Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter
Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer Tel: 01392 265115 or email email@example.com
To approve and sign the minutes of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee held on 16 June 2022.
The minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2022 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.
A Member sought clarity in relation to the proposal for a Standing Overview Group to be convened to scrutinise and tackle the challenges of the climate emergency, which warranted an appropriate mechanism. The Chair responded and advised that he would raise this matter at a forthcoming meeting of the Governance Review Board.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 26 September 2022.
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 and Planning
Councillor Parkhouse Portfolio Holder Leisure & Physical Activity
Councillor Wood - Portfolio Holder Climate Change
Councillor Wright - Portfolio Holder Arts, Culture and Corporate Services
Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the email@example.com email.
In accordance with Standing Order No.20, the following questions were submitted by Councillors Sparling and Diana Moore in relation to the Portfolio of Councillor Wood. The questions were circulated to Members of the Committee. The responses of the Portfolio Holders are set out in italics below:-
Question from Councillor Sparling to the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change – Councillor Wood
1. Following the announcement of Investment Zones by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week, please can the leader confirm what their response to the Treasury will be and can we be assured that it will not include a request to relax planning regulations within Exeter, minimising the need for planning applications?
The Leader advised that this matter was being viewed as a matter of urgency. The Upper Tier authorities (including Devon County Council) have received a letter inviting them to work with districts and partners to bring Investment Zones forward, in addition to the 38 announced in the mini-budget. There is further information on the web at Investment Zones in England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
At the moment there was no identified process, but Devon County Council had requested that the City Council identify any sites that could potentially be included in such a proposal. Officers were exploring how an investment zone could support the long term viability of sites including those identified as part of Liveable Exeter. He was mindful of the possible deregulation in planning and certainly did not want to surrender any powers.
Councillor Sparling asked a supplementary question regarding the opportunities for strengthening planning regulations through this investment.
The Leader advised that the Council always consulted on planning changes, but they were not always presented to Committee. The appropriate response would be made in respect of the Investment Zones.
Questions from Councillor Diana Moore to the Leader - Councillor Bialyk
1. How many planning performance agreements does the Council have in place? Of these, and in principle for any future agreements, what proportion of the costs of such agreement are/will be funded by the developer?
The City Council used Planning Performance Agreements (PPA’s) as a project management tool to agree timescales, actions and resources for handling large scale and complex planning applications. Government guidance encouraged the use of PPAs which could be particularly useful in setting out an efficient and transparent process for determining this type of planning application. The Government also encouraged joint working between applicant’s and the local planning authority in this way, which could also help to bring together other parties such as statutory consultees.
In accordance with Government guidance, the City Council would make the existence and content of these PPA’s publicly available on its website, so that the agreed process and timescales were transparent. Any PPA’s included on the website had been agreed voluntarily prior to any application being submitted, and provide a focus for pre-application discussions about the issues that would need to be addressed. In most cases the documents had been redacted to remove personal data and sensitive commercial ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
Councillor Bialyk (Leader) and Councillor Wood (Portfolio Holder Climate Change) to present a report on their respective portfolios.
Councillor Bialyk as Leader and Councillor Wood as Portfolio Holder for Climate Change reported on their respective areas of their Portfolios, 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.
Councillor Bialyk, Leader presented his report and the following responses were given:-
· a review of the charging schedule for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) had to be evidential based and tested by an Inspector. The proposals will be presented to the Executive. There is expected to be a revised charge for Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) and Co-Living.
· he had asked the Portfolio Holder Communities and Homelessness Prevention to make a comment on the cost of living crisis at the forthcoming Executive of the challenges ahead and the impact on families and people in and around Exeter. As a local authority, the City Council needed to be as ready as possible to support people where and how ever was possible.
Councillor Wood as Portfolio Holder for Climate Changepresented his report and responded to the request that rather than just lay over at St James Park, that the Barnstaple train return to Pinhoe and take passengers back to Central Station before carrying on its journey. Councillor Wood thanked the Member and advised that the County Councillor Lead Member for Transport had been made aware of this suggestion and the Leader had also offered to follow it up.
The following responses were also given to Members’ comments:-
· he would seek further information on the Council’s role on the Community Energy Project Pilot and on any links between that and Exeter College’s retrofit skills project.
· training for the Carbon Literacy Programme was being rolled out for Members and officers shortly.
· Net Zero challenges were being faced by many local authorities, but Exeter City Council were one of the few looking to resolve the huge task ahead, including working with businesses and residents who would be asked to make a lifestyle change when many were already facing financial difficulties. Two of the Council’s Directors, with the cooperation of Exeter City Futures, were working to facilitate the partnerships needed to drive this forward with very little funding. Meeting an earlier timeline of 2030 meant fewer of the legislative advantages were likely to be available in advance of the Government’s 2050 climate change deadline.
The Portfolio Holders’ reports were noted.
To consider the report of the Director Net Zero & City Management.
Dr Daniel Lash from the University of Exeter, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Energy and the Environment will also be in attendance.
The Net Zero Project Manager presented a report on the work of the Net Zero team which would both assess the Council’s potential to achieve its commitment for its own corporate activities to be Net Zero 2030 and to deliver the City Council Carbon Reduction Plan, which was attached to the report.
The Net Zero Project Manager introduced Dr Daniel Lash, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Energy and the Environment from the University of Exeter who also attended the meeting to present the Council’s Corporate Carbon Footprint report - ‘Achieving Net Zero’ which had been commissioned by the City Council offering an analysis of the Council’s own corporate operations and estate and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This had been a huge undertaking where Dr Lash and his colleagues had met with officers from each service throughout the Council including Housing, Corporate Property, Procurement and Fleet Services to discuss their operations. The report also set out the challenges including financial constraints and staff capacity, and had helped to inform the Council’s Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan. The Plan included a number of potential actions and also offered the opportunity to track and measure activity across of the services as well as information included in the City Council’s Net Zero Risk Register.
Dr Lash advised that the commission had offered the opportunity to look at what Net Zero meant in terms of Exeter City Council’s own carbon footprint by 2030 and outlined the main themes of the report. (A copy of the presentation was attached to the minutes.) The approach was taken to update the Councils carbon footprint from the assessment made in 2018/19 and assess the potential to reduce these emissions across seven sectors including:-
· non-domestic buildings
· council owned housing
· F(fluorinated) gases,
· renewable energy and
· land use change/afforestation.
Dr Lash responded to Members’ questions:-
· in terms of the time anticipated for an offset of carbon by St Sidwell’s Point, (SSP) the carbon emissions were an estimate based on the cost of the actual building which had been built to a high Passivhaus specification. The reality would be quite different and a fairer comparison of the carbon emission was with the former Pyramids Leisure Centre which had been a facility at the end of its operational life. The Net Zero Project Manager added that SSP included additional monitoring and would be measured as a separate piece of work.
· with regard to Scope 3 emission, data collection was challenging and most contracts would only run for a specific period of time. In terms of referencing the quality of the data most suppliers would adhere to a regulatory regime regulation and would have their own carbon footprint to consider. Looking at simple spend factors was not enough and should include life style emissions to ensure a smart decision. It was hoped that suppliers would start to collate that information. His colleague, Peter Lefort from the University, was leading a consortium of public sector and other organisations who were looking at ... view the full minutes text for item 19.
To consider the report of the Director Net Zero & City Management.
The Service Lead for Net Zero & Business presented the first of an update on the Shared Prosperity Fund to Strategic Scrutiny Committee, which she would continue to update every six months. The report set out progress made in developing a three year investment plan to release Exeter’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) allocation. A breakdown of the £1,403,877 sum to be allocated to Exeter had been submitted to the Department of Levelling Up Housing & Communities (DLUHC) on their online portal by the deadline of 1 August 2022 with confirmation of the allocation was currently awaited. The investment plan had been developed around three themes of Communities and Place, Supporting Local Business and People and Skills with consultation with the city’s business network to identify the interventions. The report highlighted the challenges faced and also opportunities in developing interventions for Exeter. Additional guidance had been received from DLUHC including procurement, subsidy control and monitoring and evaluation. Discussions were taking place with City Council colleagues in finance, legal, procurement and executive support to ensure they were working within the new and updated guidance.
The following responses were made to Members:-
· in terms of businesses delivering interventions, it was intended that an open tender would be issued to the business community to commission local companies to deliver business support and people and skills interventions.
· the people and skills element of the plan would come in year three in April 2024 with time to put together a programme of works to support people into work, including those with a disability. She noted the Member’s comment on widening to people with special and additional needs and of an example of such support through a hub in Honiton. It was important to identify ways to offer such support which was likely to be on a one to one basis. There was the opportunity to do something very specific in Exeter.
· in speaking to the business organisations in the city such as the Chamber, InExeter, the Federation of Small Business and the Job Centre, since the advent of Covid, the cost of living crisis and the way people live their daily lives there had been a shift to more people taking on additional second jobs. The tight labour market offered opportunities for individuals to be more selective in accepting new jobs.
The Service Lead Net Zero & Business would follow up a matter raised at Strategic Scrutiny Committee earlier in the year relating to the future of the Job Centre in Clarendon House and circulate an update on the front and back office provision to Members.
Strategic Scrutiny Committee noted and supported the following:-
(1) progress made in developing an Investment Plan, to support Building Pride in Place and Increasing Life Chances in Exeter; and
(2) the Service Lead for Net Zero & Business would provide an update to Strategic Scrutiny every six months on the delivery and management of UKSPF, the next report being in March 2023.
To receive the report of the Scrutiny Programme Board.
Councillor Vizard, as a member of the Scrutiny Programme Board presented the report which offered an annual update in respect of the Scrutiny work achieved during the municipal year 2021 – 2022 which was attached to the report.
The Annual Scrutiny Report provided the Scrutiny Committees with an opportunity to:-
· monitor the progress of the Scrutiny function and process at Exeter City Council;
· comment upon the progress and direction of Scrutiny over the past year and into the future;
· ensure that the Scrutiny Committees were kept up to date on the Task and Finish Groups and what they have achieved;
· and offer an illustration of how effective Scrutiny can contribute towards an accountable, transparent and democratic process.
Strategic Scrutiny Committee noted the Annual Scrutiny Report 2021-2022 which would be presented to Executive to note and to recommend to Council to approve.
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.