Agenda and draft minutes

Environment and Community Services Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 23 January 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH

Contact: Stephen Wood  020 8313 4316

Items
No. Item

68.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Chloe Jane Ross and Councillor Graeme Casey attended as substitute.

 

Councillor Adam Jude Grant was appointed as the new Chairman and Councillor Felicity Bainbridge was appointed as Vice Chairman. 

 

The Chairman welcomed Councillor Josh Coldspring White to the Committee.

69.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Allison Stammers declared an interest as the Secretary of the Friends of Chislehurst Recreation Ground and as a donor to the Conservative Party.

70.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 16th November 2023 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

It was pointed out that in the main body of the minutes, and in response to a question, it had been noted that litter picking in car parks took place on a weekly basis. A Member highlighted that with respect to car parks in Chislehurst, one of the car parks was inspected on a weekly basis and the other two car parks were only inspected on a three weekly basis. Notwithstanding this, the minutes were agreed as a correct record of proceedings and signed accordingly.

 

71.

MATTERS ARISING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 253 KB

Minutes:

CSD24009

 

A Member raised the matter of the Equalities Impact Assessment that was undertaken with respect to the removal of cash payments for parking in Bromley. The Member was of the view that a correct formal public consultation process had not taken place, which was a fundamental principle of an EIA. She asked why the correct consultation process was not followed and referred to the fact that there was a similar situation with respect to Brighton Council where a judicial review of process was being undertaken. The Director of Environment  and Public Protection responded that it was the Council's view that no additional consultation other than that already undertaken was required. The Member requested that in the future, a full yearly financial analysis report with respect to RingGo be brought to the committee, highlighting savings and income streams. The Director responded that the most appropriate place to do this would be at the annual review of the APCOA contract. The Member responded and expressed the view that the matters were separate. The Director answered and said that contractually they were not, as the Council only had a contract with APCOA and not with RingGo, who was subcontracted by APCOA. The Member responded that there was a need to scrutinise the decision that had been made. The Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety commented that it was not appropriate to keep revisiting the matter at every meeting and agreed with the Director that the time to revisit the matter was at the annual review of the APCOA contract. It was noted the depot infrastructure report had been moved to the June committee.

 

RESOLVED that the Matters Arising and Work Programme report be noted.

72.

ORAL QUESTIONS TO THE PORTFOLIO HOLDERS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions from the public that are not specific to reports on the agenda must have been received in writing by 5pm, 10 working days before the date of the meeting. So, for the meeting on 23rd January 2024, the deadline for receipt of general questions not on the agenda will be 5pm on 9th January 2024

 

Questions specifically clarifying reports on the agenda should be received within two working days of the normal publication date of the agenda. The deadline is given on each agenda. For the meeting on 23rd January 2023, questions specifically regarding reports on the agenda should be received by 5pm on 17th January 2024

 

Minutes:

Three oral questions were received from members of the public.

The questions and responses are appended to the minutes.

73.

ORAL QUESTIONS TO THE PORTFOLIO HOLDERS FROM COUNCILLORS

Minutes:

Four oral questions were received from Councillors.

The questions and responses are appended to the minutes.

 

74.

WRITTEN QUESTIONS

Answers to written questions will be disseminated as soon as possible post-meeting.

Minutes:

Six written questions were received from members of the public.

The questions and responses are appended to the minutes.

 

75.

UPDATE FROM THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Minutes:

The Committee received an oral update from the Portfolio Holder for Environment. A Member expressed thanks to the Portfolio Holder for his visit to the Plaistow ward. She raised the question of QR codes for trees and wondered when they were going to be fully operational. The Portfolio Holder responded that he was hopeful this would be achieved within the next two weeks.

 

RESOLVED that the update from the Portfolio Holder for Environment be noted.

76.

UPDATE FROM THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER FOR TRANSPORT, HIGHWAYS AND ROAD SAFETY

Minutes:

A Member expressed her thanks to all those who had met with TfL to resolve the issue of vandalised traffic lights throughout the borough. She commented that in many cases the traffic had flowed better when the lights were out. However, it was sometimes the case that the negative aspect of this was that pedestrians were put in danger. She wondered if the Council could look at traffic management at junctions in a different manner. The Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety reminded the committee that it was TfL that installed the traffic lights and that at night time, drivers and pedestrians would be more vulnerable; consideration would also need to be applied to protecting school children. The Assistant Director for Traffic & Parking stated that new traffic signals would only be considered when there was a critical problem; the main concern was with safety, rather than traffic flow.

 

A Member stated that the first traffic light had gone down on the 10th of January and that she had written to the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety on the 15th of January, requesting that an appropriate press release be issued to the public. She commented that nothing had been released until the 19th, and asked why this had taken so long, and why the Portfolio Holder had not mentioned any injuries (sustained as a result of the lights not working) in his update. The Portfolio Holder responded and said that the Council was not responsible for the traffic signals around the borough and this indeed was the responsibility of TfL. The Council was not the traffic authority and it was the responsibility of TfL to deal with any issues that occurred with respect to traffic lights. He said that the Council paid £0.5m annually to TfL to sort out any issues regarding traffic signals. He said the issuing of a press release would not have modified driving.

 

A Member suggested that as the vandals had been targeting traffic lights, could the Council use new poles instead of putting cameras on the existing traffic lights. The Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety replied that this was a matter for TfL and that sometimes TfL placed the cameras in places which the Council did not approve of. In essence, TfL could put the cameras wherever they wanted to. The committee was reminded that the vandalism of traffic lights and cameras was a criminal activity.

 

RESOLVED that the update from the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety be noted.

77.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF REPORTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITY SERVICES PORTFOLIO HOLDER

Portfolio Holder decisions for pre-decision scrutiny.

77a

ECS PERFORMANCE OVERVIEW REPORT pdf icon PDF 540 KB

Minutes:

ES20348

 

A Member pointed out that the target with respect to Highways Maintenance had not been hit and indeed it was only 40% against a target of 90%. The Assistant Director for Highways responded that an improvement plan was in place and that matters were improving. Regular meetings had been taking place with Riney and they had been asked to improve their performance further. A Member enquired if Riney were currently paying low service damages. It was noted that these had been suspended last January, but would be re implemented in April this year.

 

It was noted that an improvement plan was also in place with respect to Glendale. A Member commented that there had been many references to an  improvement plan at many meetings, without much evidence of improvement actually taking place. She expressed the view that Riney were struggling and was concerned that they would never get better. The Assistant Director, Environment (Carbon Management and Greenspace) commented that performance was now starting to recover due to various reasons including additional recruitment, a review of processes and changes in management. The recent storms had added to the difficulties in dealing with the backlog. Additional contractors would be brought in as required. A Member expressed concern about additional spend on contractors. The Director for Environment and Public Protection provided assurance that this expense was contained within the existing budget. It was further noted the KSIs were high; this was because there had been a higher than expected number of KSI incidences in May and June.

 

The Assistant Director (Traffic and Parking) pointed out that the Council needed to look at long term trends and long term data. He said that the KSI figures were half of what they were in early 2000, and were in fact the best in London. A Member highlighted the fact that the ‘Driven by Consequences’ program had only been held once a year, and she expressed the view that more of these schemes in schools were required. The Assistant Director for Traffic and Parking responded and said that it was intention of the Council to run more of these programs if possible, but that the Council had to build up relationships with schools in the borough.

 

It was asked if the additional work caused by the damage from recent storms would be within budget or would additional funding be required. The Director said that supplementary funding may be required as there were budgetary implications as a result of a succession of storms. It was asked that in view of the fact that storms were becoming more frequent, would it be helpful to bring services in house. The Director pointed out that to deal with fallen trees needed specialised equipment and trained staff, so it made sense to continue to use an organisation that had these resources readily available.

 

A Member referenced section 3.3 of the report which showed Riney’s projection and targets with respect to 10 day highway maintenance times and 35 day highways maintenance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77a

78.

ECS PERFORMANCE OVERVIEW INFORMATION BRIEFING

The ECS PDS Performance Overview Data has been published as an Information Briefing.

 

The Briefing can be viewed at the following link:

 

Agenda for Information Briefings on Tuesday 23 January 2024, 7.00 pm (bromley.gov.uk)

Minutes:

No questions were received specifically regarding the information briefing.

78a

UPDATE ON ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 565 KB

Minutes:

ES20343

 

The Chairman expressed concern over the time that it took to charge vehicles,  and the cost involved. He hoped that there was scope to upgrade in the future and that the cost from the provider could be reduced. The LBB Transport Planner explained that this particular product was for residential charging which was done slowly and mainly overnight which was good for the vehicle and the batteries.

 

Members discussed the user agreement and maintenance going forward. It was hoped that the gully would be considered as an asset in the property. Members discussed the provision of the service for Motability users and the Transport Planner explained that issues around usage by Motability users had not yet been decided. It was asked if a gully could be shared and the general view was that this should be possible. At the time of the meeting, a start date for implementation had not yet been decided. It was noted that the power supply would be supplied in the usual way from the customer’s normal household electricity supply. In terms of general maintenance of the gully itself, (cleaning, clearing etc) that would be down to the resident. The provider(s) would provide their own warranty period for the unit itself. The Council would still have a responsibility for the footway in general so would be expected to re-install the unit in the event of footway works.

 

A question was raised as to why three of the Carbon Reduction Team members had left. It was explained that one member of the team  had joined Odeon in a senior role, one was a graduate trainee who had moved on to another position and another was a junior member who had been promoted internally within the Council.

 

It was asked if  the Council would possibly get left behind in terms of progressive technology. It was commented that the technology side of things had currently settled down. The Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety recommended that the Council should proceed with caution. It would be interesting to observe how Connected Kerb responded to technology changes. The equipment would need to be future proof; the Council would not want issues arising from out of date street furniture. The committee supported the recommendations as outlined in the report.

 

RESOLVED that the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety be recommended to:

 

1) Approve the appointment of Connected Kerb as a supplier of the on street electric vehicle charge points, to be installed in the locations defined in the EV Residential Charging Strategy.

 

2) Authorise officers to begin the process of rolling out an electric vehicle gully charging project across the Borough as a paid for service, at no cost to the Council.

 

3) Delegate to the Assistant Director of Legal Services, authority to sign and execute all legal and ancillary documentation arising in connection thereto.

 

4) Delegate to the Director of Environment and Public Protection, authority to make minor changes to the schemes in response to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78a

78b

ALBEMARLE ROAD / WESTGATE ROAD JUNCTION RECONFIGURATION pdf icon PDF 455 KB

Minutes:

ES20353

 

This report was brought to the committee to seek approval for the recommended option for the reconfiguration of the junction of Albemarle Road and Westgate Rd. This was because the recommended option retained and improved the existing priority junction arrangement and introduced a contraflow cycling facility northbound on Westgate Road.

 

RESOLVED that the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety be recommended to approve the proposed priority junction improvement scheme as detailed in Appendix A of the report, for the implementation of the scheme, with any minor detailed design amendments addressed under delegated authority. 

78c

CASHLESS PARKING UPDATE REPORT pdf icon PDF 743 KB

Minutes:

ES20355

 

This report was presented by the Head of Shared Parking Services to update Members on the performance of the cashless parking application RingGo, since the final stage of the removal of the pay and display machines in April 2023.

 

A Member expressed the view that there were still some residents who had not come to grips with RingGo and were consequently disadvantaged. She said that as far as the Chislehurst Ward was concerned, parking numbers were down on this time last year in every single area, down between 6% to 12%. Continuing, she said that over the last nine months there were 17,000 fewer parking transactions and that there was a human and financial cost. She questioned if the Council were making savings, and suggested that measures be taken immediately to offset the drop in usage across the borough. She requested that a single car park machine be installed in Chislehurst which could take card payments.

 

A Member expressed the view that the system had been rushed in and that more consultation had been required, together with an earlier dissemination of signage. She stated that in her view, this was discrimination against the elderly, and reminded the committee of the judicial review in Brighton. The Director for Environment and Public Protection said that he was not aware of the grounds of the judicial review with respect to Brighton Council. He stated that many other local authorities in London had moved to cashless parking. He said that in the view of the Ombudsman, the Council had acted correctly and there was no reason for alternative arrangements.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety expressed the view that if a motorist could drive a 2 tonne vehicle on the road, then they should be able to use the App. He reminded the committee that the Council had to save £30m by 2027.

 

The Portfolio Holder stated that his concern had to be with the borough as a whole. In terms of parking usage across the borough, the usage for April to December 2022 was 2,687,032, whilst the usage for the same period in 2023 was 2,747,778. He said that this approximated to an increase of 60,000 and a 2% increase. The Portfolio Holder said that the increase had occurred despite the fact that the Hill Car Park had been closed and the West Wickham Car Park had also been closed to make way for housing development.

 

Councillor Alison Stammers stated that she had reservations about the report and requested that this be noted.

 

RESOLVED that the Cashless Parking Update Report be noted.

 

78d

DIY WASTE AT THE REUSE AND RECYCLING CENTRES- CHANGE IN LEGISLATION pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

ES20346

 

The report was presented to the committee by the Head of Environmental Strategy, Technical Support and Commissioning. The report detailed changes in legislation to prevent households from being charged for the disposal of small scale DIY waste at household reuse and recycling centres.

 

A Member expressed concern that the proposal would not be able to be policed effectively. He said that he was concerned about long queues developing and would support the introduction of a booking system. Another Member expressed concern around the abuse of staff and whether or not this could get worse. She also expressed a preference for the introduction of a booking system. The Head of Environmental Strategy, Technical Support and Commissioning answered and said that in terms of abuse, the main offenders were individuals using large tipper type vans, and so to deal with this it was proposed to restrict the type and the height of vehicles entering the Household Re-use and Recycling Centres. A Member enquired as to how any changes would be publicised, and it was noted the leaflets would be produced and the council website would be updated.

 

A Member enquired about possible administrative costs. He was informed that the attendants at the reuse and recycling centres would be using a tablet and that there would be no cost to the council. Monitoring would be undertaken to see if the new proposals positively affected the levels of fly tipping. The implementation of the new proposals would be reviewed in July and the fly tipping report would come back to the committee in September. A Member asked if the new proposals and details could be promoted in the council magazine.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1) The Environment Portfolio Holder acknowledge the changes in legislation and the change in practice at the two Household Reuse and Recycling Centres in Bromley.

 

2) The Environment Portfolio Holder be recommended to agree to the changes proposed at the Household Reuse and Recycling Centres and to restrict site users in using certain vehicle types from the 1st of March 2024.

 

79.

POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND OTHER ITEMS

80.

DRAFT 2024/25 BUDGET pdf icon PDF 430 KB

Minutes:

FSD24009

 

The report was presented to the committee by the Head of Finance for Environmental and Community Services. The aim of the report was to consider the Portfolio Holders’ draft 2024/25 Budget, which incorporated future cost pressures, planned mitigation measures and savings from Transformation and other budget options, which were reported to the Executive on the 17th of January 2024.

 

The Chairman expressed concern at the Council's predicted deficit of £39m by 2027/28.

 

It had been noted in the meeting that the Department for Transport had allocated £455k to the Council for a fund to deal with pot-holes. A Member commented that he could not find this in the draft budget and asked where it had been detailed. The Director for Environment and Public Protection commented that in his view this was because details of this funding had been released after the draft budget had been drawn up. The Member commented that this funding should be added to the draft budget. He commented that a budget could not be approved if details were missing. He asked that this comment be forwarded to the Executive.

 

A Member referred to the fact that the draft budget had shown a loss of income from the closure of West Wickham Car Park. She informed Members that Chislehurst Library Car Park was likely to be closed for a period of six months for extensive renovations and that the loss of income from this closure should also be included in the Budget.

 

RESOLVED that the ECS PDS Committee note the Draft Budget Report.

 

Post Meeting Note:

 

Following the question regarding pot-hole funding—the following note was sent out to the committee the following day from the Head of Finance—ECS: 

 

The question asked by Cllr Fawthrop at committee last night regarding the pothole funding for Highways and why that is not reflected in the ECS budget, the answer to which is because the funding announced is 100% capital, and therefore would not be included in the draft revenue budgets for 24/25.

 

Please see link to funding announcement below which confirms that all funding is capital in the last paragraph before table 1 for regional allocations.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/highways-maintenance-funding-allocations/local-highways-maintenance-additional-funding-from-2023-to-2034

 

 

 

81.

Park Buildings Lease Process and Grant Payments pdf icon PDF 461 KB

Minutes:

ES20320

 

The ward member for Chislehurst was grateful that the grant paid to the Chislehurst Conservators had been renewed for a further five years. She was disappointed however, that the amount of the grant had not been increased since 2010. She expressed concern regarding the poor condition of some of the buildings in question due to age and being in a poor state of repair.  She wondered how organisations would be prepared to take on new buildings in this condition and said that this had not been addressed in the report. She also expressed concern at the short term nature of the lease which was for seven years.

 

There was a discussion concerning shipping containers that would be in used to store tools and equipment for Friends Groups. It was asked if the Friends Groups would incur a charge, and if planning permission would be required. The Assistant Director for Environment (Carbon Management and Green Space) answered and said it was possible to consider longer leases where there was significant capital investment. She said that the seven-year lease term was linked to delegated authority under the constitution. The Assistant Director said that rent free periods may be required; the council needed to try hard to find new tenants and there was a need to divest the Council of responsibility for these buildings. With respect to the shipping containers, it was stated that planning permission was not always needed and decisions would be made on a case by case basis. The Assistant Director said that with respect to the containers, there were currently costs raised by legal and estate colleagues, but these were heavily discounted, those costs may need negotiating.

 

The Chairman asked if cladding could be applied to the containers as most of the time they looked dirty. The Assistant Director replied and said this would be dependent upon costs; efforts would be made to place them in a discreet location. A Member objected to a ‘one size fits all policy’ and said he did not understand the rationale behind the seven-year lease policy. He expressed the view that longer term leases would give stability to organisations for planning purposes. The Assistant Director said the standard terms and conditions would be a new starting point for negotiations and that the length of the lease would be negotiable. A Member asked that it be minuted that it had been agreed that a one size fits all policy would not be adopted.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1) The Portfolio Holder for Environment be recommended to approve the revised approach to leasing park pavilions and buildings as set out in the report; specifically those processes set out for vacant pavilions and lease renewals.

 

2) The Portfolio Holder for Environment be recommended to approve the standardisation of the grant agreements provided for leisure activities in parks and open spaces as set out in the report.

 

3) The Portfolio Holder for Environment be recommended to delegate authority to the Director of Environment and Public Protection in consultation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81.

82.

Open Space Strategy 2021- 2031: Year 2 Update pdf icon PDF 316 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

ES20355

 

This report was presented by the Assistant Director for Environment (Carbon Management and Greenspace) to provide an update on the delivery of the Open Space Strategy in the second year since its adoption in November 2021.

 

A Member raised the issue of concessions for ice cream vans. As many of these ice cream vans were emitters of diesel fumes, she wondered how this would fit in with the Council's air quality strategy. The Assistant Director responded and said that the tender process would favour those that were lower emitters. A Member referred to an appendix which noted various objectives and progress made against those objectives. Some of the objectives had been Rag Rated as ‘Red’ and the Member stated that some of them should not really be ‘red’ if there was mitigation in place, or if no further action was going to be taken. Reference had been made to governance arrangements for stakeholders and clarification was required concerning this. The Assistant Director responded and said that the plan was to increase the number of stakeholders and the range of stakeholders and also to make the best use of everybody's time. It was anticipated that the government arrangements would be finalised this year.

 

RESOLVED that the Open Space Strategy Year 2 Update Report be noted.

83.

ECS CONTRACTS REGISTER REPORT pdf icon PDF 661 KB

Minutes:

ES20347

 

Members reviewed the ECS Contracts Register Report.

 

It was requested that going forward, the data-base extract be published in the main report and not as an Information Briefing.

 

RESOLVED that the ECS Contracts Register Report be noted.

84.

CONTRACTS REGISTER INFORMATION ITEM pdf icon PDF 87 KB

The Environment Portfolio Contracts Register has been published as an Information Item and can be viewed at the following link:

 

Agenda for Information Briefings on Tuesday 23 January 2024, 7.00 pm (bromley.gov.uk)

 

 

Minutes:

Members noted the Contracts Register database extract that had been published as an Information Briefing.  

85.

ECS RISK REGISTER pdf icon PDF 601 KB

Minutes:

ES20349

 

Members reviewed the ECS Risk Register.

 

RESOLVED that the ECS Risk Register be noted.  

ECS PDS-January 2024--Oral Questions from the Public pdf icon PDF 409 KB

ECS PDS: Oral Questions from Councillors pdf icon PDF 490 KB

ECS. Written Questions from the public pdf icon PDF 797 KB

ECS PDS-November 2023--Update from the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety. pdf icon PDF 451 KB

ECS PDS-January 2024: Update from the Environment Portfolio Holder pdf icon PDF 559 KB

ECS PDS January 2024, Update from the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Highways and Road Safety pdf icon PDF 836 KB