Agenda and draft minutes

Strategic Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 25th January 2024 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




In the absence of the Chair, the meeting was chaired by the Deputy Chair, Councillor M. Mitchell,  who on behalf of the Committee, expressed condolences to Councillor Atkinson on her recent bereavement.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 773 KB

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



The minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2023 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct, subject to the amendment that in Minute 71 (Questions from Councillor M Mitchell) and the response to the supplementary question should remove the second sentence and commence the third sentence with “The Portfolio Holder advised that”



Declaration of Interest


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 22 January 2024.


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







There were no questions submitted by the public.



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, the following questions were submitted by Councillor Moore in relation to the Portfolio of Councillor Bialyk who attended the meeting. The questions were circulated at the meeting to Members of the Committee. The response of the Leader is set out in italics below: –




Questions from Councillor Moore


1.         The Exeter Development Fund ( ) no longer features in the Regulation 18 version of the Local Plan. Please can the Leader explain why this project is not included?


          Work is in progress to explore how it could function, and should it come into being, which sites it could support. Until there is clarity on these matters, it is not necessary to include a reference in the plan.


Councillor Moore asked a supplementary question and referred to the Exeter Development Fund Task and Finish Group which had only met once to agree a set of terms of reference. She asked about their role and if there would be further involvement when the work was complete.


The Leader asked the Member to contact him in writing, so that he could obtain a response.


2.         How much money has the Council secured and spent on the development of the Exeter Development Fund? How much staff time has been estimated to have been spent on the development of the Exeter Development Fund?


Exeter City Council had received £850k in total from the Government. To date £329,153 has been spent. The City Council has no data on officer time spent on this project.


Councillor Moore asked a supplementary question regarding the lack of outcome, despite the level of expenditure. She referred to the sum still to be spent and asked when further outputs from this work might be forthcoming.


The Leader undertook to seek a response to the question.


Councillor Moore asked an additional question in relation to flood mitigation measures which would come at the end of approved developments in the St Davids ward, and sought assurance that there will be more immediate measures before the Local Plan comes forward.


The Leader advised that he would seek a response as consideration of the appropriate flood measures and mitigation would be important as the future development in the Water Lane area of the city progressed. He reiterated that he would be happy to discuss this with Councillor Moore through the usual channels of discussion.



Portfolio Holder report - Climate and Ecological Crisis pdf icon PDF 706 KB

Councillor Josie Parkhouse (Climate and Ecological Crisis) to present a report on her portfolio.



Councillor Parkhouse reported on the Climate and Ecological Crisis areas of her Portfolio and detailed the issues relating to achieving the Council’s published priorities, major ongoing programmes of work, issues impacting delivery, financial performance, budget requirements and potential changes being considered.


The Portfolio Holder provided further updates on the key areas set out in the report which included:-


·      the City Council taking on the co-ordination and facilitating role for city wide net zero, with a temporary two year Programme Manager post to coordinate activity and to work with existing structures across the city such as the Exeter Place Board. That person will also be the main point of contact for city businesses, and community groups as part of a collective effort to reach Net Zero 2030. Progress will be reported to scrutiny every six months, starting September 2024.

·      highlighting the successful recognition of the internal Net Zero team following an independent review and being named as one of the top District Councils in the country for their work in net zero, as well team who oversaw the Water Lane Smart Grid and Storage (the Portfolio Holder would issue an invitation to visit the facility after the City Council Elections in May), and the Green Spaces team, who had also made great achievement in their work enhancing biodiversity within the city.

·      a visit to Bristol City Council included meeting with colleagues from the Bristol City Leap initiative (a community energy proposition).

·      the launch of the Exeter Innovation Hub in the city.

·the successful bid by 1Energy to the Green Heat Network Fund to install a District Heating network in Exeter.

·      the South West Energy & Environment Group (SWEEG) will review the City wide Green House Gas report.


The Chair referred to the resolution at the September meeting of Strategic Scrutiny Committee, and the in principle decision to set up a Climate Change Sub Committee, subject to discussion with the Portfolio Holder, lead Members, officers and the Chief Executive on the best approach to progress city wide net zero without any duplication of work. The meeting in December, and report to Executive on 9 January proposed utilising existing structures within the City Council. A report would be made to this Committee every six months to provide a closer examination of the work undertaken, as well as the opportunity to invite speakers to contribute and focus on particular activity connected with city wide net zero.


Councillor Moore welcomed the planned work with the community, but considered the proposal for a Climate Change Sub Committee, which had been agreed in accordance with legislation had still to be addressed, and if the matter was not to be pursued, then it would have to be overturned formally at the Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Knott indicated that he wished to make a proposal for the resolution made at the Strategic Scrutiny Committee in September to be rescinded.


Members made the following comments on the proposal:-


·      of disappointment that the proposal for a Sub Committee was now the subject of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Forward Plan of Business and Scrutiny Work Plan pdf icon PDF 582 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.






Members commented on the work plan and topics of proforma submitted.  The Democratic Services Officer responded to questions on the list of Scrutiny proforma submitted:-


·      that two scrutiny proformas recently submitted would be discussed at the forthcoming Scrutiny Programme Board in March; and

·      that a request for scrutiny of the strategic direction of the Local Plan, rather than just consideration of the consultation outcomes and to further scrutinise a number of aspects which related to the Air Quality Action Plan would be made.


Members noted the Forward Plan and draft Scrutiny Work Plan.