Meeting documents

SWT Community Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 22nd February, 2023 6.15 pm

Venue: The John Meikle Room - The Deane House. View directions

Contact: Sam Murrell, Email: and Marcus Prouse, Email: 

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item




Minutes of the previous meeting of the Community Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 233 KB

    To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Community Scrutiny Committee held on Wednesday 25 January 2023.

    Additional documents:


    The Minutes of the previous meeting of the Community Scrutiny Committee held on the 25 January 2023, were approved as a true record.


    Prop: Lithgow / Sec: Lloyd(Unanimous)


Declarations of Interest

    To receive and note any declarations of disclosable pecuniary or prejudicial or personal interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.


    (The personal interests of Councillors and Clerks of Somerset County Council, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes.)


    Additional documents:


    Members present at the meeting declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Councillor or Clerk of a County, Town or Parish Council or any other Local Authority:-



    Minute No.

    Description of Interest


    Action Taken

    Cllr T Deakin

    All Items

    SCC, Taunton Charter Trustee & Shadow Taunton Town


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Johnson

    All Items

    SCC & Shadow Taunton Town


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr L Lisgo

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee & Shadow Taunton Town


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr M Lithgow

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr J Lloyd

    All Items

    Wellington & Sampford Arundel


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr D Mansell

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr R Tully

    All Items

    West Monkton


    Spoke and Voted



Public Participation

    The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

    For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.

    We are now live webcasting most of our committee meetings and you are welcome to view and listen to the discussion. The link to each webcast will be available on the meeting webpage, but you can also access them on the Somerset West and Taunton webcasting website.

    Additional documents:


    There were no questions or comments submitted for public participation.


Community Scrutiny Request/Recommendation Trackers pdf icon PDF 171 KB


Executive and Full Council Forward Plans pdf icon PDF 94 KB


Chair's Report pdf icon PDF 197 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of the Chair of Community Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Libby Lisgo.


    To approve the Annual report of the Community Scrutiny Committee 2023/11 for consideration by Full Council. Article 6 of the SWT Constitution states that "The Scrutiny Committees must report annually on their work".


    Additional documents:


    The Chair, Cllr Libby Lisgo presented her annual report to the Committee. Cllr Dave Mansell thanked her for leading Community Scrutiny over the preceding 2 years, and commented that she had encouraged good scrutiny, had not stifled debate and was fair and inclusive.


    Cllr Lisgo responded by saying she was aware that some members who would be travelling into the new Somerset Council, may wish to refer to previous minutes of the Committee, to follow up on outstanding issues. These would be accessible via the new Somerset Council website, or by contacting a member of the Governance team.


Sports and Leisure Management (Everyone Active) Bi-Annual Report pdf icon PDF 308 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Derek Perry, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Parks, Leisure and Phosphates.


    Report Author:  Steve Hughes, Programme Manager (Coastal, Assets and Leisure) -External Operations.


    A presentation will be made by representative from Sports and Leisure Management, Mark Washington and Toni Gaskins.

    Additional documents:


    The Report was introduced by Executive Councillor Derek Perry, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Parks, Leisure and Phosphates, supported by Steve Hughes.


    Cllr Perry stated that the biggest challenges that SLM faced was the legacy of COVID19, and now the inflationary issues caused by the Cost-of-Living crisis. Due to this SLM had instigated price increases across their sites, which they were at liberty to implement, This could not be vetoed in any way by the Executive and was an operational procedure. Also as part of the reorganisation, Councillors and SWT staff would no longer be able to make use of discounted fees during off-peak hours.


    Steve Hughes stated that the reporting period was from April-September 2022, and he was aware that this seemed a long time ago. In the upcoming presentation, SLM would be outlining their operations during that time and beyond to show how they were dealing with the current challenges.


    Representatives from Everyone Active, Mark Washington and Toni Gaskins presented a series of slides highlighting recent work. These slides can be viewed here.


    In response to a question raised at their previous visit in July 2022,

    Noted in the Minutes of the Community Scrutiny Meeting held on the 27 July 2022.

    Is there any way to analyse users of the leisure facilities via postcode, to get a breakdown of the demographic? In particular in Priorswood concerning Wellsprings which was operating in a very deprived area. - The Chair agreed that this was an answer that could be provided at the next update.


    Mark Washington was able to answer that 838 members of Wellsprings Leisure Centre lived within a 2mile radius of the site. This was approximately 50% of the total membership and this was equally split 50/50 between male and female users and covered a broad age range. Further information on the other leisure venues could be provided if required.


    Councillors asked if this data could be made available and also a breakdown on useage. (Taken to Written Answer Tracker.) It was also asked if information was forthcoming from the wider West Somerset area, bearing in mind it was unlikely that they would travel so far to use these facilities.


    Questions and comments from the Committee included:-

    ·       Good H&S stats especially with regard to RIDDOR and the lack of accidents caused by slips and trips in the water environments. Good management in place. 1.68 per 1,000 visitors is a good industry standard but work will be done to compare this to other operators and set a benchmark.

    ·       H&S and the recording of near misses as well as accidents is one of the strongest aspects of service with SLM. There is a fantastic commitment to training, awareness and record keeping ensuring that the customers get the safest possible experience when using the facilities. There is a policy of sharing information across the Leisure Centres in real time so that staff are constantly updated on any challenges that might be encountered day-to-day. SLM foster a learning culture  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.


Housing Revenue Account Financial Monitoring as at Qtr 3 (31 December 2022) pdf icon PDF 341 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Fran Smith, Housing.


    Report Author: Kerry Prisco (Management Accounting and Reporting Lead).


    Additional documents:


    Executive Cllr Francesca Smith, PFH for Housing introduced the Housing Revenue Account Financial Monitoring Report for Qtr 3.


    There is a forecasted underspend of £91K which has been achieved mainly by an increase in investment income, as a direct result of reduction in spend on the capital programme and increasing interest rates. These have offset the main financial pressures including depreciation charges, the rising cost of bringing void properties up to a decent standard prior to reletting, the recent pay award and inflation increasing material costs.


    Questions and comments from the Committee included: -


    ·       An update on the current position regarding the North Taunton Woolaway Project (NTWP). The next phase of the contract is out for tender, and interested parties are being invited to price for the work, following the previous contractor stating they would no longer be delivering projects in the Southwest. Tenants have been written to and are being kept up to date. The PFH wants to deliver on this as soon as possible, but the process is being hampered by the rising costs of materials, the reluctance of contractors to price for the work and the demolition being held up until the end of the bird-nesting season.


    The delays in completing the phases and going back out to tender will have a budgetary impact on the Council. There is a delay in the cost of borrowing due to waiting on the tender, as interest rates increase and inflation will increase the cost of materials further down the line. There will also be delays in rental income because the properties are not ready for letting. The budget for the next financial year and the MTFP is being adjusted to account for these factors.


    ·       SWT do not currently do 6-monthly inspections of their council housing, to ensure they are maintained to a reasonable standard, although this is something that regularly occurs in the private sector. The PFH stated that inspections usually occurred prior to the tenant vacating when sufficient notice had been given, but this was not always the case. Some properties were left in extremely poor condition and this was costly to put right before re-letting. It would be prudent to instigate this with new tenants going forward, as it would be a good way of spotting issues before they had a chance to escalate.


    Chris Hall clarified that although property inspections were not routine, operatives from the compliance safety teams would be undertaking annual checks and any concerns would be reported back as a matter of course. This has been picked up by the Tenants Strategic Board who are hoping to widen the remit to those houses who do not have compliance inspections, and can be booked in for at least an annual check.


    ·       Recruitment – there are national issues on recruitment which are hampering SWT’s ability to recruit and retain key staff. It is also difficult to compete with the private sector in terms of salary when this is determined at a national level. SWT is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81.


Health and Wellbeing Board Update

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Chris Booth, representative on the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board.


    Mark Leeman, Strategy Specialist will give a presentation on recent work

    Additional documents:


    Executive Cllr Chris Booth, representative on the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board introduced the update.


    Mark Leeman, Strategy Specialist presented a series of slides, which can be viewed here.


    Questions and comments from the committee included the following: -


    ·       How will Local Community Networks (LCNs) fit in with this complex picture? At the present time this is unknown, but it will emerge as engagement grows between the various organisations. Building community resilience is key in delivering on the strategies especially around homelessness and rough sleeping.

    ·       Where do the Police fit into the Integrated Care Service (ICS)? Avon and Somerset Police Superintendent Dickon Turner is a representative on various parts of the Health and Wellbeing Board, as are the DWP, Probation and other statutory services. It is very much a partnership approach.

    ·       Comment was made that there seems to be a concentrated focus on governance and a top-down approach, rather than looking at the end user, and bottom-up delivery. There should be more emphasis on the individual needs rather than getting lost in the bureaucracy. Mark Leeman said that this was the nature of his presentation and there was some very good work taking place with Housing First which was happening at ground level, and directly connecting in with communities.

    ·       It was recognised that the implementation of the ICS alongside the unitary council coming into being, was a very exciting and interesting time for health care in Somerset, despite the complexity of the issues.

    ·       It was agreed that the best way forward was to get partners around a table to discuss the complex cases and come up with an integrated package to look after people. This rarely happened at present but was the best way to tackle the issues. Co-locating teams and working alongside each other would get the best use of resource and sharing information and resource. The fact that housing would now sit alongside the other former SCC functions, would allow the basic health needs to be addressed, first and foremost. This would in essence address some of the fundamental issues that arise around safety, security and homelessness.

    ·       There are various funding streams and pots of money that can be tapped into from housing budgets and the NHS but the scale of the problem is vast. The partnership working will enable a consistent plan to come forward and galvanise action. Although crisis management will always be there, there needs to be a more preventative and collaborative approach towards commissioning in the long term. The Better Futures Plan is one method of investment to work alongside and support vulnerable people to prevent recurring homelessness. By putting a plan in place to support them in their accommodation, there is more likelihood that they will sustain their tenancy.


    The Chair finished by saying that this was an essential project that absolutely had to be delivered to enable a better future for the most vulnerable in our communities. She thanked Mark Leeman for attending and providing the update.