MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON MONDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2003 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mr G P Price (Chairman), Mr J R Adams, Mr A C Bartlett, Mrs B D Clough, Mr M J Cunningham, Mr C H Lillywhite (deputising for Mr J Effemey), Mr V J Morey, Mr A J Mundy, Mrs E Oulton (deputising for Mr R A Sutton), Mr R C Richards
Mr J Effemey, Mrs M J Miller, Mr R A Sutton
Portfolio Holders :
Mrs T M Butchers, Mr E Fox
Also present (non-voting) :
Mr A A Taylor
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 20 August 2003 be confirmed.
31. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations made at this stage.
32. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
Mr R Drover submitted questions in relation to a number of highway issues. A copy of the questions and the reply provided is contained in the Public Question Register (PQ /03).
33. BUDGET MONITORING AS AT AUGUST 2003
The Select Committee considered the joint report of the Chief Financial Officer and the Strategic Director of Environment Services relating to the revenue and capital budget as at the end of August 2003. Members noted that included within the revenue expenditure figures were known commitments. This indicated that 67.6% of the revenue budget has been committed by the end of August.
The reduction of £248,000 in the highway maintenance budget, required as part of the Council’s overall budget strategy, was still causing pressures on service provision. Members were advised that the increased costs arising from the Concessionary fares Age Equalisation scheme may lead to a requirement of an additional £120,000 above the £80,000 budgeted. The income from car parking appeared to be on target and any surplus above that anticipated could be utilised to offset this cost.
On capital schemes a number of significant projects had been completed. The actual expenditure on these were being finalised before any surpluses could be utilised. The Head of Engineering Services explained the reasons for the Newport to Sandown cycleway being £57,577 above the revised budget. He also advised that, due to contractors working to capacity, the rates for new schemes were higher than six months previously.
The Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Development, Environment and Planning Policy clarified the situation concerning public conveniences. The Executive has approved the letting of a new contract in respect of cleansing and minor maintenance.
The Select Committee debated the provision of bus shelters and it was noted that officers were in discussions with a company which would provide, and maintain, shelters provided these could carry advertisements. There was a need however to resolve some planning issues before any details could be finalised. Members also referred to the schemes included within the capital programme on bus infrastructure projects. No contribution towards these were received from Southern Vectis. The Head of Engineering Services indicated that to achieve targets contained within the LTP regarding bus ridership it was necessary for such projects to be undertaken by the Council. The numbers of people using the park and ride scheme at Somerton, Cowes was still disappointing and would be continued to be monitored.
The Select Committee discussed the level of budget available for highway purposes and the how this was impacting upon delivery of the LTP. A motion to request the Executive to consider this was lost after a vote.
THAT every effort is made to persue a policy of providing new bus shelters with Adshell that would encourage greater use of bus services.
34. SERVICE PLAN 2004/05 - ENGINEERING SERVICES
The Select Committee considered relevant sections of the 2004/05 Service Plan for Engineering Services. The key achievements for 2003/04 were outlined together with the key objectives and improvements for 2004/05.
The Head of Engineering Services detailed the resource bids amounting to £4.326m in 2004/05, which were required to ensure delivery of the objectives contained in the LTP. Members discussed arrangements for the identification of a partner for major road maintenance and reconstruction throughout the Island. It would be approximately two years before a contractual position was likely with a company. The Council’s experience of PFI arrangements with the waste management contract would be a valuable assistance. Members would be involved at relevant stages in the process.
The Select Committee took note of the mandatory and key targets for 2004/05. Members queried whether some of these were challenging enough. The Head of Engineering Services advised on those figures relating to bus passengers, composting of household waste and winter maintenance.
Some concern was expressed on the revenue expenditure on staffing when compared with other costs. The Head of Engineering Services believed that the establishment was insufficient to meet the demands placed on services and to enable the Council to make progress on issues such as Green Travel Plans and Decriminalised Parking appropriate bids had been included within the Service Plan. The bids were not in any priority ranking and the Chairman indicated that the views of the Select Committee should be sought to assist in this process.
THAT this Select Committee supports the principle of PFI as a way of addressing the significant underfunding of the Island’s highway infrastructure.
35. JUBILEE STORES CALL CENTRE
Members discussed the report of the Head of Engineering Services on the operation of his Directorate’s Call Centre based at Jubilee Stores. It was noted that the Audit Commission Best Value Inspection Service had, during its recent reinspection, commented favourably on the impact that the facility had on service delivery.
The Select Committee noted the number of calls answered since July 2002 and the percentage of these answered in 4 seconds and also within the Corporate standard of 15 seconds. There were known technical deficiencies in the system. The structure and good practices were however being used in planning the Corporate Call Centre.
THAT the operation of the Jubilee Stores Call Centre be noted.