Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Advisory Board - Communities and Place - Thursday, 24th September, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: via Teams

Contact: Lorraine Davis  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.



Members and officers confirmed their attendance at the meeting. An apology for absence was received from Mr D Wilson. 




To note any changes in membership of the Board.



There were no changes to membership to note.




Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises:-


1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.


2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority


            (a)    Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and


            (b)    Which has not been fully discharged.


4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 


5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 


6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge).


            (a)    The landlord is the authority; and


            (b)    The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial interest.


7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where


            (a)    That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the authority; and


            (b)    Either –


                     (i)         The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or


                     (ii)        If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.


In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.




A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).



Cllr S Collins declared a non pecuniary interest in Agenda Item No 6 – Digital Infrastructure Strategy as he had been involved in two digital projects in his area.




To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.



There were no items of business that required the exclusion of the press and public.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 12 March 20202 (copy enclosed).



RESOLVED,that the minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2020 be agreed as an accurate record and signed by the Chair.


It was agreed that a letter be sent on behalf of the Chair and Scrutiny Advisory Board members to the Chief Fire Officer thanking him for his service and wishing him well for the future.



Digital Infrastructure Strategy pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


The Consultant Senior Programme Manager (officer) gave a presentation outlining the proposed Digital Infrastructure Strategy.  The Strategy had been developed in the context of Covid 19 and recovery, Digital Borderlands, the Council’s Customer Strategy, ICT plan and Workforce Plan, Inclusive Growth and Digital Inclusion and  the Government agenda for Digital Connectivity and Social Inclusion. 


The officer explained the timing and scope of the Strategy.  Members noted the importance of digital connectivity as it became more critical to the lives of residents, the operation of businesses and also formed part of the Government’s levelling up agenda, economic growth and greater social inclusion.  The importance had been further highlighted by the coronavirus crisis.   An action plan outlining the objectives of the Strategy had been developed.  Members were informed that the Strategy would be submitted to Cabinet in November for approval and that the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property and the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure be nominated as the Council’s Digital Champions.


A lengthy discussion ensued around the connectivity of the hardest to reach 20% premises in the UK.  The officer confirmed that work was ongoing on numerous levels to prioritise and procure gigabit capable connections to these premises.  The health and safety aspects of masts was also discussed.  Members noted that there was a health and safety appendix in the Strategy. 


Members raised individual residents’ concerns and issues around connectivity.  The officer had worked with a resident in Scales on a particular matter and agreed to investigate issues on South Walney and report back to the Local Member.


The Chair, as disclosed, had been involved in two Broadband projects in his area and was keen to align projects to avoid duplication and additional costs. The expense of installing ducting was discussed. The Chair was also keen that Planning Authorities structure in connectivity work in planning applications.  The officer confirmed that work was ongoing on these issues and highlighted South Lakeland District Council’s planning process as good practice.  The Chair suggested sharing this with the other District and National Park Authorities.  


In answer to a question on the capability and demand on the network for home working, members were informed that a fibre network had immense capacity and part of the proposed Strategy was to replace hybrid/older part of the networks.  Members recognised that good connectivity was vital to attract people to live and work in the area and strengthen the county’s economy.


A short discussion took place around the standard and conduct of subcontractors.  It was noted that a fixed price contract was in place with Openreach and the cost was theirs to meet if work overran. 


The Officer was thanked for his very informative report.



Cumbria Climate Change Group & Carbon Management pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure (copy enclosed).



Members received a report providing an update on the work of the Cumbria Climate Change Group, zero carbon Cumbria and the successful Carbon Action Fund Lottery Bid.  The report outlined the current Carbon Management activity and proposed next steps.


The Assistant Director – Economy and Environment (the officer) outlined the background to the development of the Carbon Management Strategy and the joint working that was taking place to ensure the aim of becoming a carbon neutral County and to mitigate the likely impact of existing climate change was reached.  The Cumbria Climate Change Group, that had been established in June 2019, had six key aims and were now focussing work around mapping out specific programmes and action across transport, energy, business and industry, housing, waste and agriculture. 


The officer gave a brief outline on the work the Council had commenced to support its response to the Climate Change agenda.  This had included introducing a strengthening of the Senior Manager role to include a clear “Sustainability” element.  Members noted other activities taking place within the Council and joint working with other organisation such as Cumbria LEP, within the Borderlands project and Cumbria Strategic Waste Partnership.   


To conclude the officer outlined carbon management activities linked with waste reduction and public health priorities.


A number of issues were raised by members.  The Senior Policy and Scrutiny Project Officer explained the programme of Carbon Literacy that was in development to increase understanding of the climate change challenge and the role of the council.  It was the intention for this to be rolled out to members and employees later in the year. 


Discussion took place around the nuclear industry and utilising the “run off” from this, involvement of scrutiny members in the development of plans, support for a circular economy and the positon of carbon management if unitary authorities were introduced.  The discussion led on to tree planting, electric bus towns, electric transport charging points, battery storage of electricity and new power sourcing for housing developments.  Cllr N Hughes expressed an interest in being part of the Climate Change group.


The officer highlighted the scale of change in transport that would be needed, a 70% reduction from normal levels similar to lockdown level.  A decision was awaited from the DfT on the bid for funding for electric bus towns and work had been undertaken with the District Councils in 2016 for electric charge points in the county but it was acknowledged that more work could be done on this issue. 


The Carbon Baseline assessment and associated action plan addressed the issue of land management and tree planting with opportunities for Cumbria to restore fivefold peatland and tree planting across the county.  The Senior Policy and Scrutiny Project Officer explained the multi benefits of this work as it would also help to alleviate flooding.  A member spoke in support of the Nature Recovery Strategy.  The Waste Operational Manager gave an update on the work of the Local Nature Recovery pilot at the meeting.


Following a question  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Flood Response Plan pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Presentation by the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure (copy enclosed).



Members received a presentation by the Acting Assistant Director – Highways and Transport and the County Bridges Manager outlining the Flood Response Plan.  The presentation covered the damage caused by previous floods, the reason for the Flood Response Plan, how the intelligence had been gathered to develop the Plan, the Plan’s objectives and next steps.


In answer to a question on debris causing damage to bridge structures, the County Bridges Manager advised that debris checks were part of the inspection process.  The protection of river banks on private land and responsibility of this was discussed, as it was acknowledged that this could indirectly affect the Council’s assets. 


The discussion led on to sea wall protection.  The officer gave an update on programmed work in various parts of the County’s coastline.  The Waste Operational Manager agreed to inform and involve the Local Member for Walney South of work in his area.


The officers were thanked for their informative presentation.




To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


This report informs members of new and updated items of significance to the Board (including relevant aspects of the Council’s Forward Plan and Key Decisions).


Additional documents:


A report was received by members on the Board’s current work programme, together with the current Forward Plan of decisions and the Council’s current Council Plan Delivery Plan.


Members were asked to consider the Board’s work programme as set out in Appendix 1 of the report, with reference to the Council Plan Delivery Plan attached as Appendix 2 and consider the Forward Plan of Key Decisions 1 April 2020 to 31 May 2020.  At the request of the Chair an action tracker had been set up to enable the Board to monitor progress of recommendations made by the Board and was attached at Appendix 3.


Members discussed future items for the Board’s work programme and additional items to be included in the monitoring report.


Further to a discussion at the Scrutiny Management Board, it was agreed that a full item on verge cutting and wildflowers be brought to the November meeting of the Advisory Board.  It was further agreed that a representative from Citizen’s Advice Bureau be invited to give a presentation to the Board.




(1)  the Board’s current work programme be noted;


(2)  the Forward Plan of Key Decisions for 1 October to 30 November 2020 be noted;


(3)  a report on verge maintenance and wildflowers be brought to the November of the Board;


(4)  the method of tracking actions from the Board going forward be agreed.




To note that the next meeting of the Board will be held on 17 November 2020 at 10.00 am.



It was noted that the next meeting of the Board will be held on 17 November 2020 at 10.00 am.