Agenda and minutes

Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel
Thursday, 26th April, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Civic Centre

Contact: Martin Stevens  01902 550947 / Email: martin.stevens@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

[To receive any apologies for absence]. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Christopher Haynes,

Cllr Bhupinder Gakhal and Cllr Mak Singh.

2.

Declarations of interest

[Members are reminded that they must not participate in the discussion or voting on any matter in which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and should leave the room prior to the commencement of the debate].

 

Minutes:

Cllr Ian Angus declared a non-pecuniary interest on item 5 – Private Housing Sector as he was the landlord of a property in the Wolverhampton area. 

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 68 KB

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 March 2018 were confirmed as a correct record. 

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matter arising from the minutes]

Minutes:

The Chair requested that Officers provide a written update for the next meeting on the progress of the recommendations made at the last meeting on Dog Control.

 

A Councillor in reference to the car parking outside school’s review, referred to an article he had read in The Telegraph regarding strict enforcement of parking policy with heavy penalties in a London Borough.  This had been very effective enforcing change in parking behaviour outside schools. 

5.

Private Sector Housing pdf icon PDF 127 KB

[To receive an update report on the previous Vibrant and Sustainable Scrutiny Panel recommendations on the Private Sector Housing Sector and an update on the Private Sector Housing service, including the development of a Private Sector Housing and Health Strategy]. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel watched a short video from YouTube created by ITV Central News on the private housing sector within the Wolverhampton area.  The Chair referred to the video as being excellent and demonstrated the good enforcement work which was taking place within the City. 

 

The Service Director of Housing introduced the report on private sector housing.  The report provided an update on the progress of the recommendations which the Panel had previously given on private housing and a general update on the private housing sector. The report considered a number of areas including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), fuel poverty, enforcement, rent with confidence and homelessness. 

 

Several Panel Members raised the point that houses in multiple occupancy were becoming more common within Wolverhampton.  This was starting to cause some concern.  The Homelessness Strategy and External Relations Manager commented that there was a working group on the issue, which included representatives from the Police and Fire Service and Public Health.  It was important to make sure HMOs were of good quality and properly managed.  Part of the working group’s remit was to consider what made a good HMO.  There were common issues with HMOs such as car parking.  Changes to legislation meant that from 1 October 2018, all HMOs containing 5 or more unrelated people who were sharing amenities would require a license and the requirement for 3 or more storeys had been removed.  Consequently, an additional 500 properties in the Wolverhampton area would fall within the definition. 

 

The Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing remarked that the Private Housing Sector Forum meetings held to date had been successful and well attended.  The initiative had improved communication with landlords.  At the last meeting landlords had been updated on the changes in the law and had been consulted about the new private housing and health strategy.  There was still room for improvement but overall he was pleased with the relationships the Council had with Landlords. 

 

A Member of the Panel stated HMOs in their experience had a poor fire safety record.  When the final report on the Grenfell Tower disaster was released the current law of a landlord only needing to supply a letter to show they were meeting fire regulations could well change.  He recommended a report after June be brought back to the Panel and that the Service Director of Housing be invited to a future meeting of the Council’s Fire Safety Review Group.  Members agreed to be updated biannually on the private sector housing service. 

 

Resolved:

 

A)   That the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel receive an update on the private housing service biannually.

 

B)   That the Service Director of Housing be invited to a future meeting of the Council’s Fire Safety Review Group. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 102 KB

[To receive the current Scrutiny Work Plan and suggest items for scrutiny for the forthcoming Council year]. 

Minutes:

The Chair stated the new private sector housing and health strategy should be added to the Work Programme. He also requested WV Active be added to the future Work Programme to determine if they were meeting the high targets they had set for revenue and driving up membership.   

 

The Vice-Chair of the Panel had requested prior to the meeting, via the Scrutiny Officer, that potholes and the general condition of the roads within Wolverhampton be added as a potential item for the future Work Programme.

 

A Panel Member asked for an item on improving transport be included on the future Work Programme.  There were the proposals for the metro and ongoing air quality issues.  It was important to ensure there was investment in the Wolverhampton area and not just in Birmingham and Coventry.  It was therefore important to set the agenda quickly and have well-formed plans to encourage investment. 

 

The Chair asked for any further suggestions for items for the Work Programme to be emailed to the Scrutiny Officer.  The Scrutiny Annual Work Programme Event was planned for the 28 June at 5pm. 

 

7.

Air Quality pdf icon PDF 368 KB

[John Roseblade - Head of City Transport, to present a report on air quality]

 

Minutes:

The Head of City Transport introduced a briefing note on air quality. The latest statistics showed that 20,000 - 40,000 premature deaths nationally were linked to poor air quality, predominately caused by transport.  Wolverhampton was a densely populated city with a road network dating back hundreds of years. 

 

The Head of City Transport stated that in the Summer of last year DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) had produced an Air Quality Action Plan mandating certain Councils with the worst air pollution problems to formally report on how they proposed to meet EU Air Quality objectives.  At that point the marginal authorities had not been included in the plan but following a challenge from Client Earth the High Court had issued a judgement stating the Government needed to take a stronger approach with the marginal authorities.  The four Black Country Authorities were included in the definition.  In March 2018 the Government issued a Ministerial Direction on the City of Wolverhampton Council requiring the consideration of measures to bring forward compliance with the EU directives in the shortest possible time.

 

The Head of City Transport stated that the Council were having to complete a feasibility study on the roads identified as being the worst offenders for poor air quality within Wolverhampton.  It was also key that DEFRA realised some of the good work the Council had recently undertaken, including funding £1 million on cycle routes, the new metro extension and the potential for a new Wolverhampton to Walsall train line.  The new train line would relieve some of the vehicle stress on Black Country routes. 

 

The Head of City Transport commented that the Council were currently consulting on a Bus Quality Partnership for Wolverhampton which was going live in September.  Within this was included an emissions standard for buses entering the Wolverhampton Ring Road.   The Bus Quality Partnership being consulted on included meeting Euro 6, the highest standard, by 2020/2021.  There had been some complaints from the bus companies regarding having to meet this standard.  Money from Central Government was being made available nationally to retro fit certain buses to have a higher standard of emissions.  The cost was approximately £15,000 to £20,000 per bus.  The Government needed to complete the work on 450 buses by next year, but there were only five companies in the country with the accreditation to complete the work.  Each bus took one day to complete, consequently it would be unrealistic for the Council to try and meet Euro 6 targets before 2020/2021.  National Express had confirmed they could meet the date stated within the Bus Quality Partnership but did not believe they could do it any earlier.

 

The Head of City Transport stated there were several other initiatives the Council were undertaking which would improve air quality.  These included, the new metro extension and significant signal improvements which would reduce queues at traffic lights and the possible changing of speed restrictions.   One idea was to reduce the 40mph speed limit to 30mph on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.