Executive Members Updates
- Meeting of SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE, Thursday, 15 March 2018 10.00 a.m. (Item 71.)
To receive a brief verbal update from the Executive Member for Community Services and the Executive Member for Regeneration.
The Executive Member for Community Services advised the Committee that due to a recent cold spell there had been an 80 percent uplift in the amount of gritting runs carried out by the authority in comparison to the previous year and that the service would continue to react to inclement weather as necessary. Salt bins would be refilled as demand required but Members were also encouraged to report any empty bins within their local areas. Members were advised that any damage to the roads during the winter period was not caused by salt, instead variations in temperatures affected the integrity of concrete and tarmac, causing it to break down. In addition, Members were reassured that ongoing works to Dunstable Leisure Centre were progressing well.
The Deputy Executive Member for Community Services advised the Committee that a recent public consultation in relation to waste collections within the region had received the largest response to any other public consultation to date, public information sessions were being held regularly across the region in libraries and public buildings and that all responses would be assessed prior to any final decision being made. The new Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) at Thorn Turn, Dunstable was complete but due to delays in the issuing of a waste license via the Environment Agency, the site was not yet open to the public. Members were reassured that the existing HWRC in Dunstable would remain open until Thorn Turn was ready in order that the public could still dispose of waste locally.
The Executive Member for Regeneration advised that a recent consultation in relation to the Local Plan had concluded and that a significant number of resident opposition groups had been formed, with representation to Central Government expected by them in the near future. Members were reminded of the importance of having a valid Local Plan in order that the Council could meet their obligations in relation to a five year land supply, the absence of which would result in sanctions and an inability to determine planning applications locally, increasing the possibility of appeals being upheld by the Planning Inspector. An HGV ban towards the east of the M1 had recently been introduced which had resulted in a significant decrease in the amount of lorries travelling on local roads although there were still a core number cutting through villages and towns. An operation to combat this had been mounted and as a result a number of HGV’s had been booked or warned with Members encouraged to report any they saw in their local area.
In response to a Member query the Executive Member confirmed that the Government were currently reviewing a financial viability loophole often used by developers to deliver fewer affordable houses than originally agreed with local authorities and agreed that the wording in a recent national press article had been unhelpful. It was clarified that Central Bedfordshire was one of the worst affected areas due to the loophole, rather than being one of the worst ‘offenders’ as stated within the article which Members agreed was misleading.