Highways & Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member – Minutes – 6 July 2011
3 (3) ASSESSMENT OF TREE RISK – The Director of Infrastructure Services submitted a report seeking approval for the adoption of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) threshold of acceptable risk from trees.
The report outlined that the council was responsible for the management of a large number of trees across a number of services including those in parks, highways, schools and cemeteries. It was agreed that trees had a very significant beneficial effect on our quality of life however, trees growing on publicly accessible land or close to private property could also present a potential risk. It was explained that as landowners, liability may rest with the council for any damage or injury caused and it had a duty of care to prevent foreseeable harm.
Fear of litigation had led many landowners to remove trees in the name of ‘health and safety’. This precautionary approach had led to the unnecessary removal of trees, given a more reasoned assessment of the balance between risk and amenity.
The National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) was formed in 2007 to address this imbalance and develop a nationally recognised approach to tree safety management. It had now provided guidance that was proportionate to the actual risks posed by trees and was based on the following five key principles:
- Trees provided a wide range of benefits to society;
- They were living organisms and naturally lose branches and fall;
- The risk to human safety was extremely low;
- Tree owners had a legal duty of care;
- Tree owners should take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management.
It was considered that using the Quantified Tree Risk Assessment (QTRA) system maintained a defendable position at the least possible cost whilst avoiding undesirable loss of valued trees, and was consistent with a duty of care based on reasonable care, reasonable prediction and reasonable practicability.
Resolved – That the Quantified Tree Risk Assessment system be adopted by the council and referred to in the council’s policy compendium on trees.
4 (4) PRELIMINARY FLOOD RISK ASSESSMENT – The Director of Infrastructure Services submitted a report seeking endorsement of the North Lincolnshire Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment submission to the Environment Agency.
The Flood Regulations came into force in England and Wales on 19 December 2009.This statutory instrument transposed the EU Floods Directive into domestic law, covering the assessment and management of flood risk. The regulations set deadlines and placed duties on the Environment Agency (EA) and lead local flood authorities (LLFAs) which were county and unitary authorities.
The report indicated that the first stage was for the LLFA’s to prepare an assessment that considered general flood risk from local sources of flooding, i.e. surface water, groundwater, ordinary watercourses, canals and lakes in their area. The EA were required to prepare assessment maps and reports for the sea, main rivers and reservoirs.
LLFA’s were required to submit their completed preliminary flood risk assessment (PFRA) to the EA by 22 June 2011 with final reports being published by the EA before 22 December 2011.The PFRA aimed to identify areas with significant risk of flooding using both local and national significance thresholds. It was explained that the local significance thresholds were different to national thresholds.
Resolved – That the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment submission to the Environment Agency be noted and endorsed.
The Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 brought into place the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCC) to succeed Regional Flood Defence Committees (RFDC).The committee consented the Environment Agency’s (EA) regional programme of works on flooding and coastal erosion and any levy placed on lead local flood authorities (LLFA). The committee was responsible for the regulation and improvement of designated main river watercourses.Council flood defence projects seeking EA funding were also considered by the committee.
It was explained that there were 11 RFCC’s covering England, of which North Lincolnshire was covered by two.The Anglian Northern committee covered the eastern part of North Lincolnshire and the Severn Trent committee covered the western part of North Lincolnshire including Scunthorpe.As previously with the RFDC, North Lincolnshire Council was allocated a shared place with Doncaster MBC and Rotherham MBC on the Severn Trent Committee.
A new arrangement had been proposed and agreed in the Anglian Northern Region whereby North Lincolnshire Council now shared a voting seat with Lincolnshire County Council.The Chairman of the Anglian Northern Committee had written to the council encouraging North Lincolnshire Council to attend this Committee on a permanent basis, participating in the discussion and sharing the voting place on an annual basis with Lincolnshire County Council.
Resolved – (a) That North Lincolnshire Council appoint a representative to attend the Anglian Northern RFCC and Severn Trent RFCC, and that attendance continues to be on behalf of Doncaster and Rotherham councils, (b) that discussions take place with representatives of Lincolnshire County Council as to voting arrangements on the Anglian Northern Committee, (c) that the EA and partner authorities be advised of the decision, and (d) that Cllr R Allcock, Lead Member for Highways be appointed to represent North Lincolnshire Council on the Anglian Northern RFCC and Severn Trent RFCC.
This scheme encompassed all local councils within the former Humberside area including Hull City Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
In the event that approval was not given the current memorandum would expire on 1 April 2012 and officers would no longer be able to intervene as regards matters of evident concern in premises which fell under the enforcement responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive.
It was explained that Flexible warranting provided a practical approach designed to make the best use of joint resources by removing the current barriers that restricted where an authority or individual inspector could apply health and safety legislation. The Flexible Warranting agreement covered the management arrangements, including for example indemnification of inspectors, communication between authorities, competence requirements and dispute resolution, and provided a supporting framework to facilitate and support inspectors working on behalf of the other authority.
Resolved – (a) That the details outlined within the report be noted, and (b) that the Director of Neighbourhood and Environmental Services be authorised to sign appendix 6 of the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authority Flexible Warrant Scheme Memorandum of Understanding in order to enable the Council’s continuing participation within the scheme.
Following consultation with Heads of Service, a revised list of fees and charges was submitted to the Cabinet Member in March 2011 and approved. Subsequently there had been some feedback from service users concerning the charges in respect of Reclaiming of Stray Dogs, Poisons Act and Bereavement Services.These resulted from clerical errors. The correct charges were set out in Appendix 1 of the report.
Resolved – That the schedule of fees and charges for the financial year 2011/12 as set out in Appendix 1 of the report be approved.
The report set out the key terms of the lease and the running costs, which would be incurred by the Streetscene & Landscapes division of Neighbourhood Services.
Resolved – That the Cabinet Member approve the council entering into a leasing agreement with the Trustees of Kirton in Lindsey Diamond Jubilee Town Hall to allow the opening of the Town Hall public conveniences on the terms set out within the report.
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.