Agenda and draft minutes

Virtual Meeting, Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 21st May, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: On line via the Zoom App. All Councillors and registered speakers will have been sent an appointment with the meeting link.

Contact: Chris Lane, Democratic Services Officer  01395 517544; email  clane@eastdevon.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Public speaking

 

Information on public speaking is available online

 

Minutes:

There were no members of the public who wished to speak.

2.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2020 were agreed and signed as a true record.

 

Members noted that the recommendation to Council on the Queens Drive Development Project call-in would be considered at the next available meeting of Cabinet.

3.

Declarations of interest

Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest

 

Minutes:

Councillor Iain Chubb, Minute 8, Member of Devon County Council

Councillor Eleanor Rylance, Minute 8, received a Government Grant for her holiday let business.

Councillor Vicky Johns, Minute 8, Member of Ottery St Mary Volunteer Group

Councillor Tony McCollum, Minute 8. Member of Honiton Volunteer Group

Councillor Val Ranger, Minute 8, Volunteer Shielder

 

4.

Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online

 

Minutes:

There were no matters of urgency.

5.

Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway.

 

Minutes:

There were no confidential/exempt items.

6.

Decisions made by Cabinet called in by Members for scrutiny in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules

There are no items identified.

Minutes:

There were no items called in.

7.

Update on the COVID-19 response by East Devon District Council

A verbal update on the COVID-19 response will be provided by the Chief Executive, Mark Williams, supported by Portfolio Holders, with the opportunity for questions from Members. Topics of specific interest covered may include aspects of Housing; the Council Tax Reduction Scheme; the process of obtaining food parcels, school meal vouchers and need for Food Bank support; a local approach to testing, and other COVID-19 related matters such as staffing issues, and future finances, since the impact of the crisis on residents, businesses and the Council as a whole has been significant.

 

Minutes:

Members received a verbal update on the COVID-19 response by the Chief Executive, Mark Williams, Topics of specific interest covered included aspects of housing, the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, the process of obtaining food parcels, and need for Food Bank support, and other COVID-19 related matters such as staffing issues, and future finances, since the impact of residents, businesses and the Council as a whole has been significant.

 

Mark Williams reported that there had been three key areas for Local Government.

1. Supporting adult care – this was led by Devon County Council.

2. Supporting the economy. 

3. Impact of lockdown and the Council.

 

With regard to the economy, Mark Williams reported that COVID-19 had a big impact on the local economy. From April there had been a substantial increase in Universal Credit claims. The Council was also the advocate for a grant scheme introduced by the Government to support small and medium sized businesses. There had been a fund of £50M and this had been distributed with help from the Revenues and Benefits and Economy teams.

 

The vast majority of businesses had been pleased to get the money quickly and 87% of all the money allocated to East Devon had been distributed. It was hoped to be able to run down the scheme by the end of May. However, there had been feedback from a number of businesses that had not benefited from the scheme. The government had responded with a new discretionary scheme to be implemented by the Council, that had a fund of £2.5M, grants to individual business were likely to be significantly lower than the first round of grants. Although grants were discretionary, the Council would contact businesses to inform them of the availability of this grant aid.

 

With regard to protecting the vulnerable the initial priority was to protect those who were thought to be particularly vulnerable. This was a national scheme provided through the NHS and unitary authorities. It was acknowledged that the quality of data on those who needed to be shielded provided by the government had been particularly poor.

 

With regard to those who had were less vulnerable. The Council had been asked to set up a Community Hub and to act as facilitator and provide guidance for community effort. Some staff had been re-allocated to form a team of ‘hubsters’. They had received 40-50 calls a day requesting advice and help. This had been reasonably successful, helped by the low infection rate to date in Devon & Cornwall. There had also been a number of other grant schemes set up, including, the Foodbank fund and a COVID hardship fund.

 

It was hoped to be able to keep the Community Hub going and there had been central government funding for this purpose. So far central government had provided £1.5M of funding to EDDC. There was lobbying of central government to provide further funding. If central government funding had not been provided then there would be a number of local authorities that would struggle  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Update on the Car Parking Task & Finish Forum (TAFF)

The Car Parking TAFF had met on four occasions prior to lockdown and agreed its Terms of Reference at the first meeting on 7 November 2019 (see link below), when an approach was adopted to consider issues in each of the main towns of the District before proceeding further.

Links to previous meetings are below so that Members can view progress to date and consider the original Terms of Reference and priority themes in the context of the more recently agreed climate emergency action plan and whether a different approach is now required for the future, given the Council’s commitment to climate change and the way in which EDDC car parking policy could influence future driver behaviour and potentially fund projects such as delivering electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

 

Car Parking TAFF minutes 7 November 2019

Car Parking TAFF minutes 28November 2019

Car Parking TAFF minutes 19 December 2019

Car Parking TAFF minutes 9 January 2020

Minutes:

Members noted that the Car Parking TAFF had met on four occasions prior to lockdown and agreed its Terms of Reference at the first meeting on 7 November 2019, when an approach was adopted to consider issues in each of the main towns of the District before proceeding further.

 

Links had been provided in the agenda to previous meetings so members could view progress to date and consider the original Terms of Reference and priority themes in the context of the more recently agreed climate emergency action plan. Members considered whether a different approach was now required for the future, given the Council’s commitment to climate change and the way in which EDDC car parking policy could influence future driver behaviour and potentially fund projects such as delivering electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

 

It was noted that following the anticipated appointment of a new Leader and Cabinet at forthcoming Council meetings; the membership of the TAFF would need to be amended and so further consideration of car parking issues should wait until the appointment of the new TAFF membership.

 

Councillor Maddy Chapman reported her concerns about a potential influx of campers and caravans to the district. Officers reported that they were well aware of this issue and that government guidance was that people travelling should not stay overnight. This would be enforced in the district where appropriate.