Agenda and draft minutes

Rearranged from 27 July 2021, SWT Full Council
Tuesday, 7th September, 2021 6.15 pm

Venue: Conference Room - Oake Manor. View directions

Contact: Clare Rendell Email: c.rendell@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk 

Note: Rearranged from 27 July 2021 

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

13.

Apologies pdf icon PDF 248 KB

14.

Minutes of the previous meeting of Full Council pdf icon PDF 177 KB

15.

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.)

    Additional documents:

    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:-

     

    Name

    Minute No.

    Description of Interest

    Reason

    Action Taken

    Cllr M Barr

    All Items

    Wellington

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr M Blaker

    All Items

    Wiveliscombe

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr C Booth

    All Items

    Wellington and Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr H Davies

    All Items

    SCC

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr C Ellis

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr A Govier

    All Items

    SCC & Wellington

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr Mrs Hill

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr J Hunt

    All Items

    SCC & Bishop’s Hull

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr R Lees

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Lees

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Lisgo

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr M Lithgow

    All Items

    Wellington

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr J Lloyd

    All Items

    Wellington & Sampford Arundel

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr A Milne

    All Items

    Porlock

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr C Morgan

    All Items

    Stogursey

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Nicholls

    All Items

    Comeytrowe

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Perry

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr M Peters

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr H Prior-Sankey

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr M Rigby

    All Items

    SCC & Bishops Lydeard

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr F Smith

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr F Smith-Roberts

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr V Stock-Williams

    All Items

    Wellington

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr R Tully

    All Items

    West Monkton

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr B Weston

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Whetlor

    All Items

    Watchet

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

     

16.

Public Participation

    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.

     

    Temporary measures during the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Due to the temporary legislation (within the Coronavirus Act 2020, which allowed for use of virtual meetings) coming to an end on 6 May 2021, the council’s committee meetings will now take place in the office buildings within the John Meikle Meeting Room at the Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton. Unfortunately due to capacity requirements, the Chamber at West Somerset House is not able to be used at this current moment.  

     

    Following the Government guidance on measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), the council meeting rooms will have very limited capacity.  With this in mind, we will only be allowing those members of the public who have registered to speak to attend the meetings in person in the office buildings, if they wish (we will still be offering to those members of the public that are not comfortable in attending, for their statements to be read out by a Governance and Democracy Case Manager).  Please can we urge all members of the public who are only interested in listening to the debate to view our live webcasts from the safety of their own home to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cheryl Bennet asked the following questions, which were answered by Councillor Dixie Darch as Portfolio Holder for Climate Change:-

    Question a:

    Was a risk assessment carried out before the contract was awarded to Zipp or anyone for that matter?

    Answer:

    There was no stand-alone risk assessment prior to awarding the contract to our EScooter operator, Zipp. However, the SWT EScooter scheme was part of the official DfT trialshttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-local-areas-and-rental-operators and the DfT carried out a public consultation prior to legalising rental EScooters within specific Local Authority trialsLegalising rental e-scooter trials: outcome and summary of responses - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). We procured Zipp through a formal tender exercise which was advertised on the ProContract procurement portal and Zipp and their EScooters had to go through a formal approval process with the DfT in order to take part in the trials. The DfT issued SWT a ‘Vehicle Special Order’ confirming their approval of our trials in both Taunton and Minehead.

    As a council we did an Equalities Impact Assessment which formed part of our submission to the DfT. We also engaged with disability groups prior to submitting our bid. We remained in consultation with these groups and had monthly update meetings with them. This included the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the Macular Society, Somerset Sight, and Compass Disability.

    We amended the Traffic Regulation Order as part of our submission to the DfT and completed a risk assessment ahead of the public training and education session, which went ahead prior to go live.

    Question b:

    I've been advised on the procedure for reporting e-scooters on the pavement or other areas prohibited to cars and traffic and I'm afraid it's not only impractical but laughable. I would be grateful if it could be discussed and even challenged and also ask how many near accidents/traffic violation complaints actually filter through this way?

    Answer:

    There were different ways to report misuse.

    Via the app – you could register a customer service call

    Directly to Zipp - via email info@zippmobility.com

    Calling SWT customer services (0300 304 8000) and if the customer was unable to email Zipp direct, the call centre would call either Sue Tomlinson or Francisco Parreira at SWT, who would assist by emailing Zipp and asking them to call the person reporting the misuse.

    I didn’t have exact figures for reported incidences, but they certainly did come to us and were acted upon. I agree that the registration number would be difficult to read at a distance, but location and time of misuse give enough information for Zipp to identify the registered user. This system was working well, particularly in Minehead, where the trial was relatively new.

    Question:

    I would also like to know where this information was published (and wonder how the general public were supposed to know about the procedure) as I've not seen it other than when as below was emailed to me?

    “If you witness mis-use of an EScooter which was part of the trial you could report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

To receive any communications or announcements from the Chair of the Council

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair of the Council opened the meeting with a minutes silence on behalf of Councillor Alan Wedderkopp.

     

    She also thanked Councillors Martin Hill, Peter Pilkington and Phil Stone for their service over the past few years and welcomed the new Councillors Dawn Johnson, Barrie Hall and Steve Griffiths.

18.

To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Leader of the Council made the following announcements:-

    ·       She thanked Councillor Anthony Trollope-Bellew for his hard work and service as Leader of the Conservative Group and welcomed Councillor Roger Habgood as the new Leader.  She hoped to carry on working well together in the future.

    ·       The Leader made a statement regarding Local Government Reorganisation.

19.

To receive any questions from Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13

20.

Decision taken under the urgency rules regarding the Additional Restrictions Grant Scheme pdf icon PDF 248 KB

21.

SWT Outside Bodies Update pdf icon PDF 217 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of the Leader of the Council – Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts.

     

    This report is to update Council on the amended appointments of representatives to serve on outside bodies for the period to the Annual Council Meeting in 2022 (this is following on from three resignations and changes to the Executive.)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillor Loretta Whetlor proposed an amendment that Councillor Andy Milne should be a representative on the Exmoor National Park Authority, due to his ward being mainly within the National Park area, which was duly seconded by Councillor Roger Habgood.

    ·       A vote was taken on the proposed amendment, which was carried and became part of the substantive motion.

    ·       Councillor Chris Morgan left the meeting.

    ·       Councillors corrected the name on the list of representatives for the Albemarle Centre.

    ·       Councillors queried the use of substitutes for certain groups.

    Advice was given that the group would need to be asked whether substitutes were allowed within their Terms of Reference.

     

    Resolved that Council agreed the updated Appointments of Representatives to Outside Bodies for 2021/2022 (attached as Appendix A).

22.

Somerset West and Taunton Council amended Political Allocation and Councillor Appointments to Committees pdf icon PDF 216 KB

23.

Local Government Re-organisation - Structural Change Order (SCO) pdf icon PDF 244 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of the Leader of the Council, Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts.

     

    The purpose of this report is to formally notify the Executive and Full Council of the decision of the Secretary of State on 21 July 2021 to implement the proposal for a single unitary council for the County of Somerset, to update members as to the next steps and to seek delegated authority for the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of the Council and the Monitoring Officer or their deputy and to negotiate the terms of the Structural Change Order with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (“MHCLG”).  

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors stated that now the Local Government Reorganisation had been approved and would be carried out through the formation of a Unitary Authority, they needed to focus on the Structural Change Order (SCO) to ensure that the best outcome was achieved for the local residents and that they were all well represented.

    ·       Councillors also wanted to ensure that officers jobs remained secure and that as many officers were taken forward to the New Council as possible.

    ·       Councillors believed that it was the wrong time for a Unitary Authority to be established, however, they wanted to ensure that the transition period through to the New Council was smooth for all the residents in the area.

    ·       Concern was raised that the Secretary of State, who was not locally based, was making all the decisions on behalf of the local residents.

    ·       Councillors queried whether the recommendation to set up a committee system for the New Council would be adhered to.

    The Leader advised that a committee system was not part of the SCO and that sort of detail would follow later once the Shadow Council had been formed.

    ·       Councillors pleaded that they were kept informed throughout the whole decision-making process of the New Council.

    The Leader would try and keep all councillors involved through member briefings as often as required.

    ·       Councillors queried what the official outcome was of the consultation.

    The Leader would report back with the consultation results.

    ·       Concern was raised on behalf of the local community who had great uncertainty on how local issues would be dealt with by the New Council.

    ·       Councillors pleaded that all officers and councillors worked together throughout the whole process both at district and county level.

    The Leader of the Council thanked all for their comments.

     

    Resolved that Council:-

    2.1Noted the next steps following the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (“MHCLG”) decision regarding local government re-organisation in Somerset.

    2.2Delegated to the Chief Executive, following consultation with the Leader of the Council and the Monitoring Officer or their deputy under the terms of Schedule 2 Paragraph 19 of the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulation 2000:

    a)    The appointment of Members and Officers to any body (that was a body created under the Public Body powers) such as a Joint Committee or sub-committee of two or more local authorities in connection with the establishment of a Unitary Council in Somerset.

    b)    Delegated power to negotiate and in urgent circumstances to agree to the terms of a draft Structural Change Order to be laid before Parliament for the creation of the unitary authority for Somerset. (This delegated power was to be exercised on the basis that the terms of such order were to be considered by the Councils Executive at the earliest opportunity and referred to Full Council, however, where the Government indicate that time was of the essence, then if circumstances did not permit an urgent referral to Full  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

SWT Cultural Strategy pdf icon PDF 380 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor for Culture, Councillor Caroline Ellis.

     

    This report introduces the Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) Cultural Strategy.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors congratulated the Portfolio Holder for Culture for all her hard work in getting the Strategy to Full Council and for her enthusiasm whilst presenting the report.

    ·       Concern was raised on the images used within the document and that they were not very diverse and did not include people from varied ethnic and ability groups.

    The Portfolio Holder for Culture would amend some of the images before the document was published.

    ·       Councillors were happy to finally see that cultural events were being promoted.

     

    Resolved that Council:-

    ·       Approved the vision and objectives within the attached appendix; and

    ·       Authorised the Strategy Specialist and Communications Team (in consultation with the Culture Portfolio Holder) to agree the final design and publication style for the Strategy.

25.

Commercial Property Investment Update pdf icon PDF 325 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor for Corporate Resources, Councillor Ross Henley.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors were pleased to see the report being discussed in open session.

    ·       Concern was raised that it appeared the Council was ‘chasing money’ and that officers should let ethics guide the work and not just be profit driven.

    The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources advised that a new ethos had been adopted within the Strategy and that lessons could always be learnt from what had been done in the past.

    ·       Councillors queried what the time frame was for the short-term borrowing mentioned in the report.

    The Section 151 Officer confirmed that short-term meant loans over a period of 6-12 months and that officers would use loans based on the best rates and guidance from Arlingclose.

    ·       Councillors queried what was being done to ensure that the investment work would be carried forward into the New Council.  Councillors hoped that the other District Councils and County Council would be involved.

    The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources agreed and hoped the work would be carried forward within the New Council.

     

    Resolved that Council noted the report which was the review of the Commercial Property Investment activity and performance for 2020/21 financial year.

26.

Access to Information - Exclusion of the Press and Public

    During discussion of the following item it may be necessary to pass the following resolution to exclude the press and public having reflected on Article 13 13.02(e) (a presumption in favour of openness) of the Constitution.  This decision may be required because consideration of this matter in public may disclose information falling within one of the descriptions of exempt information in Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.  Full Council will need to decide whether, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption, outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

    Recommend that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the next item of business on the ground that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 respectively of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Resolved that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the next item of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 respectively of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

27.

Future High Street Fund Grant

Minutes:

Councillor Steven Pugsley left the meeting.

 

Resolved that Council approved the recommendations within the confidential report.

28.

Re-admittance of the Press and Public

29.

Motion regarding Planning Changes pdf icon PDF 218 KB

    To consider a motion proposed by Councillor Sarah Wakefield, seconded by Councillor Benet Allen. 

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillor Sarah Wakefield introduced her Motion and raised the following points:-

    -      The new legislation would: reduce or remove the right of residents to object to applications near them; grant automatic rights to developers to build on land identified as ‘for growth’ through a Government algorithm imposing up to 26,000 additional new homes (over a 20 year plan period or 1,231 per year according to Lichfields consultancy) on our District without consultation; remove locally generated and approved Section 106 payments for infrastructure associated with developments and would replace it with a centralised national levy.

    -      The Town and Country Planning Association had commented that the proposals “would undermine local democracy, marginalise local councils and fail to achieve high quality places” and the Royal Institute of British Architects had called the proposals ‘shameful and which would do almost nothing to guarantee delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes’. The RIBA also commented that the proposals could even lead to the next generation of slum housing.

    -      The existing planning procedures, currently administered by our own team in Somerset West and Taunton Council, allowed for local democratic control over future development, and gave local people a voice in commenting on and objecting to planning proposals which affected them.

    -      The proposals for automatic rights to build in ‘growth’ areas through a zoning process, and increased permitted development rights, risked a largely unregulated development and unsustainable communities.

    -      Local communities must remain key partners in shaping the future of their communities, and that local determination of the planning framework and the fair and open local consideration of planning applications played an important part in this process.

    ·       Councillors supported the Motion as they believed that members of the public should be part of the democratic decision-making process.

    ·       Councillors were disappointed about the Planning Reforms that had been proposed by Central Government.

    ·       Councillors hoped that the Planning Reforms would be amended before the final stages of submission.

    ·       Councillors wanted the local planning system to remain at local levels and not be dictated by central guidance.

     

    Resolved that Council:-

    1.    Wrote to and lobbied both of the District’s Members of Parliament, urging them to strongly oppose the proposals and to publish the replies received from them; and

    2.    Highlighted its concerns over the proposals with the public and local residents who would be affected.