The Environmental Services Performance report had been circulated.
The first quarter for the measured recycling rate had been projected at 53.2%, which was noted as favourable and a reflection on the amount of garden waste collected. Regarding the national indicator NI191, it was noted this figure was cumulative over the year, with the first quarter provisional figure being 107.17kg per household and the figure for the end of the year being 421kg per household.
Regarding missed bins per 40,000 collections, it was reported the first three months' average figure was 164. With regard to the measurement of fly-tip collections, the target of 95% had been missed, with 76.69% being collected within seven days. There had been a spate of fly-tipping and an increased resource had been allocated to that service to ensure a faster turnaround. The graffiti incidents cleaning target of 95% had been slightly missed in the first quarter, with 89.29% being cleaned within seven days of being reported. It was noted this was a standard pattern during summer months anticipating that this would decline with the shorter autumn days.
It was reported that a re-routing exercise had been done with the intention to service the same number of properties with the same frequency of collection but using fewer vehicles. The number of vehicles had been reduced by four, with an aggregated savings figure of around £180,000 (ph) per vehicle, creating an annual saving of £720,000 per annum. It was explained that the entire borough had been part of the re-routing exercise, however only 10,000 properties had experienced a change of collection day.
Regarding the garden waste subscription service introduced at the end of February, it was reported that there were now 33,851 households subscribed. The total revenue from the service was reported to be just over £1.5 million, which it was thought was due to the cost to each household being £45 where other boroughs were charging £70-80.
The opening of a new cemetery was reported, the first since 1963, at Bedmond Road. Dacorum Borough Council were in a consortium of five authorities with the crematorium, the lead authority was Three Rivers.
Regarding the re-outing exercise, Cllr Wyatt-Lowe wondered whether there had been a plan-B if residents felt the changes were not satisfactory or efficient. The response was that there were expected to be a small number of properties where issues were anticipated for the first two or three collection cycles. There had been a small issue with transfer of data onto the difficult access crews with regard to assisted collects, those had all been resolved. Rounds were working well, there was an option to rebalance work if there was an imbalance. Moving forward, it was anticipated domestic wheelie bin rounds would be brought into the estates recycling collection in order to take another vehicle off the road and make further savings. Commercial waste collections were also in line for crew saving measures.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe wondered what would happen with the £1.5 million surplus with regard to the green waste. The response was that the money was revenue gained and would ultimately go into the general fund and could be used to finance other council projects.
Cllr Timmis wondered whether there was the possibility to consider continuous green waste collection over the winter months. The response was that they would like to run through to December to deal with autumn leaf fall, however because of the driver CPC requirement the green waste crew were shuffled around during winter months to enable refresher training for other crews. It was clarified that the Hertfordshire green waste site was open throughout the year for residents to dispose of garden waste.
Cllr Timmis wondered whether the additional resources for fly-tipping included CCTV, it was confirmed the approach was more basic, with a 3.5 tonne van being deployed for collection of fly-tipped waste.
Cllr Timmis raised the question of who was responsible for hedges, it was clarified that Dacorum Council Environmental Services used to receive payment to look after trees on Hertfordshire County Council verges, however those had been passed to the care of Hertfordshire County Council. Hertfordshire County Council had given the contract for tree maintenance to Ringway, who had subcontracted the work to Gristwood & Toms, the Dacorum contractor.
Regarding re-routing and the reduction in vehicles and crews, Cllr Mitchell wondered what had happened to the people employed in those roles. It was clarified that the core fleet had been supplemented by a large number of hire vehicles, at a cost of £1,000 per week for each vehicle. Savings had been made by taking those vehicles off hire, along with not employing agency people. There had been no redundancies.
Cllr Mitchell wondered what was happening for people who had no intention of participating in the green bin scheme and wanted the bin collected. There was reference to the strategy from 2018, were it was included that there could potentially be free garden waste collection and the decision had been taken not to take away the bins in the event of that happening. It was now anticipated that the new Environment Act would not be put onto statute until possibly after the next general election. If someone particularly wanted a bin removed they could refer it to their local ward councillor for action.
Cllr Pringle noted the success of the re-routing exercise, wondering whether there would be developmental revisions. The response was that the current expectation was that Dacorum would progressively grow by 50% over the next 30 years. There was allowance for growth built within the rounds, however if it was found that rounds were being stretched there would need to be another exercise and recalculation with the possibility of adding another crew.
Cllr Pringle wondered whether flexible working would allow elasticity within the workforce. It was noted that there were difficulties in offering flexibility within a Monday to Friday service.
Cllr Pringle questioned whether analysis had been done on causal factors of fly-tipping, wondering whether there was a more cost-effective solution than enforcement. July's figures were produced, which showed that there were 106 fly-tipping incidents classed as domestic other waste, three green waste fly-tips and some electrical white goods. The definition of fly-tipping was clarified as the size of two or more bags of rubbish.
Cllr Pringle raised a concern about trees where it was known they were dangerous and they were being monitored, whether those would be followed up on if they were transferred to another authority. Cllr Pringle wondered whether the duty of care was passed on properly. The response was that Dacorum Borough Council used the Easy-Tree database for tree management, all of the information on the 30,000 trees previously managed was on that database and would be transferred to Hertfordshire County Council.
There was a question around what additional funding was available for trees that were on DBC land and were being maintained by Dacorum Council. It was confirmed that a report was in progress to take to the corporate leadership team with regard to those trees detailing legal obligations. The Chair noted that ward councillors would know where current hotspots for troublesome trees were, suggesting they follow agreed processes and contact the portfolio holder, Aidan Wilkie, for issues on a case by case basis and not wait for the strategic plan. It was noted that there was a plan of action to catch up with the backlog of work regarding tree management.
Cllr Birnie reported his co-councillor had encountered difficulty in establishing whether a tree belonged to a council or adjacent landlord, wondering whether it was sufficient for him to give an address and ask whether it was one of their trees. It was confirmed that there was a record of all DBC trees. The Chair added that until further notice that phone call should be to the strategic senior leadership person.
A concern was raised about what happened where a tree was a risk to life and an immediate danger, who would have the emergency duty. It was reported that DBC had dealt with it via principal or local contractors. Reassurance was given that if there were a risk to life, the Council would act quickly. The Chair suggested requesting a short statement from the leadership team as to what they should do if there was an immediate risk. The Chair requested that if there were specific issues, Councillors should treat it in the same way as a ward issue. There was a suggestion to include instructions for if there was an emergency situation on a Sunday or outside office hours.
There was praise for Councillor Bromham's work on repositioning the responsibility for Hertfordshire's trees. Assurance was given that all safety work was being done, the backlog consisted of non-safety work and was due to cost and the fact that the money had to come out of revenue. Regarding complaints about trees, the Council had said it would not do works unless there was a safety element, a hope was expressed that the revised strategy would not result in the loss of trees just because somebody didn't like them. The Chair summarised that trees which were dangerous or spoiling somebody's quality of life would be the types of trees identified by ward councillors.
There was a call for trees to be given the full import they need, it was noted that the Council were championing the planting of trees in the borough.
A question was raised as to who was responsible for trees which concealed road signs, the Chair suggested speaking to the County Councillor or to Aidan Wilkie from the senior leadership team.
Regarding dog waste bins, a question was raised as to whether they could be combined with a refuse bin where they were sited closely together. The response was to confirm that dog waste could be put into a litter bin. It was noted that the Canals and Rivers Trust had cuts made from central government and were taking dog bins away from towpaths.
With regard to ID checks for using waste tips, it was noted that Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead never asked for ID, whereas the waste site in Bucks did. The response was that borough or county boundaries were more likely to experience problems with people from other boroughs using them, with the example given where controls were introduced at Harefield tip because there was around £100,000 of waste from Bucks.
Cllr Mitchell reported that a bin review was happening in the autumn, it was confirmed a mapping exercise was being done. The Chair suggested the Committee continue to monitor that.
Cllr Mitchell noted that a tree had been chopped down in her ward and she didn't know why, feeling there was a communication gap as she could not answer residents' questions. The Chair seconded that forewarning would be useful and appreciated. There was reference to the previous issue of a monthly bulletin of trees that were to have works done to them, suggesting that be reviewed.
A question was raised as to whether chalk was considered as graffiti, with a report of a resident being told she had to remove chalk art from a pavement. The response was that as chalk was a marking, under the law it would be considered as graffiti. It was suggested that if somebody wished to artistically enhance the pavement they could make a request.