Agenda and minutes
Venue: On Microsoft Teams
Contact: Mike Jones, Principal Democratic Services Officer
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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.
Members were asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests and any other relevant interest and to state the nature of the interest.
Councillor Steve Foulkes declared a personal interest in item 26 (Liverpool City region Digital Connectivity Dig Once Policy) as he sat on the Transport Committee to the Metro Mayor and City Region which was previously referred to as Merseytravel.
To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 3rd December 2020.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee held on 3 December 2020 be approved and adopted as a correct record subject to:
(1) In the supplement to the questions (Minute 15) the first repeat of question 5 be replaced by question 4 and the full wording of the question given as supplemental question 6.
(2) In Minute 19 an amendment to the Hoylake beach resolution for clarity by inclusion of an ‘&’ between ‘identified’ and ‘in consultation with’
(3) in Minute 22 an amendment for clarity to replace ‘and the deletion of allotments ‘with ‘and the deletion of further allotment working group meetings.
Notice of questions to be given in writing or by email, by 12noon, Monday 25th January 2021 to the Council’s Monitoring Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Order 10.
6 Questions were received, all for the Chair
From Gillian Homeri.
Are they aware and concerned that neonicotinoids are toxic to bees and this lifting of the ban will undermine the hard work Wirral Borough Council and others are doing to protect pollinators.
Globally the number of bee species has already fallen by 25% since 1990. We cannot allow this to continue.
I would also like to know if neonicotinoids (should the ban not be reinstated) are likely to be used by famers on the Wirral.”
I am happy to write to George Eustace and can say so. Rest of committee agreed to sign letter.
From Louise Stothard from 'For Trees Wirral'
“When will Wirral Borough Council stop felling trees, we’ve lost over 6,000 trees?”
Wirral Council will only fell trees when it is a last resort and is absolutely necessary to protect public achieve and maintain public safety.
Clearly trees are not permanent landscape features so have a finite safe life expectancy when growing in our parks or adjacent to the highway, so we will always have a small proportion of trees which have reached the end of their life cycle and which are just not safe to be left standing.
In less occupied areas we do allow trees to collapse slowly and naturally over time but as I’m sure you can appreciate this natural destabilisation isn’t something we can accommodate next to the highway or a footpath.
Our trees are inspected by fully qualified and highly experienced arboricultural inspectors. This service was outsourced to a private contractor but we have just hired two full time arboricultural inspectors to internalise the service. It is worth noting that the tree inspection company is absolutely independent from the tree maintenance company who carry out the works. Every member of this team is a fully qualified and experienced arboriculturalist.
We are confident that this natural loss is being successfully mitigated through our significant tree planting programme. We have moved beyond just maintaining continuity of tree cover as we seek to deliver the goal of the tree strategy to double tree cover over the next ten years. Approximately 21,000 new trees have / will be planted this current planting season (November to March) which delivers a healthy replanting ratio. We are currently recruiting a dedicated landscape manager who will be tasked with delivering the goals of the tree strategy and seeking funding for future tree planting and habitat creation projects across the borough.
It has been observed from our tree inventory that a great majority of our trees are mature, therefore substantial new tree planting will add resilience to our tree population. We do value the cultural and ecological value of very old veteran trees and to ensure that we can maintain these trees for longer in confidence there has been significant financial investment in ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
Statements and petitions
Notice of representations to be given in writing or by email by 12 noon - Monday 25th January 2021 to the Council’s Monitoring Officer (email@example.com) and to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Order 11.1 and 11.2.
Denise Roberts presented a petition with 80 signatures for lighting to be installed in Rake Park to discourage anti-social behaviour after dark following several issues of vandalism.
Kelly Newell presented a petition with 9,200 signatures to improve safety at Spital Cross Roads junction following the injury of her son who was knocked down there.
The Chair thanked the presenters and both of the petitions would be passed on for consideration and response.
Questions by Members
Questions by Members to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Orders 12.3 to 12.8.
Councillor Jo Bird expressed disappointment in the lack of responses to public questions and petitions on road safety but the Chair reminded her that the road safety working group was meeting to consider all road safety issues.
Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority were building a 200+ km underground fibre network running through all six local authorities and delivered through a Combined Authority (CA) Joint Venture partnership with a private company. The purpose was to create a new telecommunications network infrastructure to provide ultrafast broadband connectivity across the region. The initial network will consist of four ducts which will run through all 6 Local Authority Areas and would connect LCR to external national and international networks. An initial route has been proposed for Wirral which took in our major regeneration areas. In time it was planned that the network would be expanded to other parts of Wirral. The plan was to build the initial network in 3 years starting from mid-2021. As part of the build Wirral Council had been asked to sign up to a “Dig Once” policy, to install ducting at the same time that we undertake road, cycling and walking schemes. This approach can reduce the cost of deployment by as much as 50%, minimises disruption to road and public transport users and helps avoid any future embargos in specific locations across LCR. The CA team have secured £6.39m from LCRCA’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) for Dig Once. The CA team will assess each “Dig Once” opportunity and decide if the particular scheme met their criteria. If it did, they would fund the authority to put ducting in the ground as part of the project delivery. Once the work was completed ownership of the ducts and fibre network will revert to LCRCA.
Project Officer John Williams described the proposed network and its expected benefits.
Members praised the scheme which appeared to be a positive move which would help the Council reach a number of goals including digital connectivity and environmental protection. The need for a digital network had been highlighted during lockdown as people and children did their work from home.
(1) the Dig Once Collaboration Agreement and the Inter Authority Agreement be approved and
(2) the Director of Law and Governance be authorised to arrange the execution of the documents on behalf of the Council in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.
The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services recommended acceptance of a tender from Man Coed VM Ltd and award of a term service contract for the Wirral Arboricultural Services Contract (Corporate Tree Maintenance Contract). The contract was to run from April 2021 until March 2026 with a conditional extension option of 2 further years.
Simon Fox, Assistant Director of Infrastructure and Highways, clarified that the report was about the procurement exercise not how the Council managed its trees, which was covered by the tree strategy. The Council had trained, qualified, specialist arboricultural officers to deliver the strategy and make decisions about which trees were felled or pollarded and what happened to deadwood, but the Council needed a specialist contractor to enable it to deliver the strategy and keep residents safe. There had been a rigorous analysis of the tenders submitted, by senior Council officers including from Legal, Procurement and Finance professions.
Members were clear that the Council had a duty of care to residents and wished to keep a watching brief on the delivery of the contract. Members questioned the pricing of the bid but were reassured that prices quoted were in line with expectations and had not concerned officers. Members also asked if community groups could be involved in tree planting and it was confirmed that the Council had secured funding and welcomed suggestions.
Councillor Steve Foulkes proposed an additional resolution:
3. committee welcomes all member workshops will take place on this matter. furthermore to reassure the public, this committee should receive regular reports on this contracts performance.
This was seconded by Councillor Gill Wood, then clarified slightly before being agreed.
RESOLVED - That
(1) the tender for the Wirral Arboricultural Services Contract Apr 2021- Mar 2026 submitted by Man Coed VM Ltd to Wirral Council on 8 January 2021 be accepted;
(2) the award of the contract to Man Coed VM Ltd be approved, subject to contract and subject to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) standstill period;
(3) Committee welcomes all member workshops will take place on this matter (the performance of the contract). Furthermore to reassure the public, this Committee should receive regular reports on this contracts performance.
The report of the Director of Resources formed part of the Council’s formal budget setting process, as set out in the Constitution and in accordance with the legal requirements to set a balanced and sustainable budget for 2021/22. Policy and Resources Committee had to recommend a 2021/22 balanced Budget proposal to the Council for its meeting in March 2021. It was good practice for service committees to consider and feedback on Budget proposals.
On Friday, 18th December 2020 the Policy and Resources Committee approved the ‘Draft Revenue Budget 2021/22 - Proposals for Consultation’ to begin public consultation on 21 December 21 to 22 January. The consultation was primarily conducted through the council’s specialist “Have Your Say” online portal but included many other methods including an online questionnaire; an ideas board for residents to post their ‘ideas’ and suggestions about the?council budget; paper copies of the survey,?including an easy read version; ‘Virtual’ Public Events for residents, young people and council staff; Council staff Facebook page; directly?to the project team, Councillors, MPs and Senior Officers; and a specific email inbox. Results included 2,715 completed questionnaires,?236?“ideas” added to the?Ideas Board?and 74 questions. There was a relatively even spread of responses from the four?Wirral constituencies. Full details of the responses were circulated to Members. Most comments were categorised predominantly into three themes: Children’s Services?including The Hive, arts and culture?(in particular noting retention of the Williamson Art Gallery) and?refuse collection.
It was explained that this year the budget consultation process was truncated because of the shorter period of meetings caused by the pandemic, and the budget was under considerable pressure due to various effects linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. The final settlement figures from Government had not been received but the Committee were being asked their views on the options offered although Members had a duty to the whole of borough to set a balanced budget on 2 March.
Budget proposals were:
Options Review of the Neighbourhood Services Directorate
Additional and increased parking charges: Whole scale car parking review
Stopping School Crossing Patrols
Reduction in grass cutting and maintenance of roadside verges and all Parks and Open Spaces
Amenity space and grass verge maintenance cessation
Closure of Public Conveniences
3 weekly collection of general rubbish
Contract Efficiency Savings with BIFFA
Income generated from establishing targeted and discretionary environmental enforcement.
Members expressed the opinion that they did not want to see many of the options but were forced by the temporary budget situation. They were heartened that the feedback from the consultation showed that the public endorsed the Committee’s initial recommendations, including a rejection of both cuts to school crossing patrols and closure of public toilets and that there were positive suggestions such as rewilding that should allow for longer term benefits which were endorsed by the public. They ... view the full minutes text for item 30.
The Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, in co-operation with the other Policy and Service Committees, was responsible for proposing and delivering an annual committee work programme.
The Chair commented that we could add in for a future meeting the report of the Environment and Climate Emergency Working Group.
That the proposed Environment, Climate Emergency, and Transport Committee work programme for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year be noted, subject to the addition at a future meeting of the report from the Environment and Climate Emergency Working Group.