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To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Adkins, Ellis, Govier, Pritchard, Smith-Roberts, Trollope-Bellew and Wakefield.
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee.
(Minutes of the meeting of Full Council held on 16th July 2019 circulated with the agenda)
RESOLVED that the minutes of Full Council held on 16th July 2019 were confirmed as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
To receive and note any declarations of disclosable pecuniary or prejudicial or personal 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 Councillor or Clerk of a County, Town or Parish Council or any other Local Authority:-
Councillor Coles declared a personal interest in respect of Item 8 – Motion to oppose the closure of Porlock Fire Station as a Member of the Fire Authority and would not take part in the debate or vote on the item.
Councillor Coles declared a prejudicial interest in respect of Item 10 – Importation of Nuclear Waste into Hinkley Point A as a member of ... view the full minutes text for item 44.
To receive any communications or announcements from the Chair of the Council
The Chair had commenced the meeting with a moment’s silence in memory of the recent passing of Past Mayor of Taunton Deane Borough Council Mr Peter Lee and Past Chairman and Alderman of West Somerset District Council Mr Viv Brewer.
The Chair also advised the Council that Councillor Catherine Herbert had resigned from the Council with immediate effect. The Chair wished to give the thanks of the Council to Catherine for her twelve years of service as a Councillor and as the last Mayor of Taunton Deane for 2018/2019.
Councillor D Wedderkopp echoed the sentiments of the Chair as a fellow Ward Councillor for Vivary.
The Chair reminded Councillor’s that they had three minutes when called to speak, five minutes when proposing a motion and when calling for a Point of Order a Councillor must make reference to the Standing Order in the Constitution.
To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council
The Deputy Leader advised that there were no announcements to convey to the Council.
To receive any questions, statements or petitions from the public in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 14, 15 and 16. The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.
For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.
1. Councillor Rod Williams (Somerset County Council) made the following statement in relation to Item 9 – Taunton Garden Town Vision:-
It’s a privilege to speak to you this evening in support of the Vision Document for Taunton Garden Town. I speak in strong support of it and urge you to adopt the Vision Document as policy. We should be clear about the scale of the undertaking and also the size of the opportunity. We in Taunton live in one of the very few places in England that can decide in the next year or two what it will be like to live here for generations to come. This is a vision for twenty years or so, perhaps to 2040. Therefore it is an extremely substantial undertaking and before you adopt this as policy, I would remind you of the scale of the task and the need to stick at this for some years to come.
The thinking for the Garden Town started two years ago. A number of us recognised then that it needed to encompass every aspect of living in Taunton, not just Economic Development or House Building. We had to take an all-round view. The vision so far consists of a number of elements or components that fit together to make a coherent whole. Therefore the design of the Vision Document is to achieve a synergy so that the whole Garden Town is worth more than a sum of the constituent parts.
To outline why you should make this your policy, I will highlight the reasons why the document is very good. First, we are aiming at the right thing. It is ambitious. We are not aiming to make Taunton just better, but at making it excellent. We want to raise the quality of every part of living in Taunton. An excellent Taunton must be a town for everybody. The Vision Document is Strategic in the proper meaning of the term. It considers Taunton as a whole, it is long term, and it correctly identifies the essential components. It understands that this vision is just the first part in a process of delivery. The process doesn’t end with the Design Guide, the Delivery Plan or even the Delivery itself, but with the benefits from realising the Vision. The Vision is deliverable and it is realistic provided we commit to it and stick to it over some years. How people live their lives will change over the next twenty years, so we must make the Garden Town adaptable, but we can do that.
In summary, we need to do three things to make the Taunton Garden Town a great success. First, you need to endorse this vision as your policy. Second, Members and the Strategy team need to make a Delivery Plan that will realise this vision. Third, we need to build on the public’s strong support so far into a sustained commitment so we all in partnership will make Taunton’s Garden Town a reality.
Councillor Rigby thanked ... view the full minutes text for item 47.
To receive any questions from Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13
The Chair advised that no such questions had been received.
Motion to oppose the closure of Porlock Fire Station. To consider a motion proposed by Councillor Andy Milne, seconded by Councillor Terry Venner (attached). An assessment of the implications for the Council should the motion be carried will also be attached PDF 404 KB
Moved by Councillor Milne, seconded by Councillor Venner.
Councillor Milne asked Councillors as a matter of urgency to approve this motion, asking Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority to remove Porlock Station from their list of potential stations to close for a number of humanitarian and environmental reasons. Members would have seen that the consultation document offers the Fire Authority Members seven options to make a more efficient and effective service. The first six options are conflated development building on option one, which recommends the closure of seven Devon Stations and one in Somerset, Porlock. Last Thursday the Devon and Somerset consultation team visited Porlock Village Hall. Over 400 people attended the meeting, all deeply concerned and indeed frightened by the reduced cover that was on offer. Members may have seen aspects of the meeting in the media. At the conclusion of the meeting I handed a petition to the Fire Authority with over three and a half thousand signatures opposing the closure. There is no reason why rural communities should accept a less capable service than the urban areas, particularly as we pay the same level of taxes to the Fire Authority.
Specifically, the population of Porlock District is around two thousand people. Unusually, compared to Somerset as a whole the proportion of the population over 60 is around 25%. The average for Somerset is 11%. Many of these people have mobility issues and are not as fleet of foot as they once were. They are vulnerable. I mention the Porlock Fire Crew, expected in most of the properties within their area of responsibility within ten minutes. Last year they were at 85% readiness, a remarkable achievement. Clearly the response time for remote properties will be longer but simple logic says that if the start point is closer they will be quicker to arrive.
Devon and Somerset Fire Service propose that the cover will be provided by two engines stationed at Minehead which they claim will arrive at Porlock inside sixteen minutes. How can they expect to achieve this with a lumbering vehicle on narrow roads filled with tourist traffic and slow moving vehicles, not to mention going up Porlock Hill. Standard practice is two engines to despatch to a House fire, and more if it escalates. Less than two months ago there was a fire in Minehead and the second Engine could not be manned and a smaller vehicle provided secondary cover from Porlock. In May 2014 there was a serious fire in the village which took Minehead Crew a not unreasonable twenty five minutes to arrive. Lives and property were saved by the quicker arrival of the Porlock firemen.
Last year Porlock Fire Crew were nominated as the top Fire Station in Devon and Somerset. It has four volunteers waiting to be enrolled to the requisite crew of twelve. I think you would agree this is a remarkable achievement for a retained crew which costs only £50,000 per year. Other than the permanent population visitor numbers ... view the full minutes text for item 49.
Councillor Mike Rigby introduced this item which concerned the vision for Taunton as a Garden Town and what was to be achieved. The document “Taunton – the Vision for our Garden Town” was the culmination of many months of work, public and stakeholder engagement, and concluded the important first stage – the agreement of a shared vision for the Garden Town that would guide the actions of the council and many other stakeholders, and can be championed and owned by the whole town. Taunton was designated as a ‘Garden Town’ in early 2017 following a submission to Government. This submission reflected the Council’s commitment to transformational housing growth centred on a number of new garden communities and a regenerated town centre supported by essential infrastructure and an enhanced network of green infrastructure.
The document included:
· The Vision statement
· Context – understanding Taunton’s roots and character (townscape, neighbourhoods and landscape)
· Four themes:
1. ‘Growing our town greener’ – transforming our open spaces and streets.
2. ‘Branching out’ – moving cleaning, moving smarter.
3. ‘Growing quality places to live’ – town centre, new and existing neighbourhoods.
4. ‘New shoots and blossom’ – a dynamic and prosperous community founded on knowledge, culture and business.
· Next steps
This vision framework was just the start of work on Taunton Garden Town (TGT), but would influence all plan-making (e.g. the emerging Local Plan) and development management decisions (such as more detailed design guidance emerging through a new Urban Development Framework and Design Guide). There were no prescriptive guidelines set out by central Government, and each place was expected to be different and determine what the Garden Town status might mean based on local circumstances and characteristics. This document therefore began to explore and articulate the types of physical change and improvements Taunton might look forward to. The particular themes extended from the vision identified tangible opportunities and challenges that needed to be grasped or overcome. Formal adoption of this vision would enable the next stage to progress – the development of a Delivery Plan that will provide detail to the individual strategies, projects and activities which will deliver the vision.
The Portfolio Holder formally proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Wren.
During the discussion of this item, Members made comments and asked questions which included:-
· The document was praised but it was hoped that in the delivery of this the principles would be captured to be applied right across the locality.
· It was commented that the security of the Park and Ride service was important and permanent control of this now required. The Park and Ride Service was used by those outside of the Town and in the rest of the district.
· It was felt more work was needed to improve Station Road and make it more exciting.
· The walkways out to the Quantock were important. The Country Park at Monkton Heathfield had three hundred active volunteers with two thousand trees planted.
· It was hoped that more cycling racks could be provided near Schools ... view the full minutes text for item 50.
Councillor Ross Henley introduced this item which concerned the consultation currently underway on the importation of nuclear waste at Hinkley Point A. Following on from the previous motion on Fracking at the last Full Council, we raised objection to implementation of potential fracking sites. If the Council was anti-fracking, it would have been absurd for this Council to not raise some kind of formal objection to the potential import of nuclear waste from other sites in the United Kingdom. The Portfolio Holder fully accepted that Hinkley Point needed storage for waste produced on its own site, but to accept this importation would send out the wrong message environmentally and on the new administrations climate change agenda.
The Portfolio Holder formally proposed the recommendation which was seconded by Councillor Allen.
During the discussion of this item, Members made comments and asked questions which included:-
· It was commented that Hinkley already had built the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility and the Council could be accused of sending a negative message to the rest of country for a relatively minor amount of waste.
· It was medium level waste and not highly radioactive. It was commented that we had to accept responsibility for the power we had produced and used.
· It was commented that High Level Waste from Point A had been stored at Sellafield and the crates in use here were irradiated and very safe.
· Councillors expressed concern at the movement of Nuclear Waste across the countryside, and expressed a preference for it to be left where it was generated.
· Some Councillors felt the Council needed to express a robust response in opposition and that we had a duty to articulate the communities concerns.
· It was raised that whilst it had been commented that the UK lacked a long-term solution this did not mean that this had to be accepted.
RESOLVED that in response to the consultation on this matter a formal objection was made stating that Somerset West and Taunton Council have strong concerns about the import of nuclear waste from other sites within the United Kingdom to sites in the Somerset West and Taunton Council area.
There were eight votes against and five abstentions from Councillors Coles, Davies, Palmer, Stock-Williams and Whetlor.
Councillor Ross Henley introduced this item which concerned an update on the Treasury Management activity of Taunton Deane Borough Council and performance against the Prudential Indicators for 2018/19. This report had been scrutinised at the Audit Committee meeting on 26th June 2019. Highlights for the year included:
· Investment activities continue to remain restricted due to the current economic climate;
· Interest rates still remain low;
· Accrued interest received on investments in 2018/19 was £0.728m;
· Accrued interest payable on external loans in 2018/19 was £2.502m;
· Prudential Indicators were all met in 2018/19 and are to be noted;
· The Operational and Authorised Boundary Limits were not breached;
· The Council continues to maintain CIPFA best practice requirements
The Portfolio Holder formally proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Lithgow.
RESOLVED to approve the Taunton Deane Borough Council Treasury Management Outturn Report for the 2018/19 financial year and compliance with the Prudential Indicators.
Councillor Ross Henley introduced this item which provided an update on the Treasury Management activity of West Somerset Council and performance against the Prudential Indicators for 2018/19. Treasury management performance during the year had reflected the agreed strategy for the Council, with low risk investment exposure delivering relatively low returns. This was appropriate for the local context. The Council had complied with the Code of Practice and local Treasury Management Indicators and Prudential Indicators. This was the final outturn report for West Somerset Council with cash balances and investments transferring to Somerset West and Taunton Council on 1 April 2019. This report had been scrutinised at the Audit Committee meeting on 26th June 2019
The Portfolio Holder formally proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Allen.
RESOLVED to approve the West Somerset Council Treasury Management Outturn Report for the 2018/19 financial year and compliance with the Prudential Indicators.
Councillor Benet Allen introduced this item which proposed the creation of four Directors, reporting directly to the Chief Executive, be put in place providing a focus on key delivery areas of: Housing, our internal capability to future proof services, our external delivery to customers and our development of place and external investment. The Directors would be accountable for leading the corporate direction of the Council through strategic leadership, taking the principal role in the development of a clear strategy and priorities to achieve investment, excellence in service delivery through sustainable process development and revenue generation.
The newly formed Somerset West and Taunton Council had set ambitious strategic targets and clear corporate priorities. The transformation programme had already put in place some of the arrangements necessary to deliver savings and improved customer care. However, to drive the organisation at pace towards these goals while continuing to work towards exceptional levels of service excellence a new senior leadership structure was required. It was vital to ensure the leadership of the Council is matched to its wider commercial, economic, community and environmental priorities.
The proposed structure contained in the report more accurately aligned to our corporate ambitions whilst providing a strong position to increase the overall financial health of the authority and deliver further savings. The report set out a proposed structural change to the Senior Leadership Team, a process to recruit and a financial recommendation and was endorsed by the Executive on 23rd July 2019 prior to consideration by Full Council.
The Portfolio Holder formally proposed the recommendation which was seconded by Councillor Barr.
During the discussion of this item, Members made comments and asked questions which included:-
· Concern was raised that whilst the Chief Executive would wish to drive forward key priorities, the shortage of junior staff was also an issue.
· It was commented that the progress and investment being made elsewhere in the organisation was not part of this report.
· It was felt useful that UNISON feedback had been included in the report, but it was queried as to how UNISON were then responded to?
· Concern was raised over the risk of returning to a silo structure after the Transformation business process re-engineering, and could the Leader and Deputy Leader make that personal commitment to the Transformation Business Case?
· It was responded that whilst Transformation had not been an unalloyed success the Council was in the situation it was in.
RESOLVED that Council:-
a) Approved the additional budget of £94,000 for 2019/20:
(i) General Fund: £50,000 from the CEO Earmarked Reserve and £18,000 from Business Rates Retention Funding.
(ii) Housing Revenue Account: £26,000 from general balances.
b) Noted the full year costs of £254,000 (General Fund: £183,000; HRA: £71,000) and;
c) Resolved that this be built into the Councils Medium Term Financial Plan/HRA Business Plan for 2020/21 onwards.
Various comments and queries were raised by Councillors which were clarified.
The recommendation was proposed from the Chair.
Agree the Appointments of Representatives to Outside Bodies for 2019/2020.
To note the revised Council Meetings Timetable for the remainder of the Municipal Year.
RESOLVED that the revised Meetings Timetable for the remainder of the municipal year for 2019/2020 was noted.
Part I – To deal with written questions to the Executive.
Part II – To receive reports from the following Members of the Executive:-
a) Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts – Leader of the Council
b) Councillor Benet Allen – Deputy Leader & Communications and Culture
c) Councillor Christopher Booth – Community
d) Councillor Ross Henley – Corporate Resources
e) Councillor Marcus Kravis – Asset Management and Economic Development
f) Councillor Richard Lees – Sports, Parks and Leisure
g) Councillor Peter Pilkington – Climate Change
h) Councillor Mike Rigby – Planning and Transportation
i) Councillor Francesca Smith - Housing
j) Councillor Alan Wedderkopp – Environmental Services
An Executive Councillor shall submit a report to an Ordinary Meeting of the Council as to current and future business of their portfolio for the information of and comment from the Council. Such reports are for discussion and comment only and no motion shall be put to the meeting as to any such item other than those closure motions described in Standing Order 5.
(i) Leader of the Council (Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts)
Councillor Smith-Roberts’s report covered the following topics:-
· Introduction and New Executive
· Corporate Strategy
· Service Delivery
· Chair of the Council
· Armed Forces Day
· Taunton Toads Trail
· 40 Commando Annual Reception
· Friends of Konigslutter
(ii) Communications and Culture (Councillor Benet Allen)
The report from Councillor Allen provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· West Somerset Railway
· Cricket World Cup
· Armed Forces Day
· Blenheim Gardens, Minehead
· Press Releases
· Facebook Statistics
· Cultural Forum
(iii) Community (Councillor Chris Booth)
The report from Councillor Booth provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· Rough Sleeping
· Mental Health
· Localities and Communities
(iv) Corporate Resources (Councillor Ross Henley)
The report from Councillor Henley provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· Customer Service (Recruitment, Performance, Satisfaction)
· Operational Support
· Business Intelligence, Performance Management and Strategic Procurement
· People Managers (including HR)
(v) Asset Management and Economic Development (Councillor Marcus Kravis)
The report from Councillor Kravis provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· Asset Management System Capita’s Open Asset
· Major Projects (Coal Orchard, Firepool, Brewhouse, Seaward Way, Watchet East Quay)
· Economic Development Strategy Commission
· Inward Investment
· Government’s High Street Fund
· Business Improvement District
· UK Hydrographic Office Innovation Centre
· Affordable Employment Land Local Development Order (LDO)
· Business Rate Retention Pilot 2019/20
· Hinkley C Economic Opportunities Project
· Skills, Training and Employment
· Hinkley C
· West Somerset Community Employment Hubs
· West Somerset Opportunity Areas
(vi) Sports, Parks and Leisure (Councillor Richard Lees)
The report from Councillor R Lees provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· Community Leisure (Play and Recreation & Play Equipment Repairs)
· GLL (Taunton Deane)
· Leisure Procurement Project
· Parks and Open Spaces
· Music in the Park
· Taunton Flower Show
· Green Rewilding Schemes
(vii) Climate Change (Councillor Peter Pilkington)
The report from Councillor Pilkington provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· University of Exeter Multidisciplinary Plastics Research Hub
· Climate Change Strategy & Carbon Neutrality
· Electric Vehicle Charging Points
(viii) Planning and Transportation (Councillor Mike Rigby)
The report from Councillor Rigby provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· Local Plan
· Taunton Garden Town
· Funding Bids
(ix) Housing Services (Councillor Francesca Smith)
The report from Councillor Smith provided information on the following Areas within her portfolio:-
· Housing Capital Programme
· Housing Repairs (Recruitment, Performance)
· HRA Portfolio Compliance
· Building a Safer Future
· Anti-Social Behaviour Update
· Homelessness and Rough Sleeping
(x) Environmental Services (Councillor Alan Wedderkopp)
The report from Councillor A Wedderkopp provided information on the following Areas within his portfolio:-
· Environmental Health and Private Sector Housing SW
· Private Sector Housing Standards
· Food Safety and Infectious Diseases
· Environmental Protection and Pollution
· Private Water Supply Inspections
· Environmental Permitting
· Air Quality Monitoring
· External Health and Safety Investigations
· Dog Warden Service Contract