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Meeting Details

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
21 Oct 2021 - 19:00 to 21:00
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Documents

Agenda

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Standard Items
1 Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To note any apologies for absence and substitutions.

1

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Rooney.

Councillor Kelly was present as a substitute for Councillor Rooney.

Councillors P Anand, Anjum and D Crawford were present virtually.

 

2 Declarations of Interest

To note any declarations of interest made by members.

2

There were no declarations of interest.

 

3 Urgent Matters

To consider any urgent matters that the Chair has agreed should be considered at the meeting.

3

There were no urgent matters.

 

4 Matters to be Considered in Private

To determine whether items contain information that is exempt from disclosure by virtue of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

4

RESOLVED: That all matters be considered in public, as proposed.

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021.

 

5

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021 are agreed as a correct record.

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021.

 

6

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021 are agreed as a correct record.

 

7

Councillors Millican and Malcolm introduced the reasons for calling this item in. For the cycling scheme at Fishers Lane there had been a large petition of signatures gathered against the scheme in Chiswick. It was a cycle scheme that was rarely used by cyclists, and any increase that had been seen had now returned to normal as the increase was attributed to COVID. For the Deans Avenue and Montague Road Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) Scheme, it was clear from consultation that those who lived within the boundary were in favour of the scheme but those on the boundary roads were against it. There was no clear rationale why the views of the residents within the LTN area had been prioritised over those that lived in the surrounding roads. There was no baseline data either, to judge whether the restrictions in place previously had been a success or to evaluate the new scheme being put into place. The Hamilton Road measures were less problematic but had been called in due to safety concerns, to ensure the restrictions proposed would be safe and to ensure the consultation was carried out properly.

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Climate Action; and Councillor Josh Blacker, Cabinet Member for Healthy Lives, responded to the issues raised in the call-in.

Fishers Lane was a cycle scheme and was a key strategic link in a wider North-South cycleway. The section where vehicles had been restricted was very narrow and unsafe for motor vehicles and cycles to share the road. Banning vehicles, other than buses, made this much safer and the cyclist count data since making the restriction had demonstrated a huge increase in cycling. Making cycling safer was a key way to encourage cycling, and encouraging cycling was a key objective in order to address the climate emergency. Everyone had to play their part in fighting the climate emergency, and if some residents had to take slightly longer car journeys to enable a large increase in cycling then this was a worthwhile trade off.

It was accepted that there had been very little baseline data for Deans and Montague, as was the case for most of the LTN areas which were consulted on during the summer. However when a consultation was undertaken to understand the views of residents it was clear that those living within the LTN were in favour of keeping restrictions. It was true that those living on the boundary roads who had responded were marginally against the restrictions. However once the responses were collated for both the boundary roads and those living within the area there was still a majority in favour of the LTN restrictions.

It was confirmed that the proposed measures in Hamilton Road would be subject to a 21 day consultation and a safety audit. Once this was confirmed, the Councillors who had called this element of the decision in stated they were satisfied with this answer and therefore withdrew this element of the call-in.

The Chair invited members of the public to speak on the schemes being called in.

Tom Pike spoke in favour of the Fishers Lane scheme and highlighted that Fishers Lane was never designed to accommodate vehicle traffic and was extremely narrow. Restricting it to buses, bicycles and pedestrians only made the route much safer. The route was part of Cycle Superhighway 9, which would increase cycling across London.

Kay Etherington spoke against the Fishers Lane Scheme and explained that although there had been an increase in cycling as a result of the restrictions, it was from a very low base so the numbers were still low. Pollution along Fishers Lane had become worse since the restrictions due to stationary traffic. As a single woman she now didn't feel safe walking down this road at night due to the lack of vehicles on the road.

Jenny Leigh spoke in favour of the Deans and Montague LTN scheme. The scheme had made a huge different to resident's quality of life as before the scheme had been introduced Large Goods Vehicles often used the road as a cut through, and sat idling. This had led to NO2 measurements being higher than the Uxbridge Road. The road was not designed for this level of traffic as it was a narrow residential road. Since the LTN was made, children could play in the street, there had been an increase in cycling and walking by residents, residents could leave their windows open without fear of pollution finding its way into the home and residents were sleeping better due to less traffic noise.

Brigida Kirk spoke against the Deans and Montague LTN scheme. Brigida informed the Committee that she had seen little evidence of the claim that the LTN hadn't led to an increase in traffic on boundary roads. Emergency vehicles had struggled to get through the LTNs which was a safety risk. The consultation was flawed, as many residents didn't know it was under way and hadn't therefore responded.

The Committee asked the following questions of the Cabinet Members:

  • Had the increase in trips by bicycle for the Fishers Lane scheme outweighed by traffic displacement?
  • Could blue badge holders be given access down Fishers Lane, as it was already open to buses?
  • Why didn't Ealing Council consult with Hounslow residents before making restrictions on Fishers Lane, and how did Ealing Council consider Hounslow Council's views on this scheme?
  • Would the measures on Fishers Lane increase cycling safety?

In response to the questions asked, the Cabinet Members confirmed:

  • Bus time data did not support an increase in journey times, so there was no evidence that the Fishers Lane scheme had displaced traffic.
  • It was not possible to provide a blue badge exemption, as had occurred with the experimental LTNs. This was because Fishers Lane was not an LTN scheme, so a dispensation would have to be provided to all blue badge holders, which would defy the point of introducing the restriction in the first place due to increased vehicular traffic levels. Blue badges were also issued to individuals and not vehicles, so it would be very difficult to administer any blue badge exemption.
  • Hounslow needed to make its own decisions on the scheme, and to date have agreed with the decisions made by Ealing Council about the Fishers Lane scheme. Fishers Lane was a cycle scheme, not an LTN, so it was difficult to know who exactly to consult. Cyclists using the scheme could be from anywhere in London, or beyond, as it was a key part of strategic cycling infrastructure.
  • The measures on Fishers Lane had a positive impact on cycling safety as the road is very narrow. Banning vehicles prevents close passing of cyclists, which was dangerous.

The Committee debated the proposal and the evidence presented from both sides. The Committee noted that Deans and Montague was a recognised ratrunning hotspot, and it was clear there was a majority in favour locally of retaining restrictions in this area. It was also noted that, from the consultation data that was available, if Fishers Lane was evaluated in the same way as an LTN it would be removed as residents locally seemed to be against the scheme. However it was clear that Fishers Lane was not an LTN and therefore should be evaluated on the improvements to cycling that it provided to the Borough and across London.

At the conclusion of the debate, a vote was taken and it was

RESOLVED: That

1. The decisions relating to the Fishers Lane scheme are upheld.

2. The decisions relating to the Deans and Montague LTN scheme are upheld.

3. A public safety review regarding Fishers Lane is recommended to be undertaken, to consider street lighting and police presence, in order to address concerns around public safety at this location.

4. It is recommended that there should be further joint communications work undertaken on the Fishers Lane Scheme to focus on why Hounslow Council are supporting the scheme.

 

 

8

Mark McIntosh, Acting Head of Parking Services, presented the Parking Services Annual Report to the Committee, and the following key points were noted:

  • It had been a challenging year for Parking Services due to the COVID pandemic. This had affected income as the beginning of the year had been spent in lockdown, as well as lockdowns later in the year. Despite this a resilient service had been maintained.

  • Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) income for on street contraventions had reduced due to lockdowns, but this had been offset by the PCNs issued for entering Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

  • Sale of permits and pay and display income was down, and around 70% of this lost income had been claimed back through a government grant.

  • Delivery of Electric Vehicle Charging Points in residential areas had also slowed due to COVID delays.

  • Lockdowns had also been an opportunity, and improvements to some of the Council owned car parks had been undertaken.

The Committee asked the following questions:

  • What was the reason for the bad debt provision of £1.5 million?

  • Were there plans to catch up on the missed targets for installing Electric Vehicle Charging Points?

  • Could the new parking portal be improved to make it more user friendly, and could paypal be accepted as a form of payment?

  • Did the siting of new Electric Vehicle Charging points take into account disabled parking spaces for blue badge holders?

In response to the questions asked by the Committee, Mark clarified that:

  • The bad debt provision was writing off debts that couldn't be recovered. This was only undertaken after all other options had been exhausted and it was clear recovery was almost impossible.

  • There were plans, working with the Council's highways team, to install a further 150 new EVCPs by March 2022.

  • Improvements to the parking portal would be investigated, alongside whether it was possible to accept paypal. Progress would be reported back to the Committee.

  • The location of new EVCPs was constrained in relation to where existing lamposts are as well as other street furniture. Sometimes this meant that EVCPs had to take priority over disabled spaces.

RESOLVED: That the Parking Services Annual Report be noted.

 

 

9

Earl McKenzie, Assistant Director (Street Services) and Lisa Buckmaster, Enforcement and Inspection Manager provided the Committee with an outline of the Council's approach to tackling environmental crime in the Borough.

The Committee noted the following key points from the presentation:

  • Fly tipping and littering were the most visible crimes that the team dealt with. There were lots of reasons for these crimes, and there had been some changes over the last year due to COVID. For example there was an increase in packaging to be disposed of through ordering items online, and many people had embarked on renovation projects for their homes.

  • Fly tips had reduced during lockdown, which was a trend that was mirrored in many other crimes that were carried out in the open.

  • The Council had an outsourced enforcement service which issued littering fines and also undertook business compliance checking. The contract for these services were held by Kingdom Security.

  • The business enforcement work that Kingdom carried out for the Council ensured that businesses had the correct arrangements in place to dispose of their waste. The work consisted of spot checks of paperwork and issuing Fixed Penalty Notices if the paperwork was not in order.

  • The majority of Fixed Penalty Notices issued by Kingdom were to white males under 50 for dropping cigarette butts. The next most common offence was spitting in public.

  • The Enforcement team were also responsible for dropped kerb enforcement, abandoned vehicles and street trading. However fly tipping, waste enforcement and littering were the most high profile work the team was responsible for.

  • The Love Clean Streets app can be used to report fly tips to the team, and this provides a lot of data to assist with street cleansing activities.

Cathy Swift, from the Littering Action Group for Ealing Residents (LAGER Can), gave a presentation to the Committee on waste crime issues in the Borough. LAGER Can was formed by volunteers to help clean up the environment in Ealing. The group had been successful, and had been supported by the Council. The support the Council had provided included providing waste sacks and litter pickers and organising for waste to be disposed of. LAGER Can had started as a small group of volunteers and had grown to a large cross borough network. The group had been so successful that it had won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2021. The main frustration of the group when working with the Council was that when recycling was picked by litter picks, it was disposed of alongside the general waste. LAGER Can supported and endorsed the love clean streets app, and found it very useful. However there was no two-way feedback for those who have reported fly tipping to know when it had been cleared and if any successful enforcement action had been taken.

Following the presentations, the Committee asked the following questions:

  • Was there a way for the recycling collected by LAGER Can to be recycled rather than sent to landfill or incinerator?

  • What training was provided to the Kingdom Security officers? And how were they managed when unacceptable behaviour was reported?

  • What was the reason for the increase in fly tipping that had been reported through the app?

  • Was it possible to provide feedback through the love clean streets app to show when flytips had been cleared and when successful enforcement action had been taken against those responsible for the flytips.

  • What was the reason for large building waste fly tips, and how could they be prevented?

  • How were unauthorised vehicle crossovers monitored?

  • When fly tips are reported, does the Council just clear them or is enforcement work undertaken at the same time?

In response to the questions asked, Earl McKenzie and Lisa Buckmaster confirmed that:

  • It was difficult to find a waste reprocessor who would take recycling waste that was collected on litter picks as it was classified as contaminated waste. It was not impossible, but would require a lot of extra work to identify an appropriate contractor.

  • Kingdom Security staff were trained thoroughly before being allowed to work for Ealing. Any issues that were reported were dealt with by reviewing bodycam footage and taking appropriate action against the officers concerned. Staff recruitment and retention was a problem for these sorts of roles as the shifts were long and the work was difficult.

  • The reason for the increase in fly tipping reported through the app was largely down to groups like LAGER Can, and other local residents groups, who were aware of the app and had increasingly used it.

  • It was not simple to provide feedback through the app to those who had reported fly tips. However with the introduction of new software at the Council it had become feasible and it was planned to be able to produce feedback to residents either directly on the app or to their resident account. However there were integration issues between the app and the new software that needed to be solved first.

  • The cause of large building waste flytips were illegal waste carriers loading van cages with waste, opening the rear doors and driving off at speed. The Council did not have the power to undertake spot checks of waste carriers but it was planned to undertake vehicle spot checks with the Police which tended to address the problem, at least temporarily.

  • Unauthorised vehicle crossovers were an issue as there were a large number of them in the borough. It had become a legacy issue as it hadn't been addressed for many years. There were several different ways of addressing the issue including an amnesty, taking retrospective or only enforcing new unauthorised crossovers. Each option had its own advantages and disadvantages and a corporate approach had not been decided yet to tackle the issue.

  • It was recognised that the enforcement team needed to work closer with Greener Ealing Limited to ensure that enforcement work could be carried out on the flytips that were cleared.

At the conclusion of the item, the Chair welcomed the commitment to greater two way communication of the love clean streets app. It was also noted that there should be greater promotion of the app by the Council, but also by members when residents highlighted fly tipping and other issues on their local roads. Finally, the Chair extended his thanks to LAGER Can for their work, and their incredible achievement of winning the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

RESOLVED: That the Environmental Crime report is noted.

 

10

The Chair introduced the 2020-21 Final Panel Reports. The panel reports had been submitted to the Committee for final approval before being submitted to Cabinet so that the recommendations could be considered.

RESOLVED: That the 2020-21 Final Panel Reports are agreed.

 

11

The Chair introduced the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme. The Committee noted that discussions were ongoing about when to take an item on Broadway Living to OSC. There was also scope for this item to go to Audit Committee, so the scope of an item on this topic going to OSC needed to be carefully considered.

The Committee provided comments on the recommendation chasing from previous panels. It was requested that an item be added onto the work programme on High Speed 2, focussing on resident engagement and air quality issues during construction of the line.

RESOLVED: That

1. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme is agreed.

2. The updates on recommendations from the 2018/19 & 2019/20 panels are noted.

 

12 Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on 11 November 2021.

 


12

The next meeting was scheduled to take place on 11 November 2021, but would be cancelled if no call-ins are made.

 

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

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