Reports to be considered by District Executive on 1 July 2021
Prior to considering the District Executive agenda, the Chairman referred to storm flooding that had occurred in the Chard area the previous evening. He thanked all staff who had helped with the response or were offering support and advice to the community, and he asked the Director (Service Delivery) to convey thanks on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee.
Members considered the reports within the District Executive agenda for 1 July 2021 (Informal Consultative Meeting) and raised comments as detailed below. Responses to most questions and comments were provided at Scrutiny Committee (Informal Meeting) by the relevant officers or Portfolio Holder – except those marked by an asterisk:
Planning Reimagined Update (Agenda item 5)
· A member suggested it would be useful to have some local and national context to help better understand how SSDC are doing compared to other authorities.
· Some members expressed concern about ward member involvement and ensuring that ward members are ‘kept in the loop’ especially regarding applications going forward to Regulation Committee.
· Members also expressed concerns regarding timeframes and processes for notifying parish / town councils and receiving their comments.
· Some members noted the report referenced a technical lead position in the team as well as a Lead Specialist. Members sought clarification whether an appointment had been made to the technical lead role, and also if the position was an additional role at additional cost?
· One member asked about the use of the phrase “bolstering the team”, what does this mean exactly?
· Several members expressed concern about enforcement which was often a controversial subject at parish meetings.
· The report refers to a training video – would this be for members or parishes?
· A member suggested that more briefings for members on technical elements would be useful, including how people can report enforcement issues.
· A members asked if a breakdown was known regarding how many enforcement queries were submitted through the website, member portal, post or by phone? The Director for Service Delivery informed Scrutiny members that she would share this enforcement data with them.*
· Some members queried if the planning re-imagined workshops would be reconvening in the near future?
Review of Priority Project 1 of the Council’s Annual Action Plan 2021-2022 (Agenda item 6)
· A member noted the report referred to ‘subject to funding’ (pages 18 and 19) and asked for clarity about the purpose, amount and sources of such funding.
· Members asked if we were still engaging with education providers to assist with our economy and recovery?
· *Page 19, Q3 – a member sought clarity about how much progress had been made with the health and well-being framework – what and when etc.
· Page 18 – outcomes – refers to digital infrastructure – a member commented that some more detail or information would be useful.
· Regarding the imminent decision due regarding the future of local government in Somerset – and the possible associated statutory instruments likely to be in place – how would all this work / projects be achieved? One member suggested this was a very ambitious priority project.
· Regarding the work detailed under Q1 on page 18 – a member asked how many of the elements were carried over into Q2 or were still ongoing?
2020/21 Revenue Outturn Report Period Ending 31 March 2021 (Agenda item 7)
· Page 24 – Commercial Investments – it refers to a property re-gear. Members asked what re-gear meant and also sought reassurance that it was just for the one property in our portfolio?
· Table 1 – page 23 – members noted there is a large variation on spend associated with the Chief Executive (Directorate) – members queried where the budget had gone as it had effectively doubled, and noted a breakdown would have been useful. Members noted a response would be circulated via email by the Lead Specialist (Finance) to Scrutiny Members.*
2020/21 Capital Outturn Report Period Ending 31 March 2021 (Agenda item 8)
· Para 16 on page 49 – a member sought clarity on the meaning of the paragraph, and remarked that the wording did not seem entirely professional.
· Para 20 on page 50 – members asked if there was any update regarding the Arlingclose review of external borrowing options? Members asked if when the outcome was known if it would be something that could be circulated to Scrutiny members for information?
· Members noted that some additional training regarding capital and interest payments would be useful.
· A member asked why the council was barred from utilising Public Works Loan Boards for low interest borrowing, was this because the council makes large property investments?
Financing the Yeovil Refresh (Agenda item 9) (Scrutiny did not go into confidential session)
· Members noted that there had been various regeneration projects over the years and queried if the Yeovil refresh was cross-referencing with the older visions and schemes?
· Some members expressed concern regarding the amount of funding and the possible pay off time of 50 years with associated borrowing costs.
· A member sought clarification about aspects of funding for the Yeovil Refresh including whether there would be developer contributions / obligations, the amount of high street funding and the amount of potential funding from the business rates pooling.
· A member asked what would happen if the funding detailed in the report recommendation was not agreed? How much of a scale-back would have to be made? How many businesses might cease to come to Yeovil?
District Executive Forward Plan (Agenda item 10)
· The chairman suggested it would be useful to compare and align the Scrutiny Work Programme with the District Executive Forward Plan where appropriate. Is there anything on the District Executive Forward Plan that Scrutiny could pick up for a debate on their own agenda?
· Members asked when the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding and allocation report would be coming to Council, as it is very overdue.
· Members asked about the status of the current Local Plan review, and when an update would be coming to committee?
· Regarding the A358 Taunton to Southfields duelling, what role did SSDC have in supporting the parishes affected?