Agenda and minutes

Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 7 November 2018 10.00 am

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

Contact: Sophie Benfield 

Items
No. Item

92.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

92.1    The minutes of the meeting on Wednesday the 19th of September approved and signed by the Chair as a correct record.

 

93.

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:

93.1    No additional declarations of interest were made.

 

94.

Public Rights of Way pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To receive an update on measures to address the backlog of applications for Modification Orders to the Definitive Map from the Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood.

Minutes:

94.1    Cllr Nigel Moor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, introduced the report updating the Committee on actions taken to reduce the backlog of applications but also referenced methods with which they would continue to work to meet statutory deadlines and timescales. There was a widespread acknowledgement that the increased frequency of Commons and Rights of Way Committee meetings was a good method of meeting these deadlines. Members were informed that there was an outstanding issue surrounding the appointment of an Officer to help reduce the backlog. It was explained that there was an effort to recruit from within the organisation with no success. He acknowledged that it was important to honour the commitment made at Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee to appoint an Officer to this role. Members asked questions of the budget for this role but the Cabinet Member informed the Committee that the Budget was in the process of being formed and therefore figures could not be given at this time.

 

94.2    A Member raised the issue that amended minutes were not reflected on the minutes on the website and Democratic Services would look in to this.

            ACTION         DSU

 

95.

UBICO pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To receive a report on the strategy of UBICO.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

95.1    The Managing Director of UBICO, Gareth Edmundson, provided an update to the Committee on the finances and corporate structure of UBICO. In total, UBICO’s turnover was around £32m; it employed 650 staff; and had a fleet of 400 vehicles. They continued to work closely with the Gloucestershire Joint Waste Committee. He informed the committee that 90% of milestones in the 2018-2019 business plan have either been met or are in progress. He also mentioned how UBICO has restructured how they operate their finances to create a closer working partnership with its shareholders and to provide better value for money for the taxpayer. The Managing Director also raised the issue of rising cost pressures that UBICO are due to face such as the rising price of diesel as well as a driver shortage.

 

95.2    Simon Cluley of Ubico discussed the status of recycling centres around Gloucestershire. He mentioned that of the five centres in Gloucestershire, four continued to use costly static compactors. One site, Pyke Quarry, has switched to mobile compactors and Hempsted was due to make this switch in December. Works were planned to change two further sites over the course of 2019/20. He continued to discuss the change to opening hours to the local recycling centres. He mentioned that the reduced opening hours reduced Ubico’s costs and contributed to savings for GCC. He reiterated that the company had closed all sites one day during the week but worked to ensure that adjacent sites were not closed at the same time. In the first 10 days, there were no major issues reported and no increase in fly-tipping although the scheme will continue to be monitored.

 

95.3    A Member asked a question regarding the ownership and participation in UBICO. At present, Gloucester City Council was a not a partner in the organisation and the Councillor wanted to know if there were any plans to include them. The Managing Director of UBICO replied that there was a willingness to engage with Gloucester City Council and that it would be a valued and important member if it was a partner. However, there had been no formal discussions between UBICO and Gloucester City Council to this end. The Member also raised a question regarding who owned the fleet of vehicles that UBICO uses. The Managing Director replied that the shareholders of UBICO owned the assets but considerations being put forward regarding UBICO owning parts of the fleet individually.

 

95.4    A Member wanted to know how much consultation had occurred with UBICO staff regarding the change to operating hours. The representative from UBICO reassured the Member that all staff had been consulted from the start and had been kept up to date with any developments.

 

95.5    Another Member asked whether UBICO had felt or seen any internal weaknesses from their high rate of expansion. The Managing Director replied that UBICO had been a victim of its own success and had spent a significant amount of time consolidating and harmonising practices across the various contractors.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.

96.

Chief Fire Officer Report pdf icon PDF 113 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

96.1    Andy Hermiston, Acting Chief Fire Officer and Head of Trading Standards and Coronial Services, presented, as requested from the previous meeting, a report on the enforcement measures in place on the supply of illegal tobacco by Trading Standards Services (TSS). He noted that there would be an external inspection by HMICFRS in Spring 2019. It was noted that, at present, no information was available on the lines of enquiry this inspection might take but that there were three key areas that would be looked at: effectiveness, efficiency and people. Members requested a presentation at the next meeting on the format of the inspection and preparation towards it.

            ACTION – Andy Hermiston

 

96.2    A Member questioned the reasons behind the increase in seizure rate in tobacco and cash and asked whether this increase was set to continue in future years. Andy Hermiston stated that this increase was a spike as opposed to a trend with some notable high-value cases occurring this year. There was also discussion about raising public awareness of counterfeit tobacco but it was agreed that this responsibility was more within the remit of other departments around the Council.

 

96.3    There was also an assurance that GFRS was implementing new technology, including new fire appliances, with greater overall investment in the region. The replacement of other fire appliances is on schedule.

 

96.4    A Member asked for more information on GFRS’ involvement with serious Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) and it was agreed that these figures would form part of the next report.

            ACTION – Andy Hermiston

 

96.5    It was also noted that there was an increase in arson offences across Q1. Members discussed whether there was any data on the resulting prosecutions, suggesting that Cllrs could help in areas to support activities to reduce offences.

 

97.

Commissioning Directors Report pdf icon PDF 998 KB

To receive a report on current issues.

Minutes:

97.1    Colin Chick, Strategic Advisor (Communities & Infrastructure), presented his report to update the Committee of recent decisions and policies. Members particularly noted that the Highways Maintenance contract had been awarded to Ringway from the 1st of April and there was an ongoing process of mobilisation that was proceeding well. In response to a Member query, the Lead Commissioner for Highways reassured the Committee that work was ongoing to communication with utility companies and to ensure that road closures were properly advertised in advance and that any mess left behind is cleared up.

 

97.2    Members were also concerned that bus routes were suffering in rural areas as less competition equalled high prices. Particularly, there were concerns over the lack of information being fed to Members regarding upcoming closures. Members requested that Phil Williams relay feedback to the relevant officers.

ACTION – Phil Williams

 

97.3    There was a wide-ranging discussion between Members and Officers concerning the use of electric and greener vehicles by the Council and how their use can be further encouraged. It was stated that the pilot EV hire scheme at the Council has been extended by 18 months and that more need to be done to tackle ‘range anxiety;’ the misconception that electric cars can only make short journeys on a charge. Members also discussed and expressed their disappointment that GWR has delayed the increase in services between Cheltenham and London. It was stated that the reason for this delay is the wider issues National Rail has faced and Officers reiterated that there was a report containing the response from the Department of Transport.

 

97.4    A Member raised a concern regarding needless, short drives to move his car due to the parking rules in Tewkesbury and urged a review of the wider parking strategy.

 

97.5    A Member raised a question regarding the development of the Cyber Business Park in Cheltenham. It was also queried if the £22m allocated to this project includes the improvement of transport in West Cheltenham. The Lead Commissioner - Strategic Infrastructure highlighted that this sum relates to improvements to the transport infrastructure in West Cheltenham and that there were 12 proposed schemes to address ‘pinchpoints’. The Lead Commissioner also highlighted that there was a strain on resources but that this was being handled. It was also noted that the next Cabinet report (on the 19th of December) will provide a more detailed breakdown of these schemes.

 

97.6    There was also a discussion surrounding the new Gloucester bus station and the impact on safe driving conditions with reports of drivers ignoring ‘No Entry’ signs. A Member asked for an update on how this was being monitored. The relevant Officer did not have the information to hand but stated that they would provide the information after the meeting.

            ACTION –Scott Tompkins

 

97.7    Members also raised questions about who was a member of the A417 working group. Officers stated that they would investigate and clarify.

            ACTION - Simon Excell

 

97.8    A Member also requested  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

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:

98.1    It was agreed that GFRS would present at the next meeting detailing the structure of the inspection that they are due to undergo.

 

98.2    Items added to the work plan included clarification on the Dynamic Purchasing System for Transport from relevant Officers as well as a long-term review of the local transport plan.