Agenda and minutes

SWT Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 7th April, 2021 6.15 pm

Venue: Webcasting - Virtual. View directions

Contact: Andrew Randell Email:  Marcus Prouse Email:

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item




Minutes of the previous meetings of the Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 384 KB


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

    Cllr D Perry

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr N Thwaites

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr R Tully

    All Items

    West Monkton


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Whetlor

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted


    An Additional personal interest was declared by Councillor Cavill as a Trustee of Taunton Heritage Trust.


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:


    No members of the public had requested to speak on any item on the agenda.


Scrutiny Committee Request/Recommendation Trackers pdf icon PDF 255 KB

    To update the Scrutiny Committee on the progress of resolutions and recommendations from previous meetings of the Committee.

    Additional documents:


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


    A progress report of the Climate Change Budget would be considered at the June meeting.


    The public transport task and finish group would report to the committee within two months.


    Resolved that the Scrutiny Committee Action Plan be noted.


Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 10 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.


    Resolved that the Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan be noted.


Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 69 KB


Full Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 62 KB


Climate Change Delivery Partnership pdf icon PDF 398 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change Cllr Peter Pilkington.


    The purpose of the report is to provide an update in relation to the opportunity to create a climate change delivery partnership with Sedgemoor District Council for the benefit of both organisations.


    Additional documents:


    The Council had the opportunity to create a climate change delivery partnership with Sedgemoor District Council for the benefit of both organisations.


    The Partnership if approved would be established with Somerset West and Taunton leading on its delivery. The employees from Sedgemoor District Council will be seconded to SWT with SDC continuing to pay the associated costs of these employees and their proportion of the projects delivered.


    A Member Consultation Panel would be created to represent the needs of both councils.


    Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) and Sedgemoor District Council (SDC) have been in discussion at an officer level as to the potential benefits of joining up their Climate Change delivery activity.


    Both Councils have approved the Somerset wide Climate Emergency Strategy and have an adopted localised action plan.


    Many of the delivery ambitions are the same for both Councils and by sharing the project delivery resource creates an environment to centralise knowledge and experience, minimise duplication, and potentially deliver ambitions more quickly with the benefits of economies of scale.


    The joined up service would acknowledge the sovereignty and prioritisation of both Councils as well as their independent finances. The attached governance diagram and section 5 of the report provides more detail on this.


    The proposal considered the ways of achieving financial transparency. Through this process officers have excluded the option of the seconded resourced from Sedgemoor District Council only working on SDC project delivery. This option has only limited benefits to both organisations as there would remain a segregation of the works rather than combination and removal of duplication.


    The proposal is for the team to work as a whole on the delivery of the agreed actions. This enables a crossover of knowledge and skills and prevents duplication. The proposed funding mechanism would see the contribution from SDC considered as a proportion of the new total and the work across the agreed priorities is delivered with that proportion back to SDC. The proposed contribution from SDC would be for two Project Delivery employees, this combined with SWT’s three would produce an allocation of 60% to SWT and 40% to SDC. This allows all resources to be shared and the benefit of the activities increase.


    The proposal would see Sedgemoor District Council resources seconded to SWT and fit within the existing organisational structure for Climate Change shown at Appendix A1. This allows the benefits of working together to be established early, and bring forward the connectivity of our priorities preventing duplication.


    Officers from both councils recognised the importance of Member engagement within this delivery partnership. The proposal being put forward is that the Somerset West and Taunton establish a joint Member Consultation Panel with appropriate cross party representation from each Authority.


    The Panel is proposed to provide a means of engaging with each authority on a more detailed level, Appendix A2 shows a diagram of the proposed governance structure both for officers and Members.


    The proposed make-up of the cross party Consultation Panel would consist of the Climate Change  ...  view the full minutes text for item 163.


Phosphates Update (Verbal Update)

    This matter is the responsibility of the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change Cllr Peter Pilkington.


    The purpose of the report is to provide an update in relation to the Phosphates impact in the areas of Planning and the Environment across the district.


    Additional documents:


    A Powerpoint presentation was provided alongside an update in relation to Phosphates by the Principle Planning Specialist. This set out the impact of the levels of phosphates on the levels along with the ongoing work conducted to mitigate phosphates as part of the Planning application process.


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


    ·        The length of delays in the planning process questioned

    ·        The phosphates calculator had been successful as a mitigation tool, there had been positive feedback from applicants and developers. The calculator was being reviewed as part of a strategic piece of work.

    ·        75 hectares per year were required to be successful in offsetting phosphates.

    ·        A clearer view and strategy to address this would be worked through once the work had been completed in the autumn.

    ·        It was questioned if allotments could be included at Cotford St Luke as part of phosphate offsetting.

    ·        It was considered if Housing Developers could offset phosphate related costs onto social housing. Concerns were expressed over the impacts on the cost of affordable housing.

    ·        The estimated loss of projected income was estimated at £1.3 milllion for SSDC and SWT. So far both Councils had not experienced a reduction in Planning income.

    ·        Natural England and Somerset County Council had agreed mitigation and phosphate calculations.

    ·        The committee encouraged developers to sign up to mitigation measures through a section 106 agreement to ensure this is put in place.


    The Scrutiny Committee noted the update.


Executive Councillor Portfolio Holder Session - Housing pdf icon PDF 828 KB

    To consider reports from Executive Councillors on their respective Portfolios;


    i.              Councillor Fran Smith – Housing


    3.2 of the Scrutiny Terms of Reference state that the Scrutiny Committee may review and scrutinise and ask questions of the Leader, lead Councillors, the Executive in relation to their portfolios.


    Additional documents:


    Since the last report in November the main focus continued to be COVID-19 and in

    particular since the New Year, re-adjusting services to respond to the latest lock

    down measures. The Portfolio Holder acknowledged the flexibility of the team, partner organisations and contractors who once again have made substantial changes to services; and also our tenants who have been so accommodating and

    understanding. The Council continued to monitor issues closely.


    Since the New Year no significant impact had been experienced as a result of Brexit with supply chains holding up, however we are starting to hear accounts of price

    increases on some supplies such as timber.

    Elsewhere our project to replace our main housing management IT system has

    kicked off, this is a major piece of work and will run for around 16 months.

    Lastly it was pleasing to see improvements in our STAR survey results (Survey of

    Tenants and Residents); particularly that in the last two years we have been through

    major organisational changes and have experienced nearly a year of COVID-19




    Housing Development and Regeneration Team

    Housing Strategy

    ·        Single Homeless Accommodation Strategy - The service was producing an

    accommodation strategy to respond to the Government aspiration to maintain

    accommodation support to reduce or end rough sleeping by 2025. The strategy will

    help inform the Council’s partnership and investment decisions.

    ·        The Homelessness Reduction Board is progressing to commence its work during


    ·        LHA Housing Advisors Programme – Somerset councils and ARK consultancy had submitted the draft report into Better Futures for Vulnerable People in Somerset.

    ·        This sets out how Somerset authorities work to support the most

    vulnerable people, provides examples of good practice and sets out under six

    themes opportunities to delivery better outcomes.

    ·        The report will support the

    ·        Homeless Reduction Board set its priorities and action.

    ·        A Delivery Officer is being recruited to the team to deliver and oversee the Hinckley point C Housing Action Plan, unfortunately our first recruitment process was unsuccessful.

    ·        The revised Private Sector Renew Policy was considered and supported by full council in December.




    Housing Enabling


    ·        2020/21 completions are currently estimated as: 128 affordable homes by 31st March 2021, 265 completions are forecast in 2021/22.

    ·        Although completions are low, this year has seen significant start on sites across the Council area including: 42 affordable homes at Cornhill, Wellington; 60 affordable homes at Allers Mead, Williton and 19 affordable homes at Paddocks, Bishops Lydeard.

    ·        SWT was recognised as a High Affordability Area by the Ministry of Housing,

    Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in December and is now eligible for social rent grant funding in addition to Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership tenures within the 2021 – 2026 Affordable Homes Programme.

    ·        Viability and Self Build seminars have been hosted through the Enabling Team and had been well received by both Members and Officers.


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


    ·        More information had been requested in relation to lessons learned on modular housing. Visits had been made to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 165.