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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 05/09/2006
Minutes




Executive 103
05.09.06
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE – 5TH SEPTEMBER 2006

SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL MEETING – 17TH OCTOBER 2006

(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
*Miss G B W Ferguson (Chairman)*Mr C H Mansell
*Mrs C E Savage (Vice-Chairman)*Mr K T Reed
*Mr S D Edge*Mr J E Robini
*Mr B Grainger-Jones*Mr V K Scrivens
Mr P Haveron
* Present
Mr D C Inman was also present.

96. MINUTES (Agenda Item 1)

The Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive held on 11th July 2006 and of the Special Executive meeting held on 24th July 2006 were confirmed and signed.

97. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE (Agenda Item 2)

Apologies for absence were received from Mr P Haveron.

98. DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST (Agenda Item 3)

Mr J E Robini declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 11, Appendix F on Decriminalised Parking Enforcement. He withdrew from the Chamber during the consideration of this item.
PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL

99. PLANNING SERVICE BUDGET PROVISION (Agenda Item 6; Appendix B)
[Wards Affected: All]

99.1. The Executive received this report in the context that

One of the Council’s key objectives in its Corporate Plan is the further enhancement of Planning Services to deliver community objectives
Workloads on the Planning Service are increasing and remain at unsustainable levels
There is a 45,000 savings requirement from the Planning Budget

99.2 The most authoritative and up-to-date sources of data that could be obtained have been used i.e. Cipfa 2005/06 Estimates, Audit Commission Best Value data and Surrey Planning Collaboration Group benchmarking study. A comparator group of shire district authorities in the South East has been used based on those authorities that process similar numbers of planning applications i.e. between around 2,000 to 3,000 applications per year. The report focuses on Development Control services only, where the current service is under stress. The Policy Team is currently working at full capacity to meet the LDS but this work is planned rather than reactive.

99.3 The following chart compares the net cost (excluding capital charges) of the development control service between Waverley and other similar districts. Gross costs of DC alone were not available.

Fig 1
Source: Cipfa 2005/06 Planning & Development Statistics – LPAs in the South East processing 2,000 – 3,000 planning applications per year.

99.4 The Expenditure information shown in Fig 1 and 2 demonstrate the relatively low costs and expenditure on development control services in relation to authorities processing similar numbers of applications. This supports the Audit Commission’s conclusions in its letter earlier this year.

99.5 The Annual Audit and Inspection Letter from the Audit Commission makes the following comments

99.6 Whilst the table shows the most recent and available comparative data, members will be aware that by investing Planning Delivery Grant into the service, the net expenditure on development control for the current financial year is 1.5 million. It is understood that other planning authorities have similarly invested in their services and it is anticipated that this will be demonstrated in future comparable data.

Fig 2
Source: Cipfa 2005/06 Planning & Development Statistics – LPAs in the South East processing 2,000 – 3,000 planning applications per year.

99.7 The challenge in managing the Development Control service remains the ability to react to the development industry. The barometer for this is the planning application workload although work on planning applications accounts for between 60-70% of an officer’s time.

Fig 3


99.8 The number of registered planning applications has increased by 17.5% over last year’s numbers, for the period January to June. This trend has continued into July and August. This trend was not predicted and indeed based on the trend in October and November 2005 when the budget was prepared, a reduction in the workload appeared likely and consequently a target cost saving of 45,000 was set in the budget against the service. The department has received 241 more applications in the same period this year. In addition to this increase, there are likely to be four significant development projects to be managed at the same time over the coming months that will have a significant call on resources. These are Cranleigh Brick and Tile Appeal, East Street Regeneration Scheme, the Godalming Key Site and the Dunsfold New Settlement application. It is clear from the experience of the Cranleigh Brick and Tile planning application that significant additional resources are likely to be required to manage these projects effectively without detriment to service priorities.

99.9 When the Best Value and ODPM Inspection of Standard Authorities was carried out in 2005 they concluded that the workload at that time was unsustainable at 176 cases per officer. The current caseload has risen to 190 cases per officer and whilst performance against determination targets has been maintained, it has been at the cost of other service elements. Staff should be congratulated for their hard work and in keeping their focus on the BVPI targets in order to maximise the Planning Delivery Grant for 2007/8.

99.10 The Council has made great strides to meet the initial targets and each of the three targets has been met (major, minor and other applications). However, in order to achieve this success it has been necessary to continue to use consultants, agency staff and overtime payments. Not to adopt this strategy would have meant a significant risk of failing to meet targets and consequent failure to secure a maximum PDG. Even with the use of planning consultants case loads per officer have risen from 175.9 in 2004/5 to a current figure of 190 cases per officer. The DCLG and the Audit Commission have expressed concerns about the sustainability of these workloads set against a national benchmark of 150 cases per officer.

99.11 The costs of this strategy over the first quarter April to June 2006 were as follows. The table also shows the full year affect of this strategy were it to continue.

Table 1 Additional Revenue costs.
ItemCost per monthTotal April JuneTotal Year
Planning Consultants2,0006,00024,000
Agency Staff (Admin)1,8005,40021,600
Overtime5001,5006,000
12,90051,600

99.12 The revenue budget is essentially 12,900 overspent against the allocated budget. The current high workload is generating this. The essential question is given that the PDG accounting period is now extended to the end of March 2007, how can we still achieve the required targets without the continued use of these extra resources? Managers do not consider it will be possible to maintain this level of performance over the coming months without additional resources to manage this exceptionally high workload.

99.13 It is also important to note that this increased workload is placing pressure on other services that input into the planning process. In particular there is a heavy demand on legal services and environmental health officers in responding to development issues.


99.14 Equally important are other service areas that are currently being delivered at a lower standard that normal and are beginning to raise customer complaints about lack of responsiveness and delay. These service areas need to be addressed to maintain the integrity and reputation of the service.

99.15 Service areas that are currently not being delivered to the standards that the Council aspire to are:

Pre application advice.
Discharge of planning conditions
Requests for minor amendments
General enquiries
Compliance requests.
Responses to complaints.

99.16 The increase in applications has also meant an increase in fee income and this is reflected in Table 1 for April to August 2006. In the first four months of the financial year fee income is 65,235 above the same months in the preceding year. The budgeted income for 2006/7 is 680,000. Based on a range of assumptions from income being no more than last year for the rest of the year to an optimistic assumption to an income of 60,000 per month then a predicted income of 741,402 to 826,434 could be anticipated. These figures also take account of fees likely to be associated with the East Street Development and Dunsfold Park Limited. This equates to an income of 61,402 to 146,434 over the budget position. The Budget Monitoring Report, noted by the Executive, shows projected additional development control income of 50,000 in 2006-07. This estimate does not include income from known major applications and is broadly in line with the range shown in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Planning Fee Income

2004-05

Actual
2005-06
Actual
2006-07
Actual
forecast1
based on last years income
forecast
assumes 50,000 per month plus extra
forecast3
assumes 60,000 per month plus extra
April
61,415
30,653
55,890
55,890
55,890
55,890
May
24,805
54,138
91,407
91,407
91,407
91,407
June
47,335
62,648
53,550
53,550
53,550
53,550
July
63,375
60,728
72,555
72,555
72,555
72,555
August
62,690
54,415
Est 68,000
68,000
68,000
68,000
September
75,445
45,318
45,318
50,000
60,000
October
68,085
45,298
45,298
50,000
60,000
November
37,810
56,208
56,208
50,000
60,000
December
36,255
37,195
37,195
50,000
60,000
January
45,720
100,845
100,845
50,000
60,000
February
30,505
64,642
64,641
50,000
60,000
March
95,410
83,528
85,527
50,000
60,000
East Street outline & Dunsfold fees
50,000
50,000
50,000
648,850
695,612
341,402
826,434
741,402
811,402

99.17 Whilst 38% of planning income over the period July 2005 to March 2006 has come from major applications, these make up only 2.3% of the total number of applications. Fee income is extremely difficult to predict and is swayed greatly by a few major applications attracting large fees. Together with the uncertainty surrounding PDG, this makes it extremely difficult to predict income and set accurate budgets.

99.18 This report demonstrates the importance of ensuring that sufficient resources are in place to both address the current workload and to respond to major fluctuations in demand throughout the rest of the year. Members are asked to approve that the additional development control income currently projected in 2006-07, is used to offset this year's approved budget reduction target of 45,000. Members are also asked to approve the delegation of authority to the Director of Planning and Development, in conjunction with the Director of Finance and the Portfolio Holder, to employ additional resources to meet the current cost pressures identified in Table 1 and if required, to meet future increases in workload. Any such additional resources would be subject to the maximum value of any additional income actually generated above the level required to offset the savings target. It is proposed to review the position on a month-by-month basis and consider the resourcing of major applications on a case-by-case basis. Flexibility in any additional resources employed will be ensured to enable a quick response to fluctuations in service volumes.

99.19 There are significant major projects being worked upon by officers. These include the East Street Regeneration Project, Dunsfold interim uses, Dunsfold new settlement proposals, and Godalming Key Site. It is anticipated that appeals may be lodged soon in relation to the Cranleigh Brick and Tile proposals and Farnham Hospital developments.

99.20 These projects are extremely challenging and time consuming. Increasingly, developers are asking the authority to consider a Planning Delivery Agreement as promoted by the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Planning Advisory Service. These agreements are essentially concerned with project management issues and seek to bring some certainty to the development process with regard to timetabling and commitments from both developers and local authorities.

99.21 The Leader and the Portfolio Holder have already agreed to appoint Southern Planning Practice to manage the East Street Planning Application in a similar way to that of the Cranleigh Brick and Tile Application. There is an initial estimate of 18,000 plus vat and expenses for this work. Dunsfold Park Limited has also requested that a Planning Delivery Agreement be entered into with regard to their new settlement proposal. Officers have asked Southern Planning Practice to quote for this work i.e. the Dunsfold New Settlement Application and pre-application expected later this year. This quote includes some economy of scale since the same team from Southern Planning Practice could work on the Dunsfold and East Street projects, providing back up and continuity. Officers have indicated to Dunsfold Park Limited that the Council cannot guarantee its part of the agreement in the current context without further resources. Dunsfold Park Limited has indicated that it is prepared to cover the Council’s costs for making these services available.


99.22 The basis of such arrangement would be that consultants would be employed by, and working to, the instructions of the Council. There will be no control by the developer over the consultant or their reports to the Council. The decision on any matter being considered by the consultant would rest entirely with the Council. ATLAS (Advisory Team for Large Applications) has provided further guidance about these agreements.

99.23 The power to charge for such discretionary services is set out in the Local Government Act 2003 and includes discretionary charging for Development Control, Planning Policy, Environmental Initiatives, Economic development and Community Development. Such agreements would meet the tests under the Act providing the charge was primarily for pre application discussions and the recipient accepts the charge. Further guidance on discretionary charging is set out by CIPFA in their publication “A practical guide for Local Authorities on discretionary income generation”. The Executive is therefore requested to agree to the appointment of Southern Planning Practice to assist the Council work on the Dunsfold New Settlement proposals and for the cost of this work to be recharged to Dunsfold Park Limited.

99.24 The Executive accordingly

RECOMMENDS that

Background Papers (DoPD)

CIPFA – A Practical Guide to Local Authorities on discretionary income generation.
Planning Advisory Service and ATLAS – Pilot Planning Delivery Agreements
ODPM – “An Overview of the Evaluation of Planning Standards Authorities 2004-05”

100. OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATIONS INTO COMPLAINTS MADE ABOUT WAVERLEY’S SERVICES IN 2005/2006 (Agenda Item 10; Appendix E)
[Wards Affected: All]

100.1 The Local Government Ombudsman’s annual letter for 2005/06 is attached for Members’ consideration at Annexe 1 - without attachments because all the statistical information has been provided in the body of this report. The various issues raised in this letter are addressed in the body of this report. 100.2 The following table gives the categorisation of complaints received by the Ombudsman, by subject, since 2001/02. The number of complaints received about the Planning service reflects the situation nationally in respect of district councils.

Year PlanningHousingHousing BenefitLocal TaxationOtherTotal
2005/0613601222
2004/0516111221
2003/0449*751062
2002/034400210
2001/0281611430

100.3 Dealing with Ombudsman enquiries can be extremely time-consuming since the information often has to be obtained from various sources. The Council’s Corporate Complaints Officer undertakes the role of both the investigation and the preparation of a response, which is often complex, to all Ombudsman complaints. It is important to provide a comprehensive response to the initial enquiries since this not only gives the Ombudsman confidence in the Council’s management of complaints, but also avoids the workload attached to ongoing correspondence and investigation. In his annual letter to Waverley for the year 2005/06 the Ombudsman commented as follows:
100.4 However such an approach, coupled with limited resources available to the Corporate Complaints Officer and officers in the service departments, has meant that the Council continues to be unable to meet the target set by the Ombudsman for responses to initial enquiries to be provided within 28 calendar days (increased from 21 days last year in response to local authorities’ concerns about the difficulties of meeting the original target). Set out below are two tables, the first giving the average local authority response times in 2005/06, and the second setting out Waverley’s response times in 2005/06 and in the four previous years. (i) Average local authority response times 2005/06

Type of authority<= 28 days
%
29-35 days
%
>= 36 days
%
District Councils53.225.321.5
Unitary Authorities41.334.823.9
Metropolitan Authorities41.730.527.8
County Councils55.926.517.6
London Boroughs39.439.421.2
National Park Authorities100.00.00.0

(ii) Waverley’s response times for the period 2001/02 to 2005/06

Year No of first
enquiries
Average number of
days to respond
2005/06473.3
2004/051050.8
2003/041251.7
2002/03755.7
2001/021546.6

100.5 In his annual letter, the Ombudsman has expressed concern about the response times. As will be seen from the fifth paragraph on page 2 of his letter, while the Ombudsman accepts that officers have worked extremely hard to provide comprehensive answers to his initial enquiries, he remains critical of the response times, which he feels do not provide a reasonable service to either the Ombudsman or the complainants. 100.6 It is indeed regrettable that Waverley’s performance in meeting the Ombudsman’s target of 28 days has worsened over the past year. However, when considering the Ombudsman’s comments, Members will wish to bear in mind the following points. 100.7 The response time of 101 days referred to in the Ombudsman’s letter relates to the time taken to respond to a complex complaint about the Council’s failure to take action in respect of the increasingly noisy activities at Dunsfold Park. The investigation of this complaint resulted in the preparation of the very lengthy response, which involved many officers across a number of disciplines, and progress was hampered by the intervening Christmas period. 100.8 The average response time for the remaining three Ombudsman enquiries in 2005/06 was in fact considerably less than 101 days (48.6 days). Members need to be aware, however, that in a number of cases there has been some delay in the time taken by the Ombudsman’s office to pursue their initial enquiries with the Council. For example, the Dunsfold complaint which has been highlighted by the Ombudsman, was received by the Ombudsman’s office on 23 August 2005, yet the Council did not receive the Ombudsman’s request for comments on the complaint until 18 October 2005, a delay of 56 days. If the Council had received the complaint at an earlier date, it is quite probable that, while the 28-day target would not have been met, the response time would have been significantly less, particularly since it would have been dealt with before the Christmas holiday. 100.9 Another key factor that impacts on workload, is that the Ombudsman’s initial enquiries often come in ‘batches’ which makes work planning for those involved in dealing with complaints in Waverley, very difficult. For example, between 20th March and 12th May this year, Waverley received six complaints from the Ombudsman’s office, all requiring a detailed response within 28 days. Responses to each of these complaints have now been completed and in respect of two of these complaints, the response times were 27 days and 39 days respectively. 100.10 However, notwithstanding the above comments, it is clear that there are capacity issues that need to be addressed in order to provide more timely responses to the Ombudsman’s initial enquiries, particularly on matters involving the Planning Department. This matter is addressed elsewhere in these minutes.

100.11 There have been no findings of maladministration or injustice in respect of complaints made about Waverley in the past fifteen years. Details of the determinations made over the past five years are set out in the following table.

YearMI* repsLS*M* repsNM* repsNo* malOmb* discOutside jurisdicPremature complaintsTotal excl prematureTotal
2005/06030063251419
2004/05050037**4374956
2003/040500120151823
2002/03050026241519
2001/02050092281624
100.12 Good working relations continue to exist between the Ombudsman’s office and the Council which enables suggested remedies to be agreed and complaints to be resolved satisfactorily.

100.13 Waverley’s current complaints procedure was launched in early 2004, following a review in the autumn of 2003. The procedure is supported by written policy and procedural documents approved by the Ombudsman. Copies of the complaints form are available in the Council’s main offices and locality offices, and the form can also be downloaded from the Council’s website. However, complainants continue to prefer sending in their complaints by letter or e mail rather than using the form. The Council also has a dedicated complaints e-mail address which is increasingly used by complainants.

100.14 Early in 2006 the Council purchased a new IT system for tracking complaints and requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. This new system went ‘live’ on 1st April 2006, and in future years will enable officers to provide Members with a more in depth analysis of the causes and outcome of complaints received from members of the public. For the year 2005/06 however, it is only possible to give very limited information on complaints received by Waverley.

DepartmentNumber of complaintsWeighted Average time taken to respond (working days)
Chief Executives 2315.2
Environment and Leisure 8411.2
Finance (Includes Benefits) 2415.4
Housing 4415
Planning 10422.7
Total 27916.8

100.15 As Members will be aware, the Council aims to respond to all complaints from members of the public within 15 working days.

100.16 The Executive has noted the report and passed it to the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee to assist with its review of the Council’s formal complaints procedure. The Executive also considered the resource issues arising from the report and asked officers to use some of the new planning resources, if agreed, to improve response times for dealing with Ombudsman complaints.

100.17 The Executive also

RECOMMENDS that

Background Papers (MD) Local Government Ombudsman’s annual letter to Waverley for 2005/06 dated 21st June 2006.

101. DECRIMINALISED (CIVIL) PARKING ENFORCEMENT (Agenda Item 11; Appendix F)
[Wards Affected: All]

101.1 The implications of the introduction of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) into the Borough and of Waverley’s management of the enforcement of the on-street parking regulations, as agent of the Traffic Authority, Surrey County Council (SCC), were set out in a series of reports to the Executive, Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Council during 2005.

101.2 At its meeting of 12th July 2005, the Executive resolved that:-

(i) Surrey County Council be advised that Waverley Borough Council is prepared to manage the enforcement of decriminalised on-street parking enforcement in the Borough of Waverley on condition that Surrey County Council funds the provision of four full-time equivalent Parking Attendants and the appropriate level of supporting management, administrative and Notice-processing staff and associated overheads; and

(ii) The Director of Environment and Leisure, Director of Finance and Head of Legal Services be authorised to agree the detailed terms and conditions of an Agency Agreement for the management by Waverley Borough Council of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement in the Borough of Waverley.

Surrey County Council was accordingly advised of the Executive’s resolutions.

101.3 Having considered a further report on the matter, together with the observations of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Executive, at its meeting of 11th October 2005, resolved that:-

“The negotiations with Surrey County Council on its request for Waverley to manage on-street decriminalised parking enforcement in the Borough should be continued and that further representations should be made at both officer and Member level to secure a minimum of four on-street Parking Attendants for the Borough”.

101.4 These recommendations were adopted by the Council on 25th October 2005 and were acted upon by officers and Members immediately thereafter when the proposals on the resourcing of Waverley’s DPE operation were re-submitted to SCC. Earlier this year, SCC agreed to the funding of a resource model that satisfied that resolution. Detailed negotiations on the Agency Agreement were resumed by officers, in accordance with the Council’s resolution, and preparations for the requisite application to the Secretary of State for Transport (SoS), for the powers of civil parking enforcement to be granted to Waverley and Surrey, have been in progress since that time. A number of actions/resolutions by the Council are now required for that purpose.

101.5 SCC and its agent WBC will not have the legal authority to undertake civil parking enforcement until the SoS has approved the enforcement arrangements and has made an Order under the Road Traffic Act 1991 (RTA 91), that designates the geographical area to which these arrangements will apply (ie the Borough of Waverley) a Special Parking Area (SPA). Each Order must be laid before and approved by Parliament.

101.6 One of the purposes of DPE is to have one system of parking control and enforcement that is common to both on-street and off-street (car parks) parking places, for the convenience and ease of understanding for the driver. It enables Parking Attendants to issue common Penalty Charge Notices and Notice-processing staff to operate one system of processing. The SPA will therefore encapsulate the whole Borough including the Council's off-street car parks.

101.7 Authority to impose regulations on the use of its off-street car parks and to impose penalties for their misuse (eg not purchasing a parking ticket) is currently provided in the Waverley Borough Council (Off-Street Parking Places) Order which is made in exercise of the Council’s powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (RTRA 84). Under this legislation the Council is empowered to issue Excess Charge Notices (fines) for breach of the Regulations and also determine any appeal against their issue i.e. the Council is effectively “judge and jury” on the matter.

101.8 When the Borough of Waverley is declared a Special Parking Area under the provisions of the RTA 91, for the purposes of civil enforcement of the on-street parking regulations, the Council will be obliged to also operate its car parks under that Act rather than under the present RTRA 84. The implications of this are:

(i) the Parking Attendants (PA’s) will issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCN’s), in common with the on-street parking enforcement officers, instead of issuing Excess Charge Notices (ECN’s);

(ii) the Council’s Notice-issuing and processing hardware, software, car park signing, public information and enforcement procedures will need to be adapted to the provisions of this Act;

(iii) the offending motorists will have the right of appeal, against PCN’s issued to them, to an independent tribunal, the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS);

(iv) the Penalty Charge levels off-street must be co-ordinated with the on-street penalties; and

(v) the Council must make a Consolidation Order consolidating the provisions of the Waverley Borough Council (Off-Street Parking Places) Order under the RTA 1991.
101.9 The existing Off-Street Parking Places Order was last revised in 1997. Tariff changes are authorised by simple Amendment Orders that only require publication of prior notice in car parks and the local press. More substantive changes (eg inclusion of new car parks or changes in conditions of use) must be authorised by the making of a new Order which requires consultation and a period for receipt of objections and their consideration. The existing Order requires modification to make it “fit for purpose” in the following areas:

(i) changes to the wording are required to emphasise that the Excess Charges (fines) are penalties, not an additional parking charge. This is to ensure that the Council does not need to account for VAT payments on Excess Charge Notice income (currently 250,000 per annum) following a ruling by the VAT Tribunal that, provided it is made clear that the charge is a penalty (in the Order, on the ECN and on the tariff boards), VAT is not payable;

(ii) the Burys Office car park and the Flambard Way staff car park need adding to the Schedule in the Order, in the Monday to Friday period, so that enforcement action can be taken against use of reserved spaces by those not entitled to do so; and

(iii) clarification of various conditions of use is required to prevent misuse of the car parks and to overcome challenges to enforcement action in some areas.

101.10 The Consultant preparing the SPA Application on behalf of SCC and advising both Councils on the process, has advised that changes to the Off-Street Parking Places Order are best introduced under a new Order made under the RTRA 1984, which will simplify and expedite its consolidation under the 1991 Act. It is therefore proposed to make a new Order accordingly.

101.11 SCC is anxious to make its SPA Application to the SoS in respect of DPE in Waverley. It has made the requisite resolutions for that process on a County-wide basis. Those resolutions also need to be made by Waverley as agent of SCC for the enforcement function. They are:

(i) a resolution confirming that Waverley will undertake the enforcement of decriminalised parking in the Borough as agent of SCC. The Council at its meeting of 25th October 2005 approved the Executive’s resolution to that effect, but that was made conditional upon agreement with SCC of the resourcing of the Patrol Attendant function. That resolution must now be made unconditional;

(ii) the level of penalty charges to be levied for parking violations, both on-street and off-street;

(a) the Executive, at its meeting of 4th October 2004, resolved that penalties for parking violations in off-street car parks should remain at 60 except for “displaying an expired ticket” which should remain at 40. It was argued that those who had demonstrated their intention to pay for the parking but were delayed in their return to their vehicle should be treated less harshly than those who had set out to avoid payment from the beginning. It was resolved that all penalties should be discounted by 50% for payment within 14 days;

(b) Waverley proposed that these differential penalties should remain in the DPE regime in off-street car parks. This policy is supported in the DfT’s Draft Consultation on the Traffic Management Act 2004 (published this month) which sets out a policy framework for Civil Parking Enforcement (which the DfT recommends should be used in place of the term Decriminalised Parking Enforcement). However, Surrey has resolved and given notice that, in consultation with the SoS, in accordance with its powers under the RTA 1991, it has set the following charges County-wide in relation to the designated parking areas, which includes off-street car parks;

(i) a penalty charge for all offences of 60 on the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) but discounted to 30 if payment is received within 14 days of the issue of the PCN; and

(ii) on the issue of a “Charge Certificate” (for non-payment of the PCN) in accordance with the provisions of the 1991 Act, the penalty charge shall be increased to 90.

(c) SCC has advised Waverley that, if it wishes to propose differential penalties, SCC would need to seek an amended resolution from its partnership committee, would need to publish an amended Notice and renegotiate the issue with the SoS. The result would be a delay in the submission and processing of the SPA application and in the date of implementation of DPE in Waverley. However, it is expected that when the DfT’s Draft Guidance on differential penalties is adopted in accordance with the provisions of the Traffic Management Act 2004, it will be possible to retain differential penalties in the car parks under DPE. In the meantime it is proposed to recommend the adoption of those penalties published by SCC in the Council’s off-street car parks.

(iii) Authority to enter into a National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) Joint Committee Agreement;

The National Joint Committee comprises all Local Authorities outside of London which have, or are about to, introduce DPE. The Committee is responsible for appointing, employing and overseeing the Parking Adjudicators to promote consistent adjudication across the Country. The Solicitor to the Council should be granted delegated authority to enter into a NPAS Section 101 Joint Committee. This is a requirement of the legislation for Joint Committees. Meetings are held twice yearly.

101.12 The SoS recommends that Councils have policies in place in respect of suspensions, dispensations and waivers which are exemptions to the parking regulations granted to certain parties under given terms and conditions. Those policies are expected to be submitted in support of the SPA application. SCC has no County-wide policy on these matters and expects each District to determine its own policies. Definitions of the exemptions and recommended policies relating thereto are appended at Annexe 2.

101.13 Under the Scheme of Delegation to Officers, the Director of Environment and Leisure has delegated authority to approve requests for concessionary parking in the Council’s off-street car parks. It is proposed that the delegation be extended to determining requests for dispensations, suspensions and waivers in respect of on-street parking and any administrative charges relating thereto.

101.14 All costs associated with the on-street enforcement role are recoverable from SCC through the on-street parking account. However, the management of the off-street car parks under the RTA 91, which is a requirement of DPE, may result in some loss of penalty charge income. The more punitive charge for the “Expired Ticket” may lead to more appeals on that offence and guidelines issued in respect of the NPAS suggest that some appeals currently rejected by Waverley might succeed on appeal to NPAS.

101.15 However, an effective on-street enforcement regime is expected to displace cars from on-street to off-street car parks resulting in additional Pay-and-Display (P and D) revenue income. The level of additional off-street income generated in those Districts where DPE has recently been introduced has been recorded in the range of 6% to 8%. Mindful that some of Waverley’s parking stock is operating close to its maximum capacity, particularly in Godalming, Waverley has cautiously allowed for an increase in P and D income resulting from effective on-street enforcement, of 3%. P and D income for 2006/07 is projected at 2,485,000. The estimated additional income of 75,000 is calculated to more than compensate for any losses in Penalty Charge income.

101.16 The Parking Office will need to be re-structured with enhanced management and additional Notice-processing staff to manage the parking enforcement both on-street and off-street, under the new civil enforcement procedures. Additional support will be needed from finance, audit, legal and the Managing Director’s team. Separate on-street and off-street parking accounts will need to be maintained, managed and audited. Considerable public contact can be expected at all levels, including Members, on a multitude of contentious on-street parking issues. The patrolling and ticket-issuing service will be provided through a co-ordinated (on and off-street) parking services contract which is in the process of procurement. An agreed level of resourcing has been built into a cost model constructed by SCC. The re-structure of the Parking Office will be proposed in a future report to the Executive.

101.17 The financial risk is largely carried by SCC because if the cost of the on-street enforcement operation exceeds the income from the Penalty Charges, SCC is required, under the Agreement, to reimburse any shortfall on the On-Street Parking Account.

101.18 Waverley will need to address any risks associated with termination of the Agreement either within the initial 5-year term or upon its expiry. The Agreement can be terminated by either party giving 12 months notice. In particular, Waverley must ensure that the terms of the Agreement protect it from any employment or redundancy liabilities under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations, should the function cease to be undertaken by Waverley and its Contractor.

101.19 Once the car parks are included in the Special Parking Area, SCC effectively becomes responsible for the enforcement both on-street and off-street. Waverley will need to ensure that the Agreement allows it to take back that responsibility in the event of the expiry or termination of the Agency Agreement otherwise absence of enforcement effort by SCC could endanger the Council’s off-street Penalty Charges income in the future. That risk can be mitigated by an appropriate clause in the Agreement.

101.20 The Executive agreed the following recommendations in principle and referred the item to the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee for its observations. In the event that the Committee had no particular observations to report, the Executive

RECOMMENDS that
(i) The penalty charge on the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in accordance with Section 66 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 shall be 60 but discounted to 30 if payment is received within 14 days of the issue of the PCN;

(ii) On the issue of a “Charge Certificate” in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 6 of Schedule 6 to the RTA 1991 the penalty charge shall be increased to 90;

102. LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM – UPDATE AND DRAFT STATEMENT OF INTENT FOR JOINT WORKING WITH WOKING AND GUILDFORD BOROUGH COUNCILS (Agenda Item 12; Appendix G)
[Wards Affected: All]

102.1 Members will recall that the Council’s current policy position with regard to local government reform, as agreed by the Council on 26th April 2006, is as follows:-

102.2 However, since then the situation has continued to develop. The Local Government Reform Special Interest Group met on 13th July, and received a report on the latest position as explained by the new Minister for Communities and Local Government. This was explained both in policy statements from the new Ministry, and from statements made to the Local Government Association Annual Conference in July.

102.3 Since then, the Government has been working on drafting the White Paper which is now expected in the autumn. It seemed that the prospect of an enforced restructuring of Local Government was very unlikely. However, there are continuing media reports that there are elements within the Government that are in favour of some national programme of local government restructuring.

102.4 There have also been media reports that Surrey County Council continues to be pursuing proposals for putting forward a case for some form of County Council based unitary authority. The Local Government Chronicle of 10th August reported that Surrey County Council was still “contemplating bidding for unitary status” together with seven other counties and was trying to seek information from the Ministry about whether or not “one of more districts can veto their unitary plans”. Despite formal contact with Surrey and efforts by officers to clarify Surrey’s position, to date there has been no further information forthcoming from Surrey on any such proposal.

102.5 Officers and members have met with representatives of Guildford and Woking Borough Councils, and a draft statement of intent as a framework for joint working with these two Councils has been produced by officers. The Local Government Reform SIG commended this at its meeting on 13th July, and a copy is attached as Annexe 3.

102.6 The SIG noted that the intention was to provide a framework to develop joint working for the benefit of all three Councils and their communities. However, the SIG also noted that it was not intended to be an exclusive solution and that links with other Councils which would offer service benefits for Waverley could continue to be explored. The SIG also noted that this might include possible cross-county boundary links, such as some of the joint working in housing with the North Hampshire District Councils.

102.7 The SIG also noted that, as well as the proposals for working across borough council boundaries, the Council should also be pursuing ideas for improving partnership working vertically through the Local Strategic Partnership, Surrey Strategic Partnership and other informal links with Town and Parish Councils.

102.8. The SIG also discussed the need to maintain very close working relationships with the Town and Parish Councils across Waverley. The SIG discussed again the possibility of co-opting a representative or representatives of Town and Parish Councils, but felt that this communication link was best achieved by regular briefings to Waverley’s Joint Meetings with Town and Parish Councils. It was felt that it was important that all Towns and Parishes should feel involved and informed on what was happening in responding to the Government’s White Paper and other agendas which were encouraging partnership working.

102.9 There is currently no direct budget to fund any proposals for joint working with Guildford and Woking. However, it is proposed that officers explore further the staffing implications of any such proposals. The Statement of Intent also envisages link officers being nominated, and Management Team are working on who, within Waverley, would be best placed to perform this role. The officers are also working on possible bids for benefiting from the improvement funds set aside by Government which are intended to encourage these types of initiative and act as seed-corn money for starting partnerships, which could have long term financial benefit to all of the Councils involved.

102.10 Members are reminded that the Council has agreed that a 5,000 contribution should be made to the Surrey Borough Councils Joint Project, which is a cross-county project organised by the Surrey Local Government Association.

102.11 The Executive noted the current position on Local Government Reform and agreed to ask Management Team to identify specific projects and staffing that could form the nucleus of the Joint Working Project with Guildford and Woking. The Executive also

RECOMMENDS that

103. FRENSHAM PARISH COUNCIL - REQUEST FOR AN ADDITIONAL COUNCILLOR (Agenda Item 13; Appendix H)
[Ward Affected: Frensham, Dockenfield and Tilford]

103.1 The Local Government Commission carried out a major review of Borough and Parish Council boundaries and representation, which reported finally in September 1998. At the time, the Frensham Parish consisted of three wards, the Churt ward, the Rushmoor ward and the Frensham ward. No changes were proposed at the time for any of Frensham Parish. The final proposals could not be implemented in time for the May 1999 elections, but had to wait until May 2003.

103.2 Subsequently in 2001, a request was received from Frensham Parish Council that Waverley Borough Council should carry out a Parish review to see if a new Parish Council should be set up for Churt village. This left Frensham Parish consisting of two wards, Rushmoor and Frensham. This was agreed and established in 2002 and the first elections for the new Parish were held in May 2003. Frensham Parish was unchanged, with two members for the Rushmoor ward and four members for the Frensham ward.

103.3 Frensham Parish Council has now proposed that Waverley carries out a further review to increase the number of members for the Rushmoor ward of Frensham Parish Council from two to three. Frensham ward would continue as now with four members. A table showing the electorates is attached as Annexe 4. The Borough Council has the power to carry out this review but, because the Parish was split by Waverley's review in 2003, Waverley needs to obtain the consent of the Electoral Commission to implement any changes under an Order under Section 17(2) of the Local Government Act 1997. Any changes proposed within five years of a previous review of a Parish need this consent.

103.4 There is no detailed process set out in regulations or guidance for this type of limited electoral review, but the Electoral Commission has said that the issues that the Borough Council should consider as part of the review are:-

103.5 The Parish Council has asked Waverley only to look at the narrow issue of the numbers of Councillors for the existing warding structure and for the Rushmoor ward only. The other issues would be considered as part of any overall review, but it would be intended to focus only on this main issue. The Council would have to show evidence that it had sought to canvass public opinion, not only via the Parish Council but also from electors within the whole Parish area. It could do this by means of advertisement in the press and by encouraging the Parish Council to publicise the review and by use of notices on Parish notice boards.

103.6 Officers have written to the Electoral Commission explaining the position and asking if it is likely that the Electoral Commission would be able to grant consent in time for the Parish elections planned for May 2007. The Electoral Commission have said that it would do its best, but it is still working through a backlog of previous Parish Council reviews and cannot give any guarantees.

103.7 If Waverley were to commence the review soon, any final decision on the review could be made by the Council Meeting in December 2006 and the request for consent submitted immediately. This would, however, leave the Commission, in practice, only two months to be able to give the necessary consent and enable Waverley to make an order and have the arrangements in place for the Parish electoral process for May 2007.

103.8 There would be staffing implications in terms of members of staff arranging for publicity in considering any representations from residents in the Parish. However, it is hoped that this can be contained within the existing budgets and that advertising costs could similarly be contained within the existing budgets for elections and electoral registration.

103.9 Officers feel the review could be carried out fairly speedily, but are unsure because of the pressures on the Electoral Commission if any such review could be implemented in time for the May 2007 elections. If not, then the next opportunity to implement the proposed additional membership for the Rushmoor ward would be the May 2011 Parish elections.

103.10 The Executive considered the implications of the request and agreed to

RECOMMEND that

Background Papers (MD)

104. LICENCES FOR USE OF LAND WITHIN WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL (Agenda Item 15; Appendix J)
[Wards Affected: All]

104.1 There are existing delegated powers to authorise the grant of licences of less than three years. The system requires that the Property and Development Manager consults with the relevant Director and the Managing Director before authorising the licence. The authorisation period is usually two weeks and there is a set, non-refundable fee of 125 (excluding any fee for the licence itself) that includes administration costs and valuation of the licence. The system works well for long-term licences, such as for access to garden land, or for licences of reasonable value, such as a construction compound within a car park. The licences ensure that Waverley’s land is protected and that its use does not interfere with or provide a hazard to others.

104.2 The time and cost of obtaining these licences means that some members of the public and some businesses do not obtain licences before using Waverley land for short-term purposes, such as skips. They may also not be aware of the need to obtain the licence in the first place. Often the first Waverley officers are aware about the use of the land is once it is taking place. At this point, it is often difficult to stop the use or obtain a licence before the use is finished. Waverley is then left with clearing up, repairs to the land and possible loss of revenue.

104.3 In order to deal with the problem, it is proposed that a blanket authorisation be granted for all short-term licences of less than one month. These licences would be based on a set of pro-forma licences and, as far as possible, on set fees. Where revenue-earning parking spaces are occupied or obstructed by the activity requiring a licence, the loss of parking income at full value, i.e. 100% occupancy, should be recovered in addition to the set fee. Any use that is liable to continue for more than one month would first be put on a temporary licence and then authorisation for a longer licence could be sought.

104.4 There are several advantages to such a system:

a. As the bureaucracy would be minimised, the administrative element of any fee would be low, thereby persuading more users of Waverley’s land to seek licences before entering onto the land;

b. With pro-forma licences, officers who come across unauthorised users of Waverley’s land could draw up a licence “on the spot”, thereby ensuring that the use conforms to Waverley’s requirements on health and safety and that there is a responsible person to clear and repair the land after the use is finished; and

c. Set fees will make obtaining revenue from these uses easier as there will be no need for a valuation.

104.5 The disadvantages to the system are as follows:

a. There would be no input for a specific use by the Director of the Service Department, the Managing Director or the Property and Development Manager;

b. Set fees will result in some use being undervalued. Conversely, others will be overvalued; and

c. The system will not deal with those individuals or businesses that will not enter into a licence arrangement.

104.6 It is, however, considered that the advantages of the system outweigh the disadvantages, especially as the proposed length of the licence is very short. The officers who would require authority to grant the licences would be:-

Estates Officer
Estates Surveying Technician
Countryside Management Officer
Countryside Rangers
Parks and Landscape Manager
Parks and Landscape Officers
Tree and Woodlands Officer

104.7 The Executive

RECOMMENDS that

Background Papers (DoPD)
PARTS II AND III - MATTERS OF REPORT

Background Papers

The background papers relating to the following items in Parts II and III are as specified in the agenda for the meeting of the Executive.

Part II – Matters Reported in Detail for the Information of the Council

There are no matters falling within this category.

Part III – Brief Summaries of Other Matters Dealt With

105. EXECUTIVE FOUR MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 5, Appendix A)

RESOLVED that the four-month rolling programme of key decisions for Waverley Borough Council be adopted.

106. BUDGET MONITORING REPORT (Agenda Item 7; Appendix C)

RESOLVED that the current monitoring position for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account to 31st July 2006 be noted.

107. COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS FUND - REVIEW OF SCHEME (Agenda Item 9)

RESOLVED that a Sub-Committee of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee be established to undertake an in-depth review of the Community Partnerships Fund Scheme.

108. MEMBER/TENANTS’ SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP REPORT (Agenda Item 14; Appendix I)

RESOLVED that

109. PROPOSED LEASE OF SUNNYHILL PLAY AREA TO WITLEY PARISH COUNCIL (Agenda Item 16; Appendix K)

Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

RESOLVED that a long lease be granted to Witley Parish Council for the Sunnyhill Play Area, shown outlined on the plan at Annexe 1 to the report, on terms and conditions set out in the (Exempt) Annexe to the report, with other terms and conditions being negotiated by the Property and Development Manager.

110. APPOINTMENT TO GODALMING, MILFORD AND WITLEY TRANSPORTATION TASK GROUP (Agenda Item 17)

RESOLVED that Mr K Webster should replace Mr M W Byham on the Godalming, Milford and Witley Transportation Task Group and that Mr M W Byham be appointed as the reserve member on the Group, with immediate effect.


111. EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

112. NATIONAL NON-DOMESTIC RATES - APPLICATIONS FOR RATE RELIEF (Agenda Item 8; Appendix D)

This item was considered in (Exempt) Session at 8.13 p.m.

RESOLVED that no rate relief be granted in either case, as set out in the recommendation at (Exempt) Annexe 3 to the report.
The meeting commenced at 7.08 p.m. and concluded at 8.23 p.m.



Chairman
comms/exec/2006-07/147