Meeting documents

TDBC Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 16th October, 2018 6.15 pm

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

Venue: Meeting Room C - Flook House. View directions

Contact: Marcus Prouse 

No. Item




Minutes of the previous meeting of the Scrutiny Committee. pdf icon PDF 326 KB


Public Question Time.


    Agenda Item 6 – Homelessness Strategy


    Mr Nick Magnum spoke on behalf of the charity he works for called People in Need South West.  They operate homeless rehabilitation centres across the country.  His role was to evaluate the south west area with the idea of setting up one of their centres on the outskirts of Taunton to help those that were homeless, had drug or alcohol problems, victims of abuse and generally those that were in need.  Most of their centres took approximately a hundred residents at any one time and had on-site medical and mental health staff.  They wanted to set up a centre in the area to help deal with the three prong homeless problem that included the following:-

    ·         Basic homeless person that was living on the streets and needed a home;

    ·         Homeless people that had been executed from their home because landlords had increased their rent; and

    ·         People that had a roof over their head and who took part in criminal activity.

    They had new ways of tackling homeless issues that had not been seen in the South West before.  He wanted to network with the relevant agencies and collate information to be included in a report to gain funding from the Government so that the charity would be able to operate a centre in the Taunton area.



Declarations of Interest.

    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.



    Members present at the meeting declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Member of a County, Parish or Town Council:




    Member of

    Action Taken

    Councillor S Coles



    Spoke and voted

    Councillor N Cavill



    Spoke and voted

    Councillor E Gaines



    Spoke and voted

    Councillor R Henley



    Spoke and voted

    Councillor J Hunt


    SCC and Town

    Spoke and voted

    Councillor N Townsend



    Spoke and voted

    Councillor D Webber



    Spoke and voted

    Councillor J Warmington







Update on Crime and Policing in Taunton Deane.


    The Chief Inspector greeted the Committee and introduced Inspector Andy Pritchard to the Members.  Previously she had prepared reports for the Committee, however, she thought the time would be better spent if she answered any questions raised by the Committee Members that were important to them and their constituents, instead of presenting information that might not be relevant to what the Committee wished to discuss.  She advised Members if there were any subjects that they wanted further details on, she was happy to take the requests away and respond to Members with the details.


    The Chief Inspector then detailed the neighbourhood policing proposal that had been discussed previously and had now been restructured by the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner, who had invested in neighbourhood policing and believed it was the root to keeping our communities safe and engaged.  They had invested heavily in maintaining neighbourhood resource and had been asked to submit plans for what they thought was the best way to use the resources available to cover the geographical area of Somerset West.  The plan was agreed and had gone live as a Pilot scheme.  The area had been split into 19 zones and each had Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) who were responsible for all the problem solving and engagement in their area.  There were also 35 Police Constables who would then support the PCSO’s and assist them with their warrant powers.  The new plan meant that there was cover at all times to support the community.  The Police Officers (PO) had also been issued with new pieces of kit and lightweight laptops to enable them to carry out their work in the communities.


    The Chief Inspector was aware of the issues being faced within Taunton town centre with the increased amounts of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and homelessness and that business owners and residents were concerned. 


    During the discussion of this item, Members made comments and statements and asked questions which included:-

    ·         Members praised the hard work that the PCSO’s carried out in the communities.  They agreed that the new laptops enabled the officers to carry out their work in an agile manner and that they were making use of their bicycles to travel around their local area.

    The Inspector thanked the Member for their comment and advised that due to the efficiencies created, PCSO’s should have more time to carry out their duties.

    ·         Members raised concern on the skateboarders in Castle Green and mentioned that when they had tackled them, they had responded by saying they had not caused any damage and that the Police had said it was ok to use the area.  A further concern was raised on cyclist’s behaviour and queried how cyclists could be encouraged to use the Highway Code.

    There was a time that PO’s could deal with the lower level ASB concerns, but she was aware that there were opportunities to improve efficiencies in processes which could spare up PO’s time to deal with ASB concerns.  She suggested  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Homelessness Strategy. pdf icon PDF 270 KB

    Additional documents:


    Considered report previously circulated, which provided a detailed account of the results of the Homelessness Review that had been undertaken by the five Districts and proposed an Action Plan that covered four priorities which included:-

    ·         Supporting the transition in services required by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017;

    ·         Supporting clients to remain in their existing accommodation;

    ·         Supporting clients to access suitable and affordable accommodation; and

    ·         Building and maintaining strong working relationships across partnerships.


    During the discussion of this item, Members made comments and statements and asked questions which included:-

    ·         Members were disappointed that the Housing Portfolio Holder was not present at the meeting.

    ·         Members suggested that the public speaker approached the Somerset County Foundation, who were organising a day for people to attend with ideas for projects that could tap into Hinkley Point funds and could help with funding issues, it would also help promote partnership working and networking.

    ·         Members thanked the Housing Officer for their hard work on the strategy.

    ·         Concern was raised about the amount of people that TDBC currently had lodged in the Travelodge due to the lack of accommodation available to them.  Members requested an update in three months’ time.

    ·         The Chairman agreed and requested regular reviews. 

    The strategy was a countywide strategy and would not be able to be reviewed every three months, however, the Housing Officer could produce figures for the local cases and update Members on that.  Currently the amount of cases being lodged in temporary accommodation was abnormally high.  There were a number of issues that had caused the high figures, lack of social hosing, landlords not willing to take on tenants on benefits, were just a couple of examples.  Staff were trying to help customers find accommodation and had accompanied them when they had gone to an estate agents to offer assistance.

    ·         Members praised the methods being adopted by the Housing Team and the support they were offering to customers.  They suggested that the Council should be advertising the success stories which would help promote the help available to customers.

    ·         Members queried whether officers had access to a database of private landlords located in the area who they could approach for homeless customers. 

    Yes, the Homeless Team had access to a list of local landlords.

    ·         Members raised concern that when customers had been given rent money to pay the landlord themselves, there had sometimes been issues with managing their money.

    The Housing Officer shared their concern because it had been historically proved that certain tenants struggled with their finances and would get themselves into rent arrears.  Direct payments to landlords had been used previously to tackle this issue.  However, Central Government had introduced regulations that benefit payments should be paid direct to the tenant to give them the opportunity to manage their own money.

    ·         Members requested an update on the housing project that had been set up to assist ex-servicemen.

    The project had identified that there was a need for ex-servicemen accommodation in the area.  The Housing Officer advised the Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Time Extension


Formation of a Task and Finish Review to investigate Crime and Disorder and Anti Social Behaviour Issues within The Deane.


    Full Council had requested that a Task and Finish Group be set up to investigate Crime and Disorder and Anti-Social Behaviour Issues within The Deane.


    The Chairman read out the motion as follows:-

    On the 2 October 2018 at the meeting of Full Council, a motion was brought forward by Councillor Farbahi around tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in the Deane. Two motions were passed.

    ·         To set up a Task and Finish Group to look into the issues; and

    ·         To engage with all the businesses in the town centre to fully understand their challenges and see if contributions via the radio link system could help support their businesses.


    Taunton Deane and the New Authority had to come together with the business community to ensure a safe environment for them to operate so they could survive in these difficult times.


    The Chairman requested support from the Committee to set up the group and suggested that it include between five and seven Members and that it be politically balanced.


    The Scrutiny Officer suggested a spotlight review rather than holding many meetings over the next six months.  The Scrutiny Officer would send an invite to all Councillors asking for volunteers to be involved in the group.