Agenda and minutes

Venue: On Microsoft Teams

Contact: Mike Jones, Principal Democratic Services Officer 

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Items
No. Item

32.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

33.

APOLOGIES

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Andy Corkhill had submitted apologies for absence.

34.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

35.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on Monday 1st February 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee held on 1 February 2021 be approved and adopted as a correct record.

36.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Notice of question to be given in writing or by email by 12 noon, Thursday 11th March 2021to the Council’s Monitoring Officer (committeeservices@wirral.gov.uk) and to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Order 10.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

One question had been received, for the Chair.

 

Question from Sue Noyce - Although it would be reassuring to know that environmental concerns are instrumental in shaping every aspect of every policy decision taken in Wirral it is clear this is not yet the case. While issues such as cutting green spaces only to encourage wild flower regeneration and not to make places 'tidy', tree regeneration rather than planting, no 'pruning' of bushes with chainsaws, consulting with local conservation groups and explaining these decisions to the public are all important. Local conservation experts consider the spread of rhododendron to be the most pressing issue facing Wirral habitats currently. Could you please advise us of what measures, if any, the council is already taking to check the spread of this invasive species and what actions may be under consideration to take place in the near future?

 

Response from Councillor Liz Grey - I want to clarify a few points that you made, we are engaged in significant rewilding of green spaces, our tree strategy makes very clear of plans to use natural regeneration, not just tree planting in our pledge to double tree cover by 2030. I agree that consultation and engagement is important. I ask that officers liaise with councillors and residents over our rewilding and regeneration projects in all areas that are not sensitive or are non-protected sites. I agree that rhododendron spread is a problem in some areas.

Our Wirral Parks and Countryside Officers work with many Friends of Parks groups, volunteer groups and other stakeholders. They also work with and take advice from Natural England who undertake condition assessments of the nationally protected sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and Wirral Wildlife (Cheshire Wildlife Local Group) who undertake ecological surveys and advise the local authority on the condition of the locally designated Local Wildlife Sites.

Using this information, plans are produced to assist and inform of individual park management policies and may make specific reference to Rhododendron. In the Grange Hill Management Plan for example the following is noted: Rhododendron occurs in places and should be controlled to prevent further encroachment. Where conditions are suitable, Rhododendron can out-compete most native plants. It can grow to many times the height of a person, allowing very little light to penetrate through its thick leaf canopy. This can eliminate other native plants which are unable to grow due to insufficient light. This in turn can lead to the loss of associated native animals.

Some sites have specific conservation objectives which may be part of a Countryside Stewardship Agreement with Natural England. At Brotherton Park and Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve the 5-year Conservation Management Plan included the following: Rhododendron management began in 2012, it has been cut and left to grow as small bushes while other species move in. This is to maintain the stability of the escarpment before the rhododendron is stump treated or removed. At Eastham Country Park Rhododendron is mentioned where it occurs within the old Victorian  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Statements and petitions

Notice of representations to be given in writing or by email by 12 noon, Thursday 11th March 2021 to the Council’s Monitoring Officer (committeeservices@wirral.gov.uk) and to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Order 11.1.

 

Petitions may be presented to the Committee. The person presenting the petition will be allowed to address the meeting briefly (not exceeding one minute) to outline the aims of the petition. The Chair will refer the matter to another appropriate body of the Council within whose terms of reference it falls without discussion, unless a relevant item appears elsewhere on the Agenda. Please give notice of petitions to committeeservices@wirral.gov.uk in advance of the meeting.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

One statement had been received from Gail Jenkinson regarding a substantial number of road safety measures that have been raised by the residents of Greasby, Frankby & Irby.

When we've been campaigning around Greasby from Frankby and Irby, the biggest thing that comes up is road safety obviously depending on where the person lives it is different issues but nevertheless it's road safety. In 2019 we took a informal survey just along a few roads in Greasby including what we call the Way Road which is East Way, West Way, Broadway, Greenway and also the RAF estate we asked three simple questions which were: do you think that the speed limit around schools should be reduced to 20 miles an hour? Almost universally the answer was yes except for those people who thought it should be lower. Do you think the residential roads in Greasby should be reduced to 20 miles an hour? Broadly in favour about 60%. Do you think all roads in Greasby? And the answer for that was round about 25% in favour but bearing in mind we didn't talk to anybody who lived on Greasby Road, Arrow Road, Mill Lane just because of time because of the election and a pandemic got in the way of carrying on the survey. Nevertheless we have still found a number of issues relating to road safety because of course as with most of the Wirral when the houses were built for the residents to live in they did not anticipate so many cars or even cars could go so fast or cars that will be going backwards and forwards all day.

Indulge me a little whilst I go down memory lane, as a child we used to sit on one of the residential walls on Greasby Road when the new number plates came out and we would wait minutes before cars would come along never mind waiting for a car to come along with a new number plate. When these houses were built there was no anticipation of this amount of traffic and also places like Brookdale School had its 50th anniversary a few years ago I think that was built in 1962 and Greasby Juniors, Greasby Infants were around before then. The churches were also placed before then Our Lady of Pity has been there for a long time which is on a bend on Mill Lane so what we are

asking please is if road safety measures could be put in place. I've sent a letter to Councillor Grey itemising them all and I don't think it's useful for me to go through all of them here because it would just be dreadfully dull but nevertheless there are quite a few junction's we generally have a lot of speeding on residential roads notably round the Way roads the main roads like Irby Road subject to a lot of speeding, Hill Bark Road since the invention of SAT NAV a lot of heavy lorries are being directed down Hill  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Questions by Members

Questions by Members to be dealt with in accordance with Standing Orders 12.3 to 12.8.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no questions by Members.

39.

Environment and Climate Emergency Policy pdf icon PDF 162 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services presented the Council’s Environment and Climate Emergency Policy (attached as Appendix 1 of the report), following the work undertaken by Committee’s delegated task & finish group.

 

The proposed Policy was ambitious and proposed that the Council aimed to achieve ‘net carbon neutrality by 2030.’ The development of the Council’s Environment and Climate Emergency Policy had been supported by third party climate change experts, ‘Local Partnerships,’ who had confirmed that the Council achieving net carbon neutrality in 10 years was an ambitious but achievable target.

 

The Environment and Climate Emergency Policy provided the basis for the Council’s journey to becoming carbon emissions neutral within the decade. It recognised that all aspects of the Council’s function, ways of working, decision making, and service delivery would change to address the environment and climate emergency. 

 

Mike Cockburn, Head of the Environment and Climate Emergency Service, introduced the report and informed Members that there was a dedicated climate emergency budget and there would be a future report with a financial plan, as well as reports at key milestones and key achievements.

 

Members asked questions which brought out additional details such as:

·  That the annual tree planting target (20,000 a year for ten years) had slipped for 2020 but would catch up with schemes such as offering trees to garden waste subscribers, working with schools and recruiting a Tree Landscape Manager.

·  Engagement with residents about planting would be undertaken by the new Manager.

·  Pollarding would be avoided where possible.

·  Larger trees which had to be felled were to be replaced by several new trees but not necessarily in the same location if this was inappropriate.

·  There was a plan to have a simplified ‘dashboard’ of headline statistics for ease of viewing.

 

Resolved - That

(1)   the work of the Members’ Task & Finish Group in developing recommendations for the Council’s Environment & Climate Emergency Policy be noted.

(2)   the Council’s Environment & Climate Emergency Policy be approved.

40.

Litter and Dog Fouling Update pdf icon PDF 810 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of Director of Neighbourhood Services provided an update to Members regarding litter collection and treatment in Wirral and summarised the proposed Dog Fouling Strategy, following a request at Committee on 22 October 2020 for an update regarding litter in Wirral and what happened once it had been collected.  Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions at the end of March 2020 Wirral had seen a 53% increase in street cleansing waste collected.  Online reports of dog fouling had also increased by 23%. The Council was to follow set stages to tackle hot spot locations of dog fouling and litter, including Intelligence-led decision making, enabling, education, engagement and enforcement. All collected litter and street cleansing was sent with Wirral’s household waste to the energy from waste facility in Teesside, where it was burned to generate heat and electricity.  None of the litter was separated for recycling, due to high levels of contamination (non-recyclable materials, food and liquids).

 

Mike Cockburn, Head of the Environment and Climate Emergency Service, presented the report and gave additional details such as that residual household waste had increased due to home working. Footfall had increased in coastal locations which was challenging the volume of litter bins there, although there was an increase in volunteering litter-pickers such as Wirral Wombles. Regarding dog fouling there would be an audit of bins as some were in the wrong place, and an expansion of the dispensing boards for waste bags. A Communications campaign was planned as well as engagement with user groups and individuals.

 

Members asked questions with drew out additional details including:

·  Residual waste may have to be restricted to incentivize recycling.

·  Wirral would need to work with Liverpool City Region to make food recycling work.

·  There was new legislation expected from Government which would make food recycling statutory.

·  Members appreciated the work of the litter-picking volunteers.

 

Resolved - That

(1)   the report be noted.

(2)   the new staged approach to litter and dog fouling be supported.  The information gathered will be used to develop the dog fouling strategy.

41.

'Gear Change' Department for Transport Plan for Cycling and Walking pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Regeneration and Place presented ‘Gear Change’, the Department of Transport’s Cycling and Walking Plan for England and the associated cycle infrastructure design guidance contained in Local Transport Note 1/20. The Plan and guidance promoted the consideration of active travel in all infrastructure schemes, coherently across different schemes and to a high standard in order to access Government funding.

 

Simon O’Brien, the Liverpool City Region Cycling and Walking Commissioner, presented the report and answered questions, noting that:

·  that consultation was important as schemes may be disruptive although they would have benefits in health and wellbeing.

·  The Plan should enable shorter journeys to be undertaken safely which should encourage more active travel.

·  Car infrastructure had been the focus for over 40 years yet journeys were not necessarily faster.

 

Resolved -

That the publication of the Department for Transport Cycling and Walking Strategy ‘Gear Change’ and the associated cycle infrastructure design guidance contained in Local Transport Note 1/20 be noted.

42.

COMBINED AUTHORITY TRANSPORT PLAN (INTEGRATED TRANSPORT BLOCK) PROGRAMME 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services sought approval for the Council’s Combined Authority Transport Plan Integrated Transport Block programme for 2021/22 (subject to the finalisation of discussions with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) and to allocate it to priorities and projects as outlined in the report, focussing on schemes having the most effect for people across the borough within available resources.

 

Simon Fox, the Assistant Director for Highways and Infrastructure, presented the report, reminding Members that this was an annual report setting out how we proposed to utilise funding from Liverpool City Region.

 

Resolved - That

(1)   the Director of Neighbourhood Services be authorised to accept the grant funding allocated to Wirral Council by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority for the 2021/22 Combined Authority Transport Plan;

(2)   the proposed Combined Authority Transport Plan Integrated Transport Block programme for 2021/22 as set out in Appendix A to this report be approved; and

(3)   the Director of Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Chair and Spokespersons of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee be authorised to amend the programme having regard for available resources and risk-based prioritisation of schemes.

43.

Highway Structural Maintenance Programme 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services sought approval for the proposed programme of surfacing work and footway works so that supplier engagement and detailed design could commence, enabling the works to be completed in 2021/22. 

 

Simon Fox, the Assistant Director for Highways and Infrastructure, informed Members that this was an annual report to set out how it was proposed to use Wirral Council’s share of funding money from the Liverpool City Region. The latest funding amount was expected to be lower by £30 million but more funding may be received throughout the year.

 

Resolved - That

(1)   the programme of works for Carriageway Improvements – Classified Roads 2021-22 as set out in Appendix 1 of this report be approved;

(2)   the programme of works for Carriageway Improvements – Unclassified Roads 2021-22 as set out in Appendix 2 of this report be approved;

(3)   the programme of works for Footway Improvements 2021-22 as set out in Appendix 3 of this report be approved, and

(4)   the Director of Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Chair and Party Spokespersons of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, be authorised to amend the delivery of the programmes having regard for available resources and risk-based prioritisation of locations selected for treatment.

44.

Highways Service Delivery 2021 to 2026 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services recommended that the delivery of highway services in Wirral be continued on an ‘inhouse plus top-up’ delivery model basis, with key contracts for the supply of civil engineering and structural maintenance works provision being re-procured.

 

Simon Fox, the Assistant Director for Highways and Infrastructure, presented the report, noting that it included a list of current and proposed top up contracts.

 

Resolved - That

(1)   the continuation of the Council’s highway service delivery on an in-house plus top-up model basis, as outlined in section 2.0 of this report be endorsed;

(2)   the contract and procurement strategy set out in section 4.0 of this report be approved, and

(3)   the Director of Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Chair and Party Spokespersons of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, to amend the number and scope of support service contracts set out in Appendix 1 to the report, as may be necessary to maintain effective statutory service provision be authorised.

45.

Road Safety Working Group - Final Report pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services followed a Motion agreed at Council on the 21 October 2020 on ‘reducing road casualties’. It tasked the Committee to review and refresh earlier work that had been undertaken on the introduction of 20mph speed limits on all residential roads across the Borough with a view to making progress with their introduction.

 

A Road Safety Working Group had met several times, hearing from campaigners and the Council’s road safety team, had discussed the issues and came up with recommendations.

 

Simon Fox, the Assistant Director for Highways and Infrastructure, presented the report and informed Members that road accident injuries had reduced over 20 years in real terms and relative to other areas but there was a desire to reduce them further.

 

Members debated the issue of 20mph areas. Councillor Tony Cox moved a Motion that the resolution be approved subject to

‘recommendation bullet points 5 and 6 in the report be removed and replaced by ‘the Committee resolves that 20 mph zones be considered in known accident hotspots. This is to be data driven and officers are to return to this Committee and report back on identifying potential roads’.’

 

Councillor Allan Brame then moved a motion to approve the recommendations in the report subject to replacing resolution (3) with:

‘Furthermore, the Committee recognises that a lower speed limit will help reduce the actual and perceived danger on the streets, and take a step towards reclaiming the streets as a social place where neighbours interact with each other and encourage more children to walk or cycle to school. Slower traffic speeds can enable the elderly to travel independently and safely. Accordingly, officers are requested to prepare a scheme to make Wirral a 20 mph Borough. Residential roads should be designated as 20 mph limit areas, with signage and road markings alone, except in isolated cases where traffic calming measures might be necessary.’

This was seconded by Councillor Chris Cooke.

 

Members debated the motions and noted that potential damage more than doubled between 20 mph and 30 mph.

 

Councillor Alison Wright then seconded Councillor Cox’s Motion.

 

Councillor Brame’s Motion which was seconded first was then voted on with 7 for and 4 against.

 

Resolved (7:4) - That

(1)   the final report of the road safety working group be considered;

(2)   the recommendations of the Road safety Working Group Final Report attached as appendix 1 to the report be approved; and

(3)   Furthermore, the Committee recognises that a lower speed limit will help reduce the actual and perceived danger on the streets and take a step towards reclaiming the streets as a social place where neighbours interact with each other and encourage more children to walk or cycle to school. Slower traffic speeds can enable the elderly to travel independently and safely. Accordingly, officers are requested to prepare a scheme to make Wirral a 20 mph Borough. Residential roads should be designated as 20 mph limit areas, with signage and road markings alone, except in isolated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Hoylake Beach Working Group - Final Report pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services provided an update on one of the recommendations from the meeting of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee of 3rd December 2020 to ‘Produce a Communications Strategy for the development of the beach management plan for Hoylake in consultation with a politically proportionate working group’.

Members of the working group attended a meeting to discuss and make recommendations on a communications strategy for the development of the beach management plan for Hoylake. The report was a summary of that meeting which was held on 22 February 2021.

 

Members questioned several aspects of the issues and whether a weighting should be given to the views of local residents in any consultation. The anticipated 2023 end of the study was also queried although it was explained that this was determined by full growing seasons to get a sufficient data.

 

Councillor Alison Wright proposed an amendment that

‘It is proposed that a 2 fifths area of the amenity beach be raked to provide a controlled environment in order to deliver data as to the benefits, or disadvantages, of both raking and allowing foliage to grow.‘

This was seconded by Councillor Tony Cox and debated.

 

The Chair read out the following statement from RSPB:

 

‘The protection and restoration of natural ecosystems, including coastal habitats such as dunes and saltmarsh, is important not only as a means to provide shelter and food for a raft of rare and endangered species, but these areas can also play a vital role in flood resilience and carbon storage. The naturalised section at Hoylake Beach has proven to be a success for nature attracting species such as snow bunting. It will also be playing its part in mitigating the effects of climate change. It is estimated that coastal habitats represent up to 6.8 million tonnes of carbon captured and stored per year globally; while healthy saltmarshes can sequester almost 10 times as much carbon as terrestrial forests over the same area.

 

We also know these nature rich areas are valued by local communities. In May, a survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the RSPB sought the views of adults in the UK on the role of nature in our communities during the Coronavirus crisis. 86% of respondents in North West England agreed that living close to spaces that are rich in wildlife and nature is an advantage during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak; 91% agreed increasing the amount of accessible nature-rich green space will help to improve people's general health, well-being and happiness.

 

It is clear that the naturalised area of Hoylake Beach now plays an important role is supporting the local ecosystem, and we therefore urge the council to continue their sustainable management of the foreshore, with no further removal of vegetation, raking, or glyphosate spraying. Naturalisation of sections of beach have been successfully applied elsewhere in the region; for example, Southport beach where Sefton council allowed sections to ‘green over’, promoting and defending the position with residents. We  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Hoylake Beach Management Update pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhood Services provided an update on the recommendations from the meeting of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee of 3rd December 2020 to:

·  Procure an independent study as a scientific evidence base upon which to develop future management options for Hoylake beach.

·  Produce a Communications Strategy for the development of the beach management plan for Hoylake in consultation with a politically proportionate Working Group.

·  Produce a specification for a request for assent of non-vegetation management activities. The future management of Hoylake beach strategically aligns with both the Sustainable Environment and Safe and Pleasant Communities themes of the Wirral Plan 2025.

 

Colin Clayton, the Assistant Director for Parks and Environment, presented the report with Neil Thomas, the Senior Manager for Flood and Coastal Risk Management. He noted that the budget was from the Climate Emergency Fund, that the report reflected the outlook from working group, and that consultation would only take place once the scientific study was completed and the knowledge base established.

 

Members questioned aspects of the issue which drew out additional information including:

·  That the drain outlets were cleared by the highways team following the noting of an issue in regular inspections.

·  Much data was available on beach, sediment and aerial photography, but the ecological data was required before decisions could be made.

 

The Chair, Councillor Liz Grey, proposed an amendment to accept recommendations 1 and 2 and slightly amend 3 to include

‘To approve the submission to Natural England of a plan to manage wind blown sand at Hoylake beach and associated highway network and a corresponding Habitats Regulations Assessment, in consultation with the Coastal Advisory Group of regional beach management and ecology. This Group of experts has already been established and officers have met with them previously. They are prepared to give Wirral Council expert advice, free of charge and could save Council taxpayers' money, possibly reducing the need for expensive consultants in future.’

This was seconded by Councillor Chris Cooke.

 

Resolved (6:4) - That

(1)   the procurement brief and specification for an ecological and geomorphological study, as set out in Appendix A to this report, be approved and to agree to the procurement of a study as a scientific evidence base upon which to develop future management options for Hoylake beach.

(2)   the draft Communications and Engagement Strategy for the development of the Hoylake Beach Management Plan as set out in Appendix B to this report be agreed.

(3)   the specification for the continuation of non-vegetation management activities at Hoylake beach, as set out in Appendix C to this report be approved, and the submission to Natural England of a plan to manage wind blown sand at Hoylake beach and associated highway network and a corresponding Habitats Regulations Assessment, in consultation with the Coastal Advisory Group of regional beach management and ecology be approved. This Group of experts has already been established and officers have met with them previously. They are prepared to give Wirral Council expert advice, free  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

2020/21 REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGET MONITORING FOR QUARTER THREE pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Neighbourhoods provided a summary of the projected year-end revenue and capital position as at the end of Quarter 3 (December 2020) of the 2020/21 financial year. The Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic continued to present financial risk due to uncertainty and fluidity in the external environment. The overall financial position for the Council remained challenging, and a number of actions were in progress to mitigate the overall forecast position presented at quarter 3, including limiting spending to essential areas of service delivery only, with Corporate Directors supported to mitigate the risk of overspending.

 

Sarah Cox, Senior Finance Business Partner, presented the report and noted that the yearend forecast was £3.184 million adverse due to loss of garden waste and car parking income, though some of that would be mitigated by claiming back the maximum (about 75%) from Government.

 

Resolved - That

(1)   the adverse year-end forecast position presented at Quarter 3 of £3.183m be noted.

(2)   the impact of funding and expenditure as a direct consequence of Covid-19 be noted, including the additional funding sources which have been identified, but as yet, not received.

(3)   the year-end forecast capital position for Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee presented at Quarter 3 be noted.

49.

Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee was responsible for proposing and delivering an annual committee work programme. This work programme was to align with the corporate priorities of the Council, in particular the delivery of the key decisions which are within the remit of the Committee. 

 

The Chair, Councillor Liz Grey, proposed an amendment to say that

‘Members note and agree the proposed work programme and request that the Active Travel items listed here are retained in this Committee along with the Active Travel Strategy and that, noting the significant overlap with the terms of reference of the Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee, we work jointly on active travel issues which affect economy, regeneration and development.’

The was seconded by Councillor Tony Norbury.

 

Resolved(unanimously) - That

Members note and agree the proposed work programme and request that the Active Travel items listed here are retained in this committee along with the Active Travel Strategy and that, noting the significant overlap with the terms of reference of the Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee, we work jointly on active travel issues which affect economy, regeneration and development.