A question session with the Lead Councillor for Environment. Councillor James Steel’s main areas of responsibility are: Waste, Licensing (including Health and Safety regulation), Parking, Parks and Leisure, Arts and Tourism, Bereavement, Environmental Health and Protection
The Chairman welcomed Councillor James Steel, the Lead Councillor for Environment.
A number of question areas were provided to the Lead Councillor for Environment in advance of the meeting: the increase in fly tipping, rubbish, and litter across the Borough; park and ride services; the parking review; procurement of the new waste fleet; service reassessments and reconfigurations; and recycling. In addressing these issues and other questions, the following information and responses were provided by the Lead Councillor for Environment:
· The Lead Councillor informed the Committee that the apparent incidence of fly-tipping in the Borough during lockdown had decreased compared with the same three-month period (April – June) in the previous year.
· The meeting was advised of the Council’s seasonal litter-picking and public waste bins arrangements, including the redeployment of some staff during COVID-19. The Committee was informed that staff had been subjected to some verbal abuse or disregarded when engaging the public over the issue of littering. The Lead Councillor for Environment indicated that communication campaigns had been put in place as part of the Council’s response to the increase in littering. He confirmed that the Council was not facilitating or encouraging community litter picks during the current COVID-19 situation.
· The Lead Councillor for Environment stated that littering in a public place carried a maximum fine of £2,500 and that the Council had powers to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice of £150.
· The Lead Councillor for Environment indicated that questions about the expansion of park and ride should be directed to the Lead Councillor for Regeneration. He informed the meeting that the park and ride at Onslow was likely to continue to be used as a COVID-19 test centre until October and then revert to a park and ride by Christmas. He indicated that the Merrow and Artington park and ride sites were open and that the Spectrum park and ride site would open in agreement with Surrey County Council and Stagecoach.
· The Lead Councillor for Environment stated that efforts to progress making the barriers at Onslow park and ride operational would recommence once the site was returned to the control of the Council after its use as a COVID-19 test centre.
· In response to a question, the Lead Councillor for Environment indicated that the £3 million procurement of the new waste fleet was 11 percent under budget and the vehicles were due to arrive in late autumn.
· The Lead Councillor for Environment was asked if, in addition to measures envisaged as part of Future Guildford, any service reconfigurations or reassessments of the services within his portfolio were planned. In reply, the Lead Councillor for Environment indicated that the delivery of all services was under review as part of Future Guildford. In addition, he stated that decisions about the delivery and development of services would be taken in an open and transparent manner.
· The Committee was advised that the implementation of the 2019 on-street parking review was ongoing. The Lead Councillor for Environment advised that due to COVID-19 the controlled parking zones elements would not be completed until the spring/summer of 2021.
· With reference to off-street parking, the Committee was informed that actions within the existing parking business plan were being implemented and progressed. The Lead Councillor for Environment advised the meeting a major car parking study was completed this year.
· In reply to questioning, the Lead Councillor for Environment stated that there had been a growth in all waste streams (recycling, food, garden, and refuse) during the COVID-19 crisis. The Committee was advised that the cost of reprocessing waste materials was significantly less than disposal costs.
· With reference to the correct processing of waste and recycling from the Borough, the Committee was informed that Surrey County Council was the Waste Disposal Authority and that the Environment Agency was responsible for both checking the quality of reprocessed recyclables and that recycled materials reached declared destinations.
· The Waste, Parking and Fleet Services Manager indicated that he could provide details in response to a query about increasing the provision of cycle-parking in Guildford town centre.
· The Parks and Landscape Manager indicated that information would be provided by the Countryside Manager to answer questions from a Committee member about the drainage system and a walkway renewal at Riverside Nature Reserve.
The Chairman thanked the Lead Councillor for Environment for attending and answering questions.