Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Patrick Sebastian  0151 691 8424

Items
No. Item

4.

Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest / Party Whip

Members are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.

 

Members are reminded that they should also declare whether they are subject to a party whip in connection with any item(s) to be considered and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the whipping arrangement.

Minutes:

Members were asked to consider whether they had any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.

 

Members were reminded that they should also declare whether they were subject to a party whip in connection with any item(s) to be considered and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the whipping arrangement.

 

No such declarations were made.

 

5.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on 28 March 2017.

Minutes:

Councillor Chris Carubia pointed out that his attendance had not been recorded for the meeting held on 28 March.

 

Resolved – That, subject to the above correction, the Minutes of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 28 March 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

6.

Notice of Motion - Green Belt pdf icon PDF 56 KB

At the meeting of the Council held on 20 March 2017 (minute 152 (1) refers), the attached Notice of Motion, ‘Green Belt’ proposed by Councillor Chris Blakeley and seconded by Councillor Adam Sykes was referred by the Civic Mayor to the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

In accordance with Standing Order 7 (6), Councillor Blakeley has been invited to attend the meeting in order for him to be given an opportunity to explain the Motion.

 

Minutes:

The Chair of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee reported that at the meeting of the Council held on 20 March 2017 (minute 152 (1) refers), the following Notice of Motion proposed by Councillor Chris Blakeley and seconded by Councillor Adam Sykes was referred by the Mayor to this Committee for consideration –

 

 “Council welcomes and supports the Leader of the Council’s resolute commitment to protect Wirral Green Belt when he stated, "I am not prepared to allow our green belt land to be built on. I am resolute about that commitment. It is the jewel in Wirral's crown and greatly valued by our residents."

 

Council recognises the valuable part green belt provides in halting urban sprawl and protecting our much loved green spaces, including Council owned land in Saughall Massie which is under attack from the Fire Service, and the land in Hoylake and West Kirby earmarked for housing and a golf resort.

 

Council therefore resolves to confirm its unconditional guarantee to protect Wirral's green belt and further resolves that it will not release or allow Council owned green belt land to be developed under any circumstances.

 

Council also looks forward to the Housing Bill, giving extra protection to Green Belt as outlined in the Housing White Paper.”

 

Prior to consideration of the matter, the Chair informed the Committee that he had been advised by the Assistant Director: Law and Governance that members should not be discussing particular sites or planning applications, which are for the Planning Committee to decide.

 

The Chair further informed that those members of the Committee who were also on the Planning Committee be reminded that they should not say anything that might be seen as pre-judging any planning application, nor should members of the Planning Committee say anything that might give the impression that they had closed their minds to applications to develop Green Belt sites. In law, development was allowed in special circumstances which had to be considered on a case by case basis.

 

Councillor Blakeley tabled the Motion, and expressed knowledge of the sensitivities of matter at hand and that the purpose of raising this matter was not to debate or discuss specific planning applications, but to extract clarity on the Council’s standing relating to preservation of the Green Belt. He stated that there were currently 20 policies on this particular matter and he believed there was a perceived lack of consistency in the policy application i.e. Council owned sites permitted development where private developers were being refused. He added that it was important to retain the Green Belt due to the shortfall in leisure green space on the Wirral.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Blakeley and opened discussion on the subject.

 

A debate on the motion took place. Members expressed a broad range of views on the policies and planning process and their application to matters of development on the Green Belt. A number of Planning Committee members clarified that their role expressly forbid any pre-decision of, or consideration of, such applications  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Attractive Local Environment for Wirral Residents - Pledge Update

Presentation from the Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Phillip Brightmore and the Lead Commissioner for Environment, Mike Cockburn.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a presentation introduced by Mr Mike Cockburn, Lead Commissioner - Environment. The presentation informed on the Council’s actions with regard to its key strategies that underpin its efforts to provide an attractive local environment for Wirral residents. Councillor Phill Brightmore, Cabinet Member also in attendance for this item stated he would be happy to respond to any questions Members may have arising from the presentation.

 

The Lead Commissioner – Environment informed that a Steering Group had been established to monitor work undertaken focusing of 2 main themes, maintaining local environmental quality and achieving 50% waste recycling. He summarised the various actions against priorities as follows:

 

  • Priority 1 – Neighbourhoods taking responsibility: ongoing work on the ‘love where you live’ project – utilising volunteers, publicity and elected member involvement funded from fines arising from prosecutions.

 

  • Priority 2 – Responsibility for Actions: Taking action on environmental crimes, high profile deterrents and publicity. Engagement and listening to residents in identification and targeting of littering hot spots.

 

  • Priority 3 – Resources: As a result of a 25% cut in budgets several years ago, the service had had to use intelligence to prioritise deployment of resources, and had achieved a ‘most improved’ award from APSE despite not even being aware of the nomination.

 

  • Priority 4 – Informing residents of the ‘Grot Spot’ campaign at Constituency Committee meetings across the borough, with some positive results. The project had been funded from prosecution income and had identified 26 sites, 18 of which had been actioned, with others ongoing 5 of which were under investigation / development for action.

 

  • Priority 5 – Waste Management Strategy: Future generation planning, working with schools, eco-schools and plans for improved approach to recycling. Members were apprised of the Eco Enterprise project, to develop ideas to reuse items to make and sell to raise money for a 'hedge fund' - to plant a hedge with HYPE (Helping Young People Everywhere.

 

  • Priority 6 – Public Consultation on proposals for addressing a reduction in waste going straight to landfill: it will soon be one year on from the completion of the full business case for future waste mgt. Recommendations have as yet not been agreed by Cabinet, but actions are likely to include a restriction to the volume of waste allowed in the general (Green Bin) collections and the introduction of food waste collections. An interim plan is being developed to assist the increasing of waste that can be recycled.

 

  • Priority 7 – Kerbside collections: as above, a more targeted method of promotion and communications plan is required (part of the interim plan) which includes increasing the level of recycling for the Council itself i.e. leading by example.

 

  • Priority 9 – Garden Waste Subscriptions: the Council currently has a subscriber base totalling 40 thousand households (the highest subscription level since 2013), with an additional 1400 households registering for the service compared to this time last year.

 

Members questioned the Lead Commissioner – Environment on the Council’s enforcement actions with regard to dog  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Domestic Refuse Collection Service Update

Mark Smith, Strategic Commissioner for Environment to provide a verbal update.

Minutes:

Mark Smith, Strategic Commissioner Environment provided the Committee with a verbal update on the subject of the Council’s Domestic Refuse Collection Service. Mr Smith informed that evidence collated indicated that almost 40% of rubbish by weight discarded into Wirral’s green waste bins was food, and that by investing in a food recycling collection service, the Council would significantly boost its recycling rate. In Wirral, it was estimated that the Council would need to reduce residual waste by over 16,000 tonnes to help achieve a challenging target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020. Members were informed that there was compelling evidence from other local authority areas which had invested in a household food waste collection service to confirm the benefits of introducing this approach. He further informed that current recycling figures had ‘flat-lined’ over recent years at 36% and although an Outline Business Case had been presented to Cabinet in the Summer of 2016, there were two options available at this moment in time to enable the Council to achieve its target, namely the constraining of residual capacity by either the use of smaller (140 litre) bins or by less frequent (3 weekly) collections. A decision on these options had been deferred due to the establishment of the ‘Liverpool City Region’ that would ultimately be responsible for waste disposal and could lead to benefits to all constituent Councils as a result of collective bargaining and governance arrangements for waste disposal.

 

The Committee noted that the Council currently faced an annual bill of over £15 million for its waste disposal, and that a significant opportunity existed to reduce costs and maintain quality by full engagement in the Liverpool City Region planning process. The Committee further noted that the outcome of discussions was expected in the coming weeks and that, subject to the receipt of a consultant’s report, a Full Business Case would be developed in advance of a submission to Wirral Council Cabinet for a decision.

 

A Member questioned the Strategic Commissioner Environment on the outcome of the consultation that had already been undertaken. He reported that in the region of 9000 responses had been received along with a number of petitions. Mr Smith informed that the information would be used to develop the Full Business Case and that this information could be shared with Members.

 

A Member also requested that the outcomes of the consultation be summarised and / or be made available to residents who had contributed to the process. The Cabinet Member – Environment concurred, stating that he wished as full a picture as possible to be presented as part of the decision making process.

 

Resolved – That the report be noted.

 

9.

Street Lighting - Maintenance and Improvement Update pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Minutes:

Simon Fox,  Interim Commissioned Services Manager (Highways and Traffic) introduced the report of the Strategic Commissioner Environment that provided an update on the current position with respect to the maintenance and improvement of the Council’s street lighting stock within the Borough.

 

The report informed that Wirral has approximately 37,500 street lights on the adopted highway network and that at the end of March 2017, approximately 2,000 lights (less than 6%) were identified as not working. As with many Council service areas, the street lighting service in Wirral had seen a reduction in resources over the last few years, reducing revenue budget (excluding staffing) by 21% and capital budget provision for life-expired stock (excluding capital programme and LED funding) by 80% since 2008. Dedicated street lighting staffing support had also reduced from eight full time equivalents (FTE) in 2009 to two FTE. 

 

The report further informed that street lighting operational service provision in Wirral was delivered by external suppliers. The service was now managed within the Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) in Business Services. Routine and reactive maintenance was supplied by BAM Nuttall Ltd (BAMN) under the Highway Services Contract (HSC), which expires in March 2018 but was potentially extendable by a further two years subject to performance. Other contracts were delivered by suppliers appointed following competitive tender in accordance with the Council’s procurement rules.

 

The Committee was informed of the key performance indicators on the contract, expected outcomes, current plans for routine and reactive maintenance, and proposals to deal with a current backlog of works. Members noted the existence of a potential total value of £950k in failed equipment, including lanterns, lighting columns and underground cable supplies, and that the work must be prioritised to make best use of currently available financial resources. The Committee was apprised that a contract was being drafted to deliver some of this work from a total budget of £500,000 provided through the Council’s Capital Programme.

 

Members questioned the Interim Commissioned Services Manager (Highways and Traffic) on a number of matters and provided examples based on their past experiences. Members further suggested the use of intelligence gathering to help prevent future damage to street lighting arising from vandalism and road traffic collisions in specific locations. Members also reiterated their previous concerns with regard to the report logging system used and potential for loss of data if not closely monitored.

 

Resolved – That the report be noted.

 

10.

Highway Trees Maintenance Contract pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Minutes:

Simon Fox,  Interim Commissioned Services Manager (Highways and Traffic) introduced the report of the Strategic Commissioner Environment that provided an update on the current position with respect to the maintenance of the Council’s highway tree stock within the Borough. The report informed that Wirral had approximately 25,500 trees on the adopted highway network and that a full survey was conducted in 2012 to identify the number and species of trees. The tree maintenance operational service provision in Wirral was delivered by external suppliers and the service was now managed within the Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) in Business Services.

 

A Member questioned the Interim Commissioned Services Manager (Highways and Traffic) on whether a list existed to identify locations being prioritised for tree / shrub management e.g. where trees may overhang junctions / crossings, or may interfere with the working of solar powered road signage.

 

Mr Fox informed that this formed part of the Council’s maintenance strategy and that the results of the recent survey had been submitted to Man Coed VM Ltd (the Council’s specialist arboriculture and tree surgeon service supplier) and an order had been placed for the immediate removal of all dead, dying or sick trees. All other highway trees requiring attention as a result of the survey had been programmed for planned maintenance on a RAG status priority basis using a risk-based approach, and will be attended over the course of the contract with Man Coed VM Ltd.  Reactive maintenance (as a result of public reports of storm damage or road traffic accident collisions, for example) was also prioritised and issued to the supplier accordingly.

 

In response to a Member question, the Committee was informed that a contract had been awarded to Man Coed VM Ltd in September 2016, for the maintenance of the Council’s highway trees for a two year term, potentially extendable by a further one year. A contract for a full condition survey of all the Council’s highway trees at a cost of approximately £21,000 had also recently been completed by Amenity Tree Care Limited. The results of the survey had been prioritised using a risk-based approach and all statutory clearances were recorded. 

 

Members debated the varied issues associated with street trees – inappropriate locations, damage to footways and vehicles, programmed replacement and the difficulties arising when dealing with problems caused by privately owned trees causing similar damage i.e. insurance policy exemptions and costs arising.

 

Resolved – That the report be noted.

 

11.

Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members' Briefing Pack pdf icon PDF 546 KB

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee Briefing pack provides Members with an introduction to the purpose of scrutiny and includes details of the Committee remit and operational information. Members are requested to note the contents of the Briefing Pack.

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee Briefing Pack that provided Members with an introduction to the purpose of scrutiny and includes details of the Committee remit and operational information. Members were requested to note the contents of the Briefing Pack.

 

The document pack contained a summary of the following key areas:

 

  • The Purpose of Scrutiny
  • The Scope of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee
  • Committee Membership and Meeting Schedule
  • The Work Programme
  • Relevant Wirral Plan Pledges, Strategies and Plans
  • Officer Support Arrangements
  • Key Contacts

 

Resolved – That the report be noted.

 

12.

Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced his report that set out the process of developing and managing the scrutiny work programme for the municipal year. The report informed that the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in cooperation with the other three Overview and Scrutiny Committees, was responsible for the proposing and delivery of an annual scrutiny work programme.

 

The Chair informed that it was anticipated that the work programme would be delivered through a combination of:

 

  • Scrutiny reviews undertaken by task and finish groups
  • Evidence days and workshops
  • Committee reports provided by officers
  • Standing committee agenda items, for example, performance monitoring and financial monitoring
  • Spotlight sessions 
  • Standing panels (where deemed necessary) 

 

He explained that some of the selected topics may cut across the Wirral Plan themes and it was anticipated that some of the scrutiny topics may be of interest to members of more than one committee. In these circumstances, opportunities for members of more than one committee to work jointly on an item of scrutiny work would be explored.  Regular work programme update reports will provide the committee with an opportunity to plan and regularly review its work across the Municipal Year.

 

The Chair’s report included a summary of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme Items, namely:

 

Modern Slavery Scrutiny Review - a scoping meeting for the scrutiny review of the implications of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 had been held on 27th March and the Panel had formulated and agreed the scope of the review - attached as an appendix to the report. Members noted that although a number of contacts had been made with leading regional organisations in this field and evidence sessions had been scheduled for April and May, the election period and changes to Committee membership had delayed further progress with the review. The remaining panel members, Cllrs Carubia, Muspratt and Pilgrim confirmed their wishes to continue their involvement with the review and informed that they were preparing to conduct the first evidence session in the coming weeks. Cllr Usher was nominated as a fourth member, and it was agreed that the membership of the Task and Finish Group be confirmed accordingly.

 

Flood Risk Standing Panel - at a meeting of the Wirral Flood and Water Management Partnership (WFWMP) in May 2017, it was agreed that the WFWMP would provide an appropriate forum for the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee to carry out its statutory scrutiny of flood and water management arrangements. It was further agreed that the three elected representatives on the WFWMP should be members of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The WFWMP Terms of Reference were being revised to reflect the strengthened scrutiny role. These were to be agreed at the next WFWMP meeting and presented to the following meeting of Committee for approval. Members were requested to nominate three cross-party Members of the Wirral Flood and Water Management Partnership. Membership nominations were agreed as follows: Cllrs Cllr P. Stuart (Labour), Cllr B. Berry (Conservative) and Cllr C. Carubia (Liberal Democrat).

 

Development  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

2016/17 Quarter 4 and Year End Wirral Plan Performance - Environment Theme pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark Smith, the Strategic Commissioner, Environment introduced the report of the Executive Director for Strategy that provided the 2016/17 Quarter 4 (January – March 2017) performance report for Wirral Plan pledges under the People theme. The Quarter 4 report was included as Appendix 1 to the report, and provided a description of the progress in Quarter 4 that included available data in relation to a range of outcome indicators and supporting measures. 

 

The Year End closedown report was included as Appendix 2 and provided a summary analysis of improvement of performance against measures and delivery of Pledge strategy actions at year end.

 

The Strategic Commissioner, Environment informed that following restructure of the Council’s Scrutiny function, future reports would be broken down to align with the Adult Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee Terms of Reference.

 

Members thanked the Strategic Commissioner Environment for his report and requested further detail on a number of areas, namely working with the private rented sector to discharge homelessness statutory duties and monitoring of the cumulative impact of welfare reforms – where Members’ experience had identified challenge in achieving targets. Members also commented on the negative trend in relation to excess weight in adults (worsening) but noted that the indicator still flagged as green. The Strategic Commissioner Environment informed that a number of the indicators could be affected by a time lag caused by the availability of data, but advised that he would respond to the specific points raised by Members after the meeting. 

 

Resolved – That the report be noted.

 

14.

Financial Monitoring 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pete Molyneux, Senior Manager, Corporate Finance introduced the report of the Assistant Director: Finance (Section 151 Officer) that set out the Council’s revenue and capital monitoring position for 2016/17 year-end (31 March 2017).

 

The Senior Manager, Corporate Finance informed that the 2016/17 out-turn position was an overall underspend of £2.9 million (£0.4 million underspend was forecast at quarter 3) and that Environment had a forecast underspend of £1.3 million.

 

The year-end capital report updated the capital programme and reflected significant re-profiling of schemes between years to reduce the 2016/17 capital programme to £30.7 million. The actual capital out-turn at year end was £25.3 million.

 

Members attention was directed to Table 4 within the report (reproduced below) that identified the main budget variations within the revenue out-turn:

 

Major Variations Budget to Out-turn 2016/17

£m

£m

People:

Children’s Services - Looked After Children placements

Children’s Services - Agency spend on social workers

Adult Social Care- Increased Community Care costs net of reductions in staffing and non-commissioned spend

 

+2.3

+3.3

 

+3.9

 

Environment

Contract efficiencies – Supporting People

Income – Waste and Litter Charges

 

 

-0.7

-0.6

Business:

Treasury Management - one off MRP adjustment

Treasury management – one-off interest savings

Revenue Budget Contingency – unallocated

Contract and various corporate savings

 

 

-6.9

-2.5

-0.7

-1.0

 

Members noted that overall a net underspend of £2.9 million at the year-end has been transferred to General Fund Balances. Members further noted the detail with regard to the Council’s Earmarked Reserves Statement 2016/17 that identified a reduction in balances of £18.9 million from £73.9 million to £55 million.

 

Resolved – That the report be noted.