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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 9 November 1999 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors SHEENA WELSH, STEWART McGLYNN, IAN ANGUS, BILL CROWE, FRANK ELLIS, ALISTAIR GRAY, JOHN HENDERSON, IAN MACKINTOSH, JOY MOWATT, PETER MURPHY, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD and BILL ROBERTON.

Councillor WELSH, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 28 September 1999 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

2. 2000/2001 REVENUE BUDGET

There was submitted Report No 1102/99 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the latest position with regard to the preparation of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Departmental 2000/2001 Revenue Budget and associated issues, together with a summary of the departmental provisional base budget for 2000/2001 as submitted to the Director of Finance and subsequently reviewed by the Technical Validation Group.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report for its interest at this stage in the budget process and that more detailed reports and specific recommendations would be brought forward later in the budget cycle.

3. 1999/2003 FINANCIAL PLAN AND 2000/2001 CAPITAL BUDGET

There was submitted Report No 1103/99 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the latest position with regard to the preparation of the 1999/2003 Financial Plan (incorporating the 2000/2001 Capital Budget) for the Environmental and Consumer Protection Department, together with the departmental Financial Plan submissions for 1999/2003 as returned to the Director of Finance and subsequently reviewed by the Technical Validation Group.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report for its interest at this stage in the Financial Plan process and that more detailed reports with specific recommendations would be brought forward later in the Financial Plan cycle.

4. YEAR 2000 – CONTINGENCY PLANNING

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 10 November 1998, there was submitted Report No 1101/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection outlining the steps being taken by the Environmental and Consumer Protection Department to reduce possible problems arising with service delivery due to the millennium date bug. A Department Contingency Plan for the Year 2000 was appended to the Report and a further Continuity Plan would be produced to cover all aspects of the millennium period including staffing requirements, out of hours cover and support for failed systems.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the contents of the Report.

5. ACCOUNTS COMMISSION FOR SCOTLAND - PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING AUDIT 1999/2000

The Committee noted that the Performance Management and Planning (PMP) audit would be applied this year at service levels in all Councils and that the Environmental and Consumer Protection Department would be one of three areas to be audited in Angus Council.

6. NEW LEGISLATIVE BURDENS – ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 28 September 1999, there was submitted Report No 1105/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee of additional legislative and agency duties etc being assigned to the Environmental Health Section of the Department. The Report concluded that, while the new legislative duties had not, as yet, attracted any identifiable funding from the Government, they would have a real impact on resources. The existing departmental workload could be re-prioritised to accommodate these new burdens but this could only be achieved to the detriment of other functions. The issue of extra funding for these and other new legislative burdens would be raised during preparation for the next budget round.

Having heard various members express concern regarding the new legislative burdens imposed on local authorities by the UK Government and the Scottish Executive, the Committee agreed to note the Report and the consequent increase in workload on the Angus Council Environmental Health function.

7. FIREWORK SAFETY

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 10 November 1998, there was submitted Report No 1106/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection outlining the features of the 1999 Firework Safety Campaign and the steps taken in Angus to promote increased safety. Local safety campaigns had been supported by the Department of Trade and Industry. Inspections of registered storage premises had been undertaken and schools had been targeted with a leaflet campaign both at primary and secondary level. Legislation had been amended to raise the age limit for purchasing fireworks to 18 years and fireworks such as bangers and mini rockets were now banned. It was hoped that no more of these offending fireworks would be on sale.

The Report set out the safety facts and figures for 1998 which recorded a drop in injuries from fireworks, but stressed the need for firmer control of firework storage registrations in light of the forthcoming millennium celebrations. Concern was also expressed regarding the possible adoption of the continental practice of throwing fireworks in public places which was an offence in this country.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) that the contents of the Report be noted;

(ii) that parents be urged to take responsibility for the safety of their children and follow the "firework code" during the millennium celebrations; and

(iii) that pet owners also be urged to keep their pet animals indoors.

8. NATIONAL PET WEEK

There was submitted Report No 1107/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection proposing that the Dog Warden Service should take a leading role in promoting National Pet Week (29 April-7 May 2000), to encourage responsible pet ownership. The theme for the millennium National Pet Week would be "Pets Today, Pets Tomorrow".

The Committee agreed to support National Pet Week by making available free posters promoting responsible pet ownership and permitting the Dog Warden Team to participate actively in raising awareness by judging events as requested.

9. PROPOSAL FOR AN APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE ON PASSIVE SMOKING AT WORK

There was submitted Report No 1108/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee that the Health and Safety Commission had issued a consultative document on their proposal for an Approved Code of Practice on passive smoking at work and that comments had been requested from interested parties. The main thrust of the proposed Code would be to offer guidance to employers on how to comply with their duties to ensure the welfare of their employees at work in connection with the exposure to tobacco smoke. The proposed Code recommended a hierarchy of measures which employers could adopt in their policies to ensure employees’ health and welfare. The hierarchical concept was that employers should ban smoking completely if it was reasonably practicable to do so. Where this was not practicable, employers should move to the next item in the hierarchy and so on.

The Report commented on the proposed Code, reflecting the Environmental and Consumer Protection Department enforcement role in health and safety within the private sector and stressed that the Code did not apply to the internal Council policy on smoking.

Having heard the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection on the hierarchy of measures contained in the proposed Code, in response to a question from Councillor Ian Mackintosh, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report; and

(ii) to request that the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection respond in a positive manner and support the proposal of an Approved Code of Practice on passive smoking at work.

10. CLEANSING AND WASTE MANAGEMENT SERVICES ARRANGEMENTS – CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR HOLIDAY PERIOD

There was submitted Report No 1109/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection proposing arrangements for refuse and waste paper collection over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. The Report advised that, due to staff holidays within Contract Services (Cleansing), the arrangements for the various cleansing services, including refuse collection, required to be altered. The Report also set out provisions to deal with the additional public holiday for the millennium on 31 December 1999.

The Committee agreed to approve the adjusted rotas for refuse and wastepaper collections and other cleansing services over the festive period, as detailed in the Report.

11. HIRE OF PORTALOO UNITS

There was submitted Report No 1110/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection setting out the background to the current Portaloo hire business operated by the Council and advising the Committee that due to the age of the units, the operation was no longer viable. He therefore recommended that, on budget grounds, the Council withdraw from Portaloo hiring.

The Committee agreed to withdraw from Portaloo hiring and dispose of the current units to auction.

12. VEHICLE HIRE CENTRE

(a) Lifting Operation and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1999 (LOLER)

There was submitted Report No 1111/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee that a number of vehicles and items of plant currently utilised by Council service departments would come within the scope of new Lifting Operation and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1999 (LOLER). The Report summarised the key points of the new Regulations and indicated that they would incur costs which would require to be built into future vehicle hire charges.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the implications of LOLER;

(ii) to welcome the improved safety standards for operators using lifting equipment; and

(iii) to note the increased costs in operating heavy vehicles and plant which would require to be accommodated in future budgets.

(b) Best Value Study – Council Fleet Vehicles Phase 1

There was submitted Report No 1112/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee that Phase 1 of the Corporate Value for Money Study had been carried out in relation to Council fleet vehicles. The Study had been conducted on a corporate basis and incorporated the Environmental and Consumer Protection Department Best Value Review of Fleet Vehicles which had been scheduled at the same time. The Report summarised the findings of the Study and set out a Best Value Action Plan.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the summary of the main findings of the Corporate Value for Money Study, a copy of which had been placed in the Member’s Lounge; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection to implement the Best Value Action Plan, appended to the Report.

13. SEEDCRUSHERS (SCOTLAND) LIMITED IN RECEIVERSHIP

With reference to Article 19 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 19 October 1999, there was submitted Report No 1113/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection updating the Committee on the continuing concerns regarding emissions from the Seedcrushers plant and briefing members on the current situation.

Having heard from Councillor Nield that SEPA had received 27 complaints in respect of the Seedcrushers plant from 5-11 October 1999, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the current position regarding the factory; and

(ii) to seek a further report from the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection should the plant continue to process oil seed rape.

The following matter was, on the determination of the Convener, dealt with as a matter of urgency, in order to obtain timeous approval to participate in the project.

14. PERFORMANCE NETWORKS

There was submitted Joint Report No 1144/99 by the Contract Services Manager, the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection, the Director of Recreation Services and the Chief Executive reminding the Committee that, within the current Best Value regime, local authorities were obliged to show value for money in a number of ways including benchmarking and various performance indicators. The Report advised that ADLO had developed a UK wide benchmarking project entitled "Performance Networks" and approval was sought to participate in the project.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve participation in the "Performance Networks" project for a period of two years, with funding being provided equally by Recreation Services, Environmental and Consumer Protection and Contract Services; and

(ii) that the Chief Executive’s Department monitor the outcome against other benchmarking projects in which the Council participated.