Agenda item

Environment and Economic Growth


2.1       Cllr Nigel Moor, Cabinet Member Environment and Planning, introduced the session by urging members to consider the Climate Change Strategy which included a range of actions to reduce carbon emissions.


2.2       Members noted the strategic intentions outlined within the draft MTFS. This included, during 2020/21 a number of strategically important long-term planning visions need to be developed or implemented including the Joint Core Strategy (Review), Local Plan refreshes, Local Transport Plan, including new rail investment strategy, Joint Municipal Waste Strategy and the Local Industrial Strategy.


2.3       In response to a question it was confirmed that there would be a review of household recycling centres in order to make them more accessible and safer. It was stated that this was not a cost cutting review and would include consideration of selling recycled items on the sites.


2.4       One member asked what the budget would be to support public transport. The Cabinet Member stated that this would be around £10 million to support commissioned, subsidised and community transport. New initiatives were being considered such as an ‘uber-like’ service in rural areas that would provide a more bespoke service. It was requested that a breakdown be provided to members on this budget along with details of what funding was provided by central government. The member sought reassurance that services would not be lost in the next 12 months and clarification was requested on whether the budget included an increase or decrease in this area.
ACTION         Colin Chick


2.5       There was a discussion on how the budget was looking to change behaviours and services in order to meet the commitments around tackling climate change. Cllr Nigel Moor discussed the review of the local transport plan and the ambition to bring about modal change. In response to a specific question it was stated that there was no change to third party recycling credits. The Climate Change Strategy was committed to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030; some members queried how funding committed to big capital projects that appeared to increase vehicle traffic met that ambition. In  response, it was explained that this was about playing ‘catch up’ and taking it step by step. A £1million pot was available so that work could be progressed in collaboration with districts. The initial focus was on ‘ getting our own house in order’ and show real leadership in carbon reduction. The Local Transport Plan would bring a range of initiatives.


2.6       One member stated that in examining the waste budget he could not see the savings being generated from the operation at Javelin Park and asked for a breakdown of the budget including the revenue implications of the Residual Waste Project over the next 12 months. The member was reminded that this was about delivering savings over a 25 year period.
ACTION                     Colin Chick


            Economy and Skills


2.7       Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Cabinet Member for Economy, Education and Skills, outlined that Gloucestershire had a prosperous and resilient economy. The focus was on increasing demand for services and jobs as well as creating opportunities for increased investment. This could only be achieved through collaboration and partnership with other agencies such as planning authorities and GFirst. This needed to be achieved while always taking into consideration the Climate Change Strategy.


2.8       One member asked what planning had been carried out in terms of any negative impacts of Brexit. In response it was stated that this was something that officers were looking at in order to mitigate risks, and it was suggested that increased certainty in this area was helpful.


2.9       The Committee discussed the provision of broadband and the partnership with BT. Broadband was an essential utility but there were challenges in delivering in rural areas. Fastershire was in its tenth year and had been a big success helping Gloucestershire to become one of the best connected counties in the country. There were still pockets of hard to reach areas and this was the cause of much frustration. The next phase of the project was to focus on those ‘hard to reach’ areas through more flexible means such as match funding and grant schemes.


2.10    One member emphasised the importance of town centres as important parts of communities and important areas for business which in turn would help with business rates. The Council worked closely with district and borough councils to forge closer ties and help Gloucestershire become more successful.


2.11    In response to a member’s question, it was explained that work was being carried out to make people’s homes carbon neutral and that this would lead to a requirement for new skills which in term could generate more jobs. It was important to have apprenticeships and pathways to allow those skills and jobs to be developed.


            Highways and Flood


2.12    Cllr Vernon Smith, Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood, outlined the commissioning intentions for highways and emphasised the importance of a positive relationship with partners, contractors and communities. He referred to climate change and the increase in incidents of flooding and the impact on new housing that might be close to vulnerable land.


2.13    In relation to the Highways and Public Rights of Way network, the Council was approaching year 3 of the £150million highways improvement pledge. In the first year £26million of resurfacing had been carried out which was double the level of the previous year. By the end of the second year it was predicted that £31million would have been spent on resurfacing schemes and in year 3 the Council was hoping to deliver £49.8million worth of resurfacing work.


2.14    The Council would continue to deliver on major transport projects, cycling infrastructure and LED street lighting schemes.


2.15    Members noted that Highways Local was in the budget at £10,000 per member. The Committee noted that at full Council in previous years this had been increased through budget amendments. Some members explained that £10,000 was not enough and urged the Cabinet to consider increasing it.


2.16    There was discussion around cycling with one member expressing scepticism about the take up of cycling as a replacement for car travel, particularly in more rural isolated areas. Other members spoke of the importance of cycling and welcomed the work that was being carried out to improve the network. Cllr Vernon Smith stated that in relation to the Climate Change Strategy he felt that cycling was one area that the Council could be proud of what it would deliver. In response to a question on the amount spent on footways and cycleways as an amount and percentage, it was explained that it was difficult to identify an amount spent on cycling routes because every highways scheme incorporated a proportion of work to improve footways and cycle-ways. The £49.8million for resurfacing schemes would include a large proportion of this work.


2.17    Some members queried what highways improvement works would be carried out in the coming year. In response it was explained that detailed charts were available from the Cabinet Member.


2.18    It was confirmed that the Lengthsmen Scheme was being delivered by the Council and was reflected in the draft budget.