MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON WEDNESDAY, 28 NOVEMBER 2001 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mr C B W Chapman (Vice Chairman in the Chair), Mr J R Adams, Mr A C Bartlett, Mrs B D Clough, Mr M J Cunningham, Mr J Effemey, Mr J H Fleming, Mrs M J Miller, Mrs E Oulton, Mr A F Tiltman, Mrs J L Wareham
Mr E Fox
Also Present (non voting) :
Mr V J Morey, Mr R A Sutton
Mrs T M Butchers
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 24 October 2001 be confirmed.
17. SERVICE PLANS AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
The Select Committee considered details of the Performance Indicators and Action Plans contained in the Service Plans for Coastal Management, Highways and Transportation and Operations.
In discussing matters relating to Coast Protection it was noted that although the Council had the largest coastline out of all English and Welsh Authorities, 100 Km, there was only an annual budget of £70,000 for works. This necessitated regular requests for additional funding through the year. The Council was unable to access any European structural funding as the Island did not have the appropriate status. The effect of climatic change could also have an impact on existing and future coast protection schemes.
The Coastal Manager reported on proposals to produce a risk map for the Island detailing areas of erosion, landslip and floodline. This would be of particular value for development control purposes. There would also be a need for a Estuary Management Plan for Wootton Creek.
Members then considered details covering waste, cleansing and public transport provision which all came within the service plans for operations. The costs of each service was highlighted.
The Operations Manager indicated that the amount of household waste was increasing on an annual basis. Strategies were being developed with Island Waste to increase recycling targets which were already well above Best Value Performance Indicators. Officers had looked at the process for the Council to achieve Beacon Status for its recycling initiatives.
The Select Committee was made aware of a reduction in the throughput of the WDF Plant. This was as the result of a decrease in Government subsidy for the use of non fossil fuels and officers were in discussion with the operating company over the implications of this on landfill operations. The Operations Manager also highlighted concern over the reluctance of the Environment Agency to take action so to prevent commercial waste entering the household waste stream.
Consideration was given to the Service Plan covering highways maintenance, road safety, traffic management, development control, street lighting, rights of way, car parks, transportation planning and highway design. The Head of Highways and Transportation indicated that many of the performance indicators were not meaningful and readily understandable. He was aware of the Government's intention to reduce the number of indicators and amend the basis of others. Members believed that it would also be of value if comparisons with other authorities were shown in the Service Plans.
In order to achieve expenditure at levels in accordance with the LTP Settlement action was being taken to appoint staff, or consultants where appropriate, and the identification of contractors able to undertake works in accordance with Council requirements. It was also intended to pull together details contained in the LTP, Service Plans and other initiatives in a unified document.
Discussion took place on issues relating to capital schemes and how these were prioritised. The Head of Highways and Transportation stressed the need to adhere to the targets and objectives contained in the LTP.
(a) THAT a report be submitted to a future meeting of the Select Committee on the implications of climatic change on coast protection works.
(b) THAT the Task Group on Waste Management and Recycling seek a meeting with the Environment Agency on its prosecution policy on commercial waste.
(c) THAT the Portfolio Holder be invited to ensure that negotiations are progressed with Island Waste on the operation of the WDF Plant at Forest Road, Newport and its effect on the existing contract.
18. ISLAND RAIL DEVELOPMENT
The Chairman welcomed Mr J Richards of the Rail Passenger Committee for Southern England to the meeting.
Members considered details of the content of two reports on future rail development on the Island. One had been produced by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) in the options for the existing Ryde - Shanklin route. The other had been prepared by consultants, on behalf of the Council, looking at longer term options in a wider context.
The Council's Local Transport Planner reported that the Islandline franchise had been extended for a further two years from the end of September 2001. It was noted that the Government would not be able to extend the franchise further unless there was a change in legislation. The need for the successor of Rail Track to be fully operational within that timeframe was seen as a vital element in attracting any future company to undertake the franchise in the longer term.
The SRA report detailed options for the development of a heavy and light rail system over a 10, 20 and 30 year timescale. After evaluating these following extensive consultation with a wide range of relevant organisations one option had been identified as the preferred way forward. This included an investment in a track upgrade with a new passing loop constructed at Brading. The acquisition of newer rolling stock was also recommended.
The Rail Passenger Committee had raised a number of questions relating to the SRA Study. Members considered a possible response to these. Mr Richards commented on the option that had been identified. Concerns were raised particularly in relation to the issues on which passenger numbers had been calculated and the disadvantages of driver only trains. Improved integration between trains, ferries and buses was a principle aim of the LTP. Areas where this was desirable were outlined.
The Council commissioned study concentrated on options to expand the rail network. This gave conclusions on an extension of the line to Ventnor, a Ryde to Newport connection and a Ryde-Newport-Cowes connection. The cost benefits of each option had been looked at. This concluded that a full feasibility study should be undertaken on a Ryde to Newport route using purpose built diesel units and also more detail sought on the wider benefits of an extension to Ventnor using ex London Underground rolling stock. It was likely that the cost of the necessary studies would be in excess of £70,000. The Select Committee considered that at this stage the principle of such further studies could be supported but the progressing of this left to the Portfolio Holder.
(i) THAT the response to the Strategic Rail Authority's report be endorsed by the Select Committee.
(ii) THAT the SRA be asked that the following be included in the franchise agreement :
(a) THAT a sum of money be made available for the improvement of integrated transport to the Island.
(b) THAT a sum of money be made available to fund necessary investigations into the extension of the railway from Ryde to Newport and Shanklin to Ventnor.
(c) THAT better integration with other transport modes should be achieved with particular reference to establishment of Shanklin to Ventnor and Sandown bus link.
(iii) THAT with regard to the Council's Rail Study the Portfolio Holder be asked to progress the in depth study for the Ryde-Newport route and an extension to Ventnor.
(iv) THAT the report be used as a basis for further discussion worth the SRA and DTLR.
(v) THAT comments received during the consultation process be reported back to the Select Committee.