Agenda item

Clean and Green Service Savings Proposals (Decision: 110589)

Minutes:

Councillor Jefferies introduced the report and stated the street scene and leisure service had identified two areas of savings which were outlined within the report. He stated that the team had reviewed how, when, and the frequency of town centre and green space cleaning. Councillor Redsell explained that the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee had discussed the report in detail. She queried if staff who would be made redundant could be retrained or redeployed in other areas. She also questioned what other areas of savings had been considered. Councillor Redsell and the Committee had felt that street cleaning was an important area, which all residents would notice. She sought reassurance that roads, paths and green spaces would remain clean and up to their present standard. She added that although the Committee had felt that wildflower planting could be good in some areas, they did not want this to be at the detriment of parks and green spaces. She also queried what the team were doing to tackle nuisance motorbikes on green spaces, and if new fencing could be used to stop them accessing these areas. The Leader stated that he had met recently with the environment team to discuss the problem of motorbikes on green spaces. He explained that during this meeting he had suggested deadwood hedging, which utilised coppiced material and deadwood to stop motorbikes entering certain areas, as well as providing a sanctuary for wildlife. Councillor Jefferies thanked Councillor Redsell and the Committee for their comments and questions, and assured them that the proposed savings would not see standards fall. He agreed that clean and green services were important for residents and the teams would continue to ensure the highest standards. He stated that he did not know which specific posts would be made redundant, but assured Councillor Redsell that these redundancies would follow all the necessary employment laws, and the HR team would work with those affected people to support them where possible. He stated that street cleaning now utilised machinery that was more efficient, and the team had developed a strategy which concentrated on cleaning parks and open spaces after they had been busy, for example on weekends. He added that officers were now considering the frequency and type of cleaning undertaken in parks and open spaces, and this would be amended where appropriate. Councillor Jefferies commented that they did not want areas to become overgrown, but felt that wildflower planting would enhance certain areas, such as road verges. He explained that roads currently had to close when they required cleaning or grass maintenance, which could cause delays and problems for road users. He stated that wildflower areas did not require maintenance as often and looked better than grass. He explained that the team were also considering wildflower planting in small verges between footpaths and roads, as well as considering ground covering that did not grow and therefore did not require as much maintenance.

Councillor Redsell asked if the Portfolio Holder could look into how street cleaners and housing stock street cleaners worked together to ensure all areas were being cleaned efficiently. Councillor Jefferies replied that work was currently ongoing to ensure that street cleaners and housing stock street cleaners worked together efficiently. Councillor Spillman added that the housing service had become leaner and more efficient, but continued to perform well. He felt that savings could improve services and provide value for money for taxpayers. Councillor Coxshall stated that he had shared the concern of Councillor Redsell and the Committee regarding job losses and if this would affect the service. He highlighted 3.21 and 3.22 of the report which outlined that a number of the posts marked for potential redundancy were already vacant or filled by agency staff, and had been this way for a long time, so would have a limited impact. He stated that the Council were committed to ensuring a better service for residents whilst making savings, and officers had been working hard on this area for a number of years.

Councillor Redsell highlighted an issue with bin collections that had been reported to her, particularly regarding bins in fields and parks that relied on solar power technology to inform the team when they were full. She stated that she had received reports that these bins were positioned under trees, so were not communicating efficiently to officers when they needed emptying, and therefore were overflowing. Councillor Jefferies responded that he would ask officers to look into this issue.

The Leader thanked Councillor Redsell for her attendance, and stated that scrutiny Chairs would always be welcome to attend Cabinet meetings, as it was good to hear scrutiny comments first hand.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Considered and approved the proposals outlined in the context of the current MTFS position.

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in

 

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