Agenda and minutes

Venue: John Meikle Room, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Email: 


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from CllrsTom Power (Cllr Woods as sub), Cllr Marcus Kravis (Cllr Stanton as sub) and Cllr Adam Boyden. 


Declarations of Interest

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

(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )


Cllr Stanton declared an interest in item 7 due to his position as Chair of theSomerset Rivers Authority Board.  

Cllr Harry Munt also declared an interest in item 7, due to his role as a member of the Somerset Rivers Authority Board.  



Minutes from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To approve the minutes from the previous meeting held on 22nd November 2023.


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 22nd November 2023 were approved as a correct record subject to the following amendments; 

·         The committee had previously voted for an additional scrutiny meeting to consider Water Quality in Somerset, but this has not yet happened. Cllr Hobhouse proposed a revote to progress this as an urgent matter, seconded by Cllr Ashton, and the committee voted unanimously in favour to progress this assoon as possible  

·         Regardingitem 39 the Action Tracker Proposed revision to wording regarding the outcomes of Scrutiny recommendations.  

·         Regardingitem 40 the Committee Forward plan – Revision to wording to reflect that thecommittee did not note a forward plan, but that they noted an update report on the approach to the development of the forward plan. 



Public Question Time pdf icon PDF 98 KB

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, please see details under ‘click here to join online meeting’.


The Chair welcomed Nick Hall to the Scrutiny Committee Climate and Placewho introduced himself and thanked members and officers for the written responses to his questionsthat had been submitted and published in advance of the meeting. He asked members to consider the following as follow-up to the questions and responses obtained prior to the meeting:- 


·         You have confirmed that Glastonbury festival traffic management does fall within the remit of this committee, does this mean that there will now be coordination with the Scrutiny Committee - Communities whos remit is the licensing and planning aspects of the event? 

·         You have stated that there isno publicly available debrief report for Glastonbury festival traffic management, is there an intention to create such a report? 

·         Members of the local community are reassured that they can now contact the council directly with any issues relatingGlastonbury Festival. 

·         Thank you for the update on the Strategic Traffic Management Plan which is a condition of the recent planning approval. Given that the applicant has not yet submitted this plan, does this mean that the festival should continue to operate under the conditions of the previous planning approval?  

·         I look forward tomore responses on the specific issues raised as part of my PQT submisssion, as advised in the written response from Somerset Council.  

·         There needs to be further distinction between Somerset Councils role and regulator and service provider at Glastonbury Festival.  


The Service Director for Infrastructure and Transport thanked Mr Hall for his questions and advised that the team are always happy to have conversations about issues such as these. He also advised that, in terms of the question around planning conditions and the Traffic Management Plan, he would seek advice and come back to the member of the public directly.  



Scrutiny Climate and Place Work Programme pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To receive an update from the Service Manager, Governance Scrutiny. To assist the discussion, the following documents are attached:-


(a)  The Committee’s work programme

(b)  The Committee’s outcome tracker


Please use the following links to view the latest Somerset Council Forward Plans and Executive Forward Plan of planned key decisions that have been published on the Council’s website:


Somerset Council Forward Plans


Somerset Council Executive Forward Plan



Additional documents:


Due to a publishing error, the link to the supplementary agenda item ‘Scrutiny Committee Climate and Place Forward Plan Report 2024’ was unavailable. Democratic Services advised that the report would be available for consideration and comment at the next meeting. 

The committee reviewed the Action Tracker and there was a brief discussion about the importance ofoutcomes (i.e a report to the Executive) being reported backto the committee for completeness 

A member asked when the overdue S19 reports for 2020-2022 would be coming to this committee, and the Service Director for Economy, Employment and Planning advised that officers would seek advice and an update would be provided as soon as possible   

Jamie Jackson, the Governance Manager, Scrutinyreferred to the meeting of 19th July 2023 during which a request was made for a Task and Finish group to influenceSomerset Council’s strategic approach to climate change. He advised that the policy development on thenew strategy/vision is underway,and that an email would be sent to membersseeking volunteers for the Task and Finish groupafter the meeting. 



Economy, Employment and Planning: Level 2 Devolution Deal Position Statement pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To note the report.


The Chair invited Paul Hickson, Service Director for Economy, Employment and Planning to present the position statement following the 2023 Autumn Statement Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announcement on a change in the pace of devolution to accelerate to a level 2 deal, which presents an opportunity for Somerset to start a progressive national devolutionjourney. The Service Director highlighted that this report does not refer to the recent asset and service devolution conversations with parish and town councilswhich are ongoing 

Heinvited comments and questions from members and the following were received and discussed: - 


·         One member felt positive and supportive of the report and in particular bus franchising in Somerset which could allow more local authority control and competition in this area.  

·         With reference to climate change and adults'skills markets, retrofitting is a huge opportunity that this devolution deal may create that aligns with this councils climate objectives.    

·         There was a question on whether Somerset should or could applywith neighbouring authorities, and the Service Director advised that in the specific short term, no, but will certainly be considered as the journey continues into the longer term.    


The Chair thanked the officer and members for their comments and questions and concluded that the Scrutiny Committee – Climate and Place considered and noted the Position Statement report. 



Somerset Rivers Authority: Draft Strategy and Flood Action Plan 2024-2034 pdf icon PDF 101 KB

1)         To review and comment on the early draft of Executive Decision SRA funding decision report that will be considered on 6 March 2024.


2)         To consider the draft SRA Strategy and provide feedback on its content.

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed David Mitchell, Senior Manager, Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) to themeeting. 

The Senior Manager, SRAexplained that the purpose of bringing the item to members of the Scrutiny Committee - Climate and Place is twofold: 

1.     to review and comment on the early draft of Executive Decision SRA funding decision report that will be considered on 6 March.   

2.    to consider the draft SRA Strategy and provide feedback on its content. 

He then took members through a presentation which explained what the Somerset Rivers Authority is and how it came into being. The slides took members through a summary of theSRA’s governance, workstreams (and achievements so far), budgets and the headlines of thenew Strategy and Flood Action Plan 2024-2034   


He invited comments and questionsfrom members and the following were received and discussed 

·         There was concern about the impacts of new development/building on the flooding of roads in Somerset and the need for a strategy to help communities that are being affected. The Senior Manager advised that the SRA is involved, with its partners, in monitoring and investigations, and can assist in terms of supportwith grant funding to help deliver solutions for all of these sorts of issues.   

·         There were many comments made around the devastating impact of flash flooding,and some members expressed concerns that these events are becoming more regular, and in some areas not improving despite flood prevention and mitigation activities 

·         One member expressed his support and gratitude for the very good work of the Somerset Rivers Authority.  

·         Members felt that drain and gully clearingis an important aspect of flood prevention that continues to be an issue all over the county.  

·         Regarding council tax increases, one member felt that taxpayers do not want to pay more of their council tax to the SRA. The Senior Manager reassured the committee that there was no proposal to increase the 1.25% precept.  

·         Regarding the many projects that are shown on the map, would they be considered successful? Would these projects have been done without the support of the SRA, and finally if Somerset Council did not continue to fund the SRA, would all of this work have to stop? In his response the Senior Managergave the view that the projects have been highly successful, and advised that without a significant amount of its funding coming from Somerset Council the SRA would certainly have to certainly have to adapt and change the way in which it operates.     

·         One members asked if, when SRA officer go out to divisions, they make contact with division members to allow members to understand what is happening. The Service Manager agreed with this request, understanding the reasoning behind it  

·         Regarding the flash flooding in West & Queen Camel which occurs annually despite  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Waste Services: Flex Collect Update pdf icon PDF 932 KB

To note the update.


The Chair welcomed Mike Cowdell, Head of Waste, to the Scrutiny Committee - Climate and Place to present an update report on the flexible plastics trial, Flex Collect, that was delivered to 3600 properties around Frome during May 2023.


The trial included communications, engagement with residents and provided participants with a blue, transparent bags to present flexible plastics alongside the existing recycling service.

The trial yielded impressive results and The Council has in-principal agreement to extend the trial to 20,000 properties in the East of the County from spring/summer 2024.


Members sought clarity on the types of materials included in the trial, and there was a request for further information regarding the ways in which those materials are processed and repurposed by the end user. The Head of Waste advised that he would obtain the requested information and bring it back to the committee at their next meeting.


The Scrutiny committee – Climate and Place considered and noted the Flex Collect Update.