Agenda and draft minutes

SWT Corporate Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 1st June, 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

1.

Appointment of Vice Chair

    To receive any apologies for absence.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee resolved to appoint councillor Nick Thwaites as Vice-Chair of the Committee.  

     

    The Chair thanked councillor Gwil Wren for his work as the Chair of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee since 2019. The Chair outlined that one of the roles of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee this year was to ensure that the Council was prepared for a smooth transition to the new unitary Somerset Council next year.  

     

2.

Apologies

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from councillors Marcus Kravis, Simon Nicholls and Gwil Wren who was substituted by Lloyd.  

     

    Councillor Frederica Smith-Roberts was attending in place of the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Planning and Transportation, Mike Rigby, who had sent his apologies.  

     

3.

Minutes of the previous Corporate Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 174 KB

4.

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 I Aldridge

    All Items

    Williton

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr N Cavill

    All Items

    SCC & West Monkton

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr H Farbahi

    All Items

    SCC

    Personal

    Spoked and Voted

    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 F Smith-Roberts

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr N Thwaites

    All Items

    Dulverton

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Whetlor

    All Items

    Watchet

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

     

5.

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.

    We are now live webcasting most of our committee meetings and you are welcome to view and listen to the discussion. The link to each webcast will be available on the meeting webpage, but you can also access them on the Somerset West and Taunton webcasting website.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    No requests for public participation had been received within the required notice period for the meeting.  

     

    The Chair updated that the order of the agenda would be changed so that item nine would be considered next, after which, items six, seven and eight would be resumed.  

     

6.

Use of Urgency Powers and Supplementary Capital Budget for Coal Orchard Regeneration Project pdf icon PDF 250 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of the Executive Member for Corporate Resources

     

    Report Author: Chris Hall, Director of Place and Climate Change 

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair advised that there was an addendum to the agenda in addition to the report for this item.  

     

    The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources introduced the report:  

    ·                   Midas had completed most of the building of Coal Orchard before the contract with them ceased. The report detailed how urgency powers had been used to enable the authority to intervene at Coal Orchard to ensure the project could continue.  

    ·                   Coal Orchard should still produce a profit for the Council despite the report detailing that increased funding for the project would now be needed.  

     

    The Director for Place and Climate provided a further introduction to the report:  

    ·        Had updated the Corporate Scrutiny Committee earlier in the year about the issues around the Midas contract and on the termination of Midas’s contract due to poor performance ahead of Midas going into administration.  

    ·        The report primarily covered the financial procedures needed on behalf of the Council rather than a project update. It focused around the use of urgency powers.  

    ·        An urgency decision was made under the delegations to the Chief Executive due to the urgency of a decision needing to be made meaning that the timeframe of bringing a report to Full Council was not possible. The Chief Executive made the decision to spend £675,000 of funds and the Chair of Corporate Scrutiny at the time was consulted. As part of the Governance process a report on the decision then went to today’s meeting of the Committee before it would proceed to Full Council.  

    ·        The report also requested approval of an additional £100,000 in terms of capital above and beyond the existing capital programme. This additional funding required a Full Council decision.  The project would continue to fund itself in terms of capital.  

    ·        Now had to be established as a developer with the National House Building Council (NHBC) due to Midas no longer being involved in the project and a warranty process needed to be established for the properties. As part of that funds needed to be put into an earmarked reserve for the warranties. If a warranty process failed to be set up, then the properties would become un-mortgageable.  

    ·        The addendum included a change to how the warranties would be funded as well as some changes to the wording of the recommendations.  

     

    During the debate the following points were raised:  

    ·        Support was expressed for completing the work at Coal Orchard.  

    ·        It was asked what the original anticipated cost of completing the project was, what the current full cost projection for the project was and what the anticipated final outcome cost for the project was. Officers responded that the amount of the original contract and the anticipated final costs were not currently publicly available information due to ongoing negotiations based on the completion of the work so officers would provide a written response to committee members only after the meetings. Once the project was completed the figures would be made publicly available 

    ·        It was asked whether the funding was coming from general reserves  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Corporate Scrutiny Request/Recommendation Trackers pdf icon PDF 322 KB

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

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    ·                   The issue of phosphates was raised as a topic for the Corporate Scrutiny Committee to review in future with stakeholders invited to the meeting.  

    ·                   It was highlighted that the Committee was still awaiting several answers from officers to questions raised at previous meetings. The Scrutiny Officer would contact the relevant officers to ask them to provide responses and then create a new Written Answer Tracker for the new municipal year.   

     

    The Chair noted the request and recommendation trackers.  

     

8.

Corporate Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 192 KB

    To receive items and review the Forward Plan.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    ·                   It was suggested that a monthly report on progress on Local Government Reorganisation would be a beneficial item for the committee to review.  

    ·                   It was raised that having clarity on what was within the scrutiny remit of this council versus what was in the scrutiny remit of Somerset County Council would be useful. Officers advised that this could be discussed with the Monitoring Officer and the information then shared with the Committee.  

    ·                   It was suggested that an update on phosphates be brought to the next Corporate Scrutiny Committee. It was also raised that more communications to the public about phosphates would be beneficial. Officers noted that an update could be brought to a future meeting of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee but that there was also a Phosphates Subcommittee which was dedicated to looking at this issue. Information about phosphates was also available to the public on the Council’s website. 

    Councillor Hassall left the meeting at this point.  

    ·                   The importance of the phosphates issue was highlighted and some of the issues around phosphates outlined.  

    ·                   It was suggested that the Committee reviewing car parking would be worthwhile. The Chair noted that this was an item which was being brought forward to a meeting of the Community Scrutiny Committee.   

     

    The Chair noted the Corporate Scrutiny forward plan.  

     

9.

Executive and Full Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 202 KB

10.

Access to Information - Exclusion of Press and Public (Appendix 1 and 4 only)

    During discussion of the following item (Appendix 1 and 4 only) it may be necessary to pass the following resolution to exclude the press and public having reflected on Article 13 13.02(e) (a presumption in favour of openness) of the Constitution. This decision may be required because consideration of this matter in public may disclose information falling within one of the descriptions of exempt information in Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972. Corporate Scrutiny will need to decide whether, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption, outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

     

    Recommend that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the next item of business (Appendix 1 and 4 only) on the ground that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 respectively of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Corporate Scrutiny Committee resolved that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the next item of business (Appendix 1 and 4 only) on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 respectively of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information). 

11.

Wellington Land Acquisition (The Green Spaces) pdf icon PDF 331 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor for Economic Development & Asset Management

     

    Report Authors: Joe Wharton, Assistant Director Major and Special Projects & Dr Joanne O’Hara, Programme Manager – Heritage at Risk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cllr Farbahi returned to the chamber.  

     

    The Leader of the Council introduced the report: 

    ·                   The report related to land around the Tone Mill area of Wellington and protect open green space for community use.  

    ·                   As outlined in the report Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) allocated funds would be used.  

    ·                   A long-term lease would be granted to Wellington Town Council of 125 years. 

    ·                   This had been discussed at Full Council before as part of the Council’s previous Levelling Up Bid which was unfortunately unsuccessful but another way to proceed with this part of the bid had now been found.   

     

    The Assistant Director for Major and Special Projects provided a further introduction:  

    ·                   Wellington Town Council were supportive of the plans.  

    ·                   The Council would retain control of the land into the future as it would be leased rather than sold to Wellington Town Council.  

    ·                   The landowner was willing to sell the land to the Council.  

     

    During the Debate the following points were raised:  

    ·                   It was raised that the purchase of the land for the community would benefit people in Wellington. CIL funds had already been used by Wellington Town Council to purchase land around Wellington however, the Town Council was not able to afford to purchase the piece of land which the report related to. The Town Council was supportive and pleased to be approached by Somerset West and Taunton Council regarding a long-term lease of the land.   

     

    The Committee entered confidential session.

     

    The Committee resolved to note the recommendations in the Confidential Appendix 1.