Agenda and draft minutes
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Apologies for Absence
The Chairman welcomed Members and Officers to the second virtual meeting of the Council’s Policy Overview Committee (POC), and confirmed that the proceedings were being streamed live via YouTube.
He advised Members that the first virtual meeting of the POC on 16 June 2020 had attracted 91 views on YouTube, which he considered to be a significant success. He also confirmed that Members had received the follow-up information on GP practices in Dartford [June meeting Min. No. 56 page 6 second bullet point refers], and asked that the appropriate NHS representative be invited to the March 2021 POC meeting.
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of any Grant(s) of Dispensation by the Audit Board or Strategic Director (Internal Services).
There were no declarations of interest.
That the Minutes of the virtual meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 16 June 2020 be confirmed as an accurate record of those proceedings.
The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.
The Chairman confirmed that there were no urgent items for Members to consider.
To consider references from other Committees (if any)
There are no references from other Committees at present.
There were no references from other Committees for Members to consider.
To consider any issues arising from the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 14 August 2020 to 31 December 2020.
1. That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 14 August 2020 to 31 December 2020.
To receive the Council’s Air Quality Annual Status report for 2020 and comment accordingly.
The report from the Council’s Scientific Officer (SO) enclosed at Appendix A, the Council’s Air Quality Annual Status Report for 2020.
Members were asked to note the contents of both documents prior to submission of the 2020 Air Quality Annual Status Report (Appendix A), to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in fulfilment of Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 for Local Air Quality Management, a statutory requirement for all local authorities.
The covering report from the SO provided Members with a summary of the principal points contained in the 2020 ASR, including details of pollution levels across the Borough and within the four declared Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), plus an update on the progress in developing the Council’s new Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to reduce emissions and pollution within the four designated AQMAs. The SO and the Council’s Assistant Environmental Health Manager (AEHM), were in attendance to respond to Members’ questions.
The Chairman commended the 2020 ASR and covering report to the Committee as positive documents which confirmed that vehicle emissions and pollution levels in Dartford for the period under review had fallen. He proposed that debate proceed on the basis that Members had read both documents, and that the SO and the AEHM respond to any questions or concerns that Members might have. In that context, he asked if there were any specific reasons for the positive decrease in emission and pollution levels recorded in the 2020 AQA.
The SO advised Members that improvements in vehicle manufacture, and the increasing advent of electrical cars, were the two main contributory factors that had achieved the reduction in emissions and pollution levels in Dartford for the period under review. No specific data was available for the number of electrical vehicles operating in Dartford, but registration of electrical cars had risen sharply in the period under review, albeit from a low starting point.
The Chairman sought confirmation that the aim of the annual Air Quality Status exercise was to continuously improve the reduction of emissions and pollution levels in the Borough, not merely to meet Government targets.
The AEHM advised Members that there were no recognised safe levels for emissions and pollution, and that the aim was to drive towards the lowest possible levels for both vehicle emission and overall pollution levels. In response to a follow-up question from the Chairman, concerning the location and instalment of passive diffusion tubes, the SO advised that current sites and any possible relocations/additions of diffusion tubes, would form part of the current update exercise of the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) being undertaken by Bureau Veritas (BV) a specialist external environmental consultant.
In response to a variety of further questions and expressions of concern from the Chairman and other Members, the AEHM and SO confirmed the following points:
· Potential ‘pinch-points’ in Dartford’s roads network continued to be assessed as part of the review of the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) including; the A2 Junction and ... view the full minutes text for item 66.
Council Resilience & Emergency Planning (R&EP) Measures
To receive a presentation from the Council’s Enforcement and Regulatory Services & Community Safety Unit Manager.
The Chairman advised Members that he had intended to consider the Council’s emergency planning measures and general preparedness in times of crisis, prior to the onset of the continuing Coronavirus pandemic. His subsequent draw-down of the topic was forward looking in aim, and not designed to repeat the Scrutiny Committee’s recent examination of the Council’s response to COVID-19 [Scrutiny Min. No 32 refers].
He confirmed that following publication of the agenda, Members had received individual copies of the DBC Resilience and Emergencies PowerPoint presentation, prepared by the Enforcement & Regulatory Services (EARS) Manager, as the responsible officer for formulating the Council’s Strategic and Emergency Planning measures.
The EARS Manager reprised his presentation for the Committee, before responding to Members questions. The presentation covered the following principal areas:
Aims and Objectives
· DBC’s statutory responsibilities for Emergency Planning and Business Continuity;
· Strategic level emergency management roles and responsibilities;
· Breadth and scope of R&EP duties;
· Understanding role of DBC staff and manager roles within multi-agency Emergency Planning & Response;
· The role of the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF)
The definition of an ‘Emergency’ under Part 1 of the Civil Contingency Act (CCA) 2004, formulated in response to the Foot & Mouth Outbreak was:
‘An event or situation which threatened serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terrorism which threatened serious damage to the security of the UK.’
The Council’s responsibilities under the 2004 Act were:
· Risk Assessment
· Emergency Planning
· Business Continuity Management (BCM)
· Warning – Informing & Alerting the Public
· Information Sharing
· Co-operation [across multi agencies]
The Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) was one of 42 local resilience forums (LRFs) set up in response to the 2004 Act, which had established a new legislative framework for civil protection in the event of emergencies in the UK. LRFs were aligned with police force areas, with member agencies working together to provide a combined response and minimise impact, when emergencies occurred.
LRFs were not legal entities in their own right, but formed a partnership of member agencies, including those defined under the 2004 Act by responder ‘categories’:
Category 1 responders were organisations directly involved in the response to an emergency and were subject to a number of civil protection obligations. They included: Kent Police, Kent Fire & Rescue Service, SE Coast & Ambulance Service, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, local authorities, primary care aspects of the NHS and others;
Category 2 responders were organisations that had a less direct role to play in response to emergencies e.g. utility companies, infrastructure (Network Rail) and others. The Act did not place stringent duties on such organisations, but they were required to share appropriate information and cooperate fully with the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), to manage emergencies.
The Kent LRF also included members not categorised under the Act, but who had a significant role to play in the event of emergencies e.g. the military and the voluntary sector.
DBC Emergency Roles
· Liaison with emergency services, government, other local authorities, voluntary sector, utility ... view the full minutes text for item 67.
To consider an updated Committee Work Plan for the remainder of the 2020-21 municipal cycle and beyond.
The report from the Committee’s Clerk, enclosed as Appendix A, an updated Work Plan document for the remainder of the 2020-21 municipal year and beyond for Members consideration.
The Chairman advised that his aim was for shorter Committee meetings with Member discussion focussed on two principal topics. Given the Committee’s traditional review of the Council’s Litter and Recycling Services each December, he proposed that the Committee’s review of Dartford’s Heath, Marshes and Country Parks presently mooted for December, be moved to a future meeting in 2021 which he would identify and advise to the Clerk in due course.
1. That Members note the revised Committee Work Plan for the remainder of the 2020-21 municipal year and beyond [Appendix A to the report], subject to the Chairman’s proposed amendment, as recorded above.