Highways & Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member – Minutes – 21 November 2013

Transport capital expenditure was mainly secured through the Local Transport Plan (LTP) process.  The council was required to submit a LTP submission for the Department of Transport.  The plan set out transport priorities for the council.  Last year had seen the start of the third generation of the plans.  They now covered a 15-year period.

As part of the LTP submission, council’s were required to produce a three year Delivery Plan.  This plan set out the programme themes and expected outcomes for the plan.

There were two funding streams within the LTP award: Integrated Transport and Highway Maintenance.  The allocations for the current year including carry forwards were as follows:

·         Integrated Transport £1,509.000

·         Highway Maintenance £4,114,000

·         Additional capital £1,991.000

Programmes of work were prepared by professionally qualified officers, considering transport priorities and performance targets.  The breakdown into programmes of work was assessed using agreed policies and criteria.

Highway maintenance schemes were prioritised using nationally recognised highway condition assessment criteria within a prioritisation framework.  Where appropriate, maintenance schemes also included measures to improve road safety (particularly for vulnerable road users), increase personal security, reduce crime and enhance the street scene.

Monitoring of the programme could reveal both underspends or overspends on various budget lines whilst the base budgets were amended centrally.  The current position as set out in Appendix 1 to the report indicated that the LTP programme of works balanced and was fully committed.

Resolved – (a) That the progress of the delivery of the programme be noted; (b) that the potential start dates for future schemes, set out in Appendix 2 to the report, be noted.

86              (33) ILLEGAL MONEY LENDING TEAM – AUTHORISATIONS – The Director of Places submitted a report seeking approval for the council to authorise Birmingham City Council to investigate and institute proceedings against illegal money lenders operating within the council’s area.

Each Local Authority Trading Standards Service enforced the Consumer Credit Act 1974.  The Act legislated the consumer credit industry.  All consumer credit businesses had to possess a licence issued by the Office of Fair Trading.  Operating without a licence was a criminal offence.  It carried a maximum penalty of £5,000 and/or up to two years imprisonment.

Illegal money lending covered a range of activities.  These ranged from persons that were actually licensed but were acting unlawfully, to the extreme of a person offering cash loans without holding a license (Loan Sharks). Loan Sharks charged extortionate rates of interest on loans.  Borrowers who failed to pay were often subject to intimidation, theft, forced prostitution and other, extreme physical violence.

Birmingham Trading Standards initially set up an Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) as a pilot project. Its remit was to investigate illegal money lending activity, establish if a problem existed and, if so, bring to justice those persons carrying on this activity. The team was made up of highly experienced investigators.  They had a broad range of backgrounds and investigative skills.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) had recognised the success of the pilot scheme.  They had made £5.2 million available to fund the project for 2012-14 across England.

Resolved – (a) That the proposal to delegate the function of the enforcement of Part III of the Consumer Credit Action 1974 to be carried out in North Lincolnshire by Birmingham City Council and delegate the power of prosecution to Birmingham City Council for any matters associated with, or discovered during an investigation by the illegal money lending team, be approved; (b) that the ‘Protocol for Illegal Money Lending Team Investigations’, attached to the report, be approved, and (c) that authority be delegated to the Director of Places to enter into an agreement on behalf of the council and to approve minor alterations if required.

87              (34) EXTENSION OF THE LANDFILL DISPOSAL CONTRACT – The Director of Places submitted a report seeking approval to extend the landfill disposal contract and secure future capacity for the disposal to landfill of municipal waste collected by the council.

The council procured a landfill disposal contract for its collected municipal waste in 2011.  The contract was for one year with options for two further extensions of two years.  It was structured this way to provide flexibility as the council was undertaking procurement of a long term municipal waste treatment contract at the same time.

In the years since the contract award, the gate fee paid by the council had consistently been at the bottom end of comparative benchmarking prices.  This demonstrated that the contract had provided excellent value for money.  For this reason, the council exercised its option on the first extension period for April 2012 to March 2014.

The council’s option to enact the second extension had to be confirmed by formal notice to the landfill contractor no later than 31 December 2013.

Resolved – That Option 1, as set out in the report at paragraph 3.1, to extend the landfill disposal contract to secure future capacity for the disposal to landfill of municipal waste collected by the council, be approved.

88              (35) CONTINUANCE OF THE ORGANIC WASTE TREATMENT CONTRACT – The Director of Places submitted a report seeking approval of the continuance of the organic waste treatment contract, therefore securing treatment capacity for the organic municipal waste collected by the council.

The council procured a treatment contract for its collected organic municipal waste in 2011.  The contract was for four years with options for the council to break it under notice in 2013 and 2014.  It was structured that way to provide flexibility as the council was undertaking the procurement of a long term municipal waste treatment contract at the same time and did not know if the organics could form part of this.

In the years since the contract award the gate fee paid by the council had consistently been at the median point of comparative benchmarking prices proving that the contract remained good value for money.  For that reason the council did not exercise its break option on the first opportunity in March 2013.

The council had to enact the second break option by formal notice to the organics contractor no later than 1 March 2014.

Resolved – That Option 1, as set out in the report at paragraph 3.1, to continue with the contract for the composting of organic municipal waste collected by the council, be approved.

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