Agenda item

Discussion with Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment

To question Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment, on the operation of services within his portfolio and any upcoming issues. (20 minutes).


A list of the Executive Member for Environment’s specific portfolio responsibilities is attached.



Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment, had been invited to discuss current issues relating to his portfolio and to take questions from Committee members. Josie Wragg (Head of Community Services) was also in attendance.


Councillor Ross referred to the following issues:


Grass cutting – following intensive work with the new contractor the overall situation was much improved. Members and Officers had visited a number of areas to discuss local issues with Ward Members and Town/Parish Councils. The lessons learned in mobilising the new contract would be reflected in the 2017 grass cutting programme. Councillor Ross asked Members to provide details of any local areas where there were still problems or concerns relating to grass cutting or proposed future planting.


During the discussion of this item the following points were made:


·       Members asked to be involved in discussions about the specific local areas to be used for wildflower planting;


·       Members asked for more details of the planned improvements to Council sports pitches arising out of the new contract arrangements.


Waste recycling levels – in line with national trends the Council’s waste recycling performance had plateaued in recent years (the 2015/16 actual figure was 38%). In line with the Waste Framework Directive the Council had to achieve a recycling target of 50% by 2020 in order to avoid significant financial penalties.


Work was ongoing through a Member working group and the re3 partnership to identify new initiatives to improve recycling rates. It was noted that the Councils with the highest recycling rates had adopted a combination of food waste recycling, containment of residual waste, alternate week (or longer) collections and robust enforcement activity. A significant driver of improvement would be the Council’s new waste contract, to be implemented in 2019.


During the discussion of this item the following points were made:


·       Members noted that the amount of packaging used by supermarkets had reduced, however some of this packaging could not be recycled;


·       Recent Member briefings on waste issues had been held with a total of 32 Members in attendance;


·       It was important to maintain high levels of communication with residents about changes to the waste collection arrangements;


·       Members asked for details of the new charging regime for DIY materials, set out in the recently published Waste Acceptance Policy.


Country Parks – the progress made at Dinton Pastures Country Park, including the recent Marvellous Festival, was highlighted. Attention was now turning to California Country Park. A planning application was due to be submitted in the autumn relating to an improved access road and car parking provision. If approved, work was likely to commence at California Country Park in the autumn of 2017, with completion in time for the 2018 summer season.


Flooding and drainage – Councillor Jarvis referred to the recent localised flooding in the Borough and asked about the implications for the potential sites recently put forward in relation to the Local Plan Update. Councillor Ross confirmed that all sites put forward for consideration would be assessed in terms of flood risk in conjunction with Thames Water. Members discussed the planning position relating to the permeable surfacing of front gardens in order to reduce the risk of flooding.




1)      Councillor Ross and Josie Wragg be thanked for attending the meeting;


2)      Members notify Councillor Ross and Josie Wragg of any ongoing local problem areas or concerns relating to grass cutting or planting;


3)      Josie Wragg circulate details of planned improvements to sports pitches and the link to the new re3 Waste Acceptance Policy.


Supporting documents: