Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Infrastructure to update the Committee on current issues.
7.1 Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure, updated the Committee on current issues. In particular, members noted that:
· Covid continued to have an impact across the services, not least on the capacity to respond. Services would begin to be brought back online in conjunction with the Government’s road map.
· The Preferred Route Announcement for M5 J10 was due around June this year.
· All highways delivery contracts continued to move forward, despite the considerable pressure placed on the services through the winter months. The teams had effectively been in emergency response mode since before Christmas with the various snow, flood and freeze events taking place. It was estimated that the winter maintenance budget could see an estimated £300,000 overspend this financial year due to these weather events.
· The Ash die back programme continued, for every one tree removed, the Council were committed to planting two more. It was estimated that 7000 trees would be planted by the end of the season.
· The Ashchurch Bridge over Rail programme now lay with Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee to make a decision at their March meeting.
· A lead cabinet member decision was planned for March to approve the ULEV Strategy and procurement of a provider to implement a countywide investment in EV charging points.
· Funding for the B4063 / A40 Highways England Cycling Scheme was within £3m of full funding; unfortunately the scheme had experienced an increase from its original funding forecast due to new guidance on the delivery of cycle schemes coming into force.
· The A417 Missing Link project was now progressing again following a delay experienced from last minute objections to the scheme.
· The Local Transport Plan Review was due to be considered at full Council in March.
· Household Recycling Centre booking systems would remain in place for now. Officers were looking at ways to refine and upgrade the online system in order to increase capacity and make the process more efficient. The service would also benefit from daylight saving at the end of March meaning all the sites will be open for longer.
· Some members may have attended a briefing on the Fusion Project. Gloucestershire was preparing to bid for the first fusion plant in the world and the accompanying technical centre to be based at the former nuclear plant sites at Berkeley and Oldbury. Fusion energy was clean, green and safe, and did not include any of the risks that traditional nuclear stations did such as nuclear meltdown. The process only used a very small amount of nuclear fuel to run and helium was produced as a by-product which is a sought after gas that could be captured and used efficiently. Hydrogen can also be produced in large quantities which is also a potential zero carbon energy source. The project aimed to have a plant onsite from 2030 onwards and if selected, would have a phenomenal impact on the surrounding area of the county for skills and future funding.
7.2 There was a discussion regarding the high waiting times at Pike Quarry HRC. Officers advised that this particular HRC for some reason experienced a high number of no shows which therefore impacted availability of slots for residents to book. It was hoped that by enhancing the booking system (work which was now resourced) and allowing residents to change their appointments, this should have a positive impact on waiting times.
7.3 It was reiterated that officers did not acknowledge the link between an increase in fly tipping incidents with longer waiting times for HRCs. It was added that as a district responsibility, district councils would be the first to notice any extreme increases in fly tipping and there had been no reports of this to date from district colleagues.
7.4 It was added that a suggestion of trialling having one day per week that operated a non-appointment system at sites would not be advisable at the moment due to Covid restrictions and safety for staff and visitors.
7.5 Noting that commercial vehicles were unable to take their commercial waste to HRCs, a member highlighted the ongoing issue of residents being unable to use their commercial vehicles to take regular household waste. It was advised that this was another improvement that should come with the new booking system as for the first time, vehicles can be tracked on how many times they visit the sites, and drivers would be contacted if they were visiting an unusually high number of times. It was accepted that if a commercial vehicles was being used for personal waste, it was unlikely it would need to visit a HRC every week; this would therefore indicate commercial use.
7.6 A member raised an ongoing issue of the need to look at alternative scheme options that would be achievable at a lesser cost than the existing options, to address the increasing flooding of the A417 Maisemore section of highway.