Venue: Committee Room 1, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions
Contact: Fiona Cameron Democratic Services Officer
The Minutes of the meeting of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 22 May 2017 are attached, and Members are asked to confirm them as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 May 2017 were confirmed as a correct of the meeting, and signed.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
To receive apologies for absence and note substitutions.
There were no apologies for absence.
Cllr Ross Welland was in attendance.
DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS
To receive from Members declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with Waverley’s Code of Local Government.
The Deputy Chairman informed the Committee that he was also the Vice-Chairman of the Surrey County Council Environment and Infrastructure Select Committee, which had some cross-over with matters in the remit of Waverley’s Environment O&S Committee.
The Chairman to respond to any questions submitted by members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.
The deadline for submission of written questions for this meeting is 5pm on Monday 26 June 2017.
The Committee received the following questions in accordance with Procedure Rule 10, from Godalming Town Councillor Steve Cosser:
“Overview and Scrutiny Committees have been assigned two important roles and responsibilities within the statutory framework for local government in England. The first of these is to review and challenge where necessary decisions made by the Executive function within Councils, and the second is to review more generally policies of the council and to suggest alternatives.
I should like to ask the Committee to exercise both these functions in respect of the recent financially driven closures of public toilets in Godalming and Farncombe and more generally in respect of the Council’s failure to have in place any clear policy in respect of public toilet provision across the Borough.
I should like to ask that the Committee in undertaking this work to consider in particular, but not exclusively, the following points:-
1. The health and quality of life impacts that toilet closures have on residents and visitors to the borough.
2. The need for non resident but key community members such as police and ambulance staff, taxi drivers, market traders etc to have access to public toilets
3. The need to ensure that any policy looks at the disproportionate adverse impact the lack of public toilet provision has on vulnerable groups such as the elderly, disabled and incontinent and also on those with responsibility for young children and considers the failure of the Council to provide any evidence, despite my written requests, that it complied with its statutory duties under the Equalities legislation before taking its decision to close the toilets in Godalming and Farncombe.
4. The adverse impact of the closure decision on other policies of the Council, of town councils and of community groups such as the significant work done by Godalming Town Council and the Farncombe Initiative to encourage residents to use their local town and village centres and to put on periodic events attracting large numbers of residents and visitors where sufficient public toilet provision is essential.
5. Exploration of innovate ways to continue to provide toilet facilities in the future, potentially, where possible, making use of existing toilet sites for other commercial purposes and using some of the proceeds for alternative toilet provision. Consideration also to be given to payment by the public for use of the toilet facilities.
6. The additional costs incurred elsewhere by the council and other bodies as a result of closure e.g. increase in environmental cleaning costs.
Finally, can I please ask that in undertaking its work the Committee consider the importance of hearing the views of both national groups such as Public Toilets UK who have extensively researched these issues and relevant local councils and community groups.
Godalming Town Councillor
Chairman, Farncombe Initiative”
The Chairman thanked Mr Cosser for his question and referred the Committee to the response from Officers, which had been sent to the Committee and Mr Cosser prior to the meeting:
The decision to close ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To assist the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee in understanding the role of Environmental Services by providing an overview of the service and set the scene for the following items on the Committee’s agenda.
It is recommended that Members note the report.
NB. Introductions to other service areas that fall within the remit of the Environment O&S Committee (Planning; Parks, Countryside and Open Spaces) will be given at future meetings.
Damian Roberts, Strategic Director for Frontline Services, and Richard Homewood, Head of Environmental Services, gave a presentation providing an introduction to the services falling within Waverley’s Environmental Services team.
A copy of the presentation is attached to these Minutes.
Environmental Services – including waste and recycling collection, car parks - were some of the most visible that the Council provided: through the waste and recycling collection service, there was contact with every household in the Borough, every week. Other services, such as Environmental Health and Emergency Planning, had a lower day-to-day profile, but provided important regulatory and contingency planning roles that came into focus in response to specific situations.
The Joint Enforcement Initiative (JEI) aimed to provide a more visible and robust response to environmental enforcement and anti-social behaviour, working in partnership with Surrey Police, Surrey County Council, the DVLA and Environment Agency. There had been a good response from the public to the launch of the JEI, with referrals being made about matters of concern. The transfer of certain enforcement powers from the police to local authorities represented a cultural change, and the Council was developing a more proactive approach to issuing warning letters and Community Protection Orders, and would be exercising powers to issue fixed penalty notices in relation to fly-tipping and littering. A consultation on the implementation of Public Space Protection Orders in relation to dog-fouling and anti-social behaviour would be coming forward.
In response to Members’ questions, Richard advised that ward councillors played an important role in intelligence gathering locally and passing information to officers about matters of concern. With regards to Emergency Planning, some parish councils had already made progress in developing their local resilience plans. IT was important that Waverley engaged with all the parishes to understand their contingency plans and how they fit with Waverley’s plans.
Cllr Byham advised that in Bramley there were efforts to regenerate the Neighbourhood Watch initiative, and there were some interesting developments using phone applications to enable reporting.
Cllr Hunter commended the good work done by Environmental Sciences, but voiced his disappointment that this did not include keeping open the public toilets in Godalming and Farncombe. The Chairman accepted the point that was being made, and reminded the Committee that this would be referred to the Community Wellbeing O&S Committee to consider.
The Chairman noted that the remit of the Committee covered some very major issues for the Council, and suggested that there might be some matters that could be overseen by one or more of the other O&S committees. For example, would the Joint Enforcement Initiative sit better with Community Wellbeing? And, Emergency Planning with Customer Service & Value for Money? The Scrutiny Officer suggested that the O&S Co-ordinating Board might want to consider this matter.
Cllr Foryszewski thanked officers for their presentation and suggested that there was some proactive work the Committee could do to understand the potential impact on Waverley of Surrey County Council’s proposals to reduce the services provided at Community ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
This report provides an update on Air Quality issues in Waverley, which has been requested by the Committee.
It is recommended that Members receive the report and its findings and welcome the proposals for the development of the Air Quality Steering Group.
Richard Homewood introduced the report updating the Committee on current issues in relation to Air Quality management in Waverley.
Waverley’s 2016 Annual Status Report (ASR) had now been published following sign-off and positive appraisal by DEFRA. The report fulfilled the Council’s commitment to the continuing Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) process and provided an annual update of recent air quality issues in Waverley including an update on air quality in the Borough obtained from its monitoring results during 2015.
The 2016 ASR indicated that in general there had been an overall improvement in the measured NO2 concentrations across the borough in 2015, including within the two Air Quality Management Areas (in Godalming and Farnham). There were no measured exceedances of the short term NO2 objective or the annual mean or 24-hour PM10 objective at the automatic monitoring sites.
There were no measured exceedances of the annual mean NO2 objective within the Godalming AQMA. However, the annual mean NO2 objective had been exceeded at three of the diffusion tube sites in Farnham: two of the measured exceedances were within the Farnham AQMA, in The Borough; a third diffusion tube site, in Wrecclesham Road, outside the existing AQMA measured slightly in excess of the annual mean objective for NO2 but, when this was corrected for distance to the nearest residential property, the concentration fell below the objective.
Cllr Hyman advised that the 2016 ASR had indicated the scale of the air quality problem in Farnham had reduced, but locally the view was that this was an anomaly related to the wrong bias factor having been used, and the 2017 ASR was expected to show that pollution levels were worse than indicated in the 2016 ASR.
Since publication of the 2016 ASR, a challenge had been received in relation to the ‘bias factor’ used in the report to correct for interference impacting on diffusion tube readings. The choice of bias factor used had been consistent with the recommendations in government technical guidance on local air quality management, and had been signed-off by DEFRA.
The 2017 ASR was being drafted and would be released as soon as possible.
In line with government air quality management policy, the establishment of an Air Quality Steering Group for Waverley had been approved, and an inaugural meeting was being arranged as soon as possible. The Steering Group would bring together key stakeholders able to take action to improve air quality, notably, the County Council in its capacity as County Highway Authority. The poor air quality in Farnham was largely traffic-related and the Steering Group would provide the right forum to raise the level of engagement by the County Council and press for traffic management and transport infrastructure solutions alongside behavioural changes.
Cllr Edwards, Portfolio Holder for Environment, acknowledged that air quality in Farnham was a major issue for the Council, and the Air Quality Steering Group would have an important role in moving forward on the Action Plan with partners.
Cllr Byham reminded ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Waste, Recycling and Street Cleansing Services in Waverley are currently provided by Veolia Environmental Services under a contract which ends in October 2019. At its meeting on 17 January the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee supported a proposed in depth scrutiny review of the current service and options for its future provision. This report sets out the proposed review process and seeks Members approval of that process.
That Members support the proposed formation of a Task Group and the proposed review methodology using the support of consultants with waste expertise.
Richard Homewood introduced his report, which reminded the Committee of the need to begin the re-procurement of the waste and recycling collection and street cleansing contract. The new contract would need to start in October 2019. Up to 15 months would be required for the options review and procurement, with 6 months allowed for mobilisation of the new contractor.
The Committee had already agreed in principle to setting up a Task & Finish Group to explore the options around the type of service to be procured, the way in which the service might be provided, and the affordability. The Task & Finish Group would be supported by the Council’s consultant, and it was proposed to hold three meetings each covering the main themes of the review. The aim was for the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee to agree its recommendations to the Executive at its meeting in November 2017.
The procurement options had been complicated by changes in recycling disposal and financial arrangements with Surrey County Council; and market intelligence indicated that contract costs had increased compared to 2012, so affordability would be a major issue to be considered.
The Committee members were pleased that O&S was to be involved at an early stage in reviewing the options for the waste and recycling arrangements going forward, although there were some reservations that this might compromise the ability to scrutinise the service in future. Officers reassured members that policy development and pre-decision scrutiny were legitimate roles for O&S, and the Committee would only be making recommendations to the Portfolio Holder, not making the final decision.
The Chairman asked members who would like to be on the Task & Finish Group, and the Committee agreed that the membership would be Cllrs Maurice Byham, Mary Foryszewski, Peter Isherwood and Nick Williams, with Cllr Williams chairing the Task & Finish Group.
Street Cleansing Services in Waverley are currently provided by Veolia Environmental Services. This report outlines how the performance they provide is monitored and managed against the specification in the contract.
That Members note the report and request officers to develop proposals for a possible relaunch of the ‘Street Watch’ scheme.
Richard Homewood introduced the report on monitoring of the performance of the current street cleaning contract in Waverley. The accompanying presentation is attached to these minutes.
Street cleaning services were currently provided by Veolia Environmental Services, as part of the Waste, Recycling and Street Cleaning contract. There was a Code of Practice on standards of cleanliness, issued under the Environmental Protection Act, that defined the standards expected in different types of locations and under different circumstances. The contract performance standards for street sweeping required over 90% pass rate on inspection; there were also standards for litter-bin emptying (no more than 75% full), and graffiti and fly-tipping removal (within 2 working days). The speed with which failed inspections had to be remedied depended on the location and reflected the overall “traffic” on the street.
Waverley had two full time equivalent contract monitoring officers who dedicated a significant amount of their time to monitoring street cleaning performance against the contract targets across the borough by physically inspecting a random sample of streets that had been cleaned in the previous week. The monitoring team also responded to feedback from the public on cleanliness issues in their locality. The number of complaints typically increased in autumn and winter, when accumulations of fallen leaves became an issue and litter on verges became more visible.
Given the large geographical area of the borough and the Council’s limited resources for inspections, and the current level of public interest in maintaining the street scene, officers were keen to explore how residents’ feedback might be enabled in a more structured way. Waverley had previously operated a ‘Street Watch’ scheme, but it had not been well supported and added little value. However, there was a sense that this scheme could be refreshed and re-launched, with training provided for volunteers on the standards in the code of practice and the requirements of the contract.
Committee members were very supportive of harnessing the enthusiasm and interest of local residents to support the work of the Council. Many parish councils already organised litter-pick events that were well supported. Officers were asked if there was a phone app that might be used to enable the public to report issues when they were out and about, rather than having to phone or wait until they got home.
Cllr Byham had some reservations about how regularly litter bins were inspected, and how much excess litter was removed from them. Cllr Byham also felt it would be appreciated if councillors had a named contact they could call within the team, rather than having to report in via the public customer service phone line.
Officers appreciated the support from the Committee, and noted the suggestion from Cllr Byham to look at the Trygve app. There was a lot of work in progress to improve the functionality of the Waverley website for mobile phones and tablets, and development of apps could be the next generation of improvements.
The Committee thanked officers for clarification on the street cleaning performance management ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
The first part of this report provides an analysis of the Council’s performance in the fourth quarter of 2016/17 for services that fall within the remit of Environment O&S: Planning and Environment. Annexe 1 to the report details performance against key indicators.
Annexe 2 gives outturn performance on the Service Plan objectives for 2016/17.
The second part of this report serves as a discussion item and asks the Committee to consider their future requirements on performance monitoring.
It is recommended that the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee:
1. Considers the performance figures for Quarter 4 as set out in Annexe 1, and agrees any observations or recommendations about performance and progress towards targets it wishes to make to the Executive; and
2. Considers how performance monitoring should be achieved in 2017/18, and agrees a way forward.
Nora Copping, Policy & Performance Officer, introduced the Performance Management report for the 4th quarter of 2016/17 and the full 2016/17 performance out-turn.
The Planning Service had performed well in the 4th quarter, and performance in 2016/17 overall had improved compared to 2015/16. The indicators for Planning would be updated for 2017/18 to reflect the revised ‘criteria for designation’ introduced by the Government as part of the Improving Planning Performance initiative.
Performance in Environmental Services had been mixed with three indicators missing their targets:
· the tonnage of residual household waste collected had continued to rise in the 4th quarter, and was significantly higher than in 2015/16. Officers were working with the Surrey Waste Partnership on several promotion campaigns to encourage more recycling.
· the average number of missed bins had exceeded the target, and was slightly higher than in the 3rd quarter, but performance in the second half of the year had been significantly better than in quarters 1 and 2, and reflected the pressure from officers on the contractor to improve performance.
· compliance with contract targets for litter and detritus had fallen in the 4th quarter due to staffing issues on the contractor side which had now been resolved.
The Committee discussed how they should receive performance monitoring information in future, and noted that the Community Wellbeing and Customer Service O&S committees had asked to receive exception reports only on a quarterly basis plus an annual outcome-focussed report.
The Committee felt that for monitoring performance of front-line services it was important to receive information in a timely way, and regular reporting helped provide context. It was also important to highlight good performance to counteract negative perceptions of the council.
In response to questions, officers confirmed that so far there had been no prosecutions for fly-tipping. CCTV had been installed in key locations, but it was very difficult to gather sufficient evidence to mount a successful prosecution.
Members encouraged officers to include councillors in communications about recycling campaigns as many were in a position to reinforce the message via town and parish councils. The change in policy regarding use of plastic bags as food caddy liners had caused some confusion, and it was helpful for members to understand the background in order to respond to questions.
The Committee noted the performance for Planning and Environmental Services and was satisfied that where indicators were below target, appropriate action was being taken. Members also commended the waste and recycling service, which they were very satisfied with from a customer perspective.
The Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee, along with the O&S Co-ordinating Board, is responsible for managing the Committee’s work programme.
The current work programme (attached) includes items agreed at the O&S Co-ordinating Board and takes account of items identified on the latest Executive Forward Programme (Annexe 2) as due to come forward for decision.
Members are invited to consider their work programme and make any comments and/or amendments they consider necessary, including suggestions for any additional topics that the Committee may wish to add to its work programme.
The Committee noted the forward programme, and the items expected to come forward in September. The Committee asked for an update on the planning corporate priorities at the next meeting, and also an update on air quality including the 2017 Annual Status Report.