Agenda and minutes

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 12 April 2023 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall

Contact: Isabelle Moorhouse  Democratic Services Officer


No. Item



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Councillor Tim Sinclair was substituted by Councillor Penny-Anne O’Donnell

Councillor Mejar Singh was substituted by Councillor Marian Humphreys

Councillor Richard Baxter-Payne

Councillor Martin Watson (Portfolio Holder for Economy)

Councillor Heather Timms (Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture)


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 113 KB

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The minutes were approved as a correct record.


Public Speaking

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Questions to Portfolio Holder pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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In response to Councillor Jenny Fradgley, Councillor Wallace Redford (Portfolio Holder for Transport & Planning) confirmed that progress was going well for clearing the backlog of fixing potholes with delegated budgets. He agreed to chase up any that were being delayed.

Mark Ryder (Strategic Director for Communities) informed the committee that Warwickshire had been allocated an extra £2 million by central government to fix potholes. This had been added to the list of schemes to be prioritised.

Shail Chohan (Service Manager (County Highways) added that winter had created more potholes which added to the backlog and the bad weather meant more money had to be spent on temporary fixes for other defects on the highways. £1.8 million had been spent on delegated budgets in the last year compared to just over £1 million in 2021. Every scheme planned to be delivered in year will be.


In response to Councillor Dave Humphreys, Shail Chohan said that potholes that needed to be filled in for safety reasons would not use delegated budgets. Delegated budgets could be used to accelerate the road works WCC were doing.


Councillor Redford agreed to chase up the puffin crossing scheme on Coventry Road in Exhall for Councillor Bhagwant Pandher as it had been delayed for three years.

He also agreed to chase up a crossing in Birchwood in Polesworth on behalf of Councillor Marian Humphreys which had been delayed for four years.


Economic Development Update pdf icon PDF 5 MB

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Kim Fraser-Bell (Strategy and Commissioning Manager (Economy & Skills) summarised the following points:

  • The Warwickshire Support Employment Service was launched in February 2023 and it supports adults with autism and learning difficulties get into sustainable employment
  • The launch event was held in Nuneaton with 50 attendees and 98 people have signed up for it in the first few weeks. The target was 400 people this year
  • WCC’s Digital Creative Grants scheme received 11 applications requesting £280,000 in total. Six applications requesting £350,000 in total were granted £160,000 after an evaluation process
  • The Property and Infrastructure Fund (PIF) is the third strand of the WRIF and will be fully launched at UK REEF in May 2023. It will provide £10 million in loans to support and facilitate the development of employment land in the county or to help bring forward the necessary site infrastructure to bring a site to market. CPRE will be leading this
  • WCC’s Skills Hub celebrated its third birthday. Over 1000 businesses have engaged with it and received 5000 hours of help. There are currently 18 members of staff
  • £1.1 million had been provided to small/medium businesses through the Apprenticeship Levy Fund, which covers mainly training costs for young people which has led on to 120 apprenticeships and 66 businesses making inclusive jobs
  • WCC’s business branding team had been working with Coventry City Council’s team to develop new branding ahead of key development


Councillor M Humphreys congratulated the work with people with autism and requested that transport be possible for residents to attend events in Nuneaton from North Warwickshire.

Kim Fraser-Bell agreed to look into and added that there was a new job portal that mapped people to different job opportunities.


Councillor Penny-Anne O’Donnell concurred with Councillor M Humphreys. In response to Councillor O’Donnell, Kim Fraser-Bell stated that people who were awaiting a diagnosis could self-refer themselves to the service or in the past people had been referred by DWP or Adult Social Care. Education providers were worked with too regarding apprenticeships for young people with autism but this could be improved.


Councillor Kam Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Education) added that a lot of work was done between the education teams and Skills Hub to get this scheme going. There was a lot of ground to cover with employment support and she congratulated the team on their work.


Q & A with Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency

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Environmental Agency

Rob Lunt (Partnership & Strategic Overview Team Leader – Flood and Costal Risk Management) presented a PowerPoint and summarised the following points:

  • The Environment Agency (EA) was started in 1996 to protect and improve the environment and have 10,500 staff members
  • EA covers regulating major industry and wastes treatment of contaminated land, water quality, water resources and across to fisheries, inland navigation, conservation and ecology and flood risk management (managing flood risk from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries, and the sea)
  • The current six-year programme will protect 336,000 properties compared to 300,000 properties in the previous six-year programme. There will also be 2000 new flood risk of flood defence schemes funded in this programme
  • The £5.2 billion of funding is split nationally and Warwickshire get £12 million to protect up to 10,500 properties. 4618 residential properties in Warwickshire are at flood risk
  • With the new six-year programme they looked more at the benefits then what could be achieved
  • All issues are geographically linked so the relevant departments from across the EA were brought together to deal with issues. Warwickshire would involve fisheries, biodiversity, geomorphology, and water quality
  • There were five sperate catchment issues across Warwickshire and Coventry (four in Warwickshire)
  • In Leamington 227 properties were at flood risk and climate change could cause these number to rise by 10%
  • The data model they use was being improved for the River Leam project
  • Flood storage and flood defences were planned for Leamington’s vulnerable locations
  • Natural flood risk management is also possible for flood defences e.g. tree planting, scrapes etc. to stop water backing up and reaching water peak levels
  • A whole-scale review was being undertaken of the River Avon with the new model


In response to Councillor Fradgley, Rob Lunt said that the River Avon review should start in 2023 but it was unknown what scale it could be so no end date was available.


Councillor Redford said that his area needed to know what the flood peak was in his area so they could be prepared for flooding. Rob Lunt stated that there had been discussions around the weir in Eathorpe.


In response to Councillor Jonathon Chilvers, Rob Lunt noted that they were still looking at the best way for funding opportunities for schemes as well as benefits and risks. All schemes should improve the environment and include natural flood prevention methods. A lot of variables need to be considered like soil texture, but WCC can try its own methods of natural flood prevention as it would always benefit the environment.


Councillor Dave Humphreys noted that houses were being built in Birch Coppice which was often flooded so those houses then get flooded. Warehouses have also been built on flood plains which makes the flooding worse. He added that the EA rarely seem to have objections to planning applications. Rob Lunt confirmed that EA were a statutory consultee on all planning applications. Sustainable development was encouraged, and they would flag up flooding risks when seen; they could not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Local Transport Plan Consultation Review and Recommendation for Adoption pdf icon PDF 118 KB

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Jon Rollinson (Lead Commissioner – Strategy & Policy) summarised the following points:

  • The LTP consultation ran from September to November 2022
  • A citizens panel was set up to provide feedback through the LTP process too
  • The feedback from the panel and consultation were good and constructive
  • The LTP will go to Cabinet in June and hopefully approved by Full Council in July 2023
  • There were 300 responses which was good compared to some neighbouring authority’s when they did their LTP consultation


In response to the Chair, Jon Rollinson confirmed the strategy was 67 pages long. The LTP should run for 10 years but it will be refreshed when needed. Its purpose is to be a living document.


In response to Councillor M Humphreys, Jon Rollinson said that the purpose of the LTP was to address different areas separately. WCC worked closely with bus companies but as they were private companies they could not be forced to improve or add new bus routes. In the past bus routes were subsidised by WCC but public transport funds were limited nationally.


Following a point from the Chair, Jon Rollinson stated that WCC was working on improving buses through the BSIP (bus service improvement plan) and maximum funding opportunities like S106 funding. Mark Ryder added that WCC were looking more at demand response services to fill in for bus routes.


Adult and Community Learning (ACL) Progress and Performance Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 107 KB

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Sarah Tregaskis (Service Manager, Education Services) summarised the following points: 

·  This is an annual report that the committee receives on the performance of the council’s adult education service (Adult and Community Learning service). This report relates to academic year 2021-2022. 

·  The serviceoperates out of over 30 venues across the county including community venues, children centres and Council buildings. 

·  The number of residents aged 19 and over accessing the service and taking courses had increased from the previous academic year but learner numbers were still not back to pre-Covid levels. 

·  The servicemaintained its ‘Good’ Ofsted judgement when it was inspected in October 2022. 

·  80% of learners were female and 20.3% were male. Nationally 25% of adult learners were male. 

·  After a more targeted recruitment drive, 4 out of 7 curriculum areas gained more male learners. This was mainly in ICT and maths and there was an increase in male students on courses with learning difficulties and disabilities. 

·  The highest proportion of learners were aged 30-39. 

·  Attendance had increased to 84% compared to the previous yearat 82%, the service has a target to increase attendance to 90%. 

·  The service retained the Matrix Standard accreditation, which demonstrates how well the service provides impartial advice and guidance. 

·  This service is funded by a grant from the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The service only achieved 92.6% of its funding allocation last year which led to a clawback 

·  Grant funding was provided by the Department for Education to WCC for a maths programme called Multiply to support numeracy and financial literacy cross-county. The service was successful in obtaining a portion of this funding and delivery has started. 


In response to the Chair, Sarah Tregaskis stated that despite the clawback in funding, the service has still been allocated the same amount of grant funding this academic year. 

Councillor Kaur said that the clawback was caused by not having enough adult learners joining the programmes available. Targeting marketing is taking place to encourage residents to use the services provided. 


In response to Councillor M Humphreys, Sarah Tregaskis said that they operated in 30 venues across the county and some courses were available online e.g. GCSE Maths.  


Following a question from Councillor O’Donnell, Sarah Tregaskis noted that the Covid pandemic created more competition from providers offering free courses online. WCC’s courses are reviewed to ensure they are still relevant and meet resident's needs. 



Q3 Integrated Performance Report pdf icon PDF 143 KB

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Mark Ryder highlighted that:

  • More people with educational needs were engaging with the employment support team
  • More secondary schools were engaging with the violence prevention programme
  • More incidents of domestic abuse were being reported last year


In response to the Chair, Mark Ryder said that the schemes listed in the report were complex infrastructure ones. Programme boards covered all the transport infrastructure projects and monitored their progress.

David Ayton-Hill (Assistant Director – Communities) added that there is a risk of schemes going off course because of inflation. This has led to schemes being reprioritised. 


Following a question from Councillor Fradgley, David Ayton-Hill said that Birmingham Road in Stratford was labelled at risk because it had not started yet, instead of financial constraints. WCC could fund the first two stages but needed to check whether they could still fund the final stage.

The Chair concurred with this and requested that a report be added onto the work programme to investigate these project delays and how they will be addressed. Councillor Fradgley noted it would be good if members knew what was causing the delays.


Communities OSC Work Programme pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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The following item was added to the work programme:

Transport infrastructure delays and action to be taken 


Urgent Items

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