Agenda and minutes

Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 15th March, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting via Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Helen Davies  Tel: 01270 685705 Email:  helen.davies@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Link: Meeting Recording

Items
No. Item

59.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence received.

60.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To give consideration to the minutes of the meeting held on 12 February 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED- That the minutes of the meeting 12 February 2021 be accepted as a correct and accurate record.

61.

Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

62.

Whipping Declarations

To provide an opportunity for Members to declare the existence of a party whip in relation to any item on the agenda.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of the Party Whip.

63.

Public Speaking/Open Session

A total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to make a statement(s) on any matter that falls within the remit of the Committee.

 

Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes, but the Chairman will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned, where there are a number of speakers.

 

Note: In order for officers to undertake any background research, it would be helpful if members of the public contacted the Scrutiny officer listed at the foot of the agenda, at least one working day before the meeting to provide brief details of the matter to be covered. 

 

Minutes:

Five registered speakers attended the meeting and gave a statement on the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Congleton.

 

1)    Congleton Town Councillor, Paul Duffy spoke against the proposed closure of the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) in Congleton.  He queried the stated £4million costs to build a new site and suggested that these were more in the region of £100k per annum.  The Council could find £100k funding through the Capital Programme.  With the addition of new homes to the area a generated income had been proposed of £8.5million, this could be invested back as a HWRC.

He recommended that the Cabinet decision in April be delayed to enable proper scrutiny of other plans.

 

2)    Brereton Parish Councillor, Andy Lindsay spoke in favour of a new HWRC in Congleton, and drew attention to the fact that there had been an increase in housing in the Brereton area with 3,000 new homes being built around Congleton.

Councillor Lindsay advised the Committee that the Council should rethink as there was an opportunity to build a new HWRC in Congleton with good road access to the new Congleton Link Road.

 

3)    Congleton Town Councillor, Robert Douglas spoke against the proposed closure of the Congleton HWRC.  He advised the Committee that over the past three months, residents had been challenging the £4million anticipated build costs.  In Norfolk and Nottingham, Local Authorities had built new sites for less than this.  Councillor Douglas challenged the statement in the report that stated residents would only add 1 or 2 items to their domestic waste bin.  He advised the Committee that in his opinion queues to alternative HWRCs would get worse, that would put lives at risk and this had not been highlighted anywhere in the report.  Finally he requested that this Committee consider a working group to look into alternative options for Congleton and then to report its findings back in 6 months.

 

4)    Congleton Town Councillor, Kay Wesley spoke against the proposed closure of Congleton HWRC.  She advised the Committee that she was the Chair of the Community and Environment Committee at Congleton Town Council.  She noted that Cheshire East Council had ambitious goals to reduce waste and improve air quality but she suggested the closure of Congleton HWRC would contribute to working against those targets.  She felt there was a significant risk of fly tipping.  She also noted the Equality Impact Assessment included as part of the agenda report had a passing reference to disabled residents having to be driven to the tip.  Councillor Wesley challenged the statement there was no gender impact in that a disproportionate number were women, who were vulnerable, older or single parent without a car.  She advised the Committee that it should consider recommending that a Cabinet decision on 13th April would be premature and that it would be more prudent to establish a Task and Finish Group to explore avenues before reaching a decision.

 

5)    Congleton Town Councillor, Suzy Firkin spoke against the proposed closure of the Congleton  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Household Waste & Recycling Centre- Consultation results and draft recommendations pdf icon PDF 694 KB

To review the results of the consultation relating to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre and draft recommendations since the last review on the 12 Feb 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Due to the large number of public speakers, visiting Member presence and general public interest in this item, the Committee agreed to bring this item forward.

 

Councillor Laura Crane, Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste, introduced this item and addressed some of the points made by public speakers.  Firstly the Committee were advised that the draft Cabinet report had been provided with the in light of the feedback from the previous meeting that Members considered there was not enough information to make an informed decision to scrutinise properly.  The recommendation to Cabinet was a replacement Household Waste Recycling Centre would not be provided in Congleton when the lease on the current Congleton Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) expired in September 2021.   Councillor Crane agreed that a Task and Finish Group could be a good idea to move forward with new ideas.  Finally Councillor Crane noted that rural communities within the borough had never had any HWRC within a drivable distance.

 

Councillor Crane then handed over to Frank Jordan, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director for Place to give an overview of the report contained within the agenda.  Frank reminded the Committee that the proposal was at a draft stage but it was important for this Committee to consider the options. 

 

There were two that were key:

 

1)    Environmental.  The recommendation would support the Councils Environment and Waste strategies, in particular the strategic objective to reduce waste.

 

2)    Finance and Value for Money.   Current provision was favourable to the published guidance, as 96% of the borough would be able to reach a HWRC within 20 mins.

The current HWRC contract would end in March 2023.  The current market was volatile, and there was a significant risk that the costs would be higher and the key issue with Congleton, was the site was not in the Council’s ownership.  The £4 million within the report to provide a new centre for Congleton was  based on a specification, scope and size for Congleton, and acquisition costs.  Any comparison would need to be on a similar specification.  The cost of borrowing £4million would be £250k per annum and this was not in the council budget.  The recommendation did not include a replacement facility. 

 

Ralph Kemp, Head of Environmental Services confirmed that the council had looked at the results of closing the Arclid site, and that the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) took into account a worst case scenario.

 

Ralph reminded the Committee that under the existing service there were rural communities that had never had access to a HWRC and those who do not have a car, and this did not feed into the fairness strand of CEC Corporate Plan.

 

The Chairman queried if any further work had been done, since the last meeting, on the potential to buy the current Congleton site with a sensible offer.  Frank confirmed there had been several approaches to the freeholder, who had confirmed the site was not available for sale.

 

The Committee were invited to ask questions.

 

There was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Carbon Action Plan: Update

To receive a verbal update and discussion around the priorities for next twelve months on actions relating to land allocation and procurements for initial projects contributing to sustainable energy generation and green sequestration.

Minutes:

Councillor Nick Mannion, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Regeneration, introduced the item before handing over to Ralph Kemp, Head of Environmental Services who gave a short presentation.

Ralph advised the Committee that part of his role including being the Responsible Officer for Council’s Carbon Commitment to become carbon neutral by 2025 and that he worked across council with officers to deliver this commitment.

Ralph gave the Committee some background to Climate Change that included flooding and heatwaves across Cheshire East and the North West.  These impacts were not felt equally across communities, however there was a strong ambition to reduce carbon across the borough.

The April Town and Parish Council Conference would include the launch of a carbon toolkit plus the Council was due to launch a crowdfunding project that would enable community projects to connect with business to reduce carbon, and other small scale community projects.

The Council aimed to be carbon neutral by 2025, that was for the carbon it could control and took into account everything it had operational control on by reducing emitted carbon by 45% and offset by 55%.

It was recognised that the Council needed a culture change to put carbon at the centre of plans.  The Corporate plan and Environment Strategy had objectives on carbon reduction and there was a new elearning course to form part of Personal Development Review (PDR) for employees from 2022 to encourage staff in delivering their job to reduce carbon.  Also there was a big procurement focus on social value and carbon reduction.

Cheshire East had received a government grant to decarbonise a number of council buildings.

The Council had learned lessons through the pandemic and part of that related to the fleet of vehicles held by the Council and business travel.  Carbon reduction could be achieved through the reduction of miles travelled and carbon per mile reduction through electric pool cars.  The Council had added its first electric van for community wardens.  Some vehicles were harder to adapt- e.g. bin lorries, however a trial for hydrogen powered bin lorries would be carried out and the Council was now trialing an electric bin lorry.

Alongside carbon and vehicles, the Council was looking at opportunities for nature-based capture of carbon e.g. where appropriate to plant trees, replant hedgerows and peat moss.  The was also the first solar farm at Leighton moss farm. 

Many Local Authorities had taken commitments.  Cheshire East Council aspired to be an exemplar with its approach to achieving carbon neutrality

The Committee were given the opportunity to ask questions, there were discussions about:

  • The inequality of decarbonisation, especially those with electric vehicles that had to trail wires across the street to charge their car;
  • That there had to be structural changes to grid to achieve 50% electric cars by 2030;

 

Peter Skates, Director of Growth and Enterprise advised the Committee that Richard Hibbert, Head of Strategic Transport was best placed to respond to future plans for electric vehicle infrastructure in car parks and residential schemes, as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To consider the Forward Plan.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Forward Plan.

 

RESOLVED-

 

That the Forward Plan be received and noted.

67.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To consider the Committee’s Work Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Work Programme.

The Chairman noted that this was the valedictory meeting of this Committee before the Council moves into a Committee System style of governance.

 

The Chairman updated the Committee on the work of the Task and Finish group for Flooding.  The group had a successful pre-meeting with representatives from Poynton, an area of the borough that has arguably seen the most significant amounts of flooding.  Subsequent meeting with Poynton Town Council and MP David Rutley and two flooding groups (one resident led and one Town Council led) were scheduled.

 

RESOLVED- That the Work Programme be received and noted.

 

 

68.

Post Overview and Scrutiny

An opportunity to enable the Committee to reflect on past pieces of Overview & Scrutiny work, and current priorities in order to inform and advise the incoming Environment & Communities Committee.

Minutes:

The Chairman opened the item and reminded the Committee that Overview and Scrutiny at Cheshire East Council has always sought to provide an opportunity for Councillors, Partners and members of the public to:

 

·         Challenge the performance of service providers and raise standards, to ensure that services meet people's needs;

·         Hold the Council's decision makers to account; and

·         Examine issues that affect the wellbeing of the people of Cheshire East.

 

The Chairman addressed the Committee and made comment as to some of the positive impacts this Committee has had over the years:

 

·         A Successful Call-In that related to the Well Managed Highways Infrastructure that resulted in the agreement by Cabinet to take forward recommendations by this Committee;

·          Annually the Committee closely scrutinised and contributed to the development of a number of important strategies and policies, such as Cemeteries Strategy, Waste and Local Transport Plan;

·         Acting as a ‘critical friend’ to the Cabinet in making achievements in better air quality and lower emissions; and

·         Finally this Committee took on the responsibility for the Council of Flood Risk management, and the work of the current Task and Finish Group all fed into the importance placed in getting the response to flooding right for the wellbeing of Cheshire East residents and businesses.  

 

The Chairman thanked the Members of this Committee both past and present for all contributions in helping to shape overview and scrutiny and noted that as Cheshire East Council moved towards the Committee System, that the legacy of work was built upon and expanded further.

 

The Committee added to notable pieces of work and cited:

 

·         The Private Landlord Licensing Schemes that was a piece of work first started with the late Councillor Brian Roberts, that was on the current Forward Plan and will make a real difference to the residents of Crewe;

·         The pilot scheme for flytipping, homelessness work, HS2 and Crewe Town Regeneration was all agreed to be productive and of value to residents; and

·         The Committee agreed the current work on flooding by the Task and Finish Group had made significant progress and at this time does not yet know how important that work will turn out to be.

The Committee extended their thanks to Councillor Paul Findlow for his Chairmanship and to the support of Helen Davies, Democratic Services Officer.