Venue: Town Hall, Bideford
Contact: Mary Richards, tel 01237 428705 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies For Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Davis and Langmead.
Confirmation of the minutes held on
It was proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor Pennington and –
That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 March 2018 be agreed and signed as a correct record.
(Vote: For 8, Abstentions 2)
Minute 69 – Council Tax Support Scheme
Councillor Pennington had spoken briefly with the Customer Support Manager in relation to the Council Tax Support Scheme. This would be followed up as the changes to legislation developed.
Minute 70 – Empty Homes Strategy
Councillor Simmons reiterated her view that a Compulsory Purchase Strategy needed to be put in place. The Strategic Manager (Resources) replied that there was an update on the Action List, which was the next item on the agenda.
The Action List was reviewed and updated.
Mr Harper expressed dissatisfaction that the responses regarding the QBR were not available when the economy was such a crucial element of TDC’s business. This gave rise to the question whether there were sufficient resources to support the information request, a challenge which had been highlighted in the Peer Review.
Declaration Of Interests
Members with interests should refer to the agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is considered.
Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.
Urgent Matters Brought Forward With The Permission Of The Chair
There were no urgent matters brought forward.
Agreement of Agenda Items Part I And II
There were no Part II items.
Cornwall County Council Rolling Investment Fund
To receive a verbal update from Councillor James.
The Committee viewed a video on the St Minver Community Land Trust.
The desirability of the village of Rock and the increase in the number of holiday homes had augmented house prices to a level beyond the reach of local residents.
Consequently, a group of people from the community had formed the CLT in 2008 and a secured, interest free loan of £544,000 had been granted by North Cornwall District Council. Land was purchased from a local farmer who also paid for the detailed design and planning submissions for the development of self build bungalows.
Twelve local applicants were selected for the project. Various occupancy and affordability safeguarding measures were put in place including S106 agreements. The project was completed in December 2008 on time and to budget.
Following the video, Councillor James provided further information about Cornwall’s CLTs, Community Led Housing and Cornwall Council’s Rolling Investment Fund. The key points from the presentations and paper are summarised below.
· Cornwall CLTs have developed or helped to deliver 236 homes since 2007.
· Cornwall Council employed 3 Officers dedicated to affordable housing.
· Cornwall Council had re-launched its Revolving Loan Fund.
Ø The £4m fund had been revised and improved.
Ø The fund was open for bids from qualifying organisations such as CLTs, for loans of up to £1.5m per scheme and covered all types of affordable housing.
Ø Loans were to be paid back within 12 months of completion of the scheme.
Ø Interest was charged at Cornwall Council’s standard loan rate (currently 4.5%).
Ø The application process included feasibility studies and carrying out due diligence.
The Chair thanked Councillor James for the informative presentation.
A debate followed during which clarification was provided on Community Interest Companies (CICs) and the difference between Registered Housing Providers and CLTs. Councillor James further confirmed that the applicants for the CLT self build projects bought the whole package and did not individually have to first find land. Members discussed the budget in relation to providing a similar fund to Cornwall, albeit without jeopardising other objectives and the Strategic Manager (Resources) advised that there was little left over in the budget from income from affordable housing. Availability of land and the amount of infrastructure work appeared to be the biggest hurdles.
It was agreed that TDC’s own officer responsible for affordable housing be invited to a future meeting.
It was proposed by Councillor Pennington, seconded by Councillor Cottle-Hunkin and –
That a recommendation be put to Full Council that Torridge District Council set aside up to £800,000 to form a Community Land Trust.
(Vote: For – unanimous)
The Chair asked Councillor James to present at the Full Council meeting on 18 June 2018. It was noted that the report to Full Council should highlight the links to the Corporate peer Review.
Peer Review Action Plan PDF 294 KB
To receive an update
The report was taken as read and the Chair invited questions.
The first point raised was that the issues highlighted in the 2013 report were very similar to those identified in 2017 and there was a multitude of issues. Other concerns were the Council’s risk adversity and lack of proactivity, particularly in relation to local business. Members also talked about buying in skills for a limited period to tackle staffing deficiencies. A view was put forward that e-learning might be an option to address training needs.
The discussions touched on renewable energy and regeneration of Council buildings to generate income.
The Strategic Manager (Resources) pointed out that the Peer Review had also commented on the number of projects the Council was trying to juggle, rather than streamlining the focus to a manageable number of projects. Trying to address a multitude of projects stretched resources. However, resources had been put aside to buy in some Project Management.
With regard to capacity and Bridge Buildings, the Strategic Manager (Resources) referred Members to the agenda for Full Council on 14 May where they could see the amount of work Officers had put in to getting external advice only to have their reports disregarded. He affirmed that the Property & Procurement Manager was indeed tasked with looking at land for income generation.
Councillor Laws commended the Bridge Buildings report and the Officers involved in drawing it up. He will be writing to all Councillors drawing their attention to it.
The role of Overview & Scrutiny reporting in to Community & Resources and call in rights were discussed. The Strategic Manager (Resources) advised that Community & Resources could only make recommendations on previous recommendations.
Within the Torridge Strategic Plan there were many goals and actions but there did not appear to be any timescales or indicators to measure the outcomes.
It was noted that KPIs did form part of the QBR. In relation to the LEP and business, it was agreed the Leader should be asked to provide an update to the Committee. Furthermore, the Strategic Manager (Resources) made the Committee aware that a Member Workshop on financial strategy, capacity and resources was being scheduled for July.
The Chair referred to the work completed by Mr Topham, External Overview & Scrutiny Committee, in relation to partner evaluation. The Committee felt it would be useful to review the key recommendations.
The Committee discussed the tourism strategy and requested feedback.
Consideration Of The Forward Plan PDF 57 KB
To review the Forward Plan.
The Forward Plan was reviewed and updated.
A request was made that, in the preparation of the report on the Tourism Strategy, consideration be given to the impact, on families involved in tourism, of the Government’s ruling regarding taking children out of school during term time.
The Committee felt it would be beneficial for External O&S to scrutinise the North Devon Marketing Bureau. It was important that Torridge, with its shipbuilding history, became involved in the conversations between the North Devon Marketing Bureau and Plymouth in respect of the Mayflower celebrations.