MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON WEDNESDAY, 26 JUNE 2002 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mrs T M Butchers (Chairman), Mr A C Bartlett, Mrs B D Clough, Mr M J Cunningham, Mr J Effemey, Mr J F Howe (deputising for Mr J Fleming), Mrs M J Miller, Mr V J Morey, Mr A J Mundy (deputising for Mrs E Oulton), Mr A F Tiltman
Mrs J R Adams, Mr C B W Chapman, Mr J Fleming, Mrs E Oulton
Portfolio Holder :
Mr E Fox, Mrs B Lawson
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 29 May 2002 be confirmed.
14. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Mrs T M Butchers declared a personal interest in Minute 17(a) - Rural Bus Subsidy Grant as a relative was in the employment of Southern Vectis.
Mr A F Tiltman declared a personal interest in Minute 17(a) - Rural Bus Subsidy Grant as a part time taxi driver.
15. URGENT BUSINESS - ALTENER PROJECT
The Chairman raised as urgent business an update on the Altener Project so that the Select Committee was aware of the latest developments.
Mr R Sedgley, one of the lead officers, outlined the work that had been undertaken in conjunction with the Council’s consultants on the development of a community renewable energy strategy. A number of workshops had taken place on the different forms of energy source. These covered community wind, marine current turbine, carbon neutral housing, biodiesel, biomass, and anaerobic digestion. The Council was fortunate in having the island of Gotland, Sweden as its mentor. Gotland had developed a number of initiatives leading to 40% of its energy being met by renewable sources.
A meeting of all relevant interested parties would be held on 11 July 2002 following which it was anticipated that a draft strategy would be reported to the Select Committee in September/October 2002.
THAT the report be noted.
16. BUDGET MONITORING REPORT AS AT END OF MAY 2002
The Strategic Director of Finance and Information and County Treasurer reported on the revenue and capital expenditure for the first month of the financial year 2002/03.The effect of the overspend in the previous financial year was noted. The key areas of the revenue budget were discussed and in particular reference was made to environmental issues involving Agenda 21. The increasing workload in this area highlighted the need for consideration to be given to the provision of additional staff resources. It was believed that the relevant service plan should indicate support for this.
The Head of Engineering Services referred to unplanned expenditure caused through the adverse wet weather conditions earlier in the year together with the recent collapse of part of Coppins Bridge, Newport.
With regard to capital expenditure the Select Committee requested that the information should be made more user friendly together with the provision of more background information. The Head of Engineering Services outlined how capital schemes were prioritised. This was based on the results of a variety of survey work and scored to an industry standard.
(a) THAT a budget monitoring report be considered every month by the Select Committee.
(b) THAT the report for the end of May 2002 be noted.
17. REPORT OF THE STRATEGIC DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE AND ENVIRONMENT SERVICES
(a) Rural Bus Subsidy Grant
(i) Chairmanship for this Item
The Chairman explained that due to her interest in this matter she intended to vacate the chair and leave the meeting. It would therefore be necessary to appoint a chairman for consideration of the report on tenders received for the operation of bus services utilising the rural transport subsidy grant.
THAT Mr M J Cunningham be elected Chairman for this item.
(ii) Rural Bus Subsidy Grant - Tenders Received
(Mrs T M Butchers and Mr A T Tiltman both declared a personal interest and left the meeting. Mr Cunningham took the Chair)
Prior to consideration of the report the newly appointed Rural Transport Partnership Officer, Mr Martin Gibson, was introduced to Members.
The Select Committee was reminded that it had been advised of the consultation exercise undertaken on the renewal of services operated with the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant at its meeting on 24 April 2002. Tenders had now been received and the views of the Select Committee were being sought prior to determination by the Executive on 2 July 2002.
Members were advised that three operators had submitted individual tenders but these did not cover the full range of the services proposed to be operated. Additionally the costs of these exceeded the budget available. A Group Tender had however been submitted by Southern Vectis. This would enable the full operation of all the services for which tenders had been sought together with a number of additional services as part of the same package. There would also be some minor modification to services in the Yaverland, East Wight and Newport Town Centre. Southern Vectis had put forward proposals to overcome the lack of service provision between Nettlestone and St Helens by offering funding of £5,000 to the Parish Council to assist in the development and operation of a service, possibly operated by a local taxi operator.
Members raised concerns over the Group Tender received from Southern Vectis and considered whether this should only be accepted for a one year period. Officers indicated that Southern Vectis had complied fully with the tendering requirements set by the Council. The Company had indicated that the tender was for a two year period. There was the possibility that if a contract for the tendered services was not agreed shortly there would be difficulties in ensuring continued operation of these when the existing contract expired on 30 September 2002.
The Select Committee discussed the consequences if the tender from Southern Vectis was accepted. There was a view that the Rural Transport Partnership Officer may be successful in identifying alternative service provision and funding streams before the commencement of the second year. A proposal to recommend that the tender be accepted for a one year period only was lost on the casting vote of the Chairman. The Select Committee did however consider that further discussions on the contract should be undertaken with Southern Vectis.
THAT the Executive be recommended to accept the Southern Vectis Group tender for a two year period for £142,000 in 2002/03 and £167,000 in 2003/04 but officers, and the Portfolio Holder, undertake further negotiations with the Company on the second year of operation.
(Mrs Butchers resumed the Chair)
(iii) Best Value Action Plan (Highways and Transportation Improvement Plan)
The Head of Engineering Services referred to the Best Value Inspection that was undertaken in December 2001 on the Highways and Transportation Service. A comprehensive improvement plan was being developed, and implemented, to address the shortfalls in service provision that the Inspection had highlighted.
The Select Committee considered a schedule outlining the strategic framework being used for an Improvement Plan. This covered issues involving Corporate and Departmental Vision, Objectives and Priorities; Departments’s Working Style; Service Strategies; Staff Development; Performance Management; Procurement and Implementation of Service Improvements. The Best Value Inspectors would be re-inspecting the service in August 2002. The implications of receiving a poor report from this would have an impact on the Council’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment.
Members noted that the Government Office for the South East had recently praised the Council in its delivery of the Local Transport Plan.
THAT a regular monitoring report be submitted to the Select Committee on compliance with the timescales shown in the action plan and that the relevant officers responsible be in attendance where possible.
18. MEMBERS QUESTION TIME
Mrs M Miller submitted a question in relation to a response from a Government Minister concerning Esso and the Kyoto Protocol. (MQ45/02)
A copy of the question and reply given by the Chairman is contained in the Members Question Time Register.