Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee (01.01.2002 - 25.05.2017) - Thursday, 29th May, 2014 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Penns Place, Petersfield, GU31 4EX. View directions

Contact: James Harris  Democratic Services Officer - 01730 234098

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors P Drury, P Marshall, K Moon, T Muldoon and Y Parker Smith.

2.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the new members of the committee.

3.

Confirmation of Minutes

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2014.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2014 were agreed as a correct record and signed.

4.

Declarations of Interest

To receive and record any declarations of interest from members present in respect of any of the various matters on the agenda for this meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

5.

Resilience of Planning Services pdf icon PDF 32 KB

Following concerns raised at the previous meeting around the Q3 Performance Health Check Dashboard, Julia Potter, Executive Head Planning and Built Environment, will be present to explain the steps being taken to ensure that Planning Services will be able to meet the predicted future need.  A copy of the relevant Q3  Performance Health Check Dashboard is enclosed for information.

 

FOR DISCUSSION

Minutes:

In response to concerns raised by the committee at its previous meeting, Julia Potter, Executive Head Planning and Built Environment, gave a presentation on Resource and Performance in Planning.  A copy of the presentation is attached as Appendix A to these minutes.

 

The committee felt that the national targets for development were unsustainable and urged that this be fed back to the government.  It was also recognised that whilst applications were being permitted, some developers were ‘sitting on’ approved applications and waiting for the market to pick up before building.  This was not helping the council to meet its housing targets and it was asked what the council could do to either positively influence the market to stimulate housing delivery, or force developers to build permitted schemes.

 

In reply, it was confirmed that the housing figures had been identified in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment and the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) would not have been found to be sound if these figures had not been included within it.  The message regarding the housing figures had been passed on to the local MPs, although it was highlighted that a core part of the government’s plan for economic recovery was to get Britain building.  Unfortunately, the council did not have much influence to encourage the delivery of permitted development.

 

With reference to housing numbers, it was asked what would happen if the housing allocation for an area was delivered halfway through the life of the JCS?  The National Planning Policy Framework included a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and the JCS stated that the housing numbers were a minimum.  Could this lead to double the number of houses being built in the area?

 

In reply, it was clarified that the Allocations Plan would fix the number of houses for an area and carry significant weight to refuse applications above this figure. 

 

The committee discussed the number of planning officers who had left the council, ways to encourage staff retention and how best to recruit.

 

Mrs Potter explained that there were a number of contributory factors to planning officers leaving the council, including very high workloads and higher salaries within the private sector.  In addition, the role had become increasingly adversarial and pressured, with well informed members of the public scrutinising applications from submission through to delivery.  In some instances this had resulted in personal attacks on officers.

 

With regard to recruitment and retention, it was explained that different advertising styles and avenues were being explored.  Final year Planning Degree graduates would be approached and two members of agency staff had been successfully recruited.  Whilst at the lower end of the spectrum, it was thought that the council’s pay was about right.  There was some flexibility, such as employees starting at the top of their pay scale, rather than the bottom.  EHDC had paid temporary market supplements before to respond to difficulties with recruitment, which had worked out cheaper than hiring consultants.

Career progression was also being looked at, as often the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Contamination of Recycled Waste pdf icon PDF 56 KB

At the previous meeting, the Q3 Performance Health Check Dashboard showed that the target for reducing the contamination rate of recyclables in Hampshire was not being met.  At the request of the committee, officers will be in attendance to explain the nature of the contamination and the measures being taken to remedy the situation.  The relevant extract from the Q3 Performance Health Check Dashboard is enclosed for information.

 

FOR DISCUSSION

Minutes:

In response to concerns raised by the committee at its previous meeting, Rob Heathcock, Joint Client Team Manager, explained the upward trend in contaminated recycling and the measures proposed to address this.  The contamination rate for Hampshire as a whole had risen to 15% in 2013-14 from 8.5% in 2012-13 and  9% in 2011-12.  However, EHDC was still performing well compared to other local authorities, which had experienced similar trends.  He did not think that the majority of residents deliberately contaminated their recycling and thought that the council needed to re-educate residents as to what could be recycled.

 

In response to a question, it was typically only heavily contaminated loads that were rejected at the Materials Recovery Facility.  On some occasions up to 25% of a load had been contaminated.

 

Information as to what could be recycled was included on the council’s website and had been published in ‘Partners’ magazine.  There was also an option to promote messages using the sides of the collection lorries, as these were due to be renewed shortly.  Changes were also being proposed to the policy for returning to collect bins found to be contaminated with waste.  Currently the crews would return to collect a recycling bin that had contaminated waste in it, so long as this had been removed.  The proposal was to cease this policy and instead inform the resident that the contaminated material should be removed and the recycling would be collected as usual next time. 

 

This would provide an incentive for crews to monitor accurately, as this evidence would be used to confirm that the bin was contaminated.  If this was the case, the crew would not have to return to the property to empty the bin, as they did currently.

 

The committee felt that if this proposal was agreed, it had to be well advertised, along with what could be recycled.  Often confusion was caused by packaging which stated that it was recyclable, when in fact it couldn’t be recycled in Hampshire.  Mr Heathcock confirmed that it was likely that a warning would most likely be issued for a first offence and that additional publicity would help residents to determine what could be recycled.

 

The committee suggested options for publicity, including fridge magnets and bin stickers.  Also, it was of the opinion that some residents did not recycle because they couldn’t relate to the end use of the material.  If more promotion was done around this area, such as how materials were recycled and the cost benefit to the council of doing so, with links to keeping council tax low, then they might be encouraged to recycle more.  It was also suggested that children could be educated about recycling at school, who in turn could promote it to their parents.

 

It was also felt that the recently launched textile bins needed to reinforce the message that any textile could be recycled, not just clothes and shoes.  It should also be reinforced that clothing in good condition should be donated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

Appendix A pdf icon PDF 264 KB