Agenda and minutes

Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 19 September 2018 10.00 am

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

Contact: Laura Powick 

Items
No. Item

83.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Keith Rippington and Rachel Smith.

 

Cllr Eva Ward substituted at the meeting for Cllr Smith.

84.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 11 July 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 July 2018 were approved and signed by the Chair.

 

Cllr Hilton provided the Committee with an update on the member visit to the Hempsted Household Recycling Centre, which took place on 10 September 2018, and on progress with the establishment of the Culture of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service Task Group.

 

85.

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.

 

86.

Commissioning Directors Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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

 

The Commissioning Director’s Report also includes the Quarter 1 2018/19 Performance Report.

Minutes:

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

 

a)    The Highways Term Maintenance Contract had been awarded and the announcement was expected on 24 September;

b)    Regular updates on the work of the Highways and Biodiversity Working Group would be included in the Commissioning Director’s Report;

c)    Council officers had been working with other local authorities within the South West to form the Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body;

d)    Conversations with Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils were ongoing over waste transfer services; and

e)    Following a review, Household Recycling Centre (HRC) opening hours would be reduced and sites would close for one mid-week day per week throughout the year.

 

Several members expressed their concerns regarding the change in opening hours at HRCs, particularly that sites would be closing for one mid-week day per week throughout the year, and that summer opening hours would be reduced.

 

Additionally, members asked questions regarding the A417 Missing Link; Traffic Regulation Orders, including the trial Boots Corner Closure in Cheltenham; the Metz Way highway scheme; the Cheltenham Spa Railway scheme; the condition of bridges; and the LED Street Lighting Project.

 

There was also a discussion about the appropriateness of the term ‘Lengthsmen’ and whether an alternative term to describe the scheme should be used instead.

 

The Committee noted that the update was Nigel Riglar’s last as Commissioning Director: Communities and Infrastructure at Gloucestershire County Council, as he was leaving to take up a new position at South Gloucestershire Council. The Committee thanked Nigel for all his support and hard work over the years.

 

87.

Trading Standards pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To receive a report on performance.

Minutes:

Andy Hermiston, Chief Fire Officer and Head of Trading Standards and Coronial Services, presented a report on the performance of the Trading Standards Service (TSS).

 

Members were informed that the TSS had a statutory responsibility for consumer protection and supporting the interests of legitimate business, and were provided with a financial and operational overview. It was explained that the TSS priorities for 2017/18, as identified through the annual Strategic Assessment, were scams and doorstep crime, product safety, disease control in farm livestock, primary authority and business support, illegal tobacco and the motor trade.

 

The Committee was informed that during 2017/18, the TSS received over 7500 complaints which included evidence of criminal and civil law breaches by businesses, requests for guidance or advice from businesses, and requests for assistance from other law enforcement agencies. During this period the TSS also conducted 24 investigations into serious crime breaches, which included seizing over 21,000 packs of illegal tobacco.

 

It was noted that succession planning had identified that up to 16 of the 21 TSS staff would be eligible for retirement within the next ten years. In response to a query as to how this would be managed, it was explained that training would be developed to mitigate the loss of experience, and it was agreed that the Lead Cabinet Member would be provided with a succession planning report.

 

There was a discussion regarding the success of TSS intervention to tackle sales of illegal tobacco within the County, and how this was measured. It was requested that details be provided to the Committee on surveillance activities carried out and their outcomes. It was noted that the sale of illegal tobacco was a national as well as local issue, and that information gathered locally by the TSS was used to inform the national database. It was noted that the TSS also investigated sales of counterfeit make-up and clothes in the County.

 

One member suggested that there be a focus on raising public awareness of the risks of purchasing counterfeit goods, such as tobacco.

 

There were also queries as to how the TSS cost per head of population in Gloucestershire compared with other local authorities, and regarding phone call scams. 

 

88.

Cotswold National Park Status

To receive a verbal update on progress with the scrutiny review of the proposal.

Minutes:

Cllr Kevin Cromwell, Vice-Chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee (GEGSC), provided the Committee with an update on progress with the scrutiny review of the Cotswold National Park status proposal.

 

The Committee was informed that GEGSC had agreed at its last meeting to await the outcomes of the Cotswold District Council review to consider a proposal by the Cotswold Conservation Board to seek ‘National Park’ status for the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), before considering the request by Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (GEGJC) to consider the impact of the proposal as a scrutiny task group review. The request by GEGJC was therefore deferred by GEGSC until the New Year, pending the outcome of the review by Cotswold District Council.

 

There was a brief discussion regarding the proposal for Cotswold National Park status. Several members highlighted their concerns regarding the proposal, particularly in relation to the implications of national park status on planning, house prices, and democratic accountability. 

 

Following several queries, it was explained that the Cotswold District Council review would involve conversations with other local authorities that already neighbour national parks, such as South Downs National Park, and would also involve discussions with the other district councils in Gloucestershire that would be affected by the proposal, such as Tewkesbury Borough Council.

 

It was agreed that the Committee would receive a further update on the review of the Cotswold National Park status proposal in the New Year.

 

89.

Chief Fire Officer Report pdf icon PDF 117 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 detailing information on the portfolio of services provided by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.

 

In particular, members were informed that, in an update on the HMICFRS, the Service Liaison Lead visit took place on 17 and 18 September; the draft Statement of Assurance had been agreed by the GFRS Senior Leadership Team and would now be taken forward to GCC Internal Audit, before it is presented to the Lead Cabinet Member and this Committee; and that a Cotswold farmer was prosecuted for offences relating to animal health.

 

Clarification was sought on the Wholetime Duty System Resilience and Productivity Review, particularly regarding a proposed change in shift times. Clarification was also sought on the Green Vehicle Strategy in terms of timescale.

 

90.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 59 KB

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

Minutes:

At its meeting on 7 November 2018, the Committee would receive an update from the Cabinet Member on measures to address the backlog of applications for Modification Orders to the Definitive Map, and an update on the strategy of UBICO.

 

At its meeting on 16 January 2019, the Committee would receive a report on the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Annual Improvement Plan.

 

It was recognised that the report recommendations from the Biodiversity Task Group and Culture of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service Task Group would need to be considered by the Committee in early 2019, in addition to an update on progress with the recommendations from the Air Pollution and its Impact on Public Health Task Group.

 

It was also noted that it would be appropriate to consider a report on the effectiveness of the Lengthsmen scheme in Spring 2019 following the setting of the budget and the commencement of the new contractor.

 

91.

Future meetings

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.