Agenda and draft minutes

SWT Community Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 23rd February, 2022 6.15 pm

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

Contact: Sam Murrell, Email: s.murrell@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk and Jess Kemmish, Email: j.kemmish@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk 

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

79.

Apologies

    To receive any apologies for absence.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair advised that the running order of the agenda for the meeting had changed. Items eleven and twelve were brought forward in the running order to immediately follow item eight.

     

    Apologies were received from councillors Richard Lees, Dawn Johnson who instead joined the meeting via Zoom, Andrew Pritchard who was substituted by Ian Aldridge, Mark Lithgow who was substituted by Ed Firmin and John Hunt who was substituted by Loretta Whetlor.

80.

Minutes of the previous meeting of the Community Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 225 KB

81.

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 S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr T Deakin

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Johnson

    All Items

    SCC

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr L Lisgo

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr J Lloyd

    All Items

    Wellington & Sampford Arundel

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Mansell

    All Items

    Wiveliscombe

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr A Milne

    All Items

    Porlock

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Perry

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr F Smith

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr V Stock-Williams

    All Items

    Wellington

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr R Tully

    All Items

    West Monkton

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Whetlor

    All Items

    Watchet

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

     

82.

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:

    Minutes:

    There was no public participation.

83.

Community Scrutiny Request/Recommendation Trackers pdf icon PDF 600 KB

84.

Community Scrutiny Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 135 KB

85.

Executive and Full Council Forward Plans pdf icon PDF 189 KB

86.

Sports and Leisure Management (Everyone Active) Bi-Annual Report pdf icon PDF 228 KB

     

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Derek Perry

     

    Report Author:  Stuart Noyce, Assistant Director – Commercial Services

     

    The Community Scrutiny Committee is requested to note the contents of the six-monthly update for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair welcomed David Greenwood and Mark Washington from Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM), Everyone Active.  

    The Assistant Director for Commercial Services introduced David Greenwood, the Regional Contractor Manager and Mark Washington, Contract Manager for Everyone Active who ran the Council’s leisure facilities on behalf of the Council.  Updated the Committee that the report came to Community Scrutiny as part of the commitment in place to report every six months on the performance of the contract. The report covered the period Aril-September 2021. 

     

    David Greenwood and Mark Washington delivered a presentation on Everyone Active and raised the below points: 

    ·                   Had been working with the Council as their leisure partner for nearly three years but they had not been a normal three years due to the pandemic. Commenced the contract on 1st August 2019, almost immediately started on the agreed refurbishment programme for the buildings which ran until the end of 2019. The pandemic then began in February.  

    ·                   The pandemic limited what leisure could be offered at different points over the reporting period. At the start of 2021 a national lockdown was in place. From 29th March outdoor leisure facilities, such as tennis courts were allowed to reopen. Leisure centres were allowed to open from mid-April but with severe restrictions. From May could open up further and then from July could run the leisure centre as normal as all restrictions were removed.  

    ·                   Performance for April-September 2021 gradually improved over the period. In October there was continued improvement however, from November and December performance dropped again due to the Omicron Variant emerging.  

    ·                   Gym membership numbers had now picked up. Blackbrook and Wellington were very healthy in terms of membership, Wellsprings was not doing quite as well.  

    ·                   Swimming lessons are doing well across the centres. There was significant demand for swimming lessons following children not having been able to have them during lockdown. However, there were limited teachers in the industry and there were limited time slots for swimming lessons.  

    ·                   As part of Community Outreach Everyone Active delivered community walks. The Ruishton and Creech St Michael Health Walks had now resumed following Covid 

    ·                   The golf course and high ropes in Vivary Park had done very well and had benefitted from the number of staycations which Covid had led to. However, the recent storm had caused some challenges as a result of trees coming down but Everyone Active were looking forward to the summer and hoped to have another good season.  

    ·                   Have been planning for events throughout 2022 and would continue to organise more events. In particular, were looking to hold more arts and culture events at Wellsprings.  

    ·                   Most feedback received had been positive and actions had been taken based on feedback. For example, online booking had been implemented during the pandemic and maintained since based on feedback.  

    ·                   October was an excellent month but then Omicron slowed progress. However, January trading had been strong as public confidence increased.  

    ·                   Staffing was a challenge due to the national staffing shortage.  

    ·                   A new  ...  view the full minutes text for item 86.

87.

Executive Portfolio Holder for Leisure - Cllr Derek Perry pdf icon PDF 329 KB

    To consider reports from Executive Councillors on their respective portfolios: -

     

    Councillor Derek Perry – Deputy Leader and Sports, Parks and Leisure.

     

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

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair welcomed Councillor Perry.  

     

    The Portfolio Holder for Leisure raised that SLM had faced challenges during the pandemic but had recovered as well as possible and were committed to starting to reinstate the Outreach Programme and expand it and highlighted that the events SLM put on were varied.  

     

    During the debate the following points were raised:  

    ·                   It was asked if there was a commitment to building a swimming pool in Minehead. It was responded by the Portfolio Holder that land had been set aside and ringfenced for a pool in Minehead but the plans for delivering a pool were not all in place. It was hoped that a community led group would build the pool and deliver it, with support from the Council. However, other options for delivery instead of a community led group were being looked at in case a community led option was not viable. Nothing was guaranteed though. It was added by officers that running a leisure centre was costly, so cost was not just based on building a leisure centre, which would be a multi-million-pound cost, but also the sustainability of running the site. The land that had been ringfenced was the only suitable and viable parcel of land in the Council’s ownership in the area for a leisure facility which was why it had been set aside.  

    ·                   It was raised that a pool being built in the vicinity of Williton or Watchet may serve more people than a pool in Minehead based on population. The Portfolio Holder responded that the idea behind having a pool in Minehead was that fewer people would have to travel to reach it as Minehead was the most populated town in the area.  

    ·                   It was raised that Everyone Active’s outreach programme sessions could be delivered in local halls in West Somerset.  

    ·                   The Portfolio Holder noted that there was a lack of access to facilities in West Somerset and that this contributed to the lack of opportunity in West Somerset and action should be taken to improve opportunities.  

    ·                   It was asked if any further details of the intended objectives of the Outreach Programme could be given. Officers responded that Outreach had been part of SLM’s bid for the contract. However, no one had anticipated the events over the first three years of the contract. Now that the impacts of the pandemic were lessening SLM would be expected to increase their outreach offer and officers would be discussing the offer with them. More details would be available at the next update to the Community Scrutiny Committee which would likely be in June.  

    ·                   It was raised that the Steam Coast Trail cycle path was not complete and currently ended at Blue Anchor but would be beneficial to complete. The Portfolio Holder responded that they would look into this. Officers added that there was provision in the budget for the Steam Coast Trail with funding for it having been provided by Hinkley Point C.  

    ·                   It was raised that Minehead used to have a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 87.

88.

Community Scrutiny Chair's Annual Report pdf icon PDF 380 KB

89.

HRA Financial Performance 2021/22 Q3 pdf icon PDF 627 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Fran Smith, Housing

     

    Report Author: Kerry Prisco (Management Accounting and Reporting Lead)

     

    This report provides an update on the projected outturn financial position of the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for the financial year 2021/22 (as 31 December 2021).

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Portfolio Holder for Housing introduced the report:  

    ·        Noted that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was still experiencing the after-effects of Covid-19.  

    ·        Updated that the HRA overspend had been reduced to £354,000 since the last report to the Committee.  

     

    The Management Accounting Lead provided a further introduction to the report:  

    ·                   Raised that the management team had taken a number of steps to reduce the projected overspend and ensure reserves could be preserved. This included improving the voids position by letting an additional 50 garages and reviewing the voids process.  

     

    During the debate the following points were raised: 

    ·                   It was asked what else had been done in terms of efficiency measures to control costs and whether anything which had been done had impacted upon service delivery. Officers responded that the reduction in spending on the capital programme, partly because ofCovid, had contributed to the reduced overspend. Services had not been impacted by efficiency measures. Efficiency measures which would be taken had been detailed in a previous report brought to the committee.  

    ·                   It was asked how many garages remained unrented and whether thought had been given to putting electric vehicle (EV) charging points in garages ready for people with electric vehicles. Officers responded that the number of currently void garages could be provided after the meeting. EV charging points in garages had not been considered and could be looked into. Investing in EV charging points was something the Council was looking at engaging in for some of the new homes the Council was creating but there were costs and challenges which could mean that it would take time to be able to invest in EV chanrging points in garages. 

    ·                   It was asked how the figures for depreciation were reached. Officers responded that the different components of buildings such as boilers and windows were considered, and it was calculated how much it would cost to replace these elements at current market rate. Those depreciation funds were then set aside and used to fund the replacement of these elements in properties which then leads to appreciation.  

    ·                   It was asked about the projected underspend on compliance surveys of £326,000 mentioned in the report but that there was also mentioned in the report increased costs due to compliance requirements increasing. It was responded by officers that the compliance budget had been an estimated value and that not as much had been spent as anticipated. The paragraph which mentioned the increasing compliance requirements related to risks and uncertainty around compliance regulations which had not been accounted for in the budget estimates for the year.  

     

    The Committee resolved to note the recommendations in the report:

     

    2.1 This report is to be noted as the HRA’s forecast financial performance and projected reserves position for 2021/22 financial year as 31 December 2022.

     

90.

Wordsworth Drive and Coleridge Crescent Regeneration pdf icon PDF 464 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Member

    Councillor Francesca Smith

     

    Report Author:  Chris Brown, Assistant Director Development & Regeneration, Ian Shoemark, Project Manager

     

    The Community Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider a number of  recommendations as listed in 2.1 of the report, prior to progression on to the Executive Committee.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Portfolio Holder for Housing introduced the report:  

    ·                   The report concerned twelve flats at Wordsworth Drive and Coleridge Crescent which were in poor condition. A decision on their future was needed and the report highlighted a way forward.  

     

    The Assistant Director for Development and Regeneration provided a further introduction to the report:  

    ·                   Had hoped to carry out decarbonisation activity on these properties to make them more environmentally friendly and bring up the standard of the properties. However, surveys had identified that the structure of these properties was poor. The properties were beyond economic repair and had reached the end of their life so it was recommended that they be decanted and demolished. The funds for decarbonisation and improvements would instead be spent on other properties. All customers currently living in the properties had been spoken to and were generally supportive, as was the one leaseholder who lived in the property. The shops had been more surprised and talks with them were ongoing as their lease would end.  

    ·                   The report recommended that customers from the properties be given a Gold level banding in Homefinder. It was believed there was sufficient turnover via Homefinder for the customers to obtain suitable alternative residence within the planned timeframe for decanting the buildings. Customers in Wordsworth drive would be given Gold banding first and then a year later customers in Coleridge Crescent would be given Gold banding.  

    ·                   Permission to purchase the property from the leaseholder was sought as part of the report. Before the report progresses to the Executive the intention is also to add to the report an option that if the owner occupier could not afford to purchase a market like-for-like property at the time as selling their property to the Council then the Council would provide an equity loan.  

    ·                   The report detailed that compensation would need to be paid to the shop leasees.  

    ·                   The buildings would be demolished once decanted. 

    ·                   The report did not include options for future use of the site after demolition but a report on this would be produced on this at a later date. The land could be left fallow for a while as it would likely allow more grant funding to be obtained.  

    ·                   Ongoing tests would be undertaken on the properties until the decant took place to ensure the building and area remained safe throughout the process.  

     

    During the debate the following points were raised: 

    ·                   It was asked how the equity scheme would work and whether it would be paid directly paid from the Council. It was responded by officers that this would be direct through the HRA and use HRA funds. The scheme had been used successfully previously on the North Taunton site.  

    ·                   Concern was raised about leaving the land fallow for a period of time. Officers responded that leaving the land fallow for 3 to 7 years would enable significant grant funding to be obtained and that building new affordable homes would continue elsewhere in the district in the meantime.  

    ·                   It  ...  view the full minutes text for item 90.