Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Sally Hampton - Member & Community Support Officer Tel: 01538 395429 Email: email@example.com
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DECIDED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 18 November 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Urgent Items of Business, if any. (24 hours notice to be provided to the Chairman).
There were none.
Notification of Substitute Members, if any.
Councillor Atkins was substitute member for Councillor Brady.
Declaration of Interests:-
· Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
· Other Interests
None were declared.
(At least two clear days notice required, in writing, to the Proper Officer in accordance with Procedure Rule 15).
Questions received from Councillor Malyon: -
Q1. Could we ask out planning department to respond to applicants and agents who have been waiting a long time after giving information that has been requested, or plans that have been put in and they have heard nothing for months?
Response from Councillor Wain, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Property and Development: -
“We currently have 2 full time planning officer vacancies within the team. As a result this means that the caseloads of the remaining officers are much higher than we would like. Unfortunately, this does mean that we are not able to deal with applications or respond to additional information or revised plans which have been submitted as quickly as we would normally like to do and I apologise for this. We are actively recruiting to the vacant posts and an appointment was made before Christmas and we are hopeful that a new officer will join us in around a month’s time. We are currently advertising the other vacant post. Meanwhile, we are grateful for the patience and understanding of our customers and we would like to assure you that officers are dealing with enquiries as quickly as they possibly can”.
Councillor Malyon accepted the response and understood the difficulties. However, she felt that the amount of time applicants waited to receive a response from officers wasn’t acceptable. She stressed the importance of the Planning Team providing support to applicants as part of the economic recovery from Covid-19. In response, Councillor Ralphs agreed that there were some issues around communication. There were some excellent planning officers and improvements would be made to ensure applicants and agents were kept informed throughout the planning process.
Q2. Now we are out of Europe and still in the grips of COVID19 do we need to rethink our policy with regard to tourism as more people may stay at home for holidays?
Response from Councillor Bowen, Portfolio Holder for Communities: -
“The Council continues to work with partners to understand trends in tourism and is also currently refreshing our tourism strategy. Officers are in regular contact with Destination Staffordshire to discuss the key factors that need to be considered in our marketing activity going forward and which need to be addressed in our tourism strategy, including the possible shrinkage of overseas markets but also opportunities for growth. We continue to support tourism businesses to make sure they have a strong offer for the staycation market and work with partners to raise the quality of the tourism offer across the Moorlands. We have continued to signpost to various sources of business support and promote initiatives such ‘cyclist welcome’ etc. While Visit Britain are predicting a boost to ‘stay-at-home’ tourism in 2021, they are not necessarily predicting that this will be a medium or long term trend but do recognise that the trends for more frequent but short term breaks will continue.”
Q3. Now that we are out of Europe what are we going to do to support ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
Francois Smit - Regional Director and Elaine Harding – General Manager Parkwood Leisure, provided a presentation to the Panel which covered the following topics:-
· General overview and update
· Covid-19 compliance
· Leisure contract highlights
· Attendance figures April 2019 to February 2020
· Key usage statistics April 2019 to March 2020
· Activity programming
· Active communities and sports development
· Leisure Centre App update
· Customer satisfaction
· Parkwood Investment 2020
· Planned Authority capital works
· Competed Brough Park pool works
· Continual improvement
Members asked questions and raised the following queries:-
Financial position – Without the financial support of the government the organisation would be in difficulties. There had been a 40% reduction in memberships and a long recovery period was anticipated.
Cleanliness – This was still an area of concern for members and the officers gave assurance that a review of staffing levels at peak times would take place when the leisure centres re-opened and cleanliness would improve in the future.
Changes to Steps to Health Programme – Parkwood was working with the Sports Development Team on this, a new App was available, there was an increased number of on-line classes and plans were in place for digital activities to continue once the leisure centres had re-opened.
Improvements to tennis courts – Discussion in relation to planned works was taking place with officers
Event at South Moorlands Leisure Centre – Members congratulated the officers and Paddles Swimming Club for this hugely successful event for swimmers with disabilities.
Future investment and development of leisure offering - A leisure review was currently underway and a system was in place to check the leisure offering of competitors. New activities and equipment was also looked into.
Discussion also took place around the promotion of South Moorlands Leisure Centre and investment in Cheadle. Communication was key in the encouragement of the public to use the facilities after lockdown along with the promotion of outdoor activities.
Members were pleased with the recent refurbishment of Brough Park Leisure Centre and were grateful for the leisure centres being open over the summer period.
A request was made for Diabetes Groups to made available in Cheadle and the officers agreed this would be investigated.
It was noted that physical activity was more important than ever for positive mental health during the pandemic.
The Chair thanked the Parkwood representatives for the informative presentation.
1) That the presentation be received
2) For the next annual update to include the percentage of use at each of the Leisure Centres.
Councillor Deaville – Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Sports and Robert Wilks – Principal Officer (Leisure and Recreation), introduced a report on the progress of the second stage of the Council’s Leisure Consultancy work. The Panel considered the formation of a Member working group to support the development of a ‘Leisure Transformation Plan’.
In response to a query about the Cheadle Stakeholder Group, it was confirmed by the Portfolio Holder, that there would be good communication between the groups and there wouldn’t be any duplication of work.
Leisure and sports facilities in the rural areas would be considered as part of the review and the costings of the consultants awarded the contract to lead this project would be provided after the meeting.
A number of councillors showed their interest in becoming members of the working group and the Panel was advised that the nominations would be made by each Group Leader after the meeting.
That the Service Delivery Overview & Scrutiny Panel:
1) Noted the progress of stage two of the Council’s Leisure Consultancy work.
2) Agreed to the formation of the Member working group to support the development of a ‘Leisure Transformation Plan’, as set out in paragraph 3.7 of the report.
The Panel considered an update report on the progress of the preparation of a Green Infrastructure Delivery Plan. Councillor Porter – Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Biodiversity, highlighted the key points within the report and responded to questions from members.
A Green Infrastructure (GI) Strategy was adopted by the Council at the meeting of Cabinet on 19th June 2018. The Strategy included the commitment to prepare a Delivery Plan to support the Strategy’s implementation.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust had been commissioned to prepare detailed
habitat mapping of the District to help identify opportunities for green
The mapping was supported by a description for each habitat opportunity area, provided detail of specific opportunities for creation, enhancement, or
connectivity improvement within each habitat type.
The 2018 Strategy included mapping to illustrate opportunities to support more walking and cycling for short journeys to key destinations, as well as to
encourage leisure walking and cycling
A review of the evidence base mapping, alongside discussion with partners,
had enabled a collection of potential GI delivery projects to be drawn together
and recorded in a schedule.
The next steps for the work included integration of the GI area map of
opportunities with the Council’s GIS system so that the map could be used in a more interactive manner and to prepare full delivery plans for priority projects on the draft schedule.
Members welcomed the report but were concerned that it did not incorporate a list of deliverable priority projects with attached timescales and costings. The Portfolio Holder explained that this was an update report which contained proposals and wasn’t the final report. The projects were reliant on the Council working with its partners and the proposals would be prioritised at the next meeting of the Project Board. The management of grasslands was being reviewed with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and SMDC was one of the first Council’s to look at nature based solutions.
Discussion also took place around active travel, cycle parking, orchards, tree planting on private land, Biddulph in Bloom and the possibility of a dedicated Climate Change officer. It was felt that more could be done to enhance the biodiversity of grasslands, without assistance from partners and that the Council needed to expediate progress to achieve its target to be carbon neutral by 2030. The importance of an Urban Tree Strategy was highlighted and a suggestion that there was a minimum planting requirement for all new housing developments. The wildlife corridor along the railway track in Cheadle required attention to ensure the trees were planted before Springtime.
Councillor Porter agreed that Parish and Town Councils needed to be fully engaged with the plans and encouraged councillors to invite him to their meetings or to contact him with any suggestions in relation to carbon reduction.
Councillor Davies offered to send the details of wildlife research carried out in Biddulph to Jo Bagnall after the meeting.
1) The Panel noted the progress on the preparation of the Green Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which included the ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
Any additional items to be added to the Work Programme:
· Chair’s Items
· Members’ Items
The Panel considered its Work Programme and agreed the items listed.
Councillor Page requested that the item on the Council’s Street Assets had an officer assigned and for the review to include street furniture. He also suggested that the next Green Infrastructure Delivery Plan report incorporated measurable outcomes.
DECIDED: That the Work Programme for 2020-21 be agreed.