Venue: Exe Room, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Sarah Lees Member Services Officer
Link: audio recording
Apologies and Substitute Members
To receive any apologies for absence and notice of appointment of substitutes.
Apologies were received from Cllr Mrs A R Berry.
Declaration of Interests under the Code of Conduct
Councillors are reminded of the requirement to declare any interest,
including the type of interest, and reason for that interest, either at this
stage of the meeting or as soon as they become aware of that interest.
No interests were declared under this item.
Public Question Time
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
There were no questions raised by the one member of the public present.
Members to consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the special meeting held on 29 January 2019.
The minutes of the special meeting held on 29 January 2019 were confirmed as a true and accurate record and SIGNED by the Chairman.
To receive any announcements that the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman had no announcements to make.
To receive 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 2018/19 as well as providing an update on the key business risks.
The Group 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 2018/19 as well as providing an update on the key business risks.
It was explained that the report provided performance data up until the end of January 2019.
It was noted that the number of businesses assisted by the Economic Development team was above target and that progress was being made on the Tiverton Town Centre improvements.
Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
To receive a verbal update from the Group Manager for Financial Services presenting a financial update in respect of the income and expenditure so far in the year.
The Group received a verbal update from the Group Manager for Finance presenting a financial update in respect of the income and expenditure so far in the year.
It was reported that in December 2018 the predicted unfavourable variance on the budget had been £65k this had now reduced to £45k representing a slightly improved position.
There was still a predicted overspend in the area of car parking and in property services, however some areas were showing a positive variance, for example, interest on investments.
To receive a report from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration reporting to Members on the funding provided to two grant aided bodies under the Economy PDG.
The Group received a report * from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration reporting to Members on the funding provided to two grant aided bodies under the Economy PDG.
It was explained that no formal funding agreement currently existed between Mid Devon District Council and the two grant recipients discussed within the report. A better understanding was needed with regard to the use of these grants going forwards so as to inform the Council’s decision making with regard to the level of future grant support funding. A formal process needed to be put in place to review the grants given prior to the next round of budget setting. The Canal Manager had agreed to provide a full report to the Council on a regular basis going forwards.
The Devon & Exeter Rail Project Working Party had met twice a year to discuss issues relating to railway provision in Devon and in particular the rail services that run in and out of Exeter. Following changes to personnel, DCC had decided that it could no longer administer the group and it was decided to change the working group into a forum aligned to the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership with wider community involvement. The District Council had been contributing £3,500 annually to the Devon & Exeter Rail Project for a number of years, however, with the change of structure it seemed appropriate to review future funding arrangements.
Consideration was given to:
· The benefit of the Canal to Tiverton and the wider district of Mid Devon in terms of tourism, education and health and well-being.
· More in depth scrutiny being welcomed.
· As the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership was new forum the Council needed to know how any financial contributions it made would be used.
RECOMMENDED to the Cabinet that:
a) That the contribution to the Devon & Exeter Rail Project be reviewed following formation of a new Rail Forum.
b) That the Council continues to offer an annual grant of £45,000 for 2019/20 to the Grand Western Canal to support its maintenance.
c) That an assessment be undertaken, in liaison with Devon County Council, prior to the financial year 2020/21 to inform decision making with regard to the level of future grant support for the Canal.
(Proposed by Cllr Mrs N Woollatt and seconded by Cllr F J Rosamond)
Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
To receive a report from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration presenting to Members steps to introduce cost recovery into the Growth, Economy and Delivery service and to look at issues relating to further commercialisation within the service.
The Group had before it a report * from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration presenting to Members steps to introduce cost recovery into the Growth, Economy and Delivery Service and to look at issues relating to further commercialisation within the service.
The contents of the report were outlined with reference to the following:
· Two examples of recent successful bids for external funding. One being the ‘Connecting the Culm’ Catchment Based Approach Study (Interreg funded) in partnership with the Blackdown Hills AONB. The other being the Mid Devon Destination Management Website (Leader Funded) in partnership with the Tiverton Museum and the Tourist Information Service.
· The need to propose charges that were consistent with those given for pre-application advice in the Planning department for example.
· The need to re-coup costs only.
· This would be a step by step process and would be monitored to see if fees were affecting the number of organisations contacting the Council.
· Often the Economic Development Officer was present at a pre-application meeting with a Planning and Conservation Officer whose time was being paid for by an applicant but his wasn’t.
Discussion took place regarding:
· The cost / benefit of the proposed charges.
· Whether charging a fee would dissuade some businesses or individuals from contacting the Council for advice.
· Would some successful projects have come to fruition if a charging schedule had been in place? This was a difficult, hypothetical question to answer.
· Concern that some voluntary groups may not be able to afford to make contact with the Council.
· There were very few examples of economic development services operating on a partial cost-recovery basis across the South West, although many councils had moved straight to setting up arms-length commercial services companies which allow local authorities to make profit as opposed to only seeking cost recovery.
· The financial constraints upon the Council and the need to consider maximising income wherever possible.
· The need for more factual data in order to come to a more considered opinion.
It was AGREED that a more detailed report be brought back to the Group at their next meeting providing greater clarity about the possible effects of charging and whether discretion could be applied for certain businesses and non-businesses based upon their individual circumstances.
Note: (i) * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
(ii) Cllr Mrs N Woollatt declared a personal interest as she is a mill owner.
To receive the report of the Chairman of the Policy Development Group for the year 2018/19.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a draft report * by the Chairman of the Group, a final copy of this report would be submitted to Council on 24 April 2019.
The Group were informed that the Economic Development team had been unsuccessful in the LGC ‘Driving Economic Growth Awards’ the previous evening, however, the Group wished to congratulate the team on making it to the shortlist which was a significant achievement for a rural district council.
Note: * Report previously circulated and attached to the signed minutes.
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:
· Election of Chairman for 2019/20
· Election of Vice Chairman for 2019/20
· Performance & Risk outturn report for 2018/2019
· Financial Monitoring
· Revenue and Capital outturn for 2018/19
· Mobile phone / website interface
· Economic Project Update
· Start time of future meetings
Note: This item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on the items raised.
In addition to the items already listed for the next meeting it was requested that the following be added to the agenda:
· Cost-Recovery and Commercialisation in Growth, Economy and Delivery