Agenda and minutes

Environment Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 6 March 2024 10.00 am

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

Contact: Sophie Benfield  Email: sophie.benfield@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 17th January 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 6 March 2024 were approved as a correct record.

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.

Bus Subsidy Process pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To provide an overview of the Bus Subsidy Process.

 

Report to follow

Minutes:

4.1      The Chair invited Tom Main, Integrated Transport Manager, to present this item. Members noted the following points:

 

·       GCC, as the local transport authority, was responsible for using public funds to subsidise parts of the bus network that were not covered by the commercial sector where possible and appropriate. The Council could also part-subsidise a particular route if required to provide more frequent or later services, for example.

·       In the previous financial year, the Council spent £5.2m subsidising bus services, which represented a big increase from pre-pandemic when it would usually average £3.5m per year. This increase however did not represent a major increase in the bus network, it was as a result of the lasting effects of Covid on passenger levels, resulting in loss of revenue and cancellation of commercial services which have had to be supported by GCC.

·       GCC’s subsidy budget covered three distinct types of bus services: timetabled services, Community Transport and Demand Response Transport.

·       There were no specific criteria from the Department for Transport (DfT) on what the Council needed to subsidise and it was up to the individual authority to choose what was best for their area. Councils had a responsibility to promote stability and growth in the network.

·       All contracts were procured through a Dynamic Purchasing System, an online marketplace which ensured as wide a reach as possible, at the best possible price. A calculation of ‘cost per passenger trip’ was used to assess the value for money of a subsidised service.

·       In terms of new subsidy funding, this could be sourced from new housing developments, internal bids to the yearly budget setting process and government funding.

 

Questions

 

4.2      In response to a question, it was advised that during the lifetime of a subsidy contract, be that the full 7 years or less, officers would be constantly monitoring its activity and cost per passenger trip calculations, looking out for any anomalies. The Council also had the option to vary a contract during its term which allowed for slight changes, for example, if a new housing development was built and the bus route could easily add a stop to accommodate these residents. If a new commercial service was launched within the contract period that served the same area, this would also trigger a review process to see if the subsidised route was still needed. Officers were in regular contact with operators as well who were supportive in sharing information to steer variations where they noticed a need.

 

4.3      The Council promoted services where possible through roadside displays, real time bus information and through the joint funding of the travel line journey planner with regional colleagues. Promotion was also a major area of focus for the new Enhanced Partnership to improve cooperation with operators in this area.

 

4.4      Several members raised the issue of transparency in relation to the subsidised services, suggesting that many of the questions residents were asking would be clarified if the Council was more transparent about which routes were subsidised and why.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Climate Leadership Gloucestershire pdf icon PDF 295 KB

To receive an introduction to the new Climate Leadership Gloucestershire Action Plan.

Minutes:

5.1      David Sharman, Countywide Climate Change Coordinator, gave an introduction to the new Climate Leadership Gloucestershire (CLG) action plan and members noted the following points:

·       This was the first action plan for the newly established CLG which brought together all the 54 actions which had developed from the CLG thematic leads cross 10 core themes.

·       Going forward this would be made more publicly available and include a few user-friendly additions such as menus with links, preambles etc. and would be brought back to this Committee on a set timeframe.

·       Within the 10 core themes, the following actions were currently of focus (more details for each are available in the report):

o   Adaption: Action 102 – County Level Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

o   Biodiversity: Action 201 – Ecological Emergency and 205 – Green Infrastructure

o   Behaviour Change: 306 – Community Fund

o   Economy: 401 – Green Skills Coordinator

o   Energy: 501 – Local Area Energy Planning

o   Food and Farming: 601 – Gloucestershire Food & Farming Partnership endorsement

o   Planning: 702 – A central climate planning office/officer/expert

o   Retrofit: 801 – Development of the Retrofit Centre website and 803 – Expert Retrofit Support

o   Transport: 901 – Working together to achieve the Statement of Shared Intent ambitions

o   Waste: 1005 – Further Decarbonisation of Fleets

5.2      Whilst members agreed with all the actions that had been included in the plan, there were some suggestions of areas that could be added or explored in more detail. These included – retrofitting on industrial buildings such as the Energy from Waste facility, electrification of the railway, identifying and tackling sources of other greenhouse gases such as methane, Sulphur hexafluoride, Perfluorotributylamine and Perfluorocarbons. It was recognised that not all of these issues were within direct control of the Leadership group, but officers took the feedback on board and would explore any possibilities.

5.3      A member raised that it was difficult to evaluate what potential contribution these actions would have to decarbonisation in the county, and also the likely scope of deliverability across the themes. It was advised that there was an internal tracking version of this plan for CLG use which could be shared with members but was not for publication at this stage. This version looked at measures such as carbon reduction levels, risk and progress for each action which would hopefully give members assurance that these things were being continuously monitored. It was reiterated that officers were aware that this was a very broad and ambitious plan but the group’s aim was to capture as much of the current areas of influence as possible, being aware that there may be future policy changes or access to funding that could impact direction and progress.

ACTION:      David Sharman

5.4      Cllr David Gray, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, added that climate change was a huge issue and it spread itself through many different areas. Whilst the action plan may seem rather disparate, the nature of the issue meant there was simply a lot to do.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT: ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT & INFRASTRUCTURE pdf icon PDF 215 KB

The attached report is to be taken as read and members have 30 minutes allocated at the meeting to ask questions. Members are encouraged to pre-submit questions beforehand if they are able via Sophie Benfield in Democratic Services.

 

This update is to include information about costs reclaimed from insurers for damage to infrastructure.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      The report was taken as read and opened up to questions from members.

6.2      Officers provided responses to the thirteen pre-submitted questions from Cllr Willingham and Cllr Whyborn, which can be found at an Annex 1 of the minutes.

6.3      In addition, there was a request for the next version of this report to include an update on Walk Bridge and how many Community Speedwatch Cameras were now in place and operational as a result of the Community Speedwatch Fund allocations.

ACTION:      Jason Humm

 

7.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 53 KB

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

 

When making suggestions, members should consider the reasons for and expected benefit of, scrutiny’s involvement. Members should also consider which area the item comes under:

·         Overview – an item which involves members learning about a subject, asking questions of clarifications but does not necessarily lead to any action/recommendations

·         Scrutiny – an item which requires members to examine the content and provide an outcome.

·         Information – reports that are for members information, these reports can be presented and/or questioned in the meeting, but this should be kept to a minimum.

For reference, the Forthcoming Executive Decision List can be accessed here: https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.aspx?&RP=0K=0&DM=0&HD=0&DS=1&Next=true&H=1&META=mgforthcomingdecisions&V=1

 

Minutes:

7.1       Members were advised that the Climate Risk Vulnerability Assessment, being led by Climate Leadership Gloucestershire, would need to be delayed to May being too early to update on progress.

 

7.2       The Chair shared that a request had been made, via email, to have an item looking at the recent budget allocation to purchase a new pothole machine and officers suggested this could form part of a wider item on the Council’s approach to addressing highway defects.

 

ACTION:       To confirm if this would be possible for the May meeting