Agenda and minutes

Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel
Thursday, 6th December, 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:

An apology for absence was received from Cllr Keith Inston. 

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

Cllr Philip Bateman declared a non-pecuniary interest on the Active Travel item as he was a Board Member on the Canal and River Trust.     

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 100 KB

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 October 2018 were approved as a correct record. 

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matter arising from the minutes].

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the new quarry being opened in Staffordshire.  He had received a response from the Head of Transport that the quarry would mean an additional 20 vehicle trips per day over and above what was currently operating at the quarry.  Seventy percent of those trips would be travelling through Wolverhampton.  It was the view of the Head of Transport that it was unlikely to have a detrimental impact upon free flow of traffic, road condition and road safety in the Wolverhampton area.   

 

The Chair stated that he had spoken with Cllr Jaqueline Sweetman, the Chair of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel, regarding the concept of a joint meeting with the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel on the issue of public transport.  He had received a positive response from Cllr Sweetman and would be raising the issue at Scrutiny Board in the following week. 

 

The Chair reminded Members that the Service Lead for Residential had circulated to the Panel further information regarding the training Kingdom employees receive on dealing with vulnerable adults. 

5.

Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

[To consider a report on the Draft Budget and Medium term Financial Strategy 2019-2020]. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair stated that Finance had asked for specific feedback on the Scrutiny process of the budget and on the consultation process.  He asked the Finance Business Partner to present the report.

 

The Finance Business Partner stated in March 2018 it had been projected that the Council would be faced with finding further estimated budget reductions totalling £19.5 million by 2019-2020.  Following reports to Cabinet in July and October 2018 the budget deficit for 2019-2020 had been reduced to in the region of £6 million.  There would be a further report in the New Year which would detail the latest position. 

 

The Finance Business Partner stated that the appendices to the report detailed the budget reduction and income generation proposals that the Council were required to consult on.  Within the remit of the Panel there were a number of budget reduction and income generation proposals out for consultation. These were, the proposed review provision of the toilet at the Mander Centre, the review of the residents parking scheme, the review of the maintenance and routine cleaning of illuminated road signs and the WV Active catering offer.  All the other proposals that fell within the remit of the Panel were efficiencies which would be dealt with by the Budget Managers for each area.

 

The Finance Business Partner asked for comments on the overall Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy, the proposals held within it, the consultation process and the overall budget scrutiny process. 

 

Resolved: That the Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-2020 be noted.

 

6.

Management of Trees in the City pdf icon PDF 230 KB

[Management of Trees in the City – Briefing Note attached]. 

Minutes:

The Head of Environmental Services introduced a briefing note on the subject of the Management of Trees in the City.  Section two of the note outlined the ways trees were managed in the City dependent on the land in which they stood and the risk they presented.  Trees close to the adopted highway were subject to a four yearly inspection and maintenance regime.  All other trees were not maintained as part of a programme.  There were 350,000 to 400,000 trees in parks, open spaces and cemeteries within the Wolverhampton area.  The maintenance on these trees was reactive only. On education land, schools were responsible for their own tree maintenance regimes.  Where schools had an SLA (Service Level Agreement) with Environmental Services, the service was reactive.  Some schools had been encouraged to include an annual tree inspection into their SLA with environmental services. 

 

The Head of Environment Services remarked that Corporate Landlord had an arrangement with Environmental Services for conducting reactive works.  Canals, towpaths and railway lines were the responsibility of the Canal and River Trust and Network Rail.  They followed a risk-based maintenance regime.  On private land, all maintenance and safety issues were the responsibility of the owner. 

 

The Head of Environmental Services commented that Trees that fell onto Highway land and Council Land, including privately owned trees, would be cleared.  There were different categories of response depending on the situation, these were emergency, priority and routine.  When members of the public had concerns about tree roots owned by the Council affecting their land, buildings and services, they were referred to the Council’s Risk Management and Insurance Team.  They were advised to contact their home insurance company and arrange a survey.  The survey would determine if there were grounds to make a claim against the Council. 

 

The Head of Environment Services said that the Council did not respond to every request to prune trees on the adopted highway, the team would be despatched if it was thought the tree was dangerous.  If Council owned trees were touching buildings, then the Council would prune them.  Otherwise they encouraged people within reason to prune the trees to the boundary of their property.  The Council did not normally respond due to loss of light caused by trees, for satellite and TV signal, or for tree debris.  The Council operated a risk-based approach with only high risk trees maintained and inspected. 

 

The Head of Environment Services stated that the briefing note outlined the concept of producing a cross directorate, Trees and Woodland Strategy.  The Strategic Health Lead (City Planning) commented that the Woodland Trust had attended a recent meeting of the Council’s Sustainability and Advisory Group.  As a consequence, Councillors had requested that Officers investigate what the Council could do to help support their agenda.  This had culminated in the decision to produce a Trees and Woodland Strategy.  The proposals would be taken to the Sustainability and Advisory Group at their meeting at the end of January. 

 

The Head of Environment Services referred to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Active Travel pdf icon PDF 101 KB

[To consider a briefing note on the subject of Active Travel, note attached].

 

[Appendix 1 - Notes from a Police Officer Meeting held with Cllr Martin Waite and the Scrutiny Officer].

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Professional Lead for Transport Strategy presented a briefing note on Active Travel.  The note set out the importance of Active Travel for Wolverhampton and identified the actions required to make it flourish.  It described the context, which was a City with low levels of physical activity, congestion and air quality problems.  All of these were detriments which active travel could help to overcome.  The note outlined the Council’s current approach to strategic transport planning.  The Council wanted all modes of transport to move better throughout the City including walking and cycling.  A consultation was currently live on the A454 Eastern Gateway.  They had worked hard with the designers to have a continuous cycle route through the whole scheme. 

 

The Professional Lead for Transport Strategy commented on the situation in local neighbourhoods which included problems with parking and speeding, which deterred people from Active Travel.  The note outlined some of the approaches that could be taken to resolve these issues, which included partnership working with the Police.

 

The Professional Lead for Transport Strategy highlighted the area of the note which detailed the positive action the Council were taking to promote active travel.  He acknowledged that there was more work to be completed on how the Council monitored the progress on active travel. 

 

The Public Health Consultant stated that there were three key issues with Active Travel, sustainability, public health and the general impact on air quality and the flow of traffic and functioning of the transport network in the City.  It was important to understand the wider context of these issues and what improvement would look like.  As an example she cited that one third of the population of Wolverhampton were classed as inactive, which meant less than 20 minutes of physical activity per week.  They had concluded that an “Active Travel Needs Assessment” was required, which would be ready in time for the next meeting of the Panel in February 2019. 

 

A Member of the Panel stated that he was very supportive of Active Travel.  He asked if Active Travel could be linked to more routes such as the canal towpaths.  In response the Professional Lead for Transport and Strategy commented that the Council had been working closely with the Canal and River Trust over the last four years as part of a programme titled, “Managing Short Trips.”  They had secured funding for expensive works on the towpaths.  People could now access the towpath at Bentley Bridge and come into the City Centre on a properly surfaced path.  People could also travel on a fully surfaced canal towpath from Wolverhampton City Centre to Birmingham.  The towpaths were not lit and so they were only really for use during daylight hours. 

 

 

Resolved: That an “Active Travel Needs Assessment” report be received by the Panel at the next meeting scheduled for 28 February 2019. 

8.

Christmas Waste Collections

[Christmas Waste Collections – Briefing Note is marked to follow]. 

Minutes:

The Service Director for City Economy gave a short presentation on the forthcoming Christmas waste collection service.   For residents whose general waste would normally be collected on the Tuesday, which fell on Christmas Day and Wednesday, which fell on Boxing Day, their waste would be collected instead on the 27th and 28th of December.  Dry recycling had always been fortnightly and there was no change compared to previous years.  The Cabinet Member was keen to promote the free Christmas tree (real) collection service.

9.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 111 KB

[To discuss the Scrutiny Work Programme]. 

Minutes:

The Panel agreed to receive the, “Active Travel Needs Assessment” at the meeting scheduled for 28 February 2019.  The Portfolio Holder Question and Answer Session would be moved to the meeting scheduled to take place on 11 April 2019.   

 

Meeting closed at 7:35pm.