Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)
Councillor Lynda Turner, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Community & Environmental Services, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within her portfolio and to answer any questions.
Councillor Turner, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Community & Environmental Services had been invited to update the Commission on the Environmental Services side of her portfolio. She introduced Emily Spicer, Shared Environmental Services Manager.
The new kerbside Recycling Revolution had started on 1 October 2014 and ten road shows had been held to promote the improvements to the scheme and the additional items that could be recycled. Quarter 3 had seen an increase in dry recyclables from 20.48% to 22.38%
Recent court cases for fly tipping offences had seen some successes with costs awarded to the Council and fines issued. These matters were only taken to court when it was in the public interest. There had been 150 fly tips reported by the public in Quarter 3 and 97% of those had been collected by the end of the next working day. The Council was working closely with anti-social officers employed by Flagship.
Members were encouraged to use the ‘Report It’ button on the Council’s website and to encourage their constituents to do the same.
The Serco contract was regularly monitored and in the recent Customer Survey they had achieved over 90% customer satisfaction. The amount of waste to landfill had reduced since November. The business continuity plan was being reviewed.
The Council’s decision to introduce a charge for providing waste bins to new properties had achieved a 100% take-up and in 2013/14 had resulted in £26,300 in income and for the current 2014/15 year that amount had risen to nearly £28,000.
The good news story was that there had been savings made on the budget due to early payment discount.
Councillor Gilbert noted that the grass cutting season was approaching and he asked if there had been any progress on using machines which collected the grass cuttings. The Environmental Services Manager said that she was working with Serco and looking at all options.
Councillor Joel was pleased to be able to report on a very prompt response by Serco to a call about missed bins.
The Vice-Chairman was pleased about the recent successful prosecution of a Thetford landlord for fly tipping. There had been a discussion on Radio Norfolk about the cost of fly tipping in Norfolk as a whole and he wondered if there was any data on the cost to Breckland. He felt that the Council needed to publicise their figures for responding to fly tipping reports to enforce the message that if the public reported it, it would be cleared.
The Deputy Leader agreed and added that sadly if fly tipped rubbish was left other people tended to add to it, so the sooner it could be reported the better. Again she urged Members and Officers to pass on the message that fly tipping could be reported to the Council by phone or through the website.
Councillor Gilbert thought that phoning was not as successful as using the website as he was aware of a resident who had reported some fly tipping by phone that had not been cleared for three months.
The Leader of the Council was disturbed to hear that and asked for more information so that it could be looked into as it was not acceptable. There should be the same level of service however it was reported.
Councillor Kybird was aware of some fly tipping which had been collected recently in Thetford from beside a waste bin which had then been removed without reference to the Ward Representative.
The Assistant Director Community was not aware of that and said that he would look into it.
Councillor Richmond asked whether there had been any requests for larger recycling bins. He also complimented the service when brown bins had been frozen and another lorry had been sent to deal with the problem.
The Environmental Services Manager had not received any requests for larger bins but if anyone was really struggling for space they should contact the Council.
Councillor Bambridge had attended one of the Roadshows and he thanked the staff for a very positive and worthwhile experience. He suggested that more should be held as it was a good opportunity to meet people. He was advised that more Roadshows were planned for March and they would include a refresher on what could and could not be put into the recycling.
The Leader of the Council asked for all Members to be notified of the dates.<1>
Councillor Joel noted that the Council had compensated villages and towns for their loss of income from glass recycling in 2014/15 and wondered if there was any intention to do so again. He was advised that there were other items which could be collected such as textiles and small electrical items which would give credits. Residents could also continue to use the communal glass recycling bins to support their community fund raising. The Council did not intend to make further payments.
The Vice-Chairman was concerned about the number of damaged recycling bins, especially those without lids. He asked if there was a charge for replacing them and the Deputy Leader advised that as long as there was a genuine reason the bins would be replaced free of charge.
She also pointed out that although ‘bring-banks’ in villages were useful for raising funds for individual communities, the credits that the Council raised from recycling were used across the whole District.
The Chairman asked if the Council was in the upper quartile for recycling compared to other Councils and was advised that Breckland was in the middle. He suggested that there was room for improvement then and a clear need to do more. He thought that being able to recycle more in their bins helped people in rural areas and he suggested that batteries were another item that could be recycled locally to help Parish Councils recoup some of their recycling credits.
The Chairman thanked the Deputy Leader and the Environmental Services Manager for the update.