Agenda and minutes
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To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous meeting held on 5 July 2022. The draft minutes can be viewed at: http://modgov.southsomerset.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=141&Year=0
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 5 July 2022 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chairman.
Apologies for absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Mike Lewis.
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.
Councillor Paul Maxwell declared a personal interest for item 8 on the District Executive Agenda - Millers Garage Car Park Project, as he is also a member of Crewkerne Town Council which had been consulted on elements of the project in the past and may be likely to again in the future.
Public question time
There were no members of public present at the meeting.
Issues arising from previous meetings
This is an opportunity for Members to question the progress on issues arising from previous meetings. However, this does not allow for the re-opening of a debate on any item not forming part of this agenda.
No issues were raised from previous meetings.
The Chairman welcomed Councillor Barbara Appleby as a new member on the Scrutiny Committee.
The Chairman noted there had been an item on last month's District Executive agenda regarding the Wincanton Regeneration Budget Change of Scope. The item had been 'called-in' and was identified on the current Scrutiny agenda at item 13. The call-in would be discussed later in the meeting, but he shared with members that he understood the ward members were now comfortable with the processes put in place regarding the Wincanton Regeneration Scheme.
Members considered the reports within the District Executive agenda for 4 August 2022 and raised comments and questions as detailed below. Responses to most questions and comments were provided at Scrutiny Committee by the relevant officers - except any marked by an asterisk.
Natural Environment Presentation (Agenda item 6)
· *Green Flag award - What support might be given to other town and parishes who are doing equally good work? i.e. High Ham millennium wood.
Yeovil Crematorium Project - Request for Additional Funding from the Corporate Capital Contingency Budget (Agenda item 7)
· Why are contingencies not built into each of these budgets, as opposed to requesting draw down from a central contingency fund.
· What is the balance of the capital contingency fund? And how much is left after these requests?
(The above questions apply to agenda items 7, 8, 9 and 10 - Requests for funding from the capital contingency budget 22/23)
· Page 7 item 10 – 2019 costings - Do we expect costs from 2019 to have increased significantly now?
· How confident do we (SSDC) feel that the funding would now be sufficient to see the project through to the end.
· Replacement of the second cremator - Is this cremator now active and is the crematorium operating at full capacity? What money has been saved on not replacing the base of this cremator, and can this saving be used for the refurbishment of the chapel?
· Clarification on the total amount being requested. Is it 165k from the SSDC contingency budget, and then a further 20k being requested from Yeovil Without Parish Council? Are the Parish Council on board with this.
· Page 8 Para 13 – Clarity on why the project is no longer carrying a contingency from the original crematorium budget.
· The impact of local government reorganisation on legacy projects like these. Are they future proofed and will these financial decisions be honoured in the handover to Somerset Council?
· What happened as a result of the changes to the service contracts at the crematorium? Have these service contracts been factored into this request for funding of the crematorium.
· If the work will take 22 months to complete, is there a risk that after vesting day the contractors will need more cash from the new Somerset authority to finish the work.
· What are the risks if this work is not carried out at all?
· The Chairman concluded that this is a very complex project over a long time. Not easy to manage and hopefully lessons are being learned.
Millers Garage Car Park Project, East Street, Crewkerne - Request for Additional Funding from the Corporate Capital Contingency Budget (Agenda item 8)
· Many concerns from Crewkerne residents about any potential links with planning application for housing development on or close to the site? Is this proposal to build the car park as a stand-alone project, and not intended for use as an access route for future housing.
· When they we expect this project to be completed?
· Do we have any concerns regarding land ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
The Chairman provided a brief verbal update on progress of Task and Finish Groups, including
· Flooding in South Somerset - the Section 19 report regarding the Chard Flooding had been considered. The report for Ilminster was still awaited, and once received, the two reports would be correlated to identify if there is anything that could be recommended by Scrutiny to try and improve matters.
· Productivity Analysis - on hold
The Chairman noted that at the District Executive meeting in July he had raised about the upcoming reports on Section 106 and CIL. He acknowledged that members were aware that a report was due to each Area Committee, but he had also raised an observation that there was perhaps a need for a strategic discussion beyond the locality element, about how these funding programmes would carry over into the new authority and what our recommendations might be. The suggestion was acknowledged by the Executive and not immediately rejected.
One of the Vice-Chairs noted that members of Area West Committee had been asking for an update report on historic buildings for a considerable length of time, as it was an important report providing updates on progress of building at risk. She asked if it wasn’t possible to take a report to each Area Committee could a district wide report be made to Scrutiny Committee? A brief discussion followed during which other members supported the need for an update report on historic buildings. In response the Chief Executive noted she would discuss the matter with Directors to see if a report could be provided.
The Chairman reminded members that as had been discussed during consideration of the Yeovil Key Sites Change of Scope report on the District Executive agenda, a 'deep dive' report would come back to Scrutiny Committee in October for consideration.
Members were content to note the Scrutiny Work Programme.
Members noted that the next meeting of Scrutiny Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 30 August at 10.30am, in the Council Chamber, Brympton Way, Yeovil.
The Chairman informed members that he had been made aware of a telephone call from one of the Wincanton ward members prior to the meeting, and that both Wincanton ward members had asked for the call-in to be withdrawn from the Scrutiny agenda.
The Chairman advised members that Councillor Bastable and Councillor Osborne would need to give their permission for the call-in to be withdrawn, to which they both agreed. However, both Councillors had some queries and concerns regarding processes relating to the Regeneration Board. During discussion some of the comments raised by members included:
· Would be interested to know what was discussed at the Board and what has changed for this call-in to have been withdrawn.
· The situation shows weaknesses in the relationships between Regeneration Boards, ward members, Area Committees and the public.
· Concerned that presently the people of Wincanton do not know what is happening with Wincanton Regeneration? Suggestion that this shows the lack of consultation by Wincanton Regeneration Board.
· buying habits in retail have changed considerably in recent years, with online shopping, home delivery etc… meaning that town centre footfall must be very different now. What recent studies are being done regarding footfall in these areas? Have town centre regeneration needs changed?
· In the interests of transparency, there should be more reporting from regeneration boards to prevent ward members feeling like they have not been consulted sufficiently.
· It is important that public speakers representing a specific ‘place’ make it very clear who they are representing. i.e. town or parish council or themselves.
The Director for Place and Recovery and the Regeneration Programme Manager responded to points of detail raised during discussion, and some of their comments included:
· The Town Council has always been represented on the Regeneration Board, however following the local elections there had been a major change of councillors.
· Some elements of the public realm scheme are more supported by some stakeholders, than other parts.
· From discussions relating to the ward member concerns and a recent Board meeting, all parties now aligned behind a renewed vision for Wincanton that the Board feels able to support.
· Will take back to the team about improving communication.
· Assurances that lessons would be learned.
The Chairman was pleased that the call-in process had been handled diligently, and that discussions had taken place to address the concerns of the ward members concerned. He concluded that lessons would be learned for the future of Wincanton Regeneration and all regeneration projects.