Minutes

of the Meeting of the

Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel

Monday, 27th April 2009

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

 

Meeting Commenced:3.30 p.m.†† Meeting Concluded: 5.20 p.m.

 

Councillors:

 

PClive Webb (Chairman)

PDavid Pasley (Vice-Chairman)

 

PBob Cook

PJill Iles

PEdward Keating

PDr. Mike Kellaway-Marriott

PKeith Morris

PTony Moulin

 

 

P: Present

A: Apologies for absence submitted

 

Officers in attendance: Marian Barber (Development and Environment), David Jellings (Corporate Services Unit), Jo Gadegaard (Corporate Services Unit), Jon Haswell (Finance and Resources), Colin Medus (Development and Environment), Graham Quick (Development and Environment), Michael Reep (Development and Environment), Jane Vivian (Development and Environment)

 

SPE

63

Declarations of Interest by Members

 

There were no declarations of interest.

 

SPE

64

Minutes of the Meeting held on 16th March 2009 (Agenda Item 4.1)

 

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

SPE 65

Strategic Risk Register (EXE 115) (Agenda Item 5.1)

 

The Panel considered this reference from the Executive Meeting of 17th February 2009, together with a report from the Director of Finance and Resources regarding the strategic risks that came within the Panelís remit, with the proposal that the most effective way to monitor and review these risks be considered in liaison with the Audit Committee.

 

The representative of the Director of Finance and Resources highlighted the key points of the report, with particular reference to the six risks that came within the Panelís remit.

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment clarified that the risk identified as Transport Network was broader than just public transport, and related to the whole transport network in North Somerset. This included risks over which the Council had little or no control.

 

Members were keen that drainage and flooding was investigated as a strategic risk, and they were concerned that the expertise of the Internal Drainage Boards with regard to drainage and flooding risk assessments was not lost.

 

Members enquired why drainage and flooding was identified as a new risk.

 

The representative of the Director of Finance and Resources advised that previously severe flooding was deemed an unlikely risk. However, following the major flood incidents in places such as Gloucester, Cheltenham and Hull, and arising from the final report of the Pitt Review on Learning Lessons from the 2007 Floods, drainage and flooding were now considered to be a severe risk.

 

Concluded:

 

(1)         that the Audit Committee be requested to investigate Drainage and Flooding as a strategic risk, and to invite the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel to the Committeeís relevant risk review meeting;

 

(2)         that the Audit Committee be requested to provide feedback to this Panel on the completion of the above investigation;

 

(3)         that it is recommended that the expertise of the Internal Drainage Boards be engaged in drainage and flooding risk assessments ;

 

(4)         that this Panel be informed of changes to the risk scores.

 

SPE 66

Work Plan Ė Bus Service No 121 (CAY 64) (Agenda Item 5.2)

 

The Panel received this reference from the meeting of the Children and Young Peopleís Policy and Scrutiny Panel of 18th March 2009.

 

A briefing paper provided by the Director of Development and Environment informed the Panel that following a tendering exercise, a decision was taken by the Council to award contracts to continue the route 121. The service would now be operated by First Bus on Mondays to Saturdays and Bakers Coaches on Sunday and Bank Holiday. The new contract would operate from 10th May 2009. The travelling public would notice little difference as timetables and route frequencies were almost identical. The route 121 would be monitored throughout the summer months before a decision was taken to let a longer term contracts as part of the Councilís review of supported bus service in 2009/10.

 

The Panel requested and received information on other supported bus services.

 

It was reported that the number 4 Weston Hillside service would continue, albeit with a slightly varied route that would enable young people from Hutton to get to Broadoak School and Weston College.

 

It was reported also that North Somerset Coaches would support service 600 from Nailsea to Cribbs Causeway, although this would be on Mondays and Fridays only, and using a slightly different route.

 

The Panel was informed that Children and Young Peopleís Services were helping to support the replacement service for the 7A route.

 

Members expressed their pleasure at the prompt and effective action taken.

 

Concluded: that the reference and briefing paper be noted.

SPE

67

Finance and Performance Monitoring 2008/09 (as at 31st December 2009 (Quarter 3) (Agenda Item 5.3)

 

The Panel received a reference from the Executive of 24th March 2009.

 

Concluded: that the report be noted.

SPE 68

Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (EXE 142) (Agenda Item 5.4)

 

The Panel considered this reference from the Executive Meeting of 24th March 2009 that invited all Policy/Overview and Scrutiny Panels, Town and Parish Councils and the North Somerset Partnership (NSP) partners to put forward for consideration proposals that promoted sustainable communities and ďwell-beingĒ.

 

Concluded: that in order to better informed to consider the subject matter,

the Panel receive a brief presentation on Sustainable Communities Act 2007 at its next meeting.

SPE

69

The Panelís Work Plan (Agenda Item 6) and Discussion and/or Short Presentations on the Following Topics for Possible Inclusion in The Work Plan

 

The Panel considered the topics below for possible inclusion in its work plan as current areas for investigation.

 

The Chairman asked the Panel to agree on two or three areas for investigation, having regard to officer capacity to support the investigations, and the need for scrutiny to be focused and effective.

 

(a)   Employment and Economic Development

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment, to help inform the Panelís discussion, presented an update on the statutory and non-statutory components of this topic. This included - Employment Land Review, Local Economic Assessment, workshops (how NSC can respond to the recession), Local Economy Monitoring Paper, service level agreement with North Somerset Enterprise Agency to support business start-ups, Business Survey, business enquiry follow up, marketing and promotional activity, and main areas of Ready4Work.

 

(b)   Parking (off-street and on-street)

 

It was reported that following the Executive meeting in February 2009, consultation had commenced with relevant Town Councils regarding the extension of off-street car parking fees. The Executive had not supported theextension of parking charges to seven additional car parks in Nailsea and Clevedon.

 

Panel Members considered that this topic included off-street parking in town centres outside Weston, and the Councilís Parking Strategy (investigating whether a low cost transferred parking services system is possible), but not a register of applications for disabled parking bays.

 

Members were keen with regard to enforcement that road markings equated to traffic regulation orders and vice-versa. It was commented also that many road markings had faded, and this also undermined enforcement.

 

(c)   Improving the carbon footprint

 

Members considered that if this was to be an area for current investigation, the initial focus should be on the Councilís carbon footprint, prior to possible wider investigation.

 

(d)   Highways Maintenance

 

Councillor Cook advised that the Roads Maintenance Working Group was keen to continue and complete its work with regards to (i) the pricing structure used by contractors for charging the Council for highways maintenance and whether this represented value for money and (ii) public rights of way and footpaths maintenance.

 

Panel Members suggested that the issue of road markings referred to above under (b) would be better considered by the Roads Maintenance Working Group.

 

(e)         Working closer with the private sector to improve the Councilís leisure facilities

 

The Chairman commented that a significant number of people used the Councilís leisure facilities, and more should be done to better utilise these assets.

 

The Panel, with regard to the capacity to support investigations, expressed concern that at the pending departure of one of the two Scrutiny and Performance Officers.

 

Following discussion, it was

 

Concluded:

 

(1)   that the following topics be included on the Panelís Work Plan as areas

for current investigation Ė

 

Working closely with the private sector to improve the Councilís leisure facilities

Improving the Councilís carbon footprint

Highways Maintenance- (i) the pricing structure used by contractors for charging the Council for highways maintenance and whether this represented value for money,(ii) public rights of way and footpaths maintenance and (iii)road markings);

 

(2)          that Employment and Economic Development and Parking not be included on the Panelís Work Plan but that the Panel update reports for consideration as and when appropriate;

 

(3)   that the Panelís Work Plan be updated accordingly.

 

(Note: the Panel at its next meeting will determine the timescales of the investigations and agree the Members to be involved)

SPE 70

Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan (Agenda Item 7.1)

 

The Panel considered a report on the Town Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options document that identified the Councilís preferred planning policy approach to the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare Town Centre. The representative of the Director of Development and Environment highlighted the salient points of the report, including the main objectives of the Plan, the sub-areas and priority sites.

 

The Panel also received a powerpoint presentation on the following matters and which augmented the report (a copy has been placed on the signed minute book, and would be include on the Councilís website) -

 

(i)                 Timescales and Plan Production Process

(ii)               Seafront

        Improve the quality and appearance of the built environment and capitalise on the qualities of the coastal setting

        Be a focus for leisure and tourist related uses

        Strengthen connections between the seafront and retail core

(iii)             Retail Core

             Focus for retail led-development

             Encourage a wide mix of uses which will increase the viability and vitality of the town

             Improve connections between the retail core and seafront

(iv)              Gateway Area

             Area lacks any identity or distinctive features

             A number of key sites which are vacant, under used or used for surface level car parking

             Car dominated environment intersected by the main arterial route into the town centre, and two roundabouts

             Poor pedestrian environment with barriers to pedestrian movement such as the railway line, large development blocks, main roads, etc

             Lack of connectivity between the gateway area and the town centre

             Poor quality public realm

(v)                Gateway and A370 Corridor

                     Enhance the appearance of the A370 Corridor and gateway into the town centre

                     Intensify development on priority sites

                     Focus for office-led mixed use development

                     Further retail uses will not be appropriate in this area

(vi)              Next Steps

                     Consultation on the Area Action Plan from 13th July to 21st August

                     Consideration of the responses

                     Formal consultation on the Publication Document in 2010 following consultation on the Core Strategy.

 

Panel Members commented on:-

 

(a)   The need to determine the level of contamination of the Gas Works site, and the level of work required to deal with it;

(b)   The need to address the issue of access to and egress from the Tesco site by delivery vehicles;

(c)   Who would be responsible for developing the Avoncrest site?

(d)   Connectivity Ė The importance having regard to green infrastructure and transport. The possible scope for small parks and reserved areas for wildlife.

(e)   The provision of higher grade office jobs.

 

Concluded: that the officers take on board the comments of the Panel on the policies and proposals in the Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options document, as set out in the preamble above.

SPE 71

Post of Historic Environment Records Officer (SPE 56, 16th March 2009) (Agenda Item 7.2)

 

The Panel was informed that the Executive Member was in receipt of the Panelís comments and recommendations, and the comments of the Yatton, Cleve and Congresbury Archaeological Research Team on this matter. He would be discussing the matter with the Director of Development and Environment and a full response would be submitted to the Panelís first meeting in 2009/10.

 

Concluded: that the report be noted.

SPE

72

Jo Gadegaard, Scrutiny and Performance Officer

 

The Chairman advised that this was Jo Gadegaardís last meeting of this Panel, prior to her leaving the Council to take up a post in her homeland Denmark.

 

Panel Members thanked Jo for her support and advice, and wished her well.

 

 

 

 

 

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