Report on County Council Matters to North Nibley Parish Council
14th May 2018
This is also the date of Alkington’s Annual Parish Meeting and their normal meeting, so I must give my apologies for your meeting. Please let me know of anything you wish me to take up.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
In 2017/18 the service attended less than 300 dwelling fires. This is the first time reported dwelling fires have fallen below this number.
The number of safe and well checks carried out by the service in 2017/18 increased to 7636, most of these to high risk groups of residents. In the current financial year 10,000 are planned, reaching around 30,000 people in Gloucestershire.
Public Rights of Way
At the County Council’s February budget meeting my group put in a bid for extra staffing to reduce the backlog in dealing with applications for modification orders to the Definitive Map. This was not supported but the Cabinet member agreed to investigate the issues and to report back to last Wednesday’s Environment & Communities Scrutiny Committee. A backlog of 117 applications is currently waiting to be resolved.
The report says that the current staff resource is adequate to reduce the backlog by the 2026 deadline. (This is the date when implementation of the Deregulation Act, if it happens, would mean claims based on historic evidence would no longer be able to be made.) However, there is a risk that some applications may not be determined within the 12-month deadline that will then apply.
The political administration is unwilling to provide more resources at present, given the uncertainty that the 2026 deadline will be enacted and that the number of future modification applications is unknown. Instead the recommendation was to monitor the situation, to get the existing team to find ways of speeding up the process, and to investigate potential funding for a fixed-term outreach post to manage demand and to identify resources required to manage applications after the council has made a decision. (Unlike planning applications, appeals can be made against a decision to grant an application as well as a decision to refuse. These often get stuck with the Secretary of State.)
Questioning from me at the meeting revealed that in fact the outreach post is to be filled but by transferring an officer already working for the county council. The “management of demand” is to be achieved by this officer liaising with parish councils and explaining what will happen under the Act. I am unconvinced this needs an officer and it could be achieved through an explanatory letter to parish councils.
The Cabinet member, Vernon Smith said in a recent meeting that the recent winter produced more potholes than any winter since 2009.
Twice as many salting runs were carried out compared to the 5-year average. There has been a sharp increase in safety defects particularly those that should be repaired in 24 hours or within the next working day.
Amey has put significant additional resources into defect repairs including 3 extra gangs and 2 jet patching machines as well as carrying out weekend working.