Meeting Details

Environment and Sustainability Panel
24 Jun 2021 - 18:00 to 20:00
Occurred
  • Documents
  • Attendance
  • Visitors
  • Declarations of Interests

Documents

Agenda

Part A
1 Welcome and Announcements
The Chairman will welcome members of the public and Councillors to the meeting and remind those participating to mute their microphones when not talking. The Chairman will invite all Councillors and Officers participating in the meeting to introduce themselves.
2 Substitutions
Councillors will be asked to say if they are attending on behalf of a Committee member who is absent.
3 Urgent Items
The Chairman will announce if there is any item not on the published agenda which will be considered because it is urgent and will explain the reason for the urgency.
4 Declarations of Interest
Councillors will be asked to say if there are any items on the agenda about which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest which would prevent them from participating in any discussion of the item or participating in any vote upon the item, or any other pecuniary interest or non-pecuniary interest.
5 Minutes of Previous Meeting
The Councillors will be invited to confirm that the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2021 are a correct record.
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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2021 be confirmed as a correct record.

6 Have Your Say!
The Chairman will invite members of the public to indicate if they wish to speak or present a petition on any item included on the agenda or any other matter relating to the terms of reference of the meeting. Please indicate your wish to speak at this point if your name has not been noted by Council staff.
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Councillor Goacher attended the meeting and addressed the Panel and advised that he had been approached by market traders on Culver Street who had sought his assistance with providing reusable cotton bags, as they were very keen to stop the current use of plastic bags. He noted that large high street retailers in the area were now providing cotton bags to their customers but for the street traders this was not economically viable without assistance. It was suggested that possibly Members could assist via their locality budgets, with the Council and the traders themselves also contributing. Councillor Goacher stated that he had been contacted by a local resident who had requested assistance with recycling plastic bags, as these were not accepted by the Council’s recycling service.

 

Councillor Julie Young noted that in the past Colchester Borough Council (the Council) had moved away from the use of plastic bags toward paper bags for its own services, and she further noted that the food bank had been requesting plastic bags, and it may be possible for bags to be collected and then passed on.

 

Councillor Cory supported the idea, and suggested that the Panel may wish to make a recommendation to Cabinet that this be explored further. He noted that the Council had been in receipt of funding via the Reopening High Street Safely Fund, and wondered whether this funding could assist, together with exploring the idea of matched funding supported by Colchester’s Business Improvement District (BID).

 

Councillor King also supported the proposal and recommended that Officers look at the options that may be available, potentially including considering the use of fully compostable biodegradable plastic bags. He did, however, urge caution in relation to the Council being seen to favour one small business over another, and suggested that the BID be the first point of consultation.

Mandy Jones, Assistant Director – Place and Client Services noted the suggestions made and referred to the Council’s desire to make climate change and sustainability part of all projects in the future, which could potentially be included within the scope of the funding obtained. She explained that the different financial options would need to be considered carefully before deciding on any action.

 

The Panel had received a written representation from Mr Dave Smith, which was read out by Matthew Evans, Democratic Services Officer. Mr Smith expressed his concern about the continued flooding that was experienced at the Hythe, and the significant disruption that this caused to visitors to the area, as well as residents and local business. He noted that recently a doctor on call had been forced to abandon her car which had become stranded in floodwater, and he urged the Panel to consider what solutions may be available.

 

Councillor Scordis explained that a Hythe task force had been set up with the local Member of Parliament and other partner agencies with a view to seeking a solution to the problems, which were a major source of disruption in the area. He noted that a solution to the problem would likely take a long time to find, but expressed hope in the fact that interested partner agencies were now working together to address the issue.

 

Councillor Jowers, commented that in his view the issues in the area had started when the Council had stopped dredging the river twenty years ago, allowing silt to build up which contributed to the problem. He explained that he was a member of the Regional Flood Defence Body for East Anglia, an resolved to push this matter as a matter of urgency, noting the importance of the road that was affected which operated as Colchester’s south circular road. He considered that the responsibility lay with Anglia Water and the Environment Agency to address the issues, and he was pleased to note that the Council was applying pressure to get remedial works carried out.

 

Rory Doyle, Assistant Director – Environment, advised the Panel that the issue required a multi-agency response, and he confirmed that a task force had been set up recently to look at the issues. He advised that work had been undertaken recently by Anglia Water, in liaison with the Council’s own engineers. He understood that the work carried out had been successful to a degree, and that at a spring high tide today, the same level of flooding had not been observed, leading to less disruption. With regard to work at Distillery Pond, Rory confirmed that Essex County Council had undertaken a significant amount of work in this area looking at surface water and draining from the pond. He confirmed that the flooding was a complex issue and Haven Road itself was below the high tide line and so would always be subject to a degree of risk in that area leading to a need to mitigate the effects of such flooding.

 

Cyril Liddy addressed the Panel and noted the poor state of the River Colne, which, in his view had started deteriorating following the Colchester Borough Council Act 2001 which had allowed the Council to close the harbour to commercial shipping. He requested that the Panel give consideration to acquiring the middle part of Ferry Marsh which was a nature reserve and prone to serious flooding due to the silting up of a poorly constructed sluice. He noted that during flooding, the Wivenhoe Trail became almost impassable, and mosquitos bred on the site, constituting a potential public health risk, and he considered that there was a risk that flood water could erode the nearby railway embankment. He urged the Council to take its custodianship of the river seriously and not abdicate this responsibility to other agencies that managed rivers. He advised that the Council should act decisively to acquire the middle part of Ferry Marsh at no cost as per the section 106 agreement reached with the developers, and to apply any unspent funds to constructing a properly functioning sluice.

 

Councillor Cory confirmed that he had recently been in correspondence with Officers who had been working to bring any land that was in the Crown Estate into Colchester Borough Council ownership to allow the sluice to be reached more easily to assist in reaching a sustainable solution. He noted that although it used to be possible to walk through the centre of the marsh, it should now be accepted that the area had changed and this would no longer be possible, however, he completely supported preserving the Wivenhoe Trail and confirmed that he had been in communication with a local sailing club with a view to attempting to clean the sluice from the river. He further advised the Panel that the Environment Agency had recently confirmed that following budget cuts they were no longer able to support the maintenance of waterways to the extent that they would like.

 

Councillor Jowers supported the views of Councillor Cory and considered that the marsh was environmentally useful and noted that in the past the owner of the lease of the river had been resistant to working with the Council, an issue which he now believed had been resolved. The management of the area was a massive undertaking, and there was a need to balance management of the land with financial constraints to make the area environmentally sustainable and also human friendly. He noted the beauty of the river, and considered that more use could be made of it, possibly by increasing access points for members of the public. He offered his support for Mt Liddy’s suggestion, but considered that a much wider view needed to be taken of the area.

 

Councillor King supported the views of Councillor Jowers, and noted that some consideration had been given to how best to approach the issue, and it had been advised that the issue was best dealt with via the Council’s Policy Panel. He did request that future updates on the emerging stewardship of the river be brought back to this Panel as events unfolded and the opportunities afforded by this area were explored.

 

Councillor Scordis expressed his reservations about referring the issue to Policy Panel, noting that this area had been considered by that Panel in the past and was worried that no progress would be made. He considered that significant parts of the work were suitable for this Panel and was therefore not in favour of passing all the matter to Policy Panel, considering that environmental aspects could be considered by the Environment and Sustainability Panel, with the Policy Panel focussing on potential commercial elements of any scheme. Speaking as a Member of the Policy Panel, Councillor Jowers agreed with this proposal and suggested that this Panel work up a scheme considering the environmental impacts and associated costs, and refer this scheme to Policy Panel to insist that it then be referred on to Cabinet to consider. He considered that grants would be available to support any work that was necessary.

Councillor Young supported the suggestion that this Panel consider the environmental elements of a river management scheme, with the potential commercial elements of the scheme being referred to Policy Panel. Councillor Jowers suggested that the Chair of the Policy Panel be consulted to seek his views on where the division should lie.

 

Councillor King advised the Panel that Essex County Council had recently introduced a walking strategy which included a concentration on nature walks and the undiscovered coastline of Essex, and suggested that it may be possible to take advantage of this.

 

Rory Doyle acknowledged the wide range of opportunities that the river provided in respect of its contribution to the regeneration of the town, economic prosperity and health and wellbeing, in addition to its environmental qualities, and he suggested that it was difficult to separate out each individual element. The Panel were advised that the work programme proposed was quite full, whereas there was space on the Policy Panel work programme where any report dealing with the river would receive the necessary level of scrutiny. He confirmed that the Council’s Countryside Team had been liaising with developers in respect of the marsh and sluice gate.

 

Cyril Liddy suggested that the Council’s legal department should speak to the Treasury Solicitor to make enquiries as to the cost of acquiring Ferry Marsh as he considered this was the appropriate action to be taken, a stance that was supported by Councillor Cory.

 

Councillor Jowers suggested that the Policy Panel be asked to consider the management of the river, but that the Policy Panel be asked to refer the environmental aspects of the management of the river to be referred back to this Panel, prior to a referral being made to Cabinet.

 

RESOLVED: that Officers ask that Leadership Board request that an agenda item on the management of the River Colne be put forward to the Policy Panel.

 

The Panel had received a written representation from Andrew Wilkinson representing En-form and Eco Colchester, which was read out by Matthew Evans, Democratic Services Officer. Mr Wilkinson referred to the previous meeting of the Panel, and enquired when the development document on sustainability and carbon reduction that had been suggested for the Local Plan be produced. He further enquired what the natural asset list was, and where this could be located, and he suggested that Local Plan needed to reflect wild areas and open space as well as housing and development as well as local farmland.

Mandy Jones advised the Panel that the document referred to by Mr Wilkinson was the supplementary planning document (SPD) which would support the Local Plan in terms of environment and sustainability. The SPD needed to be linked with the emerging Local Plan and work on this was expected to take place later on in the year following adoption of the Local Plan and the completion of this SPD was anticipated by autumn 2022. She advised the Panel that the Local Plan did take account of areas of the natural environment which required protection, as well as housing development. The Panel were advised that there was no specific natural asset list, but rather several ways that natural assets were recorded both locally and nationally and could be accessed on a variety of websites, as well as in the evidence base for the Local Plan. Protected species were also routinely surveyed, and a variety of environmental suitability checks were made in respect of each major planning application.

Grace Darke, representing En-form and Eco Colchester attended the meeting and addressed the Panel. She expressed concern that until recently no training had been offered to Councillors in relation to environmental matters, which was surprising considering that the Council had declared a climate emergency. She acknowledged that training had recently been offered, and sought confirmation on the level of attendance for the session. She further called for additional training for all Councillors and staff on environmental issues to be made compulsory in order to raise awareness and understanding of the issues. She believed that the lack of training and understanding was causing confusion, and would welcome the opportunity to attend any future training sessions in order that feedback could be provide. Concern was raised on how the Council’s environmental policies and projects were being communicated to Councillors and residents, and the ‘No Mow’ policy was given as an example of this. The challenge of communicating the Council’s policies to local residents was acknowledged, however, it was suggested that more could be done to inform Council staff, Councillors and local residents of these.

Councillor Young noted that a number of Councillors did communicate with En-Form on a variety of social media channels, including debates with local residents on Facebook community pages, however, she acknowledged that future training was important to assist Councillors with their role as community leaders to champion the policies adopted by the Council. The training that had been provided had taken place soon after the local elections had taken place, and it was acknowledged that not all Councillors had been able to attend due to other commitments.

Councillor Cory acknowledged the work that had been undertaken by the Council over the preceding years, but conceded that there was still work to be done and improvements in the communication of Council projects could be made. It was noted that training on environmental issues was included for the first time in the new Member induction programme, but it was suggested that this should now be offered as stand alone training, possibly supported by additional briefings as necessary to ensure that all Councillors understood current policy issues, potentially attended by Eco Colchester and En-Form who Councillor Cory was keen to work with.

Councillor King acknowledged the progress that had been made by the Council and although he conceded that there was still some way to go, he did not feel that compulsory training was the answer, preferring that Councillors and Officers were drawn in to support the work of the Council voluntarily through the offering of smaller, more digestible training sessions. It was suggested that there may be scope for mandatory training on the climate challenge as part of the new Member induction process as this was key to the environmental work of the Council, and it was noted that very good attendance had been obtained over the previous year in relation to financial and pandemic briefings. Councillor King confirmed that he would raise this issue as a member of the Member Development Group to ensure that training may be incorporated in the future, stating that environmental issues were widely supported by the Council as a whole, regardless of individual politics.

Councillor Jowers confirmed that he was a member of the Climate Change Commission of Essex County Council, and hoped that the work of this Panel would compliment that which was being aimed for at County level. He supported the comments of other Councillors with regard to training and said that in his opinion training should not be compulsory, and while it may be productive to include training on environmental issues as part of the induction process, care had to be taken that Members were not overloaded.

Councillor Hazell also did not feel that training should be compulsory, and made the point that if any Councillors were unable to attend a training or briefing session then they were presented with the relevant training documents to enable them to peruse these and undertake the training in their own time, something which she felt should continue.

Mandy Jones, Assistant Director – Place and Client Services confirmed that the recent Climate Change and Sustainability induction session had been aimed at new Members, and agreed that future engagement with a much wider audience was important in the future. To this end, a sub-group of the One Colchester group had been set up to consider different engagement methods and future engagement was planned with the University of Essex and Essex County Council.

Maggie Ibrahim, Sustainability and Climate Change Manager, welcomed the offer that had been made by En-Form and Eco Colchester to provide input on future training, and confirmed that of key importance was that Councillors understood the link between sustainability and carbon reduction for any decisions that were taken. It was confirmed that all the training materials and documentation from the recent Climate Change and Sustainability session was available online, and that attendance at this training had encompassed approximately half of all Councillors. The Panel was advised that staff and Councillors were passionate about the Council’s strategies and projects, and work was ongoing to support the behaviour change necessary to deliver the Council’s climate change goals. The Council had developed a strategy which was supported by more than fifty action plans, and a community consultation on the strategic themes was planned with the aim of deepening engagement through a wide variety of partners. Over the coming months, it was intended that the Council’s environmental policies would be more conspicuously promoted, supported by new designs and branding. The recent training had ended with a request to Councillors to indicate areas that they felt they needed more information, be it fleet management, biodiversity or energy management to enable targeted follow up sessions, which were more successfully delivered to willing participants.

Grace Darke welcomed the comments that had been made, and was encouraged by the stance that the Council was taking. She noted that Eco Colchester and En-Form operated at a very local level and had experienced the confusion that was sometimes felt by local residents in relation to environment issues, and she welcomed the progress that she felt would be made by the Council in the near future. She reiterated that En-Form and Eco Colchester would be keen to provide any assistance that they could to Officers in the future.

The Panel will consider a report inviting it to note the overview of the work the Council has done on the Sustainability and Climate Challenge portfolio.
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Maggie Ibrahim, Sustainability and Climate Change Manager, attended the meeting to present the report and assist the Panel with its enquiries. The Panel heard that although a recent independent assessment of the United Kingdom’s climate risk had provided worrying information, the steps that Colchester Borough Council (the Council) had taken provided some hope for the future. The Panel were reminded that the Council had declared a climate emergency in 2019, had developed an action plan in 2020 and had started a consultation looking at eight strategic themes. It was explained that this was necessary due to the dangers posed by global warming, and the United Kingdom had pledged to reduce emissions by 2030, recognising that the impact that reducing emissions had on global temperatures was subject to a thirty year lag.

The Council’s net zero emissions target was set at zero by 2030, and the main sources of the Council’s emissions were the Council’s assets, fleet, and staff travel. Council assets comprised Council operated buildings and sheltered housing stock which used electricity and gas, together with waste production and water consumption. The Panel heard that the Council’s direct emissions accounted for approximately 6,000 tonnes of CO2, however, its indirect emissions, which were outside the scope of the 2030 zero net emissions target, accounted for approximately 27,500 tonnes of CO2. The indirect emissions were produced by the Council’s leased buildings, investments and procured goods and services, and the Panel were assured that were possible it was ensured that companies associated with the Council were aligned with the Council’s commitments to reducing emissions, which was anticipated would lead to a reduction in indirect emissions over the forthcoming years.

The Panel heard that the Council had concluded work to determine where its emissions were coming from, and had developed an Action Plan comprising of fifty actions which was aligned to a new Climate Challenge and Sustainability Strategy (CCSS) which contained eight themes. A lot of work was being undertaken in support of the Council’s Strategy around transportation and infrastructure with alternative mode of transport being explored such as e-cargo bikes and e-scooter, and there had been significant investment in staff training to encourage behaviour change. It was noted that between 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, there had been a reduction in direct carbon emissions of 5.4% and further work was planned with the Carbon Trust to establish milestones that would illustrate the rate of decrease that should be sought in the future.

The Panel heard an update on the work supporting the eight themes contained within the CCSS:

-       Reduce carbon emissions from the Council’s buildings and fleet;

It had been determined that the Council’s fleet and some key assets were high emitters of carbon and work was being undertaken to reduce these levels including decarbonising work in Rowan House, and future studies planned for Leisure World and the Shrub End Depot. The Energy Saving Trust had highlighted that reducing emissions from the Council’s fleet should be carried out gradually over time, taking advantage of new technologies as they became available and the Fleet Transition Plan would be continually evaluated in the future to ensure that appropriate and necessary changes were made.

 

-       The production of renewable energy;

The Panel were advised that the Council were leading in comparison to other Local Authorities in the production of renewal energy, delivered via the Northern Gateway heat network which produced renewable energy for commercial spaces as well as homes and which would be completed by 2024. A solar power energy farm was also under consideration for the future, and the Panel were advised that renewal sources of energy would be linked to the Council’s assets wherever possible to assist emission reduction.

 

-       Enhance Biodiversity and Protect Environment

The work of the Colchester Woodland and Biodiversity Project was highlighted, which had been expanded from just looking at woodland areas to include a much broader range of biodiversity issues as well. Trees and shrubs had been planted and wildlife corridors were being considered to assist pollinators through introducing wildflowers.

 

-       Walking, Cycling and Sustainable Transport

The introduction of e-cargo bikes had been successful, and a variety of local businesses taking part in the pilot scheme, as well as Council staff. The Council had won an award from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for implementing new modes of sustainable transport such as an electric car club, wayfinding and cycle routes. The Council’s CAReless Pollution Campaign had been launched which was aimed to reduce vehicle pollution, and Colchester had been made available for an e-scooter trial which had been highly successful.

 

-       Sustainable Waste Management

Glass and can collections were being separated for recycling and residents were being encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle. Technology had also been introduced to pinpoint which areas were not active in their recycling behaviours to allow further engagement and encouragement.

 

 

-       Enabling: Partnerships and Community Action

The Panel were advised that partnership working was essential to drive down the Council’s indirect emissions, and the Council currently engaged with a very wide range of partners including Eco Colchester, Essex County Council and the Colchester Institute. Work was being undertaken with Community 360 to reach the wider demographic of Colchester’s residents, including those most vulnerable and members of BAME groups. Regular meetings were held with Essex County Council, and work was ongoing with Colchester Institute to support residents in gaining the skills needed for a green economy. The University of Essex had provided support and technical expertise in areas such as strategy development as well as assisting with areas such as consultations and participatory budgeting.

 

-       Sustainable Planning and Development

Although it had not been possible to implement a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) yet, new developments were being asked to consider a Planning and Sustainability checklist, as a way of demonstrating that they had thought about key environmental issues. The use of the checklist was being monitored, and this would be used to help in the development of the forthcoming SPD once the Local Plan had been approved.

 

-       Changing the way we work

A Climate Opportunities Working Group had been put in place which covered all of the Council’s service areas, as well as the commercial companies, to ensure that there was understanding of the impact of projects on emissions and the environment. Key messages had been relayed to the Group in relation to the impacts of projects in terms of carbon generation and reduction, and the net impact of projects. A social value portal had also been implemented, and the Panel would receive a report on this at its November meeting.

 

The Panel heard that work had been undertaken with Councillors, Officers and residents to identify forthcoming areas of work related to carbon reduction, helping to establish key performance indicators to support the Council’s aim to be carbon net zero by 2030. As part of the ongoing key asset decarbonisation review, the Council’s housing stock would be considered, culminating in the agreement of future homes standards up to 2025 to ensure that all new homes were emission net zero ready, including social housing with any retrofitting necessary. A key area of work was the implementation of a new Carbon Management Plan for 2022-2027 which would provide the cost and plan for decarbonising each of the Council’s assets, which would allow an assessment to be carried out to determine which decarbonising works would represent the best value for money.

 

The Council, together with the Council’s commercial companies, would each have a travel plan which would consider details such as how many parking spaces are available at Rowan House, and this would be published online shortly. Additional consultation on the CCSS was planned, and it was hoped that community engagement would be deepened to support the aim of net zero carbon by 2030, in terms of the Council’s direct and indirect emissions.

 

Councillor Cory praised the work that had been undertaken by Officers, particularly the breadth of the work and impact that this had achieved, with a particular emphasis on making the whole organisation aware of the impact on the environment and biodiversity of each decision that was taken. Noting the comments that had been made around communication, he suggested that some of the key achievable goals, outcomes and objectives be the focus of future communication, to make the message of the Council more easily accessible to the public and partners. He expressed his pleasure at the engagement work that had been undertaken with Parish Councils and other partners, and singled out projects such as the Northern Gateway Heat Network and the possibility of a solar panel farm as being worthy of particular note.

 

Councillor Scordis offered his support to the suggestion of greater publicity of the work and principles contained within the CCSS, commenting that although he had seen very clear promotional graphics in the past, he had seen nothing recently. He asked what powers the Council had to enforce more sustainable developments, saying that although the Council could encourage developers to be more environmentally friendly, if this led to a loss of income it was, in practice, unlikely to happen. Support was offered for secure cycle parking in the town, and the location of this was requested. Echoing previous comments made, Councillor Scordis noted that some members of his Political Group had not been aware of the ‘No Mow May’ project, and suggested increased communications around this would have been helpful.

 

Maggie Ibrahim confirmed that once the Local Plan had been through its examination period it would be possible to look more closely at an SPD, which would give the Council more authority to require environmental issues be considered as part of a planning application, but until this happened the Council was encouraging developers to take these issues into account. The encouragement was in a manner that highlighted the cost benefits that were available of providing more ecologically friendly developments, and the Panel heard that some developers were leading examples of low carbon designs. It was confirmed that there was a communication plan in place for the Climate Emergency Action Plan as a whole, as well as key projects that would be delivered under this, and it was intended to share with Parish Councils areas that would be affected by ‘No Mow May’ in order that local residents could be kept informed.

 

Councillor King observed that an admirable ambition had been demonstrated by Officers in their work, and suggested that external resource may be required to support the Council’s desire for greater engagement and participatory development. He suggested to adequately communicate the scope of the Council’s ambition across such a broad range of projects required an excellent communications team, and enquired whether Officers considered that there was currently adequate support for this, and to what extent staff had been emotionally engaged with this work. Maggie Ibrahim explained that care had to be taken when balancing the language of emergency and threat discourse with the language of hope, and communications set out what the challenges were in terms of service delivery and environment, together with how it was proposed to meet those challenges. The point was made that Council staff were also local residents, and any behaviour change that staff experienced would therefore extend out into the local community. Work had been undertaken with local community groups looking at greening and landscaping issues, and it was hoped to be able to provide everyone in the borough opportunities to take climate action in the future. With regard to future resourcing, the Panel heard that it was intended to work with Climate Kic to explore the possibilities of internal investments, as well as potential partnerships with other Local Authorities.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

The Panel will consider a report detailing key progress made with the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP), and other relevant updates since the previous meeting on 11th March 2021.
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Maggie Ibrahim, Sustainability and Climate Change Manager, attended the meeting to present the report and assist the Panel with its enquiries. The Panel heard that work had been undertaken with the Carbon Trust over the preceding years to develop a detailed understanding of the scope of the Council’s carbon emissions, and that a new element of the work being undertaken was in relation to thinking strategically about carbon offsetting in the future. Natural assets would be considered, together with the benefits to be gained from additional tree planting and providing renewable energy with a view to offsetting any emissions that may remain once all possible work to remove these had been completed. Some of the Council’s assets, such as the Town Hall, were not suitable for retrofitting to reduce emissions, and additional strategies therefore had to be considered in respect of these assets.

Councillor Jowers praised the depth of work that had been undertaken, and the high level of detail in the information that had been provided, and he looked forward to receiving the scheduled updates in the future. He noted that the contents of the report were very positive, and hoped to see e-cargo bikes in more rural areas soon.

Councillor Cory confirmed that four e-cargo bikes were currently in use in Wivenhoe, including two used by Wivenhoe Town Council, and a further two used by local businesses. He noted the excellent work that had been undertaken with the assistance of partners, and called for greater understanding of the negative impact that small changes such as paving a driveway had on the environment, and he wondered whether there was scope for parishes to be encouraged to carry out an audit of their environmental assets.

Councillor Scordis commented on the ‘No Mow May’ scheme, and praised the work that had been undertaken to engage local schools, which he considered would prove most effective in influencing behaviour as well as providing benefits for the schools themselves. He echoed the views of the Panel with regard to greater promotion of the excellent work that was being undertaken by the Council. Councillor Hazell confirmed that a number of environmental projects had been undertaken by schools in Shrub End, and expressed her opinion that greater engagement with, and awareness of, environmental issues served to improve quality of life for everyone.

Rory Doyle, Assistant Director – Environment, noted the need for Members and residents to be able to distinguish between grass that was being deliberately re-wilded, and that which was going to be cut, but which had not yet been mowed. The Panel were advised that there had been no reduction in the number of cuts to verges in the borough during May, and every area that was due to be maintained as part of the grounds maintenance regime would continue to be maintained. The exception to this was the list of sites where naturalisation was taking place, which were being closely monitored and managed in order to understand the impact of the approach which the Council was taking before the project was expanded in the future. It was confirmed that each of the sites that had been designated for naturalisation had been paired with a local school, and the schools had designed signs for the sites to indicate that they had been designated for naturalisation.

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

The Panel will consider a report setting out the draft work programme for the forthcoming municipal year. 
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Matthew Evans, Democratic Services Officer, attended the meeting to present the report and assist the Panel with their enquiries. The Panel heard that an additional meeting had been scheduled for 22 July 2021, and that the meetings that had been scheduled for 16 September and 25 November would also be rescheduled in the near future.

RESOLVED that the contents of the work programme be noted, and that additional agreed items be added to the work programme for the future.

Exclusion of the Public (not Scrutiny or Executive)
In accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the public, including the press, from the meeting so that any items containing exempt information (for example confidential personal, financial or legal advice), in Part B of this agenda (printed on yellow paper) can be decided. (Exempt information is defined in Section 100I and Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972).
Part B

Attendance

NameReason for Sending ApologySubstituted By
Councillor Lewis Barber Councillor Pauline Hazell
Councillor Peter Chillingworth  
NameReason for AbsenceSubstituted By
No absentee information has been recorded for the meeting.

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

Visitors

Visitor Information is not yet available for this meeting