Agenda item - Member Involvement
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- Meeting of Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, Tuesday, 17th January, 2023 4.00pm (Item 65.)
To consider the following matters raised by Members:
(a) Petitions: To receive any petitions;
(b) Written Questions: To consider any written questions;
(c) Letters: To consider any letters;
(d) Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.
(1) Road Safety on Fox Way, North Portslade- Councillor Atkinson
65.1 The Committee considered a petition requesting road safety improvements on Fox Way, North Portslade.
65.2 The Chair provided the following response:
“Thank you, Councillor Atkinson, for presenting the petition. There is a report to this committee later in the agenda which outlines how officers will identify high risk sites for road traffic collisions.
To date, Fox Way has not been identified as a high risk site based on collisions reported to the police, although I am aware that there was sadly a fatality last year.
The report also proposes a process for assessing and prioritising the many requests this committee receives for improvements at locations not identified as high risk sites, such as this one. If the framework in the report is approved, I have asked that officers consider Fox Way through that process”.
65.3 Resolved- That the Committee note the petition.
(b) Written Questions
(1) Pavements on Rottingdean High Street
65.4 Councillor Fishleigh read the following question:
“The pavements on Rottingdean High Street need refurbishing as they are slippery and uneven. In addition, in some places the pavement is almost the same level as the road which makes people feel unsafe and unprotected from traffic. Please would BHCC inspect the pavements and produce a plan and estimated budget in preparation for the Government’s next round of funding for active travel”
65.5 The Chair provided the following reply:
“The brick paving on Rottingdean High Street is the same as in many areas of central Brighton and other places across the country.
Many people value them highly for their appearance, particularly within conservation areas.
We do not consider them to be inherently unsafe and would not seek to replace them on those grounds.
Rottingdean Parish Council has previously asked us to source a quote for alternative bricks for the location near to the crossroads. We passed this quote on to them some time ago.
Any decision over whether to proceed with changing the bricks would be a matter for Brighton and Hove City Council in conjunction with the Parish Council.
DfT funding for active travel schemes is unlikely to be awarded to a scheme that replaces existing materials without making substantial changes to the layout of a road for the benefit of active travel and therefore an alternative funding source would need to be identified”.
(2) Valley Gardens Phase 3
65.6 Councillor Fishleigh read the following question:
“When will work start on Valley Gardens stage 3, how long will it last, will buses and other motor traffic be diverted and what is the estimated cost estimate for the project?”
65.7 The Chair provided the following reply:
“We are currently sourcing a Contractor for the main works and plan on starting works in Spring 2023. We anticipate that works will last about 80 weeks using different phases which could involve diversion of buses and other motor traffic although we plan to keep disruption to a minimum. The current budget for the scheme is £12.838m which is currently being reviewed”
65.8 Councillor Fishleigh asked the following supplementary question:
“Do you think that bike lanes are more important to the people of our city than public toilets?”
65.9 There isn’t a yes or no answer. They are from different funding pots: Valley Gardens is capital funding and not revenue so those two cannot be conflated. We don’t want to close public toilets but we can’t take money from one to pay for the other”.
(3) Bike Stands
65.10 Councillor Fishleigh read the following question:
“How much will it cost to install the proposed bike stands in Saltdean Oval Park and in Rottingdean? Please would you break down figures by area”
65.11 The Chair provided the following reply:
“City Parks estimate that Saltdean could accommodate two cycle stands in five locations costing around £2,000 for each site, as a new concrete base is likely to be needed. The total cost is therefore around £10,000 for Saltdean.
At Rottingdean only one location has been identified for three cycle stands estimated to cost around £3,000.
Please note, these costs are an estimate. City Parks will need to undertake a competitive tender for each site to establish a more accurate cost, but the above figures provide a general guide”.
65.12 Councillor Fishleigh put the following supplementary question:
“As we already have plenty of railings to lock our bike to in these parks, please would you divert the money allocated to keeping the public toilets open?”
65.13 The Chair stated that a response would be provided in writing.
(4) Democracy on ETS
65.14 Councillor Platts read the following question:
“Will the Co-Chairs explain why they are undermining democracy and transparency on ETS by refusing to answer more than one written question at ETS meetings and refusing to answer other questions in writing (all of which met the rules of the Council’s constitution) and instead referring them back to Council Officers?”
65.15 The Chair provided the following reply:
“Before outlining the rules we have adopted as Co-Chairs and why, I first address to correct a couple of points raised in your question.
Member questions may be answered at the meeting, or at the discretion of the chair, by way of a written response circulated after the meeting. To enable the committee’s business to be carried out efficiently and to provide time for public representations, each Group is permitted three questions per committee meeting. Both myself and Cllr Davis - and Cllr Heley before me - have answered those written questions in the committee meeting. So three written question from member and not one. Indeed, you have asked three questions at this meeting Cllr Platts. The rules on Member questions was communicated to all of the committee in June 2022 so this is not a new approach.
All questions are responded to in writing, whether they are answered at the committee meeting or otherwise. The written responses to all ten questions you submitted to the previous committee were responded to within four working days. The only circumstances in which questions are referred to council officers is where the response requires technical or highly detailed information.
In the previous six months, so only four committees, ETS has received 75 questions just from Members, which is on average 19 per meeting. Each Member question takes typically 5 minutes to ask and respond to. If all of the Member questions were to be answered at every meeting, we would spend over an hour and half every meeting just on this one item.
Our duty as Co-Chairs is to ensure that there is challenge and accountability from Members and the public alike but also that the meeting operates efficiently. The committee must focus fully on the many key proposals set out within the main agenda, all of which involve major changes to the city.
We feel that permitting three questions per Group to be put at the meeting - plus providing written responses to all other written questions received - ensures the most important business of the committee is given priority. There is also scope for Members to submit petitions, letters and Notices of Motion for the ETS agenda. And of course, the committee continues to receive and welcome representations from residents to every meeting and we have had a high number of these today.
65.16 Councillor Platts put the following supplementary question:
“Would the Co-Chairs prefer us to encourage residents to come and bring their questions on person rather than through their local councillors?”
65.17 The Chair provided the following reply:
“I think what I’ve just outlined is that obviously we still want to respond to things and there is a method by which the public can come to the committee and raise their questions. We will respond to all of your questions, and they may not all be asked at committee but there will still be a response. I can just say that yes, we do want people to bring their questions and they will get a response to them”.
(5) Graffiti on business properties
65.18 Councillor Platts read the following question:
“What financial support can be provided to local businesses across the City, particularly independents, who are struggling to afford the cost of repeatedly cleaning graffiti off their properties and may not be able to afford CCTV? Please note that the previous answer given at the last ETS meeting gave no indication of what financial help might be available which could become a huge burden to small businesses”
65.19 The Chair provided the following reply:
“There is no direct financial support the council can provide.
The advice provided previously, such as; regular maintenance, avoiding block coloured walls, installing security cameras, improve lighting, commissioning a mural, quick removal of graffiti or the use of anti-graffiti laminate coating can help businesses reduce costs associated with graffiti on their property.
Since we started the Targeted Action Zone approach in September 2022, there has been a positive effect on the completed roads. The amount of tagging on those roads has reduced and businesses are trying to stay on top of the maintenance of their property”.
65.20 Councillor Platts put the following supplementary question:
“What will happen to small businesses that can’t continue to pay to remove graffiti from their property, will the council fine them”?
65.21 The Chair provided the following reply:
“We don’t have any financial support we can offer. We can go in and advise businesses on how to avoid it and steps they can take. If a business was struggling, we would take every case on its own merits and consider the specific circumstances. So, we would use out discretion but ultimately, all businesses are responsible for removing their graffiti and this was a policy that was considered at this committee and made at committee. But we do use our discretion”.
(6) Graffiti on council properties
65.22 Councillor Platts read the following question:
“What action is the Council taking to clean graffiti from its own properties and street furniture across the City?”
65.23 The Chair provided the following reply:
“Through the introduction of Targeted Action Zones, Cityclean is focusing on the given area for a two-week period, removing graffiti from publicly owned bins, benches and street signs.
Offensive graffiti from both council property and non-council property is removed within 24 hours.
The target for removing non-offensive graffiti from council property is five days from the date of the report.
In recent months, there has been a concerted effort to remove graffiti from communal bins. However, progress has been hampered by the poor weather”.
(7) Portland Road
65.24 Councillor Nemeth read the following question:
“What have the delays been to date in implementing the Committee’s agreement to implement a speed limit of 20mph on Portland Road in Hove?”
65.25 The Chair provided the following reply:
“Thank you for your question. I am aware this is one of a number requests for safety-related measures. The Better Safer Streets report item on today’s agenda sets out a framework for assessing and prioritising requests like this and the local members support for lower speeds on this busy road are very welcome”.
65.26 Councillor Nemeth read the following question:
“Will the Chair back calls for an extension, especially to the west, of the Council’s T-zone to prevent private bins being kept on the public highway?”
65.27 The Chair provided the following reply:
“I’m really pleased with the introduction of time-banding zones. Not only has it improved and tidied up central areas of the city, it has also improved the accessibility of our pavements and roads.
I absolutely support the extension of the scheme. I will ask officers to take the necessary action to extend to other areas of the city and bring any recommendations to committee as necessary.
I know many of us received feedback on the process last time, so I’ll ensure we learn lessons from the first stage and build into the next phase”.
The following questions, listed in the agenda were responded to in writing as follows:
Public toilets and outdoor fitness- Councillor Platts
We absolutely encourage outdoor fitness and will continue to do so and we are aware of concerns about the impact of toilet closures on outdoor fitness, particularly on Park Run. However, we’re facing a funding shortfall of more than £20m for next year.
We know how important toilets are for so many visitors and residents. This is why we have worked very hard to keep most of the city’s public toilets open over a time of austerity – when many across the country have been closed.
But our budget challenges mean it’s no longer an option to simply trim service budgets. The days when we can rely on endlessly cutting back services but essentially keep them open are unfortunately over.
The council is taking a responsible approach to working with the money we have available.
This means making very difficult decisions about cuts across each and every council service. We have no choice but to make savings on the public toilet budget and to focus resources on keeping the toilets in the busiest areas clean and safe for residents and visitors.
One of the recommendations later is to introduce charging to help sustain public toilet provision. The income generated will enable us to keep some toilets open. Given the financial challenges ahead of us, if we don’t press on with this now, there is a risk that more toilets may face closure if further savings are required.
The team are also looking at alternative options to enable public toilets to stay open without council funds which will, hopefully, result in some facilities being reopened and sustained. This can be a lengthy process and must be considered a medium to long term solution.
As you highlight in your question, maintaining the facility has been challenging and has led, on occasions, to a lack of toilet roll and soap. We’ve struggled to get staff and the recruitment agency has also not been able to provide staff to provide cover for council staff when there have been absences. Sadly, this has resulted in some of the poor experiences you refer to.
Given the limited resources available, these need to be used to ensure that the sites remaining open are maintained to a standard that is meets basic hygiene requirements. If more toilets are opened, this will be compromised.
The council remains fully committed to keeping as many sites open within the allocated budget whilst being able to ensure minimum cleaning standards are achieved, and public safety is prioritised.
Recommendations on public toilets will form part of the budget setting process that all Councillors will decide upon in February.
Double Yellow Lines- Councillor Platts
The team has been focusing on getting Sheepcote Valley Way resurfaced, which I’m pleased to say will start on 10th February (weather permitting).
East Brighton Park is covered under a TRO. In effect, this means that all areas that are not marked as parking bays are treated by civil enforcement officers as double yellow lines.
However, up until now, this has been a challenge due to the poor condition of the road.
The resurfaced road will need relining and so presents an opportune moment to paint double yellow lines as well. At the moment, we don’t have a confirmed date for when the painting will be completed, but I can let you know once a date has been agreed.
Glass Recycling- Councillor Platts
The communal bin improvement trial in Brunswick and Adelaide and Regency wards is underway.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, it is a large and complex project which is seeking to place waste streams together to make it easier for residents to dispose of their waste.
Although a significant amount of work has already taken place, there are a number of tasks which make providing a timescale difficult. The start of the trial is reliant on procuring a high number of containers, which relies on global markets which remain uncertain. There are also consultation processes to follow, including Traffic Regulation Orders and with staff.
Falmer Road- Councillor Fishleigh
The southern section of Falmer Road is on the carriageway programme for improvements in 2023/24. Ward Councillors will be notified as soon as the works have been planned and the start date agreed.
Greenways in Ovingdean- Councillor Fishleigh
An engineer visited the area in June following the original request and an officer has been in touch this month to further discuss the location. As per previous correspondence on this matter, there are currently no suitable budgets available to create new footways in the city and so any works would require additional suitable funding to be identified. However, an engineer is working on an updated cost which will be shared with you for information in due course.
(d) Notices of Motion
(1) Boundary Road/Station Road improvements
65.28 Councillor Nemeth moved a Notice of Motion relating to proposed improvements to Boundary Road and Station Road.
65.29 Councillor Simson formally seconded the motion.
65.30 The Chair put the motion to the vote that passed.
65.31 Resolved- This Committee:
1) Calls on Officers to bring forward an Officer Report detailing plans for the long-awaited public realm improvements to Boundary Road and Station Road.
(2) Cycle Hangars
65.32 Councillor Nemeth moved a Notice of Motion referred from Full Council relating to the installation of cycle hangars in the city.
65.33 Councillor Simson formally seconded the motion.
65.34 The Chair put the motion to the vote that passed.
1. Notes unfavourable national press coverage of the roll-out of the Council’s cycle hangar scheme
2. Expresses concern over the use of the Budget process, rather than a standard Officer Report at Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, to implement the scheme; thereby avoiding scrutiny of financial, legal and equality issues and numerous other related matters;
3. Expresses concern at reports from residents that workers who installed the cycle hangars were advised by council staff to “call the police immediately if there was any trouble” in response to residents politely sharing concerns;
4. Notes the lack of consultation that has taken place with residents over hangar locations; and
Therefore, resolves to:
5. Calls for an Officer Report detailing all elements of the cycle hangar scheme, to include details of the exact criteria used to accept or decline cycle hangar placements
- ET&S Cllrs Petitions 17.01.22, item 65. PDF 103 KB View as HTML (65./1) 20 KB
- Member Questions ET&S Cttee, item 65. PDF 113 KB View as HTML (65./2) 27 KB
- ConGrp ETS Committee Jan23, item 65. PDF 7 KB View as HTML (65./3) 15 KB
- Item 65 Cycle Hangars - Council 15.12.22, item 65. PDF 350 KB View as HTML (65./4) 10 KB