agenda for these minutes
Councillors Hart (Chairman), Barker, Channon, Clatworthy, Croad, Davis, S Hughes, Leadbetter and Mumford
Members attending in accordance with Standing Orders 8 and 25:-
Councillors Brook, Cann, Edgell, Greenslade, Hannon, Hook, Newcombe, Pennington, Spence and Westlake.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 14 September 2011 be signed as a correct record.
The Chairman welcomed Mrs Mayes who was attending the meeting as an Independent Member of the Council's Standards Committee to observe and monitor compliance with the Council s ethical governance framework.
The Chairman reported that following representations made by the County Council and others (Minute *394(d) refers) the Highways Agency had recently confirmed that it was no longer intending to remove Drybridge over the A38 and would be seeking funding to replace the bridge; in the meantime the situation would be monitored and remedial works carried out as necessary by the Highways Agency to extend the life of the structure.
The Leader was presented, by Councillor Brook, with a petition containing 208 signatures representing the majority of residents of Bridford seeking the reinstatement of that community on the primary gritting route. The Chairman indicated that the Cabinet Member for Highways Transportation or the relevant Head of Service would be asked to respond direct to the petitioner on the issues raised, within 15 days.
*401 Questions from Members of the Council
In accordance with the Cabinet Procedure Rules, the Leader responded to a question from a Member of the Council on flood defence funding.
*402 Questions from Members of the Public
In accordance with the Council's Public Participation Rules, the relevant Cabinet Member would respond direct to a question on gritting of roads from a member of the public who was not present at the meeting.
*403 Highway Winter Service (Minute *236/8 September 2010)
(Councillors Greenslade, Hannon, Hook, Newcombe and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
(Councillors Greenslade and Newcombe each declared a personal interest in this matter by virtue of being an unremunerated Director of Exeter Devon Airport Ltd and a member of Exeter City Council, respectively).
The Cabinet considered the report of the Head of Highways Traffic Management (HTM/11/25 - text only | pdf HTM/11/25) on proposed changes to the highway winter service for 2011 arising from a review of the experiences of the previous winter, the continuing drive to improve efficiency and the need to improve safety in the delivery of the service, having regard to all relevant factors including the needs of, and access to, small rural communities.
Representations were also made to the effect that consideration should be given to modifying the criteria in heavily populated urban areas, such as Exeter,
Members noted that a number of minor changes had been made to the criteria for the primary salting network - to aid consistency and clarification - resulting in an improved delivery of salting of the network using 37 routes rather than 48 as before.
It was MOVED by Councillor Hughes, SECONDED by Councillor Davis, and
(b) that the changes to the Snow Warden Scheme agreed with the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation be noted.
404 Backing Devon - Devon County Council s Strategic Plan 2011-15
(Councillors Cann, Greenslade, Hannon, Hook, Newcombe, Pennington and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the report of the Chief Executive (CX/11/55 - text only | pdf | supplementary information CX/11/55) on the proposed content of the Council s revised Strategic Plan for the period 2011-15.
The draft Plan as now submitted had been developed by a Working Group comprising the Chief Executive, Heads of Service and Cabinet Members based on a range of established evidence and information, major challenges identified from those and other key sources while reflecting the core principles from the Authority s existing Strategic Plan Care, Enterprise and Community which were retained and reflected in its emerging Vision and Priorities. The Plan also outlined the current challenges facing Devon, including a growing population, significantly reduced public sector spending, an increasing demand on services, and pressures on the local economy and also described how the role of the County Council was changing in response to those challenges.
The Cabinet noted that the Council s People and Place Scrutiny Committees had been generally supportive of the Plan and its proposed content subject to some suggested drafting and presentational amendments and to regular monitoring. The views of the other Scrutiny Committees were being sought and wider staff and partnership consultation would continue during the document s development.
The Cabinet also noted the suggestion that the Plan could benefit from more explicit recognition of the Council s approach to the emerging localism agenda and its relationship with the EU. Conversely, concern was expressed at the possible interpretation of existing references to windfarms, should the Council s support be seen as unconditional and unresponsive to the needs of the communities affected.
It was MOVED by Councillor Mumford, SECONDED by Councillor Leadbetter, and
(a) that the Cabinet endorse the Council s Strategic Plan Backing Devon, setting out its priorities for 2011 2015, for submission to and approval by the County Council on 8 December 2011;
(b) that consideration of any further drafting amendments arising from deliberation by the Health and Wellbeing and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committees be delegated to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader of the Council for incorporation in any revised draft to be submitted to the County Council.
*405 Budget Monitoring 2011/12
(Councillors Greenslade, Hannon, Newcombe, Pennington and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
Members noted that while Directorate budgets were continuing to experience severe pressures, those were currently being contained and a balanced outturn for the year end was still projected. The overall financial position of the Council had changed very little in the last two months. People and Place Services continued to show an expected underspend at year end while Corporate Services was projected to break even at year end.
In relation to capital expenditure an underspend was still projected due to slippage in a number of schemes which were being kept under review.
It was MOVED by Councillor Clatworthy, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
RESOLVED that the position at Month 6 be noted.
*406 Devon s Role in Europe
(Councillors Greenslade, Hannon, Newcombe, Pennington and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the report of the Head of Economy Enterprise (EE/11/13 - text only | pdf EE/11/13) on the County Council s participation in European Union (EU) activities and proposed future involvement.
The County Council actively participated in EU activities in order to access European funding, to influence and respond to policy and legislation and to highlight important issues with key decision-makers. The work directly undertaken by the Council was co-ordinated through the Economy and Enterprise Service with specialist support from Officers and external policy support from the newly established South West European Partnership (SWEP), prioritising activities which would maximise the benefit for Devon and its people.
It was MOVED by Councillor Mumford, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that the progress with the EU Work Plan for 2011/12 be noted and endorsed;
(b) that the proposed programme of lobbying activity on the proposals for EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 be endorsed;
(c) that a briefing event for, inter alia, Members be arranged on the EU Cohesion Policy proposals;
(d) that the progress with securing EU funding be noted;
(e) that the move towards joint working at Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) level on EU issues be supported.
*407 Renewable Energy Opportunities in the County Council Estate
(Councillors Greenslade, Hook, Pennington and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
(Councillor Mumford declared a prejudicial interest in this matter by virtue of his involvement with Hive Energy, a Solar PV Provider, and withdrew from the meeting during its consideration).
The Cabinet considered the report of the Head of Economy Enterprise (EE/11/14 - text only | pdf EE/11/14) on the potential for developing renewable energy opportunity across the County Council s estate.
The Head of Service advised that over the preceding months Officers had explored the potential of developing Renewable Energy on the Council s estate that would capture the financial benefits of the Feed in Tariff (FiTs), notwithstanding recent changes in rates, and the report now submitted outlined the findings of the feasibility study and sought approval to begin the next stage of implementation.
It was MOVED by Councillor Croad, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that the initial results of a feasibility study into the potential of renewable energy on the County Council estate be noted;
(b) that the Cabinet support the principle of installing renewable energy technology at the sites identified in Report EE/11/14 - text only | pdf EE/11/14, which are financially viable under the new FiT proposals;
(c) that approval be given to undertake a procurement process to identify the future strategy for implementing solar PV technology on the Council s estate as set out in section 5 of Report EE/11/14 - text only | pdf EE/11/14 and to consider, as part of that exercise, whether the investment should be funded from the capital programme or whether the County Council should enter into an agreement to licence the sites to a provider;
(d) that a further report be submitted to the County Farms Estate Committee regarding exploitation of the potential of wind energy and solar PV on County Farms;
(e) that Officers investigate further the potential for wind energy schemes (small and medium) on County Council properties not shortlisted in the feasibility study.
*408 Matters of Urgency: School Organisation Bowhill Primary School, Exeter
(An item taken in accordance with paragraph 8 of the Cabinet Procedure Rules and under Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972)
(Councillors Newcombe and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
(Councillor Newcombe declared a personal interest in this matter by virtue of being a County Council representative governor on Bowhill Primary School).
The Chairman, having exercised his discretion to vary the order of business, had decided that the Cabinet should consider, as a matter of urgency, a joint report of the Head of Planning, Transport Environment and the Head of Education Learning (PTE/11/27 - text only | pdf | supplementary information PTE/11/27) on the outcome of initial consultations on the proposed enlargement of Bowhill Primary School from 420 to 525 places, with effect from September 2012; a decision whether or not to proceed to the next stage in the process and issue a formal Public Notice could not in his opinion be delayed until the next meeting without potentially having an adverse impact on the timetable for implementation of the proposals and securing the associated planning permissions.
Consultations had been held with governors, parents, staff and interested parties on the proposal between 7 September and 17 October 2011. The enlargement would be implemented in stages by increasing the Planned Admission Number (PAN) from 60 to 75 from September 2012 and beyond. The Cabinet was advised that while the school could accommodate 15 additional pupils in the first year, a new permanent two-storey building providing three new classrooms, replacement kitchen/dining space and new toilets would be needed, on the existing site, to accommodate additional pupils in future years.
The Cabinet was therefore required to consider the consultation responses and determine whether or not to proceed to the next stage and issue a Public Notice and submit the necessary planning application.
Nineteen responses had been received as set out in the Appendix to Report PTE/11/27 - text only | pdf | supplementary information PTE/11/27. 12 had objected on the grounds that the Council was incurring expenditure to expand the school when there was a no-cost alternative available at a nearby school. 3 had supported the proposals while the remaining respondents had either raised specific concerns or had raised questions about, inter alia, the need to update the School s Travel Plan and the need to ensure any new building included infrastructure to support sustainable travel.
The Heads of Service confirmed that the appropriate statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State relating to the taking of decisions on school organisation matters had been followed to date and recommended that the proposal should be pursued and appropriate Public Notices be issued. Pupils would be accommodated in their local school reducing car usage in the area and the enlargement was an important part of the Council s overall strategy to ensure there were sufficient places throughout Exeter for the future, to meet forecast increases in pupil numbers arising from existing and future housing development. The School s Annual Review of its travel plan demonstrated clear support for sustainable travel and this would be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
It was MOVED by Councillor Channon, SECONDED by Councillor Hart and
RESOLVED that approval be given to proceed to the next stage of issuing a Public Notice and seeking planning permission for the expansion of Bowhill Primary School, Exeter.
409 Notice of Motion (County Council Minute 129(b)/6 October 2011)
(Councillor Hook attended in accordance with Standing Order 8 and Councillors Cann, Greenslade, Hannon and Spence attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The following Notice of Motion submitted to the County Council by Councillor Hook had been referred to the Cabinet for consideration and report back:
"(a) that County Council request the Cabinet to consider the level of fly-tipping now being experienced in the County following the implementation of charges at Recycling Centres.
(b) that Cabinet be also asked to consider whether the charges at Recycling Centres should be dropped in the interests of good environmental stewardship in Devon."
The Cabinet considered a briefing paper by the Head of Capital Development Waste Management (CDW/11/19 - text only | pdf CDW/11/19) on the incidence of fly-tipping since the introduction of charges at recycling centres and the impact of charging for disposal of certain, limited, types of waste.
The Head of Service advised Members that the overall number of instances of fly-tipping had not shown a significant increase since charging had been introduced. While there had been an increase in fly-tipping of construction and demolition waste which could have been as a consequence of the introduction of charges at recycling centres, it was equally acknowledged that it could also be related to traders fly-tipping more waste as a consequence of increases in the landfill tax for mixed waste.
Members emphasised and acknowledged that the vast majority of people disposed of their waste responsibly and lawfully.
The Head of Service also indicated that anecdotal evidence appeared to show that the charging scheme may have also begun to change the habits amongst site users. Patio slabs were being reportedly being re-used via Freecycle and garden landscaping plans were being modified to take into account potential costs, indicating a greater application of 'reduction' and 're-use' within the waste hierarchy, over and above the recycling route. Skip hire companies were also experiencing an increase in their services.
It was MOVED by Councillor Croad, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
RESOLVED that the County Council be recommended to take no further action on the Notice of Motion but ensure that fly-tipping continues to be monitored across the Council on a monthly basis.
*410 References from Committees
(a) Torridge North Devon HATOCs: Westleigh Junction Improvement 40 Speed Limit
(Councillors Cann and Greenslade attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Torridge HATOC, at its meeting on 10 October 2011 (Minute 50) had considered a report of the Head of Highways and Traffic Management (HTM/11/10 - text only | pdf HTM/11/10) on a proposal for a mandatory 40mph speed limit between Westleigh Junction and the Heywood Road roundabout and a mandatory 30mph speed limit across the whole of the Heywood Road roundabout, consistent with national guidance and County Council policy.
In line with the Council s Scheme of Delegation, local members had been consulted and while the Member for Fremington Rural had supported the proposal the Member for Northam had requested that the matter be taken to the Torridge HATOC for consideration. The Devon Cornwall Constabulary had supported the original proposal. The HATOC having considered this matter and reiterating their preference for a roundabout solution at this location had then resolved:
that, as an exception to the Council s policy, approval be given to the advertisement of an Order for a mandatory speed limit of 30 mph being applied between Westleigh Junction and the Heywood Roundabout as well as 30 mph across the whole of the Heywood Road Roundabout and the matter be submitted to the Cabinet for determination .
Subsequently, the North Devon Torridge HATOC, on 25 October 2011 (Minute 72 had also considered this matter and resolved:
that the Cabinet be advised that this Committee strongly endorse the view that, in accordance with County Council policy, the proposed County Council (A39 Westleigh Junction) (40 mph Speed Limit) Order be advertised, as originally proposed .
It was MOVED by Councillor Hughes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
RESOLVED that, there being no justification for a departure from current policy, the Cabinet accept the advice of the Head of Highways and Traffic Management on the proposal for a mandatory 40mph speed limit between Westleigh Junction and the Heywood Road roundabout and a mandatory 30mph speed limit across the whole of the Heywood Road roundabout, consistent with national guidance and County Council policy.
(b) North Devon Locality (County) Committee: Locality Budgets
The Locality (County) Committee, at its meeting on 25 October 2011 (Minute 72), had received a presentation on the allocation of the discretionary budget for that area over and above Members locality budgets to be used along similar principles and had resolved, inter alia, that
..(b) ..the Cabinet be urged to retain the Members Locality Budgets for 2012/13 and beyond and to allow roll forward of the discretionary fund to 2012/13 (in view of the late notification of the fund in the current financial year)
The Leader of the Council re-iterated his previously expressed view that, in line with previous practice, the Council would be recommended to allow carry forwards in Members locality budgets from one year to the next, recognising also the development of new shared approaches and working arrangements in the context of the emerging Localism agenda.
(c) North Devon HATOC: Devon Highways One Team
(Councillor Greenslade attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The HATOC, at its meeting on 25 October 2011 (Minute 49), had received a presentation on progress with the Highways organisational changes pilot project including closer working with Devon Highways under the Virtual Joint Venture (VJV) arrangements and had resolved:
that the Cabinet be urged to retain a weed killing programme and budget for 2012/13 as an important and effective preventative measure in the maintenance of footways and highways .
It was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor Hughes, and
RESOLVED that the comments of the HATOC be noted and taken into account in the preparation of the budget for 2012/13.
(d) Torridge HATOC: Devon Highways One Team
The HATOC had, at its meeting on 10 October 2011 (Minute 49), received a presentation on progress with the Highways organisational changes pilot project including closer working with Devon Highways under the Virtual Joint Venture (VJV) arrangements and had expressed concern at the possible outcome of the review under the Council s vacancy management system of the appointment of the Council s Road Safety Travel Awareness Officer following the present incumbent's retirement, and had resolved that the Cabinet be requested that, as a result of the retirement of the County Council s Road Safety Travel Awareness Officer Road Safety Officer, the vacant post be filled as soon as possible .
It was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor Hughes, and
RESOLVED that, while acknowledging the HATOCs comments, it be recognised that the operation of the Council s vacancy management system is outside the HATOCs terms of reference.
(a) that the minutes of the following Committee be approved:
Devon Authorities Waste Reduction Recycling Committee
(b) that the minutes of the following Committees be noted:
Devon Education Forum 28 September 2011;
Childrens Trust Board 11 October 2011.
[NB: Minutes of County Council Committees are published on the Council s Website at: http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/your_council/decision_making/cma/index_exc.htm .
Minutes of the Children Trust Board are published at:
*412 Delegated Action/Urgent Matters
The Registers of action taken by Chief Officers or Cabinet Members under urgency provisions or delegated powers were available for inspection at the meeting.
*413 Forward Plan
In accordance with the Council s Constitution, the Cabinet reviewed the Forward Plan (available electronically at ) and determined those items of business to be defined as key decisions and included in the Plan for the period 1 December 2011 31 March 2012.
*DENOTES DELEGATED MATTER WITH POWER TO ACT
The meeting started at 10.30am and finished at 1.17pm
Notice of the decisions taken by the Cabinet will be sent by email to all Members of the Council within 2 working days of their being made and will, in the case of key decisions, come into force 5 working days after that date unless 'called-in' or referred back in line with the provisions of the Council's Constitution.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL
9 November 2011/Minute *401
1. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR SPENCE
Re: Flood Defence Funding
Following reports of heavy cuts in flood defence funding reported by the Parliamentary Public Finance Committee, can Councillor Hart explain the impact on Devon and next year's budget?
REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HART
The reported changes to flood defence funding relates to the new national approach to Flood and Coastal Resilience Partnership Funding, announced recently by Defra.
The way in which new flood and coastal defence projects are funded is being changed, with projects now required to explore whether local contributions towards the scheme costs can be obtained. These local contributions can be provided by both Private and Public Sector bodies. At this stage it is too early to properly assess what impact this might have on the delivery of new flood defence schemes in Devon. However, it will influence the priority attached to different scheme proposals based on the availability of these local contributions, thereby potentially reducing the weight attached to the flood risk benefits. The Government s view is that this will increase transparency and local discretion in the allocation of flood risk funding. However, it will present new challenges for local authorities in seeking funding for their own flood risk schemes, or ensuring that national priority schemes in their areas can be funded.
These new changes will enable national funding to be provided for surface water management
schemes for the first time, with this being of particular relevance to the County Council in the
light of its new role as Lead Local Flood Authority.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
9 November 2011/Minute *402
1. QUESTION FROM MR PURSER
Re: Gritting of Roads
I was led to believe that the decision to remove Bridford from the primary gritting route had been made yet I see the decision is to be today, the 9th December.
[A petition is circulating locally with over 120 signatures to date and the petitioners will attempt to have this also submitted in time for today s meeting]
Bridford had a public meeting on Monday when 120 people turned up to express their shock, distress and fears as a result of the proposal and a request for Bridford to be reinstated. Bridford lies 1.1 miles from the B3193 and the only route is the road that rises over 700 feet with sharp bends and some 1 in 4 sections.
School buses, public transport, workers, students, carers, doctors, emergency services and essential services all have to negotiate this mainly single track road serving a population of 522 per DCC website statistics. We have been denied access to the cost of primary gritting but suspect it is below 1,000 for the year for Bridford. This set against the cost of clearing one accident is insignificant and against a fatality not worth thinking about. The snow warden scheme is of no help in replacing primary gritting over this length and steepness.
I urge you to reverse the proposal and include Bridford on the primary gritting route.
REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES
The decision to remove Bridford from the precautionary salting network is not part of the proposal that is being considered by Cabinet today.
Changes have, however, been made on the basis of implementing the policy that was approved by Cabinet on 8th Sept 2010. The policy relating to communities the size of Bridford remains unchanged.
The County Council is seeking to provide the best service that can be offered within available resources and it is important that the winter policy is applied in a consistent manner across the county. The criteria for which roads form the primary salting network have not been reduced. All the issues that relate to School buses, public transport, workers, students, carers, doctors, emergency services and essential services are the same for other communities in Devon and it is not reasonably practicable to include all these communities.
The detailed costings that were previously requested relate to contracts which are commercially sensitive. However whilst it may be true to say that the overall marginal cost for treating the section of road to Bridford in isolation for last year would be less than 1000, this does not reflect the true cost to Devon of any policy change that would include Bridford and be fair to the rest of Devon's communities. Over the past year work has been undertaken to improve the efficiency of delivering the winter service by making routes longer and using the gritters to their full capacity for the routine presalt activities and this will enable us to deliver savings on the fixed cost element of winter service whilst maintaining the best coverage possible for the county. Each gritting route that needs to be added will cost between 20,000 and 25,000 to reinstate per year in addition to the marginal costs.
The County Council as a highway authority has a duty "to ensure, so as far as is reasonably practical, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice." The National Code clarifies that it is not reasonably practical to treat all the highway, or for roads that are treated to never have ice, frost or snow on them. No highway authority can guarantee a safe road without any hazards, especially in winter, and the law recognises this. It is therefore important that drivers always drive according to the conditions that they find.
The snow warden scheme provides local communities with an option for facilitating local self-help. It was never intended to be a replacement for where roads have been removed from the salting network.
Bridford will continue to receive the level of winter service that has been provided to other communities of a similar size in accordance with Devon's policy.