Environment Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Environment Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Date:
Monday 17 June 2013
Time:
2:00 p.m.
Place:
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor R Kerr (Chair), Councillor G B Clark, Councillor J G Cole, and Councillor P Sharrocks.
Officers:
A Crawford, J Dixon, G Field and D Gittins.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor R Brady, Councillor D Davison, Councillor C Hobson, Councillor M Saunders.
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
13/1 APPOINTMENT OF VICE CHAIR OF THE ENVIRONMENT SCRUTINY PANEL 2013/2014 MUNICIPAL YEAR

Nominations were sought for the appointment of Vice Chair of the Environment Scrutiny Panel for the Municipal Year 2013/2014.

 

ORDERED that Councillor Clark be appointed Vice Chair of the Environment Scrutiny Panel for the Municipal Year 2013/2014.
 

13/2 MINUTES OF THE ENVIRONMENT SCRUTINY PANEL MEETING HELD ON 13 MAY 2013.

The Minutes of the Environment Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 13 May 2013 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

13/3 ENVIRONMENT SCRUTINY PANEL WORK PROGRAMME 2013/14.

The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a report to provide Panel Members with information to assist in the consideration of suitable topics for inclusion in the Panel’s Work Programme for 2013/14.

 

Background information relating to how each of the Council’s Scrutiny Panels agreed its annual work programme was included in the report. It was highlighted that once agreed by the Panel, the Work Programme would be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for approval. Detailed terms of reference would then be agreed by the individual Panels at the start of each scrutiny investigation.

 

Suggested topics for consideration for inclusion in the Panel’s Work Programme were set out at paragraph 4 of the report. The issues had been suggested as possible topics following consultation with all Council Members and members of the public.

 

A list of services falling within the remit of the Environment Scrutiny Panel was attached at Appendix A to the submitted report.

 

It was highlighted that Scrutiny Panels had previously responded to emerging issues on an ad-hoc basis and, on occasion, ad-hoc Panels might also be established throughout the year to undertake additional investigations or to examine areas of work that overlapped more than one Scrutiny Panel.

 

In addition to any agreed work programme topics, Members were asked to note that the Panel had also requested update reports in respect of the following previous scrutiny topics:-

  • Nature’s World.
  • Flood Risk Management.
  • Impact of Budget Reductions.

D Gittins, Network Services Manager, was present at the meeting and had produced a briefing note in relation to an overview of Highway Maintenance. The Panel, however, considered that this would be a more appropriate topic for the Economic Regeneration and Transport Scrutiny Panel.

 

G Field, Environment Services Manager was also present at the meeting. A briefing note had been circulated from K Sherwood, Waste Policy Manager, in relation to the National Waste Strategy, for Members’ information.

 

Discussion took place in relation to the list of suggested topics included in the report and Panel Members proposed that the following topics be included in the Panel’s Work Programme for 2013/14:-

  • Domestic refuse and recycling/green waste collections - implementation of revised arrangements and practical issues (number of bins/containers, storage etc).
  • Borough Becks (funding to cease in September) (short topic).
  • Vacant allotment plots - policy/action (short topic/update).
  • Income generation.
  • Botanic Centre/Nature’s World - current position and future use of land (short topic/update).
  • Municipal Waste Management Strategy (update).
  • Town centre streetscene/cleanliness - impact of budget reductions.
  • Improving habitats for biodiversity
  • Maintenance of open spaces/flowerbeds/planters - impact of budget reductions
  • Cemeteries and Crematorium services - longer term strategy/provision; safe memorials/headstones.
  • Junk jobs/bulky waste.
  • Middlesbrough Environment City - role and involvement (annual update).
  • Promoting household energy efficiency.

Discussion also took place in relation to various issues associated with the above topics and the following was noted:-

  • It was acknowledged that year on year budget reductions would impact on service delivery, more challenging targets and a deterioration in service standards. The Environment Services Manager suggested that the Panel’s input in relation to acceptable service levels could be explored as part of the update on the impact of budget reductions.
  • When determining new service standards and priorities, for example in relation to frequency of grass cutting in public open spaces, the Panel considered that the issue of allowing certain areas to become designated wild areas (for wild flowers, grass and wildlife) should be explored, taking cost into account.
  • It was highlighted that budget distribution was a key issue and that income generation should be explored in terms of potentially extending certain service, such as repairs and maintenance.
  • A big issue for the department in the coming year was the introduction of new refuse collection rounds together with a replacement wheeled bin programme and introduction of recycling and green waste bins. This would be rolled out to households across Middlesbrough over the next six months. It was suggested that this topic could be examined prior to the introduction of the new arrangements, during the new arrangements and following full implementation.
  • In relation to the cemeteries and crematorium service, it was noted that a new crematorium was planned at Redcar which could have implications for Teesside Crematorium in Middlesbrough.

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

 

AGREED as follows:-

 

1. That the information contained in the submitted report be noted.

 

2. That the Panel’s Work Programme for 2013/14 be approved as listed above, with the priority order to be determined in due course and topics to be combined where possible.
 

13/4 OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY BOARD UPDATE

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 28 May 2013, namely:-

  • Appointment of Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
  • Attendance of Executive Member for the Change Programme.
  • Revenue Outturn 2012/12.
  • Council Performance and Risk Update: 2012/13.
  • Academic Results 2012/13.
  • Dog Fouling - Final Report of the Environment Scrutiny Panel.
  • Scrutiny Panel Progress Reports.

AGREED that the information contained within the report be noted.
 

13/5 ENVIRONMENT SCRUTINY PANEL DATES FOR THE 2013/14 MUNICIPAL YEAR.

A schedule of provisional meeting dates for the Environment Scrutiny Panel for the 2013/14 Municipal Year was submitted for Members’ consideration.

 

AGREED that the provisional meeting dates for the Environment Scrutiny Panel for the 2013/14 Municipal Year be approved. The next meeting of the Panel was scheduled to take place on Monday, 1 July 2013 at 2.00pm.

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