Agenda, decisions and minutes

SWT Executive
Tuesday, 23rd July, 2019 6.15 pm

Venue: The John Meikle Room - The Deane House. View directions

Contact: Marcus Prouse Email: m.prouse@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

27.

Apologies

28.

Minutes of the previous meeting of the Executive pdf icon PDF 199 KB

    To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee.

    Decision:

    (Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 9th July 2019 circulated with the agenda)

     

    RESOLVED that the minutes of the Executive held on 9th July 2019 be confirmed as a correct record.

     

    Minutes:

    (Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 9th July 2019 circulated with the agenda)

     

    RESOLVED that the minutes of the Executive held on 9th July 2019 were confirmed as a correct record.

     

29.

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.)

     

    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 C Booth

    All Items

    Wellington and Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr J Hunt

    All Items

    SCC

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr M Kravis

    All Items

    ENPA

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Lisgo

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr P Pilkington

    All Items

    Timberscombe

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr H Prior-Sankey

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    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 R Tully

    All Items

    West Monkton

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr A Wedderkopp

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr B Weston

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr L Whetlor

    All Items

    Watchet

    Personal

    Spoke

     

30.

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.

     

    Minutes:

    Councillor Rod Williams (Somerset County Council) made the following statement in relation to Item 6 – Garden Town Vision:-

     

    I have many years of experience designing and delivering large scale change. First in the Army, and then in business and the NHS. I was educated, trained and practised in how to make strategic change succeed. For fifteen years for before I was elected as a Councillor, I earned my living planning and delivering strategic change. The thinking for the Garden Town started about two years ago. A number of us realised then that it was not enough to look at economic development or housebuilding. We had to look at every aspect of living in Taunton. We had to take an all-round view. A year ago, I formed a small working group to think through what the Garden Town title meant in practice. Since then, a small group led by Nick Bryant (Head of Function Strategy) including myself has taken that early thinking on and listened widely to produce the Vision Document. I ask you to recommend that Full Council makes this document SWT Council policy. To help you champion it to Full Council I will highlight the reasons why it is very good.

     

    First, we are aiming at the right thing. It is ambitious. We are not aiming at making Taunton just better, but making it excellent. We want to raise the quality of every part of living in Taunton. It is strategic in the proper meaning of the term. It considers Taunton as a whole, is long-term and 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 Delivery Plan or even delivery itself but with the benefits we’ll get from realising the vision. It is deliverable and it is realistic if we commit to it and stick at it over some years. Last, it recognises that engagement, buy-in and partnerships will be essential. In summary, I think we need to do two things to make the Garden Town succeed. Full Council needs to endorse this vision as SWT policy. Portfolio Holders here and the Strategy team need to make a delivery plan that will realise this vision. We all need to build the public’s strong support so far into sustained commitment so that we all in partnership will make Taunton’s Garden Town a reality.

     

    The Leader thanked Councillor Williams for his statement.

    Councillor Rigby also thanked Councillor Williams for his statement of support and for his exemplary work over the past couple of years on this subject.

     

     

    Mr Richard Lander made the following statement in relation to Item 8 – Structural Change – Senior Leadership Team

     

    This feels rather like the latest episode of ‘Did no-one think about it?’ Firstly we were told the redundancy bill would be six million pounds not three million because 191 people chose to leave and take the money. You may be told that every job is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

The provision of further financial contributions to enable Taunton's Park and Ride service to continue until March 2020 pdf icon PDF 502 KB

    To consider a report of the Head of Commercial Investment regarding the Taunton Park and Ride Service.

     

    The Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee has agreed that due to the nature of the decision and for it to be made in a timely fashion (as the next Executive meeting is not until 20th August 2019) that the Special Urgency Clause (Access to Information Procedure Rules 16) be used to waive the 28 day rule in order to continue with the Park and Ride contract.

     

    Decision:

    RESOLVED to:-

     

          i.        Approve a one-off Supplementary Budget increase for the provision of a further £115,000 funding contribution to enable the Taunton Park & Ride Service to continue until March 2020, funded from New Homes Bonus Reserves.

     

        ii.        Approve a one-off Supplementary Budget increase of £20,000, funded by Garden Town grant funding, for anticipated enabling and due diligence work associated with exploration of further measures to attempt to secure the long term sustainability of the Park & Ride service and to develop any further proposals for consideration by the Council.

     

    Minutes:

    The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation introduced this item which concerned the provision of further financial contributions to enable Taunton’s Park and Ride service to continue until March 2020. The Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee had agreed that due to the nature of the decision and for it to be made in a timely fashion (as the next Executive meeting was not until 20th August 2019) that the Special Urgency Clause (Access to Information Procedure Rules 16) be used to waive the 28 day rule in order to continue with the Park and Ride contract.

     

    The further funding contributions would be for a period of six months for a total of £115,000 from Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) for the Park and Ride (P&R) Passenger Transport Service for Taunton. This further funding was to enable the P&R Service to continue until March 2020 and halt the suspension of the service by Somerset County Council (SCC). The Executive were also asked to approve a budget of £20,000 for anticipated enabling and due diligence work associated with this Council’s aim of taking greater ownership / control of the P&R service and sites, to work towards a totally self-sustaining service.

     

    The original decision by Taunton Deane Borough Council (TDBC) in 2018 to make a one off financial contribution to the running of the Taunton P&R Service halted the proposal by Somerset County Council (SCC) to suspend (for an unspecified period) all Taunton P&R services from the autumn of 2018. The current arrangement was due to end on the 6th September 2019. The total budget of £135,000 would be sourced from New Homes Bonus reserves and Garden Town grant funding. Over this period, the responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the contract and service to March 2020 would continue to remain with Somerset County Council and the contracted bus operator First.

     

    Since the TDBC decision in September 2018 to make a financial contribution, a number of measures had been implemented to put the Taunton P&R service on a more commercial and sustainable long term footing. As set out in the officer report, further measures needed to be explored and implemented over the coming months to ensure that this continues.

     

    The Portfolio Holder proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Booth.

     

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

     

    ·       Concerns were raised around the process and why this proposal had come forward so urgently, considering it was known that the funding from last year would only be for twelve months.

    ·       It was confirmed that this proposal in the background formed part of the Taunton Transport Strategy and there was an ambition to open two more sites alongside the provision open already.

    ·       As highlighted in the report there had been increased patronage for the service in the past twelve months of an extra 200 tickets per week, equating to some £20,000 extra per year and further initiatives could be undertaken on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Taunton Garden Town Vision pdf icon PDF 384 KB

    To consider a report of the Strategy Specialist regarding the Taunton Garden Town Vision.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RECOMMENDED to Council to:-

     

           i.          Formally adopt the Taunton Garden Town Vision document as Council policy, from which a detailed Delivery Plan can be subsequently developed.

     

          ii.          Authorisethe Head of Strategy to make any necessary editorial corrections and minor amendments to the document, and to agree the final publication style.

     

    Minutes:

    The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation 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 Allen.

     

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

     

    ·       The Leader fully endorsed this document and felt this would set the pace with what the Council wanted to achieve and be a learning tool that could be applied across the towns in the District.

    ·       It was raised as to how this was going to be promoted in the community?

    ·       It was recognised as important that this was document was promoted and the Head of Communications would be engaged. There was also a new post being recruited to for a Garden Town Project Manager who would have a big focus on Communication Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement. A new website would be created for the Garden Town.

    ·       Concerns had been raised at resident’s meetings/surgeries around the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.

33.

Financial Monitoring - WSC and TDBC Outturn Position 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 603 KB

    To consider a report from the Finance Business Partner Specialist regarding information related to WSC and TDBC’s financial performance for the 2018/19 financial year.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RESOLVED that Executive:-

     

    i.                Reviewed the financial performance and end of year position for both WSC and TDBC General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account for TDBC, including pre-approved carry forwards and transfers to earmarked reserves.

     

    ii.                Noted the reported TDBC General Fund Revenue Budget underspend of £240k in 2018/19 and the TDBC General Reserves Balance of £2.22m as at 31 March 2019.

     

    iii.                Noted the reported WSC General Fund Revenue Budget underspend of £251k in 2018/19 and the TDBC General Reserves Balance of £0.98m as at 31 March 2019.

     

    iv.                Noted the reported Housing Revenue Account Budget underspend of £296k in 2018/19 and the TDBC General Reserves Balance of £2.72m as at 31 March 2019.

     

    v.                Noted that the assets for sale target for the Transformation Programme was not met in 18/19 and therefore the first £1.2m of future sale of assets is required to “payback” the NHB reserve.

     

    Minutes:

    The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources introduced this item which concerned the information related to WSC and TDBC’s financial performance for the 2018/19 financial year. The outturn figures included were provisional subject to external audit review; the findings of which are to be reported to the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee on 31st July this year. Monitoring the budget was an important part of the Council’s performance management framework. There had been continued frustration at the Transformation Project’s costs being above what had originally been predicted when commissioned. This was now being brought to a conclusion and a structure would be delivered that would not see these costs rise.

     

    The s151 Officer thanked his colleagues in the finance team for their hard work in a challenging period. The report clearly presented a closedown position for the legacy Councils and opening position for SWT.

     

    The revenue outturn position for the financial year 2018/19 was as follows:

     

    a)    The TDBC General Fund (GF) Revenue Outturn position for 2018/19 is a net underspend of £240k (1.7% of Net Budget), after reserve transfers and carry forwards.

    b)    The WSC General Fund (GF) Revenue Outturn position for 2018/19 is a net underspend of £251k (4.6% of Net Budget), after reserve transfers and carry forwards.

    c)     The HRA is a ‘Self-Financing’ account for the Council’s Housing Landlord function, which is budgeted to ‘break even’ (net of approved transfers to/from HRA Reserves). The HRA Outturn for 2018/19 is a net underspend of £296k (1.1 % of gross income).

     

    The capital outturn position for 2018/19 was as follows:

     

    a)    The total TDBC General Fund Capital Programme budget is £78.731m, including ongoing schemes from previous years and new schemes approved at the start of and during 2018/19. Of this, £16.611m has already been spent in previous years and a further £15.398m has been spent during 2018/19. The projected spend in 2019/20 and future years is £46.716m (not including new 2019/20 budget approvals). A net underspend of £7k is being reported against the overall approved budget for the Programme.

    b)    The total WSC General Fund Capital Programme budget is £15.233m, including ongoing schemes from previous years and new schemes approved at the start of and during 2018/19. Of this, £1.367m has already been spent in previous years and a further £2.510m has been spent during 2018/19. The projected spend in 2019/20 and future 2 years is £11.556m (not including new 2019/20 budget approvals). There are no reported variances against the overall approved budgets.

    c)     The HRA approved Capital Programme at the end of 2018/19 was £24.886m. This relates to schemes which will be completed over the next five years. The actual expenditure on the Capital Programme during 2018/19 was £11.379m with £13.533m for planned investment to implement approved schemes in future years. There are no reported variances against the total approved programme.

     

    The General Reserves positions as at 31st March 2019 were:

     

    a)    TDBC was £2.22m, which is £0.52m above the minimum level of £1.70m.

    b)    WSC was £0.98m, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Structural Change - Senior Leadership Team pdf icon PDF 279 KB

    To consider a report by the Chief Executive Officer regarding the proposed structural change to the Senior Leadership Team.

     

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RECOMMENDED to Council to;

     

           i.          Approve the additional budget of £94k for 2019/20:

     

    ·       General Fund: £50k from the CEO Earmarked Reserve and £18k from the Business Rates Retention Funding.

     

    ·       Housing Revenue Account: £26k from general balances.

     

          ii.          Note the full year costs of £254k (GF: £183k; HRA: £71k).

     

        iii.          Recommend that this be built into the Councils Medium Term Financial Plan/HRA Business Plan for 2020/21 onwards.

     

    Minutes:

    The Leader of the Council introduced this item which concerned the proposed structural change to the Senior Leadership Team. The newly formed Somerset West and Taunton Council had set ambitious strategic targets and clear corporate priorities. This had already become evident with the items considered earlier in this meeting such as the Garden Town Vision. 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 whilst 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 this report more accurately aligned to our corporate ambitions whilst providing a strong position to increase the overall financial health of the authority and delivering further savings.

     

    The Leader proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Allen.

     

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

     

    ·       It was commented that some elements of the Transformation process had not worked e.g. Planning function being split between directorates.

    ·       The extra spend was necessary to enable the organisation to be first class and focus on delivery.

    ·       It was commented that a Housing Portfolio without a Head of Housing had been an oversight that it was pleased to see be corrected. With a stock of circa 6000 houses and an ambition to build and develop more social and affordable houses this dedicated Director role was key.

    ·       It was queried as to the roles element of being able to pay for themselves?

    ·       The Housing Director would be funded through the ring-fenced HRA Budget. The External Operations Director would be funded through earned income and cost savings from the largest contracts. The Director for Development and Place would have a key role in regeneration.

    ·       The extra supplementary table provided was queried and would be further refined for Full Council.

    ·       Councillor Prior-Sankey welcomed the recruitment of a Housing Director but had concerns over the costs apportioned from the HRA fund on corporate staff and how that re-charge was calculated, as the proportion of senior officers time spent on the Housing function was conceivably less than tenants were paying for. The Council could be more transparent on this.

     

    RECOMMENDED to Council to;

     

           i.          Approve the additional budget of £94k for 2019/20:

     

    ·       General Fund: £50k from the CEO Earmarked Reserve and £18k from the Business Rates Retention Funding.

     

    ·       Housing Revenue Account: £26k from general balances.

     

          ii.          Note the full year costs of £254k (GF: £183k; HRA: £71k).

     

        iii.          Recommend that this be built into the Councils Medium Term Financial Plan/HRA Business Plan for 2020/21 onwards.

     

35.

Executive Action Plan

36.

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 40 KB

    To receive items and review the Forward Plan.

    Decision:

    (Copy of the Executive Forward Plan, not circulated with the agenda but available on the website as a link).

     

    Councillors were reminded that if they had an item they wanted to add to the agenda, that they should send their requests to the Governance Team.

     

    RESOLVED that the Executive Forward Plan be noted.

    Minutes:

    (Copy of the Executive Forward Plan, not circulated with the agenda but available on the website as a link).

     

    Councillors were reminded that if they had an item they wanted to add to the agenda, that they should send their requests to the Governance Team.

     

    RESOLVEDthat the Executive Forward Plan be noted.