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Venue: Activity Room - BACH. View directions
Contact: Marcus Prouse
Apologies were received from Councillors J Blatchford, R Henley, S Martin-Scott, F Smith-Roberts and D Webber.
The minutes of the meeting of the Scrutiny Committee held on 13 November 2018 were taken as read and were signed.
Declarations of Interest.
To receive and record any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests or personal or prejudicial interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.
(The personal interests of Councillors and Clerks of Somerset County Council, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes.)
Members present at the meeting declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Member or Clerk of County, Parish or Town Council or any other Local Authority:
Councillor E Gaines further declared a personal interest as a founder Member of the Taunton Theatre Association and volunteered at the cinema in the Brewhouse.
Councillor N Cavill further declared a personal interest as a Member on the Brewhouse Board for Taunton Deane Borough Council.
Considered the verbal update presented by The Chief Executive, Mrs Vanessa Lefrancois and the Chair of Trustees, Mrs Val Hammond from the Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre.
The update highlighted the achievements that had been delivered in 2018-19, which included the Brewhouse’s 40th Anniversary projects:-
· Artist’s commissions and support for artists developing visual and performance art;
· Full community and participation programme;
· Popular cinema and live theatre events which included BBC Singers Concert presented on BBC Radio 3;
· Family Friendly status, work experience, traineeships and Young Friends’ Scheme; and
· Brewhouse Friends Scheme, improvements on the front of house areas e.g. handrails in auditorium.
The 2018 positive news stories were:-
· Continued growth for the first six months of 2018-19, attendances had increased by 25% and income generated by 26%. That demonstrated demand and a good balance within the programme.
· Taunton Theatre Association received a visit from Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. They had also received a visit by the Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley. Both were full of praise for the growth and development of the Brewhouse.
· Braziers Coffee Roasting specialists opened the café on 1 December 2018 with Head Chef Steven Kieren formerly owner and chef of Silvers Pantry.
· Anne Frank exhibition with an emphasis on creative writing by young people, conflict and prejudice today.
· The third successive successful Christmas production with sales up 12% on last year.
A terrific theatre and dynamic varied cultural programme came with a cost. Despite all their hard work, a tiny team and many volunteer hours, they could not deliver a profitable enterprise within the current scale of auditorium and facilities. That was why they were working so hard to realise the Brewhouse’s long overdue development. They were desperate for more seats, larger studios and better facilities to generate income in order to sustain the level of excellent arts provision and cultural experience.
During the discussion, the following points were made:-
· Members thanked the Chief Executive and her staff for all their hard work.
· Members highlighted that it was good to see that donations to the theatre had doubled and that the majority of income had increased apart from income from grants.
The Chief Executive from the Arts Council had visited the Brewhouse and spoke highly about the arts programmes and cultural activities that had been organised at the Brewhouse but they still struggled with grant allocations.
· Members requested further detail on the Community and Participation Programme.
Further details would be distributed to the Committee.
· Concern was raised on the loss of parking in the Coal Orchard car park and whether that would have an impact on the Brewhouse.
The Chief Executive and Chair of Trustees had worked on the assumption that more parking would be provided on the Firepool development site, but now that was not going ahead, there was concern for their patrons and where they could park and safely walk to and from the theatre.
· Members suggested that the access ... view the full minutes text for item 38.
Considered report previously circulated, which provided Members with key performance management data up to the end of Quarter Two 2018-19, to assist in monitoring the Council’s performance.
There were three red measures reported in Quarter Two:-
- 6.2.5 – Freedom of Information requests responded to within 20 working days;
- 6.2.4 – Customer complaints responded to within 20 working days; and
- HC4.12 – Number of households that had made a homeless application and percent accepted where we had a duty.
During the discussion, the following points were made:-
· Members queried whether West Somerset Council had the same performance targets.
Yes they did.
· Members highlighted that there were many green indicators which was a testimony to the staff and their hard work during a time of uncertainty.
· Concern was raised on HC4.12 and the homeless figures reported and it was suggested that officers from those areas should have been present to answer any questions raised at the meeting.
The Chairman agreed and supported their concern. He also thought it that the Portfolio Holder for Housing should have been present.
· Members requested a briefing on Homelessness.
· Members queried how many Freedom of Information requests were not answered and whether there were any particular departments that caused delays in the response times.
The Corporate Strategy and Performance Officer confirmed that the Revenues and Benefits departments were very good at submitting their responses in the required time period, but there wasn’t any particular team that was slow in submitting their responses. The Council did not receive many requests that involved too much work which meant that they would be refused. There was currently an Information Management Project being undertaken which involved the new General Data Protection Regulations and data retention schemes.
· Members had submitted some questions, which included concerns on the homeless figures, to Full Council on 11 December 2018 and had not received an answer due to the time constraint at the meeting.
The Governance and Democracy Specialist had received the answers and would distribute to all Councillors.
· Members queried how many customer complaints were outstanding.
The types of complaints that were received varied, during Quarter Two, 44 had been received and 29 of those had been answered.
· Members queried the figures on homeless applications and whether they were people from outside the area or were they local applicants.
The Corporate Strategy and Performance Officer was not able to give the details at the meeting.
· Members believed that the applicants were unintentionally homeless and there was an expectation that they had a connection to the TDBC area.
· Members congratulated the Licensing Department on their hard work which had improved their performance results.
· Members queried whether there were procedures in place to monitor staff sickness, especially for those that had been off for a certain period of time.
Yes there was a return to work procedure that managers followed and occupational health would also be involved with certain cases.
Resolved that the Scrutiny Committee reviewed the Council’s performance and highlighted any areas ... view the full minutes text for item 39.
Members were reminded that if they had an item they wanted to add to the agenda, that they should send their requests to the Governance and Democracy Specialist.
Resolved that the content of the Work Plan be noted.