Agenda and minutes

Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 11 July 2018 10.00 am

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

Contact: Laura Powick 

Items
No. Item

73.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Stephen Hirst.

 

Cllr Alan Preest substituted at the meeting for Cllr Hirst.

74.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 9 May 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 9 May 2018 were approved and signed by the Chair subject to the following amendments at:

 

a)    Page 2, item 67, paragraph 8, where it should read ‘On being put to the Committee, the majority of members (7) voted for the report, as it stood, being presented to Cabinet for its consideration at its meeting on 6 June 2018. Cllr Rachel Smith voted against the report being presented to Cabinet’; and at

b)    Page 3, item 68, paragraph 6, where it should read ‘Following the discussion, the Commissioning Director committed to recruiting to an outreach post as soon as possible within the next 6 months, and for a report from the post holder to be received by the Committee 6 months from the commencement of their role.’

 

One member also highlighted that a visit to the Hempsted Household Recycling Centre, which had been requested at the previous meeting, had not yet been arranged. It was agreed that this would be followed up and arranged. 

75.

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.

76.

Cross Country Rail Franchise Consultation

To receive a verbal update on the consultation.

Minutes:

Robert Niblett, Planning Officer, provided the Committee with an update on the Cross Country franchise consultation.

 

It was noted that Cross Country was the largest of all franchises and that it served 7 of Britain’s 10 biggest cities, with all services calling at Birmingham New Street. 40.1 million passenger journeys were made annually.

 

It was explained that the Department for Transport issued consultation sought to address the issues of overcrowding and lack of capacity across the Cross Country franchise area. Other issues affecting the franchise included the lack of rolling stock.

 

Locally, the franchise served four stations, including Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Lydney. Issues affecting these stations included the impact of the opening of Worcestershire Parkway station on Ashchurch from Spring 2019; the need to reconnect Gloucester to the main network; the lack of capacity on the Cardiff to Nottingham service with their two carriage trains instead of three, which could cause overcrowding particularly between Cheltenham and Gloucester; and maintaining, as a minimum, the number of stops and preferably increasing them at peak times at Lydney.

 

It was noted that the consultation closes on 30 August 2018.

 

Several members highlighted their concern about any proposed reduction in the number of stops at Lydney. Several members also expressed their concern about the lack of capacity on Cross Country trains, particularly those with two carriages. One member highlighted the number of trains that drive through Gloucester without stopping, whilst another member proposed that the services at Ashchurch should be improved.

 

It was clarified, following a query, that GCC had previously contributed funding for an additional stop at Ashchurch. As this had been deemed successful, the stop had since been incorporated into the existing timetable. Clarification was also sought on the minimum level of services agreed in 2007 and on progress with the electrification of railways.

 

Following the discussion, it was agreed that the views expressed at the meeting by members would be included in the draft officer response to the consultation. This draft would be circulated to Committee members and the lead Cabinet Member for any further comments and approval by the end of July 2018. The final draft would then be submitted to the consultation by the deadline as an officer level response with approval from the Committee and the lead Cabinet Member.

77.

Libraries pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To receive a report on how libraries have developed, the range of services provided by libraries, and community hub relationships.

Minutes:

Jane Everiss, Head of Library and Registration Services, gave a presentation to the Committee on how libraries have developed, the range of services provided by libraries, and community hub relationships. Cllr Tim Harman, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, also attended the meeting.

 

In particular, members were informed that Gloucestershire Libraries received over 2 million visits per year and offered freely accessible services that support reading and literacy, develop skills, promote health and wellbeing, and provide a platform for community participation.

 

The Committee noted that Gloucestershire Libraries had recently partnered with GFirst LEP to provide 31 access points to business advice and information through The Growth Hub @ The Library, had taken on provision of children’s services in libraries, and supported Registration Services.

 

Members were also informed that Gloucestershire Libraries were leading the way with digital innovation. Bishops Cleeve and Up Hatherley libraries had digital gadget bars, and Bishops Cleeve had an Open+ system installed in November 2017 which allowed customers to self-serve.  One member queried the age limit to be able use the Open+ system.

 

Clarification was sought regarding the visa checking service that would be provided by libraries, the location of registration services provided by libraries, the recruitment of library volunteers, and the level of funding received by libraries. One member requested more detailed data for library services over the last five years to determine whether library services had improved, in addition to an update on Stonehouse library. There was also a discussion around rebranding the term ‘library’, multicultural use of libraries, and how libraries attract dementia groups to use their facilities.

 

In response to a query regarding the inappropriate use of library computer systems, it was explained that IT systems filter out inappropriate websites, and computer usage could be monitored and reported.

 

It was also explained, in response to a further query, that Gloucestershire Libraries had received £230,000 over a three year period from the Esme Fairbairn Foundation, and a further bid had been submitted to extend the funding.

 

The Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities highlighted the positive progress made by libraries and encouraged members to be ambassadors for the libraries within their divisions.

 

78.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

To receive a presentation on Electric Vehicle Infrastructure.

Minutes:

Philip Williams, Lead Commissioner: Community Infrastructure, gave a presentation to the Committee on electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

 

The Committee was provided with an overview on EVs in the national and local context, details on what EV infrastructure looked like, and progress with EV infrastructure in the County to date. Members were informed that the next steps were to produce a draft EV infrastructure strategy and a three year action plan, which would include a programme coordinator resource.

 

It was also noted that in May and June 2018, the low emission and electric vehicle car pool scheme for GCC staff members had saved 3 tonnes of CO2.

 

Members sought clarification on the charging and types of EV batteries; induction charging; the cost of charging equipment; and the three year action plan. Several members commented on the importance of having a flexible action plan. There was also a discussion regarding raising public awareness of EVs, on-street EV charging, and working with key groups, such as car clubs.

 

One member highlighted that residents in rural areas were interested in EVs, however had concerns regarding charging points due to a lack of private parking outside homes. It was noted that officers were keen to work with parish councils and to establish local champions.

 

In response to a query, it was clarified that officers were in conversation with national power companies regarding the impact of EVs on the national grid. Following a further query, the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure agreed to look into the disposal of EV batteries.

 

Following the discussion on the item, the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure proposed that updates on EV infrastructure be included on the work plan for the Committee as a standing item for the next 6 to 9 months.

 

 

79.

Chief Fire Officer Report pdf icon PDF 175 KB

The Committee to note a report from the Chief Fire Officer, detailing information on the portfolio of services provided by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from Andy Hermiston, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, detailing information on the portfolio of services provided by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.

 

In particular, the Committee was informed that GFRS was exploring options to improve resilience and efficiency across all five whole-time Stations through the Wholetime Duty Shift Review, that the National Framework Gap Analysis had shown that GFRS was compliant with Section 1.4 of the revised Fire and Rescue National Framework, and that, as part of the Fire Safety Programme update, the current recording system used by GFRS had been updated in line with new technology and modern working practices.

 

The Committee noted the published Home Office workforce diversity and incident data for all fire and rescue services in England. It was also noted, in an update on Trading Standards, that a shop in Eastgate Street had been closed and banned from trading for 3 months as it had been identified as one of the most prolific sources of illegal tobacco in Gloucester.

 

Additionally, the Committee was notified of an increase in local wildfires recently that had been contained, and was informed that GFRS had assisted in the response to the recent wildfires in Greater Manchester.

 

The Chair read out the following statement to the Committee regarding the recent resignation of the Chief Fire Officer:

 

‘Early last week Stewart Edgar resigned from his role as Chief Fire Officer and Operations Director for Gloucestershire County Council. Interim arrangements have been put in place to manage the portfolio of services overseen by the Chief Fire Officer. Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Andy Hermiston, supported by Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Beard, will manage the service and other aspects of the Chief Fire Officer’s role. Peter Jones, former Deputy Director of the Council and ex-Chief Fire Officer of Gloucestershire, will provide executive oversight on an interim basis. In light of the circumstances surrounding these events, an internal audit investigation is currently ongoing, and it would be inappropriate for this Committee or members to provide any further comment at this time.’

 

Cllr Jeremy Hilton proposed that a scrutiny task group be established to consider the purchase and disposal of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service assets since February 2014.

 

The Committee discussed the proposal in detail. Noting that an internal audit investigation was currently ongoing, one member suggested that the proposal be deferred for consideration at Overview and Management Scrutiny Committee on 25 July 2018, following an update on progress with the current investigation at that meeting. Cllr Hilton agreed to defer consideration of his proposal to that meeting.

 

80.

Commissioning Directors Report pdf icon PDF 981 KB

Nigel Riglar, Commissioning Director: Communities and Infrastructure to update the Committee on current issues.

 

The Commissioning Director’s Report also includes the Quarter 4  2017/18 Performance Report.

Minutes:

Nigel Riglar, Commissioning Director: Communities and Infrastructure, updated the Committee on current issues. In particular, members noted that:

 

a)    Philip Williams and the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure had been invited to attend a scrutiny committee meeting at Cheltenham Borough Council to discuss parking;

b)    The Trial Boots Corner Closure had commenced under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order and that advisory notices were currently being issued to drivers that transgressed the order;

c)    The A417 Missing Link ‘Preferred Route Announcement’ would take place in spring 2019;

d)    Following a request from Cheltenham Borough Council for GCC to sponsor the scheme for delivering highway works for the Cyber Business Park project, a report to consider this will be taken to Cabinet in October;

e)    The new Chair of the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership had been announced; and

f)     In an update on the Forward Fund, GCC had entered into conversations to develop the business case for the M5 Junction 10 scheme.

 

Members asked questions regarding noise complaints relating to the A40 Over Roundabout works, the Council’s decision to appeal against the ICO’s decision notice relating to the Ernst and Young Value for Money and Affordability Analysis report, transfer of waste to Javelin Park, and waste analysis procurement.

 

It was requested that an item on the effectiveness of the Lengthsmen Scheme be included on the work programme for consideration by the Committee at a future meeting.

 

Clarification was also sought on information included in the Quarter 4 2017/18 Performance Report relating to the increase in the number of killed and seriously injured older people.

 

81.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 58 KB

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

Minutes:

At its meeting on 19 September 2018, the Committee would receive an update from dual hatted Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee (GEGSC) and Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee members on GEGSC’s consideration of an item on national park status for the Cotswolds, and a report on the performance of Trading Standards.

 

82.

Future meetings

19 September 2018

7 November 2018

16 January 2019

6 March 2019

22 May 2019

17 July 2019

18 September 2019

26 November 2019

Minutes:

The Committee noted the meeting dates for the remainder of 2018 and for 2019.