The Assistant Director Streetscene presented the service plan for 2023 – 2024 and summarised the key points as follows:
· The focus for 2023-24 will be on meeting core demands and bedding in the already approved resources, for example, six new operatives to assist with street cleaning due to increased demand for this service.
· It was anticipated that the recruitment of a new Project Officer will shortly be completed and it was noted that the recent pay review had assisted with recruitment. The new Project Officer will work on delivery of items such as the review of bin charges and operating models.
· The service plan includes projects to progress work on climate change such as fleet decarbonisation and more sustainable management of green spaces, together with evidence to show how the service is improving.
· Work will be undertaken to review financial sustainability and future service shape including a review of software to manage these works.
· The service plan includes capital projects for the engineering team, however the challenge will be to deliver with a small team.
· It is anticipated that major projects such as beach management plans will see funding gaps due to global issues and a report on this issue would be considered at an upcoming Cabinet meeting.
· Work will include consideration of low carbon alternatives to hard engineering.
· The service plan also focuses on contract renewal of recycling and waste services in 2026 and meeting the requirements of the forthcoming Environment Act.
· Planning is underway to service up to 90,000 properties in the next decade.
· The service will be considering future depot requirements and investment in infrastructure which will work in tandem with decarbonisation of the fleet, with the investment required in the tens of millions.
· It is hoped that the service will move up the Defra league table for recycling and the service is planning for a recycling rate of 70% by 2030, although it was noted that margins for improvement are tight.
· The recent pay review is helping with recruitment as demand increases due to higher visitor numbers in the District, an increase in residents and longer tourist season due to climate change.
· It was highlighted that the decarbonisation of the fleet will be a significant investment as electric vehicles are double the cost of conventional vehicles.
· A re-naturing strategy will be developed to improve the sustainable management of green spaces.
· Applications for renewal of blue flag status will be made for Exmouth, Sidmouth, Seaton and Beer.
The Portfolio Holders for Coast, Country and Environment and Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Culture thanked the Assistant Director and his team for their work.
Questions and comments from Members included the following points:
· With regard to a review of street litter bin collection models, Members were advised that the new Project Officer should be in post fairly soon and this review would be a priority. In order to understand how the operation is set up, the service would take the opportunity to undertake a full review with the timeline for this shown in the draft service plan.
· Regarding examples of alternative methods of waste collection in other countries, Members were advised that the current system is built on restricted capacity and that residual waste levels are very low. Alternative methods are not under consideration as they do not incentivise residents to recycle.
· In response to a question regarding alternative use of category B and C public toilets under the public toilet review, Members were advised that the Place, Assets and Commercialisation team are leading on negotiations and focussing on those which are progressing. Further information will be released at the appropriate time.
· Regarding re-generation of play areas, it was noted that coastal and flooding resilience are the priorities for the engineering team. Once the new engineering officer is in post some of the work on play areas may be able to be progressed although this is less time sensitive than the coastal and flooding priority projects.
· With regard to a possible review of green bin charges, Members were advised that the charge has not been increased in previous years in order to attract and retain customers. The current draft budget has provision for a small increase.
· Work on increasing on-street recycling is progressing slowly due to waiting for details of the Government’s Deposit Return Scheme.
· Beach trackway matting has been very well received.
· Progress on the Bapton Valley cycle route has been slow due to staff shortages.
· Regarding the Heads of Terms for transfer of public toilets, it was noted that proposed transfer is on a long leasehold basis to enable transferees, such as town and parish councils, to raise funds to take on the asset.
· Regarding dog waste, Environmental Health deals with enforcement. A report on proposals to vary and discharge the Public Space Protection Orders was considered at the January Cabinet meeting.
· Consideration could be given to asking residents to put out recycling for collection only when containers are full.
RECOMMENDATION TO CABINET:
That the Streetscene service plan for 2023 – 2024 be adopted.