Agenda and minutes

Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 12th July, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Charlotte Raper, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 17 March 2016.


The minutes of the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 17 March 2016 were approved as a correct record, subject to amendments at Councillor Jones’ request.


It was noted that in minute 30: Fire Authority Consultation Update, following comments regarding the lack of cuts made to Chelmsford Councillor Jones had also expressed disapproval at another fire pump being built at Great Dunmow.  It was also noted that he had requested data for the rest of Essex which had not been provided.


Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no Items of Urgent Business.


Declaration of Interests


Councillor Cherry disclosed a Non-Pecuniary Interest in relation to Item 6: Report on Thurrock Community Safety Partnership in that the Vice-Chair was employed by Essex Police.


Councillor Piccolo also disclosed a Non-Pecuniary Interest in relation to Item 6: Report on Thurrock Community Safety Partnership in that he was a Member of Thurrock Safety Partnership. 



Environmental Enforcement pdf icon PDF 135 KB


The Community Protection Manager presented the report and Members were reminded that it would be presented to Cabinet the following evening so their comments would be welcomed.  The Committee heard that it may be necessary for Officers to work at further business cases and bring the report back to Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee in October 2016.


The Chair thanked the Community Protection Manager for his presentation and referred to page 16 and the Fixed Penalty Notice to be set at £400 with no reduction for prompt payment.  The Chair enquired as to how usual this was and whether it would cause problems in obtaining repayments.  The Committee heard that the thinking behind the highest possible fee was to support the Council’s zero-tolerance policy.  Residents were very angry about the state of the borough and any Council action was view positively, fining at the highest possible level would send a message to residents.  Not offering a reduced rate for prompt payment was to follow the same line although the Community Protection Manager admitted that there may be issues whereby, since there would be no incentive to take a reduced fine, perpetrators may be of the opinion that they might as well dispute the penalty.  However, there was such outrage in the community that the most robust opposition was required.


The Chair agreed that, personally, he supported a tough line against fly-tipping and that presumably officers could review payments and amend the policy in future if necessary.  Members were assured that payments would be monitored as part of the process.


The Chair observed that a large range of offences was covered by the term “low-level fly-tipping” and asked if Officers could provide a simplistic explanation for residents.  The Committee heard that the specification was generally smaller scale offences such as house clearances.  These were difficult to detect and find evidence from, usually curb-side dumping.  Enforcement Officers visited every report of fly-tipping and often would find suitable evidence.  The actions taken were deemed to be highly appropriate as these were criminal matters.


Councillor Jones referred to pages 17-18 of the report and asked whether it would be possible to obtain feedback from those currently working within the department as to which options would be preferable to them.  Members heard that “continue as is” would generate further challenges for the department and that “Instruct a private enforcement company” could include significant issues despite some attractions.  As such he believed the Enforcement Officers would favour “Fund an increase in enforcement officers either temporarily or permanently” or “Increase the back office resource to investigate service reports”.  The Corporate Director for Environment and Place interjected that a “chair day” had been held with the current Enforcement Officers, they had raised the point that more resources or frontline staff would enhance their performance.  Members were assured that whichever recommendation was taken staff would be consulted.


The Vice-Chair asked whether there was any other view to run alongside straightforward enforcement as the Court process was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Report on Thurrock Community Safety Partnership pdf icon PDF 95 KB


The Community Protection Manager presented the report and outlined to Members that the 13.6% increase of “all crime” was actually an increase in reported crime and compared it to a 17.6% increase in Braintree, 17.7% in Basildon and 17.9% in Rochford, to give context.  The Committee were presented with the priorities for the upcoming year.  The Community Protection Manager apologised that “violence against the person” on p25 should have read 3035 not 305.  Members heard that the reduction in “burglary in a dwelling” of 13.6% was the 2nd largest reduction in the County.  It was also expressed that whilst the figures showed a decrease in “Racially / Religiously aggravated” crime, there had been a spike since Brexit; again this was not only within Thurrock, but a nationwide phenomenon. 


The Committee also heard that although “violence against the person” seemed alarmingly high, 61% of reported incidents were without injury and the 37% increase was relatively low compared to other parts of the County, with a 68% increase in Rochford.  It was also stressed that this category was a somewhat “catch all” category.  The Community Protection Manager explained that gang related violence within the borough was low however London had advised that the situation can turn rapidly when not being monitored and there had been increased activity with active gang members being relocated by Housing Associations from North London to the Chafford Hundred area, so Thurrock were working with Housing Associations and the Metropolitan Police.  Members heard that the lack of an extensive night time economy, such as night clubs, and low Class A drug usage in the area helped keep gang activity in the area down.  A gang related violence document was shown which would be circulated to members after the meeting.


The Chair thanked the Community Protection Manager for his presentation and agreed it was right that the Committee acknowledged the work of Thurrock Community Safety Partnership.  He continued to state that the priorities outlined seemed the correct areas of focus and were in line with the Police Crime Commissioner’s views.  He noted that Anti-Social Behaviour was a real issue in the borough.


Councillor Jones wanted to reinforce what had been said and added that the Youth Offending Service team were one of the best in the Country.  He continued to ask what the make-up of the Thurrock Community Safety Partnership was.  Members heard that the partnership included representatives from Thurrock Council, the Police, the Fire and Health services, Probation (both Community Rehabilitation Company and National Probation Service) and educational representatives.


Councillor Collins asked if there were data which showed a breakdown of crimes by the race, ethnicity and country of origin of the perpetrator, and if it could be included in future reports. 


Councillor Collins continued to raise concern surrounding the “violence against women and girls” priority, stating that it was quite right that we protect those members of society but wondered if there were any facilities where men and boys could go to receive the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 62 KB


Members and Officers discussed the Work Programme and suggested additions and amendments to future meetings.


The Chair reminded Members that, following the report presented, the finalised business case for Environmental Enforcement would need to come to the Committee at its October meeting.  He also requested the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Tolson, be invited to present an item at the October meeting outlining the Council’s policy surrounding “clean it and cut it”.  The Chair’s final request was for an item regarding the borough’s parks and open spaces particularly referencing quality and maintenance, but acknowledged that this could possibly be covered in the Portfolio Holder’s report.


Councillor Piccolo requested that, timeframes permitting, the reports on Unauthorised Traveller Encampments and Fly-Tipping be brought forward to the October meeting and the Country Parks Review and Environmental Health – Food reports be postponed until the December meeting.


Officers advised they would need to also include a report on Budget updates in the October Agenda.  The Democratic Services officer informed the Committee that an updated document would be circulated to Members.




Members noted the Work Programme including the amendments.