Venue: Exe Room, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Julia Stuckey Member Services Officer
APOLOGIES AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS
To receive any apologies for absence and notices of appointment of substitute Members (if any).
Apologies were received from Cllr J L Smith who was substituted by Cllr R J Dolley and from Cllr N A Way who was substituted by Cllr F W Letch.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
Miss S Coffin, Templeton Parish Council, referring to item 8 on the agenda, said we wish to personally thank the Chairman for taking on this issue and the many Scrutiny Councillors who have shown our Parish Council and affected residents both compassion and assistance.
As this has now become such a large and complex issue, no longer just a case of bullying or nuisance by a bad neighbour and impossible to cover in 3 minutes, we have submitted a written representation to enable Councillors to review and inwardly digest.
I personally as Chairman am extremely proud of the way our tiny hamlet and Parish Council with its small group of affected residents have conducted themselves and ensured that at every stage, both in Planning and Environmental Health issues, your officers were given every assistance to enable them to make full choices.
We, as well as other well qualified and professional objectors, have researched and presented facts and theories, opinions and articles from those better informed and qualified to assist your officers to try and understand both the situation arising and the council’s obligations and responsibilities.
We can do no more to assist this council and with the huge increase in traffic movements and digestate disposal that will follow the completion of two anaerobic digesters on the Willand site in September with further production capacity to follow over a two year period I fear the consequences to Mid Devon tourism and holiday trade.
I personally have no intention of shouting into deaf ears anymore; it is now up to you the elected Councillors of Scrutiny to take issue with your own officers as to whether your Council has fulfilled all its responsibilities in this matter.
The Chairman thanked Miss Coffin for her comments.
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the last meeting of this Committee (attached).
The Committee is reminded that only those members of the Committee present at the previous meeting should vote and, in doing so, should be influenced only by seeking to ensure that the minutes are an accurate record.
Subject to changing the word ‘arctic’ to ‘artic’ on page six and changing ‘Tiverton Pannier Market’ to ‘Market Walk Tiverton’ under ‘discussion took place regarding’ on page 11, the minutes of the last meeting were approved as a correct record and SIGNED by the Chairman.
DECISIONS OF THE CABINET
To consider any decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting that have been called-in.
The Committee NOTED that none of the decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting had been called in.
An opportunity for non-Cabinet Members to raise issues.
Cllr Roach raised concerns regarding the amount of money spent on agency workers. The Director of Corporate Affairs & Business Transformation informed Members that agency workers were used to cover periods of annual leave and sickness.
It was AGREED that a report be prepared for the next meeting of the Committee providing detail on the amount spent on agency staff and the reasons for this.
To receive any announcements that the Chairman of Scrutiny Committee may wish to make.
The Chairman reminded Members that there was a training session the following day and also advised them that he would be attending the open day at Red Linhay AD site that week.
PROPOSED CLOSURE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE SURGERIES IN CULLOMPTON AND CREDITON
At the request of Members the Committee to discuss the proposed closure of Customer Services Surgeries that currently take place at Crediton and Cullompton on a twice monthly basis.
Cllr F W Letch had requested that the planned cessation of Customer First Surgeries that were held at Crediton and Cullompton, for four hours every other week, be discussed by the Committee.
Cllr Letch informed Members that he was a Town Councillor as well as a District Councillor and that wearing both hats could be difficult, however Crediton was at the centre of his heart and he considered that it was often forgotten. He reminded Members that on 31 March 2016 the Crediton office had been closed. The Town Council had employed one of the ex-officers within their own office using funding from the authority. Cllr Letch said that he considered it essential that the District Council provided a service there. He did not agree that residents should be expected to use the internet or telephone to make contact and queried the need for face to face contact at Phoenix House if that were the case. Cllr Letch had received two letters of objection from local residents and when he had been in attendance, on what he was told was a ‘quiet day’, eleven people had been seen in the surgery. Many local residents were elderly and could not use the internet or telephone, which could often be confusing. Cllr Letch did not consider the Lords Meadow Leisure Centre to be an appropriate place for a public access computer as many people did not know where it was and it was not very easy to get to.
Cllr Letch read out a letter from a representative of the Crediton and District Access Group in which the author claimed that the most vulnerable would be affected, that there were logistical difficulties in getting to Tiverton for a face to face appointment and that the residents of Crediton would not be receiving an equal service. Cllr Letch proposed downsizing the level of service in Tiverton to enable an increase of service in Cullompton and Crediton.
Discussion took place regarding:
· Consultation that had taken place the previous year;
· Local people might not be confident in the use of technology or the telephone;
· Cuts in service to the Citizens Advice and Age Concern who had provided support in the past;
· People that had difficulties using IT could get support from friends or family;
· The need to move towards digital channels to save money and reduce the number of staff required to answer phones or deal with face to face enquiries;
· Many residents in rural areas had no local access to an office and already had to travel or use digital methods of contact;
· A campaign from the Crediton Courier had only resulted in one complaint;
· Rural Broadband.
The Director of Corporate Affairs & Business Transformation provided the following information which was tabled:
Crediton and Cullompton fortnightly Surgeries
Reason for the decision
Anaerobic Digestion investigation - determining terms of reference to help develop a policy framework for the Council.
The Chairman had requested that Members discuss Anaerobic Digestion and considered determining terms of reference to help develop a policy framework for the Council.
Discussion took place regarding:
· The advantages and disadvantages of Anaerobic Digestion:
· Crops that were grown to feed the Digesters:
· The need for farmers to dispose of slurry in a safe way.
It was RESOLVED to set up a Working Group to look into Anaerobic Digestion, using the following terms of reference:
“To understand the process, science and potential impact of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) on Mid Devon as a source of renewable energy and bio fertiliser.
The remit of the study would include:
1 A desktop review of the process.
2 A review of the current regulatory framework.
3 A review of planning legislation relating to AD; including a correlation with waste processes/plants.
4 Reference site visits.
5 A desktop review of nuisances, environmental concerns/incidents associated with plants and ancillary activities.
6 A peer review from health professionals on any potential human health impact associated with AD plants and ancillary activities.
In order to inform future planning and long term land use considerations.”
Members of the Working Group to be Mrs G Doe, Mrs A R Berry, Mrs B M Hull, Mrs C Daw, T W Snow, F J Rosamond and Mrs M E Squires.
(Proposed by Cllr Mrs J Roach and seconded by Cllr Mrs G Doe)
To provide Members with an update on performance against the corporate plan and local service targets for 2017-18 as well as providing an update on the key business risks.
The Committee had before it and NOTED a report * from the Director of Growth and Chief Executive providing Members with an update on performance against the Corporate Plan and local service targets for 2017-18 as well as providing an update on the key business risks.
The Audit Team Leader outlined the contents of the report, explaining that the report was now more closely linked to the Corporate Plan and discussion took place regarding:
· The increasing number of empty shops in Tiverton and Cullompton;
· Economic information that was provided to the Economy PDG at each meeting;
· The increase in footfall for Tiverton at the Feast of St James event;
· The number of council houses due for completion in the year;
· A request that the number of free vends be identified along with the total number of vends for car parking;
· The benefit of the free car parking periods for local traders;
· That officers be asked to investigate the potential impact on the public when dangerous equipment was in use.
Note: - Report * previously circulated and attached to Minutes.
WHISTLEBLOWING 6 MONTHLY UPDATE
The Audit Team Leader informs the Committee that there have been no cases reported since the last update.
The Audit Team Leader informed the Committee that there had been no cases reported since the last update.
IDENTIFICATION OF ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
Note: - this item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on items raised.
Cabinet Member for Environment
Performance and Risk
Cabinet Member for Environment
Performance and Risk
Addendum to Minutes Scrutiny Committee 17 July 2017
Following discussion it was agreed that the sentence ‘issues were raised in connection with the proposed closures for Cullompton and Crediton and letters from Devon County Council Library Service and Cullompton Town Council were reported to the meeting’ be added to Minute 32, the minutes of the last meeting were approved as a correct record and SIGNED by the Chairman.