Questions to CM Streetscene

Member question: Councillor R Mogford, received 20 April 2018

Subject: Free parking council car parks

In early 2013, the council scrapped two hours free parking in Newport. In the financial year 2016 to 2017, the council received a total income of £598,702 from council owned car parks: 

  • Park Square - £142,369
  • Faulkner Road - £77,562
  • Stow Hill - £33,381
  • Emlyn Street - £82,098
  • Riverfront - £66,789
  • Hill Street - £68,638

Further to this...revenue for excess charge notice issued for various reasons - £127,865. 

Is the council reinvesting this revenue back into the city centre, because we know only £15,575 was spent on promotions and marketing for the indoor market between 2015 to 2017? Does the council feel that two hours free should be re-introduced to rival nearby towns such as Cwmbran? 

Response:

The two hour free parking initiative was introduced to stimulate footfall within the city centre during a period of significant city centre redevelopment. On completion of the development, the tariff was reinstated as it was proved to have fulfilled its objectives.  

All income from the city’s car parking facilities supports the operation and maintenance of the parking service and other related StreetScene services such as highway maintenance and cleansing.  

Failure to maintain these levels of income would impact on the delivery of essential Streetscene services. Issued 4 May 2018


Member question: Councillor Kellaway, received 17 April 2018

Subject: Bin collections

In Nov 2017, Newport Council ruled out moves to introduce 3 Weekly Bin Collections.  However, Caerleon Councillor Jason Hughes, who is on the Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee said at the time “Newport is not ready as a city for collections once every three weeks”. He further added “Education was needed to help people understand that bins would not be full under the system”.  This could be interpreted as being that the Council has not fully ruled out 3 Weekly Bin Collections at some point in the future?  Can the Council categorically confirm 100% that no cuts will be made to Bin Collections over the next 4 years until the next Council Elections in 2022

Response:

Newport City Council’s draft waste strategy has been considered by the local authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and will be finalised shortly. 

Whilst it is acknowledged residual restriction achieves a significant increase in recycling, any proposal to introduce a three weekly cycle for bin collections has not been included within the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations.

All Elected Members will, however, be aware of the statutory recycling targets set by Welsh Government. The council’s waste strategy will therefore require ongoing monitoring and review to ensure the council aligns itself to the targets/implications currently set by WG, but three weekly bin collections are not part of the administration’s current strategy given the targets/criteria set at this moment in time. Issued 3 May 2018


Member question: Councillor Joan Watkins, received 6 April 2018

Supplementary question (3): Public toilet provision, Caerleon

It has now been brought to my attention that whereas you state toilet facilities are available for public usage in the town hall housing the library, staff working in the library are telling visitors requesting to use said facilities are being told they are not for public use!!. 

Please clarify what information has been given to all town hall staff as to the availability of these facilities for public use.

Response:

Staff have been informed that the public should be allowed access to the town hall toilets during its normal opening hours and for specific events. Issued 17 April 2018


Member question: Councillor Joan Watkins, received 6 April 2018

Supplementary question (2): Public toilet provision, Caerleon

I draw your attention to the Public Health Wales Act 2017 whereby it states a public consultation must be conducted prior to making a decision to close public toilet facilities. 

Was such a consultation carried out prior to your decision to close these facilities?

Response:

The proposal to close the city’s public conveniences formed part of the authority’s Revenue Budget 2018/19 and Medium Term Financial Plan.

All proposals within the plan were fully consulted upon and a number of public awareness exercises were undertaken.

Can I draw your attention to the following link which will take you through to the plan: https://democracy.newport.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=139&MId=6896&Ver=4

Appendix  4 sets out the consultation undertaken. Issued 17 April 2018


Member question: Councillor Carmel Townsend, received 9 April 2018

Supplementary question: National Express coach stop on Kingsway

Further to the anytime question on 9 October 2017 (see below), could the Cabinet Member outline progress on improving conditions and facilities for passengers waiting for coaches on Kingsway?  

Original question at anytime (9 October 2017)

Does the Cabinet Member agree that the current coach stop on Kingsway consisting of two small bus shelters is inadequate for passengers?   Large numbers of passengers regularly wait,  in pouring rain and are not shielded from the wind which is coming off the river. 

Could the Cabinet Member confirm if the council – in conjunction with National Express – has any plans to upgrade the stop at this location?  Could the Cabinet Member also confirm whether there have been direct conversations with National Express about the stop and securing funding to get it improved?  

I am aware of the previous plan for the stop to be located within the Friars Walk bus station but this had to be scrapped when the designed bays were found to be too narrow for coaches

Response:

We have liaised on a regular basis with National Express over any issues with this stop and we have had some concerns regarding taxis and cars parking in the bays raised with us but this has been addressed and signage has been installed to reiterate that it is a buses only stop. We have also contacted licensing to ask them to inform taxi drivers to not stop within the designated bays. 

National Express has not raised any concerns on the level of shelter provision at this location.  

There are no plans currently to increase the shelter provision at this site. Issued 7 April 2018.


Member question: Councillor Joan Watkins, received 27 March 2018

Supplementary question: 

The availability of toilet facilities at Caerleon town hall  is very variable it is often closed for periods during the week and is not always open at weekends. As for the availability of business toilet facilities in the village have those business agreed usage of their toilet facilities, some of which are a distance from the Roman Heritage sites.  Thank you Joan Watkins.

Response:

Cllr Joan Watkins,

It was recognised that the Caerleon Town Hall toilets were being used in preference to the on-street toilet blocks and the council is currently considering the customer need and viability of extending the availability of these facilities, especially during periods of increased footfall within the area.

The council also recognises the contribution made by local businesses in allowing patrons to use their 'in house' conveniences.

As part of the ongoing assessment of the community’s need for toilets, the council is taking a strategic view on how these facilities can be provided and accessed by both visitors and the wider community.

Whilst public toilets are often seen as standalone facilities, there are also a wide range of facilities in both public sector and private sector buildings which are potentially available to the public, which, through creative thinking and partnership working, could be brought into wider use.

As part of this strategic approach, the council are consulting with businesses to establish the current availability and future potential. Issued 9 April 2018  

Member question: Councillor Joan Watkins, received 19 March 2018

Subject: Public toilet provision, Caerleon

The issue of provision (or planned lack of) public toilet facilities is giving rise to serious concern in the ward which I represent, Caerleon. As you will be aware Caerleon has an amazing heritage in terms of Roman history not to mention other history around the Camelot legend together with a more recent history involving Spanish Basque children. 

All of this engenders visitors to the area and at yesterday’s meeting of the Tourist Board here in the museum involving both NCC and Cadw  measures to support increased visitor footfall were on the agenda as being strongly promoted. 

Additionally you will be aware there are a number of high profile events which take place in the amphitheatre and elsewhere eg the arts festival throughout the year.

The concern therefore and it’s a very real one is how can we encourage visitor numbers while failing to provide basic facilities to provide for their needs. Will you therefore support a retention of public toilets in the Caerleon area.

Response:

The decision to close all on street public conveniences within the city as part of the MTFP proposals was fully considered by both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Council. 

The potential impact of the closures was considered for all the proposed closures and with regard to Caerleon, the potential effect on tourism was initially raised. 

It is generally accepted that, where alternatives exist, the public will avoid the use of on street facilities in favour of facilities within controlled environments such as businesses, council buildings etc. Caerleon is no exception. 

It was acknowledged that the facilities within the town hall were already being used in preference to the nearby on street facilities, so it is anticipated that this practice will continue. Officers are also looking at what additional facilities can be made available via existing public and privately controlled buildings. 

It is also acknowledged that there is a need for an effective signage strategy to advise and guide visitors to the nearest available facility, which is also forming part of this process. 

Considering the mitigating measures available and actions being considered, the closure of these toilets should not have any detrimental impact on tourism or visitor numbers in Caerleon. 

Following the decision, the public convenience budget was removed as per the MTFP proposal. Therefore I am not in a position to support your request for the retention of the facilities in Caerleon. Issued 23 March 2018


Member question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 14 March 2018

Subject: Bees, Newport West

I'm sure you are aware of the current campaign to support our country's bee population (see mail from campaign group 38 degrees below) on a personal level I've donated to the campaign and I'm sure you'll join me in encouraging others to do likewise.  

I note that neighbouring authorities have been very pro- active in their projects to encourage our bee population.  

Will the cabinet members administration commit to purchasing and planting bee friendly flower seeds and planting meadow areas as a matter of urgency? And can he update members on his administration’s plans to combat the declining bee population in Newport? Will he also pledge to work towards Newport becoming the first  'Bee Friendly' city in Wales.

Dear Chris,

Britain's bees need our help. The wild meadows and flowers bees feed on are disappearing fast, and that means our buzzy friends could be in for a very tough spring. [1] Over the last few decades the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows, making food scarce for our bees. [2]  That’s where we come in, Chris. If thousands of us come together in the next three weeks to plant bee-friendly flower seeds, we can make sure there's enough food for bees to survive and thrive this summer. Whether it's a plant pot on a windowsill or a garden in the countryside, we can all sow seeds to give our bees a helping hand.  Chris, click here to order a packet of bee-friendly seeds - and chip in to pay for others to get a packet too, if you can:  SIGN UP FOR SEEDS  Don't want to plant seeds yourself? Why not chip in to pay for someone else's packet? You can make a secure donation here: I'LL CHIP IN    Bees pollinate three-quarters of the world’s crops - apples, strawberries, onions, carrots, and many, many more. We wouldn’t last long without them. But if we want them to keep growing food for us, we need to do our part to grow food for them.  This isn’t the first time 38 Degrees members have come together to plant flowers for bees - last spring, more than 50,000 of us took part. [4] This year we want to do even better, and make sure more of us than ever are planting seeds to help out the bees.  So Chris, will you give our bees a helping hand? The seeds will need to be planted in the next few weeks, so the more of us sign up now, the more flowers there’ll be(e). SIGN UP FOR SEEDS   Or, if you’d prefer to donate without planting the seeds yourself you can do that here: I'LL CHIP IN  Thanks for everything that you do, Nuri, Megan, Bex and the 38 Degrees team 

Response:

Newport has been managing its verges and other areas with a cut at the end of the summer for many years. Areas that are currently left to establish include the canal which provides a linear route for pollinators. The council actively manages ancient meadow in Allt Yr Yn Local Nature Reserve as well as its newly designated reserve at St Julian’s Park. 

With regards to the Bee Friendly status, (the accreditation scheme coordinated by the Welsh Government), our biodiversity and education officer represents the council at monthly meetings of the Newport Bee Friendly Group coordinated by Friends of the Earth. The group is working towards submitting an application to the WG in order to achieve Bee Friendly status for the city as a whole, and is linked with partners such as the housing associations, Maindee Unlimited, Gwent Wildlife Trust and community groups/local residents. The group is collecting information on pollinator activities across the city, and during the spring and summer of 2018 will be publicising itself at a number of events, including the Maindee Festival.

The green services manager has given support to the group and its objectives, and in principle Streetscene support the aspiration to become a Bee Friendly city. Issued 22 March 2018


 

Member Question: Councillor Carmel Townsend, received: 6 March 2018

Subject: Road safety

Further to a recent freedom of information request regarding road safety, the following response was received:

‘Such (road safety) assessments would only be undertaken if there are specific locations on the route or if the route itself has been flagged in accordance with collision cluster and route study guidelines by the council’s accident studies framework consultant’.

‘We do not have a road safety programme as such. On an annual basis, our collisions studies framework consultant provides a list of collision cluster sites which is ranked in order of the number and severity of collisions that have occurred resulting in injuries, and particular routes if they require analysis in accordance with route analysis guidance. These then form the basis of our bids for Road Safety Grant funding.  The lists for 2017 are not available to us as we do not currently have a contract in place for collision studies services’.

Could the Cabinet Member:

  1. Outline his policy (not officers) on improving road safety.
  2. Confirm whether he is content that the council appears not to have a current road safety programme in place,  nor a contract that monitors road accidents in the city.
  3. Outline his view that it appears that road safety priorities are based on accidents that have happened, rather than the potential risk of accidents.

Response:

This administration is committed to the reduction of KSI’s (killed or seriously injured) on the city’s highway network. The council exceeded the targets of the previous Welsh Government Road Safety Strategy by a significant margin. 

By the end of 2010, the number of road users killed or seriously injured had reduced by 77% in  comparison with the baseline average, whilst the number of children killed or seriously injured had reduced by 78%; the targets were 40% and 50% respectively. 

Using education and training programmes in schools, a variety of engineering solutions, and partnership working with Gwent Police, we will continue to build on these outcomes and strive to meet the most recent targets. The pending implementation of Civil Parking Enforcement will also assist other efforts to improve road safety, by introducing an improved resource to address illegal parking issues.

There can be no “fixed” road safety engineering programme because we are required to consider sites in terms of their collision trends which can, by their very nature, be fluid and affected by a variety of environmental and external factors.  A collision problem may develop at a particular site, or likewise cease to exist at another hence a fixed programme for road safety engineering interventions could be obsolete in the short term.

Therefore, programmes for road safety engineering measures throughout Wales are based upon the evidence provided from annual collision reports, collision cluster sites and route data which examines both short and longer terms trends. 

This same data also informs the Council’s Road Safety Grant bids to Welsh Government. Current practice represents the most appropriate way to deliver interventions and meets the requirements of the Road safety Framework for Wales. 

A new service contract to provide collision studies will also be finalised shortly,  representing further improvement upon existing arrangements. The new service will enable the council to understand collision trends, locations and routes in even more detail, helping officers to prioritise additional investigations and interventions where required.  

The council’s interventions on Casualty reduction (i.e.reducing the number of people injured using Newport’s roads) are also guided by the Welsh Government’s Road Safety Framework for Wales, which is the overarching national strategy. The current targets within this strategy are:

  • A 40% reduction in the total number of people killed and seriously injured on Welsh roads by 2020
  • A 25% reduction in the number of motorcyclists killed and seriously injured on Welsh roads by 2020
  • A 40% reduction in the number of young people (aged 16-24) killed and seriously injured on Welsh roads by 2020

Date issued: 20 March 2018


Member question: Councillor Richard White, received 8 December  2017

Subject: Infrastructure for Charging Electric Vehicles

Can you tell me what plans the council has in place, or is presently considering, to introduce infrastructure around the city for charging electric vehicles. Just asking developers to consider installing charging points on new developments will not produce an integrated infrastructure and may not produce any results at all.

Response: 

The council is currently progressing the installation of electric charging points at the civic centre and is also assessing the viability of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging points at other locations across the city. 

The number and exact locations delivered within the first phase of implementation will be dependent on suitability and associated costs, but the council is committed to delivering this infrastructure as part of its long-term sustainability agenda. 

The work currently underway also includes the council exploring the use of electric vehicles within its own fleet. Issued 22 December 2017


Member question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 6 July 2017

Subject: Car park charge points

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/volvo-signals-end-of-road-for-diesel-and-petrol-cars-qsckrx7pj 

Dear Cabinet Member, I'm sure you've read the recent article in The Times in which Volvo have announced they intend to end production of petrol cars within a few years, see link above.

The article goes on to point out the lack of 'charge points' available, this problem is particularly true in Newport.  

Independents are committed to a greener future, and, would like to see Newport lead the way in providing charge points in council owned car parks, our Vision document stated:  

Encouraging a greener lifestyle.

We will work to provide electric car charging points in council car parks at zero cost by working with supply partner.   

What plans does the current administration have to introduce charge points in council owned car parks?  

Response:

The authority has recently recruited an Energy and Sustainability Manager tasked with identifying carbon reduction opportunities for the council.

As part of his work he is currently reviewing the opportunities for both electric vehicle charging infrastructure for both for council employees and residential use. We are also reviewing our existing fleet to identify opportunities to utilise electric vehicles. Issued 17 July 2017


Member question: Councillor Richard White, received 12 October 2017

Subject: Defunct sewage works serving St Peters Crescent, Peterstone 

Can the Cabinet Member tell me what progress is being made to end the tankering of sewage from the defunct sewage works serving the houses in St. Peters Crescent, Peterstone.

This has been going on for over ten years now and although planning permission was granted for a new pumping station some months ago nothing further has happened.

Is it also possible to know the annual costs of the tankering since it first started please.

Response:

The council is currently considering the cost implications of a capital investment in a pumping station at this location, however it needs to be considered alongside other demands for capital and justify a return on investment. 

The cost of tankering is only available for the last 7 years and is as follows:  

2011       £7,220

2012       £24,840

2013       £16875

2014       £15,660

2015       £16,727

2016       £19,403

2017       £42,130

Issued 27 October 2017  

 

Member question: Councillor Matthew Evans, received 11 October 2017

Subject: Newport Castle – removal of flags and repair of floodlights

I recently noticed that the flags from Newport Castle have been removed and the LED floodlighting installed in 2010 is not working. I am not sure who was responsible for removing the flags perhaps you could let me know?

Can you also confirm when the floodlights will be repaired at this landmark site because I have been informed Newport council is responsible for their upkeep.

Response:

Newport Castle belongs to and is the responsibility of Cadw, not the council . The installation of the original lighting scheme and banners were part of the city dressing and enhancement work for the Ryder Cup 2010 and were carried out with one-off Newport Unlimited and Welsh Government grant funding.

The banners were installed with Cadw’s consent and they approved the design and materials for the monument. The original floodlighting contract was arranged by the council, at Cadw’s request, and included LED lighting, as a low-maintenance option.  

In preparation for the NATO conference in 2013/14, we received a request from Welsh Government, via Cadw, to replace the banners which had become worn.

This was funded out of the council tourism budget as part of the marketing of the city. Since then, the banners became damaged beyond repair and were in danger of falling down, so they had to be removed. Again, Cadw agreed to their removal, as the responsible body. 

The column mounted floodlighting maintained by Streetscene remains fully operational. However, there are issues with the LED lights attached to the castle walls.

This LED lighting is not a council asset because it is attached to a building within CADW control. The lighting has now exceeded its design life and it is likely that all the units would have to be replaced due to their age and the harsh environment they have been installed in. 

The council is not responsible for the replacement of the banners or the replacement of the LED lighting and there is no available budget for this. Cadw would have to agree to any further work at this ancient monument site and they would have to identify a budget for this. Issued 20 October 2017 

Member question: Councillor Carmel Townsend, received 9 October 2017

Subject: National Express Coach Stop on Kingsway

Does the Cabinet Member agree that the current coach stop on Kingsway consisting of two small bus shelters is inadequate for passengers?

Large numbers of passengers regularly wait in pouring rain and are not shielded from the wind which is coming off the river.  

Could the Cabinet Member confirm if the council – in conjunction with National Express – has any plans to upgrade the stop at this location?  Could the Cabinet Member also confirm whether there have been direct conversations with National Express about the stop and securing funding to get it improved?   

I am aware of the previous plan for the stop to be located within the Friars Walk bus station but this had to be scrapped when the designed bays were found to be too narrow for coaches.

Response:

National Express  were consulted on the location of the coach stop when there was a problem with them accessing the bus station.

They chose to move from the railway station to Kingsway as it was easier access for the vehicles and for the public as there are closer car parks and it is closer to the bus station.

There have been no issues reported by National Express about the shelter provision at this stop. 

The council will speak with National Express to see if they have any concerns over this stop and will work with them to look at solutions if necessary. Issued 18 October 2017  

Member question: Councillor Matthew Evans, received 5 September 2017

Subject: Parking improvements, city centre

I have been led to believe the Council received a grant from Welsh Government to go towards parking improvements in the city centre. Can you tell me, if this true, how much money was received and what improvements have been made?

Response: 

Newport has not received a specific grant for free parking. The Revenue Support Grant included a notional element, however as the overall settlement for Newport in 2017-18 was lower than the previous year, there was no money to allocate for this purpose. Issued 19 September 2017

Member question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 6 July 2017

Subject: Car park charge points

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/volvo-signals-end-of-road-for-diesel-and-petrol-cars-qsckrx7pj 

Dear Cabinet Member, I'm sure you've read the recent article in The Times in which Volvo have announced they intend to end production of petrol cars within a few years, see link above. The article goes on to point out the lack of 'charge points' available, this problem is particularly true in Newport.  

Independents are committed to a greener future, and, would like to see Newport lead the way in providing charge points in council owned car parks, our Vision document stated:  

Encouraging a greener lifestyle.

We will work to provide electric car charging points in council car parks at zero cost by working with supply partner.  

What plans does the current administration have to introduce charge points in council owned car parks?  

Response:

The authority has recently recruited an Energy and Sustainability Manager tasked with identifying carbon reduction opportunities for the council.

As part of his work he is currently reviewing the opportunities for electric vehicle charging infrastructure for both council employees and residential use. We are also reviewing our existing fleet to identify opportunities to utilise electric vehicles.  Issued: 17 July 2017

Member question: Councillor Matthew Evans, received 15 June 2017

Subject: Parking enforcement

The following information has been received via the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner: 

The decision on parking enforcement is ultimately an operational matter, which presently rests within the remit of the Chief Constable. We can confirm however that, following conversations between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable and the local authorities, starting in the next financial year (April 2018) the Chief Constable has authorized the transfer of authority for parking enforcement directly to local councils. 

This seems to intimate that Newport City Council has agreed to take over parking enforcement next year. Prior to the elections and after a number of concerns were raised about this from members, it was agreed Scrutiny would investigate the issues and make a recommendation to Cabinet. Can you confirm whether or not this is still the case, or has an agreement been reached with the police over this?

Response:

I can confirm that no agreement has been made for the council to take over parking enforcement from next year or at any future date. Officers have spoken with Scrutiny to begin the process of investigating options. Issued 29 June 2017