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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSUMER PROTECTION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 6 April 1999 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors STEWART MOWATT, STEWART McGLYNN, GEORGE ALLAN, HELEN ANGUS, IAN ANGUS, WILLIAM G CROWE, FRANK ELLIS, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, GLENNIS H MIDDLETON, KATHLEEN RITCHIE, DAVID SELFRIDGE, and THOMAS I N YOUNG.

Apology: An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Councillor RICHARD B SPEIRS.

Councillor MOWATT, Convener, in the Chair.

1. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order No 27(2) that the public and press be excluded during consideration of item 2 below so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8 and 9.

2. PEST CONTROL CONTRACT - TENDERS

There was submitted Report No 386/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection reporting on tenders received for pest treatment and controls.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the tenders received; and

(ii) to homologate the action taken by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection, in consultation with the Convener, in accepting the tender for the supply of pest treatment and control services for the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2002, being that submitted by Graham Environmental Services, Blairgowrie in the amounts and on the terms outlined in Report No 386/99.

3. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 23 February 1999 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

4. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW - STREET CLEANING SERVICES

There was submitted Joint Report No 387/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection and the Contract Services Manger advising that a Joint Service Review in terms of Best Value for Street Cleaning had been carried out by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection and the Contract Services Manager in accordance with the corporately agreed timetable. The Report outlined the scope of the Review and set out a Service Improvement Plan to be implemented from 1 April 1999 as detailed in the Full Service Review document, a copy of which was available in the Members’ Lounge.

The Review had concluded that all sections involved in street cleaning provision worked well together but that certain improvements could be made by combining resources. Although the costs to Angus Council had been amongst the lowest in Scotland, surveys had shown that customer satisfaction was high in respect of the service provided.

Having heard the Convener and Councillors Crowe, Convener of the Contract Services Committee, Young and Ellis, local members for the Sidlaw area, welcome the Report, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the content of the Joint Service Review of Street Cleaning;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection and the Contract Services Manager to implement the Service Improvement Plan and recommendations of the Review Group; and

(iii) to instruct the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection and the Contract Services Manager to monitor the implementation of the Service Improvement Plan and submit a further report in due course.

5. REVIEW OF FEES AND CHARGES - WEIGHING AND MEASURING EQUIPMENT ETC

With reference to Article 13(a) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 February 1998, there was submitted Report No 388/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising of guidance received from LACOTS suggesting increased fees to be charged for testing and calibration of weighing and measuring equipment etc. for 1999/2000.

The overall increase detailed in the schedule and appendix to the Report would amount to approximately 3% in line with inflation. However, a forecast of likely income to the Council for the new financial year would be difficult to estimate due to the impact of new legislation, namely the Deregulation (Weights and Measures) Order. This Order would allow licensed bodies, other than local authorities, to self verify equipment which would lead to a reduction in income to local authorities. LACOTS were in the process of appealing for compensatory funding through Revenue Support Grant settlement.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to adopt the fees and charges detailed in the schedule and appendix to Report No 388/99 for introduction on 1 April 1999, subject to the following amendments to Appendix 1:-

Explosives:

Store £65.50

Store renewal £65.50

Registration: £11.20

Petroleum:

<2500 litres £31.30 per annum

>2500 litres <50,000 litres £46.30 per annum

>50,000 litres £90.90 per annum; and

(ii) that the contents of the Report be otherwise noted.

6. AIR QUALITY REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 January 1999, there was submitted Report No 389/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising that Part IV of the Environmental Act 1995 required local authorities to undertake new duties for air quality management which comprised review and assessment of air quality within their area. The Report detailed an initial study which had been carried out to identify the principal atmosphere pollution sources in Angus and summarised the key outcomes of this first stage study, a copy of which had been placed in the Members’ Lounge.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the "Angus Council, Air Quality Review Assessment Consultative Draft" which had been submitted to the Scottish Office and other statutory bodies and made available for public consultation within Angus; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection to report on the results of the consultative exercise in due course.

7. LANDFILL TAX BRIEFING

There was submitted Report No 390/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection reporting on a Briefing Note from HM Customs and Excise which described the changes announced by the Chancellor in the Budget to the landfill tax scheme.

The changes included an increase in the standard rate of landfill tax applied to active waste from £7 to £10 per tonne from 1 April 1999 rising by £1 per annum to £15 per tonne by 1 April 2004. The lower rate, which would apply to inactive wastes, would remain frozen at £2 per tonne. A new exemption would also be introduced from 1 October 1999 for inert waste used to restore landfill sites and to fill quarries which were subject to existing planning conditions requiring the void to be filled. From 1 August 1999, site operators using the environmental bodies credit scheme would have an additional month every quarter to claim tax credits and contribution years could be matched to accounting years. There would also be further changes prohibiting direct benefit to third party contributors and introducing greater transparency in the operation of the Scheme.

Having heard various members express concern regarding the changes to the Landfill Tax Scheme, and in particular the increased costs and lack of return to local authorities, the Committee agreed to note the increased level of landfill tax charges announced in the Budget which would incrementally increase the cost to Angus Council on an annual basis until 1 April 2004.

8. HEALTH AND SAFETY ENFORCEMENT HANDBOOK

There was submitted Report No 391/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising that the Health and Safety Executive had recently published an Environmental Handbook for Scotland to secure efficient and consistent enforcement practice by both the Health and Safety Executive and local authority inspectors. The Enforcement Handbook provided detailed practical and legal advice on all aspects of Health and Safety law enforcement. Copies of the Handbook would be available to authorised staff within the Department of Environmental and Consumer Protection.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of Report No 391/99; and

(ii) to agree to support the Health and Safety Executive in its endeavour to obtain consistent enforcement of Health and Safety law throughout Scotland through the adoption and use of this Enforcement Handbook by the Department.

9. ENERGY INDUSTRY - CHANGES TO REGULATORY STRUCTURE

The Committee was advised that Jim Matthew, Head of Consumer Protection, was currently a member of the North of Scotland Electricity Consumers’ Committee and had served on that Committee for over three years.

Changes to the regulatory structure of the energy industry would shortly see an amalgamation of the Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) and the Office of Gas Regulation (OFGAS). A new Consumer Council would be put in place to look after the consumer interest. However, until that time, the present Committee would continue. Mr Matthew had been invited by OFFER to serve on the North of Scotland Committee for the intervening period.

The Committee noted the position and congratulated Mr Matthew on his continuing appointment.

10. VALEDICTORY REMARKS

As this was the last meeting of this Committee to be held before the elections, the Convener thanked all the officers for the support which he and the Committee had received over the last four years.