Agenda and minutes

Venue: On Microsoft Teams

Contact: Mike Jones, Principal Democratic Services Officer 

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

11.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

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Minutes:

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

12.

APOLOGIES

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Minutes:

The Chair announced that no apologies had been received.

 

A membership query was raised which would be taken up as a potential issue for Standards Committee.

13.

MEMBERS' CODE OF CONDUCT - DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

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.

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Minutes:

Members were asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests and any other relevant interest and to state the nature of the interest.

 

No declarations of interest were made.

14.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on 22 October 2020.

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Minutes:

Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting held on 22 October, 2020, be approved and adopted as a correct record subject to an amendment to the proposed work programme from parking charges which is already covered in the work programme to the problem of litter as an additional item.

15.

PUBLIC AND MEMBER QUESTIONS pdf icon PDF 62 KB

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Minutes:

The Chair reported that no questions from Members had been submitted. However, five questions from the public had been submitted and the Chair invited each individual to ask their question. The questions, answers and any supplementaries are details in the attached document.

16.

Statements and petitions

Representations and petitions to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Order 11.

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Minutes:

A statement was made by Mr Paul Brownbill regarding Hoylake Beach.

 

Mr Brownbill noted that as a Wirral resident he felt the management of the beach was not just an issue for Hoylake and Meols but was important to all Wirral residents who used it. He stated his support for the recent policy with regards to allowing nature on the beach and asked that it be noted that the beach was very popular with families and appreciated by many for its natural beauty.

 

The Chair noted Mr Brownbill’s statement.

17.

NETWORK MANAGEMENT PLAN pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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Minutes:

Simon Fox, Assistant Director for Highways and Infrastructure,introduced a report from the Director of Neighbourhood Services on the Network Management Plan (NMP) and sought approval to appoint a statutory Traffic Manager. The NMP outlined the Council’s approach to the network management duty placed upon it by the Traffic Management Act 2004. The plan reflected updates to the local network arrangements, changes in national and local priorities as well as legislative changes.

 

The Chair thanked Simon Fox and all the officers involved for the report and commended the references to sustainability and air quality.

 

Members acknowledged it was a comprehensive report and commended officers for achieving level 3 funding based on how well the Local Authority looks after the Network as part of the devolved City Region. Members asked that reference to electric vehicle charging points, bike hire schemes, car sharing schemes, and provisions for pedestrians be added which Simon Fox agreed could be considered and built into the plan. It was requested that ‘may’ be changed to ‘will’ in point 10 regarding the Environment and Climate implications which it was agreed would be the case for future reports as well. Concerns were raised about potential congestion and pollution from freight routes following Brexit and it was agreed that this would be investigated further. It was asked that hyperlinks be inserted when reference to other documents and it was agreed these would be added to the final version.

 

On a motion by the Chair, seconded by Councillor Steve Foulkes, it was -

 

Resolved – That

 

(1)  the report be noted and the Council’s approach to its Network Management duty be endorsed;

(2)  the draft Wirral Network Management Plan (NMP) be approved and the Director of Neighbourhood Services be authorised to finalise any further minor changes in consultation with the Chair and Spokespersons of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee;

(3)  it be noted that the post of Senior Network Manager, Highways & Infrastructure, performs the role of Traffic Manager for Wirral Council under the Traffic Management Act, 2004. 

18.

Highways Infrastructure Asset Management Policy, Strategy and Street Lighting Policy pdf icon PDF 518 KB

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Minutes:

Simon Fox, Assistant Director for Highways and Infrastructure, introduced a report from the Director of Neighbourhood Servicesto approve and adopt the 2020 Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Policy (HIAMP), 2020 Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Strategy (HIAMS) and 2020-2025 Street Lighting Policy.

 

The HIAMP and HIAMS represented no change in direction from those approved by the Cabinet Member in February 2020 but were reviewed and updated to align more closely with the Wirral Plan 2025, specifically the themes for ‘Safe and Pleasant Communities’ and ‘Sustainable Environment’. The 2020-2025 Street Lighting Policy outlined the positive effect street lighting had on the ambiance of a place and its reputation, and the role it plays in reducing crime and fear of crime. The Policy stated that lighting equipment provided should be suitable for fulfilling the lighting needs in each specific area, illuminating it in the most effective manner.

 

Members queried the luminosity of the streetlights, when the full LED replacement would be completed, whether areas with older residents could be prioritised, and whether the streetlight map displayed all the streetlights accurately. Simon Fox confirmed a Public Consultation was being carried out to understand residents attitudes with regards to luminosity and backlighting and stated that the contractual finish date for the LED project was Autumn 2021 but additional works may result in a legitimate extension to early 2022.  It was noted that streetlights across the whole borough were being replaced and that the contractor had been given the ability to determine where resources were best placed to ensure value for money, but that demographics were always considered and could be looked at again. It was agreed that specific cases where the new streetlight map may not locate all the streetlights could be investigated and that Councillors would be liaised with regarding any planned changes to columns.

 

On a motion by the Chair, seconded by Councillor Chris Cooke, it was -

 

Resolved: That

 

(1)   the report be noted and the authority’s approach to the Highway Infrastructure Asset Management be endorsed.

 

(2)   the draft Wirral 2020 HIAMP, 2020 HIAMS and 2020-2025 Street Lighting Policy be approved and the Director of Neighbourhood Services be authorised to make any further amendments that the Director considers will correct errors and omissions or will otherwise aid in the operation of the policy in consultation with the Chair and Spokespersons of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee.

19.

Hoylake Beach Management pdf icon PDF 98 KB

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Minutes:

Colin Clayton, Assistant Director for Parks and the Environment,introduced a report from the Director of Neighbourhood Services on the management of Hoylake beach. The future management of Hoylake beach aligned with both the Sustainable Environment and Safe and Pleasant Communities themes of the Wirral Plan 2025. 

 

The report set out the progress in delivering the recommendations of the Executive Member Decision of 13 March 2020 to determine a long-term management strategy for Hoylake beach and provided an update on the decision to cease mechanical raking. In line with the guidance from Natural England Officers had established that a scientific evidence base of the beach ecology and geomorphological changes was needed in order that the future options for the beach could be developed. Based on the draft specification it was estimated that this would cost in the region of £30,000 from existing budgets including the Climate Emergency fund.

 

Members asked officers to outline the objectives of the scientific study, to which it was clarified that the objectives of the ecological and geomorphological studies were to define the extent and variety of vegetation growth on Hoylake foreshore, as well as how it will respond to sediment changed in order to model how the foreshore would evolve. It was confirmed that the studies would look at both the short and longer term so current drainage could be assessed as well as the future of the beach.

 

The cost of the studies was discussed and the issue of value for money raised, with Members recommending accredited academics be approached for the contract and querying whether it would be appropriate to use Climate Emergency Funding. Colin Clayton confirmed that academic institutions would be welcomed to bid for the contract through the formal bidding process as long as they met the procurement requirements.

 

The Committee debated the parameters of a public consultation given the legal limits which would be applied by Natural England and agreed an independent and transparent process consulting all stakeholders was needed. It was agreed that given the public interest in the topic, officers would work with the Chair and spokes to identify all groups which should be consulted.

 

An amendment to the recommendations was then moved by Councillor Christina Muspratt, seconded by Councillor Steve Foulkes, that –

 

(1)  Note the progress in developing a specification for an ecological and geomorphological survey and, subject to a suitable budget being identified in consultation with the E, CE & T Committee, to agree to the procurement of independent studies as a scientific evidence base upon which to develop future management options for Hoylake beach.

(2)  Agree that the Director of Neighbourhoods produces a Communications Strategy for the development of the beach management plan for Hoylake in consultation with a politically proportionate Working Group.

(3)  Approve the submission of an extension request for assent to NE for the continuation of non-vegetation management activities at Hoylake beach which were not subject to cessation as a result of the Cabinet Member decision of 13 March 2020, subject to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Update on the Exercise to Trial Alternatives to Glyphosate in the Use of Weed Control pdf icon PDF 111 KB

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Minutes:

Colin Clayton, Assistant Director for Parks and the Environment, introduced a report from the Director of Neighbourhood Serviceson an update of the position regarding the exercise to trial alternative methods of weed control. The Council has historically used glyphosate, under licence, for weed control across the authority and was under licence until 2022 with the delivery of weed control operations undertaken by the Council’s contractor Man Coed.

 

In response to the recommendations of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee of 28th November 2019, officers had conducted a series of exercises to trial alternative methods of weed control with the report providing the findings identified for each method. The Committee was also updated on the delivery of the weed control programme, which was subject to delay caused by service cessation during the initial Covid-19 lock down. The exercise had so far demonstrated that alternative weed control methods were less effective, and the machinery required was more expensive. It was concluded that alternatives would continue to be sought and the Committee updated, but that glyphosate was the only practical method in the short to medium term in certain areas.

 

The Committee debated the matter at some length given that other countries had banned glyphosate and other councils were also struggling to find a workable alternative. It was suggested that international case studies be considered and community involvement with clearing weeds was proposed, however Colin Clayton explained upscaling community involvement like that trialled at New Brighton would be difficult and required significant training. Members agreed that glyphosate would have to be phased out while working to find an effective alternative.

 

On a motion by the Chair, seconded by Councillor Steve Foulkes, it was –

 

Resolved – That

 

(1)  the contents of this report and outcome to date of the exercise to trial glyphosate alternatives for weed control be noted.

(2)  glyphosate will not be used for weed control operations across the Parks and Countryside estate (with the limited exceptions set out in this report).

(3)  the exercise to trial alternative methods of weed control will continue during the next 12 months with Committee updated further following this.

21.

Car Parking Charges - Working Group pdf icon PDF 122 KB

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Minutes:

The Chair introduced and presented the report from the Working Group on Car Parking Charges which was then considered by Members.

 

The report was bought to the Policy and Resources Committee on the 7th October 2020 by the Director of Neighbourhood Services. This report ‘car parking charges options’ informed Members of considerations for the reintroduction of the current car parking charges in Wirral in 2020/21 and alternative options for parking charges in 2021/22 and beyond. The group considered the request made by the Policy and Resource Committee to consider the options attached in appendix 1 of the report. After much debate, Members considered options 4 and 6 (to re-introduce parking charges immediately at all locations and respectively and to re-introduce charges at long-stay and on-street and County parks but not ‘shoppers’ car parks) acceptable with some caveats. They wished to submit these to the Policy and Resource Committee for consideration.

 

On a motion by the Chair, seconded by Councillor Christina Muspratt, it was –

 

Resolved (7:4) – That

 

(1)   the findings of the Working Group attached as appendix 1 of this report be noted and the recommendations be agreed:

 

·  Members support the upcoming transport strategy and recommend that any future transport strategy consults with Members, businesses, communities to ensure that it is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.

 

·  The panel also recommends that a comprehensive review and survey is undertaken in Wirral as to the local impact of car parking charges on footfall and spend in retail areas and the high street.

 

·  Members considered the request made by the Policy and Resource committee to consider the options attached in appendix 1 of this report. After much debate, Members considered the following options were acceptable and wish to submit them to the Policy and Resource Committee for consideration.

 

Option 4 (re-introduce parking charges immediately at all locations) Members understood that there would be no reintroduction of car parking charges until early 2021. They acknowledge the need to support local retailers during the second lockdown and in the run up to Christmas. Five of the six working group Members wished to put forward Option 4 to be considered alongside any subsequent reviews or studies.

Two of the five Members requested an additional caveat that Country Parks remain free until after lockdown due to the perceived health and wellbeing implications. Concerns were raised that introducing car parking charges in Country Parks would limit their accessibility to low-income car owners, especially during COVID-19 when more people are facing financial pressures. One Member also raised the point that charging for parking in country parks did not reduce visitor number and that the income generated would help with repairs and maintenance of the parks.

 

Option 6 (re-introduce charges at long-stay and on-street and County parks but not ‘shoppers’ car parks) One Member of the working group also wished to put forward option 6 for consideration. This Member was satisfied with this option in its entirety, however other working group members again raised concerns about reintroduction of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 87 KB

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Minutes:

The Chair presented the Work Programme for review.

 

Members asked that allotments be removed as they had been thoroughly considered by a previous Working Group; that Hoylake Beach Management be addressed at the next meeting which the Chair agreed could be discussed at the agenda setting meeting; and that a Road Safety Working Group be established.

 

Resolved –

 

That the proposed Environment, Climate Emergency, and Transport Committee work programme for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year be noted, subject to additional requests and the deletion of further allotment working group meetings.