Agenda and minutes

Strategic Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 22nd June 2023 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

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

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 923 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee held on 16 March 2023. 



Subject to the correction to Minute 44, in respect of the Decarbonisation Fund and the reference to the Riverside and Isca Centre, it was confirmed that the Fund related to the Riverside and the RAMM, and subject to that change, the minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 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.






No declarations of interest were made by Members.



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 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 19th June 2023.


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 Bialyk, Leader offered a response prepared for him by Councillor Parkhouse, Portfolio Holder Ecological and Climate Crisis as set out in italics below and also made a contribution:-


In the past year, what representations has the Council made to Stagecoach, other operators or to Devon County Council about the adequacy of bus services in Exeter?


The Leader advised that there was no formal mechanism between the City Council and the bus companies. Any formal representation was carried out through Devon County Council’s Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) which includes County Councillors and City Councillors. He had met with Peter Knight, the new Managing Director for Stagecoach South West when he was first appointed, and had impressed upon him the issues being faced by residents and particularly the uncertainty of whether their bus would arrive on time. He had been given assurances that the timetable was being revised to ensure some of those uncertainties were addressed and the service would run more efficiently. The Leader could share Mr Knight’s email address as he had said he was prepared to listen and deal with any concerns raised by Members. The Leader added that he had welcomed the opportunity to impress on Mr Knight of the need to attend the HATOC meetings to listen to what the City and County Councillors had to say.


Mr Cleasby asked a supplementary question and advised that in his contact with Stagecoach, they had raised concerns over traffic congestion which made keeping to a timetable more problematic. He asked if the City Council would be prepared to lobby Devon County Council more rigorously to look at dealing with the levels of traffic congestion.


The Leader advised he would arrange a further meeting with Mr Knight, but the most appropriate vehicle was through the HATOC meetings and Devon County Council, as the Highways Authority.


Mr Cleasby thanked the Leader for the response.


The Chair added that Devon County Council was currently consulting on the Exeter Local Transport Plan, and she invited Mr Cleasby to feed any comments into that.



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.




There were no questions submitted in accordance with Standing Order No.20 to the Portfolio Holders.



Portfolio Holder Report pdf icon PDF 456 KB

To receive the report of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Philip Bialyk.


Councillor Bialyk, as Leader reported on the respective areas of his Portfolio, which detailed the Council’s published priorities, major ongoing programmes of work, issues impacting delivery, financial performance and budget requirements and potential changes being considered.


The following responses to Members were given:-


·           a response to a question on the cost benefit analysis of the journey to Holsworthy to process organic food waste would be obtained. He would also speak to the Portfolio Holder for Place and City Management. The Member agreed to email further detail of a question on the carbon burden of using the Holsworthy site versus treating wet organic waste in Exeter.

·           the City Council together with Devon County Council, Plymouth and Torbay had discussed a Level Two tier Devolution County Deal option, also known as a Devolution Light option. A Members’ Briefing would be held later in the year to offer the opportunity to share all of the information, but no decision on this would be made without consulting Members.

The governance arrangements had still to be discussed, but the preferred model was for a combined authority, which would be principally governed by Devon County Council, Plymouth and Torbay Unitary Authorities with the other District Councils, including Exeter having a seat at the table. It would be important to take part in any discussion on the reallocation of local government resources for the front line delivery of services.

·           the current funding streams for strategic support of supported homes was not part of this devolution discussion, but it would be appropriate to contact the County Council on this matter.

·           a devolved authority could mean future opportunities for a local authority run bus service, but the business model would be very different from former years, and would have to be one which the local authority could control with more stakeholder control and influence.


A Member asked a series of questions to which the Leader responded:-


·           an update on the medium term financial plan would be reported to the Executive on the 27 June. Following discussion with the Chief Executive, Section 151 Officer and Portfolio Holders, it is proposed to engage Members earlier in the annual budget setting process.

·           driving down and managing debt was important. There was a strategy of investing locally and making sure that what was borrowed could be sustained.

·           embedding net zero in all services and planning activity was an ambitious plan and as a local authority powers in relation to net zero were minimal. Exeter City Futures was being wound down, but Exeter still intended to work with a number of partners including the University of Exeter. The Council had signed up to a Civic University agreement and he was due to meet with the Vice Chancellor. A report would be presented to the Executive to set out the continued arrangements for meeting the city’s net zero ambitions.

·           a report, including a business plan for Exeter City Living was being prepared to be presented to the Executive in September.

·           Exeter City Living (ECL) had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.


Presentation on the Role of Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 142 KB

A presentation will be made by the Director Corporate Services.

The current terms of reference for this Scrutiny Committee are attached.




The Director Corporate Services gave an overview presentation on the role of scrutiny and its importance within the Council’s democratic process. She advised that this presentation was a precursor to a bespoke session on scrutiny planned for later in the year on the 7 September, from Bethan Evans of Governance Training and Consultancy Ltd.


The following points were highlighted in the presentation:-


·           the current scrutiny system in Exeter was introduced in October 2019 with two scrutiny committees, namely Strategic Scrutiny Committee and also Customer Focus Scrutiny, with 14 members on each Committee, none are Members of the Executive.

·           the terms of reference for the Strategic Scrutiny Committee covered Council wide strategic matters, relevant policies, corporate health and safety and climate change and sustainability.

·           the scrutiny work plan was set by the Scrutiny Programme Board, which was chaired by Councillor Allcock, a non-Executive Member and comprised of the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of both Scrutiny Committees.

·           the Scrutiny work plan is generated by Members of Scrutiny who were encouraged to submit areas of scrutiny using a Scrutiny proposal form. Once completed, the Strategic Management Board are invited to comment on how that topic aligns with the Council’s corporate objectives and priorities.

·           the Forward Plan, published monthly sets out all of the Council and Executive decisions to be taken over a 12 month period. Members should look at the business coming forward and take an active part in policy formation before the Executive makes a decision on that matter. 

·           there was the opportunity to explore scrutiny of a topic with a review through a Task and Finish Group or Spotlight Review with any recommendations presented to Scrutiny and Executive as part of the decision making process.


The role of Scrutiny was important and offered Members an opportunity to become involved in the process including:-


·           to assist with the review of Council policy, look at service delivery issues including budgets,

·           to enable public engagement with the ability to ask questions about Council responsibilities,

·           holding the Executive to account through a mechanism of call in, under Standing Order 17 of the Constitution, whereby decisions made by the Executive that had not been implemented could be brought back to Scrutiny for further consideration. The grounds for a call in were

a) the process was either deemed deficient,

b)failed to consider alterative action,

c) failed to take account of relevant factors or

d) the decision was wrong in fact or law.

·           the call in required seven members from either Scrutiny Committee.

·           the Scrutiny Committee could consider a number of options including, to take no further action or make a request to the Executive to reconsider the decision, but may not change the decision. Call in does not apply to urgent decisions or recommendations to Council.


The Director Corporate Services responded to the following Members’ comments: -


·           the seven members of call in could be a Member of either Scrutiny Committee, but the topic would be considered by the relevant Scrutiny Committee.

·           the committee system was aligned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Ethical and Low Carbon Advertising pdf icon PDF 303 KB

To consider the report of the Director.

Additional documents:


The Director referred to a report in relation to a Motion presented at the April meeting of Council by Councillor Sparling regarding ethical and low carbon advertising, which was referred to this Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Sparling was in attendance Under Standing Order 45 to explain the Motion.


The report considered the Motion, the Council’s existing advertising arrangements, explored the impact and potential options of ethical advertising moving forward, and acknowledged the importance of considering planning aspects of the Ethical Advertising Framework through a report back to the September meeting of Strategic Scrutiny Committee, before a further report to the Executive and Council.


The Director confirmed that Exeter City Council runs a successful advertising network throughout Exeter.  An Ethical and Advertising Framework was adopted in 2019, which set out the remit that officers could operate by. In preparation for this meeting, officers revised the Ethical Advertising Framework which was circulated with the report. The expansion of digital advertising and reduction of its reliance on printed material was notable in the intervening period. The existing Framework had provided guidance from the British Code of Advertising, covering promotion of some food and drink which might lead to poor or latent healthy eating behaviours, as well as specific categories that the Council does not accept advertising relating to tobacco, alcohol products, and goods or services that were likely to offend, as well as adverts for personal injury claims or loans.


The advertising media currently included in the Framework consisted of:-


·           Digital advertising screens

·           High Street banners

·           City Centre poster sites

·           Exeter Citizen (Quarterly newspaper which is distributed to every residential and commercial property within the Exeter boundary)

·           Vehicle fleet advertising

·           Website


In terms of the Digital Advertising screens, Exeter City Council and Devon County Council have had a joint contract with Clear Channel, since 2012, providing advertising throughout the city. Devon County Council’s contract covers sites across Devon. The City Council receives an annual percentage of revenue from the contract along with the provision of new or replacement bus shelters across the city. The Director stated he would make a copy of the contract available to Members if they wished to view it.


Councillor Sparling welcomed the opportunity to provide more detail and wished to raise a number of points to put the Motion in context. The Motion had included a number of recommendations, not least that a review of any outstanding concession agreements should be mindful of the impending climate emergency.  She wished to impress on Members that banning the advertising of certain products was not the same as banning the products themselves. Recent evidence showed that the introduction of a ban in advertising on certain food products, for example, does not automatically lead to a drop in revenue with companies continuing to advertise food and drink, albeit in a revised format. She also suggested that carbon intensive consumption moved the Council further away from its Net Zero ambitions.


Implementing new practices and policies could be daunting for local authorities, but Councillor Sparling  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Forward Plan of Business and Scrutiny Work Plan pdf icon PDF 296 KB


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. This on-line document is a source for Members to raise issues at Scrutiny on forthcoming Executive agenda items:-


Also attached is a draft work plan of future scrutiny items.


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




The Chair advised that the Scrutiny Programme Board met quarterly and she urged Members to use the Scrutiny proposal form to identify future business which would enable officers to prioritise any proposals made and create a balanced programme of work.


Members noted the Forward Plan and draft Scrutiny Work Plan.