Agenda and minutes

Environment, Culture and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 24 September 2013 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell. View directions

Contact: Amanda Roden  01344 352253

Items
No. Item

14.

Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 25 June 2013.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 25 June 2013 be approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.

 

The Head of Overview and Scrutiny summarised the actions taken on matters which had arisen at the meeting on 25 June.

15.

Declarations of Interest and Party Whip

Members are requested to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interest, including the existence and nature of the Party Whip, in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.

 

Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or an Affected Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest relating to any items on the agenda, nor any indications that members would be participating whilst under the party whip.

16.

Public Participation

To receive submissions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

Minutes:

There were no submissions from members of the public in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

17.

Flood Risk Management pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To discuss flood risk management with representatives of Thames Water and the Environment Agency

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Environment, Culture and Communities introduced the item by reminding members about the Council’s Flood Risk Management Strategy. The Emergency Planning Manager summarised the Council’s role in partnership with external agencies. Bracknell Forest experienced fewer flooding incidents than nearby boroughs, and priority was given to protecting residential dwellings and highways.

 

Jeanne Capey and Melanie Ward of the Partnership & Strategic Overview Team at the Environment Agency (EA) gave a presentation on Flood Risk Management.

 

The Risk Management Authorities were: the EA, Lead Local Flood Authority, District council/Unitary Authority, Internal Drainage Boards, Water Companies, and the Highways Authority.

 

The role of the EA was to take a strategic overview of flooding and support and co-operate with other risk management authorities in carrying out their functions; Support partnerships at both a strategic and operational level; and Develop a national FRM strategy for flood risk management.

 

Strategic Partnerships brought together Risk Management Authorities, Strategic leadership, and were important in delivering FWMA requirements and allowing organisations to be efficient and effective.

 

The EA would develop a National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Risk Management in England; provide a framework for the work of all flood and coastal erosion risk management authorities; set out the long-term objectives for managing flood and coastal erosion risks and the measures proposed to achieve them; and encourage more effective risk management by enabling people, communities, business and the public sector to work together.

 

Risk management authorities had powers and responsibilities to manage flood risk and work with others to improve the river environment in England and Wales. The EA, local authorities and internal drainage boards were all risk management authorities. The work of risk management authorities often affected riparian owners and people who lived nearby.

 

The EA had powers and responsibilities to maintain and improve main rivers throughout England and Wales. They also had a responsibility to manage flood risk from main rivers and the sea. Lead Local Flood Authorities had powers to manage flood risk from ordinary watercourses, surface water and groundwater.

 

Land owners with land adjoining a watercourse had certain rights and responsibilities. In legal terms they were a 'riparian owner' and responsibilities included: maintaining river beds and banks; allowing the flow of water to pass without obstruction; and controlling invasive alien species such as Japanese knotweed.

 

The main rivers in Bracknell Forest were the Cut which ran along the North and its smaller tributaries, the Bull Brook in the centre of Bracknell and the Blackmoor Stream on the border in North Ascot. Also, the River Blackwater in Sandhurst at the South of the border. There were historic records of main river flooding from the Cut in 1947, 1974 and 1981 and The River Blackwater in 1947.

 

The EA routinely considered dredging and other types of watercourse management, such as de-silting and vegetation removal, to reduce flood risk. Work was undertaken where it was: Technically sound, economically viable, and environmentally acceptable and sustainable.

 

Watercourses were checked yearly by the Asset Inspection and Enforcement team, and they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Departmental Budgetary Position pdf icon PDF 29 KB

To discuss the evolving budgetary position, in preparation for scrutiny of the 2014/15 budget proposals

Minutes:

The Director of Environment, Culture and Communities gave a presentation on the departmental budgetary position in preparation for the scrutiny of the 2014/15 budget proposals.

 

The underlying principles of the Budget Strategy were:

 

  • Recognition of political priorities, for example, ‘clean and green’, and economic development;
  • Efficiencies and savings would be taken as early as possible and would not be constrained by financial years;
  • Savings would be focussed on efficiencies and the back office and the impact on front line services would be minimised;
  • Twin track immediate savings and transformational change;
  • Balances would be used in a measured way to facilitate the implementation of savings;
  • Business rates from the regenerated town centre would help to bridge the budget gap from 2016.

 

Planning assumptions included:

 

  • Funding reductions in line with 2014/15 settlement;
  • Grant reduction in 2015/16 in line with Spending Round, 10%;
  • Pay award 1% in 2014/15 and 2015/16; 2% in 2016/17;
  • General inflation (CPI) averages 2.2% throughout the period;
  • Pressures consistent with previous year’s, £1.5m;
  • Council funded capital programme of £6m each year plus £4m in 2014/15 for school capacity.
  • Council tax freeze funding equivalent to 1% in 2014/15 and 2015/16 would be accepted, consistent with policy in previous years, but did not preclude a higher increase;
  • No allowance for new NHS investment in social care or changes to the New Homes Bonus at this stage;
  • £2bn on new NHS investment to support social care announced, but distribution of funding currently uncertain;
  • £400m of New Homes Bonus directed towards Single Local Growth Fund and controlled by the Local Enterprise Partnership.

 

Possibilities for bridging the gap in the 2014/15 budget included:

 

  • Taking a firm line to limit future year’s pressures but still reflecting demographic changes and increases in demand for services;
  • Increase Council Tax; 1% generates £0.5m, referendum for excessive increases;
  • Utilise balances; £8.6m at 31 March 2014, £4.0m minimum prudent balance, £4.6m available but only delay the need for alternative measures
  • Identify savings; efficiencies, back office or front line services.

 

The budget would be consulted on in December 2013 and decisions made in the New Year. The department had been given a savings target of £1.3 million. The proposals for budget cuts were aimed to be satisfactory. The new homes bonus went into general funds.

19.

Quarterly Service Report (QSR) pdf icon PDF 468 KB

To consider the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the QSR for the first quarter of 2013/14 (April to June) relating to Environment, Culture and Communities.  An overview of the second quarter of 2013/14 will also be provided.

 

Please bring the previously circulated Quarterly Service Report to the meeting.  The QSR is attached to this agenda if viewed online.

Minutes:

The Panel considered the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the Quarterly Service Report (QSR) for the first quarter of 2013/14 (April to June) relating to Environment, Culture and Communities (ECC).

 

Major variances in revenue had occurred in areas including The Look Out Car Parking Scheme, Cemetery and Crematorium Income, Traffic Management UTMC, Concessionary Fares, and Planning Policy CIL.

 

A Capital scheme identified to be carried forward was: Replacing Existing Combined Heating and Power Units. A new one would be procured for Coral Reef but Bracknell Leisure Centre would be carried forward to next year.

 

Key highlights included: Site Allocations Local Plan (SALP); Town centre development; Work to Twin Bridges roundabout; Recycling Incentive Scheme; Ringway and BFC commended in the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation Partnership Award in respect of the way we seek to deliver the highway service; CIL consultation; Permit scheme; proposing a permit scheme for utility companies to carry out works affecting highways; and as of 06/09/2013 there were 13,449 brown bins registered, a high rate of take-up, and 4,399 blue bins registered.

 

A Forward Look included: Green Flag Awards; Public realm 2014 would be continued; SALP Implementation (i.e. Delivery of Major Development Sites); Further refinement of the Residents Parking Scheme; the Bus Strategy would be finalised, and there would be a New Local Plan.

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were noted:

 

  • The insourcing of traffic management did not save money but was designed to bring more control as this needed to be fully functioning for the Borough Council before the town centre regeneration was completed.
  • Under the recycling incentive scheme, a small number of first redemptions had been made for leisure services in relation to the e-plus card. It would be investigated further as to whether this could be linked with blue bin registration.
  • Fees and charges were not the same for blue, brown and green bins. The blue and green bins were owned by the Borough Council but the brown bins were not, therefore there was a charge for repairing the brown bins.

20.

Sustainable Modes of Transport pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To receive a presentation and update report concerning the implementation of sustainable modes of transport

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was deferred.

21.

Maintenance of the Public Realm

To receive a presentation in respect of measures to maintain the public realm during the regeneration of Bracknell town centre

Minutes:

This item was deferred.

22.

Residents' Parking Scheme

To receive feedback from the initial consultation and in put views into the following formal public consultation exercise

Minutes:

The Chief Officer: Planning and Transport gave a presentation on the Residents’ Parking Scheme Consultation in relation to the town centre.

 

The town centre regeneration would bring an expanding construction workforce, an additional 2,800 jobs, a predicted 8 million shoppers each year, and would involve an inevitable change in parking patterns. There was a need to protect residents living close to the town centre from increased parking pressures.

 

The scheme needed to be simple for residents to use, accommodating of differing needs (residents / communities), fair in its rules of operation, enforceable by Parking Attendants and cost effective to operate.

 

The timetable for the scheme was as follows:

 

By year end:

  • Conclude informal stakeholder consultation & analysis;
  • Establish principles of a scheme;
  • Interim feedback to residents.

 

Spring 2014:

  • Decision to consult formally on a detailed scheme;
  • Formal consultation process.

 

Summer 2014:

  • Conclusions from formal consultation;
  • Decision on scheme implementation.

 

Autumn 2014:

  • Scheme implementation and operation.

 

The Panel considered questions regarding, for example, the benefits of a residents’ parking scheme, whether there should be a charge for permits and / or a limit on the number of permits issued, the operating hours of the scheme, and the days of the week the scheme would operate.

 

As a result of the ensuing discussion, the following points were raised by some members:

  • The scheme was a good idea generally, but residents should not be disadvantaged from their current position.
  • A charge would probably be needed, as in other areas with similar schemes. If there was no charge, the scheme would need to be paid for another way, for example, via revenue funding.
  • There should be a limit on the number of permits issued otherwise there would not be enough spaces for people to park in. A permit would be linked to a person’s vehicle licence plate and property address and would need to be changed if people changed their vehicle licences or addresses.
  • It there was not a charge for permit changes, the initial charge for a permit might need to be slightly higher to cover administration costs of changing permits.
  • The range of permits requested per household was likely to be in the region of 0-7, but was expected to be approximately 3 on average. Considerations included multiple ownership and occupancies, businesses run from home, possibly the number of bedrooms, and the need for visitors’ passes.
  • It was queried whether certain areas could be used for additional parking.
  • It was felt that more parking spaces, would mean more cars in the area and potentially more problems surrounding parking.
  • It was suggested that every resident who could drive and had a car could be issued with a permit with increased charging for further permits requested, i.e. graduated charging.
  • It was queried what people with permits would do if they were unable to park.
  • It was suggested that a residents’ parking scheme would need to compliment existing schemes and policy.
  • The scheme would be enforced to specified hours. The days and hours of enforcement needed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Local Development Framework - Update Report pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive a progress update in respect of the Local Development Framework and Local Development Scheme

Minutes:

The Chief Officer: Planning and Transport gave an update on the Local Development Framework and Local Development Scheme.

 

Site allocations were being implemented, and the Local Development Framework would be considered at the next meeting of the Parish and Town Council Liaison Group to gauge the intentions of the parish and town councils in Bracknell in relation to neighbourhood plans. Bracknell Town Council intended to do a neighbourhood plan. There would be a bit for finite funding from the government with upwards of £20,000 for each area but bidding would not be undertaken until areas were designated.

24.

Revised Statement of Community Involvement pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To respond to the public consultation in respect of the Revised Statement of Community Involvement prior to its subsequent approval by the Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer: Planning and Transport gave an overview on the public consultation in respect of the Revised Statement of Community Involvement prior to its subsequent approval by the Executive. The consultation was underway at present.

25.

Working Groups pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To receive an update in respect of the Panel’s Working Group reviewing the Borough’s Bus Strategy and to establish a new working group to undertake the next piece of review work

Minutes:

The Panel received an update in respect of the Panel’s Working Group reviewing the Borough’s Bus Strategy and considered when to establish a new working group to undertake the next piece of review work.

 

There was a proposed future review of Cultural Services offered in the Borough. Councillor Ms Brown expressed an interest in being on this working group, and officers would contact other members to establish their possible interest.

26.

Executive Key and Non-Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider scheduled Executive Key and Non-Key Decisions relating to Environment, Culture and Communities.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted the forthcoming Executive Key and Non-Key Decisions relating to Environment, Culture and Communities.

 

In response to a query about Executive Decisions, it was noted that a Call-In could only be made by law after an Executive Decision had been made but if there were concerns it was better to raise them earlier.

 

Item I043082

 

In relation to the consultation on revised requirements relating to planning applications for on-shore oil and gas, the views of the Planning Committee had been sought, and Panel members could respond to the consultation directly.

 

Concerns, for example, regarding fracking would form part of the response to the consultation and concerns would be shared.