Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions
Contact: Kimberly Soane Democratic Services Officer
CONFIRMATION OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN
To confirm the Chairman and Vice Chairman at the start of the new council year.
The Committee confirmed Cllr Carole Cockburn, as Chairman, and Cllr Martin D’Arcy, as Vice Chairman, for the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee for the municipal year 2021/2022.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
To receive apologies for absence and note substitutions.
Members who are unable to attend this meeting must submit apologies by the end of Monday 31st May 2021 to enable a substitute to be arranged, if applicable.
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Martin D’Arcy and Brian Edmonds.
Cllr Jerry Hyman attended as a substitute.
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 15th March 2021, and published on the Councils Website, as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 15 March 2021 were confirmed as a correct record of the meeting, and signed.
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.
There were no declarations of interest submitted for this meeting.
QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
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 Monday 31st May 2021.
There were no questions submitted from members of the public.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS
The Chairman to respond to any questions received from Members in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.
The deadline for submission of written questions for this meeting is Monday 31st May 2021.
There were no questions submitted from members.
The Corporate Performance Report provides an analysis of the Council’s performance for the fourth quarter of 2020 - 2021. The report, set out at Annexe 1, is being presented to each of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees for comment and any recommendations they may wish to make to the Executive.
The areas of the report relating to this committees remit are set out under Planning and Economic Development (Pages 25-31) and Environment Services (Pages 32-36).
Environmental & Regulatory Services
Richard Homewood, Head of Environmental and Regulatory Services, gave an overview of the performance of his service for Quarter 4 of 2020/2021. He advised it had been a challenging year dealing with business as usual as well as the extra burdens raised by the pandemic.
The second spike hit the contractor hard with several COVID-19 cases reported which in turn affected the collections. Tonnages of dry mixed recycling, food waste and residual waste had increased due to lockdown which also added pressure to the contractor.
Car Parking income was hit. However, it was pleasing to note that work had continued on the construction of Brightwells multi-storey car park.
The Parking Place Order is being amended to include the car park and the refurbishment of the South Street car park is almost completed.
Environmental Health and Licensing have continued to support and advised businesses throughout the pandemic as well as carrying out ‘business as usual’.
Two licensing reviews have taken place. The Street Trading Policy Review and The Taxi Trading & Private Hire Licensing Policy.
Work has continued towards the Carbon Neutrality Action Plan including EV charging points, cycle shelters and cycle greenways.
A consultation took place for a Public Space Protection Order to address ASB in Godalming and this was presented to Council in April.
The Chairman thanked the team for their hard work over the last year.
Comments and questions raised:
· What the timescales were for responding to missed bins?
It was advised it was 48 hours.
· How do we collect data on street cleanliness?
Planning and Economic Development
Zac Ellwood, Head of Planning and Economic Development, gave an overview of the performance of his service for Quarter 4 of 2020/2021. He advised that like the report above it had been a challenging time for his service.
The team had experienced an increase in planning applications combined with the ongoing testing of the Horizon system and training of staff to use it.
The Development Management Improvement Plan started its roll out with six areas for attention:
· Systems and Processes
· Staff and Structure
· Communications and Engagement
· Customer Focus
· Decision Making
The focus in Q4 had been the first two of these areas.
Two new posts had been recruited to, with a Business & Performance Manager and a Systems & Processes Team Leader now in post. A restructure of the Economic Development Team took place, and this will go live on 21June 2021.
Overall, the performance indicators had remained relatively steady and performance was buoyant.
The number of planning appeals allowed remained under the 30% target and only 3.3% of appeals relating to major applications are upheld. However caution was recommended with this figure as the analysis is done over 2 years plus one quarters figures which could mean it is nearer the 10% allowed. A meeting is to be held with the Planning Advisory Service to get advice.
Pre-App Advice figures are only data at present, but work is being carried out to provide a more ... view the full minutes text for item 61.
ANNUAL REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
To carry out the annual review of the KPIs relating to this committee. (pages 8 & 9 of the agenda pack)
The Committee considered the current KPIs and those changes proposed as set out in the document circulated with the agenda.
There were no changes proposed to the KPIs for Environment and Regulatory Services.
The proposed changes for Planning and Economic Development were set around P151, P153 and P123 to give a bigger picture around the statistics.
Comments by the Committee:
Environment & Regulatory Service KPIs
· What are the issues based around the 15% dis-satisfaction in E NI182?
These statistics are gauged by a survey sent around to businesses once they have been inspected. This means the negative comments are often from businesses who have had issues found on their inspection.
· E NI191 – How do we weigh the waste to get this figure per household?
It is weighed at the point of disposal and divided by the number of households so is an average.
The committee expressed a view that we should aim for perfection and targets should be 100%.
Planning & Economic Development
· P151 (NI) & P153 (NI) – 80% should be 90%.
These figures are National Indicators and are set by Government. We are proposing adding additional indicators to these to give a wider context.
· P4 – 12 weeks is too long, and a 75% target is too low.
It was considered that although we need to set challenging targets they do need to be achievable and within officers resources.
Concern was raised about P7 & 8 being off target and the Government changing the housing number target and when this may be. Zac Ellwood advised this was not on the horizon at present and we were still working towards the 11K target. This was likely to change when we review the Local Plan and consider the actions that come out of the White Paper.
Members were informed that an All Members Briefing was to be held on 21 June on the Planning Improvement Plan and it was hoped everyone would attend. Also an update on LPP2 and the Improvement Plan was scheduled for the September meeting.
GREEN SPACES (POST COVID-19 UPDATE)
To receive a verbal update from the Greenspaces Manager, followed by a discussion.
Ann Hayward, Greenspaces Contract Officer, gave a verbal update on the impact Covid-19 has had on the parks and green spaces.
The committee were advised that Parks & Countryside Officers had experienced an increase in littering of outside spaces over the last year with the footfall and wear & tear increasing also with everyone having to stay ‘at home’ and therefore discovering their local area more.
Parking issues have also been experienced with increased signage having to be put up to keep the parks ‘healthy & clean’. There has been a huge emphasis on communications with advice on respectful use of the open spaces.
One thing that did not help was national promotions of ‘places to visit’ which increase the footfall even more. No seasonal rangers were recruited last year but two were recruited for this year, however, this still left the team two staff members down.
Continental Landscapes implemented a good Covid policy which meant they were able to run a good service keeping the areas clean and tidy.
· Milford suffering from bad littering especially on the common which needs a bin installing.
This will be fed back to the team.
· It had been noted that complaints appear to have increased about ASB on green spaces. It was asked if the officer could confirm this was the case?
Ann Hayward advised that it possibly was the case due to other facilities not being open but that the teams worked closely with the Police and Community Safety Teams to address the issues when they are reported.
· The Committee asked if there were any quantitive measures available on the increase of visitors to areas such as Frensham and the impacts on the bird population?
Vehicle counters were in situ at Frensham and bird surveys had been carried out so this information could be fed back.
PRIORITIES AND VISION FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS
To conduct a question and answer session with the Portfolio Holders for the Environment and Sustainability and Planning Policy, Services and Brightwells.
Cllr Steve Williams, Portfolio holder for Environment & Sustainability, gave an overview of the priorities and vision for the next two years relating to his Portfolio.
He emphasised that biodiversity was key as what we are facing is not just a climate emergency but a climate and ecological emergency. It was agreed this committee had a role in discussing these issues as we push ahead implementing the biodiversity policy and pesticide policy.
There were mixed opinions regarding ‘No Mow May’ which had seen the verges around the borough being allowed to grow up to promote rewilding. Some members welcomed this whereas others felt it looked unkempt and messy. There had also been complaints received where accidents had been narrowly missed due to the lack of visibility where areas had been allowed to grow up.
Cllr Williams advised that we were in the business of making a difference and that it was encouraging that 75% of Councils in the country had declared a climate emergency. With the G7 summit being held in Cornwall it was important the message was delivered to the world leaders that this was a critical issue.
The Committee were reminded of the seven priorities set out in the Carbon Neutrality Action Plan which were:
· Organizational emissions
· Active travel and Air quality
· Energy generation
· Built environment including housing and planning
· Waste & resources
· Land use and adaption
· Supporting and building a green economy
The Committee were advised that we were beginning to investigate feasibility on solar farms, supporting the modal shift in transport from private carbon rich vehicles to public transport zero carbon transport and active travel and finally moving towards zero waste and the elimination of single-use plastics.
The Committee commented on the following areas:
· The apparent lack of progress on the Biodiversity Action Plan
· The lack of consultation with the Committee when policies have come forward.
· The collection of species data to measure improvement as we go forward.
· Balancing biodiversity and the amenity values of green spaces. Action: Mark Mills to schedule an item to debate this issue.
The Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee, along with the O&S Coordinating Board, is responsible for managing the Committee’s work programme.
The current work programme (attached) includes items agreed at the O&S Coordinating 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 Chairman asked the Committee to note the forward work programme. Many items had been postponed and put back to September 2021 due to pressures of the pandemic.
It was hoped that a special meeting would be arranged ‘prior’ to the meeting in September to discuss LPP2 as a stand-alone item. Members were asked to notify either the Chairman or Mark Mills if they identify an item they feel should be discussed by the committee.
· Planning Enforcement Plan
· Further discussion on the KPIs and drill down further into what information is needed to make an informed judgement.
· Air Quality needs to be reported upon at regular intervals as we cannot lose sight of this important matter.
EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC
To consider, if necessary, the following recommendation on the motion of the Chairman:
That pursuant to Procedure Rule 20 and in accordance with Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that it is likely in view of the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items there would be disclosure to them of exempt information (as defined by Section 100I of the Act) to be identified at the meeting.
There were no items to discuss in exempt session so the Chairman closed the meeting.