Agenda and minutes

Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday 23rd February, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Susan Lightwing 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - 20 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 155 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel held on 20 January 2021 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.


Review of Tree Policy

The Head of Environment Services and Senior Area Care Manager will be in attendance to present the Council’s updated draft Tree Policy.


Recommendation: That the Panel considers and notes the draft Tree Policy.


The Head of Environment Services, Senior Area Care Manager, and Operations Manager, were in attendance to present the Council’s updated draft Tree Policy which had been under review since September 2020.


A copy of the draft policy had been circulated to Panel Members in advance of the meeting.  The policy set out the criteria for the inspection regime and Planning Considerations which Middlesbrough Council would adopt in respect of those trees for which it had a legal responsibility. The policy also explained how the Council would deal with complaints in respect of those trees, detailed the legislation on which the policy criteria was based, and set out how disputes in terms of complaint resolution would be dealt with.


The Senior Area Care Manager highlighted the proposed amendments to each section of the Policy as follows:


Section 1: Planning Considerations had been added as planning matters often superseded the Policy, for example if a site was earmarked for development.


Sections 6 and 21: the regulations had been updated to The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.


Section 17: added clarity in terms of the inspection regime.  A routine inspection regime was in place but managers also inspected trees on an ad hoc basis when members of the public raised concerns about trees.


Section 24: added clarity in terms of the structural engineer’s report that felling may be considered if a tree was proven as a major contributor to serious structural damage to buildings or infrastructure.


Section 26: a new section explaining that the Council would not fell or prune trees due to falling leaves, blossom, fruit, sap or mildew.  This was a seasonal occurrence that is considered an inconvenience and not a nuisance.


Section 38: a change to the policy that vegetation beneath hedges may be left unmanaged.   Research proved that was better for wildlife than introducing artificial beetle banks as had been the previous policy.


Section 46: the word “landowner” had been changed to “claimant” since it was not always the landowner who made a claim.


Section 49: clarified that if an arborist’s report was obtained it must be at the expense of the claimant rather than the Council. 


Section 52: updated to state that where consent was given, works could be undertaken, by a suitably qualified contractor, with written agreement from the Council and at the complainant’s expense.


Section 54: reworded for clarity to state:  Where agreement has not been reached between the resident and the Council Officer, the Executive Member for Environment may determine that due to the specific circumstances a special case can be made, and may agree to works being carried out which may fall outside of this policy guidance. The decision of the Executive Member will be final in all such cases.


The following issues were raised by Panel Members:


In relation to the removal of hedgerows by housing developers, it was explained that the Council would take guidance from the Town and Country Planning Act.  All landscape schemes would be provided by a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/44


Review of Pest Control - Draft Final Report pdf icon PDF 535 KB

Recommendation: That the Panel considers the content of the draft Final Report and agrees conclusions and recommendations for submission to the Executive.


A copy of the Draft Final Report on Pest Control had been circulated with the agenda.


Members provided recommendations for inclusion in the Final Report.


The Head of Environment Services informed the Panel that a desktop exercise had been undertaken which indicated that offering a free pest control service to residents could only operate at a cost to the Council.  However, the Service would also investigate chargeable services offered to residents by other Local Authorities. 


AGREED that the:


1.     Following conclusions were approved:


TERM OF REFERENCE A – To examine the Pest Control Services currently offered by Middlesbrough Council including the resources required to run the service and income achieved.


The Council has 70 commercial contracts across Middlesbrough which generates approximately £43K per annum.  The Council also has a joint contract with Durham County Council for Thirteen Group and the income from this contract is approximately £95K.  The income achieved from the Thirteen contract covers the Council's costs in terms of running the service.


TERM OF REFERENCE B – To establish the range and cost of pest control services provided by other Tees Valley Councils and local private operators.


The costs of pest control services offered by the Tees Valley Councils varies, ranging from a free service up to £83, depending on the type of pests and number of visits required.  Commercial Operators’ fees are similarly varied and appear generally more expensive. 


TERM OF REFERENCE C – To consider whether expanding Middlesbrough Council’s pest control services could provide an additional income stream to the Council.


Unlike the other four Tees Valley Authorities, Middlesbrough Council does not currently offer any pest control services to private residents.   Anecdotal evidence gathered indicates that there is an increasing rodent problem in Middlesbrough.   However, as the Council does not record service requests for pest control services from private residents, it is difficult to ascertain the extent of the problem or the likelihood of take-up of any such Council service by residents. 


2.     Following recommendations were approved:


A)  Consideration is given to Middlesbrough Council offering a low cost Pest Control Service to residential properties and whether this would provide an additional income stream to the service area.


B)  Investigate whether an amount could be included within the Council Tax charge to provide a pest control service to private residents without any additional fee.


      C)  Promote educational messages about good house-keeping to prevent vermin infestations through the LoveMiddlesbrough magazine.


3.     Final Report on Pest Control would be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration.


Date of Next Meeting - 24 March 2021


The next meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel would be held on Wednesday 24 March 2021.


Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 27 and 29 January and 11 February 2021.


The Vice Chair provided a verbal update on items considered at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meetings held on 27 and 29 January and 11 February 2021.


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered


Work Programme


Members suggested topics for the Panel’s future Work Programme which included the Freeport, Middlehaven Masterplan and an update on the CityFibre programme.