Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Bath Guildhall
Contact: Ian Hird 07436 600313
Apologies for absence
It was noted that apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Brian Allinson, Councillor Geoff Gollop, Councillor Gary Hopkins, Councillor Brenda Massey, Councillor Steve Pearce, Councillor Peter Crew and Councillor Huw James.
DISCUSSION WITH METRO MAYOR
The Chair welcomed Metro Mayor Dan Norris to the meeting, noting that the Metro Mayor was able to attend for the first 30 minutes of this meeting.
Points raised / noted in discussion with the Metro Mayor:
a. Spatial Development Strategy: Scrutiny members flagged the importance of progressing collaborative work across the authorities to meet the envisaged timeline for delivering the Spatial Development Strategy.
b. Bus service cutbacks by operators: following concerns expressed by members, the Metro Mayor commented that there was a risk of irreparable damage to the region’s bus network due to the potential loss of Bus Recovery Grant to the region from April next year. Earlier that month, he had written a joint letter with Councillor Donald Davies ((Leader of North Somerset Council) to Baroness Vere, the Minister responsible for buses, setting out a clear message that this cliff-edge funding cut was pushing bus operators to plan for the cancellation of services. It was essential that this did not happen and he would press the government hard to confirm their continued funding support before irreversible decisions were taken by bus companies. He was acutely aware of the negative and serious impact that any such decisions would have for many residents, especially those who were vulnerable. Whilst appreciating the financial constraints that the Combined Authority was operating within, and the very real challenges faced by bus operators, scrutiny members agreed that this also highlighted the importance of maximising opportunities through the Bus Service Improvement Plan and Enhanced Partnership. Members also flagged that where operators take decisions that services must change in the current situation and given the ongoing constraints, it was essential to provide prompt and timely information to service users. The Metro Mayor stressed that he was determined to push for a London-style service; crucially, this should be a service used regularly by commuters across all sectors of the region’s workforce; it would also be critical to secure an improved rural bus services offer.
c. Scrutiny Transport Sub-Group: The Metro Mayor welcomed feedback arising from the recent meeting of the Scrutiny Transport Sub-Group, noting that the sub-group had flagged:
* their support for the approach of “sweating” existing assets as far as possible given the expense, long timescales and complexity of rail construction projects.
* their strong support for improving the accessibility of stations, including the new eastern entrance to Temple Meads.
* that in relation to the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, a key next step should be the development of a network map, both a tube-style map and a more detailed alignment map. The walking network also needed to be linked in and aligned with the High Streets work and Liveable Neighbourhoods work, so that walking to the local high street is encouraged as the norm. ... view the full minutes text for item 1.
Declarations of interest
Members who consider that they have an interest to declare are asked to: a) State the item number in which they have an interest, b) The nature of the interest, c) Whether the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, non-disclosable pecuniary interest or nonpecuniary interest. Any Member who is unsure about the above should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer prior to the meeting in order to expedite matters at the meeting itself.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 October 2021 as a correct record.
That the minutes of the meeting of the West of England Combined Authority Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 11 October 2021 be confirmed as a correct record.
In relation to these minutes, as an update, Councillor Varney advised that through a question asked at a Bristol Full Council meeting, he had received an assurance that securing a solution to the Brislington A4 transport corridor would not involve building a new road on the Brislington railway path.
WRITTEN PUBLIC QUESTIONS (written procedure):
1. Any member of the public can submit a maximum of two written questions in advance of this meeting.
2. The deadline for the submission of questions is 5.00 pm, at least 3 clear working days ahead of a meeting. For this meeting, the deadline for questions is 5.00 pm on Tuesday 7 December.
3. Questions should be addressed to the Chair of the meeting and e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Under the direction of the Chair, wherever possible, written replies to questions will be sent to questioners by the end of the working day prior to the meeting.
5. Please note - under the Combined Authority’s committee procedures, there is no opportunity for oral supplementary questions to be asked at committee meetings.
6. The written questions and replies will be circulated to committee members in advance of the meeting and published on the Combined Authority website.
1. Any member of the public may submit a written statement (or petition) to this meeting.
2. Please note that one statement per individual is permitted.
3. Statements must be submitted in writing and received by the deadline of 12 noon on the working day before the meeting. For this meeting, the deadline for statements is 12 noon on Friday 10 December. Statements should be emailed to email@example.com
4. Statements will be listed for the meeting in the order of receipt. All statements will be sent to committee members in advance of the meeting and published on the Combined Authority website.
5. Please note: If any member of the public wishes to attend the meeting to orally present their statement, they are asked please to notify the Combined Authority’s Democratic Services team of this at the point when their statement is submitted and by 12 noon on the working day before the meeting at the very latest. For those presenting their statements at the meeting, up to 3 minutes ‘speaking time’ is permitted for each statement. The total time available for the public session at this meeting is 30 minutes.
All members of the public attending to present statements are requested please to take a Covid-19 lateral flow test 24 hours before the day of the meeting.
The statements received were on the following subjects:
1. David Redgewell - Transport issues (this statement was also presented at the meeting).
2. Graham Ellis - Rail issues
Chair's announcements / business
With the agreement of the Chair, and with reference to a feedback note (see Appendix 2), Councillor Ed Plowden provided an update following the 6 December meeting of the Transport sub-group, which he chaired.
Committee members reviewed and commented as follows on the 17 December Joint Committee reports:
a. West of England Joint Committee governance and voting arrangements
* It was noted that this report clarified that the Metro Mayor does not have a right of veto on matters relating to the Joint Committee and that all voting at Joint Committee meetings is by way of a simple majority of those present and voting.
b. Joint Committee governance review
* It was noted that this report set out the following recommendations:
1.To commission the Monitoring Officers of the Unitary Authorities which constitute the Joint Committee to review the Joint Committee’s current constitutional arrangements and to make recommendations which will be considered by the Joint Committee by March 2022.
2. To implement a review into the governance and administration of the Joint Committee’s funding streams and to commission the Chief Executives and Monitoring Officers of the four Unitary Authorities to review the administrative arrangements for Joint Committee’s investment sources including the Local Growth Fund (LGF), Economic Development Fund (EDF), Revolving Infrastructure Fund (RIF).
3. To requisition a meeting of the Joint Committee by March 2022 at Weston-Super-Mare’s Town Hall to consider the next steps.
* Members noted that this report had been submitted by the four unitary authorities and felt it would be appropriate for the scrutiny committee to be kept informed as this review is progressed.
* Members also noted that under the current governance arrangements, it had been advantageous to all authorities to follow a ‘single pot’ approach, allowing flexibility in supporting projects across funding programmes such as the Local Growth Fund, Economic Development Fund and Revolving Infrastructure Fund. Members expressed the hope that the benefits of this approach would be given full and due consideration as part of this review, as this would help to continue to assist cashflow across projects and address issues around what could be arbitrary deadlines for using funds.
c. Local Enterprise Partnership & Invest Bristol and Bath budget outturn, April- October 2021
* It was noted that this was the latest budget monitor report; also including the latest update on inward investment performance.
d. Local Growth/Getting Building Funds, Economic Development Fund and Revolving Infrastructure Fund change requests
* It was noted that this report sought approval of the latest scheme change requests in relation to the above and approval of the West of England Local Growth Assurance Framework, updated to reflect national guidance.
* Members indicated their general support for these proposals, noting that they largely replicated the proposals contained in the original October 2021 report.
* With regard to Appendix 1, the Chair pointed out that there seemed to be a reasonably significant gap/underspend of £1,230,000 between the actual spend on project staff compared with the forecast figure.
e. MetroWest phase 1b – Portishead line update
* It was noted that this report provided an update on progress on the delivery of MetroWest phase1b – the Portishead line, the delay to the Development Consent Order, and ... view the full minutes text for item 6.