Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Members:


(a)          Petitions: To receive any petitions referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee;


(b)          Written Questions: To consider any written questions;


(i)           Refuse collection- Councillor Mitchell


(c)          Letters: To consider any letters;


(i)           Communal refuse bins- Councillor G Theobald


(ii)          Blocked drains- Councillor Robins


(iii)         Hove Station footbridge- Councillor Janio


(d)          Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion




(b)      Written Questions


(i)            Councillor Mitchell- refuse collection


31.1      Councillor Mitchell presented a question regarding the poor condition and lack of maintenance of refuse bins and frequency of checks for fly-tipping of waste.


31.2      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you very much for your question regarding the condition of the communal bins. 

Cityclean does have a crew, who as part of their responsibilities, repair and maintain communal bins on site and will also respond to reports of graffiti on bins.  Street Cleansing Teams also have wipes and black paint to remove graffiti from bins. However many of the bins have now been in place for five or more years and need to be taken off the street for more significant refurbishment or replacement. 

The roll out of communal bins was subject to prudential borrowing to pay for the vehicles and bins.  This capital has now been repaid and will result in £111,000 per year being available from April onwards which will be reinvested in a rolling program for the maintenance of the bins.  The bins will be audited and recorded on an asset register before that time and the refurbishment/ replacement work will begin in April.

There are approximately 700 communal refuse bins in place across the city and on a rolling program with the current resources all bins should be replaced or refurbished every five years.  This work will include putting clear signage on the bins to clarify that they should only be used for household waste and to remind people to recycle.

In terms of fly-tipping our street cleansing crews check the areas around bins on a daily basis as part of their rounds.  Any fly-tips reported to our contact centre are forwarded to street cleansing crews to be cleared.  Officers will also follow up on any reports of businesses fly-tipping their waste in communal bins”.


(c)      Letters


(i)            Communal refuse bins- Councillor G Theobald


31.3      Councillor Theobald presented a letter regarding the poor condition and lack of maintenance of refuse bins and recent service disruption.


31.4      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you very much for your letter regarding the condition of the communal bins and the refuse and recycling collection service generally much of which seems similar to Cllr Mitchell’s question, so may I refer you to the answer just given. 

With regard to flytipping of bulky waste around communal bins, street Cleansing Crews are proactive in clearing these items.  Unfortunately it is often very difficult to take formal action if there is no evidence as to who dumped the items there in the first place. This said, we are considering options for enhanced responsiveness and enforcement as part of a redesigned service.

In your letter you comment on the ongoing issues with the refuse and recycling service.  The service was starting to bed down and nine new refuse and recycling collection vehicles are due to come in to service by the end of October which will replace the older, less reliable vehicles.  

It is very unfortunate that since your letter HGV drivers at Cityclean have undertaken industrial action in the last month causing further disruption for residents. I am sure you share my desire to see this issue resolved in a manner which is fair to all council employees. 

The current situation is delaying service improvements and the launch of the incentive and engagement campaign which this committee approved earlier this year to help improve recycling rates. 

I can assure you and the public that officers are doing their utmost to resolve this difficult situation and I would urge the trade union to continue to engage to come to a resolution so that we can focus on improving the service.

I am disappointed that our recycling rate declined last year which was at least in part due to the disruption following the negotiations on pay and subsequent round reorganisation. 

The city has never had a high recycling rate under any previous administration and this Administration has looked at ways to increase recycling rates. We were particularly keen to introduce food waste collection which can increase recycling rates more significantly.  The cost of providing this service is prohibitive at a time when we face significant reductions to our budgets which is why we have not been able to pursue this.

I am hopeful that communal recycling will increase recycling rates in the city centre and I am keen to implement the engagement and incentive scheme that this committee approved earlier this year.

I am pleased to say that DCLG has announced a further national fund of £5million for incentive schemes.  Following our successful application to the DCLG fund for communal recycling officers are now looking at opportunities   to resource further incentive work through this grant.  Because of the tight deadline for submissions officers will be asking to meet with members to talk through the proposals later this month.

Richard Bradley has taken up his post as Head of Cityclean and City Parks and he has joined us at a very challenging time.  I know that Richard and the team are working on all the issues I have mentioned, with the priority being to improve the reliability of the service.

As you are aware, we are currently seeking GMB agreement to a proposed redesign of the service. We have dealt with pay fairness, now we can move forward together on developing a much better service the whole city may be proud of”.


31.5      RESOLVED- That the Letter be noted.


(ii)          Blocked drains and gullies- Councillor Robins


31.6      Councillor Robins presented a Letter detailing problems with drain and gully clearance and a request for further information on the prioritisation of drain and gully clearance.


31.7      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you for your letter regarding drains and gullies.

The weather on the 28th of July was indeed exceptional and caused flooding to houses, businesses and even our own offices.  I certainly have a great deal of sympathy for the people who have been affected by this devastating experience.

Initial estimates from the Environment Agency and Southern Water suggest that the storm on the 28th of July exceeded a 1 in 100-year event.   There was between 50 -100 mm of rainfall in the space of three hours, more than the entire average rainfall for July. The highway drains and Southern Water sewers are not designed to cope with such extreme events, and this can be made worse if gullies are also covered by leaves, debris, and litter or parked.

There are over 20,000 gullies across the city which are cleared every 12 or 18 months by our contractor.  The frequency of clearance is decided based on historical information on how quickly they fill up.  For every gulley that is cleared data is automatically stored on how full it was prior to being cleared which provides the baseline information.

With regards to the roads you mention I have asked officers to clarify when the gullies were last inspected, their recorded condition and action taken.  I have a detailed response on these specifics that I will ask officers to share with you.

In relation to your last point, the likelihood of more heavy rain will increase as we get into autumn and winter.  Our contractors work year round to empty gullies as per their work schedule, which prioritises those sites which fill up most quickly.  This helps minimise the risk of flooding where it is most likely to occur.

When we do experience heavy rain and localised flooding, Cityclean street cleansing staff clear the covers of gullies to try and alleviate the immediate problem.  If this does not work and there is an immediate safety risk or a risk to property, we will use our emergency call out service to try and manage the situation”.


31.8      Councillor Robins asked why clearance was not conducted when officers were aware that six drains were blocked one month.


31.9      The Head of Strategy & Projects clarified that measurements on drain blockage were taken immediately before the drains were cleared. The drains in question were emptied the same day that the measurement was taken.


31.10   Councillor Robins stated that he was not convinced that the drains had been cleared and suggested using temporary notices to ensure cars were not parked over drains on the day they were scheduled to be cleared.


31.11   The Chair stated that he would request officers to meet with Councillor Robins to investigate the issue subsequent to the meeting.


31.12   RESOLVED- That the Letter be noted.


(iii)         Hove Station footbridge- Councillor Janio


31.13   Councillor Janio presented a Letter requesting a report be presented to a subsequent meeting of the Committee examining possible options for funding access improvements to Hove Station in partnership with Network Rail and the DfT.


31.14   The Chair stated that he believed the issue was very complex and agreed that a report to a future meeting would be helpful to Committee.


31.15   RESOLVED- That the Committee receive a report on the matter to a future meeting.


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