To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance updating Members on Section 106 Agreements (S106) and a report considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 27 February 2019.
The report provided details to demonstrate the Council’s preparation in terms of monitoring S106, forecasting S106 income and preparing Project Initiation Documents (PIDs) for all projects. It was noted that regular meetings and communications were in place with all service managers and a communication channel between the Council, NHS England and Essex County Council (ECC) had been set up to ensure that all relevant information on S106 income was provided as soon as it became available. Officers had also requested that ECC set up an infrastructure delivery programme to Education and Highways for the District as the importance of encouraging and participating in regular meetings with external stakeholders was noted. This was to ensure that the District’s key infrastructure was included and programmed for delivery as soon as funds became available.
A lengthy debate ensued, during which the following points were raised and where appropriate information provided by the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance:
· Concern was raised regarding the allocation of some of the contributions detailed within Appendix 1 to the report and whether the use of these contributions was appropriate. In response the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that contributions were agreed through negotiation and linked to recommendations from statutory bodies who oversee such matters. He advised that what was reported could not be changed but Officers would look at how such contributions were dealt with in the future.
· Project H3 Provision of healthcare projects within the GP catchment area of Southminster (digitalisation of the records for the Trinity Medical Practice) - This project was discussed and reference was made to the S106 being for the provision of healthcare facilities in the village of Southminster and concern was raised regarding how this related to the digitalisation of medical records. In response, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that the digitalisation was to free up space within the practice which could then be used to see additional patients.
· Project A6 Provision / maintenance of allotments in Burnham-on-Crouch – it was questioned whether the sum of £8,000 was sufficient for an allotment and its ongoing maintenance. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised he was happy to look at individual sums and would respond in writing to Members in respect of this.
· Some concern was raised regarding education and the provision of school places, in particular the need for ECC to review the cumulative impact of developments in the same areas rather than consider them individually. Reference was made to persons having moved into an area and being told no places were available in the local school and how other local schools which did have capacity had funding issues around recruiting new staff. Councillor Mrs Channer reported that ECC held meetings with planning portfolio holders, cabinet members, Committee Chairmen of Essex Authorities and lead officers regarding matters to do with planning. The issue of responses from Education regarding School places looking at the cumulative impact had arisen and was being considered. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance reported that in addition, the Council was in discussion with the County Council to review its process and the way that figures were estimated to ensure that the correct schedule was in place. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that a S106 would determine whether allocations in respect of education related to first occupation or prior to this.
· Reference was made to comments raised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee when it considered the report on S106 at its last meeting. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance reported that the meeting took place following dispatch of the agenda for this meeting and that was why the Minutes with details of discussions that took place were not included with these papers.
· In response to further concern raised regarding Southminster GP Surgery as the lease on the current building was expiring, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that the Council had regular meetings with the NHS and he agreed to raise this matter at the next meeting.
The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance was requested to investigate and report back on:
· allocation of the community sum at Burnham-on-Crouch West;
· S106 monies from Thedhams farm which were to help provide a medical centre in Southminster and in addition, what could be done to assist the new building as the NHS had indicated it was not prepared to fund the services required in the new building.
· Whether the S106 monies relating to the Trinity GP practice, Mayland had been spent.
The Chairman of the Committee advised that in light of the queries raised by Members she would raise these with the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to highlight concerns raised by both Committees. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that he could also raise matters with the Director of Resources who was the lead Director for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. At this point the Chairman referred to Members reviewing the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
In response to a question regarding consultation, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance highlighted the consultation process which had been undertaken in relation to S106 and agreed to circulate this to Members outside of the meeting.
Councillor R Pratt disclosed a non-pecuniary interest in this item of business as the Chairman of a Primary School in Burnham-on-Crouch.
The Committee asked that its thanks be conveyed to Mr Chowdhury, S106 / Community Infrastructure Levy Monitoring Officer for the huge amount of good work he had done on S106.
(i) that the contents of the report be noted;
(ii) that the comments raised by Members (as set out above) be noted by Officers and responded to, where appropriate.