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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There were none.



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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The Panel noted the statement that had been circulated by Councillor Karen Walker (a copy is appended to these minutes).

Statement Cllr Karen Walker pdf icon PDF 72 KB


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 85 KB

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The Panel confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chair.


Cabinet Member update

The Cabinet Member will update the Panel on any relevant issues. Panel members may ask questions on the update provided.


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The Chair explained that any updates would be contained in the following items.


Council Tax Support Scheme - consultation update

There will be a verbal update on this item.

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Councillor Mark Elliott, Cabinet Member for Resources (supported by Damien Peak) introduced the report. He reported that overall, the responses have been pretty positive, including that from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). He stated that there were some negative responses from those who would be negatively affected by changes. He further added that a significant minority did not understand the proposals which underlines the need for further and clearer communications.


The officer outlined some of the themes of the responses – he underlined the need for clearer communications to signpost people to financial and mental health support. He concluded that it had been a successful consultation and explained that a full detailed analysis would be reported to Council.


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


Councillor Simon commented that the consultation had done well in reaching hard to engage groups. He noted that Council will make the final decision. The officer stated that responses can be bias depending on how the changes would affect the responder.


Councillor Halsall stated that it was imperative that the message is put across to those affected.


Following a request from Councillor Hodge, the officer set out the numbers on those affected:


2,700 – households would benefit

1,000 – households would lose out

190 – household would see no change


The Cabinet Member stated that this is not a cost saving exercise and that the aim is to improve the equity of the scheme and protect the most vulnerable. The officer stated that these aims must be made clear.


The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member and officer.


Developing Economic Strategy pdf icon PDF 84 KB

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Councillor Paul Roper, Cabinet Member for Economic and Cultural Sustainable Development, introduced the report. He stated that this was an exciting moment as the last economic strategy was 10 years old. He stated that it is refreshingly compact in size and reflects many of the aspirations of this administration. It has been developed with stakeholders and informed by principles of doughnut economics. He further explained that it looks beyond purely economic indicators and has three themes: infrastructure, innovation and opportunity. The Cabinet Member explained that this would be considered by Cabinet in January 2024.


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


Councillor Henman asked how doughnut framing allows BANES to set the economy for the future. The Cabinet Member explained that it allows us to set out our stall as to what we want to achieve.


Councillor MacFie referenced the GVA figures regarding the 3.8% local growth compared to the national figure of 21.8% and asked about the plan to bring up the local growth rate. The Cabinet Member stated that the strategy does not focus specifically on GVA. There is a unique set of circumstances such as – a high portion of (wealthy) residents who do not work; high dependence on hospitality and tourism and lost industrial players (MOD). He stated that the success of the strategy is not based on GVA alone.


Councillor Simon asked if the document was amendable and gave some comments for potential inclusion:

·  Electricity supply, maybe include grid connection issues

·  Affordable housing – sometimes market price housing is more affordable. Build the right size housing and bear down construction cost growth

·  Skills – the role of WECA and the Mayor. The Further Education (FE) sector.

·  Riverside innovation corridor


The Cabinet Member noted the above comments. The Director of Sustainable Communities commented that the document is a draft and can be amended.


Councillor Hodge stated that it is a useful document, she stated that the 10 metrics at the end are things we were going to do anyway. She suggested 2 sections are boxed so they are not lost in the narrative.


Councillor Blackburn stated that on first impression the document is a wish list but the ‘how’ and ‘why’ are not always answered. He gave some examples:

·  Affordable housing is mentioned but no explanation of how this will happen.

·  It is stated that BANES is number 1 for micro businesses but does not say why (which could then be learned from).

·  South Quays is mentioned but it does not say how effective this has been – there are still empty floors.

·  5G is lacking and is not addressed

·  Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ) is mentioned but the transportation side of it is not explained.


He stated that he is pleased that there is a plan.


Councillor Treby stated that it was great to have some KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) but only Net Zero is qualitative. He stated that we already have a Climate Emergency Strategy and Ecological Emergency Strategy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


2024/25 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 92 KB

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Councillor Mark Elliott, Cabinet Member for Resources (supported by Andy Rothery, Chief Finance Officer (151)) introduced the report. The Cabinet Member explained that local government funding is pretty broken and that a number of Council’s have declared bankruptcy. He explained that Council Tax covers a third of the operating costs of the authority and other income comes from things we charge for. He stated that the pressure on budgets in social care is enormous. He explained that the budget would be finalised and agreed at Council in February 2024.


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


Councillor MacFie referred to the expenditure in adult and childcare and asked for assurances that this would be addressed. He asked that an item on the budget regarding childcare be brought to the Panel. The Cabinet Member agreed that an item on this aspect of the budget could be brought to the Panel in terms of what can be done regarding rises in this budget area.


Councillor Halsall stated that students who study in the city cannot then afford to live here. He asked if HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation) disadvantage the authority as they do not pay Council Tax. The Cabinet Member stated that Universities do add to the city but can be economically detrimental.


In response to a question from Councillor Simon regarding SEND funding, the officer explained that this funding came from the dedicated schools grant which is managed by the Council. The pressure is very high on this – the Council is part of a safety valve programme which is a funding package to help Council’s out of deficit.


Councillor Simon asked if there is a regional programme regarding accommodation for looked after children. The officer stated that a regional programme has not been adopted and that Councils are talking about how provision/properties can be brought into use.


Councillor Blackburn asked about the Revenue Support Grant and about what representations were being made in terms of a possible new Government. The Cabinet Member stated that Government funding had reduced from £31m down to £800k. He stated that conversations with potential future government could be more productive than any such conversations with the current Government. The officer explained that the F20 group (a group of authorities) had written to the government and are doing what they can to lobby.


Councillor Blackburn queried the fact that there was no mention of the Commercial Estate. The Cabinet Member agreed that a report on this could come to the Panel. He explained that the Commercial Estate was performing fairly well but not up to pre Covid levels. He added that rental values had fallen in Commercial properties. He is satisfied that officers are doing a good job.


Councillor Hodge asked what the social care contingency is. The officer explained that the social care reserve was put into last years budget so is no longer a reserve.

Councillor Hodge asked about budget re basing. The officer agreed across all services. Regarding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Panel Workplan pdf icon PDF 104 KB

This report presents the latest workplan for the Panel. Any suggestions for further items or amendments to the current programme will be logged and scheduled in consultation with the Panel’s Chair and supporting officers.

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Panel members noted the workplan with the following additions suggested at this meeting:


Childrens Budget

Commercial Estate