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 3 July 2017 are attached, and Members are asked to confirm them as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 July 2017 were confirmed as a correct of the meeting, and signed.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
To receive apologies for absence and note substitutions.
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Peter Isherwood.
Cllr Ross Welland attended as a substitute.
Cllr Brian Adams, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Cllr Jim Edwards, Portfolio Holder for Environment, and Cllr John Williamson, Chairman of the Value for Money & Customer Service O&S Committee were also present.
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.
Cllr David Hunter declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to Item 8, Grounds Maintenance Re-tendering Arrangements, as Glendale is a customer of Green Plan UK Ltd.
Cllr Wyatt Ramsdale declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to Item 10, Impact of SCC proposals for changes to services at Community Recycling Centres, as he is Vice-Chairman of the Surrey County Council Environment and Infrastructure Select Committee.
The Chairman to respond to any questions submitted by members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.
The following question had been submitted by Mr David Cooper of Farnham:
My question is relevant to three (3) issues in the agenda papers 1. Brightwells 2. Air Quality and 3. the Local Plan. Each of these depends upon assumptions that Crest Nicholson’s East Street pedestrianisation scheme for Farnham is practicable and that suitable alternative routes exist for displaced traffic. It should be noted that the historic core of Farnham is unique and unlike other local market towns such as Godalming and Alton, cannot allocate subsidiary inner relief-roads to take displaced town-centre traffic.
WBC adopted its Air Quality Action Plan in 2008 with its main measure being Option 2b of the Scott-Wilson Farnham Review Study. This specifically included CNS’s pedestrianisation plans - plus two (2) other Farnham Town centre ‘roadspace reallocation’ measures - all of which were subject to feasibility studies.
Nine (9) years later, the likely consequences of CNS’s proposed network changes - and the necessary extra traffic phase at the main Royal Deer signals, together with CNS's construction traffic proposals - have still not been modelled and assessed. It seems that the scheme’s accessibility problems remain unresolved.
The Council has previously said that further consents are necessary before the East Street proposals can be progressed. These conditions include Surrey County council’s approval of Road Closure and ‘Stopping Up’ Highways Orders, presumably requiring EIA and public consultation.
Can you please confirm WBC’s obligations and any progress made in this regard, stating which applications/consents or processes are still outstanding and when the assessment(s) and consultation(s) might be expected?'
Mr Cooper was not present at the meeting to ask his question in person.
The following response had been provided to Mr Cooper, and had been published on Waverley’s website.
The East Street planning application (WA/2016/0268) has been implemented and is extant. This followed support for the proposals by the County Highway Authority, as statutory consultee. The permission cannot be fully built out without prior compliance with all the outstanding conditions and the requirements of the S.106 legal agreement and S.278 highway works. This includes outstanding modelling of the Royal Deer Junction, which will need to be completed to the satisfaction of the County Highway Authority. The highway works to this junction have already been approved, together with other works required by the East Street development. Once these works have been implemented, the works will progress to the detailed design of the junction, including any reconfiguration to traffic signals to meet the requirements of the Highway Authority.
It is also to be noted that any subsequent stages of the development requiring approval, would of course be subject to screening for any further likely significant effect requiring an assessment against the EIA Regulations.
The report details the Council’s performance in Quarter 1 of 2017/18 for services that fall within the remit of Environment O&S: Planning and Environment.
Annexe 1 to the report details performance against key indicators.
It is recommended that the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee considers the performance figures for Quarter 1 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.
Nora Copping, Policy & Performance Officer, introduced the Performance Management Report on key performance indicators for the first quarter of 2017/18 (April – June 2017).
The Planning service had performed well against the new suite of Government indicators, with only one indicator (P1) missing its target: 2 out of 501 applications had missed the 26 week target for determination, with one being a particularly complex change of use application and the other where the applicant did not agree to an extension of time.
Members were pleased to see that only 3 out of 11 appeals had been allowed in quarter 1 (P2). It was noted that the definition for P152 and P154 was the number of appeals allowed as a percentage of the number of applications determined (majors and non-majors, respectively), and Members asked for the comments to include a note of how many appeals had been determined.
In the first quarter, there had been 2 major appeals (and none allowed) and 19 major applications determined (P152). There had been 9 non-major appeals (and 3 allowed) and 447 non-major application decisions made (P154).
Environmental Services had performed well overall, although two indicators remained off-target: residual household waste (in kg) per household (NI 191) had improved compared to quarter 4 of 2016/17 and was at a similar level as quarter 1 in 2016/17; the average number of missed bin collections per week remained off target, but had improved considerably over the last 3 quarters and was now consistently below 50 missed bins per 104,000 bin collections each week.
Richard Homewood, Head of Environmental Services, reminded the Committee that 26 missed bins per 104,000 was a contractual indicator, but in practice was very, very challenging. He was pleased that good progress had been made working with the contractor to improve performance on a consistent and sustainable basis. Richard circulated a chart (attached to these minutes) showing the number of missed bins per week over the last 12 months, that clearly showed the improvement. The Committee noted that a ‘missed’ bin was one where the contractor did not return to collect it within the timeframe set out in the contract; a bin collection was not ‘missed’ if the resident had not presented it in time for the collection round. Garden waste (brown) bins were not included in the calculation as this was a subscription service.
Members of the Task & Finish Group undertaking the review of procurement options for the provision of waste and recycling services from October 2019 confirmed that the ‘Red’ indicator misrepresented the very good performance of Waverley’s contractor overall, and the high level of customer satisfaction.
The percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling and composting had increased to over 56%, and had exceeded the target for the first quarter. This was due to high levels of garden waste collected, and also improved food waste collection following a recent promotional campaign: tonnage of food waste collected had increased by 50%. The Committee noted that some residents ... view the full minutes text for item 22.
To receive a presentation from Elizabeth Sims, Head of Planning, on Waverley’s Planning Service (including Planning Enforcement and Building Control), and an update on any findings or recommendations arising from the independent review of the Service.
The Committee received a presentation from Elizabeth Sims, Head of Planning, on the range of services provided by the Planning Service.
The Planning Service provides three key functions: Planning Policy, Development Management (Development Control), and Building Control. Together, these functions provide an end-to-end development management process from strategy through to on-site build.
Whilst it had been a key focus for the work of the Planning Service for a number of years, preparation of a Local Plan was not a statutory requirement, although there were penalties for not having an up to date plan. The development of the draft Local Plan had been a difficult process, but Members were also well aware of the implications of not having an up to date Plan in terms of controlling where and how much development was permitted.
Within the three main teams in Planning:
· Planning policy covers the work on the Local Plan (Parts 1 and 2), Neighbourhood Plans, development of CIL/Section 106, and specialist advice on trees, heritage and design.
· Development control services include providing advice to customers, pre-application advice and surgeries, validation and registration of planning applications, and determination of planning and other applications. The majority of planning applications were determined under delegated powers. Development Control also handles planning appeals, post-decision discharge of conditions, and planning enforcement.
· Building Control was a statutory function dealing with structural, safety, energy efficiency and access matters. The market had become very competitive in recent years, and a new business plan had been agreed by the Council that addressed the need to invest in the professional skill-base of the team in order to maintain competitive advantage and generate income.
The Strategic Review carried out by Cratus in December 2016 had recommended developing an improvement plan for Development Control so that the need for support to the service and explicit attention to Members’ key concerns could be progressed. An external consultant had been appointed and a review of the Planning Service had been carried out during Spring 2017. The draft report from the consultant had been received and officers and the Portfolio Holder were considering the implications. A Service Plan for Planning would be developed and brought to the Environment O&S Committee for consideration, probably in November 2017.
In response to Members’ questions, the Committee noted that:
· Planning matters often generated strong feelings, which impacted on understanding of why certain decisions were made. Members of the public, whether they were applicants or otherwise interested parties, were encouraged to address specific complaints about the Planning Service through the Council’s complaints process. If they were not satisfied with the outcome the issue could be raised with the Local Government Ombudsman, who would investigate whether the matter had been dealt with in the correct way by the Council. Waverley had a very good record in relation to the outcome of Ombudsman complaints.
· Waverley’s Building Control service currently had a 60% market share of building control work in Waverley, and were proactively working to increase this. As a local authority service, ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
This report provides information on key corporate priorities that fall within the remit of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
It is recommended that the Committee considers whether there are matters in relation to these Corporate Priorities that they would like to add to the Committee forward programme, ensuring that the purpose for scrutiny is clearly defined and any proposal passes the work programme selection criteria flowchart (at Annexe 1 to agenda Item 11).
The Chairman introduced this item by reminding the Committee of the role of Scrutiny in helping to deliver corporate priorities. He invited the Head of Planning, Elizabeth Sims, to provide an update on the corporate priorities that fell within the remit of the Committee.
With regard to the Local Plan Part 1, the Committee noted that whilst the Examination hearings had concluded the Examination itself was still ongoing. The Inspector had found that there were no ‘showstoppers’ within the draft Plan and the overall spatial strategy was acceptable, with no better alternative. However, the housing numbers would need to increase from 519 to 590 homes per year, mostly to accommodate the unmet need of Woking Borough Council. The Inspector had indicated that modifications would be needed in order for the Plan to be found ‘sound’. These had been prepared and noted by the Inspector, and were now open to public consultation. Consultation responses would be collated by Waverley and submitted to the Inspector to consider before issuing his report. It was still hoped that the Council would be able to adopt the Plan in December 2017 or January 2018.
The Head of Planning acknowledged that it had been very difficult for Members and local communities to accept that Waverley would have to take additional housing numbers; but the only way for the Council to retain control over the planning process was to have a sound and up to date Local Plan adopted as soon as possible.
Cllr Adams, Portfolio Holder for Planning, advised the Committee that there was a lot of frustration amongst local planning authorities about the process for allocating housing numbers. The Government had just launched a consultation on measures to reform the planning system to increase the supply of new homes, including a standard method of calculating housing need. Whilst the timing of this meant that the outcomes would be too late to affect Waverley, at least there was recognition that the process was flawed. Critically, housing numbers should be locked down much sooner in the process, and it should not be possible to have significant additional numbers imposed at Examination stage.
Cllr Foryszewski stressed how much communities had been left upset and angry at the last minute increase in housing numbers imposed on Waverley, and it was frustrating that Woking’s unmet need had been an anticipated risk. Whilst she was confident that the modified Plan would be declared sound, it was disappointing that the allocation of the additional housing numbers had not taken advantage of those parish councils that had indicated they could take more houses than allocated. She was sure there would be opportunities to raise this through the public consultation, and at Council. Finally, Cllr Forysewski felt that there needed to be some realism about Dunsfold Park, and the consequences for Farnham and Cranleigh of not including a significant level of development on the site, and she was uncomfortable at the approach of POW and their efforts to have the Secretary of State intervene ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
This report informs the Committee that the Grounds Maintenance contract is approaching the end of the current contract period and that a re-tendering process will be required to ensure continuation of service delivery. In proposing a similar approach to that which is currently underway with other contracts which are approaching renewal, the Environment O & S Committee is invited to establish a Task & Finish Group to investigate and evaluate the options for the future of the contract.
It is recommended that the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee be asked to set up a Task & Finish Group to investigate and evaluate the options for the future of the ground maintenance contract for the Council, and report back to the Portfolio Holder and Executive with recommendations in due course.
The Committee had received a report from Matthew Lank, Greenspaces Manager, providing background information about the need to procure a new Grounds Maintenance contract to commence from October 2019.
The Grounds Maintenance contract covered maintenance of the Council’s green spaces including parks and recreation grounds, sports facilities, countryside sites, housing estates, sheltered housing units, carparks, leased properties, council offices, cemeteries, toilets, pavilions; and Surrey County Council highway verges and road areas (under an agency agreement).
The Committee welcomed the proposal that a Task & Finish Group be established to explore the options available to the Council in relation to the future arrangements. The Members of the Task & Finish Group for the Waste and Recycling contract procurement confirmed that their meetings had been very informative, and as part of looking at the options they had touched briefly on considering grounds maintenance alongside street cleaning. The Committee noted that there would be some benefit to the current Task & Finish Group extending the scope of their work to include the Grounds Maintenance contract.
With the agreement of Cllrs Nick Williams, Maurice Byham and Mary Foryszewski (and subject to the agreement of Cllr Peter Isherwood*), the Committee agreed that the scope of the Waste, Recycling and Street Cleaning Contract Procurement Task & Finish Group be extended to include consideration of the future arrangements for provision of Grounds Maintenance.
It was still intended to take recommendations on the procurement route to the Executive in January 2018, therefore the Task & Finish Group would report to the Environment O&S Committee in November 2017.
*Secretary’s note: Cllr Isherwood subsequently confirmed that he was happy to continue on the Task & Finish Group and to extend the scope of the work to include the future arrangements for grounds maintenance.
Air Quality Update
To receive a verbal update from Richard Homewood, Head of Environmental Services, on the work to review the 2016 Annual Status Report; the publication of the 2017 Annual Status Report; and the launch of the Waverley Air Quality Steering Group.
The Chairman invited Richard Homewood, Head of Environmental Services, to provide an update on matters in relation to air quality monitoring and management.
Richard reported that:
· The Waverley Air Quality Steering Group had held its inaugural meeting on 3 August 2017. The meeting had been very positive, with a good level of engagement from member and officer colleagues from Surrey County Council. The next meeting of the Steering Group would be in October 2017.
· Arrangements were being made to establish a Farnham Air Quality Working Group, which would report to the Steering Group. This working group would provide a forum to engage with local stakeholders – including the Town Council and Chambers of Commerce – who were vital to the development of an action plan to address poor air quality in Farnham town centre.
· Waverley’s air quality monitoring report for 2016 (the 2016 Annual Status Report [2016 ASR]) had been subject to a challenge in relation to the ‘bias factor’ used. Whilst the 2016 ASR had been signed-off by DEFRA without comment, Waverley had engaged consultants to review the data and advise the Council in further discussions with DEFRA.
· Waverley’s 2017 ASR, which reported on 2016 monitoring data, had been drafted and sent to DEFRA for validation. Whilst the intention had been to publish the draft report, this had been delayed until the challenge to the methodology of the 2016 ASR had been resolved and assurances could be given about the accuracy of the data in the 2017 ASR.
The Chairman was disappointed about the delay in publishing the 2017 ASR, but the matter was complicated and it was important that the data reported was accurate and credible.
Damian Roberts, Strategic Director of Frontline Services, advised that the work on the 2016 and 2017 ASRs would be concluded as soon as possible, and a full update would be provided at the Committee’s November meeting.
Cllr Foryszewski advised that an air quality working group had been established in Cranleigh, and would report to the Steering Group in due course.
On 26 September 2017, Waverley issued the following press statement:
“Air Quality Update
An independent assessment of the Waverley Borough Council 2016 Air Quality Report has now been concluded and has shown that the bias factor used by the council is incorrect.
A subsequent investigation by the council has led us to believe that the data from January 2016 to September 2017 is wrong.
The council is immediately starting a comprehensive audit of our air quality monitoring and reporting arrangements, as well as ensuring that the data is correct from now on. We are using an independent auditor, independent air quality and monitoring specialists and DEFRA to assist with this urgent review of our current arrangements.
All borough councillors have been informed today. As part of the review we will be working closely with members of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Audit Committee.
Following the review we will bring forward recommendations to ensure that our processes are enhanced ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
Surrey County Council (SCC) has now concluded its consultation on proposals to save money by making changes to services at Community Recycling Sites. A copy of Waverley’s response to the consultation, which drew on input from Members, is attached. This highlights the principle concerns about the potential impacts of the County Council’s proposals.
A report on the outcome of the consultation will be considered by a Special Meeting of the SCC Environment & Infrastructure Select Committee on 7 September. A copy of the report is attached for information, along with the summary of the response to the public consultation on the proposals (Annexe 2 of the SCC report).
The final decision on the changes to be implemented will be taken by the SCC Cabinet on 26 September.
Taking account of the observations of the SCC Select Committee and recommendations to the SCC Cabinet, the Committee may want to consider what the likely impacts/risks might be for Waverley, and what actions Waverley might want to take in mitigation.
The Committee noted that Surrey County Council (SCC) had now concluded its consultation on proposals to save money by making changes to services at its Community Recycling Centres (CRCs). A copy of Waverley’s consultation response, that drew on the input of Members from across the Borough and summarised the main concerns, had been circulated with the agenda.
The principle concern was that restrictions to the services at the CRCs would lead to an increase in fly-tipping of unwanted materials. Whilst SCC had reported that tonnages of fly-tipped material had decreased since restrictions were first introduced at CRCs in September 2016, the number of incidents of fly-tipping in Waverley had increased and the tonnage was being under-reported at the disposal site.
The proposed closure of Cranleigh CRC had been vigorously opposed locally, with the objections centring on the distance to alternative sites (over 10 miles to either Guildford or Witley), and the withdrawal of facilities at a time when Cranleigh was experiencing an unprecedented level of housing development.
Cllr Ramsdale, who was Vice Chairman of SCC’s Environment & Infrastructure Select Committee (as well as Vice Chairman of Waverley’s Environment O&S Committee) was invited to update the Committee on the outcome of the SCC Select Committee’s consideration of SCC’s proposals in light of the outcome of the public consultation.
Cllr Ramsdale reminded the Committee that the proposals put forward in the consultation were:
· Permanent closure of four smaller CRCs – Bagshot, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham.
· Ending the free daily allowance of non-household waste.
· Closing CRCs on two weekdays so all sites are open for five days a week.
· Restricting users of vans, trailers and pick-ups to larger CRCs only.
· Ensuring CRCs in Camberley and Farnham are only used by Surrey residents.
The consultation had generated one of the largest ever responses to a SCC consultation (13,637), with approximately half of respondents saying that they used one of the CRCs selected for closure.
As a result of the consultation responses, the recommendations to be considered by their Cabinet on 26 September had been revised:
· the CRCs at Bagshot, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham to remain open, to closed for part of the week from January 2018.
· a strategic network of CRCs to remain open for seven days a week; other sites to be closed for up to two weekdays from January 2018.
· the free daily allowance of chargeable waste from the construction, alteration or repair of homes and gardens such as rubble, plasterboard and soil to cease from December 2017.
· vans and trailers to be excluded from CRCs at Bagshot, Caterham, Cranleigh,
Dorking, Farnham and Warlingham from December 2017.
· non-Surrey residents to be excluded from Camberley CRC. Possible exclusion of non-Surrey residents from Farnham CRC, subject to outcome of further discussions with Hampshire County Council.
· work to continue to progress further efficiency measures at CRCs to achieve the best public value from the network.
· the Surrey Waste Partnership to promote the better use of kerbside services and other waste disposal ... view the full minutes text for item 27.
The Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, along with the O&S Co-ordinating Board is responsible for managing the Committee’s work programme.
The 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.
A Scrutiny Tracker has been produced to assist the Committee in monitoring the recommendations that have been agreed at its meetings. The Tracker details the latest position on the implementation of these recommendations and is attached at Annexe 3.
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 reviewed its forward work programme, and noted that the provisional agenda for November 2017 included:
· Community Infrastructure Levy – Draft Charging Schedule
· Recommendations on Procurement of Contracts (Waste, Recycling, Street Cleaning and Grounds Maintenance)
· Air Quality update
Damian Roberts suggested that it would be timely for the Committee to consider the topic of “place making”, and it was agreed that he would give an introductory presentation to the next Committee meeting.