Meeting documents

SWT Corporate Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 5th October, 2022 6.15 pm

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

Contact: Sam Murrell, Email: 

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item



    To receive any apologies for absence.


    Additional documents:


    Cllr Nicole Hawkins, Cllr Norman Cavill (subs Cllr Roger Habgood), Cllr Libby Lisgo (subs Cllr Brenda Weston), Cllr Loretta Whetlor (subs Cllr Janet Lloyd) and Cllr John Hassall


    Cllr Aldridge joined the meeting at 7.00pm.


    Cllr Lisgo joined the meeting via zoom, contributed to the discussion but did not vote. Cllr Mansell joined the meeting via zoom to contribute to the discussion on Item 9.



Minutes of the previous Corporate Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 243 KB


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 I Aldridge

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr H Farbahi

    All Items



    Spoked and Voted

    Cllr M Kravis

    All Items

    SCC & Minehead


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr J Lloyd

    All Items

    Wellington & Sampford Arundel


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr N Thwaites

    All Items



    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr B Weston

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee


    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr G Wren

    All Items

    SCC & Clerk to Milverton PC


    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 to the Committee in respect of public participation.


Corporate Scrutiny Request/Recommendation Trackers pdf icon PDF 76 KB


Corporate Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 55 KB

    To receive items and review the Forward Plan.


    Additional documents:


    An officer will attend Corporate Scrutiny in December todiscuss the outcomes from the Innovation Exchange,and what opportunities there are to expand on this for the new Council. 


    The Commercial Investment Report will go to Corporate Scrutiny in January on its route through to Full Council in February. This will include an appendix on legacy assets to be transferred to the new Council. 



Executive and Full Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 62 KB


Update on Local Government Reorganisation

    Executive Portfolio Holder Report for Local Government Reorganisation – Councillor Sarah Wakefield.


    To provide a verbal update assisted by the Director of Internal Operations, Alison North

    Additional documents:


    This verbal report was introduced by Executive Councillor for Local Government Reorganisation – Councillor Sarah Wakefield, and supported by the Director of Internal Operations, Alison North. Alison presented a series of slides which explained the current position. 


    The overall position is that works are progressing, despite considerable pressure on staff and there has been some slippage with dates. It is hoped that this will be addressed now that the new CEO, Duncan Sharkey is in post. (His start date was delayed due to overseeing Operation London Bridge, at his previous Council, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead). One of his first areas of business will be to look at his senior management team and get them into post so that he can start working on the new Council’s priorities. 


    The presentation slides are available to view here. 


    Comments from the floor included: - 


    ·        Concern about the transfer of the Council Housing stock, which was one of SWT’s biggest assets, and keeping tenants informed of the process.This falls under the responsibility of the Housing Directorate and James Barrah. This is a "Tranche 1 product" so is considered of vital importance and will need to be up and running on Day1 of the new authority. All processes are being implemented to ensure a safe and efficient transfer, so that tenants are not adversely affected. Tenants are being kept up to date via the website, tenant groups and newsletters so they are informed as much as possible. 

    ·        Will all existing documents that transfer to the new authority be accessible by whatever new website/platform is being used? Yes, they will. The Council is under a legal obligation to ensure that all public documents are retained and will be made as accessible as possible.  

    ·        General comment was made about the importance of transparency and making sure that everyone was well informed on the processes. Can dialogue remain open and staff made aware of the implications of TUPE and moving away from silo thinking so that knowledge and reassurance is shared across the Council.All staff currently employed by SWT will transfer to the new authority on vesting day, on the same terms and conditions they are currently contracted for. (TUPE). This also includes all assets, housing, informationand data. In areas of the business that currently employ agency staff, this will be reviewed. (As they are not employees of the Council, they are not under the same contractual obligations). 

    ·        At the current time where there is pressure on services due to staffing issues, these gaps are being filled via the "Mutual Aid" policy which is where one or more of the five councils assists another. Alternatively, in some of the statutory services such as planning, agency workers are proving a necessity unfortunately. This is unavoidable due to the national shortage of planning officers, and they can be more expensive to engage. 

    ·        What  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.


Strategic Flood Alleviation Schemes and Overview of Somerset Rivers Authoriy (SRA) and Flood and Coastal Protection Board (F&CPB) pdf icon PDF 291 KB

    This matter is the responsibility of Executive Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Cllr Dixie Darch. 


    Report Author:  Jonathan Stevens, Assistant Director Climate Change Regulatory Services and Asset Management  


    Additional documents:


    This report was introduced by Executive Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Cllr Dixie Darch and presented by Jonathan Stevens, Assistant Director Climate Change Regulatory Services and Asset Management. 


    Councillors had reviewed the report and made the following comments: - 

    ·        Gwil Wren – Written Answer – Can an update be provided on the current flood management schemes that are going on in the Milverton area? 

    ·        Janet Lloyd – Written Answer – Can an update be provided on the current flood management schemes that are going on in the Pinksmoor Area, because during times of heavy rain there is still a lot of surface water in the lanes which is slow to drain away. 

    ·        The point was made that the purpose of the report was to highlight flood risk management NOT to prevent flooding. All measures being implemented were the steps that were being taken to control water, but this might not necessarily be enough to stop areas being flooded. The EA and SRA would also be concentrating on high-risk areas where homes and livelihoods were vulnerable and mitigating against this. It may mean that areas of the highway were left to slowly drain away, so that other areas could be dealt with first. 

    ·        Cllr Mansell was pleased that the content of the report especially in natural flood management. It was asked whether these schemes were being monitored to evaluate their effectiveness? A lot of evidence-based work is being undertaken by both the Environment Agency (EA) and Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) to evaluate the natural environment and habitats because of the work in this area.  

    ·        The SRA benefits from bringing a whole variety of stakeholders to the table with various diverse views. They only invest in projects that are evidence based and can provide value for money.Some areas such as Sampford Brett in West Somerset have benefitted from being members of the SRA, even though they have very little capital/budget to spend on flood alleviation schemes themselves. 

    ·        Cllr Aldridge stressed that it was important that flood management work is not undertaken in isolation and that the agencies concerned respond to strategic planning enquiries and other matters relating to local infrastructure. It is vitally important that development land especially is managed properly to ensure that houses are not built on flood plains and store up problems for the future. It is likely that this problem will be alleviated in the future when the unitary council will ensure more joined up working, especially between planning, infrastructure, and highways management. (The majority of the drainage issues currently come under the Highways responsibility). 

    ·        Jonathan Stevens is currently the workstream lead for this area of the LGR programme, so the various concerns will be noted and considered. 

    ·        Currently the SRA precept via the Council Tax, and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The new Somerset Council will be the hosting authority for collection of the Council Tax going forward and they need to vote to confirm  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.