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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room A, Town Hall, Blackpool

Contact: John Greenbank  Senior Democratic Governance Adviser

Items
No. Item

1.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members are asked to declare any interests in the items under consideration and in doing so state:

 

(1) the type of interest concerned either a

 

(a)   personal interest

(b)   prejudicial interest

(c)    disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI)

 

and

 

(2) the nature of the interest concerned

 

If any member requires advice on declarations of interests, they are advised to contact the Head of Democratic Governance in advance of the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor Jim Hobson declared a personal interest in item 5 on the agenda, Cabinet and Executive Member Decisions, in relation to Executive Decision Ex20/19 ‘Funding for Blackpool Housing Company’, as he had been appointed as a Non-Executive Director on the Company’s Board.

2.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF TOURISM ECONOMY AND RESOURCES HELD ON 23 JANUARY 2019 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Resources Scrutiny Committee held on 23 January 2019 as a true and correct record.

Minutes:

Members considered the minutes of the 23 January 2019 meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Resources Scrutiny Committee.

 

Regarding minute 5, Forward Plan, the Committee asked that a copy of the letter written to United Utilities regarding the 2017 Anchorsholme flooding be re-circulated along with the response for information.

 

The Committee agreed that the minutes of the 23 January 2019 meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Resources Scrutiny Committee represented a true and correct record.

3.

PUBLIC SPEAKING

To consider any applications from members of the public to speak at the meeting.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there were no applications to speak by members of the public on this occasion.

4.

TOURISM PERFORMANCE UPDATE pdf icon PDF 394 KB

To consider an update on Tourism Performance, including the Destination Marketing Campaign’s results from 2018 and plans for 2019.

Minutes:

Mr Philip Welsh, Head of Tourism and Communications, presented the Tourism update on performance and trends within the visitor economy. Ms Kate Shane, Head of the Blackpool Cluster of Merlin Attractions, was also in attendance to discuss the ‘Blackpool Has It All’ marketing campaign and answer questions from the Committee.

 

Members asked Ms Shane for Merlin’s view of the ‘Blackpool Has It All’ campaign, of which it was the Council’s main partner in delivering. The campaign involved a television advertisement aimed at attracting families to Blackpool. The advertisement would appear on STV in Scotland between June and July 2019 and in the north of England July to August 2019. Social media and press advertisements would also be utilised to support the campaign.

 

Ms Shane informed the Committee that Merlin regarded the campaign as a success and had recorded consistent average growth of 3% and an average gross increase in revenue of 6% over the past five years the campaign had been running.

 

The use of accredited hotels as partners was questioned by the Committee, and what percentage of hotels had some form of accreditation. Mr Welsh responded that VisitBlackpool worked closely with the accredited hotels, of which there were over three hundred in Blackpool. He also informed members that Council supported advertising had been used to direct visitors to these hotels. However Mr Welsh also stated that some hotels did not seek accreditation and used other forms of review including tourism websites such as Trip Advisor.

 

Members queried the use of the Omnibus and STEAM surveys to monitor tourism performance and trends and asked if further detail could be provided on their methodology. Mr Welsh responded that the Omnibus Survey was a service commissioned by the Council where a list of specific questions regarding Blackpool were asked to approximately 5,000 adults. The results then could be used to determine a variety of trends such as numbers of visits, why visits had been made and the lengths of stays. Mr Welsh informed members that STEAM was a larger national survey that covered all visits to the resort which used a wide number of indicators to measure visits. The STEAM survey results had not been provided as part of the report but would be available for the second performance update scheduled for later in the year.

 

The Committee also discussed how the footfall figures contained within the report had been gathered and what they were used for. Mr Welsh responded that footfall was recorded by a number of cameras situated across the town. He also explained that these cameras did not measure the exact number of people but movements. Therefore a single individual could pass one camera a number of times and each would be counted as a separate movement. This meant that the measures of footfall should not be used to determine the numbers of people in Blackpool at any given time but used to monitor trends that could then be compared annually.

 

Members asked if the origin of visitors to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

EXECUTIVE AND CABINET MEMBER DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 220 KB

To consider the Executive and Cabinet Member Decisions within the remit of the Committee, taken since the last meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Executive and Cabinet Member decisions, within its remit, taken since the last meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 23 January 2019.

 

Members queried if the procurement of new insurance providers outlined at Executive Decision EX4/2019 ‘Insurance Procurement Exercise’ had been a new method for identifying a provider. Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, responded that process had been used before and that the Council identified three providers for insurance and the procurement had generated a significant saving from the previous supplier.

 

In relation to Executive Decision EX3/2019 ‘Lancashire 75% Business Rate Pooling Arrangement 2019/2020’ members queried how much had been raised from the pooling arrangement. Mr Thompson replied that the exact amount would not been known until the 2019/2020 outturn but that it was expected to be of the order of £10 million across the Pool. He also informed the Committee that Lancashire authorities involved in the arrangement would be looking to bid for funds from the amount raised for growth projects going forward.

 

The Council’s membership of the Digital Infrastructure Co-Operative to deliver the Full Fibre Network outlined in EX5/2019 was queried by the Committee. Members asked if the Co-Operative would be Blackpool specific in the work that would be undertaken. Mr Thompson replied that a co-operative model was the preferred model of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for funding digital infrastructure projects. He also informed the Committee that the Council had reached the third gateway stage of its bid to secure £3 million for the project. Members asked that an update on progress of the project be provided to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

Members also discussed EX21/2019, ‘Town Centre Parking Strategy’, in respect of access to Banks Street Car Park. Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Communication and Regeneration, informed the Committee that a deal to exchange a piece of Council land used by Network Rail on Banks Street for land to build a new access was under discussion. It was expected that an agreement with Network Rail would be reached and an exchange take place in August 2019 with work on a new access beginning in 2020. Mr Cavill informed the Committee that the expected cost of the work would be £450,000.

 

In respect of EX20/2019, ‘Funding for Blackpool Housing Company (BHC)’, Members asked what revenue streams BHC had and if information on them was available. Mr Thompson responded that the company’s accounts were available. He also informed Members that although the company continued to run at a planned technical loss in the short term, BHC had continued to deliver affordable and high standard rented accommodation in Blackpool. The Committee also asked how many units the company had made available, in response to which Mr Cavil stated that 230 had been delivered.

 

The Committee also discussed Library Fees and Charges, in respect of EX34/2019. Members queried if there had been a loss of revenue from the decision to stop charging late fees. Mr Cavill responded that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

FORWARD PLAN pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To consider the content of the Council’s Forward Plan, June 2019 – September 2019, within the remit of the Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the contents of the Council’s Forward Plan June 2019 to September 2019, relating to the portfolios of Cabinet Members whose responsibilities fell within its remit.

 

Member discussed the Business Loans Fund and asked if applications continued to be received for funding from it. Mr Thompson, Director of Resources, replied that applications continued to be received but that approval was a lengthy process as each had to be thoroughly assessed. The Committee also asked when information on the loans over £500,000 would be made available. Mr Cavill, Director of Communication and Regeneration, responded that discussions had taken place over what information could be released and that it had been published previously as part of updated decision notices on the Council website. Members expressed the view that this method of releasing the information was sometimes unclear and asked that the setting up of a dedicated page on the Council’s website be considered for releasing the information in future.

 

The Committee also noted the importance of the Lancashire and Blackpool Flood Risk Management Strategy in light of a number of new housing developments in the town.

7.

PROVISIONAL REVENUE OUTTURN 2018/2019 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources on the Provisional Revenue Outturn for 2018/2019 compared with the approved budget and the capital expenditure in the year ended 31 March 2019 with sources of funding.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, presented the Provisional Revenue Outturn 2018/2019. He informed the Committee that the ongoing overspend in Children’s Services had continued to have an impact on the Council’s other services but that a £1 million underspend had been achieved during 2018/2019. This had been as a result on a number of factors such as improved collection and meant that the Council was considered to be in a healthy financial position.

 

Mr Thompson also informed members of a technical adjustment in Waste Services in the Council’s favour as a result of aligning different accounting methods between Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council. He also highlighted that earmarked reserves had decreased, but no greater that the planned deficit in Leisure Assets.

 

The Committee questioned why there had been a £81,000 overspend in Parks and Heritage. Mr Cavill, Director of Communication and Regeneration, responded that the overspend had been the result of there being no budget for the Grundy Art Gallery and that funds had to have been used from elsewhere for expenditure on it. He also stated that a report on the overspend would be presented to the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team during August 2019.

 

Members queried if the money spent on temporary staff represented value for money. Mr Thompson replied that the money had been spent to ensure services continued to be delivered and that the use of temporary staff would be continuously reviewed.

 

The Committee also asked by how much spending had been reduced as the result of cuts in the past few years. Mr Thompson responded that total cuts had reduced spending by a compound amount of over £800 million over the last nine years.

 

The potential for increasing income from the Illuminations was also discussed. Members questioned if more could be charged for attending the event. Mr Cavill responded that charging for the event would be complicated and potentially costly for the Council. Sponsorship had traditionally been the main method for generating income for the Illuminations but interest had reduced and a new approach would therefore have to be considered.

 

The Committee discussed the income from car parking. It was queried if missing the revenue target for car parking had been the result of a reduction in income. Mr Cavill responded that revenue had increased consistently over the past ten years. The target had been missed as a result of setting a target that had been intentionally ambitious. It was also queried if there had been a reduction in available spaces in Blackpool. Mr Cavill replied that a limited number of spaces had been lost near to the Pleasure Beach and other locations in the town.

 

Members queried if the cost of car parking could discourage greater use of the car parks in Blackpool. Mr Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, responded that rates had been frozen for the last year and that various methods were available for paying for parking.

8.

TREASURY MANAGEMENT OUTTURN REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2019 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To consider the Treasury Management Outturn Report for the year ended 31 March 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Thompson presented the Treasury Management Outturn Report for the year ended 31 March 2019. He reported that the position in respect of loans taken out by the Council continued to be monitored regularly. Whenever appropriate variable-rate loans had been converted into fixed rate loans to allow greater certainty in financial planning. He also informed the Committee that negotiations were ongoing to purchase loans as part of debt restructuring that would reduce costs to the Council.

 

The Committee queried what limit the Council had for levels of borrowing. Mr Thompson responded that it was the Council’s own responsibility to determine what level of risk it regarded as acceptable in terms of affordability and prudence and that current levels of borrowing were comparable with other authorities.

9.

LEISURE SERVICES UPDATE pdf icon PDF 292 KB

To consider an update on the work undertaken, future plans and performance of Leisure Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms Lisa Arnold, Leisure Services Manager, presented an update report on the work undertaken by Leisure Services.

 

The Committee discussed the ‘Learn To Swim Scheme’, including what the level of children using the scheme had been and the swimming ability amongst Blackpool children. Ms Arnold responded that the take up on the scheme had been good. She also explained that Leisure Services also delivered the school swimming service which was offered to schools for all Key Stage 2 (KS2) children, with most Blackpool primary schools having bought into the service. Ms Arnold also informed Members that the number of non-swimmers at the start of the school swimming year had been higher than the national average which presented a challenge. Despite this it was reported that by the end of the programme, attainment amongst children had been good.

 

Members further queried if attainment levels could be improved and non-swimmer levels reduced. In response Ms Arnold explained that the scheme required buy-in from schools but that a lack of funding made it expensive for them to purchase additional sessions which the pupils would benefit from.  Ms Arnold also informed the Committee that the service worked closely with schools to encourage the return of pupils in subsequent years who had not achieved KS2 requirements.

 

Members also queried what the scheme offered to schools. Ms Arnold explained that schools could book sessions for up to thirty-five children with leisure services coaching staff focusing on weak and non-swimmers while the school teachers and support staff delivered sessions to more competent swimmers.

 

The Committee noted that overall patronage had fallen and queried if this had been a cause for concern. Ms Arnold replied that the fall had partly been attributed to good weather during 2018 but that the number of memberships taken out had increased. She also informed members that there had been an issue counting customers to the ‘Feel Good Factory’ and therefore the level of patronage recorded could not be considered accurate.

 

The Committee asked what work was undertaken to help residents get fit and what levels of referrals were received from the cardiac unit and local GPs. Ms Arnold responded that the number of referrals continued to grow, with an increase of 5% over the previous 12 months, which included an increase in cardiac referrals, and that work with health professionals was ongoing.

 

Members queried if competition from new leisure providers, such as gyms, had effected patronage and if the Council could be competitive with them. Ms Arnold responded that although investment was need to ensure Council owned facilities were of a high standard,  the level of support to help customers achieve their goals and the breadth of activities and facilities offered by Leisure Services was not available at privately owned facilities, therefore officers believed that the Council could offer a better alternative.

 

The Committee noted the positive ongoing work that had been undertaken by Leisure Service. Members also noted that a Sports and Physical Activity Strategy would be developed during autumn 2019  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

PARKS AND GREEN ENVIRONMENT SERVICE UPDATE pdf icon PDF 276 KB

To consider an update on work undertaken, future plans and performance of the Park and Green Environment Service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Paul Latham, Park Service Manager, presented an update report on the work undertaken by the Parks and Green Environment Service.

 

The Committee stated that although the report contained many positive points about the work undertaken more information could have been provided regarding the pressures it faced and feedback from volunteers used by the service. Mr Latham acknowledged that the service had experienced significant reductions in its resources, however officers remained positive about what could be delivered and that had been reflected in the report.

 

Councillor Maria Kirkland, Cabinet Member for Community Cohesion and Leisure, informed the Committee that the report provided an outline of what was underway within the service and that it was important that members were aware of this. She also highlighted the success of the Better Start partnership and emphasised that each park represented a different challenge but that the Council would work with community groups to improve them.

 

Members noted that despite an increase in the number of events delivered and supported by the service, income had reduced. Mr Latham explained that this was due to some of the events being free. The amount that could be charged varied between £50 and £1600 depending on the location and size of the event, with the majority costing closer to £50. Mr Latham also informed the Committee that figures for 2017/2018 had been inflated by a one off dinosaur themed event that had raised £15,000, which had not been repeated during 2018/2019.

 

The Committee also queried the relocation of the Common Edge football pitches. Mr Latham explained that the current location of the pitches in the Squires Gate enterprise zone had meant that an alternative location had been needed. This had been identified as an unused portion of Blackpool Airport and the relocation would take place during late 2019.

 

The organising of events was also discussed with Members asking what support had been available to help deliver events. Mr Latham responded that a single corporate form had been developed to make organising events easier. The Council also offered one-to-one support to assist in the completion of the form. He also explained that smaller events could use the Council’s insurance cover and risk assessments. However this did not cover the use of fairground rides, animals or inflatables, such as bouncy castles. These would require organisers to obtain their own insurance and the completion of a risk assessment. Mr Latham also recognised that this had led to some complaints from community groups looking to organise events.

11.

SCRUTINY WORKPLAN pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To consider the Workplan and to monitor the implementation of Committee recommendations, together with any suggestions that Members may wish to make for scrutiny review topics, to note the Single Use Plastics update and approve the establishment of a Community Safety Partnership Review Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Scrutiny Workplan report and associated updates.

 

Members also noted the amended Committee remit, overview of the implementation of the previous recommendations, the Single-Use Plastics Update and the 17 July 2019 date for the Community Safety Partnership Review Panel.

12.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

To note the date and time of the next meeting as Wednesday, 9 October 2019, commencing at 6pm.

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting of the Committee was confirmed as Wednesday, 9 October 2019 at 6pm.