Agenda and minutes

Venue: Luttrell Room - County Hall, Taunton TA1 4DY. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Email: 


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Councillor Edric Hobbs.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 93 KB

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 of Somerset Council, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes.)


There were no additional declarations of interest.


Public Question Time

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’.


Dr A Clegg and Mr D Orr had both submitted statements to the Committee in respect of agenda item 5 – Economy, Employment and Planning: Phosphates Update and are detailed under minute no. 5.


Approach to Climate and Place Scrutiny Committee

Members are asked to consider and comment on the report from the Governance Manager, Scrutiny.

Additional documents:


Members received a presentation on the principles of scrutiny and the approach being taken regarding scrutiny within the new Somerset Council, which would be reviewed after a year.


There would be 5 scrutiny committees, one for each of service directorates, each with their own functional areas of responsibility.


They noted that this Committee’s remit covered:

Climate, Environment and Sustainability:

·       Carbon Neutrality

·       Climate Resilience and Adaptation

·       Renewable Energy

·       Country Parks, Local Nature Recovery Strategy, Local Nature Reserves, AONB Partnerships (Countryside Services)

·       Biodiversity (and net gain) and Ecology

·       Sustainability

·       Waste Service

·       Emergency Planning and Business Continuity

·       Water Management

·       Flooding Response

·       Coastal Protection Authority

·       Somerset Rivers Authority


Infrastructure & Transport:

·       Highways Authority

·       Public Rights of Way

·       Parking

·       Active Travel

·       Traffic Management

·       Transport

·       Public Transport

·       Fleet Management

·       Contracted Transport

·       Strategic Transport Planning

·       Road Safety

·       Infrastructure Commissioning


Economy, Employment & Planning:

·       Economic Development and Tourism

·       Planning (conservation, enforcement, DM, local plan, waste and minerals, s106 allocations/CIL, Phosphates)

·       Affordable Housing and Enabling

·       City/Town Centre Management

·       Trading Standards (Devon partnership)

·       Skills

·       Education Business Partnership

·       Economic infrastructure, services and Innovation Centres

·       Regeneration (non-housing)

·       Major Projects

·       Nuclear Power

·       Scientific Services

Additionally, they would have the responsibility of providing a check and challenge function for decisions and policies made by the Executive, as well as contributing towards policy development and developing its own forward plan.


It was hoped that, with the use of member workshops and task & finish groups, which the Scrutiny Officer was now able to support, the wide remit of the Committee could be addressed.


Mickey Green the Executive Director for Climate & Place introduced himself and his 3 service Directors who gave a quick outline of their service areas:

Ø  Kirsty Larkins – Service Director, Climate, Sustainability and Environment

Ø  David Carter - Service Director, Infrastructure and Transport

Ø  Paul Hickson - Service Director, Economy, Employment and Planning

The Executive Director’s intention was to have a thematic approach to meeting e.g. a watery theme for July’s meeting and invite people like Wessex Water in. Additionally, bringing in items at an early stage in order to get a steer from members.


The following points were raised by members;

§  Concerns over managing the caseload with meeting now bi-monthly instead of monthly as in the past.

§  The use of task & finish groups would be helpful

§  It would be helpful to get the opportunity to be involved with policies at an early stage and have a councillor led process

§  Action trackers on written questions and committee recommendations could become a standard part of the agenda

The following items were also suggested as potential future scrutiny items:

§  Waste, with the new business plan being implemented

§  Transport – active travel and public transport (bus service improvement plan)

§  Items from the forward plan of the previous Scrutiny for Policies and Place Committee

§  Planning and Section 106 agreements in respect of the management of open spaces

§  Climate emergency strategy governance and how this was going to work in relation to the new partnership board and Executive Sub-Committee

§  New  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Economy, Employment and Planning: Phosphates update pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Members are asked to consider and comment on the update report from the Service Director, Economy, Employment and Planning.

Additional documents:


The follow statement was read out to the Committee:


From Dr Andrew Clegg

Statement for Item 5 of the Scrutiny Committee meeting on 17th May 2023


I am a former research chemist who has lived in Martock–on the Parrett–for over 30 years.  I was responsible for guiding Martock Neighbourhood Plan to fruition two years ago, only to find that all new development had been put on phosphate hold rendering the South Somerset Local Plan, and ours with it, ’out of date’.


When I looked into the Ramsar phosphate issue it was immediately clear that there was a dearth of local data and remediating policy was therefore being built on extrapolations from a national modelling system.  As the classical standard phosphate test is a simple and reliable one, I set about, with a small group from several Parrett parishes, planning a detailed mapping of phosphate flow in the Parrett, the Yeo and many of their tributaries.


Our work is supported and funded by the Parish Councils of Haselbury Plucknett, Merriott, Martock, and Huish Episcopi, and by Langport Town Council.  It covers the Parrett and its tributaries from South Perrott to West Sedgemoor and includes the Yeo downstream from Wetmoor.  We regularly share and discuss data with scientists from Natural England and the RSPB (who own much of the West Sedgemoor SSSI) and seek advice from staff of two universities involved in the field.


Conclusions from two years of surveys are now emerging and a number are significantly at odds with some assumptions on which recent Somerset policy is being built. This gives rise to some concerns, one of which is that the current Somerset policy outlined in this agenda item tends to focus on only one aspect of this complex issue to the detriment of others. 


A second concern is that while Parrett catchment nutrient neutrality is, per se, desirable, it is likely to have minimal impact on the Ramsar Moors and distracts attention from the main problem.  The real issue is the very high concentration of phosphate already in the river sediments deposited over the years mainly by our 11 sewage plants not one of which removes phosphate.


We are now publishing our data as it is collected on and through periodic short single-topic reports which we will circulate to the new Councillors, many of whom we are already in contact with.  We look forward to regular future exchanges as the new authority takes on the task of addressing the deteriorating state of the Levels.


In response to these statements officers stated that understanding the evidence was really important in a complex technical field like this and that the Council was working with expert universities in the field as part of that need for objective evidence. They believed that everyone's insight, data and evidence was welcomed and that they would requesting a meeting with Doctor Clegg’s so that they could discuss his research, look at the evidence with him and see what insight that could bring.

The second statement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Infrastructure and Transport: Highways Service Responsiveness update pdf icon PDF 140 KB

Members are asked to consider and comment on a verbal update and presentation from Interim Deputy Director, ECI Operations. 


The Committee considered a request to establish a task and finish group in order to improve the responsiveness of the Highways and Transport Service, a priority for the new Council, recognising that responsiveness to some enquiries had been a cause of concern for both the public and members.


Members agreed that this was a much needed piece of work and that there was also a need to consider the response time for councillors enquiries and they requested that a reminder of the members casework system be circulated to all members.



To endorse the creation of a task and finish group to review the Highways and Transport Services communication interfaces and service responsiveness with the following membership:


Ø  Cllr Bente Height

Ø  Cllr Henry Hobhouse

Ø  Cllr Marcus Kravis

Ø  Cllr Dave Mansell

Ø  Cllr Tom Power


Climate, Environment and Sustainability: EV charging update pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Members are asked to consider and comment on a verbal update and presentation from the Interim Deputy Director, ECI Operations


The Committee was advised that the Council was looking at applying for additional funding from the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund in order to run a small scale Egully trial. The Egully enables the on-street charging of residential vehicles, where people do not have their own driveways, without trailing wires across pavements etc. After the trial they would then report back and develop a strategy based upon their findings.


Members felt that whilst this was only a small part of the overall solution it was a worthwhile one.


The Committee also noted the update on the Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy which had been developed by the previous 4 district and county council.


In response to questions it was confirmed that they had already started the de-carbonising of their fleet of vehicles and were looking to introduce a requirement that any vehicle under 3.5 tonnes would have to be electric.


In developing the strategy, they would also be looking at things such as:

·         The current variety of inherited charging schemes within the county.

·         The provision of charging points within council owned car parks.

·         The use of standard and quick chargers.

·         Whether charging points were needed to encourage visitors to certain areas or to support the tourist trade.

·         In house operation versus the use of operator concession schemes.

·         The need to have control over the prices charged to the end user.



Date of the next meeting

The date of the next meeting of the Scrutiny Climate and Place committee will be the 19th July at 10am in the Luttrell Room at County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY


The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Wednesday 19 July 2023 at 10.00am.


Urgent item of business pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Members are asked to approve the minutes of the final Somerset County Council Scrutiny for Policies, Environment and Scrutiny for Policies, Place meetings.

Additional documents:


The Chair confirmed that there was an urgent item of business. To confirm the minutes from the final meetings of Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny for Policies, Evnvironment Committee and the  and place an d



To approve the minutes of the Scrutiny for Policies, Environment Committee meeting of the 29 March 2023 and the minutes of the Scrutiny for Policies and Place Committee Meeting of the 7 March 2023 as correct records.