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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 20th May, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore (Chairman); Councillors Ms. R. Birch, P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, E. Hacker, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, P. King, A.G. Powell and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present: Councillors L. Burnett, R.F. Curtis, N.P. Hodges, Dr. I.J. Johnson and N. Moore.

 

 

27        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Councillor E. Hacker be elected Vice-Chairman for the current Municipal Year.

 

 

28        MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meetings held on 1st  and 29th April, 2014 be approved as correct records, subject to it being noted that on page 3 of the minutes of 29th April, 2014 the title of the Cabinet should read the 'Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services' instead of 'Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation'.

 

 

29        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

30        BARRY ISLAND BEACH HUTS – RENTAL POLICY (CM – RIPT) –

 

Prior to discussion the Chairman advised that the report before the Committee was a revised version to the one which had been e-mailed to Barry Members on 13th May 2014.  It had been slightly amended following consultation with the Director of Visible Services and Housing with regard to more suitable opening times for the beach huts.

 

In presenting the report the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation stated that as part of the Eastern Promenade contracted works at Barry Island the Council would be constructing 25 beach huts in an effort to increase the attractiveness of the Eastern Promenade.  Regeneration outcomes in terms of the rental of the beach huts’  would also be put into the future regeneration of the Island thereby increasing its vitality. The huts would also provide an opportunity for some people to hire them for commercial use. The report recommended that following the close of the season a report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet on the operation of the Beach Hut scheme. Such a trial was seen to be a more sensible approach as the scheme was a new venture and the Council  needed to find out the best way of making the scheme work.  The Cabinet Member further stated that her intention of bringing the report before the Scrutiny Committee was to have a considered discussion and to highlight the proposed scheme to residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Director of Development Services tabled for Members information some images of the site and referred in detail to the makeup of the huts.  He advised that one of the huts would house water and power supply and would be fitted with sink units.  The 12 beach nuts nearest the Eastern Shelter were to be larger in form with a size of 2.1m x 2.4m.  The remaining 12 smaller huts would be 2.1m x 1.5m in size and had been designed as changing rooms for the beach.  These would have light availability but would not actually have a power supply.  All the beach huts were of block-work construction and to be externally finished in a multi-coloured resin / plastic based wood replacement cladding.  Members were informed that the huts  would not be fitted with any specific furniture although the pilot study could allow for customer needs to be determined via a questionnaire.   Some Members considered that if the huts were furnished with significant facilities this may lose the charm of the facilities.

 

The Project Board had discussed the options for managing the units and had considered :

  • Selling the units on the open market
  • Marketing the opportunity of managing the units by a third party or
  • The Council marketing and managing the units itself.

The preference of the Project Board that was set up to manage the Barry Island Public Realm Programme was for the Council to retain the units and control the marketing and rental thereof.  This would allow complete control of the uses and the flexibility to learn from the pilot project and implement variations to operations speedily.  In considering the sale option, the Project Board could not be certain that prospective purchasers would actually utilise their units on a regular basis throughout the season and they did not wish to see the units less than fully utilised.  The third party management option had also been considered in some detail but again it was felt that this option might result in limited utilisation of the units. 

 

With regard to the smaller units the proposal was to rent them out on a daily basis and for the larger units the option appeared to be a daily rental, a weekly or part-weekly rental or a seasonal rental.  In undertaking research in relation to how other local authorities managed a similar service, it was noted that the majority appeared to be operated on the basis of annual leases, seasonal leases or ground leases, but in many cases the authorities were managing hundreds of units.  In the cases where authorities rented out a daily and or weekly basis the daily rental charges varied between £11 and £60.  Some also allowed bookings for two or three days or weekly.  In referring to seasonal bookings, it was considered that this held the risk of less than full use and that rental arrangements should be limited to weekly bookings.  The recommendations were therefore that the charges be set at £15 a day for the smaller units and £30 a day for the larger units, with weekly bookings of the larger units being allowed. 

 

In referring to opening times, following consultation with the Director of Visible Services and Housing, the aim was to staff the new toilet throughout the season from 1st April to 30th September with a rotating shift from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.  The new toilet facilities would be open at 10 a.m. (the existing toilet had been opened earlier but was not staffed), and this would give the Council three hours to clean the toilets and the new beach huts which could also open at 10 a.m. The beach huts would close at 8 p.m. at the latest, though it was considered that most users would be out by 6 p.m. However, it could be possible for them to be open longer when events took place. The keys could be returned to the staff member on shift and he or she could ensure that the huts are vacated at the correct time to avoid the potential for any anti social behaviour.  Cleaning would be undertaken in the morning but only on handover i.e. if the hut was a weekly booking no cleaning would take place until the end of the hire.   

 

The bookings could be made in a similar way to the system that was currently in place for special collections. Payments and bookings would be via the contact centre and staff would be issued with a print off each morning indicating the bookings for that day/week. Bookings could also be taken on the day but users would have to do this again via the contact centre.

 

The report also highlighted that from the outset the intention had been to allow some form of commercial use to operate in the larger beach huts.  It had also initially been envisaged that they would be let for this purpose on a number of set dates in the calendar.  If however, demand proved greater the policy could be amended.  The intention would also be to seek interested parties via online marketing and again with the offer on a first come first serve basis.  Various restrictions would also need to operate and, for example, the selling of food would not be permitted.  Information in relation to the beach hut rental policy and management issues such as parking arrangements at Nell’s Point would also be published on the Council’s website.

 

The Director for Visible Services and Housing, referring to the proposals to rent the beach huts from 10 a.m. advised that this could be even earlier.  A number of operational arrangements also needed to be developed i.e. in relation to online bookings arrangements being made and to telephone bookings with the Contact Centre.  He agreed that the beach hut scheme was an exciting project and following the pilot a report would be presented to the Committee and Cabinet with details of what worked well together with areas for improvement if any.

 

During the discussion a number of issues were raised by Members of the Committee, in particular if one of the huts was not occupied on a particular day would members of the public who happened to be passing that day be able to hire a hut.  It was confirmed that a member of staff would be on hand in the summer season to ensure that this arrangement could be made.  The member of the public could telephone to book the hut and confirmation could be given to the officer present in order for the keys to be handed over.  All Members agreed that a flexible approach was required in order that such instances could be catered for. Other issues discussed related to what type of key could be provided, how they were to be returned, the cost of purchasing keys if mislaid, questionnaires to be produced and handed to each occupier to include suggestions for improvements; insurance against damage etc. Officers again advised that these issues would be addressed in detail when considering the rental policy. 

 

Councillor N.P Hodges , not a member of the Committee, but granted permission to speak, although in full support of the scheme stated that a no drinking policy should be incorporated into any rental policy and that the provision of enough litter bins with aesthetically pleasing designs should be provided in the vicinity.  He also suggested the possibility of naming the huts as opposed to numbering them.

 

The Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services, with permission to speak,  stated that he also welcomed the beach hut scheme and the provision of the new toilet block which he considered was essential for visitors.  Although aware that operational issues and a rental policy needed to be developed however, urged that CCTV to cover the area be considered in future budgets. 

 

The Chairman referred to the issue of car parking at the site which had been raised at the agenda conference for the meeting with the view that if anyone did purchase a beach hut, could there be provision that they also paid for a car park space at the same time however, it had been suggested that this could be a matter for consideration in the future.  The Committee also agreed that the recommendation that Council retain control of the scheme was essential in order for the Council to assess the scheme and manage it for the residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.  The size of some of the huts was however, considered to be small, but it was suggested that if the scheme was successful the possibility of future beach huts being placed around the Vale was promising. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation  informed the Committee that she had also been regularly corresponding with residents on social media who were full of praise for the scheme.  Members praised the officers and the Cabinet Members for bringing forward such a scheme and recognised that a number of issues had already been raised and would be considered when the policy was developed.

 

All Members of the Committee concurred that they were in support of the proposals although aware that a rental policy needed to be developed and that a trial over the coming season was essential in order to iron out any issues

 

The Leader of the Council, with permission to speak, formally recorded his thanks to the Cabinet Members, the officers and the teams who had been fully involved in the project to date.  He also reiterated his concerns that if the beach huts were let out on more than weekly basis, some people may not turn up others may see that they were empty and this would not be a good use of the facility.  In referring to water supply being available in only one of the huts Members were informed that the matter had been considered but that in light of potential flooding issues that could arise it had been agreed not to provide this facility in all the huts.  In conclusion he suggested that when the rental policy was drawn up that it include the provision for officers in conjunction with the relevant Cabinet Member to be able to amend the policy as required. He also advised all present that the whole scheme was to be developed within current resources. 

 

Having fully considered the report the Committee subsequently unanimously

 

RECOMMENDED –   

 

T H A T the Scrutiny Committee’s comments and the following recommendations be referred to Cabinet :-

 

(i)           T H A T the Barry Island Beach Huts Rental Policy as outlined in paragraphs 6 to 13 of the report be approved.

 

(ii)          T H A T the Beach Huts be advertised and rented in accordance with the above.

 

(iii)         T H A T the Director of Development Services be tasked with producing a Rental Policy Document based on (i) above.

 

(iv)      T H A T, following the close of the season, a report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet on the operation of the Beach Hut Scheme.

 

Reasons for recommendation

 

(i)         For Cabinet’s consideration.

 

(ii)        In order that tourists and visitors to the Island understand the terms of beach hut rental put in place.

 

(iii)       That the beach huts contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of the area and contribute financial to future regeneration initiatives.

 

(iv)       To update Committee and Cabinet.

 

 

31        PROPOSED CHANGES TO WASTE COLLECTION AND RECYCLING IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (DVSH) –

 

Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson had requested that the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee in order to receive a report detailing the likely impacts of the changes in relation to vehicle double-shifting and household recycling upon Council services, the public and Council staff and to assess the acceptability of the proposals.  The Chairman had also herself previously requested  a similar report on the subject.

 

In response, the Director of Visible Services and Housing commenced by outlining to the Committee the savings proposals agreed for the Waste Management and Cleansing Division as follows:

 

(1)       double-shifting of existing Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCVs);

(2)       taking the Household Bring Sites provision services in house and reducing the number of banks in service;

(3)       the removal of a refuse collection 26 tonne (RCV) from the residual black bin bag collection service;

(4)       ditto small 'pick-up' collection vehicle;

(5)       ditto 26 and 7.5 tonne RCVs and replace with a single 15 tonne RCV from the residual black bin bag collection service;

(6)       non-recruitment of one frontline Works Supervisor and Waste Awareness Officer within WM&C Team;

(7)       limit the provision of kitchen food caddy liner bags to 3 per week to all participation households within the Vale of Glamorgan;

(8)       the removal of a pick-up vehicle from the street cleansing fleet;

(9)       rationalise coastal staffing  with a subsequent reduction of 1 FTE;

(10)     the removal of a mechanical sweeper from the street cleaning service;

(11)     the reduction of the street-care service by one vehicle and 2 FTEs;

(12)     the removal of a Food Waste RCV from the kitchen food collection service.

 

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Waste Finance benchmarking Project 2012-13 which comprised financial details from all 22 Welsh local authorities found that the Vale of Glamorgan Council's overall net expenditure on household waste services (Residual, Dry recycling, Organic, CA and Bring sites) for 2012/13 was £8,142,816; which represented an expenditure of £147 per household per annum (£2.83 per household per week).  When compared with the other local authorities in Wales on a per household basis, the Vale of Glamorgan was ranked as third lowest cost authority (median expenditure per household is £181, lowest expenditure £120). The overall expenditure on household waste services had fallen by 0.6% when compared to 2011/12.

 

Although it was obvious from the WLGA's findings above that the Council was already providing an extremely cost effective service to its stakeholders, ongoing reductions in the base budget for the Directorate required additional savings in service costs to assist in ensuring a balanced budget going forward. The aim in making such savings was always to try to protect services to the Vale’s residents wherever possible, utilising new technology and more efficient working practices.

 

The Director advised that when trying to make savings he had tried to ensure that there would be minimum impact on the residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.  He confirmed that with regard to double-shifting this only applied to the green waste collection service due to its seasonal nature with the only service impact in respect of this change for householders being that their green waste would be collected later in the day than was previously the case.  In response to a query regarding vehicle fatigue, he advised that this was not an issue for the Department.  Modern engines were now more capable and the replacement of vehicles was approximately every seven years which was continually monitored.  The installation of the vehicle tracking system was an extremely powerful tool which had been installed on the fleet within his directorate.  He estimated that the installation of the devices would enable the Council to reduce its fleet by 20%.  A steering group is to be set up to assist in managing the system, with representatives from each Directorate and the Trade Unions.  The vehicle tracking system provided detailed information on issues such as: on how long the vehicle was idle, how much fuel was being used and how much the brakes were being applied and a wide range of alerts could be introduced to measure these and other inputs with management reports produced that would be used to inform reports to Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees advising on any further efficiencies that could be made.  In addition, a more detailed report on the overall management of the Council’s fleet, produced with the assistance of specialised transport consultants was also due to be presented to Cabinet shortly.  Committee was further advised that the Directorate was one of the first in Wales to use the facial and finger-print recognition technology to manage the timekeeping of both office-based and front line staff.  This work, together with the vehicle tracking technology, had assisted in delivering the savings identified in 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 and 11 above with no impact on the existing service provision or on any of the householders or stakeholders. 

 

Members thanked the Director for his report which had clarified a number of issues and congratulated him on his future predictions of reducing the fleet by 20%.  Having fully considered the report, it being noted that further reports would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the details of the service changes and the minimal effect they will have on service deliveries standards, customers and employees be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that Committee are kept informed of the implications of recent budget reductions in the service area.

 

 

32        WASTE MANAGEMENT AND CLEANSING – RECYCLING PERFORMANCE (DVSH) –

 

The report provided the Committee with an update on the Council’s most recent recycling performance and highlighted some of the challenges in meeting future Welsh Government’s (WG) statutory recycling targets.  The report also outlined that there were statutory targets for the disposal of residual waste and recycling determined via the European Union (EU) for implementation by European States.  WG’s future targets that the Council has to plan to meet and exceed include:

  • A substantial reduction in the amount of biodegradable waste (BMW) sent to landfill:
  • By 2020 to reduce BMW to 35% of that produced in 1995
  • The treatment of all wastes prior to landfill:

 

2015/16

2019/20

2024/25

Municipal Waste recycled / composted

58%

64%

70%

Minimum proportion reuse / recycled / composted that must come from source separation

80%

80%

80%

Maximum level of landfill of municipal waste

-

10%

5%

Maximum level of energy from waste

42%

36%

30%

Minimum levels of preparing for reuse

0.6%

0.8%

1.0%

 

Whilst the Council had met and exceeded the WG statutory 2013/14 target of 52% for recycling and composting, achieving a total of 54% in 2012/13, the performance during 2013/14 at 55.24% was not increasing at a sufficient rate to guarantee that the Council would meet the 2015/16 target of 58%.  It was felt that if the Council was to meet this target, and more particularly the 2019/20 (64%) and 24/25 (70%) targets, further revisions would be necessary to both its Strategy and waste management service delivery arrangements.

 

In April 2014 the Council entered into a new medium term recycling reprocessing contract with CasePak Ltd for the sorting and reprocessing of its dry recycling, and officers would be working closely with the new contractor to increase the quality of recyclate throughout the contract period.

 

In addition, the new Household Waste Recycling Contracts with Biffa Waste Ltd. at Llandow and the Atlantic Trading Estate, Barry, which commenced in April 2014, contained recycling performance clauses which would increase recycling performance at these sites in future. 

 

The Council was also at the Final Tender stage of a joint procurement arrangement with Cardiff City Council for future Anaerobic Digestion (AD) treatment capacity for kitchen and garden wastes, with an anticipated 'Preferred Bidder' to be reported to both Councils in June / July 2014.

 

In order to meet the targets, the report highlighted that black bag waste would have to reduce and participation in the Council’s recycling services would have to increase.  Therefore, certain assessment work and studies would be required to establish both the recycling participation and capture rates across the Vale to highlight where participation could be increased and the number of black bags put out for disposal decreased. 

 

Officers were currently working on amendments to the Council's Municipal Waste Management Strategy to establish the service changes that would be required to achieve the future targets. This work was being hampered somewhat by the uncertain position in respect to WG's expected interpretation of the EU Waste Framework Directive, via the forthcoming Environment Bill, due in the autumn of this year. The Bill was likely to preclude co-mingled collections as an appropriate kerbside waste collection method from January 2015. This would clearly have a major impact on the Vale of Glamorgan and the other 10 Welsh Councils who currently used this form of collection arrangement.

 

Officers were also liaising with colleagues in the other co-mingling Councils to consider and prepare a collective position to the new legislation. There was a technical, environmental, economic and practical assessment process (TEEP) for co-mingled collections that could allow Councils to continue with certain elements, or all, of the co-mingled collection and this was also under consideration at this time.

 

In view of the proposals via the forthcoming Environment Bill the Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services urged Members to encourage the public to contact the WG to support the continuation of co-mingling as this would ensure that the Council could meet the targets imposed by WG. Members of the Committee also considered that co-mingling worked well and most of the public recycled in this way and to deviate from this system could be a major setback for the Council.  With regard to some areas of the Vale where recycling provision was an issue suggestions for developing initiatives to encourage recycling were being considered.

 

Following the above discussion it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the continued improvement in the Council’s municipal recycling performance and the challenges for the future in the service area be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Committee and to raise awareness of future challenges.

 

 

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