MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON WEDNESDAY, 30 OCTOBER 2002 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mrs T M Butchers (Chairman), 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, Mr V J Morey, Mrs E Oulton, Mr A F Tiltman
Apologies : Mr C B W Chapman, Mr E Fox
Mrs B Lawson
Also present (non-voting) :
Mrs M O Lloyd, Mr A A Taylor
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2002 be confirmed.
43. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations made at this stage.
44. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
A question was put to the Chairman by Mrs D Birkwood of Taggs Farm, Quarry Lane, Calbourne, Isle of Wight in relation to the Community Renewable Energy Strategy and in particular coppicing. (PQ93/02).
A copy of the question and rely given is contained in the Public Question Register.
45. URGENT BUSINESS
The Chairman agreed to two items of urgent business being raised by a member as these related to issues which were of on-going concern to the Committee.
(a) Handling of Enquiries in Highways and Transportation
Members expressed concern that there were still delays being encountered in receiving a response from the Highways and Transportation to enquiries. The Head of Engineering Services referred to the corporate standards that had been adopted and the operation of the Call centre. He requested that details on the matters raised by members be supplied to him so that these could be investigated. The Select Committee noted that it was possible to provide a clear paper trail on enquiries made to Highways and Transportation.
THAT a report be presented to members outlining how enquiries were received and processed.
(b) Boycotting of Esso Products
The Chairman indicated that she had not received any reply from Esso following the Select Committee’s consideration of a petition from Friends of the Earth, at the meting held on 27 March 2002, seeking a boycott of its products until the company had recognised the link between climatic change and fossil fuel burning.
THAT a report on this issue be included in the Committee’s workplan.
46. BUDGET MONITORING REPORT AS AT END OF SEPTEMBER 2002
Consideration was given to the report of the Strategic Director for Finance and Information and County Treasurer on the revenue and capital budget as at the end of September 2002. There was no significant variances but it appeared that income generation was likely to exceed budget, particularly in relation to car parks. Members were advised that it was anticipated that there would be a requirement for up to £70,000 to cover any works identified as part of the enhanced process for bridge, retaining walls and structures inspections.
With regard to capital expenditure it was reported that the full Council had approved, at its meeting on 16 October 2002, that £1.225m for the Military Road scheme would be a first call on the 2003-04 highway capital programme.
Members raised a number of issues relating to work on strategic corridors and the routes coming within this designation. The Head of Engineering Services indicated that works to the Cowes-Newport corridor had been deferred until 2003-04 due to additional commitments involved in the Ryde-Newport corridor works. Problems had also been encountered with the Newport-Yarmouth works and this would require additional funding of approximately £13,000. The second phase of the scheme would require a major scheme bid due to the costs of works at Bouldnor. The process for a major scheme bid entail a submission being made to GOSE by the end of July with a decision given in December. If approval was obtained then the scheme would be funded for the following financial year.
With works at Undercliff Drive the Head of Engineering Services indicated that these had been completed but without the involvement of heavy engineering methods, such as piling, due to objections by English Nature. This would reduce the life expectancy of the works.
The Select Committee suggested that there was a need to make information on highway schemes and their priority ranking more publicly available.
The Quiet Roads scheme for Adgestone was raised and the Head of Engineering Services indicated that, as with all capital schemes, this was being monitored and evaluated. This would assist in ensuring that the scheme was effective before any consideration was given to implementing in other locations.
THAT the report be noted.
47. LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN
The Head of Engineering Services outlined the background to the requirement for the Council to produce a Local Transport Plan (LTP). It was monitored by the Government each year through the Annual Progress Report (APR) and funding was dependant on delivering the strategies contained in the LTP. There were also links between the LTP and other plans and strategies adopted by the Council.
The Select Committee was reminded of the main aims contained in the LTP. These involved working in partnership with relevant bodies. The Chairman indicated that it had originally been intended to receive a presentation on the Ryde Interchange project at the meeting. This had been deferred until a decision had been received from the Government in December 2002 as to whether grant aid would be available. The Head of Engineering Services considered that it would be appropriate for the Select Committee to debate the scheme at its meeting on 18 February 2003.
Although the Council had been successful in gaining increased Government funding since 2001 this was insufficient to bring the highway network up to acceptable standard by 2004. Some discussion ensued on the possibility of raising additional revenue through the introduction of a toll on vehicles travelling on cross Solent ferries. This was similar to a congestion charge which was being investigated by both Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils.
Consideration was then given to progress being made towards meeting the targets set out in the LTP. It was noted that there was no performance indicator relating to increasing the number of journeys made by powered two wheelers. Members felt that it was also essential that the views of users of powered two wheelers were taken into account. It was therefore suggested that a request be made to the Quality Transport Partnership that a representative of an appropriate organisation should be invited to attend its meetings.
With regard to co-ordinating community transport and the needs of rural areas members were reminded that a Rural Transport Partnership Officer had recently been appointed. The Select Committee indicated that it would wish to have a report on progress made in six months time.
In discussing the casualty figures for road traffic accidents concern was expressed as to the increase in deaths and serious injuries in 2001/02 compared with 2000/01. PC C Bartlett, Traffic Management Officer for Hampshire Constabulary, outlined the working arrangements between the Police and Council in dealing with road traffic accidents. Many accidents were the result of bad driving habits and could only be remedied through education rather than enforcement or engineering.
The Head of Engineering Services advised the Select Committee that the Best Value Inspectors had, following the re-inspection of the Highways and Transportation Section in October, indicated that the service was now rated as fair with promising signs of improvement. Members congratulated officers on the progress made.
In looking at the major implications that the Local Transport Plan had for the Authority, the Select Committee believed that the full Council should debate the importance of its aims and objectives and how this featured in much of the policy framework of the Council.
(a) THAT a performance indicator be established relating to the number of journeys made by people using powered two wheelers.
(b) THAT a request be made that a representative from an appropriate group for users of powered two wheelers be invited to meetings of the Quality Transport Partnership.
(c) THAT a report be considered on the Ryde Interchange project, at the meeting to be held on 18 February 2003, and appropriate interested parties be invited to give evidence.
(d) THAT a progress report be requested from the Rural Transport Partnership Officer in March 2003.
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE EXECUTIVE
THAT the Local Transport Plan be discussed by the full Council to raise awareness so that it is in the forefront of the Authority’s strategic planning and policy development.
48. UPDATE ON AGENDA 21
The Select Committee considered the report of the Agenda 21 and Health Alliance Officer which reviewed the action taken in respect of the aims and objectives contained within the Authority’s Agenda 21 Strategy. Members were reminded that the Strategy had been approved by the Council in December 2000. It was focussed on a sustainable economy, sustainable transport, environmental stewardship and sustainable resource management. The Year 1 Action Plan was based on the priority areas as proposed by the Community Working Groups.
The Select Committee was advised on work that had been undertaken in relation to future health planning for the Pan Community and also the proposed Pan Village development. The Healthy Living Programme had also been successful in attracting NOF funding of £1m for the development and promotion of health and well being on the Island.
The Ecological Footprint Working Party that had recently been established would be looking at ways of “Greening the Authority”. It was noted that the Council would be using 100% post consumer waste recycled paper from 1 October 2002. Sustainability assessment techniques would also be incorporated within Best Value Reviews.
Although it would not be possible to designate the whole of the Island as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty additional funding together with the development and implementation of management plans and initiatives would enhance such areas. A Green Tourism Award scheme had also been established and was seen as a flagship project by the Environment Agency. Funding had been received from SEEDA to further develop the scheme and a Project Co-ordinator would be in post on 11 November 2002.
The Agenda 21 and Health Alliance Officer outlined a number of issues involving sustainable transport. Southern Vectis had now acquired 8 low-floor buses and the Council was installing kerbs to facilitate the use of these vehicles.
Members were reminded of the renewable energy strategy which was discussed at the last meeting of the Select Committee. In addition the recent home composting initiative had proved a great success.
THAT the action taken to date with regard to implementing the Agenda 21 Strategy be noted.