Agenda and minutes

Environment Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 9 September 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 16 June and 14 July 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 16 June and 14 July 2021 were approved.

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 received.

4.

Maintenance and repair of highways pdf icon PDF 533 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

The Chair invited Kathryn Haworth, Lead Commissioner for Highways, to present this item. The report was taken as read and members noted the following points:

 

·         The County Council was responsible for 5,500km of highway network which equated to around £7 billion as a financial asset. The Council had a statutory duty to keep this network safe.

·         The increasing implications of a changing of climate were having a significant impact on the network’s stability due to more rainfall and extreme temperatures.

·         It was very much an evolved network meaning in some cases, sections of the highway were hundreds of years old. Whilst nowadays, things were designed to be resilient, the older sections of the highway would not have been built to this standard. This meant the network needed to be constantly maintained and looked after to improve its lifespan and reduce the need for capital works.

·         Structural maintenance was the preferred way of maintaining the highway network. This meant putting structural integrity back into the network through resurfacing and surface treatments.

·         This year was the final year of the £150m investment. This additional investment over and above the standstill costs had definitely made an improvement to the classified road network.

·         Standstill costs were the monies needed to maintain the network as it was today (i.e. making no improvements) and this was £16.8m per annum.

·         Whilst resurfacing was the best way to improve the network long term, there would always be a need to monitor and maintain areas of the network not due for resurfacing. This was generally done through a programme of regular (which varied depending on the road classification) scheduled safety inspections and reactive reports of defects.

·         Any defect would, upon inspection, be allocated a repair timeframe set out in the safety criteria.

·         The graph at 4.8 showed how the prolonged winter and extreme weather events from 2020/21 had massively increased the fragility of the network.

·         Whilst in an ideal world, there would be enough resource to repair all defects on a road at the same time, this was not always possible. The first priority had to be keeping the pubic safe and addressing the most hazardous defects first.

·         Additional resource had been brought in to help the gangs manage the increased number of defects in the previous 6 months, including a spray injection patching machine and additional patching crews who could address larger areas or clusters, rather than just individual potholes.

·         Section 7 of the report outlined the future aspirations for highways. Climate change was certainly identified as a risk to the network resilience and a threat to how operations were currently carried out.

·         The scale of the task at hand was large. Prioritisation was key to make sure the public were safe and there was a keenness to work closely with members to help deliver the best service possible.

·         Key areas of focus going forward included: improving carbon emissions and sustainability of the network, streamlining systems and the digital offering and making sure information for customers and councillors  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Motion 876 - Call to adopt 20mph maximum speeds in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix pdf icon PDF 430 KB

To consider the issues surrounding the widespread introduction of 20mph maximum speeds as raised in the Motion 876 to Council In June 2021.

Minutes:

5.1       The Chair began by inviting Cllrs Roger Whyborn and Gill Moseley to introduce this item as the original proposers and seconders of the motion. Members noted the following points:

 

·         This motion received no objection in principle or spirit at the Full Council meeting where it was originally considered, as long as any changes were where the community considered them to be appropriate.

·         A common sense and consulted approach was very important, we must not impose the limits, each community should be able to make their own case as to what was most appropriate for their area.

·         The importance of 20mph speed limits revolved a lot around safety and claiming streets back from constant, fast traffic. If residents felt safe, they were more likely to walk or cycle which brought its own health and environmental benefits.

·         Members were aware that the need for Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) to change speed limits was often preventing parish/town councils from progressing even where there was an appetite due to the cost of obtaining one.

·         A solution to this could be to consider ‘batching’ which was referenced at 6.8 of the attached report where one TRO was used for several areas.

·         The police were a key consultee on this issue for any changes to be implemented/successful.

·         There would also need to be some financial commitment in next years budget for changes to be possible.

·         Learning from other areas in the UK who had taken similar action was welcomed in the report.

·         Both members were keen that a response from this Committee was eventually shared with Council and Cabinet and wanted to understand the process for this happening.

·         Whilst the recommendations in the report were supported by both members, there was an ask to add a point about engaging with communities to discover the appetite for a change to widespread 20mph speed limits.

 

5.2       Liz Kirkham, Network Manager, was next invited to present the report. This was taken as read and the following points highlighted for the Committee:

 

·         The level of applications for 20mph limits had increased over recent years, particularly noticed through Covid, where communities potentially had more time to take pride in their areas and consider such changes.

·         In order for any speed change to be a success, support was needed from across the board, including the police who were a statutory consultee.

·         Change to a 20mph speed limit required speeds in an area to be below 24mph whereas a change to a 20mph speed zone did not carry this requirement, but meant that traffic calming measure had to be added.

·         The Road Safety Partnership produced a ‘Community Approaches to Road Safety’ document which provided a range of ways communities could become involved in reducing traffic speeds.

·         The Welsh Government had introduced a default 20mph speed limit nationwide, whilst the DfT had indicated this power would remain with local highways departments.

·         There were a number of existing 20mph schemes in the county, listed at 3.4. Members were informed that as an example of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 51 KB

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

Minutes:

Members considered the attached work plan and the following was agreed:

 

·         The item on mineral extraction and its environmental impacts would be delayed from the November 2022 meeting. This would be discussed offline between the Chair and relevant officers.

·         Alternative/environmental-friendly technologies and innovative ideas within highways would be considered early in the New Year.

·         The E-Scooter trial had just been extended to March 2022, members wanted to understand what the process was for reviewing this trial and whether scrutiny could feed into this via an update at its meeting in November, or whether it would be best to wait to consider this after the trial had finished.

·         The Chair shared they received questions at Council regarding delays on the Definitive Map Modification Orders process. It was agreed that a situation report would be included in the next Executive Directors report, the Committee could then decide if they wanted to consider a further item on this.

7.

Director's Report: Economy, Environment and Infrastructure pdf icon PDF 216 KB

To note the update report from Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Infrastructure on current issues (Quarter 1 2021/22 performance data included).

 

Any questions should be sent to Sophie Benfield (Democratic Service) via email for a response (any responses will be shared with all members).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1       A member asked for an update on the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) situation that was discussed at the last Committee meeting.

 

7.2       It was advised officers continued to engage with the relevant district authorities who had adopted the CIL funding. To date GCC had still not received a penny of CIL funding from any of the Joint Core Strategy authorities. Members were encouraged to influence within their own district councils where possible for officers to engage with the county council on this issue. GCC had recently lost an appeal at Coombe Hill and was currently in session on another at Oakley Farm. This appeal was considering contributions of up to £2.46m.