Agenda item


Cllr Dine Romero and other Cabinet Members will give an update.


(a)  Cllr Dine Romero – Council Leader


Cllr Romero stated that she receives regular updates on the spread of Coronavirus.  The B&NES area is currently in Tier 3 which is the lowest risk category.  However, there is no room for complacency, and everyone has a part to play in reducing the spread of the virus.


Cllr Romero recently met with Government Ministers to discuss the virus.  She also attends WECA meetings to discuss economic recovery plans. Initiatives to open up the high street such as “Love our High Street” have been discussed at these meetings.  Green industry should be a core driver in the recovery plan.  Cllr Romero also meets with the Police to discuss issues relating to the outbreak.


Cllr Romero has chaired a number of webinars regarding topics such as neighbourhoods and the Black Lives Matter movement which included contributions from local young people.  The webinars are all available to view on the Council YouTube channel.  She has also been involved in the presentation of community awards.


(b)  Cllr Richard Samuel – Cabinet Member for Resources


Cllr Samuel gave an update regarding the medium-term financial strategy.  He informed the meeting that Council income has plummeted due to the Covid-19 outbreak and that this will lead to pressure on next year’s budget.  The business rate retention scheme is due to end shortly. 


Cllr Samuel gave a presentation covering the following issues:


·  Five-year budget profile.

·  Covid-19 grant assumptions.

·  Council Tax – a decision is awaited regarding Council Tax increases and the social care precept.

·  Provisional settlement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

·  Budget planning assumptions.

·  New 2021/22 budget pressures – including commercial estate - £5m, parking - £4m and heritage services - £5.96m

·  Strategic financial planning themes – Short, medium and long term.

·  Financial planning assumptions.

·  Key dates for the budget timetable.


Cllr Samuel explained that the parking budget is now beginning to recover as people are now switching from public transport to private vehicles.  Work is ongoing regarding the property estate and the way that social care is delivered.  Savings have been made due to staff working from home and it is considered that £9m of savings are achievable.  The figures are likely to change when the budget is considered by the Council in February.


A copy of the presentation slides is attached as Appendix 1 to these minutes.


(c)  Cllr Rob Appleyard – Cabinet Member for Adult Services


Cllr Appleyard stated that great work is being carried out by the Council’s public health team both on Covid related matters and other areas of work, such as suicide prevention and food poverty.  A food pantry is being set up in the area which will enable people to pay a small subscription to gain access to greater value food.  The community hub continues to operate and provides a route for people to access other services if required.


It is important to consider whether meeting up with other people is really necessary in the current climate to prevent the spread of the virus.  The Council has agreed a local outbreak management plan.  A recent outbreak occurred in Midsummer Norton and this was dealt with swiftly and effectively.


(d)  Cllr Dave Wood – Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services


Cllr Wood gave an update regarding green waste collections.


During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of staff self-isolating or shielding combined with operational changes put in place to support social distancing, led to a reduction in service levels across the Council, including waste services.  Whilst the majority of services resumed quickly, some (which included residents reporting and the ability to return for missed collections) remained suspended for longer periods.  They have now all resumed.  Crews worked exceptionally hard during lockdown as quantities of garden waste collected increased dramatically.  The Council apologises to those residents who have experienced missed collections and thanks them for their patience and understanding.  The vast majority of residents were really understanding of the pressure that reduced numbers of key frontline workers were under and expressed their appreciation to the team for the way in which they were able to continue prioritising the refuse collection service.


When roadworks are taking place the waste services operations team will work with the contractor to establish access on collection days, or make alternative arrangements and return the next day if collections cannot be carried out at the scheduled time.  Unfortunately, with the roadworks in Stockwood Vale collections have continued to be missed and it is recognised that residents have not experienced the correct level of service. The Waste Operations Manager has worked to resolve these issues and to ensure that residents are now receiving a regular collection, he has been in direct contact with a resident regarding the difficulties experienced.  The Council would like to apologise for the inconvenience that the residents have experienced, and that the situation was not resolved sooner.


(e)  Cllr Joanna Wright – Cabinet Member for Transport Services


Cllr Wright gave an update including the following issues:


·  The Council has been working hard to implement a number of traffic schemes including the provision of safe routes to schools, a zebra crossing at Paulton and a pavement to connect High Littleton and Hallatrow.

·  Air pollution is also being tackled, the air quality in Keynsham has improved and an action plan is now in place.

·  Work is also taking place on the liveable neighbourhoods policy.

·  Three new electric vehicle charging points have been provided – 1 at Keynsham, one at Radstock and one at Midsummer Norton.

·  Work has been carried out in Keynsham High Street to enable social distancing due to the pandemic, although it is acknowledged that some further changes may be required.

·  The e-scooter trial will start in Bath next week and it is hoped that this can be rolled out to the market towns in due course.

·  Cllr Wrights sits on the WECA Transport Board and she thanked Cllr Hal MacFie for the work he has carried out on urban and rural transport connectivity.  It is also important to tackle the climate emergency.


(f)  Cllr Neil Butters – Cabinet Member for Transport Services


Cllr Butters explained that plans to re-open high streets is ongoing.  A business case is being prepared regarding the opening of Saltford railway station.  There will be some upheaval at Bristol Temple Meads station at the East junction due to work for Metro West at the end of next year.  Rail electrification is back on the agenda for this area and a Heathrow Western link is also being considered.


(g)  Cllr Kevin Guy – Cabinet Member for Children’s Services


Cllr Guy reported that 14 schools in B&NES have experienced outbreaks of Covid-19.  21 children and staff bubbles have been affected by these outbreaks.  He has visited schools to ensure that they are prepared and is pleased with the arrangements that schools have made to become Covid-secure, such as identifying clear entrances and exits to buildings.


It is important to encourage children to walk and cycle to school at this time.  During lockdown over 500 free music lessons have been provided.




Cabinet Members then responded to questions as follows:


·  Cllr Samuel stated that Town and Parish Councils should continue to precept and prepare their budgets as usual.  Some Parish Councils were concerned that funding for services such as grass cutting would be reduced, and they would then have to take on this responsibility.  Cllr Samuel hoped that this would not be the case but stated that the situation would be clearer in December when the budget consultation process is underway.  It was noted that there will be a series of budget webinars during the consultation period.

·  Cllr Samuel confirmed that the Government have not reimbursed the Council for the full amount of Council Tax revenue that has been lost due to Covid-19.

·  Cllr Samuel confirmed that work is still on-going to identify areas for budget savings.  The Council must produce a balanced budget and so some reductions will have to be made. 

·  Cllr Wright agreed to respond directly to Cheryl Scott, Clerk to Keynsham Town Council regarding the assessment of the effectiveness of the work carried out to Keynsham High Street.

·  Cllr Butters stated that he is not currently aware of the timeframe for the rail electrification work.