Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Michaela Gay  Email:, 01225 394411


No. Item



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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.




The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.


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The Chair drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.




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Councillor Hughes sent his apologies and was substituted by Councillor Walker


Councillor Furse sent his apologies and was substituted by Councillor McCabe




At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:


(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest, (as defined in Part 4.4 Appendix B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)


Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officeror a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.


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There were none.



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There was none.



At the time of publication no notifications had been received.


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Councillor Shaun Hughes declared an interest as Councillor for the ward and a tenant in the Wansdyke Business Centre . Councillor Hughes made a statement (the statement is attached to these minutes)


Panel questions:


Councillor Duguid asked if the centre needed investment. Councillor Hughes stated that it is fully functional as it is, the accommodation is adequate for the price range.


Councillor Walker asked about buying the lease. Councillor Hughes explained that he had had conversations but nobody had explained.


Councillor Hodge asked why there were only 2 tenants. Councillor Hughes explained that occupancy was high (80%) before the Council took over. There were options to leave but no options to move in.


Councillor Singleton asked if other businesses had found office accommodation elsewhere. Councillor Hughes stated that one moved locally, on to Frome and one to Bristol. He stated that industrial units are very popular.


Councillor Elliott asked if Councillor Hughes thought the Council should subsidise the office space. Councillor Hughes explained that there had been no conversation with tenants about an acceptable level of rent and it was impossible to understand if a subsidy was required.


Councillor McCabe asked if 80% occupancy was achievable. Councillor Hughes stated that it was, he gave the example of Paulton House which has a waiting list. He stated that the SVEZ (Somer Valley Enterprise Zone) was planned which would not make sense if there wasn’t a demand in the area.


Councillor Davis stated that Paulton House appears up market as there are more businesses in there. Councillor Hughes stated that it is successful and has a high demand and revenue stream that allows development.


Councillor MacFie asked about the windows in the Wansdyke Centre. Councillor Hughes explained that the upstairs section had been open plan and has now been made into offices, the middle offices do not have windows – this can be used for storage.


Councillor Eleanor Jackson made a statement regarding Wansdyke Business Centre (the statement is attached to the minutes)


Panel questions


Councillor Warrington asked if the business centre is sustainable regarding travel. Councillor Jackson stated that it is. She explained that the building needed a survey regarding insulation etc.


Councillor McCabe asked if any company could take over the building. Councillor Jackson stated that new business could be encouraged.




Wansdyke Business Centre, Midsomer Norton (WL) pdf icon PDF 194 KB

There is an exempt appendix to this open report. It is likely that the Panel will need to move into private session at some stage if the Panel wish to discuss the content of the exempt appendix. In which case the following resolution will need to be passed:


“that having been satisfied that the public interest would be better served by not disclosing relevant information, in accordance with the provisions of Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business and the reporting of the meeting be prevented under Section 100A(5A) because of the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended.”



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Note: Councillor Hughes (attending as a ward Councillor and tenant of Wansdyke Business Centre to make a public statement) left the meeting on advice from the legal advisor.


Councillor Blackburn – Lead Call in Member


Councillor Blackburn made a statement explaining the reasons for the call in (a copy is attached to these minutes)


Panel members asked the following questions and raised the following points:


In response to a question from Councillor Singleton, Councillor Blackburn stated that he has tried to identify companies who have shown an interest in the building, he added that the Council website states that the building is ‘temporary closed’.


Councillor Duguid asked if the building would need to be refurbished. Councillor Blackburn stated that he had visited one office and in his view, it was comparable to similar office space around the country and he genuinely believes there are people who would want to rent there.


Councillor Warrington asked that, if kept as it is with the same charges, would there be a saving for the Council. Councillor Blackburn stated that he had not seen the figures and that this has not been explored as there was not scrutiny of the decision.


Councillor MacFie asked if option 3 is what is being asked for by the Call in members (to return the centre to the open market). Councillor Blackburn explained that someone could then turn it into industrial space so office space could be lost. He did not believe the best option is the return to the open market.


Councillor Elliott asked if there is market failure. Councillor Blackburn stated that he believes this business has been failed as there has been no attempt to engage with prospective tenants. It appears the Council want to run it down and pass it on.


Councillor Elliott asked about finding another operator. Councillor Blackburn stated that the Council have failed, it has slipped away under our management.


Councillor MacFie asked if we could pass it on but keep it as it is (office space). Councillor Blackburn stated that this was a nice idea but that decisions would be taken on data and facts but this could be a viable way of looking at it.


Councillor Davies – Cabinet Member for Council House Building (representing the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Resources)


Councillor Davies made a statement regarding the decision.


Panel members asked the following questions and raised the following points:


Councillor McCabe referred to the accusation that the site had been managed down and asked if there was any data on approaches. The Cabinet Member stated that nobody has approached the Council. He further explained that the unit had always required a subsidy and that this was not due to the Council’s management. He explained that the subsidy had been absolutely appropriate given the market circumstances at the time but not now.


Councillor Duguid stated that a point in the call in statement said that nobody was taken in, was this deliberate. The Cabinet Member explained that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.