Julie Rogers, Director of Environment and Highways, presented the report that set out the charges in relation to services within the remit of the Cleaner Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee that will take effect from the 1 April 2019. Julie Rogers stated that the fees and charges crossed over with a number of directorates including housing, health and place, she would do her best to answer but where she couldn’t, she agreed to take any questions away and provide follow up responses.
The Chair questioned Enforcement Fees – Fly-Posting – no discount for early repayment. Julie Rogers stated this was an automatic policy charge that had resulted in a slight decrease in payment but the Council continued to prosecute and advertised those court cases. Julie Rogers was pleased to advise a very high, if not 100% success rate on prosecutions.
The Chair questioned Cultural Services – Internet and Word Processing – Use of the Internet – per subsequent hour. The Chair stated that young people used the library as not everyone had the facility to access the internet at home and stated she was not happy about the new charge. Julie Rogers stated that Wi-Fi in libraries was currently provided by a code which entitled users 2 hours free Wi-Fi service, on their own devices or library PC’s. To ensure fair access to all users the charge had been introduced to manage the risk of people staying logged onto library PC’s without really using the PC and preventing someone else from having access.
The Chair questioned whether the charge would be applied to those residents who only used the Wi-Fi through their own devices. The Chair asked for further clarification from Officers and a meeting would be arranged for next week.
Councillor Rigby and Councillor Abbas agreed that as the Council was encouraging more residents to use on-line services it was unreasonable to ask residents to start paying for Wi-Fi in libraries and that further clarification was required.
The Chair questioned all the new charges for Cultural Services – Thameside Theatre and Central Complex. The Chair had concerns how these extra charges would affect smaller groups such as dancing and art groups in paying for facilities and questioned whether they had been consulted. Julie Rogers referred Members to page 133, paragraph 13.3 of the agenda which referenced the fees and charges that was undertaken for the 2017/18 financial year. The Chair thanked the Officer but stated further clarification was required and a meeting would be arranged for next week.
The Chair questioned the new charge Heritage - School Visits (Coalhouse Fort or Thurrock Museum) - per class and asked should the Council be charging schools for this facility. Julie Rogers stated that this was not a new charge to schools and was already been paid.
Councillor Abbas pointed out that no charges had been made to services such as adult gambling services and licensing but those local services for residents appeared to have been increased. Councillor Abbas felt that this was not fair and unreasonable.
Councillor Abbas questioned why there had been an increase in charges to the Residents Services – Registration of Marriage and Birth Certificates. Julie Rogers stated further clarification from Officers was required and a meeting would be arranged for next week.
1. That Members asked for clarity on a number of areas and a meeting would be arranged for next week before the recommendations are agreed.
2. That the Cleaner Greener and Safer 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 this committee.
3. That the Cleaner Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted that director delegation authority will be sought via Cabinet to allow Fees and Charges to be varied within a financial year in response to commercial requirements.