Venue: Remotely via Teams
To select appropriate items from the Cabinet Board agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
The Committee scrutinised the following Cabinet Board items:
NPT Bee Friendly Scheme
Members were presented with a report in relation to Neath Port Talbot’s Bee Friendly Scheme.
Officers stated that this scheme proposed a change in management and mowing regime of Council owned verges, in order to encourage wildflower grasslands to develop; which will also align with the requirements detailed in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, the Council’s Biodiversity Duty Plan and Neath Port Talbot’s Nature Recovery Action Plan.
The recent All Member Seminar that was held to discuss this topic, was noted to be very useful and allowed Members to provide their input; Officers took on board a lot of the comments and suggestions that were made.
The Committee stressed the importance of maintaining amenity use of green spaces, especially in the urban areas; it was important to obtain buy-in from the community and have robust community engagement. It was mentioned that in some areas, half of the green spaces were owned and managed by Tai Tarian and the other half were owned and managed by the Council; there needed to be co-ordination between the two parties to ensure there was an appropriate mix between preserving amenity spaces that were well used, and introducing the important biodiversity enhancements.
Members shared a good practice story from Tai Tarian, in which they engaged with neighbours in an area, in relation to changing a green space, and were able to make slight changes to their original plans to allow for community activities to take place on the green space, as well as having the necessary biodiversity additions; engagement with the public was very important as it provided an understanding of how spaces were being used by the community.
Officers confirmed that amenity spaces were vitally important in the community, and that it was also important to communicate awareness of this scheme to the public so that they had an understanding of why biodiversity enhancements were needed; the communication and branding for this scheme would be vital, and suggestions were made in relation to ways of promoting this to the public.
It was mentioned that members of the Biodiversity Team had sent letters to Councillors and had been meeting them individually in their Wards to discuss particular areas, as there were different specific needs across the variety of outdoor spaces.
Members were informed that the Council needed to ensure that its position and procedures were set in place, and then staff would be discussing this matter with various organisations to ensure that they were aligned and co-ordinated in the Council’s approach. Officers added that safety would be the first priority in the work being carried out.
It was asked if the scheme was going to be extended to brown field areas and unused industrial land. Officers explained that the current focus was to look at the existing verges on Council owned land; the scheme would take some time to progress through the various areas, as Officers were keen for it to work effectively. ... view the full minutes text for item 1.
Members noted the Regeneration and Sustainable Development Scrutiny Forward Work Programme for 2021/22.