Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 23/11/2004
MINUTES of the MEETING of the ENVIRONMENT AND LEISURE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE held
23rd November 2004
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
Mr R J Gates (Chairman)
Mrs L S R Hodgson
Mrs M V M Hunt (Vice-Chairman)
Mrs S R Jacobs
Mr L C Bate
Dr P M Marriott
Mr M J Blower
Mrs P N Mitchell
Dr J F A Blowers
Mr J R Sandy
Mr M W Byham
Mr J M Savage
Mr R D Frost
Mrs J A Slyfield
Mr P Haveron
Mr A E B Taylor-Smith
Mrs P Hibbert
Mr M H W Band, Mr P Betlem, Mr W M Marshall and Mr R C Terry attended as substitutes.
Mrs C E Savage was also in attendance, and Mr B Grainger-Jones for part of the meeting.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 18th October 2004 were confirmed and signed.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Mrs M V M Hunt, Mrs P Hibbert, Mrs L S R Hodgson and Dr P M Marriott. Mr M H W Band, Mr P Betlem, Mr W M Marshall and Mr R C Terry attended as substitutes.
DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
The following personal interests were declared at the meeting in relation to Appendices E and F:-
Mr L C Bate
Waverley representative on Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership
Waverley representative on Frensham Ponds Sailing Club
Mr M H W Band
Waverley representative on the Hurtwood Control Committee
Mr R J Gates
Waverley appointed trustee at Godalming Leisure Centre
Mr J M Savage
Waverley representative on the Cranleigh Arts Centre Limited.
Mrs J A Slyfield
John Stanley Jeffries Swimming Pool Trust
Member on the Joint Burial Committee - Godalming Town Council
Each remained in the meeting during consideration and voting on the items.
EXECUTIVE FOUR-MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 5, Appendix A)
RESOLVED that the Executive Four-Month Rolling Programme of key decisions be received and noted.
COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 6)
RESOLVED that the Committee work programme be received.
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT SCHEME (Agenda Item 8, Appendix C)
The Committee considered a short report, which sought to bring Members up to date with the continuing work on the Draft Local Development Scheme (LDS), which was considered by this Committee on 13th September 2004.
The Executive will consider the revised draft LDS at its meeting on 7th December and will be formally seeking the views of this Committee at the meeting on 18th January. In order to meet the Government Office's December target for submission, the Executive will also be seeking to forward a copy of the revised LDS for the informal views of the Government Office for the South East.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
REVIEW OF DEVELOPMENT CONTROL (Agenda Item 7, Appendix B)
The Committee considered a report which set out the information and evidence gathered by the Committee as part of its review of Development Control. The report set out the results of the member survey, the evidence obtained from staff interviews conducted by the review Sub-Committee and a summary of the evidence provided by other local authorities and the Planning Officers' Society at the select committee style meeting held on 18th October 2004.
On the basis of the above information, the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered the outcome of the review of Development Control and made the following conclusions and observations to be included in the final report to the Executive:-
I The Committee wanted it to be emphasised that any Planning Delivery Grant monies be applied to improving planning service performance.
II It was agreed that 'outsourcing' should continue to be used to cope with peaks in workload. The importance of the quality as well as quantity of decisions was emphasised.
III The importance of Waverley developing its 'own planners' was agreed. It was suggested that the Executive consider establishing a formal graduate training programme as evidence had suggested that this would prove successful.
IV It was agreed that delays should be avoided with all recruitment carried out.
V It was agreed that charging for additional planning services should be investigated further. The Committee recognised that there were advantages and disadvantages of using this approach. The Committee was informed that the website would contain pre-application advice from January 2005.
VI It was recognised that enforcement was a problem and that there should be a proper enforcement policy. It was established that enforcement needed dedicated resources. The Committee agreed that there should be dedicated staff with the appropriate skills. There was support from the Committee that planning contravention should become a criminal offence and that appropriate sanctions, which should be proactive, should be looked at further.
VII The success of the Planning Enquiry Team was noted and it was recognised that it had assisted in meeting targets.
VIII There had been evidence from other authorities that having fewer committees was effective. It was agreed that the Executive should commission a report from Officers on the current Committee system. Concern was also expressed about the number of applications being referred to the Council.
IX It was agreed that a formal monitoring group be established, preferably a Sub-Committee of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
X It was noted that Waverley was delegating as much as other authorities and that the principles of delegation had not changed but that Officers were now using the delegation scheme to its full extent. Some members did state that they had found the delegation scheme in some respects 'confusing'. It was also noted that Members were now experiencing a change in roles with Members being more involved with planning policy rather than decisions.
XI It was agreed that there should be Member training on the provision of planning services envisaged in the Government's Modernising Agenda and the new Planning Act.
RESOLVED that the observations set out above be included in the final report to the Executive.
BEST VALUE AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (Agenda Item 9, Appendix D)
The Committee considered a report which detailed Waverley's performance during the first six months of 2004/05 in respect of the best value and local performance indicators (BVPIs) that fall within the remit of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The report also provided a commentary on the review of targets for 2005/06.
The Committee agreed that this item needed more time to be dealt with adequately. It was agreed that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman would identify certain key indicators for monitoring and a 'trend analysis' should be carried out. It was also questioned how the presentation of BVPIs could be improved.
In relation to the following indicators the following observations were made :-
BVP1 82 (b) - the Committee noted that the Household waste that is composted target implied that there was little happening. Officers informed the Committee that this was because the Council's efforts on home composting were not taken into account.
The Committee was informed that Waverley had been awarded £62,000 from the Surrey Challenge Fund and that there would be a trial green waste collection round in Waverley.
BVPI 84 - the Committee did express that more challenging targets in relation to Kg of household waste collection by head should be set.
BVPI 170 a-c - the Committee agreed that quarterly information in regard to:
number of visits to/use of museums per 1,000 population
number of those visits that were in person per 1,000 population; and
number of pupils visiting museums and galleries in organised school groups
should be reported cumulatively,
BVPI 204 - as performance was better than target in regard to percentage of appeals allowed against the authority's decision to refuse planning applications, the Committee suggested setting a more challenging target.
RESOLVED that the report be noted and the above observations on the targets for 2007/08 be forwarded to the Executive.
DRAFT GENERAL FUND REVENUE ESTIMATES 2005/06 (Agenda Item 9, Appendix E)
The Committee considered a report which sought the Committee's views on the Draft Revenue Estimates for the services within its remit. The Committee made a general point that for both revenue and capital estimates, unlike the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it was not in a position to take an overall view of the Council's priorities. However, it did wish to make some detailed observations of the areas it scrutinised:-
The Committee expressed concern at the estimated cost of £10,000 for the new legislation to deal with high hedges, which was to come into effect from 1st January 2005. Officers informed the Committee that this was intended to cover work carried out by consultants in dealing with complaints, instead of involving planning officers.
Concern was expressed at the cost of £10,000 for High Lane Pavilion (comprising £1,700 - rates and £8,300 - cleaning duties). Officers informed the Committee that attempts at getting a voluntary group to take over this responsibility has failed. The Committee expressed their disappointment that there was insufficient local interest to provide voluntary support.
It was noted that fees from Local Land Charge searches showed a significant shortfall of some £80,000. Officers informed the Committee that the number of private searches had increased and that the overall numbers of searches had also decreased.
The Committee noted that the increase in the demand for the Special Refuse Collection had led to the Hired and Contracted Services Cost increasing. Officers informed the Committee that this was due to those entitled to supplementary benefit being increased. This had been introduced as it prevented 'flytipping'.
The Committee noted that the cost of environmental cleaning had increased. Officers informed the Committee that it was due to an inflation increase within the contract.
Concern was expressed at the increase in asset charges with the Godalming Leisure Centre. Officers confirmed that they would work with the property department on this issue. Concern was also expressed at the increase in cost with regard to The Edge Leisure Centre. It was questioned whether it could have charitable status and the Committee was updated that this had been tried previously but unfortunately failed.
The Committee noted the proposed increase in car park charges and noted that a report was going to the Executive.
The Committee questioned when Waverley would receive the Planning Delivery Grant (PDG). Officers informed the Committee that the PDG is announced in February for Development Control, and in May for E-government, Local Development Framework and housing needs.
RESOLVED that the observations on the draft revenue estimates for the services within its remit, be forwarded to the Executive.
CONTINUATION OF MEETING
At 9.35 p.m., in accordance with procedure rule 9, the Chairman proposed and the Committee agreed that the meeting should continue until all the business of the meeting had been completed.
DRAFT CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2005/06 (Agenda Item 10, Appendix F)
The Committee received this report which put forward the proposals for the draft 2005/06 Capital Programme in respect of the General Fund services within the remit of the Committee. The following detailed observations were made:-
The Committee noted that the proposed works to
Weyhill Car Park would have a significant cost. However, the Committee noted that this was projected to generate £80,000 parking revenue in a full year and would be suitable for consideration for prudential borrowing.
The Committee noted that the refurbishment of the Farnham Sports Centre was a considerable expense and questioned the need to spend £75,000 on client maintenance if refurbishment went ahead.
The cost of reconstruction of Broadwater Car Park was questioned when this was rented to JSJ and seen as a further contribution to JSJ Funds.
The Committee was informed that partnership funding for the Farnham Maltings had been obtained and the works planned were proceeding.
It was questioned why there had not been a report on Legionella Disease when there was a cost of £100,000 involved. The Committee was updated that a report on the Tree Risk Assessment had gone to the Executive.
RESOLVED that the observations on the draft Capital Programme for the services within its remit, be forwarded to the Executive.
The meeting concluded at 9.48 pm