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
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
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.