Agenda and draft minutes

Taunton Charter Trustees
Tuesday, 14th December, 2021 6.00 pm

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

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

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

28.

Apologies

29.

Minutes of the previous meetings of the Taunton Charter Trustees pdf icon PDF 221 KB

30.

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 L Baker

    All Items

    Cheddon Fitzpaine & SWT

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & SWT

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr C Ellis

    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 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 F Smith-Roberts

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr B Weston

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Whetlor

    All Items

    Watchet

    Personal

    Spoke

     

     

31.

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:

    Mr Roger House, Taunton Resident, was in attendance and posed the following question;

     

    Electoral arrangements page 5 and question 11 and the number 25

     

    We have listed 16 existing Councillors for the Shadow Councillor Group to set up new Third Tier Councils. This does not sound many compared to the number of electors and 70 odd parish councillors that serve them in the eight surrounding parishes. I assume we have to follow the important Unitary Council boundary review process, before being able to pinpoint what Council size the Boundary Commission will permit for Taunton third tier Councils. The Boundary Commission’s advice on electoral arrangements is related to existing council sizes, for parishes over 20,000 electors: they report parish or town councils vary from 13 to 31 members.

     

    County Towns, Dorchester and Truro around 20,000 electors, have 20 and 21 members respectively. Salisbury City Council population 40,000 formed in 2008 have 24 Council members.

    Also the newest formed (2019) South West Town Council, Weymouth; it has 48,000 electors and 29 elected members.

     

    16 elected members for Taunton stated in the consultation documents is clearly inadequate. Even if we start with 16 district councillors as a shadow body to set up a new Town Council then the future elected number must as a minimum be of 25. If new boundaries are not available by May 2023 elections, a 16 strong elected Council after inception should be allowed to co-opt some extra members, until a subsequent election is fought with wards for 25 Town Councillors. That would be an increase in councillors - north of the rail line 5 to 8 and south of the rail line 11 to 17. Our current electorate of 34,536 must surely rise rapidly as town centre housing proposals are built and empty offices converted to residential.

     

    Another perception with existing town councils and warding is that where large multi-member wards can lead to one party block voting and continuing unhealthy political representation. Dorchester Town 5 wards and 18 Lib Dems of 20 Councillors, Frome town 5 wards and all Independents for Frome Councillors, then Yeovil Town all large wards returning just Lib Dem Councillors.

     

    The latest new town council in Weymouth has been formed with smaller wards confined to two or three members to reflect more diversity and help define local communities within the town, as now described in boundary commission advice. That has meant in Weymouth there are four differing party groups plus independent councillors elected to the new body.

     

    This modern concept of party warding is what we want here and taken with the Councillor number issue above, makes in particular the forming of a new single Town Council with one or two member wards

     

     “Much more attractive than the option inferred by the Councils current consultation”.

     

    A councillor workload spread, vital to help more young working people to participate.

     

    And lastly can we ask the towns estate agents to properly name those wards based on their property for sale or let adverts. The increase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Petitions

33.

Motions to the Charter Trustees

34.

Communications

    To receive such communications as the Mayor may desire to lay before the Charter Trustees.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Mayor gave a brief synopsis of her activities since the summer;

    ·       Announced the Follow Your Heart Trail and went to the subsequent auction.

    ·       Several lunchtime concerts at St. John’s Church on Friday afternoons.

    ·       The National Citizens Service Planning meetings at Taunton School.

    ·       Openings such as St. Margarets Hospice Fete, Indoor Play Area at Bindon Road, new Lidl supermarket, new Shoe Store on Bridge Street, Somerset Chocolate Company at the Wetlands Centre.

    ·       As Patron of the Taunton Deane Male Voice Choir, the Mayor attended their 75th Anniversary dinner and concert.

    ·       Civic Events such as VJ and VE Day, Armed Forces Day, Remembrance, NHS Thank you Day and Carols around the Bandstand, which raised £740 for the Mayor’s Charity.

     

35.

To answer questions under Standing Order 8

    A Charter Trustee may ask the Mayor any question upon an item which is under consideration by the Charter Trustees. Every question shall be put and answered without discussion. The person to whom a question has been put may decline to answer but shall give an explanation for declining to do so. An answer may take the form of :- 1. A direct oral answer; or 2. Where the desired information is contained in a publication of the Charter Trustees, a reference to that publication; or 3. Where reply to the question cannot conveniently be given orally, a written answer circulated to Charter Trustees.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Clerk advised that no such questions had been requested to be put.

36.

Community Governance Review for Taunton - Stage 1 Consultation pdf icon PDF 310 KB

    The Charter Trustees for Taunton have been notified by the District Council of the publication of Terms of Reference commencing a Community Governance Review for Taunton, and subsequent commencement of the first stage of consultation of the review. The Charter Trustees are able to submit a collective response or alternatively respond individually as Councillors.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Clerk advised that he hoped the Charter Trustees were aware of the current Stage 1 consultation underway on this matter. He and other Councillors on the Working Group had been attending various parish council meetings in the area effected. The Clerk advised the Councillors that they could decide to submit a collective response as well as a singular response.

     

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

     

    ·       Concerns were raised about the shortness of the consultation period, especially during the Christmas period and how people could be encouraged to respond.

    ·       The Clerk advised that 96 people had responded so far and several emails. Parish Councils were also doing their own surveys.

    ·       Concerns were raised that the views of those in the parished areas would be given more prominence in the consultation due to the unparished area being disadvantaged and it was expressed that they should be treated equally.

    ·       A query was raised around the elections in 2022 and the involvement of those Councillors elected representing those wards in the affected area.

    ·       The Officer would come back with a written response on this matter.

    ·       The continued maintenance of the Taunton Mayoralty was considered important to the people of the town.

     

    The Charter Trustees for Taunton RESOLVED to respond to Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Stage 1 Consultation on the Community Governance Review for Taunton as follows;

     

    We believe that a single Town Council should be set up to cover at least the whole of the currently unparished area of Taunton.

     

37.

Interim External Auditor Report and Certificate 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 181 KB

    The Charter Trustees must consider the report and consider what, if any, action is required.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Clerk introduced the report, who had been liaising with the External Auditors regarding some changes which may be required to the Governance Return and Account Statements before its finalisation, due largely to the way the Charter Trustees were funded in their first year of operation from the Special Expenses precept, and its subsequent return of unspent funds to the District Council. The Final Approved Statement of Accounts would be published on the Charter Trustees webpage when completed.

     

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

    ·       Concerns were raised that the Charter Trustees were perhaps not getting the appropriate level of financial support from SWT.

    ·       The Charter Trustees gained a good level of support from colleagues at Finance in SWT, which isn’t necessarily covered by the precept in purchasing from SWT.

     

    The Charter Trustees RESOLVED that they had considered the report and requested that the SWT s151 Officer be engaged to advise on this matter.