Agenda and draft minutes

Communities Scrutiny Group - Thursday, 5th October, 2023 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions

Items
No. Item

6.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations on interest.

7.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 July 2023 pdf icon PDF 332 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 July 2023 were agreed as an accurate record and were signed by the Chair.

8.

Review of Canal and Rivers Trust Partnership Funding pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Report of the Director - Neighbourhoods

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Erwin-Jones presented an overview of the geographical area and work of the Canal and River Trust Partnership (CRT).  He explained that in 2003 the Council signed a twenty year service level agreement with British Waterway’s (which became the Canal and River Trust charity in 2012) which set out that they would maintain access for Rushcliffe residents to Grantham Canal and that they would manage grass cutting, hedges, towpaths and access points. He explained that the agreement did not cover managing water levels and water loss from the canal. He added that the CRT had also received £27k in UKSPF funding from the Council in 2023 for reed clearance work on the canal.

 

Mr Erwin-Jones took the Group through the various types of work and associated costs that the CRT undertook, including towpath management, hedge management, reed management, operation management, wellbeing activitives, education and infrastruture management. He said that in 2023 Defra announced that there would be £300m of cuts to the charity’s future grant, which formed about a quarter of it’s overall budget.

 

Mr Erwin-Jones said that the CRT’s current agreement with the Council expired in 2024 and he suggested four possible options that the Group may wish to consider for a future agreement:

·       End the agreement – no cost

·       Maintain current levels - £48,265

·       Enhanced Environmental Management - £78, 265

·       Enhanced Environmental Management, Wellbeing Activities and Education and events - £110,365

 

The Community Development Manager said that the recommendation from the Group would be taken forward through the Council’s budget workshop process.

 

Councillor Phillips said that the canal was well used by a wide section of the community and he noted the positive difference in funded maintenance of the canal in Rushcliffe compared to when it moved into Leicestershire.

 

Members of the Group referred to the barriers along the canal.  Mr Erwin-Jones confirmed that maintenance of them was covered by the current funding. In relation to accessibility, he noted that they can cause difficulty for cyclists and said that they had been removed in some areas, but that consultation was required before doing as there could be risks involved.  

 

Members of the Group referred to the wellbeing activities and Mr Erwin-Jones confirmed that these did not currently form part of Rushcliffe’s agreement although some had been held in Rushcliffe at Holme Pierrepont and had included some Rushcliffe residents and volunteers. He said that it was possible to carry out water based and other activities on parts of the canal and also on the river Trent.

 

In relation to how much input the Council could have into shaping wellbeing activities and social prescribing, Mr Erwin-Jones, said that some areas had a dedicated community groups officers dedicated who worked with local organisations and community groups to tailor packages to local need. The Community Development Manager added that the Council had the Reach Rushcliffe fund which could be used to pump prime a range of social isolation projects across the Borough, to the value of approximately £2k.

 

The Chair asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Social Housing Models pdf icon PDF 404 KB

Report of the Director - Neighbourhoods

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Housing Manager presented the Social Housing Models report, which set out the Council’s approved policy and operational framework for the provision of affordable housing, the different delivery models and the current approach to meet housing need.

 

The Strategic Housing Manager provided an explanation of the definition of affordable housing, which included affordable housing for rent and affordable housing for sale. She said that in 2003 the Council had transferred its housing stock to Metropolitan Housing Thames Valley who were currently the largest registered housing provider in the Borough, of approximately 15 in total. She said that the Council was responsible for managing the allocation of social rented housing in the Borough which it did through the housing register.

 

The Strategic Housing Manager confirmed that the Council did not own any housing stock nor run a Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and said that most councils who provided council housing stock usually also operated an HRA. Current regulation allowed councils to own up to 200 dwellings without the need to open an HRA and she said that factors supporting a council house building programme usually included; where there was exceptional housing need, and the resultant temporary accommodation costs were a big financial drain, where delivery by existing registered providers was limited, where the council had land  assets, where it wished to develop bespoke housing and where it had funds which it wished to invest in affordable housing. She said that council owned housing stock was subject to right to buy.

 

The Group were informed that the Council had an affordable housing capital budget of £4.5m, the majority of which was a commuted sum from large site developments. The Strategic Housing Manager said that as the council did not have any land to build on, it allocated the funds through the work of its registered housing partners in identifying and acquiring sites either on the open market or through their own land assets and that the Council provided the grant funding to them to develop affordable housing. She said that without land assets the Council was dependent on the cooperation of third parties who had access to land or developers who undertook housing developments in the Borough.

 

In relation to housing need, the Strategic Housing Manager explained that the Council’s current housing assessment was carried out in 2022 as part of the Local Plans process and identified an unmet need for 294 affordable rented dwellings per year. She said that the total percentage of affordable housing of new completions was 25%

 

In relation to specialist housing needs, the Strategic Housing Manager explained that provision required both capital and revenue funding and as such Nottinghamshire County Council played a significant role in commissioning support for vulnerable residents.

 

The Strategic Housing Manager said that there were time limits on the allocation of some commuted sums and that if not allocated within that period they may need to be returned to the original party. The complexity and resources required to set up a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Smoke Control Areas in the Borough pdf icon PDF 557 KB

Report of the Director - Neighbourhoods

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director for Neighbourhoods presented the Smoke Controls Areas report and said that it provided opportunity for Members to input and shape a public consultation on revised smoke control orders within the Borough.

 

The Environmental Health Officer explained that smoke control areas were first introduced as part of the 1956 Clean Air Act and that Rushcliffe had had smoke control areas in place since the 1970s. She said that whilst legislation had had an impact on air quality, it continued to pose the biggest environmental risk to public health. She said that it contributed to a wide range of detrimental health and neurological impacts, with the Chief Medical Officer stating in 2022 that the mortality burden of air pollution within England stood at between 26,000 and 38,000 lives per year.

 

The Environmental Health Officer said that evidence suggested that the main contributor to health impact was associated with fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and that in 2021 domestic combustion contributed approximately 27% of PM2.5 emissions.

 

The Environmental Health Officer referred to the Government Clean Air Strategy which set out the framework for local authorities to improve air quality, including through review of smoke control areas. She explained that the Council had signed up to the Nottinghamshire Clean Air Strategy and also had its own Clean Air Strategy Action Plan.

 

Within a smoke control area, the Environmental Health Officer said that a number of rules applied, such as that smoke could not be released from a chimney and that only authorised fuel could be burned and only a Defra approved appliance could be used. She said the guidance applied to chimneys of buildings and under roofs and to furnaces, with the potential to include permanent moored vessels. She said that a list of all approved appliances and fuels was published on the Defra website.

 

Whilst previously it had been hard to enforce control of smoke release from chimneys, the Environmental Health Officer said that the Government had enabled local authorities to introduce their own civil penalties and Defra recommended a staged process, with the initial action being to serve an improvement notice, the next stage being to serve notice of intent to issue a financial penalty, with the final action being to issue a penalty, which a local authority could set at between £175-£300.

 

The Environmental Health Officer said that it was for each local authority to determine what constituted smoke from a chimney and that the Council wanted to take a proportional approach, recognising that smoke could be emitted for example when lighting and refuelling a fire. She said that it was illegal to sell or buy unauthorised fuel within a smoke control area unless for use on a Defra approved appliance and as such retailers would need to display notice to this effect.

 

The Environmental Health Officer said that there was a legal requirement for the Council to undertake a public consultation exercise before making a smoke control order.

 

 

The Environmental Health Officer recommended checking the Defra website  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED that the Group agrees the work programme for next year 2023 – 2024 as set out below:

 

18 January 2024

 

·      Flight Paths

·      Work Programme

 

21 March 2024

 

·      Streetwise In-Sourcing

·      Carbon Management Plan

·      Work Programme

 

xx June 2024

 

·      Use of Community Facilities

·      Work Programme

 

Actions – 5 October 2023

 

Min No.

Action

Officer Responsible

5

Social Housing Models: Councillor Polenta asked for more information about the demand and supply of social housing in the Borough, including affordable housing costs in relation to income levels

Strategic Housing Manager

5

Social Housing Models: The Strategic Housing Manager said that she would circulate a list of the registered housing providers in the Borough to the Group.

Strategic Housing Manager