Agenda and draft minutes

Virtual meeting, Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 4th February, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Online via the zoom app

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

Media

Items
No. Item

122.

Public speaking

Information on public speaking is available online

 

Minutes:

There were no members of the public wishing to speak.

123.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 312 KB

Minutes of the Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 10 December 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of Scrutiny Committee held on 10 December 2020 were confirmed as a true record.

124.

Declarations of interest

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

 

Minutes:

Minute 129. Scoping of Section 106/CIL Issues.

Councillor Eleanor Rylance, Personal, Broadclyst Parish Councillor.

 

Minute 129. Scoping of Section 106/CIL Issues.

Councillor Iain Chubb, Personal, Devon County Councillor.

 

Minute 129. Scoping of Section 106/CIL Issues.

Councillor Olly Davey, Personal, Exmouth Town Councillor.

 

125.

Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online

 

Minutes:

There were no matters of urgency.

126.

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.

127.

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.

128.

Verbal update by Councillor Jung on role of the Coast, Countryside and Environment Portfolio Holder

Minutes:

Councillor Geoff Jung, Portfolio Holder for Coast, Countryside and Environment gave a short introduction that outlined his key responsibilities within his Portfolio that included beach management schemes, recycling and waste, nature reserves and environmental health issues.  Members’ attention was drawn to the Sport, Leisure and Tourism within his Portfolio and were advised that this was no longer was within his Portfolio and that a new Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism, Leisure and Sport had been created.

 

He referred to pandemic advising that it had affected every role within the Council and thanked all the Officers and subcontractors for keeping everything running and applauded the Countryside Team with the award winning Seaton Wetlands and the Waste and Recycling Team which had one of the best recycling rates in the country with over 60% now being recycled.

 

Councillor Jung said that part of his role was to look at how to adapt the coast to climate change and how to adapt the countryside to more people wanting to live and to visit.  These areas included:

 

Ø  Clyst Valley Regional Park.

Ø  Seaton Wetlands.

Ø  Lower Otter Restoration Project

Ø  Exe Estuary and the Pebblebed Heaths

Ø  Wild East Devon Project

 

The Chair invited Members to ask questions that had been submitted before the meeting.  Fourteen questions had been received and are set out below, including responses to the supplementary questions which Councillors submitting questions were entitled to do.

 

Question 1 – In response to a question about consultation and financial support received from Crown Estates for the Sidmouth East Beach, Councillor Jung advised that up to 12 miles belonged to the Crown that the Council would need to obtain a maritime licence for to carry out any works below the high watermark.  Funding for coastal protection would come from DEFRA.

 

Question 2 – In response to a question about when the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan work commence, Councillor Jung advised the start date was not far away and details of meetings would be provided on the website.

 

In response to a supplementary question about what counter measures were being taken on erosion, Andrew Hancock, Service Lead - Streetscene addressed the Plymouth Study and advised it was a planning tool to help drive future planning policy about how to help communities adapt in worst case scenarios.  He advised the erosion rate in the Sidmouth Beach Management figures was not a worst case scenario.

 

Question 3 – In response to a question about what benefits had East Devon seen from the contributions to the South East Devon Habitat Regulations?  Councillor Jung first outlined the remit of the South East Devon Habitat Regulations and advised that funding had been provided the Pebblebed Heaths and the Nature Reserves along the Exe Estuary including Lympstone.

 

Question 4 – In response to a question about what lessons had been learnt from last year regarding litter on the beach and the lack of sufficient bins at Orcombe Point and to confirm that this summer following the end of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 128.

129.

Scoping of Section 106/CIL Issues pdf icon PDF 472 KB

The report updates Members on the findings of the SWAP audit into this area of work and to provide information on the current spend.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager updated Members on the findings of the SWAP audit on the current spend to help Members understand the appropriate arrangements that were in place to manage receipt and expenditure of Section 106 and CIL contributions.

 

The following keys issues were highlighted with actions agreed:

Ø  Over 1,200 actions were outstanding on the current database system. 

In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager advised the action agreed through audit was to advertise for six month temporary post to get the system up-to-date.  Members’ noted that in terms of outstanding action most were various administrative tasks and only 7% related to payments needing to be invoiced or chased.  No monies had been lost as a result of delays of those actions.

Ø  Not all demand notices had been raised in a timely manner and concerns were raised about the recovery process.

In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager advised that this was the result of a resourcing issue and when the resource was in place this would be prioritised.

Ø  Out of date Participatory Budgeting Guide.

In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager confirmed this had been completed and was published on the website.

Ø  Town and Parish Councils not being advised on how much S106 monies had been collected.

In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager updated Members about a public facing module via the Exacom System that would provide free access to information which would be available on the website by the end of March 2021.

 

The Chair invited comments from Non-Committee Members.

 

The Leader showed his appreciation for the SWAP report and said it was reassuring moving forward but raised concerns about why the under resourcing issue had not been identified in the management structure for so long.

 

The following comments were raised by Committee Members:

·         It was highlighted that approximately 2 years ago concerns had been raised in a Scrutiny Committee about the welfare of the Officer in question working alone in an office for 18 months inputting data.  In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager advised there had been 2 additional Officers in post to assist the S106 Officer but unfortunately they did not see the project through to completion.  Through discussion with the S106 Officer it was felt that she could complete the project alongside her other work.  Experience over time had demonstrated that this was not the case with the combination of being pulled to help with the Community Hub during the first Covid lockdown.

·         Concerns raised about the participatory budgeting process being resource intensive and whether it was fit for purpose.  In response the Service Lead - Planning Strategy and Development Manager confirmed it was resource intensive but highlighted major benefits in engagement with the public in terms of design of the play area and sports and open space resulting in the delivery of successful  ...  view the full minutes text for item 129.

130.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Scrutiny forward work plan

·         Review S106/CIL

 

Proposal forms received:

 

1.    Staff morale, mental health and wellbeing

2.    The role of Planning Enforcement

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2 Scrutiny Forward Plan proposal forms were received.

 

Members considered a proposal form received from Councillor Helen Parr on staff morale, mental health and wellbeing in view of the Covid pandemic and other pressures on Officers.

 

During discussions the following points were noted:

·         The Leader advised that as there was a staff survey currently in progress it should be a matter for Overview to consider.

·         The Chair suggested that the Chief Executive could attend a future Scrutiny Committee to update Members on the results of the staff survey

·         Members debated whether it should be Scrutiny Committee or Overview Committee that should consider the proposal.  In response the Chief Executive advised that he would bring a report to Cabinet in due course and would discuss the matter with the relevant Portfolio Holder.  He clarified that the role of the Scrutiny Committee was to look at morale and other issues that may impact on performance and the role of the Overview Committee was to look at policy development.

·         The Chief Executive advised he was happy to bring a report to the Scrutiny Committee.

·         This is a serious matter and should be examining many angles.

·         Clarification sought on why some Members did not want the Scrutiny Committee to consider the proposal.  In response the Chair confirmed he would like Scrutiny to consider the proposal.

·         Clarification sought from Legal about whether it should be considered by Scrutiny or Overview.  In response Anita Williams advised it could be considered by either Committee and suggested that because there was an issue with time and a duplication of resources it could be considered at a joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

·         The need to look at provision for staff that are dealing with stress or other issues resulting from the pandemic;

 

RESOLVED:

1.    That the proposal be put on the Scrutiny forward plan and scoped.

2.    That Members invite the Chief Executive to come to a meeting as soon as possible to give his views on the situation to explain what he thinks needs doing and what he thinks can help.

 

Members considered a proposal form received from Councillor Val Ranger on the role of Planning Enforcement to consider scrutinising the performance of the council in relation to this area to ensure it is sufficiently resourced.

 

Members concurred their support.

 

During discussions the following points were noted:

·         There was a need to look at the proposal and try and get as many different people to ask questions and as many people to answer those questions, particularly those involved in enforcement.

·         The Chair of Planning Committee confirmed there were issues with planning enforcement and suggested the need to look at additional resources.

·         The need for a better understanding of regimes and policies centred on Planning and the need to understand the way Central Government manages and inhibits district councils.

 

RESOLVED

1.    That a report on the planning enforcement process should come to Scrutiny Committee so that Members can ask questions and fully understand the forces at play be agreed.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 130.