Venue: Council Chamber, Blackdown House, Honiton
Contact: Sarah James 01395 519978 email email@example.com
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 October 2023 were signed as a true and accurate record.
Declarations of interest
Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest.
Cllr P Arnott – Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Colyton Parish Council.
Cllr B Bailey - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Exmouth Town Council.
Cllr I Barlow - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Sidmouth Town Council, which pays for a large number of its public toilets.
Cllr J Brown - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Honiton Town Council.
Cllr M Goodman - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Sidmouth Town Council, which pays for a large number of its public toilets.
Cllr J Heath - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Beer Parish Council, which has public toilets due for renovation over 2024-2025.
Cllr N Hookway - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Exmouth Town Council.
Cllr T Dumper - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Exmouth Town Council.
Cllr C Nicholas - Minute 23; Affects Non-Registerable Interest: Member of Exmouth Town Council.
Cllrs G Jung, wished it to be recorded for minute 23 that he is Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment.
Cllrs P Fernley and T Olive wished it to be recorded for minute 23 that they are Assistant Portfolio Holders for Coast, Country and Environment.
Information on public speaking is available online.
No members of the public had registered to speak at the meeting.
Matters of urgency
Information on matters of urgency is available online.
There were no matters of urgency.
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 confidential or exempt items.
The Assistant Director – Place, Assets and Commercialisation introduced this update report which set out the background to the Public Toilets Review Project, the progress to date, next steps and current timetable implications.
The context for the report at this time was explained as:
a) It is an opportunity to update Members more widely on the fundamentals of the Public Toilets Review, the progress made so far and the next steps. Through doing so, using our Membership to ensure the wider public is better informed. There was lots of attention by Members and the public on this back in 2021 at the time of the public consultation and the various Overview and Cabinet reports, an update to All Members back in March this year, but whilst there has been lots going on in the background by Officers, with a large number of newly elected Members back in May, and the fact that the project is going ‘public’ shortly with planning applications being submitted, now is a very timely opportunity to update.
b) We are at a bit of a crossroads in terms of how we move specific challenging elements forward, and hence as Officers and as a Cabinet would welcome feedback from Overview Committee on next steps in terms of moving this project forward.
Discussion and clarification included the following points:
· It is not a statutory requirement for a district council to provide public toilets and no funding for them is provided by central government. Publicly accessible toilets are a basic necessity however, particularly for the elderly, disabled and young children, and East Devon is a tourist area with visitors expecting a suitable provision.
· It would be appropriate for this Council to write to the Secretary of State to push for public toilets to become a statutory service, and to ask other councils in Devon and Cornwall to also do so.
· In accordance with an existing Cabinet decision, charging for use of public toilets on Category A sites will be implemented at such time as those sites reopen following the build projects, with new facilities. It is expected to cost £250k to install paid access and this will enable the Council to charge people when they enter the cubicles, at a currently agreed rate of 40 pence per use. The paid access equipment will also be a means of measuring the amount of usage.
· One Member raised that a council in Cornwall is installing a system whereby only tourists pay to use public toilets and suggested EDDC consider a similar system for toilets on Category A sites, given that most residents already pay Council Tax. She added that the charge per use could be increased to 50 pence. Another Member suggested exploring alternative ways of financing the toilets such as sponsoring and advertising or asking people to donate.
· The Assistant Director – Place, Assets & Commercialisation stated that charging for public toilets is an existing Cabinet decision and to undo an element of this would have implications on revenue requirements moving ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
The Director of Governance and Licensing introduced this item and ran through the core principles set out in the draft protocol with a view to ensuring that the role of the scrutiny committees and the relationship with Cabinet is clear, effective and consistent with best practice.
Members were invited to consider and recommend changes to the draft protocol, and to recommend it for approval in early 2024 alongside any changes recommended by the Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet and taking into account any feedback from the review by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny.
Discussion and clarification included the following points:
· There is an expectation that reports submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Committees would normally be authored by Officers.
· It would be helpful to distinguish within the draft protocol between the Scrutiny Committee and the Overview Committee.
· The Constitution allows for Assistant Portfolio Holders (APHs) on the membership of Overview Committee; however, one Member was of the view that this makes the Committee more Cabinet-led than it should be. Other Members stated that they were comfortable with APHs on the Overview Committee membership on the understanding that they could absent themselves from the meeting for items that were particularly contentious and related to their portfolio. The Director of Governance and Licensing clarified that the statutory guidance is clear that APHs can sit on Overview and Scrutiny Committees but cannot take part in discussions relating to matters that they have been involved in in their APH role.
· The Overview and Scrutiny Committees can invite other organisations and external bodies in, for matters which are of relevance to the district.
That the Overview Committee agrees the draft protocol subject to Members comments being taken into consideration.
The Cabinet Forward Plan is attached for consideration; would the Committee wish to receive a report on key decisions prior to Cabinet?
The Overview Committee’s Work Programme 2023-2024 was received and noted.
The Chair informed Members of the format for the Joint Budget Meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees scheduled for 11 January 2024.