Environment Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Environment Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Monday 22 October 2012
1:30 p.m.
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

Councillor R Kerr (Chair); Councillor R Brady, Councillor J G Cole, Councillor D Davison and Councillor T Harvey (substitute for Councillor Clark).
R Marron - Estates Team Manager, Cleveland Police.
S Leng - Estates Manager, Cleveland Police.
A Crawford and J Dixon.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor G B Clark, Councillor C Hobson, Councillor M Saunders, Councillor P Sharrocks
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution

The Minutes of the Environment Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 1 October 2012 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a covering report providing the Panel with further information in relation to environmental awareness of other public bodies, particularly information regarding energy and carbon reduction measures.


To date, the Panel had heard from representatives of Teesside University and Fabrick Housing Group and further meetings would be arranged to hear from representatives of other relevant organisations.


R Marron and S Leng, Estates Team, Cleveland Police, were in attendance at the meeting to present information regarding the work that had been undertaken by the Police in respect of energy and carbon reduction.


R Marron, Estates Team Manager, explained that he was responsible for the management of Cleveland Police premises and that his team had been outsourced approximately two years ago to deliver the service to Cleveland Police. A Benchmarking Group had been established for reporting purposes in order to compare with other forces. Cleveland Police did not have a specialist energy manager, therefore, the Estates Team looked at how best to encourage energy reduction through cultural changes and through liaison with energy consultants.


The Cleveland Police energy bill was approximately £1 million per year (60% electricity and 40% gas). Measures that had been taken over the last two and a half years to reduce energy consumption in Cleveland Police buildings included:-

  • Installation of electricity automisers - (ensuring a constant current within the building) installed in four buildings making a saving of between 8% and 12% on costs in each building. These had a short payback time and the benefits were already being recognised.
  • Exercise on managing PCs, ie ensuring they were switched off when not in use. It was highlighted that special software was being commissioned to ‘zone out’ certain PCs in some buildings as certain services needed to be operational 24 hours a day and could not be switched off.
  • Development of a Carbon Management Plan.
  • Introduction of energy reduction performance targets. This would encourage competition between the four districts within the Cleveland Police force and district managers were keen to engage.
  • Various emails and poster campaigns and workshops to raise staff awareness, achieving around a 5% saving in energy costs.
  • Heating temperatures in buildings turned down to between 19C and 21C and the addition of guards on thermostats to ensure a constant, comfortable temperature.
  • It was highlighted that a large proportion of Police staff had been TUPEd and transferred to other buildings. It was hoped this would achieve a minimum overall energy saving of approximately 5%.
  • Reductions had been made at District Headquarters, Ladgate Lane, as heating and lighting was on constant for 24 hours when this was not required. The times of lighting and heating had now been altered to operate only when required.
  • Cleveland Police had set criteria in relation to heating, in that it became operational on 1 October and was switched off on 1 June. On occasions, requests for heating to be provided during the months June to October were received from Ladgate Lane, the cost of providing additional heating equated to approximately £1,100 per week. 
  • In addition, turning off every other light fitting within the Ladgate Lane building had also produced a significant saving.
  • The Estates Team was keen to promote energy reduction in terms of resources, for example, turning heating down in buildings might equate to a Police Officer post or provision of dogs/horses.
  • De-commissioning of air conditioning units where opening of windows was possible.
  • The purchase and use of a lux meter had produced approximately £6,000 of savings in its first year.
  • An enthusiasm to meet with other local partners to share information in relation to what each partner was doing in terms of energy and carbon reduction was expressed.

During the ensuing discussion, the following issues were raised:-

  • A Panel Member queried whether consideration had been given to any forms of renewable energy. The Estates Team Manager advised that a costing exercise had been undertaken as to the viability of photo-voltaic panels for three buildings, however, the feeding tariff had reduced considerably and payback time had extended to 20-25 years, making it an unviable option at the present moment. It was considered that wind power would not produce a large enough output and would be difficult to install.
  • It was queried whether energy and carbon reduction had been a consideration at the planning stages of the new build Police Headquarters in St Hilda’s. The Panel was advised that a different organisation was responsible for this building, however, the team of staff responsible had liaised with the Estates Team, particularly in relation to initiatives incorporated into the new-build Police station at Wynyard and the refurbished Police station at Hartlepool. There were some difficulties with open plan spaces as part of the space might be occupied by staff working from 9.00am to 5.00pm and part of the space occupied by staff working 24 hours.
  • In response to a query as to whether it would be beneficial to have a dedicated energy manager, the Estates Team Manager considered that it would be, however, consultants were currently used to provide energy advice and sharing knowledge by engaging with other local partners.
  • It was queried whether there would be more incentive to save energy if districts could keep a percentage of any savings they made. The Panel was informed that this was not something that was currently being considered and that any savings were centralised across the force.
  • Reference was made to information recently provided to the Panel by another public body in relation to significant savings made by raising employee awareness and ensuring that all PCs and lights were turned off when not in use and ‘shaming’ those who did not comply. The Estates Team Manager advised that this was something that would be considered alongside the purchase of specialist software across the force.
  • It was queried how Cleveland Police compared with other forces in terms of energy saving. The Panel was advised that the Cleveland Police was linked with West Yorkshire, Merseyside and Mercia forces as they were all of similar sizes. Cleveland performed generally on a par with the other forces, however, it was not clear how credible the results were.
  • It was highlighted that Cleveland Police aimed to reduce energy consumption and carbon waste by 20% over the next five years.
  • The Estates Team Manager advised that it currently used the services of consultants to provide energy advice, however, this practice was being reviewed. It was highlighted that Cleveland Police Estates Team was very keen to engage with a local partner/partners in relation to this and would welcome liaison with the Council’s Energy Management Team.

The Chair thanked the Officers for their attendance and the information provided.


AGREED as follows:-


1. That the information provided be noted and considered in the context of the topic of environmental awareness of public bodies.


Members were asked to consider the Panel’s Draft Final Report on its findings resulting from its scrutiny into Joint Working Arrangements in Streetscene Services. It was confirmed that, following the Panel’s approval, the Final Report would be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration.


The report highlighted that the Panel initially decided to investigate the topic of joint authority working on refuse collection and street cleaning as part of its 2012-13 Work Programme. The subject was widened to cover joint working across Streetscene and related services in light of the Council’s current budget position. In this context the Overview and Scrutiny Board recommended that Scrutiny Panels should review work programmes and focus on examining areas of service delivery to assist the authority in determining future priorities.


The Panel, therefore, investigated the issue as a short topic over the course of one meeting, held on 1 October 2012. The submitted report summarised the information gathered and highlighted the issues explored at that meeting. This included: -


a) Current Joint Working.
b) Future Possibilities.
c) Possible Barriers to Joint Working.


The Scrutiny Support Officer circulated a list of possible conclusions and recommendations, drawn up prior to the meeting in conjunction with the Chair, for consideration and comment. Members confirmed that they had no comments in relation to the conclusions.


The circulated list of ‘Possible Recommendations’ for inclusion within the Final Report, was discussed and it was agreed that they be approved for inclusion within the Final Report.


AGREED as follows:-


1. That the Scrutiny Support Officer, in conjunction with the Chair, be given authority to finalise the Final Report and that the report be submitted to the next available meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.


2. That the conclusions, as circulated at the meeting, be incorporated into the report.


3. That the following recommendations be incorporated into the report:-


1. That the Executive notes the number of joint working initiatives that have been developed across Environmental and technical services and the potential for these to generate financial savings for the authority.


2. That, given the potential scale of the Waste Management contract which was due for renewal in 2020, careful consideration be given, in close liaison with the other Tees Valley authorities, as to how this can be progressed most cost effectively to the financial benefit of all the authorities concerned.


3. That, in order to continue to promote and develop joint working initiatives with other local authorities, the issue be raised and highlighted at the highest levels politically and managerially across the Tees Valley authorities, including examples of successful initiatives undertaken to date.


The next meeting of the Environment Scrutiny Panel was scheduled for Monday, 12 November 2012 at 1.30pm.

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