Agenda item

Portfolio Holder Report

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 no targets for social and affordable housing.

The Chief Executive stated that the Council have set a target for the delivery of 500 homes over 10 years and significant progress has been made in that area, but it was not for ECL to determine how the Council delivered social or affordable housing.


The Leader also responded to a number of Member enquiries on Exeter City Futures including the future oversight of the work and stated that it had not been the City Council who had pulled away from the business group. As stated previously, a report to the September meeting of the Executive should address many of the questions raised by the Member.


He invited the Member to send in any other questions for a further response.


The Chief Executive at the invitation of the Leader set out additional information on a proposed review of the priorities and actions relating to the Corporate Plan. The Local Government Association had been commissioned to carry out some work on effective decision making using effective report control. It was acknowledged that the most efficient organisation was one that had the minimum amount of levels between a member of front line staff and the Chief Executive. This work would form part of a proposed change in organisational structure and Member support would be sought for a reprioritisation of the way that the Council worked, continuing to focus on customer and service delivery.


Members thanked the Leader and noted the report.


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