Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Helen Johnson
The Chairman advised the Committee that, as per the suggestion at the last meeting, the trip to the Fernery at Danesbury Park Nature Reserve had been arranged for EOSC Members for Wednesday 24 October 2018. The Committee then decided to open up the visit to all Councillors and an invitation would be subsequently sent out.
SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBER
To note any substitution of Members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22.
The following substitution of a Committee Member had been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22:
Councillor P.Hebden for Councillor H.Bower.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor H.Bower.
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 June 2018 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting on 11 June 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) lists the actions from previous meetings and their current status.
The status of actions agreed at the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 11 June 2018 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) which sets out the performance data collected for those services that fall within its remit. It provides Quarter 1 for 2018-19, along with comparative information.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) provided the Committee with the performance indicator (PI) data collected for services within its remit. It provided Quarter 1 for 2018-19, along with comparative information.
The report helped the Committee to identify which of the Council services had improved, not improved or remained the same in their key performance areas.
The Committee congratulated Officers for meeting or exceeding the majority of Performance Indicators, with only three not being met.
A series of questions by Members and answers by Officers followed, which highlighted the following:
• PI 19 (The cleaner local street survey rating based on the amount of litter and detritus) and PI 20 (The percentage of residents either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with street cleansing (e.g. litter and sweeping services)
The figures were dissimilar as PI 19 was Officers’ objective assessment according to Defra Guidelines whereas PI 20 was a telephone survey of residents across the Borough.
Roads managed by Hertfordshire Highways, such as the dual carriageway to Tesco in Hatfield, could have been unwittingly included in PI 20 and therefore impacted the outcome. The Committee requested Officers to check if there was a distinction between district and county roads. It was agreed that Officers would subsequently circulate the information to the Committee.
The Committee asked that Officers write to those responsible for the roundabout and motorway interceptions in the borough to address the litter problem in those specific areas. It was agreed that Officers would subsequently circulate the information to the Committee.
• PI 17 (Reduce the level of residual household waste collected per head of the population (kg) )
The Committee requested more ambitious targets to be considered for PI 17 at the next annual review of targets by Officers and Portfolio Holders. It was hoped that this would further improve the figures for reducing household waste as well as improving residents’ satisfaction.
• PI 18 (Percentage of household waste collected and sent for reuse, recycling and composting)
The Committee requested that the composting figures be checked and a breakdown provided, as some Members said that the figures conflicted with those of the County Council. It was agreed that Officers would subsequently circulate the information to the Committee.
• P1 58 (The percentage of minor planning application appeals allowed against the Council’s decision ? as a percentage of the total number of appeals)
Officers confirmed that it was a national target that less than 10% of minor planning application appeals should be allowed. Officers dealt with about 500 applications per quarter whereas Committee decided about 15-20 per quarter. In addition Officers would raise any implications of larger appeals with the Cabinet Planning Committee as well as the Executive Member and were learning from the smaller appeals to ensure the number was reduced.
• PI 23 (Completion rate of all tree maintenance work within the planned programme)
Officers advised the Committee that rescheduling tree works was often due to co-ordinating the closure of rural roads as well as ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) sets out responses to six principles that could be incorporated into the strategy to improve the balance between the preservation of trees and resident living conditions. The strategy will be amended once the principles are agreed.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out the responses to six principles that could be incorporated into the Tree and Woodlands Strategy, as Policy 2, to improve the balance between the preservation of trees and resident living conditions. The draft Tree and Woodland Strategy, less Policy 2, was adopted by Cabinet in April 2018.
The principles related to street lights and CCTV cameras, light into living rooms, native trees, a presumption to prune rather than remove, the views of close neighbours and an appeals mechanism.
The Committee praised Officers for the thought that had gone into developing the policy.
Principle 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.
The Committee agreed with the principle.
Principle 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.
Officers proposed that, in the absence of guidance on what might constitute an acceptable light level in living rooms, where a request is made then a tree officer should visit the external garden of the property to make a reasonable judgement based on the orientation of the house, the proximity of the tree and any other relevant factors. Officers clarified that the size and depth of the room and size of the windows would also be taken into account.
The Committee agreed with the principle.
Principle 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.
The Committee agreed with the principle.
Principle 4: In all cases the presumption should be to prune the tree, not to remove it, unless absolutely necessary.
The Committee agreed with the principle.
Principle 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.
Officer considered that this principle should only apply on occasions where pruning or removal of a tree related to a “lack of light” request. Consultation would take place for at least two weeks and Officers would draft a short report to justify their decision.
The Committee agreed with the principle.
It was noted that this would have financial implications, due to the demands on Officer time as well as the possibility of an increase in requests for service by residents.
Principle 6: There should be a mechanism for appeal against a refusal to prune or remove a tree.
Officers proposed an Officer appeal panel to comprise of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and two Heads of Service from within that Directorate to be convened as necessary, probably monthly. The panel would ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which asks the Committee to set up a Member working group to help formulate a revised policy in connection with wheelchair accessible Hackney Carriages. Recommendations can be made to full Council to adopt a revised set of Hackney Carriage terms and conditions.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) invited the Committee to consider setting up a Member Policy Review and Development Group to help research, formulate and consult on a revised policy in connection with wheelchair accessible hackney carriage vehicles (WAVs).
The Committee noted that the Council was responsible for licensing hackney carriage vehicles and drivers and currently there were no WAVs licensed by the Council.
• A recent consultation showed that 90% were in favour of the Council requiring WAVs.
• That there were legal implications with relation to the Equality Act 2010 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976
• That any policy decision taken would need regard to fairness, proportionality as well as human rights considerations.
• That about half of Councils in the UK did not have WAVs and so the Council was not unique in its situation.
The subgroup would:
• Be made up of Members of EOSC, in the ratio of 3:1:1
• Involve stakeholders but they would not form part of the subgroup.
• Adhere to the Terms of Reference as detailed in Appendix A of the report.
• Follow the timeline detailed in Appendix B of the report.
Members were concerned about the timescales and whether anything could be provided in the interim. Officers affirmed that due process and consultation was required. Progress could take even longer if this was not rigorously carried out, with there being be a strong probability of challenge and perhaps judicial review.
(1) That the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee set up a policy review and development subgroup to fulfil the terms of reference in appendix A.
(2) That the working group endeavour to follow the timeline of work given in appendix B, reporting back to EOSC with a draft revised set of hackney carriage terms and conditions in January 2019.
(3) That Full Council adopt the revised set of hackney carriage terms and conditions in March 2019.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which updates Members on the current air quality status in the borough and outlines a monitoring programme in respect of specific pollutants.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and accompanying presentation updated Members on the status of the air quality in the borough and outlined a monitoring programme in respect of specific pollutants.
The Committee heard that:
• A new Nitrogen Dioxide (NO) Analyser would be located in Westview, Hatfield, adjacent to the A1 motorway and near the diffusion tube that had previously shown the breach of air quality.
• Air pollution was a mixture of particles and gases that could have adverse effects on human health with the most important pollutants being particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO).
• Air quality was monitored by diffusion tubes or Nitrogen Dioxide Analysers, the latter of which were more accurate.
• Defra acknowledged receptors of poor air quality as those located within buildings adjacent to a poor air quality area who could be exposed for more than an hour, and not people walking down the street, who were only temporarily exposed for example.
• The health risks of exposure to poor air quality was serious: nearly 30,000 people died each year in the UK due to exposure to pollution.
The Chair recommended that Members contacted the Officer directly with any further suggestions for the location air quality monitoring equipment, particularly in areas where there was traffic congestion.
The Committee enquired and subsequently noted the following:
• If air quality levels were breached, then Officers were obliged to declare an Air Quality Action Area and notify Defra.
• Solutions to poor air quality were not simple but could involve:
a. raising awareness
b. promoting electric cars and other modes of transport
c. putting conditions on new housing developments to ensure that traffic congestion did not worsen in already poor air quality areas
d. installing roundabouts instead of traffic lights.
• That there was enough budget for the full three years of the installation of the Nitrogen Dioxide Analyser.
• That there was an accepted link between high levels of particular matter and dementia, however there were no national guidelines specifying the exact level of particular matter which could lead to dementia and so Officers could only work with Defra’s current guidelines on air quality.
• That diffusion tubes were not placed at the level of pushchairs or people but placed out of reach, often on street lamps.
(1) That the Committee note the current status of the air quality within Welwyn Hatfield.
(2) That the Committee consider the proposed actions for improvements to the Council’s monitoring network.
(3) That the Committee note the potential action required if the Council were required to declare an Air Quality Action Area as well as the locations of newly placed diffusion tubes
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which sets out the Street Trading policy following a consultation.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out a new Street Trading policy, including a new system for vacant pitches and town centre pitches, following a consultation.
The Committee heard that there were no responses during the consultation and that the policy, once adopted, would form part of the decision making process when the Council was determining applications for street trading consents.
Upon enquiry, it was noted that the policy would be in place for a maximum period of five years and kept under constant review. It was agreed that when the policy was reviewed the opportunity for more street traders could be considered, but currently it remained in five locations which worked well as individual traders could attend the markets and street events.
That the Committee approve the Welwyn Hatfield Street Trading Policy in Appendix 1 (including appendices A-H) following the consultation and recommend it’s adoption by Full Council.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which sets out the statement of principles (Gambling Act 2005) for a three year period commencing in January 2019, following a consultation.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out the statement of principles (Gambling Act 2005) in Appendix 1 of the report, following a consultation (with a list of organisations given in Appendix B of the policy).
The statement of principles set out the ideas the Council proposed to apply in exercising its functions under the Gambling Act 2005 during each successive three year period, with the policy being reviewed and re-adopted every three years.
Members noted that only one representation was made and that no changes had been made to the draft policy.
The representation was made by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) and had suggested 9 changes to the policy as outlined in Appendix B of the report.
Members approved the word amendments in parts 1, 2 3, 8 and 9 of the representation.
Members did not approve the policy changes in section 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the representation.
(1) That the Welwyn Hatfield Statement of Principles (Gambling Act 2005) at Appendix 1 be updated to include the amendments in parts 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 of the representation by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).
(2) That the updated Welwyn Hatfield Statement of Principles (Gambling Act 2005) be recommend for its adoption by Full Council, commencing 31 January 2019.
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.
The pro-forma which set out the Committee’s overview work programme 2018/19 had been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered. Items which the Committee agreed it would like to consider would be scheduled into the work programme.
That the Committee’s approve the updated EOSC Overview Work Programme 2018/19.