Agenda and minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 14 October 2021 6.30pm

Contact: Ellen Wright, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

384.

Councillor Bowler

Minutes:

The Committee paid tribute to Councillor Bowler who had sadly passed away on Tuesday 12 October 2021.

 

Councillor Curry stated that Bowler had been a friend, colleague and Ward Councillor and his sad loss would be felt across the whole Council and within the community that he served. This view was echoed by the Chairman.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation also paid tribute to Councillor Nick Bowler and his valuable contribution to the work of the Development Plans Advisory Group.

 

Members and officers present held a moment of reflection in memory of Councillor Bowler.

385.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Browne, Clarke, Mahil and Tranter. 

386.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 263 KB

To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 12 August 2021.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 12 August 2021 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

387.

Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the change of membership of the Committee.

388.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct.  Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 4.

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

There were none.

 

Other interests

 

Councillor Andy Stamp referred to the Annual Review of Waste Contracts: Contract Year October 2020 – September 2021 and informed the Committee that he worked for the Environment Agency. However, he was not involved in any sites in Medway therefore he was not precluded from taking part in the discussion on this item.

 

389.

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation pdf icon PDF 315 KB

This report sets out progress made within the areas covered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation which fall within the remit of this Committee.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members received an overview of progress made on the areas within the scope of Councillor Chitty, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation which fell within the remit of this Committee as set out below:

 

  • Economic Development
  • Employment
  • High Streets
  • Local Plan
  • Markets
  • Planning Policy
  • Regulation – Environmental Health/Trading Standards/Enforcement and Licensing (executive functions only)
  • Social Regeneration
  • South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership

 

The Portfolio Holder responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:

 

  • Medway Local Plan – In response to a question as to why the draft Medway Local Plan had been deferred from consideration at the Council meeting on 7 October 2021, the Portfolio Holder advised that the draft Local Plan was an important document which would affect everyone in Medway and whilst it had originally been hoped that the outstanding supporting documents would be available in time to be considered on 7 October, this had not been the case and therefore a decision had been taken not to consider the Local Plan that evening.

 

In response to a question, the Committee was advised that the following had yet to be finalised and it was anticipated that they would be complete in November:

 

o   Sustainability Appraisal

o   Habitat Regulations Assessment

 

The Portfolio Holder confirmed that to assist the Council in preparing technical supporting documents, the Council had engaged Consultants and other technical experts to draw on their knowledge and expertise. She agreed to inform the Committee outside of the meeting as to details of the Consultants/experts and the costs involved.

 

Concern was expressed that the need to obtain expert assistance indicated that the Planning team was insufficiently resourced and the Portfolio Holder replied that the production of a Local Plan was a very complex matter, evidenced by the fact that many Local Authorities’ Local Plans had been rejected. In addition, during the draft Local Plan process, the Government had made various changes and this had increased the pressure on getting the Plan right. It had therefore been decided to enlist the help and support of experts where considered necessary, on compiling Medway’s draft Local Plan.

 

When challenged as to whether she should consider her position as a Portfolio Holder with responsibility for the production of the Local Plan, the Portfolio Holder re-iterated that the Local Plan was a very important document for Medway and its journey through to completion had been made more difficult by the changes introduced by the Government. She was satisfied that she had many years’ experience as Portfolio Holder in this area and reminded the Committee that during her time as Portfolio Holder, she had instigated the Development Plans Advisory Group. This was a cross-party group that had been actively involved in monitoring, influencing and shaping the draft Local Plan. Members of the Group had access to all reports, attended presentations and had direct access to officers on Local Plan issues and they had been encouraged to share information within their political groups.

 

In response to a question as to whether Section  ...  view the full minutes text for item 389.

390.

Annual Review of Waste Contracts, Contract Year October 2020 - September 2021 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

This report provides a summary of performance on the Medway waste contracts and performance for the contract year October 2020 to September 2021:

 

Veolia Environmental Services - providing waste disposal services for residual and recycling waste.

 

Medway Norse – providing waste collection, street cleaning services and management of Medway's Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC).

 

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out a summary of performance on the following Medway waste contracts for the contract year October 2020 to September 2021:

 

·         Veolia Environmental Services – providing waste disposal services for residual and recycling waste.

 

·         Medway Norse – providing waste collection, street cleaning services and management of Medway’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC)

 

The following was discussed:

 

  • Waste Collections – The Committee congratulated Medway Norse on the continuation of the waste kerbside collections over the past 18 months throughout the Covid-19 pandemic but questioned whether any additional measures were being put in place to combat the continued problem of flytipping.

 

In response, the Head of Climate Response and Environmental Services thanked the Committee for its praise of the weekly waste collection service and advised that both officers and Norse were extremely proud of the service provided. She informed the Committee that officers and Medway Norse were in regular contact with the Council’s Enforcement Team and further work was planned for the future now that things were returning to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic. Joint partnership working continued particularly if there were known hotspots and she suggested that if any Member had an area in their Ward that was known to be a flytipping hotspot, they should report this to officers for investigation.

 

  • Litter bin clearance and street cleansing – Attention was drawn to issues concerning litter bin clearance and street cleansing and it was questioned as to whether this was down to lack of funding or staffing levels.

 

Melanie Tong from Medway Norse advised that unfortunately, along with many other businesses nationwide, staffing levels at Norse had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for staff to self isolate and, in addition, Norse had been experiencing driver shortages. Whilst Norse aimed to retain a small pool of drivers that could be called upon in times of emergency, a shortage of 15 HGV drivers had impacted the service. To help keep services operational, Managers and Supervisors had been out driving vehicles. She advised that although Norse undertook regular induction sessions in an attempt to increase HGV staff, few resulted in posts being filled.

 

She confirmed that any underspend on salaries was currently being absorbed by the requirement to pay overtime to staff for additional hours/days.

 

It was confirmed that litter bin clearance had been a challenge during the pandemic as dog ownership had increased and more people were at home and using local facilities for recreation. Whilst it had not been possible to increase the frequency of litter bin clearance, the possible introduction of additional or larger bins at popular sites was being considered.

 

The Committee noted that Medway Norse continued to support High Street cleansing and Medway events.

 

  • Recycling of plastics – In response to a question as to why there was no receptacle for plastic recycling at Hoath Way HWRC, the Head of Climate Response and Environmental Services advised that a few years ago, unfortunately the plastic recycling market for these types  ...  view the full minutes text for item 390.

391.

Housing Infrastructure Fund: New Routes to Good Growth pdf icon PDF 241 KB

This report provides a six month update on progress with the Housing Infrastructure Fund as requested by the Committee on  23 March 2021.

Minutes:

The Committee received a detailed report setting out an update to the Housing Infrastructure Fund: New Routes to Good Growth (HIF) project.

 

The following was discussed:

 

  • Outcome of consultation – In response to a question, the Assistant Director Regeneration advised that work was currently being undertaken on assessing responses to the recent consultation and further information would be available in November.

 

He further advised thatowing to the extensive feedback from the consultation, in consultation with Homes England, it had been agreed that an additional year be added to the scheme to ensure the quality of the delivery of the HIF scheme.

 

·         Acquisitions Policy - It was confirmed that the Acquisition Policy had recently been to Cabinet and approved.

 

The Assistant Director Regeneration advised that there was an element of overlap with the HIF scheme and the Local Plan as the process of the Local Plan pre-empted significant development

 

  • The role of Capita – Information was sought as to the involvement of Capita, why this was considered necessary and the costs for this service. In response the Assistant Director Regeneration advised that due to the complexity of the HIF scheme and the environmental impact assessments and planning process, Capita had been engaged to support officers.

 

  • Strategic Transport Assessment – It was noted that the Strategic Transport Assessment for the Local Plan had identified the need for a wider integrated transport service to accommodate the full scale of residential and employment growth planned on the Hoo Peninsula and information was requested as to when the Area-Wide Travel Plan would be available. The Assistant Director Regeneration informed the Committee that work on the Area Wide Travel Plan would be ongoing alongside work on the Local Plan. He advised that whilst HIF funding would unlock the provision of homes, other infrastructure was also required.

 

  • Funding target – The Head of HIF and Regeneration confirmed that the current spend from the HIF budget was on target and funding had been used to undertake preliminary work on design and environmental assessments. The Assistant Director Regeneration confirmed that work on the HIF scheme was being value engineered throughout to ensure work remained within the budget available.

 

  •  Local Plan Regulation 19 – The Assistant Director Regeneration confirmed that whilst the HIF team was a consultee on the Local Plan, no HIF funding was being used for Regulation 19 work on the Local Plan. However, progress on both were interlinked.

 

  • Phasing of works – In response to a question as to the phasing of works on the HIF scheme, the Assistant Director Regeneration confirmed that officers were currently in the process of considering the phasing of the works. Whilst it was inevitable that there would be some disruption, officers were working with the Highways Authority to ensure that disruption was kept to a minimum. At this stage, it was too early to confirm the phasing of the various works.

 

392.

Medway City Status Bid pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Medway will be bidding to gain City Status recognition and we will be entering the Civic Competition which has been launched to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out information concerning Medway’s intention to gain City Status recognition and setting out proposals to enter the Civic Competition launched to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

 

The Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive referred to the recent announcement that Medway had not been successful in being shortlisted for designation as City of Culture, but advised that multiple partners had since contacted the Council and given encouragement for the journey to continue and build on the cultural relationships that had been developed through the City of Culture bid process.

 

He outlined the timeline for the City Status bidding process and confirmed that a report would be submitted to Cabinet in November.

 

During discussion, it was suggested that officers undertake an assessment of the City of Culture bid with a view to identifying why the bid had been unsuccessful.

 

In response to a concern that Medway had a number of Universities with multiple campus sites and could benefit from its own designated ‘Medway University’, the Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that the Vice Chancellors of the various Universities were extremely supportive of Medway and the City of Culture bid.

 

It was also suggested that within the City Status bid, there should be recognition that Medway encompasses five towns, each with its own unique identity.

 

The Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive commented that many of the greatest cities were made up of a patchwork of individual communities and he confirmed that the City Status bid would be centred on the five towns of Medway, the Peninsula with its villages and communities across the breadth of Medway.

 

It was suggested that the City Status bid should include reference to Medway’s Green Flag sites, Medway’s history of both its woodland area and its Dockyard, other historic information and recognition of the excellent sporting and leisure facilities on offer in Medway including The Strand, the Ski Centre, Gillingham Ice Rink, Gillingham Football Club and Rochester Rugby Club.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee supported Medway’s City Status bid and agreed to share Medway’s story/narrative with residents and across networks to garner additional support for Medway’s bid.

393.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring and Risk Register Review 2021/22 Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q1 2021/22 on the delivery of the two priorities relevant for this Committee: Place and Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out performance for Quarter 1 against the Council's two priorities Place and Growth insofar as they fell within the remit of this Committee, along with a review of the Council’s Risk Register.

 

The following issues were discussed:

 

·         Green Flag Applications – It was suggested that when mentioning the eight sites which were the subject of Green Flag applications, in addition to praising the work of Greenspaces and Medway Norse, the volunteers and various Friends Groups should also be recognised.

 

·         Climate Change Member Advisory Group – It was noted that the Climate Change Member Advisory Group had not met for a while. The Assistant Director Front Line Services advised that a forward plan of meeting dates for the next year was in the process of being drawn up and she agreed to inform the Member concerned as to the date of the next meeting.

 

In addition, she informed the Committee that a Member Briefing on Climate Change was scheduled for 6.30pm on Wednesday 20 October 2021 commencing at 6.30pm. 

 

·         Air Quality – Concern was expressed as to the air quality in parts of Medway and in particular around schools with the emissions from buses.

 

In response, the Assistant Director Front Line Services informed the Committee that a report on the National Bus Strategy, Enhanced Partnerships and Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIP) would be considered by Cabinet on 19 October 2021. If approved there would be enhanced partnership working with bus operators which would involve close monitoring of performance. In addition, there would be opportunities to bid for funding streams for improvements to the fleet to make the vehicles more environmentally friendly in line with the Council’s Climate Change agenda.

 

The Committee was also informed that discussions were taking place concerning bus concessions. This was in response to concerns raised around elderly residents in rural communities getting to hospital appointments.

  

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)     noted the Quarter 1 2021/22 performance against the measures used to monitor progress against the Council’s priorities.

b)     noted that the Assistant Director Front Line Services will inform the Member concerned as to the date of the next meeting of the Climate Change Advisory Member Group.

 

 

394.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 187 KB

This report advises the Committee of petitions received by the Council which fall within the remit of this Committee including a summary of the response sent to the petition organiser by officers.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out petitions received by the Council which fell within the remit of this Committee including a summary of the response sent to the petition organiser by officers.

 

The Committee was informed that there had been one petition referral relating to the request for traffic calming measures in Marlborough Road and the petition organiser would be invited to attend the next meeting of the Committee.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)     noted the petition responses and appropriate officer action in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the report.

 

b)     noted that there had been one petition referral relating to the request for traffic calming measures in Marlborough Road and the petition organiser would be invited to attend the next meeting of the Committee.

395.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 208 KB

This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received and discussed its current work programme.

 

It was suggested that due to the slippage in the timetable for the Medway Local Plan, this item be removed from the January 2022 list of items and placed on the ‘dates to be determined’ section of the Work Programme and that the Medway 2037 – Economic Development Strategy in Medway be added to the January agenda.

 

The Committee noted that at the agenda planning meeting on 16 September 2021, it had been suggested that the Lifecycle Report on the Highways Investment Network be removed from the Committee’s Work Programme on the basis that this information was soon to be circulated by way of a briefing note.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)     noted its current work programme and agreed that the Medway Local Plan be removed from the agenda for January 2022 and added to the list of reports where dates had yet to be determined.

 

b)     agreed that the report on Medway 2037 – Economic Development Strategy in Medway be added to the January agenda.

 

c)     agreed to the removal of the Lifecycle Report on the Highways Investment Network from the Committee’s Work Programme on the basis that this information had been circulated by way of a briefing note.

 

d)     noted that indicative dates were currently being obtained for the reports listed on the ‘dates to be determined’ section of the work programme.