Manchester City Council

The Council & democracy Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee's Investigations

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End of Year Summary 2017/18

Over the previous 12 months the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee has continued to examine the many services that are delivered in local areas that have an impact on communities and neighbourhoods. The Committee has also continued to monitor the steps taken to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

The Committee has considered reports on a variety of subjects including update reports on the initiatives designed to tackle rouge landlords and address poor management practices in the Private Rented Sector; regular updates on the measures taken to improve Waste and Recycling; Green and Blue Infrastructure, progress on the implementation of the plans to improve cycling routes and the promotion of active travel across the city and the continued investment in highways repairs.

The Council remains committed to reducing its direct carbon emissions by 41% by 2020, and the Committee continues to receive regular progress reports on the delivery of the Climate Change Action Plan. The Committee has welcomed the opportunity to hear from and question a variety of invited guests with specialist knowledge and expertise in these subject areas. The Committee thank all those who had attended meetings over the course of the previous year for their invaluable contribution.

The Committee has also established smaller groups to investigate specific subjects of interest in much more detail. These have included a group looking at the issue of Air Quality and Members of the Committee had also undertaken a joint review of road safety around schools with Members from the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. The findings and final recommendations of this review will be reported in the new municipal year.

The Air Quality Task and Finish Group considered a wealth of evidence over the course of a number of meetings and heard from a number of invited guests and expert witnesses. In addition to the formal meetings Members also undertook site visits and the Chair contacted and interviewed a range of experts in this subject area both nationally and internationally. At the end of this process the group reported their findings to the main Committee along with their final recommendations. These recommendations were fully endorsed by the Committee at our November 2017 meeting. The Committee will continue to monitor the implementation of these recommendations to improve air quality over the course of the new municipal year.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), acting on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, lead on air pollution issues across Greater Manchester and representatives from TfGM had attended our January meeting to discuss the GM Air Quality Strategic Outline Case to Government and Development of a Greater Manchester Mayor’s Congestion Plan. TfGM are therefore leading on the production of a single Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan and the Committee will continue to receive update reports as this important area of work continues.

Air Quality Task and Finish Group

The Committee are very concerned about the very serious issue of poor air quality and the effect this has on the health of the residents of Manchester. Therefore at our July 2016 meeting we agreed to establish a Task and Finish Group to specifically look at this issue in detail.

To support the work of the group we held four substantive meetings, at which we had invited a range of academics and specialists in Air Quality, both local and nationally to come and share their expertise and knowledge with the group. The group were very grateful for their contribution to the group’s enquiry and contributed to the group’s final recommendations.

Contributors included the Head of Air Quality, Transport for Greater Manchester; Health Air Campaigner for Client Earth; Clinical Professor of Public Health Informatics - University of Manchester; Head of the Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care - University of Manchester; Public Health England; Senior Research Fellow – The University of Manchester; Professor of Immunology, Senior Lecturer – School of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Head of Air Quality, Transport for Greater Manchester; Friends of the Earth; Lecturer in Respiratory Toxicology, Kings College London; Centre for Local Economic Strategies; Creative Concern; Sustrans North West; British Cycling; Living Streets and Bike Right.

In addition to the meetings with invited guests the group also undertook a series of field trips to witness the work of the monitoring station located at Piccadilly Gardens and to meet with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester.

The Chair on behalf of the group also undertook a series of evidence gathering interviews with a range of experts, both locally, nationally and internationally. These included the Director of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership; Chief Planner, Greater Manchester Spatial Framework; Chair, Manchester Residential Standards; Director of Public Health, Oldham; Member of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Air Quality Study Group; European Cyclists’ Federation, The Success of Seville/European Cyclist Federation; Bloomberg Cities; Gehl Architects, Copenhagen. The Chair then fed back his findings from these interviews to the group.

The group then met for the last time on the 2 November 2017 to agree the final report and recommendations. These agreed recommendations were then presented to the November 2017 meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee where all of the recommendations were fully endorsed by the Committee. The Committee have asked for an update on the implementation of these recommendations in six months’.

All of the reports and minutes of the Air Quality Task and Finish Group meeting can be viewed online at:

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/meetings/committee/119/air_quality_task_and_finish_group

Webcast meetings can also be viewed at:

https://manchester.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcasts

21 June 2017 - Grenfell Tower Fire

Following the tragic event in London the Chair had invited the Deputy Leader and senior officers to attend the June meeting to discuss Manchester’s response to terrible events in London. A pre prepared statement was circulated to the Members that read: 

‘Grenfell Tower fire - Manchester’s response

Following last week’s tragic event in London, the Council and its Housing partners have been working hard to provide information and assurance to all our residents who are living in high rise tower blocks (buildings over 6 storey’s) We understand that this is a deeply worrying time for all concerned and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide good advice and support.

Today, Joanne Roney, Manchester’s Chief Executive and the Deputy Leader met with senior officers from all our housing providers. This was followed by a meeting called by the Mayor with the Chief Fire Officer of Greater Manchester to agree the best way forward in terms of giving assurances and planning urgently what actions we should do as Landlords and jointly with the Fire and Rescue services. 

What is clear, is that the picture is complicated with many of our tower blocks being built and altered at different times. Up until now the general advice has been for residents to stay in their flats unless they are directly affected by the fire or smoke, when they should leave and get out of the building. It is important to note that in the last 3 years, GM Fire and Rescue Services have dealt with 330 fires in apartments and flats in Greater Manchester and in all instances the fires have been contained within the apartment/flat and the advice to stay put has been effective.

Following the incident at Grenfell it is clear that in some instances this advice will need to be reviewed. Every social landlord will now be urgently reviewing and re-stating their fire safety advice for your block in the next few days, taking fire service advice where there is doubt.  Following this, a fully comprehensive review of all tower blocks will be carried out jointly with the fire service, prioritising those blocks where we think the risk may be highest.  Information gathered over the last few days will be used to guide our actions.

Many of our residents living in the City will be living in privately owned tower blocks.  The City Council wants to ensure that private landlords and their agents afford the same duty of care to the residents of their high rise buildings.  The Chief Fire Officer ultimately has the responsibility of enforcing fire safety standards but initially it is the responsibility of the landlord to complete a Fire Risk Assessment. We are urging all landlords to confirm with their tenants that such an assessment is in place and where there are any doubts, they should contact the Fire Officer to seek advice - tel number 0800 555815.

The meeting also agreed to consider what changes we should press Government to implement as part of the public enquiry announced by the Prime Minister.  The City Council has already made representations to return all responsibility for Building Control inspections to Council’s.

 

Get Involved

To find out more information have a look at our full work programme.  This includes what topics we will be looking at, what specific issues we will be considering and who we will be hearing from.  Please bear in mind that the programme is continually updated, and so dates and agenda items may change from those listed in the programme.

If there's an issue you want to contribute to, let us know.  You can either send a written contribution to scrutiny@manchester.gov.uk or you can attend a meeting and ask the Chair if you can speak.  You can also suggest a topic for us to look into by filling in our 'suggestions form.' 

If you want to speak to somebody about contributing to the committee, please call our scrutiny support officer on 0161 234 3376 or e mail scrutiny@manchester.gov.uk.   

Role of the Committee 

Cllr Chris Paul
Councillor Chris Paul

Chair of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee

"The Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee deals with many of the city council's services which are most visible to residents - housing, highways, the street environment, waste and recycling - and also monitors the council's planning and environmental policies, including our carbon reduction plans and climate change strategy.

The role of councillors serving on the committee is to ensure that our policies are fit for purpose and that we are delivering services which serve the interests of the people we represent. My role as chair is to make sure that members have all the information they need to ask the right questions and make appropriate recommendations to the council's executive as to how to best implement our policies and deliver our services.

In the year ahead we will:

- Continue to monitor the city council's plan to reduce carbon emissions by 41% from 2010 levels by 2020.

- Work to improve street cleaning and waste disposal services as we monitor the delivery of the contract with Biffa.

- Engage constructively with the city council to monitor and improve plans to increase recycling rates across the city.

A key focus for all members of the committee is ensuring that residents have the ability to influence local decision making through the scrutiny process and I would strongly encourage and warmly welcome any local residents or community groups who wish to attend our meetings, suggest items for future work or otherwise help us to conduct scrutiny effectively.

Contact us on scrutiny@manchester.gov.uk with your questions and ideas. 

Through this page you'll be able to keep in touch with what we've been doing, find out what we'll be investigating over the next few months and how you can get involved." 
 

 

Find out more

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2386/neighbourhoods_scrutiny_committee

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