Agenda and minutes

Growth Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 23rd October, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting and in the Council Chamber (if required)

Contact: Alison Bluff  Governance Officer


No. Item


Apologies For Absence


Apologies were received from Councillors Peter Roberts and James Watson.


Urgent Items of Business

To note any urgent items of business which the Chairman has consented to being considered under the provisions of Section 100(B) 4(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no urgent items of business to be consider.


Declarations of Interest

Members should declare the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and Non Statutory Interest as defined by the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of:


a)  any business on the agenda

b)  any urgent additional items to be considered

c)  any matters arising out of those items

and if appropriate, withdraw from the meeting at the relevant time.


There were no declarations of interest made at the meeting.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 478 KB

To consider the minutes of the last meeting held on 9th September 2020.


Moved by Councillor Jen Wilson and seconded by Councillor Derek Adams

RESOLVED that the minutes of a meeting of a Growth Scrutiny Committee held on 9th September 2020 be approved as a true and correct record.


List of Key Decisions and items to be considered in private pdf icon PDF 35 KB


Committee considered the List of Key Decisions and Items to be considered in private document.


Moved by Councillor Jen Wilson and seconded by Councillor Tricia Clough

RESOLVED that the List of Key Decisions and Items to be considered in private document be noted.


Update on Sustainable Community Strategy 2006-20 and revised Sustainable Community Strategy 2020-23 and Partnership response to Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:


Committee received a presentation from the Head of Leader’s Executive and Partnerships and the Partnership Strategy and Policy Officer on the Sustainable Community Strategy and Partnership response to Covid-19.


The Partnership Strategy and Policy Officer explained to Members the meaning of “sustainable” in the context of the strategy.  It was interpreted by the Partnership as a way of living which is resilient, viable and enduring, aiming for future generations to live as we do now, however improved without compromising their quality of life, the economy, the environment and society, working holistically with each other.


It was noted that the Sustainable Community Strategy was to enable the partnership to work together with the community with a common vision of “a diverse, healthy, fair and prosperous district, building on the strengths of our industrial past to become a vibrant and thriving community capable of meeting the challenges and opportunities of the future.”


The Sustainable Community Strategy was the key document for Bolsover Partnership and for all participants in the Partnership to work towards. There were four sectors represented on the partnership: public, private, community and voluntary. Thematic Action Groups agreed the Partnership priorities, which were refreshed regularly. The Council’s aims were to contribute to the Corporate Plan/Ambition.


The presentation outlined how the structure of the delivery of the Strategy was achieved, with Thematic Action Groups reporting to the Executive Board.


Committee had received copies of the April 2019 to March 2020 Funding and Performance Monitoring Report for Bolsover Partnership, from which examples were drawn on the impact and successes of the previous Sustainable Community Strategy, demonstrating the difference that had been made.


The first example provided was the contribution made to improving the environment. An issue that was raised years ago related to the unacceptable levels of litter. To highlight the difference that had been made, it was reported that in 2006 just 14% of waste was being recycled, now it was over 40% and growing.


Another example was the sharing of the community’s heritage and culture. Programmes included Limestone Journeys, First Art, and the Olympic legacy, with the Olympic Torch coming through the District; a legacy of sporting activities had continued since that time.


A further success reported was the rise in employment levels, particularly over the last few years. Bolsover District had consistently performed better than the East Midlands and England average, including a 7% jobs growth between 2007 and 2017. It was noted that a few years ago, employment growth and jobs in Bolsover District bucked the national trend due to collaboration between partners with local businesses to take advantage of opportunities that were arising.


It was also reported that gaps in health inequality had reduced, where public health indicators that tracked this showed the District had moved closed to national averages. The Chair of the Partnership had shared progress and best practice developed by the Partnership at a national conference in respect of public health improvements and the difference that can be made.


In relation to deprivation, improvements  ...  view the full minutes text for item GRO31-20/21


BDC Empty Property Strategy 2021-24 - Consultation pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Additional documents:


Committee considered a report on the first draft of the Empty Property Strategy. The Strategy set out the Council’s objectives in relation to bringing empty properties back into use.


Members were informed that there were approximately 750 properties in the District that had been empty for more than 6 months as at August 2020. This was an increase of approx. 100 since 2019, however it was noted that comparatively, this was not as bad as some other local authority areas which had seen numbers double due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was believed that many of these empty properties were short term ‘transactional’ cases and it was anticipated that this number would decrease again in coming months as estate agents had reported seeing sales and lettings levels increase recently.


Empty properties represented a waste resource and were the main focus of the empty property strategy.


The draft strategy tied together the three main strands of empty property work: advice, assistance and enforcement, and it presented a framework for co-ordinated work to shape an Empty Property Action Plan. The strategy was also to have a key role in helping to secure potential external funding for housing related projects across the District.


The Joint Empty Properties Officer took Committee through the Strategy, explaining the key parts and their rationale. The promotional work undertaken by the service was outline, demonstrating the steps taken to actively engage with owners of empty properties. This included highlighting available support/ financing for options to bring the property back into use.


Councillor Tom Munro joined the meeting and Councillor Tricia Clough left the meeting at this point.


Committee were advised that legislation enabled the Council to charge an additional premium, or uplift, on council tax for empty properties, increasing for each additional year it remained vacant. For example, 200% of the usual council tax rate could be charged for a property empty for over two years. This power was not yet used by the Council however a working group had been set up to explore this option.


The Joint Empty Properties Officer informed Members that he works closely with Environmental Health and other services through the Corporate Enforcement Group, to work collaboratively to tackle empty properties where they cause issues in the community.


Consultation on the strategy was to be carried out at various stages throughout the development process with internal and external organisation, including public, private and voluntary sectors.


Members were concerned that the VAT discount on refurbishments after a property was empty for two years might act as an incentive to leave the property empty until it was eligible for the discount. The Joint Empty Properties Officer advised that this was unlikely as the discount was not well known and only promoted to owners/landlords with properties already empty for two years.


A Member queried whether the Compulsory Purchase Order power could be used in respect of properties where tenants were causing anti-social behaviour. The Joint Empty Properties Officer advised that in relation to the empty property  ...  view the full minutes text for item GRO32-20/21


Work Programme 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Additional documents:


Committee considered their Work Programme 2020/21.


Members were advised that the scheduled meeting in November could not go ahead as a formal meeting due to resourcing issues. It was agreed that this meeting could be held informally if officers would be available. If not, an alternative date would be agreed.


If possible, the Housing Strategy item would be deferred until the December meeting. It was agreed that the informal part of the December meeting should be held on a separate date unless the length of the formal part is reduced.


Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor David Dixon

RESOLVED that the work programme be noted.