of the Meeting of the
Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 9th December 2008
held at the Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Meeting Commenced: 3.30 p.m. Meeting Concluded: 4.50 p.m.
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
A: Apologies for absence submitted
Also in attendance: Councillors Ann Harley, David Jolley, Reyna Knight and Tom Leimdorfer
Officers in attendance: Phil Hall (Director of Finance and Resources), Karuna Tharmananthar (Development and Environment), Russ Currie (Development and Environment),David Jellings (Corporate Services Unit), Jo Gadegaard (Corporate Services Unit), Michael Reep (Development and Environment)
Declarations of Interest by Members (Agenda Item 3)
There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes of the Meeting held on 24th November 2008 (Agenda Item 4.1)
Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting be approved as a correct record.
SPE Portishead Open Air Pool Working Group Report (Agenda Item 6.1)
Councillor Tony Moulin, Chairman of the working group presented the report. The group sought to complement and further develop the information and ideas presented by the Portishead Open Air Pool Review Panel’s report to the Executive on 28th October 2008.
The Panel had received the answers to the questions raised by Councillor Tim Marter of the Review Panel at the meeting of the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel on 2nd December 2008 (a copy of the answers has been placed in the signed minute book). The Panel had also received recent information from the Trustees of the Portishead Pool Community Trust regarding open air pools, economic viability, and the review process.
Councillor Moulin thanked the members of the working group for their diligence and vigour. He thanked also residents of Portishead, the Portishead Pool Community Trust, and officers for their contributions.
The Panel was informed that the report supported the original view that the level of financial subsidy was not sustainable, and did not provide value for money. However, the working group considered that closing the pool would be costly, whilst transferring the pool to a community trust would provide savings compared to the status quo. The working group having regard to the benefits of the pool to both the Portishead community and the wider district, concluded that the transfer to a trust could provide excellent value for money. Reference was made to the economic viability of pools operated successfully by community trusts elsewhere in England.
Some Panel Members expressed concern about the efficiency and the level of performance regarding the operation of the current contract. Reference was made also to the difficulty in understanding the financial information provided by the contractor.
Discussion took place regarding site security, and in particular, the provision of either a hard cover or soft cover to prevent unwarranted access to the pool. In response to a member’s query, the representative of the Director of Development and Environment advised that as the owner of the pool, the Council could be held viable if a fatality occurred. Liability would still be retained by the Council even if the running of the pool was transferred to a third party.
Concluded: that the proposals recommended by the Portishead Open Air Pool Working Group be endorsed and it is therefore
Recommended to the Executive:
(1) that the Executive explores the possibility of involving a not-for-profit community based trust in operating the Portishead Open Air Pool, either by transferring the asset to a trust or by setting up a partnership between the council and a trust;
(2) that the Executive initiates talks with interested parties in the community with a view to setting up a not-for-profit community trust;
(3) that the Executive introduces a decreasing sliding scale subsidy to support the trust during its first three years of operation;
(4) that the Executive produces a Swimming Pool Strategy for North Somerset by April 2009 to help review the management of assets, consider how pools should be provided in the future and plan for such provision. Leisure and sports facilities may not be statutory, but they are very important to residents. There is a need to ensure measures are identified in order to deliver well-maintained, modern and inviting facilities.
(5) that the Executive explores how it can work with private businesses and interested parties in the community to improve the appeal and profitability of our leisure centres.
SPE The Core Strategy and Urban Extensions to Weston-super-Mare and
42 in Yanley – Interim Report (Agenda Item 6.2)
The Panel considered a second interim report that supplemented the first by looking at additional aspects of the urban extensions, as well as parts of the core strategy dealing with other aspects of future development in North Somerset, such as settlement hierarchy and visions for the area.
The Panel members and other members in attendance commented on the report as follows.
It was considered that the section headed “Settlement Hierarchy” should be expanded and clarified.
It was considered also that appropriate infrastructure including employment opportunities needed to be put in place prior to housing development. It was commented also, with particular regard to bus services, that improvements in transport were required
A Member commented that research showed that proper management of wetland areas would absorb carbon not release it, thereby contributing to carbon reduction.
There was concern that appropriate consultation took place, particularly with stakeholders.
Members were also concerned that North Somerset may be required to take up an additional 1,500 houses earmarked for Bristol.
The representatives of the Director of Development and Environment advised that the report was work in progress. The consideration by the Panel was part of a wider long-term process that involved challenging the Regional Spatial Strategy and developing the Council’s Core Strategy. The Executive in February 2009 would receive a report and be asked to decide on the preferred option for consultation. This would be the next formal opportunity for stakeholders to input into the process.
The officers commented that it was important that the Council‘s plans for development underwent a rigorous and robust process and analysis and be able to provide deliverable options, and demonstrate why particular patterns of development were deemed sustainable.
(1) that the recommendations of the Urban Extensions Working Group be endorsed and referred to the Executive for consideration and action;
(2) that the Working Group continues its investigations and reports back with a full report in February 2009.
Recommended to the Executive:
(1) that the Executive considers the following recommendations of the Urban Extensions Working Group alongside the preferred option for the Council’s Core Strategy:
(i) that the Council:
(a) introduces carbon-neutral developments from 2011 rather than 2016;
(b) insists that permeable surfaces are put in at an early stage;
(c) introduces locally based combined heat and power plants using waste materials in the two urban extensions;
(d) takes extra care to ensure our urban design provides a high quality design with excellent public space and adequate car parking designed so it doesn’t dominating the street scene;
(e) considers providing “Lifetime Homes”, dwellings that can be altered to meet people’s needs throughout life;
(ii) that officers’ suggestion for North Somerset’s settlement hierarchy and
visions for the area’s towns are endorsed with the following additions, and that this section be expanded to provide greater clarity:
For Weston super Mare:
that future development is not only employment led, but also “infrastructure led”;
an aim to ‘beautify’ the town, particularly around the gateway to the town centre (around Weston super Mare train station);
an aim to establish the town as a vibrant and welcoming cultural centre – that we focus on cultural development in addition to increasing quality employment opportunities;
that we consider choosing and developing an iconic area to help shape the town’s character, for example the sea front.
that in the short-to-medium term future, the residents will have access to appropriate infrastructure, including rail.
an aim to develop the place into a market town, providing something different to our costal towns (Portishead, Clevedon and Weston super Mare);
(iii) that the working group’s concerns about the future possibilities of increasing railway capacity are noted;
(2) that the Executive reports back to the Panel at its meeting on 9 February 2009 with a response to the recommendations.