Contact: Marion Phillips, Climate Response Support Officer
Welcome and Apologies
1.1. Apologies were noted from Cllr Filmer, Cllr Gulvin and Naomi Odutanfrom the Medway Youth Council.
Technically, Councillors are only required to declare interests at meetings of the Council, the Cabinet, or Committees and Sub Committees, Joint Committees or Joint Sub Committees. However, it is best practice to follow the rules on declaring interests at other informal meetings as well.
2.1 The Chair requested declarations of interest and noted that he is the Director of the Medway Development Company (MDC). No other declarations were received.
Main Meeting Theme - Retrofit of Council Housing Stock and Re:fit
Presentations will be given by Rob Dennis, Head of Capital Projects on the Re:fit programme and by Mark Breathwick, Head of Strategic Housing on the Retrofit of Council Housing Stock.
Lewis Small from Medway Development Company (MDC) will be in attendance to answer any questions on the paper previously shared with members on MDC’s approach to sustainability.
3.1 The Head of Capital Projects gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the background of the Re:Fit programme, progress to date on Phase 1 and the next steps.
3.2 The group asked about whole lifetime carbon, referencing the need to be careful with the timing of work to ensure the cost of the fitting is weighed against the savings. The Head of Capital Projects confirmed that work is done in conjunction with condition surveys and so this is considered. There is an investment grade proposal that has to have payback within 15 years, bearing in mind what is needed under the condition survey and the savings made while Re:fit is worked on. The carbon savings have to be proven, verified and monitored as part of contract.
3.3 The group commented that the market drivers listed in the presentation didn’t include the sourcing of materials and the costs, given current problems, and asked if this is an issue. The Head of Capital Projects responded that this is built into the response from the contractor.
3.4 The group asked if local firms could be found to do the work or if it is just through Norse. It was clarified that there is a requirement to look at local firms as part of the refit contract tender return.
ACTION: The Head of Capital Projects to provide further detail on engagement with local business.
3.5 The group asked if the long-term aim is to have all council buildings go through this process and in particular the Pentagon, a substantial building. The Head of Capital Projects shared a list of priority corporate buildings. Commercial will be in a different phase going forward, schools will also be a future phase and the land we own could be a special project under Re:Fit. The aim is to try to look at all council buildings
ACTION:Once reviewed, the Head of Capital Projects to provide an update on the Pentagon Centre.
3.6 The group asked if it can be ensured that Ward Councillors have advance notice of work taking place in their wards and when the work is complete, not least due to the potential disruption of services. The Chair requested assurance on this.
ACTION: The Head of Capital Projects to ensure that Councillors are given advance notice of work taking place within their wards.
3.7 No further questions were raised on the Re:fit presentation and the Chair invited the Head of Strategic Housing to present on retrofit in housing and new developments.
3.8 The group commented that on the worst performing units, a sensitive communication approach is needed. In one street, there may be properties that vary when on the face of it look the same. Communications to residents will be very important with explanations on why there may be differences in same street.
3.9 The group raised that at the Business Support Meeting, the issue of the retendering for the Mears contract was raised, and can it be confirmed if this work and the maintenance will ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Communications and Engagement
A short verbal update will be given by the Climate Response Team
4.1 The Chair invited the Climate Response Engagement Officer to give an update on Communications and Engagement. An update was given on key actions from the last meeting including the plans for a new Community Network and the refreshed Climate Change webpages.
4.2 The Chair asked how someone would get to know about the website. The Climate Response Engagement Officer confirmed the promotion that has been undertaken via a press release, social media and the newsletter which has almost 1000 subscribers. It will continue to be shared on social media and promoted at events and the pages will be continually updated with the latest information.
4.3 The group commented that the page came top of the list on google for Medway Climate Change. The group also commented that it was good to see that the Council has done well on a national stage and that it would be good to add this to the message.
ACTION: Climate Response Engagement Officer to promote news on Climate Emergency UK Scorecard
A short verbal update will be given by the Climate Response Team
5.1 The Head of Environmental Services reported on the National Scorecard data released on 27th January 2022 by Climate Emergency UK. Medway scored 71% for its climate change action plan compared to scorecards across the UK averaging at around 50%. Medway came 31st out of all local authorities and received full marks in three categories, measuring and setting emissions targets, co-benefits and education, skills and training.
5.2 The Head of Environmental Services confirmed that we are benchmarking our performance specifically against the top 4-5 authorities to ensure our plan continues to improve. The Climate Emergency UK is keen to set up an advisory body later in the year to understand what metrics can be used to reflect best practice and we will look to make sure we are involved in this piece of work.
5.3 The group commented that in looking for further opportunities business communities can achieve a great deal, many of whom are already doing work. The question was raised as to if we are doing enough to recognise what businesses are achieving already and to provide support. To what extent can the Council help to facilitate the links between businesses and perhaps there should be an award or recognition for those working on improvements. This feeds into making Medway a place that people want to invest in and be a part of.
ACTION: The Head of Environmental Services to discuss reaching out to businesses with Economic Development.
5.4 The group raised two more specific questions. Firstly, the air quality action plan for Four Elms due to concern over the volume of traffic and how we are monitoring particulates, especially around the Sans Pareil roundabout. There are significant concerns about air quality and how pedestrians will negotiate this, particularly children on their way to school.
ACTION: The Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager to provide an update on potential monitoring at Sans Pareil roundabout.
5.5 The group asked for confirmation on when the Tree strategy will be available and asked if tree planting will increase again this year. The Chair confirmed that all options are being looked at to fund trees and to raise the profile of tree donations. The Chair also commented that it is important to address capacity and resource to properly look after new trees.
5.6 The Greenspace and Access Programme Manager commented that it is hoped the final draft of the Tree Strategy will be completed in the next month to six weeks and it will then go through the council approval process.
5.7 The group commented in relation to transport, that the transition to EVs will take some years and asked if there has been consideration about making the existing fleet as efficient as they can be for example by using Add Blue on diesel vehicles. The group also asked if the Council is looking to hire hybrid plant on construction projects and if the greenspaces team have considered electric alternatives.
5.8 The Head of Environmental Services responded that Medway Norse ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 The Chair invited questions; none were raised.
7.1 The group commented that in relation to events and activities, that there has been feedback from volunteer litter picks regarding the separation of litter for recycling which currently doesn’t happen unless they take it home. The Great British Spring Clean is coming up and it was asked if separated litter could be recycled by Medway Norse. A further question was raised on when recycling bins will be put in our greenspaces as we see in places like London.
7.2 The Head of Environmental Services responded that clear recycling bags can be made available for volunteer litter picks and a request will be made to Medway Norse to recycle these.
ACTION: The Waste Engagement Team to make recycling bags available and the Head of Environmental Services to request Medway Norse recycle these.
7.3 The Head of Environmental Services advised that recycling in parks is being looked at and that it is something the team want to progress. It is in relation to getting correct collection infrastructure in place as well as educating users. A previous trial was not very successful, but we do want to revisit this, especially with the current climate of people being more aware and onboard. The Chair requested a pilot scheme as soon as possible.
ACTION: The Climate Response Team to liaise with Waste and Greenspaces to take forward recycling pilot.
7.4 The Chair gave thanks to everyone for their attendance and the great work achieved.
Date of next meeting
8.1 The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Thursday 28th April 2022.
8.2 The meeting closed.