Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 31/01/2006
MINUTES of the MEETING of the ENVIRONMENT AND LEISURE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE held
31st JANUARY 2006
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
Mr J R Sandy (Chairman)
Mrs S R Jacobs
Mrs M V M Hunt (Vice Chairman)
Dr P M Marriott
Mr M H W Band
Mrs P N Mitchell
Dr J F A Blowers
Mr J M Savage
Mr M W Byham
Mrs J A Slyfield
Mr R D Frost
Ms M Taylor
Mr P D Harmer
Mr A E B Taylor-Smith
Mrs P Hibbert
Mr R C Terry
Mrs L S R Hodgson
Mr W M Marshall attended as a substitute
INFORMAL PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
There were no informal questions from members of the public.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Apologies for absence were received from Dr J F A Blowers and Mrs J A Slyfield. Mr W M Marshall attended as a substitute.
DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
There were no disclosures of interest.
QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
There were no questions from members of the public.
SERVICES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE – PROGRESS UPDATE
(Agenda Item 5)
[Wards Affected: ALL]
The Committee heard an oral report describing the findings of the Review of Services for Young People and new initiatives agreed as priorities. The Services for Young People SIG had recently met and the Committee also noted their comments. Officers stressed that successful implementation of many of the initiatives would be dependent on officer resource and capacity. If the proposals were accepted, key partners would work together to draw up an action plan.
The Committee discussed the report and identified the lack of safe transport as a key barrier to use of facilities by young people, particularly in rural areas. Members also commented that many spaces suitable for use by young people were locked up at night. They felt there could be potential in many sites, including school facilities, for use out of hours. A further point was made that the importance of healthy eating amongst young people should be stressed more strongly. Officers confirmed the issue of healthy eating was being addressed through a range of school and PCT initiatives which the Council was involved with, for example. ‘Five a Day’.
RESOLVED: That the Committee note the summary of findings of the Best Value Review of Services for Young People and the SIG’s comments from its meeting on 18th January and pass the above observations to the Executive, supporting the conclusions in the report.
EXPLORING CURRENT ISSUES REGARDING MOBILE PHONE TECHNOLOGY – IN-DEPTH REVIEW
(Agenda Item 6)
[Wards Affected: ALL]
Members received a report which reviewed the information gathered as part of the Committee’s in depth review of current issues regarding mobile phone technology, identifying areas for further study and giving consideration to those issues which might be the subject of recommendations to the Executive.
The Committee discussed the questions raised in the report in turn. It was agreed that the Council had a difficult role in seeking to meet the needs of business and the concerns of the local community. Members agreed that the Council should seek more control over determination of planning applications for telecommunication masts by lobbying central government.
Officers confirmed that in terms of the Council’s role as landowner, planning applications on council land were dealt with in the same way as other applications - each case was dealt with on an individual basis. On the issue of the Council’s own policy of staff use of mobile phones, the Committee agreed that there was no need to add to the information which existed about staff use of mobile phones on Council business.
The Committee discussed the location of telecommunication masts and referred to the map which was circulated at the last meeting, which officers confirmed would be added to the website. Officers said that a mast register was also kept and updated on an ad hoc basis. Members asked if, as technology improved and antennae became obsolete, whether the masts were taken down. Officers answered that under the terms of their licence, operators were obliged to remove them.
In terms of community consultation, officers reported that the findings of SSMR’s consultation were mirrored by comments from the public received after the last meeting. Both surveys found that there was high use of mobile phones in the community but also that there was strong opposition to masts and a preference for mast sharing if technically possible. Officers reported that the SSMR survey was conducted across the Borough, and that the majority of the 90 replies received after the last meeting were from the Farnham area. Members agreed on the need to site masts sensitively and it was further agreed that another community survey, which would be likely to reflect the results of the previous survey, would not be necessary.
The Committee discussed the need for effective Roll Out Plans from the mobile phone operators. There was some concern about the quality of current plans and some Members felt they could be incomprehensible, inaccessible, unreadable and inconsistent. This was regrettable as they were felt to be key to the process. Officers stressed that the plans were of a strategic nature and did not specify individual sites. However, they said that if they were written properly, they had the potential to start a good debate. It was agreed that the Roll Out Plans needed to be clearer and be used more effectively in pre-application discussions, giving a better understanding of the technology.
Members discussed whether there was a need to gather information from other councils’ reviews of mobile phone technology. Although the Committee found the information of interest, they agreed that officers should keep them up-to-date as necessary.
The health implications of mobile phone technology were discussed, and Members were reminded of Dr Mike Clark’s presentation at the last meeting. Officers restated the differences between biological and adverse health effects and outlined the Government’s position that there were no adverse health implications associated with mobile phone masts but that a precautionary approach to siting them, for example, around schools, should be taken. Officers reported on data found on the Internet about local emission levels which were said to be thousands of times below ICNIRP guidelines, and also on Hart DC’s similar experience of monitoring emission levels. Members agreed that it would not be necessary for the Council to monitor emissions at this stage, but that officers should report back on monitoring information found on the Internet.
Finally, the Committee discussed the impact of masts on the environment and it was agreed that some masts could be visually intrusive. However, officers reported that new designs were being developed all the time in an attempt to fit in better with local surroundings. Members felt they had received enough information about this.
RESOLVED: That the Committee pass the report and the above observations to the Executive, along with the following findings:
(a) The Council should make representations to central government on giving local planning authorities greater control over the determination of planning applications for telecommunications masts;
(b) The Council need not review its policy as landowner in respect of the location of masts and antennae;
(c) The Council need not have a specific policy on the use of mobile technology by Members and officers, beyond what already exists on health and safety issues;
(d) No further research is required on the views of the local community;
(e) Members do not require any further clarification of the issues raised by the mobile operators in their presentation at the special meeting on 28th November;
(f) There should be a pre-planning application discussion to involve possibly ward councillors and local residents, and this system and the roll-out plans for 2007 should be the subject of a Development Control Forum in October/November this year;
(g) Members are content for officers to review studies undertaken by other Councils and report back as necessary;
(h) Members believe that the Council should make representations to either the LGA or central Government that the current approach to the assessment of health considerations needs to be revisited;
(i) The Council need not undertake its own monitoring of radiation emissions from telecommunication masts in Waverley;
(j) Members do not require any further information on the design of masts; and
(k) The Committee’s key observations be noted as above.
The meeting concluded at 9.57 pm