MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON TUESDAY, 29 JULY 2003 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mr G P Price (Chairman), Mr J R Adams, Mrs B D Clough, Mr J Effemey, Mrs M J Miller, Mr V J Morey, Mr A J Mundy, Mr R C Richards, Mr R A Sutton, Mr A A Taylor (deputising for Mr M J Cunningham)
Mr A C Bartlett, Mr M J Cunningham, Mr R G Mazillius
Portfolio Holders :
Mrs T M Butchers, Mr E Fox
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 24 June 2003 be confirmed.
20. DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS
Mr V J Morey declared a personal interest in Minute 23 as he was a Disabled Blue Badge holder.
21. COMMUNITY RENEWABLE ENERGY STRATEGY
The Select Committee were advised that there were a considerable number of targets, both government and regional, for generating electricity. The Council used 3.7% of the total demand for electricity on the Isle of Wight. The Renewable Energy Strategy had looked at economically viable methods of producing electricity, which could include on-shore wind turbines, biomass production and waste to energy. It was believed the main contributors to production would be on-shore wind turbines and biomass production.
Members asked if marine turbines could be utilised for the Island, but were advised that there appeared to be just one working site in Devon at the present time. The Select Committee discussed the combining of both off-shore wind turbines and marine turbines, but it was believed that maintenance costs for marine turbines was high. With regard to off-shore turbines the Select Committee were advised that a consultation exercise was being undertaken in order to establish the views of those most directly concerned with the surrounding coastal waters. Members enquired that if an off -shore site was identified who would need to apply and who would give the go ahead for installation. It was believed that any promoters of the scheme would need to apply and the Government would be the decision making body.
The Select Committee asked if energy saving schemes had been implemented within County Hall and were advised that there were some. A couple of schemes had been run in conjunction with the utilities whereby low energy light bulbs, water butts and composters had been very successfully sold at affordable prices.
Members were advised that Island Waste were still in negotiations for the purchase of the generating plant next to its facility in Forest Road, Newport. A baling machine had also been purchased to assist in reducing their costs in transporting flock fuel to the mainland.
THAT the report be noted.
22. BUDGET MONITORING AS AT JUNE 2003
The Chief Financial Officer presented a report on the revenue and capital budget as at end of June 2003.
The Select Committee was reminded of the reduction of £248,000 in the highways maintenance budget and the need to closely monitor expenditure on highway maintenance and traffic management. Members debated issues surrounding the increased costs arising from the Concessionary Fares Age Equalisation Scheme. The Head of Engineering Services believed that it would be extremely difficult to contain costs within the budget.
With regard to the revenue budget details relating to car park income generally and that from permits, showing comparison between 2002/03 and 2003/04 were circulated. Additionally an analysis of the weight of waste disposed of by landfill together with the related costs were highlighted for members information. Members believed it would be of benefit when future details were produced on waste disposal if the recycling targets could be included.
Members discussed the known overspend of £260,590 for the Newport to Cowes Strategic Corridor and were advised that the monies had come from the transfer of funds from the budget headings for bus infrastructure, walking schemes and the East Cowes to Newport Strategic Corridor. The Select Committee queried the additional costs above the revised budget and any affect of being able to deliver all the schemes contained with the capital programme. The Head of Engineering Services advised that there were unexpected factors encountered once the works had been started which meant the commitment of additional funding. He was confident that all schemes within the programme could be delivered.
The Head of Engineering Services explained that despite the capital settlement received the budget was still inadequate for works needed to be done to the highways network. The Select Committee asked the Portfolio Holder if he believed that enough resources had been secured in the revenue budget and whether he be seeking more funding in the next financial year. It was believed that there would need to be significant increases in order to deliver a better service. The Portfolio Holder told members that he would press for the maximum amount of money, but it had to be provided in line with the Corporate commitment.
Members questioned the Head of Engineering Services on the cost of clearing up after a recent land slip at Arreton and wanted clarification as to who would be responsible for this. He indicated that the cost would initially be taken from the highways budget whilst it was ascertained if it was possible to claim this back from the landowners. The Council was working with farmers and landowners on problems caused by the removal of hedges, ploughing patterns and land drainage.
The Committee debated the delivery of the safe routes to school schemes within the approved programme. Members queried how priorities were assessed and whether any works were proposed for Wellington Road, Carisbrooke, where there were four schools located. The Head of Engineering Services advised the Select Committee that there were five schemes proposed for 2003/04 which were identified as priorities using a nationally implemented priority system. The Portfolio Holder and Head of Engineering Services accepted that Wellington Road, Carisbrooke did warrant a priority ranking and appropriate works would be undertaken in this financial year. The Select Committee was told that if a new scheme was identified that was more of a priority than those already identified, then it was only right and proper for it be brought forward.
THAT the monitoring report on revenue and capital expenditure be noted.
23. PROVISION OF PARKING BAYS FOR DISABLED DRIVERS
The Head of Engineering Services advised the Select Committee there were currently two types of parking bays provided for use by the disabled. One was covered by Traffic Regulation Order, was legally enforceable and cost the Council in the region of £500 to provide. The other was an advisory bay only and cost in the region of £55.00.
Members questioned if highways should be paying for the provision of the bays as there were approximately 6,448 blue badge holders on the Island. There was a budget of approximately £5,000 for the provision of parking bays for the disabled, which included maintenance. The highways department received about twelve requests per month for bays, but were only able to provide six or seven per month. The Select Committee were told that Hampshire had provided only three bays during the past year and those had been paid for by the applicants, whereby the Isle of Wight Council provided bays free of charge. If the current rate of applications continued an extra £12,000 would be required in the budget to finance the provision of the bays. The Select Committee debated whether it would be appropriate for the Portfolio Holder to be requested to approach the Executive for a further £15,000 funding to help with the provision of providing parking bays for disabled use.
Members discussed if a Task Group should be set up to look into the whole area of parking for the disabled or if a more comprehensive report should be brought back to the Select Committee for scrutiny. It was suggested that an expert witness, from an Authority who were classed as Best Practice, could be invited to a special meeting of the Select Committee.
THAT a more comprehensive report on the provision of parking bays for disabled drivers be brought to the Select Committee for consideration and it be the only item on the agenda.
24. MEMBERS QUESTION TIME
Mr J Effemey asked a question in relation to parking charges on Cowes Esplanade.
Mrs B D Clough asked a question in relation to finding a suitable location to display the Vectis Wall Hanging.