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Contact: Elizabeth Patterson 01597 826980 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from County Councillors B Davies, S Davies, G Jones, K Laurie-Parry, I McIntosh, J Pugh and G Thomas.
County Councillors R Harris (Portfolio Holder for County Farms) and A Davies (Portfolio Holder for Finance)
Officers: N Morgan (Professional Lead – Strategic Property), H Van-Rees (Estate Manager) and E Patterson (Scrutiny Officer)
Meeting Chaired by Vice-Chair.
Election of Vice-Chair
To elect a Vice-Chair for the ensuing year.
County Councillor D R Jones was elected Vice-Chair for the ensuing year.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members.
A personal and prejudicial interest was declared by County Councillor David Evans who has a relative that tenants a County Farm.
Declarations of Party Whips
To receive disclosures of prohibited party whips which a Member has been given in relation to the meeting in accordance with Section 78(3) of the Local Government Measure 2011.
(NB: Members are reminded that under Section 78 Members having been given a prohibited party whip cannot vote on a matter before the Committee.)
No declaration of Party Whips was received.
To undertake pre-Cabinet scrutiny of the Review of Farms Policy.
Draft Cabinet Report – Review of Farms Policy – v7
Farm Estate Delivery Plan 2018 – v3
Farm Estate Delivery Plan 2018 – 004
Pre-meeting questions and answers
· Draft Cabinet Report – Review of Farms Policy – v7
· Farm Estate Delivery Plan 2018 – v3
· Farm Estate Delivery Plan 2018 – 004
· Pre-meeting questions and answers
The Portfolio Holder introduced the paper explaining that County Farms was a large project which the Council had not paid sufficient attention to. The estate consists of approximately 11,500 acres with around 140 farms. Over 500 acres have been sold in recent years with a decision made to invest the capital receipts in Schools Transformation retaining 10% in the service. This is insufficient.
How is the Estate managed?
Two Officers manage the estate based in Newtown. The majority of the Estate is in Montgomeryshire and is concentrated in the Severn Valley, around Kerry and Caersws with fewer holdings to the west. There has been a broad mix of tenants predominantly beef and sheep with dairy farming decreasing. The average size is around 73 acres with the tenant often owning or renting other land.
What numbers of tenants are working as contractors?
On all but the largest farms tenants rely on other income especially now properties are let on commercial rates (Farm Business Tenancies) instead of Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies which which ties rent to the commercial productivity of the farm.
To what extent is the other income a tenant received taken into account when considering tenders?
When farms are let the viability of applicant’s proposals is examined to ensure that the Council will receive the rental income. Some tenders submitted are not commercially viable. For the majority of farms it is expected that applicants will continue with off-farm employment.
What is the demand for County Farms?
Demand is strong with a recent farm attracting 19 applicants. These are shortlisted and a number of applicants could have made tenants.
The future of farming is changing with a move towards either intensive or environmental farms and changes to the Single Farm Payment. How prepared are the service to support tenants through this challenging period?
It is difficult to be prescriptive because of the current lack of detail on future support payments and indeed market conditions post-Brexit. We are encouraging tenants to look into diversification and will support viable proposals. There are opportunities to diversify but not on the scale that an owner/occupier would be able to undertake. For example diversifying into poultry requires a large capital investment and significant amount of land to spread manure which may not available on County Farms. However, smaller scale diversification such as alternative cropping could be considered.
Why does the report not mention Brexit as a challenge?
Brexit does not feature in the report because the impact is unknown. The service are positively encouraging diversification and this is promoted in newsletters to tenants.
Brexit may be an opportunity as well as a threat. We will add this to the policy to cover both aspects.
Why does the authority have a Farms Estate? It appears the aim is to support new entrants but there is no ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
To receive a verbal update from the Chair of Learning, Skills and Economy Scrutiny Committee.
There was no briefing from the Chair.
The next meeting of Learning, Skills and Economy Scrutiny Committee will be held on 22nd August 2018 and will consider the following items:
Home to School Transport (post consultation)
Update on Virtual Learning and ALN Review
Skills and Employability Strategy
The next meeting of the Learning, Skills and Economy Committee would take place on the 22nd August 2018 to discuss Home to School Transport and Education updates on Additional Learning Needs Review and Virtual Learning.