Venue: Spencer Room
Contact: Susan Lightwing
Welcome and Evacuation Procedure
The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting and read out the Building Evacuation Procedure.
Declarations of Interest
any declarations of interest.
no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The minutes of the meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel held on 14 September 2022 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.
Prevention of Damage to Grass Verges in MIddlesbrough
Officers from Environment and Commercial Services will be in attendance to discuss the topic of Prevention of Damage to Grass Verges in Middlesbrough.
RECOMMENDATION: that the Panel determines whether further information is required.
Officers from Environment and
Commercial Services were in attendance at the meeting to discuss the topic of
Prevention of Damage to Grass Verges in Middlesbrough. A slideshow of photographs of examples of
grass verge damage that had been submitted by Middlesbrough Councillors was
shown to the Panel.
It was acknowledged that damage
to grass verges was a problem and the original layout of houses, housing
estates and some of the road network in Middlesbrough had not been designed to
cope with the increase in car ownership.
Many households owned two or more vehicles and the demand for available
car parking space had risen.
The natural solution to
combatting damage to grass verges was to remove them completely or replace them
with parking bays. However, the funding currently available was not
sufficient to accommodate the level of demand for action. The total budget for Highways Projects was
approximately £1.3 million a year which was used for carriageway resurfacing, street
lighting, bridges and structures, traffic signals and flood relief. About £200K of that budget was allocated to
grass verge repair or replacement.
In 2020, when the Scrutiny Panel
last investigated this topic, there were 328 outstanding requests from
Councillors and residents on the work schedule, which were prioritised
according to the Council’s approved methodology. Currently, in 2022, there were 347
outstanding requests for works which would cost approximately £5.25 million
pounds to complete. On a positive note,
20 schemes had been completed in the last 2 years.
Unfortunately, in the Council’s
current financial situation, increasing the budget for grass verge maintenance
could only be considered at the detriment of other work such as road or pavement
repairs which were also in high demand.
Under current legislation it was
not an offence to park a vehicle on a grass verge unless it caused an
obstruction, there were waiting restrictions on the road, or there was a local
byelaw in force. Heavy Goods Vehicles
were however prohibited from verge parking.
There were a range of enforcement powers available to the Council but it
was highlighted that enforcement tactics could lead to vehicles being parked
elsewhere and causing further issues.
Enforcement activity was also resource intensive.
Stockton Council had been
successful in using Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to tackle grass verge
parking. Middlesbrough Council had also
introduced CPNs in March 2021 but they had not been used to date for that
purpose. Both the Community Safety Team
and the Environmental Enforcement Team had been trained to issue CPNs. CPNs were issued to deal with the
unreasonable behaviours of individuals that negatively impacted on the local
The process involved assessing the damage to grass verge and then proving that the behaviour of the motorist was unreasonable and detrimental to the locality. Photographic evidence of the driver of the vehicle was also required, since breaching a CPN was a criminal offence. Two warnings would be issued initially, a removal notice would be posted on the vehicle and then a CPN warning. If no action was taken ... view the full minutes text for item 22/27
The Head of Planning will be in attendance to provide an overview of the Panel’s new scrutiny topic of Nutrient Neutrality.
RECOMMENDATION: that the Panel determines what further information is required.
The Head of Planning explained
that the basic concept of nutrient neutrality was to ensure that any land use
or developments occurring around watercourses did not cause an increase in
harmful nutrient levels. In Middlesbrough
this related to the impact of nutrients on the Teesmouth
and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (SPA).
On 16 March 2022, Natural England
added Middlesbrough to the list of 74 Local Authorities affected by nutrient
neutrality, highlighting that immediate action and a new approach was
needed. Since legislation was already in
place there was no transition period and the advice had to be adopted with
Natural England’s advice was that
excessive levels of nitrogen impacted on the integrity of the SPA and some new
developments should not be permitted unless nutrient neutrality was
achieved. Excessive nitrogen could lead
to algal blooms which impacted on protected species and their habitats.
Natural England had provided a
calculator to help determine potential impacts.
Nutrient Neutrality was achieved by ensuring there was no more nitrogen
as a result of development. The amount
of nitrogen from existing land use and proposed land use was measured and had
to be mitigated. It was noted that there
was a greater impact on brownfield sites than on greenfield
Natural England’s advice affected
the whole of the River Tees catchment which encompassed 11 planning
authorities, from Tees Estuary across to Cumbria. However, only Middlesbrough, Stockton and
Darlington were affected in their entirety.
There were three main sources of
nitrogen: agriculture (from fertilisers), industry and people (through the
waste water infrastructure network).
Work had shown that waste water from households and human activity accounted
for potentially less than 1% of the total but this was what the advice was
specifically targeting. The biggest
impacts were believed to be from agriculture, industry and the water
As the Local Planning Authority,
Middlesbrough Council made decisions on planning applications, prepared the
Local Plan and took into account all land issues including impact on the
environment. The Council also had a
role to act as a Competent Authority to protect European sites in line with
Habitat Regulations, undertake assessment tests to check whether plans or
proposals would cause harm, and agree any mitigation required to allow
development to proceed.
Nutrient neutrality guidance
affected all developments where there would be an increase in overnight stays,
producing more nitrogen via the sewerage system. Residential developments, hotels, and student
accommodation were all included.
Commercial properties, schools, offices or home extensions were not, as
the assumption was that people using those facilities already lived in the
catchment area and already contributed to the wastewater system and should not
be double counted. Some other
developments such as tourist attractions or hospitals might be out of scope
depending on the area served.
Further guidance was awaited on mitigation measures which
• Removal of
land from agricultural use.
Mitigation had to be provided within the catchment area and would likely lead ... view the full minutes text for item 22/28
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 21 September 2022
The Chair provided a verbal update on agenda items from the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 21 September 2022 which included the attendance of the Mayor, updates from the Chief Executive and the Scrutiny Chairs, and the Corporate Performance Update: Quarter One 2022/2023.
Middlesbrough Council Motion No. 153 – Toxic Chemicals in the River Tees
Councillor Branson referred to recent news articles regarding the shellfish deaths along the north east coast and the likelihood that this was caused by pyridine rather than algal bloom as detailed in the official government report. It was unclear whether or not Middlesbrough Council would be taking part in any joint scrutiny investigation into the issue.
AGREED that the Democratic Services Officer would seek clarification from Legal Services as to Middlesbrough Council’s willingness to participate in a joint scrutiny investigation with other Tees Valley Authorities.
Date of Next Meeting - 9 November 2022
The time and date of the next meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel was confirmed as 9 November 2022 at 10.30 am.
Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered