Agenda and minutes

Contact: Lynn Cain  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests


No declarations of interest were made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 183 KB



that the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 6 October 2020, benreceived and approved as a correct record.


Panel Update and Clarification


The Chairman introduced the item and asked Councillor Jim Blagden, as Vice Chairman of the Scrutiny Panel, to present his update regarding work activity and progress since the last meeting.


The seven Panel recommendations from the last meeting had been successfully submitted and approved at Cabinet on 13 October 2020.


In relation to the specific recommendation regarding options for utilising the ring-fenced ‘Reopening High Streets’ fund, exploratory work had been undertaken to consider the provision of hand sanitiser stations adjacent to the Council’s car park ticketing machines. The station would be foot pedal controlled to enable customers to sanitise their hands both before and after obtaining a parking ticket.  It had also been agreed to purchase a number of non-slip floor signs reminding residents to keep a safe distance.


To conclude, Panel Members were reminded that the consultation article for the Covid-19 Peoples’ Memorial, as published in the latest ‘Ashfield Matters’ booklet, would start arriving on doorsteps from 3 December 2020 accompanied by letters to schools, community groups and other organisation across the District.   It was hoped that the responses would be properly considered at the meeting of the Panel in January 2021.


(Following the update from the Vice Chairman and in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 4 (Order of Business), the Chairman advised the Panel that he was intending to move agenda item 5 (Guidance and Restrictions Update) to agenda item 4 and take it as the next item of business.  Members concurred with this course of action.)


The Scrutiny Research Officer, to give some context to the ever-changing national picture, informed Members that the guidance update contained in the agenda that had been published the previous week, was now out of date and referred only to Tier 3 restriction requirements.


At the point of publication, the District was moving into Tier 3 restrictions but following the announcement on Saturday, 31 October, the country had now entered a further four week national lockdown.  As a result of this an addendum to the agenda had been circulated which outlined the latest Government released guidelines regarding the new restrictions.  Further guidance was also anticipated over the coming weeks.


In relation to the ‘Business Recovery and Support’ item on the agenda, Members were advised that following their request at the last meeting, the Senior Economic Development Officer had included a briefing note in relation to the work and support service being offered as part of the newly formed Business Support Unit.

As previously mentioned by the Vice Chairman, the seven recommendations submitted to Cabinet had been approved and the Panel would be updated regarding their implementation of the next few weeks. 


To conclude, a warm welcome was extended to the business representatives in attendance at the meeting and an acknowledgement that engaging with local communities and businesses was an essential part of the Panel’s role and all views expressed at the meeting would be valuable to the ongoing work of the Panel in achieving its longer term objectives.  


Guidance and Restrictions Update pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Additional documents:


The Council’s Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) gave a brief synopsis of her role as Strategic Lead, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and advised that she attended many multi agency meetings with Nottinghamshire County Council, neighbouring authorities and key partners to ensure a coordinated approach to responding and recovering from the pandemic was achieved.


In relation to the latest national lockdown, some regulations were made available on Tuesday with their consideration through Parliament on Wednesday.


The latest guidance on restrictions included the following:


  • staying at home and only leaving for specific purposes (i.e. work, essential shopping);
  • only meeting one member of another household in open spaces for walk or conversation);
  • designations for non-essential shops to either close or remain open for ‘click & collect’ only;
  • rules for gatherings to take place in certain circumstances (i.e. Remembrance Sunday events).


The Police and local authorities were now equipped with enforcement powers to deal with any individual contravention of the rules by serving fixed penalty notices with a fine of £200 up to a £6,400 maximum.  Fixed penalty notices could also be served upon businesses for any contraventions with fines ranging from £1,000 to £10,000.


Work was ongoing to consider and interpret the new guidelines and any updates would be circulated for clarity once finalised.


Business Grant Support


The Council’s Corporate Finance Manager (and Section 151 Officer) had provided an update regarding the administration of the latest round of business support grant on offer which was read out to the Panel.


A meeting was held nationally the day before to consider the criteria for the latest business support grant funding and details of the finalised scheme would be cascaded to local authorities next week.  A draft scheme for Nottinghamshire had already been drafted so once finalised, Council officers would be working hard to ensure the application process was as easy and as accessible as possible.  Work was also underway to enable applicants to complete the process online and this would be appearing on the Council’s website at the end of next week.  Instructions for using the service would be advertised on all the Council’s social media platforms imminently.


The funding scheme would again have a discretionary element although the criteria for eligibility still needed to be finalised.  It was hoped that this discretionary element could be accessed by sole traders or businesses suffering excessive hardship.  All payments to businesses would be made through the BACS system within three working days.


A brief Member question and answer session took place:






What support is being offered to shops outside of the town centres as many are feeling ignored?

Through the ‘Reopening Town Centres Fund’, 2 Environmental Health Officers, 1 Senior Covid Information Officer and 6 Covid Information Officers have been recruited.  These new officers will be offering ongoing support to all shops and businesses across Ashfield (Theresa Hodgkinson)


The Labour and Conservative parties had just announced they would cease campaigning during the lockdown; would the Ashfield Independent Group be doing  ...  view the full minutes text for item CP.13


Business Recovery and Support pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Additional documents:


The Chairman introduced the item and welcomed the local business representatives to the meeting.  At the last Panel meeting, Members had expressed their desire to hear from local businesses and understand how the pandemic has impacted upon them and how they had adapted their operations to continue to deliver services under tighter restrictions.


To enable any questions to be answered with due insight and to provide an overview of current service provision, the following officers were in attendance at the meeting to contribute to the discussion as required:


Theresa Hodgkinson – Director of Place and Communities

Christine Sarris – Assistant Director, Planning and Regulatory Services

Paul Stoppard – Senior Economic Development Officer


Director of Place and Communities

The last two weeks had proved challenging but the Economic Recovery Plan was being developed at pace and responding as circumstances were changing.  The Council was fortunate to have an expert team of officers expediting the Business Support Grant scheme and the Business Support Unit was now up and running and assisting local and new businesses as required (


The Council had implemented initiatives to endeavour to assist the economic recovery of its town centres and business communities with ongoing funding support, two hour free car parking, promotion of the Kickstart apprenticeship scheme and ongoing support and signposting through the Business Support Unit.  With regard to the Kickstart opportunity, the Council has recently confirmed that it would be creating twenty work placement places for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit, as part of the Government scheme.


Assistant Director, Planning and Regulatory Services

Officers were busy digesting and interpreting the many recent changes in legislation and were dealing with business support requests as quickly as they were able.  The Business Support Unit were in the process of producing an information pack which would be finalised and available by the end of the following week.


The Environmental Health team were extremely busy offering support and guidance in relation the Covid-19 health and safety requirements and the priority was to provide educational support as a first approach, only utilising enforcement powers if absolutely necessary.


Senior Economic Development Officer

The Business Support Unit had been running since September 2020 and had assisted over 224 businesses and had made 41 client introductions. It had taken the form of a ‘triage’ business support service allowing the Council to help people to access the full range of available business support opportunities, including grant funding and facilitating business to business (B2B) introductions, breaking down barriers and securing the assistance they required.


The web pages to support the Unit were currently being developed but the demand for the Council’s Web Team had been extraordinarily high since the outbreak and so a slight delay had inevitably occurred.


Officers were currently looking at a business support CRM system called Evolutive, which would increase the team’s capacity to support local businesses; reaching approximately 30% more clients and a decision would be made for purchasing the system within the next few weeks.  ...  view the full minutes text for item CP.14


Local Government Reorganisation


The Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) gave a brief update to the Panel in relation to the latest position regarding Local Government Reorganisation.


A response to the County Council’s request to allow them to submit proposals for a unitary structure had been received from Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, declining to accede to the request.


Nottinghamshire Chief Executives at a recent meeting had decided to continue with dialogue around proposals for unitary status and over the coming months to contact other authorities to undertake an information gathering exercise to gain an insight into their proposals and objectives for achieving unitary status.  However, nothing would be moving forward in the foreseeable future without further discussions with local Leaders as appropriate.