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One member of the public had registered to speak. It was agreed that the member of the public would speak at agenda item 7, Decisions made by Cabinet (including Portfolio Holders) called in by Members for scrutiny in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure rules [minute 145 refers].
Cllr Val Ranger proposed that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 4th March 2021 be amended to include the following points at minute 137 (Comments and questions raised by Committee members and responses from the Chief Executive and Mark Everden including):
· Early informal verbal intervention in the event of any suggestion of bullying should be considered
· Restorative justice as a form of mediation should be considered
The amendments were agreed and the minutes of the meeting held on 4th March 2021, as amended, were agreed as a correct record.
Declarations of interest
Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest
Minute 145. Decisions made by Cabinet (including Portfolio Holders) called in by Members for scrutiny in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.
Councillor Eleanor Rylance, Personal, The member is Assistant Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country & Environment and advised that she had not been involved in the Portfolio Holder decision which had been called in for scrutiny and would be discussed at agenda item 7 [minute 145].
Minute 146. Quarterly Monitoring of Performance - Quarter 3 2020 - 21.
Councillor Olly Davey, Personal, Member of Exmouth Town Council.
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 the press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway.
There were no confidential / exempt items.
Call-in of decision of Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment of 16 March 2021 (Portfolio Holder report of February 2021 refers), in accordance with paragraph 15 of Part 4.5 of the Overview and Scrutiny procedure rules in the East Devon District Council Constitution.
Decision of Environment Portfolio Holder on 16 March 2021 refers:
Request to set out any proposed price increase for beach huts and beach hut sites for the forthcoming season /financial year 2021 – 22.
Members to consider the call-in relating to the decision that the council agrees to no longer provide short term lets in Budleigh via the TIC and offer them as EDDC sites for long term rental.
Call-in proposed by Councillor Alan Dent; Supported by Councillors Colin Brown (Chair of Scrutiny Committee), Maddy Chapman, Bruce de Saram, Paul Jarvis and Tom Wright.
The Portfolio Holder report is included within the Agenda together with a briefing paper.
The Committee considered the call-in of the decision of the Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment of 16th March 2021 (Portfolio Holder report of February 2021 refers), in accordance with paragraph 15 of part 4.5 of the Overview and Scrutiny procedure rules. The call-in related to the decision that the Council agrees to no longer provide short term lets of beach huts in Budleigh via the TIC and offer them instead as EDDC sites for long term rental.
The call-in was proposed by Councillor Alan Dent and supported by Councillors Colin Brown, Maddy Chapman, Bruce de Saram, Paul Jarvis and Tom Wright.
The member of the public, Helen Warren, a director of the Budleigh Information Centre (BIC) [note: the TIC had closed and the new entitiy is the BIC] and Chair of the Budleigh Chamber of Commerce, addressed the Committee and made the following points:
· The TIC had closed in March 2020 during the first Covid-19 lockdown and re-opened in August 2020 under a new model with volunteers as a more viable concern
· The TIC had closed again in November 2020 and January 2021 and was preparing to re-open on 12th April
· The TIC is self-funded with running costs of approximately £12,000 per annum and no longer receives a financial contribution from EDDC
· Renting out the beach huts had raised significant income for the TIC in previous years due to their popularity
· Beach huts have been rented out on a daily or weekly basis, often by local holiday accommodation providers and play a vital role in promoting tourism
· Plans were in place to produce a town guide and grant funding had been received to update the TIC website
· The loss of the rental income from the beach huts would significantly impact the revenue for the TIC
Ward members for Budleigh made the following points:
· Providing short term lets was an important tourism offer and supported local holiday businesses
· There had been no tourism since May 2020 and no need for the TIC during the intervening period
· EDDC had not attempted to contact the director of the TIC and had not involved the TIC in consultation
· Ward members had also not been contacted for information regarding the position of the TIC
· The Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment had not consulted ward members on the proposed changes and no stakeholder discussion had taken place
· Notifying members of the changes by way of the weekly email lacked openness and transparency
· Recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown will rely on tourism and visitor footfall
· The TIC had worked very hard to obtain external financial support and to cut costs by relying on volunteers
· Lack of local consultation was disgraceful
· The ability to offer short term lets of the beach huts had a wider impact than just generating income for the local economy
Comments from non-members of the Committee included the following points:
· There is a long waiting list for use of the beach huts which includes local people ... view the full minutes text for item 145.
This item had been deferred from the previous meeting and was presented by the Deputy Monitoring Officer.
Comments from the Committee members highlighted the following:
· The figure for voluntary turnover of leavers had reduced from previous years which was viewed very positively
· Officers were thanked for their work during the very difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic
· Regarding the number of working days lost due to sickness absence, the Deputy Monitoring Officer would circulate the figures after the meeting
That the Quarterly Monitoring of Performance – Quarter 3 2020 – 21 be noted.
Proposal forms received:
1. The production of the Local Plan 2013-31 and Goodmores Farm
2. Playing Pitch Strategy
Members considered a proposal form submitted by Cllr Maddy Chapman on the production of the Local Plan 2013-31 and Goodmores Farm. Cllr Chapman introduced the proposal form and highlighted the following points:
· Issues and concerns with the development of the site had been ongoing for eight years
· There is a lack of community infrastructure on the site which comprises 16 affordable homes out of approximately 300 dwellings
· There was concern that trees and hedges are being removed from the site
Non-members of the Committee made the following points:
· It was noted that, under the Constitution, the Scrutiny Committee is not permitted to comment on planning site allocations, but that perhaps this should be reviewed
· The issue was with the public consultation process and this aspect should be scrutinised to learn lessons for the future
The Deputy Monitoring Officer confirmed that the Scrutiny Committee is precluded by law from scrutinising planning applications and queried the benefit of looking at the process for the Goodmores Farm application which had been upheld by the Planning Inspector previously.
The Service Lead for Planning advised that, in his view, the issue with the Goodmores Farm site was with the viability of the development and that this may explain why the site does not meet the ward members’ and community’s expectations in terms of infrastructure delivery. The process for ensuring that development is viable and deliverable is prescribed by planning legislation and policies in the Local Plan. It was noted that, with regard to learning lessons for the future, legislation has changed since the current Local Plan was adopted and now requires greater scrutiny of the viability and deliverability of developments at the point of allocation through the Local Plan process. If the Committee was minded to proceed with the proposal, careful scoping would be needed to ensure that the Committee remained within its legal remit.
In response to a question, the Service Lead for Planning advised that open book viability appraisals are already required and that Goodmores Farm would have been subject to this requirement under the current policy framework.
Cllr Chapman recommended to the Committee to scrutinise the different steps that were taken with regard to Goodmores Farm and the subsequent issues with this development in order to understand what had gone wrong.
Cllr Olly Davey proposed that the Committee requests the Service Lead for Planning to bring a report to the Strategic Planning Committee to consider the lessons to be learned from the Goodmores Farm development, with particular reference to the role of public consultation and historic site allocations.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised the Committee to consider requesting the Service Lead for Planning to bring a scoping report back to Scrutiny to ensure that any work undertaken was in line with the Committee’s requirements.
The Service Lead for Planning suggested that a report could scrutinise how the allocations within the Local Plan come to fruition through the planning process and how policies in the Local Plan are translated into the delivery of ... view the full minutes text for item 147.