This report represents a review of the performance of the joint venture
from the perspective of the Council client for the second half of the 2018/19
financial year and is accompanied by an update on the Joint Venture’s achievements and financial performance prepared by the Partnership Director.
Members considered a report representing a review of the performance of the Medway Norse Joint Venture from the perspective of the Council client for the second half of the 2018/19 financial year. This was accompanied by an update on the Joint Venture’s achievements and financial performance prepared by the Partnership Director.
The following issues were discussed:
· Pesticides – in response to a query about pesticides used, the Partnership Director advised that the type used by Medway Norse had not changed and it was non-hazardous within seconds of being applied. He was investigating a concern raised that a dog may have been adversely affected after an area had been treated. It was possible this had been a result of too much pesticide being sprayed. A Member expressed surprise that nothing had changed in terms of the type of pesticides used as some trees had turned yellow after treatment, which had not happened in previous years. The Partnership Director advised that all spraying had finished by April. It was possible that this year the weed control programme had been too liberal.
· Crematorium Pathways – a Member referred to the poor condition of the pathways at the Palmerston Road cemetery and asked for an assurance that the pathways of the other cemeteries were in a good condition. The Partnership Director acknowledged this was a valid concern and would take this issue forward with the Council. Medway Norse was responsible for patching work but not for re-surfacing.
· Weed clearing – a Member commented that some areas were overgrown and weeds in gutters were causing them to become blocked, which suggested a need for the various public bodes responsible for grounds maintenance to work better together. The Partnership Director commented that after Medway Norse took on responsibility for street cleansing the public should see improvements in this area.
· SEN transport – a Member referred to concerns about the implementation of the new SEN transport policy and queried whether there was a conflict between the statement that transport was being delivered in the best interest of children and young people and the assurance it was being done in the most cost effective manner to ensure best use of public funds. The Partnership Director commented that there was a very professional relationship between the Medway Norse team, parents and the Council. Medway Norse provided the transport but did not decide on eligibility or the type of transport provision. Staff were highly trained and, where appropriate, would feed back to the Council any issues relating to children.
Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) – in response to a question about the impact on Medway’s HWRC sites of Kent County Council’s decision to charge for certain categories of waste, the Partnership Director advised that gates and barriers had been erected at the HWRC sites in Medway in readiness for checks. This had led to more space within the sites and a safer layout. In response to a query, the Partnership Director advised that Kent County Council had made an annual payment of £400,000 before the charges had been introduced. This contribution had then increased to £675,000. As to whether visitors to Medway’s sites from outside the borough had increased as a result of the charge, the Partnership Director commented numbers had reduced over the last 3-4 weeks but that may have been due to some sites being closed for refurbishment.
The Partnership Director undertook to look into a case raised by a Member who had witnessed no ID checks taking place at the Gillingham site.
A Member noted that there was no facility to dispose of plastics at the Capstone HWRC site. The Partnership director replied there was a limited market to recycle rigid plastics due to the costs involved. However, this policy was kept under continuous review.
· Waste collection and street cleansing – a Member asked if the terms and conditions of staff, including whether weekly paid staff would be changed to monthly payments, would change when transferred to Medway Norse. The Partnership Director assured Members he had no plans to change any terms and conditions. The consultation process would begin soon and Norse were keen to look after the personal wellbeing of staff being transferred as well as dealing with employment issues. Some staff were paid weekly and would be moved to a monthly cycle but he would ensure no-one suffered financially as a result of the transition.
A Member asked if Medway Norse would be taking forward the action plan drawn up by Veolia following the serious incident in Rochester High Street. The Partnership Director assured Members that he would be reviewing both that plan and any other action plans following serious incidents both in and outside of Medway.
· Capstone Country Park - the Partnership Director undertook to look into a concern that the lake had been emptied of fish and would not be re-stocked, while anglers were still being charged for a licence to fish.
The Committee agreed to note the report and the contents of the Joint Venture update.