Agenda item - Chairs Communications
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- Meeting of City Environment, South Downs & The Sea Committee, Tuesday, 19th September, 2023 4.00pm (Item 13.)
13.1 The Chair provided the following communications:
“Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the launch of Brighton & Hove’s City Downland Estate Plan at Waterhall, attended by many here in the room today. The plan itself is a rare thing indeed – a long-term vision that enjoys support from a large number of stakeholders. Few people realise that 44% of Brighton & Hove sits in the South Downs National Park, and most of it is publicly owned. As custodians of this stunning landscape, we have a great deal of responsibility, and incredible opportunities in terms of carbon neutrality, biodiversity, sustainable local food production and public access to nature. 78% of the Downland Estate is farmland – in fact as an authority, I’m told we own more farmland than East and West Sussex combined – and a key part of the plan is to move away from the intensive farming methods of the late 20th century towards a more sustainable future. I’m very pleased to be working with members of the Downland Advisory Panel, and their expertise and experience will be crucial in meeting the plan’s objectives.
Today we are bringing a report on Waste Reduction and Recycling to the committee. Myself and administration members recently visited three of the key sites that make up our waste management infrastructure; the Materials Recovery Facility in Hollingdean, the Energy Recovery Facility in Newhaven and the In-Vessel Composting Facility in East Sussex. It was an illuminating visit for many reasons, but one of the most striking things about it was seeing the amount of contamination rolling past us on the conveyor belts and the number of people employed to pick it out. It was yet another reminder that we have a long way to go. Our contamination rate stands at almost 14%, compared to an average of 5%. Our recycling rate – the percentage of our overall waste collected for recycling – stood at only 30.1% in 2021-22, leaving us languishing in the doldrums of the DEFRA league tables. I can report today that the recycling rate fell further to 28.3% in 2022-23. Things have clearly been going in the wrong direction.
Today we will be asking committee to approve the introduction of metal lids into the glass recycling stream – the first in a series of moves this administration will be making to expand the provision in Brighton & Hove. We will also be seeking approval to begin a focussed, ongoing communication and messaging campaign to reduce contamination, increase recycling and bring the amount of waste we produce as a city down. It is little wonder we have such a contamination problem. People move to the city, almost always from places with better recycling than we have here, and are faced with scarce information and bins with very little meaningful guidance or colour-coding. I’m please to say that we have now created a new Waste Minimisation Officer position within the council, and that officer started yesterday. Improving this service is a top priority for this committee and we are pleased to have begun the process.
Since this committee last met, we have continued to reopen and refurbish public toilets around the city, including 8 more in our parks, taking the total number of available toilets to 33. There are still sites that remain closed, most notably at The Level and Royal Pavilion Gardens, and we are actively working on plans to restore toilet provision at those vital locations as soon as possible.
Finally, at our last committee meeting, members approved further funding for the playground refurbishment programme, the benefits of which we have seen during the summer, with sites like Top Park on Whitehawk Way now boasting much improved equipment, and much better inclusion for children with disabilities. Work has now begun at Queen’s Park and Hollingdean Park and I’m very excited to take my son to those playgrounds when they’re completed”.