Questions from Councillors
To receive members’ questions under procedure rule no.11. The procedure rule provides that any member may ask the Chairman of a board or group any question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the District, provided that three clear days’ notice in writing has been given to the Head of Legal and Commercial Services.
The Chairman advised that five questions had been received and that he would take them in the order that they had been received.
The Chairman invited Councillor R Johnson to ask his question addressed to Councillor R Ashman.
“1. What forward plans has this council have, in putting in place support and training of the Council's Planning Enforcement team in the next financial year?
2. What is the view of the Portfolio holder for Planning and Regeneration where a developer has placed on them conditions to retain trees, then breaks that condition and fells 5 healthy ones, that this council's planning enforcement does not enforce the conditions set when planning permission was accepted by the developer, with no sanction nor implements a fine?
This sends out in my humble opinion the wrong message to our communities that developers can do what they want, when they want.
3. What is the view of the Planning Portfolio holder for Planning and Regeneration on the destruction of our countryside's wildlife habitats by uncaring developers where unknown persons are setting snares, where domestic animals get caught in them, fencing off Badger's setts destroying our wild animals' habitats, the destruction of our hedgerows and trees where our wild birds are nesting?
Is this progress that we as countryside communities must swallow and take a blind eye too?”
The Chairman invited Councillor R Ashman to respond.
“1.Training for all staff including planning enforcement officer’s is discussed and agreed at the 6 monthly reflection meetings. This includes new and refresher training to ensure continual personal development is kept up to date.
2. Where conditions are placed upon developers for the retention of trees, it would be expected that these conditions are adhered too. However, there are instances where, on further investigation, the tree(s) are rotten or diseased and need to be felled for safety reasons. This should be dealt with through discussion between developers and officers about the need to vary the planning permission The Planning Enforcement team will investigate any complaints of trees being felled without this process being followed, and may suggest a retrospective application be made, which could include mitigation measures such as replacement trees. If agreed mitigation is not forthcoming, the Planning Enforcement team would follow the enforcement policy to determine the next steps.
I do not know the site that Cllr Johnson is concerned about and it would not be appropriate to discuss a specific complaint or enforcement case at Council. However, if Cllr Johnson would like to provide me with details outside this meeting, I will work with officers to provide a specific response.
3. The Council’s Planning team ensure that relevant conditions are attached to approved planning permissions to ensure protection of the countryside and wildlife habitats and that any removal of trees and hedgerows outside of the approved permission will be investigated by the Planning Enforcement Team.
The fencing off of badger setts, destruction of wildlife habitats and setting of snares is a criminal matter under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which is enforceable by the Police as the Council do not have the powers in which to deal with any offence under this act.”
The Chairman invited Councillor R Johnson to ask a supplementary question.
He thanked Councillor Ashman for his response and asked We as Councillors are the voice of our communities and we all want an effective Planning Enforcement team with Teeth
The reason I asked the original question was that in my humble opinion the team is overworked under resourced and under valued
I think you have missed the general point I was making, in the last sentence that developers in my humble opinion are sending the wrong messages out to our communities that they can do what they when they want even in bird breeding season
I am fully aware of The Wildlife and Countryside Act and do work closely with our Rural Crime Officers within Leicestershire Police
Yes there are conditions in place with any permission, to protect our wildlife but in practice on sites it is interpretation by developers that often causes offence in the miss use of snares and traps and destruction of the habitats
We as an authority in my humble opinion have to ensure to keep our wild life safe one hopes you would agree.
Councillor R Ashman thanked Councillor R Johnson and advised that he would take on board the comments, that planning enforcement was huge part of the planning process and that resourcing would be looked at. The questions would be forwarded to member services for responses to be formulated.
Post meeting note – responses to supplementary questions:-
Officers can confirm that the team are resourced in an effective and efficient manner. The service has been benchmarked against other local authorities and the caseload per officer aligns accordingly.
A clear question is not visible from the next two supplementary questions and so I would ask that you directly liaise with the Planning Enforcement Team by logging an enquiry with this particular site related issue/ concern via Member Services. By taking this targeted approach officers can try and answer what your specific concern is regarding the protection of wildlife. As Portfolio Holder, I have asked to be kept informed of the responses to you as I take very seriously incidents where developers have not followed the agreements to protect the natural environment stipulated in the planning permission.
The Chairman invited Councillor S Sheahan to ask his question addressed to Councillor A Woodman.
“In advance of the publication of the Government's new strategy on disability, it would be helpful to know what the Council's stance is in a number of areas where local government can have a positive influence on the lives of disabled people.
a) Helping disabled persons into employment?
b) Increasing the supply of accessible housing, through the Local Plan process?
c) Improving the accessibility of public buildings through licensing?
d) Ensuring that there are enough wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in the District?”
The Chairman invited Councillor A Woodman to respond.
“a) The Council is a recognised “Disability Confident” employer. We guarantee interviews for disabled people who meet the key criteria for our jobs and we provide support during our recruitment processes and to those who subsequently join us throughout their working lives. The Councils Equality and Access group is aware of the plans to publish a new strategy and we will amend our plans and arrangements as needed.
The Council remains committed to the Government’s Disability Confident programme. We continue to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to engage and support local employers to become Disability Confident and encourage employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.
We also work with job centre to support employers to adopt more open recruitment policies to actively attract job seekers with disabilities as well as others who face barriers to employment such as ex-offenders, lone parents and careers.
Local companies such as XPO and Marks and Spencer actively recruit people who may require additional help and adaptions to the workplace with excellent results. M&S have a number of deaf employees and recently, working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust have recruited a blind person, as well as staff with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
We will continue to work with the DWP to encourage more employers to become disability confident and through jobs fairs and careers advice we will connect job seekers and employers together.
b) The Government has established optional technical housing standards. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/housing-optional-technical-standards. This provides local authorities with an option to set additional technical requirements exceeding the minimum standards required by Building Regulations in respect of (amongst other things) access and an optional nationally described space standard. However, evidence is required to determine whether there is a need for additional standards and to then justify setting appropriate policies in the local plan. This work will be assessed as part of the Local Plan review and a report will be taken to Local plan Committee in due course.
c) The council has no powers under licencing to influence the accessibility of public buildings but is committed to ensuring fair access to public services, both physically and virtually, ensuring that customers can access council services in the way in which they need too. Any significant works to council buildings always look ataccessibility and are done in accordance with any appropriate standards. In certain circumstances involving new build and external alterations to buildings, these may be subject to planning and building regulation requirements. An example of the council’s commitment to meeting the needs of people with disabilities is the new state of the art “Changing Rooms” facility which is a vital facility in the new Whitwick and Coalville Leisure Centre currently under construction.
d)There is not a legislative requirement to licence a specific number of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles (WAV’s). The council publishes a list of designated wheelchair accessible vehicles licensed by the council as required by s167 of the 2010 Equalities Act.
There are currently four wheelchair accessible vehicles licensed by the council designated for the purposes of section 165 of the Act. The council has not received any concerns relating to the availability of WAV in the district. If concerns were raised the council could consider introducing licensing policy to increase the number that are licensed.”
The Chairman invited Councillor S Sheahan to ask a supplementary question.
Councillor Sheahan thanked the Portfolio Holder for his answers and
asked if the Portfolio Holder agreed that the Council could positively influence employment opportunities for disabled persons through the procurement process, would the Council use licensing powers to ensure commercial premises had disabled accessible if suitable legislation was available, and would the Portfolio Holder agree to carry out a survey to identify the unmet need for disabled accessible taxis and private hire vehicles?
Councillor A Woodman acknowledged the hard work of the equalities officer and took on board the points raised by Councillor S Sheahan, which he would discuss with officers and provide a response outside of the meeting.
Post meeting note – responses to supplementary questions:-
No, I don’t think that the Council can positively influence employment opportunities for disabled persons through our procurement process.
However, there are processes and mechanisms already in place within the council (through Human Resources and Economic Development & Regeneration) specifically designed to support and influence employment opportunities for disabled people at the Council and with local employers.
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 requires us to consider how the services we procure might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area. It is defined as improving economic, social and environmental wellbeing from public sector contracts over and above the delivery of the services directly required at no extra cost. At the council we look to include social value evaluation criteria as part of any procurement process, these usually are focussed on economic sustainability and local employment.
In relation to the using Licensing powers to ensure premises have suitable disabled access Officers will await any change in legislation before progressing any measures
A targeted survey will be carried out by the Licencing team to assess if the current supply of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles is sufficient to meet the demand within the district.
The Chairman invited Councillor T Eynon to ask her question addressed to Councillor A Woodman.
“Residents of Clutsom Road and Kemp Road in my ward, Hugglescote St Mary’s, are troubled by vehicles being parked in the evenings and overnight on the pavement at the entrance to their estate. This causes obstruction to pedestrians and restricts visibility for moving traffic. Residents in surrounding streets lack off-street parking, but with no other transport alternatives, need to park their private car or commercial vehicle near their home.
- How could this Council, through Planning, Enforcement and/or Community Development, assist residents to resolve this conflict?
- How does this Council’s performance on resolving such Parking issues compare with other authorities?”
The Chairman invited Councillor A Woodman to respond
“Problem parking is an issue across the district and the county as a whole. The enforcement of problem parking is dependent upon the circumstances of each case. Leicestershire County Council (LCC) published a report in 2012 which is attached to this table for your information as it highlights the relevant authority who would deal with each issue.
NWLDC delivers on street parking enforcement on behalf of (LCC) under contract and the hours of operation are prescribed through the contract agreement.
As the pavement parking is taking place mostly in the evening, as stated, this is outside NWLDC normal patrol hours. If observed by a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO), the officers can issue a penalty charge notice if a vehicle is on the pavement, adjacent to the “no waiting restriction” or for any other restrictions (and not carrying out any exempt activity or a blue badge holder).
Contact was made with LCC recently regarding this specific location. LCC advised that if they decide to allocate resources and carry out any ad hoc evening patrols in the future these would be added to their list of locations outside of patrol hours. If the pavement parking is considered dangerous or an obstruction then it would be a matter for the police, the police no longer have the powers to issue for parking contraventions, only for safety concerns.
In terms of parking issues on existing residential streets, Residents Parking Schemes can be considered and these are dealt with by LCC.
In terms of car parking standards for new buildings and future developments, guidance is contained both in the Leicestershire Highways Design Guide (Leicestershire County Council) and the Council’s Good Design SPD. The guidance in the Council’s Good Design SPD is based on the Leicestershire Highways Design Guide and requires a minimum of two off street spaces for dwellings up to three bedrooms and a minimum of three spaces for dwellings with four bedrooms or more. The preference is for this parking to be provided on the plot of individual dwellings and the Council discourages over reliance on tandem car parking arrangements on new developments.”
The Chairman invited Councillor T Eynon to ask a supplementary question.
“I thank Cllr Woodman for his comprehensive reply. It does explain well why residents in my ward are persistently frustrated in their attempts to get two Councils and the Police to work together to help them resolve this issue.
I am not sure that, in his answer, Cllr Woodman has addressed the question ‘How could this Council address this problem?’
My supplementary questions address the areas specified in my initial question namely:
· Community Development
I note that, in the appended paper from LCC Highways dated October 2012, the Director of Environment and Transport recommends ‘education’ as the ‘best option’. It is generally considered that exhorting people to change their behaviour without giving them realistic choices is ineffective. Nevertheless, I will ask:
· What community education has taken place in North West Leicestershire since 2012 and how effective has it been in resolving this problem for residents?
As regards Enforcement, I note that LCC are committed to patrols in the daytime, only providing evening patrols on occasions when specifically requested to do so.
· What is preventing this authority from renegotiating the hours of enforcement patrols so that these meet the needs of residents?
As regards Planning, I note that the Leicestershire Highways Design Guide defines a minimum number of parking spaces for dwellings of three and four bedrooms. It makes no provision for the fact that, where these homes are in multiple occupation, there may be up to eight working-age adults in a four-bedroom home, each needing a space to park their car.
Birmingham City Council have a Parking Policy which ensures that, where development is likely to create on-street parking problems, funding for parking controls is sought through developer contributions.
· How can this authority use the forthcoming revision of its Local Plan to ensure that developers make realistic provision and mitigate against the loss of on-street parking amenity?”
Councillor T Eynon advised that she would forward the questions to member services for a response to be formulated.
Post meeting note – responses to supplementary questions:-
Officers from the Community Focus team will make contact with you to discuss possible initiatives to spread awareness of inconsiderate parking. Officers will explore the possibility that Leicestershire Police cadets or volunteers could help leaflet drop “Pavement Parking” leaflets to houses within the vicinity of the parking issues. Leicestershire Police will also be contacted by the Community Focus Team to request the monitoring of dangerous parking in the area during the evening.
In 2017 the inconsiderate parking campaign was launched by The Leicestershire Constabulary. NWLDC and Charnwood BC worked collaboratively in launching this campaign. Leaflets were given out and attached to windscreens of offenders. Since the initial campaign leaflets that remained have been issued on an adhoc basis when pavement parking issues have flared up. Millbank Ashby being one location. An e-shot version of this leaflet was also made available to give to residents with an issue that they were encouraged to print off and attach to the vehicle deemed inconsiderate.
Special observations have taken place on 4 occasions (2016 onwards) where officers have started early 6am and finished late 10pm but this was not an additional cost but one where their hours of work were changed and the supplementary cost was picked up by LCC.
Leicestershire County Council is responsible for the on street enforcement of parking restrictions and this is carried out on their behalf by arrangement with NWLDC officers. Additional patrols during the evening can be arranged if the costs for these can be covered by a third party or the County Council .
Leicestershire County Council has a duty to ensure enforcement is taking place during normal working hours between 8am and 6pm and every effort is made to ensure that we run the service on a cost neutral basis on their behalf. During the last financial year costs have exceeded income received and at this time this is something that can only be funded if it was from an external source to the district council.
Contact Details Marianne Buckby, Team Manager NPU/Residents Parking
Network Management – Development & Growth Leicestershire County Council, Tel 0116 3052803, firstname.lastname@example.org
At the present time, Policy IF7 of the North West Leicestershire Local Plan deals with parking provision and states in (2)
(2) In considering the provision of parking, both vehicles and cycling, as part of new development the Council will:
(a) Have regard to local highway and parking conditions;
(b) Have regard to the most up-to-date 6C’s Design Guidance or equivalent issued by the County Highway Authority in respect of parking standards;
When we come to consider the development management policies in the replacement local plan, this policy will be reviewed in line with the up to date design guidance of Leicestershire County Council as local highway authority.
It is understood that Leicestershire County Council are planning on reviewing their Highways Design Guide including parking standards, and that this will consider the issues around houses in multiple occupation, but there is currently no programme for completion of this review and as such it is not clear at this stage whether this will fit in with the councils timescales for review of the Local Plan.
The Chairman invited Councillor J Legrys to ask his question addressed to Councillor R Ashman.
“Can the Portfolio Holder please inform me if there were any allegations of voter misuse reported in North West Leicestershire relating to the elections on 6th May 2021?”
The Chairman invited Councillor R Ashman to respond
“I can confirm that there were no allegations of voter misuse reported in North West Leicestershire relating to the elections on 6 May 2021.”
The Chairman invited Councillor J Legrys to ask a supplementary question.
Councillor J Legrys thanked the Portfolio Holder for his response and asked if he felt that there was a need for a letter identification for future elections.
Councillor R Ashman noted that national legislation would be considered by parliament and that should identification be brought in then the Council would work hard to communicate any changes to the residents of the district.
The Chairman invited Councillor D Everitt to ask his question addressed to Councillor R Bayliss.
“In Thringstone we are lucky in having a wonderful group of volunteers who spend a lot of their time litter picking. Which is much appreciated by the residents. However they are of course unable to deal with the increasing amount of large items that are being dumped.
The Woodside estate in Thringstone has benefited from the investment in our tenants homes and is appreciated by them and their neighbours. However there is an increasing failure to remove refuse that is being deposited on grassed areas in front of some properties, in the parking areas and in the courtyards and garage areas.
I am told this can lead to the grass not being cut because the grass cutting team are not equipped to remove refuse.
The tenants and others who deposit these items need to be made aware of the problem and helped in getting rid of the unsightly and damaging rubbish.
Can the Refuse Department work with the Housing Department to find out why this ongoing problem is getting out of hand and work together to return the estate to its previous pleasant appearance?”
The Chairman invited Councillor R Bayliss to respond
“The Housing Officer for the area visited the site on Tuesday 18 May 2021 and completed an inspection of the Woodside Estate. Fly tipping was identified on different parts of the estate and reported to the council’s Waste team. Arrangements were made for the items to be collected on 20 May 2021.
The teams will be working together to produce an advice leaflet regarding waste and recycling along with how our residents can access bulky waste collections which will go to residents on the estate.
The Housing Officer will also be undertaking regular inspections and will work with the Environmental Protection Team if problems persist.
As the country moves toward step four of the Covid roadmap, officers will also be reintroducing resident involvement activities which will see the Thingstone and Whitwick Tenants’ Association meeting again and officers will discuss how environmental issues can be improved upon.”
The Chairman invited Councillor D Everitt to ask a supplementary question.
Councillor D Everitt thanked the Portfolio Holder for his response and noted that it was imperative that any fly tipping was cleared straight away. He sought reassurance for the Portfolio Holder that waste removal would be kept on top off.
Councillor R Bayliss agreed with Councillor D Everitt that fly tipping was an ongoing problem and would ensure that it was cleared as soon as it was reported.
- Question for Council - 01 - Cllr Johnson, item 9. PDF 183 KB
- Question for Council - 02 - Cllr Sheahan, item 9. PDF 354 KB
- Question for Council - 03 - Cllr Eynon, item 9. PDF 194 KB
- appendix to Question 3, item 9. PDF 534 KB
- Question for Council - 04 - Cllr Legrys, item 9. PDF 178 KB
- Question for Council - 05 - Councillor Everitt, item 9. PDF 313 KB