Agenda and minutes

Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 16 January 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Sparkenhoe Committee Room, County Hall, Glenfield

Contact: Miss C Tuohy (0116 305 5483).  Email: cat.tuohy@leics.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

In attendance.

Mr. B. Pain CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Environment and Transport.  

Mr. O. O’Shea CC, Cabinet Support Member.  

 

45.

Minutes. pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2019 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.

 

46.

Question Time. pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that the following questions had been received under Standing Order 34.

 

Questions from Mr. S. Rice

 

The over development of housing in the Parish of Hugglescote and Donnington le Heath is contributing to significant traffic issues, with 3500 new houses being built on Grange Road, we expect this problem and the danger to the public to increase.

We understand that there is new money available to improve the main A511 as part of the Coalville Growth Corridor Scheme; can the questions below be considered alongside this in order to help tackle the traffic concerns of the area, that contribute to the high level of dust particulates making it one of the worst in Leicestershire for air quality.  The weight of opinion is very strong amongst local residents who are now feeling the mental strain of overdeveloped housing without adequate traffic considerations.

 

1.         Can one of the exit/entrances on Dennis Street, nearest Grange Road, be blocked off to reduce the volume of traffic, which includes HGVs despite a 7.5 tonne weight restriction, using Dennis Street as a rat run?  This is a narrow road with five listed buildings and the increase in usage is noticeable and will only get worse with the new estates being built less than half a mile away on Grange Road.

 

2.         The signage on the main A511 Birch Tree Island is unclear as lorries easily mistake the entrance to Grange Road as the main exit for the A511. Can a HGV weight restriction sign be extended and clearly marked at the Grange Road/Birch Tree Island to stop lorries from using Grange Road?  This will ultimately reduce the number of lorries using Dennis Street.

 

3.         Why are the police not doing anything to enforce the 7.5 tonnes weight limit on Dennis Street even though communication to them has been made?

 

4.         Can the HGV weight restriction be increased in other areas of Hugglescote such as Forest Road/Belvoir Road and appropriate signage of NO HGV be erected at Forest Road/Belvoir Road and Clock Tower/Belvoir Road? Can we get police involvement to enforce/monitor such a move?

 

5.         Vehicles cause a traffic standstill at the Ashburton Road/Grange Road Crossroads by attempting turn right on Grange Road. Can the traffic light sequence be made four way to allow traffic turning right off Station Road to enter Grange Road, and allow the reverse direction right turn from Central Road into Ashburton Road unobstructed?

 

6.         What research has been carried out on the Grange Road Crossroads traffic lights, and have the findings been published?  Can further research be carried out to analyse the current situation which will undoubtedly have changed in the last few years?

 

7.         Can the proposed 40mph speed limit for Grange Road be reduced to 30mph throughout as it is a lit highway?  This limit would also be safer due to a large increase in traffic as homes are occupied?  What will be put in place to monitor the new speed restriction in this area?

 

The Chairman replied as follows:

 

1.         There are a large number of properties that have direct access onto Dennis Street and its side roads. To restrict access to only one junction would mean that all vehicles would need to use the Hugglescote crossroads which is outlined as having congestion problems as for question 5.

 

2.         Grange Road is currently unrestricted, and the signage reflects this. The routes are clearly signed indicating that the A511 is the third exit travelling north and the first exit travelling south. No other signs are considered appropriate.

 

Any HGV using Grange Road can legitimately use Grange  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Questions asked by members. pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that the following questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

 

Questions from Dr. T. Eynon CC 

 

"According to Friends of the Earth peat is an important natural ally in the fight against climate change; it is a rich haven for wildlife; it improves water quality and it helps reduce flood risk. Peatlands across the world are disappearing fast yet peat is still imported into the UK for use as a soil improver.

 

a. Is peat still used by this Authority or its partners, for example on Highway verges or on County Farms?

b. In the light of the international Climate Emergency, how can this Authority work towards reducing peat-use in Leicestershire?"

 

The Chairman replied as follows:

 

a.     Peat is not used/specified on Highway verges and we prohibit the use of imported peat, the specification for this is as follows:

 

Vol 2 Notes for Guidance on Spec for Highway Works.

NG 3001 General

1 The purpose of Clause 3001 is:

(i) (05/06) to set out communication

requirements between the Contractor and

Overseeing Organisation which are

particular to the landscape works

(sub-Clauses 3001.2, 3001.14 & 3001.15);

(ii) to state a general prohibition on the use of

imported peat. Imported peat may be

required under special circumstances, eg, for

areas of habitat creation, or may be permitted

as a constituent of recycled materials, e.g.,

mushroom compost;

Forestry and Country Park’s teams do not currently and have not used peat in any planting works since they switched from peat-based to peat-free composts in the early 1990s.

 

b.     The County Council will continue to comply with the UK Government’s policy on the phasing out of peat in the horticultural industry. The UK Government policy in this area is as follows:

·           Use of peat to be phased out progressively by UK government and public sector by 2015;

·           Voluntary phasing out of peat use for amateur gardeners by 2020; and

·           Final voluntary phase out of peat for professional growers by 2030.

 

The Government through WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) have produced an information sheet The Retailers Guide to Reducing Peat in Growing media http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Retailers%E2%80%99%20guide%20to%20reducing%20peat%20in%20growing%20media.pdf

Leicestershire County Council will look to promote the wider phasing out of the use of peat as part of its work in delivering the Environment Strategy by providing links to the above and other information on the LCC web site and in the delivery of activities to protect and enhance the natural capital and biodiversity in Leicestershire.

 

Dr Eynon CC asked the following supplementary questions to which the Chairman invited the Director of Environment and Transport to respond:

 

a.       In regard to promoting wider phasing out of peat can I have some detail on how we will go about that?

 

The Director responded that the Government through the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) were putting together guidance for the phasing out of peat. The Council’s Environment and Waste service was looking to expand its approach to offering advice,  and this would include links to information provided by national government and other nationally recognised areas of excellence.

 

 

Questions from Mr. M. Hunt CC 

 

“Last September the Lead Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport announced that his Department would be developing a new cycling and walking strategy “alongside Public Health’s work with LRS on a whole systems approach to physical activity”.

 

The County’s Public Health Annual Report confirmed this approach last year and this received genuine acclaim from councillors in December.  Is the work programmed and, if so, what progress has been made thus far, when can we expect to receive a draft for consultation within the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Urgent Items.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for consideration.

49.

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 Pain declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in relation to all items in the budget proposals that related to public and passenger transport.

 

50.

Declarations of the Party Whip.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of the party whip.

51.

Presentation of Petitions.

Minutes:

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

52.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2020/21- 2023/24. pdf icon PDF 281 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a joint report of the Director of Environment and Transport and the Director of Corporate Resources which provided information on the proposed 2020/21 to 2023/24 Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) as it related to the Environment and Transport Department. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 8’ is filed with these minutes. 

 

The Chairman welcomed Mr. B. L. Pain CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Environment and Transport and Mr. O. O’Shea CC the Cabinet Support Member to the meeting for this item.  

 

In introducing the report, the Director of Environment and Transport advised members of the continuing financial challenges facing the Council. Since 2010/11 the Department had made overall savings of £42million by restructuring, revising service delivery models, generating income and some reductions to non-statutory services. 

 

The Lead Member for Environment and Transport advised Members that while there was proposed growth to the Department amounting to between £8.5million and £11.7million per annum by 2023/24, savings were still needed due to the increasing resource needed for SEN Transport provision and lack of Government funding. 

 

The Lead Member informed Members of the need for a more reliable, balanced, medium term approach to funding from Government. Currently the County Council were reliant on winning in-year funding bids from Government for capital schemes and annual allocations for maintenance to address the deterioration of the Council’s road network. 

Arising from the discussion the following points were noted :- 

 

Growth 

 

i.                    G17 – SEN Transport - Growth reflected the increased client numbers and costs arising from increasingly complex needs presented by some service users. It was hoped that the investment made by the Council in local SEN provision would assist in reducing costs in this service area. 

 

ii.                  G18 – Additional posts support the expanded capital programme – Some members expressed concern that the Department was able to find funding to pay for additional posts, while cuts were still being made to front line services such as subsidised bus services. The Cabinet Lead Member advised the Committee that such posts were funded through the capital programme from money received from developers via developer contributions (S106) and Government funding. It was important that the Council bid for such funding to mitigate impacts of developments and growth..  

 

iii.                 G22 – Community and Parish Engagement - The Department recognised not all areas within Leicestershire were represented by parishes. Officers would still work with the communities and Local Members in such areas. Since October 2019 a team has been set up in the department and initiatives were starting to bear fruit. The work included better communications with communities on highways matters as well as initiatives such as providing limited free design work for community initiatives, which had previously been charged for. 

 

iv.                 G23 – School Crossing Patrols - Mr Hunt requested that officers looked at issue of road safety near schools more  holistically including the use of civil parking enforcement teams at the start and end of the school day. The Director assured Members that the County Council’s Safe and Sustainable Travel Team worked with schools in developing their travel plan’s, enforcing parking restrictions and schemes such as park and stride. The Department would continue to work with schools in taking forward any initiatives to improve safety. 

 

The Lead Member agreed that more innovative solutions were needed to solve the challenge created around enforcement of parking and encouraging active travel solutions for schools. With regard to school crossing patrol vacancies Members were encouraged to promote and raise awareness of vacancies in their areas.

 

The Director informed Members that the School Keep Clear scheme would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Tree Management Strategy. pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources on the draft Tree Management Strategy which set out the proposed approach for the management of the County Council’s trees and woodlands and a tree management and planting programme. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 9’ is filed with these minutes.

 

In introducing the report, the Assistant Director for Corporate Resources stated that the Strategy and Planting Plan was a work in progress and would be amended to have regard to the comments of the Committee and other partners, prior to seeking approval from Cabinet.

 

It was hoped that the Strategy would serve as more than just a guide for the Council in its management of trees but also set the standard for other tree owners in Leicestershire. The action plan sought to escalate tree planting across Leicestershire and set out the level of planting that needed to be sustained over a period of years to help address issues such as climate change and the loss of trees as a result of diseases.

 

Arising from the discussion the following points were noted:-

 

i)     A concern was raised regarding the proposal to plant native species considering the recent loss of Elm, Chestnut, Ash and Beech all of which were native species. It was further suggested that continental species, that could survive the hotter, drier summers, should be considered.  The Director assured members that while it was something the Council would explore, the Strategy needed to be considered in line with the Council’s biodiversity ambitions. As such, native species needed to remain as the basis of the Strategy to align with the woodland ecosystem that was dependent upon native species to ensure the survival of the animals, plants and insects that relied upon a thriving ecosystem.

 

ii)    The Director assured Members that nationally the Forestry Industry were looking at the future planting stocks especially in regard to native tree species that had more extensive southern ranges and could tolerate higher temperature changes. Members were advised that this came with its own risks as much of the pests that had damaged the country’s tree stock had originated abroad. The Council would ensure its own policy of purchasing tree stock was strengthened to protect the county’s existing tree’s.

 

iii)   As part of the Tree Strategy and Plan the County Council would also engage with nurseries to ensure that they were sourcing seeds with the correct provenance and came from a reputable source with a strong genetic base.

 

iv)  The Council would use Broadleaf Tree’s where possible and were looking to expand their use within the planting plan.

 

v)    Members were advised that discussions were taking place with the National Forest Company to help increase tree coverage across Leicestershire which would include use of Council owned land such as Scamhazel Farm

 

vi)  Members welcomed proposals to support communities with tree planting such as supporting  the people of Thrussington who had raised £1000 to treeline the entrances to the village..

 

vii)   Members suggested that there should be a greater emphasis in the Strategy to encourage and promote tree planting.

 

viii)  Members also requested that the Strategy should also have a greater emphasis on carbon capture and that the paragraph on page 57 be altered accordingly.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)    That the draft Tree Management Strategy and Tree Management Planting Plan be supported subject to the changes discussed.

 

b)    That officers be requested to work with the National Forest Company to investigate the feasibility of expansion of the National Forest boundaries.

 

 

54.

Update on October and November 2019 Flooding. pdf icon PDF 533 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received an update from the Director of Environment and Transport regarding flooding that occurred in Leicestershire during October and November 2019 and the actions that the Council had taken as Highways Authority and Lead Local Flood Authority.

 

Members noted the comments received from Dr. T. Eynon CC, Mrs. M. Wright CC, Mr. S. Sheahan and Mr. R. Dann on behalf of Hathern Parish Council, copies of which are filed with these minutes. The Director assured Members that each submission would be responded to directly and would address the local concerns and issues raised. She went on to add that a number of public meetings had been set up in affected areas that had been well attended. Members thanked the officers who had been out to those areas during and after the floods and were prepared to listen to those affected and do what they could to assist.

 

Arising from wider discussion the following points were noted:

 

i)     Members were aware causes of flooding were often beyond the County Council’s control. For example, pumping stations that were underpowered due to the age of the infrastructure. For problems such as those the County Council had a lack of power to compel organisations to act, even where a Section 19 investigation had identified as an issue.

 

ii)    Members expressed their frustration that when local planning authorities received planning applications, despite local knowledge to the contrary, Severn Trent did not raise any objections against development on areas prone to flooding.

 

iii)  Members suggested that a Scrutiny Review Panel be set up to look at flooding. The scope should focus on what the County Council and Members could influence. It was also hoped it could provide a means for Members to talk with partners such as Severn Trent so that they could raise concerns with them directly.

 

iv)  The Director informed Members that it would be difficult to provide one point of contact for flooding. Whilst the Council, was the Lead Local Flood Authority, its powers to co-ordinate responses was limited with each agency doing what they could in line with their relevant duties.

 

The Lead Member for Environment and Transport concluded the discussion thanking officers for bringing the report to the Committee. It was hoped that misconceptions surrounding the role of the Council as Lead Local Flood Authority were dispelled. While it was a priority for the Council to ensure areas prone to flooding were investigated thoroughly, ultimately the County Council were limited in resource and powers to compel responsible organisations to act.

 

Mr Pain CC also thanked Mr O’Shea CC for the work he undertook as Cabinet Support Member on the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)    That the report and submissions received be noted;

 

b)    That Officers respond directly to those members and parish councils who have made submissions regarding their concerns;

 

c)    That the Chairman and Spokesmen of the Committee be asked to consider the need for and scope of a Scrutiny Review Panel on Flooding.

 

55.

Environmental Performance Report 2018-19 and Greenhouse Gas Report 2018-19. pdf icon PDF 340 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Environment and Transport which provided details of the Council’s environmental performance and greenhouse gas emissions for 2018-19. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 11’, is filed with these minutes.

 

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

 

i)     As part of the review of the Environment Strategy the Council was looking to identifying more meaningful key performance indicators that could be monitored. The Committee would receive the revised Environment Strategy and Carbon Reduction Roadmap at its next meeting for comment.

 

ii)    The Director informed Members that both strategies followed national guidance that had come out of the Clean Growth Strategy and other national drivers but that the County Council would be looking at going further in line with its Climate Emergency declaration.

 

iii)   The Greenhouse Gas report was a requirement set out by government. Members were pleased to note that the Council would produce an ‘easy to read at a glance’ summary of the report which could be shared with residents.

 

iv)  The Director assured Members that whilst the report specifically focussed on the factors under the County Council’s control the Department was aware of the Council’s wider role and influence across Leicestershire and this would be addressed in the refresh of the Environment Strategy.

 

v)    As Members were previously advised the ability of the County Council to improve the wildlife indicators listed were limited. The Council was currently looking in-depth at biodiversity across Leicestershire to assess how best it could be improved, that review would look at the best areas to invest in and that the correct linkages were being made to factors such as wildlife corridors and migration. When the review had been sufficiently progressed, a report would be brought to the Committee.

 

vi)  In response to a concern that the County Council was not meeting its legal requirements the Director informed Members that when the Environmental Management System had been put in place almost 300 risks had been identified. This has since reduced to six. Members were assured that the County Council had a plan to resolve each risk, the costs of which had been included in the MTFS. The risks that remained were largely due to the time it had to take to design schemes and implement them, for example drainage at the Recycling and Household Waste Sites.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report on the County Council’s environmental performance and greenhouse gas emissions for 2018-19 be noted.

 

56.

Date of next meeting.

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to take place on 5 March 2020.

 

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on 5 March 2020 at 2pm.