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.
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 fouling, littering and fly tipping. The Committee were informed that the current regime for dog fouling enforcement and fining had been in existence for one year and that work was underway in the development of an interactive mapping tool in 2017/18 that will be accessible to residents. This would enable residents to view on-line where enforcement action had been taken, where clean-up operations had taken place. Further development would include the expansion of existing on-line reporting tools for the reporting of littering / dog fouling / fly tipping using the same online mapping function.
Councillor Phillip Brightmore, Cabinet Member for Environment informed the Committee that increasing intelligence reporting was key to tackling waste issues, and encouraged Elected Members to e-mail the relevant officers or himself if particular locations were becoming identified as ‘hot spots’ for these activities. He added that Parks in particular were benefitting from enforcement actions and clean-up campaigns.
A Member questioned what was being done to educate young people, particularly with regard to 10-18 year olds. The Committee noted that work of the Eco Schools officer was progressing well in terms of engaging with local schools on the raising awareness of littering and its impact on the environment.
Members also commented on the Council’s weed spraying regime, its limitations and the impact on wildlife due to the chemicals used (i.e. insects, a food source for birds). The Lead Commissioner – Environment informed that there was careful adherence to legislation and health & safety guidance as to what products could be used and that weed spraying was carefully monitored and actioned at certain times during the year when weather conditions would not disrupt the efficient use of the products.
A Member highlighted the success of the pilot project to introduce access to dog waste plastic bags in Harrison Park, thanking the Cabinet Member and Officer. The Committee was informed that the pilot project had worked well and plans were in place to extend the scheme to Wirral beaches. The Committee was further informed that in terms of dog fouling fixed penalty enforcement, the Council operated a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ policy, that had also shown great success with regard to fixed penalty payment and collection rates. Members noted that additional plans for Wirral’s beach areas also included the replacement of open top waste bins - that provided limited protection from emptying by seagulls, and also contributed to wind-blown rubbish if overfilled.
Further discussion took place on policy development, and the engagement of schools and residential household involvement in waste recycling.
Resolved – That the report be noted.