Agenda and draft minutes

Place Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 23rd November, 2023 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Lewes. View directions

Contact: Martin Jenks  Senior Scrutiny Adviser

Media

Items
No. Item

17.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

17.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2023 as a correct record.

18.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

18.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Julia Hilton, Steve Murphy and Stephen Shing.

19.

Disclosures of interests

Disclosures by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.

 

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Minutes:

19.1     Councillor David Tutt declared a personal non-prejudicial interest under item 5, Sothern Water use of storm water overflows, as he is a member of the Southern Water Consumer Challenge Group. Councillor Matthew Beaver declared a personal non-prejudicial interest under item 5, Southern Water use of storm water overflows, as he is the Local Member for Maze Hill and West St. Leonards, which includes Bulverhythe.

 

20.

Urgent items

Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgent.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

20.1     There were none.

21.

Southern Water Storm Overflows and Reduction of Discharges - Update

Presentation from Southern Water on their work to reduce the use of Storm Overflows (Combined Sewer Overflows).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Presentation from Southern Water

21.1     Dr Nick Mills, Head of Clean Rivers and Seas Taskforce and Chris Braham, Head of Wastewater Asset Strategy and Planning, from Southern Water gave a presentation to update the Committee on the work taking place on storm overflows in East Sussex and the responses to a number of written questions submitted to Southern Water by the Committee in advance of the meeting.

Responses to Written Questions

21.2     The Committee were presented with responses to the following written questions, with additional information provided by Dr Nick Mills and Chris Braham.

1) What plans are there in East Sussex to reduce surface water entering your Combined Sewers during heavy rainfall?

Dr Nick Mills outlined that Southern Water had published a Storm Water Investment Plan on its web site and would welcome any feedback on the investment proposals. The Investment Plan was submitted to the regulator, Ofwat, in October for approval and work will continue on sharing the plans for investment with stakeholders. The focus of these plans is managing water that should not be in the sewer system such as run-off from roads and domestic properties. Southern Water will work closely with East Sussex County Council (ESCC) on this work and is testing a number of approaches through a series of Pathfinder Projects including the one at Fairlight in East Sussex.

There is over £220 million pounds of investment contained in the next Asset Management Plan investment period (AMP8 2025 – 2030) targeted at developing sustainable drainage systems to deal with grey water run-off. The approach is to take water out of the sewer system first before increasing the ‘end of the line’ capacity at water treatment facilities. This will include work on permeable solutions such as sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDs) and slowing the flow of water into the system by using smart water butts. During AMP 8, Southern Water hope to reduce releases from 21 outfalls, 17 of these are activating primarily due to excess surface water entering the combined sewer.

2) Are 100% of your storm overflow discharges now monitored as the committee understands that is the Government’s new target?

Southern Water is very close to monitoring 100% of overflows, and all overflows will be monitored by the end of 2023.

3) After the public outcry over the 3million litres of untreated water spillage in August 2022 at Galley Hill pumping station there were plans to provide signage to stop misinformation being circulated. Along Bexhill Seafront signs for the thirteen outfall pipes were designed, and agreement was reached with Rother District Council on positioning them. Please could you inform us when these will be erected?

Southern Water has decided not to continue with the signs for the outfall pipes as it may lead to confusion about what the outfalls are for, and will need to re-think the best way of providing this information. This could be through other awareness and education activities.

4) A sewer pipe at Bulverhythe in St. Leonards on Sea  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Report by the Chief Executive.

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Minutes:

22.1     The Committee considered a report on the Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) process. The Chair introduced the report which provided the opportunity for the Committee to consider the latest position outlined in the November RPPR Cabinet report and identify any information it would like to consider at the RPPR Board meeting in December or further work to be included in the Committee’s future work programme.

22.2     The Chief Finance Officer outlined that since the Cabinet report the Autumn Budget Statement had been published, but did not include any additional funding for local government or measures to address the pressures in Children’s and Adult Social Care. The increase in National Living Wage at 9.8% was much higher than expected. This will need to be factored into the budget and may have an impact on Adult Social Care as costs in the independent care sector are likely to go up. The Local Government Provisional Settlement is expected to be announced later in December, closer to Christmas, which will contain more detail on local authority funding.

22.3     The Committee discussed the report and raised a number of questions. A summary of the discussion is given below.

22.4     The Committee asked about the transition of funding and responsibilities from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) to ESCC and what will happen to the ongoing programmes. The Chief Finance Officer outlined that the Council was still awaiting Government guidance, which is expected to be published in January 2024, on what will happen once the Local Enterprise Partnerships are disbanded. Work is underway with SELEP to work through the disaggregation of funding and responsibilities to understand what this means for the Council.

22.5     The Committee asked how the Council can join up the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) funding awarded to Bexhill and Hastings with other economic growth projects. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport responded that the Levelling Up funding allocated to Hastings and Rother councils is their funding not ESCC’s, but ESCC has some involvement with the projects and is providing advice on some schemes to the District and Borough councils. It will be for DLUHC and the District and Borough councils to agree the schemes.

22.6     The Committee asked about the capital programme which appears to have higher capital receipts for next year and the spending on the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) which makes up a large proportion of capital expenditure. The Chief Finance Officer outlined that there is a report being considered by the Audit Committee on 24 November 2023 regarding the capital receipts for next year which provides more information. A review of the capital programme is being undertaken which will look at any potential slippage, and subject to the review there may be some re-phasing of the capital expenditure.

22.7     The Committee RESOLVED to:

1) Note the information in the RPPR Cabinet report of 7 November 2023; and

2) Discuss the RPPR process further at the RPPR Board on 6 December 2023.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Scrutiny Review of Pothole Management - Report of the Review Board pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Report by the Chair of the Review Board.

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Minutes:

23.1     Councillor Hollidge, Chair of the Review Board, introduced the report. He outlined that the review had been established due to the condition of roads in the County and the impact this was having on vehicles, people, and the public realm. The review looked at the causes of potholes and the areas that the Council could influence by considering the existing policies, procedures, and funding. The Review Board had good conversations with Balfour Beatty Living Partnerships (BBLP) who are the new highways maintenance contractor. Councillor Hollidge thanked the Board members and officers their work on the review. He recommended the Committee endorse the report and make recommendations to Cabinet for comment and Full Council for approval.

23.2     The Committee discussed the report and thanked the Review Board for its work on the review. The Committee made a number of comments and raised some questions which are summarised below.

Improvements and monitoring

23.3     The Committee noted that there had been a noticeable improvement in pothole repairs since the start of the new contract with BBLP, but it was uncertain whether this level of performance would continue. It was commented that the Council is in the early days of the new contract and the Committee can monitor progress and performance of the contract through future monitoring reports and annual reports on performance.

Recommendation 13

23.4     The Committee discussed recommendation 13 and whether there should be a specific recommendation around improving information for councillors and members of the public on defect reporting, as it was not possible to see all reported defects at present. It was explained that work was already in progress to rectify this, which was why it was not included as specific recommendation in the report.

Drainage and footway maintenance

24.5     The Committee welcomed the recommendation on drainage and that the review had considered the issue of drainage as it is a contributing factor to the number of potholes. It was noted that the report highlights that more work is needed on the topics drainage and footway maintenance, and these topics should be considered as part of the future work programme of the Committee.

Utility company reinstatement works

23.6     The Committee members noted the recommendation regarding utility company reinstatement work and questioned whether this might increase costs for utility company customers and whether it would lead to improvements. The Assistant Director Operations commented that one of the biggest causes of potholes is utility company reinstatement work. The Council can only operate within the current legislation which allows utility companies to make a temporary repair and gives them six months to carry out a permanent repair. Officers support the recommendation for changes to the regulations which would lead to better quality reinstatement work.

Cluster of potholes and advisories

23.7     The Committee asked what percentage of advisory requests were approved within two to three working days and how long it takes for work to take place once approved. The Assistant Director Operations explained that advisories are approved by the Asset Team who  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 378 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

24.1     The Chair introduced the report and outlined the purpose of the agenda item.

Local Transport Plan (LTP) Reference Group

24.2     Councillor Redstone gave an update on the work of the LTP Reference Group, which had considered the draft LTP prior to the public consultation which starts on 27 November 2023 for 12 weeks.  He outlined that the Reference Group was one of the stakeholder groups who had commented on the draft LTP and would be considering some interim feedback from the consultation at their next meeting in January 2024.

24.3     As the timescales for the development of LTP may not fit in with the future meeting dates of the Committee, the Committee agreed that authority be delegated to the LTP Reference Group to comment on the draft LTP on behalf of the Committee, prior to approval later in 2024.

Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) Reference Group

24.4     Councillor Hilton gave an update on the work of the EGS Reference Group which had held an initial meeting at the beginning of November. The consultants who are working on the Strategy are running a number of place-based and topic-based workshops and the Reference Group will be able to see the feedback from these stakeholder engagement sessions. Future work will also include commenting on the draft Strategy as it is developed.

24.5 The Committee discussed potential items for the work programme and topics for future scrutiny reviews. It was agreed that the Senior Scrutiny Adviser would circulate a list of potential review topics and reports for consideration and prioritisation by the Committee, which would then be brought back to the March 2024 meeting for approval.

24.6     The Committee RESOLVED to:

1) Note and agree the work programme; and

2) Delegate authority to the LTP Reference Group to comment on the draft Local Transport Plan on behalf of the Committee.