Venue: Committee Rooms A/B - Neath Civic Centre. View directions
Members were provided with information regarding the management and maintenance of Council playgrounds. It was highlighted that 47 playgrounds across the County Borough were within the Councils remit; the circulated report didn’t cover those managed by other parties e.g. Town and Community Councils.
Appendix A of the circulated report set out the ongoing process of inspection and review that was in place to ensure sure Council owned playgrounds remained safe for everyone to use; the report also provided information regarding a mobile ranger who carried out weekly inspections of the playgrounds.
The Committee was informed of the budgets relating to this work; the amount of monies within the revenue budget for Neighbourhood Services was set out in the report, along with the money allocated towards maintenance of playgrounds. It was stated that there was around £30k in the budget per year to carry out replacement of equipment; this was the remaining money after allocating money for the day to day management, inspection, and safety measures.
It was explained was that there wasn’t a standing capital allocation for renewal of the equipment; therefore Officers had to put in bids, as and when required, in the budget process which gets considered as part of the annual budget rounds. It was mentioned that there was a significant investment program ongoing in the current year; however, Officers had to wait on the supply chain in terms of the equipment arriving. Members were informed that supply chains across a lot of areas of work had been disrupted by the pandemic.
Following on from the above, it was noted that Officers were working with colleagues in other services and looking for match funding opportunities; the Team worked closely with the Project Development and Funding Manager, and Members who were looking to add additional investment and make improvements to playgrounds in their Wards, through the Members Community Fund. It was added that Appendix B of the circulated report highlighted the programmed playground investment that was currently ongoing, which totalled to around £350k. Officers were hopeful for extra monies from the budget process for next year; this extra money was included in the consultation that was currently being carried out on the Councils revenue budget.
Officers updated Members on one of the issues identified in the circulated report, relating to the number of swings that were removed from Council playgrounds during 2020 as part of meeting the national social distancing measures. It was noted that the Team had received all parts for the swings, apart from a handful of chains which were still required in order to rebuild the cradle swings; Officers hoped that the majority will be put back up in the next two weeks, with those remaining by the end of February.
Members raised the need for a strategic plan and vision for playgrounds, and highlighted the importance of play for children. Concerns were voiced in regards to the level of playgrounds that Neath Port Talbot had, particularly the lack of in some areas; as well ... view the full minutes text for item 1.
The Committee received a report which outlined the enforcement activity that the Team was carrying out in relation to litter, fly tipping and side waste enforcement
Officers highlighted that this service was an area that had been significantly disrupted by the pandemic; civic amenity sites had been closed, bulk collection services were suspended, and the police and criminal act interview process, which allows evidence to be gathered and prosecutions to be taken forward to court, had been halted. It was mentioned that the figures in the circulated report reflected those disruptions. Previously, it was noted that Neath Port Talbot Council had been the leading Authority for taking fly tipping enforcements; this may still be the case, however the numbers were reduced, as all Authorities would have experienced difficulties during the pandemic. Officers explained that they did not have the current national comparison figures as of yet, however this type of information was likely to be available at the end of the financial year.
A discussion took place in relation to un-adopted roads and areas where land was listed under private ownership, in which fly tipping was an issue. Members were informed that a lot of land owners would respond after being contacted by an Enforcement Officer, and will clear the waste from the area; however, there were others who were more difficult to get in contact with, and Officers had to issue enforcement notices to them. It was mentioned that some land was unregistered, and it was challenging for Officers to identity who owned the land; the Team worked closely with the probation service, who go into the private, unidentified areas and complete community clean-up work. It was added that these types of areas were tackled the same as those which were known and adopted.
It was asked if Local Councillors could assist Officers in identifying ‘collection’ points where large numbers of black bags were being deposited, as indicated would be the subject of investigation by enforcement. The Head of Streetcare confirmed that this was possible
Members highlighted that it was quite often the case that believed repeat offenders weren’t taken to court due to the lack of evidence; therefore, it was asked if witness statements could be submitted as evidence. Officers confirmed that witness statements can play a role, however there may still need to be other evidence dependent on the offence. It was agreed that Officers would liaise with Legal Services to gather more information regarding the use of witness statements for offences.
Officers were asked if they felt that the gated lanes reduced fly tipping, or compounded the issue; and if they would consider a pilot, whereby some gates were removed from these areas. It was recognised that in some areas, the gates had not helped the situation with waste in the lanes, albeit they were put in for other crime issues. Officers stated that this was an area which could be looked into in terms of having a trial, with the help of the Estates Team ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
The Forward Work Programme for the Streetscene and Engineering Scrutiny Committee was noted.