Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Helen Johnson
SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBERS
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 C.Gillett for Councillor K.Holman.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor M.Birleson and Councillor K.Holman and Tenants’ Panel Representative J.Armstrong-Bridges.
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 September 2018 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting on 24 September 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman subject to the following amendments:
Minute 25. Tree and Woodland Strategy Policy 2, Principle 6, Page 5.
The last two bullet points would read:
• “That Members of the public would be advised to contact a ward Councillor for advice if planning a request to have a tree reduced due to light restriction, or an appeal.
• That Members could receive guidance with this aspect to ensure their remit was clear and also guidance with regards to the policy”.
Minute 27. Air Quality Monitoring Results for 2017, Page 8, Lines 11 and 13.
The word “particular” would be replaced with “particulate”.
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 24 September 2018 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.
NOTIFICATION OF URGENT BUSINESS TO BE CONSIDERED
The Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) notified the Chairman of urgent business to be discussed later in the meeting:
The Air Quality Report presented at the last meeting of the Committee contained errors. The matter was considered urgent as it was necessary to correct the errors of the previous Officer’s report.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) which sets out an overview of the garden waste service to date and an outline of the plan for year 3 subscriptions, for noting by the Committee.
The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) set out an overview of the garden waste service to date and an outline of the plan for year 3 subscriptions.
The Committee noted that:
Year One (2017/28) Subscriptions
• The Council introduced a chargeable garden waste service in April 2017.
• The service cost £35 for one bin and an additional £60 for another bin.
• The subscription period was from April to March each year.
Year Two (2018/19) Subscriptions
• Nearly 23,500 households had signed up to the garden waste service, which was approximately 500 more than the previous year.
• The Council had introduced a paperless direct debit (DD) management service.
• There had been no change in subscription fees.
Year Three (2019/20) Subscriptions
• It was proposed to close the online payment line for the 2018/19 year at the end of December and open the payment lines for 2019/20 subscriptions in the new calendar year, to improve clarity about the subscription year for residents.
• Residents could still sign up to the garden waste service for the current year after December and the subscription process would be routed through the Council’s Contact Centre rather than residents signing up online.
• There were no proposed changes to the terms and conditions of the service attached in the appendix.
In response to questions, Officers confirmed that if a resident requested to set up a subscription in January then they would encourage them to wait until the new subscription year in April, which often worked well as minimal waste was created during the winter months.
In addition, Officers confirmed that they discouraged residents from sweeping up leaves to be collected by Serco.
That the Committee note the Garden Waste Service Report, including Appendix 1.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and accompanying presentation which sets out how to deliver public health and wellbeing in the borough, and specifically the need to organise a Public Health Summit and prepare a draft Public Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and accompanying presentation set out how the Council would deliver public health and wellbeing in the borough.
A Public Health Summit was planned for January 2019 as well as a draft Public Health and Wellbeing Strategy to provide both a corporate and borough wide approach to public health and wellbeing.
Members noted that:
• Local councils had a statutory duty to both improve public health (such as helping people quit smoking) and protect public health (for example, from environmental or biological threats such as food poisoning or radiation). Whereas healthcare was primarily the domain of the NHS.
• The widely accepted Dahlgren-Whitehead rainbow model showed the many facets and subsequent determinants of public health from the individual (such as age and lifestyle), social and community networks (including the natural and built environment) as well as the wider socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions (such as transport, education and housing).
• The Summit would bring together key stakeholders (such as the County Council, Mental Health Teams, the Risk and Resilience Forum) to provide an evidence base for the next strategy.
• Subsequently, and as per Public Health England’s recommendation of wanting health to be looked at in all policies, the strategy would be overarching, with public health embedded into the key workings of the Council.
• The Council had set up numerous initiatives over the last four years which included Health Walks, a Healthy Eating scheme with local businesses, Health Fest as well as increased the air quality monitoring programme.
Members enquired as to the financial implications of strategy. Officers said that the Council currently received funding from the Hertfordshire Public Health Partnership and that there was potential for funding from Section 106 and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Again, the strategy would play a key part in securing funds in the future.
Members raised concerns about the number of high density developments of houses and flats being built in the borough without the further provision of green spaces to mitigate the development’s impact on public health. This was currently possible due to permitted development - where previous industrial areas or commercial buildings could be turned over to intensive residential development.
Members felt that as a Garden City it was imperative that there was not a return to the “Victorian” levels of dense development and that more weight was given to the impact of green space upon health and wellbeing.
Officers responded to say that an Environmental Health Officer had been placed within the Planning Team, again moving forward to public health in all policies and processes.The issue of permitted development however was outside of the planning team’s control.
(1) That the Committee give delegated authority to the Head of Public Health and Protection in consultation with the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and the Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Governance in order to:
a. Organise a Public Health Summit for the Borough ... view the full minutes text for item 37.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) which sets out the annual summary of the Street Warden service and associated activities since April 2017, for noting by the Committee.
The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) set out the annual summary of the Street Warden service and associated activities since April 2017.
The Committee noted that the Street Warden service:
• Was an integral part of the Environmental Services team, helping to improve the quality of life for local people and providing a reassuring presence in the community.
• Consisted of five Officers in total who worked shifts throughout the week.
• Supported the statutory functions of many Council teams, including the Environmental Health, Planning, Housing and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) teams.
The Committee thanked the Street Warden team for their work.
The Committee raised concerns about the issue of verge protection orders being breached. Officers confirmed that the Street Wardens had no power in that respect: They could only send a written warning if a car registration number had been taken. Officers confirmed that the issue was being looked at by the Parking Services team and could be brought to the Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP).
That the Committee note the Street Warden Annual Performance Report.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) which presents an overview of the Council’s current recycling performance and how it compares with other councils across Hertfordshire.
The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presented an overview of the Council’s current recycling performance and how it compared with other councils across Hertfordshire, which was a direct response to the Committee request to do so at the last meeting.
The “waste hierarchy” ranked waste management options according to what was best for the environment. It gave top priority to preventing waste in the first place and then to preparing waste that had been generated for its re-use, then recycling and last of all disposal.
It was therefore more important to focus on the need to reduce waste being generated in the long term rather than purely looking at ways to increase the recycling rate.
• Noted that the Streetscene Procurement Board was currently looking at different options for waste reduction and recycling in the Borough.
• Were keen to apply more pressure on businesses to reduce their packaging. Officers confirmed that as part of the Resource and Waste Strategy the Council was encouraging businesses to redesign and minimise their packaging but that there was a long way to go.
• Commented that it was disappointing that the Quarter 2 Performance Indicator Report was not presented at the meeting and Officers confirmed that it would be taken into account when compiling the committee timetable for 2019/20.
That the Committee note the contents of the report.
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 set out the Committee’s overview work programme 2018/19, which 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 had been scheduled into the work programme. An updated version was circulated at the meeting to include a Community Toilet Scheme scheduled for the Committee’s January meeting.
That the Committee’s approve the updated Environment Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2018/19.
SUCH OTHER BUSINESS AS, IN THE OPINION OF THE CHAIRMAN, IS OF SUFFICIENT URGENCY TO WARRANT IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION
The Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) advised the Committee that the report relating to the air quality work of the Council, submitted to EOSC on 24 September 2018, contained data inaccuracy. It was important that the Committee understood the implications and what DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) had said about the incident.
The report detailed the annual air quality returns that were submitted to DEFRA as well as the ongoing work the Council had been carrying out to protect the health of the community in respect to air quality.
The Committee noted that:
• Unfortunately a formatting error had occurred with one of the result tables found within the annual report and as such the incorrect results were inadvertently submitted to DEFRA.
• As soon as Officers were aware of the error DEFRA was notified and the correct figures were submitted.
• The error did not have any implications on data that was used to determine whether or not the Council declare an air quality action area. In all reports the data had been correct.
• DEFRA subsequently accepted the revised figures and would update the report accordingly.
• The advice received from DEFRA following the submission of the initial report still remained the same and the Council would continue to monitor all the sites within the district on a monthly basis.
• The complete commentary from DEFRA which included: “the report is well structured, detailed and provided the information specified in the Guidance, following the latest reporting template”.
• The complete commentary from DEFRA had been sent to the resident that had brought the error to the Council’s attention as well as to the Office for the local MP.
• That the Officers had presented the original report in good faith and there had been no intention to mislead the Committee.
That the Committee note the urgent business that had been subsequently resolved.
The Executive Members then left the meeting.
CONSIDERATION OF ITEMS FOR SCRUTINY
(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).
Councillor M.Cowan of the Liberal Democrats requested a scrutiny into:
“How the Council can move forward with restricting parking on verges and footpaths given the impracticability of the current by-law”.
As per the constitution:
• The Administration and Opposition Groups each had the right within the Municipal Year to have one scrutiny topic referred to a Sub-Committee. This was the first request for scrutiny by the Liberal Democrats.
• The ratio would be 2:2, with Members from any Groups.
• An Opposition Member would be chairman.
Recommendations for Members of the subcommittee would be passed to Governance Services following the meeting.