Agenda and minutes

Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee
Friday, 22 November 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions

Contact: Vicky Hibbert 

Items
No. Item

20.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

21.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING pdf icon PDF 115 KB

22.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    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.

     

    NOTES:

     

    ·         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.

    Minutes:

    None received.

23.

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

24.

CABINET MEMBER PRIORITIES UPDATE pdf icon PDF 55 KB

    Purpose of the report:For the Select Committee to receive an update from the Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Highways, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste and Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire and Resilience on progress against their priorities and objectives.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    [Jan Mason arrived at the meeting at 10.05]

     

     

    Witnesses:

     

    Denise Turner Stewart, Cabinet Member for Community, Safety, Fire & Resilience

    Colin Kemp, Deputy Leader

    Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste

     

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Members for their reports and notes.

     

    1. The Chairman of the Committee stated that the Leader of the Council was dissatisfied with the share of LEP resources that Surrey received. The Chairman asked the Deputy Leader of the council to explain over what timescale the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee might be involved in getting better value out of the two LEPs.

     

    1. The Deputy Leader of the Council responded by saying that Cabinet had not had the capacity to put in bids for LEPs and there was no new money coming into them, which had led to lack of certainty. He added that until the future of LEPs had been established, he would not be able to confirm the direction of the council. He highlighted, however, that the Council was building its capability and needed to both put together bids and work together with boroughs and districts to ensure that the County Council’s plans were aligned with local plans. The Cabinet Member could not confirm how the Committee could get better value out of LEPs because it was a reactionary process but when appropriate, a discussion with the Committee could take place.

     

    1. The Chairman stated that the committee wanted a reasonable timeframe in which this discussion would take place and the Deputy Leader of the Council suggested that there would be greater clarity after 12 December 2019.

     

    1. A Member of the Committee requested that a list of projects currently funded by LEPs be published. The Deputy Leader responded by saying that a list of projects that had been funded by LEPs existed in the public domain. He also stated that he could not discuss something that hadn’t been finalised, but he would be happy to have a non-public verbal conversation with the member to inform her of current funded projects in the area.

     

    1. A Member of the Committee asked whether the Deputy Leader could separate the county bids that were under consideration with the district and borough bids that were under consideration. The Member also asked the Deputy Leader what was in hand between partnered county and district bids and asked about the status of the HIF bids. The Member also wanted to be informed of the scale of budget that would be required for 2021 to fulfil any bids and regeneration projects that the council wished to make, and over what timescale.

     

    1. The Deputy Leader informed the Committee that nothing would be released with regards to the A320 during purdah. He confirmed that the local plan conversations went well and he was satisfied with the evidence base that the council was putting forward.

     

    1. The Deputy Leader informed the committee that the Guilford HIF bid had been received and announced, and the Woking one had been received. There  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

REVIEW OF CHARGES FOR PARKING IN COUNTRYSIDE ESTATE CAR PARKS pdf icon PDF 113 KB

    Purpose of the report: For the Select Committee to review the Cabinet’s report on the review of charges for parking in countryside estate car parks.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None received.

     

     

    Witnesses:

    Denise Turner Stewart, Cabinet Member for Community, Safety, Fire & Resilience

    Alan Bowley, Head of Environment

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire & Resilience stated that the Council was looking to maximise health and wellbeing in the population of Surrey by encouraging as much use as possible of Surrey’s countryside. A cabinet decision was taken in January 2018 to introduce charges at the five busiest countryside sites. In July 2018, it was agreed that a review be undertaken after 12 months of the charges being introduced and, unless significant contribution had been made to the countryside in terms of income, the charges would be removed. The net income was stated as being £42,000 for Newlands Corner and £61,000 for the wider estate, with £0.3 million in capital costs. The review concluded that the financial benefits of charging to access the countryside was outweighed by extensive physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits, as well as providing quality of life and community interaction for residents. The Cabinet Member stated it was important that access to the countryside not be constrained by fixed financial outlay. She informed the members that the Council was investigating a voluntary payment scheme, as adopted at many National Trust sites. Newlands Corner would be subject to a local access agreement and, in the event of removal of charges, Albury Estate would be required to engage in discussion, which had already commenced. The recommendations were set out in the report and the Cabinet Member asked the Committee whether it had any questions.

     

    1. A Member asked the Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire & Resilience to emphasise the point about Newlands Corner not being included in the proposal due to considerable lack of understanding on part of most members of the public that the land was not public property. The Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire & Resilience pointed to paragraph 25 of the report where there was explicit reference to the Member’s query. The Cabinet Member assured the committee Member that this would be emphasised at the Cabinet meeting.

     

    1. Another Member of the Committee stated that they thought car parking charges should not be scrapped rather lowered to a nominal fee to cover some maintenance costs. The Cabinet Member referred to the National Trust which had a donation system in place and said that she would be looking into the prospect of voluntary contributions in Surrey’s countryside estate car parks for which most of the existing infrastructure would stay in place.

     

    1. A Member of the Committee informed the Cabinet Member that he had concerns that scrapping parking charges would be to the detriment of Surrey Wildlife Trust and asked whether the trust would be negatively impacted by this decision and experience a reduction in revenue. The Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire & Resilience stated that Surrey Wildlife Trust received the majority of its funding from Natural England and that conversations between the council and Surrey Wildlife Trust were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

SURREY'S GREENER FUTURE TASK GROUP REPORT pdf icon PDF 875 KB

    Purpose of the report: To provide the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee with a detailed report on the findings and recommendations of the Greener Future Task Group which was set up to consider the council’s role in tackling climate change.

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None received.

     

     

    Witnesses:

     

    Esme Stallard – Climate Change Project Manager

    Simon Griffin – Partnership Lead. Strategic Commissioning

    Colin Kemp, Deputy Leader

    Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Vice-Chairman summarised the work and final report of Surrey’s Greener Future Task group explaining that in light of the declared climate emergency and Surrey’s Community Vision, the Task Group had explored actions that the Council could take to tackle climate change. It had been concluded that Surrey County Council’s current policies were inadequate and would not help realise the county’s net zero carbon by 2050 target. The Vice-Chairman stated that the ‘call to action’ summarised the recommendations of the Task Group and what the Council should act on in order to develop a more detailed strategy. It was also specified that further and more extensive research would need to be undertaken in collaboration with partners and residents to form a realistic, costed and inclusive strategy to deliver net zero. To achieve this, it had been suggested that a member reference group be established with involvement from Cabinet.

     

    1. Committee Members reiterated that whilst the report had a strong evidence base and had communicated well the scale and seriousness of the challenge, it was broad in its outlook and failed to set out in detail what actions needed to happen to meet the climate targets.

     

    1. Members suggested a bottom-up workshop approach to engage the public in concerted positive action to fulfil the vision of the Task Group. Members asked the Cabinet Member how they might engage the public and empower them to work together to form part of the solution.

     

    1. A Member questioned whether the Task Group had public acceptance of what it had suggested and asserted that residents must come first. It was suggested that involving schools would be beneficial as engagement of children can encourage adult engagement.

     

    1. Members of the Task Group stressed that there also needed to be a cultural shift within Surrey County Council itself and that all officers and councillors should make positive behavioural changes.

     

    1. It was suggested that engagement with Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and with central government to clearly establish Surrey County Council’s aims and the cost of meeting the targets of the Greener Future project would be helpful. Concerns were raised that unless enough money was invested, the work of the Task Group would simply remain a report and not be acted upon. Members agreed that significant financial support would be needed to achieve many of the recommendations presented by the Task Group.

     

    1. Members of the Committee stated that there needed to be a modal shift from private to public transport, but this had been inhibited by buses being run by the commercial sector, which lacked incentive to achieve climate and air pollution targets. It was suggested that it would be beneficial to give local authorities the means to implement how buses run and this was something that central government should look at.

     

    1. The Cabinet  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.

27.

SELECT COMMITTEE FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 83 KB

    Purpose of the item: For the Select Committee to review the attached forward work programme making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.

    Minutes:

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. A Member suggested that the Committee discuss the issue of road safety in Surrey in light of the recently released figures by BBC Surrey that eighteen people are killed or seriously injured every week on Surrey’s roads. Members agreed that this figure needed quantifying. The Chairman stated that he would ascertain whether there was scope for serious and credible work for the Committee.

     

    1. A Member told the Chairman that he would like a discussion to scrutinise the bus strategy. The Member also highlighted that the Surrey Environmental Partnership was looking to develop a climate plan and that this was a new policy that should be scrutinised by the committee. He also suggested scrutiny of the new highways maintenance contract.

     

    1. The Chairman agreed that the Member’s points should be looked into for inclusion on the Committee’s forward work programme.

     

    1. It was requested that the Cabinet Member for Highways be asked about the current status of Project Horizon.

     

     

     

     

    Actions/ Further information to be provided:

     

    i.              Submit question to the Cabinet Member for Highways on the status of project horizon.

    ii.             Quantification of statistic of traffic-related deaths in Surrey to determine scope for potential future scrutiny.

    iii.            The Committee Forward Work Programme be updated to include the proposed agreed scrutiny items.

     

28.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING: 23 JANUARY 2020