Venue: Committee Room 1, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF
Contact: Nichola Turnbull
Note: Due to Covid restrictions only those who have registered and are actively participating will be allowed access to the meeting. Any member of the press or public may view the proceedings of this meeting live on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/NorthumberlandTV.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bridgett and Gallacher.
To note the latest Forward Plan of key decisions. Any further changes made to the Forward Plan will be reported to the Committee.
The Committee considered the Forward Plan of key decisions (August to November 2021). (Schedule enclosed with the signed minutes).
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
To provide an overview with the delivery of the Council’s fleet replacement programme in 2020/2021 and an update on the progress made in current financial year 2021/2022.
The Committee were provided with an overview with the delivery of the Council’s fleet replacement programme in 2020/2021 and an update on the progress made in current financial year 2021/2022. (A copy of the report is enclosed with the signed minutes).
Paul Jones, Service Director – Local Services, explained that it was essential that the fleet replacement programme was delivered in a timely manner to ensure delivery of front-line services, secure benefits of new technology, minimise impact on the environment and make a positive contribution to tackling climate change. He reported that:
· Service reviews and challenging the need for vehicles had resulted in a number of vehicles being removed from the program.
· Of the 391 vehicles scheduled to be replaced during 2021/22, 117 had been rescheduled.
· The programme had been severely impacted by the pandemic and to a lesser extent, Brexit. There were significant delivery delays due to closure of businesses, reduced capacity during lockdowns, world-wide shortages of semi-conductors and other parts from suppliers.
· Service critical vehicles had been promptly replaced to ensure service resilience.
· Purchase of some vehicle types had been delayed to enable assessment of reduced payloads, following the introduction of new standards, and potential replacement with electric vehicles (EV).
· Cost and differential impact of cost, particularly for larger electric vehicles and their current availability, was being closely monitored. Financial assistance would be sought from Council for any increased costs to purchase EV.
The following information was provided in answer to questions from members:
· Vehicles were primarily purchased outright and sold at auction at the end of their life to maximise returns. Operating or finance leases were also considered when viable to do so, although negotiation of extensions incurred additional premiums and they also had strict return conditions and values. Reviews were undertaken quarterly and generally it was cheaper for the Council to borrow at lower rates. Some specialist plant and equipment were bought second hand, although the majority was purchased new.
· Some vehicles with quick change bodies had been purchased to enable use all year round and ensure vehicles were not standing unused for many months. Examples included gritters which were also used as tar tankers for road maintenance. Some vehicles were dedicated solely as gritters due to the nature of their use. The fleet was kept under review as it was not beneficial to have high value vehicles sat unused.
· Services were challenged as to whether vehicles needed to be replaced; this had resulted in the removal of 18 vehicles from the programme in 2020/21. This challenge included specifications, as a standardised fleet was also cheaper to purchase and maintain. Other vehicles had been added due to the increased capital allocation for highways maintenance to do more in-house and reduce cost and reliance on third party contractors.
· Acquisition of additional gulley tankers would require consideration as a growth item and an additional financial allocation through the budgetary process.
· Use of new vehicles in parks was beneficial to the teams in saving time and enabling them to ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
To provide an update on the kerbside glass recycling trial which commenced in November 2020 to include key performance measures including recycling yields, resident participation and acceptance levels, prior to a final report on the trial and proposed next steps for the roll-out of an enhanced glass recycling service being presented to Cabinet in October 2021.
The report provided an update on the kerbside glass recycling trial which had commenced in November 2020, including key performance measures on recycling yields, resident participation and acceptance levels. A final report on the trial and proposed next steps for the roll-out of an enhanced glass recycling service was to be presented to Cabinet in October 2021. (A copy of the report is enclosed with the signed minutes).
Paul Jones, Service Director – Local Services, stated that whilst the Council provided a very good performing waste service which was cost effective and, reliable, no significant improvements had been made to recycling rates for a number of years, with continued high landfill diversion rates. This needed to be addressed as part of the Climate Change Action Plan.
He referred to recent Government policy reviews and consultations and the expectation that local authorities in England would need to achieve a recycling rate in excess of 50% with a wider range of materials collected at the kerbside and more consistency between areas. This was expected to be financed through ‘new burdens’ funding for local authorities and taxation on manufacturers and retailers under the ‘producer pays’ principle.
Modelling in 2019 identified the preferred way forward to improve recycling on a phased approach which included kerbside collection of glass, more plastics including pots, tubs and trays and food waste. Cabinet had agreed to a kerbside glass collection trial in October 2020 to test assumptions and put the Council in the best position to bid for funding and implement changes as quickly as possible.
The trial had commenced in November 2020 with approximately 4,000 households in Morpeth, Bedlington, Hexham and Alnwick/Lesbury. A 140-litre wheeled bin had been provided and was emptied every 4 weeks. An average yield of 71 kg per household was projected for the year which compared favourably with neighbouring authorities.
Noise monitoring and ear defenders had been provided for employees to reduce exposure to noise to an acceptable level but also allow them to hear noise from road vehicles and instructions from colleagues.
89% of residents were satisfied or very satisfied following a survey undertaken in May 2021. Monthly collections were also working well with more than sufficient capacity in bins which were rarely full and not always presented.
To date they had been unable to assess the additional benefit due to the Covid-19 pandemic as residents had been unable to go to hospitality venues resulting in more alcohol being consumed at home. There had been a 22% increase in glass collected at HWRC’s and bring sites since 2019/20 and they were unable to distinguish what impact the trial had on diversion rates from these facilities.
The report to Cabinet would consider next steps, whether the trial be extended beyond November 2021 to obtain additional data now that there were no restrictions in place, and timing of rolling out kerbside collection of glass given availability of Government funding.
The Service Director – Local Services, replied to members questions with the following information:
· Whilst ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee operates within a work programme which is agreed at the start of the Council year. The programme is reviewed at each meeting so that it can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Committee and take account of any changes to the latest Forward Plan (which outlines decisions to be taken by the Cabinet). The Committee is asked to review and note its work programme for the 2021/22 council year.
The Committee reviewed its work programme for the 2021/22 council year. (Report enclosed with the signed minutes).
Members with any queries or suggestions were asked to contact the Scrutiny Co-ordinator, Chair or Vice-Chair.
Members enquired whether the Communities & Place OSC could receive information on:
· The Local Nature Recovery Strategy Pilot
· Priority be given to the implementation of a policy banning dogs in fenced off Council sports areas. This had been raised previously but reports had been received regarding a recent incident at Ridley Park tennis courts. It was queried whether this could be added to the policy which banned dogs from fenced off children’s play areas.
· Youth Services Outreach Programme and anti-social behaviour.
· Bulky Waste Collection Services (charges and subsidies).
The requests would be referred to the Chairmen’s Group.
RESOLVED that the work programme be noted