Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Oculus, Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury HP19 8FF. View directions

Contact: Kelly Sutherland 

Media

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence/Changes in Membership

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs I Darby, C Etholen, T Hogg, M Tett and D Town. Cllr P Brazier attended as a substitute for Cllr D Town.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were none.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 434 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 20th July 2021 as a correct record.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Two Members requested that their questions regarding Bucks Home Choice and the Council’s Homelessness Strategy be reflected in the minutes. These would be added by the Scrutiny Officer.  

4.

Public Questions

Public questions is an opportunity for people who live, work or study in Buckinghamshire to put a question to a Select Committee.

 

The Committee will hear from members of the public who have submitted questions in advance relating to items on the agenda. The Cabinet Member, relevant key partners and responsible officers will be invited to respond.

 

Further information on how to register can be found here: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/your-council/get-involved-with-council-decisions/select-committees/

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were none.

5.

Buckinghamshire Strategic Vision pdf icon PDF 736 KB

The Select Committee will receive an overview of the draft Buckinghamshire Strategic Vision. Members will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the areas of focus and the key opportunities which have been identified.

 

Contributors:

Cllr Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council

Mr Ian Thompson, Corporate Director – Planning, Growth and Sustainability

Ms Lisa Michelson, Service Director, Economic Growth & Regeneration

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr G Williams, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, gave a presentation on the draft Strategic Vision document that was contained in the agenda report pack. The establishment of the Buckinghamshire Growth Board had given an opportunity for the strategic leadership of the county to produce the Vision. The purpose was to express a shared ambition and focus on improving the economic, environmental and social health of Buckinghamshire. This single voice would establish priorities for long-term change, set the strategic direction to realise the 2050 goal and bring together the unique selling points in Buckinghamshire. The final document intended to be broad and far-reaching with details being linked to existing and future policies and strategies of the Council.

 

There were a number of challenges that the Vision would face which included:-

 

·       Lack of affordable and accessible housing;

·       Poor digital connectivity which impacted business development;

·       Poor air quality in parts of the county;

·       Shortage of skills and labour in key growth sectors;

·       Limited infrastructure compared to housing growth.

 

The Vision aimed to support successful businesses and careers in Buckinghamshire through enhancing physical and digital connectivity and capitalize on economic super sectors (e.g. Silverstone, Westcott, and Pinewood). Alongside this, creating flexible spaces would enable flourishing industries and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) to develop. Current technology clusters and the four Enterprise Zones in Buckinghamshire would be enhanced. The Vision also aimed to harness a thriving culture, heritage and natural environment as the Council aimed to achieve net zero by 2050 and improve the use of sustainable resources. The Cabinet Member highlighted a number of Buckinghamshire’s cultural assets which included the Roald Dahl Museum, green spaces and 1,500km of rivers and chalk streams. Finally, the Vision intended to make Buckinghamshire a vibrant location that was connected in rural and urban communities.

 

Members were asked for their comments and feedback as follows:-

 

Buckinghamshire Strategic Vision feedback

 

·       A number of Members felt that there was a generic tone in the Vision and that the document would benefit from the inclusion of timescales, a more ambitious concept map and key indicators for delivery. Although there was merit in including timescales, the Cabinet Member felt that the relevance of specific key indicators may shift over the next 10-20 years.

·       Indicate more than two skills hubs on the 2050 concept map in order to show that Buckinghamshire’s skills shortage was being addressed.

·       The Vision could provide more impact by being more concise and avoiding repetitive language (e.g. ‘sustainable’) and corporate language. It was not clear that the Vision intended to attract investment into the county, particularly from SMEs, so the corporate nature may not appeal to SMEs.

·       Connectivity within Buckinghamshire would challenge the strategic ambition of creating successful businesses and careers. It was suggested that the Vision sought to improve connectivity between the East and West of the county and should recognize that the current transport infrastructure did not meet current needs. 

·       The Vision needed to address the pressures on the local labour market and affordable housing.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Supporting Buckinghamshire's High Streets pdf icon PDF 669 KB

The Select Committee will receive a report detailing the activities undertaken by the Council to support local businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, following the release from lockdown and beyond. Members may wish to comment on the effectiveness of different schemes and provide suggestions for future initiatives.

 

Contributors:

Cllr Gareth Williams, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration

Mr Ian Thompson, Corporate Director – Planning, Growth and Sustainability

Ms Lisa Michelson, Service Director, Economic Growth & Regeneration

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr G Williams, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, gave a presentation on work carried out and future plans to support Buckinghamshire’s high streets following the pandemic. Nearly £1m Government funding had been secured as part of the ‘Reopening High Streets
Safely Fund’ and ‘Welcome Back Fund’. The Community Boards had also engaged with Parishes and local organisations during the reopening of high streets. The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) had offered £18m of financial assistance to businesses through a quick, simple, non-bureaucratic process. Buckinghamshire had been the second quickest authority in the country to distribute these funds and feedback had been positive.

 

Buckinghamshire still had money to allocate as part of the Welcome Back Fund. All spend and delivery required completion by 31 March 2022. There were currently 44 events under consideration for funding with most originating from Community Boards. As the funding was European, there were strict criteria and procurement rules to follow. There were six themes to the fund:-

 

1.      Support and develop an action plan for how the local authority will safely reopen local economies;

2.      Communications and public information;

3.      Business-facing awareness;

4.      Temporary public realm changes;

5.      Promote a safe public environment for the local area economy;

6.      Support local authorities to develop plans for responding to medium term impact of Covid-19 including trialling new ideas relating to the high street.

 

Forthcoming activities were also highlighted which included:-

 

·         Place promotion

·         Online retail innovation pilot

·         Business survey

·         Seasonal events and activities

·         Christmas campaign

·         Beautification of the high street

 

In response to questions the following points were raised:-

 

·         Members commended the speed of the ARG distribution and the community activities that were being organised as part of the return to high streets.

·         It was preferable for the funding to be spent towards activities that offered a longer term impact, for instance through purchasing light machines, which would assist with the council’s regeneration agenda.

·         The Council had streamlined the pavement license process so that businesses could operate in an alfresco or café style. Due to the scheme’s popularity with businesses and residents, it had been extended until September 2022. The number of these licenses granted would be investigated and fed back to the Committee.

ACTION: L Michelson

·         The funding had been used to purchase footfall monitoring equipment which would provide key baseline data on the high streets.  It would be investigated whether the maximum value had been purchased and where the equipment would be set up.

ACTION: L Michelson

·         A Member requested that the comparative data for the national distribution of the ARG be shared with the Committee.

ACTION: L Michelson

·         As the high streets fund was prescribed, each Community Board had working groups and funding towards long-term economic recovery projects.

·         The ‘Being Considerate’ campaign aimed to address mental health concerns following reopening high streets. The Committee would be advised of this cost separately.

ACTION: L Michelson

·         Plans for business rates would be reported in future as part of the budget process.

·         The reopening project  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 671 KB

The Select Committee will consider the draft work programme for 2021/22.

 

Contributors:

Ms Kelly Sutherland, Scrutiny Manager

All Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED –

 

That the work programme be agreed.

8.

Scoping Document for Rapid Review - Member Engagement in Planning pdf icon PDF 477 KB

The Select Committee will consider a scoping document for a proposed Rapid Review on Member Engagement in Planning.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a scoping document to carry out a rapid review on Member engagement in the planning process. The Chairman of the review would be Cllr C Poll and the review intended to focus on improving the process between planning, Members and residents. An update from the review would come back to the Committee in December.

 

The Chairman asked for Members to volunteer to attend a number of meetings for the rapid review. Volunteers were as follows:-

 

Cllr C Poll (Chairman)

Cllr A Baughan

Cllr M Bracken

Cllr P Brazier (attended this meeting as a substitute)

Cllr N Brown

 

Any other volunteers outside the meeting were invited to contact the Chairman separately.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the rapid review scope document be agreed.

9.

Date of Next Meeting

Thursday 9th December 2021 at 10am at The Oculus, Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, HP19 8FF

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting would be on Thursday 9 December at 10am.