MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON THURSDAY, 19 DECEMBER 2002 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mrs T M Butchers (Chairman) Mr A C Bartlett, Mrs B D Clough, Mr J Effemey, Mr J H Fleming, Mrs M J Miller, Mr V J Morey, Mr A J Mundy (deputising for Mr M J Cunningham), Mr R C Richards (deputising for Mr J R Adams), Mr A F Tiltman
Mr J R Adams, Mr C B W Chapman, Mr M J Cunningham, Mrs E Oulton
Portfolio Holders :
Mr E Fox, Mrs B Lawson
Also present (non-voting) :
Mr B C Buckle, Mr R G Mazillius, Mr A A Taylor
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2002 be confirmed.
57. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Mr A J Mundy declared a personal interest in minute 58, Integrated Waste Management Contract as a person known to him was employed in environmental matters.
58. INTEGRATED WASTE MANAGEMENT CONTRACT - UPDATE ON THE OPERATION OF THE RESOURCE RECOVERY FACILITY (RRF) AND ADJOINING POWER PLANT AT FOREST ROAD
The Chairman welcomed Mr Bruce Gilmore, of Island Waste Services, to the meeting.
The Head of Engineering Services gave the background to the Council’s integrated waste management contract with Island Waste Services (IWS). This commenced in October 1997 and was the first contract of its type in the country. The areas covered by the contract, which was originally for a twelve year period, were outlined together with the targets for recycling of household waste. The contact was extended for a further six year period in 2000 so that it would expire in October 2015. This was to allow IWS to make capital investment in the plant and equipment at the Forest Road, Newport site.
Members noted that the recycling targets were not only being met but exceeded. This enabled the Council to make savings in landfill tax. This saving would however be reduced due to the closure of the Combined Heat and Power plant, operated by Ener-G, which was located alongside IWS’s facility in Forest Road. Mr Gilmore stressed that IWS would still be able to comply with all elements of the contract. The closure of the plant had taken place with only one working day’s notice but an alternative outlet for the floc fuel had been found. The company were investigating rail transport and this together with the acquisition of a baling press would assist in reducing transport costs. In addition some of the material previously used for floc fuel was being used as the soft protection layer required in respect of the development of Cell 2 at the Standen Heath landfill site.
Mr Gilmore indicated that IWS wished to establish its own power generation plant on the site currently leaseded by Ener-G from the Council. The company was investigating the type of plant required. This would be more efficient than the one currently being dismantled by Ener-G and meet all the latest safety and emission requirements. No timescale could be given for this project at the current time.
Members noted that landfill tax was to increase by £1 per tonne for the following two years until it reached £15 per tonne. It would then increase by £3 per tonne until the Government’s target of £35 had been reached. This highlighted the need for the Council and IWS to work together to ensure that high levels of recycling was achieved.
THAT the operation of the integrated waste management contract by Island Waste Services be noted.
59. PROCESSING OF HIGHWAYS CUSTOMER REPORTS AND ENQUIRIES
The Head of Engineering Services reported on the processing of highway customer reports and enquiries, as had been requested by the Select Committee at its meeting on 30 October 2002. He indicated that the Highway Section of the department received approximately 115,000 telephone calls, 15,000 letters and 200 e-mails per year. In addition there were some 4,000 personal callers to Jubilee Stores.
The Select Committee was advised that all written enquiries were logged into a computer system and either an acknowledgement, or a full reply if possible, had to be sent within five working days. A period of twenty days was given for a full reply in those cases which had initially only been acknowledged. This target could however be extended where extensive investigations had to be undertaken. Calls concerning highway defects were logged on a computer and given a unique reference number. A fortnightly report was then issued to Section Heads so that any outstanding matters could be followed up.
The Head of Engineering Services accepted that there would be failings with the system and difficulties were being experienced with the software used. He hoped that a bid would be approved for 2003/04 which would enable development of the software system. The lack of a corporate Geographic Information System (GIS) that could be used throughout the Authority also needed to be resolved. Further improvements to the Call Centre were being investigated and performance indicators established to assist in monitoring of service delivery.
Members indicated that a number of queries had been raised prior to the introduction of the computer processing system. They believed that Town and Parish Councils in particular should be requested to review any outstanding requests for works so that these could be incorporated. The Head of Engineering Services reported on arrangements for Highway Supervisors to meet with Town and Parish Clerks relevant to their areas to deal with highway issues. The Select Committee considered that the local members should also be involved in these meetings.
In relation to advising the public on the process involved in dealing with highway queries the Head of Engineering Services reminded members that under the Best Value Improvement Plan a series of leaflets were to be produced on a range of topics. It was intended that these would be available in April 2003. Members felt that an appropriate press launch of these should be carried out.
THAT the report be noted and the relevant performance indicators relating to the Highways Call Centre be considered at a future date.
60. PARKING POLICY
The Chairman welcomed Mr Jim Ruby, Chairman of the Quality Transport Partnership (QTP), and Mr Kevin Smith of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Select Committee was reminded of the comprehensive Island-wide parking study that had been undertaken in 2001 by Mott MacDonald on behalf of the Council. A number of issues raised in this were considered by the Select Committee in January 2002. To further assist in the development of a parking policy a Car Parking Task Group had been established. The Task Group had debated a number of key elements contained in the parking study and the relationship of these to the demand management strategy encompassed in the Council’s Local Transport Plan.
The Head of Engineering Services highlighted the need to rationalise the existing provisions of the car parking order. It was therefore intended to simplify the charging bands for long stay, short stay, on street short stay and commercial vehicles. On street parking would continue to attract a premium charge. The charging band for off street parking would be derived from a single unit rate per hour with fixed graduated discounts for longer stay.
In its deliberations the Task Group had noted evidence to indicate that the scheme introduced giving a free afternoon’s parking at one car park in each town was not well utilised. The Select Committee considered the suggestion that, subject to consultation with Business Associations, this should be discontinued. Mr Smith, of the Chamber of Commerce, indicated that the scheme should be continued as it assisted in supporting local businesses. There was a need for better promotion of the scheme. Mr Ruby, of the QTP, also believed that the scheme showed support by the Council of the local business community, particularly in small towns.
Consideration was given to the level of charges made at the car park alongside Dinosaur Isle/Browns at Sandown. The Task Group was concerned as to the discrepancy between charges at this site and that at the adjacent car park at Yaverland. The views of the Council’s Museum Officer on this issue was reported by the Chairman. The background to the charging mechanism for Dinosaur Isle/Browns was outlined and it was suggested that a two tariff system involving a short stay of up to 3 hours and one for the whole day could be introduced.
The Head of Engineering Services reported on the proposed standardisation of the hours of operation. This was intended to make the majority of car parks chargeable between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year. Charging for seasonal parking places would be from 10.00 am and not applied out of season. Mr Smith welcomed the proposals and stated that the Council had to ensure that the economic impact of parking charges on the business community was fully taken into account. PC Bartlett of Hampshire Constabulary indicated that in any changes the waiting restrictions on Ryde Esplanade should be reviewed as these appeared to cause some confusion to members of the public.
In considering the parking policy for permits the Select Committee was told by the Head of Engineering Services that the discounts allowed were not sustainable or justified in terms of best value. Although prices were increased for 2002/03 these were still heavily discounted. It was therefore proposed to reduce the discount on a phased basis over the next few years. Additionally the permit for a single nominated car park, which was withdrawn during 2002/03, would be reinstated. Concern was expressed as to the proposal to reduce the discount to only 15% by 2006. Members considered this to be too small a discount and would recommend that this should stay at the level of 25% suggested for 2005. The Select Committee also noted the recent decision of the Executive regarding a revised policy for Residents Parking Schemes. The Head of Engineering Services advised that discussions were taking place with cross solent operators on the promotion of discounted permits for commuters.
Mr Smith spoke of the lead that should be taken by the Council in relation to charging for employee parking. The Chairman indicated that a working party had been established to look at this and related issues concerning green travel plans.
The extension of pay and display schemes to other sites, both on street and off street, had been highlighted in Mott MacDonalds study. The Head of Engineering Services indicated that this should be further considered as part of the process for decriminalised parking enforcement at a later date.
(a) THAT the following changes to the Council’s car parking order be supported :-
(i) the tariffs for charging bands being simplified to long stay, short stay, on street short stay and commercial vehicles;
(ii) the level of charges being based on the principles of :-
(1) on street town centre spaces being short stay and at a premium rate;
(2) off street parking spaces subject to either a long stay or short stay tariff;
(3) all charges to be derived from a single unit rate per hour with fixed but graduated discounts for longer stay.
(iii) a two level tariff of up to three hours and all day being introduced for parking at Dinosaur Isle/Browns, Sandown.
(iv) the single nominated car parking permit being reintroduced.
(v) the base discount figure offered for parking permits being calculated on the equivalent daily charge for 240 days use per annum at the 6 to 24 hour long stay tariff.
(vi) an all Island car park permit being discounted by 45% in 2003, 35% in 2004 and 25% thereafter.
(vii) a nominated car park permit being discounted by 60% in 2003, 50% in 2004, 40% in 2005 and 30% thereafter.
(viii) the withdraw of residents permits where on street residents parking schemes are introduced.
(ix) better marketing of all permits being undertaken, particularly through Tourism and Cross Solent operators.
(x) the extension of pay and display into new areas being included within the process of decriminalised parking enforcement.
(b) THAT the provision of a free afternoon’s parking at one car park in each town be continued but this be given additional publicity and improved signage.
61. APPOINTMENT TO AN OUTSIDE BODY - SCOPAC
The Strategic Director of Corporate and Environment Services reported on a vacancy for a council representative on the Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline (SCOPAC). In accordance with the Council’s policy nominations had been sought and the names of six members received. These were Mrs B Clough, Mr J Effemey, Mr E Fox, Mrs M A Jarman, Mrs B Lawson and Mr C Lillywhite.
The names of Mrs B Clough and Mr J Effemey were separately moved and seconded and following a vote and upon the casting vote of the Chairman it was :-
THAT the Executive be recommended to approve the appointment of Mrs B Clough to the vacancy on SCOPAC.