Agenda and draft minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny
Tuesday, 19th June, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Katie Mogan  Member Support

Items
No. Item

55.

Minutes

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 20 March 2018 were confirmed by the members present and signed by the Chairman.

 

56.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor C Wyatt-Lowe and Councillor Harden.

 

57.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

58.

Public Participation

Minutes:

There was no public participation.

 

59.

Consideration of any matter referred to the Committee in relation to Call-In

None.

Minutes:

None.

 

60.

Budget Monitoring Q4 pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

F Jump introduced the report to members and ran through the highlights.
The provisional outturn for 2017/18 is subject to the external audit process and the report has been to Cabinet, Audit and the other overview and scrutiny committees.
In relation to capital programme, there is a slippage of £1.2 million and an underspend of £111k.
Under employees, there is a £36k overspend with a pressure of £150k in Building Control due to resource issues but this is offset by savings of £120k in Clean, Safe and Green were performance has been maintained despite recruitment issues.
There is an overachievement of income of £264k due to an increase in planning applications submitted and the increase in the set national fees has produced an overachievement of £240k. An additional income of £190k has come from an incentive payment from the Alternative Financial Model. There has been a reduction in income of £125k in commercial waste because of an on-going loss of customers.
F Jump referred to section 6 of the report and explained that slippage is expenditure that was expected in 2017/18 but will be spent in 2018/19. Variance is expenditure occurred that is more or less than what was planned for.

Councillor Bateman asked F Jump to provide more information and background to the commercial waste problems.
D Austin said the department has carried out some analysis on this topic. Most of the lost customers are businesses that have relocated or have stopped operating. Larger waste management companies have been able to undercut the council but the department is actively looking to resolve the issue.

Councillor Timmis asked why there is so much effort put into residential recycling but it is not the same for businesses. For example, there is no food waste recycling for bars and restaurants.
D Austin said it was a fair comment and it has been looked at and a previous scheme provided a limited paper and cardboard collection. There needs to be a strategy and it needs to be properly costed and funded. The issue is that the income from recycling is dropping.

Councillor Timmis asked if the decision by China to no longer accept recycling from Europe has affected the market.
D Austin said that China was a large market particularly for plastic recycling. The ban started on 1st January 2018 but it has had a bigger impact on mixed paper recycling. The paper collected in Dacorum is exported to India. It used to be £80 a tonne but this has now dropped to £10.
Councillor Timmis said that as we become more aware of the dangers of plastic, paper is becoming a popular solution.

Councillor Ransley asked about the recycling cost of glass.
D Austin said it had been poor for some time but it is important to look at it in relation to the disposal costs. Current landfill cost is £100 per tonne. It is still economically beneficial to recycle glass.

Councillor Hicks asked why glass can’t be recycled from bars  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Environmental Services Q4 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

D Austin introduced the report to members and ran through the highlights.
The waste service has been busy, with garden collections restarting for the summer months and also having to work around the industrial action. He highlighted an error in the report which should be corrected to highlight that a member of staff had achieved with seven years services without any sick days.
The environmental awareness team have done some good work with the Great British Spring Clean and have lead on a project with the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership which have carried out a high profile fly tipping campaign.
In Clean, Safe and Green, their hard work in the Water Gardens as lead to a nomination for being awarded a Green Flag.
The performance indicators in the report are good, there is one red indicator under garden waste but this is because the denominator needs to be profiled.
An update on flats recycling – a food waste trial will begin in July to collect food waste from 1,600 properties in three parts of the borough: Berkhamsted, Grovehill and Leverstock Green. The comingled recycling will start in September on a phased basis. There are 663 blocks of flats in the borough that have no access to recycling.

Councillor Bateman asked if the member of staff with seven years’ service had been recognised in any way. Recognition might give other staff something to aspire too.
D Austin said he received a certificate from the Chief Executive.

Councillor Timmis congratulated officers on some of their work. She was concerned about fly tipping which she believed had increased in her ward. One resident drove down one of the lanes and counted 25 instances of fly tipping. She had attended the Herts Show and approached Herts County Council who had a stand and asked about enforcement of fly tipping. It is extremely difficult to prove who has committed the offence; CCTV cameras are not suitable in a rural location. It is becoming a huge problem and there needs to be a solution to make a difference.
Councillor Timmis expressed her concerned about sickness levels which she thought looked quite high. Finally, she asked about grass cutting and whether the team could cut around the edges to highlight the site lines but leave the wild flowers to grow.
D Austin said he would be happy to work with Councillor Timmis and E Walker to come up with some solutions about how to try and solve fly tipping. There has been a publicity leaflet delivered to all homes in the borough with the Council Tax bill so people are aware of their responsibility. He said he would be happy to arrange a site visit with Councillor Timmis to go and have a look at the problem.
In relation to sickness, it was high in January but overall there are not any major trends appearing. Considering these are front line staff, the sickness levels are the best the department has seen in 12-18 months.
S Coultas said that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Environmental and Community Protection Q4 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

E Walker introduced the report and ran through the highlights. She said that Q4 was concentrated on the restructuring of the new department which includes the following teams: Environmental Health, Operations and Public Health, Corporate Health, Safety and Resilience and Anti-Social Behaviour and Environmental Enforcement.
The high risk food inspection rate was 91.4% for Q4 and across the year, it has hit 98.3% which is above target.
The department’s trainee officers are doing well and achieved top grades in their first year of study.
There has been a successful prosecution for fly tipping, the offender was made to pay £1,197 in fines.
The Operations and Public Health team have introduced a Term of Permission for animals, which will limit residents number of dogs per plot and try and reduce the number of strays.

Councillor Riddick referred to the interviews for a team leader in the report and asked if they were successful.
E Walker confirmed they were successful and the new team leader will be starting in August.

Councillor Birnie asked why there was nothing about air quality in the report.
E Walker said they were having staffing issues and have recruited a temporary officer for three days a week.
Councillor Birnie asked if any new initiatives were going to be implemented.
E Walker said they are tied to the plan which is controlled by Herts Highways. The council are due to review the Air Quality Action Plan this year but the staffing issues need to be solved first.

Councillor Hicks asked if the readings from the air quality stations were automatic.
E Walker said one station was automatic but the others have to manually be collected and sent off for analysis every month.

Outcome

That the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee approve the report.

 

63.

Planning, Development and Regeneration Q4 Performance Report

Report to follow

Minutes:

Deferred to next meeting.

64.

Street nameplates pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Minutes:

S Coultas gave a presentation to members on the street nameplate policy:

  • There is a policy that gives streets with no plate present, plates that are not legible or are damaged priority to be fixed. There is currently no waiting list as the backlog has been cleared so this policy is currently not in use.
  • After proof reading the plates, it takes 3-4 weeks to be manufactured and installed.
  • The department carries out three surveys every financial year and approximately, 150 new street nameplates are bought.
  • One plate costs £150 which includes the survey, proof reading, manufacture and installation. This price is only given when a batch of 50 are bought together.
  • All the street nameplates are made from recycled plastic.

Councillors Hicks asked what the life expectancy of these signs are.
S Coultas said approximately 15-20 years. The only plates the department are having to replace are those that have been vandalised or damaged in a car accident. 

Councillor Timmis said some of the nameplates in her ward were weather damaged and had mould growing. Also, she asked if apostrophes are used.
S Coultas said yes they are used if they are in the original street name.
Councillor Timmis asked if they were cleaned.
S Coultas said they were. Cleaning street nameplates was part of the winter rota.

Councillor Anderson asked about the policy on the colour of the street nameplates. The council’s planning policy states that, because of its historical past, the nameplates in Kings Langley should be royal blue with white writing.
S Coultas said he was unaware of this policy but would be happy to change the colour for Kings Langley. There is no difference in cost.

Outcome

That the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee approve the report

 

 

65.

Parking Standards pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

J Doe introduced the item and his colleagues Rebecca Williams (Assistant Team Leader, Strategic Planning and Regeneration), Trevor Saunders (Interim Team Leader – Strategic Planning) and Jenny Baker (Markides Associates) to the committee. J Doe explained that the technical report being discussed is an important part of the evidential base to set a revised policy in future for car parking standards. He referred to paragraph 32-40 of the report which highlighted the next steps and the proposal to develop a new supplementary planning document in respect of car parking, taking account of the conclusions of the Markides technical evidence and members comments.

J Baker from Markides Associates gave a presentation and confirmed that the technical report should be viewed as a starting point to develop a policy. Key points to note included:

  • Average car ownership per ward is based on the 2011 Census
  • Recommendations for potential car parking standards set out in the technical report suggested that any standards should be a broad requirement rather than a maximum standard.
  • The report recommended two ‘accessibility’ zones in future where parking requirement could be lowered. These were based on walking distances from central Hemel (800m and 1600m) and central Berkhamsted (800m) 
  • Outside of the ‘accessibility zones’ a degree of flexibility could be warranted but the applicant must prove the case that they cannot provide those spaces or there is no parking stress in surrounding roads through a Parking Stress Survey.
  • Garages should not count as a car parking space unless they are big enough to park a car in and open the doors to get in and out.
  • Evidence suggests that lower standards could be applied to affordable and sheltered housing developments where car ownership is evidenced to be less.

Councillor Ransley referred to the idea of Parking Stress surveys. She asked if there was a set standard for these surveys that developers must follow. She noted that many roads have parking both sides which would not fit an emergency vehicle down.
J Baker said there is a standard method for surveying parking stress. Parking Stress is generally measured 200m walking distance from the development proposed and at times of the day which are relevant. For example, if it is a residential development then a survey should be carried out between 12 midnight – 5am and then again at 10am.

Councillor Timmis said she was concerned about restricting parking in central Berkhamsted and the potential for reduced car parking to serve any new development in the central area adding to existing pressures in trying to find a parking space to visit local shops and businesses. Also, Councillor Timmis also queried whether applying lower car parking standards for affordable housing was appropriate if those homes were not well served by a bus route and further queried whether allowance standard of 1.5 spaces for a two-bed house was appropriate, given the possibility of some of those household owning two cars.
J Doe clarified that any car parking standards applied to new developments only and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Minutes:

The committee agreed the work programme for the 2018/19 year. Councillor Anderson asked members to submit any suggestions for the work programme to himself or K Mogan. The Planning, Development and Regeneration Q4 Performance report had been deferred to the July meeting.