Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions
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Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitute Members
The Committee was advised of apologies from Councillors Steven Lee and Katie Steel.
Election of Vice-Chairman
The Chairman reminded the meeting that Councillor Furniss had stepped down from the Committee.
Upon the motion of the Chairman, seconded by Councillor Honor Brooker, the Committee:
RESOLVED: That Councillor Philip Brooker be elected Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the remainder of the municipal year 2023-24.
Local Code of Conduct and Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda. Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.
If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.
Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.
There were no declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or disclosures of non-pecuniary interests.
To confirm the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 16 January 2024.
The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 16 January 2024 were agreed.
To discuss with Thames Water the causes of outages in November 2023, the management of the crisis, and measures being put in place to avoid such outages arising in the future.
The Chairman reminded the meeting that the purpose of the item was to consider the outages in November 2023, the management of the crisis, and measures being put in place to avoid such outages arising in the future. He welcomed three representatives from Thames Water: Tess Fayers, Director of Operations for Thames Valley and Home Counties; Paul Wetton, Director for Clean Water for Thames Valley and Home Counties; and Huw Thomas, Head of Engagement, Thames Valley and Home Counties.
The Director of Operations for Thames Valley and Home Counties began with an apology to those affected by the water supply disruption in November. She proceeded to lead a presentation on the water supply interruptions in the Guildford area (the slides for which had been published as part of the agenda papers). The presentation provided an overview of the incident, the key lessons learnt and priority actions taken since, and investments and plans by Thames Water to improve the resilience of the Guildford water supply system.
The Director for Clean Water for Thames Valley and Home Counties informed the Committee of the characteristics of the Guildford water supply area. He indicated that the water supply for the area consisted of two island zones, unconnected to the rest of the network, and that Guildford was reliant on treating water within the area as none was brought in. The meeting was advised of the benefit of connecting the two island zones to improve supply resilience. In addition, the Committee was advised that the daily demand within the Guildford supply area was 50m litres, which exceeded the storage capacity of the area’s service reservoirs.
The Director for Clean Water for Thames Valley and Home Counties advised the Committee that on 2 November 2023 power fluctuations due to Storm Ciaran impacted eight sites, including four water treatment works, while Shalford water treatment works was affected by increased turbidity from the river sources supplying it. He explained the variances in water pressure and supply likely to be experienced by customers during the incident.
With reference to the limited capacity of the Guildford system, the Director for Clean Water for Thames Valley and Home Counties indicated the challenge of removing assets from supply to undertake the necessary improvements. He advised the Committee that due to improvements introduced since November 2023 the Guildford system had been able to maintain supply during periods of very high turbidity at the Shalford water treatment works.
The Committee was advised by the Director for Clean Water for Thames Valley and Home Counties of the geographical area affected by the outages in November and the number of properties affected (14,520 properties had 12 or more consecutive hours of supply interruptions, of which 14,009 were household properties and 482 non-household properties).
With reference to the provision of alternative water supplies during the outages, the Director of Operations for Thames Valley and Home Counties informed the Committee that tankers were used to supply over 2m litres to hospitals and other sensitive locations ... view the full minutes text for item OS37
Lead Councillor Question Session
A question session with the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change. Councillor George Potter’s areas of responsibility: Climate Change; Bereavement; Green Spaces; Parks; Countryside; Trees; Fleet Operations; Street Cleaning; and Waste and Recycling.
The Chairman welcomed the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change, Councillor George Potter, and invited him to make an introductory statement.
The Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change thanked those Councillors who had provided notice of the question areas and he asked if questions of a technical nature might be shared sooner. He suggested that some questions on Climate Change were better directed to other portfolio holders rather than himself, but indicated he would try to answer all questions put to him.
A Committee member asked the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change for an update on progress in supporting businesses in the community to lower emissions and ensure sustainable ways of working. In reply, the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change referred to the A3 sustainable travel project with Surrey County Council which offered grants to local van delivery drivers to convert to an electric vehicle, the relaunch of the Sustainable Business Network in Guildford, the forthcoming publication of the Guildford Business Guide which had a section on moving towards a low carbon economy, the promotion of a number of green business courses, collaboration with Surrey County Council to use funding for a decarbonisation loan scheme, and promotion of the easit travel scheme.
In response to a question on progress to achieving net zero by 2030, the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change noted the establishment of the Climate Change Board, the development of Borough-wide partnerships to decrease carbon emissions, the establishment of a 2019 carbon emission baseline, the identification of Council activities where carbon emissions can be reduced, the development of an action plan to achieve net zero across Council activities by 2030, and the adoption of the action plan by the Council. In addition, the meeting was advised of decreases in the Council’s emissions and plans for the Council’s website to have a dedicated Climate Change section.
IN response to a question, the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change confirmed that an update on the Climate Change Action Plan would be presented annually to full Council.
In answer to a question about the installation of solar panels on Council land and the installation of electric vehicle charging points, the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change advised that officers were looking to identify feasible sites for the installation of solar panels on Council assets and that detailed questions on the EV charging points were perhaps better directed to the officers involved in air quality or the portfolio holder responsible for air quality.
When asked about the funding of projects identified by the Climate Change Board, the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change indicated that the non-committed Climate Change budget was cut for the current year only and the budget would be reinstated from April 2024 onwards. He stated that Climate Change actions were taking place across the Council using existing budgets and resources.
In reply to the suggestion that air quality should perhaps be within the Environment and Climate Change ... view the full minutes text for item OS38
To agree the draft Overview and Scrutiny work programme.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Scrutiny) invited the Committee members to consider the work plan items attached at Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Committee.
The Chairman requested Committee members submit key questions to inform the scope of the report on Community Services scheduled for the Committee’s next meeting.
The Leader of the Council and Lead Councillor for Housing indicated that she would be referring matters to the Committee for investigation.