Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 16/01/2007
MINUTES of the MEETING of the ENVIRONMENT AND LEISURE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE held
16th January 2007
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
Mr J R Sandy (Chairman)
Mrs L S R Hodgson
Mrs M V M Hunt (Vice Chairman)
Mrs S R Jacobs
Mr M H W Band
Mrs D M James
Dr J F A Blowers
Mrs P N Mitchell
Mr M W Byham
Mr J M Savage
Mr M A Edgington
Mrs J A Slyfield
Mr R D Frost
Ms M Taylor
Mr P D Harmer
Mr A E B Taylor-Smith
Mrs P Hibbert
Mrs P Ellis, Mr B A Ellis and Mrs A E Mansell attended as substitutes
[other members of Council also in attendance]
INFORMAL PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
There was an informal question from Zofia Lovell, Vice Chairman of South Farnham Residents’ Association. A written reply would be sent.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 27th November 2006 were confirmed and signed.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Apologies for absence were received from Mrs P Hibbert, Mr M W Byham, Mrs J A Slyfield, Mr R D Frost and Mrs D M James. Mrs P Ellis, Mr B A Ellis and Mrs A E Mansell attended as substitutes.
The Chairman passed on the Committee’s good wishes to Mrs Hibbert for a speedy recovery from her operation.
DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
The following disclosures of personal interests were received:
Mr J R Sandy
Item 11 Financial Strategy 2007/8 – 2009/10
Milford and Villages Day Centre/Sport Godalming
Mrs S R Jacobs
Member of The Maltings
Mr M H W Band
Waverley representative on the Hurtwood Control
Mr J M Savage
Representative on Cranleigh Arts Centre
Mrs A E Mansell
Representative on Brightwells Gostrey
Mr C H Mansell
Trustee to Rural Life Centre and Farnham Youth Project
Dr J F A Blowers
Member of Milford and Villages Day Centre/Sport Godalming
Mr B A Ellis
Cranleigh Arts Centre
Mrs P Ellis
Waverley representative on Age Concern and Cranleigh Age Concern
Mrs P N Mitchell
Waverley representative on Mildford and Villages Day Centre and volunteer on Meals on Wheels.
Mr P D Harmer
Item 8 Surrey County Council Highways
Waverley representative on Rural Life Centre
Member of Surrey County Council Executive
QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
There were no formal questions from members of the public.
EXECUTIVE FOUR MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME
(Agenda Item 6)
The Committee noted the Executive’s four month rolling programme of key decisions which had been considered by the Executive on 9th January 2007.
COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME
(Agenda Item 7.1)
The Committee noted the recent progress on items within its remit.
IN DEPTH REVIEWS
(Agenda Item 7.2)
The Committee noted the work programme for its 2006/7 in depth reviews. Officers reported that the Highways Review would be discussed in more detail during the meeting. It was hoped that a scoping report on the second item - Haslemere Educational Museum – would be brought to the March meeting. The third item – The Olympics in 2012 and its impact on Waverley – remained a reserve item.
PERFORMANCE INDICATORS SUB COMMITTEE
(Agenda Item 7.3)
The Executive agreed at its last meeting that a Sub Committee of four members should be formed to review the performance indicators within the remit of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee on a regular basis. The Chairman asked for nominations.
RESOLVED that Mr M H W Band and one other Member from the Conservative Group (still to be confirmed) be appointed, and that Mrs S R Jacobs and Mrs P N Mitchell be appointed from the Liberal Democrat group, to the Performance Indicators Sub Committee.
SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL HIGHWAYS DEPARTMENT INPUT INTO DEVELOPMENT CONTROL DECISIONS
Mike Green, West Team Manager, Transportation Development Control team from Surrey County Council (SCC) attended the meeting for a question and answer session as part of the Committee’s in-depth review.
Mr Green gave a presentation explaining that good partnership working was key to the success of the Highways input into development control decisions. He said that Surrey had had a good relationship with Waverley over the last twenty years and referred to the SCC Local Committee report of 13th October, outlining the process through which advice was provided to Waverley, drawing out the following key points:
The report referred to the Highway authority’s obligation to provide advice and only recommend refusal where it could demonstrate ‘real harm’ (Page 21). It was explained that this was not an exact science – technical guidance was used but there were grey areas;
If it was felt that safety would be compromised in terms of highways issues in an application, SCC would recommend refusal;
Phil Townsend, Senior Transportation Development Control Officer, SCC met with Waverley officers every Friday to discuss applications and to take away for further review those with perceived material impact;
The Highways Department had lost a third of staff over last few years; and
Cumulative impact of individual applications was a key issue – a formula was being developed to address small development and its cumulative impact.
The Chairman invited questions from the Committee, which included the following summary of key questions:
Q. If Members have a particular concern could they attend the weekly planning meeting referred to?
A. This would not be practical but Phil Townsend, Senior Transportation Development Control Officer, would have no objection to Members contacting him directly about any application he was dealing with.
Q. Which sites does Surrey County Council visit?
A. Phil Townsend or a member of his team visits all sites for those applications he takes on, unless he has carried out a site inspection there recently. The team also makes use of computer applications such as Google Earth and GIS mapping systems.
Q. It is important to take more note of what residents are saying, given that the volume of traffic has increased in some areas, it is quite possible that applications are granted where they should not be.
A. There are a few ‘rare’ cases where oversights have been made, but so far the system has ensured these are put right – in the context of the volume of applications received these are relatively few.
Q. Every planning application Waverley receives is logged on to its website so would it be possible to add a box to the database to mark when Phil Townsend has reviewed the cases? Would it also be possible to split the weekly meeting in half so that Members could attend for the first part and the usual business continue in the second part?
A. Officers said that changes would require new resources which were not currently available. Mr Green said again that Members were welcome to approach Phil Townsend directly.
Q. What can Members do to gather evidence to help in taking decisions, avoiding a scattergun approach?
A. SCC regularly received information from members of the public, Councillors and the police and felt that the current system worked adequately. Mike Green explained that Phil Townsend only covered Waverley for half of his time.
Q. Could officers circulate the response to the informal question to all Committee Members?
Q. Are Parish Councils’ views taken on board?
A. Yes, the process is responsive to comments along the way.
Q. Can we have full details of the discussion at the meeting and can CDs be produced of the discussion?
A. Officers said there would be a full report of the discussion, and that the webcast recording would be available on line in due course.
Q. How joined up is thinking within SCC? e.g. safe routes to school, off street parking etc?
A. Mr Green said he could reassure Members that there was consideration of all relevant policies within the Borough and Surrey CC policies and plans around highway safety, parking provision etc.
Q. We are all aiming for quality of planning decisions so we need to pick up on any ‘oversights.’
A. This was agreed and targeting of cases was rational but there was always room for improvement.
The Chairman then invited questions from other Members who had attended the meeting.
Q. Members are concerned about the ‘drip drip’ cumulative effect of smaller planning applications.
A. This is a problem but there has not been a large increase in population in the Borough, rather than a change of demand. For instance, in future there may be new communities e.g. proposals for Dunsfold, which are a new feature.
Q. Members have appreciated the session and it has given an understanding of Surrey’s constraints. It would be helpful to have a short paragraph of explanation on the planning application instead of the standard ‘no observations’.
A. On large applications, background information exists and in general, for most smaller applications a standard paragraph suffices.
The Committee made the following observations:
The Committee welcomed Mr Green’s background papers and attendance and convey committee’s thanks for explaining more fully the context and constraints on Surrey Highways;
Requests the Executive to propose to Surrey County Council that a brief explanation be given of the background to their decisions on a greater number of applications;
Asks for the Planning Department report on proposed section 106 tariff to be submitted to the next ELOS meeting in March;
Publicise that Ward members are able to contact PT by email phone letter etc to discuss detailed position if necessary;
Surrey officers give more weight to ward members local knowledge and the local knowledge of any objectors to an application and look at mechanisms for enabling Members to clarify highways matters;
To ask Surrey to look at ways of focusing objections through town and parish councils and give these additional weight;
All members should be sent a copy of the response to Mrs Lovell’s informal question.
To urge Surrey officers to look at other ways of taking cumulative impact into account when formulating their response.
RESOLVED: That the Committee, based on the observations above, finalise recommendations to the Joint Planning Management Committee and the Executive at its March meeting on ways of improving the service to people in the Borough, which may include requests to the County Council to improve its service.
REVIEW OF WAVERLEY’S ECONOMIC STRATEGY
At a previous meeting, it was agreed that a report be brought to the Committee regarding Waverley’s Economic Strategy.
Iain Lynch introduced the report which had been circulated to Members, together with a supplementary paper which set out the notes from the Members’ workshop on 14th September. He explained that Waverley had seen an increase in local businesses with around 6000 in the Borough now. He said that the nature of the support needed to reflect the fact that there were generally small businesses. He referred to the annexe which was a report by Ancer Spa consultants which presented the findings of interviews of local partners to inform the Council’s economic opportunities strategy.
Some members expressed concern that the Ancer Spa report did not make it clear that some comments came from particular consultees rather than either the consultant or Waverley. Officers said that the consultants had interviewed a range of stakeholders including Dunsfold Park and that the document was not Council policy, it was an information tool. Members then discussed the priorities set out in section 2 of the report which it was hoped would form the core of Waverley’s economic and community development strategy for the next five years. Members felt that these priorities were still important and asked for a reference to sustainable green tourism wherever possible.
The Committee also discussed the issue of post office closures and heard that the post office network was losing £4 million a week. Following a 12 week consultation the Post Office was expected to develop its restructuring plans within new access criteria.
The Committee made the following observations:
To make clear the significance of the Post Office Network for small businesses locally e.g. mail order firms
Identify the role of rural post offices which provide a service to the community, such as help with pension applications etc.
Significance of post offices in local shops which could mean that land values are lost, and lead to a domino effect;
Make reference to Disability Discrimination Act requirement concerns; and
Clarification on part time post offices’ position.
That the priorities set out in section 2 should form the core of Waverley’s economic and community development strategy for the next five years with the addition of a reference to ‘aim towards sustainable green tourism wherever possible’.
The above observations be included in the Council’s response to the Government’s consultation paper on the Post Office Network.
CONTINUATION OF MEETING
In accordance with Procedure Rule 9, the Committee resolved to finish its business by 10.30pm.
PARKING SERVICES RESTRUCTURE
Members noted the report on the restructuring and expansion of the Environment and Leisure Department’s Parking Services section to accommodate the management and enforcement of both on street and off street parking under a decriminalised parking enforcement regime. Members said it was important to ensure that Surrey undertook a satisfactory audit of ‘signs and lines’. Officers confirmed it would be Surrey’s responsibility to ensure this was completed by the time the scheme started on 2nd April 2007.
RESOLVED: to recommend to the Executive that:
the Director of Environment and Leisure and the Head of Personnel and Central Services be authorised to restructure the Parking Services Section of the Council in accordance with the proposals set out in this report including the regarding of posts and the recruitment of the required new posts, with no specific additional observations to be passed from the Committee.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY 2007/8-2009/10
Draft General Fund – Revenue Estimates 2007/8
Members noted the report which updated the Committee on the latest position regarding the General Fund Budget with proposals for reducing the shortfall. Members heard the Executive was due to give final consideration to the Budget on 6th February including the comments from this Committee. It was suggested that the points made at the Committee meeting on 31st October, for improving Alternate Weekly Collection and recycling in relation to the Waste Management SIG report, be added in an additional comment to the Executive.
RESOLVED: That the Committee supports the draft General Fund Estimates for the services within its remit including the proposed budget restrictions, and suggests that the points made on Alternate Weekly Collection and recycling improvements are considered as part of the budget-setting process.
Draft General Fund – Capital Programme 2007/8
Members noted the report which presented the proposals for the draft 2007/8 Capital Programme in respect of the General Fund services for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees during January. Observations would be reported to the Executive on 6th February with final approval of the Capital Programme being determined by the Council on 20th February. Members said they preferred the new format of the report presented to this meeting.
RESOLVED: to advise the Executive that the Committee had received the report on the draft Capital Programme for the services within its remit and had no specific comments to make.
SPONSORED ORGANISATIONS SCHEME
The Committee considered a report setting out the applications from the Sponsored Organisations Scheme for revenue funding in 2007/8 with assessment of applications against the approved Sponsored Organisations Scheme criteria and recommendations for funding.
Members had also received a supplementary report on Cranleigh Arts Centre (CAC) and a request for an additional £12,000 to enable The Maltings to provide a management service to the CAC. It was also requested that the Committee consider the employment of a funding officer for a limited period to boost the Haslemere Educational Museum’s capital and revenue resources to strengthen its long term position.
It was further agreed that the other items in the budget remain the same.
RESOLVED That the Committee agree:
the Sponsored Organisation Scheme applications within its remit as detailed in Annexe 1 and grant recommendations to assist the Executive in its consideration of all applications on 6th February 2007; and
the proposals to contribute to the Waverley Voluntary Grants Panel in 2007/8 at the level of £52, 410 being the 2006-7 level plus inflation; and
to support officers’ advice for an increase of £12,000 grant for the Cranleigh Arts Centre and;
to support officers’ advice that an application should be made by Haslemere Museum to the Community Partnerships Fund regarding the future employment of a funding officer.
The meeting concluded at 10.29 pm