Agenda and minutes

SWT Corporate Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 1st December, 2021 6.15 pm

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

Contact: Sam Murrell, Email: and Jess Kemmish, Email: 

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item


Minutes of the previous Corporate Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 164 KB

    To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee held on

    Additional documents:


    It was raised that on page nine of the minutes in the agenda pack for the meeting, under ththird bullet point from bottom of the page, the minutes referred to two innovation centres in the district, with one of them being the Rutherford Diagnostic Centre but it was a diagnostic centre rather than an innovation centre. It was suggested this be amended.  


    The Corporate Scrutiny Committee resolved to approve the minutes to the previous meeting subject to the correction on page nine being made.  




    To receive any apologies for absence.


    Additional documents:


    Given that both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee had sent their apologies for the meeting it was proposed that Councillor Cavill be elected as Chair of the meeting. The Corporate Scrutiny Committee resolved to appoint Councillor Cavill as Chair of the meeting.  


    Apologies were received from Councillors Gwilym Wren, Nicholas Thwaites, Sue Buller and Barrie Hall.




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 L Whetlor

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted



Corporate Scrutiny Request/Recommendation Trackers pdf icon PDF 197 KB


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:


    There was no public participation. 


Corporate Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 184 KB


Corporate Performance Report Quarter 2 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 461 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Member Ross Henley.


    Report Author:  Malcolm Riches, Business Intelligence and Performance Manager.


    Additional documents:


    The portfolio holder for Corporate Resources introduced the report and raised the following points. 

    ·        The report provided an update on the Council’s performance in quarter two and included an update against the council's Annual Plan at the end of the first six months of the financial yearProgress on the 31 commitments in the Annual Plan was included in the report as well as key performance indicators. Each action and indicator had been rated as red, amber or green based on whether they were on track.  

    ·        For the 31 Annual Plan Commitments, 21 were green, 10 were amber and none were red. For the key performance indicators 22 were green, 3 were amber and 4 were red.  

    ·        The corporate risks were also included in the report. There were four key business risks identified in the report based on information as at the end of September 

    ·        The customer complaints statistics had improved. The average call wait times had slipped into red in the last month partly due to Recycle More which had resulted in a significant increase in the number of calls coming in. This had resulted in the key performance indicators showing as red.  


    During the debate the following points were raised. 

    ·        It was questioned why the Cyber-attack indicator in the report had changed to green. It was responded by officers that the cyber-attack indicator had changed to green because although the risk was still there, a mitigation plan had been created and was being implemented.   

    ·        It was asked what the criteria for indicators moving from red to amber or green were. It was responded by officers that the colour assigned to an indicator was based not only on a risk itself but upon the progress made in mitigating against the risk 

    ·        It was questioned why the phosphate issue had changed to be green and amber. 

    ·        It was questioned whether an ecologist had been appointed to work on phosphates. It was also asked why phosphates was not categorised as red given the seriousnessIt was responded that there were only two corporate issues and that phosphates was one of those two because of the level of seriousness of the issue. The phosphates issue was categorised as green and amber due to the progress on the action plan. Officers would provide a response outside the meeting regarding the ecologist position as the answer was not known  

    ·        It was questioned how soon it is possible for an incoming call to be answered and how wait times can be improved. It was responded by the portfolio holder that the volume of calls from customers had increased. There was also a challenge from staff turnoverOfficers would check whether the wait time for calls commenced from the automatic messaging beginning and provide an answer to members outside the meeting. 

    ·        It was raised that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.


Executive and Full Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 313 KB


2021-22 General Fund Financial Monitoring as at Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 387 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Henley, Corporate Resources


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


    Additional documents:


    The portfolio holder for Corporate Resources introduced the report and raised the following points. 


    ·        The report detailed that the General Fund was forecasting an overspend of £437k. This was the second report of the financial year and there was normally change in the position by the end of the year. Covid and the pace of economic recovery continued to impact the Council.  

    ·        Raised that there had been a reduction in car parking income which was a concern. The number of people coming in and using the Council’s car parks hanot returned to pre Covid levels.  

    ·        Income had been impacted by Covid grants, in year underspends and budget volatility. For some underspends items were identified in the report where budget carry forwards had been requested due to the overflow of work into the next financial year£437k of budget carry forwards were proposed if these were approved there would then be a nil variance.  

    ·        The Council remained in a strong financial position with adequate general fund reserves still forecast. 

    ·        The current forecast spend of this financial year was an overspend of £242k.  

    ·        Somerset West and Taunton Council’s finances were robust compared to manother district councils. The Council had not had to cut services or staff during Covid. We had and would continue to have challenges to close the budget gap but we have options for doing this.  


    During the debate the following points were raised.  


    ·        Car parking losses from April to June were partially made up for my Covid grants. It was questioned whether there would be any further grants for the rest of the year?  It was responded by officers that the scheme was a government scheme which was only for the first quarter.  

    ·        It was raised that some funds were taken from the emergency risk fund for car parking. It was responded by officers that we had our own reserves, including a risk and volatility reserve from which £517k was taken during quarter two to mitigate car parking loss 

    ·        It was recognised that the change in parking behaviour had had a significant impact on income.  

    ·        It was asked for clarity about what we can and cannot do with income from parking and what it can be spent on. It was also requested for information about what the funds which are making up for the loss of car parking income are being used to fund. Officers responded that a Car Parking Review would be coming to a future meeting of the committee.  

    ·        An update on how well the asset management under External Operations and Climate Change was performing compared to previous years was requested. It was responded that officers will provide this information at a later date 

    ·        It was questioned whether there was any room for improvement regarding voids under Housing and Communities.  

    ·        Investment properties were down by 1.3% and interest and investments had gone up by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.


Draft 2022-23 General Fund Budget Update pdf icon PDF 306 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Henley, Corporate Resources


    Report Author:  Emily Collacott, Lead Finance Business Partner and Deputy S151 Officer


    Additional documents:


    The portfolio holder for Corporate Resources introduced the report and raised the following points. 


    ·        The initial MTFP projected an early indicative balanced budget for 2022/23Through further reviews and updates pressures and other savings had been identified as detailed in the reportThe most significant change was the major reduction in car parking income. There had been an increase in the budget gap. The current figure was still an estimate and based on assumptions as the Settlement was not yet knownBusiness rates retention estimates would also not be completed until January.  

    ·        The leadership team and Executive would revise the budget and share it with the committee in January.  

    ·        It was raised that closing the budget gap would be challenging but options to do so were available.  

    ·        It was suggested that the estimated cost of £1.375m for the implementation of the new unitary authority be funded from reserves. This would still leave reserves about the recommended minimum.  


    During the debate the following points were raised.  


    ·        It was questioned when it would be known about the local government settlement from government. It was responded by officers that it would likely be in mid-December 

    ·        It was questioned what the budget setting process would be given Local Government Reform in Somerset. It was responded that officers are working with the Executive to form Directorate Plans and then align these with the budget. This budget would go through Full Council as it had done previously. There would have to be dialogue with the new authority and the Council must ensure that it was not making decisions which would fetter the new authority. Discussions would take place between the Section 151 Officers of each of the four districts and Somerset County Council 

    ·        It was encouraged that a member briefing be held on the budget and Local Government Reform, potentially in mid-January.  

    ·        It was asked whether the increase in budget gap was related to Covid 19 and what the potential options for closing the budget gap were. It was responded by officers that both the immediate impact of Covid and the legacy of it had impacted the budget, for example through car parking income loss. Factors such as cuts in funding had also had an impact. The leadership team was working with the Executive on other options for closing the budget gap 

    ·        It was asked what impact the business rate relief by central government had and would continue to have in future on the budget. It was questioned what support the Council would likely receive from the governmentIt was responded by officers that the details of the scheme for business rates relief was still awaited but that government had indicated they would compensate the loss of income to local authorities. Hinkley Point B being decommissioned would also impact upon business rates.  

    ·        It was asked what budget had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.