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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 11/09/2007
SURREY HILLS AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY - GOVERNANCE REVIEW CONSULTATION



Summary & Purpose
To consider a consultation by the Surrey Hills Joint Advisory Committee regarding proposed changes to the governance of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - the way the committees are organised.

APPENDIX H
Waverley Borough Council

ENVIRONMENT AND LEISURE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY Committee
11th september 2007
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Title:
SURREY HILLS AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY - GOVERNANCE REVIEW CONSULTATION
[Wards Affected: All Except Urban Areas, Dunsfold and Alfold]
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Summary and purpose:

To consider a consultation by the Surrey Hills Joint Advisory Committee regarding proposed changes to the governance of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - the way the committees are organised.

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Environmental implications:

There are no direct implications for the environment from this proposal, it is a procedural matter. Indirectly it should result in an improvement in the management of the AONB.

Social / community implications:

The improvement in the procedures should assist with consultations with the community.

E-Government implications:

There are no additional implications.

Resource and legal implications:

The improvement in the procedures will improve partnership workings. Waverley makes a contribution from the Sponsored Organisations Scheme of 5,744 towards the running costs in 2007-2008. It is not known how much the AONB will apply for in future years or whether the proposals detailed in this report will have any impact on the organisation’s running costs.

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Background

This report is based on a report produced by Tandridge District Council, one of the AONB partner authorities, and permission to use the report is acknowledged with thanks. All the Districts in the Surrey Hills AONB have submitted reports on these lines to their Councils.

1. The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty extends across Waverley from north of Ewhurst in the east to Frensham in the west and covers over half of the rural area of the Borough. It extends across Surrey from Tandridge to the Hampshire border. The AONB is a landscape of national importance and the Council, as local planning authority, has a number of statutory duties in relation to this designation. One of the principal requirements on the Council is to produce a Management Plan. The five "Surrey Hills" districts and boroughs have jointly delegated the preparation and delivery of the Management Plan to the Surrey Hills Joint Advisory Committee. The day-to-day work is undertaken by the Surrey Hills Office. Funding is principally from Natural England, with other funding coming from Surrey County Council, the five districts and boroughs and the National Trust.

2. The Surrey Hills Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) was established in March 1998. The funding arrangements and the constitution of the JAC were reviewed in 2001/2002. Following consultation with the constituent funding partners, a new constitution was agreed by the JAC in March 2002. The 2002 constitution states "The funding arrangements and the constitution of the JAC will be reviewed every six years at the time the memorandum of agreement is reviewed". At its meeting in October 2006, the JAC agreed to set up a Review Group to report back to the JAC meeting in March 2007.

3. The report of the Review Group was discussed by the JAC at its meeting on 12th March 2007. The JAC agreed that:

"The constituent local authorities be asked to consider establishing a Joint Management Committee for the Surrey Hills AONB in the place of the current Joint Advisory Committee and to consider delegating responsibility to prepare and implement the AONB management plan to the Joint Management Committee. If agreed in principle by the local authorities, the JAC to consider a new constitution for the JMC at its meeting in October 2007".

4. The Surrey Hills Executive considered a detailed report on the proposals at its meeting on 22nd May, with consultation to follow this meeting.

Existing Governance Arrangements

5. The current governance and staffing arrangements are as follows. The Surrey Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee, commonly referred to as the "Surrey Hills Partnership", is primarily an advisory body rather than an executive body. The JAC recommends and approves the appointment of the Surrey Hills AONB Officer and recommends the appointment of other staff as part of a planned programme of work and to undertake specific functions determined by the JAC. The JAC approves annually a three year rolling business plan and an annual budget. The membership of the JAC is set out in Annexe A.

6. At present, the JAC meets twice a year including a tour to view work on the ground. Between meetings of the JAC are meetings of the Executive Board commonly referred to as "The Executive". The Executive oversees the work of the Surrey Hills Office and reports back to the JAC. In particular, it oversees and advises on the production of the AONB Management Plan. At present, the Executive meets quarterly and its membership is drawn from the JAC and is also set out in Annexe A.

7. The Surrey Hills AONB Unit staff are employed by Surrey County Council (SCC) on behalf of the partnership, SCC also prepare and manage the accounts. The Unit has developed a degree of independence from the County Council and is located at the National Trust's Warren Farm at Mickleham and works closely with all the Surrey Hills local authorities and other partner organisations.

Proposed New Governance Arrangements

8. It is proposed that there should now be the following arrangements:

9. It is proposed to establish a new Surrey Hills Board and that the Board should be constituted as a Joint Management Committee (under the Local Government Acts). The Surrey Hills constituent local authorities should agree to delegate responsibility to prepare and implement the Surrey Hills AONB Management Plan to the Surrey Hills Board. The staff of the AONB Unit should continue, as at present, to be employed by Surrey County Council who would also continue to be responsible for the accounts.

10. The suggestion is that the Surrey Hills Board should meet four times a year. The Board should include one member from each of the funding partners; Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Mole Valley District Council, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Tandridge District Council, Waverley Borough Council, Natural England and the National Trust (not all core funding partners are currently represented on the existing Executive). There should be up to four advisory (non-voting) members drawn from the Advisory Members of the Partnership; two representatives of Parish and Town Councils on the Board in an advisory (non-voting) capacity, to be nominated by the Surrey County Association of Parish and Town Councils. The proposed membership is set out in Annexe A.

11. The Surrey Hills Partnership meetings should continue as advisory meetings (but not as a formally constituted Joint Advisory Committee). One of the two meetings each year would include a tour of work on the ground. The Partnership meetings should provide advice on the work of the Board and the AONB Unit. The membership of the Partnership should remain essentially as at present, as set out in the Appendix, and that members of the Board should also be members of the Partnership.

Issues

12. The current governance arrangements are not clear with the existing Joint Advisory Committee (The Partnership) being responsible for certain matters with the smaller executive being responsible for implementing the work. The proposed changes would clarify the governance arrangements by introducing a smaller board that would be the responsible body for preparing and implementing the Management Plan. It would be responsible for the work of the AONB Unit and this would enable it to have a direct impact on the conservation and enhancement of the AONB. The proposals would strengthen democratic accountability by allowing all core funding local authorities a place on the Board. The new Partnership would not have the same decision making responsibilities as the existing Partnership but would exist as part of the wider consultation arrangements providing advice and allowing an exchange of views with the wider group of bodies that operate within the Surrey Hills.

Conclusion

13. The proposals would represent an improvement on the current governance arrangements, without any diminution in the service that Waverley receives from the Surrey Hills Office. The changes would not result in any additional costs.

Recommendation

1. the proposed changes to the Governance arrangements for the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty be supported; and

2. the Council delegate the responsibility of preparing the AONB Management Plan to the new Surrey Hill Board.

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Background Papers (DPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Geraldine Molony Telephone: 01483 523296

E-mail: gmolony@waverley.gov.uk




Comms/O&S3/2007-8/110907/Appendix H