Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee
Thursday, 20th June, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Julie Roberts  Email: julie.roberts@staffordshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

56.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were none at this meeting.

57.

Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 25 April 2019 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 25 April 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

58.

Staffordshire Air Quality Projects pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were informed that Air Quality Management activities in Staffordshire had been taking place for several years, but recently there had been an increased focus by central government on the potential harm caused by air borne pollution, particularly from motorised traffic.  It was felt that it was therefore timely for the Committee to review current activities and be made aware of the developing agenda.  Members were asked to contribute to the debate and suggest where the authority’s limited resources should be focused on in the future.  They were informed that the authority’s current Climate Change Strategy “Green Shoots” would be refreshed over the next twelve months and would be expanded to take greater account of the wider sustainability agenda, including Clean Air.  This strategy would be brought back to the Committee prior to being signed off.

 

In considering details of Air Quality Management Areas a member commented that they would like to see the Two Gates traffic lights area in Tamworth included, where the air quality has been monitored over a number of years.  Whilst it has been judged within legal limits there was a high level of cases of asthma, and it was on the walking route of four main schools.  It was suggested that a major contribution to the problem was parents driving their children to school, and that a possible solution would be to introduce no go zone around schools and encourage children to walk.  A member commented that the structure for overseeing air quality management seemed rather bureaucratic and expressed concern that a lot of time can be spent talking about issues but not actually getting to grips with them.  They queried whether there were any examples of how the process and the groups involved had delivered a success in reducing pollution.  Members were informed that the Staffordshire Air Quality Forum was made up of representatives of the District and Borough Councils and the County Council.  The activity that was delivered through the County Council had been mainly around infrastructure projects: changes to junctions; improvements to signals; new cycle routes.  The direct impact of these schemes on air quality had not been measured to date.  However originally there had been fifteen Air Quality Management Areas and now there were twelve.   A member commented that there was lots of data, analysis and monitoring and questioned where the evidence was that the strategy was working.  Concern was expressed that investment was being made in addressing air quality and the success and outcomes of this was not being measured.  There were only so many interventions which could be made and it was important to identify those which were effective.  Members were informed that the effectiveness of schemes was measured, around congestion, travel times and the value to businesses.  Aside from highways and infrastructure projects, since 2011 behavioural change campaigns had been delivered, around trying to change how people travel, particularly around schools.  In Tamworth a 17% modal shift had been achieved in getting parents and children out of cars  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Highways Infrastructure Asset Management Policy and Strategy pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Richard Harris and David Ogden from Amey, who had been invited to attend the meeting to assist members in their consideration of this item.

 

Members were informed that Staffordshire County Council was responsible for a highway asset valued at over £7.5 billion providing benefit to all as stakeholders. The highway network was the largest and most visible asset for which the County Council was responsible. The way it was managed and maintained had a direct impact on the County Councils’ ability to deliver the vision of ‘a connected Staffordshire, where everyone has opportunity to prosper, be healthy and happy’.  In recent years the investment in highway infrastructure and its performance had been increasingly under the spotlight. The current financial challenges and increased public demands and expectations have meant the management of our highway assets has never been more important to ensure we achieve our outcomes.

 

The Committee were informed that the Highway Asset Management Strategy and Highway Asset Management Policy will ensure that the Council as Highway Authority continues to meet its statutory duties under the Highways Act 1980.  They took into account the ongoing financial pressures on the Authority, supporting delivery of the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy and also the opportunities for the Council to take advantage of additional funding available from the Department for Transport.  Members were invited to consider and comment on the Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Policy and Strategy; and the comments of the Select Committee would be reported to the Cabinet at the August 2019 meeting for them to take into account in their consideration of this matter.

 

Members acknowledged that there was a challenge between the interests of road users and communities and the ability of the County Council to allocate its funding to deliver a decent asset to provide customer satisfaction.  Whilst there had been an improvement in response to repairs, there was still some level of concern over this.   A member pointed out that all councillors had been allocated £20,000 to address defects and road infrastructure issues, but that it was an issue of capacity.  Problems which had been reported last year were only now being addressed and it was queried how capacity would be managed.  The Cabinet Member responded that the report provided a detailed background to the situation which the County Council was in.  £75m was required now to bring the asset up to standard and £42m would be required every year to maintain it in a steady state.  There was not sufficient funding, and the approach taken to repairs was first and foremost to maintain the safety of roads.   The purpose of the £20,000 was to enable members to address problems that were really important in their local area.  It was acknowledged that there had been improvement and progress and this deserved praise.  Whilst recognising that there always had been and always would be a gap between funding needed and funding available a member questioned how this and the issue of capacity would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Infrastructure+ and Lighting for Staffordshire Performance Review pdf icon PDF 393 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered details of operational performance on two long-term highway service delivery contracts, Infrastructure+ and the Streetlighting Private Finance Initiative.  Infrastructure+ was an overarching agreement between the County Council and Amey, providing an outcome focused approach to the delivery of highway and non-property infrastructure services across Staffordshire.  In May 2003 Lighting for Staffordshire Ltd commenced delivery of the street lighting Private Finance Initiative contract, which would operate for a period of 25 years.  The appointed service provider tasked with works delivery was E.on Energy Solutions Ltd, which was the majority shareholder of Lighting for Staffordshire ltd.  The value of the contract at its commencement was £250m and the Council received a Revenue Support Grant of £1.54m per annum to support delivery of the contract.

 

Members received details of Infrastructure+ Outcomes 2018-21, an Infrastructure+ Performance Management Roadmap, an Infrastructure+ Performance Report from February 2019, a Lighting for Staffordshire Progress Report, and a Lighting for Staffordshire Annual Service Report 2017-18. 

 

A member asked if the reporting system could be modified to accommodate the reporting of more than one pothole when they were in close proximity to one another.  They also expressed concern over the quality of repairs made by utility companies and asked if there was any recourse on this.  Officers responded that utility companies were required to comply with the New Roads and Streetworks Act (NRSWA) specification requirements for highways reinstatements.  Members urged officers to ensure that the contract with Amey was managed effectively and that the service and response times that were agreed in the contract were met. 

 

Members were informed of the timetable of the streetlighting PFI asset replacement programme.  Since 2012/13 13,500 LED lights had also been installed across the County in an Invest to Save Programme.  In response to a question about switching street lights out from midnight, particularly in rural areas, officers informed members that the LED technology already provided dimming and that local communities were able to request switch-off.  However, the savings would be negligible given the reduction in energy charges for that period. 

 

RESOLVED – That the update of contract performance for the Infrastructure+ Partnership and the Lighting for Staffordshire Private Finance Initiative be noted.

 

 

61.

Work Programme Planning pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered outstanding items from the closing work programme for 2018/19 to decide what work needed to be carried forward onto the new work programme and were invited to suggest any new items.

 

The Committee suggested that a Working Group be set up to consider some of the environmental issues raised earlier in the meeting.  It was agreed that a discussion should be held with Philip Atkins, Mark Winnington and Conor Wileman prior to scoping this.  It was also proposed that the item on community transport should be broadened to include some of the issues regarding public transport and the supported bus network.  Members were also informed that the Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee had requested that they consider the capacity of Pupil Referral Units to cope with increasing numbers of referrals.

 

RESOLVED – That the Work Programme be agreed, subject to the inclusion of an item on the capacity of Pupil Referral Units to cope with increasing numbers of referrals and scoping for a Working Group on environmental issues.