Agenda and minutes

Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel - Thursday, 25th March, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Martin Stevens  Email: martin.stevens@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

[To receive any apologies for absence]. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Christopher Haynes, Cllr Beverley Momenabadi and Cllr Mak Singh. 

2.

Declarations of interest

[To receive any declarations of interest]. 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest. 

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 461 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record].

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2021 were confirmed as a correct record. 

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matter arising from the minutes].

Minutes:

The Chair commented that the Work Programme had been discussed at the last meeting.  He thought it would be useful for Wolverhampton Homes to be added to a future agenda and also WV Living. 

5.

Digital Technology in City Environment pdf icon PDF 788 KB

[To consider a briefing note on Digital Technology in City Environment]. 

Minutes:

The Head of Environmental Services gave a summary presentation of the report titled “Digital Technology in City Environment,” which had been despatched with the agenda for the meeting.

 

The Portfolio Holder for City Environment commented that there were considerable services within the Directorate that were already digitally connected.  The key was to ensure simplicity and ease of access for the general public.  The public needed to have confidence in the systems so they could report and track issues.  Digital was also important for enabling them to access information such as on the City’s parks.  The pandemic had certainly accelerated the digital agenda and its importance.  It was important to remember though, the people in the City that did not use digital.  The Business Improvement Manager was currently liaising with some Councillors on a digital reporting mechanism for Councillor enquiries.  Being aware of the applications available and the plethora of information was key.   He commented on the way Covid-19 had changed the nature of working, with so many people able to carry out their roles at home.  

 

A Panel Member spoke in support of the Portfolio Holder’s comments on the importance of getting things right for the residents of Wolverhampton, including the availability of the information.  He asked about the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system and whether in future it could send automated messages to the public on the progress of an issue that had been reported.  He felt this was an issue which needed improvement.  The Head of Customer Engagement and Registrars stated that the system could send automated messages and they had started this with some services.  She agreed with the Member that improvements were needed.  She added that the current automated response templates they were using needed improving.  There was a Customer Services and ICT roadmap which they were currently developing.  The first step was to improve the templates and the next step would be to roll it out to all areas that currently used the Customer Engagement platform.  

 

The Panel Member responded that there would be times when an automated message would not be appropriate to a customer enquiry.  Where there were unresolved cases, in some software products, it would add the enquiry to an agent’s workflow automatically.  He thought this was a good way to keep to service level agreements.  He had raised issues to do with customer responses over three years ago and felt there should be some urgency to improvement.  The Head of Customer Engagement and Registrars added that all the Panel Member’s points were being looked at as part of the development of the service.  There was a Service Development Team within Customer Services and they were setting up some Customer User focus groups. 

 

The Portfolio Holder remarked that Customer Services now came under the City Environment Portfolio, which was advantageous as many customer enquiries were often related to this area.  He accepted that some of the wording of the automated messages needed to be clearer for residents.

 

A Panel Member spoke on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Update on Climate Change Action Plan

[To receive a verbal update on the Climate Change Action Plan]. 

Minutes:

The Director for City Environment gave a short presentation updating Members on the Council’s, Climate Change Action Plan.  He commented that it was a topic which Members might wish to revisit in the next municipal year in more detail.  The Council had declared a Climate emergency early last year.  A commitment to an action plan had been agreed at the end of last year.  A Climate Emergency Working Group had been formed, which cut across all Council Directorates and had good representation from each Service.  The aim was to reach the target of making all Council activities net carbon zero by 2028.  The Council had appointed a Climate Champion, Cllr Barbara McGarrity QN, who had been Chairing the Member Climate Working Group.  The Council had changed all of its electricity to renewable energy, which had really helped with reducing the carbon footprint of the Council. 

 

The Director for City Environment remarked that a Citizen Assembly had been held with residents from the City.  The Assembly discussed what the Climate Change Action Plan needed to focus on and what the responsibilities the Council, Community Groups and Citizens should be as a whole.  A public consultation then took place on the action plan and this was then adopted by the Council in September 2020.  A new Project Manager had been appointed in February 2021. 

 

The Director for City Environment presented a slide showing the overall City Carbon Footprint of the City.  The overall City Carbon Footprint for 2019 /2020 for the Council was 12,423 tonnes.  They were working with partners to influence wider decarbonisation as industry and commercial, domestic and transport accounted for much of the carbon emissions with the City.  Robust Governance and oversight measures were being put in place, including within Council reports to help achieve the net zero target by 2028 for the Council. 

 

The Chair asked about boiler scrappage schemes and if Wolverhampton Homes were facilitating them and the use of Solar Panels on Council buildings and assets.  The Director for City Environment responded that they were working with Wolverhampton Homes and were in discussions about their action plan.  There were 22,000 homes to consider.  It was clear that some houses were worthwhile investing in energy efficiency measures, whilst others needed to be rebuilt.   The Council would also be working with private rented accommodation and privately owned, to make sure schemes were available.  Solar panels were in place across some Council assets and they were looking to introduce more in the future.  There was a major plan to build a solar farm to power the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, New Cross Hospital site.  Any alternative fuel or energy the Council would consider as part of its plans moving forward.

 

The Portfolio Holder complimented the team on what they had achieved to date on climate change, citing some examples such as electric charge points, plans for a solar farm and the planting of trees.  The Council had been awarded three national awards for their work. 

 

The Chair asked if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.