Councillors and committees
Agenda, decisions and minutes
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Public Question Time
The Committee dealt with questions and other matters raised by residents. A
summary of the questions and answers is attached as an Annex but does not form
part of the Minutes of the meeting
Apologies for Absence and Attendance of Substitute Members
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
No petitions were submitted.
To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 12 February 2019.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 12 February 2019 be confirmed as a correct record.
To underline the importance the Council is placing on improving air quality and outline the actions the Council is taking, and the measures it proposes to take to engage residents, businesses and partners to take their own steps to contribute to improving air quality. The report introduces the Annual Status Report (which sets out progress against the Council’s approved Air Quality Action plan).
Resolved that -
1. the actions which the Council is currently taking to improve Air Quality (ref. paras 21 - 85 of the report) and the Committee meeting’s comments on these are noted;
2. it be noted that the issue of poor air quality isn’t something that can be solved without the engagement of other parties and that a programme of engagement has been drawn up with residents, communities, businesses and partners on Air Quality, including plans for a Citizens’ Assembly;
3. the draft Annual Status Report for 2018 (attached at Annex 3 to the report) (which outlines progress against our Quality Action Plan) be approved ahead of submission to the GLA and
4. that a letter be sent on behalf of the Committee to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Leadership candidates to raise the need for central Government funding (to regions or to local authorities) to undertake schemes to improve air quality.
Air quality is one of the biggest issues affecting the health of people living, working and visiting the borough. Taking action, both as an Authority and also in collaboration with the community, to improve air quality, will bring benefits to the community’s health and the environment.
The Council’s current five year Air Quality Action Plan (for the period 2016 – 2021) is available to view on the Council’s website .
The Committee considered a report (Appendix A of the agenda) setting out progress against the Air Quality Action Plan [as set out in the draft Annual Status Report, attached as Annex 3 to the report] which underlines the importance the Council is placing on improving air quality and outlines the actions the Council is taking, and the measures it proposes to take, to engage residents, businesses and partners in contributing to improving air quality.
The Council recognises that the problem of air pollution can’t be solved without the engagement of other parties, and is committed to working together with residents, communities, businesses and partners to find solutions and ideas to improve air quality across the borough. Actions taken to improve air quality can also support other policy priorities of the Council such as tackling health inequalities, improving wellbeing, care integration, growth, regeneration and support for biodiversity.
The Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy recognises that reducing car usage is a key priority for improved air quality, and the Healthy Streets policy within the Strategy supports provision of the infrastructure which will encourage more people to make choices for ‘modal shifts’ towards more environmentally-friendly forms of transport. The Council’s LIP 3 delivery plan includes schemes and ambitious targets to encourage more walking and cycling and to increase access to and use of public transport.
Consideration of the Mayor of London’s Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Guidance is vital when considering applications for planning consent, and the current consultation on the Council’s new Local Plan provides an opportunity for the public to highlight how they might want the Council to ensure that Air Quality considerations form a key component of Planning Policy.
Tackling the problem of poor air quality requires people to take individual actions to change their behaviour. This is a challenge for our residents and businesses, as well as for the local authority and central Government. The Council will take forward a sustained campaign of engagement in relation to air quality, as it seeks views from residents, businesses, academic institutions, technical experts and others on how to tackle the problem. This will include a Citizens’ Assembly focused on air quality as well as a variety of other opportunities for people to engage and contribute.
While the Council does have some powers it can use and action it can take, part of the Council’s role will be to lobby the GLA and central Government to take further action. The report sets out a range of actions the Council is taking - and is planning to take - to ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To refer a Motion on Air Quality from the Council meeting on 24 April to this Committee to debate at this meeting.
A Motion on Air Quality which had been submitted by the Conservative Group on the Council for debate at full Council on 24 April 2019 had been referred from Council, with the consent of the proposer, Councillor David Cunningham, and the seconder, Councillor Kevin Davis, to the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee to debate (as there had not been sufficient time at the Council meeting to discuss it in detail).
Given that the Committee had had a very detailed discussion on Air Quality for the previous agenda item (refer to Minute Item 6 above), from which the comments of the meeting would be recorded and taken into account in implementing the Air Quality Action Plan, Councillor Cunningham proposed and Councillor Davis seconded that this Motion need not be debated, as the subject matter had been addressed during the discussions on the previous item.
Resolved that the item be withdrawn.
Voting - unanimous
To refer a Motion on declaring a Climate Emergency from the Council meeting on 24 April to this Committee to debate at this meeting.
Resolved that the following Motion is agreed:
“This Council notes:
i. the impacts of climate breakdown are already causing serious damage around the world;
ii. unfortunately, while current plans and actions locally are making a difference, they are not enough. The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2050;
iii. the ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C’, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018:
a. describes the enormous harm that a 2°C average rise in global temperatures is likely to cause compared with a 1.5°C rise; and
b. confirms that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society and the private sector .
iv. all governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to act, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies;
v. strong policies to cut emissions also have associated health, wellbeing and economic benefits; and that recognising this;
vi. a growing number of UK local authorities have already passed 'Climate Emergency' motions; and
vii. individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc. to make low carbon living easier and the new norm.
“This Council resolves to:
i. declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ that requires urgent action;
ii. establish a new working group, with a remit to: draw together the work of the Council, already underway, to reduce the impacts of climate change, identify gaps and develop a plan that aims to set a challenging target date of 2038 for carbon neutrality and a baseline figure from which achievement will be measured;
iii. seek advice from experts to develop 5-year carbon budgets, across all the Council’s activities;
iv. consider the climate change impact of the Council’s activities to inform the action plan;
v. assess the feasibility of requiring all risk and procurement assessments to include Carbon Emission Appraisals, including presenting alternative approaches which reduce emissions wherever possible;
vi. the working group will include council officers, partners and Members from across the Council;
vii. task a director-level officer with responsibility for reducing the carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities according to the plan;
viii. equip all our staff, particularly those involved with planning, buildings, energy and transport management and procurement of goods and services, with an awareness of the CO 2 costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions;
ix. report on the level of investment in the fossil fuel industry that our pensions plan and other investments have, and review the Council’s investment strategy to give due consideration to climate change impacts in the investment portfolio;
x. work towards involving the wider community, including local businesses and our young people, in shaping the future, through a workshop or Citizens’ Assemblies; and
xi. call on the UK Government to provide the powers, resources and help with funding to make this possible, ... view the full decision text for item 8.
The Committee debated a Motion ‘ Declaration of Climate Emergency’ which had been referred from full Council on 24 April 2019, in accordance with Standing Order No 8(A)(3) and (6), for debate by this Committee. At full Council the Motion had been proposed by Councillor Hilary Gander and seconded by Councillor Sam Foulder-Hughes; and, with the permission of the Committee, Councillor Foulder-Hughes spoke at the meeting in support of the Motion.
Officer-level briefing notes were provided to assist Members to debate the Motion. (These included the wording of requests from two deputations at the 24 April Council meeting to bring forward the proposed target date for reducing carbon emissions to 2025.)
In November 2018, Bristol and Manchester, passed motions with targets aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030 and 2038 respectively. Since then, there has been a wave of Climate Emergency declarations by local authorities across the UK; most councils have set a target of 2038 to become carbon neutral, a few 2050 and beyond.
A working group will be tasked with considering the full extent of actions that can be taken, assessing the implications and recommending a realistic target date, to be reported back to this Committee in autumn 2019. The working group would include officers from Commissioning, Contract Management, Housing, Transport, Planning, Property, Regeneration, Strategy and AfC and look at what is required for the Council to reduce local climate impacts and draw up an action plan to progress the actions set out in the Motion. The action plan would include a programme for engaging all communities.
At the meeting, among the issues raised during the discussion were:
· climate change is the major threat facing humanity and brings a range of harmful changes which the next generations will face, including the threat of climate-related food shortages
· members of Kingston Extinction Rebellion attended the meeting who supported a declaration of a climate emergency (commenting that the local MP, Ed Davey, has said that this was a ‘no-brainer’), urging the Council to act with ambition and innovation - even if the target of 2025 is not being chosen, it was hoped that the Council would take action urgently and treat the issue as a real emergency (in the words of Greta Thurnberg) ‘as if one’s house were on fire’
· the Council was asked to put protection of its rich biodiversity and improving air quality at the heart of its plans. The Council has a legal duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act (2006. Section 40) which requires all public bodies to have regard to biodiversity conservation when carrying out their functions. [The working group will include consideration of biodiversity; public contributions of ideas for the working group are welcomed; it is fully understood that this is a huge undertaking.]
· expansion of Heathrow Airport will increase greenhouse gases and therefore contribute to climate change – what is the Council doing to oppose it? The Council has responded to consultations vigorously opposing the third runway ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Urgent Business authorised by the Chair
There was no urgent business authorised by the Chair.
Annex 1 Public Questions
1. Public street bins on Tolworth Broadway, Ellerton Road and Sunray Estate
Councillor Falchikov-Sumner asked if additional street bins could be located on Tolworth Broadway, particularly outside the Co-op, on Ellerton Road and in the Sunray Estate, to reduce rubbish accumulating.
The Corporate Head of Contracts, Ms Deborah Flintoff, replied that she was not aware of any complaints having been sent to the Contact Centre about this issue, but she could look into the issue (though, in relation to the Sunray Estate, it would not be usual to provide street litter bins in residential areas).
The Chair, Councillor Liz Green, asked Councillor Falchikov-Sumner to send to the Corporate Head of Contracts the details of locations of the areas about which she had received complaints, copying in the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, and the Corporate Head of Contracts would reply to Councillor Falchikov-Sumner about this.
2. Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Local Plan – closing dates for consultation
Mr Chris Sanctuary asked about the relationship between the Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Local Plan and the closing date for the consultation. As this question related to a the remit of the Strategic Housing and Planning Committee there was no officer present who could reply to it but a reply would be sent in writing.
3. Loss of broadleaved trees
A resident asked why the Council appeared to be allowing so many broadleaved mature trees (which are important for biodiversity) to be felled in the borough, for example at Dinton Fields, on the new New Malden Cycle path, and in Kings Meadow. Small trees such as cherry trees were being planted in their place which would not live so long. She understood that £330,000 had been spent on tree felling.
The Corporate Head of Contracts, Ms Deborah Flintoff, indicated that information had been provided on the Council’s website explaining why the diseased poplar trees had been felled for safety reasons at Dinton Fields, particularly given this is a location for children to play. These trees would be replaced and there would be consultation shortly on the replacement planting scheme. Overall, the Council had a plan for planting 600 new trees in the borough during 2019/20.
Ms Flintoff did not recognise the figure of £330,000 for tree-felling and suggested that this was probably a total figure for all tree maintenance, which would include the annual pruning programme. Councillor Green asked for all members of the Committee to be informed of the break-down of the figure for tree maintenance and felling.
In relation to the trees felled for the creation of the New Malden cycle/footpath, Councillor Gander replied that the Council often has to make difficult decisions, weighing up advantages and disadvantages, and in this case had considered that the overall longer term benefits for air quality of the new cycle path made the loss of trees more acceptable.
A resident asked about the following issues:
4. Traffic flow modelling
Does the Council undertake traffic flow modelling before implementing large-scale roadworks major traffic schemes such as that in Kingston town centre? Extensive traffic flow modelling is undertaken during the planning of significant highway schemes. The Assistant Director of Highways and Transportation can arrange details could be provided by email.
5. Obligations on Property Developers
What obligations does the Council place on property developers currently and what obligations will it place? This question relates to the remit of the Strategic Housing and Planning Committee and will therefore be passed on to the Co Chairs of that Committee.
6. Coventry City Council salary sacrifice car scheme
Has the Council considered a salary sacrifice car scheme like the one in Coventry City Council (motivates staff to use lower emission vehicles). The Assistant Director of Highways and Transportation will arrange for a written reply to be provided on this question. (The reply should include information as to whether Coventry CC monitor the success of the scheme, for example the reduction in the amount of car usage and be copied to Members of the Committee.)
Mr James Giles asked about the following issues:
7. Consultation on introducing 20 mph limits
When will the boroughwide consultation on 20 mph speed limits in residential areas be undertaken? The Council has received £130k LIP funding this year to undertake this consultation and a report will be brought to the Committee later this year which will set out the timescales.
When will the Council make progress on reducing its contractors’ use of herbicides especially glyphosate which are damaging for flora and biodiversity? It is intended that this will be looked into by the Climate Change working group when it looks into issue affecting biodiversity. The Council are exploring options to reduce or eliminate use of glyphosate but has to undertake its statutory duties to maintain roads for which herbicides are used.
9. Citizens’ Assembly
How will the participants be chosen for the Assembly and when will it be established? The Council is committed to organising a Citizens’ Assembly on air quality and has engaged with suppliers who are expert in delivering this form of engagement who have advised on the scoping of the project. To get this right will need extensive time commitment from participants (for example focussed events over 2-4 days) so this type of engagement won’t be for everyone, and the Assembly will be one of a number of ways in which the Council will be engaging with residents and businesses, because the issue is too big to be solved only by the Assembly. The Committee’s discussion at this meeting is the starting point for continuing engagement on the issue. It is planned to establish the Assembly by early Autumn.
10. New Malden to Raynes Park cycle path
When will the New Malden to Raynes Park cycle path be opened and will invitations be sent to local community groups such as the New Malden Residents Association? The footpath would opened on 13 July. A list of the organisations to be invited has been drawn up and the New Malden Residents Association is included in that list. In response to Councillor Cunningham’s request for the re-convening of the Member Officer Go Cycle Working Group, Councillor Gander confirmed that she would look into this.
Annex 2: A summary of questions and comments raised under the Air Quality Annual Status report item (ref. Minute 6)
A summary of questions and comments raised under the Air Quality Annual Status report item (ref. Minute 6 above)
· Q: can there be more monitoring of air quality near school sites and play areas? A: location of diffusion tube air quality monitors is reviewed annually so this can be considered as part of that review (though it is important for consistency of data not to move the monitors too frequently). Also air quality monitoring can be undertaken by private groups such as Citizen Science or environmental groups (advice on such studies can be provided by the RBK Pollution Control team). However, measuring doesn’t itself fix the problem and it is important not to cause alarm if action can’t be taken to address the problem; one way of taking action would be to link this to a campaign to deter engine idling near schools and playgrounds.
· Q: what can be done about bus and coach idling especially near schools, and can campaigns be made more powerful to make drivers take seriously that they are essentially smoking dangerous pollutants into children’s lungs? A: RBK will be taking part in a pan-London scheme against engine idling which should include pan-London publicity and campaign material with Mayor of London funding and support from two London-wide project officers who can visit schools and workplaces. RBK is investigating the benefits of using the parking contractor staff to enforce against idling (fines can be imposed if drivers don’t switch off their engines on request) and the same legal powers can be applied to buses and coaches on the highway as to cars. (For idling off the highway, enforcement options are limited, however, conversations can be held with the bus and coach companies.) It should be noted that refuse vehicles, ice-cream vans and other vehicles with perishable foods are exempt from idling restrictions. Residents should notify the Council Contact Centre if they see Council or contractor vehicles with engines idling and also report specific engine idling hotspot locations. (The Corporate Head of Contracts was asked to ensure contractors tell their staff not to idle their engines.)
· Q: could Tiffin School be considered for the School Streets programme, given its location on a polluted main road? A: all schools are first encouraged to develop a School Travel Plan (those schools which do are self-selecting); the Travel Plan will often address many of the problems, for example reducing the number of pupils delivered to school by car; the School Streets programme can then be used for schools which have implemented a Travel Plan but this has not solved all the issues. Although School Streets is an exciting idea, it has to be implemented carefully where schools, parents and local residents are supportive and once traffic engineers have considered all the implications for surrounding streets in terms of the diverted traffic and parking which would arise. Q: How do residents access their houses in a School Street and what about blue badge holders? A: There would be automatic vehicle plate number recognition for residents in the street and for blue badge holders.
· Q: can RBK use innovative ways to raise awareness of air pollution (in order to gain public support for air quality initiatives, given that two locations in the borough, Cromwell Road and Tolworth, exceed the legal limit for air pollutants) to make the problem more visible, such as advertising pollution levels on the Rotunda’s dot matrix display? Could we also link this to angry/ smiley faces signage? A: This is an interesting idea which will be considered (eg it might be possible to link up the Rotunda display to live data from the monitor on Cromwell Road). Campaigning and engagement on air quality will continue through the year including using JC Decaux boards in the town centre, social media, webpages and articles in community newsletters.
· Q: can some of the MOL funding be provided to encourage partners such as Kingston University, Kingston College and businesses to support the air quality campaign and to support specific streets who wish to take practical action to improve their air quality? A: Councillors could use their role as community champions to deliver campaigns and encourage street-level action.
· Q: why are only small trees such as cherry trees with limited life spans being planted (when it is mature broadleaved trees which are better for biodiversity which have been felled in some locations)? A: The Council’s plan is to plant over 600 trees of suitable maturity to survive this winter. This is a different programme from the local community-organised planting last year of 1000 whip saplings which were provided by the Woodland Trust. In addition, the Council last year planted 500 young trees of various species in streets. This year there will be 600 trees planted of a mixture of approximately 60 species (including native species of various sizes, those resilient to disease and those recommended for improving air quality) - there is a fully qualified officer advising on the programme - more details will be available to view on the website and public feedback on the programme will be welcome when it is published. The Portfolio Holder for the Environment and Sustainable Transport will also welcome views about the scheme.
· Q: why is glyphosate being sprayed on vegetation at Seething Wells when this is harmful to biodiversity? A: Seething Wells filter beds is private land and the actions taken by the landowner were not organised by the Council.
· Q: can RBK support reduced-cost car clubs? A: RBK officers are working with officers across London on a pan-London reinvigorated strategy for car clubs which will be reported to the London Councils TEC Committee in July – this will give opportunity to consider new ideas such as point-to-point (as well as back-to-base), electric, and peer-to-peer schemes for a refreshed RBK policy.
Q: why are 3 of the 5 TfL fast charging points to be
located in New Malden (one of which is in South Lane shopping
parade which is not a through-route) and one out of the borough in
Thames Ditton when there are none in Surbiton or North Kingston or
near railway stations? A: A long-list of 25 locations were offered
· Q: will there be a vehicle charging policy to cover issues like locations of charging points and charging across pavements? A: There is already an electric vehicle charging policy document which was agreed by the EAST Committee last year. The issue of charging across pavements is one which is currently being grappled with by a number of authorities and this is being worked through currently. In relation to locations, appropriate locations will be assessed for charging points (eg to avoid their being used as parking places).
· Q: with reference to the percentage figures used in paragraph 36 of the report, what are the actual numbers (to show the actual increase) of cyclists using Go Cycle lanes? A: A reply on this question would be sent in writing after the meeting.
· Q: why is RBK using dockless cycle hire (for which the bikes can tend to get abandoned or parked unsafely) rather than more traditional docking bikes? A: Docking stations are expensive to install, and create street clutter. RBK will work with the company selected to provide a dockless scheme on a memorandum of understanding to reduce problems of unsafe parking and abandonment – it is in the interests of the company to recover its own bikes as they will need to have their batteries recharged regularly etc.
· Q: will the dockless e-bikes prove too expensive for local residents who might find it cheaper to hail an Uber? A: One aim of the dockless bikes is to encourage residents who would not think of using them to try them, and if these people then decide to buy their own bike, this will be a success. The memorandum of understanding will be for a one-year period which will allow a review of the initiative after that.
· Q: how will the Citizens’ Assembly work - as a consultative body on how to implement the Plan or does it have power to contribute to or re-write the Action Plan? Will it be given information about costing proposals? A: The intention is for the Assembly to provide ‘blue sky, big thinking’ (this is an accepted method to encourage creativity in problem-solving), while it will be for the Council to consider the feasibility and weigh up the costs against its other budget pressures –the Council is not committing to put the ideas into practice. The Assembly will work with the Council to try to find some solutions to the problem because the Council cannot solve the problem on its own – it will be for residents, businesses to work together to address the challenge. Doors are open to develop new ideas; the Air Quality Plan is not an end point, it is a starting point and can continue to be developed in the future.
· Q: from talking to residents, it is clear that air quality is an issue which has risen up the residents’ agenda but it will need substantial funding to address it. There were initiatives in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto which were not mentioned in the Plan e.g. a congestion officer, green screens in schools, free parking for electric and hybrid vehicles – the latter two, particularly, seem worthwhile and it was hoped that capital funding could be found for some green screens in schools - will these be progressed as part of the Plan and how will funding be provided for the bigger initiatives? What is the target date behind the plan for achieving clean air (there needs to be more sense of pace and urgency)? A: The Manifesto is for a four-year period and particularly for a problem like air pollution, solutions won’t be achieved instantly, nor are there the finances in the local authority to do so. Many of the problems lie beyond a local authority to solve and depend on the GLA and central government powers. (For example, as with adult social care, central government could allow local authorities to raise a precept to fund air quality improvements.)
· Q: Will more ambitious projects such as a Kingston relief road be included in the Plan? A: There is reference to the Kingston gyratory in an accompanying report at Appendix B in the agenda (page B5) which indicates that “it is proposed to undertake investigations into options to alter the gyratory. In our LIP3 plan we make generic references to changing the one-way system; however, it is recognised that this would need significant re-modelling and investment before any proposals can be brought forward”.
· Q: can some metric performance indicators (targets to measure progress) be included in the Action Plan on pages A45-A57 of the report? A: the intention of the Plan is to identify the wide range and number of actions which individuals can take to prevent pollution, so picking and monitoring targets for a huge number of individual actions may not necessarily be the most effective use of resources; however, monitoring year-on-year progress should be feasible, and consideration can be given to measuring performance on key measures such as the number of car users in large employers in the borough.
· Q: can RBK add some big innovative schemes to the Action Plan, such as a Park and Ride scheme? A: The Administration would be very interested to support a Park and Ride Scheme if a location could be found where there is sufficient space for parking– the previous location for a scheme was at Chessington World of Adventures but CWoA cannot generally provide enough parking space.
· Q: can consideration be given to a Kingston Town congestion charge for non-residents driving through the borough as a rat run? A: It is legally permissible for local authorities to impose a congestion charge but London is the only place in the UK to have implemented one so far. Legally and technically it would be difficult to differentiate between those cars which belong to residents/ visitors and those which are just driving through the borough. Another option is road charging.
· Q: what is the likelihood that a clean air campaign group such as Kingston CAN could take the Council to court (as has been done with Birmingham Council)? A: It would be unlikely that the borough itself could be taken to court as London already has a large Clean Air Zone in the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). The Council lobbied for the low emission zone to cover the whole of the borough but the GLA took the zone only as far as the A3 at New Malden. The borough could show in its defence that it had drawn up the Action Plan to show how it is going to address the problem.
· Paragraph 22 of the report indicates that “the Highways & Transport team takes the lead on highway-related initiatives to improve air quality” and it is clear that the issue of congestion must be looked at as a whole and requires joined-up solutions; there will need to be joined-up working between the different teams in the H&T department including the Go Cycle team and the Healthy Streets consultancy.