Agenda and minutes

Special Environment and Regeneration Committee, Environment and Regeneration Committee
Monday 6 July 2020 4.00 pm

Venue: Guildhall, Derry. View directions

Note: No public access is permitted to the Guildhall due to Covid-19. The meeting can be viewed via the Council’s You Tube channel. 

Items
No. Item

SER5/20

Notice and Summons of Meeting

Minutes:

The Director of Environment and Regeneration read the Notice and Summons for the Meeting.

SER6/20

Member Attendance and Apologies

Minutes:

The Director of Environment and Regeneration completed the roll call. Apologies were received from Councillors Dobbins and Edwards.

SER7/20

Statement for Remote Meetings

Minutes:

The Chair read the statement for remote meetings to the Committee.

SER8/20

Declarations of Members' Interests

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made by Members.

Chairperson's Business

SER9/20

Magheramason Play Park

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the news that work was to commence on Magheramason Play Park. He stated that the local community had been waiting for this for up to 15 years.

SER10/20

Confiscation of Staff Mobile Phones

Minutes:

Councillor Ramsey expressed concerns that the mobile phones, which belonged to staff at recycling centres, had been confiscated and queried which policy would allow this action.

 

In response, the Director of Environment and Regeneration explained that this matter had previously been raised at the Full Council meeting. She stated that no reports of this had been made by Officers and advised that she would appreciate it greatly if details of this matter could be passed onto herself so that a full investigation could be conducted into this very serious matter.

 

 

SER11/20

Debris on Riverbank at Newtonstewart

Minutes:

Alderman McKane relayed reports made by kayakers of debris washing up on the riverbank near Newtonstewart.

 

In response, the Head of Environment undertook to investigate the ownership of the land. He explained that if Council owned the land a clean up would be arranged; however, the clean up would be the responsibility of the landowner if it was established that Council did not they own the land.   

 

 

 

SER12/20

CCTV/ Number Plate Recognition at Recycling Centres pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Minutes:

The Head of Environment presented the above report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. He advised that the purpose of the report was to update Members with regard to the operation/ provision of CCTV at recycling centres and specifically Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) systems.

 

Alderman McCready thanked the Officers for the report and stated that the information had been helpful to establish the legacy in relation to this matter between 2013 and 2020.

 

He queried the following:

 

·         Total spend on maintenance of the system and software between 2013 and 2020.

·         The date company who were responsible for the software upgrade to the system discontinued service.

·         The efficacy of the ANPR software and CCTV recognition.

 

The Head of Environment stated that maintenance costs of the system were minimal and undertook to update members at a later date. He confirmed that the purpose system was to consider who was using the site and how often they were using the site. He commented that a report was to follow later in the meeting on commercial users and highlighted the intertwining nature of all the reports stating that none of them could be considered in isolation. He advised Members that the issues with the system were mainly relating to the CCTV cameras. 

 

Alderman McCready further highlighted the need for a Policy surrounding these issues.

 

Councillor Jackson commented that a spend of nearly £30,000 could not be justified without clarification of the purpose of the CCTV/ ANPR system. He also queried the GDPR implications of the system.

 

The Head of Environment reiterated that the following reports would consider some of these issues.  He commented that the system was introduced to investigate who was using the site and issues surrounding commercial waste, he added that this became further complicated by a judgement for a neighbouring Council.

 

Councillor Boyle concurred with the Head of Environment regarding the intertwining of the reports. He concurred with Councillor Jackson that information was need surrounding the purpose of the ANPR and CCTV system. He queried why Council had not updated the system previously and why the Committee had not been asked for a decision on this earlier. He stated that he felt if the issue had been brought to the Committee when the system was discovered to be redundant then the answers that were required might have been available to the Committee at the last meeting. 

 

In response the Head of Environment repeated that the purpose was to establish who was using the site and how frequently, both in terms of Republic of Ireland and commercial users. He clarified that the system could only detect the origin of the car number plate and the number of times a particular vehicle had visited the site that day.  He explained that the issues arose in Pennyburn when the new site was opened and could be attributed to the fact that the cameras where designed to work on a fixed entry or exit point, he added that this meant  ...  view the full minutes text for item SER12/20

SER13/20

Potential Impacts on Fly-tipping Costs Arising from the Introduction of Restrictions on some Users of Recycling Sites pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Minutes:

 The Head of Environment presented the above report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. He advised that the purpose of the report was to advise Members on costs associated with removing fly- tipping throughout the Council area and to provide information to Members on the potential impacts on fly-tipping should restrictions be introduced on the disposal of commercial waste and waste from non-residents using recycling sites.

 

Alderman Ramsey acknowledged that the issue was difficult to produce figures for and stressed the illegality of fly tipping. He stated that Council should not apportion the blame for fly tipping on a potential policy that would be intended to look after ratepayers. He stressed the unknown nature of many of the factors illustrated within the report and requested information be presented regarding the number of fines issued in response to fly tipping. He highlighted the need to update the policy to ensure fairness to ratepayers. He stated he thought it was unlikely that imposing a charge to dispose waste for users from outside the area would result in those users fly tipping within the Council area.  He referred to paragraph 3.12 and stated that £227,500 was a major saving. He stated that based on the figures presented, if Council charge £5 per car to dump waste over £150,000 would be raised. He further referred to paragraph 3.14 and stated that although the figures are crude the report reflects how serious this issue is.

 

The Head of Environment undertook to bring information regarding fines issued against fly tipping to the next meeting of the Environment and Regeneration Committee.

 

Councillor Jackson thanked the Officers for the report and concurred that it was a difficult topic to forecast.  He expressed concerns that there had been conflicting figures given in various reports that had previously been presented to the Committee and stated that an accurate figure was needed.  He stated that the figure outlined within paragraph 3.12 assumed that 10 % of users were from the Republic of Ireland and that this was disputable. He advised that the only certainty within the report was that by placing barriers an increase in fly tipping was inevitable and that this would incur a cost to the ratepayer.  He drew Members attention to the potential impact to the environment that could potentially occur. He commented on discussions that had occurred with Zero Waste North West, who encouraged a different viewpoint on waste as a resource rather than a burden and stated he would prefer Council to adopt that approach, rather than deny access to services.

 

The Head of Environment further reminded Members of the assumptive nature of the figures in the report and explained that more accurate information would be needed to provide a more accurate and detailed analysis.

 

 Alderman McCready concurred with Councillor Jackson surrounding his comments regarding the advice from Zero Waste North West and protecting the environment, however he concurred with Alderman Ramsey’s viewpoint. He clarified the position of the DUP in terms  ...  view the full minutes text for item SER13/20

SER14/20

Signage at Recycling Centres pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Environment presented the above report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. He advised that the purpose of the report was to update Members with regard to signage displayed at the Pennyburn Recycling Centre prior to the facility being reopened on 18 May 2020.

 

Alderman McCready stated that the reason he had raised this issue at the June Committee meeting was that he had been receiving calls regarding the issue from constituents and from people who are not unionist voters. He referred to the case of Mr Martin Gallagher who felt particularly let down by the lack of certainty surrounding the issue, specifically the ambiguity of the signage. He referred to paragraph 2.1 in the report and highlighted incongruences between the advice given by DAERA and the action taken by Council and questioned the rationale in removing the sign when it had already been erected. He further referred to paragraph 3.2 in the report and commented that a sign had remained in place in Strabane for a few days after reopening which caused further confusion and sought further clarification from the Officers.

 

In response, the Director of Environment and Regeneration explained that the current policy of Council was to allow all users to use the sites.  She added that in light of COVID restrictions and the implications of changing the policy, the Chief Executive felt that the time was not right to change this policy. She reminded Members that this issue had been raised at a Member briefing and that the CE had agreed that a report detailing information on Republic of Ireland users would be brought to the Committee for Members to change the policy if they wished. In terms of the signage, she explained that when the DAERA guidance had been released the Marketing department were tasked with producing the signs according to the guidance, which was done expediently. She clarified that these were later considered and removed before the site was opened to the public, as this was not in line with Council policy.  She stated that this was unfortunate and understood frustrations; she explained that Officers would implement any changes to the policy that Members decided.

 

Alderman McCready queried the logic in this decision as travelling to the sites was prohibited during lockdown, he undertook to raise this with the Chief Executive; he further queried the number of complaints received on the issue.

 

The Director of Environment and Regeneration undertook to present this information to members at a subsequent meeting.

 

Councillor Boyle proposed that a cross party working group be formed to examine these issues further, to save money for the ratepayer and improve services.

 

Alderman McCready expressed his support for the proposal and asked that an end date be included for the working group.

 

Councillor Jackson stated that Sinn Feín would not support the proposal as he felt transparency was being removed by discussing at a working group. He stated he felt that a decision should be made at  ...  view the full minutes text for item SER14/20

SER15/20

Commercial Users at Recycling Centres pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Environment presented the above report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. He advised that the purpose of the report was to update and seek Members recommendations with regard to commercial users accessing Council’s Recycling Centres.

 

Councillor Boyle welcomed the report and noted that it was difficult for recycling centre staff to differentiate between commercial and domestic service users. He commented that this should be discussed at the working group.

 

Alderman McCready also thanked Officers for the report and concurred on the difficulties faced. He stated he looked forward to discussion of this at the working group.

 

Councillor Carr stated that white van men did a great service to the public.

 

On request of the Chair, the Head of Environment confirmed that household waste being disposed of by a contractor must be treated as household and therefore Council could not impose a charge.  

 

Alderman Ramsey commented that in his previous employment in the heating industry, he had personal experience of being refused access at a recycling centre to dispose of commercial waste.

 

The Committee

Recommended        that Council note the content of the report.

 

 

SER16/20

Republic of Ireland Vehicles at Recycling Centres pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Environment presented the above report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to members. He advised that the purpose of the report was to provide Members with an update regarding the number of Republic of Ireland vehicles accessing Council’s recycling facilities.

 

Alderman McCready commented that future reports should consider all outside jurisdiction users, not just the Republic of Ireland.  He commented that he looked forward to the outcome of the working group that should enable a schedule of requirements to be constructed for Members.

 

Councillor Jackson expressed his disappointment that the discussion had been moved to a working group. He stated he looked forward to having a similar discussion at a working group. He concurred with Councillor Carr’s comments on white van men and queried if there had been relaxation on the rules for vans in recycling centres. He stated he could forgive Officer’s for the way in which the report was worded given the position of the Chair of the Committee regarding denying access to cars from the Republic of Ireland at recycling centres. He stated he felt this was not reflective of the views of the Committee and that he hoped a working group would be more reflective of this.

 

The Chair responded that he was concerned with protecting the ratepayer and assured Councillor Jackson that he did not wish to place barriers against users from the Council area using recycling facilities.

 

In response to Councillor Jackson, the Head of Environment informed Members that Officers had examined various options to ensure social distancing at recycling centres such as booking systems and stated that he hoped some of the issues with van access would be resolved in the next week. He reminded Members that the bulky waste collection service was available.

 

Alderman McCready stated that it was not his intention to discriminate users from Donegal, however a charged may be introduced for the service for users from outside the jurisdiction. He also commented that the services provided by Council Waste Services during COVID 19 were exceptional and commended the actions of Officers.

 

The Chair concurred with Alderman McCready and expressed his dismay at continued issues with fly tipping given the level of service provided.

 

The Committee

Recommended        that Council note the content of the report.