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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: 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 Paul Galley declared a personal interest in respect of item 8, Climate Emergency Update, the nature of the interest that he was Chair of the Blackpool Transport Company Ltd Board, as the company was involved in the Zero-Emissions Bus Regional Area project.

 

Councillor Adrian Hutton declared a personal interest in respect of item 9, Public Rights of Way Update, the nature of the interest that he was Chair of Blackpool Waste Services Ltd Board (Enveco), as the company was involved in the grounds maintenance of footpaths.

2.

MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING HELD ON 30 MARCH 2022 pdf icon PDF 456 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting held on 30 March 2022 as a true and correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting held on 30 March 2022 were agreed as a true and correct record.

3.

PUBLIC SPEAKING

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

Minutes:

There were no applications for public speaking on this occasion.

4.

EXECUTIVE AND CABINET MEMBER DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 461 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 Members Decisions taken since the last meeting.

 

A query was raised in respect of EX16/2022, Community Safety Plan 2022-2025, regarding how success against the plan’s priorities would be measured, taking into account that the Council was not responsible for many of the areas of work. Councillor Neal Brookes, Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Public Safety, Highways and Transport, responded that although there was no formal metric to measure success against, the Community Safety Partnership would be developing an action plan to ensure that work to address the identified priorities was taking place and allow an overview of progress. It was expected that this would allow an assessment of progress in 2023.

 

The Committee also discussed EX19/2022, Levelling Up Fund Round 2, in relation to the Multiversity project. It was noted that the finance for the land to build the Multiversity had been agreed and Members questioned what would occur in the event that the project did not go forward. Councillor Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, explained that although the Multiversity project was expected to be delivered, in the event it was not, the land would be used to deliver an alternative regeneration project. It was also queried what would occur if the land for the project was obtained by another private party before the Council. In the event that this occurred, which was considered unlikely, Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Communications and Regeneration, explained that Compulsory Purchase Orders could be used to secure the land.

5.

FORWARD PLAN pdf icon PDF 458 KB

To consider the content of the Council’s Forward Plan, July 2022 – October 2022, within the remit of the Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Forward Plan July 2022 – October 2022 of upcoming decisions.

 

Members made the suggestion that details of how upcoming executive decisions related to the various strategies and policies of the Council be included in the Forward Plan. It was thought that this would demonstrate how decisions furthered the strategic aims of the Council and allow more informed scrutiny of what was being agreed. It was noted that this request would need to be considered outside of the meeting.

 

The future of the bridge on Bank Hey Street was discussed by the Committee in relation to the decision to be taken on investment in the Town Centre, with Members noting plans to remove it. Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Communications and Regeneration responded to advise that the bridge was owned by the Council but that neighbouring properties had a right of access to it. These rights included a fire escape, and clarification on how different parties’ rights would be affected going forward would need to be resolved However, Mr Cavill stated that it was expected that these would be resolved before the nearby ShowTime museum was opened in 2023.

6.

LEISURE SERVICES ANNUAL REPORT pdf icon PDF 603 KB

To review the performance of Leisure Services, with an emphasis on service delivery across leisure facilities and community delivery, performance in key areas and recovery of the service following the COVID-19 pandemic.  The report provides an update on performance for the 2021/22 financial year compared to the 2019/20 financial year, the last full year ahead of the Covid outbreak.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms Lisa Arnold, Head of Community and Wellbeing Services, presented the Leisure Services Annual Report. The report detailed the work undertaken in 2021/2022, Covid recovery, key performance indicators and future plans.

 

Mr Michael Dulku, Leisure Facilities Manager, informed the Committee that overall attendance at leisure facilities had returned to 74% of its pre-Covid levels, ahead of the national average of 64%. This had been as a result of a strong return to swimming pools, in part due to the investment at Palatine Road. The recovery had been more varied in gyms and exercise classes, with 72% of pre-Covid levels which was below the national average. This had been attributed to the break during Covid where many people had ceased exercise activity and were therefore unlikely to return to exercise at the same intensity as pre-Covid. It was hoped that an offer of lower intensity classes would assist in addressing this issue.

 

The challenges faced by the service were also outlined by Mr Dulku. This included the need for further investment in maintenance and facilities, rising energy costs and a national shortage of swimming pool cleaning chemicals. A further issue identified was the retention of staff, a number of whom had left during the pandemic. In order to address this consideration was being given to developing a professional career pathway to improve employee’s personal development with the Council.

 

Work was also underway to increase customer engagement to determine what residents wanted from their leisure facilities following Covid. This was being achieved through a target survey and face-to-face meetings.

 

Greater automation was highlighted for the future of the services as footfall at facilities increased. Mr Dulku explained that this would allow online bookings and access to facilities without going to a reception desk. Making access to exercise easier and quicker.

 

Ms Laura Ivinson, Active Communities Service Manager, provided an overview of the work being undertaken by Active Communities following Covid. She reported that during Covid the service had focussed on outreach into the community to determine what activities people wanted delivered. Following the re-opening of services post-Covid activity had increased, with Ms Ivinson highlighting that Learn2Swim had returned to pre-Covid levels and school swimming had fully opened. It was also noted that Learn2Swim sessions were now exclusive for those taking part, instead of having part of the pool for public swimming. This meant that more children could access the programme in each session.

 

Health referrals were also raised as an issue, with numbers being slower to recover due to a decline in the number of GPs. However the service recognised that this was an important area work and further consideration would be undertaken into how to increase the number of referrals where possible.

 

Engagement was taking place with schools encouraging walking to schools and the use of bikes. A programme of summer holiday activities had also been organised including a package for those with Special Educational Needs and Disability.

 

The Committee queried how Leisure Services’ Gym offer compared with private providers in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

ENGAGEMENT OF CONSULTANTS ANNUAL REPORT pdf icon PDF 449 KB

To consider the annual report, detailing consultancy spend across all Council services during the 2021/22 financial year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, presented the Engagement of Consultants Annual Report. He highlighted that the overall spend on external consultants had fallen from £3.9m to £3.1m. The majority of the spend had been on capital projects and showed the Council’s significant investment in this area. Mr Thompson also noted that consultants were often important to deliver large projects and that work would be undertaken to include more details on consultants work in the Council’s Contracts Register.

 

The possibility of the Council employing an in-house Capital Projects team was raised by the Committee, querying if it would be more cost effective than the use of external consultants. In response to this Mr Thompson stated that if a clear cost benefit could be established then the Council would consider this as an option.

 

The Committee also asked if a copy of the Code of Practice for Engaging Consultants could be provided for members to allow an understanding of the process of appointing an external consultant.

 

The Committee agreed:

 

1.      The report be noted; and

2.      That Mr Thompson provide a copy of the Code of Practice for Engaging Consultants to Members of the Committee for information.

8.

CLIMATE EMERGENCY UPDATE pdf icon PDF 600 KB

To update the Committee on the progress of the actions within the Climate Action Plan, as part of the agreed reporting cycle.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Scott Butterfield, Strategy, Policy and Research Manager, presented an update on the work being undertaken to meet the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency. He informed the Committee that a Climate Action Plan had been approved in December 2021 and a Carbon Emissions Internal Audit had been undertaken. He explained that the Action Plan had been developed as a result of input from the Climate Assembly and evidence from consultants using science-based targets. The action plan included actions identified by the public as well as those directly seeking to reduce carbon emissions at the Council and across Blackpool more widely. A review all the Council’s policies and strategies to check their compatibility with climate goals had been completed.

 

Of the actions contained in the Action Plan 56 were shown as completed, 54 were in progress and 16 were not complete/not started. Mr Butterfield explained that many of actions shown as not complete  were ongoing with the required work to make progress under consideration and that many could be changed to completed in a short period of time.

 

The Committee discussed the development of the supporting infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) in Blackpool. Mr Butterfield informed the Committee that the Council was looking at investment in further charging points and noted that private sector investment had been lower than elsewhere in the UK. He also highlighted that a national EV Fund would be launched, from which the Council would apply for funds.

 

The development of an EV Strategy for Blackpool was discussed, where Mr Butterfield explained that work was needed to understand how EV technology would develop, the impact on Blackpool’s electricity capacity and the role of the private sector, before a strategy could be drafted. Mr Butterfield reported that a public consultation would be held over the summer on the strategy. Discussions had also been held with taxi operators to help understand the challenges of switching to EVs for Blackpool and possible solutions.

 

The rising cost of energy as part of the cost of living crisis was raised as a significant challenge going forward, with many people choosing to wait to replace older technology such as boilers to reduce their personal costs. To address this Mr Butterfield explained to Members that work was needed to understand the development of the energy market and the use of increasingly profitable energy sources like solar and wind power. Awareness of when many boilers might reach their end of life was also important and access to government funding would assist in encouraging people to buy more energy efficient alternatives.

 

Planning restrictions were also discussed by Members and the issues that they could cause. Mr Butterfield noted that the new National Energy Strategy would consult on the development of onshore wind generation projects where community support existed, highlighting that local and national attitudes to the climate emergency were changing favourably.

9.

PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY UPDATE pdf icon PDF 486 KB

To consider an update on the work of maintaining the 47 public rights of way in Blackpool.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Ian Large, Engineering Manager, presented an update on work to maintain Blackpool’s forty-seven public rights of way (PROWs). He reported that six of the eight PROWs had been cleared and reopened since 2021 and that work to reopen the remaining two was underway.

 

Enveco had been engaged to assist the Council in the work to clear PROWs and Mr Large reported that it was the best placed partner to undertake this work.

 

The Council had also worked to improve its dialogue with private landowners, close to and crossed by PROWs, to ensure that they met their responsibilities to keep paths clear. It was reported that this had been positive and land owners had shown a willingness to support this work.

 

The use of footpaths by individuals on horses was raised as an issue, with Members asking if more signage was required. Mr Large responded that signage had already been installed on Marton Moss and consideration could be given to its installation elsewhere.

 

The budget for PROWs work was discussed by the Committee, with Mr Large explaining that £40k had been allocated as part of the Highways Service budget. Mr Thompson, Director of Resources, added that this had partly also been provided by the Estates Services, where income from investment properties had been used to support PROWs.

 

The Committee welcomed the report and asked that going forward an annual update be added to the work programme so that scrutiny of PROWs could continue.

 

The Committee agreed:

 

1.      That the report be noted; and

2.      That an Annual Report of Public Rights of Way be added to the Committee’s Work Programme.

10.

SCRUTINY WORKPLAN pdf icon PDF 449 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered its work programme for 2022-2023. Members were informed that the work programme had been developed following a workshop in June 2022 and input from the Committee.

 

Members of the Committee asked that a briefing be organised to gain information on Community Wealth Building. It was noted that this had been successfully undertaken in Preston and the Committee sought further information on how it could be applied to Blackpool.

 

The Committee agreed: That with the inclusion of a briefing on Community Wealth Building the Committee Work Programme 2022-2023 be approved.

11.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

To note the date and time of the next meeting as Wednesday, 28 September 2022, commencing at 6pm.

Minutes:

The date and time of the next meeting of the Committee was noted as Wednesday, 28 September 2022, at 6.00pm.