Agenda and minutes

Environment Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday 22 May 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Keith Rippington and Ray Theodoulou.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 6 March 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 6 March 2019 were approved and signed by the Chair subject to three minor typos on page 3.

 

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

3.

Declarations of interest

Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.

 

Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

4.

Motion 828: Making Gloucestershire's Countryside Safe And Accessible pdf icon PDF 123 KB

RESOLVED that this Council notes the exceptional countryside in Gloucestershire and the significant economic and cultural benefits that this already gives to businesses and residents within the county.

 

However, this Council recognises that the county’s countryside could be made safer and more accessible for people, including walkers, those with limited physical movement and equine users.

 

This Council also recognises that relatively small infrastructure changes could further cement the county’s position as a tourist destination of choice for country pursuits. Such improvements could include, but are not limited to:

 

1.    Safe connections between walking routes and bridlepaths

2.    Gates on walking paths and bridleways that are more accessible for all users and easier to open on a horse

3.    Well-drained surfaces in gateways

4.    Parking facilities on popular routes

 

This Council resolves to send this matter to the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee, for consideration on how the Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership can work with the tourist industry to turn Gloucestershire into an centre of excellence for walkers and equine users, helping businesses develop new and innovative practices.

 

Minutes:

4.1       As the original proposer of the motion at full Council on 28 November 2018, the Chair invited Cllr Colin Hay to introduce this item and explain the background behind the motion.

 

4.2       The Committee heard that the equestrian industry in Gloucestershire is fit and well, this motion was not an attempt to revive an industry that wasn’t working properly but rather to promote and improve this important sector for the County.

 

4.3       Gloucestershire is well known for its equine facilities in terms of; racing, the Hartpury University and riding for the disabled. It also benefits from an exceptional countryside which has significant economic and cultural benefits. There are however, improvements that can be done to solidify the County as a choice for country pursuits, especially for equine.

 

4.4       Members acknowledged that these improvements could include; making safer crossing points, improved gate access, better signage and safer walking/bridle paths that run alongside roads.

 

4.5       Promoting Gloucestershire in this way could see benefits both nationally and internationally, badging it as the safest place to walk and ride in the Country.

 

4.6       Cllr Loraine Patrick, as the seconder of the motion, informed the Committee that the equine industry in the County is huge. However, users experience missing safe links between bridle ways and gates are not suitably installed. The industry contributes a huge amount financially and better care is needed to allow it to flourish.

 

4.7       The Chair next invited Kath Haworth, Lead Commissioner for this area, to present the responding report.

 

4.8       The Committee were informed that the Public Rights of Way (PROW) network in Gloucestershire is over three and a half thousand kilometres, slightly more than the highways network. Keeping this network safe and accessible is part of the normal duties for the Council (especially points 1-3 in the motion).

 

4.9       Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) currently do a 10% inspection of the wider network to identify safety issues each year, meaning every 10 years the whole network will have been covered. Members were reassured however, that the Council is not working in a vacuum. It works closely with parishes, land owners and groups such as the AONB and horse riding associations to help keep track of any issues on the network throughout the year.

 

4.10    Officers advised that some members choose to use their Highways Local or Growing Our Communities funding to improve areas of PROW within their divisions.

 

4.11    It was also highlighted that bridle ways can be used by cyclist so this could be another key marketing tool for tourism in Gloucestershire.

 

4.12    On opening up to questions and feedback from the Committee, a member asked if these sorts of works could be funded by the Community Match Funding packages available from GCC. It was advised that as long as the works required were on the highway network, this would be a viable funding route for local areas. GCC would offer a 50/50 split with local town/parish/district councils to fund the works.

 

4.13    On questioning, officers advised the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Biodiversity Task Group Update pdf icon PDF 270 KB

The Committee to receive a verbal update on the Biodiversity Task Group from Chair of the group Cllr Rachel Smith.

Minutes:

5.1       The Chair invited Cllr Rachel Smith, as chair of the Biodiversity Task Group, to present the report. Members were reminded that a motion at full Council in June 2018 had been unanimously agreed to set up a task group to look at protecting and encouraging biodiversity in Gloucestershire.

 

5.2       Members heard the purpose behind the motion was to shift the base line from preserving what biodiversity the County has left, to working hard to regenerate and recapture what has been lost.

 

5.3       The Committee were informed the cross-party working group agreed its main focus would be on verge management (grass cutting) within the County, and agreed to hold a public workshop in January 2019. This event had been well attended by local parishes, district councils and ecological groups and was structured by three main questions: where are we now, where do we want to get to and how do we get there. This workshop then formed the basis of the task group’s report and recommendations.

 

5.4       Cllr Smith summarised the recommendations, highlighting in particular the ‘cut and collect’ business case and engagement with local council’s going forward. It was explained that a lot of the recommendations hinged on the need to reduce the fertility of soil which has become too nutrient rich.

 

5.5       An agreement was made between Cllr Moor, as the Cabinet Member responsible, Cllr Smith and the Committee that Cabinet would feedback on the recommendations in September.

 

5.6       Several members highlighted the need for effective communication if the recommendations were going to be successful. This would need to continue throughout the year, especially when wildflowers are reseeding.

 

5.7       One member informed the Committee of a successful project in their local division which allowed biodiversity to play a part in enforcing a parking issue. A patch of grass had been being used for parking and causing safety issues – it is now covered in wildflowers and has been really welcomed by the community.

 

5.8       Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood congratulated the group for all the good work done and reinforced the need for effective communication to the public.

 

5.9       Officers reinforced that things were not going to change overnight but it was important to begin taking steps. They also highlighted the positive financial impact for the Council especially when trying to manage major highways carriages.

 

6.

Director's Report, Communities & Infrastructure pdf icon PDF 202 KB

Colin Chick, Strategic Adviser (Communities & Infrastructure) to update the Committee on current issues.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1       Colin Chick, Strategic Adviser (Communities & Infrastructure), updated the Committee on current issues. In particular, members noted that:

 

·         The new highways contract is going very well.

·         Unfortunately the Chepstow Bypass bid for funding to the Western Gateway Sub-national Board submission was rejected as it did not meet the objectives. It will stay on the list and the Council can bid again if another funding route isn’t found.

·         Under 3.6 the report should state 2020 not 2019.

·         In relation to the Local Transport Plan (LTP) – GCC and all district councils are in agreement that a co-ordinated approach on land allocations is the best way forward. The developing LTP will look forward to 2041, identifying long term aspirations through connections and transport schemes.

·         To highlight that the changes at Arle Court have been well received by the community.

6.2       Looking next at the submitted quarter 3 and 4 performance scorecards for the department, it was highlighted that almost all of the performance indicators were achieved or overachieved. This was despite numerous major projects such as junction 10 on top of the department’s usual workload.

 

6.3       It was referenced that for completeness of the quartered reports, the Fire and Rescue Service had been included but this would not happen going forward due to the Committee’s remit change following the scrutiny review.

 

6.4       On questioning of the Director’s report, a member asked why they had heard Javelin Park would begin taking waste in around 3 weeks time via the media. Members were informed that there have been set up delays which keep altering the timeline. Both of the previous 20 days notices to GCC have been cancelled and there is doubt around the current one. To avoid confusion, officers are liaising with the districts constantly to make sure everyone is as up to date on progress as possible.

 

6.5       A local member to the area raised concern regarding the displaced traffic from GCHQ due to the changes at Arle Court. Officers reassured that as one of the largest employers in the county, they’re working closely with GCHQ on a travel plan refresh to try and improve numbers on walking, cycling and public transport use.

 

6.6       Members noted that currently, the Joint Waste Committee are in discussions about the future shape of the partnership. All are in agreement that there needs to be something that co-ordinates waste management on a county basis, and this was welcomed by members of the Committee also.

 

6.7       A member questioned the impact of the forthcoming decision on third party recycling credits. It was advised that as part of the department’s savings, waste needed to carry a percentage of those savings and this is one option (not yet definite). The issue is that some organisations who claim the credits are branches of major national charities. Officers are currently trying to find a way of identifying smaller charities that benefit more from these credits.

 

6.8       Cllr Patel raised a concern regarding repeated requests for parking enforcement action and it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings. (Work plan attached).

Minutes:

7.1       Members decided for the next meeting on 17 July, it would be a one item agenda on developing the revised Climate Change Strategy.

 

7.2       The September agenda would be:

·         The long-term review of local transport plan

·         Cabinet feedback on the Biodiversity Task Group report

7.3       In November they would look at the increase in costs of re-tendering public transport services.

 

7.4       Officers agreed to revisit at the July meeting to arrange a visit for the Committee to Javelin Park.