Agenda and minutes

Environment, Culture and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Derek Morgan  01344 352044

Items
No. Item

81.

Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 22 September 2015.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 22 September 2015 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

There were no matters arising.

82.

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 indication that Members would be participating under the party whip.

83.

Urgent Items of Business

Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

84.

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:

No submissions had been made by members of the public under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

85.

2016/17 Draft Budget Proposals pdf icon PDF 259 KB

To consider key themes and priorities for Environment, Culture and Communities as outlined in the Council’s Draft Budget Proposals for 2016/17.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Although there was a need for further savings to be identified following notification of the Government grant settlement, the Panel was invited to scrutinise the firm budget proposals before it. The Director of Environment, Culture and Communities presented a report on the key themes and priorities for Environment, Culture and Communities as outlined in the draft budget proposals for 2016/17.  The initial preparations for the budget had focussed on the Council’s Commitment Budget for 2016/17 – 2020/21, bringing together existing expenditure plans, taking account of approved commitments and the ongoing effects of service developments and efficiencies that were agreed when the 2015/16 budget was set.

 

A number of changes were proposed to the Commitment Budget since it was last considered by the Executive, amounting in total to an increase for the Council of £1.032m.  Of particular interest to the Panel were a departmental saving resulting from the Street Lighting Invest to Save Scheme (-£0.175m) and updated Waste Disposal projections based on the latest tonnages for recycling (£0.179m).  The Panel also noted the draft revenue budget pressures for the Department totalling £263,000 for 2016/17, although these were more than outweighed by savings proposals amounting to £1,161,000.

 

Arising from questions and discussion, the Panel noted the following in relation to the budget pressures and savings proposals:

  • In response to the reduction in income at Bracknell Leisure Centre (due to competition from small scale local gyms), plans were in hand to enhance the offer included within the Platinum Card package through discounts on catering and other facilities and working with staff to improve the all round customer experience for users.  Officers were recommended to publicise the new package as widely as possible, and particular mention was made of obtaining copy in ‘Town & Country’ and other local newssheets.
  • An outline of the duties of the posts of Strategic Planner (New Communities) and Development Engineer was given, together with reasons for continued funding for them.
  • The dispute in relation to the waste Contract had been settled and the additional recyclate income was now assured.
  • The additional income from increasing charges for brown bin emptying relied in part on continuing to sign up new customers for the service.
  • The increases in Cemetery and Crematorium fees and charges were felt to be reasonable and had been set taking into account the fees charged by neighbouring authorities and the quality of the service offered in Bracknell Forest which was valued and appreciated by users.
  • The e+card savings arose from lower running costs rather than any reduction in the discounts offered.

 

Turning to the Capital Programme, the Panel noted that total capital spending proposed for Environment, Culture and Communities in 2016/17 amounted to £20.185m (of which £4.733m was external funding).  The most significant project was the Coral Reef Transformation at an estimated £8.358m in 2016/17.  The tender process for the project had been reset with prices from contractors now due in by 8 March 2016.  The acquisition of the former Magistrates Court building would increase the Council’s landholding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 85.

86.

Bracknell Forest Borough Local Plan Update pdf icon PDF 289 KB

A progress update report in respect of the Bracknell Forest Borough Local Plan is attached.

Minutes:

The Panel considered a report summarising the up to date position on the various documents comprising the Bracknell Forest Borough Local Plan (BFBLP).

 

The Issues and Options public consultation for the Comprehensive Local Plan (CLP) was due to take place in June/July 2016.  The Member Working Group had been closely involved in steering the work on preparation of a wide range of evidence studies which would support the CLP.  The studies included:

  • Strategic Housing Market Assessment – close to completion
  • Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment – additional work required to take account of further guidance
  • Functional Economic Market Area – the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was leading this work
  • Landscape Character Study – first part completed
  • Green Belt Review – work to be carried out by consultants, commissioned jointly with Wokingham Borough Council

 

The Panel also noted that four neighbourhood plan areas had been designated in Bracknell Forest: Binfield, Bracknell Town, Warfield and Winkfield.  Consultation was also under way on the designation of Sandhurst neighbourhood area.  The Binfield neighbourhood plan had been examined and would be the first to go to a referendum in March.

87.

The Waste Challenge pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To consider a report in respect of the future challenges associated with the waste collection and disposal service.

Minutes:

The Panel received a report and presentation on the ‘Waste Challenge’, a review of the current provision of waste collection and disposal services together with an outline of the various challenges that lay ahead in meeting future recycling targets within available budgets and legislative constraints.

 

Having received details of the breakdown of waste collected and disposed of, the Panel noted the following key points:

 

  • The current recycling rate in Bracknell Forest was 39.3% (compared to 44.7% nationally).
  • EU recycling targets were 50% by 2020, 60% by 2025 and 65% by 2030.  The country faced substantial fines from the EU if targets were not met, which may be passed onto underperforming  Authorities.
  • Pre AWC the council were sending 40,000 tonnes to landfill.  It had reduced to 12,600 tonnes which gives rise to a significant saving not least in respect of landfill tax now running at £82.60t.
  • The council were having to pay and estimated £600,000 a year more than it needed to due to waste was going into the green bin that could either be recycled via the current arrangements or home composted
  • If half the recoverable materials from landfill bins could be captured (1,967 tonnes) and 1,564 tonnes could be diverted by home composting/encouraging less food wastage, the recycling rate could be raised to 44.5%.

 

The Panel received answers to a number of questions on matters of detail.  It was noted that the Re3 contract set a limit of 20,000 tonnes on the amount that could go for energy from waste (EfW) treatment.  If there was a change to how recyclate rates were calculated so as to allow for bottom ash from EfW that was recycled to be included, this would make a significant contribution toward reaching the 50% target.  Reference was made to the parts of the Borough with a higher proportion of flats and smaller properties which were less well-suited to accommodating bins and containers for more convenient kerbside collection of recyclable materials.  The value of learning from other Councils and stepping up efforts to educate residents to encourage better and more responsible recycling habits were commented on.

 

The Council would need to formulate its proposals for change by around 2017 so that these could be incorporated in a new collection contract due to start in 2019. 

88.

Working Group Update Report pdf icon PDF 268 KB

To receive an update in respect of the Working Group of the Panel reviewing Planning Processes and Procedures.

Minutes:

The Panel received a progress report of the Working Group reviewing the Council’s planning function.  The Working Group had met eight times and was due to consider its draft report (containing a number of recommendations for the Executive) at its next meeting in February.

89.

Work Programme 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 209 KB

To consider the Panel’s Work Programme for 2016/17.

Minutes:

The Panel considered its Work Programme for 2016/17.  There were two future possible review topics remaining in the 2016/17 programme:

  • A review of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in terms of the Council’s involvement.
  • To review Parks and Open Spaces.

 

The Panel agreed to continue reviews in the order as set out in the Work Programme, but not to rule out other suggestions that may come forward during the year.

90.

Overview and Scrutiny Progress Report pdf icon PDF 461 KB

To note the Bi-annual Progress Report of the Assistant Chief Executive.

Minutes:

The Panel received the Overview and Scrutiny bi-annual progress report setting out the activity and developments over the period June to November 2015.

91.

Quarterly Service Report - Information Item pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To update the Panel in respect of the latest available departmental performance as reported in the Quarterly Service Report for the second quarter of 2015/16 (July to September 2015) relating to Environment, Culture and Communities.  An overview of the third quarter of 2015/16 will also be provided.

 

The Chairman has asked that any detailed or procedural questions arising from the Quarterly Service Report should be referred to the Director of Environment, Culture and Communities in advance. Only issues of strategic importance or with wider implications need then be raised at the meeting.

 

Please bring the previously circulated Quarterly Service Report to the meeting.  Copies are available on request and 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 QSR for the second quarter of 2015/16 (July to September 2015) relating to Environment, Culture and Communities.  The report highlighted exceptional performance, remedial action being taken against under performance, significant changes in risk, significant customer feedback and inspections and significant changes in service use and the associated financial impact.

 

Arising from a question, the Panel was informed that there was approximately 5 years capacity remaining at the Easthampstead Cemetery.  This meant that in order to continue to provide a service for the interment of remains, the Council would need to acquire land and make it suitable for burials.

92.

Executive Key and Non-Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 109 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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