Reports to be considered by District Executive on 4 August 2022
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 contamination, given that this site is a former garage?
· Why have expected costs gone up by nearly 100%, from £210k to £413k?
· Is this carpark subject to a live planning application, and if so, will this lapse if the work is not started soon?
· Page 12 Para 10 refers to ‘officers unable to provide a high level of reliability’. One member suggested that this doesn’t sound very reassuring.
· Is the project going to be good value for money? The previous report (that was withdrawn from DX agenda in June) suggested a more value for money approach i.e. a potential land swap. Why has this approach been left out of this report?
Yeovil Key Sites Change of Scope Request (Agenda item 9)
· *Benefit cost ratio (BCR) – What is this now, and will it pose a problem for these projects if the BCR is less than 2?
· Cattle Market site - If the site had a £35m funding gap, why was it included in the original future high street fund bid?
· One member asked about the possibility of Scrutiny doing a deep dive review of Yeovil Key Sites projects in confidential session, whilst also acknowledging that bidding for future high street funding is a very competitive process.
· Para 17 – What would happen if this money had to be returned? Is there an earmarked reserve to cover us in case this money must be returned?
· One member commented that SSDC used to be a very ambitious authority, but these are clearly very different times. Regarding a deep dive report into Yeovil Key sites, he asked for it to include any history and context to help members understand how some of those ambitions are now out of reach.
Yeovil Refresh Wyndham Street Public Realm Funding (Agenda item 10)
· Are we (SSDC) confident that we’ve got the ability to see this through by vesting day ‘23? Are there any likely constraints that may arise?
· One member questioned whether this public realm project is value for money when he felt that footfall in the area was not significant enough to justify the spend. In response, the ward member told members that this area was in fact a very busy part of town and serves many people with access into the town centre.
· Some members felt that this project was a positive move for the area, agreeing that it would be better to do this work now, rather than leave the area in a run-down state.
· Does the scheme include tidying-up of the shop fronts, like the Chard Shop Front Design Guide?
· The Chairman asked the Regeneration Service Manager for a detailed breakdown of the 891k spend for the District Executive meeting on Thursday 4th August.
Placeholder Report - Potential request from Scrutiny Committee for re-consideration of an Executive Decision as a result of the Scrutiny Call-in procedure (Agenda item 11)
· This was considered as a separate item on the Scrutiny agenda.
· The 'call-in' request was withdrawn.
District Executive Forward Plan (Agenda item 12)
· One member felt that October looks light but acknowledged that as time goes on there will likely be more decisions taken under the Local Government Reorganisation governance workstreams.