Minutes of Meeting of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 26 May 2011 at 10.30am.
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 R Balfour, Mr A Graham, Mr N Donald, Mr D Henderson, Mr F Parr, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr R Pedersen, Mr F D S Black, Mr D Fallows, Dr M E M Foxley.
(* Agreed at Highland Council on 23 June 2011)
Non-Members also present:
Mr R Rowantree, Mr D Mackay, Mr W Fernie, Mrs D Mackay, Mr I Ross, Mrs I Campbell, Mrs M Paterson, Dr D Alston, Mr D Millar, Mr B Clark, Mr H Wood
Mr G Marsden
Mr N Gillies, Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services
Ms T Snow, Head of Business Support
Mr R Guest, Head of Roads and Community Works
Mr S MacNaughton, Head of Transport and Infrastructure
Dr C Clark, Head of Waste Management
Mr M Mitchell, Finance Manager
Mr G Robb, Trading Standards Manager
Mr A Yates, Principal Food Safety Officer
Mr M Elsey, Senior Licensing Officer, Chief Executive’s Office
Miss J Maclennan, Principal Administrator, Chief Executive’s Office
Miss M Murray, Committee Administrator, 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
An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Mr A S Park.
2. Declarations of Interest
The Committee NOTED the following declaration of interest:
Item 19 – Mr N Donald (Financial)
3. Good News
The Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services reported that Junior Road Safety Officers from Knockbreck and Central Primary Schools had won 2 of the 10 prizes in the Road Safety Scotland poster campaign to mark the launch of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. The Chairman warmly congratulated the children involved and presented them with a gift from the Council to recognise their achievements at a national level.
The Committee NOTED the good news item.
4. Revenue Monitoring – Report to 30 April 2011
There had been circulated Report No TEC-30-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which set out the revenue monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 April 2011 and the projected year end position. At this stage, it was predicted that the budget as a whole would be balanced at the end of the financial year. In relation to the outturn for 2010/11, the Final Accounts would be presented to the Council on 23 June 2011 but it was expected the underspend would be as reported to the Committee’s last meeting.
In relation to Ms M Smith’s enquiry about the transfer of grounds maintenance for school playgrounds from Education, Culture and Sport to Transport, Environmental and Community Services, the Chair advised that the Service Finance Manager would investigate this issue and discuss with Ms Smith.
i. NOTED the report and the monitoring statements which showed the
revenue position for the period 1 April to 30 April 2011; and
ii. AGREED that the Finance Manager would investigate the issues raised by
Ms M Smith in relation to the transfer of grounds maintenance for school
playgrounds from Education, Culture and Sport to Transport, Environmental
and Community Services and discuss with her directly.
5. Capital Expenditure Monitoring – Report to 30 April 2011
There had been circulated Report No TEC-31-11 dated 17 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which summarised the capital expenditure monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 April 2011 and the projected year end position. The current projected outturn for expenditure indicated a negative position but it was explained that this was as a result of expenditure being pulled forward from the previous financial year, a position which would be reversed in May. Overall, no problems were anticipated with the Capital Programme.
During discussion, Members expressed their appreciation for the update provided in relation to the repair works on the Logie Bridge which, it was confirmed, would be completed by late Autumn 2011 and would be free from any weight restriction.
The Committee NOTED the capital expenditure monitoring position for the period 1 April to 30 April 2011.
6. Proposals for Management Restructuring
There had been circulated Report No TEC-32-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which invited Members to approve the changes to the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Senior Management Structure following the deletion of the post of Head of Business Support.
The Director explained that the majority of duties previously undertaken by the Head of Business Support would be reallocated to other Senior Managers with effect from 1 July 2011. However, the transfer of street cleaning from Roads and Community Works to Waste Management would take longer and, with reference to a statement made by the GMB Trade Union expressing concern at the level of consultation which had taken place on this particular matter, the Director confirmed that there was an option for further information to be brought back to Members. He also gave a commitment that staff would be kept fully informed.
i. APPROVED the changes to the Transport, Environmental and Community
Services Senior Management Structure as set out in Appendix A of the
ii. NOTED that a review of the overall staffing structure was currently
underway to ensure that the operational management and supervisory
structure properly reflected the changes set out in the report, other recent
changes and posts which were currently vacant.
7. Maintaining Scotland’s Roads – A Follow-up Report
There had been circulated Report No TEC-33-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on the 2011 Audit Scotland report ‘Maintaining Scotland’s Roads: A Follow-up Report’ which examined progress against recommendations in the 2004 ‘Maintaining Scotland’s Roads’ report.
During a summary of Highland Council’s current position in relation to the various recommendations, it was pointed out that the Audit Scotland report had calculated that the maintenance backlog figure for Scotland as a whole had increased from £1.24 billion in 2004 to £2.25 billion in 2010. In Highland, the cost to remove all defects was estimated at £145m and the cost to maintain the network in a steady state was estimated at £15m per annum, against a 2011/12 budget for structural maintenance of £7.5m. Increases in construction inflation had also affected the amount of work carried out with the cost of bituminous materials rising by 68% since 2003.
However, on a positive note, Highland Council had adopted a Road Asset Management Plan (RAMP) and had been involved in the preparation of a suite of common performance indicators being developed by the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation to enable Councils to be compared on a like-to-like basis. In addition, a National Road Maintenance Review was being carried out by Transport Scotland in response to the Audit Scotland report and Highland Council was represented at Officer level on Working Groups to consider how improvements to road maintenance could be achieved within existing resources.
In discussion, it was recognised that considerable additional resources were required to bring roads in Highland and across Scotland up to an acceptable standard and an indication of CoSLA’s position on this was sought. A considerable proportion of Scotland’s road network fell within Highland and it was vital that all routes were looked at and not just single track roads. In addition, when constructing roads, it was important that they were engineered properly as it was acknowledged that maintenance on poorly engineered roads fell into disrepair relatively quickly otherwise. The deterioration of the road network also had a detrimental impact on road vehicles which resulted in increased repair costs for motorists and deterred cyclists from using roads which they considered to be unsafe which in turn had a corresponding impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals.
In response, Members were assured that the RAMP Working Group was giving the matter careful consideration and it had been estimated that in 10 years time over 50% of Scotland’s roads would require maintenance intervention. They were also investigating the effect that different funding levels would have and hoped to establish an acceptable service level. It was recognised that if current spending levels were maintained then the quality of roads would continue to deteriorate. However, whilst recognising the need to concentrate on structural maintenance, there would be little benefit to be gained from redirecting resources from cyclical maintenance given its relatively small budget.
Thereafter, the Committee:-
i. NOTED the Audit Scotland report ‘Maintaining Scotland’s Roads: A
Follow-up Report’ and the Council’s progress against the recommendations;
ii. AGREED that a report should be submitted to a future meeting detailing
the work being undertaken by the Road Asset Management Plan Working
iii. AGREED that investigations should be undertaken to establish what was
being done nationally, including by the Convention of Scottish Local
Authorities, to address the deteriorating standards of Scotland’s roads.
8. Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey 2010
There had been circulated Report No TEC-34-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on the results of the Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey which was carried out in 2010. In particular, attention was drawn to the fact that rural roads were in a worse condition overall than urban roads but that the latter generally would cost more to repair. The survey had however helped to identify the most suitable repair techniques.
During discussion, and specifically in regard to how Highland could improve its road network, an analysis was sought of the performance of other Local Authorities in the Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey. The road infrastructure was vital to the development of the Highland economy and consideration of its prioritisation within the Council was required to prevent road conditions deteriorating further. In addition, reference was made to the planning gain from large applications and how in the past this extra funding had been used for road improvements. It was important that Officers continued to identify where this was appropriate. Investment in the road infrastructure was essential, as was the need for a more innovative approach, and information on the work being presently undertaken by ROADEX was requested.
i. NOTED the results of the Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey for
ii. AGREED that additional data and analysis be provided for Mr R Pedersen in
relation to the performance of Local Authorities in the survey; and
iii. AGREED that a report on ROADEX’s investigation of the use of alternative
road maintenance techniques be reported to a future meeting.
9. Review of Winter Maintenance Service – Wester Ross
There had been circulated Report No TEC-35-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on the outcome of the review into the Winter Maintenance Service in the Wester Ross area which had been carried out as a result of concerns raised at the meeting on 20 January 2011 following the period of severe weather in December 2010 and January 2011.
In this regard, information was provided on a number of factors, including the average length of morning routes in Wester Ross, target completion times in frost, ice and snow conditions, salt spreading rates, the number of school days lost in the Plockton and Gairloch areas and the complaints that been received in Ward 6.
Overall, the review had established that the decision making process had been robust and the staff involved had been experienced and had received the appropriate level of training. Arising from the review of operation services during the period of extreme weather in 2009/10, efforts had been made to strengthen arrangements by using local contractors, especially in periods of severe weather. However, in the Wester Ross area, only a limited response had been received with the majority of contractors being based on the east coast. The review had concluded that the winter maintenance resources provided in Wester Ross had met the Council’s policy for average weather conditions. Measures would however be put in place to address some of the issues which had arisen, such as ensuring adequate salt was available and more local contractors were available to provide assistance during periods of extreme weather.
In response, and whilst expressing appreciation for the detailed and comprehensive report, it was suggested that it had been demonstrated that budgets allocated to road construction, improvement and cyclical maintenance fell well below the level necessary to ensure that the road network was sufficiently protected. It was acknowledged that considerable additional pressure had been placed on the winter maintenance programme as a result of recent years’ adverse weather and the country-wide shortage of salt supplies. However, the winter maintenance programme in its present form had been based on work undertaken during a time of mild winter weather and was now subject to considerable budget constraints.
Winter maintenance routes did vary with local geography and many routes in Wester Ross traversed significant differentials in terrain. Dissatisfaction had also previously been expressed in Ward 6 in relation to salt spread rates, particularly on Priority 3 and 4 routes, as many of these routes were around loch-sides supporting a number of settlements. As a result of the severe weather and the need to revert to grit, many of these routes became virtually impassable and prevented access to Priority 1 and 2 routes which consequently had an effect on pupils and teachers being able to reach schools. It was therefore argued that route prioritisation required to be revisited, particularly for rural settlements, as part of any policy review. Turning to the use of local contractors, this approach was welcomed, having helped considerably in other areas, and it was hoped that this could be encouraged in Wester Ross.
The issues raised by local sources highlighted the strength of feeling in the area and demonstrated why it had been necessary for a report to be brought before Members. Between periods of heavy snowfall there had been intervals of relatively fine weather yet routes had improved little. As a result, the proposals contained in the report in relation to the provision of dry salt storage and the delivery of salt to local ports was welcomed. Consideration should also be given to covered salt bins where steep inclines had caused difficulties, to improving channels of communication for the public and emergency services and the reporting of complaints. Nevertheless, considerable praise had been expressed for the hard work of the gritter crews who, it was acknowledged, had done their best with the resources available to them.
Other Members echoed these views, acknowledging that many of the proposals contained in the report applied to the Highlands as a whole. In particular, it was recognised that the local knowledge and experience of staff was invaluable and it was therefore important to invest in training and apprenticeship schemes to allow these skills to be passed on. Other measures were also suggested, including redirecting finance to enable more off-lets to be provided to remove water from roads thus protecting the road surface. Furthermore, reference was made to the innovative approach taken by Transport Scotland regarding the provision of cameras to inform motorists of local road conditions and it was suggested that similar pilots could be used in areas which had received most complaints.
It was recognised that the weather had been particularly severe and there was an onus on individuals themselves to take adequate measures such as using winter tyres and driving according to conditions. It was impossible to expect the roads to be entirely clear at all times. Additional use of radio stations was supported to improve communication and to help inform motorists of road conditions along the full length of routes.
i. AGREED that the following actions should be put in place before the start
of the following winter:-
a. ensure that adequate supplies of salt were in place across the
b. explore options for a covered salt storage facility in the Wester Ross
area and other areas in the Highlands; and
c. put arrangements in place to increase the number of local
contractors and farmers throughout the Highland Council area who
could provide resources during periods of severe weather.
ii. AGREED that additional use be made of local radio stations to improve
communication during periods of severe winter weather.
10. Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan – Publication of New Guidance and the Implications for the Council
It was confirmed that the Scottish Government had published its Zero Waste Plan for Scotland in June 2010 and on 22 March 2011 new guidance had been issued to provide clarification on how a number of issues would be handled under the Zero Waste Plan. In this connection, there had been circulated Report No TEC-36-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which highlighted the key elements of the guidance and the likely implications for the waste management services delivered by the Council.
During a summary of the report, it was confirmed that the guidance provided details on how the waste data supplied by the Council would be managed and what materials would and would not be considered for recycling in the future. Originally recycling and composting targets had applied to “municipal waste” but the guidance had set objectives for all waste, regardless of source, and the former municipal waste targets now related to “household waste”. As a result it would be necessary to disaggregate household waste from commercial waste as they were currently collected together and bins were not individually weighed. There were also considerable changes regarding the treatment of composting materials which would affect Highland in particular given that this contributed to around one third of its recycling. The Council had, over the years, disposed of the majority of its green waste in partnership with the farming industry in the Inner Moray Firth but all compost now had to be produced under an accredited scheme to a quality management standard. Initial timescales to comply with this had been prescriptive but indications were that this would now be extended to March 2012 and it was hoped that composting Community Groups would be able to apply to a grant scheme introduced by Zero Waste Scotland to assist them in meeting the new quality standard. In relation to residual waste, a small proportion of this was currently sent to Dundee and Shetland Energy from Waste plants. Although this had previously counted towards the recycling rate, this would no longer be the case and it would be reclassified as industrial waste.
The biggest change proposed was the plan to introduce a “Carbon Metric” reporting system for waste to replace the existing tonnage system with the intention being to focus on materials with the highest environmental benefit for recycling, based on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions which would be avoided. This was a considerable change bearing in mind that heavy materials, such as construction waste, did not contribute as much carbon dioxide as some of the lighter materials. Members were also reminded that the Council would be required to collect food waste from households and would require businesses to separately store their food waste. In this regard, it had recently been announced that there would be a programme to which Local Authorities could apply for help in relation to this particular issue.
During discussion, the following comments were made:-
- the proposals could potentially have a knock-on effect on the economic incentives for recycling and Anaerobic Digestion plants;
- a proactive approach needed to be taken to the collection of household food waste;
- there should be a greater onus on supermarkets to accept food waste;
- when the next tender for the collection of waste was advertised, consideration should be given to contractors who had the capacity for greater recycling of plastics;
- broadening the spectrum of materials for recycling would have to be accompanied with a communication and education programme; and
- the lack of processing facilities for plastics in Highland was a disadvantage and ways of encouraging facilities to be established locally should be pursued.
In response, it was explained that the intention was that all households would eventually have a brown bin for the collection of green and food waste. However, as a result of a different approach now being taken by the Scottish Government, it was likely that green and food waste would have to be separately collected and an options appraisal would be necessary to determine the most practical solution. The provision of a waste transfer station for Lochalsh had initially formed part of the 1999/2000 Public Finance Initiative proposals and although the prospect of this taking place in the near future was unlikely, there was a need to look at the provision of recycling centres in the more rural areas. Also, the cost of accreditation for community groups would be prohibitive given the amount of material they would compost but their possible inclusion into the Council’s scheme would be investigated.
i. NOTED the report; and
ii. APPROVED the application to the Zero Waste Scotland Food Waste
programme to provide an options appraisal and business case for food waste
11. UK Parliament’s Transport Select Committee Inquiry into the Coastguard & Emergency Towing Vessels
There had been circulated Report No TEC-37-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which invited Members to homologate a response to the UK Parliament's Transport Select Committee inquiry into the Coastguard, Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV) and Incident Response Group which had been submitted ahead of the deadline of 12 April 2011.
During a summary of the report, it was confirmed that the UK Government were proposing significant reforms to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. For Scotland, this would mean that the current five co-ordination centres would be replaced with one 24 hour Marine Operations Centre at Aberdeen and one Sub Centre in either Stornoway or Shetland. The Council’s response had highlighted a number of key issues which supported the retention of Coastguard Stations on the east and west coasts and, in relation to the proposal to withdraw the ETVs based in the Western Isles and Shetland, the type of incidents which had been experienced in recent years where the presence of an ETV had been essential had been highlighted. It had also been pointed out that the proposal to replace ETVs with commercial towing vessels was impractical as there were no such vessels of a corresponding size in the Highlands within 1.5 days steaming. Consequently, the removal of ETVs would put the area’s coastline at risk.
During discussion, Members expressed their appreciation to Officers for the excellent response to the consultation. The issues raised had highlighted the importance of the coastguard and ETVs to the coastline, communities and economy of the Highlands and Islands. Meetings were taking place regularly and the common consensus was that the retention of the coastguard stations and the ETVs in the Minch and Shetland were essential. The Transport Select Committee had met in Stornoway on 19 May 2011 to take evidence on the proposals and it was felt that the future of the Coastguard service in particular had received a sympathetic response. Examples had been provided to them where the local knowledge and presence of the coastguards had saved lives.
Turning to ETVs, there were also clear examples where vessels had been saved and, as a result, damage to the coastline avoided. With no commercial vessels available locally to replace ETVs, it had been recognised that an alternative model needed to be developed, focusing on additional work and new support funding streams, with the Councils’ response having outlined options in this regard. Similarly, it was important to emphasise that there was full engagement with both the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure that when ETVs were retained, they were managed by the Marine Coastguard Agency. With the current contract for ETVs due to expire at the end of September 2011, it was imperative that the contract should be extended if necessary until such time as an alternative financial package was in place.
Other Members supported these views, highlighting the importance of maritime issues to Highland and, in particular, to the coastline around Sutherland. Reference was made to the Tanker Traffic in the Minch Working Group and it was pointed out that, as the last meeting had been held in Highland, the next one would be held in Stornoway. Recent discussions around the coastguard and ETVs had reinvigorated activities and it was hoped that the Working Group might move forward from this. It was also pointed out that representation on this Group had included an Elected Member from the north coast on the basis of possible involvement with Orkney Islands Council in light of navigation in and through the Pentland Firth.
In relation to the possible alternative models, reference was made to the salvage monies generated. At present, ETVs received 15% after expenses but Members sought clarification of the specific mechanisms of the salvage process and procedure involved for a large vessel.
Thereafter, the Committee HOMOLOGATED the written evidence which had been submitted to the UK Parliament’s Transport Select Committee inquiry into the Coastguard, Emergency Towing Vessels and Incident Response Group.
12. Procurement and Maintenance of Council Vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes
There had been circulated Report No TEC-38-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which proposed that a formal procurement process be undertaken in relation to the procurement of a fully managed service for all Council vehicles in the category up to 3.5 tonnes.
It was explained that the Council currently operated a total of 885 vehicles, of which 522 were in the category up to 3.5 tonnes. Of the three options considered for the procurement of these vehicles, contract hire was the closest to that being proposed and currently around 72 vehicles in the 3.5 tonne category were provided by this method. At present, vehicle maintenance was provided at seven main centres along with two mobile facilities and local garages were utilised as and when required.
There were a number of potential benefits from the use of an external managed provision including the freeing up of in-house vehicle workshops to concentrate on larger vehicles and increasing use of local garages for small vehicle repairs. Tenders would be assessed against the cost of in-house provision and a contract awarded only if savings could be realised. Details of the areas where savings could be made were provided and, in total, it was estimated that £190,000 per year would be saved. The proposal would involve an overall reduction in 9 mechanics but, at present, there were 8 vacancies and, with careful on-going vacancy management, it was hoped that the impact on staff would be minimised.
To allow a full review of the fleet and the implications for Services, it was suggested that the current vehicle replacement programme was suspended and only vehicles essential for frontline service delivery or which were beyond their economic life be considered for replacement. Preliminary consultation had already taken place with affected staff and Trade Unions and this would continue throughout the project.
During discussion, Members expressed concern that the projected savings figure was subjective and clarification was sought as to how it had been identified. The proposal had not specified how apprenticeships might be affected and there was a danger that it would impact on employment in areas where workshops played a critical role. The number of workshops might also be subject to a future rationalisation as a result of the proposal and the socio-economic impact that this would cause was highlighted. Other alternatives might be feasible and a comparison of the proposal with the cost of the Council itself purchasing vehicles and then employing trainees to work on them was requested. Prior to any commitment by the Council to entering into a tendering process, Members called for a Business Case to be prepared to demonstrate what the best option would be taking into account the points raised during discussion.
Accordingly, the Committee AGREED TO DEFER determination at the present time subject to a further report being submitted to the next meeting on 11 August 2011 providing additional information on the options available for the provision of vehicles in the category up to 3.5 tonnes and taking into account the issues which had been raised during discussion.
13. Revised Development Control Guidelines for Roads and Transport
There had been circulated Joint Report No TEC-39-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Directors of Transport, Environmental and Community Services and Planning and Development which invited approval of the updated “Roads and Transport Guidelines for New Developments” for use on live planning applications on a trial basis from 1 July 2011, with a review of the trial to be taken back to the meeting scheduled for January 2012. In addition, Members were also invited to approve the introduction of the booklet “Access to Single Houses and Small House Developments” Guidelines across the Highland Council area with effect from 1 July 2011.
During discussion, confirmation was sought that the supplementary guidance would also cover entrances and exits to major forestry developments to ensure that properly engineered roads were provided in advance of work being commenced to avoid damage to existing roads.
i. AGREED that the updated “Roads and Transport Guidelines for New
Developments” should be used on live planning applications on a trial basis
from 1 July 2011 with a review being taken back to the meeting scheduled
for January 2012;
ii. AGREED that the booklet “Access to Single Houses and Small House
Developments” Guidelines should be adopted across the Highland Council
area with effect from 1 July 2011; and
iii. AGREED that the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community
Services should establish if access arrangements for forestry developments
had been included in the “Roads and Transport Guidelines for New
14. Trading Standards Operational Plan and Performance Review
There had been circulated Report No TEC-40-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which invited Members to review the work of Trading Standards during 2010/11 and sought approval of the Trading Standards’ Operational Plan during 2011/12.
During a presentation, Members were informed of the functions carried out by Trading Standards and it was confirmed that the primary objective was to protect the safety and economic interests of consumers whilst ensuring businesses were allowed to operate in a fair and level environment, free from unnecessary regulatory burdens. In this regard, the Office of Fair Trading had estimated in 2009 that the work done in this field was worth £347m to consumers. In addition, new outcome based indicators were being developed for the 2011/12 Operational Plan which it was hoped would allow a clearer picture to be shown of the benefit of the work undertaken.
Specific details were provided on the many and varied projects undertaken in 2010/11 including the Counterfeiting in the Workplace and Counterfeit Cigarette Projects. Turning to the main operational objectives for 2011/12, the Service hoped to concentrate on Community Safety, Fair Trading, Quality Standards and second stage Consumer Advice.
During discussion, Members praised the high quality of work undertaken by Trading Standards and the enormous contribution it made to people in the Highlands and suggested that greater publicity should be undertaken in this regard. Disappointment was expressed that, during 2010/11, there had been a decline in standards for taxis and PHCs but it was felt that this could partly be attributable to the current economic climate which made it more difficult to keep vehicles etc up to standard. Reference was also made to the various areas of activity in which Trading Standards had been involved, including counterfeit tobacco sales, calibration of fuel pumps, possible assistance towards the decommissioning of petrol stations and the on-going need to monitor internet selling sites. In particular, the potential risk of fire and injury from Chinese lanterns was highlighted but it was explained that under current legislation there was little action which could be taken.
i. NOTED the work undertaken by Trading Standards in 2010/11; and
ii. APPROVED the Operational Plan for 2011/12.
(At this point, the Committee adjourned for lunch and resumed at 2.00 pm)
15. Food Safety Service Plan – 2010/11 Review and 2011/12 Targets
There had been circulated Report No TEC-41-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which highlighted the review of the 2010/11 Food Safety Service Plan and set specific targets for 2011/12.
During a summary of the report, it was confirmed that, during 2010/11, Food Hygiene inspections had remained the main focus and figures for other areas of the Service, such as Food Standards, Enforcement Action, Food Complaints etc, were comparable in terms of performance to previous years.
In regard to the targets identified for 2011/12, particular attention was drawn to the preparatory work which was required on the Food Hygiene Information Scheme ahead of its launch in April 2012 when businesses would be given a rating depending on the food hygiene standard of the premises. This would involve considerable work but assurances were given that high risk premises would continue to be inspected.
In response to Members’ questions, it was explained that the 2011/12 Service Plan had reduced the areas of improvement down to six to allow the Service to concentrate on major pieces of work, including the implementation of the Food Standards Agency guidance on cross-contamination which it was hoped would reduce incidents of E. coli 0157. In addition, the Service had set realistic objectives which it felt could be met within available resources.
i. NOTED the review of the 2010/11 Food Safety Service Plan; and
ii. APPROVED the specific targets set for 2011/12.
16. Review of Street Cleaning Provision
There had been circulated Report No TEC-42-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which updated Members on progress in relation to the review of Street Cleaning.
During a summary of the report, Members were reminded that the review would examine two main areas, namely zoning and operational practices. In relation to zoning, it was pointed out that the current system had been inherited from District Councils and no overall review had taken place to ensure that there was a consistent approach. This was important as the zoning of a particular area would determine the level of resources allocated to keep it clean.
In regard to operational practices, a more flexible approach was required to ensure that staff were available as soon as possible after littering occurred without having to work large amounts of overtime and that best use was made of vehicles. Members were assured that discussions were on-going with staff and Trade Unions to ensure an acceptable arrangement was in place.
In discussion, Members commented that tourism was important to the Highlands and instances of widespread distribution of litter in areas such as canal towpaths would have a detrimental effect. Also, the possibility of reducing clean up times for those areas with a low zoning would be welcomed. Concern was expressed, however, that the re-grading might result in lower standards and that there would be less staff on the ground to do the work. Better use of the large street cleaning vehicles could also be made if the public could be kept better informed to enable parked cars to be removed from roadsides. The re-introduction of Village Officers was also suggested in order to undertake a number of roles across services, including street and toilet cleaning.
Other Members took the view that a much harder approach should be taken with those members of the public who dropped litter. Prevention in the first place would save considerable amounts of money but until robust enforcement was taken to deter repeat offenders the Council would have to continue to spend resources on street cleaning.
Thereafter, the Committee:-
i. AGREED the scope of the review for Street Cleaning, subject to the
inclusion of enforcement measures; and;
ii. NOTED that further reports would be submitted to future meetings in
relation to “zoning” and operational practices.
17. Performance Management: Statutory and Internal Performance Indicators for 2010/11
There had been circulated Report No TEC-43-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which provided details of Transport, Environmental and Community Services performance, as measured by Statutory Performance Indicators and Internal Performance Indicators, for the financial year 2010/11.
During a summary of the report, it was confirmed that the majority of Performance Indicators had improved compared with the previous year and this was testament to the hard work of the staff involved. In this regard, it was advised that a number of Internal Performance Indicators had been refined to assist in the management of Service activities.
The Committee NOTED the performance of Transport, Environmental and Community Services in relation to Service activities which were measured by Statutory Performance Indicators and Internal Performance Indicators.
18. Deletion of Part of the U2832 Clune to Dalmigavie to Tomatin Road from the List of Roads
There had been circulated Report No TEC-44-11 dated 16 May 2011 by the Director of Transport, Environmental and Community Services which sought approval to delete part of the U2832 Clune to Dalmigavie to Tomatin Road from the List of Roads following objections to the proposed deletion.
Whilst no Members opposed the proposal, it was pointed out that, despite being in poor state, the road was still regularly used by grazing tenants and the proposal would result in the functionality of the land being reduced.
The Committee APPROVED the deletion of part of the U2832 Clune to Dalmigavie to Tomatin Road, as shown in Appendix A to the report, from the List of Roads.
19. Taxi Tariff 2011
Declaration of Interest:
Mr N Donald had declared a financial interest in this item earlier in the meeting as a self-employed Taxi Driver but was not in attendance during the discussion.
There had been circulated Report No TEC-45-11 dated 18 May 2011 by the Assistant Chief Executive which advised the Committee of the recommendations of the Civic Government Licensing Working Group following the responses received in relation to the public advertisement of the proposed revised scale of maximum fares that could be charged by taxis and private hire cars fitted with taxi meters.
Members were informed that the Working Group had given careful consideration to the representations received. Account had also been taken of the rising fuel and running costs of vehicles and the fact that the tariff was only reviewed every 18 months.
The Committee, having considered the recommendations of the Civic Government Licensing Working Group, AGREED:-
i. that there be no amendment to the tariff as advertised other than to the
information contained on the tariff card as detailed in the report; and
ii. that the introduction of the revised tariff should be from 27 June 2011.
The Committee NOTED or APPROVED, as appropriate, Minutes of the:-
i. Highland Licensing Committee of 8 February 2011;
ii. Resource Monitoring Working Group of 17 March 2011;
iii. Highland Licensing Committee of 5 April 2011;
iv. HITRANS of 8 April 2011 (Draft); and
v. Civic Government Licensing Working Group of 4 May 2011.
The meeting ended at 2.30 p.m.