Agenda item

Directors Update - Director of Communities, Housing and Environment

To receive a verbal update from the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment.



The Director of Communities, Housing and Environment provided the Committee with a verbal update on the work of the multitude of the services covered by the directorate.


James Rogers, The Director of Communities, Housing and Environment presented the following information to the Committee:

  • The directorate covered the following public facing departments; Climate, Energy and Green Spaces (CEGS), Environmental Services, Safer Stronger Communities, Community Hubs and Welfare and Elections and Regulatory (including Environmental Health).
  • Leeds City Council had been awarded an A grade rating, for the second year in a row, in November 2023 by the Carbon Disclosure Project. The submission is led by the CEGS team. 119 other cities had received an A rating and Leeds was in the top 13% performing authorities globally.
  • CEGS were at the forefront of substantial work to decarbonise the infrastructure within the district, including the expansion of the Leeds PIPES Network. A report was due to be considered by the Executive Board on the Leeds PIPES district heating network in February 2024.
  • Decarbonisation schemes had been delivered across a range of buildings, including, schools, leisure centres and heritage buildings, in support of other service areas advancement of climate initiatives.
  • The Leeds Food Strategy had been launched in 2023, in line with the Council’s climate emergency response.
  • Methods to improve green spaces, biodiversity and climate adaptability were outlined, including tree planting, with the Trees for Streets programme being piloted, wildfire and drainage management training, insect hotels, 128 Urban Buzz hotspots and relaxed mowing area extensions.
  • The Housing Strategy had been adopted in 2022 which included a focus on the improvement of energy efficiency. £100 million of funding for renewable heating and energy efficiency projects was to be delivered over 2020 to 2025. A complementary Net Zero Housing Plan had also been developed.
  • £15 million had been secured as part of the Home Upgrade Grant to improve the building fabric and heating systems for up to 750 low income private homes, as well as £200,000 from the Green Home Finance Accelerator for middle income homes.
  • Partnership work with Lloyds Banking Group and Octopus Energy was ongoing to research retrofit co-ordination for ‘able to pay’ homes.
  • As part of the West Yorkshire Housing Bid, a successful bid for £14.7 million of Social Housing Decarbonisation Funds had been secured, supporting a range of works.
  • 59 high rise blocks have now had renewable heating sources installed, as part of the Leeds PIPES and Ground Source Heat Pumps projects, with more blocks to follow.
  • Safer Stronger Communities supported Community Committees and were involved in creating pocket parks, installing hanging baskets, tree planting and improving energy efficiency for community buildings, as well as partnership work with ‘In Bloom’ and ‘Friends of’ groups.
  • Elections and Regulatory covered responsible pest control, electric vehicle (EV) opportunities, incentives for taxi and private hire for EV, reductions in the need for travel with approximately 50,000 people registered for postal votes and reductions in energy use with portable buildings or generators no longer used at polling stations.
  • Environmental Services had reduced their grey fleet mileage by 26% compared to the previous financial year. Only 0.29% of collected household waste was sent to landfill, including all black, green and brown bins. The service also manages 8 household waste recycling sites, litter bins, and bulky collections.
  • The Newmarket House facility had enabled Environmental Services to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. 
  • A new Waste Strategy was in development, alongside the revision of waste collection routes. The Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) recovered energy from non-recyclable household waste and provided heat for the Leeds PIPES network.
  • Community Hubs and Welfare were engaged with the Community Hub Development Programme, which explored methods for broader management of energy saving and decarbonisation. The service also supported adaptive and flexible measures for the public to access Hubs and Welfare services in light of weather changes and has put in place checklists for extreme heat events.
  • Adaptations for working during heatwaves were considered across the directorate (and Council), with new guidance put in place including flexible hours and alternative work locations wherever practical, welfare checks, regular breaks for staff working outdoors, and provision of sun cream and water.
  • Statistics for the reduction of business mileage across the services for the last financial year were noted as; Customer Access, Welfare and Business support by 34%, Environmental Services by 26%, Elections and Regulatory by 23%, Stronger, Safer Communities by 11% and Housing by 9%. The comparison for CEGS was not available due to the impact of the change in the service’s directorate and scope but reductions were expected.


The Committee’s discussions included the following matters:

  • Given the high footfall at Community Hubs, and similar venues, it was noted to be an appropriate arena to distribute information to the public regarding carbon reduction and climate initiatives taken by the Council and opportunities for individuals. Officers noted that hubs were already used to promote schemes (such as leaflet and poster sharing) and agreed to explore further pro-active engagement with individuals at Hubs, although resource constraints were noted as a barrier.
  • Methods for external partners working in Housing services, such as Mears, to improve their carbon footprint, with multiple re-visits often required to resolve issues, were noted to be addressed through stronger requirements upon renewal of contract agreements. The frustration and carbon output involved with re-visits were understood and more information on existing contractual agreements were to be provided back to Members.
  • It was confirmed that a map covering the locations for the Urban Buzz hotspots was not available; Members noted this would be a useful tool for communities and to identify where more provision was required, in consultation with communities.
  • Urban Buzz, Trees for Streets, Bio-diversity Net Gain and similar schemes should be consulted with the public. It was desirable to create a mapping system to cover green space development. Community Committees were noted to be an appropriate avenue for promotion.
  • In response to a question relating to what the 0.29% of household waste going to landfills was comprised of, it was outlined that some waste was unable to be disposed of via existing recycling contract arrangements and also, national definitions for recycling did not allow for all 99.71% of waste to be considered ‘recycled’ or ‘recovered’ despite being converted into energy or ash.
  • It was confirmed that pest control was no longer outsourced, and the associated vehicle fleet was electric.
  • Further information relating to the carbon impact of returning lost or replacement keys to tenants was agreed to be provided back to Members. This was raised in response to the figures for costs and visits required for lost keys that had been noted.
  • A visit to the RERF was scheduled for the 23rd of January 2024 at 4:00pm as part of the training induction programme for recently Elected Ward Members. The offer to the visit was extended to Committee Members but given the short notice, it was also noted there were more visits planned with dates to be confirmed.
  • The process for reducing business mileage and allowances for further improvements were queried. In response it was noted further analysis was required to understand the full scope of potential improvements, but the figures outlined good progress, however, further data may display smaller reductions in business mileage.
  • Monitoring energy use at Community Hubs, leisure centres and civic buildings was covered by the Planned Maintenance team. Remote monitoring was noted to be resource and cost intensive but provided a better diagnosis model for any energy issues or leaks. As part of the Community Hub review, through Asset Management, remote monitoring work was ongoing.


RECCOMENDED – That the update, along with Members comments, be noted.