Agenda and minutes

Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee - Wednesday, 5 July 2023 10.00 am

Contact: Clare Madden, Scrutiny Officer 


No. Item



    To report any apologies for absence and substitutions.

    Additional documents:


    Apologies were received from John Beckett

    Apologies were received from Stephen Cooksey

    David Harmer substituting for Liz Bowes




    To agree the minutes of the previous meeting of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee as a true and accurate record of proceedings.


    Additional documents:


    The minutes of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee held on 20 March 2023 were formally agreed as a true and accurate record of the meeting.







    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or

    as soon as possible thereafter:


    i. any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or;


    ii. other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any

    item(s) of business being considered at this meeting.




    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item

    where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest;


    ·         as well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of

    which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or

    civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a

    spouse or civil partner); and


    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the

    discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be

    reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

    Additional documents:


    None received.



    To receive any questions or petitions.



    The public retain their right to submit questions for written response, with such answers recorded in the minutes of the meeting; questioners may participate in meetings to ask a supplementary question. Petitioners may address the Committee on their petition for up to three minutes. Guidance will be made available to any member of the public wishing to speak at a meeting.


    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (29 June 2023).


    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(28 June 2023)


    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

    Additional documents:



    Richard Bolton, Assistant Director of Highways Operations & Infrastructure 

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. The Chairman noted the two public questions received on grass-cutting and verges and invited comments and questions from the committee. The following points were made:


    • A Member observed the growing public concern over the new verge grass cutting regime and urged the Highways Operations Department to look at the frequency and quality of grass cutting by contractors for future years.
    • Concern was expressed at the height of the grass and that it might pose a fire risk. 
    • A Member was pleased to hear that verges registered under the Blue Heart Campaign would only be cut once and hoped that more verges would be added to the list to aid wildlife.
    • Concern was expressed that many first cuts had not taken place and were late.
    • A Member queried the £2.67 million cost to collect the cut grass cuttings and the quality of the service provided.
    •  A Member called for a simplified system over jurisdiction of grass cutting duties and better understanding of the responsibilities of Boroughs & Districts.


    1. The Assistant Director of Highways Operations & Infrastructure acknowledged the shortfalls in the service this year and noted that the change in contractors and the ambiguity of jurisdiction presented a challenge. The Assistant Director assured the Committee that the service was working on plans to tackle the issue which would be made public. According to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service there was no increased fire risk from longer grass.


    Actions and requests for information:

    1. Chairman asked for the Assistant Director to respond in writing to Helen Monroe’s supplementary question and for the written response to be shared with the committee. 




    This draft policy is being revised by Officers and scrutiny has now been postponed. (Note added on 30 June 2023)



    Purpose of report:


    To inform and seek the views of the Select Committee on the development of a new Road Safety Strategy for Surrey based on the principles of a ‘Vision Zero’ safe system approach that aims to manage vehicle speeds and introduce more 20mph limits, inclusive of a draft new Speed Limit Policy that will shortly be subject to a public and stakeholder consultation.


    This report also seeks to respond to Will Forster’s (Woking South) Motion to the Council on 23 March 2023 (Item 9 [ii] made under standing order 11) when it was agreed that the matter would be considered by the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee.


    Additional documents:



    Paul Millin, Strategic Transport Group Manager

    Key points made during the discussion:

    1.    The Chairman explained that scrutiny of the item was postponed to a future meeting and that the draft policy was being revised. The Chairman affirmed the Committee’s interest in the matter and that it was of great importance to residents; and asked when it would be ready for scrutiny. The Strategic Transport Manager answered that this was a short postponement, and that road safety strategy and speed limit policy would come back to the Select Committee in October.




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    Purpose of report:


    This report seeks Select Committee approval of the approach set out in the updated Greener Futures Finance Strategy which includes a framework, investment principles and governance to support the delivery of our net-zero 2030 and 2050 targets. The 2030 net zero finance approach has been well developed and is underpinned by a Finance Model. It is important to note that this model has been produced to provide intelligence on the quantum of the overall costs required, and operational savings achieved, in relation to this target. Decisions will be made on individual business cases and not on the model.

    Additional documents:



    Katie Sargent, Greener Futures Group Manager, Environment Transport & Infrastructure Directorate

    Carolyn McKenzie, Director of Environment

    Katie Stewart, Executive Director for Environment Transport and Infrastructure

    Marissa heath, Cabinet Member for Environment (online)

    Key points made during the discussion:

    1. The Cabinet Member for Environment introduced the strategy.  The aim was to achieve cost neutrality in financing Net Zero carbon targets. Substantial capital and risk were involved. The Cabinet Member highlighted dependencies on national infrastructure and grid connections and on government policy and support. Renewable investment initiatives were being explored to generate income including through power purchase and solar farms.  The Cabinet Member expressed interest in doing more with businesses and on a joint-finance approach with Boroughs and Districts and highlighted the risks associated with off-setting. Continued input from the Select Committee was welcome.  The Cabinet Member proposed reviewing the financial strategy with the Committee and Greener Futures Reference Group on an annual basis.


    1. The Chairman asked the Greener Futures Group Manager what the key changes were between this and the original 2021 finance strategy and accompanying model. The Manager explained that the latest model included more accurate costs and assumptions as opposed to estimates. There was now much more confidence in the figures shared and the planning that followed. On the 2030 net zero target the Manager insisted that it was achievable and that costs could be covered with energy savings. The Executive Director for Environment Transport and Infrastructure warned that the council’s plans were dependent on government policy and technology.  One of the benefits of the proposed financial model was that it allowed for a dynamic response to the changing landscape. 

    Net Zero 2030 Programme

    1. A Member asked which strand of the 2030 capital programme of retrofit, refurbishment & renewable presented the greatest risk and queried what was being done to address the 99.3% of carbon emissions created by non-Council facilities. The Greener Futures Group Manager explained that the biggest risk was delays with the National Grid that meant viable solar farm sites might not be launched until 2035. The department was exploring other avenues to acquire working solar sites with grid connections already in place. The Manager outlined the process for annual update of the Climate Change Delivery Plan and review of progress against the 2030 and 2050 targets. This would come to the Committee and Cabinet in the autumn.


    1. A Member asked to what extent the risk to delivery from a capacity skills shortage had been assessed and factored into plans. The Greener Futures Group Manager said procuring skilled workers has been an issue in the past, but that successful procurement rounds had built confidence. Close working with colleagues in Procurement and Land and Property were important.


    1. A Member asked if the decarbonisation delivery rate of 13 to 20 buildings per year was achievable. The Greener Futures Group Manager explained that this programme was slow to start but that a robust team was now in place and the pace was stepping up.  The new Facilities Management provider would play  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/23



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    For Members to consider and comment on the services performance and progress against the Inspection Improvement Plan.


    Additional documents:



    Denise Turner-Stewart, Cabinet Member for Communities and Community Safety

    Dan Quin, Chief Fire Officer

    Bernadette Beckett, Chief of Staff

    Key points made during the discussion:

    Annual Performance Report Red KPIs

    1. The Chairman welcomed the witnesses and asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Community Safety to introduce the item. The Cabinet Member welcomed scrutiny by the Committee and extended an invitation for members to receive a briefing on fire and rescue service operations at Wray Park. She drew attention to the latest HMICFRS Inspection which was due to report in August and noted that a report on this would be provided to the December Committee session.  


    1. A Member welcomed the Chief Fire Officer to his new role and expressed appreciation for the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). He asked about the service’s policy regarding annual fitness assessments for officers nearing retirement and whether those who might not pass the annual physical exam could be utilised in non-frontline roles. The Chief Fire Officer explained that a certain level of fitness was required for operational roles. Where individuals fell below this support was offered via occupational health, gym facilities and allocated fitness time to get fitness levels back up to the standard. For operational personnel unable to do so, a capability process exists which could result in redeployment to different roles under Council Terms and Conditions.


    1. A discussion followed on the issue of Fire and Rescue Service governance and the outcomes of the Home Office White Paper: Reforming our fire and rescue service. The Chief Fire Officer noted that the response to the White Paper consultation would be available before the summer recess. Good governance is vital as is the scrutiny performed by this Committee. The Cabinet Member for Communities and Community Safety said there was no significant benefit to a change in fire governance arrangements and that the current exercise being undertaken by the Police and Crime Commissioner was unwarranted. 


    1. The Chairman asked about the programme of engagement with schools and the ambition to reach all schools in the county. 59% of schools had been covered, how would 100% be achieved? The Chief Fire Officer explained that all schools were being contacted but not all were taking up the offer. A Member asked about education around water related risks. The Chief Fire Officer noted that most fatalities in the county involve water and roads, not fire. The fire and rescue service is a risk-based organisation and effort is focused in line with risk. In addition to core business, the focus in Surrey is addressing risks from wildfire, water, and road safety. These risks are reflected in the school’s education packages. The Chief Officer drew attention to the Safe Drive Stay Alive event aimed at addressing road risk and explained how this was being developed into a new DriveFit programme.


    1. The Chairman noted that feedback on Safe and Well Visits was quantitative and not qualitative. The Chief Fire Officer gave examples of feedback on the impact of these visits which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/23



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    Purpose of report: for the Select Committee to review the attached recommendations tracker and forward work programme, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.

    Additional documents:


    Key points made during the discussion:


    1. The Chairman noted that the road Safety Policy had been pushed back and welcomed it coming for scrutiny it in October. The rising costs of road repairs, Greener Futures engagement strategy, parking enforcement, verge-cutting and Communities/liaison officers were all identified as items of interest for the future work programme.  The Chairman thanked the Committee and witnesses for their effort.




    The next public meeting of the committee will be held on 5 October 2023.

    Additional documents:


    The Committee noted its next meeting would be held on 5 October 2023.