Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda item

Member Questions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16th July 2019.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Max Wilkinson to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan 

 

MHCLG Planning Practice Guidance published in March included a new paragraph encouraging local authorities to work together on Community Infrastructure Levy contributions to build cross-boundary infrastructure.  Will this guidance provide an opportunity for using the JCS CIL money to fund the Cheltenham to Bishops Cleeve cycle path?  

 

 

Response from the Leader

 

The Community Infrastructure Levy scheme (CIL), introduced on 1st January 2019, provides an opportunity for the JCS authorities to work together to agree arrangements for CIL governance, CIL priorities, and in turn CIL spend.

 

As part of the preparation of the JCS, an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) was developed. The IDP identifies a range of infrastructure projects that are required to ensure the successful delivery of growth across the JCS area.

 

A ‘Cheltenham to Bishops Cleeve’ cycle path is not specifically mentioned in the IDP. The IDP does include some general/non-specified funding requirements for ‘Community and Culture’ and ‘Green Infrastructure’. Furthermore, the IDP will be reviewed as part of the ongoing JCS review.   However, proposals such as these are recognised in the emerging transport strategy – Connecting Cheltenham and this will in due course provide part of the evidence base informing future decisions on CIL spend.

 

Proposals for joint governance, which will be presented to members in the Autumn, will provide opportunities for such cross boundary schemes to be considered.

 

2.

Question from Councillor Max Wilkinson to Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Clean air continues to be a hot topic. One of the contributors to harmful emissions in our town centre is idling engines. What measures can the council take to introduce an enforcement regime to prevent emissions from public transport providers, including private hire and Hackney carriage vehicles?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member Development & Safety

 

The percentage contribution that idling engines may be having on local air pollution is not quantified and in fact, this behaviour may well be adversely impacting the air quality in other areas more than the town centre, for example, outside schools.

 

Although there is an enforcement measure available to deal with idling engines (which involves a fine), research indicates this is labour intensive, ineffective and does not result in large scale sustainable behaviour change, or improved air quality. For example, only 29 fines were issued across the country in 2018. In addition, the low level of the fine does not act as a deterrent, or allow enforcement authorities to fully recover their costs.  The offence of ‘idling’ comes from Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the initial fine is just £20.

 

The latest research is available online at airqualitynews.com https://airqualitynews.com/2019/03/07/exclusive-idling-enforcement-branded-not-fit-for-purpose-as-just-a-handful-of-fines-issued-during-2018/

 

The council will continue to maximise opportunities to deliver air quality benefits by engaging with partners, major employers and the public on long term behaviour change and improved air quality measures. The current borough-wide ‘Air Quality Management Area’ (AQMA) is likely to be revoked this year, with smaller area/s of air quality management identified instead. Part of this work will include creating a new Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) containing a suite of air quality improvement measures, in collaboration with partners such as public transport providers, including taxi and private hire firms.

 

In a supplementary question, the member asked whether councillors would work with him to express their support for the School Streets in an open letter. The response was to offer their support.

 

3.

Question from Councillor David Willingham to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Could the Cabinet Member please advise whether this Council has a strategy or policy for proactively identifying and subsequently eradicating invasive, non-native plants (as defined in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) from council-owned land?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment

 

The council records the occurrence of invasive non-native species where they occur on its land on its geographical information system. Where green space staff or contractors encounter non-native species in the course of their daily work, they will report it to the green space team, who will verify the sighting and record it on the mapping system. Once identified the weeds are then treated in an approved manner to either control or eradicate them.

 

Schedule 9 of the Countryside and Wildlife Act is extensive and contains many animals, insects and plants. The most commonly found invasive, non-native plants are Japanese Knotweed, Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum and New Zealand pigmy weed. Currently, we only have a few locations where Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan balsam is present.  Sightings of Giant hogweed in Cheltenham are rare and have turned out to be common hogweed on closer inspection.

 

The law states that we must not plant these species, or cause them to grow in the wild and we do not have a statutory duty to control or eradicate them where they occur on our land. However, given the potential damage that Japanese knotweed can cause to adjacent buildings, and the harmful sap associated with giant hog weed, it is our policy to remove, or control these species where they occur on our land.