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					                                                                     Mr M Jeffries
           To the Chair and Members                                  742221

                      of the                                         MJ/ED - R82/32

                    CABINET

                                                                     18 November 2005


Dear Sir/Madam

A meeting of THE CABINET will be held in COMMITTEE ROOM 1, CIVIC OFFICES,
MERRIAL STREET, NEWCASTLE on WEDNESDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2005 at
10.00 am.

                                     AGENDA

1.    To consider the minutes of the previous meetings held on 5 and 26 October 2005
      (copies attached – grey paper).
2.    To consider the minutes of the meeting of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
      Joint Waste Management Board held on 7 October 2005 (copy attached – cream
      paper).
3.    Items where Chief Officers have taken the power to act after consultation with
      appropriate Chair/Cabinet Members (copy attached – blue paper).
4.    To consider, if necessary, any items previously considered by the Scrutiny
      Committee under the „call-in‟ procedure.
5.    To consider the report of your Officers (copy attached - white paper).
6.    To consider any business which is urgent within the meaning of Section 100B(4)
      of the Local Government Act 1972.
7.    To resolve that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of
      the report (green paper) because it is likely that there will be a disclosure of
      exempt information as defined in paragraph 5, 7, 8 and 9 in Part 1 of Schedule
      12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
8.    To consider the report (green paper) of your Officers.

                                    Yours faithfully

                                     D A DIMOCK

                                  Head of Legal and
                                 Democratic Services


Officers will be in attendance prior to the meeting for informal discussions on
agenda items.
                                   CABINET MEETING

                                   30 November 2005

                                        PART A

            (Major Items and those with Significant Financial Implications)


                                   INDEX OF ITEMS


Portfolio                           Item & Officer to Contact                   Page No

Performance & Resources      1.     Integrated Capital & Revenue Budget            1
                                    Strategy 2006/07 and Later Years
                                    (M Crawford)
                             2.     Capital Programme                              5
                                    (M Crawford)
                             3.     Calculation of the Council Tax Base            5
                                    (J Jones)
                             4.     Recovery of Council Tax & Business Rates       4
                                    – Court Costs
                                    (J Jones)
                             5.     Treasury Management Consultants                6
                                    (G D Roberts)
                             6.     Adoption of Internal Audit                     7
                                    Recommendations 1 April to 30 September
                                    2005
                                    (C Pilawski)
                             7.     Dashboard Indicators – Performance             8
                                    Management Report to the end of October
                                    2005
                                    (A Pease)
                             8.     Scale of Fees and Charges                      11
                                    (C Pilawski)
                             9.     Corporate Improvement Plan – Review of         12
                                    Progress at October 2005
                                    (A Pease)

Prosperity & Housing         10.    Design Issues in Newcastle Town Centre         15
                                    (T F Carter)
                             11.    Economic Development Strategy                  17
                                    (W E S Smith)
                             12.    Renew North Staffordshire – Proposals for      19
                                    Relocation Options for People Affected by
                                    Renew Programme Interventions
                                    (D Hope)
                             13.    Audit Commission Planning Inspection           20
                                    (N Clifton)
                             14.    Members Planning Liaison Group                 21
                                    (N Clifton)




                                     Index page 1
Portfolio                Item & Officer to Contact                   Page No

                   15.   Partial Review of the Regional Spatial         24
                         Strategy
                         (D Starkings)

Quality of Life    16.   Britain in Bloom 2005 Results                  27
                         (D A Adams)
                   17.   Proposed Children‟s Play Area at Land off      30
                         Bamber Place, Chesterton
                         (D A Adams)
                   18.   Proposed Youth Recreational Facilities at      31
                         Brampton Recreation Ground, Cross Heath
                         (D A Adams)
                   19.   Madeley Pool – Embankment Repairs              35
                         (D A Adams)
                   20.   Chesterton Park Bowls Pavilion (Upper)         36
                         (D A Adams)
                   21.   Cemetery Memorial Safety Programme             39
                         (D A Adams)
                   22.   Equestrian Development Strategy                43
                         (A Hudson/C Ayres)

Environment        23.   Air Quality Progress Report                    45
                         (N Henshaw)
                   24.   Integrated Waste Management Strategy           47
                         Review
                         (A Hudson/A Montgomery)

Community Safety   25.   Anti-Social Behaviour Officer                  53
                         (S Gibson)

                              PART B

Quality of Life    26.   Roe Lane Sports Pavilion                       56
                         (D A Adams)




                          Index page 1
         PART A

PORTFOLIO – PERFORMANCE &
       RESOURCES
1.       INTEGRATED CAPITAL AND REVENUE BUDGET STRATEGY 2006/07 AND LATER
         YEARS

Purpose

To review progress made to prepare the Council‟s Service Plan and Financial Budgets for
2006/07 and later years.

Summary

Based on assumptions about:
   - the Government‟s financial settlement for this Council in 2006/07
   - a Council Tax increase of 5%, and
   - the current budget forecast for 2006/07 including those growth items which have been
      indicated in previous forecasts

the Council needs to identify budget reductions of about £1.2m pa for 2006/07. This increases
to £2.6 million in 2008/09. The officers recommend that when the Council considers budget
reductions, it should do so in the following order of priority:

     -   through the achievement of cashable efficiency gains
     -   reduce or cancel proposals to increase expenditure on discretionary services
     -   reduce or close down existing discretionary services
     -   reduce (where the law permits) growth proposals in statutory services
     -   reduce (where the law permits) existing statutory services

The Council has available a limited amount of Revenue Reserves which would enable the
Council to implement these reductions over a limited period of time. However, if the Council
uses these reserves to fund ongoing expenditure it would not be able to set a „balanced‟
budget as required to achieve level 2 (adequate) of the CPA Use of Resources, Key Lines of
Enquiry standards.

Background

On 3 August 2005 the Cabinet considered its Integrated Capital and Revenue Budget Strategy
for 2006/07 to 2008/09, and the impact of commitments on its budget forecast. Scrutiny
Committee re-established the Budget Task and Finish Group.

Officers are currently preparing the detailed budget proposal for 2005/06 (revised) and
2006/07, which will be reported to the January Cabinet. The timescale for setting the 2006/07
Council Tax and budget is set out in Appendix 1 (orange paper).

Affordable Budget (£15.5m in 2006/07 with a 5% tax increase)
The Council has to date being working to a Forecast which assumes:
   - an increase in Revenue Support Grant (RSG) and distributed Business Rates (NNDR)
       of 2.5% pa
   - a Council Tax increase of 5% pa.

Another unknown factor is by how much RSG will increase to compensate the Council for the
statutory concessionary fares scheme to be introduced in April 2006. For the time being this is
assumed that the Council‟s increased payments to operators will be matched by increased
RSG – ie the impact will be cost neutral. Appendix 2 (gold paper) summarises the impact of
these assumptions and indicates for 2006/07 that the Council could afford a budget of



                                                1
£14.767m without relying on reserves. This will be revised once the Government announces its
provisional settlement for 2006/07, which will probably be by the 2 December 2005.

The Council can agree an increase in Council Tax other than 5%. Appendix 1 shows the
affordable budget for a range of tax levels.

Although the Council can set a larger budget than this by committing some of its available
revenue reserves, in order to set a „balanced‟ budget the Council would need to demonstrate
that ongoing expenditure is met from ongoing income, and not reserves. (A „balanced‟ budget
is a requirement to achieve level 2 (adequate) in the Use of Resources assessment for
Financial Management under the CPA framework, as reported to Cabinet on 26 October 2005.)

Budget Forecast (£16.0m in 2006/07)
The Council‟s current Budget Forecast for 2006/07 to 2008/09 is set out in Appendix 3 (grey
paper). This shows that in 2006/07 the current Forecast is £15.958m, before allowing for the
provisional of the new statutory concessionary fares scheme to be introduced in April 2006. It is
assumed that the additional RSG will make the Impact cost neutral.

The main changes in the Forecasts for the next 3 years are set out in Appendix 4 (blue paper),
and includes the impact of:
   - increased contributions to the Superannuation Fund
   - an increase in the pay-bill of the Council following the recent Job Evaluation
   - the introduction of two further rounds of the Kerbside Garden Waste collection service
   - the improvement to swimming provision in Newcastle
   - the increase in Budgets for the Council‟s Direct Service Organisations by £200,000pa.
       The new financial arrangements are being reviewed and there is a risk of additional
       pressure for increased budget if current spending levels are maintained.

In addition there are a number of financial premises facing the Council. Attached at Appendix
5 (cream paper) is a summary of the principal ones at this time.

Budget Reductions required to set a ‘balanced‘ Budget (£1.3m in 2006/07)
In order to set a budget (assuming a 5% Council Tax increase and without relying on revenue
reserves for ongoing expenditure), budget reductions totalling £1.2m need to be identified for
2006/07, increasing to £2.6m in 2008/09.

a. Budget Reductions – Efficiency Savings
In order to minimize the need for service reductions, and to assist in the achievement of
additional cashable efficiency gains, the Council has appointed KPMG to review its activities
and to advise on potential efficiency gains. This assignment is nearing completion and a full
report will be submitted to Cabinet. Preliminary indications are that although some efficiency
savings are possible for 2006/07, they will not be significant. Greater savings are achievable for
later years but most, if not all, of the savings will require policy decisions to be taken by the
Council.

b. Budget Reductions – Service Reductions
The need to reduce expenditure overall is paramount. The Council cannot „live beyond its
means‟ or rely on its limited revenue reserves for more than a short period of time. In order to
assist the Cabinet attached as Appendix 6 (lavender paper) is an analysis of the Council‟s
2005/06 revenue budgets classifying service budgets as „discretionary‟ (i.e. it is within the
Council‟s power to determine whether or not to provide that service) and „non-discretionary‟
(e.g. where the service is statutory but the Council has the power to ensure it is provided cost-
effectively).




                                                2
Cabinet Members have provisionally agreed (subject to a formal report in each case to
Cabinet) the following additional budget reductions for 2006/07:


                                                                   Cabinet           Savings
Potential Budget Reductions                                                          2006/07
                                                                                         £
Carnival – replace with promotions throughout year               26.10.05             20,000
Benefits and Revenues restructure (Note 1)                         Nov 05             18,000
Council Tax Summons – double fees                                  Nov 05             85,000
Land Charges – increase fees                                   Jan/Feb 06             40,000

                                                                                     163,000

   Note 1. A report recommending a revised structure for the Revenue and Benefits service is
   to be submitted to the Audit and General Purposes Committee on 29 November. This
   includes a reduction of the number of cashiers in the Civic Offices. Prior to the Council
   committing to this structure, and the capital resources to relocate the current cashiers office
   to main reception, Appendix 7 (pink paper) considers the option of withdrawing the service
   completely.

In addition the Cabinet has previously considered, but not proceeded with, the following:

   -   no longer enhancing the maintenance of highways verges for the County Council
       (potential saving about £100,000 pa) and
   -   integrating the Garden Waste and Residual Refuse Collection Services (£160,000 per
       round pa approx – about £500,000 pa for the whole Borough once 3 rounds have been
       introduced).

Availability of Reserves
The powers of the Council to use reserves to support the revenue budget on a temporary basis
are restricted as follows:

      capital reserves, such as capital receipts, cannot be used to reduce the Council‟s
       revenue budget directly. These can be invested so that the interest earned does reduce
       Council Tax levels
      when considering the underspend of £610,000 in the General Fund in 2004/05 the
       Council agreed that this „be transferred to support the General Fund Budget‟. It
       therefore is held in the „Budget Support Fund‟.
      other funds, excluding the Contingency Reserve, have either been identified as the
       Council‟s minimum prudent balances, or have been earmarked for specific purposes,
       (e.g. the Insurance Fund, the Repairs and Renewals Fund and the ICT Development
       Fund) or to support capital projects.

If available, the use of revenue reserves to reduce the Council tax is possible for a short period
of time to delay budget cuts for, say, a year. However, the use of reserves reduces the value of
the Council‟s net investments, and therefore the interest earned. As a result, the use of
reserves will tend to increase the pressure on Council Tax.

If the Council wishes to set a ‟balanced budget‟ it needs to ensure that ongoing expenditure is
met from ongoing income such as external finance, Council tax and fees and charges. A




                                                3
„balanced budget‟ depends on only using one-off reserves to meet one-off or short-term items
of expenditure.

   N.B. Officers will only recommend the use of reserves to support the revenue budget
   if their use is accompanied by a clear and determined resolution and strategy to
   achieve similar reductions in expenditure in the short time period for which reserves
   form a ‘bridge’ or stop-gap measure.

Appendix 8 (salmon paper) shows the current availability of Revenue Reserves

Risk Management

The Risk Register for the Budget Strategy is attached at Appendix 9 (yellow paper).

Conclusions
The Council faces a difficult challenge to set a robust and affordable budget for 2006/07.
Officers recommend Cabinet to:

   -   review and decide upon what is an „affordable‟ budget based on the Government‟s
       financial settlement, and the appropriate Council tax
   -   review the budget forecast to reduce it to the „affordable‟ budget by:
           o   identifying the maximum acceptable savings which can be found through the
               implementation of cashable efficiency initiatives
           o   identifying other additional budget reductions. In order of priority, officers would
               recommend these to be achieved as follows:
                     by reducing or cancelling proposals to increase discretionary expenditure
                      unless the Council is already bound to a contractual commitment
                     reduce or close-down existing discretionary services
                     statutory services – reduce levels where the law permits of proposals to
                      increase statutory services, or existing statutory services
   -   for a short period of time the Council could use its uncommitted revenue reserves to
       support its Revenue Budget. However, if these are used to support ongoing expenditure
       the budget would not be „balanced‟.

One of the additional cashable efficiency gains the Council could make is to close down the
cashiers service in the Civic Offices.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)    That Cabinet reviews what it considers to be an „affordable‟ budget for 2006/07 but
determining the Council Tax increase it wishes to recommend to Council.

(b)    That in order to set an „affordable‟ budget, it reviews the budget forecast and
determines the actions necessary to:

   -   reduce the forecast through the achievement of cashable efficiency gains
   -   reduce or cancel proposals to increase discretionary services
   -   reduce or close down existing discretionary services
   -   reduce (where the law permits) growth proposals in statutory services
   -   reduce (where the law permits) existing statutory services

(c)     That a decision be made (in the light of alternative payment methods and payment
points available to the public) as to whether to create a new cash payments point in the central


                                                4
reception with the associated capital and revenue costs – or to decide not to have an in-house
cash payments point.




2.     CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2006/07

A report on this matter will be circulated prior to your meeting.




3.     CALCULATION OF THE COUNCIL TAX BASE

Purpose

To agree the Council Tax Base for 2006/07.

Background

Under section 33 of the Local Government Act 1992 the Council is required to calculate the
Council Tax Base for the Authority and each of the areas covered by Parish Councils.

The legislation requires that the figure, when, determined, is notified to precepting authorities
before 31 January.

A report will be submitted to your meeting to enable you to approve the Council Tax Base for
2006/07.




4.     RECOVERY OF COUNCIL TAX AND BUSINESS RATES – COURT COSTS

Purpose

To propose an increase in court costs associated with the recovery of council tax and business
rates.

Background

The amount of administration that is involved in taking court action against council tax and
rates defaulters is considerable. With the agreement of the Court the Council can apply for
costs to help fund the cost of the additional work.

Currently the Council applies for £35 on the issue of the summons and 70p on being granted a
liability order. The 70p being paid to the Court to cover its administration costs.

The level of court costs has not been reviewed since 1998 and is considerably less than costs
requested by other Authorities. Also, they do not meet actual cost of taking action. A more
realistic charge would be £40 on the issue of the summons and £30 on being granted a liability
order.




                                                 5
Discussions have taken place with the Magistrates Clerk and she is agreeable to the increase
that is being proposed.

Financial Implications

Increasing court costs as outlined, would generate additional income of approximately £85,000
per annum and would help meet the cost of the additional work involved.

RECOMMENDATION:-

That costs of £40 be requested on the issue of a summons and £30 on being granted a liability
order.




5.       TREASURY MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS

Purpose

To consider the re-appointment of treasury management consultants.

Background

The Council currently employs Butlers as its treasury management consultants, under a three
year contract, costing £13,500 per annum, which commenced on 1 April 2003. This contract
was an extension of two previous contracts, Butlers having been initially appointed from 1 April
1998. The present contract is largely concerned with the provision of advice and assistance
concerning the management of the Council‟s investments (both in house and externally
managed) following the capital receipt arising from sale of the housing stock. As part of the
service, Butlers monitor the performance of the external fund managers appointed to manage
the investment of the capital receipt. Additionally, they provide advice concerning interest rate
movements, counterparty credit ratings, capital finance and related matters and give general
treasury management advice and assistance, for example in the compilation of the annual
treasury management report and the development of treasury management policies and
procedures.

Issues

The present contract will come to an end on 31 March 2006. Butlers have indicated that the
price for a further three year contract would be £15,000 per annum. The new contract would
cover similar activities to the present one.

To date your officers have been very satisfied with the standard of service and quality of advice
provided by Butlers and have found their employment to be a successful way of maintaining the
effectiveness of the Council‟s treasury management operation.

The Council‟s Financial Regulations (Regulation Dq18) require two quotations to be obtained
where goods or services between £3,000 and £50,000 are to be procured. However, there are
only a very limited number of companies offering this kind of service. It is unlikely that a
substantial saving, if any, could be made by obtaining an additional quotation from another
provider for these services and in any case, as mentioned above, Butlers have a known track
record and have established a good working relationship with the Council and its officers. It is,
therefore, not considered appropriate to seek an additional quotation and that it would be


                                               6
beneficial to re-appoint Butlers for a further three years at the proposed cost of £15,000 per
annum.

Financial Implications

This cost is met from the General Fund Revenue Budget (Asset Management Revenue
Account). There will be sufficient provision within the 2006/07 standstill budget.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

That a further contract for treasury management consultancy be entered into with Butlers, for a
period of three years commencing on 1 April 2006, at a cost of £15,000 per annum.




6.       ADOPTION OF INTERNAL AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS 1 APRIL TO
         30 SEPTEMBER 2005

Purpose

To report outstanding fundamental audit recommendations to Cabinet on a quarterly basis and
to request Member‟s approval to Corporate Management Team (COMT) actions in respect of
the recommendations and proposed target dates.

Background

At your Cabinet meeting on the 29 April 2003 it was agreed that members be kept aware of the
risks within the Council in terms of internal controls. It was agreed that from the 1 April a
quarterly report would go to COMT and members for all outstanding fundamental
recommendations. The report would outline audit areas where on the first follow up visit
(3 months after the final report) recommendations have not been actioned.               Any
recommendations classified as fundamental should be actioned within a month of the final
report.

It was agreed that these reports will be brought to the Cabinet at its quarterly performance
review meetings.

This is the third full year of reporting outstanding fundamental recommendations to COMT and
Cabinet. With the introduction of a Statement of Internal Control produced with the Statement
of Accounts the follow up and implementation of recommendations is increasingly important,
since they provide both officers and members with assurance as to the effectiveness of key
internal control.

Issues

The Internal Audit Section has completed 23 audits since the 1 April to the 30 September. The
table below shows the position in relation to outstanding recommendations as at the end of
September 2005.




                                              7
         OUTSTANDING RECOMMENDATIONS SUMMARY AT QUARTER END 30 JUNE 2005
                                                                 Numbers        Percentages
     Number of recommendations                                     1,306            100%
     Agreed with managers                                          1,305
     Not agreed with managers                                          1               0%
     Not due for implementation                                      331              25%
     Overdue for implementation                                      122              10%
     Implemented                                                     853              65%

In the second quarter 20 of the overdue recommendations relate to those classified as
fundamental. These have been reviewed by the COMT and are attached for your comments
and action as Appendix 10 (orange paper).

RECOMMENDATION:-

That the action of your officers be noted.

DECISION REQUIRED:-

What comments or actions if any, do you wish to make in relation to each fundamental
recommendation?




7.       DASHBOARD INDICATORS – PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT REPORT TO THE
         END OF OCTOBER 2005

Purpose

To update members on the Council‟s performance against a set of dashboard indicators for the
period to the end of October 2005.

Background

The Council‟s Performance Plan for 2005/06 includes a number of statutory Best Value
Performance Indicators (BVPIs) and the Council‟s own local performance indicators (LPIs).
Taken together, these indicators are intended to provide a picture of performance against the
Council‟s priority themes and priorities for improvement. The Plan contains targets against
each indicator.

Dashboard indicators are intended to be a sub-set of easily accessible performance
information that indicates whether the Council is achieving its objectives month by month. They
are supplemented by a quarterly review of all performance indicators. Members should note
that the set of indicators may change over time as the Council‟s priorities and performance
change.

Detail

Detailed analysis of performance against the indicators is shown in Appendix 11 (grey paper),
together with a commentary explaining why any variances have occurred or are predicted to
occur, as well as suggested actions that could be taken to remedy any variances.



                                              8
As we have now beyond the end of quarter 2 some trends are beginning to show for some of
these indicators. Although it is still early in the year there are some areas of concern in
connection with our performance.

Successes

There are a number of indicators where performance is good:

BV109c – Other applications determined within target times
There is evidence of sustained improvement in performance since the beginning of April such
that it exceeds both the national and locally set standard. This success is attributed to a
combination of additional staff resources and the introduction of new working methods.
Despite our improved performance this year it is still possible that we will be named as a
standards authority for this indicator next year because of poor performance in the previous
year.

BV12 – Number of working days lost due to sickness absence
Having reached our target for 2004/05 we are continuing to address long term sickness
absence and aim to achieve further improvement during 2005/06. We are achieving sickness
rates lower than our target at the end of October. Although we aim to maintain the
improvement we have little or no control over individual‟s health/sickness and can only manage
the absence when it occurs. Managers will continue to monitor sickness absence and
encourage departments to follow the Management of Absenteeism Policy in order to resolve
long-term sickness absence and minimise short-term absences.

Leisure Link Scheme
The availability of the scheme is continually being publicised and as a result the number of
passes being issues is well above target. We have also been promoting the benefits to our
staff so they are able to target individuals better.

Areas of Concern

Three areas in particular are at substantial risk of failing to achieve targets. Since two of these
targets are statutory, this is worrying.

BV109a – Major applications determined within target times
Current performance is substantially below both the nationally set target (60%) and the top
quartile (63.64%). As performance against this target has been so poor over the last
18 months, the Authority is likely to be named as a standards authority for this indicator in
2006/07.

BV109b Minor applications determined within target times
Due to our poor performance during the period July 2003 to June 2004 the Government has
imposed planning standards for 2005/06. These are minimum statutory standards of
performance levels that the Government requires. The standard imposed for BV109(b) during
2005/06 is 63%. By 31 October, only 48.5% of „minor‟ decisions had been issued within 8
weeks. There is now a significant likelihood that we will not achieve the planning standard, and
given our performance to date it is probable that we will be named as a standards authority for
this indicator again next year.

Tonnages of Recyclates/Composting Collected
Performance this month continues to be below target. In order to achieve an increase in
performance to meet the statutory target (18%) for 2005-06, the new initiatives of expansion of
the kerbside dry recyclables service and provision of garden waste collections for up to 12,000


                                                9
properties were implemented in June. Recovery rates for compostable material however are
not meeting predicted levels. Based on performance so far during 2005-06, officers estimate
that only 15-16% of household waste collected will be either recycled or composted, and do not
therefore expect the Council to achieve the statutory target for this area.

Other indicators are also worse than target at the present time:

Crime
The crime figures for the seven months of the year continue to suggest that there has been a
substantial rise in some type of crime. To date the partnership has seen an increase in town
centre crime, especially alcohol related violence. The Partnership feels that these figures will
not go down.

Disabled Access
From October 2004 as part of the DDA 1995 regulations, service providers have been required
to take reasonable steps improve accessibility of public buildings for disabled people. Work is
now well under way to improve the accessibility of our buildings.

Annual Employee Development Interviews
The Council continues to make slow progress in undertaking Employee Development
Interviews (EDIs). As well as being a good working practice undertaking EDIs is a fundamental
aspect of the IiP accreditation.

Percentage of telephone calls answered within target times
This indicator has not changed significantly during the period of monitoring and is still some
way below the target of 80%. The introduction of CRM and the Contact Centre should
significantly impact of performance in this area.

In addition, the new Revenues and Benefits system (PERICLES) is still unable to produce
some performance information. Other information available in the Housing Benefits Section
demonstrates that performance has been very slow but is now improving. However, the
continuing inability of the system to produce national BV indicators is an ongoing cause for
concern

Community Safety Implications

Community Safety PIs are included in the range of indicators but otherwise this report has no
Community Safety implications.

Financial Implications

No immediate implications

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

That Cabinet notes the performance of the dashboard indicators for the period to end of
October 2005. Members are also asked to consider the comments made above on each of
the indicators and to decide whether any further investigation is required around specific areas
of concern, in particular into those areas where our performance is not improving at the desired
rate or where performance is not meeting the targets set by the Council.




                                               10
8.         SCALE OF FEES AND CHARGES

Purpose

To obtain approval to the proposed scale of fees and charges to apply during the financial year
commencing 1 April, 2006.

Background

At this time of year, the Cabinet is asked to consider proposals for the Fees and Charges to be
applied during the following financial year. Accordingly, your officers have produced proposals
for 2006/07 Fees and Charges which are relevant to this Cabinet and are set out in Appendix
12 (lavender paper). Scale of Fees and Charges are formatted to appear in alphabetical order
to aid in finding the relevant information.

The charges relating to the General Purposes and Public Protection Committees will be
considered separately by those Committees.

Issues

The budget preparation process as outlined to and approved by the Cabinet at its meeting of
3 August 2005 assumes an overall 2.5% increase in the level of Fees and Charges for
2006/07. The proposals have been drawn up taking account of this requirement. It should be
noted, however, that some items may not have been altered year on year whilst others may
have been increased either by a lesser percentage amount or by an amount in excess of 2.5%.
The aim has been to achieve an overall 2.5% increase within each service concerned.

Following the District Auditor report entitled “Income Charging and Best Value” of the
11 October 2000 the Council has continued to adopt a strategy for charging based on the
following principles:

     (a)    All Fees and Charges should aim to recover at least the full cost of the service, except
            where the Council determines that the level of charge should be varied in line with
            specific factors;
     (b)    Wherever appropriate those on low incomes should be charged less as part of the
            Council‟s anti-poverty and social inclusion strategy;
     (c)    Where charges are not made for a service or are reduced from full cost recovery level
            the reasons should be reviewed as part of the annual budget cycle in order to ensure
            they remain valid and that significant income is not foregone.

In order to identify the application of this strategy to the Fees and Charges for 2006/07 there is
an indication against some of the items shown in Appendix 12, whether the fee or charge is set
at a level to recover full costs or not. In cases where the full charge is not being made it is
further indicated why this has not been done.

Financial Implications

The approved levels of fees and charges will be incorporated in the General Fund Budget for
2006/07.

Crime and Disorder Implications

There are none.



                                                  11
RECOMMENDATION:-

That the Fees and Charges proposed for 2006/07 as set out in Appendix 12 (lavender paper)
be approved and submitted to Scrutiny for comment.

Background Information
District Audit Report “Income, Charging and Best Value”




9.       CORPORATE IMPROVEMENT PLAN – REVIEW OF PROGRESS AT OCTOBER
         2005

Purpose

To report the Council‟s progress in achieving the targets within its Corporate Improvement Plan
at October 2005.

Background

In August 2005, Cabinet approved the integration of the CPA Improvement Plan and the
Corporate Plan for 2005/06, into one unified plan to be called the Corporate Improvement Plan.

The CPA Improvement Plan was approved by Cabinet following its CPA inspection of
December 2003. The Audit Commission and the Government Office for the West Midlands
(GOWM) subsequently agreed that this plan contains a basket of projects, which taken
together, should enable the Council to achieve improvement at an acceptable rate.

The Corporate Plan for 2005/06 contains further actions that the Council has undertaken to
complete this year. The Council‟s commitment to complete these 37 actions has been
published in the Council‟s Corporate Plan and Best Value Performance Plan 2005/06, and this
has been distributed to all key partners.

Detail

Progress against the Corporate Improvement Plan as at October 2005 is shown in Appendix 13
(blue paper). Progress has been coded and ordered using a Traffic Light System, with
additional commentary and recommendations being provided where appropriate. The Traffic
Light system which has been adopted is as follows:

     Red         [high risk of failure]
     The target deadline for completion of the action has been missed and there
     is no plan in place that will ensure that the action is completed.

     Amber         [potential risk of failure]
     The target deadline has either being missed already but plans are in place to
     enable late completion or, the target deadline has not yet been reached but
     is likely to be missed.

     Green     [low risk of failure]
     The action point has been completed or is on target to be met within the
     deadline.



                                               12
The plan contains an overview of each project or action and the supporting information behind
the comments can be obtained from the Best Value Office.

Progress against Corporate Improvement Plan to October 2005

The Appendix shows that from a total of 56 live projects, 5 projects (9%) are at high risk of
failure, 24 projects (43%) are at potential risk of failure, and 27 (48%) are classified as being a
low risk of failure. Four projects shown below have been completed.

CPA              2.6        Develop EDI appraisals to include service improvement proposals.
CPA              3.2        Improve consultation and communication with hard to reach groups.
Rainbow          4f         We will introduce a Street Warden Service in Knutton/Cross Heath.
Rainbow          6b         We will expand the garden waste collection scheme to a further
                            8,000 households.

There are concerns over the following issues:

A)   Lack of detailed plans
     Most of the detailed plans behind the Corporate Plan actions are now clear. However, it
     is still unclear how the Authority will achieve Action 4A - improvement in the processes
     within its housing and council tax benefits service to raise performance in processing
     claims

B)   Progress issues
     The existing plans for some of the projects do not clearly show progress and decisions
     need to be made concerning the projects future.

        1.3     Assess and meet         The percentage of employees who           Officers need to identify and
                priority training and   have received their initial Employee      execute alternative
                development needs       Development Interview now stands          strategies/plans to identify
                (*)                     at 72%. Although the system is an         and deliver the authority's
                                        ongoing process in many parts of the      priority training and
                                        Authority, around one quarter of all      development needs. Officers
                                        employees are not part of the             also need to redefine the
                                        scheme. At present there are no           timetable and responsibility
                                        clear plans to undertake the              for completion of this action.
                                        remainder of the interviews and the
                                        Authority therefore needs to consider
                                        alternative mechanisms for
                                        identifying and delivering its training
                                        requirements.

        4.5     Establish training in   The budget for this training has been     It is recommended that
                customer care for       allocated within the corporate            officers produce and agree
                all staff               training budget. However, training        delivery of a training
                                        has not yet begun. Training may           timetable
                                        need to be coordinated with
                                        completion of the review of the
                                        corporate complaints procedure




                                                 13
        4.6     Carry out BVR –         This project was initially due for       That an extension is granted
                engaging with           completion by March 2005.                to this project until end of
                young people (*)        However, investigation completed as      December 2005.
                                        part of this BVR yielded more
                                        response than expected. Following
                                        the initial analysis it was decided to
                                        undertake a deeper evaluation. The
                                        data has now been fully analysed
                                        and evaluated and the review will be
                                        completed by the end of December

        2c      We will consult with    Community Consultation is                The future of this project
                local businesses        complete. However, there are no          needs to be clarified in the
                and traders to          resources to progress this project       light of capacity issues
                enable an               further at the present time.             affecting its delivery
                application for
                Business
                Improvement
                District (BID) status

        2d      We will devise local    There is currently no budget to          The future of this project
                transport initiatives   progress this project further            needs to be clarified in the
                in partnership with                                              light of capacity issues
                the County Council,                                              affecting its delivery
                parish councils, the
                local community
                and voluntary
                groups

        6.1     Develop corporate       A review of existing information about   Following completion of the
                knowledge               knowledge management was                 Knowledge Management
                management              undertaken in December and a draft       Strategy, officers
                strategy                strategy has been produced. There        recommend that this project
                                        are, however, limited resources          is now deferred until further
                                        available and progress is very slow.     resources are available
                                        Investments are being made in
                                        software which will assist the
                                        authority with its 'knowledge
                                        management.


Community safety implications

There are no direct implications.

Financial Implications

There are no direct financial implications.

RECOMMENDATION:-

That Members review progress against projects shown in at Appendix 13 and provide guidance
on the projects detailed in this report..




                                                  14
        PART A

PORTFOLIO – PROSPERITY &
       HOUSING
10.      DESIGN ISSUES IN NEWCASTLE TOWN CENTRE

Purpose

To agree a proposal for seeking assistance with the design aspects of the Town Centre Area
Action Plan and continuing determination of planning applications within the area.

Background

In October, Cabinet approved for consultation purposes a "preferred options" report for the
Town Centre Area Action Plan. It was noted that the decision had been taken to exclude full
discussion of design matters at this stage, and carry out a separate consultation exercise on
this aspect later. Cabinet agreed to receive a further report on the formulation of detailed
design guidance for Newcastle Town Centre.

The importance of design

The design of development is recognised by the ODPM and in all government and regional
guidance as being of prime importance in land-use planning. It is not simply a matter of the
visual appearance of buildings, though clearly this tends to illicit most of the comments from the
general public; it is also about the way development helps or hinders the activities that are
intended to take place within and around it.

The following is an extract from PPS1 (Government guidance on "delivering sustainable
development")

      "Good design ensures attractive usable, durable and adaptable places and is a key element
      in achieving sustainable development. Good design is indivisible from good planning.
      Planning authorities should plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive
      design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and
      wider area development schemes. Good design should contribute positively to making
      places better for people. Design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to take
      the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it
      functions, should not be accepted."

The need for robust guidance

In the Town Centre, recent developments, both those proposed and those that have taken
place, have caused considerable public debate. There is currently a great deal of interest from
developers for housing and other developments in the Town Centre, and this is in accordance
with national, regional and local policy. The standard of design is an important issue
throughout the borough, but it is inevitable that it is in the Town Centre that most potentially
controversial design will be offered. This is because development will be at a higher density
and there is more opportunity for forms of residential accommodation that are not traditional for
North Staffordshire. In general, the current buoyancy of the market in the Town Centre is
based on a perception that there is a potential for a more modern approach both to
development and to the activities to be provided within it. It is in the Council's interest to
encourage such investment in the Town Centre because this helps its viability and vitality.
However, this has to be carefully balanced with the desire, which is clearly supported in public
consultations, for the centre to retain much of its traditional "market town" character.

Although it is generally accepted that design is important, it is often difficult to sustain a refusal
for planning permission purely on grounds of design. Also, crucially, views on design always




                                                 15
have an element of subjectivity; individual people, whether "trained" in design matters or not,
will in many cases disagree in their perception of particular developments.

It is clear that what is needed is robust and authoritative sources for the assessment of design
both to set before developers in advance and to be used in determining applications.

Different elements of design guidance

The aim must be to ensure the best possible design for all development.               This can be
attempted in a number of ways and at different stages.

       Through the Area Action Plan
       Through Supplementary Planning Documents
       Through other publications of guidance outside the Local Development Framework
       Through assessment of planning applications (including the requirement for design
        briefs, already enshrined in the adopted Local Plan)

These are not mutually exclusive alternatives, and clearly all have their part to play.

The proposal

Officers recommend commissioning consultants to make a direct input to all of the above,
including giving advice as to the best vehicles for disseminating design advice appropriate to
different stages in the development process.

Set out below is a summary of requirements that would be developed into a brief on which to
invite tenders:

   1.    Co-ordinate a public debate within the AAP area
   2.    Draft policies for the AAP
   3.    Produce advice on the need for SPD, to add further detail to what is appropriate to an
         AAP.
   4.    Produce advice on the efficacy of any other documentation to assist with pre-
         application design guidance

Consultants tendering for the work would also be asked to submit a costed proposal for acting
as the Council's development design consultant over a fixed term (initially one year).

The timescale required for elements 1 - 4 would be to fit in with the submission of the formal
AAP. This is programmed in the Local Development Scheme (LDS) for June 2006, though in
the revision of the LDS it may be appropriate to amend this to August or September. For this
date to be met, allowing for proper progress through Cabinet, Scrutiny and Council, this would
probably mean that the officers' draft for the formal AAP would need to be completed during
June. The final reporting from the design consultation work should therefore be programmed
for the end of April, to allow proper consideration of all the recommendations. The public
debate should start as soon as possible in the New Year to follow closely upon the consultation
on the "preferred options" report.

The longer term element for ongoing advice would not at this stage commit the Council
although the consultants' preparedness to tender for this part of the work and the costs
involved, would clearly influence the selection process. A further report will be made on this
aspect when the result of the tendering exercise is known.




                                                16
Financial Implications

The cost of the work will be taken from Planning Delivery Grant. This is an appropriate use of
these funds as the work will contribute directly to the operation of the planning service, both in
plan making and in development control. Obtaining additional expertise in the field of design,
both in the initial exercise and on a continuing basis, will supplement the resources of the
service in an area where it is lacking.

RECOMMENDATION:-

That a brief be drawn up on the basis set out in this report and tenders invited from appropriate
companies.




11.         ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

Purpose

To report, in draft form, a proposed Economic Development Strategy for the Cabinet‟s
consideration. This is intended to form the basis of the Borough Council‟s promotion of the
economic development of the Borough for the next five years (2005 – 2010). Approval is
sought for consultation purposes, following which comments will be reported to you for further
consideration before adoption.

Background

At its meeting in June, Cabinet received a report on the Integrated Economic Development
Strategy (IEDS), prepared by consultants DTZ Pieda on behalf of the North Staffordshire
Regeneration Zone and Renew North Staffordshire. This work is intended to pull together a
number of earlier reports on the Regen Zone‟s Plans, on business clusters, transport and
spatial strategy, and environmental and housing renewal in one piece of work. Cabinet agreed
to this and requested that a further report be prepared by your officers setting out how this
might influence the work of the Borough Council in promoting the economic development of the
Borough.

We have reflected on the analysis and the recommendations contained in the IEDS with
specific reference to

      (a)    the role played by the Borough Council in the regeneration of the Borough and

      (b)    the particular assets which the Borough enjoys

and, from this, a draft strategy has been drawn up which sets out how the Council might make
most impact on raising the future economic prospects of the Borough. The draft strategy is
available in the Members‟ Room. A working title of the strategy is proposed - „Building
Prosperity; Six Priorities for promoting the economic development of Newcastle-under-Lyme
2005-2010‟.

Presentation to Informal Cabinet

A presentation of the draft strategy was made to the informal meeting of Cabinet on
13 September. This allowed discussion of the broad content and of the main points in a little


                                                 17
more depth than would normally be available to Cabinet due the size of the agenda at most
Cabinet meetings. This also had the benefit of giving early consideration of the draft strategy
to give Cabinet members more opportunity to reflect on the proposed direction, content and
recommendations.

Summary of the main points

The draft strategy is in three parts. The first sets the context, including the prior work which
has informed it, the case for intervention and the role of the Council as an agent of change.
The second – the meat of the strategy - contains the principal recommendations for action.
The third sets out a framework for taking the strategy forward, provides a basis for Members‟
overseeing the progress of the action plan and future reporting arrangements. This includes a
system of monitoring, evaluation and review, designed to maintain political accountability and
keep the actions and the chosen focus relevant to changing circumstances.

The strategy, as proposed, recommends that, for greatest effect, the Borough Council should
focus its energies on Six Priorities for Action. These (not in order of importance) are:

   1.    Creating a strong and vibrant town centre
   2.    Encouraging the growth of high value business clusters
   3.    Encouraging entrepreneurialism and the development of the small firms sector
   4.    Demanding high quality built design and investing in the quality of the public realm
   5.    Promoting the Borough, and
   6.    Linking the benefits of new investment and new jobs to the less well off sections of
         the community.

Each of the Priorities, developed in the six sections, describe in more detail how the Priorities
will / should be taken forward. In each of the six Priorities the Borough Council will have an
important role to play, sometimes leading, usually working alongside partners. One of the roles
of the strategy will be to influence our partners to share these priorities, or, at least, help us to
realise our aims. That the Borough Council will have articulated a clear path for future
intervention and has set out clear priorities will be a great help in securing support.

To date this draft strategy has been developed in-house, albeit influenced by examples of good
practice of others and by related strategies acknowledged here. It is now necessary, if Cabinet
is content with the broad thrust of the draft strategy, to consult with partners and with the local
business community. Comments will then be reported to you to consider what modifications
may be made to the draft to reflect partners‟ views or otherwise improve the draft.

Financial Implications

None arising directly from this report.

Implications for the Borough Council’s corporate priorities

„Increasing Prosperity and Economic Vitality‟ is identified as the Council‟s Priority Theme 2.
This strategy is intended to set out how this can be achieved. It is therefore closely aligned to
the Council‟s stated priorities.

RECOMMENDATION:-

That the draft strategy be approved for consultation purposes and a further report is made to
Cabinet to consider comments received.




                                                 18
12.       RENEW NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE – PROPOSALS FOR RELOCATION OPTIONS
          FOR PEOPLE AFFECTED BY RENEW PROGRAMME INTERVENTIONS

Purpose

         To advise Members of the report on relocation options considered by the Renew Board
          on November 29 2005
         To gain support for the principles contained within the report
         To seek approval to progress work on the detail of implementation within the Borough
          Boundary.

Background

Renew received a scrutiny report from the Audit Commission in 2004 which contained a direct
recommendation to address the relocation and renewal options available to tenants and
residents affected by the Renew programme. As a result of this recommendation a piece of
work was commissioned by Renew that had to meet the following criteria:

         A suite of appropriate relocation and renewal options would need to be developed for
          owners and tenants who will be displaced as a result of the pathfinder's work
          programme
         The options available were to be broad, meet the diverse needs, aspiration and
          financial situations of residents and thereby increase the marketability of any assistance
          packages being offered.
         The range of options available should help to reduce outward migration from the wider
          conurbation and retain and attract population to the pathfinder area.
         Where residents' homes were in need of repair or renovation, the products should look
          to encourage the use of loans or equity release products where they can afford to do
          so.
         Where residents were required to move, a range of tenure options should be developed
          covering a range of costs from social renting through to home ownership with the
          support of equity loans.
         Whatever options are eventually developed as a result of this work must be
          complemented by a support package that assists residents through the change process
          and as far as possible minimises the negative impact of the inevitable upheaval.

In February of this year, David Cumberland Housing and Regeneration Ltd (DCHR) and ABRA
were appointed as the consultants to undertake this piece of work.

The consultants have now finalised their recommendations and these are contained within a
comprehensive report. A copy of the brief report on the matter to the Renew Board is
attached as an Appendix 14 (cream paper). A copy of the full report by DCHR and ABRA will
be available in the Members' Room and can also be seen on the Renew website.

Conclusions

The implications of how this report translates into a scheme being offered to residents of
Newcastle now needs to be looked at in detail. It is the intention of officers to report to the
Cabinet in January 2006 with regard to the renewal loans scheme that is being developed.
Further details on the relocation options and how they are delivered will therefore be
considered alongside that report at the same Cabinet.




                                                 19
Links to Corporate Priorities

Improving housing quality and choice:
Improving the quality of life and health:
Improving the quality and sustainability of the environment

The ability to invest in the private sector homes by levering in funds from a non public sector
source has two benefits. It helps the Authority meet its requirements to promote the Decent
Homes standards without putting further pressure on the public purse. It also engenders a
change in mind set from a grant reliant culture to one where individuals commit to making
investment from their own resources.

Financial Implications:

There are no direct implications at this stage. At the January cabinet, any potential impact on
the Borough Council will be explored.

RECOMMENDATION:-

(a)   That approval be given to the support of the high level principles contained within the
Renew board paper and the ABRA report.

(b)    That officers investigate further the detail as to how this can be implemented in the area
of major intervention with Newcastle and submit a report to the January 2006 cabinet.




13.    AUDIT COMMISSION PLANNING INSPECTION

Purpose

To inform Members of the Planning Inspection which is being undertaken by the Audit
Commission during November and December 2005.

Background

The Audit Commission routinely undertakes inspections of local government housing,
environment and cultural services functions. The frequency, depth and scope of the service
inspections is based upon their assessment of risk and on current performance levels.

The Audit Commission will be undertaking an inspection of this authority‟s Planning Services
function – including Building Control, Development Control and Planning Policy. The
inspection will not include Economic Regeneration.

The inspection team will follow the Audit Commission‟s new 2005 inspection methodology.
This is their standard inspection framework and the inspection team will assess the service
using published Key Lines of Enquiries (KLOEs). The inspection will result in two judgements
being made about Planning Service;
Judgement 1:       How good is the current quality of the service?
Judgement 2:       What are the prospects for improvement?




                                               20
Details

The first stage of the inspection process involves the Planning Section producing a self-
assessment report. This self-assessment report should follow the KLOE, and evidence needs
to be provided to support its contents. Along with the self-assessment, the inspection team
also requires a prescribed list of key service and corporate documents to be made available to
them. Both the self-assessment report and the prescribed documentation need to be provided
to the inspection team by Friday 16 November 2005. A copy of the self-assessment report will
be circulated to all Members upon its completion.

Following their review of the contextual information, the Planning Inspectors will undertake
field-work to finalise their judgements. The field-work will consist of a number of telephone
interviews with key stakeholders, partners and members and an on-site inspection phase
where they will interview a cross-section of planning and non-planning staff. Your officers will
arrange for a joint officer/member briefing to take place prior to the on-site inspection to explain
the process more fully to those likely to be directly involved. The on-site inspection will take
place between Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 14 December 2005. It is possible that the
inspection team will want to interview members whilst on-site and it is likely that they will attend
the Conservation Advisory Working Party meeting of 6 December and the Planning Committee
of 13 December 2005.

Community Safety Implications

There are no community safety implications.

Financial Implications

There are no direct budgetary implications, however, the inspection process will include a
rigorous assessment of costs and benefits of the planning service, with a focus on how well it is
achieving value for money.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

That Members note the dates of the onsite inspection and be available for interview if
requested.




14.    MEMBERS PLANNING LIAISON GROUP

Purpose

To consider the establishment of a member liaison group for planning purposes.

Background

As members will be aware the Planning Committee considered a report in this matter earlier
this year (28 June 2005) and it was resolved that a group of members should meet with officers
to review the potential issues and report back to both Planning Committee and Cabinet with the
findings.




                                                21
Issues

A joint member/officer meeting took place in October using the original report to Planning
Committee as a basis to consider the salient issues, as set out and resolved below:-

   (a)   Group membership and title – It was agreed that this group should include the
         following:-
               Chair and Vice Chair of Planning Committee and;
               the three political group leaders.
               Head of Regeneration and Planning (or representative).

         Reflecting the remit below it was decided that the group should be entitled: „The
         Strategic Planning Consultative Group‟

   (b)   Remit/Status
         It was agreed that the main focus of the group, insofar as development control was
         concerned, should be major planning applications (as per the established ODPM
         definition). Furthermore it was agreed that the group should receive information
         about pre-application discussions concerning major developments. Finally it was
         agreed that the group should review key policy documents, such as Area Action
         Plans.

         With regard to the group‟s status it was agreed that, it would operate as an
         Officer/Member working party. The primary purpose of the group would be to provide
         an opportunity for members to review major applications and significant policies early
         on in the process so as to provide members with a greater awareness/understanding
         of such schemes or policies. Also members could highlight any perceived information
         or evidence gaps which officers could address with applicants.

   (c)   Frequency of meetings/business preparation
         It was agreed that the group should not create delay in existing processes. Therefore
         it was felt that it would be necessary to operate on a 3-weekly cycle (co-ordinated
         around the existing Planning Committee cycle).

         Further to the above, and to minimise the administrative burden on officers, it was
         agreed that the meetings be scheduled and called off if there was no business to
         discuss. In the event that the meetings were to take place the application files
         (include all plans and documents) would be tabled at the meeting. In the case of
         policy review officers would use best endeavours to circulate any documents five days
         in advance of the meeting.

         It was agreed that the meetings would normally be held between 4.00 p.m. and 6.00
         p.m. in the interests of both members and officers.

   (d)   Resourcing
         It was agreed that, in general, it would be necessary for a Planning Officer only to
         attend the meetings (i.e. no Legal Officer, Committee Clerk or internal consultee).
         Whilst on the face of it the officer attendance (and likely follow-up actions) would be
         burdensome on an already under-resourced service, it was considered on balance
         that the greater focus provided by this group should minimise the need for further
         unplanned member information requests and should improve the consistency of
         decision-making at Committee.




                                              22
      (e)    Agent/application/third party representations
             It was considered that, at this stage, it would be unnecessary and/or inappropriate to
             allow the group to receive representations from applicants, agents or third parties. It
             was agreed that on an ad-hoc basis it may be appropriate to meet such parties (in the
             way that has been trialled recently with regard to a couple of key town centre
             schemes) in a „managed environment‟ with appropriate officer support. However it
             was agreed that the group should become better established before considering
             extending its remit in this manner. (Furthermore members have requested, as part of
             the Council‟s Statement of Community Involvement, that officers review – within 12
             months – the potential for public/applicant speaking at Planning Committee, taking
             account of the resource implications; it would seem appropriate to review the above
             matter as part of that exercise).

Corporate Policy Implications

There are no significant corporate or crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Financial Implications

On the surface there may be the „opportunity cost‟ of officer time to support this group
(including dealing with the inevitable range of matters raised at the group‟s meetings).
However, as indicated above, this „cost‟ may counter-balance the officer time spent servicing
ad-hoc information requests. More importantly if the group'‟ existence improves member
confidence in the application process, it should improve the consistency of decision-making
and reduce the need for deferral of decisions. Therefore the group should improve the overall
efficiency of the service in processing major applications (the Council is likely to be named as a
„Standards Authority‟ because of poor performance in this regard).

Conclusion

This report will be considered by the Planning Committee on 22 November and any comments
will be reported at your meeting.

Further to the other comments in the report your officers would suggest that if you decide to
formulate the said group you should consider the following recommendations:-

           to include on the group the Cabinet Members with responsibility for the Environment;
           to review the effectiveness/impact of the group within 12 months and;
           to consider the group‟s remit with regard to agent/third party representations as part of
            the review of public speaking at Planning Committee (referred to in the SCI).

DECISIONS REQUIRED:-

(a)         Do you wish to formulate the group on the basis described in the report?

(b)    If so, do you accept the recommendations of the joint member/officer group or, if not,
do you wish to agree a difference framework?

(c)         When do you wish to commence operation of the group?




                                                   23
15.    PARTIAL REVIEW OF THE REGIONAL SPATIAL STRATEGY

Purpose

To update members on the programme for RSS review and to seek members‟ support for the
consultation response attached at Appendix 15 (pink paper).

Background

The Regional Spatial Strategy was adopted in 2004 and in September 2004, with the
commencement of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act it became part of the
development plan. The document which became the RSS was originally drafted to be Regional
Planning Guidance, which would have been supplemented by a series of Structure Plans
coving the West Midlands setting out more detail as to county wide housing and employment
needs and affordable housing. The RSS, as a stand alone document does not do this and was
always intended for an early review. This review has now commenced. The first phase of the
review comprised a sub-regional study of the Black County. The second phase involved the
publication of a series of working papers covering housing (urban captivity, phasing and
affordability), logistics and waste.

The review of the RSS

The revisions to the RSS are phased and will lead to the further development of policies to
support the underlying strategy – not a review of fundamental principles. The RSS sets out the
approach that the Region must take if it is to move towards sustainable development. It
focuses on the restructuring and renaissance of the Major Urban Areas with similar efforts
aimed at meeting the renaissance needs of rural areas.

The revision is not expected to make any changes to the strategic objectives of the RSS but
will consider the following issues:

Communities for the Future
   Re-examine regional and sub regional housing needs and requirements and how these
     can be best met in the Region.
   In doing so, to consider the timescale for the figures and whether these should be to
     2021, the current end date in RSS, or extended to provide longer term guidance for the
     preparation of Local Development Frameworks.
   Examine, within the overall requirement, how additional new affordable housing
     provision can be made across the Region.

Sub Regional Foci
    Consider the role they play in the RSS.
    Determine what criteria are needed to guide the scale and rate of development.
    Determine whether additional foci should be defined, and if so, where

Prosperity for All
    Re-examine regional and sub-regional employment land needs and requirements.
    Re-assess existing strategic land designations.
    Identify the number and broad location of regional warehousing and distribution
      facilities.
    Identify investment priorities within the strategic network of centres.
    Provide guidance to local authorities across the Region for the location of the new
      generation of casinos.




                                             24
Quality of the Environment
    Provide sufficient opportunities to meet identified needs of the West Midlands for waste
        management for all streams.

Transport and Accessibility
           o Identify broad locations for Strategic Park and Ride sites
    Identify parking standards
    Provide guidance on road user charging
    Establish the implications of the Airports White Paper for the Region and subsequent
      master planning including:
           o The future roles of Wolverhampton, Coventry and Cosford.
           o Any necessary Revision of Policy T11.
           o The wider spatial and economic impacts of any proposed airport expansion.
           o The policy changes necessary to support and mitigate any such development.

Review timetable

It is intended that the technical work will be completed by spring 2006. The options stage will
take place summer 2006, which will be subject to public consultation. Winter 2006 should see
the publication of preferred options, and a further round of public engagement prior to
submission Spring 2007. It is thought that adoption should take place in Autumn 2008.
(For information the North Staffordshire Core Strategy is likely to be submitted in September
2006 with a view to adopt towards the end of 2007.

Technical work

The following technical studies have been commissioned:

      Regional Urban Capacity Study
      Housing Phasing Study
      Housing Demand Study
      Affordable Housing Study
      Sub regional foci Study
      Regional Centres Study
      Regional Logistics Study
      Employment Land
      Regional Waste Scenarios Study
      Regional Freight Study
      Strategic Park and Ride
      Airports Economic Impact Study
      Transport Scoping Study

These documents will feed into the options study which will be open to consultation in during
summer 2006. Officers will prepare reports for your consideration at that time to feed into the
study in a timely and effective manner.

Financial Implications

None at this stage, although there will be resource implications to complete the necessary work
in the summer if the Council is to take the fullest opportunity to engage fully in the review
process.




                                              25
Council's priorities

The RSS is a spatial plan and addresses the broadest possible range of issues. It should
contribute positively to all the Council‟s priorities.

RECOMMENDATION:-

That the consultation response form is agreed.

Background Information
West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy – Phase Two Revision Draft Project Plan November
2005.




                                             26
          PART A

PORTFOLIO – QUALITY OF LIFE
16.      BRITAIN IN BLOOM 2005 RESULTS

Purpose

To inform Cabinet of the results of this year‟s competition and recognise the effort and
contributions made by community groups, local businesses and your staff.

Background

The Britain in Bloom Campaign is now an established event amongst residential and business
communities across the Borough and has seen 2005 achieve numerous awards and
recognition in local, regional, and national competitions.

Strong entries were made by Newcastle, Halmerend, the Meadows and Cromer Street
residents. Local competitions were held for Children‟s Paintings, Allotments, Gardens,
Hanging Baskets, Licensed Premises, Community Projects and Environmentally Friendly
Gardens and saw one of the highest level of entries since the competitions started in the early
1990‟s.

Britain in Bloom urges communities up and down the country to improve the appearance of
their environment. Since it began in the early 60‟s it has become the biggest horticultural
competition in Europe.

The competition goes far beyond being merely a floral competition and is a catalyst for
economic development, improving standards of public space, including street cleansing and
environmental sustainability, community building, and Civic Pride. The initiatives within the
umbrella of Britain in Bloom make a significant contribution towards the Council‟s priority
initiatives of involving the community, combating social exclusion, promoting a competitive and
sustainable economy, tackling crime and disorder and improving Council services.

In the 15th year of the Borough being involved in Britain in Bloom, the commitment and support
of the Council and community produced the highest ever achievements as follows:

      National Britain in Bloom Results

      Category                              Award

      Large Town/Small City                 Silver Gilt:
                                            Newcastle under Lyme

      Large Town/Small City                 National Winner:
                                            Newcastle under Lyme

      Heart of England Regional Results

      Category                              Award

      Small City                            Gold:
                                            Newcastle under Lyme

      Village                               Silver Gilt:
                                            Halmerend




                                              27
   Urban Community                            Silver Gilt:
                                              Meadows

   Small Neighbourhood                        Outstanding Award:
                                              Cromer Street

   Certificate of Merit                       Mr Selwyn Hattersley
                                              Halmerend

   Staffordshire Best Kept Village Competition

   Category                                   Award

   Small Village (Newcastle Area)             1st Place: Halmerend

                                              2nd Place: Alsagers Bank

                                              3rd Place: Keele

   In achieving prestigious National Winner Status, Newcastle competed with large towns and
   small cities across the United Kingdom, recognizing the tremendous community spirit and
   efforts made by so many community groups, schools, villages, businesses, individuals, staff
   and contractors.

   The National Britain in Bloom Judges‟ Notes for Newcastle-under -Lyme included the
   following:

   “A very good entry with excellent town centre displays, villages and communities with
   thriving community involvement, together with reclaimed ex-mining areas, which are now
   recreational and wildlife areas. An entry that has succeeded in creating many partnerships
   with local and business communities and is achieving much under the banner of Britain in
   Bloom”.

   National Judges were particularly impressed by:

            Cromer Street Community Garden – for community effort
            Bradwell Crematorium – for local children‟s floral displays
            The Meadows – for bright and cheerful displays
            Scot Hay – for high standards
            Queens Gardens and Town Centre – for classic bedding displays
            Brampton Park – for sensory garden and disabled facilities
            Lymedale – for its permanent planting areas
            Various projects involving volunteers and young people
            The general cleanliness throughout the entry.

Issues

The benefits to the Borough‟s continuing involvement of competing in Britain in Bloom is the
opportunity of raising its profile locally, regionally and nationally. It also provides opportunities
for attracting economic development on the strength of the high standard of its shopping
centres, development sites and environmental management. The competition has for some
years been recognised by this Council as being an important catalyst in assisting economic
growth, improving standards of street cleansing, community development and engagement and



                                                 28
an overall pride in the Borough which is now seen as a “floral Borough” by residents and
visitors alike.

The Britain in Bloom Officers‟ Working Group which plans and implements the Borough‟s entry
and provides support to the various community groups and villages taking part has already
started to plan for the 2006 Campaign by improving on the standards reached wherever
possible and enabling wider community participation.

Your current policy is to provide assistance to community groups in a pump priming and
facilitating role within the limits of current resources. It is proposed to continue this role in the
future.

It is also planned this year to continue to host and facilitate meetings between the community
groups and villages competing in the 2006 campaign to offer support and exchange ideas to
make all the Borough‟s entries as competitive as possible.

Financial Implications

The campaign is run using a combination of existing revenue budgets and sponsorship and
represents a successful corporate approach. It is proposed that this type of corporate approach
be copied to help to achieve greater improvement to public space throughout the year. The
cost to the Council of making the regional entry into the competition is in the region of £24,000
which includes promotional activity, printing, competition judging, prizes and equipment.

However, sponsorship income has remained strong this year as more local companies have
become partners in the campaign. Cash sponsorship from around 50 local businesses of
£31,648 has been achieved. This not only exceeds the promotional expenditure associated
with entering the competition, but contributes to the running of the local competitions, children‟s
painting competition, the cost of floral displays and improvements to parks and greenspaces
under the „In Bloom‟ campaign banner.

There has been considerable speculation as to the cost of entering the competition by linking
this specifically with the number and cost of floral displays around the Borough. The good
standard of floral displays in the Borough‟s shopping areas, ring road, parks, cemeteries and
crematorium are provided first and foremost to provide a high quality environment for the
benefit of residents to live and shop, to encourage shoppers into the Borough and promote the
Borough as an attractive economic proposition to potential investors.

It is therefore misleading to attribute the costs of providing good ornamental planting displays
directly to the Britain in Bloom campaign itself, especially as only 30% of the judging marks are
derived from ornamental planting displays.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)    That all residents, employees and sponsors involved in the 2005 success be
congratulated and thanked for their effort and commitment.

(b)   That the Cabinet‟s congratulations and thanks are passed on to the village of
Halmerend, the Meadows Residents‟ Association and Cromer Street residents.




                                                 29
17.      PROPOSED CHILDREN’S PLAY AREA AT LAND OFF BAMBER PLACE,
         CHESTERTON

Purpose

To seek the approval of the Cabinet for the construction of a children‟s play area at land off
Bamber Place, Chesterton following the securing of funding from a private developer.

Background

A Section 106 Agreement was entered into on 28 April 2003 with the owners of the land known
as “The Fanny Deakin Hospital” adjoining Bamber Place, Chesterton and contributions to the
value of £50,000 were secured in connection with permission 02/1090/FUL to fund the
provision of a play area in the vicinity of the site.

Issues

An opportunity has arisen to provide a children‟s play area in the Chesterton ward as a result of
the residential development, which is currently in progress at the land off Beasley Avenue.

The location of the play area is within the area of public open space behind the development,
which is owned by Aspire Housing Ltd.

A plan showing the site and the play area layout will be on display at your meeting.

The funding available is sufficient to develop the site to LEAP (Local Equipped Area for Play)
standards as set out in the Policy for Unsupervised Children‟s Playgrounds. The play area will
provide fixed play equipment catering for children in the age range of 4-8 years.

The developers are also obliged to provide a commuted sum of £15,000 in lieu of the future
maintenance of the play area.

Consultation was undertaken with Beasley Avenue Residents Association some time ago to
agree the design of the scheme and the location was agreed to be the most appropriate from a
range of options considered at this time. Accommodation works were undertaken to provide a
landscaped and fenced buffer zone between the proposed site and adjoining residential
properties as an initial phase of the project when the location was agreed.

Financial Implications

The estimated capital cost of the scheme is in the region of £50,000 to be met entirely from the
contribution from the developers of the Fanny Deakin Hospital site.

The estimated annual revenue cost of maintaining the play area is £1,000 per annum. This
cost will be met annually from the commuted sum of £15,000 until this sum is expended at
which point provision will need to be made in the General Fund Revenue Programme.

Corporate Priorities and Priorities for Improvement

Reducing Crime and the Fear of Crime -

      Deterring young people from crime and nuisance behaviour through creating opportunities
      and activities.




                                               30
Reducing Inequalities and Empowering Disadvantaged Communities -

      Managing and delivering services to meet local needs.
      Improving consultation with hard to reach groups.

Improving the Quality of Life and Health of Residents -

      Improving access to leisure and recreational facilities for disadvantaged communities and
      groups including young people and those in rural areas.

      Increasing participation in active lifestyles.

Improving the Quality and Sustainability of the Environment -

      Improving the cleanliness of our pavements, parks and open spaces.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)   That the proposed children‟s play area on land off Bamber Place, Chesterton be
approved.

(b)    That the Head of Assets and Amenity Services be authorized to invite tenders for the
works and in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Quality of Life accept the lowest suitable
tender within the financial limits indicated.




18.       PROPOSED YOUTH RECREATIONAL FACILITIES AT BRAMPTON RECREATION
          GROUND, CROSS HEATH

Purpose

To seek the approval of the Cabinet to provide young peoples recreational facilities on the
Brampton Recreation Ground, Cross Heath and to seek authorisation to obtain tenders for the
works.

Background

An agreement under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (Section 106) was entered into on
7 October 2003 relating to the freehold land on the north side of Enderley Street, Newcastle-
under-Lyme. This agreement provided for the contribution of a capital sum of £15,000 towards
improvements to youth facilities on Brampton Recreation Ground, Cross Heath.

A further capital sum has been secured for the scheme via an additional agreement under the
Town and Country Planning act 1990 (Section 106) which was entered into on 3 December
2003 relating to the land off Baden Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme. The agreement states a
contribution in the sum of £50,000 is to be made towards the improvement of existing pubic
open space in the area.

During community consultation exercises, which have been carried out recently with a local
school, community groups and the Police, the issue of a perceived lack of provision of outdoor
recreation facilities for young people was raised in connection with concerns over problems
relating to anti-social behaviour in the Cross Heath area.


                                                       31
It was therefore considered to be a worthwhile exercise to investigate the possibility of
extending the existing youth recreational facilities on Brampton Recreation Ground.

The scheme consists of a proposed improvement to the existing ball court by the provision of a
hard surface in which proposed skateboard equipment and a teen shelter could also to be
sited. Minimal lighting and litter bins are also included in the scheme.

The estimated cost of the project is £65,000 inclusive of fees. A plan showing the proposed
scheme will be on display at your meeting.

Issues

The opportunity has now arisen to progress the project by utilizing the capital sum available
from the Section 106 Agreement.

Meetings and consultations have been held between a local high school, the Police, Ward
Members and your officers. It is your officers‟ recommendation that the most appropriate
location for the provision of youth outdoor recreational facilities on the recreation ground would
be adjacent to the playground on the site of the existing ball court.

Local residents who live in the vicinity of the Brampton Recreation Ground have experienced
problems recently with the misuse of the young children‟s equipment by teenage groups. Your
officers believe this is due to the lack of youth facilities on the Recreation Ground and the
implementation of this proposed scheme will provide opportunities for young people to engage
in diversionary recreational activities.

There is likely to be concern from local residents living adjacent to the site regarding potential
noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour, which is perceived, could arise as a result of such a
scheme. Therefore in order to assist the Cabinet in considering the benefits of the scheme and
the views of local residents, a consultation exercise has been undertaken to canvass the view
of people living directly adjacent to the site.

The findings of the consultation are as follows:

   62 households directly adjacent to the recreational ground were consulted.

11 responses were received. The views obtained were as follows:

   (1)     Existing facilities not being used for intended purpose.
   (2)     Fear of gangs of youths.
   (3)     Anti-social behaviour including: drinking, swearing, throwing litter and other objects
           into residents gardens, damage to private property, fires started on existing
           playground, urinating in existing playground.
   (4)     Lack of response from Police.
   (5)     Fire services called out regularly.
   (6)     Shrubs and trees vandalized.
   (7)     Excess litter, beer cans, needles etc.
   (8)     Proposed Teen Shelter would encourage teenagers to congregate.
   (9)     Increased noise levels from equipment.
   (10)    Trees would increase fear of being attacked.
   (11)    Lighting would encourage use after dark.




                                               32
   (12)    More supervision required.
   (13)    Skateboard Park would encourage vandalism culture.
   (14)    More dog litter bins.

The scheme has been amended slightly as a result of the views obtained and below are the
responses of your officers in relation to the above concerns:

   1-4 – These comments will be passed on to the Police for their information and action.

   5 – The scheme has been designed to minimize the opportunity for the equipment to be set
   on fire. It is understood that recent fires have been the result of people bringing material
   onto the site and again this issue will be reported to the Police for their information and
   action.

   6 and 7 – the Council will attempt to keep the site clean and tidy through its weekly cleaning
   programme of sweeping, bin emptying and inspection. If severe problems occur the
   Council will attend the site to clean up upon receipt of a report of the problem.

   8 – Teen shelters are incorporated in many of the Council‟s parks and open spaces, as
   elements of comprehensive youth provision. They tend to be used by young people who
   are using other facilities on site and do not, in themselves, attract specific problems.

   9 – The equipment is designed to keep noise levels to a minimum.

   10 – The tree planting has been removed from the scheme in response to concerns over
   surveillance of the site and personal safety.

   11 – Lighting will be on a timer to enable winter evening use of the site up to 9.00 p.m.

   12 – It is hoped to be able to provide a partnership approach to the issues surrounding
   maintaining and supervision of the site with the Council‟s Parks Ranger Service, the Police
   and Youth Workers involved in engaging with young people and encouraging responsible
   use of the site.

   13 – It is the Council‟s experience that skateboard equipment does not encourage
   vandalism; it encourages local ownership of each site by young people and provides
   diversionary activities, which help to discourage anti-social behaviour.

   14 – Two more dog bins will be situated in the park as soon as possible.

These responses have been sent to all consultees explaining the role of different agencies
involved.

A copy of the letters from residents and the response from your officers will be on display at
your meeting.

A view must be taken as to the benefits of providing safe, accessible outdoor recreational
opportunities for young people in an environment that has the potential to be properly
managed, weighed against the concerns of local residents living adjacent to the site and the
problems which are perceived could be experienced.

It is suggested that if the scheme is approved, the Police are requested to offer support to the
project in their capacity as members of the Newcastle Safer Communities Partnership by
monitoring the sites and maintaining a visible presence for an agreed period. This partnership



                                               33
approach has been successfully adopted in the past on other youth recreation facility schemes
and has the effect of preventing potential problems from escalating at the crucial, early life
stage of the project.

Financial Implications

The estimated capital cost of the scheme is £65,000 to be met entirely from the capital sum
available in the Section 106 Agreements.

There will be an estimated additional annual revenue cost to the Council of £1,200 to maintain
and repair the scheme as necessary. Provisions will have to be made in the annual Revenue
Estimates from 2006/7 for these costs if the scheme is implemented.

Corporate Priorities and Priorities for Improvement

Reducing Crime and the Fear of Crime –

    Deterring young people from crime and nuisance behaviour through creating opportunities
    and activities.

Reducing Inequalities and Empowering Disadvantaged Communities –

    Managing and delivering services to meet local needs.
    Improving consultation with hard to reach groups.

Improving the Quality of Life and Health of Residents –

    Improving access to leisure and recreational facilities for disadvantaged community groups
    including young people and those in rural areas.

    Increasing participation in active lifestyles.

Improving the Quality and Sustainability of the Environment –

    Improving the cleanliness of our pavements, parks and open spaces.

Risk Management Implications

There are risk management implications for the Council in the skateboard, BMX and 5-a-side
football facilities relating to potential accidents involving user groups.

These risks will be managed to an acceptable level by designing and constructing the facilities
in line with current safety standards and guidelines; by inspecting the facilities on a weekly
basis and undertaking any necessary maintenance and repair work.

DECISION REQUIRED:-

Does Cabinet wish to approve the scheme of youth recreational facilities?

If so;




                                                     34
RECOMMENDATION:-

That the Head of Assets and Amenity Services be authorized to invite tenders for the works
and in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Quality of Life, to accept the lowest suitable
tender within the financial limits indicated.




19.      MADELEY POOL – EMBANKMENT REPAIRS

Purpose

To consider making provision in the Capital Programme for repairs to Madeley Pool/River Lea
embankments.

Background

Following the last de-silting of Madeley Pool in the early 1990‟s, a narrow channel,
accommodating the River Lea was left alongside the A525, leading to the weir at the end of
Madeley Pool. The purpose of this was to prevent the pool from silting up again in the near
future.

However, the narrowness of this channel and the fact that no long term engineered retaining
structures were installed, has meant that over time the action of the water has eroded the
embankment sides and caused some partial collapse. There is a risk of further collapse. At
one point the channel is extremely close to a well used footway.

Attempts to provide a low cost solution to the problem by installing timber boards, has proved
to be unsuccessful, and consideration should be given to a longer term engineered solution.
Your engineers are recommending a system of bankside revetments to the River Lea and
Madeley Pool, which consists of a system of coir rolls and coir pallets planted with native
waterside marginal plants.

Issues

The condition of the embankments are such that measures need to be taken to arrest the
current erosion and prevent more serious collapse. The proposed solution is one that reflects
the rural setting and character of Madeley Pool, and does not involve the over use of hard
materials that may otherwise not be compatible with this prevailing character.

Financial Implications

The estimated cost of these works is £40,000 inclusive of fees. There is no current provision
made for these costs within existing general fund revenue or capital budgets.

Risk Management Implications

There is a risk that costs may escalate if action is not taken within a reasonable time to prevent
further erosion, possible collapse and associated flooding.




                                               35
Council Priorities and Priorities for Improvement

Improving the Quality of Life and Health of Residents:

      Improving access to leisure and recreational facilities for disadvantaged communities and
      groups and those in rural areas.

Improving the Quality and Sustainability of the Environment

      Managing our parks and open spaces for biodiversity.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)     That the scheme of embankment stabilization be approved and that the Head of Assets
and Amenity Services be authorized to seek and accept the lowest suitable tender for the
project within the financial limits below as a matter of urgency.

(b)    That the sum of £40,000, inclusive of fees, be considered by Council for inclusion within
the Approved General Fund Capital Programme for 2005/06.

Background Information
Assets and Amenity Services Department – Engineering Office




20.      CHESTERTON PARK BOWLS PAVILION (UPPER)

Purpose

To inform the Cabinet of the current situation with regard to the upper bowls pavilion in
Chesterton Park and to seek the Cabinet‟s decision in principle on a proposal to provide a
replacement pavilion in an appropriate location in the park.

To seek the Cabinet‟s decision on a proposal to relocate the children‟s play area in Chesterton
Park to improve its accessibility, security and relationship to other park facilities.

Background

At the meeting of 11 June 2002, Cabinet considered a report on the condition of the upper
bowls pavilion following an arson attack in November 2000 and resolved to fund its repair and
improvement from the General Fund Revenue Estimates for Repairs and Renewals, the
Insurance Fund and the insurance claim.

The pavilion has subsequently been subjected to further arson attacks which have resulted in
the repair scheme becoming unachievable within the approved budget. Following consultation
with the Police Architectural Liaison Officer, regarding the current location of the pavilion, it is
considered that a replacement building in the same location would remain at risk of similar
attacks in the future and therefore the most appropriate action is to demolish the remains of the
structure and investigate an alternative position within the park. The existing pavilion has
therefore, following consultation with the Leader and Portfolio Holders for Community Safety
and Quality of Life, been demolished.




                                                36
Issues

There has been a recent focus on a number of regeneration and community safety issues in
Chesterton due to increased multi-agency working on a number of initiatives. Chesterton Park
in particular has been the subject of much discussion around its potential to recapture its status
as an important hub for the village, providing opportunities for residents and visitors to interact
socially and enjoy a range of outdoor facilities and activities. It is recognized that the park has
suffered from problems of vandalism and anti-social behaviour which has resulted in a negative
perception of it from some sections of the community, especially those residents living directly
adjacent to it.

The pavilion is currently high on the agenda for the partners involved in attempting to
regenerate the park and Chesterton as a whole and it is considered a priority to address the
issue in conjunction with the other safety and security measures underway.

An opportunity exists to replace the pavilion to a higher and more secure standard in a more
secure location to expand its use to allow it to play a more pro-active role in park security and
to provide additional community facilities. The former pavilion housed the public toilets for park
users, and provided a base for the park attendant to issue tickets for bowls and tennis and to
patrol the park for security and general maintenance operations.

It is suggested that a replacement pavilion could also be used as a café or snack bar, which
would provide additional community facilities, generate greater community use of the park and
result in a more permanent presence in the park to help to deter vandalism and anti-social
behaviour.

The building could also accommodate a base for Community Police Officers and Police
Community Support Officers.

This approach has proved successful in Brampton Park and Clough Hall Park where further
activities have developed as a result of the initial attraction provided by the refreshment
facilities.

Should this opportunity to replace the pavilion be progressed, a further scheme could also be
implemented to resolve an additional problem and enhance the range of facilities available to
the community, centred on the pavilion.

The existing children‟s play area is located on a plateau in the park above the upper pavilion
and the tennis courts. Access to the play area is poor, consisting of two separate flights of
steps to the rear of the upper pavilion and a further flight of steps from the Castle Street
entrance to the park. This creates difficulties for many potential play area users to access the
facility including young children, the elderly, people using pushchairs and those with mobility
difficulties.

The play area is also partially screened by shrub planting and is on the route used by school
children and other people going through the park from Castle Street to the village or vice versa.
This results in a high level of litter, casual vandalism and anti-social behaviour, which further
discourages its use.

The play area could be relocated onto the upper bowling green, which is no longer used, to
provide a facility in a safer more visible and secure environment. The existing play area site
could then be removed and the path diverted around the new play area site to link with the
existing footpath network at the cenotaph. This would discourage unnecessary pedestrian




                                                37
traffic through the play area and hence afford it greater protection from the problems it
currently experiences.

Chesterton Bowling Club have been consulted on the proposal to take the upper bowling green
out of use and their response will be reported at your meeting.

A plan showing the potential development of the park will be on display at your meeting.

Financial Implications

The funding currently available for the replacement of the pavilion is as follows:

   Insurance Claim from Initial Fire
   (External funding from insurers)              £12,992
   Insurance Fund
   (To be repaid from revenue funding)           £25,000
   Insurance Claim from Second Fire              £16,000

   Sub Total                                     £53,992


The likely cost of a new pavilion is estimated at £120K and no source of funding has as yet
been identified to meet the shortfall.

There would also be a capital cost to relocate the play area, reinstate the former play area site
and divert the footpath around the new site which is estimated to be approximately £70,000.

There is no source of funding currently identified for this work, although there is the potential to
develop a bid to Renew North Staffordshire to part fund the scheme through the proposed
programme of environmental improvement works in 2006/2007.

The total estimated additional capital sum for this project is approximately £140,000 for which
no source of funding has been identified. If Members wish to progress this scheme it will need
to be a new bid to the Capital Programme.

There are unlikely to be additional revenue implications for the schemes as both would
continue to be funded from the existing General Fund Revenue Estimates. A revenue saving
from the reduction of bowling greens from 2 to 1 in the Park will be achieved in the sum of
£6000 p.a.

Corporate Priorities for Improvement

Reducing Crime and the Fear of Crime

Deterring young people from crime and nuisance behaviour through creating opportunities and
activities.

We will identify demand for and seek to provide appropriate youth facilities.

Reducing Inequalities and Empowering Disadvantaged Communities

Managing and delivering services to meet local needs.

Improving the Quality of Life and Health of Residents



                                                38
Improving access to leisure and recreational facilities for disadvantaged communities and
groups including young people and those in rural areas.

Improving the quality and sustainability of the Environment

Improving the cleanliness of our pavements, parks and open spaces.

Working with our partners to improve the quality of the environment and the image of the area
generally.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)   That Cabinet approves in principle the replacement of the upper bowls pavilion in a
more appropriate location in Chesterton Park.

(b)    That Cabinet approves in principle the relocation of the children‟s play area and
associated works.

(c)    That a public consultation exercise be undertaken to establish community views on the
options available and that a detailed scheme and costings are prepared for consideration at a
future meeting of the Cabinet.

(d)     If the Cabinet wishes to support this scheme recommend to Council to add this to the
Capital Programme.

(e)    That a funding bid is made to RENEW to seek funding support.

(f)    If external funding is secured for any part of the estimated sum, this will be used to
reduce the Council‟s contribution to the scheme.




21.    CEMETERY MEMORIAL SAFETY PROGRAMME

Purpose

To inform Cabinet of the completion of the current Cemetery Memorial Safety Programme.

To consider a new programme of re-testing and financial implications.

To consider revisions to the Memorial Safety Policy.

Background

The current Cemetery Memorial Safety Programme was approved by Cabinet on 15 August
2001 and was subsequently updated and improved. The Programme consists of a series of
surveys to check the stability of memorials in the Council‟s various Cemeteries.

The Survey Programme commenced in 1994 and has recently been completed with the
following results:




                                              39
   Cemetery                         Memorials tested

   Attwood Street, Kidsgrove               200
   Newcastle                            13,200
   Silverdale                            1,912
   Knutton                                 292
   Chesterton                              718
   Madeley                                  50
   TOTAL                                16,372

Members have received regular update reports on the progress of the programme including
details of the number of memorials found to be unsafe, as the survey work has been
undertaken. The vast majority of the memorials that failed the test were laid carefully down at
the time of testing to remove the danger of toppling over in accordance with the Councils
current policy. These memorials have either been re-installed by the grave owners to the
modern fixing standards, lowered by one third of their overall height upright in the grave with
the agreement of the grave owner at the Councils cost or lowered similarly where no contact
could be made with the grave owners.

The Health and Safety Executive now expect burial authorities to be inspecting memorials at
least every 5 years and to be making safe any memorials that fail the inspection process. The
Council has an ongoing responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure
that risks within its Cemeteries are properly managed.

Issues

Members will be aware that a lack of national guidance on memorial testing, recommendations
upon how unsafe memorials should be dealt with and policy upon awareness raising activities
have been a significant issue for the Council in considering how it should comply its legal
responsibilities whilst at the same time carrying out this highly sensitive and emotive work in
such a way as to be sympathetic to the concerns of grave owners.

It had been hoped that a British Standard for testing would be published and in doing so a
national method of testing would be available for consideration. However, whilst it is
understood that a new British Standard is being developed, one has not yet been released.

The Institute of Burial and Cremation Administration has carried out work in this area and
produced some national guidance on the management of memorials. This guide is
recommended to be used to formulate local policies on the management of memorials within
local environments. There is no specific guidance contained in the Code of Practice relating to
a prescribed loading to be applied during testing procedures.

The Council‟s current approved test employs a 30kg lateral load to determine a memorial‟s
stability. This load was developed and recommended by a specialist structural engineer
commissioned by the Council.

Court Judgments

A Court Judgment from February 2004 is relevant to this issue in that legal action against a
Council‟s authority to carry out inspections and to take immediate action (laying flat) was
unsuccessful on the basis that testing had been carried out properly (calibrated testing device
ensuring an application of 35kg) and that the Council had the power to remove a danger. It
was found that the Council had done no more than it was statutorily obliged to do.



                                              40
The issue for this Council is whether to amend its testing procedure to increase the load from
30kg to 35kg in line with some other authorities. It would follow that a larger number of
memorials would be found unsafe after a load of 35kg was applied as opposed to 30kg,
however this should be viewed within the context of whether, in fact, 35kg is the more
appropriate load to ensure reasonably foreseeable risks associated with unstable memorials
are identified and dealt with.

Your officers‟ opinion is that while the judgment refers to a legal authority to carry out the
works, this could be interpreted as „ability‟ to test up to 35kgs load not a judgment that it „must‟
be to 35kgs load. It is therefore still your officer‟s opinion that in the absence of a nationally
agreed British Standard, the work carried out in 2001 on behalf of the Council by the
independent structural engineer that identified a load of 30kgs as an appropriate test for
standard memorials should be continued.

Members may also recall that prior to the adoption of the Councils current Cemetery Memorial
Safety Programme in 2001, memorials were tested using an approved „finger-tip‟ testing
process that was later brought into question due to concerns over the consistency of such a
„human‟ test. Therefore, as the use of a calibrated, consistent load test, using the purpose built
mechanical testing device only started in 2001, those memorials in Attwood Street and some
sections of Newcastle Cemetery have not been tested using the mechanical device before.

A new programme of re-testing memorials over a five year period is recommended as follows,
working on the basis that those memorials last inspected at the start of the current programme
are re-inspected first and then in the same order until retesting is complete.

Phase      Year          Cemetery                     No of Memorials        Totals

1          2006/07       Atwood Street                      200
                         Newcastle (Sections                                  3,900
                         1 and 2)                         3,700

2          2007/08       Newcastle (Section 3)            3,000               3,000

3          2008/09       Newcastle (Section 4)            4,000               4,000

4          2009/10       Newcastle (Section 5)            2,500
                         Silverdale                       1,912               4,412

5          2010/11       Knutton                            292
                         Chesterton                         719               1,061
                         Madeley                             50
                                                                            16,373
(numbers of memorials are approximate)

Publicity, advertising and awareness arrangements will be carried out in accordance with the
current agreed range of measures in advance of each phase of testing. The following
measures are recommended:

       Pro-active press releases to local media.
       Notices placed and maintained in all Cemeteries and Crematorium.
       Information posted on the Council‟s website following each survey.
       Notices placed in the Public Notices section of Local Press following each survey.
       Articles in the Council‟s Reporter Newspaper.
       Regular notification to Ward Members on the timing of testing of each survey.


                                                 41
       Notification in the Members Bulletin of progress.
       Publicised open mornings at the Cemetery office or local community building where
        appropriate.
       Notices posted around the Cemetery itself.
       Information placed in local community/public buildings where appropriate
       Regular update reports to Cabinet.
       Any additional publicity measures recommended by members.

As a result of the differing testing procedure, and the fact that it is in some cases approximately
10 years since some of these memorials were last tested, it is anticipated that some of the
memorials that passed the previous „finger-tip‟ test may fail the new test. However, it is
anticipated that the original test would have identified the most unstable memorials at the time
and only those in a marginal condition at the time or those that have become unstable in the
following 10 years or so may fail under the new testing programme.

Financial Implications

The staff costs of managing the Memorial Safety Programme are absorbed into the
Bereavement Services budget. There are, however, unallocated costs associated with public
notices, equipment repair/replacement, repairs to historic memorials, lowering of memorials
etc. that need to be considered in order to make proper provision for the new programme. A
typical annual cost is set out below:

   1)    Public Notices (10 no.)                       £2000
   2)    Equipment purchase/maintenance               £ 500
   3)    *Laying down memorials (600)                  £3000
   4)    Structural engineer (5 days)                  £2500
   5)    #Making safe memorials over 2m                £1000
   6)    *Lowering to one third in grave               £3000
   7)    #Repairing significant memorials              £2000
                                                     £14,000

   *At this stage, all figures are based on best estimates and assumptions as to the number of
   memorials, which will fail upon testing. An assumed rate of failure of 15% and a third of
   grave owners being un-contactable has been allowed for.

   #Larger memorials, typically those over 2 metres high, are often difficult to make safe. The
   Council has previously accepted that it is often desirable to repair larger memorials rather
   than dismantling them due to their historical and cultural importance and their contribution
   to the character of a Cemetery.

There is no ability to meet these estimated annual costs from within the existing Bereavement
Service approved budget. Therefore consideration should be given to making specific
provision over the next 5 years for the project in the general fund capital programme.

Risk Management Implications

An approved structured programme of memorial safety management will improve safety within
the Borough‟s Cemeteries, reduce the likelihood of an accident and place the Council in a
position to better defend action that may arise out of an accident, external challenge or reduce
the likelihood of intervention from regulatory body.




                                                42
There is a risk of adverse publicity if the programme is not planned, managed, appropriately
resourced and implemented as this work is highly sensitive and can potentially provoke serious
adverse public reaction.

Contribution to Corporate Priorities and Priorities for Improvement

There are no specifically stated priority themes or priorities for improvement contained in the
Corporate Plan and Best Value Performance Plan 2005/06 that relate to the Cemetery
Memorial Safety Programme.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)   That Cabinet reviews the recently completed Cemetery Memorial Safety Programme
and considers a follow on programme to re-inspect all memorials over a 5-year period.

(b)    That the financial implications of the project be considered for inclusion in the general
fund capital programme in the sum of £70,000 spread over the next 5 years commencing in
2006/07.

(c)   That the existing testing procedure involving a 30kg load be continued and the publicity
measures contained in the report be approved.

(d)    That update reports be received on progress on the safety testing work.

Background Information
Resolution        - Cabinet        3 August 2005
Resolution 196/05 - Cabinet        21 July 2004
Resolution 718/04 - Cabinet        17 December 2003
Resolution 114/04 - Cabinet        28 May 2003
Resolution 358/03 - Cabinet        7 August 2003
Resolution 848/02 - Cabinet        16 January 2002

Survey Details – Amenity Services Division Files
Structural Engineers Report and Procedures




22.    EQUESTRIAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

Purpose

To adopt the Equestrian Development Strategy.

Background

The Council‟s Leisure Strategy adopted in August 2003 (minute ref 381/04), identified the need
to formulate individual sports and activity strategies. Several have already been submitted to
Cabinet or the portfolio holder including the Art, Football Development, Marketing and
Swimming Strategies. In addition, „equestrian‟ activity was identified as a specific activity for
which a Strategy should be prepared. Cabinet approved (minute ref 547/05) a consultation
draft.




                                               43
Issues

158 organisations and individuals were consulted. A summary of the replies received are
attached at Appendix 16 (lavender paper) together with the proposed strategy.

Financial Implications

There are no direct financial implications.

Corporate Priorities

Reducing crime and the fear of crime

        Deterring young people from crime and nuisance behaviour through creating
         opportunities and activities.

Improving the quality of life and health of residents

        Improving access to leisure and recreational facilities for disadvantaged communities
         and groups including young people and those in rural areas.
        Increasing participation in active lifestyles.

RECOMMENDATION:-

That the Equestrian Development Strategy be adopted.




                                                44
        PART A

PORTFOLIO - ENVIRONMENT
23.       AIR QUALITY PROGRESS REPORT

Purpose

To advise Cabinet of progress with the statutory review of air quality in the Borough and of the
publication of the second Progress Report between subsequent rounds of Review and
Assessment of the Air Quality across the Borough.

Background

The Environment Act 1995 requires all local authorities to review and assess air quality within
their area. The purpose of this duty is to assess both the current and future levels of specific
pollutants as prescribed by Air Quality (England) Regulations 2000. These regulations set
objective levels to be met within pollutant specific ranges for the end of 2005.

The Review and Assessment procedure is based on a phased approach involving three stages.
Each stage becomes more complex and detailed where there is a risk that the air quality
objectives are not met.

The first two stages involved compiling and collating information on existing or proposed
significant sources of pollution. The screening process at the end of Stage Two identified the
need to carry out further work in respect of two pollutants Nitrogen Dioxide and PM10
(particulate matter smaller than 10 microns in diameter). The third stage involved the use of a
sophisticated mathematical model to predict air quality levels for the target years in Air Quality
Regulations.

This is the second Annual Progress Report under the requirements of the Local Air Quality
Management (LAQM) regime. Following the first round of Local Authority Review and
Assessment, an evaluation of the LAQM regime was undertaken for DEFRA. This
recommended that annual progress reports be produced by local authorities. This
recommendation was forwarded and agreed to avoid the stop-start situation where a local
authority previously would not have to produce anything in between upgrading and screening
assessments. The requirement now is that a report is to be produced and submitted to DEFRA
every year.

Annual progress reports are not designed to represent a further Upgrading and Screening
Assessment. Instead they are designed to ensure continuity in the LAQM process by filling in
the gaps between the three-yearly requirement to undertake a review and assessment of air
quality. It is intended that monitoring results are reported and estimates of future
concentrations made in order to compare with the relevant air quality objectives. Factors, which
could impact on air quality, are also included such as new industrial processes and major
planning applications.

Comments.

A Progress Report was submitted in May 2005 and accepted by DEFRA in June 2005 for 2004.

The conclusion of the work for the Progress Report are that Council does not need to consider
declaring Air Quality Management Areas and therefore it is not necessary to proceed to a
Detailed Assessment of air quality.       However, there are a number of actions and
recommendations contained within the report. These are as follows:-

         In view of the monitored levels of nitrogen dioxide, the monitoring of these sites will
          continue in 2005, the results of which will be presented in a further Progress Report.



                                                45
          As the monitored levels of nitrogen dioxide are close to the air quality objective levels,
           discussions with the Highways Agency will continue with regard to road traffic levels.

          In order to ensure that the air quality objectives are not exceeded, the use of the
           planning system will continue, in order to assess the impact of new developments on
           local air quality and control where necessary the approval of new relevant locations.

In general the trend in nitrogen dioxide concentrations has been increasing since monitoring
commenced in 2000. However, from 2003 to 2004 most of the sites showed a slight decrease.
The air quality objective level to be achieved by 2005 for this pollutant is 40 µgm -3. It is
nationally predicted that by 2005 pollutant levels should fall year on year, the actual monitored
results are corrected to this year, by effectively reducing the monitored level. Prior to the
correction factor being added, the monitored results for 2004 show that there were four
                                              -3
monitoring locations that were above 40 µgm . These locations were at:

          Holy Trinity (A34)
          Madeley
          London Road
          Shraleybrook

When predicted forward to 2005 there were actually two monitoring locations above the
objective level of 40µgm-3, the sites at:

          Holy Trinity
          London Road

However, both of these sites do not meet the criteria for „relevant location‟, therefore it is not
necessary to proceed to a detailed assessment of air quality or potentially declare an Air
Quality Management Area. Should the 2005 predicted level rise to 40 µgm -3 or more in a
relevant location, it is required that the Local Authority proceed to a Detailed Assessment and
potentially declare an Air Quality Management Area.

An Upgrading and Screening Assessment will be submitted to DEFRA by the end of April 2006.
Also in 2006 additional investigations into the air quality, mainly nitrogen dioxide levels, will
commence to determine the levels at relevant locations in close proximity to the two sites that
are currently above the objective level.

Corporate Priorities

The production of the Air Quality progress report is in line with the Councils objective
“Improving the quality and sustainability of the environment” and “Improving the quality of life
and health of residents” within the Councils Corporate Plan.

Implications for Crime and Disorder and Corporate Risk

There are none arising from this report.

Financial Implications

(i)        The cost of carrying out this review is funded from existing revenue estimates.

(ii)       Air quality monitoring has been conducted using several methods including volumetric
           analysis, diffusion tubes and real time analysis. The real time analysers were acquired


                                                  46
            as part of the Single Regeneration Budget initiatives over a 7-year period. Funding to
            enhance, develop and maintain this monitoring station has been provided through
            revenue estimates. However, the specialist monitoring equipment is now nearing the
            end of its useful life and a further report will be provided in April 2006 to review is
            replacement and implication for the capital programme.

(iii)       In the event of the Borough Council declaring Air Quality Management Areas additional
            funding would be required to implement this work.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

That the information be received.




24.         INTEGRATED WASTE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY REVIEW

Purpose

To review the Council‟s Integrated Waste Management Strategy.

Background

The UK is bound by the EC Landfill Directive (99/31/EC), which sets mandatory targets for the
reduction of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill. The UK national targets are:

           By 2010 to reduce biodegradable municipal waste landfilled to 75% of that produced in
            1995;
           By 2013 to reduce biodegradable municipal waste landfilled to 50% of that produced in
            1995;
           By 2020 to reduce biodegradable municipal waste landfilled to 35% of that produced in
            1995.

To help meet these requirements, the Government has established national targets for
recovery of municipal waste and recycling/composting of household waste. The policy
document „Waste Not, Want Not‟ sets a target of 45% of household waste to be recycled
and/or composted by the year 2015. In addition, the Household Waste Recycling Act 2004
requires Waste Collection Authorities (WCAs) to provide kerbside collection services for a
minimum of two materials from all households in their area by 2010.

The specific targets for the Borough Council are set out in Table 1 below together with the
current estimates of performance.

Table 1 – Percentage of Domestic Waste Recycled/Composted Targets and Performance
Projections for 2005/06

             Year            Target               Actual               Projected
                                                  Performance          Performance
             2003/04         10% (Statutory)      9.7%                 -
             2004/05         15.4% (LPSA)         11.62%               -
             2005/06         18% (Statutory)      -                    16%




                                                  47
The projected performance is based on the anticipated recovery and/or recyclable of
compostable material from the operations currently within budget provision, namely the
kerbside recycling service together with the contribution of the recycling bring sites, leaf fall
collections arising from street sweeping and collections of compostable material from the first
implemented garden waste collection round.

In order to achieve the future recycling targets that Central Government has set, and the
requirements of the Household Waste Recycling Act 2004, it will be necessary ultimately to
achieve separate collections for dry recyclables and garden waste throughout the Borough.

In July 2004 a presentation was given to the Scrutiny Committee by Techman Consulting to
initiate discussions about the approaches that the Council could adopt to meeting its future
recycling/composting targets. At your meeting on 22 September 2004 a number of possible
approaches to the introduction of alternate collections of garden waste and residual refuse
collection were considered as the framework for the development of an Integrated Waste
Management Strategy. A presentation illustrating these options was given at the time of
consideration of the report. A copy is attached at Appendix 17 (salmon paper).

Cabinet resolved to adopt the framework following consideration of the report by Scrutiny
Committee (Minute 461/05 refers). On the basis of this decision the strategy was developed
and considered at the Cabinet meeting of 16 March 2005. Cabinet referred the Strategy to
Council for approval (Minute 388/05 refers). Council approved the strategy at the meeting of
20 March 2005 (Minute 702/05 refers) and gave a commitment to a future review of the
documents. This report has been prepared in order that the Strategy can be reviewed and a
decision made in relation to implementation from year two and beyond.

The task facing the Council remains to find a cost effective way of introducing additional
collection services to meet the performance targets set by Central Government. The current
position regarding collection services is:

      Weekly collections – the collection of household refuse (residual waste) from all
       households in the Borough mainly using wheeled bins
      Fortnightly collections – a separate collection of glass, paper (excluding cardboard),
       cans, and textiles on alternate weeks for approximately 50,000 properties
      Fortnightly collections – a separate collection of garden waste from approximately
       11,300 properties based on alternate week collections using wheeled bins
      Provision of home composters for householders with gardens free of charge to the
       occupier
      Provision of 18 “Bring Sites” at locations throughout the Borough

As part of the strategy Cabinet agreed during 2005-06 to expand the kerbside collection
service for dry recyclables and authorised the introduction of an additional collection vehicle
with the ability to service households within the Borough not currently provided with the service.
The households affected were in a number of situations:

      Within the urban area in congested areas
      Within the rural areas in narrow roads or roads with low overhanging trees
      Within the rural areas in communities not included in the DEFRA funded project target
       areas
      Within the rural areas in remote situations
      Within the urban and rural areas in multi occupancy buildings




                                               48
In June 2005 the additional collection operations commenced for the difficult to access
properties taking the total receiving the kerbside collection service to approximately 96%.
Further work is in progress in relation to multi-occupancy properties.

It was estimated that the expansion of the dry recyclables service and the introduction of a
separate collection of garden waste in 2005-06 for approximately 12,000 properties would
enable the 18% statutory recycling target to be achieved. Current performance both of the dry
recyclables collection rates and recovery from the garden waste collection service are below
the level anticipated. Predictions for the end of the financial year are for an outturn of
approximately 16%. This is lower than the 18% statutory target and occurs as a result of
implementation of the garden waste scheme in June rather than April, and lower than
anticipated resident use of schemes.

Participation in recycling by households is a significant issue, it directly affects the quantities
collected particularly by the dry recyclable kerbside service. Participation is highly variable
across the Borough and currently entirely a matter of choice for each household. Efforts are
ongoing to promote the service. The Council‟s existing strategy provides for the expansion of
garden waste collections. The approach to future implementation will be determined following
this review of the Waste Strategy.

When the Council approved the Strategy during the last financial year a commitment to review
the document was made. In addition it is now appropriate to review the strategy in the light of a
number of factors that have a bearing on the way in which waste collection services should be
considered:

      Implementation of the first round of garden waste collections
      Expansion of the dry recyclable collection service to virtually all households
      The developing Best Practice Model of alternate weekly collections, which is delivering
       cost effective high recycling/composting performance in an increasing number of
       authorities,
      The continued lower quartile recycling rates performance of the services
      Achieving Value for Money services,
      Gershon efficiency savings

In view of the above further draft framework proposal have been prepared. The Tables within
the Appendix show options for complete coverage of the Borough at a range of rates of
progress. These are provided in a similar tabular form to the presentation in September 2004.
They are based on the current position and provide options in which the strategy could be
implemented. For each option indicative cost estimates are provided.

One of the significant problems associated with the phased expansion of the collection
operations is the additional spending needed to finance the additional operations. The
possibility of modifying the residual waste collection frequency and alternating this with garden
waste collections has been reported to Cabinet previously. This issue was to be reviewed once
separate recyclable and garden waste collection services were in place. The majority of
households (96%) in the Borough are provided with kerbside collection of dry recyclables. The
introduction of a garden waste collection service has provided approximately 11,300 properties
with a complete service. The opportunity could be taken in the next financial year to move to
alternate week collections for these properties (Option 2). The resources released by this
change could then be used to introduce further garden waste collection rounds or a pilot
project. Option 5 sets out an immediate and full transition to total coverage of the Borough
within 2006/07. Alternatively the Council could continue with the introduction of garden waste
collection services for a period to be determined and eventually savings will be realised by the
changes to the refuse collection service.


                                                49
The number of households that have gardens and would benefit from the introduction of
garden waste collections is estimated at 36,000. The total number of dwellings in the Borough
is approximately 52,750, 96% of these are provided with collection services for dry recyclables.
It is therefore estimated that there are 16,000 households where there is no need to provide a
garden waste collection service. In other areas these households have been included in new
arrangements for integrated waste collections.

Integrated waste collections (alternating collections) have been implemented or are being
considered by most, if not all, local authorities. In neighbouring authorities several issues have
been raised during this process, including:

      Consultation with local residents (although there is invariably opposition from residents
       to an integrated service, alternate week collection of residual waste)

      Decreasing the volume of residual waste (or increasing the number of materials
       collected by the dry recyclable waste collection service). The existing dry recyclables
       collection contractor has been approached to indicate the cost of adding plastics and
       cardboard to the current blue box recycling scheme. The current contractor has been
       invited to provide the full year cost for the two additional materials, for 96% of the
       properties in the Borough.

      Public Health Issues – raised by alternate week residual waste collections

Year Two and Beyond Options

Any of the options previously considered for the future delivery of waste collection services
remain available for year two, with the exception of Option One “Immediate Waste Collections
Integrated” by round.

   Option Two – One Year to Waste Collection Integration
   Option Three – Two Years to Waste Collection Integration
   Option Four – Three Years to Waste Collection Integration
   Option Five – Five Years Waste Collection Integration

In addition the following option are available:

   Option Six – Immediate full integration in 2006/07
   Option Seven – Pilot Project in part, or all, of current garden waste collection round

Promotion and Education

The Council has allocated funding for an education and promotion campaign aimed at
improving uptake of recycling services and performance of the scheme. Some discussions
have taken place regarding the scope of this project and whether it should be widened to
include public space issues – litter, fly-tipping, etc. The intention is to produce „branding‟ for a
campaign to commence in April 2006.

Enforcement (Operational Service Requirements)

Waste Management Services have „rules‟ of operation which are in place in order that the
service objectives and outcomes can be achieved. A leaflet is available for residents which
explains how services operate and the „rules‟ necessary for efficient and effective delivery.




                                                  50
Cabinet approved an amendment of rules that required householders in areas where separate
garden waste collection services were provided to use the wheeled bin specifically provided for
compostable material (garden waste) and which prohibits the disposal of garden waste via the
residual waste, normal, wheeled bin (and vice versa).

It is recommended that as part of this review of the waste strategy the operational service
requirements (rules) are further amended to require the disposal of dry recyclables (paper,
cans, textiles and glass) through the „blue box‟ scheme, and in effect the requirement to
participate in the scheme.

Where householders abuse the operational service requirements wheeled bins would not be
emptied.

An Approach to Waste Strategy for 2006/07 and Beyond (Option 6) – Enhanced Weekly
Waste Collection

An approach in achieving integrated waste collection is Option 6 – which would include the
following from 2006:

   a)    Fortnightly collection of garden waste (for all households with gardens)
   b)    Fortnightly collection of kerbside dry recyclables – current materials (paper, glass,
         textiles and cans) with the addition of plastics and cardboard
   c)    Fortnightly collection of residual waste (240 litre grey wheeled bins or plastic sacks for
         „unsuitable‟ properties)
   d)    Provision of „free‟ home composter
   e)    Network of „bring‟ recycling sites throughout the Borough

The advantages of this option include:

       Immediate move to top quartile recycling performance – 30% in full year
       Immediate „efficiency gain‟ – potentially £300,000 (less cost of additional dry recyclable
        collections) in financial year 2006/07
       Single campaign to respond to any public concerns in 2006/07

Financial Implications

The introduction of a kerbside collection round based on a one single compartment collection
vehicle and team at current prices is approximately £162,000, net of income from recycling
credits. The cost to the Council of a phased introduction of additional garden waste rounds
would depend upon the relationship, if any, to a phased introduction of alternate week
collections of residual waste.

Corporate Priorities

Improving the quality and sustainability of the environment Improving our rates of
recycling and composting. This proposal directly affects the performance level of one of the
recycling activities and should deliver higher recycling rates.

Making the best use of the Council’s resources and improving our efficiency
Achieving improvements in service delivery and efficiency savings by conventional and
electronic means. The proposals contained within this report would provide additional services
within existing budget projections and would move significant resources into higher priority
areas.



                                               51
RECOMMENDATION:-

(a)    That the Council‟s Waste Strategy be reviewed and updated

(b)   That further consideration be given to the implementation of Option 6 – Enhanced
Weekly Waste Collections

(c)    That the operational service rules be amended as set out in the report to prohibit the
disposal of all dry recyclables through the normal (residual) waste collection service

(d)    That a promotional campaign be implemented in respect of the selected approach

(e)     That the Scrutiny Committee be consulted in respect of the Waste Strategy review and
in particular the revision of the Waste Strategy to include Option 6 – Enhanced Weekly Waste
Collections.




                                             52
          PART A

PORTFOLIO – COMMUNITY SAFETY
25.       ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR OFFICER

Purpose

To seek member approval to create a temporary post with immediate effect until March 2008
primarily supported by Home Office funding (April 2006-March 2008.)

Background

The council, through Home Office funding, has had a temporary Anti-Social Behaviour officer
for 18 months. The council has recently agreed to mainstream this post. Subsequently the
council has received correspondence from the Home Office concerning funding regarding
reducing anti-social behaviour.

The funding for 2005/6 is now part of the safer and stronger communities fund (SSCF) and this
arrangement will continue for the next two years (2006/7 and 2007/8). Whilst it is for areas to
decide how their individual allocation of £25k per annum is best spent, within the SSCF
framework feedback is that anti-social behaviour co-ordinators are making a real difference on
the ground and it is an expectation that areas will not wish to lose this valuable resource. The
Newcastle Community Safety Partnership has agreed to continue to fund an anti-social
behaviour post.

By creating this temporary post the Partnership can be more proactive in it‟s response to anti-
social behaviour and criminal damage. This will have a two-fold benefit. Better service delivery
to the residents of the Borough thereby improving the feeling of safety. Secondly, this post will
contribute to the achievement of challenging national targets e.g. 17½% reduction in crime and
disorder over the next 3 years.

Issues

Since the appointment of the previous post holder in May 2004, the following have been
achieved:

         Development, consultation and production of the Anti-Social Behaviour Strategy 2005-
          2008.
         Contact made with all Registered Social Landlords.
         Attendance at more than five different Resident Association meetings to raise the
          public‟s awareness of what anti-social behaviour is and how the Anti-Social Behaviour
          Officer can assist with ongoing issues.
         Cementing already established contacts and working relationships with Newcastle and
          Kidsgrove Local Policing Units.
         Involvement with Staffordshire Police to establish standardised paperwork for the Police
          and Crown Prosecution Service for post-conviction Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.
         Established an effective multi-agency ASB Case Conferencing group, which discusses
          known individuals and makes group decisions as to how best engage with the individual
          or to progress to the most appropriate enforcement action.
         Accurate case monitoring of cases received and being progressed.
         Further development of the Council‟s ASB database.
         Established initial complaint/incident proforma.
         Development of working protocols.
         Standardised Acceptable Behaviour Contract paperwork in conjunction with the police,
          which has been carried across Newcastle and Kidsgrove LPUs and Registered Social
          Landlords to ensure uniformity of cases.



                                                 53
      Champion the Anti-Social Behaviour Priority Action Group.
      Steering groups have been established to target specific problems in specific locations

Over the last three years the Partnership has seen an increase in the reporting of ASB. Figures
supplied by the police are as follows:

   2002/3              5,390 incidents
   2003/4              4,239
   2004/5              7,437
   2005/6              2,648 (for the period Apr – July)

In 2004/5 Staffordshire Police introduced the National Standard for incident recording (NSIR).
The aim of the NSIR is to provide a common ethical standard of reporting. Therefore the
figures for 2002/3 and 2003/4 cannot be compared to 2004/5.

During 2003 the Council implemented a recording system, which holds details of recorded
incidents reported by members of the public, for both nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

   18 recorded incidents
   128
   270 (up to and including 1 November)

Crime and Disorder Implications

Anti-Social Behaviour is on the increase across the Borough and is a priority both nationally
and with residents. The Community Safety Unit wishes to do more to reduce the causes of
disorder and work proactively in communities – particularly in hot spot areas.

Corporate Priorities

This post will contribute to the following corporate priorities. Primarily, reducing crime and the
fear of crime by helping to achieve the following targets:

      Prioritise action in crime hotspots, especially litter, graffiti, fly-tipping and fly-posting.
      Take action against those causing anti-social behaviour.
      Identify demand for and provide appropriate youth facilities.

Secondly, this post can also help to achieve the following targets:

      Reducing inequalities and empowering disadvantaged communities.
      Improving the quality of life and health of residents.
      Improving the quality and sustainability of the environment.

Financial Implications

The post will be funded from the SSCF from 1 April 2006. In the current year the cost of £4,500
can be met from the underspend in the two vacant posts of Town Centre Development Worker
and Domestic Violence Worker.




                                                  54
Risk Management

Risk           Potential         Risk        Risk        Specify      Final       Final Risk
Identified     Consequence       Score       Rating      Existing     Score       Rating
                                 RxL                     Control      RxL
                                                         Measures
Withdrawal     The council       2x2         2           None         2x2         L
of external    would not be
funding        able to afford
               to continue to
               employ the
               post holder


RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)     That an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer be appointed on a full time, temporary basis.

(b)     That the proposal be referred to the General Purposes Committee.




                                                 55
          PART B

PORTFOLIO – QUALITY OF LIFE
26.      ROE LANE SPORTS PAVILION

Purpose

To inform the Cabinet of the successful tenderers for the above Roe Lane Pavilion Football
Facilities Improvements.

Background

At its meeting of 4 May 2004 the Cabinet welcomed the award of £650,000 from the Football
Foundation towards the total estimated cost of the scheme of £980,000 to provide a Sports
Pavilion, improved car parking and drainage at Roe Lane.

This project is complete, and this report confirms the successful tenderers and costs of the
completed scheme

Issues

In August 2004 tenders were invited for the building works and the lowest tender submitted was
for £696,000 by Thurston Building Systems. Tenders were also invited for the car park works
and the lowest tender submitted was for £35,852 by Derek Mawby Paving. Drainage was
arranged by a specialist contractor approved separately by the Cabinet.

Your officers therefore awarded the contract for the improvements to the Football Facilities to
Thurston Building Systems and Derek Mawby Paving accordingly. The works commenced at
the end of November 2004 and were completed by the end of May 2005.

Financial Implications

There are no additional financial implications for the Council; the tenders are within the secured
budget.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

That the information be received.




                                               56
                       NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME BOROUGH COUNCIL

                      CHIEF OFFICERS’ SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT TO
                                     THE CABINET

                                        30 November 2005


35.       REMEDIAL WORKS – BOROUGH MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, THE BRAMPTON,
          NEWCASTLE

Purpose

To appoint a contractor to undertake remedial works at the Borough Museum and Art Gallery.

Background

Schedules of work and detailed drawings have been prepared for the re roofing and external
repair of the Borough Museum and Art Gallery. These works are part of the Stock Condition
Programme as reported to Cabinet in September 2004 and detailed in the stock condition
survey undertaken in March 2004 by the Oakleaf Group.

Tender documents were prepared and the following contractors invited to tender:

         Michael Healey & Son
         Sandy & Co
         Sneyd Building Contractors
         Trenton Construction Co Ltd

Issues

Tenders were opened in the presence of Councillor J A Tatton on the 29 July 2005 and ranged
from £177,160.00 to £197,352.00.

The consultant quantity surveyor has scrutinized the lowest tender and confirms that
arithmetical errors and pricing errors have been corrected. It is recommended that the lowest
tender be accepted.

During the contract period security of the building will be compromised with the erection of
external scaffolding and periods when only temporary roof coverings will be in position.

It is proposed therefore that security guarding at evenings and weekends be provided at an
additional estimated cost of £6,000.

Financial Implications

The works and security provision will be funded from the provision for Stock Condition works
within the approved Capital Programme.

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

(a)    That the tender of Trenton Construction Co Ltd in the sum of £177,160 be accepted for
the works as indicted.



                                              57
(b)    That security guarding be provided on the site during the contract period at an
estimated cost of £6,000.

(c)    That the total estimated cost of £183,160 be met from the provision for Stock Condition
works within the approved Capital Programme.




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