Venue: County Hall, Worcester
Contact: Emma James/ Jo Weston Overview and Scrutiny Officers
Apologies and Welcome
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies had been received from Panel members Paul Denham, James O’Donnell and Rebecca Vale. Apologies had also been received from the Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Highways (Cllr Alan Amos) and for Education and Skills (Cllr Marcus Hart)
Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip
Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by email indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 4 July 2018). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/email address below.
Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous meeting
The Minutes of the meeting on 8 May 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman explained that this agenda item had been due for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (OSPB) the previous week but had needed to be referred to this Panel. Members of the OSPB had been invited to the meeting.
Paul Smith, the Council’s Transport Operations Manager had been asked to provide an overview of the draft Worcestershire Passenger Transport Strategy, which was being consulted on, so that the Panel could provide feedback to the consultation.
The Transport Operations Manager had prepared a presentation to summarise development of the draft Strategy, consultation on which had commenced on 6 June and would run until 13 September, thereby giving more time for schools to contribute. The consultation document was intended to set out and gain feedback on a wide range of themes which it was believed would inform the Strategy and the future for passenger transport. The draft Strategy was not at all set in stone.
Members had been actively engaged and been sent a list of activities. So far, 98% of consultation responses were digital, however officers wanted to reach all groups of people and had liaised with the Council’s Corporate Equality and Diversity Manager about this. Copies had been placed in locations such as libraries and tourist information centres and themes had been incorporated into the Summer roadshows.
The key objectives were:
· to create an inclusive Passenger Transport Strategy
· to provide a network which offers access to key services (rural and urban)
· to ensure a sustainable network
· assessment of the impact of the Bus Services Act 2017
· clarity about where, when and how the Local Authority would determine subsidising services
The consultation was going very well, with approximately 600 responses so far, and around 9000 anticipated. Analysis of feedback would include themes from narrative comments; early insight pointed to the need to maximise assets for example use of school transport, the need to raise the profile of community transport, the latter of which was therefore being included in the Summer roadshows, along with carshare schemes.
The Chairman invited comments and the following main points were raised:
· Panel members reported positive feedback from residents that the consultation was clear and informative about the issues being considered.
· The Transport Operations Manager agreed with a point from a Panel member about the importance of linking bus and rail services, including with the Birmingham transport network. It would also be important that services were complimentary and avoided duplication.
· A Panel member reported feedback that buses of appropriate size for the route were important.
· A Panel member had found community transport leaflets helpful and the Transport Operations Manager agreed more work was needed to promote services as publicity tended to be promoted to the known market.
· In a response to a query about linking new and existing bus and cycle routes to business development sites, this was something the Officer hoped to discuss more with bus operators.
· A member from outside the Panel sought reassurance that affordable housing would not be held back ... view the full minutes text for item 343.
Worcestershire County Council:
Sally Everest, Network Control Manager
Lynsey Keir, Transport Infrastructure Commissioning and Project Office Manager
Sarah Gilmour, Intelligent Transport Systems Manager
Cllr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Infrastructure and Environment
(Safer Roads Partnership / West Mercia)
Rod Reynolds, Safer Roads Partnership Manager
David Perridge, Operations Manager Safer Roads Partnership
Bob Haynes, Traffic Management Advisor (Worcestershire) Safer Roads Partnership
The Chairman welcomed the guests for the discussion about traffic calming, which he was aware was a big issue for many parishes and therefore the Panel was keen to learn what work was being done in Worcestershire.
The Council’s Network Control Manager explained that the Council monitored all accidents. In appraising accidents there were many avenues which could be taken, one of which was traffic calming, and this could also be used to benefit the environment.
The Network Control Manager summarised the main points of the Agenda report, which included background around justification for implementing traffic calming, the process for road safety improvement schemes, examples, the community improvement scheme route, types of traffic calming features available, information on what other local authorities do, speed limit history, examples of speed limit use, and delivering improvements for walking and cycling.
The Chairman invited questions and the following main points were raised:
· Referring to the process for road safety and the five examples given of issues and resultant schemes, the Chairman asked how many schemes had been done over the last 12 months. The Transport Infrastructure Commissioning and Project Office Manager advised that three schemes were pending and two underway, and then clarified that the question was complex since smaller traffic calming measures formed part of a variety of different projects, not just specific traffic calming ones. She clarified that roughly 5 standalone traffic calming schemes would be done over 12 months, but as a team approximately 60 schemes.
· The Chairman suggested that Worcestershire did not favour road humps and the officers agreed that they were not popular and confirmed that none had been added in the past 5 years.
· A member reported problems in his division with vehicle access and parking around speed cushions and the officers suggested any such issues would probably relate to historical rather than current schemes, since parking was examined as part of considering a scheme.
· A member sought clarification about the sign-off process for progressing community improvement schemes, specifically if the scheme would be stopped if objections were expressed by one of the organisations consulted. The Transport Infrastructure Commissioning and Project Office Manager explained that potential schemes had to be advertised and local members would also receive a copy of the report. She pointed out that lack of support, say from the Police would prompt the Council’s officers to also question and review the scheme since objections did need to be taken into account. In such cases officers would contact those objecting to understand and discuss and that consensus was usually reached.
· When asked whether the ... view the full minutes text for item 344.
In attendance for this item were:
John Hobbs, Director of Environmental and Infrastructure
Michael Hudson, Chief Financial Officer
Wendy Pickering, Finance Manager for E&I
Dave Corbett, Management Information Analyst
Cllr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Infrastructure and Environment
Year-end Budget Monitoring
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) introduced the Panel’s consideration of year end budget information for 2018/19 for services relating to Economy and Environmental Services, and pointed out that from the start of the following year it was hoped to bring forward the timescale for publishing financial information, which in turn would provide the scrutiny panels with real time data.
Referring to the slides in the Agenda (pages 67 – 69), the CFO pointed out the good news about the Directorate underspend of £4.69m, and that this had helped to offset the Council’ overall overspend for the year ending March 2019, which as reported to Cabinet in June was £2m.
There had been increased use of capitalisation, which was currently running at around £7.5m per year and when asked where this featured in the table, the CFO explained that £5m had already been taken off the base budget.
Regarding the reported variance of £2.8m for Business Administration and Systems, this would continue to be monitored although it was not felt to be an issue.
A lot of data had been used to set base budgets for 2019/20 and at the current position at the end of quarter one, there were no issues other than the deficit for waste services which was due to reduced waste tonnages, which would continue to be monitored. The Chairman’s understanding of how the waste contract worked was confirmed; that the Council had to pay the contractor a fee for the difference between input and output (of the waste to energy plant) and since it was working more efficiently than anticipated, costs were higher. The Director of Economy and Environment (E&I) said that another factor was the falling level of waste per household, although in the longer term this was balanced out by the number of new households.
The Director of Economy and Infrastructure (E&I) highlighted the key points for performance relating to quarter four. In his view quarter four had been business as unusual, apart from the slight reduction in waste tonnages.
Figures for percentage of planned highways inspections completed on time were attributed to impact of the previous year’s cold spells and hot summer, however he believed the Council had the most efficient repair approach. In his view the dip ion performance was a temporary setback and the Corporate Plan ambition was to be in the upper quartile for performance by 2022.
A member reported residents’ praise for pothole reporting.
Regarding trains, the Director projected improvements in routes to London.
Regarding condition of footways, the Chairman queried the impact of the additional £6m funding, and was advised that the funds had been directed to footways where people wanted it spent, generally closer to classified routes. Everyone agreed ... view the full minutes text for item 345.
Current version enclosed for consideration
The Chairman advised that all scrutiny work plans were being refreshed, therefore Panel members were asked to forward any suggestions to the Scrutiny officers.