Agenda and minutes

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 22 September 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall

Contact: Isabelle Moorhouse  Democratic Services Officer


No. Item



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The Chair informed the committee that the doors to the committee room would remain open during the meeting to circulate air.



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Councillor Jeff Clarke who was substituted by Councillor Jan Matecki

Councillor Jackie D’Arcy who was substituted by Councillor Sarah Feeney

Councillor Wallace Redford (Portfolio Holder – Transport & Planning)

Scott Tompkins, Assistant Director – Environmental Services


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Chair's Announcements

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Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 271 KB

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The minutes were approved as a true and accurate record.


Public Speaking

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Public Speaker one

Mr Alan Swift (member of the public) was accompanied by Robert Hutchings - Chair Burmington Parish Meeting and Dawn Fisher - Treasurer of Burmington Parish Meeting. Mr Swift spoke about a complaint made by Burmington Parish Council against the county council regarding their village’s green. Mr Swift made the following statement:


“We are here representing the Parish of Burmington, asking this committee to look into our complaint against Warwickshire County Council. We would like to ask this committee to appoint someone independent to review the details of our complaint and report back to this committee on their findings. Warwickshire County Council believes it can reclassify legally registered village greens in Warwickshire as being part of the Highway. They argue, that once reclassified a legally protected village green is no longer protected. It can then be driven on, parked on, dug up, tarmacked, even completely removed by widening the carriageway. In 2018 the County Council granted permission for a property developer to excavate a new 5m wide tarmacked driveway straight across the middle of our village green. There was no consultation and no notice. The Council state that they can return at any time to do further works on, what remains of our village green, and on any other village green that they decide is a part of the highway. When diggers turned up and started work excavating the village green, we notified the Council that this was a criminal offence. Rather than apologise, the County Council assigned their legal defence team to ‘impartially’ investigate the issue. It was impossible for this team to support our complaint without incriminating the Council. They did the only thing they could and attempted to bury the complaint and ignored it. It took two attempts by our MP, Nadhim Zahawi, to finally get the Council to respond. We eventually waited over a year to receive a biased response that frivolously dismissed all our evidence. For 3 years the Council’s legal team has blocked all attempts by the Parish to speak to anyone impartially, and openly about this issue, refusing all our requests for a meeting. Even our County Councillor was spoken to, inferring she was ‘warned off’ from helping the Parish. After two years we received a visit from someone from the Communities Directorate. However, they had been instructed by the Council’s solicitors to not discuss the issue and the legal protection of the village green, making the visit a waste of time. We just want someone impartial to talk to us openly and frankly about this issue. The basic issue is that, if Burmington Village Green is a legally registered village green, and that it isn’t a part of the Highway, then the Council has no power whatsoever to do anything on the land. In fact, to do any works on the land is a criminal offence. Some of our evidence supplied by the Parish to this committee includes a signed statement by the County Council’s own County Surveyor, stating that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Questions to Portfolio Holder pdf icon PDF 95 KB

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Economic Development Update pdf icon PDF 272 KB

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In response to Councillor Tim Sinclair, David Ayton-Hill (Assistant Director- Communities) agreed that the update was longer than normal because the report format changed and there was more economic growth and business activity ongoing in Warwickshire. The report mentioned supply chain and labour shortage problems. North Warwickshire had a lot of distribution companies that faced a labour supply shortage and South Warwickshire had a lot of tourism and hospitality businesses who were struggling with this issue too.


In response to Councillor Sarah Feeney, David Ayton-Hill noted that there had been an uptake in acquisitions by overseas companies in Leamington’s gaming industry because of the exchange rate. He stated that as Leamington had a well-known gaming development industry, international companies would want to invest in skills already there so it would be a positive investment. Alison Robinson (Strategy and Commissioning Manager (Economy & Skills) concurred with David Ayton-Hill and added that the digital and creative sector had been successful with large companies buying each other up; therefore, this was being monitored.


In response to Councillor Jenny Fradgley, David Ayton-Hill stated that the council provided access to finance for businesses in several ways and used different financing tools to do it. Several grants from central government were provided through the council to help businesses adapt following Covid-19. Grants are non-repayable investments to businesses to keep the business going and growing. The WRIF (Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund) money was primarily borrowed money and businesses who use this money are expected to return the investment and will be scrutinised more if they wish to have this funding. 

Mark Ryder (Strategic Director – Communities) added that the WRIF investment had its own risk element as it was unlikely that all businesses would succeed but this fund would allow businesses to grow.


In response to Councillor Feeney, Alison Robinson confirmed that 13 responses for the transition fund for colleges and sixth forms was a good amount.


Councillor Jan Matecki praised the report contents and the investment work done in Warwickshire.


In response to Councillor Dave Humphreys, David Ayton-Hill stated that the BMW plant in Coleshill was recently re-invested in, which implied that the site would be a base for electric vehicle development.


In response to Councillor Sinclair, David Ayton-Hill stated that regular updates on the WRIF could come to committee and seven companies were being worked with regarding WRIF investment.

Following a supplementary from Councillor Sinclair, Mark Ryder stated that the Member Oversight Panel of the WRIF was regularly informed but an update could be provided to the committee at a later meeting.


In response to the Chair, David Ayton-Hill stated that the environment and climate change will be considered with all investments, and investments in business pursuing new low carbon technologies were being encouraged.


O&S - Bermuda Connectivity pdf icon PDF 209 KB

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Daniel Cresswell (Team Leader, Project and Programme Management) informed the committee that site development was progressing on St George’s Way as the gabion walls towards Network Rail's boundary work was completed. A specialist engineer was being sought regarding the gas barrier work and design; the barrier in place at the time of the meeting was working well. Development of the bridge was being discussed with Network Management in terms of road and lane closures. £10.359 million was funded towards the scheme and they were within budget at the time of the meeting, and they should finish at the end of 2022. In response to a question submitted by email from Councillor Clare Golby (division member for the project), Daniel Cresswell confirmed that the Bermuda Road and Heath Road junction was considered when remodelling the benefits. Japanese knotweed was being removed on site and the contractor was revising the work programme due to earlier project delays, but the bridleway will be completed in spring 2022.


In response to Councillor Matecki, Daniel Cresswell stated that they were confident that they will complete the project within budget as material prices are the contractor’s risk.


In response to Councillor Richard Baxter-Payne, Daniel Cresswell agreed to obtain a breakdown of spending costs. Following a supplementary from Councillor Baxter-Payne, Daniel Cresswell stated that the business case was regularly reviewed so the latest model should be accurate.


In response to the Chair, Daniel Cresswell confirmed that the cycle lane was not in the work programme yet because it was still being designed and reviewed against the budget; the design should be complete in the next few months, and a decision taken by the project board whether the current budget will allow for these extra works.


Following a question from Councillor Sinclair, Daniel Cresswell stated that from the construction side, everything is assessed during construction and transport-planning remodel the scheme, and asses what was initially designed. Developments are reported back to the Major Schemes Board.

In response to Mark Ryder, the Committee requested that a report of the scheme came back to the committee post-implementation so the expected and actual successes could be reviewed. David Ayton-Hill suggested reviewing old schemes first, Councillor Sinclair suggested there be an annual report for the OSC to scrutinise schemes already implemented. 


In response to several questions from Councillor Baxter-Payne, Daniel Cresswell stated that traffic congestion was considered after the project was completed instead of during construction. Any environmental reviews during construction would more likely be done by the local planning authority. Daniel Cresswell agreed to investigate looking at air quality and environmental implications from traffic caused by the development.

Councillor Fradgley praised this idea and suggested that this could be part of the annual report.

Councillor Kam Kaur (Portfolio Holder -Economy & Place) suggested looking and how other local authorities dealt with this issue first due to the amount of officer time a report like this would take. Mark Ryder suggested a scoring suggestion could be used with this, but this idea  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Social Fund pdf icon PDF 356 KB

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Charles Barlow (Delivery Lead-Localities) informed the committee that in February 2021 the council approved proposals for social/community endowment fund to act as a catalyst to build stronger communities. Several key questions around what outcomes are desired, what the voluntary community and social enterprise sectors need by way of additional investment and support ensuring that any proposals genuinely engage with grass roots and anything proposed engenders sustainability. To help inform proposals an analysis of the Council's existing funding streams to the voluntary community and social enterprise sector was carried out and it revealed a gap around certain types of financial, digital, cultural and health inclusion. Inequalities within communities were highlighted during the pandemic; therefore, a focus on promoting inclusion aligns with central government’s contain outbreak management fund. The fund proposed will address several priorities of the Covid-19 recovery plan, support current and future Council Plan outcomes, and be clearly aligned to the council's community powered Warwickshire work stream. Different funding streams were investigated before as grants and loans but the Local Communities and Enterprise pillar of the WRIF was the best solution. For years the voluntary community sector flagged a need for additional capital investment for community buildings which needed investment. Applications from areas with higher Covid-19 infection rates and levels of deprivation will be prioritised for funding but no area would be excluded from applying. The report will go to Cabinet in October 2021 and propose £1 million split 60/40 revenue and capital. Money that will be awarded to each successful application will be between £25,000-£50,000 and £50,000-£100,000; most will be awarded the lower amount. The fund will focus on financial, digital, health, social, and cultural inclusion to be launched at the beginning of November 2021 and in compliance with the contain outbreak management fund. All awards will be made by March 2022 and there will be a recommendation to commission the operation to a third-party supplier.


In response to Councillor Feeney, Charles Barlow noted that the resolution was broad to cover the five types of inclusion and review the inequality in areas that will be given funding. The scoring system would affect how much money is provided. Following a supplementary from Councillor Feeney, Charles Barlow, stated that partners will be used to promote the fund and help people put in applications for the fund. Specialist agencies will be used to help too with grass route groups.

Councillor Heather Timms clarified that this was a strand of work of the Social Value Policy which was approved in September’s Cabinet meeting. All strand of work together would make more sense to help communities affected by Covid-19. 


In response to Councillor Feeney, Charles Barlow clarified that one organisation will be commissioned to run the fund. 


Following a question from the Chair, Chares Barlow confirmed that government funding for the scheme had already been received and this funding would be given to areas most affected by Covid-19. Following a supplementary from the Chair, Charles Barlow stated that unsuccessful applications may be eligible for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Waste Management Review pdf icon PDF 141 KB

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Due to the public speaker speaking on two separate topics, Councillor Keith Kondakor was eligible to speak for another 3 minutes as part of public speaking. The second part was held here as officers were not in the room at the beginning of the meeting.


Councillor Keith Kondakor made the following statement on the Waste Management Review:

“I'll be involved in waste and recycling campaign for 16 years and stop the waste incinerator being doubled in size in Coventry. We have seven waste authorities in Coventry and Warwickshire and their waste altogether produces 50 million pounds. We really need to have a massive change in waste, this new waste strategy is going the opportunity to have deposit schemes, to use resources better to recycle more plastic, to reduce the amount of waste created, and I really ask as part of this process we urgently get the 7 councils talking together talking about maybe forming a Joint Waste Authority at least at the levels of education because if we spending £50 million pounds on processing all this waste and recycling we need to tell the public how to use the facilities and by doing that education we end up actually saving money because our new shiny waste sorting plant in Coventry can then get plastics out to sell to the market. If we do all this hardware and we do or the collection of our education the service will not be well used and will not get the service, the transition we need. The English waste strategy could be a massive change, it could be a damp squid, it depends what happened in terms of deposit schemes, recycling food waste, food waste minimisation. I really ask we bang heads together across Coventry and Warwickshire. We are all going to use the same recycling plant, we should ideally all have a combined collection service hopefully run in the public domain. I believe that way, the collectors are incentivised to do the best job for recycling rather than trying to save money for Biffa or the Olia and I’m really optimistic that we can make a big change in Warwickshire like they did in Somerset about 15 years ago when they formed a waste partnership there that was actually a company; I do think we need to grasp this £50 million on waste. When we launch this new waste strategy in terms of on the ground, we can do the collections and the deposit schemes, we need some serious education to make this a massive success because we have a climate emergency, and we have a resources emergency. We all know what happened to the price of petrol/oil/gas, we need to get all our resources going round a circular economy. I see education and a joint waste authority of some kind as a win-win and we need to keep as much of it in the public domain as possible and base an education”.


Andrew Pau (Strategy & Commissioning Manager – Waste and Environment) and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Quarter 1 Council Plan 2020-2025 Quarterly Progress Report (April 2021 to June 2021) pdf icon PDF 723 KB

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David Ayton-Hill presented a power point presentation and informed the committee on the following points:

  • The Communities OSC had 11 KBM (key business measures), two could not be reported on as they were annual updates.
  • Out of the nine reported 5 were on track
  • KSIs (killed or seriously injured) were lowed then predicted for the second year running
  • Recorded crime reduced because of the pandemic, it was expected to rise when restrictions ease
  • There were more new businesses then expected because of the economic work done
  • Unemployment was higher than pre-pandemic (7.8% instead of 3.3%)
  • There was a significant overspend on the forecast budget because of Covid-19. There would e an underspend otherwise
  • All this information was accessible from Power-BI


In response to Councillor Sinclair, David Ayton-Hill stated that they were still seeing was post-pandemic looked like but with the new performance indicator framework they were starting to see new trends now.



That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee: (i) Considers and comments on the progress of the delivery of the Council Plan 2020 - 2025 for the period as contained in the report.



Communities OSC Work Programme pdf icon PDF 210 KB

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Items to be added to the work programme:

  • An update on the WRIF
  • An annual report of major scheme developments providing an overview of the scheme’s successes and failings (including environmental implications during construction)
  • (post implementation) a report on the Bermuda Connectivity project on it’s successes and failings (including environmental implications during construction)
  • A report on the successes of the Social Fund


Urgent Items

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