Minutes of Meeting of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 20 January 2011 at 10.30 am.
Mr J Laing, Mr B J Murphy, Mr J Rosie, Mr G M Smith, Mr R Coghill, 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, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr R Pedersen, Mr T Prag, Mr F D S Black, Mr D Fallows, Dr M E M Foxley
Non-Members also present:
Mr D Mackay, Mrs A Sinclair, Mr M Finlayson, Mr R Durham, Mr D Millar, Mr B Clark, Mr D Kerr, Mr J Gray, Mr J Holden
Mr N Gillies, Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services
Dr C Clark, Head of Waste Management
Mr R Guest, Head of Roads and Community Works
Mr S MacNaughton, Head of Transport and Infrastructure
Ms T Snow, Head of Business Support
Mr M Mitchell, Finance Manager
Mr G Robb, Trading Standards Manager
Mr D Summer, Transport Development Officer
Ms J Ross, Principal Waste Management Officer (Strategy)
Ms I Percy-Bell, Waste Management Officer (Strategy)
Ms G Bain, Senior Animal Health and Welfare Officer, Environmental Health
Mr A Yates, Principal Food Safety Officer
Ms A MacDonald, Environmental Health Officer
Miss M Fraser, Business Support Officer
Miss J Maclennan, Principal Administrator, Chief Executive’s Office
Mrs F MacBain, Senior Administrative Assistant, Chief Executive’s Office
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
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr A S Park, Mr D Flear and Mr G Farlow.
2. Declarations of Interest
The Committee NOTED the following declaration of interest:
Item 8 – Mr T Prag (Financial)
3. Good News
The Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services reported on the following:-
- Iain MacLeod, Charlie Mackinnon and Simon Miles, Community Works Operatives from Minginish, Skye had received a Community Council commendation, having been nominated by Minginish Community Council;
- The Corran Ferry project, which had involved the installation of a temporary barge to allow the ferry to continue to operate while the slipway was being repaired, had won Innovation of the Year; and
- Alana MacDonald, Environmental Health Officer, had won Trainee of the Year. As she had been unable to attend the ceremony, the Chairman, on behalf of the Council, presented Ms MacDonald with her award.
European Grant Funding:-
- Green and Active Travel Improvements had been awarded £224,000;
- Sconser Ferry Enhancement had been awarded £500,000; and
- Vital Highland Roads had been awarded £500,000.
Alistair Thomson, Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards had been appointed President of the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.
The Highland Council Waste Awareness Team had run a competition for schools and youth groups to raise awareness of the problem of waste in the Highlands. The winning film, ‘Ronnie Rubbish’, from Portree High School, was shown and, following this, the young people involved in the making of the film joined the meeting via video-conferencing to enable the Chairman and Members to congratulate them on their innovative film-making and promotion of the waste-awareness message.
The Chairman having congratulated the award-winners and all the young people and staff who had been involved with the making of ‘Ronnie Rubbish’, the Committee NOTED the good news items.
4. Revenue Monitoring – Report to 30 November 2010
There had been circulated Report No TEC-01-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which set out the revenue monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 November 2010 and the projected year end position.
During a summary of the report, it was explained that, as a result of unusually severe weather experienced in November and December 2010, the annual winter maintenance budget of £4.8m had already been allocated. However, the additional winter maintenance had resulted in less road maintenance being undertaken and this budget was correspondingly underspent. Depending on weather conditions for the remaining two months of the financial year, it was hoped that the final position would be an estimated £0.311m underspend. It was also pointed out that staffing budgets were currently underspent due to a number of vacancies being held. However, a list of exempt posts had been agreed by the Resources Committee and those functions would continue to be covered. Reference was also made to the global upturn on demand for recyclate, particularly for paper commodities, and income from its sale had increased.
During discussion, Members expressed concern that many roads, particularly in Easter Ross, had not been properly treated during the severe weather due to insufficient staffing and resources and further information on this was requested.
i. NOTED the report and the monitoring statements which showed the
revenue position for the period 1 April to 30 November 2010;
ii. NOTED the actions which had been put in place to manage the budget;
iii. AGREED that information on the workforce allocated to winter
maintenance, both now and in previous years, be provided to Ms M Smith.
5. Capital Expenditure Monitoring – Report to 30 November 2010
There had been circulated Report No TEC-02-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which summarised the capital expenditure monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 November 2010. The projected outturns for expenditure and income were £26.745m and £0.905m respectively, leading to an overspend of £0.176m
During discussion, it was explained that an underspend of £2.429m on various projects was mainly due to delays in some capital contracts as a result of the unusually severe weather experienced in December 2010. Three projects had been brought forward to mitigate this, namely carriageway works (£0.5m), white light installation (£0.5m) and the purchase of new bins to facilitate the roll-out of alternate weekly waste collections (£1.5m).
In response to Members’ questions, it was explained that:-
- the purchase of new bins would facilitate but not accelerate the roll-out of alternate weekly waste collections;
- the Ullapool public convenience contract had now been awarded; and
- a detailed assessment was being undertaken to assess the extent of the structural damage which had resulted in the closure of Cantray Bridge.
i. NOTED the report and the monitoring statements which showed the
capital expenditure position for the period 1 April to 30 November 2010;
ii. APPROVED £0.5m being brought forward to the current year to be spent
on Road Structural Capital Works and that £0.5m be brought forward to
the current year to be spent on Structural Lighting works;
iii. APPROVED £1.5m being brought forward to the current year for the
purchase of new bins to help facilitate the roll-out of alternate weekly
waste collections; and
iv. APPROVED the funding of the plant and vehicle expenditure, totalling
£1.497m, by transferring the lease payment position to the loan charges
budget to cover the repayment of debt.
6. Update on Winter Maintenance – Use of Emergency Powers to
Conserve Road Salt and Impacts on Service Delivery during the
Period of Severe Weather
There was tabled Report No. TEC-13-11 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services informing Members of the emergency measures put in place by the Chief Executive to conserve stocks of road salt and inviting agreement that these measures should remain in place until the stock of road salt returned to a sustainable level. The report also updated Members on the impacts on service delivery during the recent period of severe weather.
During a summary of the report, it was explained that due to an unusually cold December, pressure on UK suppliers of salt from other local authorities and transportation difficulties experienced by suppliers in Northern Ireland, the Council had not achieved its intended stockpile of salt for winter 2010/11, hence the implementation of the emergency measures detailed in the report. New salt deliveries were now scheduled and it was expected that the emergency measures would be lifted by 28 January 2011. To help repair pothole damage following the severe weather in December 2010, the Scottish Government had allocated £15m of additional funds to local authorities and it was hoped Highland Council would receive approximately £1.5m. Further impacts of the severe weather had included slippage on some routine maintenance, two landslides on the A832 and B9176 and possible structural damage to Cantray Bridge.
During discussion, the following points were made:-
- information from the public about potholes was welcomed, particularly as they could appear suddenly and without warning;
- a number of concerns had been expressed regarding the Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy in Ward 6 (Wester Ross), notably west of Garve (A832) from Lochcarron in the south and north to Braemore Junction. It had been suggested that, if the roads had been properly salted at the start of the severe weather, problems might not have been so extreme, with severe ruts of compacted snow being formed in many places. A full review of the Policy in relation to this area was called for, with the outcomes to be reported to the Committee in May 2011;
- the grit bins provided in Nairn were welcomed and they had been well-used during the severe weather;
- the use of snow tyres during severe weather was compulsory in some European countries and this should be considered in the UK, as should the inclusion of heated screen wash dispensers in new cars;
- residual and recycled waste collections had been missed in Easter Ross; and
- as a result of recent experiences in Caithness, it was suggested that consideration be given to re-designating those routes with steep inclines and which would avoid schools from closing.
In response to comments from Members, it was explained that:-
- the Service would aim to catch up with any delayed waste collections during periods of severe weather with priority given to residual rather than recyclable waste collections;
- in relation to the Council’s use of 2-wheel drive rather than 4-wheel drive vehicles for winter maintenance and the problems experienced by the vehicles in hilly areas, such as certain parts of Mallaig and Morar, contracts for additional support during periods of adverse weather had been sought from private contractors. In some areas, contractors had not returned the tender documents and in these areas the Council would continue to employ local contractors provided they had the necessary level of insurance cover. It might be necessary to issue a further tender for next winter and Transport, Environmental and Community Services would attempt to simplify the tender documents and work with the Council’s Business Gateway to provide support to contractors when completing tenders; and
- the approximate £1.5m anticipated from the Scottish Government was specifically to repair damage to the road surface caused by the severe weather in December 2010.
i. NOTED the emergency powers used by the Chief Executive in relation to
the conservation of road salt on 23 December 2010;
ii. AGREED that the following measure remain in place to conserve stocks of
road salt until such time as stock levels were replenished to a sustainable
level of 12,800 tonnes, which would provide 8 days supply at heavy usage
(1,600 tonnes per day):-
(a) Low priority routes would be treated with grit only, as per the advice
issued by the Scottish Salt Cell. Low priority routes were defined as
Priority 3 and 4 routes as per the Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy. If
dangerous road conditions developed on Priority 3 and 4 routes, and salt
was required to treat ice, efforts would be made to treat localised
sections with salt in the interests of public safety;
iii. NOTED the impact on service delivery over the period of severe winter
iv. NOTED that Easter Ross would be included in the list of areas which had
experienced missed refuse collections;
v. AGREED that, to encourage small independent contractors to become
involved in winter maintenance, the Council’s Business Gateway should
offer advice in relation to the procurement process; and
vi. AGREED a full scale review of the Winter Maintenance Policy in respect of
all routes west of Garve (A832) from Lochcarron in the south and north to
Braemore Junction and to examine winter operation on the
Inverbroom/Loggie and Drumrunie to Achiltibuie routes, with progress
being reported to the Transport, Environmental and Community Services
Committee on 26 May 2011.
7. Public Transport Contracts
There had been circulated Report No TEC-03-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on the outcome of the negotiations in relation to bus services which could be run commercially and progress in relation to the proposals for further savings.
Following a summary of the report, Members suggested that publicity should be given to the Council’s financial support for bus services as it was felt that the public were often unaware of the Council’s involvement and this knowledge might encourage use of the bus services. Members also questioned why the Council had been subsidising some services which were now to be run commercially.
In response to further comments from Members, it was explained that:-
- some changes to bus services in Badenoch and Strathspey were intended to improve efficiency but had not been included in the report as they were not part of the budget saving measures;
- the reduced subsidised service to the ferry terminal at Scrabster was facilitated by the redesign of the existing Inverness to Scrabster service; and
- the overspend on the public transport contracts budget was as a result of the jet bus subsidy which would not be continuing and therefore the proposals would result in a sustainable service being provided.
i. NOTED the outcome of the negotiations in relation to moving services to a
commercial basis as detailed in Appendix 1;
ii. AGREED the changes to current contracts as set out in Appendix 2;
iii. NOTED the progress in relation to the services listed in Appendix 3;
iv. AGREED to delegate powers to the Director of Transport, Environmental
and Community Services, in consultation with the Chair of the Transport,
Environmental and Community Services Committee and Local Members, to
negotiate reductions or terminations of the contracts listed in Appendix 3;
v. AGREED that a report be submitted to a future Transport, Environmental
and Community Services Committee to publicise that the Council was
subsidising specific public transport routes.
8. Scottish Government Consultation on Regulations to Deliver Zero
Waste- Zero Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Declaration of Interest:
Mr T Prag declared a financial interest in this item as Vice-Chairman of Inverness Harbour Trust on the grounds that a potential waste collection contractor was to be located at Inverness Harbour but, in terms of the dispensation granted by the Standards Commission, remained to participate in the discussion.
There had been circulated Report No TEC-04-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services reminding Members that the Scottish Government had published its Zero Waste Plan for Scotland in June 2010 with the intention of consulting on the detail in the autumn and legislating thereafter. Members were asked to approve the Council’s response to the Scottish Government‘s consultation on the draft legislation which would implement the following measures:-
- source segregation (by households and businesses including schools etc) of glass, paper, card, metals, plastics, textiles and in the case of a food business, food waste;
- the separate collection of these wastes;
- a ban on mixing separately collected recyclable materials;
- a ban on landfilling of key recyclable materials;
- a restriction on the inputs to Energy from Waste (EfW); and
- a ban on the landfilling of organic material above a threshold.
In summarising the report, it was explained that the closing date for the Council’s response on the draft legislation was 28 February 2011. The proposed Zero Waste Plan was of great importance to the Council’s Waste Management function with far-reaching implications and a tight timescale for its implementation, namely by 2013 to sort dry recyclate and food waste, by 2015 to ban the landfilling of source segregated dry recyclables and source segregated food waste and by 2017 to ban landfilling of organic waste. Businesses, in particular, were not sufficiently aware of the legislation and the implications for them in terms of their management, storage and disposal of waste and it was hoped that all businesses in Highland would be visited by Waste Management Officials to explain the requirements. Changes to the duty of care would also put some responsibility onto householders for the correct disposal of their waste and the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices were being sought, as a last resort, to ensure the correct use of the recycling bins provided.
During discussion, the following issues were raised by Members:-
- it was unfortunate that some members of the public had left bottles and other recycling materials lying on the ground when Recycling Banks were full, especially over the Festive Period;
- there was a need for additional recycling points;
- the proposals raised questions about the possible viability of Energy from Waste (EfW) projects;
- in addition to recycling, and to reduce the overall amount of waste produced, it was essential that packaging regulations were reviewed to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging and to ensure clear and legible information was included on labels about how the packaging could be recycled;
- to ensure compliance with policy and legislation and to encourage recycling generally, clear information and signage at all Recycling Points was essential, with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) an important tool to tackle persistent offenders;
- a meeting with the Scottish Government was essential to discuss issues surrounding the new legislation, particularly the issue of FPNs and the need for tighter packaging regulations; and
- it was important that the Planning Service took into consideration the issue of bin storage when determining planning applications, especially in built-up urban areas.
In response to questions from Members, it was explained that:-
- in relation to glass recycling, a better quality of recyclate was produced when the glass was sorted by colour at source;
- the cost implications of transporting the additional recyclable waste from remote rural areas were not known at present;
- the proposals could potentially mean that “green” waste would end up being treated as residual waste but, that once sorted, it could alternatively be used in EfW plants;
- revenue generated by FPNs would go to local authorities whereas revenue from fines issued by a Sheriff Court went to the Exchequer. Members were assured that a pragmatic approach would be taken and that FPNs would only be used as a ‘last resort’ with other tactics used first to encourage people to comply with the new legislation;
- Recycling Points, of which there were 217 in Highland, were a cost-effective means of collecting recyclable material and Community Councils were consulted as to their location;
- charities, many of whom relied on textile collections as an income source, would be detrimentally effected by the proposals;
- textile recycling companies also impacted on charity collections and Trading Standards were monitoring their marketing material to ensure they were easily distinguishable from the charities;
- blue wheeled bins would be provided to replace the current blue boxes;
- tops should ideally be left off plastic bottles for recycling, to enable bottles to be crushed more easily and to take up less space;
- costs would be investigated for appropriate signage for all Highland Recycling Points;
- decisions on the location of Recycling Points was an operational one, due to the complexities and range of issues that had to be taken into consideration; and
- it was important to consider economic recyclate opportunities and to seek that waste management related jobs remain in Scotland.
i. APPROVED the Council’s response to the Scottish Government’s
Consultation on the Regulations to deliver Zero Waste, as contained in
Appendix A to the report, taking into account points raised during
discussion, particularly in relation to the need for improved packaging
regulations and enhanced information being provided at recycling points;
ii. AGREED, given the timescale for responding, the delegation of powers to
the Director of Transport, Environment and Community Services, in
consultation with the Chair of the Transport, Environment and Community
Services Committee, to add to the response before the submission on 28
iii. NOTED that the Council’s response would include a strong recommendation
to include Fixed Penalty Notices in Scotland as a means of encouraging
people to use the recycling bins provided correctly; and
iv. AGREED that the Chairman should request a meeting with the Scottish
Government’s Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead, to discuss the
issues raised during discussion regarding the proposed draft legislation.
(At this point, the Committee adjourned for lunch and resumed at 1.45 pm)
9. Review of Burial and Cremation Charges
There had been circulated Report No TEC-05-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on the review of Burial and Cremation Charges and invited agreement that the current charges be increased to bring them in line with the Scottish average with effect from 1 April 2011.
During discussion, and whilst it was recognised that there was a need to increase charges, it was felt that the proposal to bringing them in line with the Scottish average represented too high an increase and would have a detrimental impact on the local population. In determining the new level of charges, it was suggested that they be recalculated taking into account an analysis of the full costs involved.
The Committee thereafter AGREED TO DEFER determination of charges for burials and cremations until the next meeting of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee on 17 March 2011 to establish the level at which full cost recovery of the service would be achieved.
10. Contract Supervision and Monitoring
There had been circulated Report No TEC-06-11 dated 10 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which invited approval of staffing changes to support the supervision and monitoring of maintenance contracts within Roads and Community Works.
In summarising the report, it was explained that management and supervisory structures were being reviewed as part of the overall staffing structure review for TEC Services, resulting from the savings measures agreed by the Council on 16 December 2010. However, some specific changes were required following the award of the contract for amenity grass cutting and the need for a more formal approach to contract monitoring than had previously been in place.
In response to a request from Members for details of the Council’s in-house bid for the amenity grass-cutting contract, the Director confirmed that advice would be sought on whether this was possible in terms of data protection relating to contract tenders.
It was also explained that, in relation to the contract for amenity grass cutting, the correct procedure had been followed, including regular meetings and consultations being held with the relevant staff members and Trade Union representatives.
i. APPROVED the role of the Headquarters based post of Performance
Inspection Co-ordinator to take on overall responsibility for monitoring the
works delivered by external contractors and that three of the six
Performance Inspectors, one per Area, be re-designated as Contract
ii. NOTED that detailed consultation would take place with the staff affected
by these proposals and with the Trade Unions; and
iii. AGREED that the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community
Services should investigate if information regarding details of the in-house
bid for amenity grass cutting could be provided to Mrs L MacDonald.
11. Tobacco Marketing Controls
There had been circulated Report No TEC-07-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on the recent legislative changes dealing with tobacco marketing controls and invited consideration as to how the new regulatory duties imposed on the Council should be implemented.
Key features of the new legislation were outlined, including banning the display of tobacco and smoking related products in shops and the sale of tobacco from vending machines, the introduction of a tobacco sales registration scheme and making it an offence for under 18s to purchase tobacco or for offence for adults to buy tobacco for them. In addition, the new legislation would give powers to Council Officers to issue fixed penalty notices and power to Courts to ban retailers from selling tobacco where they had continually broken the law.
Following discussion, the Committee:-
i. NOTED the new legal provisions and the duties placed on the Council by
the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010;
ii. AGREED that the enforcement responsibility for the Act and its associated
regulations, including the issue of Fixed Penalty Notices, be carried out by
Trading Standards; and
iii. AGREED the proposed implementation of an annual programme of
enforcement action, as required by Section 26(1) of the Act, through
future reports to the Transport, Environmental and Community Services
Committee setting out the annual operational objectives for Trading
12. Food Safety Enforcement Policy
There had been circulated Report No TEC-08-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which invited Members to approve the revised version of the Food Safety Enforcement Policy.
The Committee APPROVED the revised Food Safety Enforcement Policy as circulated.
13. Animal Health and Welfare Framework
There had been circulated Report No TEC-09-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which provided an update on the pilot Animal Health and Welfare Framework which the Animal Health and Welfare Section were participating in and invited agreement of the proposed Service Plan.
During discussion, concern was expressed that livestock farmers were receiving letters from the Health and Welfare section when more than a certain proportion of cattle being transported were found to be without identification tags. In response, it was explained that the purpose of these letters was to act as a reminder of the importance of the documentation although it was acknowledged that many tags were lost in transit, chewed off and/or ingested by the cattle.
i. NOTED that the Council was taking part in the pilot Animal Health and
Welfare Framework; and
ii. APPROVED the Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Profile and Service Plan
as set out in Appendix A to the report.
14. Performance Management: Statutory and Internal Performance
Indicators – 3rd Quarter 2010/11
There had been circulated Report No TEC-10-11 dated 10 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which provided details of the performance of Transport, Environmental and Community Services, as measured by Statutory Performance Indicators and Internal Performance Indicators, for the third quarter of the financial year 2010/11.
The Committee NOTED the performance of Transport, Environmental and Community Services in relation to Service activities that were measured by Statutory Performance Indicators and Internal Performance Indicators.
15. Consultation on Regulation of Dropped Kerbs and Pavement
Parking (Scotland) Bill
There had been circulated Report No TEC-11-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which sought approval of the Council’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on a proposed Bill which encouraged Local Road Authorities to introduce waiting restrictions at all points where there was a dropped kerb to facilitate pedestrians crossing the road and to ban the parking of vehicles on pavements.
Having heard that, to avoid the introduction of an overly bureaucratic system, the recommendation to the Scottish Government was for the introduction of waiting restrictions to remain at the discretion of the Local Authority, the Committee APPROVED the consultation response as set out in the report.
16. Proposed Adoption of Lane – Golspie Main Street to Seawall
There had been circulated Report No TEC-12-11 dated 7 January 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which invited Members to approve the adoption of the Lane adjacent to the former Highland Council Offices, Golspie which ran from Golspie Main Street to the seawall.
The Committee APPROVED the adoption of the Lane adjacent to the former Highland Council Offices, Golspie which ran from Golspie Main Street to the seawall, onto the List of Public Roads as detailed in Appendix A of the report.
i. APPROVED the minutes of the Highland Licensing Committee of
19 October 2010;
ii. APPROVED the minutes of the Resource Monitoring Working Group of
18 November 2010;
iii. NOTED the HITRANS minute of 3 December 2010 and
iv. APPROVED the minutes of the Civic Government Licensing Working Group
of 13 January 2011.
The meeting ended at 2.30 pm.