Venue: Exe Room, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Julia Stuckey Member Services Officer
Link: audio recording
APOLOGIES AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS
To receive any apologies for absence and notices of appointment of substitute Members (if any).
Apologies were received from the Chairman Cllr F J Rosamond (Cllr T G Hughes (Vice Chairman) in the Chair), Cllr Mrs A R Berry and Cllr N A Way who was substituted by Cllr F W Letch.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
Referring to item 8 (Crossparks) on the agenda Mrs Rowcliffe said we, the affected residents, had a meeting last week with the officers. The report written by Dr Louise Uffiindell flagged the presence of sulphur dioxide in Mike Hill's house, Palm Springs. Mr Pritchard categorically refused to consider the testing of SO2 in the long term follow up tests. Perhaps the Scrutiny Committee will be able to ask for justification of this stance. In any case it is the officer’s duty to declare a statutory nuisance. Enough is enough, the fumes are excessive. They affect our health and are an unacceptable interference with our existence in our properties around the pit.
Mrs Bickerstaff, also referring to item 8 on the agenda, informed the Committee that the officers said our borehole water failed tests because our ducks are splodging through 47 metres of soil. Surely they cannot be serious. Can the officers be asked for a better solution, pollution maybe? Is slurry leaking into the ground water? The bottom of the pit is not concrete, it was just excavated out of the subsoil. The stream by the pit has similar chemicals to those inside the pits Environment Agency sample. Could the pipe line be leaking? Do phenols, present in all samples, rot the plastic pipes of the pipeline? The Faulkner’s water tested at the same time had coliform level greater than 300. But how much greater than? Their own private water test at the same time revealed 1050. Their analyst could not understand why the level had increased by so much in just 2 years, unless the pollution was from an outside source. Can the Committee ask the officers why the readings are so bad and abnormal? Please declare a statutory nuisance on the pit and digestate.
Mr Leaming, referring to item 8 on the agenda asked are the committee aware that Templeton Parish Council is trying to obtain a definitive position regarding the Crossparks pit? The Parish Council has been repeatedly asked about inconsistences in pit treatment by the authorities and parishioners feel they don’t have the same level of protection as other locations. For example, the enforcement notices for Pulsards and Coleford pits also states ‘the Officers quantified the intended storage of digestate in an already dug slurry pit (no planning permission) as a waste operation requiring a Transfer Operators Licence.’ Crossparks has not been asked to apply for such a licence. Further, ‘Officers consider this is justified in order to protect the amenity and living conditions of nearby residential properties’. Templeton has residential properties closer than either of these enforced sites. There are some inconsistencies. As a Parish Council, we await definitive guidance. As a finale, we now have a planning condition attached to an application of Crossparks to store potentially flammable materials even closer to residential property.
Referring to item 8 on the agenda Mrs Rose said that from the Scrutiny Committees point of view, complaints of nuisance at Crossparks have been ongoing since 2012 regarding noise, ... view the full minutes text for item 52.
An opportunity for non-Cabinet Members to raise issues.
Discussion took place regarding a verbal update on the agenda and the reasons for the update being verbal on this occasion rather than written, which was the preference of the Committee. These concerns were noted.
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the last meeting of this Committee (attached).
The Committee is reminded that only those members of the Committee present at the previous meeting should vote and, in doing so, should be influenced only by seeking to ensure that the minutes are an accurate record.
Subject to an amendment to Minute 45 under discussion took place regarding, bullet point 1 to read “an information request for the hourly cost to the Council for agency staff and permanent staff” the Minutes were approved as a true record and signed by the Chairman.
DECISIONS OF THE CABINET
To consider any decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting that have been called-in.
The Committee NOTED that none of the decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting had been called in.
To receive any announcements that the Chairman of Scrutiny Committee may wish to make.
The Chairman had no announcements to make.
To receive a verbal update, this will include:
(i) Feedback on monitoring/liaison with other agencies
(ii) On-going monitoring
(iii) Next steps; and
The Public Health and Professional Services Manager explained that the update provided was verbal rather than written due to the timing of the meeting. Officers had met with local residents and Ward Members during the previous week and did not consider it appropriate to make the information that they were giving them public ahead of that meeting. Any documents issued with the agenda would have been made public in advance of that meeting date. The intention of the update was to give feedback on the investigation as a whole, liaison with other agencies and conclusions from monitoring and other assessment work.
The Officer informed the Committee that the Environmental Health team had undertaken an exceptional, detailed and systematic investigation and had worked very hard to get to the bottom of issues being raised by residents.
The officer reminded Members that under the provisions of statutory nuisance this had been a two-pronged approach, looking at nuisance to residents (principally from odour, activities at the pit and land surrounding) and prejudicial health.
The Service had continued regular liaison with the Environment Agency (EA) regarding air quality monitoring and toxicological assessment with Public Health England (PHE).
The EA, who permitted Anaerobic digestion (AD) plants had been asked if they had received complaints regarding similar activities elsewhere but they were only able to identify one other operation which concerned digestate spreading activities in Somerset. However the activities at that location did not involve a storage facility in the same manner as Crossparks and the AD plants were processing waste products. The local authority (Sedgemoor DC) had investigated issues in relation to odour nuisance only related to spreading activity with no complaint regarding symptoms of ill-health.
The Officer provided an update on monitoring and investigations that had been undertaken since the last briefing to Scrutiny in June 2017.
· Odour nuisance, previously reported 45 odour assessments – 96 had been carried out since February 2017, all of which had been unannounced;
· Assessments had been undertaken by 7 different officers, using national standard EA and Defra methodology ;
· A number of additional visits for other reasons where odour was assessed but not to formal method.
It had not been possible to establish statutory odour nuisance in connection with the pit, however statutory odour nuisance had been established due to spreading in a specific fields around Palm Springs. In April a notice had been served. However, this was not due to how the spreading was being carried out but rather the frequency/persistency in connection with weekends and bank holidays.
Prejudicial to health
The Service had ruled out a number of possible sources and pathways which left the focus on potential contamination to ground water and exposure via boreholes/wells. Testing focussed on the two known supplies closest to the pit (Palm Springs and Mount Pleasant Farm) and airborne pollution
· The water tested was untreated from source and results showed no unexpected results of concern. This included both samples of the untreated private water supplies (not currently being ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
The Cabinet Member for Housing will update the Committee regarding areas covered by this remit.
The Committee had before it and NOTED a briefing paper * from the Cabinet Member for Housing updating it regarding areas covered by his remit.
The Cabinet Member outlined the contents of the report, explaining that the number of people sleeping rough in the District should read 4 rather than the 7 that was quoted within the report and that Private Sector Housing had returned 34 properties to use this year to date. The Cabinet Member also highlighted that the development at Birchen Lane was to be demolished and rebuilt. This followed the company that had been appointed to develop the site being put into administration and the site being open to the elements for such a long period of time. The development at Palmerston Park was progressing well but extra work was required to secure the bank, with some tree felling. These properties should be ready for occupation in the spring of next year.
The Cabinet Member explained that officers would be identifying the number and locations required for affordable housing, within the financial limitations of the Housing Revenue Account and that this information would be fed into the revised Corporate Plan. The Cabinet Member highlighted that future rent collection performance was a risk following the implementation of Universal Credit.
Discussion took place regarding:
· Sums of money paid by developers in lieu of affordable housing and what happened to those funds;
· Junction 28 and changes that were required prior to further development in Cullompton;
· Council garages and the fact that many were no longer large enough to house a car. There were plans to develop on some sites, rebuild garages on others and in some instances to remove garages and provide parking places;
· The quality of accommodation provided for homeless people and the cost of this;
· The Housing list and plans to revisit the E band to decide whether or not it should be removed.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for his report.
Note: - Briefing paper previously circulated and attached to the Minutes.
To receive and note a report from the Director of Finance, Assets and Resources presenting the car parking outturn position for 2016/17 and an update on the first 3 months of 2017/18.
The Committee had before it and NOTED a report * from the Director of Finance, Assets and Resources presenting the car parking outturn position for 2016/17 and an update on the first 3 months of 2017/18.
The Director reminded Members that during 2015/16 the Managing the Environment Policy Development Group had set up an officer and member working group to review the current car park charging policy and then make recommendations on a new one to be implemented on the 1/4/16. This review looked at usage levels, benchmarked charges against neighbouring Councils, considered more free periods, reviewed concessions and considered economic consequence.
The Director also reminded Members that when evaluating the impact of a new charging policy for any product, it was often made harder, as other variables may well have direct/indirect effects/consequences. This was particularly relevant to car parking. Variables such as weather, the economy, fuel prices, provision of alternative parking, availability and range of shops, level of ad hoc concessions granted and road closures for example could also affect usage levels and hence income generated.
The Director informed Members that he considered the changes implemented to have been reasonably successful as there had been an increase in income and that vends had remained relatively static. There was a wide range of car park type and there were major swings in vends in some with free vends increasing in short stay car parks and vends in some long stay car parks reducing. He would be asking the Economy PDG to look at the pricing strategy in the near future and to feedback any further tweaks that could be made.
Discussion took place regarding:
· The £2 vend was for all day parking but only covered the period until 6.00pm so an evening vend was also required for anyone staying beyond this time;
· A perceived loss of goodwill with local traders;
· Consideration for the local business community when setting parking fees;
· Cullompton Town Centre car park fees which were managed by the Town Council;
· The Premier Inn development might affect future pricing and opening hours for the multi-story car park in Tiverton.
Note: - Report * previously circulated and attached to Minutes.
Members are asked to consider any items within the Forward Plan that they may wish to bring forward for discussion at the next meeting.
The Committee had before it and NOTED the Cabinet Forward Plan *.
It was RESOLVED to recommend to the Cabinet that it acts upon the action plans to improve the Tiverton town centre and Pannier Market that were approved in 2011.
(Proposed by Cllr Mrs J Roach and seconded by Cllr T W Snow)
Note: Plan previously circulated and attached to Minutes.
IDENTIFICATION OF ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
Note: - this item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on items raised.
Performance and Risk
Performance and Risk