Questions, Statements or Deputations
- Meeting of SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE, Thursday, 14 March 2019 10.00 a.m. (Item 134.)
To receive any questions, statements or deputations from members of the public in accordance with the Public Participation Procedure as set out in Part 4G of the Constitution.
The Chairman invited the public speakers to make their statements in accordance with the Public Participation Scheme.
Speaker one raised concerns regarding the effects of LED lighting and 5G technology on public health and outlined the following in summary:-
· Concerns at some reported risks to health, including possible links to cancers.
· The harmful effects of blue lights in public spaces and a request that the Council install yellow or orange street lighting which was deemed safer.
· The amount of small antennas required in populated areas.
· That several large companies had refused to underwrite policy in relation to 5G technology due to the untested effects on public health.
· That the council should not agree the installation of such technology without an environmental impact study having been undertaken first.
In response to the speaker the Executive Member for Community Services outlined NHS guidance on the use of mobile phones and that continuing tests were taking place via the World Health Organisation. The directorate would continue to work closely with planners and developers in relation to the installation of street lighting and emerging technologies and it was explained that mobile phone mast installation was part of permitted development rights as set out within Government legislation. In mitigation of this the Council’s planning policy HQ5 did try to minimise the impact on local residents by ensuring where possible existing phone masts were used rather than new installations.
Speaker two raised concerns in relation to the Mid Beds Dial-a-Ride tender and award of contract process and highlighted the following in summary:-
· The disparity between the number of journeys provided between the previous and current provider.
· That service users were not receiving value for money.
· That monitoring information was not made available as it was deemed confidential.
· A lack of transparency in funding.
· That service providers would be put out of business.
· That whilst the tender process may have been legal, whether it was correct.
In response the Assistant Director Public Protection & Transport confirmed that the tender process had followed the appropriate legal and procurement rules and had been ratified following the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee as correct. There had been problems for the new service provider in fulfilling some customer journeys as the previous provider had refused to share the customer list but those journeys which had been provided had reported no issues with service delivery.
In response to a Member query the Director confirmed that the overarching Passenger Transport Strategy, as supported by the Committee in 2016 and subsequently approved by full Council had achieved significant savings, this particular element had not been expected to contribute a large part of that but instead was part of the wider strategy in delivering passenger transport.
Speaker three raised concerns in relation to the South Beds Dial-a-Ride tender and award of contract process and highlighted the following in summary:-
· That the proposals made by the previous provider had been unfairly dismissed.
· That the Committee should reassess the procurement and tender process due to several changes in policies throughout the process.
· That perception amongst providers was that the outcome of the procurement exercise had been predetermined.
· That the tender process had concluded 8 months later than previously agreed.
· That the process had destroyed collaboration between partners.
In response to the speaker the Assistant Director Public Protection & Transport confirmed that a delay had been caused by all parties requesting that any meetings taking place to finalise the tender process were not held during the summer months due to staff annual leave, which council officers had been happy to accommodate. The council had encouraged all providers to work together and that the tender process did not preclude the various dial a ride operators from working collaboratively, however they had chosen not to take this approach.
In response to the speakers and subsequent concerns raised regarding the process and effect on local service providers, a Member of the Committee called a Motion to include an item at a future meeting and the Committee voted four in favour, three against and one abstention and so the Motion was carried.
In light of the Motion the other registered speakers agreed not to make their statements, instead they indicated they would attend a future meeting at which it was agreed that a full performance report and a reassessment of the tender and procurement process would be considered.