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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room A, Town Hall, Blackpool

Contact: John Greenbank  Senior Democratic Governance Adviser

No. Item



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)




(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.


There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.



To agree the minutes of the last meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Communities Scrutiny Committee held on 9 October 2019 as a true and correct record.


The Committee agreed that the minutes of the 9 October 2019 meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Communities Scrutiny Committee represented a true and correct record.



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


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



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

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the Executive and Cabinet Member decisions, within its remit, taken since the last meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Communities Scrutiny Committee on 9 October 2019.


Members queried Executive Decision Ex27/2019 ‘Development of a Soft Play Centre and Café Facility at Blackpool Sports Centre’ and the decision to defer approval due to an increase in the lending rate of the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB). Councillor Maria Kirkland, Cabinet Member for Community Cohesion and Leisure, reported that the Council would be reviewing the business case for the development and monitoring the sport centre’s usage. The review would also involve consultation with groups who frequently used the sports centre to determine what impact the development could have upon them.


The Committee also queried how the raise in PWLB lending rates could have affected the development. Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, responded that the Council was not reliant on PWLB funding for the development and that other sources of funding were available. Members noted however that if the development of the café and soft play centre had gone ahead then the rate change would have impacted upon it.


The Financial Performance Monitoring as at Month 4 2019/2020 was noted by Members and the progress on the 2020/2021 Budget queried. Mr Thompson replied that the next monitoring report would be considered by the Executive at its January 2020 meeting, and would provide an update on the Council’s financial position. He also explained that the provisional settlement for local government funding from central government had been as expected and that it was foreseen that a draft budget would be available for consultation before the end of January 2020.


Members discussed the Officer Non-Key Decision regarding the Purchase of the Houndshill Shopping Centre and the communication associated with it. The Committee expressed concern that the reason for the purchase had not been communicated well enough and the benefits were not clear to the public. Councillor Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader (Place and Tourism), responded that the timing of the announcement had been complicated by the pre-election period in the run up to the General Election in December 2019 and that the benefits could have been explained better. Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Communication and Regeneration, also stated that the purchase had been justified by the business case and would allow the Council greater control over the development of the town centre. He added that Council-ownership of the shopping centre meant that the town centre was now owned by partners who had a common vision for its future and would allow better links with the development of the central leisure quarter. Mr Cavill also reported that discussions for the extension of the shopping centre were ongoing and a potential operator of a proposed cinema had been identified.


The Committee further questioned if the £47m spent on the purchase of the shopping centre represented value for money and if the amount paid had represented its market value. Mr Cavill responded that the amount paid  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



To consider an update on Tourism Performance.


Mr Philip Welsh, Head of Tourism and Communications, presented an update on Tourism Performance during 2018 and 2019. He reported that the data showed that performance during 2019 had been mixed following a positive 2018. High points in visitor numbers had been noted over Easter, the August Bank Holiday weekend and the October Half-Term during 2019. However long periods of poor weather and a general lack of consumer confidence had resulted in mixed trading in Blackpool in line with other tourism destinations in the UK.


The Committee queried if any data was available regarding international visitors to Blackpool and if any work had been undertaken to attract visitors from abroad. Mr Welsh responded that the majority of visitors to Blackpool had come from the UK but that some international events, such as the World Ballroom Championship, had attracted thousands of overseas visitors. Work had been undertaken to improve links with Manchester Airport in conjunction with Visit England to encourage more visitors to include Blackpool on their itineraries. The growing number of Chinese visitors to the UK had also been identified as a market that Blackpool could benefit from.


Members also discussed the value of Visit Blackpool to the resort and its impact. It was queried what measurable benefits it brought to Blackpool, in response to which Mr Welsh explained that while it was difficult to determine what would happen if Visit Blackpool did not exist it had achieved a great deal  in terms of raising the profile of the resort and increasing the value of the tourism economy. He also explained that the majority of its budget was spent on events and destination marketing, and that the Council was able to analyse the impact of events to show their value to the resort as demonstrated with the analysis of the 2019 Lightpool Festival.



To consider the annual report, detailing consultancy spend across all Council services during the 2018/2019 financial year.

Additional documents:


Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, presented a report detailing the consultancy spend across Council services in 2018/2019. He reported that the total spend for the year had been £2.6m, a breakdown of which had been provided to Members as part of the report.


The Committee queried the use of an architect as part of the Museum Project considering that these services had previously existed in-house as part of a capital projects team. Mr Thompson replied that work requiring an architect by the Council was irregular and did not therefore justify the costs of employing one. He also noted that some project funding was conditional on the use of external consultants. It was further asked if an increase in capital projects would create a need for the re-establishment of an in-house service going forward. Mr Thompson responded that the Council was looking at its capital projects going forward and any changes would be in response to an established need.


A payment of £334,917 was noted in relation to professional fees for a dispute involving the tramway extension was queried by Members. Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Communications and Regeneration, responded that the dispute related to the tramway on the promenade and had been resolved.


Members also queried the payment of £20,000 to an external consultant for fundraising services. Mr Thompson replied that the role of the external consultant had been to generate £670,000 for the Blackpool Museum project.


The Committee also asked for an update on the progress on legal action in relation to the corrective work required for the Starr Gate Tram depot. Mr Cavill responded that a court date had been set for resolution of the dispute and that the Council would be seeking compensation from the depot’s developer.



To consider a report on the Council’s investments outside of the Borough and identify any areas for potential additional scrutiny.

Additional documents:


Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, presented a report on Council Investments Outside of the Borough. It was reported that there were two such investments, Ribble House which had been let for office accommodation in Lytham and the Tramshed, student accommodation in Preston. Both these investments were shown to have generated a financial return for the Council.


The Committee queried why investments had been made outside of Blackpool and what the benefit to the town would be. Mr Thompson replied that the investments had been made in line with the Capital Strategy. The strategy determined that investments should only be made if they contributed to economic growth or could generate a financial return for Blackpool. He added that by investing in Lancashire the Council ensured that business rates generated by the investments would be included in the pan-Lancashire business rate pooling arrangement so some of the rates would return to Blackpool.


Members also asked if any plans existed for further investments outside of the borough. Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Communication and Regeneration, responded that no plans currently existed for further investments but that the Council remained open to opportunities that could arise. He also noted that investments would have to link to Blackpool and be of benefit to the town. For example the Tramshed had a discount available to help students from Blackpool with accommodation costs.


The Committee welcomed the report and asked if more could be done to advertise the benefits of the investments to the wider public.



To consider an update on waste services and street cleansing performance.


Mr John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental Services, presented the Waste Services and Street Cleansing Performance Report. He informed the Committee that the report covered a wide range of services and that performance had been good against the challenges faced within Blackpool.


Members welcomed the report and praised the inclusion of information regarding the challenges faced by the service. It was felt that this information would help the Committee identify areas where scrutiny would be of value.


It was noted that the government had recently published its National Waste Strategy and that the Lancashire Waste Strategy was due for renewal in 2020. The Strategy was a joint document between the Council and Lancashire County Council. Mr Blackledge therefore asked if the Committee would wish to feed into the development of this piece of work, while noting that this could be a joint piece of work with Lancashire County Council. The Committee agreed that a dedicated session should be held to consider the draft Strategy.


Members of the Committee highlighted the ongoing issue of the use of plastic bin bags being used for kerbside domestic waste collections, and the damage that could be done by seagulls to them. This had created significant areas of untidiness within Blackpool and therefore it was asked if the new waste company, Enveco, which was wholly-owned by the Council, would introduce bins for all household waste. Mr John-Paul Lovie, Waste Services Manager, responded that the Council and Enveco were looking at a wide range of options to improve domestic waste collection, which included the provision of domestic waste bins. He added that a plan would be developed following consultation with ward Members to be rolled out by the end of February 2020. It was also noted that not all areas of Blackpool would be suitable for the introduction of domestic waste bins.


The Committee asked what had been done to encourage recycling by residents and if communications of the working being undertaken could be improved. Mr Lovie explained that more could be undertaken to improve communication but that significant work had taken place. This included involvement with the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign and information targeted at children and young people to get them to encourage their parents to recycle more. He also stated that no recycling from Blackpool went to landfill and where possible the Council sought to recycle locally, although it was noted that approximately 10% of plastic recycling was sent to a Spanish company to be recycled.


Members queried which areas of Blackpool had the highest level of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) issued for littering. Mr Jez Evans, Head of Waste and Environmental Operations, responded that most FPNs were issued in the high density areas in the centre of Blackpool, but that littering happened across the town. The Committee also asked how enforcement had taken place and if better coverage and more staff were needed. Mr Evans replied that enforcement training was available to all staff within the service, not just enforcement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.



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. Including an update on the progress of the Housing and Homelessness Scrutiny Review.

Additional documents:


The Committee noted the Scrutiny Workplan report and associated updates.


It was also noted that the Community Engagement Review Panel would be held on 30 January 2020. The Committee nominated the following Members to sit on the review panel;


·         Councillor Paul Galley

·         Councillor Gerard Walsh

·         Councillor Paul Wilshaw



To note the date and time of the next meeting as Wednesday, 5 February 2019, commencing at 6pm.


The date of the next meeting of the Committee was confirmed as Wednesday, 5 February 2020 at 6pm.




The Committee agreed that under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the items on ‘Strategic Acquisitions in or adjoining the Enterprise Zone’ and ‘The Sale of Land in the North of Blackpool’ on the Forward Plan on the grounds that they would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.


FORWARD PLAN pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To consider the content of the Council’s Forward Plan, January 2020 – April 2020, within the remit of the Committee.

Additional documents:


(The press and public were excluded prior to the consideration of this item as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act).


The Committee considered the contents of the Council’s Forward Plan January 2020 to April 2020, relating to the portfolios of Cabinet Members whose responsibilities fell within its remit.