The Environmental and Community Protection Performance report had been circulated and was taken as read.
ECPO9, the KPI for environmental community protection, had increased this quarter and was now at just over 87%. The food safety recovery plan had been running to target and had now been withdrawn by the government, the expectation was to return to pre-COVID levels by the end of quarter 2. The annual air quality status report for 2023 had been submitted to DEFRA for ratification, work was continuing with partners on the installation of the new air quality analyser scheduled for Apsley, and the PM2.5 monitors scheduled for Swingate Lane, Bennetts End Road and Lawn Lane. A report had been drafted and sent to the the Committee on air quality at the beginning of the summer, the Chair apologised she had not done that, requesting that the report be re-sent to her and she would pass it to LFowell to circulate.
The Corporate Safety and Resilience Team had been working with other district and borough councils to implement a memorandum of understanding between all partners in case of an emergency plan activation, in order to finalise agreements for mutual aid. There was a continued reduction in filthy and verminous complex cases, with six in Q1. It was noted that numbers had been increasing throughout the pandemic, numbers were usually higher in the summer. Prosecutions had been brought by the Operations Team, on 5th July at St Albans Magistrates' Court Edward Meredith of Priory Orchard,Flamstead, pleaded guilty to unauthorised deposit of publicly controlled waste in Caddington Common, he was ordered to pay £2,222 consisting of a fine, costs and a victim surcharge.
A multi-departmental task force consisting of officers from environment and community safety, district improvement, police colleagues and community safety and antisocial behaviour had been working on improvements in Gadebridge Park. Work had been done to turn negative behaviours, reduce littering and improving behaviour in the vicinity. Fixed penalty notices had been served for littering and breaches of public space protection orders. There had been 21 prosecutions brought by the council for littering or public space protection order offences, all of which were successfully taken through the single justice procedure. £3,220 total of fines, almost £3,000 in total costs had been awarded, plus a victim surcharge.
It was reported that on 14th June at Hatfield Remand Court, Dacorum Borough Council had successfully prosecuted Mr Jake Putnam of Hasedines Road in Hemel Hempstead for a fly-tipping offence that occurred last year. Mr Putnam was arrested and brought before the court, he pleaded guilty to unauthorised deposit of controlled waste and ordered to pay a £480 fine and £500 costs, with a £192 victim surcharge
Regarding the prosecutions, Cllr Pringle sought clarity regarding whether fines would go into central funds. It was confirmed that fines would go into central government coffers, the Council would receive the costs element and the victim surcharge would go into central funds. It was reported that the costs could only be calculated from after a certain point in the investigation, once an offence was suspected there were charges for clear-up fees, officer time and lawyer time. The Chair suggested further questions regarding compensation be put in writing.
Cllr Santamaria wondered whether there was an estimate for when the new monitors would be in place and results would be seen from them. It was reported they were not in situ at the moment as the process for accessing the power source was more complex than anticipated. There was also work being done with Ringway and the Estates Department about the use of the space in front of the Apsley Community Centre. It was hoped the monitors would be deployed as quickly as possible, particularly as results would need to be gathered over a period of time before judgements could be made.
Regarding antisocial behaviour, Cllr Mitchell reported she had met with PCSOs who were keen to go into schools with a youth worker. It was reported this was outside of the remit of the Committee, it would be for Joshua Smith, Head of Safe Communities. It was reported the police already ran a programme for primary schools, the Mini Police.
Cllr Birnie noted that Bennetts End Road was due to have a monitoring device, wondering what the evidence was for that decision. The respondent believed it was because it was close to a road canyon, however she would check.
Cllr Timmis wondered whether regulatory officers could do spot checks in villages, rather than focus on Gadebridge Park. The response was that there was a KPI for the team around how often they needed to go to various wards based on the amount of littering in those wards.
Cllr Patterson noted the reporting of 500 fixed penalty notices in Q1, wondering what proportion of those were related to litter. The response was that the vast majority were related to littering. The Chair would work with LFowell to find documentation showing the breakdown of fixed penalty notices. A Councillor reported that he had a spreadsheet showing the detail, noting a high proportion was for cigarette butts, which raised the concern that enforcement officers were motivated by situations where fixed penalty notices may be easy to issue rather than the objective of improving the wellbeing of residents. The Chair noted that all reports she had seen were noting successes due to the number of notices issued. It was suggested the information be provided as an annexe to the minutes, the Chair would endeavour to get information to Committee members regarding the proportion of fines which were litter and what that litter consisted of if that information were available.
It was noted that the DBC website had a page for PSPOs which was mapped and annexed in order. Littering and dog fouling was across the entire borough, there was a separate mapping for the town centre. Additionally, there were by-laws listed on the website.
The suggestion was made that people using electric scooters were required to have a bell, it was noted that it was actually illegal for them to cycle on the road or pavement.
There was a comment that the canal towpath was a shared use between bicycles and pedestrians, the Canals and Rivers Trust had a code of practice for cyclists. The Chair noted the upcoming Cycling and Walking Plan.