Venue: Kennet Room - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions
Contact: Ellen Ghey - Democratic Services Officer Email: email@example.com
To receive any apologies or substitutions for the meeting.
Apologies for absence from Members were received from:
· Councillor Charles McGrath
· Councillor Mel Jacob, who was substituted by Councillor Stewart Palmen
Further apologies were noted from Councillor Caroline Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport, Street Scene, and Flooding.
Minutes of the Previous Meeting
To approve and sign the minutes of the Environment Select Committee meeting held on 19 September 2023.
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 19 September 2023 were considered. Following which, it was:
The Committee approved and signed the minutes of the previous meeting held on 19 September 2023 as a true and correct record.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of disclosable interests or dispensations granted by the Standards Committee.
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive any announcements through the Chair.
There were no Chairman’s announcements.
The Council welcomes contributions from members of the public.
If you would like to make a statement at this meeting on any item on this agenda, please register to do so at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting. Up to 3 speakers are permitted to speak for up to 3 minutes each on any agenda item. Please contact the officer named on the front of the agenda for any further clarification.
To receive any questions from members of the public or members of the Council received in accordance with the constitution.
Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such questions in writing to the officer named on the front of this agenda no later than 5pm on Tuesday 31 October 2023 in order to be guaranteed of a written response. In order to receive a verbal response, questions must be submitted no later than 5pm on Thursday 2 November 2023. Please contact the officer named on the front of this agenda for further advice. Questions may be asked without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent.
Details of any questions received will be circulated to Committee members prior to the meeting and made available at the meeting and on the Council’s website.
There were no statements or questions submitted.
Fleet Strategy 2023-2030
The Select Committee will receive a briefing on the Fleet Strategy 2023-2030 which will be considered by Cabinet on 14 November 2023.
Adrian Hampton, Head of Highways Operations, alongside Samantha Howell, Director of Highways and Transport, updated the Committee on the Fleet Strategy 2023 – 2030.
It was noted that the Fleet Strategy was based upon the Council’s pledge to deliver carbon neutrality by 2030, and detailed how the Council would use, run, manage, and optimise the fleet vehicles owned or leased by the Council. The new strategy priorities were then listed as per the slides within the Agenda Pack.
It was then explained that officers were intending on moving to the electrification of vehicles where possible as it was felt that this was the best and most cost-effective way to deliver the Council’s carbon neutral objectives. Despite this, it was explained that other alternative fuels such as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) had to be used and considered to ensure business continuity across services such as road gritters, while the infrastructure to support increased electrification across the network advanced. As such, it was highlighted that it was crucial that the Fleet Strategy directly interlinked with the Depot Strategy.
It was further noted that as the majority of vehicles were not fit for purpose, there would be challenges and costs involved, and therefore additional funding would be needed to deliver against both the Council’s financial requirements and carbon neutral pledge. As such, officers explained that there was funding allocated until 2025, with further growth and capital bids being made for future years, all of which would be developed in tandem with the Finance Team.
Further data and performance driven decisions were detailed including using telematics in vehicles, dash-cams to monitor route efficiencies, and reducing the number of vehicles, all of which would provide further data to support officers in deciding where the maximum benefits lay, and to maximise the use of storage space. Members were then informed that a three-year review into how services should be delivered was in process, which was being undertaken with the support of the Energy Saving Trust. During this review, it was noted that if more innovative methods came into effect and/or further opportunities for cost savings or increased efficiency was identified, they would be duly considered, and the strategy could be updated accordingly.
Finally, the table within the report was explained in detail for Members.
During the discussion, points included:
· The possibility of using methane to power vehicles akin to other Local Authorities in the Country. Officers assured Members that it had and would continue to be considered, with the decision to use a combination of electric vehicles (EVs) and HVO as an alternative fuel arising from a review carried out 3 years ago by the Council alongside the Energy Saving Trust. It was highlighted that the vast majority of waste collection, highways, and streetscene vehicles were operated by the Council’s contractors and therefore, further conversations were needed with these departments and companies to discuss alternatives.
· Members queried the decision to reduce the baseline number of vehicles when considering the possibility that waste collection vehicle numbers could ... view the full minutes text for item 67.
Wiltshire Housing Development Partnership
As resolved at the ESC meeting on 8 November 2022, the Select Committee will receive an update report on the Housing Development Partnership.
Councillor Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Housing, Strategic Assets and Asset Transfer, alongside Richard Walters, Head of Service – Major Projects, and Claire Moore, Housing Enabling Lead, updated the Committee on the Wiltshire Housing Development Partnership.
An introduction to the Partnership was given, where it was explained that it acted as a forum for the Housing Enabling Team and various Registered Providers of Affordable Housing (RPs) to discuss shared practices, ways to overcome challenges, and how to achieve the delivery of an average of 650 affordable houses per year. Officers noted that in 2022/23, 643 Affordable Homes were delivered in Wiltshire, with only 235 homes delivered by the end of Q2 2023/24, showing a marked decrease in delivery and presenting a challenge in achieving the average annual target.
It was explained that the Partnership worked together to ensure that the delivery of Affordable Housing met demonstratable need within Wiltshire. As such, the two main tenures delivered at present were Affordable Rented Housing allocated to households on Wiltshire’s Housing Register, and Shared Ownership Housing sold to eligible households with a household income of less than £80,000. It was noted that it was still to be determined which rented tenure officers would be encouraging until the Local Plan was finalised, although when considering both the Local Housing Needs Assessment and Viability Assessments of relevant policies, officers were anticipating a move towards more social rented houses rather than Affordable Housing.
Officers noted that soon Affordable Housing provision would include an element of First Homes as required by a change in Government Policy. It was also highlighted that officers had noticed a trend in which RPs were moving towards more land-led schemes as it allowed for greater control over the delivery and quality of Affordable Homes.
It was explained that by adopting a more formal approach to selecting RPs, the Housing Enabling Team could ensure that the right partners were chosen to assist in focusing on the Council’s key priorities. Partnership meetings were held quarterly, were well attended by senior RP management, and ran more focussed sessions in which certain Council teams attended, such as the Climate Team.
Finally, officers felt confident that subject to the continued commitment of the Council and RPs, the Partnership offered the potential to continue assisting the Council in working towards its key priorities and meeting the housing needs of Wiltshire residents.
During the discussion, points included:
· The definition of Affordable Housing.
· The number of houses being disposed of by RPs per year and if those figures were being monitored by officers. In response, it was explained that officers only monitored those houses being disposed of by the Council as monitoring those by RPs was the responsibility of the Regulator of Social Housing. However, officers noted that they could retrieve and provide the data for Members outside of the meeting.
· It was noted that officers were seeing that developers were experiencing significant amounts of stock and as such, were looking to sell properties to RPs to be used as ... view the full minutes text for item 68.
Report from the Housing Allocations Policy Task Group
To receive the report of the Housing Allocations policy task group.
Councillor Jonathon Seed, Chairman of the Housing Allocations Policy Task Group, presented the findings and recommendations of the Task Group for endorsement by the Committee.
The background and Terms of Reference of the Task Group alongside an overview of Housing Allocation policies and relevant evidence were detailed as per the report, and the various witnesses who provided information and supported Members in their decision-making were thanked, with particular thanks given to Nicole Smith, Head of Housing, Migration & Resettlement, and her team.
The conclusions and then each of the 13 recommendations were summarised, and thanks were given to the Members of the Task Group and Simon Bennett, Senior Scrutiny Officer, for his support and hard work throughout the process.
During the discussion, points included:
· Under occupation was raised and it was confirmed that the Task Group had deliberated upon providing incentives to downsize for applicable occupants. If an incentive scheme was developed and accepted by tenants, officers could then enable a better use of the housing stock by providing more suitable homes for those in housing need.
· Recommendation 8 was raised, and it was further explained that as discussed in detail with officers, such multi-tenancies could be an option for individuals that had particular personal needs.
· It was highlighted that one of the aims of the Task Group was to encourage housing providers to consider implementing certain policy areas in tandem with the Council.
· Paragraphs 15, 16, and 53 were highlighted and Members were reassured that officers would continue striving to increase the number of people housed from the housing register. It was further noted that any tenants that wished to bid for a Shared Equity House were required to be on the housing register. As such, within the total amount of people on the housing register, there would be a significant number of those that would not qualify for social housing.
· It was confirmed that the figures as specified in Paragraph 20 were as up to date as officers could provide at the time of the Task Group’s deliberations. Members noted that the breakdown of figures was useful when considering planning applications and housing needs within different areas. It was highlighted that in order to understand those needs further, Housing Need Assessment Surveys could be conducted to provide better insight when considering any planning applications.
· Table 5 of the report under Paragraph 31 was raised, with Members expressing concerns as to the high level of people fleeing domestic abuse. It was confirmed that those applications verified under the exclusions criteria were a priority for housing, and it was highlighted that there had been a concerted effort to encourage people to report domestic violence, therefore better reporting may have led to such a figure.
· Councillor Seed, other Members of the Task Group, and associated officers were commended for their hard work and effort throughout.
At the conclusion of the discussion, it was:
The Committee endorsed the report of the Task Group and refers it to the Cabinet Members for Housing, ... view the full minutes text for item 69.
Updates from Task Groups and Representatives on Programme Boards
To receive any updates on recent activity for active Task Groups and from Members of the Environment Select Committee who have been appointed as Overview and Scrutiny representatives on Programme Boards.
Councillor Graham Wright, Chairman of the Climate Emergency Task Group, presented an update on the Task Group since 19 September 2023.
The recent activities of the Task Group were detailed, namely:
· A meeting held on 9 October 2023 in which the Task Group considered the update on the Council’s response to the Climate Emergency and the revised Environmental Policy, and raised questions as per Paragraph 11 of the report.
· The Chairman of the Task Group with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Environment Select Committee met with the Cabinet Member for Environmental and Climate Change on 20 October 2023 to discuss the Forward Work Plan in relation to climate change.
Appendix 1, the Forward Work Plan, was briefly detailed and it was noted that Members of the Task Group were looking forward to working with officers to help achieve the Council’s pledge of carbon neutrality by 2030. Thanks were given to Simon Bennett, Senior Scrutiny Officer, for his continued hard work and support.
Following which, it was:
1) The Committee noted the update on the Task Group activity provided.
2) The Committee noted the Climate Emergency Task Group’s Forward Work Plan in Appendix 1.
Forward Work Programme
To note and receive updates on the progress of items on the Forward Work Programme.
Under the revised Overview and Scrutiny (OS) arrangements there is now a single OS work programme controlled by the OS Management Committee, linked to priorities in the Business Plan.
Therefore, it should be noted that, whilst any matters added by Members are welcome, they will be referred to the OS Management Committee for approval before formal inclusion in the work programme for the Environment Select Committee.
A copy of the Overview and Scrutiny Forward Work Programme for the Environment Select Committee is attached for reference.
The Committee received the Forward Work Programme for consideration.
The Rights of Way item due for discussion was raised, and it was noted that further conversations were needed with the Legal Team on the point of potentially inviting a specific member of the public to deliver a presentation at the relevant meeting.
Additionally, Members queried the length of time it took for certain reports to reach the Committee for scrutiny, particularly around climate change. In response, it was suggested that Members contact the relevant Cabinet Member for further information when required, but it was also confirmed that the point would be raised between relevant officers outside of the meeting.
Following which, it was:
The Committee approved the Forward Work Programme.
Any other items of business which the Chairman agrees to consider as a matter of urgency.
There were no urgent items.
Date of Next Meeting
To confirm the date of the next scheduled meeting as 11 January 2024.
The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 11 January 2024.