Presented by the Corporate Director, the report outlined the proposed charges which would take effect from 1 April 2019 unless otherwise stated.
Councillor Piccolo stated that the appendices accompanying the fees and charges report were too small to read. He thought it would have been useful to have used a colour coded system to highlight what charges had increased or decreased.
Agreeing with Councillor Piccolo’s comments, Councillor Pothecary mentioned struggling to see the charges as well. She went on to ask who would be impacted by the increased fees and charges. The Assistant Director for Planning, Transport and Public Protection gave examples of where fees had been introduced. This included scooter training in schools which had been funded previously but schools now requested this. In the National Planning Policy Framework, informal discussions had taken place to acquire money to drive planning applications forward. The service may review those charges in a year’s time. However, the planning charges were necessary to drive development schemes, such as the Purfleet Regeneration scheme, forward. Overall, very few fees had increased. In response, Councillor Pothecary said the scooter fee had been one that she had been concerned about but could see the cost was small which was £30 for 10 children.
Referring to the licenses for highways, the Vice-Chair sought an explanation on the increased charges. The Assistant Director for Highways, Fleet and Logistics explained that the fees and charges had been benchmarked against other local authorities and were in line with current market value. These charges would also encompass staff costs and retained costs for possible damage to highways from vehicles as a result of works or activities undertaken in relation to the license.
On the mention of highways licenses, Councillor Pothecary queried the charge for skip licenses. She sought clarification on whether the charge would have an impact on companies and went on to say that the service did not want to be discouraging people from hiring skips. Councillor Pothecary also asked whether it was the people hiring skips or the companies that would absorb the cost. The Assistant Director for Highways, Fleet and Logistics answered the charge had been introduced to help control unauthorised skips on the highway. It was uncertain whether this charge was passed on by companies.
The Vice-Chair felt the Committee had not had the opportunity to pick up the smaller details of the fees and charges due to the format. He asked if comments could be provided to Officers in the next day or two. The Corporate Director answered comments could be picked up via email through Democratic Services but the recommendations could be agreed subject to comments by Members.
Councillor Piccolo asked for a colour coding system to which the Corporate Director answered that a method would be used to highlight the increase and decrease of charges.
1.1 That the Planning, Transport, Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the revised fees, including those no longer applicable, and commented on the proposals currently being considered within the remit of the Committee.
1.2 That Planning, Transport, Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted that Director delegated authority will be sought via Cabinet to allow fees and charges to be varied within a financial year in response to commercial requirements.