Agenda and draft minutes

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 17 February 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Isabelle Moorhouse  Trainee Democratic Services Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

General

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1(1)

Apologies

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Minutes:

Councillor Andy Wright who was substituted for Councillor Margaret Bell

Scott Tompkins (Assistant Director – Environmental Services)

1(2)

Member's Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-pecuniary Interests

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Minutes:

None.

1(3)

Chair's Announcements

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Minutes:

The Chair informed the committee of a briefing note that provided an update for the Bermuda Connectivity project. This was virtually shared in the meeting and would be distributed after the meeting as a correction was needed regarding the location of a pedestrian crossing. The Chair said that the project would be the subject of a full agenda item at a future meeting.

 

1(4)

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 212 KB

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Minutes:

The minutes were approved as a true and accurate record.

2.

Public Speaking

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Minutes:

None.

3.

Questions to Portfolio Holder pdf icon PDF 97 KB

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Minutes:

In response to Councillor Jenny Fradgley’s questions about the Council’s CO2 reduction efforts and where to find this information, Councillor Heather Timms (Portfolio Holder – Environment, Heritage & Culture) stated that the Council remained committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 (regarding direct carbon emissions in scopes one (WCC estate) and two (WCC energy use). Between 2013 and 2018 it reduced its carbon emissions by over 50%, which was informed by information gathered using the Environmental Management System which is ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 14001 accredited. Improvements for gathering information for scope 3 (WCC services e.g. waste) was underway.

In February 2021 the Council’s £1m Green Shoots community climate action grant scheme was launched to fund local community projects aimed at mitigating climate change as well as the Solar Together initiative which helped Warwickshire homeowners buy solar panels to produce green energy. With central government funding the Council will develop proposals to reduce the carbon impact of its corporate estate. The Council secured a Low Carbon Skills Fund grant to carry out building surveys to inform projects to decarbonise their buildings and do more to survey the rest of the estate. Work was carried out with the District and Borough Councils in Warwickshire, such as a joint baseline for their carbon footprints, tree planting, linking biodiversity and joining up green corridors.

 

In response to Councillor Keith Kondakor, Councillor Jeff Clarke (Portfolio Holder – Transport & Planning) confirmed that he will support a bid to fund the implementation of a cycle lane and other mitigations, alongside the upcoming Bermuda Bridge project. The Chair added that because the briefing note was shared on screen in a public livestream, this meant the note was publicly published.

Following a question from Councillor Kondakor, Councillor Andy Crump (Portfolio Holder – Fire & Rescue and Community Safety) noted that the two new SAFER officers will focus of safe access to schools but the implementation of 20pmh zones outside schools would need to be evidence based. Councillor Peter Butlin (Portfolio Holder – Finance & Property) added that the 20mph zones mentioned in the Council’s budget were advisable as it would help implement them quicker.

David Ayton-Hill (Assistant Director – Communities) confirmed that the enforcement of 20mph zones outside schools could begin in the next financial year.

 

Councillor Dave Shilton praised the Jaguar/Landrover (JLR) factory in Baginton for making electric batteries for their cars. Councillor Isobel Seccombe OBE (Leader of the Council) concurred with Councillor Shilton and added this giga battery factory would cause a shift in the types of jobs and make them greener.

In response to Councillor Kondakor, Councillor Seccombe stated that it would be confidential at that stage if the batteries from the factory would be used in public modes of transport. 

In response to Councillor John Holland, David Ayton-Hill clarified that there was a demand for battery giga factories in the Midlands so any bids should be successful with planning applications.

 

Councillor Shilton praised the work of the gritting teams for the successful gritting operations at vaccination  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

3(1)

Economic Development Update pdf icon PDF 386 KB

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Minutes:

Councillors Kondakor and Andy Jenns praised the update.

 

In response to Councillor Kondakor, David Ayton-Hill stated that he was not sure if Norton had resolved their trade issues from Brexit.

 

Following a question from Councillor Jenns, David Ayton-Hill agreed to provide a breakdown of digital training provided to businesses and more details on the businesses who received this help. 

3(2)

Warwickshire Towns Update pdf icon PDF 204 KB

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Minutes:

Councillor John Holland noted the economic hit that town centres took and that air quality in Warwick and Leamington needed improving due to the slow progression in the programmes to improve it. David Ayton-Hill stated that a holistic approach was needed to improve all of Warwickshire’s town centres so they are economic and green; congestion and traffic in town centres was also being reviewed but there was no simple option for how to resolve all the issues at once.

Councillor Clarke added that air quality and active travel, including cycle lanes, would be part of the LTP (local transport plan).

 

Councillor Kondakor queried about how cycling friendly the Vicarage Street development would be. David Ayton-Hill stated that the plan was subject to change and would include cycle lanes.

4.

(External) Workplace travel planning intervention pdf icon PDF 348 KB

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Minutes:

Dr Paul Coleman (Public Health Registrar and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Warwick) noted the work that was undertaken with Dr Nadia Inglis (Consultant in Public Health) and the air quality monitors as part of the project. Paul Coleman raised the following points:

  • The scheme took place over a year with 30 employees from Warwickshire County Council and Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council
  • Air pollution was linked to 28,000-36,000 deaths a year in the UK and was the leading cause of environmental deaths
  • Air pollution was worse in town centres in Warwickshire, especially during commuting periods
  • Air pollution in Warwickshire contributed to 1500 deaths in 10 years
  • More people in Warwickshire traveled by car to work then the national average
  • Over the last decade there was an increase in people using cars for short journeys
  • 63% of people commuted to work by car in the UK, 67% of these journeys were under five miles
  • Shorter journeys contributed most to air pollution
  • The scheme was done with the Universities of Coventry and Birmingham
  • A baseline questionnaire was done in May 2019, followed by air pollution monitors (which contained a GPS giving live information) being worn by participants for two weeks, then 1-1 planning assessments with all participants including journey plans and any cycling training needed
  • After four months another questionnaire was done by participants which showed that participants were driving less, walking/cycling more and were less exposed to air pollution
  • Reasons as to why the participants were not walking/cycling before included: childcare responsibilities, fixed working hours, transporting work equipment, safety concernswith walking/cycling and a lack of secure cycling storage facilities at the workplace
  • Suggestions to make people want to walk/cycle to work included: a park and ride system (for people who wanted to walk to work but lived too far away), being able to leave equipment at work, flexible working hours, financial incentives e.g. council employees getting discounts at cycling shops when bikes are too expensive for them, improved workplace facilities for active travel commuters e.g. showers/changing and clothes drying facilities 
  • The schemes recommendations were as follows:

·       All council staff are encouraged to plan alternative walking, cycling and public transport options for their commute to work before returning to work in central office locations following the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be done via WCC’s Active Travel resource (https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/activetravel), which needs to be reviewed regularly. It should also be considered how key elements identified in this study, such as role of air pollution monitors in educating employees about the impacts of air pollution and role of travel planning sessions in changing travel behaviour, can be integrated into future workplace travel interventions.

·       Steps should be taken to continue to address the barriers identified in this study that participants reported as reasons for being unable / unwilling to cycle or walk to work. These include safety concerns and lack of cycle infrastructure, financial incentives (such as discounts at local cycle stores) and improved workplace facilities such as showers, changing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Developer Contributions Reporting pdf icon PDF 307 KB

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Minutes:

Chris Egan (Lead Commissioner Strategic Growth and Infrastructure) stated that the report summarised the annual infrastructure statement (AIS) which must legally be provided by all local authorities and show all the developer contributions the local authority receives annually. The statement provided current CILs (community infrastructure levy) implemented. The 2019/20 AIS was approved by Cabinet on the 10th December 2020 and published on the 31st. The production of the 2020/2021 statement aimed to reduce the burden of producing the statement in the future through improved monitoring processes and provide greater transparency. The committee was asked to note the recommendations as printed.

 

Following several queries from Councillor Kondakor, Graham Palmer (Infrastructure Strategy & Commissioning Lead) stated that ‘trigger points’ were implemented with all developments so the money will be brought in at points when the infrastructure will be provided. Flexibility agreements are brought in around the times that the funding can be spent to ensure infrastructure is provided at the right time. Funding is often held by the council so it can be provided at the correct time.

Mark Ryder (Strategic Director – Communities) added that there were specific requirements on where and how developer contribution money can be spent, which stops the money being spent on other services. However, it can be added with other funding to link schemes together, for example the Europa Way scheme.

 

Councillor Holland praised the report and raised whether the NHS could receive contributor’s money. Chris Egan noted that Section 38 funding was not covered by the AIS and requests for funding from developers for the NHS/CCGs needs to come from the organisations itself.

In response to Councillor Shilton, Chris Egan noted that road agreements came under the section 38 agreements which is when the developer designs and implements a road with the permission of the local authority; as this process is done outside section 106, it makes it difficult for the road to be adopted. Graham Palmer clarified that unadopted roads do not stop section 106 contributions. Mark Ryder added that there was no legal requirement for developers to adopt roads, but this was encouraged by the Council.

 

Councillor Bell noted that developments felt adhoc so building conditions should be reviewed instead and a plan be formulated. Mark Ryder noted that as developer contributions are negotiated it was difficult to get them to pay more than compulsory; he agreed that there was a need to look at schemes interacting with each other. Graham Palmer noted that current legislation allowed multiple projects to be carried out from one contribution pool.

 

Resolved:

  1. The committee note the production and publication of the Annual Infrastructure Statement 2019/20.
  2. The committee note the approach to be taken to publish developer contribution data in future years.

The committee is asked to provide feedback on the statement and suggestions to improve future Annual Infrastructure Statements

6.

'Nuckle' Line Update (briefing note) pdf icon PDF 29 KB

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Minutes:

Margaret Smith (Lead Commissioner - Transport Planning) informed the committee that the Nuckle line would allow two hourly trains to run between Coventry and Nuneaton with a new bay platform at Coventry Station. The line and platform projects were run by Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council was a partner in the scheme, which was reported as being delayed at the February 2020 O&S committee due to the tender cost being higher than the budget. Work has been undertaken with Coventry and Network Rail to identify ways to reduce costs and this will form the basis of further work led by Network Rail. There has been a delay to the start of this work whilst formal agreement is reached with DfT to transfer funding from Coventry City Council to Network Rail. Residual funding from an earlier stage of the NUCKLE project has been used in the interim to maintain momentum, and a first meeting with Coventry, Warwickshire and Network Rail is due soon.  

 

In response to Councillor Shilton, Margaret Smith clarified that the bay platform was not needed for the line to go through to Leamington. In response to Councillor Kondakor, Margaret Smith stated that National Rail had indicated a need to maintain the freight paths. 

 

Following a question from Councillor Shilton, Nadia Ingles agreed to get information on the trainline between Kenilworth and Nuneaton from her health and transport colleagues. Margaret Smith added this suspended route was brought up with West Midlands Trains (WMT) to resolve. Councillor Seccombe stated that WMT informed them that the line was suspended due to Covid-19 which stopped them from being able to train new drivers, however, the bus replacement service will continue. In response to Councillor Kondakor’s points about these buses being empty, Margaret Smith agreed to bring it to the next meeting, but they likely had to run these services as they had a commitment to provide this service. The Chair informed the committee that WMT published online that their lines were constantly being reviewed. 

 

In response to Councillor Sargeant’s points on support being given to people who want to train up to be train and bus drivers, David Ayton-Hill agreed to bring this to the employability and localities team.    

7.

Update on Scrutiny Review pdf icon PDF 230 KB

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Minutes:

Nichola Vine (Strategy and Commissioning Manager (Legal and Democratic) stated that Dr Jane Martin CBE was appointed to provide advice on scrutiny at Warwickshire County Council and how to move forward with its approach. The work started in February 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. The feedback was largely positive, especially with the Covid-19 recovery groups, TFG’s and member training. Suggestions for improvement included greater alignment with corporate objectives, more utilisation of technology, a Chair’s panel for all OSCs, a dedicated scrutiny team and getting more out of the committees, as stated in the report.

 

Councillor Kondakor raised that OSC meetings needed to be spread out more as this was his second OSC of the day and that OSCs should be more cross-party. He disagreed with the Chair’s group as all OSC Chairs were from the ruling party as of February 2021. Councillor Holland agreed that members from other parties should be Chairs of committees to create a cross-party balance. The Chair clarified that all committee Chairs being from the ruling party had not always been the case.

 

Councillor Jenns stated that Dr Martin’s recommendations should be enforced post-election. The Chair concurred with this.

 

Resolved:

The Committee considers and comments upon the findings of the independent review into Overview and Scrutiny

8.

Communities OSC Work Programme pdf icon PDF 201 KB

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Minutes:

In response to Councillor Kondakor, the Chair stated the briefing note will be discussed in April’s chair and spokes meeting and a future OSC meeting.

 

Councillor Shilton proposed that the work programme be taken as read. This was seconded by Councillor Seb Gran.

 

A debate followed regarding viewing the briefing note before June’s meeting.

Councillor Kondakor proposed formally discussing the Bermuda Bridge briefing note as part of urgent items. This was not seconded.

9.

Urgent Items

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Minutes:

None.

16.

Briefing Note - Bermuda Connectivity Project Update pdf icon PDF 315 KB

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