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Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer Tel: 01392 265115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To approve and sign the minutes of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee held on 22 June 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2023 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.
Declaration of Interest
Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item. Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.
Councillor Ketchin declared a Discloseable Pecuniary Interest, as in submitting a question under Minute 62 (Questions from Members to the Portfolio Holder), he inadvertently had an interest as the intended response included a reference to his place of work. He withdrew from the room for this item whilst the matter was discussed.
Questions from Members of the Public Under Standing Order No.19
Details of questions should be notified to the Democratic Services Manager via the email@example.com email by 10.00am at least three working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting any questions must be submitted by 10.00am on Monday 18 September 2023.
For details about how to speak at Committee, please click the following link - https://exeter.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-meetings/public-speaking-at-meetings/overview/
No questions from members of the public were received.
Questions from Members of the Council Under Standing Order No.20
To receive questions from Members of the Council to the relevant Portfolio Holders for this Scrutiny Committee. The Portfolio Holders reporting to this Scrutiny Committee are:-
Councillor Bialyk - Leader
Councillor Morse - Portfolio Holder City Development
Councillor Parkhouse Portfolio Holder Climate and Ecological Crisis
Councillor Wood - Portfolio Holder Leisure Services and Physical Activity
Councillor Wright - Portfolio Holder, Culture and City Centre Strategy
Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders above should be notified to the Democratic Services Manager.
In accordance with Standing Order No.20 a number of questions were submitted and circulated in advance to Portfolio Holders, and asked at the meeting. The questions were grouped together and set out in bold and responses in italics as below -
Questions to the Portfolio Holder Climate and Ecological Crisis Councillor Parkhouse
Councillor M Mitchell
Can the Portfolio Holder confirm whether she was asked to submit a Portfolio Holder Report to this Committee Meeting, and if so why has no report been submitted for scrutiny.
The report covering her Portfolio would have included much of the information in the Net Zero six monthly update. There was also a report being presented to the October meeting of the Executive that relates to much of her portfolio area.
Supplementary Comment and Response
The was disappointment that a report had not been produced, which would help the Committee in assisting the Portfolio Holder as well as the Executive in relation to portfolio matters.
In my previous portfolio of Leisure and Physical Activity there had been a delay in reporting but she was happy to come back to a future meeting in a following month. The deferral was in relation to the timing of this meeting and she understood that it had not been possible to seek a report from another Portfolio Holder for this meeting.
The City needs to have a renewed focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and have a serious dialogue about the need to and adapt to the impact of climate change - with deep consideration to the impacts on our people - especially in light of the widening inequality in the city and the impact on the local environment - both on land and water.
How do you think the work on Net Zero as a city can be made more transparent and accountable?
A report on city wide Net Zero is being brought to the Executive in October and that is the appropriate forum for this to be discussed.
Supplementary Question and Response
Do you have a view on how work on the city wide Net Zero can be made more transparent and accountable?
It was premature to have that discussion and after the report to the Executive there will be the opportunity to have a more informed discussion.
Do you view the Exeter Net Zero 2030 plan is fit for purpose, covering both carbon reduction, adaptation actions and giving consideration of the impacts on the most vulnerable and least well off in the city?
The Exeter Net Zero 2030 provides a roadmap to reduce city wide carbon emissions with many of the recommendations and actions still really relevant to the city. It was designed in consultation with residents and councillors through a consultation process. A report on city wide Net Zero is being brought to the Executive in October where the Net Zero city ambitions will be discussed. She added that as with every document it should be made more of a ... view the full minutes text for item 62.
To consider the report of the Director City Development.
The Chair advised that further consideration of the financial implications was required by SMB of any change in the policy relating to the Council’s digital equipment. It was suggested the report be presented to the March meeting of this Scrutiny Committee.
The Assistant Service Lead (Local Plan) referred to discussion at the June meeting of this Scrutiny Committee on corporate advertising matters. This report considers planning policy in relation to advertisements and consents and the scope of the emerging Exeter Plan policy relating to advertisements. The City Council determine planning applications relating to advertisement consent, but it is subject to specific and limited planning legislation on public safety and the effect on amenity.
In the existing adopted Local Plan First Review, a policy covers advertising consent. The emerging Exeter Local Plan will include a follow up policy which will replace the content of the current plan. The draft policy is proposed to consider location, scale, materials and lighting as well as the characteristics of historic buildings and the amenity factor. In relation to public safety, the highway network, the transport network and security systems could all be considered. Consultation on the Exeter Plan will take place in the autumn and will include the draft policy on advertising consent for comment.
The Assistant Service Lead (Local Plan) responded to Members’ comments in the following terms:-
· the current policy in relation to the frequency or cumulative impact of advertising is not specifically mentioned, but should be implicit in terms of the scale, location and materials.
· he had no information in relation to the bus shelter contract as this is not a planning matter, but he was aware that it was separately managed by Devon County Council and involved the City Council. He would check to establish if some bus shelters required planning permission and, similarly, whether some adverts may or may not require planning consent.
· the Exeter Plan could in future provide more information in relation to the style of lighting, down lighting or glare, and that was a legitimate consideration in terms of amenity.
· the scope of advertising stops in terms of the nature of the product being advertised, and the planning system could not control the product which was being advertised.
· the current policy does not just relate to the city centre but could be applied across the city. The location and proximity to vulnerable groupings could be a consideration.
· the policy should not be too prescriptive. Many councils do not have a policy because the controls to advertising are set out so strictly at a national planning level.
· consideration of the impact of advertisements would differ depending on the hierarchy of the listed building. Impacts on non-listed buildings would still be a consideration in terms of the wider heritage factor.
· the sustainability appraisal was also part of a wide ranging assessment of the draft policies including advertising, but not on the number of digital advertisements that appear in the course of the Plan period. It includes carbon and many ... view the full minutes text for item 63.
To consider the report of the Director Net Zero and City Management.
The Service Lead Net Zero and Business presented the six monthly update on the work of the Net Zero Team to reduce the City Council’s carbon emissions and delivery of the City Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan, working toward the 2030 target. The updated Carbon Reduction Action Plan (v3.0) contained a combination of actions set out in the City Council’s Achieving Net Zero Report (2022), and further corporate decarbonisation measures in progress across the Council. The report also included an update of the City Council’s latest Carbon Footprint and GHG Inventory results for 2021/22. The Action Plan was used as the team’s work programme. Of note was the 6% reduction of 2,000 tonnes of co2 on the previous year.
The following work and projects were highlighted:-
· the relaunch of the environmental accreditation scheme, Green Accord to help the business community reduce their own carbon emissions. The Green Accord has been adopted by the UK Business Climate Hub and are working with Devon LA’s for adoption across the county.
· the team continue to support a number of groups in respect of the Devon Climate Emergency sharing best practice with other public sector organisations across the County.
· carbon literacy training continues to be rolled out for officers and Members, and will mandatory for members.
· an electric vehicle strategy was being developed for the Council to enable a bid for funding to install EV charging points in the Council’s car parks from the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure fund (LEVI). Funding is through Tier 1 LA’s and is part of a collaborative county wide project.
· the South West Energy and Environment Group (SWEEG) have helped with a solar survey assessing 13 Council properties for the installation of solar panels, thereby offering energy security and reduced energy bills.
· a proposed study to understand the costs of achieving Net Zero by 2030 across the organisation is being commissioned. The Council will require additional external funding from either private investment, Central Government or any other sources.
· the Portfolio Holder and the Net Zero Manager had visited Bristol City Council to share best practice in relation to Net Zero.
· £6.4 million funding had been secured from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund for the RAMM and the Riverside Leisure Centre, contractors have been commissioned to carry out the work.
· the Housing Team have been successful in achieving a Green Homes grant to continue to retrofit homes around the city.
The Service Lead Net Zero and Business responded to the following questions from Councillors Read and Moore which had been submitted in advance:-
Questions from Councillor Read
A Government grant of £1.49m via the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund has been secured for 2023 through to 2025. The funding award represents 43% of the estimated retrofit costs, with the remaining 57% of £1.998m funded by the City Council. Assuming this is all spent on retrofitting the Council housing stock, what percentage ... view the full minutes text for item 64.
To consider the report of the Director Net Zero and City Management.
The Service Lead Net Zero & Business presented a six monthly update for Members on Exeter’s Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) allocation, which supports Building Pride in Place and Increasing Life Chances in Exeter. The report included an update of the original allocation of £1.4 million awarded from Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DHLUC). Shortlisting had taken place for a Project Manager for this Fund, the post being funded from the allocation awarded for administration and management. It was anticipated the post would be filled very soon.
A number of projects had been delayed as Year 1 funding was only signed off earlier in the summer, and DHLUC had agreed that a balance of the Year 1 award could be carried over. Projects were delivered in house, and contracted externally with appropriate service level agreements. Years 1 and 2 projects were noted:-
The following responses were given to Members’ comments:-
· some residual budget from a previous year support a number of roles in the project.
· in comparison to former European funding streams, she advised that funding levels compared with European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and from the European Social Fund (ESF) was considerably less. Funding was a competitive process and required a particular skills set.
· of the £1.4 million, 4% was allocated for administration.
· invitation for bids for the Shared Prosperity Fund to support delivering the levelling up agenda for Exeter was made during three consultation sessions which took place on line during Covid. A number of organisations across the city were invited to submit bids. The funding criteria from DLUHC is very prescriptive but any underspend from this year would be used to approach unsuccessful bids. Although not confirmed, if there will be a further SPF programme, it was more likely to form part of the Devolution deal around Devon and be administrated through the County Council/Combined Authority.
Strategic Scrutiny Committee noted the progress made in delivering Exeter’s Shared Prosperity Fund in Exeter and for a further report to be made in six months’ time.
To receive the report of the Scrutiny Programme Board.
The Chair, in the absence of the Chair of the Scrutiny Programme Board, presented the report which offered an annual update in respect of the progress and work of Scrutiny over the municipal year for 2022 – 2023. It was important to ensure there was the opportunity for Members of Scrutiny to set the work programme which could be done through the submission of scrutiny proposals (scrutiny proforma). The administrative process of the proformas received would continue to be forwarded to SMB for comment, with a review by the Scrutiny Programme Board to ensure timely programming.
Members made the following comments:-
· the Annual report should be considered as a live document rather than just a record of the activity. Further information such as the work and outcomes of any Task and Finish or working groups should be included as a separate entry or detailed in an appendix to see the scope of work carried out. The Homelessness Review was a particularly successful example of such work.
· the outcome of three historic scrutiny proposals on the subjects of Healthy Homes, Local Plan and aspects of the Air Quality Action Plan was raised. The importance of a transparent monitoring process with feedback given to the proposer was discussed. (The Member was advised that an update at future Scrutiny Committees would be made on the Healthy Homes and Local Plan topics. The Member was invited to review the proposals relating to Air Quality).
· that the connective external bodies and partners of the individual Scrutiny Committee should be reviewed on at least an annual basis to ensure they were still appropriate and operating.
Strategic Scrutiny Committee noted the Annual Scrutiny Report 2022-2023 which would be presented to Executive to note and to recommend to Council to approve.
Please see attached the draft work plan of future scrutiny items for noting.
Please see a link to the schedule of future business proposed for the Council which can be viewed on the Council's web site. This on-line document is a source for Members to raise issues at Scrutiny on forthcoming Executive agenda items:-
Should Members wish to raise issues in respect of future business please notify Sharon Sissons in advance of the meeting.
Members discussed the Forward Plan and updated business on the draft Scrutiny Work Plan with notable changes being the Live and Move Strategy to the November meeting. An invitation was also extended to the Portfolio Holder for Climate and Ecological Crisis to attend the November meeting.
Councillor Moore wished to propose a working group to discuss a draft terms of reference document that she had put together to bring back to the Scrutiny Committee in respect of a Climate Change Sub Committee. She commended the work of the Service Lead Net Zero and her team and stressed that the discussion should centre on consideration of the city wide work and options for resourcing and not of the City Council’s work.
The Chair referred to the status of the Standing Overview Group which had been proposed at a previous meeting of this Scrutiny Committee, and referred to it as a model more commonly used by the County Council as a limited information gathering group. She suggested that following an impending report to the Executive on the demise of Exeter City Futures that the Portfolio Holder for Climate and Ecological Crisis be asked to attend the November Scrutiny meeting to discuss the merits of a city wide scrutiny of net zero work with other partners.
Members had a rigorous discussion on the status of the Standing Overview Group and of the proposals to re-engage this discussion.
Councillor Mitchell suggested that the Standing Overview Group was in effect a Sub Committee, but that the direction of the Council had changed in the intervening time particularly with the end of Exeter City Futures. It was important for the City Council to take a leadership role and provide a forum and draw the discussion on Exeter together.
Councillor Mitchell moved the following to have an in principle agreement of setting up a Sub Committee to act as a city wide forum to bring together partners with the aim of Exeter being Carbon Neutral by 2030, and a meeting be held as soon as possible with the Portfolio Holder for Climate and Ecological Crisis, the Chair and Deputy Chair of this Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Moore as the original proposer, and the Chief Executive to discuss matters including a proposed terms of reference.
Advice would be sought on the route through the Committee process as some aspects of the proposal may be included in the forthcoming report to the Executive on Exeter City Futures and to ensure that this request accords with the Executive’s approach on this matter.
The motion was seconded, voted upon and carried.
RESOLVED that the report be noted, and
RECOMMENDED to Council that in principle a Climate Change Sub Committee be set up to act as a city wide forum to bring together partners with the aim of Exeter achieving Carbon Neutral status by 2030. The arrangements should include a meeting at the earliest opportunity to discuss the way forward including the Portfolio Holder for Climate and Ecological Crisis, the Chair and Deputy ... view the full minutes text for item 67.