Minutes of Meeting of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday 20 November 2008 at 10.30 am.

 

Present:

 

Mr J Laing, Mr B J Murphy, Mr G Farlow, Mr J Rosie, Mr G M Smith, Mr R Coghill, Mr D C M Flear, Mr J McGillivray, Mr R Greene, Ms M Smith, Mr A Rhind, Mrs A MacLean, Mr A Henderson, Mr A Graham, Mr N Donald, Mr D Henderson, Mr F Parr, Mr R Balfour, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr R Pedersen, Mr F D S Black, Mr D Fallows

 

Non-Members also present:

 

Ms L Munro, Mr D Mackay, Mr W J Ross, Dr A Sinclair, Mrs M E Paterson, Dr D Alston, Mr A M Millar

 

In attendance:

 

Mr R Guest, Head of Roads and Community Works
Ms T Snow, Head of Business Support
Mr S MacNaughton, Head of Transport and Infrastructure
Dr C Clark, Head of Waste Management
Mr M Mitchell, Finance Manager
Mr A Yates, Principal Environmental Health Officer
Mr A Hume, Waste Management Officer
Mr M Robb, Waste Management Assistant
Mr A Matheson, Lighting Manager
Mr W MacPherson, Fleet and Maintenance Manager
Mr J Allison, Principal Administrator, Chief Executive’s Office
Miss M Murray, Administrative Assistant, Chief Executive’s Office

 

Also in attendance:

 

Mr F Roach, HITRANS

 

An asterisk in the margin denotes a recommendation to the Council.  All decisions with no marking in the margin are delegated to Committee.

 

Mr J Laing in the Chair

 

Business

 

The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, extended condolences to Mr N Gillies, Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services, following a family bereavement.

 

Good News

 

The Head of Roads and Community Works reported as follows:-

  • The Highland Council Quality Award for Clean Environment and Sustainable Communities had been awarded to the Culbokie Three Bin Waste Collection Trial.
  • A street sweeper from Tain, Mr Steven Urquhart, had been nominated by Tain Community Council for a Community Council Commendation.
  • The Council had been presented with the award for Local Authority Fleet Operator of the Year at the recent Transport News Scottish Awards.

Mr W MacPherson, Fleet and Maintenance Manager, who had accepted the award on behalf of the Council, advised that the nominees had been assessed by a panel who considered all aspects of fleet operation such as planning, procurement, maintenance and operator licensing.  He commended all those involved in the operation of the Council’s fleet.

 

The Committee NOTED the good news items and AGREED that congratulations be conveyed to all staff involved.

 

1. Apologies for Absence

 

There were no apologies for absence.

 

2. Presentation – Rail Services

 

The Chairman welcomed Mr F Roach, HITRANS, who gave a presentation summarising the structure of the rail network in Scotland, the policy background, the current position with regard to rail services in the Highlands and a number of planned developments:-

  • the Tesco service to Inverness had commenced with 10 containers and would increase to 20 containers which would equate to 20 lorries per day less on the A9 each way;
  • the Invernextra rail service would be launched on 14 December 2008 and would include four trains per day to Wick and Kyle, a morning commuter service from Aviemore and Carrbridge arriving in Inverness at a more suitable time than the previous Kingussie service, a late night service to Tain on Fridays and Saturdays and a connection from Ardgay to the National Express train to London;
  • a half-hourly peak service through Dingwall with provision in the timetable for stops at Conon Bridge was also planned;
  • from 15 December 2008 there would be one additional train each way on the Aberdeen to Inverness line including an 0710 service from Inverness to Aberdeen to fill a long gap in the existing timetable;
  • a feasibility study had been carried out regarding the construction of a station at Inverness Airport at an estimated cost of £12m and the outcome of the Strategic Transport Projects Review was awaited but as each additional stop added three minutes to the timetable, that could be saved by work to improve track alignment at Forres;
  • on the Highland Main Line, an hourly service from Inverness to Edinburgh would commence in 2011/2012 with a journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes following planned major infrastructure developments;
  • on the West Highland Line, there would be additional trains to Mallaig on Sundays from spring 2009 and it was hoped to increase the number of trains to Oban to five per day;
  • finally, the possibility of introducing a summer steam train service to Kyle, particularly in connection with the Invergordon cruise ship market, was being investigated.

In discussion, the following comments were made:-

  • support was expressed for the planned developments which would significantly improve rail services in the Highlands and connectivity to the rest of the UK;
  • disappointment was expressed that the Invernet service from Kingussie to Inverness, which now commenced at Aviemore, had not been more successful and improvements to the timetable for that route were sought;
  • the construction of a station at Conon Bridge would help to reduce traffic congestion on the Kessock Bridge and it was hoped that the necessary funding could be secured in the near future;
  • cheaper tickets and improved integration were necessary to encourage more people to use public transport;
  • the introduction of the Tesco freight service was welcomed and it was hoped that freight services could be extended in the future, particularly to Wick and Thurso;
  • the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig was very successful and support was expressed for the introduction of a similar service to Kyle;
  • the train journey from Inverness to Thurso currently took four hours and this would have to be reduced if people were going to be persuaded to use public transport in favour of their cars;
  • separate desks should be introduced at Inverness Station for enquiries to reduce the time it took to purchase a ticket;
  • the full potential of the West Highland Line was not being realised and it was suggested that more carriages be introduced in the summer months;

Following a question and answer session, the Committee NOTED the presentation and the Chairman thanked Mr Roach on behalf of the Committee for his work to promote and develop rail services and the detailed information given to the Committee.

 

3. Revenue Budget Monitoring – 1 April to 30 September 2008

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-82-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services setting out the revenue monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 September 2008 and the projected year end position.  At present, the Service was not aware of any anomalies that would distort the financial position, however, the increase in electricity charges for street lighting and the price of fuel and oil based products such as road surfacing materials was a concern.

 

The Committee NOTED the report and monitoring statements which showed the revenue position for the period 1 April to 30 September 2008.

 

4. Capital Expenditure Monitoring – 1 April to 30 September 2008

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-83-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services summarising the capital expenditure monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 September 2008 and the projected year end position.  The projected outturns for expenditure and income were £28.430m and £0.624m respectively leading to an overspend of £0.371m.  The overspend had arisen due to the acceleration of a number of projects and would be deducted from the capital programme in future years.

 

In discussion, Members requested that consideration be given to introducing traffic calming measures on the Melvich to Strathy Road as traffic was currently exiting the road at speed in close proximity to a junction and a school bus stop.

 

The Committee:-

 

i.  NOTED the report and the monitoring statements which showed the capital
    expenditure position for the period 1 April to 30 September 2008;
ii. AGREED that stabilising works at Stromeferry and the Portree to Staffin
    lifeline road scheme be brought forward to take account of slippage in the
    allocation for lifeline bridges; and
iii. AGREED that the availability of funds for traffic calming measures on the
     Melvich to Strathy Road be investigated.

 

5. Programme for the Roll Out of the Rural Kerbside Recycling
    Collection Service

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-84-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services advising Members of the programme to roll out the extended rural kerbside recycling collection service to the majority of households in Highland that did not currently receive a kerbside collection service for dry recyclables, and supporting the Council’s commitment to increase the amount of waste recycled in the Highlands to 40% by 2010 and work towards kerbside recycling across the Highlands.  This programme fully utilised the available funding, however, there were still some areas that would not be covered due to lack of suitable infrastructure, sparse numbers of households and long travel distances.

 

In discussion, some Members commented that, while GREAN (Golspie Recycling and Environmental Action Network) had expressed an interest in expanding the kerbside recycling collection service they currently provided in Central/East Sutherland, they were, however, limited by their Service Level Agreement with the Council and it was suggested that the Agreement be extended to include West Sutherland, Lochbroom and those areas of Central/East Sutherland not presently covered.

 

Conversely, other Members felt that the Committee did not have sufficient information on the financial implications to make such a decision.  Discussions were ongoing with GREAN and other social enterprise groups with a view to ensuring that their operation met the changing needs and targets of the Council’s Waste Strategy on a cost effective basis so that there was a true partnership with the Council and it was suggested that negotiations be allowed to continue and a report submitted to Committee in due course.

 

Following discussion, Mr J Laing, seconded by Mr B J Murphy, MOVED the recommendation that the Committee note the details of the programme to roll out the rural kerbside recycling collection service to the majority of households in Highland that did not currently receive a kerbside collection service for dry recyclables.

 

Mr G Farlow, seconded by Ms M Smith, moved as an AMENDMENT the recommendation with the addition that the Committee agree that the Service Level Agreement in favour of GREAN, as intimated in section 4.3 of the report, be extended to cover the areas mentioned in sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the report except that Wester Ross be replaced by Lochbroom (ie Ullapool Village).

 

On a vote being taken, the MOTION received 16 votes and the AMENDMENT received 6 votes.  The MOTION was therefore carried, the votes having been cast as follows:-

 

For the Motion:-

 

Mr J Rosie, Mr G M Smith, Mr R Coghill, Mr D C M Flear, Mr R Greene, Mr A Rhind, Mrs A MacLean, Mr J Laing, Mr A Henderson, Mr A Graham, Mr N Donald, Mr D Henderson, Mr F Parr, Mr R Balfour, Mr F D S Black, Mr B J Murphy

 

For the Amendment:-

 

Mr G Farlow, Mr J McGillivray, Ms M Smith, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr R Pedersen, Mr D Fallows

 

6. Charges for Commercial and Industrial Waste 2009/10

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-85-08  by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services seeking approval to increase the charges for the collection and disposal of commercial and industrial wastes from 1 April 2009 and advising Members of the “Commercial Customer Bring Recycling Scheme” which encouraged commercial customers to increase their level of recycling and minimise their waste disposal costs in support of the Council’s commitment to increase the amount of waste recycled in the Highlands to 40% by 2010.

 

The Committee:-

 

i. AGREED that the collection and disposal element of the charges for
   commercial and industrial wastes be increased by 20% and that the increase
   in landfill tax (£8/tonne) be passed directly on to commercial customers; and
ii. NOTED that commercial customers were encouraged to increase their level
   of recycling and minimise their disposal costs through the “Commercial
   Customer Bring Recycling Scheme”.

 

7. Waste Data Digest 2007/08

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-86-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services providing a summary of the Waste Data Digest for 2007/08 and seeking approval to publish the full report on the Council’s website.

 

In discussion, Members suggested that officials discuss with the Scottish Government the possibility of a minimum guaranteed price for recycled waste to introduce some stability to the market.

 

The Committee:-

 

i.  NOTED the summary of the Waste Data Digest for 2007/08 as contained in
    Appendix A to the report;
ii. APPROVED the publication of the full report on the Council’s website; and
iii. AGREED that officials discuss with the Scottish Government the
    introduction of a minimum guaranteed price for recycled waste.

 

8. Reducing Energy Consumption – Street Lighting

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-87-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services advising Members of the increasing cost of energy associated with the provision of street lighting and examining options for reducing energy consumption to support the Council’s commitment to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

 

During discussion, it was explained that the charge to the Council for power consumed was based on the number and wattage of street lights in use.  Currently, the Council purchased its power as part of a nine authority consortium but negotiations were proceeding with a view to the creation of a national purchasing consortium of all Scottish local authorities to maximise economies of scale.

 

The Committee AGREED that:-

 

i.  in areas where there was no requirement for CCTV, a combination of
    dimming and white lamp sources be adopted as the standard for street
    lighting for new developments and the replacement of existing equipment;
ii.  in areas where there was a requirement for CCTV, white lamp sources be
    adopted as the standard for street lighting for new developments and the
    replacement of existing equipment;
iii. further work be carried out to establish the most effective options for
    reducing the electricity consumption for existing street lighting installations,
    based on either dimming, white lamp sources or a combination of both,
    taking account of cost implications and future savings, and that a further
    report be submitted to the Transport, Environmental and Community
    Services Committee; and
iv. the option to switch off street lighting overnight should only be considered
    for specific areas where there was support from the local community and
    the Police.

 

9. The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-88-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services advising that the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee sought views on the general principles of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill and had called for evidence from local authorities and other interested parties by 11 November 2008.  The report supported the Council’s commitment to work with CoSLA and the Scottish Government to promote legislation to simplify the process of securing Flood Prevention Orders.

 

The Committee:-

 

i. AGREED to homologate the Council’s response to the Scottish
   Government’s call for evidence in relation to the draft Flood Risk
   Management (Scotland) Bill as contained in Appendix A to the report; and
ii. NOTED that the Council was seeking further clarification from the Scottish
   Government on the funding implications.

 

10. The Scottish Road Network Landslide Study

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-89-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services advising Members of the details of a recent report by Transport Scotland into the potential for landslides on the Scottish trunk road network and the implications of the report for the Highland area.

 

The Committee NOTED the report.

 

11. Response to the Consultation on the Local Transport Bill

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-90-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services advising that the Government had issued a Consultation, which closed on 17 October 2008, on the operational aspects of the Local Transport Bill.

 

The Committee AGREED to homologate the Council’s response to the Consultation on the operational aspects of the Local Transport Bill, as contained in Appendix A to the report.

 

12. Consultation on the Primary Authority Scheme for Enforcement
      Bodies

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-91-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services appending the Council’s response to the Government’s consultation on proposals for a Primary Authority Scheme for Enforcement Bodies.

 

The Committee APPROVED the Council’s response to the consultation in relation to the Government’s proposals for a Primary Authority Scheme for Enforcement Bodies, as contained in Appendix A to the report.

 

13. Consultation on Food Law Code of Practice in Scotland

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-92-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services appending the Council’s response to the Food Standards Agency’s consultation on proposed amendments to the Food Law Code of Practice.

 

The Committee APPROVED the Council’s response to the Food Standards Agency’s consultation on proposed amendments to the Food Law Code of Practice, as contained in Appendix A to the report.

 

14. Performance Management: Statutory and Internal Performance
      Indicators – 1st Quarter 2008/09

 

There was circulated Report No TEC-93-08 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services providing details of Transport, Environmental and Community Services performance, as measured by Statutory  Performance Indicators and Internal Performance Indicators, for the first quarter of financial year 2008/09.

 

The Committee NOTED the performance of Transport, Environmental and Community Services in relation to Service activities measured by Statutory Performance Indicators and Internal Performance Indicators.

 

15. Minutes

 

The Committee NOTED or APPROVED, as appropriate, the Minutes of the following meetings:-

 

i.  Caithness Sutherland and Easter Ross Licensing Committee of 26 August
    2008;
ii.  HITRANS of 5 September 2008 (Draft);
iii. Inverness Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey Licensing Committee of 9
    September 2008;
iv. Ross Skye and Lochaber Licensing Committee of 16 September 2008;
v.  Resource Monitoring Working Group of 25 September 2008;
vi. Fishery Harbours Management Board of 6 November 2008.

 

16. Letter to Iain Wallace, Area Roads and Community Works Manager

 

The Committee AGREED that a letter be sent to Iain Wallace, Area Roads and Community Works Manager, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey on behalf of the Committee wishing him well for his recovery following a recent road traffic accident.

 

The meeting ended at 12.50 pm.