Agenda and minutes

Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 2.00 pm

Venue: Sparkenhoe Committee Room, County Hall, Glenfield. View directions

Contact: Anna Poole (Tel. 0116 305 0381)  Email: anna.poole@leics.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

In attendance.

Mr. B. Pain CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Highways, Strategic Transportation and Waste.

Mrs. P. Posnett CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Environment and Passenger Transport.

Mrs. C. Radford, Cabinet Support Member.

 

26.

Minutes. pdf icon PDF 552 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 September 2017 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.

 

27.

Question Time.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 35.

 

28.

Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

 

29.

Urgent Items.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for consideration.

 

30.

Declarations of interest.

Minutes:

 The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

Mr. B. Pain CC declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in Item 8 on the agenda ‘Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Special Educational Needs and Mainstream Home to School Transport Policies’ as a Director of a taxi company.

 

31.

Declarations of the Party Whip in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 16.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of the party whip.

 

32.

Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 36. pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Petition: from the Liberal Democrat Group Opposing On Street Parking Charges.

 

A briefing note responding to a petition, containing 1028 signatures, regarding the introduction of on-street parking charges in Leicestershire, will be circulated to Members at the meeting. The terms of the petition are:

 

"We the undersigned oppose plans by the Conservative-run County Council to introduce on-street parking charges."

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a briefing note, tabled at the meeting, by the Director of Environment and Transport which responded to the petition presented by Mr. G. A Boulter CC containing 1,028 signatures in the following terms:

 

"We the undersigned oppose plans by the Conservative-run County Council to introduce on-street parking charges."

 

A copy of the briefing note is filed with these minutes.

 

Mr. G. A. Boulter CC, advised the Committee of the adverse impact on local communities should on-street parking charges be introduced. He highlighted the negative impact on local businesses with a possible reduction in the level of customers and also on residents, caused by people parking on smaller residential streets in an effort to avoid paying any on-street parking charges.

 

In supporting the petition, Mr. D. Bill CC also highlighted the potential adverse impact on shop keepers and stressed the need for a substantial study to be undertaken in considering the proposals.

 

Arising from discussion, the following points were raised:-

 

i)             A feasibility study into the options for on-street parking charges was currently being undertaken to understand whether such a scheme could be introduced across Leicestershire as well as the scope for any such scheme. This would be completed in early Summer 2018;

 

ii)            Should Members decide to proceed with such a policy, the Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be consulted on the proposals and its comments would be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration; the petition now submitted would be also taken into consideration;

 

iii)           Members were assured that, should proposals be developed, full consideration would be given to any secondary impacts on the wider community, for example on neighbouring residential areas.

 

RESOLVED:-

 

    1. That the petition be received;

 

    1. That the briefing note tabled at the meeting be noted;

 

    1. That it be noted that feasibility studies were still underway and that the Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be consulted prior to any proposal to introduce on-street parking charges.

 

 

33.

Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Special Educational Needs and Mainstream Home to School Transport Policies. pdf icon PDF 262 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr. B. Pain CC, having declared a disclosable pecuniary interest, left the meeting during consideration of this item.

 

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Environment and Transport which provided details of the consultation on proposed changes to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) and mainstream home to school transport policies. A copy of the report, marked Agenda Item 8’, is filed with these minutes.

 

The Chairman welcomed to the meeting, Mrs Annie Bannister, who attended to speak on this item.

 

Mrs Bannister informed Members of the potential adverse impact of the proposals on a child or young person’s ability to attend education or college and the financial impact on the family in funding the travel provision, should the proposals be agreed. Additionally, the social benefit to the child or young person in attending college was highlighted, and to the wider family. Members were informed that, in many instances, the travel to college was a long journey and funding from Personal Transport Budgets would not be sufficient to cover this. A copy of Mrs Bannister’s statement is filed with these minutes.

 

The Committee then discussed the three options set out in the report:-

 

Option 1 – Saving £146,000

 

This proposal would remove the 100% discount from low income families for non-compulsory school age children travelling to SEN nurseries and post-16 mainstream and SEN.

 

The consultation was seeking views on the appropriate level of contribution which was currently, where there was no low income exemption, £660 per year. The Director further advised that practice varied across Councils with Sheffield offering no reduction, Essex offering a 50% reduction and Derbyshire offering a £20 reduction.

 

Whilst noting that this was a non-statutory service, members were concerned about the impact this would have on families and in particular those single parent families with siblings attending other schools. There was concern that the deletion of the subsidy might deter parents from taking their children to nursery thereby further disadvantaging their development and opportunities.

 

With regard to post-16, given the distances that young people needed to travel to colleges, members were of the view that this would have a significant adverse impact on take-up of education provision.

 

In view of this, the majority of members were not supportive of the proposed changes.

 

Option 2 – Savings £773,000

 

This option would remove traditional forms of transport and introduce a Personal Transport Budget (PTB) for each eligible child.

 

The Director advised that a number of families had already chosen this option as it provided them with greater flexibility and at the same time reduced the cost of transport. The PTB varied from child to child and took account of mileage travelled, age, number of days attended and any particular circumstances. Whilst there were no restrictions placed on how the PTB was to be used, the Department would monitor attendance and liaise with the school if there was an issue.

 

Some members expressed concern about the proposal and whether there was sufficient capacity in the private sector transport providers to meet demand arising from the introductions of PTBs and whether some parents were able to manage the budget and buy-in the services needed.

 

A majority of the Committee was supportive of the proposal now put forward as it would provide greater flexibility and enable pupils to continue to access educational provision.

 

Messrs Boulter, Bill and Hunt expressed reservations regarding this proposal.

 

Option 3 – Savings £27,000

 

To cease providing post 16 transport and provide a travel grant of up to £150 for those in isolated areas and on low income.

 

The majority of members on the Committee were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Parking near Schools. pdf icon PDF 521 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Environment and Transport which provided details of the issues related to school parking and the measures available to the County Council to help manage them. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda item 9’, is filed with these minutes.

 

The Chairman welcomed to the meeting Mr Peter Abraham, Chairperson of the Butt Lane Close Residents Association, who attended to speak on this item.

 

Mr Abraham informed the Committee of the issues experienced in his community with school parking, the inconvenience caused to residents and the safety concerns. He presented three proposals for addressing the situation. A copy of Mr Abraham’s statement is filed with these minutes.

 

The Chairman read out the following comments on behalf of Mr Mullaney CC, local Member, who was unable to attend the meeting:

 

"Parking outside schools is a cause of problems for residents who live near many County schools. This is an ongoing problem. My constituent Peter Abraham has produced an excellent report which seeks to set out potential solutions to these ongoing problems.

 

"I commend his report and request that when future reviews of school parking are undertaken County officers consider the proposals set out in Mr Abraham's report.

 

"Parking around schools causes hassle and stress for many people who live near them and we should always be looking for new and innovative solutions to trying to solve these problems."

 

Arising from the discussion, the following points were raised:-

 

i)             Paragraph 77 on page 133 was amended to read:

 

“At its meeting on 15 September 2017, the Cabinet approved the release of £200,000 in 2017/18 and earmarked £300,000 in 2018/19 to better manage school parking concerns, through camera enforcement of school 'zig zag' markings. This includes preparatory work in 2017/18. This will fund the initial development of a pilot scheme, aimed at assessing the effectiveness of these measures in Leicestershire.”

 

ii)            When developing Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) consultation was undertaken, including with Members. A range of factors were also taken into account, including the provision of breakfast and after-school clubs. If the local community requested a change to a TRO already in place, funding would need to be found locally as such a change would be financially prohibitive to the County Council;

 

iii)           Regarding term-time only restrictions and parking, Members were informed that Department for Transport guidelines stated that signage should specify the dates of restrictions rather than refer to ‘term-time only’. The majority of the general public would be unaware of when terms started and ended and additionally, different Counties and schools had different term times;

 

iv)           The use of the camera enforcement car on school zig-zags would be piloted at some schools; participating schools would be chosen based on the scale of the parking problems experienced but could only be carried out if a traffic regulation order was in place. These sites are listed at Appendix B of the report.

 

RESOLVED:-

 

a.    That the Director of Environment and Transport write to Mr Abrahams responding to the points raised in his presentation to the Committee;

 

b.    That the proposal to manage school parking concerns through camera enforcement of ‘zigzag’ markings be supported.

 

35.

Highways Authority Planning Process and Charging Review. pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Environment and Transport which advised of the review of the County Council’s Highways Development Management function. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 10’, is filed with these minutes.

 

Arising from discussion, the following points were raised:-

 

i)             A sliding scale of proposed charges that would be introduced for the non-statutory functions was in place; it was not proposed to charge for householder applications;

 

ii)            It was recognised that customer expectations regarding speed of response and quality of service would increase once they paid for the service provided;

 

iii)           The introduction of the charging for pre-application advice had generally been welcomed by developers; it was expected that developers would seek advice earlier, so saving time and money within the full planning process. It was recognised that officers needed to be ready to meet demand;

 

iv)           Regarding the changes to Standing Advice, Members were assured that, as the County Council as Local Planning Authority was also the decision maker, the planning function was autonomous within the Council. The Department’s role was to advise developers of the information they needed to overcome implications on the highways network;

 

v)            The Committee was assured of the diligence of officers in providing advice to developers on County Council proposed developments; it was highlighted that there was a ‘firewall’ between the County Council’s Property function and the Highways Development Management Service and such applications were dealt with through the Property Service. The Committee recognised the professionalism of officers in giving advice and welcomed the introduction of the charging system;

 

Mr. B. Pain CC asked that it be put on record that he supported the introduction of the charging process for non-statutory functions and the revisions to the Standing Advice.

 

RESOLVED:-

 

That the Cabinet be advised that this Committee supports the proposed new standing advice thresholds and the introduction of charging for advice provided to developers.

 

36.

Performance Report Quarter Two 2017/18. pdf icon PDF 234 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Environment and Transport which provided an update on departmental performance at the end of quarter 2 of 2017/18. A copy of the report marked “Agenda Item 11” is filed with these minutes.

 

Arising from discussion, the following points were raised:

 

i)             Discussions were ongoing with Council staff in various locations about ways of increasing recycling rates;

 

ii)            The breakdown of the biomass boiler last winter has caused a reduction in performance in the indicator ‘Tonnes of Waste produced’; performance was expected to increase;

 

iii)           The reduction in road casualties data should be treated with some caution; officers were investigating with Police whether a change to Police recording practices was a contributory factor;

 

iv)           There was a clear evidence trail to show that there was no direct causal link between the turning off of street lighting during the hours of 12 midnight and 5am and crime levels. Requests to turn on the street lights would be considered, if received from the Police and for a temporary period only. Following review, the lighting would be returned to part night lighting only;

 

RESOLVED:-

 

That the update on Departmental performance at the end of Quarter 2 of 2017/18 be noted.

 

37.

Date of next meeting.

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to take place on 7 December 2017 at 2pm.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Thursday 7 December 2017 at 2pm. The meeting would be chaired by Mr Pearson CC.