Venue: Queen Elizabeth II & Astley Rooms - Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle, Staffs. ST5 1BL. View directions
Contact: Geoff Durham 01782 742222
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive declarations of interest from Members on items contained within this agenda.
There were no declarations of interest stated.
To consider the decisions of the previous meeting(s)
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 18 May, 2022 be agreed as a correct record.
The Mayor made three announcements:
· 27 July - Kidsgrove Sports Centre would reopen for business.
· 7 August – from midday, a Garden Fete would be held at the Old Hall Country House in Madeley in aid of the Mayor’s Charity Fund.
· 12 November – A 1940’s evening would be held at Kidsgrove Town Hall in aid of the Mayor’s Charity Fund.
WALLEYS QUARRY UPDATE
To receive a presentation on issues relating to odours associated with Walleys Quarry.
The Leader introduced an update on issues associated with odours from Walleys Quarry. This had been one of the biggest issues that the Council had faced over the past two years.
Actions had been taken to try and hold the operator to account, including abatement notices and trying to force the Environment Agency (EA) to take a more rigorous approach.
The Council’s Chief Executive, Martin Hamilton gave a presentation outlining the work that the Council was doing to remedy the situation which had been going on for a number of years. In 2021 the Council received over 22,000 complaints and the EA received over 43,000.
The landfill gas, Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) could be easily traced and had defined characteristics around the levels at which it became offensive and problematic to health.
Four Air Quality Monitoring stations had been placed around the site which gave weekly reports of H2S levels. Two thresholds had been identified by the World Health Organisation - the Annoyance threshold and the Long Term Health Impact threshold.
The presentation included a graph which showed the number of complaints received and the levels of H2S at the four monitoring stations.
The EA had been enforcing the environmental permit for the site and had identified breaches. The site had been identified as level F which was the lowest grading that a landfill site could get.
The Council served an Abatement Notice in August, 2021 requiring abatement of the nuisance within five months. The Notice had a right of appeal, which Walleys Quarry Limited did in September, 2021. A court hearing had been scheduled for four weeks in October, 2022. The option of a mediated resolution remained open.
Temporary clay capping had been completed in Phase 2 and permanent capping was being carried out for Phase 1.
It was queried whether any health bodies were monitoring or recording the number of GP visits, prescriptions or treatment and potential causation to Walleys Quarry operations.
Syndromic monitoring was being carried out to assess any differences in reporting in the area, over time. In addition, changes to prescriptions had been monitored. Staffordshire County Council had got a health symptom tracker on their website. Also, work had been commissioned by health colleagues to work with Keele University to do a longer term study.
Clarification was sought regarding the long term health threshold and whether it was being exceeded as the length of time of the odours continued.
The HAS had been focussed on the long term health threshold and there was a lot of debate as to whether or not the threshold was being met at the particular sites. This was difficult as the health threshold was measured over a long period of time – 2mg over the period of a year.
It was asked if the odour had impacted upon workers at Garners Garden Centre.
Businesses had been engaged with to discuss what the issues were and what the impacts had been.
Assurance was sought that pressure would continue to be put on ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
STATEMENT OF THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL
To receive a statement by the Leader of the Council on the activities and decisions of Cabinet and items included on the Forward Plan.
A report was submitted which provided an update to Members on the activities and decisions of the Cabinet, together with the Forward Plan.
The Leader was asked if there was a plan to roll out more EV charging points in Council car parks.
King Street and Goose Street car parks had already had EV charging points installed. The County Council had been asked to put forward a strategy on rolling out EV across the County. The Strategy would be delivered later in the year and this would be followed by the seeking of a partner within the private sector to deliver it.
It was asked when the next tree planting phase would start and where they would be planted.
The next phase was already being considered by officers to decide which areas to bring forward. A list had been presented to Cabinet and to Full Council in February and included many areas across the Borough.
In view of the tree planting, it was queried whether the Council had enough grounds staff to maintain the trees in the future.
The right species would be planted in the right places. More trees would mean less grass cutting and therefore, the grass cutting staff could become more maintenance orientated.
It was asked what evaluation processes had been put into place to ensure that residents were not encountering any negative experiences.
There was a One Council Board, run by elected members and there were regular meetings were held with the unions. In addition, items were regularly taken to Cabinet and to the Finance, Assets and Performance Scrutiny Committee.
Reassurance was sought that residents would still be able to phone in and visit the Council as well as accessing the services online.
This was confirmed.
The Once Council Programme could be seen as the next phase of a previous corporate priority of the Administration which had been ‘Transforming Council Services to Achieve Excellence’. The Leader was asked to join in congratulating the staff who had been involved in the One Council Programme.
The Leader was asked if the public were being surveyed regarding the One Council Programme.
Customer feedback forms were available online for those using the new website and online services.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Town Centres and Growth was asked why the Discretionary Rate Relief Policy had been updated.
The new Policy had been devised in conjunction with a scoring matrix, awarding points based on answers given on the application form. This in turn would determine the amount of discretionary relief that could be awarded to ensure that all applications were treated equally.
The Deputy Mayor was asked, as Heritage Champion, if he would be working with the relevant Councillors to create the strategy.
Members would be able to interact in the programme as it progresses and through items going to Cabinet and Scrutiny. If any members had any ideas or suggestions, they were advised to email or call the Deputy Mayor.
The Deputy ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
REPORTS OF THE CHAIRS OF THE SCRUTINY COMMITTEES
Chairs Reports are attached for the following:
a) Economy, Environment and Place Scrutiny Committee
b) Health, Wellbeing and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee
c) Finance, Assets and Performance Scrutiny Committee
Reports were submitted for the Scrutiny Committees that had met since the last Council meeting.
Resolved: That the reports be received.
REPORTS OF THE CHAIRS OF THE REGULATORY COMMITTEES
Chairs Reports are attached for the following:
a) Audit and Standards Committee
b) Licensing and Public Protection Committee
c) Planning Committee
Reports were submitted for the Regulatory Committees that had met since the last Council meeting.
Resolved: That the reports be received.
Councillor Andrew Parker asked the Leader the following:
The Leader would be aware that residents had been complaining about the poor standard of Highway grass verge cutting across the Borough by the County Council’s contractor. The frequency and quality of the cuts this year had been abysmal.
Was there anything the Borough Council could do about the situation?
Issues had been identified in the Spring regarding the length of time it was taking to do one division and the poor quality of the cut. It appeared that the contractor was not doing a full week. County Councillors applied pressure for the matter to be resolved to a degree by getting the contractor back to do the cuts much quicker, although the quality was still an issue. The Council had been in negotiation to take back the grass cutting so that the Borough teams could do it.
Councillor Parker asked if the Leader agreed that after the next cut, residents would begin to see an improvement.
The Leader agreed that they would but the quality would still be an issue.
Councillor Joel Edgington-Plunkett asked the Leader the following question:
All wards across the borough had seen vital bus services reduced or removed. Local affordable public transport was vital for the economy, work, medical access and social isolation. Could the borough prosperity fund explore subsidising money for local transport to get the people of the borough moving again?
The borough prosperity fund was called the shared prosperity fund. One of the criteria was supporting decarbonisation and improving the natural environment whole growing the local economy. Bids coming forward could be looked at from a transport angle. Through the Town Deal, a new bus service was already planned, going through Keele University, Knutton and Silverdale and into Newcastle. This would be sought to be a green bus service – possibly hydrogen or electric. It was hoped that new services could be replicated out to the north and east of the Borough too.
Councillor Edgington-Plunkett asked if people with bus passes would be included when demand was considered.
The Leader confirmed that the normal discretionary travel situation would be on any new routes which were brought in. When new planning applications were brought in, it needed to be ensured that there were bus services and funding for them to ensure that green travel plans were part of it.
Councillor Mike Stubbs asked the Leader:
On the 15th of June, Lord Giedt was forced to quit as the Prime Minister's Ethics Advisor, the second to do so after Alex Allan quit in November 2020. On Monday, Lord McDonald was forced to write to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone over No 10's statements on MP Chris Pincher "to ensure confidence is not eroded in our local democratic process". Does the Leader condone the behaviour of the Prime Minister or does he think that the seven principles of public life are to be ignored like the Prime Minister?
A process was underway regarding the ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
RECEIPT OF PETITIONS
To receive from Members any petitions which they wish to present to the Council.
There were no petitions.
To consider any communications which pursuant to Appendix 7, Procedure Rule 8 of the constitution are, in the opinion of the Mayor, of an urgent nature and to pass thereon such resolutions as may be deemed necessary.
There was no urgent business.
DISCLOSURE OF EXEMPT INFORMATION
To resolve that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following report(s) as it is likely that there will be disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs contained within Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There was no confidential business