Stroud District Councillors’ Report
Full Council Meeting - 19 December
Council approved an amendment to the Wotton/Kingswood Parish Boundary recommendation as part of the Community Governance Review. Following mediation, this new approach is supported by both parishes (committee report, map and news article)
A new Tenant Representative, Sandra Longstreth, has been appointed as the second non-voting tenant member of the Housing Committee, to help promote the tenants’ voice in decision making.
Agreed a recommendation that an Independent Member is co-opted on to the Audit and Standards Committee on a non-voting basis. Selection and recommendation of this new Committee member will be delegated to the Strategic Director of Resources in consultation with the Chair of the Committee.
Council approved the treasury management activity half year report for 2019/20.
New Strategic Directors
You will be aware that we have already appointed 3 new Strategic Directors to head up our forward-looking Council, with the aim of becoming an ‘exemplar’ authority, as advocated by last year’s external review. Short-listing for the remaining post occurred on 2 December and 4 applicants were then invited to attend for interview on 16 December. Following a full day of presentations and interviews, the selection panel unanimously agreed to offer the post of Strategic Director of Communities to Keith Gerrard. Once in place, I have already agreed to organise a tour of the local area for the new Directors (similar to that for the new CEO) and will involve Town & Parish Clerks and Councillors as previous. (Cllr Tucker)
Forest Green Rovers new stadium planning application
A pre-application event for councillors was held on 17 December, ahead of the Development Control committee meeting where members were given an update on the revised application, including new noise assessments, traffic volumes, car parking revisions, community use of the venue and ‘park and ride’ proposals. A model of the stadium and whole site proposals was available for discussion. Dale Vince, the Chairman of Forest Green Rovers (and Ecotricity) was present to answer questions.
The development will be at the M5 junction 13, west of Stonehouse, Eastington, for a new 5000-capacity football stadium with one full-sized grass pitch and one full-sized all-weather pitch and a goal practice area. The development will include car parking for cars and coaches and highway improvements to A419 including a signalised site junction and combined cycle/footway (ref: S.19/1418/OUT).
On 18 December, the Development Control Committee held a long committee meeting to decide this planning application. Following full scrutiny of the application, the revised proposal was passed by 6 votes to 4. Eastington Parish Council are opposed to this development, and at a further, closed, meeting on 8 January, the Development Control Committee will discuss the SDC defence of Eastington’s appeal (agenda).
Strategy & Resources Committee - 17 December (Cllr Tucker)
Numerous agenda items were discussed, some in great detail, and the proposed resolutions were supported by all parties. The items discussed were:
Council Tax – Changes to Long term Empty Property Premiums
Redevelopment of Brimscombe Port – procurement of a development partner for redevelopment of the port and procurement of the infrastructure for the phase 1 works.
Budget monitoring report for Quarter 2, 2019/20
Council’s constitution – to review the constitution and re-establish the Constitution Working Group
Community Infrastructure Levy spending allocations (recommendation from Environment Committee)
Corporate Delivery Plan progress
LGA Corporate Peer Challenge Action Plan update
In relation to Council Tax for Empty Properties – it was agreed (and subsequently supported by Council), that the Long Term Empty Property Premium (currently set at 50%) is increased to 100% from 1st April 2020 for those properties which have been empty for two years. From this date it will be increased to 200% from for those properties which have been empty for five years and over and to 300% for properties which have been empty for ten years or more. This higher rate is now permitted by Government legislation.
Further information can be found on the Committee meeting page.
Housing Committee - 10 December (Cllr Braun)
Homeless prevention and rough sleeping strategy was approved by committee. Following consultation some amendments had been made to provide clarification (Strategy link).
Energy efficiency strategy – The Tenant Services Energy Strategy was formulated in 2017 and aims to relieve fuel poverty and maximise carbon reduction in council houses. Various measures have been made to improve energy efficiency to date and a report set out improvement modelling with 3 possible levels of investment for the future, which would improve SAP ratings (assuming that all the energy efficiency programmes in the Medium Term Financial Plan have first been completed). There is clearly a need for more skilled workers to retrofit properties to make them more energy efficient - the GFirst LEP are looking to hold a meeting about this early in 2020. The committee agreed:
For new council homes – they will be built to at least a SAP rating of 86 (out of a max of 100) for the next schemes in the new homes programme. The specification will be kept under review with the potential to improve it as required. This will be a fabric first approach with maximum number of solar panels on the roof. Tenders will be sought for both gas boiler and for air source heat pumps and battery storage will also be investigated. This improved specification should mean that SDC does not have to retrofit these new homes in future years.
For existing council homes A wider piece of work will be done with a Carbon Neutral 2030 member/ officer group to fully consider options in order to maximise the SAP ratings of the existing 5,000 SDC dwellings. In the meantime, Tenant Services are continuing with the current investment model of planned improvements. For more details on the options see the Committee papers.
Housing service objectives - The Housing Revenue Account Delivery Plan (for 2020-25) was approved (link). The new strategic objectives for delivery of the housing service are:
Improve tenant satisfaction and culture exploring different avenues and opportunities to build, enhance and grow communities
Investment in sustainable and attractive estates and stock
Implementation of the updated energy strategy
Sheltered Modernisation Programme The programme is on schedule and will continue to concentrate on amber schemes, the development of the provision of ‘Hubs’ and to begin modernising the ‘independent +’ schemes. It was agreed that the most suitable scheme to next become a ‘Hub’ was Springfields Court in Cam and that Willow Road had been identified as being suitable as an ‘independent +’ scheme. Land at Cambridge House (Dursley) will now be included in the New Homes Programme as there is now a budget in the Housing Review Account for this project. Committee discussed the success of the ‘Hubs’ so far and when Dryleaze House in Wotton was due to become a ‘Hub’. The Project Manager advised that the Community Hub Facilitator had only been in post for a couple of months but she had been making great progress and that the 7 proposed ‘Hubs’ will be completed within the next 4 years.
for this financial year, next year and the Medium Term Financial
The budgets for the current year and next financial year were agreed. The Fees and Charges list was approved, and it was agreed that social rents and affordable rents will increase by 2.7%, in line with national rent guidance. The same increase applies to garage rents and landlord service charges, except district heating charges which are decreased by an average of 21%. The last quarter’s budget monitoring report was also reviewed (Committee papers).
SDC In-house Repair Mobilisation Board - 18 December (Cllr Tucker)
Following the successful ‘in-house’ provision of our gas installation and servicing requirements in 2017, SDC are now also taking their housing stock repairs etc as an internal service from 1 April 2020.
It is estimated that this will save approx. £1.4m over the first 5 years and hopefully improve the sometimes questioned ‘customer service’. This transformation is being monitored by a board of SDC officers, councillors and external consultants. An improved numeric and visual Risk Register, requested by Cllr Tucker last October, is now proving very useful at better highlighting the areas on which we need to concentrate. Despite some remaining ‘High’ risks, mitigations are in place to reduce these to ‘acceptable’ by April. It is appreciated by all that such a large undertaking will not operate at 100% from day one, but the team are doing all they can to ensure a smooth transition. A new warehouse was needed to keep stock and provide a base for tradespeople and training etc. A new industrial unit has been rented (from SDC!) situated next to Dursley Vale Hospital. The addition of a mezzanine floor has started, and completion of the building is on target by the end of March.
Environment Committee - 5 December (Cllr James)
Ubico – there was a presentation on the draft Business Plan for 2020/21 (see webcast at 00:04:39). Ubico provides domestic waste and recycling services for SDC along with street cleaning and grounds maintenance services. SDC has been a shareholder in the company since 2016.
Update on Carbon Neutral 2030 (CN2030) work – A paper to the Committee set out the achievements so far, particularly over the past eleven weeks that the Carbon Neutral Officer, Rachel Brain, has been in post. In summary, achievements to date include:
A high level of collaboration with Gfirst LEP on the Sustainable Energy Strategy, draft Local Industrial Strategy and on funding
Influencing strategies and plans: engaging with parishes and community groups; at county level initiating a CN2030 Leads network (with representation from all districts; LEP and NHS - Clinical Commissioning Group); at regional level building an active relationship with Dept. of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and attending the West of England (CN/Sustainability) Officers Network and featuring in the national Local Government Chronicle.
Investigating funding: including securing £100k revenue via SW Energy Hub to do research into the potentials in Council Tax and Business rates as incentives for energy efficiency (SDC lead, GCC supporting) with many other funding bids being pursued.
Due to the successful bid for funds to research tax incentives, a project worker is being recruited to support the Carbon Neutral Officer. Success in work plan development, formalisation of CN2030 structures, community coordination and good strategic engagement will underpin the progress of the next period. The report recommends, on the basis of experience from other councils, that work on a baseline for district carbon emissions should be focused on the SDC CN2030 work plan which is in development. Future action planning will be achieved in partnership with local communities on the basis of a shared vision and work areas, with clearly identified outputs, outcomes and deliverables. It was agreed that a cross party Round Table will be established.
there has been an update to this strategy. The previous strategy was
updated in 2007 and has now been revised. This was put to a Task and
Finish group which reported back earlier this year. Proposed a
streamlining of the original 5 priorities to be reduced to 4. The
new priorities were then subject to public consultation which ran
from July to September 2018.
The public gave overwhelming support for the new priorities, as reported to and agreed by Environment Committee in December 2018. The Committee also stressed the importance of working together with our partners, communities and local environmental groups to achieve them.
The 4 new priorities are:
Priority 1 - A Circular Economy-Thriving now, thriving in the future; Financial prosperity today is no good if we use the resources our children will require tomorrow. We must consider the whole life costs of our purchases and not waste them. When we have finished with them we must repair, reuse and recycle and use them again. A sustainable economy should leave no trace.
Priority 2 - Climate Change -The biggest threat we face; Man made climate change is the biggest threat humanity faces. We must adapt and increase our resilience to changes in weather patterns. We therefore must take steps to prevent levels of CO2 rising, by using less energy and what we do use must be greener, cleaner and smarter.
Priority 3 - Protecting the Environment -Caring for our natural world; we are all the custodians of Stroud District; we are looking after it for future generations. It is our mission to hand it on to them in a better state than it was handed to us.
Priority 4 - Sustainable Communities -Planning today for a better tomorrow: We must continue to ensure that the communities we plan and build today will still be vibrant places where people can and want to live now and in the future.
Air Quality - Under the terms of the Environment Act 1995, the UK Government’s Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) frameworks require local authorities to submit an Annual Status Report (ASR) every year to DEFRA to report progress on the monitoring of air quality within the District and assess current air quality against statutory Air Quality Objectives. A summary of these Objectives can be found here.
The ASR Report (here) addresses the air quality across the District in 2018. In broad terms, air quality experienced across the District is generally very good. Concerns are largely limited to areas of traffic congestion where consequent NO2 levels can approach or exceed Air Quality Objectives. There are 22 monitoring points across the District (here) measuring concentrations of NO2. Currently there are no points in the south of the District, but there has previously been monitoring in Wotton and monitoring points could be relocated if required due to traffic congestion. The increase in levels in 2018 is very likely to be due to a change in methodology by the labs rather than a significantly increased exposure. NO2 levels have been slowly declining across the District over the longer term, but are not reducing at a fast enough rate to meet carbon reduction targets. Further information can be found on the SDC website at https://www.stroud.gov.uk/environment/environmental-health/pollution-and-nuisance/air-quality.
Energy from Waste (EfW) Facility at Javelin Park, Haresfield: The incinerator at Javelin Park was expected to commence formal operations in late October/ November. It is regulated by the Environment Agency. As part of the permitting considerations, the impact of the facility on both air quality and human health were assessed by the Environment Agency, including a comprehensive assessment of existing background concentrations of relevant pollutants. It concluded that “no significant effects on air quality are predicted as a result of the construction or operation of the proposed facility”. An additional 7 monitoring sites were introduced in relation to the Javelin Park Energy from Waste (EfW) site. The latest records of Measured Background Levels for NO2 and Particulates around Javelin Park (for 2018 and some of 2019) and be found in the Report and Paper.
Licensing - An update was agreed to arrangements for the regulation of businesses that carry out acupuncture, tattooing cosmetic piercing, semi-permanent skin-colouring, and electrolysis, in line with national requirements.
of Dogs in public spaces
– it was agreed to undertake a public consultation on proposals to
extend (for a further three years), the existing four Public Spaces
Protection Orders related to dog control in relation to 1. Failing
to remove a dog’s faeces, on land which has a public right of
access; 2. Not putting a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an
authorised officer; 3. Permitting a dog to enter land from which
dogs are excluded; 4. Not keeping a dog on a lead in a designated
The paper proposes to remove cycle tracks and canal towpaths from the 4th order (link)
Revenue estimates for 2019/20 and 2020/21 The budgets and the fees and charges lists were approved. Councillors noted that there was an expected reduced contribution from GCC due to changes in food waste incentives. Negotiations with GCC are still ongoing on this issue.
Paper recycling and Budget Monitoring Report 2019/20 Q2 In relation to the Waste and Re-cycling budget line, the Community Services Manager noted that there is particular pressure on paper prices at present – and this will be reflected in the next report as there may be a drop in the value of the paper and cardboard SDC sends for recycling. Due to recent wet weather the cardboard and paper being sent for recycling was lower value due to the amount of moisture it contained. Residents are advised to cover their recycling boxes if possible (covers are available from SDC).
Local Plan Review Consultation
Consultation on the Draft Local Plan closes on Wednesday 22 January.
For more information on the Local Plan Review see: https://www.stroud.gov.uk/environment/planning-and-building-control/planning-strategy/stroud-district-local-plan-review
Meetings attended by Cllr Tucker
2 Dec SDC Director Shortlisting review.
2 Dec North Nibley Parish Council meeting.
11 Dec SDC Political Group Leader’s meeting.
11 Dec SDC CEO appraisal preparation.
11 Dec Stinchcombe Parish Council meeting.
16 Dec SDC Director recruitment day.
17 Dec SDC Alliance Leader’s meeting.
17 Dec Forest Green Rovers: pre-application meeting for Councillors.
18 Dec SDC In-house repairs Mobilisation Board meeting.
18 Dec SDC DCC, Forest Green Rovers planning application.
19 Dec SDC Full Council.
Meetings attended by Cllr Braun
2 Dec Community Governance Review Mediation Session
2 Dec North Nibley Parish Council
10 Dec SDC Housing Committee
11 Dec Stinchcombe Parish Council
16 Dec Wotton Town Council
19 Dec SDC Full Council Meeting
Meetings attended by Cllr James
5 Dec Environment Committee
16 Dec Wotton Town Council
19 Dec SDC Full Council Meeting