Highways and Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member – Minutes – 21 October 2011

18  (18) PRIMARY AUTHORITY SCHEME – The Director of Neighbourhood and Environment Services submitted a report to advise of the Regulatory, Enforcement and Sanctions Act (RES Act), which impacted on the administration of the Council’s enforcement functions in respect of Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing matters. 

In May 2007 the Government set up the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO). The role of LBRO was to improve local authority enforcement of environmental health, trading standards, fire safety and licensing regulations. Its aim was to reduce burdens on businesses that complied with the law whilst targeting those who flouted it. 

Businesses that operated across more than one site could be subject to regulation and enforcement action by multiple local authorities. As a result, LBRO had discovered that on occasions these organisations found themselves subject to regulatory enforcement using different approaches in different locations. 

It was considered that regulatory burdens would be reduced if North Lincolnshire Council embraced the Primary Authority Concept and that the requirement to consult the Primary Authority prevented unwarranted enforcement actions. It was explained that where an inspection plan was in place, unnecessary checks and tests were avoided whilst undertaking intelligence/risk based local inspections. The Act provided that a Local Authority may recover reasonable costs for acting as a Primary Authority. 

Resolved – (a)  That the Head of Trading Standards be authorised to enter into Primary Authority relationships on behalf of the Council for the purpose of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (RES Act), (b) that the Primary Authority scheme be offered to appropriate  businesses based on an arrangement of an initial setup fee, up to 10 hours support with no additional charge per annum, (c) that any additional activities and support be provided at a chargeable rate in line with the LACORS Trading Standards Officer rate (currently £42 an hour) for additional time, and (d) that agreements be negotiated as appropriate on that basis.

19  (19)  TRANSFER OF PRIVATE SEWERS – The Director of Neighbourhood and Environment Services submitted a report to advise on the transfer of responsibility for private sewers to Water Authorities.  The report highlighted the background to the transfer, the likely impact and implementation date, and advised on the partnership approach to working with the water and sewerage companies. 

The report identified that a private sewer was where lateral drains from two or more properties joined and flowed from properties into a public sewer and was the combined responsibility of the property owners. Private sewers were those sewers that had not been adopted by a water and sewerage company. 

After a number of consultations the previous Government announced that approximately 300,000 kilometers of privately owned sewers in England would be transferred to water and sewerage companies from 1 October 2011. It also announced the introduction of a mandatory build standard for new sewers and that these would automatically become the responsibility of water and sewer companies.  

Following the 2011 General Election, the Coalition Government decided to continue with the transfer and the necessary regulations came into force on 1 July 2011. The cabinet member was advised that private sewers would therefore, subject to parliamentary approval, be transferred from 1 October 2011. 

Resolved – That officers report back to the Cabinet Member when discussions with North Lincolnshire Homes, Severn Trent and Anglian Water are complete in order to consider any proposed memorandum of understanding or service level agreement. 

20  (20)  FLOOD & COASTAL EROSION RISK MANAGEMENT FUNDING – The Director of Infrastructure Services submitted a report to advise of a change to funding arrangements for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) projects. 

It was explained that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had introduced a new approach to the funding of FCERM capital projects. The Environment Agency (EA) requested annually bids for flood defence projects meeting Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) criteria. The EA administered the programme on behalf of DEFRA. 

From 2012/13 grant-funding levels would relate directly to the benefits delivered by the scheme. Funding would be on offer to all projects, but very few projects were likely to attract 100 per cent funding. The cabinet member was informed that funding for shortfalls would need to be found from alternative sources. 

The Director of Infrastructure Services outlined that bids would be required by early July each year for funding the following financial year or later. The outcome of the bid process would not be known until February/March the following year. It was clarified that a successful bid allocated indicative funding and that this would provide the council with an opportunity to submit a detailed bid appraisal report, which in turn would be presented to the EA project appraisal board for decision. 

Resolved – (a) That the changes to Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) funding for flood defence projects be noted, (b) that Option 2 as detailed within the report be adopted, and (c) that bids for Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) funding be made where they have both a reasonable chance of success and achieve significant net funding benefit. 

21  (21)  SPEED LIMIT REVIEW – The Director of Infrastructure Services submitted a report to provide an update on the review of existing speed limits on the A and B class highway network and seek approval to carry out changes to speed limits arising from the review. This review followed advice given in the Department for Transport Circular 01/2006. 

The cabinet member was advised that the council could set speed limits where local needs made it desirable to adopt a speed that was different from the national limit. Advice on these matters changed with the publication of DfT Circular 01/2006, in which traffic authorities were encouraged to review the speed limits on their A and B class roads and carry out any necessary changes.

The council’s Traffic Team and an officer from Humberside Police carried out a review, in which accident data was considered and also whether current speed limits were adhered to. In addition the review considered traffic volume and also known community issues.

Based upon the findings the council’s Traffic Team had been able to re-assess the existing speed limits and outlined the recommended changes in Appendix A to the report.

Resolved –  (a) That a programme of speed limit changes be approved on a prioritised basis as resources allow, and (b) that the speed limit changes as outlined in Appendix A be adopted as the list of priorities.

Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.