Agenda item

OS/19/06 Annual Portfolio Holder Update - Environment and Climate Change

Minutes:

21.1      Councillor P Smart introduced the Annual Update on the Environment and Transport portfolio. Key points made were:

-       Service 4 had been subsidised to run on Sundays with the support of Area Committee funding and County Councillors’ Locality Budgets;

-       Ipswich Borough Council had been asked to enforce Civil Parking offences in Babergh and Mid-Suffolk; accepting this proposal would enable the Council to retain income from Cromwell Square car park;

-       A report was being prepared by the Plastics Project Manager on what the Council could do to reduce its use of plastic;

-       Ipswich was one of the least polluting local authority areas, with just 3.02 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions per person compared to a UK average of 5.7 tonnes. An officer was to be employed to help the Council to plan further reductions in Carbon emissions;

-       Significant investment had been made in parks, with new play equipment installed at Maple Park, Bourne Park and St Augustine’s Recreation Ground. It was hoped that the Council’s financial position would allow for further investment in 2020/21;

-       The Ed Sheeran concerts in Chantry Park had been a great success and 40% of those attending had used public transport to get to the event;

-       6 new refuse collection vehicles had been delivered, and 5 more were expected by April 2020 which would improve reliability.

 

21.2      Councillor Gage asked how the Council’s new electric Pool Cars were performing. Councillor P Smart explained that they had not been in use for long enough for an accurate picture to be given, however, a report to Executive reviewing the scheme was planned and he hoped that this would include the number of litres of fuel avoided.

 

21.3      Councillor Gage noted that there had been a reduction in the take up of allotments and asked how this was to be addressed. The Operations Manager for Parks and Bereavement explained that the Council still had good take up at most of its allotment sites but that a social media campaign was planned to increase the number of allotment holders. Community plots were also being introduced with community groups taking on plots which would enable people to try out working on an allotment without taking on the full responsibility for its maintenance.

 

21.4      Councillor Harsant asked whether the changes to the allotment rules had been significant. The Operations Manager for Parks and Bereavement confirmed that the changes had been relatively minor, although the clarification of plot sizes and the number of plots allowed had affected a small number of people.

 

21.5      Councillor Pope noted that the amount of waste per resident thrown away in black bins had exceeded the target again and asked what the reason for this was. Councillor P Smart explained that there was unfortunately a national trend for increasing amounts of black bin waste, although there were also local issues with contamination on some rounds being so bad that recycling was disposed of as if it were black bin waste. Councillor P Smart also explained that whilst the proportion of waste being sent for recycling was reducing, this was largely because of a reduction in the weight of packaging and the number of newspapers being disposed of.

 

21.6      Councillor Pope noted that residents could no longer put fruit and vegetable peelings in their brown bins and asked whether this had contributed to the increase in black bin tonnages and if any composting schemes had been promoted as an alternative. Councillor P Smart explained that the figures included in the report were to the end of March 2019 and so would not reflect the change to what could be put in brown bins. Councillor P Smart confirmed that a number of composting initiatives were run by the Suffolk Waste Partnership, including discounted compost bins being available to residents. In response to a request for clarification by Councillor Shaw, Councillor P Smart confirmed that ‘hot’ compost bins were also available via this scheme.

 

21.7      Councillor Pope asked whether kerbside glass collections could be introduced in Ipswich. Councillor P Smart explained that the Suffolk Waste Partnership had considered kerbside glass collections but had determined that it was not economically viable. Councillor P Smart noted that the Government had consulted on national recycling standards which might include glass collections and commented that such a scheme would need to be funded.

 

21.8      Councillor Harsant noted that there were red glass bins in the town centre. The Interim Operations Manager for Waste and Fleet explained that these were arranged on a commercial basis.

 

21.9      Councillor T Lockington commented that it would be useful to get more information about how targets were set. Councillor P Smart noted that most targets were based on national indicators which had been discontinued, and that the lack of comparable data made benchmarking difficult.

 

21.10   Councillor C Smart asked whether pumpkins which were left over after Halloween celebrations could be disposed of in brown bins. The Interim Operations Manager for Waste and Fleet explained that nothing which had been exposed to a risk of cross contamination by preparation in a kitchen could be placed in a brown bin. The Operations Manager for Parks and Bereavement explained that a campaign was being run to encourage residents to use the insides of their pumpkins rather than throwing them away.

 

21.11   Councillor Allen asked what measures the Council took to get residents to move their vehicles to enable street cleansing to take place. Councillor Harsant noted that previously letters had been sent to all residents in a road. The Interim Operations Manager for Waste and Fleet explained that it was difficult to sweep some roads as a result of parked cars, and whilst letters had been tried on some occasions, these were not always effective due to people being on holiday or not wanting or being able to move their vehicle for some reason.

 

21.12   Councillor Grant asked whether contamination was a significant issue for Ipswich. Councillor P Smart explained that the Council was penalised for loads which exceeded the contamination threshold and that these penalties were avoided by sending heavily contaminated loads to be incinerated rather than recycled.

 

21.13   Councillor Heaps asked when a new target would be set for LI197 (the proportion of local sites where positive conservation management took place). Councillor P Smart explained that the present indicator included sites which were not controlled by Ipswich Borough Council and which could therefore not be actively managed by the Council. It was anticipated that a new indicator would be available for the 2020/21 reporting period.

 

21.14   Councillor Harsant asked for information on cemeteries and cremations. The Operations Manager for Parks and Bereavement explained that a number of improvements were being made to the planting of the cemeteries, with a new conservation orchard where ashes could be scattered being planted. The Council’s services would be promoted both directly to potential customers and via Funeral Directors, amongst whom as survey was being undertaken to help identify potential improvements to services.

 

21.15   Councillor Harsant thanked Councillor P Smart and the Operations Managers for Waste and Fleet and Parks and Bereavement for their time and contribution to the discussion.

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