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The minutes of the meeting held on 25th January 2021 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.
The following question, received under Standing Order 34, was put to the Chairman of the Scrutiny Commission:
Question asked by Mr David Campbell-Kelly as Chairman of the Willoughby Waterleys Residents Association
“As Chairman of the Willoughby Waterleys Residents Association, the committee would like to ask the following questions on behalf of its members, relating to strategic growth within the County.
understand that the Strategic Growth Plan is to be reviewed by the Members
Advisory Group. As a member of MAG will
the County Council seek to ensure that such review will be subject to public
consultation before implementation by any MAG member in a Local Plan review?
the County Council ensure that such review will look at ALL options for
strategic growth, including to the west of the City as presented by WWRA 18
months ago. (Updated report available if required)
the County Council agree that Leicester City's unmet housing need is not yet
quantified, pending its Local Plan adoption? Is it also agreed that a Statement
of Common Ground will be necessary to allocate any unmet need and will the
County Council through the MAG seek to ensure that this is subject to public
that the A46 Expressway is not being progressed by Midland Connect, any
required infrastructure will need to be funded by development. Why then has The
County Council set aside circa £1.5m for Advanced Design Works for a new J20a
on the M1?
5. Blaby DC local plan consultation closed on 12th March 2021. Where and what was the County Council's response? Did it highlight that the allocation of strategic sites by Blaby in advance of an agreed Statement of Common Ground would be premature?”
Reply by the Chairman
If the SGP needs updating, the County Council will
want to ensure the SGP is consulted upon before it is approved for use by all
The scope and options considered will be determined
by the MAG. The County Council will wish to ensure the latest evidence
available is taken into account.
Leicester’s unmet housing need will be quantified
through its Local Plan process and a Statement of Common Ground will be
prepared by the MAG to apportion the unmet need across the rest of the housing
market area. The Statement of Common Ground will form part of the
evidence for individual Local Plans which will be subject to consultation as
part of the statutory Local Plan process.
It is appropriate to identify funds for potential
works which have been identified in a strategy approved by partners.
5. The Cabinet at the County Council will be considering its response to Blaby District Council’s New Local Plan Options document on 23 March 2021. Cabinet papers will be placed on the County Council’s website on Monday, 15 March 2021.
Mr Campbell-Kelly asked the following supplementary questions on the responses provided and, at the invitation of the Chairman, the Assistant Chief Executive responded as set out below:
1. “At Harborough District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 8th March it was agreed to amend its support for the SGP and gave its approval to the review already being undertaken by the MAG. Do the County Council accept that this review, in the light of the changed circumstances regarding the A46 Expressway and given that the MAG is a non-statutory body, should be the subject of a public consultation in the interest of transparency?”
Reply: The minutes from Harborough District Council’s Cabinet meeting last week were not on its website yet and the Assistant Chief Executive could not ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).
The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).
There were no urgent items for consideration.
Declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.
The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.
All members of the Commission who were also members of district and/or parish councils declared a person interest in item 10 relating to the 2020/21 Medium Term Financial Strategy Monitoring (Period 10) (minute 64 refers).
Mrs H. Fryer CC declared a personal interest in agenda item 8 (Strategic Property Energy Strategy 2020) which included reference to a solar farm in her division (Quorn and Barrow) and agenda item 10 (Medium Term Financial Strategy Monitoring (Period 10)), specifically the reference on page 57 to Rothley Primary School, as she chaired Charnwood Borough Council’s Planning Committee.
Declarations of the Party Whip in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 16.
There were no declarations of the party whip.
Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 35.
The Chief Executive reported that no petitions had been received under Standing Order 35.
The Commission considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources regarding the revised Strategic Property Energy Strategy for 2020 – 2030 and accompanying action plan. A copy of the report marked agenda item 8 is filed with these minutes.
In presenting the report the Director emphasised that the Property Energy Strategy was essentially a sub-strategy of the Council’s overarching Environment Strategy which the Council had approved last year. The latter looked holistically at the Council’s approach across all service areas whereas the Property Energy Strategy set out work that would be specifically undertaken to reduce carbon emissions and deliver other environmental benefits across its own property portfolio.
The Strategy was welcomed and the ambitions and
targets identified in the action plan supported, particularly as this included
tangible results that would be measured over time. Members agreed that
the Council should act as an exemplar of what could be achieved and agreed the
planned Strategy worked to ensure this.
Progress against the previous Strategy was also
welcomed. A Member suggested that this work should be promoted to show
how committed the Council was to delivering its net zero carbon target and to
encourage partners to do the same.
Given that the County Council itself only
accounted for 1% of the total emissions generated in Leicestershire, the need
to work jointly with others was emphasised. Whilst the Council’s own
strategy and delivery to date had been good, it did not have control over a
number of factors that would be key to reducing carbon emissions across the
County. Members noted that consideration was being given to how the
Council might influence others to also take steps reduce their emissions.
A member raised concerns that growth and
increased housing numbers would inevitably increase carbon emissions across the
area and said the County and district councils and the private sector would
each need to play their part to address this. It was further suggested
that as more people were now working from home, promoting and encouraging
energy efficient homes would be increasingly important and necessary.
A member expressed concern that some of the
Council’s emissions had been exported to staff over the last year because of
increased working from home. Whilst it was recognised that this was
difficult to measure and monitor, members agreed that steps to help staff
should be considered, particularly as this would likely have a cost
impact. Members acknowledged that many staff now had reduced travel
costs, but it was not clear if this outweighed increased energy costs
particularly over the winter. The Director acknowledged there was more
the Council could do to support staff. The approach had so far been to
provide information and advice and to alert staff to government grants and
initiatives which may be of benefit, but members were reassured that further
consideration would be given to more practical steps which the Council could
Members emphasised the need to ensure other
Council policies took sufficient account of environmental impacts to ensure all
activities of the Council worked to deliver its net zero carbon target by
2030. Members acknowledged that wider work was being undertaken across
departments and with partners which was managed through the Council’ Strategic
Environment Team. Members noted that this work would be monitored by the
Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
(vii) In response to a question, the Director confirmed that carbon emissions from the Council’s water consumption was low and measures to reduce this further were disproportionately expensive. On balance therefore, these had not been ... view the full minutes text for item 62.
The Commission considered a report which sought comments on the proposed further development at Airfield Business Park in Market Harborough and proposals to seek Cabinet approval for the allocation of resources necessary to support the scheme, to submit a planning application for light industrial units covering a further 96, 717 sq. ft of the site and to proceed to tender to construct part of the space (81,376 sq. ft) as the next phase of the development. A copy of the report marked Agenda Item 9 is filed with these minutes.
In presenting the report, the Director reported that:
· In support of the Council’s environmental approach and Property Energy Strategy targets, the proposed units would be built with the benefit of electric car charging points and photovoltaic panels.
To reduce risk, marketing of the units would
likely begin earlier than currently set out in the report to secure pre-lets
wherever possible (i.e. agreements to lease the units before construction).
Arising from discussion, the following points were made:
This was a good scheme making excellent use of
the site that would generate employment opportunities in the area.
Although the return on investment was estimated to take 20 years, it was hoped
that this would be significantly reduced by securing lower build costs
following the planned tender exercise and increased rental figures on
It was not yet known what type of businesses
might be attracted to the new units. The site had already attracted a
wide range e.g. printers, bakers, storage facilities. Members noted that
five out of ten of the tenants occupying the units completed under phase 2 of
the scheme were local to the area and had been looking to expand. The
other five had invested into the County from outside the area.
It was not clear where future
employers/employees occupying the units might live. A travel plan would
be undertaken as part of the usual planning process. Members noted that
as this was a County Council development on County Council owned land this would
be a Regulation 3 application considered by the County Council’s Development
Control and Regulatory Board. It was hoped that a planning application
would be submitted next month.
Like with any commercial development, there were
risks related to the scheme. However, these were as expected for this
scheme and not regarded as significant or unusual despite current economic
uncertainty. Steps would be taken to reduce and manage risk including,
for example, undertaking the planned fixed cost tender exercise for the next
phase. Members noted that ultimately, the Council would benefit from
rental income from the site if the scheme were delivered but would also benefit
from capital growth if planning permission was secured, making this a
marketable investment should the Council wish to sell.
(v) A member alerted the Director to parking issues leading up to the site which stemmed from the neighbouring Innovation Centre. It was suggested that parking for the site would be addressed through the planning process.
That the comments now made by the Scrutiny Commission be reported to the Cabinet at its meeting on 23rd March 2021 for consideration.
The Commission considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources, the purpose of which was to provide an update on the 2020/21 revenue budget and capital programme monitoring position as at the end of period 10 (the end of January 2021). A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 10’ is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion the following points arose:
Each government grant was subject to its own
conditions and many required the money to be spent within a set timeframe or at
the very least by the end of the financial year. This was very difficult
for many local authorities to achieve and therefore such conditions had been
softened to require spend to only be committed this financial year. This
meant some funds could now be carried forward to 2021/22. However,
despite this, the potential funding gap in 2021/22 remained substantial.
Nationally, vacancy levels in care homes had
increased as views on preferred care settings continued to change towards care
at home. Some providers were beginning to close some homes which were no
longer viable, though this did not seem to be an issue in Leicestershire at the
current time. The County Council had provided interim support to
local care homes and they had adapted well during this difficult time. It
was accepted, however, that further pressures on the market lay ahead.
Members noted the overspend on commercial
services, recognising that this had been a very difficult year for the
Council’s traded activities. Members were advised that services would be
reviewed on a case by case basis. Where a fundamental review was
necessary requiring significant changes to a service area, proposals would be
presented to the Cabinet and the Scrutiny Commission in the usual
way. Members noted that whilst some areas, such as cafes in parks,
had continued to do well, other areas had been significantly impacted by Covid
restrictions, for example, Beaumanor Hall which had been closed for almost a
The Cabinet would consider the reallocation of
unringfenced undersepnds as part of the usual outturn in May/June and redirect
such funds as it considered appropriate at that time.
The M1 Junction 23/A512 overspend would not
likely increase further as the scheme was due to be completed in May
2021. It was hoped that further funding received through section 106
developer contributions would reduce the overall cost to the Council.
A member questioned what would happen to the
section 106 funding secured for the creation of secondary places in the
Coalville area now that this could not be used towards a new building at
Newbridge High School. The Director advised that this would depend on the
specific terms of the section 106 agreement entered into with the
developer. The Head of Law confirmed that the agreement would be reviewed
to ensure, as far as possible, the funding was not lost but reallocated as
A member asked for an update on the proposed
development of Leaders Farm in Lutterworth which had been progressing for some
time. The Director confirmed this was not yet developed enough to be
regarded as a live scheme within the capital programme. Work to secure
planning permission for the site was still in progress.
(viii) A member raised concern about the continued slippage and increased costs for the proposed Zouch Bridge replacement which had been ongoing since 2013. Members noted that refurbishment techniques had improved over recent years and consideration would therefore be over the summer to whether this would be a viable option, as opposed to its replacement. A further update would be ... view the full minutes text for item 64.
Date of next meeting.
The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 14th April 2021.
It was noted that the next meeting of the Commission was scheduled to take place on 14 April at 10.30am.