Agenda and minutes

Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 1st December, 2014 2.00 pm

Venue: Town Hall, Scarborough

Contact: St John Harris 

Items
No. Item

Also present at the invitation of the Chairman

 

Simon Bull (Chair of the Creative Industries Centre Trust Board) – for Item 5

 

Andrew Clay (Director of Woodend) – for Item 5

 

Peter Stevenson (Environment Management Team Leader (Esk, Derwent, Hull and Coast), Environment Agency) – for Item 4

 

1.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Members are reminded of the need to consider whether they have a personal or prejudicial interest to declare in any of the items on this agenda.  If so, the nature of the interest must be declared at the start or as soon as the interest becomes apparent, of the meeting.  In addition, the attached form must be completed and passed to the Committee Administrator.  The Officers will be pleased to advise, if necessary, and any request for assistance should be made, in the first instance, to the Committee Administrator whose name appears at the end of this agenda.  Ideally, such advice should be sought before the day of the meeting so that time is available to consider any uncertainty that might arise.

Minutes:

Councillor Jeffels declared a personal interest in agenda item 8, Fracking in his capacity as a substitute member of the Planning Committee of North Yorkshire County Council.

 

Councillor Broadbent also declared a personal interest in agenda item 8, Fracking in his capacity as a substitute member of the Planning Committee of North Yorkshire County Council.

 

2.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 25 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2014.  (Minutes attached).

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2014 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

3.

PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

Public questions of which due notice has been given and which are relevant to the business of the Scrutiny Committee.

Minutes:

The Chairman reported that no public questions had been received.

 

4.

Bathing water performance in the Borough pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider a report (attached) by Peter Stevenson, Environment Management Team Leader Esk, Derwent, Hull & Coast, Environment Agency

 

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by Peter Stevenson, Environment Management Team Leader (Esk, Derwent, Hull and Coast) at the Environment Agency in respect of the Borough’s bathing waters’ performance over this and previous years.  In his presentation to the committee, Mr Stevenson summarised the performance of the Borough’s beaches both according to the current standard and according to the new revised Bathing Water Directive which would come into effect from March 2015.  Two beaches he highlighted in particular were Filey and Scarborough South Bay.  Filey met a good standard and Scarborough South Bay a sufficient standard this year.  In Filey, work to correct domestic sewerage misconnections to surface water drains in Pinewood Avenue would be completed early in the new year.  These works were expected to have an impact on bathing water quality, and investigations would continue in the area over the winter to identify any further sources of bacteria.  In relation to Scarborough South Bay, Yorkshire Water’s significant capital investment had improved the bathing water quality to sufficient, but not to the excellent standard.  Several possible sources of bacteria had been suggested including seabirds and waste from the harbour.  The results of the MST analysis of the extensive sampling undertaken would be circulated to the committee in due course.  What was clear was that the new improved sewerage system was working.  The sampling survey would be repeated in April and again in July to build a more comprehensive picture.  Public speaker, Mr Steve Crawford of Surfers Against Sewage then addressed the committee.  He expressed surprise at the suggestion that seabirds could be responsible for increased levels of bacteria, and at DEFRA’s decision not to base the assessment of the South Bay’s bathing water quality on four years of data, but effectively to allow the clock to be restarted even though the capital works had not delivered the level of improvement expected.  Mr Crawford also commented that removing seaweed to improve bathing water quality may also be counterproductive through its harmful effect on the environment.  In response, Mr Stevenson reiterated that birds were one of a number of possible sources and that they had proved a problem in other areas – for example, the pigeons on Clacton pier.  The revised Bathing Water Directive served two purposes: to protect public health and to enable the public to make decisions based on the most up to date information.  This was why significant changes, such as Yorkshire Water’s £50m investment in the sewerage system in Scarborough, allowed the authorities to use a smaller data set to judge water quality.  In respect of seaweed, its removal in Runswick Bay, was one of a number of factors in the improved water quality, but bacteria could live longer in seaweed than in seawater.  The Council’s Leisure Services Manager, Mr Andrew Williams added that the Council removed seaweed from beaches for two reasons: if it started to rot and so attracted flies and/or if it impeded access to the beach.  Members then  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Creative Industries Centre Trust - Annual Review 2013/14 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To consider a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 14/404 attached)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 14/404) which reviewed the performance of Woodend Creative Industries Centre in the last year.  In his presentation to the committee, the Director of Woodend, Mr Andrew Clay reported another busy year, which had seen the development of some tenants’ businesses and fewer failures than previous years.  He gave as an example Netsells Ltd which had grown from two to eight employees, had clients from across the globe, and had just won a business award.  As part of Woodend’s continuing development, it was now VAT registered with a partial VAT exemption, and was seeking to consolidate its diversification into other activities such as consultancy and events, to become a cultural visitor attraction in the town.  In respect of its core product – a centre for creative businesses – a new pricing policy was being introduced so that rental income was increased to cover its running costs.  These had risen in particular because of higher electricity tariffs.  Members then questioned Mr Clay about his report.  In reply, Mr Clay advised that BBC Radio York’s decision to move to a smaller unit had had a net positive effect by freeing up spaces for new tenants.  Woodend would be seeking the advice of the Council’s Energy Manager to identify ways of achieving energy savings.  However, the fact that many tenants were now in stronger position as the country emerged from recession meant that rents could be increased to meet higher energy costs.  Asked about the sharp fluctuation in the Trust’s financial position between 2010/11 and 2011/12, Mr Clay explained that for the year ending 30 September 2012, the rental income and service charges had decreased significantly when compared to the previous year because of the inclusion in that year’s accounts of a large one off receipt following the abandonment of the Yorkshire Forward Northern Net project.  Asked how businesses could be encouraged to make the progression from Woodend to the Business Park out of town, Mr Clay commented that tenants were advised on a case by case business; however, this was a big leap in size of premises to make for some.  The Chairman thanked Mr Clay for another encouraging report.

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

6.

North Bank Partnership pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To consider a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 14/399 attached)

 

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 14/399) which reviewed the activities of the North Bank Partnership since the previous report in December 2013.  Members were advised that the NBP enabled both the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership and the Humber LEP to work together on joint initiatives for the benefit of the Yorkshire coastal region.  Initially, the Borough Council’s focus through membership of the NBP was on taking advantage of the growing offshore wind sector and on marketing the Yorkshire Coast brand in partnership with the East Riding and Hull.  However, through the auspices of the NBP, a more local regeneration plan – the Yorkshire Coast Growth Plan – was now being developed which would function as framework plan for the next ten years to help lever UK Government and EU Regeneration funding into priority projects on the coast.  In respect of the devolution agenda, the Economic Development Manager advised that the NBP would be used by both LEPs to articulate the ambitions of the coastal region to Government.

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

7.

Regeneration of the Borough and Council's Vision 'to achieve the renaissance of the North Yorkshire coast by 2020' - progress report pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To consider a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 14/400 attached)

 

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 14/400) which reviewed progress of the Council’s Vision ‘to achieve the renaissance of the North Yorkshire coast by 2020’.  Members were reminded that this vision was articulated through the Economic Development Strategy ‘Towards 2020 – the Renaissance of the Yorkshire Coast’ which contained six objectives and various critical success factors pertaining to each objective.  The strategy was adopted in October 2006.  The report outlined the numerous achievements measured against the critical success factors in addition to other notable investments which meant the strategy was very much on target for 2020.  However, the potential for new investment and growth in the Borough occasioned by the development of the largest offshore windfarm in the world at Dogger Bank, the new potash mine, the new leisure village and water park, and the new University of Scarborough and University Technical College, meant that the strategy required both refreshing and extending in time frame to 2025.  This new Employment and Skills Plan 2015-2025 would then fit into the wider Yorkshire Coast Growth Plan being developed in partnership with the two Local Enterprise Partnerships through the North Bank Partnership.  Member then questioned the Economic Development Manager, Mr Kelly about the report.  An important question raised was how the benefits of renaissance would be shared with all members of the local community given the persistent high levels of unemployment and benefit dependency in the Borough, and how this success could be measured in lifting more families out of poverty.  Members were advised that it was because of these levels of deprivation, poor educational attainment and unemployment that the focus of the new strategy was very much on connecting communities to local jobs.  The ambition was to turn Scarborough town into a further education and higher education hotspot, and to improve the transition of children in the Borough from junior school to secondary school to further/higher education into higher quality jobs.  The continuing success of Scarborough Job Match, a new pilot scheme at Barrowcliff Junior School and the Construction and Skills Village in Eastfield were all cited in this respect.  With regard to the local impact of the Government’s new £15bn Road Investment Strategy announced that day, Members were informed that no significant improvements were planned for the A64 which was disappointing.  The Leader would be issuing a statement in due course.  The Chairman thanked Mr Kelly and his colleagues for their very positive report

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The report be received;

(ii)          The committee endorse the supplementary work to extend the strategy to fit within the Yorkshire Coast Growth Plan in partnership with East Riding Yorkshire Council.

 

8.

Fracking pdf icon PDF 36 KB

To consider:

(i)            The following Ordinary Petition* sponsored by Councillor Dilys Cluer:

‘We the undersigned request Scarborough Borough Council to note all the risks of fracking (hydraulic fracturing of rocks) and to resist any proposals to carry out fracking in the Borough Council’s area’

(Informative: the risks of fracking include pollution of water supplies, depletion of water supplies, pollution of land, escape of methane gas, increased heavy traffic and disfiguration of the area); and

(ii)          The attached motion put to full Council on 28 February 2014 by Councillor Colin Challen which was then referred to this committee for initial consideration; and

 

*An Ordinary petition is supported by a minimum of 500 individuals who live, work or study in the Borough of Scarborough.

 

Minutes:

The committee considered (i) a petition which had been organised by Councillor Cluer asking the Council ‘to note all the risks of fracking and to resist any proposals to carry out fracking in the Borough Council’s area’; and (ii) a motion which Councillor Challen had put to full Council seeking that the Council ‘obtain independent scientific information, to include geological and other relevant empirical evidence, as well as economic assessments including those relating to the opportunity costs of fracking in the context of climate change’ – both of which had been referred to the committee.  Full details of the petition and the motion were included on the agenda.  The Overview and Scrutiny Manager advised that Councillors Cluer and Challen had met with himself and planning officers to discuss a potential scope for a scrutiny review which could support the Council’s principal role in respect of fracking as a consultee through the Planning and Development Committee on any potential fracking applications and on the Minerals and Waste Authorities’ draft Minerals and Waste Plan.  In presenting her petition, Councillor Cluer reminded the committee of the risks of fracking to the environment and human health as most recently highlighted in the Government’s chief scientific adviser’s annual report.  Councillor Challen suggested that the scrutiny review could be divided into two phases: the first to assist the Council in responding to the consultation on the draft Minerals and Waste Plan; and the second to examine the wider issues around fracking including the community benefits.  Councillor Jeffels reported that a public meeting on fracking had been organised by Kirbymoorside Town Council at 7pm on 12 December in the Methodist Church in the town.  The Forward Planning Manager agreed that a Task Group could assist the Council in responding to the consultation on the draft Minerals and Waste Plan – although this has been put back until after the General Election in May 2015 – and provide additional support to the Planning and Development Committee when it was consulted on fracking planning applications.  However, he reiterated that the Council’s role was limited to planning matters such as impact on the landscape, historic environment, residential amenity and ability of transport infrastructure to cope with additional demands.  Technical issues were the province of such regulatory bodies as the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency which would provide expert advice on any potential fracking applications.  Members welcomed this review proposal.  All other non-executive members would be notified of the review and asked to contact their group leader if they were interested in serving on the task group.

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The petition and motion be received; and

(ii)          A task group of members be established to undertake a review (nominations through the group leaders)

 

9.

Draft Environmental Sustainability Strategy pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To consider a report by the Director of Democratic and Legal Services (Reference 14/402 attached)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Director of Democratic and Legal Services (Reference 14/402) in respect of the new proposed Environmental Sustainability Policy and Strategy for 2014-2019 which set out the Council’s approach towards environmental sustainability and the projected outcomes.  The strategy was supported by a delivery plan which provided further details of the actions to be undertaken over the next 12 months.  Members then questioned the Performance and Governance Officer, Ms Sonya Daines about the report.  It was noted that one of the corporate targets set out in the policy was a reduction in the per capita CO2 emissions in the Borough, but because of changes in energy mix and other factors outside the Council’s control, the rate of emissions had increased – how then could the Council have more power over this?  By working with industry and the Local Enterprise Partnership?  Ms Daines acknowledged that the Council would continue to work with households and local businesses to reduce carbon emissions, but the Council’s powers were limited.  However, the CO2 emissions from the Council’s operations had reduced and it was agreed that the Council should continue its efforts to educate the public through the Choices4Energy service.  The Cabinet Member for Public Health and Housing, Councillor Chatt commended the work of Choices4Energy and the Council’s Energy Manager in not only saving energy, but also making considerable financial savings. 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The report be received; and

(ii)          The draft Environmental Sustainability Policy and Strategy be endorsed.

 

10.

Yorkshire Energy Partnership - Annual Review 2013/14 pdf icon PDF 224 KB

To consider a report by the Director of Democratic and Legal Services (Reference 14/403 attached)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Director of Democratic and Legal Services (Reference 14/403) which reviewed the performance of the Yorkshire Energy Partnership over the last year.  Members were advised that the YEP’s partnership’s finances and performance had suffered in recent months in the wake of changes to Government energy initiatives and funding mechanisms.  The Cabinet Member for Public Health and Housing, and Council representative on the partnership, Councillor Chatt also raised concerns around the YEP’s governance following the establishment of a Joint Venture which had weakened the partnership’s relationship with local authorities. As with the support of the new oil buying cooperatives which had been brought in house in partnership with Ryedale District Council, Councillor Chatt believed that more of the partnership’s areas of activity should be referred to Choices4Energy.  Councillor Challen, a member of the Sustainability Working Group, commented that the SWG had considered the Council’s future involvement in the YEP in some depth, and suggested that the committee through the SWG make recommendations to the Cabinet in this respect.

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The report be received; and

(ii)          The Sustainability Working Group be tasked with making final recommendations to the Cabinet in relation to the Council’s continuing involvement in the Yorkshire Energy Partnership.

 

11.

Residual household waste per household (kg) and percentage of household waste recycled and composted 2013/14 - performance report pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To consider a report by the Director of Service Delivery (Reference 14/392 attached)

 

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Director of Service Delivery (Reference 14/392) which identified reasons for the slight deterioration in performance in the weight of residual waste collected from households and the overall recycling rate, together with some proposed actions to improve the Council’s position.  The report highlighted in 2013/14 a considerable spike in the amount of residual waste collected during the summer months and a national stagnation in recycling rates.  Proposed actions included a recycling publicity campaign in the run up to Christmas and focusing enforcement action on Houses in Multiple Occupation which generated considerable quantities of excess household waste.  Members then questioned the Operations, Transport and Countryside Manager, Mr Thompson about the report.  In response, he commented that it was still too early to assess the effects of proposed changes to the County Council’s grass cutting regime on green waste collection rates; the green waste collection service was kept under review and if milder winters became more frequent, then there may be a case to continue the collection service through the winter months; fly tipping rates had not increased overall; and alternative language formats were used with migrants whose first language was not English.  Mr Thompson commented that there was no longer the funding available to publicise the recycling kerbside collection service as there had been at its inception, but he welcomed the suggestion for the Cabinet Member and/or Scrutiny Chair to issue a media release to launch the pre-Christmas campaign referred to in the report.

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The report be noted; and

(ii)               The committee endorse the actions proposed in paragraph 6 to improve recycling performance.

 

12.

Projects Summary pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To consider the current Projects Summary report (attached)

 

Minutes:

The committee considered the latest Project Summary information about the Council’s current major projects from the Council’s intranet site.

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

13.

Work Programme 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 23 KB

To consider a report by the Director of Democratic and Legal Services (Reference 14/381 attached)

 

Minutes:

The committee considered a report by the Director of Democratic and Legal Services (Reference 14/381) in relation to the committee’s work programme for 2014/15.

RESOLVED that the report be received.