The Assistant Director Place, Assets and Commercialisation provided clarification and response to questions from Members in relation to the service plan for the service for 2023-24.
The service plan for the coming year included:
· Commence delivery of priority actions adopted through the new Asset Management Plan to be adopted Spring 2023.
· Support delivery of the Leisure Strategy.
· Delivery of terms of reference and Placemaking Strategy for Exmouth.
· Commence implementation of a Place & Prosperity Fund to be adopted Summer 2023.
· Supporting towns and other communities with the Shared Prosperity Fund, Place & Prosperity Fund and Levelling Up.
· Deliver outcomes of the Public Toilets Review.
· Complete lease to Seaton Tramway of Seaton Jurassic, with associated documentation.
· Undertake a review of depot provision.
· To increase awareness of what is meant by the term Placemaking and facilitate a discussion on this topic and what opportunities are available within East Devon to enable Placemaking outcomes.
· Complete lease to NHS of surplus 1st floor offices at Exmouth Town Hall.
· Agree and report on Performance Indicators through Asset Management Forum.
· Using carbon footprint data of building assets as a baseline, introduce a mechanism for capturing details of works undertaken to buildings to evidence progress towards net zero.
Clarification and responses included:
· Key areas of focus are i) placemaking, and in particular finding solutions for stalled employment sites; and ii) improving energy efficiency and sustainability of the Council’s buildings.
· In terms of the let portfolio, there is natural churn and when properties become vacant they are usually re-let easily; there is not a problem with voids or the payment of rents.
· Discussions with town and parish councils concerning the transfer of public toilets have been challenging; however, Heads of Terms were agreed by Members and included in the consultation, and it is not intended to re-write them. Regular updates are provided to members of Cabinet and can be circulated more widely to Members.
· In terms of placemaking strategy for the district’s towns other than Exmouth, the starting point is what are the opportunities in those towns; there are fewer opportunities in towns where the Council controls fewer assets. A similar project to the Axe Valley study is being rolled out under Shared Prosperity Funding and if opportunities are identified through this study, then the Council can consider how to deliver them.
· The Beer pilot around community asset transfer has been very complex due to the nature of the assets concerned, and learnings have been taken from it. Community asset transfer is a key piece of work and moving forward, it will be important to identify at the outset what is achievable and to decide whether it is practical.
· The service is working on creating an asset register containing useful relevant information other than just what the Council owns, and an update on this work will be provided to Asset Management Forum in March.
· At point 3.3 on the service plan, ‘deliver terms of reference and placemaking strategy for Exmouth’ refers not to terms of reference for the Placemaking in Exmouth Town and Seafront Group, but to decisions around the priorities for Exmouth as a place, following the consultation and identification of themes and characteristics, and what projects will be taken forward.
· The wording concerning Broadclyst Leisure Centre at 3.2 in the service plan is lifted from the newly adopted Leisure Strategy.
· A Member asked that the service plan includes specific reference to the site at Websters Garage, Axminster within the first priority listed under section 3.1.
· Electricity costs for the Council’s buildings have increased considerably, and the service has reviewed the tariffs that the buildings are on. Work is being done through the capital programme with a view to making efficiency savings but as many of the Council’s buildings are quite small, opportunities for financial savings from solar panels are quite limited. The biggest opportunities for carbon and financial savings from solar panels relate to leisure sites, but as utilities are paid for by LED, there is not a financial benefit directly to EDDC.
Recommended to Cabinet by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees that the Service Plan 2023-24 for the Place, Assets and Commercialisation service be adopted subject to an amendment within the first priority listed under section 3.1 to make specific reference to the site at Websters Garage, Axminster.