The meeting received a presentation from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Communications and Transformation and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management on the new Council Strategy.
Members raised questions or commented regarding the following:
Challenges We Face
· In reply to questions asking how the challenges listed on page 6 of the presentation were defined (for example, how was it known that young people were not retained in the District and that Winchester had inequality in mental health wellbeing over and above those the other surrounding towns and also questions related to the changes in technology and its impact on the economy and how the Council would address these), the Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management stated that the evidence was available to support their inclusion and would be contained in an annexe to the strategy.
· It was asked how the Council would work in partnership to address issues such as public transport (with Hampshire County Council) and mental health wellbeing.
· It was suggested that the strategy should be developed through a method plan to be very clear on how the challenges would be responded to. For example, to address the changing pattern of employment within Winchester from the effects of technological change and virtually working (with home working reducing the number commuter of trips per week from Winchester station to London) and also considering the provision of start-up businesses.
Retaining young people in the District
· It was suggested that the strategy needed to define the methods that would be undertaken to attract and retain younger people to the District.
· It was suggested that the strategy required more emphasis on the need for affordable business spaces to retain young people in the area.
· It was suggested that the strategy include reference to key projects such as the Carfax and the Cattle Market sites as part of the Council’s consideration of the wider use of town centre properties and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management stated that this would be given consideration.
· It was suggested that the future of the former River Park Leisure Centre site be the subject of wide consultation and not just with the residents of the Winchester Town area. The Leader and Cabinet Member for Communications and Transformation responded that this would be achieved through the Local Plan process which would be run separately to the consultation on the Council’s Strategy.
· It was suggested that acknowledgment should be made in the strategy of non operational Council resources, such as its offices, landholdings and the Guildhall.
· It was suggested that mention should be included in the strategy of the Council’s staff and this inclusion was agreed by the Leader and Cabinet Member for Communications and Transformation and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management.
· It was commented that the five week period for consultation was too short a period.
· It was commented that the District should be recognised in the strategy as well as the town area.
· That the terminologies of transformation programme and carbon neutral should be defined.
The representatives of TACT commented on:
· The need to take action to balance the Council’s finances in view of challenging budget forecasts.
· The effects of retaining young people in the area on the provision of Council housing, and;
· Economic planning and the allocation of employment land in the Local Plan.
That the content of the Presentation be noted.