Agenda and draft minutes

Communities and Place OSC - Wednesday, 6th October, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Meeting Space - Block 1, Floor 2 - County Hall, Morpeth NE61 2EF

Contact: Nichola Turnbull 

Note: Due to Covid restrictions only those who have registered and are actively participating will be allowed access to the meeting. Any member of the press or public may view the proceedings of this meeting live on our YouTube channel at 

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bridgett, Castle, Robinson and Sanderson.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Minutes of the following meetings of the Communities and Place OSC, as circulated, to be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chair:


a)         4 August 2021

b)         25 August 2021

Additional documents:


Minute No. 11.1 Private Sector Housing Strategy 2021-2023


Councillor?Morphet enquired about the contact details for social housing providers which had not yet been received.  The Scrutiny Co-ordinator agreed to remind officers that these were required.?


Minute No. 16.1 Overview of the Fleet Replacement Programme in 2020/2021


Councillor Morphet commented that he had enquired whether the Council had considered a hydro treated vegetable oil trial and was aware of the pros and cons of alternative fuel sources.


RESOLVED?that the minutes of the?following?meetings?of?the?Communities & Place OSC, as circulated, be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chair:?


a)      4 August 2021

b)      25 August 2021?



Unless already entered in the Council’s Register of Members’ interests, members are required to disclose any personal interest (which includes any disclosable pecuniary interest) they may have in any of the items included on the agenda for the meeting in accordance with the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council on 4 July 2012, and are reminded that if they have any personal interests of a prejudicial nature (as defined under paragraph 17 of the Code Conduct) they must not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must leave the room.


NB Any member needing clarification must contact Legal Services at Please refer to the guidance on disclosures at the rear of this agenda letter.


Councillor Oliver declared a personal and?non-prejudicial?interest in item 6.1 Northumberland Climate Change Update as he was a member of the Climate Change Steering Group.


Councillor Gallacher declared a personal and?non-prejudicial?interest in item 6.1 Northumberland Climate Change Update as he was a member of the Climate Change Steering Group.



To note the latest Forward Plan of key decisions.  Any further changes made to the Forward Plan will be reported to the Committee.


The Committee considered the Forward Plan of key decisions (October 2021 to January 2022).  (Schedule enclosed with the signed minutes).


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator reported that the Kerbside Glass Collection Trial Update had been deferred to the meeting of Cabinet in November and would therefore be included on the agenda for this Committee on 27 October 2021.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


The Committee were advised that the following report would be considered by the Cabinet on 12 October 2021.  Members were requested to comment on the proposals in the report.


Integrated Domestic Abuse Services for Northumberland – Permission to Tender pdf icon PDF 162 KB

To seek permission to go to the market to commission a range of services to provide an Integrated Domestic Abuse Service for Northumberland which will allow the Council to meet its statutory duties.  The length of contracts will be 2 years, with an option to extend for a further 2 years.


The report sought permission to go to the market to commission a range of services to provide an Integrated Domestic Abuse Service for Northumberland which would allow the Council to meet its statutory duties.  The contract length was for 2 years, with an option to extend it for a further 2 years.  (A copy of the report is attached to the signed minutes.)


Wendy Pattison, Portfolio Holder for Adults’ Wellbeing, with Mary Connor, Head of Early Help, Prevention and Support, Judith Keepin, Commissioning Manager and Lesley Pyle, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Co-ordinator, Children’s Services presented the report to the Committee.


The Committee were informed that the Domestic Abuse Act had come into force in April 2021 and placed new duties on Local Authorities including:


·        Provision of safe accommodation and support for victims of domestic abuse and their children.

·        Establish a local Domestic Abuse Partnership Board which was responsible for preparing and publishing a Domestic Abuse Strategy setting out how services would be commissioned to meet the needs of Northumberland residents and the LAs duties.


New burdens funding of £641,000 had been allocated by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in addition to core Council funding of £207,000.


A Task Group comprising of internal and external stakeholders had undertaken a need assessment regarding domestic abuse in Northumberland to support the Council’s commissioning intentions.  It was recognised that the bill required longer term commissioning and contracts to provide stability, however funding for years 2 and 3 would not be confirmed until after the annual spending review in the current year.


Key findings from the needs assessment were outlined.  Consultation had been carried out with services providers, stakeholders and services users on proposals for:


·        An integrated Domestic Abuse Support Service

·        Children’s Counselling and Therapeutic and Outreach Support

·        Perpetrator Service

·        Adult Counselling Service

·        Domestic Abuse in Rural Northumberland


The following information was provided in response to questions or issues raised by members:


·        Contact details for Domestic Abuse Support Service Northumberland (DASSN) were available on the Council’s website.  These would also be sent to Councillor Cartie following the meeting.

·        Provision for access to interpreters for individuals from minority groups would be made explicit within the contract for the Integrated Domestic Abuse service.

·        The proposals would increase and build on existing provision which would follow the model introduced in 2018 which introduced a single point of contact for all levels of risk.  Provision and support for children would be included as well as expanding capacity and resources to support more people.

·        The ages specified in lots 1 and 3 were derived from definitions from the Home Office and more recently within the Domestic Abuse Act.

·        It was recognised that some young people or children also posed a risk.  Provision of support to parents and children was included within the proposals.  The issue had also been identified as an item for consideration by a sub-group of the Domestic Abuse Partnership Board with multi-agency partners to identify a pathway and response.  Staff were trained  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.



Northumberland Climate Change Update pdf icon PDF 361 KB

To provide an update on progress against the Climate Change Action Plan 2021-23, published in January 2021.


The report?provided an update on progress against the Climate Change Action Plan 2021-23, published in January 2021.  (A copy of the report is attached to the signed minutes.)


Matt Baker, Service Director - Climate Change, Business Intelligence and Performance, gave highlighted a number of areas within the report including:


·        Grants of £8 million had been received to date to make improvements to the Council’s estate and also assist residents earning less than £30,000.

·        A 50% reduction in carbon emissions had been achieved ahead of the 2025 target, although a fall in business miles during the Covid 19 pandemic had contributed.  The contribution made by colleagues in other departments, particularly Local Services, was acknowledged.

·        There had been an 8% reduction in emissions across the county based on 2019 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) data.  This compared favourably to other Local Authorities where the average was 3.5%.  It was difficult to assess whether the Council was ‘on target’ due to the complexity of calculations, but it was making good progress.

·        Implementing climate change at the centre of key decisions in policy, planning, procurement and performance:

·        Use of carbon impact assessments and mitigations, if required.

·        Updating the next version of the local plan to align to net zero plan.

·        Assessment of net zero credentials of third parties.

·        Implementation of a robust reporting process for climate change, setting specific targets for each service.

·        Involving Members with their contacts with community groups and town and parish councils to create a coherent plan for climate change.

·        Regular reporting to the Communities & Place OSC to increase visibility and transparency and improve the county and opportunities for all residents.


The following information was provided in answer to questions from members:


·        The Net Zero Investment Strategy set out the approach and framework to assist the region to become net zero.  It contained 4 themes:

-       natural resources

-       generating supply and storing energy

-       changing fabric of homes and communities

-       moving around and through the county.

·        The impact of the economy, jobs and skills on climate change was to be considered and opportunities where the county could become a leader.

·        Net Zero considered the balance between carbon dioxide emissions and natural biodiversity assets which captured carbon.  The county benefitted from natural assets such as trees and peat and an audit was being undertaken to calculate sequestration potential of peat.

·        Officers were working with planning to update policies which were not climate change friendly.  Examples given included the requirement to obtain planning permission where more than one ground source heat pump was required due to the size of a property, and not required in other LA areas, or prevented an EV charging point in a conservation area.  The Climate Change Team were now a consultee on all planning applications that could impact on climate change.

·        Performance data could be presented every 6 months given the complexities and time required to collect data.

·        The opportunity to look at specific aspects of climate change in more detail  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23a


NE Bus Service Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 403 KB

To receive a presentation from Neil Easton, Public Transport Manager on progress developing the NE Bus Service Improvement Plan.


The Committee received a?presentation from?Neil Easton,?Public Transport Manager?on progress developing the NE Bus Service Improvement Plan.  (A copy of the presentation is enclosed with the minutes.)?


The powerpoint presentation included information on:


·        The strategic importance of buses in the region.

·        Maps which demonstrated the fully commercial bus network and also the fully or partly subsidised bus network.

·        The impact of Covid-19 on bus services in Northumberland on passenger patronage and revenue.

·        Future funding of the bus network: requirement for enhanced partnerships between LAs and providers and production of a Bus Service Improvement Plan to obtain future funding from 1 April 2022 onwards.

·        Bid to be submitted by Transport NE (the LA7 authorities) for a share of £3 billion funding.

·        Requirements of the Department for Transport (DfT) to bid for additional funding post March 2022.

·        Vision for buses, the ‘Ten Solutions’.

-       A £1 flat fare for under 19-year-olds.

-       A £5 multi operator flat daily fare.

-       Increased frequency of bus services and extending services in morning and evenings, particularly in rural areas.

-       Improvements in information (real time in high footfall areas) and quality of vehicles. Better lighting and mobile cameras at bus shelters to improve safety and make passengers feel safe.

·        Delivering the LA7 Transport Plan commitments.


He explained that the DfT deadline for the submission of the bid had not enabled them to engage with Town and Parish Councils or communities on the proposals and therefore sought members input.


Whilst the proposals included all of the aspirations for Northumberland, there would be uncertainty regarding the prioritisation of schemes if the bid was not fully funded.  The case would need to be made to highlight the rural agenda and initiatives that benefitted Northumberland.


Members welcomed the ambitious plans for Northumberland.  The following comments were made:


·        The introduction of a fixed daily cost was supported.

·        Live tracker information used on services in other areas made travelling by bus an easy method.  Other advantages included flat fares and wifi.  Individual apps for the different bus companies worked well however the bid included a proposal for a combined app.  Real time information was also required as some residents did not have the ability to access mobile phone apps.

·        Whether the age limit for young person flat fare of £1 could be increased to 21 for those students continuing full-time education.  Proposals for a reduced fare were included in the bid for 19–25-year-olds to include college and university students, apprentices and in recognition that many first jobs were not well paid.

·        The potential impact of flat fares on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line.  It was acknowledged that this could impact on service frequency in those areas.  However, they were currently well served with some having 10-minute intervals.  Use of ENCTS passes on the Northumberland line was proposed.

·        Future of Blyth bus station.  Discussions were being held with Arriva regarding purchase of the facility and relocation of the bus station to the market square and relocation of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23b



Communities and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 124 KB

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee operates within a work programme which is agreed at the start of the Council year.  The programme is reviewed at each meeting so that it can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Committee and take account of any changes to the latest Forward Plan (which outlines decisions to be taken by the Cabinet).  The Committee is asked to review and note its work programme for the 2021/22 council year.


The Committee reviewed its work programme for the 2021/22 council year.  (Report enclosed with the signed minutes).


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator reported that:


·        An annual report on the Domestic Abuse Implementation Plan be added.

·        The next Climate Change update would incorporate the issues discussed earlier in the meeting.

·        The Fire and Rescue report was likely to be postponed to a later meeting to coincide with the Inspection report.

·        Information on bulky waste charges be included within the Local Services update with Neighbourhood Services and Highways maintenance.

·        A briefing note was to be circulated to committee members on the outcome of Local Nature Recovery Strategy Pilot in the next few weeks.


RESOLVED that the work programme be noted.