Purpose of the report: Scrutiny of Services and Budgets/Performance Management/Policy Development and Review
Since the last report on this subject which came to the Committee on 15th December 2014 further detailed negotiations have taken place with Surrey Wildlife Trust which have resulted in the proposed changes to the Agreement between Surrey County Council (SCC) and Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT). Some of these changes are still being negotiated and therefore this report principally focuses on the proposed changes relating to property and woodland.
Lisa Creaye-Griffin, Countryside Group Manager
Rod Edbrooke, Countryside Partnerships Team Leader
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Countryside Group Manager outlined the report and informed the Committee of the aim to reduce Surrey County Council (SCC) contribution to the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) to zero by 2021. The Committee were informed that an annual report on the SWT agreement would come to this Committee for review. The final agreement would be signed off by April 2016.
2. The Committee discussed the need for detail in the annual report and facts and figures around SCC assets run by the SWT. Officers informed the Committee that a first draft would be ready for the task group and more detail by June.
3. There was a discussion around repairs that need to be done to SCC owned buildings that are run by the SWT and officers informed the Committee that a schedule of repairs had been drawn up that needed to be finalised as part of the agreement. Members highlighted paragraph 6 on page 34 of the Agenda and questioned why the terms of the lease had not been updated following the Cabinet Agreement to the supplemental lease in 2010.
4. One Member asked if SCC could back out of the agreement should they wish. Officers informed the Committee that the agreement allows SCC to back out should SWT default on their KPI’s, or SWT are able to serve one year’s notice if they can no longer afford to manage the Countryside Estate.
5. It was explained that a strategic woodland management plan would be ready by December 2015. By this date officers should be able to tell how much income could be generated from the woodland.
6. Members questioned whether SCCs estate managers had financially assessed the SWT ran estate. Officers informed the Committee that there had not been a full internal assessment of the SWT estate.
7. One Member expressed concerns about the agreement with regards to financial return on investment and the need for qualified staff.
8. The Committee discussed the monitoring of Key Performance Indicators and questioned when these would begin. Officers informed the Committee that they begun in 2002.
9. The Committee discussed the level of detail in the report and agreed there was a need to scrutinise the SWT agreement equipped with greater detail before Cabinet on 23 June 2015. Officers agreed to liaise with the Chairman of the Committee as to when would be the best time for the SWT agreement to come back and to inform Members accordingly; this was put to vote with all Members in agreement.
Actions/Further information to be provided:
· For the Chairman of the Committee to liaise with the Cabinet Member for Environment as to the best time for the item on the SWT agreement, contract variation to come back to Select Committee.
· For the Scrutiny Officer to inform Members of the Committee as to when the SWT agreement will come back to the Committee for discussion.