Agenda and minutes

SWT Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 7th October, 2020 6.15 pm

Venue: Webcasting - Virtual. View directions

Contact: Andrew Randell Email:  Marcus Prouse Email:

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item




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:


    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:-



    Minute No.

    Description of Interest


    Action Taken

    Cllr N Cavill

    All Items

    West Monkton


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Lisgo

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Mansell

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted


    Councillor Buller declared a personal interest as an owner of a property in the vicinity of Riverside Place, Taunton.


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 Government guidance on measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), we will holding meetings in a virtual manner which will be live webcast on our website. Members of the public will still be able to register to speak and ask questions, which will then be read out by the Governance and Democracy Case Manager during Public Question Time and will either be answered by the Chair of the Committee, or the relevant Portfolio Holder, or be followed up with a written response.

    Additional documents:


    A statement was provided by Mr David Redgewell and set out below. The response following the meeting would be circulated to members of the Scrutiny Committee.


    With the Covid-19 level raised in the south west there is a need for social distancing at Bus stops and enhanced cleaning, on bus infrastructure and in Taunton town centre. 


    Firstly in Taunton bus stops at corporation street, castle way and The parade at time have been  unsafe with passengers in queues not social distancing. The Gazette has also reported on this issue and on Facebook. I witnessed the problem myself on the way to Taunton Hospital. 


    This need looking  at with Somerset west and Taunton Council, Somerset County Council, the Transport authority. There is an urgent needs to look at Notices and Barriers like those in Bristol, Exeter town centre and bus stations, Bath, Gloucester and Cheltenham. Social distancing and face coverings and notices in bus and coach stations and on bus shelters to keep passengers safe. 


    In Taunton, maybe marshalling journeys at peak times would benefit passengers, and using part of the bus station yard to spread the queues out at stands in Taunton town centre would help. With the problems being worse at peak times or when First group south west duplicates the single decker route to Minehead due to low Bridges on the West Somerset railway or when extra bus operate off castle way bus stops with National Express Coaches and bus operated by Dartline to Seaton or Hatch green bus service. 


    These  are small stands with not much shelter s which means in wet weather social distancing is not happening. 


    As a double decker bus only carry 33 and 18 on a single means that social distancing at present bus stops were very difficult, with too many buses are on the stand s in the town centre. With  departure a to Taunton town centre to wells bus station 29 route for Bristol and Bath  Taunton town centre  54 to Lanport, somerton and yeovi bus station 2l Taunton to Bridgwater ,Highbridge and Burnham for Weston super mare 22 Taunton town centre to Wellington and Tiverton  99 Taunton town centre to chard 30 Taunton town centre to chard and Axminster for lyme regis, Bridport and Weymouth and Dorchester. Town service s and park and ride services. The Government is keen to.keep.the public transport network safe during the Covid 19 outbreak . To many buses are on the stands in Taunton town centre. 


    The issue of a bus strategy and consultation on improving bus waiting facilities in Taunton town centre, and using part of the bus station to allow proper safe social distancing on the bus network in Taunton town. 


    The guidance from the department for transport and regulation is the local authorities need to improve public infrastructure cleaning social with Notices pavements widening mark out notices and signs on bus stops and shelters. 


    Passengers in Taunton need the councils Bridgwater, Wells ,Frome ,Weston super mare and Gloucester to improve bus stops  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Access to Information - Exclusion of the Press and Public

    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.  The 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:


    Resolved that:- The Scrutiny Committee Recommended 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).   



Regeneration of Firepool: Business case for Phase 1 delivery (Infrastructure and Block 1)


The report was presented by Councillor Kravis and the Assistant Director – Asset Development Projects and Assistant Director – Major and Special Projects.


The report was considered at Council following earlier reports and approval that progressed the regeneration of the Firepool site from the previous aborted scheme into the revised, fit for purpose, residential and leisure use approach of 2020. The scheme had been broken into 6 blocks that could be delivered in separate phases to reduce the overall financial commitment and risk at any one time, and to allow the plan to adapt to social or economic requirements.


The report outlined the business case for the commencement of the first full phase of infrastructure and utility work that is pre-requisite to bring the rest of the site forward, including flood defence, sewerage, electricity and water, along with some elements of public realm and car parking that were essential to unlock the remainder of the site and allow the development to progress.


It also described the business case for Block 1 and was self-contained and able to be delivered earlier in the programme.


The report recommended that the Phase 1 infrastructure works were delivered by the SPV, and that a subsidiary SPV would be created and the land in Block 1 transferred on a long lease basis to the SPV for delivery of the construction phases and disposal/ management of the assets on completion.


During the discussion the following comments and questions were raised:-


·        The committee requested for phosphate levels on the Somerset levels impacting on the site needed to be reflected in the recommendations and risk assessment.

·        Planning permission was in place, it was recognised that there was risk to the scheme if the construction of the development took place over a certain period.

·        Phase 1 infrastructure costs were questioned. PWLB financing and risks of volatility in interest rates were considered. Understanding the implications was important in planning ahead.

·        An Inflationary figure was included in costs.

·        The scheme was flexible with conditions in the market, a venue was planned at the end of project but plan b could be explored depending on the market requirements.

·        The scheme could make a return on elements of the scheme without the homes England funding, although the viability of the second phase came into question.

·        App 1.1 infrastructure costs were considered alongside the Homes England contribution towards a significant portion of infrastructure costs. Homes England funding was anticipated only on basis of building houses.

·        The possibility of negotiating a long deadline due to the impact of the pandemic and the risk of timescale impacting any funding from homes England.

·        The carry over debt from Firepool to Homes England was determined a Significant sum.

·        Clarification was made that through SPV’s – reports would come back to full council for approval for each project.

·        There had been changes to the funding schemes with project officers waiting for clearer direction from government on funding programmes. When the funding is in place, commitment to the scheme could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.


Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 63 KB

    To receive items and review the Forward Plan.

    Additional documents:


    (Copy of the Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan, circulated with the agenda).


    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.


    The committee requested the following items be considered at a future meeting:-

    ·         Commercial investment portfolio review.

    ·         Interim Policy statement on planning.

    ·         Electric vehicle charging strategy.

    ·         Housing Infrastructure fund Review.


    Resolved that the Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan be noted.


Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 40 KB


Full Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 37 KB