Agenda and minutes

Overview Committee - Thursday, 14th November, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Blackdown House, Honiton

Contact: Susan Howl  01395 517540 email


No. Item


Public Speaking

Information on public speaking is available online.


There were no members of the public wishing to speak.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 371 KB


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 August were confirmed as a true record.


Declarations of interest

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


No declarations of interest were given.


Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online.


There were no matters of urgency.


Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including press) have been excluded. There are no items that officers recommend should be dealt with in this way.


There were no items classified this way.


Presentation from Jurassic Fibre

Members will be joined by Michael Maltby, CEO of Jurassic Fibre, for a presentation followed by a brief Question & Answer session.


The meeting was joined by Michael Maltby, Chief Executive of Jurassic Fibre who gave a short presentation followed by a question and answer session.


Michael Maltby introduced himself as a resident of Sidmouth who had founded Jurassic Fibre in response to the position regarding the roll out of high speed broadband in the UK which he considered to be currently unfit for purpose, and based upon his experience of better provision overseas. Jurassic Fibre was a large scale project designed to be delivered across the South West, applying state of the art techniques to the development of fibre optic broadband.

It is planned to have a commercial launch in February 2020, when a live network will have been set up which should, over time, ultimately reach approximately 350,000 premises, including coverage of much of East Devon and parts of the M5 corridor. Phase 1 currently underway encompasses about 12,000 premises to the east of Exeter and on the western side of East Devon. Mr Maltby said that the impact of Gigaclear projects was unclear and he understood Connecting Devon & Somerset (CDS) were going to undertake an open market review.

He concluded by saying that about 80% of the premises in East Devon could be served by the Jurassic Fibre network by 2023, so it raised the issue of how this would help the Council and what the Council’s approach would be to putting fibre into their own offices or housing stock, particularly if tenants requested it.

He stated that increased connectivity would assist in service delivery and local businesses would benefit, as part of a broader economic focus.


The Chairman thanked Michael Maltby for his presentation and invited comments or questions from Committee members.


Discussion included the following;

·         Problems with Gigaclear and CDS had been raised previously at Scrutiny Committee with concerns about the essential requirement for decent rural broadband. Concerns remained after hearing from Jurassic Fibre that the rural hinterland would still be left isolated.

Mr Maltby responded by saying that there were connectivity problems all across East Devon, in towns as well as rural areas. They had been working with farmers to put wayleaves across their land, but the costs of extending the network to more dispersed areas were prohibitive to the extent that it was unlikely that many remote areas would be reached, unless there was government subsidy.

·         Dealing with a private company was very different to dealing within the public sector procurement processes.

Q 1 – How many of the 350,000 premises would relate to untried or new customers as opposed to those picked up from competitor companies?

Q 2 – Wayleave permissions were an enormous strain on Gigaclear and responsible for many of their delays and problems. Will the same issue affect Jurassic Fibre?

Mr Maltby responded by saying that the Jurassic Fibre approach was to roll out fibre to the premise which was not going to be available in communities in East Devon, and that in relation to the wayleaves issue, they were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


Economic Development update pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The Chairman invited the Economic Development Manager, Rob Murray, to present the key issues from his report, which provided an update on Economic Development activity and summarised the findings of this year’s House of Lords (HOL) Select Committee inquiry into Rural Economies.


Rob Murray referred to headline economic indicators for East Devon, such as employment and unemployment rates; businesses across the District including top employers by the numbers of employees; enhancing productivity via tailored business support and the drive to increase productivity across core sectors, an initiative offering a range of fully funded workshops and one-to-one support for pre-start and existing businesses across East Devon.


He went on to say that as a result of the launch of Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub service in 2016, more businesses have benefitted from Growth Hub support in East Devon than in any of the other 14 LEP districts.


East Devon Business Centre (EDBC), has through a focussed process of improvement, marketing and communications (including social media) been turned into a positive net income generator to EDDC with 100% of offices let and meeting room income increased by 67% compared with 2014-15.   


East Devon had led on the production of the Shared Economic Strategy for Exeter and the Heart of Devon (EHOD) (2017-2020) which sets out the ambition, growth priorities and approach to enable growth of the regional economy.


In relation to Brexit, EDDC became one of the first local authorities in the country to publish detailed online guidance to inform and support businesses preparing for Brexit.

Rob Murray referred to more effective engagement with planning, and events such as Honiton Gate to Plate which had been a big success.


Economic Development Priorities 2019-2020 have recently been presented to Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees in September by Cllr Blakey and the Deputy Chief Executive with the following two key priorities in the coming year:

·         The ‘Our Towns’ Study to improve understanding of our main towns

·         Business Centre extension & additional workspace in East Devon


EDDC Evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy included views and question responses provided through consultation with representatives from economic development, planning policy and development management as well as with our rural district members. They reflected the concerns, issues and opportunities expressed and identified through a specific 'think tank' session held on Weds 29th Aug 2018. The Select Committee’s final report was published in April 2019.

Its key recommendations included the development of a coherent rural strategy; rural proofing of policy impacts and place-based approaches to delivery.


In terms of a rural strategy, it is clear that rural economies are facing significant opportunities and challenges, including the UK's impending departure from the EU, cuts to local authorities’ budgets, digital connectivity, affordable housing, and an ageing rural population, which make this an ideal moment for the Government to develop a comprehensive rural strategy, to set out its ambition for rural areas

The Government needs to rethink and reform the rural proofing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Update on Draft Drone Policy


The Chairman invited the manager of Property & Estates, Tim Child, to provide a verbal update on progress. Although he was not in a position to present a Policy to Committee, he could outline progress and next steps.

A policy had been drafted over the summer, and consultation had taken place with the legal team and key departmental colleagues on it. Accordingly, officers were aware of a range of legal issues involved relating to the operation of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – Drones) on or over land belonging to EDDC, particularly in relation to enforcement.  As a result, they did not want to present a policy which may not be practically enforceable and which the Council have no mechanism for ensuring compliance against.


Tim Child referred to the draft in progress which introduced a policy inviting an application from people who wish to fly drones. In the case of requests from commercial operators who may want to survey by use of drones, for example, the safety of cliffs or work to be conducted on roofs, EDDC may want to approve this and then seek evidence of public liability insurance, conduct risk assessments and possibly charge a fee. However, in the case of private individuals, it is considered unlikely that they would apply at all.

So there is a final piece of work to be completed about the practical enforceability of a policy before bringing it to the Committee. Tim Childs advised that it could be presented to the next meeting before then going on to the Asset Management Forum to be reviewed and monitored with other Council policies.


There was brief discussion about the fact that the CAA have just introduced a new registration scheme requiring operators to have Identification numbers which can be recorded. Operators have to be over the age of 13 years and pass a test.


Poverty in East Devon pdf icon PDF 655 KB


The Chairman invited the authors of the report, Libby Jarrett, Service Lead for Revenues, Benefits, and Customer Services and Amy Gilbert-Jeans, Service Lead for Housing to present the key issues.


Amy Gilbert-Jeans gave a brief introduction, stating that the report had been drawn out of a number of data sets that EDDC have access to. Since it was such a multi-faceted issue officers would have been unlikely to be able to address every aspect of it, largely due to the fact that EDDC had limited influence over national policy.

However, the report provided Members with a detailed assessment of a number of factors that relate to poverty within East Devon, and outlined work that is already undertaken that links with poverty as well as information around how customers are currently supported.

From this work a series of recommendations had been identified to better support people living in East Devon who may be impacted by poverty, which is a follow up to the recommendation made by Cabinet on 6th March 2019.

Particularly with reference to Recommendation 1, the creation of an East Devon Poverty Strategy, the costs of delivery are likely to be attached, whilst Recommendation 9, the work on fuel poverty needs to be developed.


Discussion on this item included the following;

·         Members thought that the report was an excellent piece of work with substantial research having been undertaken.

·         Q 1 – Was support given from Devon Strategic Partnership (DSP)?

Much data was obtained by EDDC and classified as sensitive, and so analysis was done by EDDC thereby limiting the involvement of others. However, officers are happy to share the report with the DSP.

·         More information was required in order to understand the reliance on food banks by people.

·         Building co-ownership properties for local people would be highly advantageous, and multi-generational housing along similar lines to that being built in Germany and Switzerland.

·         There were suggestions for further recommendations from Members, particularly in the light of witnessing a local family which had become victim to a S21 eviction by a private sector landlord, and who subsequently could not find alternative accommodation. It was suggested that a recommendation be developed by which the Council would work more closely with the private rented sector and specifically to review the reference requirements placed on potential tenants.

·         Funding for Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) should be maintained since they are of great positive benefit. It was confirmed that the Council wanted to safeguard funding for the CAB and other independent sources of advice for people in poverty.

·         As EDDC does provide some funding for the CAB, there was a potential to influence the direction of their work with respect to services which could be offered outside the five towns with a CAB service, so that people outside the towns could benefit from an outreach service or more services via phone or online.

·         £16,000 of new budget had been identified as required. It was clarified that this was a resource identified as being necessary to develop  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.


Update on the High Street Task & Finish Forum


The Chairman provided an update to Members on the work of the High Street TAFF.


Cllr Hookway and Cllr Hartnell had met with the Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Cohen and the Economic Development Manager, Rob Murray, in September to discuss how the two strands of work relating to the ‘Our Towns Study’ and the High Street TAFF would be progressed. A draft report had recently been received. It had four recommendations, including that the ‘Our Towns Study’ would be undertaken by an external expert commissioned for the purpose. This would be funded through Business Rate Pool Funds.

A steering group of members would report to Overview Committee, publishing a series of reports. Two members of the Overview Committee would join the steering group, alongside the Economy Portfolio Holder and Rob Murray.


Cllr Loudoun proposed that this was put on the agenda for the next meeting and the report circulated before the meeting.

Cllr Allen seconded the proposal.

This was agreed by those present.






Report back from the Overview Committee Working Group on Governance held on 17 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 32 KB


The Chairman introduced a report drafted by the Monitoring Officer following the informal meeting on 17th October of the Governance Working Group, and following a recommendation to Council to establish a Working Group to include representatives of the LGA. An initial meeting of the Governance Working Party took place on 11th November, which was joined by Members of the LGA who were very positive about the discussion which took place.

A series of dates have been agreed which would continue into 2020, the next one scheduled for 25 November.

Cllr Allen suggested that meetings were arranged to take place in the evening.

The Chairman confirmed that all following meetings had been arranged during the evening.

Cllr Loudoun confirmed that although the working group was open to all Members, determining the outcomes needed to remain solely with members of the working party.

The Chairman confirmed that this would be the case, and also that the next meeting would set out Terms of Reference and the scope of work to be progressed.


Overview Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 113 KB


The Chairman drew Members attention to the next meeting of the Committee which would be a Joint meeting with the Scrutiny Committee focussing on the Service Plans and Budget for the next financial year.

On 30 January, Committee would consider the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Regeneration of Seaside Towns if it was published.

On 27 February, it would discuss governance arrangements.

Cllr Loudoun said that Members had agreed to put the Drone Policy on the agenda for the next meeting, but suggested that the Public Toilet Review could wait until March.


The forward plan for the committee was noted.
























Proposal received from Councillor Allen for Overview Committee on 14 November 2019               


That Cabinet;

1. Consider funding the creation of an East Devon Poverty Strategy to further develop and target the areas identified within this report that we are able to influence and to support a corporate approach to ensure consistency across Council Services.

2. Carry out a review of the funding and delivery arrangements for Money Advice to ensure that we’re focussing on the key issues identified in the report.

3. Recommend that Council protect the existing funding levels contributed for Money Advice to Homemaker South West and Citizens of circa £120,000 for 2020/21 to enable the review (Recommendation 2) to be undertaken.

4. Update Corporate Debt Policy to include; Breathing Space in-line with proposed Government changes & to consider any other supportive measures that may be beneficial.

 5. Agree to the Council’s frontline services, in collaboration, setting up a series of local events across the District with key stakeholders that focus on Universal Credit, Money/Debt advice (including how to avoid Loan sharks), budgeting, fuel poverty, etc  with the over- arching aim of supporting people to become more financially resilient.

6. Consider lobbying central Government directly and/or through our MPs in the following areas;

· Right to Buy

· Removing the freeze on Local Housing Allowance Rates in order to be reassessed to reflect market rents.

 · Universal Credit – More financial support to be given to customers to help with the transition. More funding to be given to local Councils to reflect the support that customers need with moving onto this Benefit.

7. Continue to explore opportunities to increase our supply of social housing through either redevelopment of existing stock and/or building new Council Housing, in conjunction with a review of the current Housing Revenue Account business plan.

8. Agree to the Council working alongside East Devon foodbanks to better understand demand and eradicate dependency.

9. Undertake a detailed analysis of fuel poverty in the district with a view to supporting residents in fuel and water poverty to reduce their energy and water bills by providing advice to residents on the availability of the benefits of achieving financial savings through installing energy and water efficiency measures, switching to cheaper energy tariffs, and installing water meters. Develop a separate action plan to Partnering with utilities providers (experience shows home visits have proved to be the most effective  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.