Agenda and minutes

Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel
Thursday, 4th October, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies for absence was received from Cllr Val Evans and Cllr Arun Photay. 

 

The Portfolio Holder for City Environment, Cllr Steve Evans, also sent his apologies,

2.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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

Minutes:

Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2018 be approved as a correct record. 

3.

Matters arising

[To consider any matter arising from the minutes].

Minutes:

A Member asked if there had been any progress in relation to the subject of air quality.  The Service Lead for Residential responded that the new information on air quality on the Council’s website was about to be available.  All the technical issues had now been resolved and air quality data was being uploaded correctly to the website.  The Head of Transport stated that the targeted feasibility study had been submitted in draft to DEFRA in the previous week.  The Member requested that the findings of the feasibility study be circulated to Members of the Panel in due course. 

 

4.

Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 127 KB

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

 

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the meeting scheduled for the 4 December, which included a report on Active Travel.  One of the recommendations from the Parking Review was regarding “Park and Stride”, which was part of Active Travel. 

 

The December meeting was likely to include an item on the Budget, but the decision would be made by the forthcoming Scrutiny Board.  The item on WV Active would be moved to the meeting in February 2019, if the budget was placed on the agenda for the December meeting. 

 

A Member of the Panel suggested the processes for repairing roads, including potholes as a future agenda item. 

 

A Member of the Panel expressed concern of the amount of traffic entering Wolverhampton from neighbouring authority areas and the routes they used. Heavy goods vehicles were sometimes using routes in residential areas.   After a debate about transport networks, the Chair suggested that public transport in the City could be a joint meeting with the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel.  He would discuss the concept of the idea with Cllr Jaqueline Sweetman. 

5.

Kingdom - Update Briefing Note pdf icon PDF 93 KB

[To receive a briefing note on the matters arising from the last meeting with reference to the work Kingdom carry out on behalf of the Council. Shaun Walker – Service Lead -Residential will be in attendance].  

Minutes:

The Service Lead (Residential) introduced a briefing note on Kingdom.  At the previous meeting of the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel in July, Members had asked for further information on several areas.  The briefing note provided answers to these questions, which were outlined by the Service Lead. 

 

A Member of the Panel asked for further information on the nature of the training Kingdom employees received on acting appropriately when dealing with vulnerable people.  He also remarked that whilst the Briefing Note stated 26 people had their Fixed Penalty notice revoked on the grounds of vulnerability or special needs, he was certain more had been issued a notice and just not appealed.  He did not think the Equality and Diversity Training which was given to all Council Staff and Kingdom employees was sufficient training in identifying vulnerable people.  He requested further information on the training Kingdom employees received on identifying people with vulnerabilities and in dealing with them.  The Service Lead (Residential) responded that he would have a discussion with Kingdom about the points raised by the Councillor.  There was however no incentive to Kingdom employees to issue tickets to vulnerable people who would be unlikely to pay the fine, such as a rough sleeper.  It was agreed that a written response would be provided to the Councillor which would also be circulated to the other Members of the Panel. 

6.

Parking Outside Schools - Review Progress of Implementation of Recommendations from the Scrutiny Review pdf icon PDF 205 KB

[A verbal update will be given at the meeting on the progress of the implementation of the recommendations from the Scrutiny Review of Parking Outside Schools. John Roseblade (Head of Transport), Nick Broomhall (Service Lead – Traffic and Road Safety) and Earl Piggott-Smith (Scrutiny Officer) will be in attendance].

 

[The initial report from the Scrutiny Review which was received by Cabinet on 20 February 2018, containing the recommendations in Section 9, is attached for information]. 

Minutes:

The Service Lead for Traffic and Safety gave a presentation on the progress of the implementation on the recommendations from the Parking Outside Schools Scrutiny Review.  Officers had completed a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) Data Sheet as requested from the recommendations.  This had been created to help develop Councillors understanding of the different types of parking restrictions outside schools.  Officers had also produced a similar public information sheet which was now available on the Council’s website to view.  A media release had been issued highlighting that the information sheet was available.  Whilst not an explicit recommendation from the review, the Council had implemented Traffic Regulation Orders outside 26 schools, totalling 71 roads in the City, over the last twelve months.  There were 37 schools still on their schedule awaiting Traffic Regulation Orders.  There were some schools where current Traffic Regulation Orders would be amended. 

 

The Service Lead for Traffic and Safety remarked that the letter to the Secretary of State, as requested by the Scrutiny review, had been drafted.  It was currently awaiting the Leader of the Council’s signature.  Officers had been asked to review the principle and the findings of traffic exclusions zones at schools.  The two which they had conducted research on were in Solihull and Edinburgh.  The main issue, when considering implementing a traffic exclusion zone, concerned ensuring there was the support of the school, parents, the local community and the Police.  Solihull had found that it was key not to implement an exclusion zone where there was a through route.  A further key requirement, they had concluded, was ensuring there was a convenient car park to avoid complete displacement of the traffic to other roads outside the exclusion zone.  This requirement clearly limited the number of areas where a traffic exclusion zone could be implemented.   Finally, it was important to implement a permit scheme for residents and other road users who had a legitimate reason to access the area at school travel times. 

 

The Service Lead for Traffic and Safety stated that the findings from Solihull and Edinburgh had not surprisingly showed a net reduction of traffic volume in the exclusion zones.  There was a reduced level of complaints about parking outside schools in the exclusion zones.  In addition, parents and children reported an improved perception in road safety following their implementation.

 

The Service Lead for Traffic and Safety stated the negative findings included displacement of parking on roads outside of the zone, even where there was a car park.   They also recognised that because there was less congestion in the exclusion zone, those people driving in the zone legitimately, had the opportunity to drive at an increased speed.  It was therefore worth considering the introduction of traffic calming measures in the exclusion zone to reduce speeding.  The exclusion zone relied heavily on Police support to enforce the restrictions.  There was also an ongoing revenue cost to the Council to implement a permit scheme required for the residents.   

 

A Member of the Panel asked how many  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Mechanisms to Control Vacant Sites

[Mr Colin Parr (Head of Business Services) will give a PowerPoint Presentation on the mechanisms to control vacant sites].  

Minutes:

The Head of Business Services gave a presentation on the mechanisms to control vacant sites.  He stated that vacant sites could fall into different categories.  Orphaned land which were plots of land with no identified owner, was the first of these categories. The most recent survey had identified approximately 350 of these sites across the City.  These ranged from significant plots of land to small slithers.  Orphaned land could attract fly tipping and anti-social behaviour and were problematic to the Council, due to there being no named owner of the land.  There was a duty on the Council to control pests within their area.  This had amounted in the past to generally clearing the orphaned land sites, where there were infestations.  Due to challenging budgets, there had been discussions of only having pest control in those areas and not clearing the site in the future. 

 

The Head of Business Services described the second category of site as being where the Council could identify the owner.  These sites were often property speculation sites. 

 

The Head of Business Services commented that it could sometimes take years to resolve the problems with vacant sites.  The Council did have some enforcement powers, such as serving Community Protection Warnings.  This was where the Council could request a landowner to take action.  If the Community Protection Warning was not complied with, the Council could serve a formal notice requiring the landowner to take action.   He considered a better solution to be working with the community, where it was possible. 

 

The Head of Business Service said there was incredible value with working closely with other departments in the Council such as the Planning Team.  This would help prevent them suggesting remedial action to landowners which was in breach of the Council’s Planning Policy.  They could work with the Planning Team on a strategic level, as the ideal scenario was for the vacant sites to be developed such as for housing or for general benefit to the community.  They often found that the landowners of vacant sites had unrealistic development expectations that would have a very low chance of receiving planning permission. 

 

A Member of the Panel asked if the Council had explored the idea of allowing members of the public to extend their gardens into unused alleyways, thus removing the problem of a problematic vacant site.  He suggested a small amount of funding from the Council would be required to help extend the gardens such as for the removal of fencing. 

 

A Member of the Panel gave an example of an Old Victorian building which had been considered for demolition but was brought back into use as an important example of sustaining the City’s heritage. 

 

A Member of the Panel stated it was important to manage expectations for vacant sites as there was not the funding available to implement solutions in all areas to a desired outcome.  

 

The Head of Business Services stated they could look at all the suggestions by Members for dealing with vacant sites.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.