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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 14/11/2001
SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL REVIEW OF LOCAL HIGHWAY SERVICES



Surrey County Council has carried out a Best Value Review of Local Highway Services.
It was agreed at the meeting of this Committee held on 2nd April 2001 that this matter would be placed on the work programme of this Committee and that, following due consideration of all the available options, this Committee would report back to the Executive Committee.
Since April, the situation has developed rapidly and the Best Value Review has now been subsumed within wider proposals which the County Council has formulated for the establishment of Area Committees.
The purpose of this report is to
a) update Members on the current position; and
b) to submit observations to the Executive on some general principles relating to partnership work with the County Council on highways and transportation issues.
There are no direct environmental, ‘Opportunities for All’, human rights or community safety implications. The potential resource implications for Waverley are discussed in the report.
APPENDIX I

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

ENVIRONMENT OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
14TH NOVEMBER 2001

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Title:
SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL REVIEW OF LOCAL HIGHWAY SERVICES

[Wards Affected: All]
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Summary and Purpose

Surrey County Council has carried out a Best Value Review of Local Highway Services.
It was agreed at the meeting of this Committee held on 2nd April 2001 that this matter would be placed on the work programme of this Committee and that, following due consideration of all the available options, this Committee would report back to the Executive Committee.
Since April, the situation has developed rapidly and the Best Value Review has now been subsumed within wider proposals which the County Council has formulated for the establishment of Area Committees.
The purpose of this report is to There are no direct environmental, ‘Opportunities for All’, human rights or community safety implications. The potential resource implications for Waverley are discussed in the report.


Background

1. A Best Value Review of the delivery of Local Highway Services was carried out by Surrey County Council’s Audit and Review Committee and agreed for consultation purposes in July 2000. Following discussion with the Districts and with potential new partners such as the Parish Council’s and the Police, the County Council published a document entitled: “Review of Local Highway Services - Final Report January 2001”. The County Council agreed that report on 20th March 2001 and resolved that detailed discussions should take place with the Districts on how best to implement the new arrangements.

2. The report considered at the meeting of this Committee on 2nd April 2001 set out the main proposals and recommendations of the Review of Local Highway Services. In summary, the County Council had come to the conclusion that the current diverse arrangement of Agencies, Partnership Area Transportation Committees (PATS) and a Joint Transport Committee (in Reigate and Banstead) is no longer best suited to the delivery of the County Council’s future responsibilities as a strategic Transportation Authority, and should be replaced by a common framework of decision making arrangements that retain some flexibility to recognise local needs.
3. The existing Agency Agreements between Surrey County Council and six of the Surrey District’s are to be terminated from 1st April 2002. The Review proposed that County and District highway functions would be delivered by Joint Transport Committees (the existing Waverley PATS would be terminated). However, in the event that not all Districts and Boroughs wanted a Joint Transportation Committee, there would be an alternative arrangement of a Partnership Area Transportation Committee of the County Council with voting rights for District Members.

Current Situation

4. At the meeting of this Committee on 27th June 2001, Members received a presentation from the officer leading the Surrey County Council Best Value Review, Bob Moodie. In his presentation, Mr Moodie indicated that Surrey County Council had resolved on 18th June 2001 to establish 11 Area Committees based on District Council boundaries. The Area Committees would consider a range of matters delegated by Surrey County Council’s Executive, including highways and transportation issues. In light of the developments described by Mr Moodie, this Committee resolved to return to the transport issues at a later meeting once the wider corporate implications had been considered.

5. Since Mr Moodie’s presentation, the County Council has continued to develop its ideas relating to its new political management arrangements. An organisational strategy document, entitled ‘People First’, sets out in detail fundamental changes to the internal structure of Surrey County Council in order to respond more effectively to local needs. Originally published for consultation in March 2001, the ‘People First’ strategy was approved by the County Executive on 15th October 2001.

6. In September, the County Council published a consultation paper on ‘Establishing Area Committees’. This paper sets out the County Executive’s proposals for Area Committees and invites responses by 31st October from District/Borough Council’s on specific issues, including those relating to highway matters. The paper states that the information gathered from consultation responses will be used to prepare a report for a meeting of the County Executive in December when the final decisions on Area Committees will be made. A copy of the consultation paper was recently sent to all Members to inform this Council’s response to the County.

Role and Function of the Proposed Area Committees

7. The County Council intends to establish Area Committees no later than April 2002. It anticipates that this will result in some rationalisation of existing structures, including the termination of the existing Partnership Area Transportation Committees.

8. Area Committees will deal with a wide range of County services, such as education, social services, fire and rescue, trading standards, waste disposal and highways and transportation. It is suggested in the County Council’s consultation paper that initially it may be more practical for meetings of the Area Committees to alternate between highways and non-highways matters, although the aim would be to integrate the work of the Committees across all services. The Area Committees will have the following four main roles:-
deciding how resources delegated to them should be used locally;
influencing the way in which County Council services are tailored to meet local needs;
monitoring the performance of County Council services locally; and
engaging with the community and arguing their case with Surrey County Council.
9. In relation to highways and transportation issues, it is proposed that each Area Committee would have a budget of 100,000 to spend on local highways improvements. However, the Area Committees would have the ability to vire resources between different services. The local Area Committee would make decisions currently made by Waverley PATS, such as Traffic Regulation Orders, variations to Rights of Way and decisions on the design of highway schemes.

10. In addition, the Area Committee would review the Annual Maintenance Plan and would influence local priorities for implementation of the Surrey Local Transport Plan. The Area Committee would have a monitoring role and would be able to compare performance with that in other districts, for example in relation to data on accidents, traffic flows, bus passenger use etc. There is also a suggestion that it could have a possible right of “call in” for defined categories of planning application.

11. Members have received a copy of the County Council’s consultation paper, which summarises political representation on the proposed Area Committees and their relationship with District Councils. For information, those details are set out in Annexe 1 of this report.

Officer Comment

12. The original consultation in respect of the County Council’s Best Value Review of Local Highway Services has now been overtaken by events. It is no longer an option to continue with the existing Partnership Area Transportation Committee model. Although the County Council is carrying out consultation in respect of its proposals for Area Committees, it is clear that the decision has already been taken to go ahead with the changes spelt out in the ‘People First’ document. Consultation is now focused on the details of Area Committees and the extent of District Council involvement rather than on the principle of introducing the new structure.

13. At this stage of the process, it is considered that the most appropriate role of this Committee would be to form a view on the main principles relating to partnership work with Surrey County Council on highways and transportation issues, together with any specific comments on the operation of Area Committees. The matters to be considered are:

Waverley PATS has proved a useful mechanism for enabling this Council to contribute to key decisions on highways and transport matters, which affect the Borough, and to be aware of progress on minor improvements. The proposals put forward by the County Council would enable Waverley to continue to make an important contribution to the highways function with equal representation on the Area Committee, pending a review a year after the new system comes into operation. There would therefore be an opportunity for this Council to re-assess its role in relation to highway issues in approximately 18 months time, in the light of experience with the new Area Committees.


b) If it does, should Waverley bring any of its highways-related services within the remit of the Area Committee?

In practice, the only significant highways-related service that this Council could ‘bring to the table’ is the management of off-street public car parks. Members will be aware that this service generates significant revenue for the Council and the Council does not wish to share the management of this service with the County Council because of the possible major operational and financial implications, the extent of which is difficult to quantify at this stage without knowing the precise terms of how a Joint Committee might operate. As indicated above, this issue could be revisited 18 months from now if it is decided not to put forward any services at the present time.

c) Are there any particular comments that should be conveyed to the County Council about the operation of the Area Committee in relation to highways matters?

Issues that Members may wish to comment upon could include the range of highways and transportation functions of the Area Committees; the extent to which other organisations such as Town and Parish Council’s and the Police should be involved; and the arrangements for the involvement of District councillors in Task Groups and Steering Groups such as those which currently exist under Waverley PATS for the Farnham Transport Programme and the A325 Route Corridor Study.

14. Due to agenda preparation timescales, this report has been written in advance of Waverley’s formal response to the County Council’s consultation paper ‘Establishing Area Committees’. A copy of that response will be circulated before the meeting so that Members are aware of Waverley’s corporate position before considering the highways and transportation issues set out in this report.

Recommendation

That observations be submitted to the Executive Committee on the questions set out in paragraph 13 of this report.
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Background Papers (DPD)

SCC, Review of Local Highway Services – Final Report (January 2001)
SCC, People First (March 2001)
SCC, Establishing Area Committees (September 2001)
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Adrian Roche Telephone: 01483 523472