Agenda and minutes

Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 4th July, 2019 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Jenny Shade, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

31.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 7 February 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 7 February 2019 were approved as a correct record.

32.

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.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business, but the Chair informed the Committee that Item 7 of the agenda was being brought forward and would be heard first.

33.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

34.

Thurrock Active Parks Programme Update pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Minutes:

The Chair asked Mr. Rob Groves, the Chief Executive of Hardie Park to come to the table and read his statement: I would like to challenge the decision to forge ahead with the project to employ Parks Engagement Officers at the cost of £300k, (which are S.106 funds) over the next three years. It is my opinion, which is shared by other active citizens, that have been engaged with taking ownership of their local parks and open spaces, that this project is inconsistent with the partnership between the Council and Friends of Hardie Park, which should be one of cooperation with and support of local grassroots led initiatives that model Hardie Park as a mechanism of transforming parks, with little or no public funds. My current experience is that the partnership does not have the full support of Council officers with communications, including emails sometimes taking weeks or months to be replied to, or in some instances are ignored altogether. I feel deeply disappointed and hurt at the way the Council have not engaged residents in this decision and delivery of this project, at the cost of desperately needed funds earmarked for direct investment into communities bearing the brunt of developments.

The Recreation and Leisure Manager then introduced the report and stated that the Parks Improvement Programme had been envisaged in 2017, as around half of adults in Thurrock were not undertaking physical activity levels in line with the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines, and this was the highest level in Essex. He elaborated that a review had been undertaken in 2016/17 that had reviewed the use of park equipment and found that attendance in parks was low due to anti-social behaviour. He outlined that s.106 funding had been secured for three Park Engagement Officers whose job was to encourage activity, and help prevent anti-social behaviour in parks. The Recreation and Leisure Manager described how there were 72 parks across Thurrock, and more open spaces. He drew the Committee’s attention to the Hardie Park Model and how this worked as it was community led. He stated that there were 4-5 other parks across the borough that could use the Hardie Park Model, but a flexible approach was needed, as not all parks were suitable.

The Recreation and Leisure Manager stated that the three Park Engagement Officers had begun work in April 2019 and were all NBG Level 2 qualified, and had so far engaged over 600 people. He mentioned that there were now 15 sessions per week during term-time, which lasted 8-10 weeks with holiday activities organised during school holiday periods. He summarised and stated that the Park Engagement Officers were also there to direct people to funding for their parks, and to help signpost where volunteers could become qualified.

The Chief Executive of Hardie Park queried whether s.106 funding could be used for staff salaries, and how the Park Engagement Officers would generate income. He stated that Hardie Park was ‘grass-roots’ led, but in the past had also suffered  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.

35.

Waste Strategy For Thurrock pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Environment and Highways introduced the report and stated that in December 2018 Central Government issued their waste strategy for England with a focus on re-use, recycling and reducing packaging. She added that the Telegraph recently ran an article stating that “recycling rates have stalled at 45% since 2017”, with an impact assessment by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs accepting the UK will miss its target of 65% waste recycled by 2035. She added that Thurrock’s recycling rates had stagnated in the last few years at 36/37%. The Director of Environment and Highways requested that the Committee agree a sub working group be established to consider opportunities available and produce a vision statement by December 2019, enabling officers to draft a new waste strategy in the first quarter of the calendar year, with consultation and adoption of the strategy to follow. She added that in December 2020 the waste disposal contracts were up for renewal, with an option to extend, and felt it was essential that the new strategy inform future contract procurement.

Councillor Mayes commented that the report stated a new waste strategy would be ready in June 2020, and asked if this would give officers enough time to organise the procurement process. The Director of Environment and Highways replied that if the vision statement remains similar then it would be possible to organise a procurement process in time for December 2020. She stated that if there was significant change, then the contracts could be extended for up to two years. Councillor Mayes felt that the separation of recycling, as outlined in the report, could be a good strategy, and asked if the team had considered the size of bins. The Director of Environment and Highways stated that this would form part of the review. She referred to the central government strategy, which was seeking increased recycling, stating that over the coming years central government would be undertaking consultation on issues such as free garden waste collection and whether food waste should be separated. Should the working group be approved she suggested that the first meeting be held in Bywaters Recycling Centre so Members could see first-hand where recycling is managed. The Director of Environment and Highways summarised that an annual increase in property number, also put pressure on waste management, as an increase of only 6000 homes meant an additional 3 crews were needed, one for each waste stream.

Councillor Rigby asked if the new system of placing stickers on contaminated bins was having an effect on recycling rates. The Director of Environment and Highways stated that the idea was working well, and added that in-cab facilities were due to go live in July, which would enable crews to input data as to why the bin was contaminated. She explained how in the future this would enable the Contact Centre to provide up to the minute updates in response to residents calling in to report missed collections. She commented that by not only  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.

36.

Tree Planting Strategy - Update Report pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Lead – Clean and Green stated that this report was an update on the Tree Planting Strategy. He stated that the Tree Officer was now working with residents and councillors to facilitate tree planting across the borough, and planned to plant 10-12 fruit trees in Elm Road. He stated that the Tree Officer was also working with the transport team to identify areas where trees could be planted. He added that in December 2018, the Committee had agreed the Tree Planting Strategy, which had been agreed by Cabinet in February 2019. He clarified that the Strategy had agreed 66 new trees to be planted in three years at a cost of £9900, and now Members were being consulted when trees were removed in their ward. He added that since the Strategy had been agreed, 32 new trees had been planted, with the remainder to be planted in the autumn, when they had the most chance of survival. He drew Members attention to Appendix 1 that outlined the list of trees that had already been planted, and mentioned that once the location of trees to be planted in Autumn had been agreed, this would be shared with Members. He commented that an arborist apprentice was now employed by the council, and once they had completed their training they had the potential to become a full-time arborist, to fulfil a vacant post, and another arborist apprentice could be recruited. He added that a new water bowser had been purchased to maintain the trees, and a new electronic system for monitoring trees was also being implemented. He summarised that the council rarely removed healthy trees, and were always looking for more funding sources so trees could be purchased.

Councillor Lawrence asked where trees were purchased from, and if Members and residents could request trees for barren land. The Strategic Lead – Clean and Green replied that he believed the council purchased trees locally, and they were currently trying to buy larger trees rather than whips, and stated that the team welcomed suggestions for places to plant trees. The Chair stated that community groups could receive free trees from the Forestry Commission, although they were mostly whips. The Director of Environment and Highways stated that she encouraged local community groups to contact the Forestry Commission, but to liaise with the council’s Tree Officer to ensure the right trees get planted in the right places. She added that the council needed to know where new trees were, particularly whips, so the council could protect and maintain them. The Chair asked if the new electronic system would allow Members to find out information on each tree in the borough. The Assistant Director Street Scene and Leisure replied that officers would be able to see that level of detail, and could then answer any questions that Members might have.

RESOLVED: That:

1. The report provided the Committee with an update on the Tree Planting Strategy, which was agreed by Cabinet on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Environment Enforcement Update pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Minutes:

The Strategic Lead – Enforcement and Community Protection introduced the report and stated that the council now employed four Environmental Enforcement Officers, and one senior Environmental Enforcement Officer. He added that these officers were now undertaking a new accreditation from the Essex Police Commissioner so they had increased devolved powers, as outlined in 2.3.3. He stated that these powers included stopping cycling on the footpath, stopping underage possession of alcohol and tobacco, and stopping idling car engines, and would be well publicised so residents were aware. He stated that new legislation could be enforced through criminal courts, as well as residents receiving a fixed penalty notice. He outlined a recent issue that had been found with the enforcement contractor issuing fixed penalty notices through an automated system, which had recently been reported in the media. He advised that the council was dealing with this through the contract default process.

Councillor Lawrence felt that the new powers were good, particularly surrounding stopping car engines idling as this could help reduce pollution. She asked if the new powers could be used around schools, where pollution could get particularly bad at drop off and pick up times. She asked if an American carpool style lane could be introduced around certain schools. Councillor Mayes supported Councillor Lawrence, and added that the emphasis was on residents to look after their own waste, to ensure it was not being disposed of illegally. Councillor Mayes then asked if income generated from fines remained in the directorate. The Director of Environment and Highways replied that income generated from fixed penalty notices paid for enforcement officers, and other enforcement activity, ensuring the service remained cost neutral. She added that any surpluses generated were used for enforcement activity, such as court proceedings.

RESOLVED: That:

1. The Committee noted the performance and service achievements and supported the future priorities for Environmental Enforcement, which is linked to the Council’s priorities.

2. The Committee supported the adoption of S34 – Duty of Care for domestic waste as stated in point 3.4 of this report, and recommend to Cabinet for approval.

3. The Committee supported the adoption of S42 – Idling engines in parked vehicles as stated in point 3.5 of this report, and recommend to Cabinet for approval.

38.

Community Safety Partnership Report on Prevent pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Thurrock Community Safety Partnership Manager opened the report and stated that it was a statutory duty for local authorities to have due regard to Prevent and link it to the wider duty of safeguarding children and adults. She explained that the terrorism level had been at severe since 2014, which was the second highest level, and had only escalated in 2017 directly after the Westminster attacks. She described how the terrorism threat in Thurrock was no greater than anywhere else in the region, and a profile was received quarterly which outlined specific threats, but this was not available to the public. She discussed the greatest threats to Thurrock, and how the Prevent meeting looked at various strategies and action plans to target this. She stated that Prevent was an Officer group led by the Assistant Director Housing, and that they had recently completed the Home Officer Prevent toolkit. In addition, she spoke about the Member working group and encouraged attendance. She added that there was also a new escalation route for the Channel Panel as they now met monthly, rather than when a case was referred. She stated that this process would be reviewed in October.

RESOLVED: That:

1. The Committee noted the national risk.

2. The Committee noted the ratings and actions against the benchmark in the Prevent duty toolkit for Local Authorities.

3. The Committee supported the Local Authority to fulfil its obligations through encouraging members to attend the Member working group on Prevent.

4. The Committee agreed to complete the online training at
www.elearning.prevent.homeoffice.gov.uk .

5. The Committee agreed to promote the important role that members play in community tension monitoring and reports.

 

39.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Environment and Highways stated that Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee had asked the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee to focus on the missed Key Performance Indicator (KPI) regarding bin collection. She stated that since October 2018 this KPI had met target, barring March due to climate issues but this had only been missed by 0.03%. She stated that to meet Corporate Overview and Scrutiny’s request a verbal update would be provided on a quarterly basis to keep Members aware. The Chair and Members agreed to these updates.