MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON FRIDAY, 9 MARCH 2001 COMMENCING AT 10.00 AM
Mr E Fox (Chairman), Mr C B W Chapman, Mr J Effemey, Mr P A Fuller, Mrs A E Hewitt, Mrs J L Wareham, Mrs C T G Webb (deputising for Mr P A Nightingale)
Mr M J Cunningham
Also Present (non voting) :
Mr A C Bartlett, Mr M G Barton, Mr J A Bowker, Mrs T M Butchers, Mrs S A Smart
Mr P A Nightingale
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 27 February 2001 be confirmed.
70. REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENT SERVICES
(a) The Isle of Wight Council's Countryside Section - Update
The Select Committee was reminded that at its meeting on 11 December 2000, it had been decided to establish a small working party to discuss a number of issues arising from a report on the Countryside Section. Due to a number of factors it had not been possible to convene a meeting of the Working Party. The Chairman had therefore requested that an update on developments be reported to the Select Committee.
It was noted that it would be possible to make the two temporary Countryside Rangers posts permanent. This would help in the development of a number of initiatives. With regard to the future of Countryside News, further discussions were being held as to its future format and distribution.
The SRB 6 bid for funding in connection with a Ryde Ranger had been successful. This post would assist in the preparation and implementation of an assessment and development plan to guide the improvement and maintenance of land and footpaths in the area.
The Director also updated members on the latest situation regarding the foot and mouth outbreak. An Order closing rights of way over farmland was being investigated. Members also noted the action being taken with regard to the Council's Country Parks and Nature Reserves. Efforts were being made to keep Fort Victoria County Park open as it did not conflict with any stock areas and provided an area in which people could still walk or exercise their dogs.
The Select Committee discussed the use of the internet and specific web pages for the Countryside Service and a link with Tourism.
THAT the report be noted.
(b) LTP Settlement - Capital Programme 2001/2002
The Director reminded the Select Committee of the LTP Settlement for 2001/2002. He indicated that future allocations would be dependent upon the Council's ability to achieve targets under the performance related settlement. The need to monitor progress with capital schemes was stressed.
The proposed programme attempted to provide a balanced range of projects. Additionally it had been necessary to include schemes to address the impact of adverse weather conditions experienced during the winter.
The Select Committee considered the inclusion of the Park Road, Wootton scheme which it had recommended for approval at the meeting on 27 February 2001. The effect of including the full cost of the scheme in one year on the overall programme was of some concern to members. There was a sum of £200,000 to be carried over from 2000/2001 for bridge works in Park Road. Taking into account land acquisition issues and design work, the Select Committee were of the opinion that this would be sufficient for 2001/2002 with the main balance of costs being funded in 2002/2003.
The Director stressed that the schemes formed part of a 5 year capital programme. He would report on the 2001/2002 programme in the autumn and submit a draft list of schemes for subsequent years. Members suggested that it would prove valuable to visit relevant sites so to gain first hand knowledge of proposed schemes.
(i) THAT the proposed capital programme for 2001/2002 be recommended for approval by the Executive, subject to the deletion of the £550,000 for the Park Road, Wootton scheme, the reinstatement of the deleted schemes for pedestrian improvements, new footways and cycling improvements with the carry forward of the £200,000 for Bridge works at Park Road, Wootton being utilised for land acquisition and design works.
(ii) THAT a Roads Tour be arranged for the Select Committee.
71. FEEDBACK FROM RAIL USERS CONFERENCE
The Director of Environment Services advised the Select Committee of discussions at a conference held at Ryde by the Rail Passengers Committee on 28 February 2001. This focussed on the future of the Islandline franchise which had now been extended until 2003.
The role of the Council in any future rail system had been discussed. Options included a light rail system, extension of the existing line to Ventnor, links with Newport and other towns and a loop at Brading. The establishment of an Isle of Wight Passenger Transport Executive had also been raised.
The Strategic Rail Authority had commissioned its own study into the Island's rail network and it was hoped by members that the Council could be fully involved in this.
The immediate need to ensure better integration between existing rail services, ferries and buses was highlighted.
THAT the report be noted.
72. MEMBERS' QUESTION TIME
Mr J A Bowker referred to the petition presented at the last meeting from residents of Oakfield High Street objecting to the frequent use of that road by double decked buses. He indicated his concerns as to the response by Southern Vectis to this issue and their unwillingness to meet with residents. The Chairman indicated that he would seek clarification as to the frequency that double decked vehicles were used on this route. He would ask officers to attend any public meeting and see if pressure could be brought to bear on Southern Vectis to be represented.
Mr J A Bowker asked whether it would be possible for each prospective property owner on the Ashey Road development to fund improvement works to the proposed new pumping station. The Chairman indicated that this would be a matter between the Environment Agency and the developer.
Mr J A Bowker asked if the Chairman was aware that a number of residents in Easthill Road and Westhill Road Ryde had purchased an area between the two roads to stop any further development and protect the red squirrel and other ecological species. The Chairman welcomed the action of the residents involved.
Mr P A Fuller referred to a report in the County Press indicating that the Chairman felt that the Environment Agency should be spending more on the Monktonmead Flood Alleviation Scheme. Despite the negative response from the Environment Agency and he asked whether the fact that much of the funding for such work came from the Island Council Tax Payers, the Chairman therefore agreed that the Council should increase its precept to directly make those improvements that it felt were necessary, and what steps was he taking to ensure this occurs. The Chairman replied no and none.
Mr P A Fuller asked the Chairman what protection was in place to safeguard the Island's Red Squirrel population from the foot and mouth epidemic. The Chairman indicated that he would ask the appropriate officer to respond in writing to Mr Fuller.
Mr M G Barton asked the Chairman if he was aware of the substantial volume of traffic using the main East Cowes road and the effect that this was having on the state of the principal and adjacent roads. The Chairman indicated that the Council would be operating a 5 year highways capital programme and the importance of the principal road was acknowledged. Works had not been assessed as a year 1 priority but works to other roads were in hand.
Mr J Effemey sought clarification as to when works to Baring Road, Cowes would be completed. He was advised that this would be in 2 weeks time.
Mrs J L Wareham asked when disinfected mats would be provided at the vehicle terminals for ferry passengers crossing on foot. The Chairman stated that these should have been in position the previous day.
Mrs S A Smart asked if there would be any slippage available to repair grassed areas damaged by vehicular traffic. She was advised that there would be some funding for this in 2001/2002.