Agenda and minutes
Homes and Environment Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 2.00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber, Guildhall
Contact: Craig Stevens Scrutiny Facilitator
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors T Alan Edwards and Carrie Harper.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 10 April 2019.
RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 10 April 2019 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Chief Officer Governance & Customer (copy to follow)
The Chief Officer for Governance and Customer submitted a report (COGC/13/19s) to assist Members in agreeing a list of potential scrutiny topic areas for the next 12 months and possibly longer term.
In introducing the report the Scrutiny Facilitator drew particular attention to section 4 which highlighted the changes made to the Work Programme arising from the last meeting and further proposed future changes.
During discussion on a topic selection form (appendix B refers) Members agreed that an all member workshop be organised to consider Biodiversity in the County Borough, i.e. grass verges, green and open spaces, etc which should address the following issues :
· What has the Council already done?
· What is the Council doing?
· What else can the Council do?
It was further agreed that the workshop should include input from relevant departments - including Planning & Regulatory (Ecology & Biodiversity Officer), Environment & Technical, Housing & Economy. The Manager of ‘Plantlife’ should also be invited to present at the workshop. Information and views from the workshop would be fed into a report to the Committee to be scheduled on the work programme by the end of the year.
AGREED – That, subject to the aforementioned, the work programme as attached to the report (COGC/13/19s s) be agreed.
To consider the report of the Lead Member for Place - Environment and Transport (copy to follow)
The Lead Member for Place – Environment and Transport submitted a report (COET/03/19S) which allowed Members to consider performance in respect of the Highways Asset Management Plan (HAMP) current arrangements for the inspection and defect repair regimes.
During the debate the following issues were made, in particular:
· Acknowledgment of the increasing pressure on limited resources, ageing infrastructure and increased demand and expectations.
· The trend in the condition of the highways network across the County Borough was one of overall improvement within the A and B network.
· Confirmation that environmental weight limits were difficult to enforce and were managed by the Police Authority.
· Road reclassifications had been considered in the recent past both in the industrial estate and town centre.
· Management of the traffic network would continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis as new principal developments were introduced.
· The life expectancy of a good standard carriage way using best quality tarmac was 20 years. Surface treatment currently used on footways and carriageways lasted 6 – 10 years.
· The Council had a statutory duty to ensure that the Highways were fit for purpose and this meant that there was sometimes a need to carry out reactive repairs for patches/potholes in order to alleviate risks.
· The Lead Member advised that the Council currently procured its energy for street lighting and buildings etc. in a corporate block and that he had made a request to the Chief Officer for Finance to explore whether these costs could be separated in a bid to make efficiency savings.
· Whilst work was carried out within the resources available there was no routine programme to clean highway signage and work undertaken by volunteers was valued and appreciated.
(i) The committee acknowledges the improvements and repair works carried out by the Environment & Technical Department despite financial difficulties - £50m backlog of repairs with c.£2m budget.
(ii) The committee recommends that consideration be given to additional resources to acknowledge the poor state of unclassified roads.
(iii) The committee receive a further update on Highways Asset Management in 12 months.
(iv) The Lead Member –Place (Environment & Transport) to prepare an All Member Information Report on the consequences of the Highways Safety Inspection Policy (HSIP) agreed in September 2018, together with detail as to the number of claims to the Council in relation to road defects and the cost of these to the Council.