Environment Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Environment Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Monday 3 December 2012
1:30 p.m.
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

Councillor R Kerr (Chair), Councillor G B Clark (Vice Chair); Councillor R Brady and Councillor D Davison.
Councillor N J Walker - Executive Member
A Crawford, J Dixon, K Garland and T Punton.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor J G Cole, Councillor C Hobson, Councillor J McPartland, Councillor M Saunders, Councillor P Sharrocks.
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution

The Minutes of the Environment Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 12 November 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, Fabrick Housing Group and Cleveland Police.


Rajni Sisodiya, Energy and Sustainability Advisor from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was in attendance at the meeting to provide information to the Panel in respect of work that had been undertaken by the NHS in respect of energy and carbon reduction.


The Chair provided background information in relation to the Panel’s current scrutiny topic and referred to the possibility of establishing annual or bi-annual meetings between all agencies to share information in relation to energy and carbon reduction measures.


The Energy and Sustainability Advisor circulated copies of the Trust’s ‘Carbon Management Plan’ that was approved by the Trust Board in March 2011 and advised that her role spanned both James Cook University Hospital and the Friarage Hospital. The Carbon Management Plan highlighted where investment was needed and outlined the future vision and targets for NHS Trusts to become a leader in carbon management.


The Panel was advised that the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STHFT) was partnered by the Carbon Trust in 2010 in order to realise substantial carbon and cost savings. The NHS Trust had a target of reducing carbon by 25% by 2015 with potential financial savings to the organisation of around £2.5 million.


Members were provided with information in relation to the new specialist Oncology building, the Endeavour Unit, at the James Cook site. It was highlighted that the building benefitted from having south-facing windows, a ground source heat pump and the majority of the building being controlled by a Building Management System. These measures were possible as it was a brand new building.


The Panel was shown an aerial photograph of the James Cook hospital site which showed the heat loss from the buildings. This thermal image helped to investigate where most energy was being lost and how to address the problem.


In terms of ongoing projects, several had commenced at the start of 2012 and included:-

  • Mixed recycling. Intention to roll out in clinical areas but not including clinical contaminated waste.
  • Battery recycling. A low-cost initiative with an initial £50 set up charge then free collection of bagged batteries thereafter by the collection company.
  • Staff awareness campaign. Raising awareness of all staff in relation to saving energy and heat both in the home and workplace.
  • Procurement of ‘Nightwatchman’ software. A relatively inexpensive software programme to ensure PCs were turned off after 7.00pm in non-clinical areas. Recent funding had been secured in respect of this and Panel Members could be provided with further details in relation to the cost of such software if they so wished. However, it was highlighted that the software cost around £10,000 and had a short pay-back time of approximately six months.

Discussion ensued and the following issues were raised:-

  • It was acknowledged that James Cook was a very large site and the total energy cost was approximately £6 million per year.
  • An external consultant had been employed for 60 days and had identified where lights and PCs, etc, had been left switched on unnecessarily. It was identified that a saving of approximately £50,000 per year could be made by ensuring lights and PCs were turned off when not needed. The findings were divided into departments and each department had been provided with a list of actions.
  • In response to a query it was highlighted that patient care was a priority and that any savings made from energy reduction could be diverted into patient care, therefore, it was important to get staff and visitors on board with energy saving measures.

In terms of future projects, the following had been identified:-

  • Introduction of offensive waste stream. Currently non-clinical waste was directed to the Energy from Waste plant at Haverton Hill, however, the plant was licensed to dispose of offensive waste (ie nappies and sanitary waste that was non-clinical). Offensive waste was currently disposed of in the same way as clinical waste and this cost approximately three times more than ordinary waste disposal. It was hoped that by early 2013 the project to stream offensive waste into the ordinary waste disposal system would be achieved. The project would commence in the maternity and children’s departments and staff would be trained accordingly. It was anticipated that the project would provide significant savings.
  • Autoclaves replacement. It was explained that the hospital currently had two autoclaves that sterilised highly infectious waste so that it could then be disposed of via the clinical waste stream. The contracts for both autoclaves were due for renewal at a cost of approximately £200,000. If the autoclave process could be skipped altogether, it would provide a significant saving to the Trust. The contractor disposing of infectious waste, based in Leeds, had confirmed that the waste could be transported directly to the plant. The project was awaiting Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive approval.
  • The James Cook and Friarage Hospital’s partners were currently researching whether biomass boilers were a feasible option on both sites.
  • £67,000 funding had been received from the PCT for Nightwatchman software (referred to earlier) and to improve external car park lighting through LED lighting replacement which would provide further savings.
  • An Environmental Policy was currently being prepared and it was anticipated that this would be ready for implementation next year.

During the course of discussion, the following issues were raised:-

  • In response to a query, the Panel was advised that the Trust employed approximately 10,000 personnel, including community staff. Therefore, it was a huge challenge to focus all staff on energy reduction. In the near future, each department would be asked to nominate an Energy Champion.
  • A Panel Member commented that the Trust’s Carbon Management Plan was very impressive and suggested that staff may be more inclined to co-operate if occasional small incentives were offered or to have departments competing against each other in terms of saving energy. Another incentive for staff may be to make them aware of the total cost of energy consumption and that savings could be diverted to patient care.
  • In relation to focussing staff on energy reduction, the Panel was informed that the Trust was currently exploring the possibility of including energy reduction responsibilities within employees’ job descriptions.
  • The Energy and Sustainability Advisor advised that she was currently exploring the possibility of procuring electrical power sockets (costing £1.00 each) that would cut off the energy supply to any electrical equipment connected to it once the PC had been turned off.
  • Reference was made to the potential of installing renewable forms of energy on the hospital sites, such as ground source heat pumps, solar panels etc. The Energy and Sustainability Advisor informed the Panel that the hospital did have certain restrictions in terms of what it was permitted to do and had other factors to take into consideration such as infection control. The current priority was to raise staff awareness in relation to saving energy.

The Chair thanked the officer for attending and for the information provided.


The Panel noted that NHS Middlesbrough was the final body to be invited to submit information on energy reduction.


AGREED that the information provided be noted and considered in the context of the topic of environmental awareness of public bodies. The Panel’s draft Final Report on this topic would be submitted to the next meeting.


The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a report advising the Panel of a request made by a Member of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, at its meeting in October 2012, to examine the issue of fly tipping.


Concern had been expressed that levels of fly tipping, particularly in Pallister Ward, had apparently increased following the introduction of charging for junk jobs. Reference was made to particular problems encountered around becks and back alleys in the area. As a result, OSB agreed to refer the issue to the Environment Scrutiny Panel for further consideration and suggested the Panel might examine:-

  • Whether levels of fly tipping in Pallister, or elsewhere, had increased following the introduction of charging for junk jobs.
  • The costs associated with area clean ups compared to income received from junk job charging and whether these issues could be related in some cases.

T Punton, Assistant Director, Environment, accompanied by K Garland, Area Care Manager, was in attendance at the meeting to provide the Panel with information in relation to the issue.


Statistics were circulated to those present highlighting the numbers of fly tips (including white goods) made in each ward for each month of 2011 and 2012.


It was noted that there was no overall increase in fly tipping since the introduction of junk job charging, however, there had been a dramatic decrease in the number of requests for junk jobs. Prior to the introduction of charging, the number of junk job requests averaged 1,800 per month. This had now reduced to 600 per month since the introduction of charges.


During the period January to November 2011 there had been a total of 1,790 fly tips across all wards in Middlesbrough. The figure for the same period in 2012 was 1,710 - a reduction of 4.4% on the previous year.


It was acknowledged that there had been an increase in fly tipping in Pallister ward with 122 fly tips between January to November 2012 compared with 76 during the same period in 2011, however, the figures were not considered particularly high compared with other authorities.


In relation to the question concerning the cost of cleaning up fly tips compared with the income received from junk job charges, the Panel was advised that all clean-up costs were absorbed within the Area Care budget. The Service had a target of cleaning up all reported fly tips within 24 hours. The income from junk job charges currently stood at approximately £30,000 from April 2012 to date.


During the course of discussion the following issues were raised:-

  • The definition of ‘junk job’ was explained as being bulky household waste that would not fit inside a wheeled bin. For example, several additional bags of rubbish, furniture items and white goods.
  • A Member of the Panel wished to acknowledge the excellent job carried out by the Area Care staff and the swift response to fly tipping/dumped rubbish. Particular problems within the Gresham Ward were highlighted and it was considered that often residents put their household refuse out too early for collection. This often occurred due to the rapid turnover of tenants in rented properties and bad landlords. The Assistant Director of Environment advised that mail shots had been undertaken recently in the area informing residents of refuse collection days/times.
  • The Executive Member for Streetscene Services and Transport advised that she had attended a recent meeting of the Gresham Community Council where various solutions to such problems were being explored with the possibility of being rolled out to other areas if successful. She also considered that residents should be encouraged to use local charity shops and local ‘free sites’ on the internet to advertise unwanted goods.
  • Reference was made to the increase in rag and bone operators and it was highlighted that a new Bill was being put before Parliament to stop ‘cash for scrap’ which may have some impact.

The Chair thanked the officers for attending and for the information provided.


AGREED that the information provided be noted and that the Service makes every effort to promote the use of free disposal services, such as the civic amenity site, appropriate websites and charities.


The Chair requested that the Panel note the contents of the submitted report which provided an update on business conducted at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 13 November 2012, namely:-

  • Attendance of Executive Members at the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
  • Executive Member for Children Families and Learning.
  • Executive Feedback.
  • Coroners Service - Final Report of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel.
  • Erimus Housing - Enforcement on Condition of Gardens and General Environmental Conditions of the Social Housing Area.
  • Orchard Day Service.
  • Winter Maintenance.
  • Gresham Regeneration - Final Report of the Economic Regeneration and Transport Scrutiny Panel.
  • Joint Working Arrangements - Final Report of the Environment Scrutiny Panel.
  • Consideration of Requests for Scrutiny Reviews.
  • Scrutiny Panel Progress Reports.

AGREED that the information contained within the report be noted.


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