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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 5, Guildhall, Swansea. View directions

Contact: Liz Jordan, Scrutiny 01792 637314 

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosure of Personal and Prejudicial Interests

Minutes:

No interests declared.

2.

Outcomes from meeting held on 1 March 2017 pdf icon PDF 19 KB

a) Convener’s letter from meeting held on 1 March 2017

b) Cabinet Member’s response 29 March 2017

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Services and Mike Sweeney, Principal Engineer attended and answered questions. 

 

The Working Group asked about progress made on the recommendations in the Convener’s letter following the meeting in 2017:

 

·       Availability of prioritised programme of works – Council has a list of areas that require work.  It may be made available to all councillors but concern about making it available to the public as work can only go ahead when funding is available.  Suggested it be made available to the public on request. 

 

·       Working Group thinks only one coding system should be used for this programme of works list, either high/low coding or traffic light system and not both.  

 

·       Review and update flood risk leaflet and include advice on ways to protect property from flooding – Working Group informed old leaflet is online but is out of date.  New one will be available online once Emergency Planning website has been updated, as new one will need to link in to this.  Working Group requested a timeline detailing when the website will be updated and the leaflet with new content will be online. 

 

·       Working Group would like to see leaflet available online and would like to see paper copies of new leaflet made available in libraries, communities etc.

 

 

 

3.

Flood Risk Management Report - Annual Update pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Councillor Mark Thomas – Cabinet Member for Environment Services

Stuart Davies – Head of Service, Highways and Transportation

Mike Sweeney – Principal Engineer

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mark Thomas and Mike Sweeney gave a presentation highlighting the main issues and answered questions. 

 

The following main issues were discussed:

 

·       Flood risk management plan – consultant appointed to look at areas of high risk, studies have been carried out and these will need to be evaluated and then options considered.  Authority only has small amount of funding so will need to apply for grants from Welsh Government for spending over this. 

 

·       Infrastructure for new developments/estates – Working Group feels  infrastructure not properly in place in terms of flood risk.  Informed that for planning applications Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water are statutory consultees.  If they give a new development the green light there is nothing the Local Authority can do about it.  

 

·       Working Group wanted to know if the Authority is spending the money it has for flood risk in the most effective way.  Informed the department is constantly looking for improvement but they think the money is being spent in the most effective way.  There is £400 thousand a year allocated for highways drainage, and flood risk puts more of a strain on this.

 

·       Page 9 of report – staff structure – Working Group thought the structure looks very management top heavy.  Informed that managers are supervisors who go out on site and don’t just manage staff.  This is the structure for highways and not just flood risk, and only small amount of time spent on flood risk. 

 

·       Cleaning of gullies – Gullies are cleaned on average once every 3 years and staff are diverted to deal with flooded gullies.  Working Group would like the programme of works for gullies made available to councillors.

 

·       Road sweeping is also carried out and this has a separate programme of works.

 

·       Flood risk long term plan – Long term projections are for more frequent heavier rainfall which has implications for Swansea and we need to have a long term strategy.  Working Group told this is an increased service pressure and resources are inadequate, however, Welsh Government has recognised the long term projections and hopefully more money will be available for flood risk schemes.

 

·       Asset data collection is underway – Working Group pleased this is happening.  Local knowledge is very useful and public can help with providing information.  Local Authority does not know about all its assets – grids, drains, gullies etc.  Public should contact Highways department to identify where any grids, drains are, Highways will then come out and clean them as it has responsibility for maintaining them.  

 

·       New statutory duty in May 2018 – There will be a new Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems Approving Body.  New resource will need to be found for this and decision yet to be made about whether it will be regional. Developers will have to take account of drainage on their sites.  It will release the burden on current infrastructure. Local Authority will be required to adopt water features on developments over 2 properties.  There is concern over where the money will come from in the first place.  It is hoped that new duty for water features will lead to more highways being put up for adoption. 

 

·       Good to see green infrastructure is increasingly being introduced, since working with nature needs to be understood and given a more up-front role in the reduction of flood risk.

 

·       Consultation on new byelaws – consultation will be taking place shortly for period of 6 weeks.  Byelaw 5 is very important: Building of structures, pipes etc on land liable to flooding – no one will be able to build over Local Authority assets like culverts.

 

  

 

 

4.

Discussion and Conclusions

Councillors are asked to discuss conclusions arising from this session for inclusion in the Convener’s letter to the Cabinet Member:

 

a) What do you want to say about this issue to the Cabinet Member in the Convener’s letter (what are your conclusions arising from this session?)

 

b) Do you have any recommendations for the Cabinet Member arising from this session?

 

c) Are there any further issues you wish to highlight to the Scrutiny Programme Committee arising from this session?

 

Minutes:

The Working Group discussed progress and made the following conclusions:

 

·       We would like to see the Prioritised Programme of Works available to the public on request. We would also like to see one coding system used for this list of works.

·       Pleased to hear that communications is a priority for the Department as this is essential.  We would therefore like to receive a timeline detailing when the website will be updated and the Flood Risk leaflet with new content will be on line. We would also like to see paper copies of this leaflet made available in public places.

·       We feel the Flood Risk Management Plan is based on historical data, is out of date and therefore needs to be reviewed.  Also think it is important to raise awareness of the studies, with public in the area to be made aware of the situation and given a timetable.

·       Despite the financial effects of austerity, we feel that flood risk, as a major issue, needs to be properly resourced. Note that despite budget constraints some work is going on to prevent flood risk.  We would like to know if it is possible to put a number of schemes together and submit one big application for grant funding.

·       We welcome Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) being introduced and would like to be informed if they apply to commercial properties.  We feel that use has to be made of all methods of drainage and flood management and SuDS will be good for the environment as well as doing the job.

·       We would like to see awareness raising on SuDS, particularly for Planning officers and with training possibly for all councillors.

·       With regards to Planning, we feel that there is a need to look at historical records when considering applications and to be prepared to question the advice from Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water.

·       We believe that quite often the solution to issues is a good maintenance programme and that local knowledge for maintenance is very important.  We suggest that a trawl of councillors is undertaken for issues in their local areas that are not on the current maintenance list.  We feel the department should be able to deviate off the current works schedule if an important risk arises.

·       Working Group would like the programme of works for gullies to be made available to councillors.

·       We believe an opportunity is being missed with regards to self-help.  We all need to take pride in where we live.  Working Group would like a scheme put in place to encourage this.  Maybe there could be something in the new leaflet to encourage people to take responsibility for the area outside their own front door.

·       Working Group feels that an update will be needed in 6 months to ensure that progress on the recommendations is being made and will recommend to the Scrutiny Programme Committee that they consider adding this to their work programme for 2018/19.

 

Following on from this meeting:

 

·       A letter will be written from the convener of the Working Group to the Cabinet Member for Environment Services, summarising the discussion and outlining the Working Group’s thoughts and recommendations.

 

Letter to Cabinet Member pdf icon PDF 149 KB

 

Contacts:
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Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea. SA1 3SN. Tel: 01792 636000 Fax: 01792 636340