Agenda and minutes
Economic and Community Development Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel
Monday, 5th December, 2011 9.30 am
Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions
Contact: Jack Latkovic 01225 394452
Note: Call-in of decision E2328: Improving Access to superfast Broadband
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE
The Democratic Services Officer will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.
The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
There were none.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST UNDER THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972
Members who have an interest to declare are asked to:
a) State the Item Number in which they have the interest
b) The nature of the interest
c) Whether the interest is personal, or personal and prejudicial
Any Member who is unsure about the above should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer prior to the meeting in order to expedite matters at the meeting itself.
There were none. For the record, the Chairman informed the meeting that he is running online business in Somer Valley but that he didn’t need to declare any interest in that respect. The Chairman also informed the meeting that he received a legal advice from the Monitoring Officer which was that Panel Members who signed the Call In can stay on the Panel and participate in proceedings today.
TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN
There was none.
ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING
List and order of speakers will be provided at the meeting.
The Chairman informed the meeting that day schedule (attached as Appendix 1 to these minutes), with the list of speakers, is available to all in the Council Chamber.
Under the Council’s Constitution, any 10 Councillors not in the Council’s Cabinet may request that a Cabinet or Single Member Decision made but not yet implemented be reconsidered by the person or body who made it. This is called a “call-in” and has the effect of preventing the implementation of the decision pending a review of the Decision by a Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel.
This report sets out the call-in by 14 Councillors of a Cabinet decision relating to the decision not to prepare a joint broadband plan with Bristol and South Gloucestershire under the terms of the Government Broadband UK offer. The role of the Panel is to consider the issues raised by the call-in and to determine its response.
THE PANEL IS ASKED TO:
a) Consider the call-in request received.
b) Approve the Terms of Reference of the Call-in which will be prepared after consultation with the Chair of the Panel subject to any further comments received from Panel members (as in paragraph 6.2 below).
c) Decide if it requires any further information to enable it to make a determination of the call-in request and, if so, request this information and any contributions that will assist the Panel in determining the call-in either at this meeting or at a further meeting (e.g. from the Cabinet; Councillor(s) representing the call-in signatories; and any other internal or external contributors required by the Panel).
d) Decide whether it will reach a conclusion about whether to uphold or dismiss the call-in; or refer the matter to the Council itself to undertake the role of the Panel, at this meeting or if a further meeting is required.
e) If a further meeting is required to hear and determine the call-in, the Panel is asked to agree the date for this. The constitutional requirement is for that meeting to take place before the end of the 20th December 2011 (this timescale would not apply if the Panel decided to refer their role to the full Council).
f) Undertake an examination of the call-in request in accordance with the proposed procedure set out in Appendix 5.
g) Note that, following the examination, the Panel may either:
· Dismiss the call-in, in which case the decision shall take effect immediately; OR
· Uphold the call-in and refer the decision back to the decision-makers for reconsideration, setting out why it has decided that the decision should be reconsidered; OR
· Refer the matter to Council to itself undertake the role of the Panel [NB: the ultimate decision still remains with the original decision makers].
PANEL’S DECISION (full minutes to follow)
The Economic & Community Development Policy Development Scrutiny Panel made the following resolution:
The Panel unanimously resolved to UPHOLD the Call In request and asked the Cabinet to reconsider the decision E2328: Improving Access to superfast Broadband for the following reasons:
1. The Cabinet to consider the report in the light of additional technical information;
2. The Cabinet to look into improved Impact Assessments including equalities impact statement as well ... view the full agenda text for item 43.
The Chairman said that the purpose of the meeting was for the Panel to consider the Call In of Cabinet decision E2328: Improving Access to superfast Broadband. The Panel will have 3 options: to uphold the Call In and ask the Cabinet to reconsider the decision, to dismiss the Call In or to refer the matter to the Council.
The Panel approved the Term of Reference for this meeting (attached as Appendix 2 to these minutes).
The Chairman also acknowledged that the ‘Call-In Panel Pack’, with some statements and other background information, had been distributed to the Panel in advance of the meeting and it was available to the public.
Call-In Panel Pack is available on the minute book in Democratic Services.
The Chairman invited Councillor Martin Veal (lead Call In Councillor) to read his statement.
Councillor Veal read out his statement highlighting these three main points:
• Improved broadband is such an important issue to residents, businesses and local economy as a whole;
• The Call In should be upheld; and
• The Cabinet should reverse its previous decision and choose to enter into the broadband bidding process.
Councillor Veal also said that it is difficult to understand fully the extent of the problem until you have had to live with 1mbps speed and intermittent and unreliable connections. Internet is not a luxury; it is as vital as transport, energy and clean water. If we do not invest in our broadband infrastructure now we will be left behind. The Council should be boosting the local economy and encourage the growth of creative industry and also encourage the existing businesses to stay in the area. The £25k which the Cabinet set for a local study into improving internet access will not be enough to deliver the step-change required in service provision to many parts of the authority.
A full copy of the statement from Councillor Martin veal is available on the minute book in Democratic Services.
On a question from the Chairman on which resolution he would welcome Councillor Veal replied that it is for the Panel to decide.
The Chairman invited Councillor Cherry Beath (Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development) to give her statement.
Councillor Beath said that it is not a bad thing to have a Call In. The Cabinet recognises what Councillor Veal said on importance of broadband. The Cabinet decision is not to go into joint plan with other neighbour authorities but instead to put resources into further work. If the Cabinet decided to go into joint offer with the other neighbouring authorities then this Council would incur further cost of £1m. The Cabinet is aware that there is a low take-up on superfast broadband. BT announced that by 2014 2/3 would have access to broadband. The Cabinet also considered 4G mobile network which is extremely fast in terms of download speed and it is on trial in some areas. The Cabinet also considered other technologies such as the satellite broadband, which appears to be also ... view the full minutes text for item 43.