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Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents
To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 25* of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded).
(* In accordance with Procedure Rule 25, notice of an appeal must be received in writing by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting).
There were no appeals against refusal of inspection of documents.
Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public
1. To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.
2. To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.
3. If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-
RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:
No exempt items have been identified.
There were no exempt items.
To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.
(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)
There were no late items.
Declaration of Interests
To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.
No declarations of interests were made at the meeting.
Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes
To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Hannan, Tudor and Harrington. Cllr Thompson attended as substitute for Cllr Hannan.
It was also noted that Cllr Rafique as Executive Member would not be attending for Item 7 – Future of Waste Services.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2023.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd June 2023 be approved as a correct record.
Minute 10 – Performance Report
Members requested that future performance reports include core city comparisons for recycling rates. In the interim the 2021/22 data as published by Defra was provided by John Woolmer and circulated to members on 18 July.
To receive an update from the Chief Officer for Environmental Services on the future of waste services in Leeds.
The report of the Chief Officer Environmental Services provided the Scrutiny Board with an update on the Waste Strategy and the future design of waste services.
In attendance for this item were:
· James Rogers - Director, Communities, Housing & Environment
· John Woolmer - Chief Officer, Environmental Services
The Chief Officer presented the report:
· This update followed previous updates to the Board received in 2021/22 and 22/23.
· It outlined some of the challenges around national timelines for legislative changes and some of the potential financial implications of those challenges.
· The report also provided an update on the refuse route review and a proposed kerbside glass collection trial.
In response to questions from Members the Chief Officer provided the following information:
· The report had tried to capture the most likely options for future kerbside collections to meet new national requirements. It was acknowledged that there was not a ‘one size fits all’ and the service were looking at options for the different areas of the city. The challenges presented in areas of high density, terraced housing with little garden/drive space was given as an example of how alternatives to providing more bins would probably be needed.
· The Board was advised that the route review will move more properties to alternate weekly bin collections (AWC) in those areas of the city that still do not have this service, subject to consultation with local ward members to ensure local support.
· The Chief Officer suggested he meet with Ward Members, where alternate bin collections were not happening. The areas listed were Headingley, Hyde Park, Burley, Kirkstall, Woodhouse and Armley.
· Members would shortly be receiving an email inviting them to look at maps of the proposed routes during August and September, with a view that the new routes would be implemented in Autumn. Information would be provided to ward members that highlighted which streets have been moved to AWC and included on “hard to access” routes, together with details on route future proofing for planned housing developments in the ward.
· In response to a concern raised about the quality of wheely bins, it was explained that the contractor is appointed through a vigorous procurement process which shows their bins meet and usually exceed the industry standard required. It was noted that where bins do become broken there is a procedure for supplying new, replacement bins. Green bins are replaced free of charge, an admin fee is charged to supply and deliver replacement black and brown bins Members were advised that where a black or brown bin was broken during the process of emptying it there would be no charge to the resident.
· It was acknowledged that the end of day reports had improved significantly in terms of the information provided. However, the service recognised that there were still improvements to be made in terms of all missed streets being recorded/reported and this was an ongoing priority for the service. It was the view that with the current investment in upgraded technology in all cabs the issue ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
To receive a report from the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment regarding the implementation of the Community Committee Review, which was agreed at Executive Board on the 21 June 2023.
The Director of Communities, Housing and Environment presented a report which sought the support of the Environment, Housing & Communities Scrutiny Board for the implementation of the Community Committee Review, which was agreed at Executive Board on the 21st June 2023. The report set out proposals to review the Community Committees and work aligned to the committees from September 2023.
In attendance for this item were:
· Cllr Mary Harland - Executive Member for Communities
· Paul Money - Chief Officer, Safer, Stronger Communities
· Liz Jarmin - Head of Locality Partnerships
The Chief Officer presented the report highlighting the following points:
· In June 2023 the Executive Board supported a recommendation to undertake a full review of the Community Committee structure, involving all 99 Councillors and Scrutiny function.
· It had been agreed in the last municipal year, that all five Scrutiny Boards would take forward the recommendations of the LGA Peer Review related to the remits of the Scrutiny Boards
· The review of the Community Committees would be in consultation with all Councillors, officers in the Localities Teams and other key stakeholders.
· Officers set out proposals for a member working group including representation from all scrutiny boards, to be chaired by the Executive Member.
· It was proposed that updates on the outcome of the series of wider member working groups should be brought to the Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board during 2023/24.
In response to questions from Members the Board were provided with the following information:
· It was acknowledged that the boundaries for the Community Committees were not included in this review. It was suggested that they should be considered due to the changes in the parliamentary boundaries. It was noted that the boundaries could be considered.
· It was the view that 2 member workshops will have been completed by Christmas 2023, and that emerging thoughts on improvements to the community committee arrangements could be brought to the Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board towards the end of the year.
· It was suggested that this was an opportunity to reshape the Community Committees to increase community engagement and deliver more benefits for residents.
· Members recommended that scrutiny nominees to the member working group chaired by the Executive Member, should not prioritise Community Committee chairs to ensure as wide a range of representation on the group as possible.
· Its proposed, that the member workshops would be held on the morning of full Council to engage with as many of the 99 Councillors as possible.
RESOLVED - To note the content of the report and:
a) Provide feedback on the scope and timescales for the review.
b) Support the review of Community Committees and their constitutional role in helping to shape and influence place.
c) Note the proposal to establish a cross scrutiny Member Working Group, Chaired by the Executive Member for Communities, to support and guide the review process.
To receive a Referral to Scrutiny in the name of Cllr W Dixon regarding the impact of radon gas on social housing tenants.
The report of the Head of Democratic Services presented details of a referral to scrutiny that falls within the remit of the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities). Cllr Wayne Dixon had requested that members consider a request to schedule detailed future scrutiny of issues relating to the impact of radon gas on the health of social housing tenants.
In attendance for this item were:
· Cllr Lennox - Executive Member for Housing
· Cllr Wayne Dixon – Referrer
· Gerard Tinsdale - Chief Officer Housing
· Adam Crampton - Head of Property Management
· Dawn Bailey - Chief Officer Public Health
Cllr Dixon attended the Scrutiny Board as the referrer of this item to raise his concerns in relation to radon gas and its effects on residents of Leeds particularly in social housing in Middleton Park, Belle Isle, Morley and Rothwell.
Cllr Dixon highlighted the following points:
· Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas which occurs naturally in all rocks and soils.
· The impact of exposure to radon is a risk to health and can cause cancer. Maps had been provided in the submitted report for Members information.
· It was noted that a resident of Kirkstall had highlighted the issue of radon gas to Cllr Dixon after they had done some research following the death of a family member from lung and ovarian cancer. It was noted that testing by Yorkshire Water had highlighted that radiation was above normal in the drinking water to the property.
· It was acknowledged that the Head of Leeds Property Management and the Director of Housing and Environment had sought testing from UKHSA and the British Geological Survey in 2022. It had highlighted that 52,000 social houses across Leeds were affected by radon gas. Morley was one of the worst affected wards and testing had been carried out there.
In response to this referral officers from Housing, Property Management and Public Health attended the meeting to provide the following information for the Board:
· UKHSA has advised that the risk from radon gas in the city is low. However, the Council wanted to take a lead role on confirming this position, and not rely on generic information. Therefore, the Council wanted to carry out further testing.
· It was recognised that Leeds is not the only area to be affected by radon gas, but it affects areas such as South Wales and the South West of the country to a greater degree.
· Clarification was provided on some of the information presented in the report. In the report it had suggested that 52,000 homes were potentially at risk from radon gas. However, 45,000 council homes are in the low banding of less than 1% risk category, which effectively means no risk. 9,136 homes are in the 1-3% and 3-5% risk category.
· The Council had commissioned an assessment through UKHSA which was the information provided in the report and had been in relation to action on a Freedom of Information request.
· The 9,136 properties are the properties being tested. Middleton and Belle Isle are ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2023/24 municipal year.
The report of the Head of Democratic Services presented the draft work schedule for the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities) which was presented at Appendix 1 for consideration and discussion. It was noted that reflected in the work schedule are known items of scrutiny activity, such as performance and budget monitoring, identified Budget and Policy Framework items and specific member requests for individual work items.
The Principal Scrutiny Adviser informed Members that the work schedule would be updated to reflect suggested future items from this meeting.
Members were advised of a remote working group for members of all Scrutiny Board members with the Chief Officer Financial Services on 21st September 2023.
Members were asked to note that a remote working group would take place on 15 December 2023 to discuss the initial budget proposals so far as they relate to the remit of the Board on 15th December 2023. There will be further opportunity to discuss the proposals in the public meeting on 25 January 2024. Conclusions and recommendations from members of all five scrutiny boards will be captured in a composite report presented to the Executive Board in February 2024.
The Executive Board minutes from the meeting held on 21 June 2023 were appended to the report as Appendix 2.
RESOLVED – To note the content of the report.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities) will take place on 14 September 2023 at 10.30am. there will be a pre-meeting for all members of the Scrutiny Board at 10.00am.
RESOLVED – To note the next public meeting of the Scrutiny Board will take place on 14th September at 10.30am. There will be a pre-meeting for all board members at 10.00am.
Meeting concluded at 12:15