Agenda and minutes

Environment Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 9 March 2022 10.00 am

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

Items
No. Item

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2022.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2022 were approved, subject to Cllr David Willingham being added as a substitute.

 

An update was given on the action at 5.7 of the minutes. Members noted that officers were currently liaising with DfT to understand if any other local authorities had undertaken research with trading standards on this issue, to ensure Gloucestershire took account of any best practice already available.

 

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:

In relation to item 6, Cllr Chris McFarling declared his representation on the Joint Wye Valley AONB Advisory Committee and as a supporter of the Friends of the Lower Wye Group.

4.

Climate Leadership Gloucestershire Group pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To note the attached briefing paper on Climate Leadership Gloucestershire and its progress to date in coordinating and delivering strategic climate action across the county’s public sector bodies.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1       Julian Atkins, the Interim Countywide Climate Change Coordinator, took the report as read and highlighted a few key points:

 

·         The report responded to an action at the Committee meeting in November for members to receive an update on how the Climate Leadership Gloucestershire Group (CLGG) was progressing.

·         The appendix attached outlined 10 themes that the Group were working to.

·         CN2030, which was the group of climate officers across the county and organisations, were working to develop a set of reporting metrics to more clearly demonstrate climate change-related work that was going on which would lead to an action tracking report that could be considered by CLGG at each meeting.

·         The Group were looking to add 2 additional meetings to ensure all 10 themes were given the time they needed in a calendar year.

·         The main area of focus at the moment was transport decarbonisation and planning/Joint Core Strategy reviews.

 

Questions

 

4.2       The Committee asked whether it would be feasible to receive a progress update report for each of their meetings. It was agreed that this would be a version of the report provided today, a short update on each meeting for the Committee to note, Members could then schedule into their work plan more in-depth items if required. It was acknowledged this would help the awareness and linkage between the work of CLGG and members, the annual Climate Change Strategy report that the Committee would receive in November should however remain the main focus for members scrutiny.

 

4.3       A few members raised that there was a serious overwhelming feeling at the amount of information available on climate change, there was a need to filter information out to the public but in a simple and digestible way, with added links for resident to delve deeper into a particular issue should they wish. It also appeared that there was not sufficient liaison between different levels of leadership in coordinating and filtering out information to enable action.

 

4.4       In addition, a member stressed that councillors did not have the capacity to read and digest the hundreds of reports/websites/emails etc. that they received every week, and it was therefore vital that officers brought important information to the forefront. The regular update from CLGG to scrutiny would help with this.

 

4.5       It was explained that CLGG reported to Leadership Gloucestershire, it aimed to act as the strategic coordination and dissemination body for the county, creating strategic links with relevant organisations. It was stressed that members of CLGG did not have the physical ability to get everything done alone. CLGG could identify what and how, but its key role was in leadership, coordination, information sharing and action enabling with a focus on those strategic actions which were best done together or which cannot be delivered isolation.

 

4.6       It was added that there were other avenues to access information in a digestible way such as the Greener Gloucestershire website and GCC’s regular sustainability newsletter.

 

4.7       The Greener Gloucestershire website had been set up to pull together  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

School Street Trials pdf icon PDF 4 MB

To receive a presentation on the progress of the School Streets scheme to date.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1       Jo Atkins, Thinktravel Co-ordinator, presented this item and members noted the following:

 

·         The School Streets initiative initially resulted from a Cabinet decision in July 2020 and was supported by the Climate Change and Air Quality Fund.

·         Its aim was to tackle pollution outside schools during drop off and pick up times, by encouraging parents to change the way they travelled and resulting in a beneficial impact on their carbon footprint.

·         GCC launched its first trial scheme in November 2020. The first phase was carried out at 2 schools in the county, Warden Hill Primary and Tewkesbury C of E.

·         The key aims on slide 3 had resulted from research and learning from best practise from other local authority areas.

·         Trials used traditional highways intervention coupled with behaviour techniques and incentives to implement change.

·         Over the past two years, the team had created a prioritisation matrix to assist school selection for the next trial phase. The criteria for schools being selected included an existing active travel promotion, its location, local infrastructure for walking and cycling etc.

·         The key benefits were outlined on slide 5. For the existing trials, the team had carried out a survey at the start of the trial and one 12 months later which was currently being examined to understand any change in views. What they had seen in the first survey was safety, climate change and health benefits were the most important areas for families.

·         The trials were linked in with the Greener Gloucestershire campaign and the team also provided a regular School Streets blog to capture on the ground positives.

·         The second phase of the trial was planned for spring 2022. A lot of work had gone into working with the schools who had been selected, especially due to post-Covid impacts on staff shortages etc.

·         Slides 8 and 9 gave an overview of the impacts of the Trial so far.

 

Questions

 

5.2       In response to a question, it was advised that the scheme only currently covered primary schools. Secondary schools had been involved in some areas of the country, but it was common for older students to travel independently to school rather than rely on parents dropping them off.

 

5.3       Looking at the trials in more detail, members noted that; each scheme involved one street that was temporarily closed at peak times, but each parking exclusion zone was different depending on the site. The displacement of cars then became wider as not all parents were trying to park on the same road. It was not compulsory for schools to have stewards/barriers out every day but the enforcement/signs etc. remained fully functioning throughout the trial period. Staff at primary schools were often around to welcome children so the stewarding offered the same opportunity. Schools had begun to consider recruiting volunteers to do this however to free up some staff time, especially considering the Covid impacts.

 

5.4       A few members raised concern for children’s safety where they had been seen walking in the road due to closures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Restoring our Rivers Task Group

To receive an interim, verbal update from the Chair of the Restoring our Rivers Task Group.

Minutes:

6.1       The Group had one interview session left before they would begin to look at formalising their recommendations. They had had meetings with many relevant parties to date, including the Environment Agency, Ofwat, pressure groups etc.

 

6.2       The Chair highlighted how well the Group had worked over this period. It had been a very good piece of scrutiny work and they hoped to finalise the report in time to influence the Environment Bill that was due in September.

7.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.

Minutes:

7.1       Members noted the future items in the attached work plan and made the following amendments:

 

·         Officers suggested that the Committee may be interested in a presentation on transport decarbonisation. It was noted that this also had a close link to Economic Growth Scrutiny so this would be offered as a joint item in May.

·         In order to avoid overloading the date in May, it was suggested that Flood Management and EV charging points be delayed until July. This also meant that more information would be available on the EV roll out by this point.

·         The Chair of the Restoring our Rivers Task Group suggested that the Group would aim to bring their final report back to scrutiny in July,but this should be tentative for now.

 

7.2       There was also a discussion on a future item on Strategic Planning. It was advised that GCC now had a role in the JCS, but this was only as a consultee, the policies remained written and driven by the district councils. The issues previously raised about CIL remained, the Executive Director had a principal agreement with district councils on a strategic overview planning paper from GCC but nothing further had been agreed. The county also waited in anticipation for the Planning White Paper.

 

7.3       The Committee requested that officers took an action to restart the conversations on strategic planning with the district councils to see if any progress could be made. They noted that this was not just about sustainable growth and climate change, but also increasing pressures on the county’s provisions in education/healthcare etc.

 

ACTION:       Colin Chick/Simon Excell