Venue: Council Chamber, Rotherham Town Hall
Contact: Katherine Harclerode The webcast can be viewed online: http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv
To consider and approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 July, 2023, as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 July 2023 be approved as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
Questions from members of the public and the press
To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.
The Chair advised that there were no members of the public or representatives of media organisations present at the meeting and there were no questions in respect of matters on the agenda.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.
The Chair advised that there were no items of business on the agenda that would require the exclusion of the press or public from the meeting.
To consider an update report regarding flood risk management and priority flood alleviation schemes in Rotherham.
Consideration was given to an update report regarding the six priority flood defence works ongoing in the Borough as well as other works that had been delivered. The Chair noted the members’ site visit to the Ickles Lock and the engineering of the defence. The Cabinet member noted the recent £1.9 million added funding which had been secured from the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. This was a testament to the confidence placed in the Council for its track record for delivering on large scale projects, such as at Ickles Lock.
In discussion, Members requested additional information about opportunities to maximise public enjoyment of the pathways and waterways which had been revitalised through these projects. The Chair noted that recreation around the areas was a topic for another conversation.
Members requested additional information around how the drainage team were communicating with other services around any issues seen. The response from the Head of Highways and Flood Risk noted that the service receives many reports from officers who are out in the Borough as part of their duties. The team noted that the works were on a cyclical basis, and that many gullies were designed to hold some water to create an airlock, so sometimes reports were received that gullies are blocked when they are working as they should. The service are always ready to provide information regarding when the drain was last maintained.
Members also expressed curiosity of the economic impact of flooding alleviation. The response from the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment noted that the business case for external funding involved establishing the economic benefits. The cost benefit ratio outlines had to be provided in the application process. This affected how much funding could be obtained.
Members asked what programmes are being used to slow down the movement of water to aid absorption. The response from the Head of Highways and Flood Risk noted the tree planting that has been done and the partnership working with experts coordinated by Sheffield. Planning were also consulted in this process.
Members also asked if there was learning from the June floods that had been captured. The response from the Strategic Director noted that many new developments are responsible for the attenuation of water from the site. Planning conditions were placed on the site.
The chair sought additional information regarding capacity to work with residents around their flood plans. The Cabinet Member noted that Rotherham lead on community resilience, this involved understanding the capacity of parish councils to build resiliency to respond quickly. This involved helping people know where to go to get information and supplies. The Assistant Director of Community Safety and Street Scene noted examples of engagement events and activities and the partnership working to deliver these events. The Head of Highways and Flood Risk noted that the interest of the public in the topic was extremely valuable in growing local awareness and participation.
1. That the report be noted.
To consider a briefing from partner organisation Yorkshire Water and a verbal update from representatives of the Environment Agency regarding discharges of wastewater into watercourses.
Consideration was given to a slide presentation presented by the Environment Agency’s Area Environment Manager with responsibility for the Land and Water Portfolio for Yorkshire who was in attendance at the meeting. The presentation was accompanied by a written briefing from Yorkshire Water’s Head of Corporate Affairs.
The Chair noted that partners had been invited to the meeting for a scrutiny discussion of combined storm overflows following on from a motion of the Council on 19 July 2023.
The Chair also noted that Severn Trent’s Head of Government Affairs & Responsible Business had corresponded regarding the small coverage area southeast of Rotherham served by Severn Trent. As this was considered a very small part of the Severn Trent service area, a representative had not been sent to the meeting on this occasion. However, reporting was encouraged if Members became aware of any specific drains within these areas that were experiencing issues. Severn Trent had published its corporate ambition around rivers and reported annually on progress against targets. More information was available on the Severn Trent website.
The Chair expressed appreciation for the attendance of the EA’s Area Environment Manager and the representative of the River Network.
The presentation illustrated the impact of mitigation and enforcement work that the EA had done and how this had evolved in recent years. EA data showed that storm overflows were the fourth reason for waterbodies failing to reach Good Ecological Status, accounting for 7% - behind agriculture at 40%, the wider water industry at 36%, and urban and transport at 18%, which have significantly higher levels of pollution. The presentation noted that discharges from storm overflows under permitted conditions were not illegal and were an essential part of the combined sewer network in England. The Environment Agency had procedures in place for investigating potentially illegal storm overflow discharges.
The Environment Agency released its annual report on the environmental performance (EPA) of all water and sewerage companies in July 2023. Yorkshire Water was rated a 3-star company in 2022, an increase from the 2-star rating in 2021.
To drive the required improvements, the EA took action to
• Undertake robust regulation to minimise impacts
• Respond to environmental incidents and carry out thorough investigations to mitigate any impacts
• Take enforcement action to hold water companies to account when there is a pollution event
• Drive long term investment through the AMP process (WINEP)
The presentation further described increased monitoring and transparency from water companies in recent years. This included EDM, Flow to Full Treatment monitoring, responding to incidents and carrying out thorough investigations, robust regulation and EA routine monitoring, data analysis, site inspections/audits, incident response, Operator Self Monitoring (OSM), and consistent engagement with YWS with technical and strategic engagement to maintain oversight and action on key issues. A case study of compliance and enforcement action at Lundwood in Barnsley was provided to illustrate the effectiveness of the monitoring approach.
The presentation described regulation activities as well. The Environment Agency had to focus its resources where ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
To consider and approve an updated outline schedule of scrutiny work.
1. That the report and proposed schedule of work be noted.
2. That authority be delegated to the Governance Advisor in consultation with the Chair and Vice-chair to make changes to the schedule of work as appropriate between meetings, reporting any changes back to the next meeting for endorsement.
To consider any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair advised that there were no urgent items of business requiring the Commission’s consideration.
Date and time of the next meeting
The next meeting of Improving Places Select Commission will take place on 24 October, 2023, commencing at 1.30 pm in Rotherham Town Hall.
That the next meeting of the Improving Places Select Commission will take place on 24 October 2023, commencing at 1.30 pm in Rotherham Town Hall.