has failed to devolve services to parishes, and a period of paralysis has followed the implementation of single unitary authorities, that can ill be afforded in the aftermath of Brexit and Covid-19.

-        Alternative options to the single unitary are given only superficial analysis.

-        The business case fails to recognise the transformation necessary in the delivery of social care.

 

2.   A single Somerset unitary is too big for effective local democracy in Somerset, and will lead to a substantial democratic deficit:

-        If two tiers of local government are to be reduced to one tier, it makes no sense for the new tier to be at the level of one of the previous tiers.

-        The government’s aspirations for devolved authorities are based on Local Enterprise Partnership areas (in our case, Somerset combined with Devon). A unitary for the whole of Somerset would be  ...  view the full decision text for item 141.

Minutes:

The Leader of Council introduced the report and said that there was a need to change and reform Local Government in Somerset but the County Council no longer wished to pursue any option other than a single Unitary Authority, which was their right. The District Councils were still working together on alternative options.  She said that until an invitation was received from the Secretary of State on a business case for Somerset then they would continue to work together.

 

Councillor John Clark, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, read out the proposed response of the District Executive working party to the SCC One Somerset Business Plan, following the presentation by SCC Council Leader, David Fothergill earlier in the week, as follows:-

 

That South Somerset District Council recommends that Option (c) of the report is adopted, with the commentary that follows:

Option c. Agree that [SSDC] does not support the business case overall, with supporting commentary on the reasons why it does not support the business case; where it feels more work or clarification is required; and any aspects of the business case it does support.

Commentary

Summary statement:

“SSDC believes that this is a solution put forward by a discredited authority based on failed examples of change, with inadequate evidence and a high risk of bad outcomes for residents and communities.”

The reasons why SSDC does not support the business case; and where more work or clarification is required

1.   The proposed unitary authority is based on failed examples of local government which have lost vital local services and democratic accountability. SSDC cannot support a risky experiment to suffer a similar fate:

-        Currently, residents, businesses and communities are supported by high-performing districts that have demonstrated sound financial management and digital transformation, and have a mandate to deliver valuable discretionary services (such as town centre regeneration, theatres and swimming pools). The county administration has focussed on tax cuts not needs, reducing budgets to the point of service failure (transport, social care, special educational needs and disabilities) and abandoning other service areas, relying on others to fund them (youth services). This business case extends that approach over key services delivered by Districts which are valued by business and residents.

-        The ‘One Somerset’ business case relies on evidence from other single county unitaries, including neighbouring Wiltshire, and recent unitaries where it is too early to measure success. Wiltshire is reported to be on the verge of issuing a S114 bankruptcy notice. Wiltshire’s Local Council Networks (Area Boards) have been a conspicuous failure with little funding, autonomy and officer resource, and very limited devolution to parish and town councils. Local Council Networks on this model will in no measure replace the quality of service of the District Councils. Dorset has failed to devolve services to parishes, and a period of paralysis has followed the implementation of single unitary authorities, that can ill be afforded in the aftermath of Brexit and Covid-19.

-        Alternative options to the single unitary are given  ...  view the full minutes text for item 141.

142.

2019/20 Treasury Management Activity Report pdf icon PDF 574 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council agreed to:-

 

a.

note the Treasury Management Activity for the 2019/20 financial year;

 

 

b.

note the position of the individual prudential indicators for the 2019/20 financial year;

 

 

c.

note the outlook for the investment performance in 2019/20;

 

 

d.

note the Council operated within all of the Prudential Indicators during 2019/20.

 

Reason:

To review the treasury management activity and the performance against the Prudential Indicators for the 2019/20 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 and Legal Services introduced the report and advised that the Council carried some external debt for the first time.  The money was reinvested in property for the Council’s Commercial Strategy and so the value was higher than the debt, but it was still listed as debt in the report.  He thanked the officers for the quality of the report.

 

He concluded that the recommendations were to note the Treasury Management Activity for the 2019/20 financial year.  There was no debate and Members were content to note the Treasury Management Activity Report.

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council agreed to:-

 

a.

note the Treasury Management Activity for the 2019/20 financial year;

 

 

b.

note the position of the individual prudential indicators for the 2019/20 financial year;

 

 

c.

note the outlook for the investment performance in 2019/20;

 

 

d.

note the Council operated within all of the Prudential Indicators during 2019/20.

 

Reason:

To review the treasury management activity and the performance against the Prudential Indicators for the 2019/20 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)

143.

Proposed joining of Yeovilton Parish Council and Limington Parish Meeting - Community Governance Review pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council:-

 

a.

Noted the receipt of the request and its validity;

           

 

b.

Agreed to undertake a Community Governance Review of the Parishes of Yeovilton and Limington:

 

 

c.

Agreed the Terms of Reference of the review as detailed in Appendix A, including the timetable and arrangements for public consultation;

 

 

d.

Agreed that the review will be carried out by the Democratic Services Specialist, in consultation with Ward Members and the Area East Committee;

 

 

e.

Noted that further reports would be brought to Council in order that decisions may be made in respect of draft proposals and final recommendations of the Review.

 

Reason:

To agree to conduct a Community Governance Review (under the provisions of Part 4 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007) in the area of Yeovilton Parish Council and Limington Parish Meeting to merge to form one Parish Council. 

(Voting:  unanimous in favour)

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Legal Services advised that the Council had received a valid request to conduct a Community Governance Review of the parishes of Yeovilton and Limington.  He said there may be some issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic which would be resolved during the consultation period and he proposed the recommendations to Members.

 

There was no debate and Councillors unanimously agreed the recommendations of the report.

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council:-

 

a.

noted the receipt of the request and its validity;

           

 

b.

agreed to undertake a Community Governance Review of the Parishes of Yeovilton and Limington:

 

 

c.

agreed the Terms of Reference of the review as detailed in Appendix A, including the timetable and arrangements for public consultation;

 

 

d.

agreed that the review will be carried out by the Democratic Services Specialist, in consultation with Ward Members and the Area East Committee;

 

 

e.

noted that further reports would be brought to Council in order that decisions may be made in respect of draft proposals and final recommendations of the Review.

 

Reason:

To agree to conduct a Community Governance Review (under the provisions of Part 4 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007) in the area of Yeovilton Parish Council and Limington Parish Meeting to merge to form one Parish Council. 

(Voting:  unanimous in favour)

144.

Report of Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of Executive decisions was NOTED.

145.

Motions pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Decision:

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council:-

 

a.

acknowledged the efforts that this council had made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy; 

 

 

b.

recognised that councils can play a central role in creating sustainable communities, particularly through the provision of locally generated renewable electricity; 

 

 

c.

further recognised;

  

    that very large financial setup and running costs involved in selling locally generated renewable electricity to local customers result in it being impossible for local renewable electricity generators to do so,

    that making these financial costs proportionate to the scale of a renewable electricity supplier’s operation would create significant opportunities for councils to be providers of locally generated renewable electricity directly to local people, businesses and organisations, and

    that revenues received by councils that became local renewable electricity providers could be used to help fund local greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures and to help improve local services and facilities

 

 

d.

accordingly resolved to support the Local Electricity Bill which, if made law, would make the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers proportionate by establishing a Right to Local Supply; and

 

 

e.

further resolved to  

    inform the local media of this decision,

    write to local MPs, asking them to support the Bill, and

    write to the organisers of the campaign for the Bill, Power for People, (at 8 Delancey Passage, Camden, London NW1 7NN or info@powerforpeole.org.uk) expressing its support.

 

Reason:

To confirm the Council’s support for the Local Electricity Bill.

(Voting: unanimous in favour)

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Environment asked Members to support the motion proposed.  She said that renewable energy generation was needed to help the climate but it was not happening fast enough and the Local Energy Bill would empower local communities to sell locally generated clean energy directly to local customers by establishing a statutory Right to Local Supply. This is currently impossible because of the huge setup and running costs involved in doing so.   She said the bill was supported by 188 MP’s and 48 local and County authorities and she would like SSDC to declare their support.

 

During a brief discussion, Members voiced their support for the motion.  The motion was seconded and unanimously confirmed by Members.

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council:-

 

a.

acknowledged the efforts that this council had made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy; 

 

 

b.

recognised that councils can play a central role in creating sustainable communities, particularly through the provision of locally generated renewable electricity; 

 

 

c.

further recognised;

  

    that very large financial setup and running costs involved in selling locally generated renewable electricity to local customers result in it being impossible for local renewable electricity generators to do so,

    that making these financial costs proportionate to the scale of a renewable electricity supplier’s operation would create significant opportunities for councils to be providers of locally generated renewable electricity directly to local people, businesses and organisations, and

    that revenues received by councils that became local renewable electricity providers could be used to help fund local greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures and to help improve local services and facilities

 

 

d.

accordingly resolved to support the Local Electricity Bill which, if made law, would make the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers proportionate by establishing a Right to Local Supply; and

 

 

e.

further resolved to  

    inform the local media of this decision,

    write to local MPs, asking them to support the Bill, and

    write to the organisers of the campaign for the Bill, Power for People, (at 8 Delancey Passage, Camden, London NW1 7NN or info@powerforpeole.org.uk) expressing its support.

 

Reason:

To confirm the Council’s support for the Local Electricity Bill.

(Voting: unanimous in favour)

146.

Questions Under Procedure Rule 10

There were no questions submitted under Procedure Rule 10.

Minutes:

There were no questions under Procedure Rule 10.

147.

Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Minutes:

Members noted that the next scheduled meeting of the Full Council would take place on Thursday, 20th August 2020 by Zoom meeting software commencing at 6.00 p.m.