Officers will present a verbal update on this item at the meeting with slides.
As per the Somerset County Council Resolution on 5th October 2022 that:
2.6 That a Shadow Taunton Town Council be established with effect from 14 October 2022 and with membership as set out at section 13.6 of the attached SWTC report (Appendix 2), to lead and oversee the work to establish on 1 April 2023 the new Taunton Parish/Town Council
That report went on to confirm that prior to 1?April 2023 the Shadow Town Council?would not have delegated?powers to make?decisions or commit expenditure but would?act?as an advisory body to the officers and others?working on the?implementation programme with?any formal decisions required?then being made?under existing officer or member delegations.
The Programme will regularly report to the Shadow Town Council about progress of the programme and any key risks and issues for their consideration.
It is recommended that the Shadow Town Council:
· Note the update on the Implementation Plan progress and project governance and provide any comments.
The Governance Specialist introduced the item and took Members through a number of Slides, alongside the Programme Manager Dan Webb.
During the discussion of this item, Members made comments and asked questions which included:-
· Clarity was sought over the term capabilities and the project terminology such as MoSCoW.
· This meant Must haves, Should haves, Could haves, Won’t have now and new capabilities were meant as a better way of doing things, end of the project where something is adopted that works.
· Councillors requested a glossary of terms and suggested the LGR joint scrutiny glossary may be a good place to start. Consideration for the needs for accessibility to residents also needed to be considered.
· Concern was raised about the existing parish clerks in that they needed to be assisted and helped through this.
· A meeting had been set up with the Parish Clerks and they would be assisted through this process.
· A query was raised in relation to naming in that this was Taunton Parish Council, but could it be re-named by us as a shadow/vested body in April or by the town council in May?
· It was confirmed that the naming of the Parish could be amended at the first meeting after the elections e.g. the AGM.
· A query was raised as to how would this process and body influence the aspirational elements of what the new council was likely to be? It was stated that some of this work could not wait until the elections but had to be something that was passed across to the new council. There was going to be increasing public expectation as this started to gather traction.
· The aspirations for the new town council would be reflected in the stakeholder engagement work that Officers wanted to develop a strategy as part of. Members needed to be cognisant of balancing with the timescale that was in place, and there was a lot to be done to ensure the Town Council would be safe, legal and functioning by the 1st April.It will be for the elected councillors to put forward their visions, aspirations for the town council.
· A discussion was held on the asset transfers and what that included, in terms of the Re-Organisation Order and any further conversations building on from that.
· A view was posited that the Shadow body would be building on the framework, however, fellow Councillors needed to understand that the list of assets had been defined and agreed, and future conversations would be primary roles for the elected town council once in place.
· A query was raised as to what happened to the everyday local business between now and April the 1st? Were the parish councils still dealing with this?
· Those parishes primarily affected by the Re-Organisation Order should still be functioning and fulfilling their roles until the 1st April.
· It was commented that stakeholders had a big part to play in creating the vision, but the Shadow Body needed to restrict itself somewhat to the framework issues.
· Comment was made on the Vision Statement and whilst it was understood and agreeable that the Council going forward was safe and legal it was considered important to add ‘and creating a viable future for this organisation’.
· Rather than a comment on financial stability the phrasing had been interpreted as ensuring any body was ‘fit’ for the future.
· Some concern was raised that the statement as originally presented was not sufficiently visionary or aspirational.
· Comment was made that ‘safe and legal’ couldn’t just mean that the Shadow handed over to elected members, it was important to caveat that it must be functioning e.g., if public conveniences are transferred on the 1st April, they can’t be locked and unclean etc.
· It was requested that the Vision Statement was to be added to the forward plan for the next meeting.
· In thinking more broadly about Assets within the town such as Firepool, what involvement would there be for this body if any?
· All land assets, property, services etc will automatically transfer to Somerset Council on the 1st April however there were some specified within the Reorganisation Order made such as allotments, parks, public convenience etc which would become the responsibility of Taunton Parish.
· Clarity was sought over the Town Clerk role and whether that was a different qualification to a parish clerk role, were the Council able to support any parish clerks in getting this qualification and what would be the time frame for this?
· It was a specific qualification covering both roles, but the second part of the question would need to be worked through individually. Councillors could appreciate the sensitivities within the public meeting. Officers were looking to start the recruitment process as soon as possible. Job descriptions are in draft and are ready to go but there was a need to work through individual circumstances and those affected first.
· Councillors suggested it would be helpful to have an information pack including a list of assets, the budget and FAQs circulated as soon as possible.
· It was suggested that that the website, as a hub of information for our residents would be better set up sooner rather than later.
· Councillors queried whether there was a need for working groups to sub-divide the work, but this was not felt necessary.
· A query was raised as to whether the Shadow body would be charged with helping develop the mechanics of the committee structure templates the new body would use?
· It was confirmed that this would be a role and will be part of the new council as of 1st April.
RESOLVED that the Taunton Shadow Town Council;
1. Noted the update on the Implementation Plan progress and project governance and provided comments.