Minutes

of the Meeting of the

Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel

Monday, 6th October 2008

held at the Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

 

Meeting Commenced:  3.30 p.m.   Meeting Concluded: 5.28 p.m.

 

Councillors:

 

P  Clive Webb (Chairman)

P  David Pasley (Vice-Chairman)

 

P  Bob Cook 

P  Jill Iles 

P  Edward Keating 

P  Dr. Mike Kellaway-Marriott 

P  Keith Morris 

P  Tony Moulin 

 

 

P: Present

A: Apologies for absence submitted

 

Also in attendance: Councillors Peter Bryant, Andy Cole, Ann Harley and Alan McMurray

 

Officers in attendance: David Jellings (Corporate Services Unit), Jo Gadegaard (Corporate Services Unit), Karuna Tharmananthar (Development and Environment), Michael Reep (Development and Environment)

 

SPE 23 Public Discussion (Agenda Item 1)

 

            (1) Annette Hennessy – Portishead Open Air Pool

 

            Annette Hennessy addressed the Panel on behalf of herself and Tonia Corless and Friends of Portishead Open Air Pool.  She requested that incorrect entries in the Review Panel report and in the background papers be retracted.

 

            There was concern that a four week deadline had been imposed for the scrutiny process. A request to extend the timeframe was requested to ensure due process to take place and allow an extensive investigation, and that public consultation should form part of the review process. In addition, it was commented that because of discrepancies and inconsistent data, the Review Panel report and the background papers did not contain evidence to support the comments of the Review Panel. A further concern was lack of easy accessibility to the background papers.

 

It was emphasised that the process should not be rushed to meet Executive timescales for budget strategy, and that a decision by the Executive in October should be deferred.

 

The Panel was advised that a copy of the response to the Review Panel report by the Friends of Portishead Pool would be submitted.

 

(A full copy of the address to the Panel has been placed in the signed minute book).

 

(2) Debbie Flint – Portishead Open Air Pool

 

Ms Flint spoke in support of keeping open Portishead Open Air Pool. She expressed concern that the Review Panel report made little mention of the trust option, and requested that a decision on the future of the Pool be deferred to enable this option to be explored. Reference was made to the possible interest of English Heritage.

 

(3) Dr June Humphreys – Portishead Open Air Pool

 

Dr Humphreys considered that the report lacked clarity, and that it did not necessarily follow that the Pool should be closed. Particular reference was made to the need for a thorough statistical analysis. It was considered that the graphs contained in the Review Panel report did not show a correlation between attendance and hours of attendance. The report was considered to be flawed, and lacking a proper cost-benefit analysis.

 

(4) Mr V Watkinson – Portishead Open Air Pool

 

Mr Watkinson said that he spoke on behalf of swimmers in general. He considered that the Council was primarily seeking to realise a financial asset.

 

(5) Kate Eastoe – Portishead Open Air Pool

 

Ms Eastoe spoke in support of Portishead Open Air Pool. She commented that closure of the Pool was not a solution, and that other option should be explored. Reference was made to the success of a trust managed pool in Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond.

 

SPE

24    

Declarations of Interest by Members (Agenda Item 3)

 

There were no declarations of interest.

 

SPE

25    

Minutes of the Meeting held on 1st September 2008 (Agenda Item 4.1)

 

            Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting be approved as a correct record.

 

SPE

26    

Review Panel Report on Portishead Open Air Pool (Agenda Item 6.3)

 

The Panel considered a report which presented the findings of the Review Panel chaired by the Deputy Leader, set up to examine and evaluate the options to reduce the Council’s net expenditure on Portishead Open Air Pool.

 

The report would also be considered by the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel on 21st October 2008.

 

Members of the Panel and local members commented as follows.

 

There was concern that the Review Panel had taken five months to produce the report, but was allowing only seventeen working days for a response to be made, prior to the matter being considered by the Executive. This allowed very little time for thorough and effective scrutiny to be carried out by the Joint Working Group of the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel and the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel. It was proposed that a request be made for the timescale for scrutinising the Review Panel’s report to be extended by up to four months to allow time for thorough scrutiny to take place. It was suggested that in the absence of the Deputy Leader, that the request be referred to the Leader for action.

 

Panel Members considered also that more time was needed to analyse the background papers supporting the Review Panel report, and that the objectives required clarification.

 

Members raised also the need for a more rigorous statistical analysis, and that clarification was required on matters such as what level of funding would be required for the trust option to be viable, and the expenditure necessary to bring the Pool up to standard.

 

The Chairman reported that arrangements had been made for the background papers to be available in Portishead Library for inspection.

 

It was reported also that the first meeting of the Joint Working Group of the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel and the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny would take place on Wednesday, 8th October 2008.

 

Concluded:

 

(1) that the Executive be recommended to extend the timescale for scrutinising the Portishead Open Air Pool Review Panel report by up to four months to allow time for full and thorough scrutiny to take place, .including the issues raised by Members in the preamble above;

 

(2) that this minute be reported to the meeting of the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel on 21st October 2008;

 

(3) that Councillor David Jolley be appointed to the Joint Working Group on Portishead Open Air Pool.

SPE

27    

Quarter 1 – Finance and Performance Monitoring 2008/09 (Agenda Item 5.1)

 

The Panel received a reference from the Executive of 9th September 2008 (Minute EXE 42) inviting Panel to consider whether to investigate any areas of performance as part of its work plan.

 

It was noted that were no areas of under performance within the Panel’s remit, and that the Panel already had a full work plan.

 

Concluded: that the report be noted.

SPE

28    

Urban Extensions to Weston-super-Mare and in Yanley Interim Report and Discussion on the Core Strategy/Urban Extensions (Agenda Item 6.1)

 

The Panel considered an interim report of the Urban Extensions Working Group setting out several recommendations about how developments should be approached based on best-practice developments elsewhere in the country.

 

The Working Group had invited the Panel to endorse the recommendations, so that the Executive would be able to consider them alongside the preferred option for the Council’s Core Strategy.

 

The Panel was also asked to agree that the Working Group continue its investigations and report back with a full report to the Panel.

 

Panel Members commented as follows.

 

Councillor Moulin referred to a document recently produced by Bristol City Council which suggested that there was insufficient funding available to carry out the competing demands for improvement. He commented that the West of England Partnership’s assumptions on housing provision should be challenged, particularly in the current economic climate. It was important to set high standards and seek better quality build and design.

 

Councillor Moulin referred also to the recommendations to the Executive. With reference to being “in the driver’s seat, one step ahead of developers, this was considered to be critical, and he added that it would be useful to have a design code that the Council could use as a management tool. It needed to make clear to developers the Council’s firm stance on the Green Belt.

 

Councillors Morris and Dr Kellaway-Marriott concurred that it should be made clear to the Government that North Somerset considered that  9,000 additional houses in the district was excessive, and that the provision of employment and other supporting infrastructure must precede housing.

 

Councillor Dr Kellaway-Marriott referred to the Members’ visit to Poundbury,  and expressed the view that cars dominated the street scene as much as anywhere else.  He also commented that “taster tickets” for public transport to promote sustainable transport for new residents, would work only if there was a guaranteed effective public transport system. He added that he had assumed that cycle and pedestrian links were provided automatically on new developments. Councillor Dr Kellaway-Marriott also commented that the Council insist on the provision of master plans by developers.

 

The Vice-Chairman considered that greater emphasis needed to be given to more exciting and innovative designs such as development next to waterways.

 

It was agreed that the report should include reference to “homes zones”.

 

The representatives of the Director of Development and Environment responded to Members’ comments and queries. 

 

Concluded:

 

(1) that the Executive be requested to consider the recommendations of the Urban Extensions Working Group as set on pages 10 –12 of the report having regard to Panel Members’ comments, queries and concerns as set in the preamble above;

 

(2) that the Executive requested to consider the recommendations as revised alongside the preferred option for the Council’s Core Strategy;

 

(3) that the Executive be requested to report back to the Panel within three months with a response to the recommendations;

 

(4) that the Panel agrees that the Urban Extensions Working Group continues its investigations and report back with a full report in December 2008.

SPE

29    

Section 106 Monies (Agenda Item 6.2)

 

The Panel considered a report which set the response of the Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Transport to further recommendations of this Panel and the Finance and Performance Policy and Scrutiny Panel regarding Section 106 agreements.

 

The report would be considered also by the Finance and Performance Policy and Scrutiny Panel on 5th November 2008.

 

Panel Members commented as follows.

 

The Vice-Chairman expressed disappointment at the length of time it had taken to report back to the two Panels.

 

There was concern that the database would not be finalised until October 2008 when it had originally been promised for September 2008.

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment advised that officers from Development and Environment, Legal Services, Finance and IT were working together and making progress to populate the database.

 

Councillor Iles reported that she had spoken with the Director of Finance and Resources, who had indicated that the database would be available by late October 2008.

 

Members were keen to know what was happening with regard to the matter of developers’ contributions.

 

Members queried when local members would be consulted at the pre-application stage.

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment advised that the issue of how to get Members involved at the pre-application stage was being addressed. He commented that it was important that there was a clear and proper protocol, to ensure those Members’ right to participate at the planning application stage.

 

Councillor Morris advised that he was still awaiting information he had requested on Section 106 schemes in Weston-super-Mare.

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment undertook to check and to respond to Councillor Morris. The information was available but currently, was not in a very user-friendly format.

 

In response to Members, the representative of the Director of Development and Environment advised that the current economic situation would have an impact on pending Section 106 agreements, but where agreements had been implemented, developers would be held to the terms of those agreements.

 

Discussion focused also on community engagement.

 

A Panel Member commented that an open and transparent system was required which would community views to be fed in at the appropriate time.

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment asked Members to let him have their views on how to make community engagement more productive.

 

A Member referred to the Executive responses to recommendations 1 and 8 in particular, and considered that the Panel was not being sufficient information to scrutinise. It was commented also that there was no mention of expiry dates.

 

Concluded:

 

(1) that the comments of the Panel and the issues raised be referred to the  Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Transport;

 

(2) that the Section 106 Monies Working Group look at the issue of a Members’ protocol in terms of pre-application discussion;

 

(3) that this minute be referred for information to the Finance and Performance Policy and Scrutiny Panel

 

 

 

 

                                                                                    ________________________________

                                                                                                                Chairman

                                                                                    ________________________________