Agenda and minutes

Strategic Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 16th June 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter

Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 01392 265115 or email

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 576 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee held on 17 March 2022.



Subject to the following typographical amendments relating to Minute No. 4 and a question to the Leader in relation to Exeter City Futures, to readneither rather than either statutory power or policy-making authority, and in relation to Minute No. 5 and in the reference to city centre parking to read affected for effected and also in relation to a reference to graduates remaining in the city which should read the affect not effect of Brexit, the minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2022 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.




No declarations of interest were made by Members.



Questions from the Public Under Standing Order No.19

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the 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 13 June 2022.


For details about how to speak at Committee, please click the following link -





In accordance with Standing Order No.19, the following question had been submitted by a member of the public, Mr Cleasby and was circulated in advance to Members of the Committee. Councillor Wood, Portfolio Holder for Climate Change attended the meeting and gave the following response as set out in italics below:-


Question to the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change – Councillor Wood


Will the relevant Portfolio Holder please list the achievements of the Council’s Transport Working Group in the year since it was established?


The membership of the Transport Working Group was finalised in February 2022 and the first meeting was held on Wednesday 16 February 2022.  The priority areas of focus which the Group established have been used to provide a consistent message to Devon County Council in our strategic discussions with them around transport in the city.  The Group has not met since the change in Portfolio Holder in May but a new date will be put forward shortly.


As a District Council, Exeter City Council is neither the Transport Authority nor the Highway Authority. Both of these functions fall to Devon County Council as the upper tier authority. The issue of transport is vital for the future of our city and incredibly important to our residents, businesses, visitors and the environment. Our ability to influence and steer policy around transport is therefore crucial. The Working Group is specifically to act as a critical friend to himself as the Portfolio Holder and help be a unified voice for the City Council in all matters related to transport. 


Mr Cleasby asked a supplementary question on whether the Transport Working Group had sent any specific messages to the Transport Authority to date?


Councillor Wood responded and stated that the Working Group had not met since he became the Portfolio Holder, and he was not aware that any detail had been specifically passed to Devon County Council, but he would make enquiries. Following a further comment, Mr Cleasby confirmed that he had only had sight of the terms of reference and was not aware the minutes were available. The Chair suggested that if the minutes were in the public domain, they would be made available.



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 Leisure & Physical Activity

Councillor Wood -       Portfolio Holder Climate Change

Councillor Wright -      Portfolio Holder Culture, Corporate & Democratic Services


Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders above should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support.




In accordance with Standing Order No. 20, the following questions were submitted by Councillor Oliver in relation to the Portfolio of Councillor Parkhouse and also from Councillor Diana Moore in relation to the Portfolios for Councillors Wood, Wright and Morse. The questions were circulated in advance to Members of the Committee. The responses of the Portfolio Holders are set out in italics below: –

Question to the Portfolio Holder for Leisure Services & Physical Activity – Councillor Parkhouse

1.       Having noted with concern that Cornwall and other Councils have closed popular local swimming pools, please can the Portfolio Holder tell me if closures of swimming pools have been considered in Exeter?

Councils across the UK have been considering cost saving measures such as higher prices and even closing pools with the energy price rise heating pools has increased by 150% since 2019. However, Exeter City Council remains committed to swimming pool provision in the city.  The Council brought 170 members of staff in house and offered local government terms and conditions and a minimum of a living wage. Through Covid and also post pandemic the leisure market has seen unprecedented turbulence. Energy costs are further restricting operators ability to run services, whether they be in private hands, Council run or in a trust.


In Exeter we have invested over £52m in our leisure estate, including the new St Sidwell’s Point flagship centre which has just opened, and a refurbished Riverside Leisure Centre. As we speak, £1.5million of additional improvements are taking place to the roof at Riverside so it can host solar Photovoltaic panel (PV) and reduce operating costs. A further £750,000 was recently agreed by Council to enable pre development work to take place at Wonford. We are dedicated to trying to provide the best facilities in our most deprived communities.


The Council will continue to work with Sport England to develop a future leisure strategy that safeguards our current leisure provision whilst looking to invest further. Senior Sport England officers are visiting in late July to outline the process and formal partnership approach to investing in the leisure portfolio.


Questions to Portfolio Holder for City Development - Councillor Morse (The Leader, Councillor Bialyk offered the prepared responses as Councillor Morse was unable to attend the meeting)

     Please can the Portfolio Holder report on the following:--  

1.         Turnover of staff in the planning team over the past 2 years?

The retention rate (direct employees only) was 85% based on date range of 1 June 2020 – 1 June 2022.

He added that-

·      ONS reports Public Sector 1 year retention rate at 84% (2019)

·      Leading people management sources cite employee retention rates during 2022 at 15 – 17% (CIPD/Ceridian/Monster Jobs)

2.       The proportion (both the number of roles (1) and the proportion of the staff budget (2) in the planning team that are employed on a consultancy basis, and for how long these contracts are expected to continue for ?


(1)   (the number of roles) 


· 39.2 Full Time Equivalent(FTE) on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Progress Report from Exeter City Futures and the City of Exeter Greenhouse Gas Inventory pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider the report of the Chief Executive & Growth Director.

Additional documents:


The Chief Executive & Growth Director made a presentation (a copy of the presentation is appended to the minutes) and reported on the progress from Exeter City Futures Community Interest Company on the work being done to progress the Net Zero Exeter 2030 Plan, together with a baseline Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory for the city. The report quantified the reductions required to achieve Net Zero by 2030 and identified more specific and timely metrics for monitoring progress towards carbon neutrality in each emissions sector along with key performance indicators as a strategic dashboard for the city. It also outlined the scale, opportunity, and pace of the challenge and step change in resources, activity and policy making both at a local and national level, required for the city to achieve a Net Zero city by 2030. Members were invited to comment on the report that would be presented to the next Executive.


In setting the context, Exeter City Futures offered a collaboration between the key public sector partners within the city (Exeter City Council, Devon County Council, the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Trust, Exeter College and the University of Exeter and Global City Futures) to deliver on Net Zero, but also to build on sustainability, resilience, innovation and productivity, well-being and an inclusive agenda in respect of the city’s communities. The delivery of a whole system change approach to Net Zero includes looking at policy, but also the physical and social environment, and whilst there was potentially life changing positive social change, there was recognition that individuals as well as the collective need would each have their own future challenges. Organisations and institutions in the city would also have to consider their own behaviour.  The Chief Executive & Growth Director referred to the vision that Exeter will be a carbon neutral city by 2030 and the aspiration that the Exeter of the future will have grasped the opportunities ahead, based on Exeter’s excellent reputation for climate science.


The Chair referred to advance questions received from a Member, (appended to the minutes along with a set of draft recommendations received for information). The Member welcomed the report and the ambitious target of 2030, which was 20 years ahead of the national target set by the public sector and commented on the Council’s report as follows -


·      concern that not all of the University of Exeter’s key monitoring targets and areas identified for change such as retrofitting were replicated in the Council’s report.

·      that a mechanism including an adequate supply chain should be encouraged to enable individuals, as well as the Council for their own housing stock, to be able to carry out retrofitting work.

·      a planning consideration to reach a level of energy independence would help meet those targets, but there was no positive indication of how that related to the current restraints of Photovoltaic (PV) on buildings to enable this to happen.

·      the University report has made reference to an 11% target and suggestions for a clean air zone and other measures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Presentation on the Role of Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 178 KB

A presentation will be made. The current terms of reference for this Scrutiny Committee are attached.



The Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support referred to the important role of scrutiny within the Council’s democratic process in acting as a critical friend for the Authority and enabling the 26 Members who made up the two Scrutiny Committees to be able to contribute to the Council’s policies and procedures.


Members were reminded of the approach within the Authority:-


  • Scrutiny Committee Members had the opportunity to address and scrutinise the decisions being taken by the Executive by attending the meetings as well as initiating a call-in of Executive decisions, provided it met one of the four criteria set out in the Council’s Constitution.
  • questions could be put forward to Portfolio Holders on their particular spheres of responsibility within the Council with a standard format to highlight the ongoing programme of work, service delivery, financial performance and other matters on the portfolio has been developed. It was noted that this format would be used for the Portfolio Holder reports going forward to the next cycle of Scrutiny Committees.
  • a Forward Plan of business for the Executive for the future period was published and offered the opportunity for a particular matter to be brought forward through a more collegiate approach through scrutiny,via the Scrutiny Programme Board.
  • the opportunity existed for Members to suggest a Task and Finish Group or Spotlight Review to raise particular items of interest or urgency. Members of the Scrutiny Programme Board had also developed a proforma for Members to make such requests which is shared with the Strategic Management Board and the Scrutiny Programme Board for determination and timetabling against other requests that may come forward.

·         a forthcoming meeting of the Governance Review Board would ensure that the Council continued to improve on recent changes made, which included promoting greater public access with public speaking permitted at Council and the Executive meetings.


The Corporate Manager Democratic Services and Civic Support referred to the example of scrutiny working which had been very evident at this evening’s meeting both from the detailed questions to Portfolio Holders, pertinent questions on the reports and from that an additional recommendation for a time limited Standing Overview Group to facilitate a way forward for a key matter for the Council.  He also

responded to the following Member’s comments: -


  • the Forward Plan offered an opportunity both internally and externally to identify future business and whether it was appropriate for additional discussion at Scrutiny, via a request to the Scrutiny Programme Board, before the matter was discussed at the Executive. There was also the opportunity to place an item of business directly on the Scrutiny agenda.

·         the appointment of Chairs and Deputy Chairs were made as the result of nominations made at the Annual Council meeting, voted en bloc as a Council decision. There had been opposition Chairs of Scrutiny Committee and whilst this could be a matter for discussion in the future, such appointments remained a Council decision.

·         lockdown had offered an opportunity to broadcast meetings via zoom, but face to face meetings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Forward Plan of Business

Please see for noting a link to the schedule of future business proposed for the Council which can be viewed on the Council's web site -


Should Members wish to raise issues in respect of future business please notify Sharon Sissons in advance of the meeting.


Members noted the Forward Plan.