Agenda and minutes

SWT Community Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 3rd June, 2021 6.15 pm

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

Contact: Scrutiny Clerk - Andrew Randell Email:  Scrutiny Officer - Marcus Prouse Email:

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item


Appointment of Vice-Chair




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:


    There were no new declarations of Interest.


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 at the John Meikle Room, 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 at 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 member of the Governance team). 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:


    Alan Debenham provided the following statement to the Committee:-


    Ever since the Earth summit of 1992 and its subsequent Local Agenda 21, 3Rs and new thrust for Sustainability there has been decades of talk and action to save life on this planet from a fate worse than death and yet here we are again repeating ourselves only with the hell on earth now much closer and its severity now much more devastating.  Then and now ( very much substantiated by the recent War-on-Want's Minerals Transition Report ) the biggest essential to save us has been and still is reduction in consumption and economic activity especially in the UK's first world wealth status, so why is there so little in your expenditure and  plans which relate to this only real life saver and why it's so important for us all to continue the present lockdown - or a lesser version - as long as possible and no real plans seem to have been made to set-up ward and street-led  committees to deal with this enormous permanent change in lifestyle?


    The Climate Change Portfolio Holder provided a response thanking Mr Debenham for his question and setting out the mineral transition report and the transition to renewables, reducing energy consumption and the impact. The responsibility for planning and regeneration to increase housing in the town centre was recognised. There has been a change in attitudes towards consumption and the Council had changed attitudes around lifestyle and behaviour changes.


Community Scrutiny Request/Recommendation Trackers (verbal update).

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

    Additional documents:


    A verbal update was provided and recommendations would be tracked and provided as a monthly update for members of the Committee.


    The committee noted the update.




Community Scrutiny Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 25 KB

    To receive items and review the Forward Plan.


    Additional documents:


    The Chair encouraged requests for future items from members of the committee. The following items were requested to be added to the forward plan and considered at a future committee:-


    ·        An item on pay and display car parks was requested to have a better understanding of the consultation process and the decisions as a result of this process.

    ·        A future item on bus service provision was requested.


Executive and Full Council Forward Plans pdf icon PDF 70 KB


Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Finance Report pdf icon PDF 573 KB

    Additional documents:


    The Portfolio Holder introduced the report which set out the (CNCR) Finance position. The report has been provided at the request of Scrutiny Committee.


    Since approval of the Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience (CNCR) plan in October 2020, 24 actions were completed during 2020/21 at a cost of



    Many of the initial actions in the CNCR plan had little or no cost attached to them; budget expenditure is therefore not a direct measure of success in progressing climate achievements. This report focuses on expenditure rather than response activity for 2020/21. Funds allocated to Climate Change are ring fenced to that activity and have been carried forward across budget years.


    The CNCR budget for 2021/22 is fully allocated against the activities already approved within the Directorate plan.


    The CNCR plan was an extensive list of potential activities. It contains a number of cross cutting actions and open-ended commitments. To support delivery the team, led by the Portfolio Holder (PH), review the actions to form a prioritised list which features in the service plan for the External Operations and Climate Change Directorate. Without a prioritised list of activity, the team could become conflicted in trying to deliver in an unfocussed or uncoordinated way.


    The commitments list within the service plan is challenging, there is a

    Considerable amount of work on this list. Any draw on the team outside the

    agreed business plan will impact delivery performance.


    Somerset West and Taunton Council allocated £500,000 for the delivery of the

    CNCR plan in October 2020 with the following delegations for expenditure:


    “A supplementary “Climate Change Fund” budget of £500,000 is approved within the General Fund 2020/21 Revenue Budget, funded from General Reserves, for the delivery of Somerset West and Taunton priority actions with delegated authority to the Director External Operations and Climate Change / Assistant Director Climate

    Change, Regulatory Services and Asset Management to agree those priority actions in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change. Council also be asked to approve the principle that any unspent balance of this Fund at the end of 2020/21 be carried forward to 2021/22 financial year.”


    Expenditure and allocations are tracked by the Assistant Director and

    Portfolio Holder (PH) in their standing fortnightly meetings. This meeting

    Recorded any financial decisions.


    Purchase orders, payments, and internal transfers are managed within the

    Council’s finance system. The actual expenditure for the year 2020/21 was set out in the report and the underspend that was carried forward to 2021/22.










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


    ·        Allocation of the budget for the Climate Change Action plan and the Somerset wide budget was requested a number of months ago, allocating the budget was felt necessary to clarify further information for Councillors.

    ·        Increasing charging points and tree planting were supported by the Committee.

    ·        What was required to achieve carbon neutrality was requested to be set out to gain an understanding of the scale of the challenge to make a greater difference on carbon targets.

    ·        The figure of £50k  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Discussion on Councillors to invite as Executive PFH Cllrs (verbal update)