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To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors I Aldridge, M Barr, M Blaker, C Booth, S Buller, A Govier, B Hall, J Hunt, M Kravis, A Milne, C Morgan, S Nicholls, C Palmer, A Pritchard, N Thwaites, T Venner and G Wren.
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee.
(Minutes of the meetings of Full Council held on 6 September 2022, 29 September 2022 and 25 October 2022 circulated with the agenda)
Resolved that the minutes of Full Council held on 6 September 2022, 29 September 2022 and 25 October 2022 be 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:-
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.
We are now live webcasting most of our committee meetings and you are welcome to view and listen to the discussion. The link to each webcast will be available on the meeting webpage, but you can also access them on the Somerset West and Taunton webcasting website.
Mr Robert Barnes addressed the Council on issues that related to street cleanliness, fly tipping and other concerns on local democracy.
Sigurd Reimers submitted the following statement:-
Last year this Council was rated by Climate Emergency UK (CEUK) as having the highest overall score of all local authorities on its plans for dealing with the climate emergency.
This year local Councils would be rated on how well they were progressing with implementing those plans, and CEUK would have issued their draft methodology for assessing progress on 29th November.
This Council’s overall score was very impressive last year. However, in one of the nine dimensions examined by CEUK - diversity and social exclusion – the score was only just over 50%. This was concerning, given that the Council area was listed in 57th place out of 151 Council areas on Indicators of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for barriers to housing and local services by its citizens.
This Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019 stressed the importance of Councils providing or promoting measures for mitigation of, and adaptation to, the effects of climate change.
I should like to know how far Somerset West and Taunton Council had put its plans into operation, and particularly within the diversity and social exclusion dimension, given that our most vulnerable citizens would be those who would be (or already were) bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change.
The Portfolio Holder for Climate Change gave the following response:-
Sigurd was right to point to Indicators of Multiple Deprivation in his question about how we were addressing the issue of Equalities within our Climate emergency strategy. Those issues provided significant social challenges to Somerset as a whole, and not just in how the county supported citizens in the fact of climate change.
For example, according to the 2011 census, 23% of dwellings in Somerset had an EPC rating below 'E', well above the national average of 9%. In West Somerset, the proportion was above 30%.
Those in Somerset who did have central heating were less likely than the average home in England to have gas heating, with a greater dependency on oil. In West Somerset, only 45% of homes had gas central heating, while 22% had oil heating (2011 census), more than five times the national average.
In 2010, the population of Somerset aged 65 was 21%. ONS projections suggested that by 2040 one third of the population in Somerset would be 65 or over.
The average salary within Somerset was 18% less than the UK average, which obviously made retrofitting property and adapting to rising costs difficult.
Meeting the targets of carbon neutrality and climate resilience would require major societal shifts and changes to be made from all sectors of society. However, protecting the most vulnerable from unreasonable burdens and impacts was important to achieving a just transition to a low carbon economy. This CNCR plan recognised the need for a just transition and that influenced a number ... view the full minutes text for item 72.
To receive any communications or announcements from the Chair of the Council
Full Council observed a minute’s silence on behalf of the late Councillor Anthony Trollope-Bellew, councillor of Somerset West and Taunton Council and former Leader of West Somerset Council, Beryl Lippiatt, former councillor of Taunton Deane Borough Council and Len Dyke, former councillor of Taunton Deane Borough Council.
The Chair of the Council made the following announcements:-
· The Chair advised Council of the resignation of Councillor Danny Wedderkopp.
· The Chair reminded councillors to submit their nominations for the Chair’s Awards.
· The Chair advised Council of two upcoming events that they may wish to attend:-
- Carol Service at St James Church on Thursday 8 December at 6.15pm
- Carols around the Bandstand on Monday 12 December at 6.30pm
To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council
The Leader of the Council made the following announcements:-
· The Leader highlighted the resignation of Councillor Danny Wedderkopp and thanked him for all of his hard work over the years and wished him well in his future endeavours.
· The Leader gave thanks to all of the officers and their hard work involved in the opening of the Riverside at the Coal Orchard.
To receive any questions from Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13
No questions were received in relation to Procedure Rule 13.
This matter is the responsibility of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts.
Due to the recent Community Governance Review of the unparished area of Taunton and adjoining Parishes, we are statutorily required to undertake a review of polling districts and polling places.
During the discussion, the following points were raised:-
· The Leader advised councillors of the amended recommendations:-
Full Council to agree subject to the Community Governance Review coming into effect and having considered all representations made, the polling districts and polling places for the existing Taunton Deane and Bridgwater and West Somerset constituencies as set out in the attached appendix be approved.
· Councillors raised concerns on a couple of the locations selected for polling stations.
The Elections Specialist explained the process of how locations were selected. She further advised that the next review would have a longer consultation period and that she was always happy to accept feedback on the locations used.
· Councillors suggested that the use of postal votes could be promoted for those that might find it difficult to attend their polling station.
· Councillors highlighted that good use of communications would be required to advise voters on the amendments being brought in by the Elections Act 2022.
· Councillors thanked the officers for all their hard work on the review.
Resolved that Full Council agreed subject to the Community Governance Review coming into effect and having considered all representations made, the polling districts and polling places for the existing Taunton Deane and Bridgwater and West Somerset constituencies as set out in the attached appendix be approved.
This matter is the responsibility of the Executive Councillor for Communications and Corporate Resources, Councillor Benet Allen.
To provide Members with an update on the Treasury Management activity of Somerset West and Taunton Council and performance against the Prudential Indicators for 2021/22.
During the discussion, the following points were raised:-
· Some councillors still had doubts on the Investment Strategy and that there should be ethical guidance in place.
The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources thanked them for the comments, however, the Strategy had been approved in 2019.
· Councillors thanked officers for their hard work on ensuring the Council was in a good place ready for vesting day.
Resolved that Full Council:-
2.1 Noted the Treasury Management activity for the 2021/22 financial year and compliance with the Prudential Indicators.
2.2 Endorsed the recommendation made by the Executive Committee on 20 July 2022 for Full Council to approve a reduction of £35m to the Approved Borrowing Limits in the Capital, Investment and Treasury Management Strategy for 2022/23 reflecting a reduction in capital financing requirement for expenditure no longer required (as referred to in paragraphs 6.33 and 6.34 of this report).
This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor for Housing, Councillor Francesca Smith.
Somerset West and Taunton Council declared a climate change emergency in 2019 committing the local authority to achieving carbon neutrality ahead of the Government’s 2050 requirement.
As a social landlord the Council must comply with a requirement for its c5700 homes to achieve EPC C or better by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050.
During the discussion, the following points were made:-
· Councillors were pleased to support the Strategy.
· Councillors who had been on the Working Group advised that tenant engagement had been very good throughout the process.
· Concern was raised on the rural areas of the district, as residents could only use oil and that there was no other alternative option.
· Concern was raised on fuel poverty and that it did not show in the same way in the rural areas of the district.
The Portfolio Holder for Climate Change echoed her comments made during public question time and suggested that it might need a holistic approach.
Resolved that Full Council:-
· Approved the Low Carbon Retrofit Strategy and Delivery Plan. The delivery of the strategy would need to be managed within the annual budget setting process, including the Medium-Term Financial Plan and 30-Year Business Plan, to ensure the overall affordability of the schemes being proposed each year.
· The Portfolio Holder for Housing and the Director of Homes and Communities to progress the steps identified in the delivery plan and to promote the approach with Somerset County Council colleagues.
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 Derek Perry – Deputy Leader & Sports, Parks, Leisure and Phosphates
c) Councillor Benet Allen – Corporate Resources
d) Councillor Christopher Booth – Community
e) Councillor Caroline Ellis – Culture
f) Councillor Dixie Darch – Climate Change
g) Councillor Mike Rigby – Economic Development, Planning and Transportation
h) Councillor Francesca Smith - Housing
i) Councillor Andy Sully – Environmental Services
j) Councillor Wakefield – Local Government Reorganisation
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.
During the discussion, the following points were raised:-
· Concern was raised on the use of the e-scooters at night due to the lack of visibility. Councillors queried whether they could request that users wore high-vis clothing at night.
The Portfolio Holder for Climate Change agreed with the comments and advised that the lights could not be moved on the e-scooters due to logistics and that the company did encourage users to wear helmets and high-vis clothing.
· Councillors queried the closure of Shop Mobility.
The Leader of the Council advised that the reason for the closure was a dramatic drop in number of people using the service. Since the Covid Pandemic, numbers had reduced by about 90%. It was thought that wider availability and lower costs of mobility scooters had also impacted use to the extent that a very small number of core users were using the service with numbers averaging less than 10 per week between January and August 2022. As a result, the service was running at a considerable loss.
The Council had supported the Shopmobility scheme for more than 10 years, with Compass taking over the service for the last 7 years. We would like to place on record our thanks to them for providing this service during that time. Compass had advised the Council that an exceptionally low number of individuals were affected by this closure (5 or less). We would be happy to help signpost any individuals that were affected by the closure to other support available.
· Councillors queried what was happening with the installation of EV charging points in the rural areas of West Somerset.
The Portfolio Holder for Climate Change advised that officers had wanted to install some EV charging points in Dunster and Blue Anchor, but sadly the funds had not been available. She further advised that as part of the CNCR work, funds had now been allocated to install charging points in Dunster.
· Councillors were pleased to see the work on phosphates moving forward.
· Councillors requested that the phosphates survey results be distributed and asked how the credits would be allocated.
The Portfolio Holder for Parks, Sports, Leisure and Phosphates was happy to circulate the survey responses and advised that the Phosphates Sub-Committee was working on how the credits would be allocated.
· Councillors thanked officers for all their hard work in getting the parks ready for Britain in Bloom.
· Councillors queried whether applicants would need to re-submit their applications due to the amendments made to the phosphates calculator.
The Portfolio Holder for Parks, Sports, Leisure and Phosphates advised that they were not sure as they were still in negotiations with Natural England.
· Concern was raised on the abolition of youth services within the North Taunton area.
The Leader of the Council agreed and advised that the Unitary Council and the proposed Taunton Town Council would need to work on this in the future.
· Councillors were pleased to see reduced bus fares being introduced in the area.
· Concern was raised on the ... view the full minutes text for item 79.