The Strategic Lead Governance and Licensing provided clarification and response to questions from Members in relation to the service plan for the service for 2022-23. He informed Members of the following additional information not included in the published service plan:
· There were 4 taxi licence suspensions during the year due to public safety;
· The average response time for Freedom of Information requests is 11 working days;
· A slight change to objectives around reducing the carbon footprint, that enforcement visits will be coordinated to ensure the carbon footprint is minimised when travelling for enforcement purposes.
The service plan for the coming year included:
· Continuing to secure affordable housing through planning and property transactions;
· Providing timely advice and support in relation to site acquisitions and repurposing, to support provision of affordable housing, in conjunction with the Housing Task Force;
· Progressing the Member Development Working Group and completing a review of the Member Development/Training and the Member Induction Programmes to inform preparation for May 2023. In a consultation exercise, the public would be asked for their views on what training should be mandatory for Members and whether what is in the Code of Conduct is adequate;
· The Council’s approach to meetings; the government had not legislated for virtual meetings and this Council had responded to a consultation exercise but irrespective of the outcome, there would be some work involved in facilitating virtual, in-person or hybrid meetings.
The Portfolio Holder for Council and Corporate Coordination thanked the Strategic Lead Governance and Licensing and acknowledged the work necessary to facilitate meetings, in whatever form, going forward. He commented on the importance of training for officers and members in understanding governance issues.
The Portfolio Holder for Democracy, Transparency and Communications thanked the Democratic Services team for their support with the development of the Member training and induction programmes.
The Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment offered thanks to the Licensing team for doing a wonderful job, and to the Strategic Lead Governance and Licensing and his team, for their work over a challenging year.
Clarification and responses included:
· A Member commented they would like to see suggested timescales for the review of the Community Infrastructure Levy regime, and hoped it would be completed before the end of the Council term. The Strategic Lead Governance and Licensing commented that the objective was around supporting the strategic development planning function and did not have an end date but he would add, as a timescale, the end of the Council year;
· It was a Member’s understanding that the governance review included in the plan had been shelved and cancelled. The Strategic Lead Governance and Licensing stated that it had not been possible to go to other Councils to see them in operation, due to the pandemic, and the Government Working Partnership would need to consider how it wanted to proceed with this objective;
· It was commented that some committees were advisory and should continue to hold their meetings virtually irrespective of whether the government legislates for hybrid or remote meetings. A Member expressed that virtual meetings facilitated greater participation and public engagement;
· Responding to a request for clarification, it was confirmed that within the key service objectives, reference to securing affordable housing was based on the government definition of the term. However, the objective of supporting the main Council ambition of affordable housing was more wide-ranging and went beyond the government definition, focusing on delivering what was affordable for the district.
Recommended to Cabinet by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees that the Service Plan 2022-23 for the Governance and Licensing service be adopted.