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NOTE OF THE

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					                             NOTE OF THE
              LITTER & DETRITUS SCRUTINY PANEL MEETING
                      HELD AT NELSON TOWN HALL
                      ON MONDAY 30TH JULY, 2007

                                 PRESENT –

               Councillor G. Roach – (Chairman – in the Chair)

Councillors

M. Adams

Also in attendance

Councillor Margaret Bell         Pendle Borough Council
I. McInery                       Operational Services Manager
Mr Whalley                       Colne Resident
G. Walsh                         United Utilities
C. Ferguson                      British Waterways
M. Marshall                      British Waterways

(Apologies for absence were received from Councillors C. Belshaw, T. Barton,
S. Derwent, R. Edwards and J. Eyre).

                                    

The Panel had been sent a note of the meeting held on 18th June; Briefing
Notes from the Operational Services Manager which gave information on
environmental enforcement and comparisons with other authorities locally,
regionally and nationally; Briefing notes from the Scrutiny Manager which
summarised responses from Area Committees and information on matters
raised at the last meeting; Briefing Notes from the Neighbourhood
Management Co-ordinator; and feedback from Nelson Neighbourhood Action
Group about litter, fly-tipping and dog fouling problems in their area.

Michael Marshall (Service Manager) and Cath Ferguson (Environment
and Heritage Manager) from British Waterways attended the meeting as
witnesses and answered a number of questions. The main points to arise
were as follows:-

      British Waterways (BW) remove approximately 20-25 tonnes of
litter/rubbish each year from the Pendle stretch of canal costing £15-20k. A
small, direct labour workforce, based in Burnley, remove litter from the
towpath and the canal stretching from Barnoldswick to Burnley. The team
operates from a boat which has a lifting aid for helping with bulky rubbish. The
boat works in the Blackburn area one week and Pendle the next. All waste is
transferred to a site at Burnley, which is very time consuming, and then later
removed by skip. Having a waste transfer site in Pendle would speed up the
collection of litter.


                                       1
There are also litter collection points along the canal which are emptied by
BIFFA and Pendle Borough Council (PBC). A number of dog bins are
provided, mainly in the Barrowford area. Pendle Borough Council dispose of
the rubbish. Only the canal and towpath are cleaned not the banking on the
opposite side which is often in private ownership, though BW is happy to liaise
about certain problem areas.

The Operational Services Manager suggested BW use the mooring at the
side of the Fleet Street Depot to discharge their waste with the help of the
Council. He also suggested that PBC could carry out land searches for BW to
help gain access to some of the problem sites.

      BW cannot take enforcement action against people littering the canal
unless they are causing an obstruction to navigation so they rely on help from
local authorities and the Environment Agency. They liaise with PBC
Enforcement Officer, Ian Metcalfe, who has helped to deal with cases of
flytipping.

    There are a number of sinking boats in the Pendle section of the canal
which are an eyesore (two boats in Barrowford, one in Foulridge were
specifically mentioned). BW have to follow a certain procedure to find the
owner of a boat before it can be removed and this takes time. At the moment
there is a backlog of “Section 8” cases. BW agreed to look into these cases
and see if anything could be done to speed up the process.

    BW made a note about a couple of sinking boats on the moorings at
Salterforth and about the misuse of visitor moorings reported by Salterforth
Parish Council and said they would look into the matters.

     Graffiti on bridges is removed by BW if they own the bridge but rely on
members of the public to report it. Councillors mentioned graffiti on the bridge
at Long Ing Lane which had been there for some time even though the matter
had been reported. BW said they would look into the ownership of the bridge
and see what action could be taken.

    BW can supply more dog bins along the towpath if the Council are
happy to empty them. If their small litter team receive appropriate training
there is no reason why they cannot assist the Council in identifying dog
fouling offenders.

     Salterforth Parish Council had asked if the capacity of the wheelie bin
at the Salterforth Moorings could be increased as it was often overflowing.
BW said that this could be looked at. The Operational Services Manager said
that the bin was emptied twice a week.

     Grass on the towpaths is cut around six to eight times a year. The cost
of grass cutting is £100-150K. To collect the cuttings would substantially
increase the cost of the operation. If there are specific areas where residual
grass cuttings are a hazard these can be looked at.


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    Michael Marshall said his details could be given as the day to day
contact for litter type problems. There is already an emergency out-of-hours
number. The Wigan number is a good starting point for members of the
public. There is also an email system for dealing with northwest enquiries.
BW try to respond to enquiries within 15 working days.

     BW do not have a policy for disposing of Japanese Knotweed although
they try to control it. The source of the problem is often on neighbouring land.
Ideally they would like to have a more formalised system of pinpointing
infestations and controlling them, but at the moment it is dealt with as and
when.

Gary Walsh from the Civil Work Planning Team at United Utilities
answered questions about how his organisation dealt with litter issues in their
sub stations. The main points to emerge were as follows –

     United Utilities (UU) have 18,000 sub stations between Carlisle and
Buxton and are responsible for maintaining the structures, mending or
replacing fencing and removing rubbish and weeds. There is an increasing
problem with rubbish and weeds. Sometimes the land in front of the sub
station is also owned by United Utilities. (He was not sure how many
substations there were in Pendle.)

     The only regular visits UU undertake to sub stations are every two and
a half years when they check the condition of the sub station. This information
is stored on a database and any problems then addressed. Any other visits
are in response to calls from the public or other organisations reporting
problems such as vermin, flytipping, graffiti, open access. Complaints or
problems are categorised into those that need action taken within 1-3 hours,
1-3 days and 4-7 days. Racial or abusive graffiti would be dealt with between
1-3 hours where as general rubbish might be left for 4-7 days.

Calls might be saved so that a team can deal with problems in a broad area
for example ranging from Blackburn to Barnoldswick. When reacting to calls,
UU staff do not use the opportunity to check on other sub stations in the
surrounding area.

     There is an emergency telephone number on each sub station (it was
thought too confusing to have more than one number). Mr Walsh appreciated
that members of the public might be put off from using the emergency number
to report a litter problem and would not necessarily use Yellow Pages to take
the matter further. More routine problems can be reported to his team either
by telephone or email civil@uuplc.co.uk. He was happy for his team’s details
to be circulated.

    UU tend to respond more quickly to reported problems from Councils
and Councillors than individuals.




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     If weeds are a problem they are cut back with a repeat visit two weeks
later when weedkiller is used. United Utilities have a tree surgeon to deal with
problems such as overgrown bushes blocking the highway.

    At the moment UU have a direct labour force dealing with problems but
soon work will be contracted out. This will not provide the flexibility they
currently have with their own staff.

The Operational Services Manager said that PBC could have a small team of
people contracted to deal with litter problems at sub stations in Pendle. He
thought there was the opportunity for UU to work more closely with the
Council on this matter.

    UU have never prosecuted anyone for flytipping although they would
help a local authority to take action against offenders.

The Scrutiny Manager reported that Sarah McArdle, the Network Rail
Community Relations Manager for the North West had been invited to the
meeting but was unable to attend due to holidays and did not think she would
be able to attend a future meeting due to the scale of the area she covered
and the number of requests she received. She had sent the following
comments -

    Network Rail is actively working in partnership with a number of Local
Authorities (Bolton, Salford, Liverpool City Council, Halton Borough Council,
Tameside) to prevent litter and fly tipping. We have been in contact with their
enforcement teams who will investigate and prosecute offenders if they have
enough evidence retrieved from railway embankments. We have also
previously arranged joint community clear ups (usually the LA provides the
skips and we provide the resources to clear the railway embankments). I
would encourage joint working with Pendle and would be happy to meet with
your enforcement teams/representatives to discuss this in more detail.

Members of the Panel agreed that it was important for Network Rail to be
involved. The Operational Services Manager said that he would be happy to
take Network Rail up on their offer of joint working and liaise with Network
Rail.

The Scrutiny Manager said that Lancashire County Council (LCC) had set
out their litter responsibilities in respect of motorways and these were
contained in her briefing notes. Verges and embankments were LCC
responsibility whereas roundabouts were the Borough responsibility. The
Operational Services Manager said that this was not entirely correct. For
instance the large roundabout at Junction 12 was LCC’s responsibility, the
smaller one near B & Q was PBC’s.

The Operational Services Manager expanded on his Briefing Notes and
answered questions from the Panel. The following main points arose –




                                       4
     From March 2008 the withdrawal of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding
for the Neighbourhood Pride Scheme would mean the loss of 3 individuals
and one vehicle. The team deal mainly with the clearing of back yards. The
effect would be that this sort of clearance work would take longer but the loss
of staff should not impact more generally on litter and detritus.

    Best Value Performance Indicators show that Pendle came 5th in
Lancashire and 13th in the North West.

    The number of fixed penalty notices was a true reflection of the
problems in those areas. There had not been an increase in Neighbourhood
Action Group areas.

    He had given thought to the suggestion at the last meeting about
Councillors being trained and authorised to serve fixed penalty notices. He
had not raised the matter with Legal but said he would prefer Councillors to
report problems and leave officers to deal with enforcement.

    The last training for recycling teams was given two and a half years
ago. He was considering future training and this would cover the issue of
residual waste on recycling rounds.

      He was not aware of any larger receptacles for litter bins on lampposts
but would see if there were any alternative bins with lids, which would prevent
litter being blown away and large birds from raiding them.

     At big events the Council provide containers and empty them at regular
intervals. They do not have litter stewards. Show organisers often seek
volunteers to help with litter.

     One Councillor mentioned bags of recycling being left at the
Barnoldswick recycling point and not placed in the correct receptacle. The
Operational Services Manager said that all 35 recycling points are visited at
some point every day (except weekends) so that those bags would be dealt
with either later the same day or the following day.

    There is a problem in the borough with people leaving wheelie bins on
the back street. Operational Services are trying to target the worst areas.

     The Residual Work Service Response Team has been asked to take
note of where black bins are left. The owners of the properties are then asked
in writing not to do it again. If they were to take away the black bin bags every
time they would continue to leave the bags out for collection.

    He thought that a timely reminder could go out to people in the borough
reminding them of collection days and what could be put out on certain days.
New residents might not be familiar with the collection system.

Mr Whalley, a resident from Colne who had attended the last meeting said
that there was still a problem with 3 properties on New Market Street dumping


                                       5
rubbish and keeping wheelie bins out on the back street. The Operational
Services Manager said that enforcement action had been taken in respect of
these three properties but that it could be a lengthy process. He assured Mr
Whalley that the problem was being dealt with and the situation monitored. If
the problem occurred again Mr Whalley was told to contact the Operational
Services Manager direct.

The Scrutiny Manager gave feedback from Colne and District and West
Craven Committees on issues of concern. The main points to arise from the
discussion were as follows –

     With regard to Colne’s comment about considering the frequency of
emptying litter and dog bins the Operational Service Manager said that dog
bins are emptied twice a week. Litter bins in the town centres are emptied
once a day and rural bins might be emptied only once a week, some more
frequently. He said he would prefer to know if there was a problem with
specific bins in Colne so that he could then look into the matter. It was not
possible to carry out an audit of all the bins in Pendle.

    There is no formal strategy in place for monitoring problems following
Councillor’s complaints but the Operational Services Manager informally
keeps track of problem areas.

    Areas where the mechanical sweeper cannot access should be picked
by hand.

      There is to be a greener, cleaner, safer PR campaign which is targeting
litter and dog fouling and it is hoped that this will impact on members of the
public.

      Weeds are still tackled in Pendle on license through LCC.

      The Scrutiny Manager reported her discussions with planning officers
regarding the provision of litter bins in connection with food take-away
premises. Planning consents can include conditions requiring the provision of
litter bins in the interests of the amenity of the area and seek contributions
towards litter bins as long as the Council has in place a policy and plan for
litter. The Operational Services Manager confirmed that Pendle Council do
not have a litter policy and he was aware of only one other local authority litter
policy which focused on enforcement. He said he would speak to the Planning
Manager about how they could move this forward.

     The Scrutiny Manager also fed back information about the licensing of
take away premises open after 11p.m. and the power to impose a condition
on the licence requiring steps to be taken to deal with litter. The power only
arises if there is an objection to the application on the grounds of litter. The
Council’s Environmental Service is one of the bodies that can object and she
suggested that the review might want to recommend an informal link being
established between Operational Services and Environmental Health to deal
with litter from licensed premises.


                                        6
The Scrutiny Manager referred to the comments received from Nelson
Neighbourhood Action Group which focused on the need for more dog bins;
the impact of parked cars on refuse collection; black bins left out for collection
alongside grey wheelie bins; the need for enforcement with incidents of
flytipping; and the mechanical sweeper cleaning back streets and not the front
streets.

The Operational Services Manager clarified a couple of points. He said that
the mechanical sweeper is used to clean the front and back streets,
alternatively. Officers do try to contact owners of cars if they are obstructing
refuse collection but this is not always possible so that in some cases the Fast
Action Team have to go back at a later date to clear the rubbish.

The Operational Services Manager pointed out that a Grot Spots Officer
Working Group has been set up following the Executive Away Day in May.
The Group has been given the task of looking at grot spots and reporting back
to the Executive via the Leadership Group and for the Litter and Detritus
Scrutiny Panel to keep them informed of their review.

AGREED

1)   That a representative from Network Rail and the Environment Agency be
     invited as witnesses to the next meeting.

2)   That the Anti-Social Behaviour co-ordinator be invited as a witness to the
     next meeting.

3)   That the Grot Spots Officer Working Group be asked to provide some
     feedback to the Panel on their work to date.




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