Agenda and minutes

Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday 11th June 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber , Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: Helen Johnson, Governance Services Officer. E-Mail:  h.johnson1@welhat.gov.uk. Tel: 01707 357467 

Items
No. Item

1.

APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN

To note that Councillors S.Glick and J. Cragg were appointed Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee for the 2018/19 municipal year at the Annual Council meeting on 21 May 2018.

Minutes:

It was noted that the Council had appointed Councillors S.Glick and J.Cragg as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee respectively for the 2018/19 municipal year at the Annual Council meeting on 21 May 2018.

 

The Chairman welcomed returning and new Members to the Committee as well as thanked Councillor C.Gillet for substituting.

2.

SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBERS

To note any substitution of Members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22.

Minutes:

The following substitution of a Committee Member had been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22:

 

Councillor C.Gillett for K.Holman.

3.

APOLOGY

Minutes:

Apology for absence was received from Councillor K.Holman.

4.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 March 2018 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting on 26 March 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

5.

ACTIONS STATUS REPORT pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) lists the actions from previous meetings and their current status.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 26 March 2018 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.

6.

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS - Q4 AND ANNUAL REPORTS

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and accompanying presentation provided the Committee with the performance indicator data collected for services that fell within its remit. It provided Quarter 4 for 2017-18, along with comparative information.

 

The report and presentation helped the Committee to identify which of the Council’s services had improved, not improved or remained the same in their key performance areas.  It was noted that 15 Performance Indicators (PIs) were achieved and 6 narrowly missed.

 

PI 17 (Reduce the level of residual household waste collected per head of the population)

 

Some Members were disappointed at the performance and expressed the view that if there had been more recycling then there would have been less residual waste. 

 

PI 18 (Percentage of household waste collected and sent for reuse, recycling and composting)

 

Members put forth that the current targets were not ambitious enough and the actual performance of 37% was disappointing. Moreover other Council’s such as Three Rivers and St Albans, had higher recycling rates. Next Members asked that officers investigate the discrepancy and provide a comparative report on the recycling services of other Councils. In addition Members asked that the real figures and percentages for the performance indicator be provided. 

 

The Corporate Director (Planning, Protection and Governance) advised Members that local benchmarking would cost money and Officer time, and that the monitoring would be part of the 2020 procurement process for the recycling service. 

 

Members enquired whether there was any scope to consult with local business because Waitrose and Sainsbury had the facilities to recycle plastic carrier bags.

 

The Head of Environment advised Members that the introduction of the tax on carrier bags had been the most effective way to reduce their environmental impact. In addition, they were a difficult product to recycle as they had no market value. He agreed to check with Hertfordshire’s leading recycling company if the situation had changed and the following answer was circulated to the Committee on 20 June 2018:

 

“For Council collected plastic carrier bags, WHBC still gets plastic bags in the blue lidded bins, these are taken out of the process and are bundled up. The reduced number of carrier bags still being collected by WHBC hinder the sorting of material and reduce the efficiency of the process. The carrier bags are sent for recycling at a cost to the recycling company. The tonnage involved is less than 10 tonnes per year and would have a negligible impact on the recycling rate.

 

Carrier bags left at retail outlets or recovered by a company like Ocado are recycled. This recycling is mainly done in the Far East, with a very small amount of one coloured carrier bags being processed in the UK. The carrier bags from these sources are relatively clean and may have a small level of market demand, but at a charge to the retailers and/or recyclers. The carrier bags may also go to locations to recover energy.

 

The recycling company confirmed that the recycling  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

EAT OUT EAT WELL UPDATE pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which updates Members regarding the progress of Eat Out Eat Well, a healthy eating award that Public Health & Protection are introducing with compliant food businesses to promote healthier food choices.

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) updated Members regarding the progress of Eat Out Eat Well, a healthy eating award that Public Health and Protection had been introducing with compliant food businesses to promote healthier food choices with the overall aim to address obesity in adults and children in Welwyn Hatfield.

 

Eat Out Eat Well documentation had been branded with Welwyn Hatfield logos and five officers within Environmental Health had completed a level 3 qualification in Nutrition for Health, which would enable them to deliver qualifications to businesses to help them fulfil the “gold” award.

 

It was noted by Members that the delivery of the scheme in Welwyn Hatfield was being used as a pilot to inform a potential County implementation and Millgreen and Campus West had received awards.

 

Following questions to Officers by Members, the Committee noted that businesses run by the Council or had a strong association with it were chosen for the project so they would set the standards for other businesses.   Officers welcomed nominations for businesses from Members. 

 

The Chairman then proposed that future updates of Eat Out Eat Well be every six months and then annually, and the Committee agreed.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)     That the content of the report regarding the progress of Eat Out Eat Well be noted.

 

(2)     That future updates to the Committee of Eat Out Eat Well would be every six months and then annually.

8.

ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE FOOD SAFETY SERVICE DELIVERY PLAN 2017/2018 pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which sets out (in appendix A) a review of performance against the food safety service plan for 2017/18 for Welwyn Hatfield.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out (in Appendix A) a review of performance against the food safety service plan for 2017/18 for Welwyn Hatfield.

 

Members were informed that:

 

           Inspection numbers were less than the previous year but this was related to the absence of a food competent Officer and the inability to obtain a food contractor.

 

           Inspections were focussed on risk, with time being spent with the highest risk businesses, bringing all Category A businesses to a lower risk category within the year.

 

           Food Businesses that attended the seminar delivered by Environmental Health in March 2017 achieved significant improvement in their food hygiene ratings, achieving a rate of “32 Satisfactory or above” which was the aim.

 

Members also received a short presentation from Officers on what was involved in food inspections. It covered food fraud, cross contamination, cleanliness and sampling work as well as informal enforcement action. 

 

The Chairman and Members congratulated the team for their work.

 

Members expressed the view that local businesses ought to display food hygiene ratings in order to inform residents as well as motivate local traders to improve. Officers advised that this was being considered as part of Regulating Our Future, a central government initiative, which was yet to be implemented.

 

The Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), in consultation with the Executive Member (Governance and Public Health), agreed to write to central government to lobby for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings for businesses.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the content of the annual performance review of the food safety service delivery plan 2017/18 be considered and noted by Members.

9.

HEALTH AND SAFETY SERVICE PLAN 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which reviews the performance of the service during 2017/18 and sets out the draft Health and Safety Service Plan 2018/19, the purpose of which is to ensure adequate arrangements for enforcement of health and safety law as required by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) reviewed the performance of the service during 2017/18 and set out the draft Health and Safety Service Plan 2018/19, the purpose of which was to ensure adequate arrangements for enforcement of health and safety law as required by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA).

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)          That the draft Health and Safety Service Plan 2018/19 be noted.

 

(2)          That the Health and Safety Service Plan 2018/19 be recommended to the Council for adoption. 

10.

DRAFT STREET TRADING POLICY pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which providesmembers with a new draft street trading policy detailing the Council’s current practises and a new system for vacant pitches and town centre pitches. The report recommends that the policy in Appendix 1 and Appendices A-H are sent out for consultation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) provided Members with a new draft street trading policy which detailed the Council’s current practises and a new system for the allocation of vacant pitches and town centre pitches.

 

The goal of the new policy was to protect public health through the control of street trading to ensure traders operated within the law and acted fairly in their dealings with the public as well as to prevent nuisance, unsafe practices and anti-social behaviour.

 

As waiting lists were long, there would be improved notices inviting applications for available pitches such as on the Council website, social media or the Council Offices’ notice board.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the draft street trading policy shown in Appendix 1 (including Appendices A-H) be released for consultation to the stakeholders listed in Appendix 2.

11.

ADOPTION OF THE WELWYN HATFIELD BOROUGH COUNCIL'S STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES UNDER THE GAMBLING ACT 2005 pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection Planning and Governance) which sets out the draft statement of licensing policy 2019-2021 and the principles the Council proposes to apply in exercising functions under section 349 of the Gambling Act. The statement of licensing policy follows the prescribed statutory format and will incorporate views from a consultation exercise.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection Planning and Governance) set out the draft statement of gambling policy 2019-2021 and the principles the Council proposed applying in exercising functions under section 349 of the Gambling Act.

 

Once adopted the statement of licensing policy would mean that the Council was compliant and would form part of the decision making process for Council Members and Officers when determining applications for premises licences in respect of Casinos, Bingo, Betting, Adult gaming centres and Family Entertainment centres. The policy would also be used by the Courts should they be asked to consider an appeal against a committee decision. The policy, which was reviewed every three years, followed the prescribed statutory format and would incorporate views from a consultation exercise.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)     That the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council draft statement of gambling policy 2019-2021 be approved by the Committee.

 

(2)     That the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council draft statement of gambling policy 2019-2021 be agreed for consultation to those persons listed in Appendix B.

 

(3)     That the results of the consultation be brought back to the Committee to consider.

12.

JOHN O'CONNOR ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) provided Members with a record of John O’Conner GM performance against the specification in the contract for April 2017 – March 2018. 

 

John O’Conner GM provided both the burial excavation and grounds maintenance activities at the Council’s cemeteries on behalf of the Council.

 

The Chairman congratulated John O’Connor on achieving all their targets for the year.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the content of the John O’Conner GM Annual Performance Report 2017/18 be noted, as a record of John O’Conner GM performance against the specification in the contract for April 2017 – March 2018.

13.

CP PLUS ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Report of Corporate Director for Resources, Environment and Cultural Services which provides Members with details of the performance of CP Plus for April 2017 – March 2018, measured against the agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within the contract.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) provided Members with details of the performance of CP Plus for April 2017 – March 2018, measured against the agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within the contract.

 

Members enquired as to whether the report had been checked by Officers.  Officers affirmed that it was checked as well as supported by Officer observations on site and the fact that there had been no official complaints about the service.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the contents of the CP Plus Annual Performance Report, as a record of their results April 2017 – March 2018 against the contractual key performance indicators, be noted.

14.

ANGLIA IN BLOOM 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) set out the Council’s “It’s Your Neighbourhood Scheme” as well as the Council’s intention to enter Anglia in Bloom 2018/19, the summary of the application process and examples of specific projects that would be put forward.

 

Officers had been in discussion with regional judges and would be applying having registered their interest in the scheme. The whole Borough would be put forward, including parishes, and there were would be different categories such as sustainable gardens, community projects, local authority displays and nature reserve work.

 

Members welcomed the news that the Fernery at Danesbury had been restored by Friends of Danesbury over the last 5 years.

 

The Chairman, on behalf the Committee, thanked officers for the project which would promote the Borough and advised Members that a trip to a site would be arranged. 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the contents of the report be noted and Officers provide an update at the next Committee meeting in September with feedback from the application.

15.

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT - Q4 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Report by the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) combines Environment Service’s information and Serco’s customer satisfaction performance for Quarter 4 2017/18.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report by the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) provided the Committee with the combined Environment Service’s information and Serco’s customer satisfaction performance for Quarter 4 2017/18.

 

Members expressed their disappointment that approximately 1,700 bins had been missed in Q4, equating to 0.22% of total bins collected within that period and commented that residents had still been inconvenienced.

 

Regarding Figure 1: Recycling Rate and Total Waste to Landfill/Disposal of the report, it was noted by Members that the recycling rate at 37% was unusually low. 

 

Officers advised the Committee that this was likely to be a nationwide trend as less waste was put in brown bins during the cold winter of January, February and March 2018 where little gardening had taken place and therefore there was less waste to  be collected. 

 

Members expressed the view that comparing consecutive quarters was probably best avoided due to the seasonal changes. Consequently the figures could be more effective if comparisons were with the same quarter from the year before.

 

In addition, the Chairman remarked that the figures did not account for the unquantifiable amount of home recycling or garden composting carried out by residents. 

 

Members declared that the figures showed that there had been a consistent decline in the recycling rate since the introduction of the charge for the brown bin collection service. 

 

Then Councillor J. Broach moved and Councillor J.Weston seconded that:

 

“Based on Figure 1. (Recycling Rate and Total Waste to Landfill/Disposal) of this report we believe that the brown bin tax is not working, in that it has drastically reduced recycling in the Borough”.

 

On being put to the meeting there were five votes in favour and six votes against and the motion was lost.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Environmental Services Performance Report for Quarter 4 be noted.

16.

TREE AND WOODLAND STRATEGY - REVIEW OF POLICY 2 pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which sets out alternative options for Policy 2 of the Trees and Woodlands Strategy for Members to debate.  Policy 2 of the Trees and Woodlands Strategy lays out criterion where tree works will not be carried out to Council-owned and Hertfordshire Highways trees.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out alternative options for Policy 2 of the Trees and Woodlands Strategy for Members to debate and the implications of those options.   Policy 2 of the Tree and Woodland Strategy laid out criterion where tree works would not be carried out to Council-owned and Hertfordshire Highways trees.

 

The Chairman then reiterated the options and asked the Committee to be mindful of the financial implications of any change to the policy.

 

Councillor M.Cowan then suggested six points based on the principle of giving at least as much weight to the living conditions of residents as to the preservation of trees.

 

The six points were:

 

1.         When a street tree significantly interferes with light from a street light, or the sightline of a Council CCTV camera, the presumption should be to prune the tree.

 

2.         When the effect of a tree is to make a resident want to keep a light on for the majority of the day to ensure sufficient light to a living room, then the presumption should be to prune the tree.

 

3.         When the tree is a rare example of a native tree or makes a significant contribution to the landscape, the presumption should be to preserve the tree.

 

4.         In all cases the presumption should be to prune the tree, not to remove it, unless absolutely necessary.

 

5.         If the decision is likely to be to allow significant pruning or removal of a tree, other than one which is dying, the views of close neighbours should be sought before a decision is reached.

 

6.         There should be a mechanism for appeal against a refusal to prune to remove a tree.

 

With regards to the initial point the Tenants’ Panel Representative, R. Read enquired as to how Officers would know there was a problem with a street light.  Officers replied that there would be reports from members of the public, their tree contractor Maydencroft Rural and via Tree Officer inspections.

 

Concerning the second point, the Head of Planning advised the Committee that light levels were subjective. Subsequently, it could be difficult to ensure consistency if they could not be measured.  Moreover, thinning the branches of a healthy tree often did not work and cutting down healthy trees to improve light to properties would set a precedent.

 

The Chairman agreed and added that Officer’s decisions could be challenged, whereas with an appeal, each case could be taken on its own merits.

 

Members suggested that an instrument could be used to measure light.  The Corporate Director (Planning, Protection and Governance) suggested that this would still be subjective and whatever scale was used, someone could argue against it.

 

Some Members suggested the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) criteria for light and officers agreed to look into this, although this option would involve Officers going into resident’s homes unless the equipment was supplied to the resident.

 

With regards to the fifth point, it was noted that this was already covered in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

COMMITTEE OVERVIEW WORK PROGRAMME 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

The pro-forma which sets out the Committee’s overview work programme has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place.  Items which the Committee agrees it would like to consider will be scheduled into the work programme.

Minutes:

The pro-forma set out the Committee’s overview work programme 2018/19. It had been updated since the last meeting to enable the forward planning of items to be considered to take place.  Items which the Committee agreed it would like to consider would be scheduled into the work programme.

 

An updated version of the Committee’s overview work programme 2018/19 was circulated at the meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee’s overview work programme 2018/19 update was approved.

18.

CONSIDERATION OF ITEMS FOR SCRUTINY

To consider

 

(1)     whether any Cabinet decisions should be scrutinised post-implementation (Paragraph 14.1 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules)

 

(2)     whether any items which relate to areas covered by the Committee which a member of the Committee may wish to raise with a view to deciding whether an issue should be scrutinised.

 

The Administration and Opposition Groups each have the right within the Municipal Year to have one scrutiny topic referred to a Sub-Committee.

 

Where the Committee decides an issue should be scrutinised, a scrutiny Sub-Committee should be appointed to carry out the specific piece of scrutiny work (Paragraph 6.3 of the Procedure for the Operation of the Overview and Scrutiny Function).

Minutes:

Review of the Constitution

 

Members noted that a Member Group was appointed at the Annual Council Meeting, which comprised seven Members in the ratio 4:2:1 to work with Officers to undertake a comprehensive review of the Constitution and make recommendations for change to the Council.

 

Welwyn Garden City Town Centre Parking Survey

 

Councillor J. Broach requested that a parking survey on Welwyn Garden City town centre be carried out.   Residents had expressed concerns about the noise and pollution from the taxi rank which had been relocated to Stonehills nearby residential properties. 

 

Councillor J.Broach said that a noise or air quality survey during the trial period of the proposed pedestrianisation measures in the town would be prudent and that the resultant substantive information be made available to decision makers on the scheme, namely the Hertfordshire County Council and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. 

 

The Corporate Director (Planning Protection and Governance) advised equipment could be made available to measure noise pollution and possibly equipment to measure air pollution as well.

 

Relocation of Licensed Operators in Welwyn Garden City Town Centre During Events.

 

Members raised the issue that events in Welwyn Garden City town centre had impacted on the usual location of licensed operators. During one event a kebab van had relocated to a residential area which negatively impacted on the residents. 

 

Officers affirmed that the issue would be considered during the forthcoming consultation on the draft street trading policy.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That equipment to measure air and noise pollution be utilised during the trial proposed pedestrianisation measures in Welwyn Garden City town centre, most notably the relocation of the taxi rank, in order that the impact on residents could be wholly taken into account by decision makers following the trial.

 

(2)       That the impact of town centre events on the location of licensed operators be considered during the consultation on the draft street trading policy.