Agenda and draft minutes

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 10 April 2024 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall

Contact: Nicole Conway  Democratic Services Officer


No. Item



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Councillor Jonathan Chilvers sat in as Chair with apologies from Councillor Jeff Clarke.




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Councillor Jackie D’Arcy substituted for Councillor Sarah Feeney

Councillor Jeff Clarke (Chair)

Councillor Bhagwant Singh Pandher

Councillor Dave Humphries



Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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None disclosed.


Chair's Announcements

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The Chair read out a pre-election notification to the committee and welcomed Andy Mitchell from the press and notified all present that the meeting was being webcast.



Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 108 KB


To receive the minutes of the committee meeting held on 7 February 2024.

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The minutes of the meeting held on 7 February 2024 were confirmed as an accurate record by the Committee.


No matters arising.



Public Speaking

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Questions to Portfolio Holder pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting is available for members of the Committee to put questions to the Portfolio Holders on any matters relevant to the remit of this Committee.

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Councillor Fradgley raised a question regarding St Andrews Primary school. Mark Ryder (Executive Director for Communities) advised it was not a matter for the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss however, he would take the question away and respond to the Councillor.



Economic Development Update pdf icon PDF 359 KB

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Isobel Woods (Head of Economy and Skills) presented the Economic Development Update. Highlighting the following key headlines since the last update.

·       Coventry and Warwickshire Investment Zone was given support to proceed.

·       Warwickshire County Council acknowledged the announcement that Warwickshire County Council was one of four Councils approved for a Devolution deal.

·       Unemployment remained at 3.3%, below the West Midlands at 4.5%

·       The Interactive Futures event would take place in Leamington Spa in May 2024.

·       The Council had investor interest at the site of Coventry Airport.


Economic Overview

There had been a slight increase in the service output with a small decrease in the productivity in construction. A link in the paper was highlighted. providing access to a live dashboard showing the latest figures on the Warwickshire economy.


Isobel Woods introduced a new section of the paper, Key Decisions, which covered the two recent announcements.

  1. West Midlands Investment Zone which is a partnership with Coventry City Council, Warwick District Council and Warwickshire County Council on the Giga Park site at the former Coventry Airport.
  2.  Devolution deal following the Government statement in 2023. Work would begin this year before the commencement of the deal in April 2025.


Business and Economy

As of quarter three, current investment and access to funding had leveraged £2.8m of private sector funds into Warwickshire which safeguarded and supported new jobs including apprenticeships of 313 new roles.


Business support

The Warwickshire Business Energy Advice Service, part of the wider West Midlands Scheme was funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). This scheme will support businesses in Warwickshire to receive free energy audits and give them the opportunity to receive a grant to support the costs of low carbon adoption.


Employment and Skills

The Fair Chance scheme continued in the county with 63 businesses signed up and supporting seven individuals into work.


The County Council along with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council delivered £100,000 worth of funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to work with and support businesses and residents in upskilling and reskilling. The programme ended in March 2024 and during the five weeks of operation, it put in place four programmes which supported 75 employees, 13 young people at risk, secured employment for one individual with specific learning needs, and three individuals completed a green skills bootcamp.


Isobel Wood discussed the Warwickshire Supported Employment Service, which was in its second year of operation. In total, there were 58 customers supported into paid work, with ten working independently.


The Business Skills Support Service supported 281 Warwickshire businesses in the first quarter between January and March 2024, with members directed to the paper for a short synopsis for other schemes, all of which were going well. 


Isobel Woods discussed the Careers Hub which had continued to progress in budling on engagements with schools and sixth forms delivering career fairs, supporting schools and teachers building curriculums and engaging with employers who had been invited into schools under a new campaign called Give an Hour.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3(1)


An Update on the Vehicle Activated Sign Policy pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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Presented by Jon Rollinson (Lead Commissioner, Strategy and Place) covering the following points.


·       The original policy had been approved and adopted by Cabinet in September 2022.

·       This was intended to provide an evidence-led road safety risk-based assessment that offered a clear, robust set of criteria, which had not existed previously.

·       Target resources, check for redundant signs and organise the removal of those deemed necessary while recognising that the Council should not be removing signs from areas that had an ongoing collision concern. Allow local community groups to provide funding to maintain signs in their areas, if desired.

·       The policy been in place for 18 months. This has been in consultation with other departments within the council and they are content with how it was working. No disadvantage to other areas such as Street Lighting or Safety Engineering on the road network.


Councillor Sinclair disclosed that he was an observer in the meeting and was not a member of the committee and therefore sought approval from the Chair to comment. Councillor Sinclair had been on the Committee when the original policy was passed. He asked for the cost on the Community for taking on an activated sign and wondered if councillors could use their delegated highways budget on the signs. Jon Rollinson replied, stating the exact cost will be different per sign however an assessment of potential costs would be disclosed to any town or parish councils who would be deciding on taking over an activated sign. Regarding delegated budgets, there might be some circumstances where councillors were able to use their budgets for providing maintenance however, delegated budgets usually were for assets only. Jon Rollinson would take the question away and confirm outside of the meeting. Scott Tompkins (Environment, Planning and Transport) stated that the preference was to spend delegated budgets on assets items rather than maintenance however he expressed that he would be willing to have a conversation about this. Councillor Matecki (Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transport) added that delegated budget did not include revenue-based items.

The Chair asked for clarification on delegated budgets to be circulated to the committee.


Discussion took place between members about the need for the policy and the need for clarification on delegated budgets.


Councillor Gilbert added that if a councillor used their delegated budget to keep up maintenance of an activated sign, what would happen when that councillor is no longer in position, who then takes on the costs going forward.


The Chair questioned if the maintenance budget set out in the report had been met. Jon Rollinson stated that this was not something that could be answered now but would bring an answer back to the committee.


The Chair mentioned the eighteen requests for new signs highlighted in the report that had been rejected and asked for a picture of why this had been the case. Jon Rollinson replied that these requests did not meet one or more of the criteria set out in the policy.


In response to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


An update on EV charging infrastructure progress pdf icon PDF 123 KB

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Presented by Sebastian Burch (Strategy and Policy Officer) who covered the following points.


·       Identified that there was a need to support residents with the increase of EV cars on the roads and therefore reduce emission in the County.

·       Delivered 79 charging points across the County during the period 20/21 when funding was received.

·       It was identified that there was a disparity of areas that were provided EV charging points.

·       Funding of £3.3m from Central Government had been allocated to Warwickshire and in partnership with 14 other councils across the Midlands, under Midlands Connect this would be put towards the installation of more charging points.

·       To ensure that these installations were distributed evenly over the county, in identifying the correct locations for installation rather than installing in areas that were easier.

·       Potential opportunities in EV charging have been identified. A Lamp Column Trial was to take place in Leamington Spa and Stratford upon Avon. A pop-up style charger was to be trialled in areas across the county but had been delayed.

·       The EV Strategy Infrastructure was in the process of being reviewed. This was produced in 2017 and the deadline runs till 2026 and therefore it needed to be reviewed and updated.


In response to Councillor Fradgley, Sebastian Burch advised that the Council had always looked at new products as they came up and there was continued discussions about innovations currently in the market. In answering Councillor Fradgley’s supplementary question, Sebastian Burch stated that the cost of any infrastructure installed would need to be thoroughly explored.


There was a general discussion around providing infrastructure to residents and the need to ensure that any scheme put in place was future proofed.


In response to Councillor Pemberton, Sebastian Burch advised that this was something he was monitoring closely. There were groups and forums for officers in all authorities who are engaged in the EV industry with a number of best practice discussions happening. The Chair made a comparison between the costs of installing a gully charging option at a resident’s property to installing a dropped curb. Councillor Matecki agreed that this is an option that was being investigated.


In response to Councillor Pemberton’s supplementary question, Sebastian Burch advised that the policy which had come into effect on March 2024 would give the ability to change the traffic regulation order (TRO) for charging points. However, as this could only be changed once per year, the decision was being made as to when this would be done. The disparity of charger infrastructure (as per table 4.2) does not fully capture the full infrastructure network, as Warwickshire County Council (WCC) isn’t the only group installing chargers. WCC should have a role but not be leaders in this, this should be up to the private sector.


In response to Councillor Pemberton supplementary question, Sebastian Burch agreed that it would be beneficial to show the whole picture including private charging points and he would include this and circulated to members.


Councillor Gilbert commented on other avenues  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Annual Infrastructure Funding Statement Narrative Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

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Introduced by Graham Palmer (Infrastructure Strategy and Commissioning Lead) who discussed the narrative report which outlined information on developer funds which had been secured, allocated, received, and spent within the County Council and broke down the numbers to show real project development.


In response to the Chair, Graham Palmer advised that the report did not cover time scales on delivery of projects due to the complexity of each but was able to explain to members how project timing worked generically. He advised Councillors that he would welcome any questions outside of the meeting on specific projects.  Mark Ryder added that it would be difficult to add all delivery timeframes to all projects in the report; however, specific areas of interest could be requested outside of this. He went on to explain developer funding, infrastructure, and trigger points of projects.


Councillor Pemberton commented on development visibility at a division level. He continued, stating that a case study on a large-scale development for members to understand the process would be beneficial to the committee as they would have a better understanding and be able to ask relevant questions next time they were faced with a big build in their area.


Graham Palmer agreed with the comments and would take the suggestions on when building the next report.


In response to Councillor Fradgley, Graham Palmer advised that each Section 106 funding had an expiry date which was tracked by the Council. This was to ensure that the funding was spent or allocated to a project as not to lose it. He added that no money was returned to developments in 22/23 due to funding expiry. Answering Councillor Fradgley’s supplementary question, Graham Palmer confirmed that the unallocated funding displayed in the table was in various stages of being allocated to the project it was collected for.


In response to the Chair, Graham Palmer advised that when a section 106 is signed, indexation is added to each amount from when it was signed till the funds are received.


In reply to the Chair’s question, Graham Palmer advised that no funds he was aware of were returned in 23/24 but close monitoring and checks were in place to ensure that these risks are captured.


Mark Ryder added that this report provided examples on projects that were delivered and said for the next report. it would include a site-specific project containing a timeline on a particular development.



The Committee noted and commented on the Annual Infrastructure Funding Statement (AIFS) 2022/23 at Appendix 1 and this accompanying narrative report.


Communities OSC Work Programme pdf icon PDF 89 KB

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The committee discussed upcoming reports for June 2024 and September 2024 and noted its work programme, with the Chair requesting any additional items either at this meeting, or the subsequent Chair and Spokes meeting.



Urgent Items

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