Meeting documents

TDBC Full Council
Tuesday, 11th December, 2018 6.30 pm

If there are no documents available for this meeting, please click on Attendance details, as the meeting may have been cancelled.

Venue: The Shire Hall, Shuttern, Taunton

Contact: Richard Bryant 

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meetings of Full Council held on 2 October 2018 and Special Full Council held on 14 November pdf icon PDF 240 KB


To report any apologies for absence.


To receive any communications.


    The Mayor reported on two matters:-


    1)    The Communications Manager had informed her that there was currently a technical issue which was affecting the receipt of Members’ e-mails.  It was hoped this issue would be resolved in the next couple of days; and

    2)    She had attended the annual Court Leet Law Day on 9 November 2018 which had been very interesting.  The Court Leet had offered its thanks to the Council for the work it had carried out during the past year.


    Councillor Habgood expressed his thanks to the Council for its role in co-ordinating with local churches and statutory bodies the establishment of the ‘Streetwise Night Café’.  The café which had been set up at the Pentecostal Canon Street Church, Taunton on a short term basis was intended for the benefit of the hard-to-reach rough sleepers in the town.


    It was a fantastic piece of work which had resulted in the café being set up very swiftly and the officers concerned should be congratulated.


Declaration of Interests.

    To receive declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or personal or prejudicial interests, in accordance with the Code of Conduct, in relation to items on the agenda. Such interests need to be declared even if they have already been recorded in the Register of Interests. The personal interests of Councillors who are County Councillors or Town or Parish Councillors will automatically be recorded in the minutes.



    Councillor Mrs Smith-Roberts declared a personal interest in relation to agenda item No 8 due to her involvement in the ‘Refugee Aid from Taunton’ charity which operated from a building sited on the Firepool Site.


    Councillors Coles, Govier and Hunt declared personal interests as Members of Somerset County Council.  Councillors Bowrah, Brown, Cavill, Coombes, Gaines, Govier, Henley, Hunt, James, Mansell, Nicholls, Mrs Reed, Mrs Stock-Williams, Townsend, Mrs Warmington and Watson all declared personal interests as Members of Town or Parish Councils.


To receive questions from Taunton Deane Electors under Standing Order 15.


    a)    Henry Haslam of Taunton Transition Town addressed the Council on behalf of his colleague David Blake who had run the Taunton Half Marathon several times and more recently the Deane DLO 10K race in late September.  He had always been disturbed by the amount of plastic waste that these events generated, especially in the form of single-use plastic bottles, often handed out to runners who take a few swigs of water and then discard the bottle on the course.


    Although the bottles were collected and disposed of, it seemed an unnecessary amount of waste and something that could easily be avoided.  Following very extensive media coverage, there were very few people who were unaware that a serious crisis of plastic pollution was unfolding, both in the oceans and across the ecosphere.


    With the backing of Taunton Transition Town, a petition was started on 38 Degrees on 26 October 2018 under the heading "Support Taunton runners who say no! to plastic bottles".  Within a few weeks, it had attracted 976 signatures.


    Although the races referred to above were organised by the Taunton and District Carnival Committee, they were Taunton events and it was within its powers for the Council to ask the Committee to consider supporting Taunton Deane’s desire to become a "single-use plastic free Council".


    Taunton Transition Town therefore asked the Council to take note of the petition and take practical steps where possible to work with the Carnival Committee and the organisers of races to halt the distribution of single-use plastic drinks bottles at future road races, making use of more environment-friendly alternatives.


    In response, Councillor Patrick Berry stated that this was a good point that would be taken up with the organisers of the Marathon and the 10K Run.  The Mayor added that she had attended recent meetings of the Committee and it was taking the matter very seriously and were already looking at ways of providing alternatives to plastic bottles of water.


    b)    Liz Goldsworthy asked what the outcome was following the discussion at the last Council meeting concerning the prevention of Kingston Stream Open Space being used by travellers.


    There was a need to set a way forward to address this problem, not having the matter ‘hijacked’ to enable the provision of static sites to be discussed.


    She also asked whether any progress had been made by the Legal Department regarding the enforcement of the injunction to prevent further illegal encampments.


    In reply, Councillor John Williams regretted the lack of tangible progress but the Council was studying the alternatives available such as progressing the transit site on the Blackdown Hills where unauthorised travellers could be moved to relatively quickly.


    He added that Taunton had a huge problem with the number of green spaces which meant the Council needed to look at the whole issue.  It was likely that if the Council sought to address the problem of illegal occupations at Kingston Stream, the travellers would simply find another vulnerable green space.


    c)    Martin Pakes made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


Opposing the closure of Norton Manor Camp and relocation of 40 Commando Royal Marines out of Taunton Deane. To consider a Motion proposed by Councillor Marcia Hill, seconded by Councillor Simon Coles (attached). An assessment of the implications for the Council should the motion be carried is also attached. pdf icon PDF 283 KB

    Additional documents:


    Proposed by Councillor Marcia Hill, seconded by Councillor Simon Coles.


    "The Council were aware that the closure of Norton Manor Camp, with expected disposal in 2028, was announced by the Secretary of State for Defence in November 2016 in ‘A Better Defence Estate’, with a key objective to raise £1 billion from land sales, including the statement "opportunities to release value from surplus land and property must be maximised".


    The Somerset County Gazette reported "False Hope" after the Defence Secretary said in Parliament on 22 October 2018 that 40 Commando Royal Marines would remain in Taunton "for a long time into the future" but his Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesperson then described these words as "vague" confirming the Camp remained scheduled for closure.


    The National Audit Office (NAO) had said implementing the plan would be "extremely challenging" and there was a "significant risk" to defence capability.


    No operational military reasons or objectives had been given by the MOD for the closure, and the Government’s National Security Capability Review begun in summer 2017 had led to proposals to cut up to 2,000 Royal Marines over the next decade; cuts which the Defence Select Committee of the House of Commons described as "militarily illiterate".


    At a time of significant reductions in footfall in Taunton Town Centre the value of 700-800 personnel at the Camp to the local economy had been estimated at £10-14 million per annum (on the basis of the proportion of locally spent average family incomes).




    1)    The Council opposes the decision of the Government to close Norton Manor Camp and relocate the Royal Marines out of Taunton Deane; supports the efforts of our local Member of Parliament, Rebecca Pow, to secure the retention of the 40 Commando Unit; and stands behind the local 40 Commando community of serving and veteran Royal Marines who wanted the Camp to remain in the Borough;


    2)    The Leader of the Council writes to the Secretary of State for Defence strongly opposing the closure of the Camp, urging him to remove Norton Manor Camp from the list of sites to be disposed of on the Ministry of Defence website; and


    3)    The Leader of the Council also writes to all of Somerset’s Members of Parliament pointing out that the County was in danger of losing 40 Commando Royal Marines, urging them to take up the importance of Norton Manor Camp to the County of Somerset and to Taunton Deane in particular in Parliament and oppose its closure and the relocation of 40 Commando to another area and that the Chief Executive should report back to the whole Council placing copies of any replies received on the public record."


    The Motion was put and was carried unanimously.


Firepool Hotel Development - Consultation with Local Businesses. Report of the Head of Commercial, Investment and Change (attached), to be presented by Councillor Mark Edwards. pdf icon PDF 240 KB

    Additional documents:


    Considered report previously circulated, concerning the feedback from consultation with local businesses, on the previous Council resolution to invest and develop a new mid-market hotel on Firepool south-side site.


    The original hotel report was approved by Full Council 10 April 2018 (Minute No. 12/April 2018 refers).  Subsequently, at the Full Council meeting on 10 July 2018 a motion was agreed - "To defer the decision to build a hotel at Firepool and consult with businesses in Taunton Deane in order to safeguard public funds and to ensure the maximum return on our capital". (Minute No. 8/July 2018 refers).


    The consultation process involved the creation of a ‘Question and Answer’ leaflet and an on-line survey.  The consultation period was during the whole of October 2018 and the Taunton Business Community was informed as follows:-


    ·         Press release issued and published on the Council and www.investtaunton websites (on 1 October and follow-up on 24 October 2018);

    ·         E-mails sent directly to 312 Taunton / town centre businesses on the Council’s Business Development and Visitor Centre databases (together with sending a message directly to the Taunton Chamber of Commerce);

    ·         Social media – The consultation was promoted regularly throughout October via Twitter (Taunton Deane and Taunton Business Twitter accounts);

    ·         Taunton Business twitter feed = c.2700 followers; and

    ·         TDBC corporate twitter = c.4000 followers.


    The feedback from the consultation with local businesses, on the previous Council resolution to invest and develop a new mid-market hotel on Firepool south-side site, had been noted.   The full results were submitted for the information of all Members.


    Reported that the response rate had been very low despite extensive promotion by the team and direct contact with the business community.  As such there was no clear pattern of response from which to draw definitive conclusions.  Whilst the hotel specific question brought a higher "no" response, if the no response from the hotel/ bed and breakfast sector was taken into account, the responses were broadly even.  There was support for the principle of Council investment to support the town and to generate income to support essential services.  However on such a low response rate firm conclusions were clearly hard to draw and must be viewed accordingly.


    Noted that the original decision was made based on delivery of the Council’s prime objectives - the investment would secure longer term benefits for the town centre and the Taunton area economy creating jobs and footfall; it would spur regeneration of the currently under-developed riverside site; and, critically it would create a new source of income for the Council to support service delivery.  


    The Council was working closely with professional construction and design advisors (AECOM) in planning the layout of the new hotel and services on site and were engaging with representatives of our preferred Hotel Brand and Management Operations organisations.  This was necessary to identify the highest quality and affordable design for a hotel that best fitted with the Council’s aspirations for the site and within an agreed budget, supported by a robust Business Case. 


    Early  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Heart of the South West - Joint Committee - Council Update. Report of the Head of Localities (attached), to be presented by Councillor John Williams. pdf icon PDF 369 KB


    Considered report previously circulated, concerning the work of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Joint Committee.


    In January 2018, the HotSW Joint Committee was formally established by the

    Councils and organisations involved since 2015 in the devolution partnership.  The Committee was tasked with improving productivity across the HotSW area in collaboration with the HotSW Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and other organisations as necessary.  


    The Committee which was Chaired by Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council (with Councillor John Tucker, Leader of South Hams District Council as Vice-Chairman) had met formally three times in 2018, in March, June and October.  


    In addition to this, the management structure that sat behind the Committee and involved Chief Executives and senior officers from across the partnership had met regularly to drive the business of the Committee.


    The report summarised the progress made by the Committee over recent months in key areas of activity which included:-


    ·         Influencing the Government;

    ·         Approval of the HotSW Productivity Strategy;

    ·         Endorsement of the Delivery Plan;

    ·         The preparation of an Opportunities Prospectus;

    ·         Housing - an agreement to work closely with Homes England and the Government to successfully deliver the ambitious housing programmes that exist across the area;

    ·         Working with the National Infrastructure Commission to secure Government funding for a Growth Corridor Study;

    ·         The formation of a Brexit Resilience Opportunities Group to research and advise on the opportunities and risks to the HotSW; and

    ·         Setting up a Sub-National Transport Bodyto work with the Government to deliver investment in the Region’s major transport infrastructure. 


    The report also set out actions proposed in the coming months, particularly:-


    1)    The development of an Investment Framework for the Delivery Plan so that priorities for delivery and project opportunities could be delivered via investment from a range of sources; and

    2)    Reviewing the roles and functions of both bodies through a governance review to acknowledge the revised and enhanced focus given to LEPs by the Government.  


    Further reported that the inclusion of the HotSW LEP area in the second wave of areas to benefit from working with the Government to develop their Local Industrial Strategies (LIS) was a considerable achievement for the Joint Committee and the LEP.


    By working closely with the Government to develop our LIS it was hoped to be able to jointly agree the long term transformational opportunities that would help deliver the ‘asks’ specific to our area and influence wider Government policy and delivery.  


    LIS’s would focus on the foundations of productivity and identify transformational opportunities with partners across Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Place.


    Noted that the LEP’s proposed timetable was to have the final LIS agreed between the LEP and the Government by June 2019.  To enable the development of the LIS to be taken forward at pace, and to demonstrate alignment with partners across the area, it was proposed that local authority input was developed, coordinated and signed off by the Joint Committee.  Approval was therefore sought from the constituent authorities to formally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


Approval of Funding Request for the Transformation Programme. Report of the Chief Executive (attached) to be presented by Councillors John Williams and Andrew Sully. pdf icon PDF 249 KB

    Additional documents:


    Considered report previously circulated, which sought additional funding for the Transformation Programme. 


    The approved High Level Business Case for the creation of a new Council with Transformation in 2016, promised £3,100,000 savings with one-off costs of £7,100,000.


    The original Business Case required a saving of 23% of staff costs.  From recruitment to date (phase 1) and staff expressions of interest (phase 2), the Councils were broadly on track to deliver this through the voluntary redundancy (VR) route.  It was estimated that approximately 23% of staff would have taken VR by the end of the process. 


    The revised Business Case had increased the savings from £3,100,000 to £3,500,000 with a revised investment of circa £9,500,000 delivering an attractive return of investment whilst protecting front line services and improving the customer experience.


    This meant that overall costs for Transformation were now estimated to exceed the original High Level Business Case estimates by £2,387,000, for which Taunton Deane’s share was £1,880,000.  It was proposed that the annual savings target be increased by £348,000. 


    The additional costs mostly came from the average cost of redundancy not from higher numbers of redundancy.  In 2016 it was predicted the former to be £25,000 when in reality it has proven to be £34,000.  This was most likely due to the age profile and length of service of the people involved.


    Reported that approximately £800,000 of the additional cost had arisen from the inclusion of the Deane DLO workforce into the Transformation Programme.  This had enabled the Councils to grow and develop the Localities function.  It was also more inclusive as all staff now had the opportunity to apply for any role and to benefit from the development on offer.


    The updated Business Case provided a payback period, at 2.7 years, which was below the three year good practice benchmark the Council had used for this programme.


    To maintain capacity, resilience and service standards there were some one-off transitional costs for both this year and the start of next year totalling £685,000, for which the Council’s share was £564,000.


    Resolved that:-


    1)    An increase to the Transformation Programme Budget of £2,387,000 be noted and that funding of £1,277,000 for Taunton Deane’s General Fund and £603,000 for Taunton Deane’s Housing Revenue Account be approved. (Note £507,000 to be funded by West Somerset Council’s General Fund);


    2)    An increase to service budgets for transitional costs totalling £685,000 be noted and that funding of £386,000 for Taunton Deane’s General Fund and £178,000 for Taunton Deane’s Housing Revenue Account be approved. (Note £121,000 to be funded by West Somerset Council’s General Fund);


    3)    The proposed increase of the annual savings target by £348,000 to £3,500,000 be supported; and


    4)    It be noted that the Shadow Executive would consider the basis for allocating the increased savings target within the new Council’s Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan.



Suspension of Standing Order


Confirmation of Appointment of Joint Chief Executive. Report of the Assistant Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer (attached), to be presented by Councillor John Williams. pdf icon PDF 218 KB


    Considered report previously circulated, concerning the appointment of James Hassett as Chief Executive for Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils with effect from 1 January 2019.


    At the meeting of the Shadow Council held on 19 November 2018, it was agreed to appoint James Hassett as the Chief Executive Designate for the Somerset West and Taunton Council with effect from 1 January 2019 and as the permanent Chief Executive of the new Council with effect from 1 April 2018.


    This decision, by virtue of the provisions of the Local Government (Boundary Changes) Regulations 2018, determined that the current Chief Executive should be treated as being dismissed by reason of redundancy.  The current post-holder had therefore been given notice that their employment would cease with effect from 28 February, 2019.


    Given that the Shadow Council did not have the powers to appoint staff to the extant authorities, for clarity and to ensure a smooth handover, as well as to be legally compliant, both Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council needed to formally appoint James Hassett as their Joint Chief Executive with effect from 1 January 2019 as recommended.


    During the discussion of this item, the Leader of the Council, Councillor John Williams paid tribute to Penny James who had decided not to apply for the post of Chief Executive with the new Council.  He stated that Penny had undertaken the role of Chief Executive very well in often challenging conditions both at national and local levels.  She had helped steer Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils towards the creation of Somerset West and Taunton Council which would continue to provide local residents in both areas with a level of services into the future comparable to that which existed.


    Resolved that the appointment of James Hassett as Chief Executive (including being Head of Paid Service, Returning Officer, Electoral Registration Officer and a Core Member of the Central Implementation Team) for Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council with effect from 1 January 2019 be confirmed.


Approval of Redundancy (Transformation) where severance is over £100,000. Report of the Transformation HR Lead (attached), to be presented by Councillor Andrew Sully - see also Confidential Appendix at Item No. 16. pdf icon PDF 248 KB


    Considered report previously circulated, which sought Council approval for the redundancies of the ICT and Information Manager. 


    Although the necessary financial approvals were already in place via the Business Case for Transformation, there was a requirement within the Councils’ HR Policies for redundancies to be approved where severance costs exceeded £100,000 per case.


    Although the new structure created through Transformation would come into effect at the end of February 2019 there was a requirement to retain the services of this particular employee until the 30 April 2019 to ensure that the significant risks associated with the IT Service could be managed appropriately.


    Resolved that the redundancy of the ICT and Information Manager be approved with effect from 30 April 2019 in accordance with the financial details set out in the Confidential Appendix A to the report.


    Due to the lateness of the hour, the Mayor suggested that rather than further extend the duration of the meeting, questions for the Executive Councillors in respect of their reports (details follow) could be dealt with via e-mail.  This was agreed.


Part II - To receive reports from the following Members of the Executive (attached):- pdf icon PDF 360 KB

    a)    Councillor John Williams – Leader of the Council;

    b)    Councillor Vivienne Stock-Williams – Sports, Parks and Leisure

    c)    Councillor Andrew Sully – Corporate Resources

    d)    Councillor Jane Warmington -  Community Leadership

    e)    Councillor Terry Beale – Housing Services

    f)     Councillor Patrick Berry – Environmental Services and Climate Change

    g)    Councillor Mark Edwards – Economic Development, Asset Management, Arts and Culture, Tourism and Communications;

    h)    Councillor Richard Parrish – Planning Policy and Transportation.

    Additional documents:


    Leader of the Council (Councillor John Williams)


    Councillor Williams’s report covered the following topics:-


    ·         Chief Executive Designate;

    ·         New Council;

    ·         New Chair - Taunton Strategic Advisory Board;

    ·         Proposed Dualling of the A358 – Progress;

    ·         Refurbishment of The Deane House;

    ·         Retail Relief – Guidance from the Government; and

    ·         Proposed Development of the Tangier Site, Taunton with 182 new homes.


    Sport, Parks and Leisure (Councillor Mrs Vivienne Stock-Williams)


    The report from Councillor Mrs Stock-Williams dealt with activities taking place in the following areas:-


    ·         Community Leisure – Play and Recreation; Play Equipment Repairs; Section 106 Funding for Play, Sport, Allotments and Community Halls; Capital Grant Scheme for Voluntary Village Halls, Sports Clubs and Allotments and the Parish Play Area Grant Scheme; Friends of Netherclay (Bishops Hull); Carols around the Bandstand, Vivary Park, Taunton; and Staffing;

    ·         GLL (Taunton Deane) – Community Sport and Health; and Facilities;

    ·         Leisure Procurement Project;

    ·         Parks and Open Spaces – Staffing; Grass Cutting; Winter Planting; Arboriculture; Langford Lakes Christmas Trees; Vivary Park, Taunton; Wellington Park; Comeytrowe Park; Somerset Wood; Swains Lane Nature Reserve, Wellington; and Abandoned Vehicles;

    ·         Property – Station Road Swimming Pool; Vivary Park Golf Course, Taunton; and Wellington Sports Centre.


    Corporate Resources (Councillor Andrew Sully)     


    The report from Councillor Sully provided information on the following areas within his portfolio:-


    ·         Corporate Performance;

    ·         Customer Services;

    ·         Facilities Management;

    ·         ICT/Technology;

    ·         Members Case Management;

    ·         Human Resources;

    ·         Finance;

    ·         Revenues and Benefits; and

    ·         The Mayoralty and Democratic Services


    Community Leadership (Councillor Mrs Jane Warmington)


    Councillor Mrs Warmington presented the Community Leadership report which focused on the following areas within that portfolio:-


    ·         Taunton Town Centre;

    ·         Street Wardens;

    ·         Rough Sleeping Reduction Plan Overview;

    ·         Streetwise Rough Sleepers Night Café;

    ·         Wood to commemorate the Fallen of World War One; and

    ·         Green Forum


    Housing Services (Councillor Terry Beale)


    Councillor Beale submitted his report which drew attention to the following:-


    ·         Deane Housing Development - Weavers Arms, Rockwell Green, Wellington; North Taunton; Oake; 12 Moorland Close, Taunton; Outer Circle, Taunton; Laxton Road, Taunton; Future Council Development Pipeline; Affordable Housing Completions; General Enabling; Large Scale Sites of Interest; and Other Sites of interest;

    ·         Deane Housing Repairs and Maintenance;

    ·         Welfare Reform - Universal Credit; and

    ·         Anti-Social Behaviour.


    Environmental Services and Climate Change (Councillor Patrick Berry)


    The report from Councillor Berry drew attention to developments in the following areas:-


    ·         Street Sweeping and Toilet Cleaning;

    ·         Somerset Waste Partnership;

    ·         Cemeteries and Crematorium (Update on projects; Crematorium Waiting Room Extension; and Resignation of the Crematorium Manager); and

    ·         Environmental Health – Health and Safety; Private Water Supplies; and Safety Advisory Group; and

    ·         Licensing.


    Economic Development, Asset Management, Arts and Culture, Tourism and Communications (Councillor Mark Edwards)


    The report from Councillor Edwards covered:-


    ·         Communications;

    ·         Events, Place, Retail Marketing and Visitor Centre – Events; Future Events; and Place Marketing;

    ·         Growth Strategy and Specific Projects – Coal Orchard Redevelopment, Taunton; The Brewhouse Development, Taunton; Firepool Development, Taunton; Firepool Land Assembly; and Firepool Section 106 Agreement; and

    ·         Asset Management Service Update – New Asset Management System; Leisure Procurement Facilities – Assets and Leases; Proposed Country Park (Near Nerrols Farm, Taunton); Annual Asset and Insurance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.