Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Steve Tucker, Democratic Services Officer 

Link: Watch the recording of this meeting on the Herefordshire Council YouTube Channel

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.

 

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Chowns, Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment.

2.

Named substitutes

To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.

Minutes:

None.

3.

Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.

Minutes:

None.

4.

Questions from members of the public

To receive any written questions from members of the public.

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the public.

5.

Questions from members of the council

To receive any written questions from members of the council.

Minutes:

There were no questions from councillors.

6.

Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee Role and Objectives pdf icon PDF 299 KB

To consider and note the role of the Scrutiny Committee, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution, the key strategic objectives for the Committee and the overall strategic objectives for scrutiny agreed by the Scrutiny Management Board on 16 June 2022.

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the draft role and objectives for the period 2022-2023, as set out on pages 3-6 of the agenda supplement.

 

The Interim Statutory Scrutiny Officer introduced the report.

 

The Committee noted that the proposed framework was consistent across each of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees, therefore it would provide a good measure of effectiveness when this comes to be reviewed.

 

The Committee noted in particular Objective 3, and stressed that adequate support needed to be in place to assist the Committee with delivery of its ambition to make clearly evidenced reports to key audiences. More widely, the Committee reiterated that the Scrutiny function as a whole needs to be adequately resourced to ensure that it can operate effectively, particularly in view of the increased number of Committees and the likely requirement for additional work in the form of spotlight reviews and/or task and finish groups. It was also emphasised that Scrutiny needs to be taken seriously at all levels of management within the Council, with key Officers attending meetings and responding to requests for information as directed.

 

It was unanimously resolved that:

 

The Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee role and objectives 2023-2023 be approved.

7.

Restoration of the River Wye - Options for Public Inquiry and Policy Review

Minutes:

The Committee gave initial consideration to the options available for public inquiry and policy review in relation to restoration of the River Wye. One option under consideration, as per the work plan, was the establishment of a task and finish group, however whilst membership had been identified, draft terms of reference had not been placed in the public domain and it was not clear at this stage how a task and finish group could complement the work of a proposed Cabinet Commission, rather than duplicating its work. On that basis the Chair advised the Committee that the meeting should engage in a general discussion, with the potential establishment of a task and finish group deferred to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

The Committee noted the proposal by Cabinet to establish a Commission with the aim of bringing key stakeholders together to address a number of long standing issues, and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council were in attendance for the item to answer questions from the Committee.

 

One particular area of concern for the Committee was how the proposed Commission would achieve buy-in from partners, given that the Council was one of numerous stakeholders and there was no authority to compel participation. The Leader stated that a lot of the work to be carried out by the Commission will revolve around fact-gathering, and it was hoped that if a sound evidence base with universally accepted facts could be established, this would make achieving buy-in easier. It was acknowledged that the goal was ambitious, but the effort to achieve it was justified on the basis that inaction would be far worse. It was similarly noted that the neighbouring local authorities of Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Powys each had an interest in these issues and therefore the Committee sought assurance that they would be engaged with the Commission’s work. The Leader advised that the Council is already well engaged with these authorities and there is political will to work together. Given the existence of cross-boundary issues, it was suggested that further consideration be given as to how the working relationship between partners is best shaped.

 

A discussion was held around what role a potential Scrutiny task and finish group could adopt, with the Leader suggesting that it could receive updates and provide suggestions to further the work of the Commission. The Committee felt however that it would be unproductive to have a group established simply to monitor the work of a Commission, and instead felt that the role of a task and finish group should be to study what the Commission does not intend, or does not have the capacity, to look at. This could, for example, encompass a ‘horizon scanning’ role looking at emerging national thinking and identifying gaps in current analysis and regulation, and feeding this through to the Commission. It was noted that in addition to the proposed Commission, there is already a wide body of work continuing in this area, including the Nutrient  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee Annual Work Plan 2022-2023 pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To review and agree the Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee Work Plan 2022-23, drawn up in consultation with members of the Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the draft annual work plan 2022-23, which had been drawn up in earlier consultation with members of the Committee.

 

Following deferral of the establishment of a potential task and finish group to explore restoration of the River Wye earlier in the agenda, it was agreed that this matter would be added to the work plan for consideration at the September meeting.

 

It was suggested that Flood Risk should potentially be looked into earlier than November in order to receive assurance prior to the heightened period of risk in the winter months, however this was decided against on the basis that the September meeting was the opportune moment to focus on the Local Plan, given that analysis of three rounds of consultation would be available for scrutiny at that time.

 

In respect of the January meeting, it was requested that the Waste and Recycling item should include a particular focus on the themes of reduce, reuse and recycle, with Andrew Wood from Herefordshire Recycling and Reuse Group invited as an external witness.

 

It was moved that the work plan 2022-23 be approved, subject to the following amendments:

 

i)                 Inclusion of the ‘River Wye – Options for Public Inquiry and Policy Review’ item on the September meeting agenda;

ii)                The Herefordshire Local Plan item on 21 September 2022 to include consideration of the analysis of the public consultation on the Local Plan and the mechanism by which the consultation was undertaken; and

iii)              The 16 November 2022 meeting to include the additional areas of Drought and Fire Risk alongside the Herefordshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, including invitation of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service as an external witness.

 

It was unanimously resolved that:

 

The annual work plan 2022-2023 be approved, as amended.

9.

Dates of future meetings

Scheduled meetings for the remainder of the 2022/23 municipal year:

 

Wednesday 21 September 2022 10.30am

Wednesday 16 November 2022 10.30am

Thursday 19 January 2023 10.30am

Wednesday 8 March 2023 10.30am

Minutes:

The Committee noted the meeting dates for the remainder of the 2022/23 municipal year.