Executive Member for Environment Minutes

Executive Member for Environment Minutes

Date:
Tuesday 19 February 2013
Time:
2:00 p.m.
Place:
Stainsby Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor N J Walker
Officers:
Stewart Muir Williams, Lesley Jackson and Sharron Brown
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
13/6 ACCESS BARRIER POLICY

The Executive Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities submitted a report that sought approval of the Access Barrier Policy, which related only to barriers and bollards that were designed to restrict access along highways such as footpaths, footways, bridleways etc and not for the protection of public open space or highway verges.

 

Middlesbrough Council’s highways service managed an extensive network of highways across the borough, such as footpaths and bridleways, which provided important off road walking and cycling links.

 

These highways provided important links to the public and although most were used by legitimate users, there were many instances where they were not and this had resulted in the Council receiving many complaints of anti-social behaviour and requests for the Council to either stop up or restrict access.

 

Various services within the Council, used a variety of different methods, which had included the use of bollards, barriers and even on occasions their closure, which had resolved these complaints. However as there had not been a consistent approach to these requests it had resulted in many barriers, which did not conform to a set design standard.

 

Over the last few years and as a result of new legislation this none consistent approach in dealing with the requests had resulted in a conflict between; restricting unauthorised use against considering the needs of users with limited mobility.

 

The Council strove for an access, for all approach that was raised through the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which included ensuring as far as possible that access for users of the highway with mobility scooters was not restricted. It had therefore been deemed necessary to draw up an Access Barrier Policy to ensure the Council had a consistent approach to that issue. This was attached as Appendix 1 and was available on the Council Website.

 

While this policy had been produced with the overall emphasis being placed upon safety, it was recognised that in taking this access for all approach the Council was limited to restricting access to unauthorised users of the highway rather than preventing them.

 

The Policy tackled the issue of requests for new barriers as well as what to do with existing barriers which didn’t meet DDA standards.

 

During discussions Councillor N Walker highliged that the following amendment to the Access Barrier Policy were needed:

  1. Page 3 under heading ' Introduction' - note that the Dissability Discrimination Act (DDA) had been superceded by the Equality Act 2010.
  2. Page 6 under heading ' Consultation' - Note that Ward Councillors (will always be consulted).

 The report outlined that there were three options available:

 

Option 1 - Reject the Access Barrier Policy - If the policy did not receive approval then it would have an immediate negative impact upon the current work undertaken by the Council and also on how the Council responded to requests for barriers to deal with antisocial behaviour on highways (e.g footpaths and bridleways).

 

Option 2 - Accept the Policy, but with changes - This option would allow the Council to tackle the issue of antisocial behaviour on highways (e.g footpaths and bridleways) through an assessment process. The policy had been development by employees with professional experience in the field and from feedback
from the public on previous issues and consultation and engagement with key individuals and groups including shop mobility and the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team. It would therefore not be recommended that any changes were instigated into the policy without full consultation with the author.

 

Option 3 - Accept the Policy as written - This option would allow the Council to tackle the issue of antisocial behaviour on highways (e.g footpaths and bridleways) through an assessment process which would ensure a consistent and joined up approach when considering restricting access and the most cost effective method to do so. The policy also provided the ability to assess the continuing need for existing barriers and also enabled the refusal of any applications made.

 

ORDERED

 

That the Access Barrier Policy as attached as Appendix 1 of the report be approved.

 

REASONS

 

The decision was supported by the following reason:

 

This option is recommended as the policy has been developed by Officers to provide an assessment process which will ensure a consistent and joined up approach when considering restricting access and the most cost effective method to do so. The policy also provides the ability to assess the continuing need for existing barriers and also enable the refusal of any applications made.

13/7 GATING ORDER POLICY

The Executive Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities submitted a report that sought approval of the Gating Order Policy, which sets out the procedure for dealing with requests for Gating Orders and the implementation of any subsequent works using Legislation brought in by 'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005'.

 

Gating of private and public alleyways in Middlesbrough had been undertaken for a number of years, particularly in the town's central residential areas where burglary and anti social behaviour were most prevalent. Where alleygates had been the appropriate solution to a problem, the reduction in crime as a result of alleygates had been significant.

 

Alleyways, ginnels, backways, snickets, passages, paths and walkways, whatever name you use for the narrow walkways behind and to the side of houses, putting a gate in had proved to be a very successful way of preventing burglary.

 
In addition to the prevention of burglary, gates stopped alleyways being used for all kinds of antisocial behaviour such as fly-tipping, dog fouling, small fires, drug and alcohol misuse etc. The effect of gating had meant that alleys had become safe places for the community to enjoy.

 

Alleygates were not always the most appropriate or cost-effective method of preventing a crime or anti-social behaviour problem and some environments, such as large open plan estates with many thoroughfares, did not lend themselves as effectively to alleygating schemes as the rear of terraced properties did. Gating of any thoroughfare would require an appropriate alternative route.

 

Middlesbrough Council therefore saw gating orders as a tool that should be used only when an investigation had concluded that other means of addressing the crime or anti-social behaviour problem had been exhausted or was not likely to be successful. When gating orders were deemed to be an appropriate response, it would be important to endeavour to choose the least restrictive form of gating. In all cases, individuals, businesses or groups requesting an order would need to identify funding to pay for all aspects of the gating order process. It had therefore been deemed necessary to draw up a Gating Order Policy, to ensure the Council had a consistent approach to the issue. This was attached as Appendix 1 of the report.

 

Although a Gating Order would prevent or limit the use of a highway, it did not remove the highway rights associated with it. An order may, in appropriate circumstances, limit the use of the highway to certain times of the day and orders may be varied or revoked should the crime or anti-social behaviour be reduced.

 

A Gating Order may have authorised the installation, operation and maintenance of a barrier to enforce the restriction or closure. A Council may install, operate and maintain any authorised barrier. The document sets out Middlesbrough Council’s policy and procedure for dealing with requests for Gating Orders and the implementation of any subsequent works using Legislation which was brought in by 'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005'.

 

During discussions Councillor Walker highlighted that the following amendments to the Gating Order Policy wording were needed:

  1. Page 12 under heading: 'Consultation with Elected Members, Parish / Ward Councils and Community Councils' - that Consultation shall always be carried out with local Ward Councillors.
  2. Page 18 under heading: 'Future Maintenance' - that should the gate require replacement or major repairs, then alternative funding will have to be sought.

The report outlined that there were three options available:

 

Option 1 - Reject the Gating Order Policy - If the Policy did not receive approval then it would have an immediate negative impact upon the current work undertaken by the Council and also on how the Council responded to requests for Gates that dealt with crime and anti-social behaviour on certain public highways.

 

Option 2 - Accept the Policy, but with changes - This option would have allowed the Council to tackle the issue of crime and anti-social behaviour, which was facilitated by certain public highways through an assessment process and possible eventual gating off. The policy had been development by employees with professional experience in this field and from feedback from the public on previous issues and consultation and engagement with key individuals and groups including shop mobility and the Council’s Anti-social Behaviour team. It would therefore not be recommended that any changes were instigated into the Policy without full consultation with the author.

 

Option 3 - Accept the Policy as written - This option would have allowed the Council to tackle the issue of crime and anti-social behaviour within an area, which was facilitated by certain public highways through an assessment process and the eventual gating off. The policy also provided the process for reviewing gating orders as per the legislation.

 

ORDERED

 

That the Gating Order Policy attached as Appendix 1 of the report be approved.

 

REASONS

 

The decision was supported by the following reason:


This option is recommended as the policy has been developed by Officers, which sets out the procedure for dealing with requests for Gating Orders and the implementation of any subsequent works using Legislation brought in by 'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005'.

13/8 LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 2013/2014 CAPITAL ALLOCATIONS

The Executive Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities submitted a report that sought approval for the Local Transport Plan (LTP) funding allocations for 1st April 2013 - 31st March 2014.

 

The Mayor's Transport Strategy, together with National Transport Goals formed the basis of the third LTP for Middlesbrough. The Transport Strategy supported the aims of the Local Development Framework in promoting Middlesbrough’s economic and social development.

 

The LTP Capital expenditure provided a targeted approach to prioritising transport improvements, addressing the diverse needs of our town and the areas within it. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy was approved in June 2010 and formed a major part of Middlesbrough's LTP3 2011-2016.

 

The LTP budget allocation for 2013-14 was a grant allocation set by Department for Transport. A total funding of £2.650m was split into two areas - Integrated Transport Block and Highways Maintenance works. The proposals were set out within the report and were to be funded by the grant.

Continued capital contributions to Tees Valley Bus Network Improvement Scheme (£231,000) and Local Sustainable Transport Fund (£105,000) had previously been agreed.

 

The only options outlined within the report was that the Local Transport Grant was awarded each year by the Department for Transport based on a local authorities Local Transport Plan document. Listed below and outlined in further detail within the report were the areas proposed for allocate of the capital grant in accordance with the priorities stated within the Local Transport Plan.

 

INTEGRATED TRANSPORT BLOCK

  • Network Management;
  • Active Travel; and
  • Road Safety

HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE BLOCK

  • Carriageway and Footway Maintenance;
  • Bridge/Structural Maintenance;
  • Disabled Access and Dropped Crossings;
  • Transporter Bridge Access and Repainting;
  • Street Lighting;
  • Pavement and Verge Parking; and
  • Additional Highways Maintenance Grant.

ORDERED

 

That the allocations and principles outlined within the report be approved, with delegated approval for any changes in the resource allocation to be delegated to the Assistant Director for Environment following consultation with the Executive Member.

 

REASONS

 

The decision was supported by the following reason:

 

To expedite works in accordance with the local transport plan priorities.

The decision(s) will come into force after five working days following the day the decision(s) were published unless the decision becomes subject to the call in procedures.
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