North Herts. Highways Partnership Joint Member Panel Minutes

Date:
Monday, 30th July, 2012
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Committee Room 1, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Alan Bardett, Councillor Tom Brindley, County Councillor N.K. Brook, Councillor Paul Clark, Councillor Bill Davidson, County Councillor K.F. Emsall, County Councillor Fiona Hill, County Councillor A.F. Hunter, Councillor David Kearns, Councillor Alan Millard, Councillor Deborah Segalini(substitute) and County Councillor R.A.C. Thake.
In attendance:
North Hertfordshire District Council:
Lorraine O'Gorman - Transport Policy Officer
Nigel Schofield - Committee and Member Services Officer
Hertfordshire County Council:
Bob Hall - Head of Highways Management Group - Hertfordshire Highways
Roger Flowerday - Lead Assistant District Manager - Hertfordshire Highways
Also Present:
Robert Payne - Ringway
Item Description/Decision
PART I
1 APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMNAN FOR THE JMP FOR THE CIVIC YEAR 2012 - 2013
RESOLVED: That County Councillor M.R.M Muir be appointed as Chairman of the JMP and District Councillor Alan Millard be appointed as Vice - Chairman of the JMP for the ensuing Civic Year 2012-2013.
2 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
County Councillor Terry Hone and District Councillors: David Billing and John Bishop had tendered their apologies. An apology was also received from Richard Jones - North and East Herts Area Service Manager - Hertfordshire Highways. In accordance with the agreed procedures District Councillor Deborah Segalini confirmed that she would be a substitute for District Councillor David Billing.
3 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 April 2012 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.
4 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
No other business had been notified prior to the meeting.
5 CHAIRMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1)District Councillor Alan Millard advised that due to the absence of County Councillor M.R.M Muir he would act as Chairman for this meeting. The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and Lorraine O’Gorman the NHHP - NHDC Liaison Officer.

(2) Members were reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda, should be declared as either a Disclosable Pecuniary interest, Other Pecuniary interest or Non-Pecuniary interest, and are required to notify the Chairman of the nature of any interest declared at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Members declaring either an Other Pecuniary interest, or a Non-Pecuniary interest which requires they leave the room under paragraph 16.3 of the Code of Conduct, can speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote.
6 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No applications were received to address the Joint Member Panel.
7 HIGHWAY MATTERS REFERRED TO THE JMP FROM NHDC AREA COMMITTEES
The Chairman advised the Panel that there had been one referral from the Hitchin Area Committee which met on 31 May 2012.

The Lead Assistant District Manager (LADM) advised the Panel that consideration of a permanent relief road to remove heavy lorries from the residential roads in Hitchin was considered as part of the Hitchin Urban Transport Plan (HUTP). However, due to the uncertainty surrounding longer term development at the time as well as austerity measures the ability to address such long term considerations was uncertain, therefore it was not possible to test the proposals for a relief road. The HUTP currently runs to 2014 after which the above position may be considered.

The LADM advised that there were a lot of unknowns on development in and around the Hitchin Industrial Area and currently there was no funding for this scheme and possession of third party land would be necessary.

The Chairman accepted a request from District Councillor Deborah Segalini to ask the Lead Assistant District Manager about 20 m.p.h. speed limits in Hitchin. Although this was not the actual referral to the JMP but was discussed by the Hitchin Committee at its meeting held on 31 May 2012 the Chairman agreed to this request. The Lead Assistant District Manager advised the Panel that Hertfordshire’s policy and procedure for considering requests for 20 m.p.h. limits/zones was detailed within its Speed Management Strategy. In turn this document was in line with current guidance and legislation. Essentially there were two ways a 20 m.p.h. limit/zone could be implemented. If the 85th percentile were below 20 m.p.h. then a limit could be introduced by the use of signs only. The second option, if speeds were above an 85th percentile speed of 25 mph would be to introduce a ‘zone’ together with associated traffic calming to slow the traffic. A Member advised that Government had recently announced a lessening of regulations pertinent to 20 m.p.h. zones but this information was to be regarded as guidance and no changes had been made as yet to the legislation.

The LADM confirmed that any moves to a 20 m.p.h. speed limit needed further investigation and this could be done through the Highways Locality Budget . Another Member advised the Panel that a local haulage company had been accepted as part of a trial with two large HGVs passing through the Cadwell Lane and Grove Road residential areas which was worrying for residents and pedestrians and that it could be possible through an application to the Traffic Commissioners for a 24/7 working schedule, and consequently night time restriction on goods vehicles was required. The LADM advised that Hertfordshire Highways could only comment on the grounds of whether the infrastructure was designed to cope with the proposals. The NHDC Transport Policy Officer was able to confirm to the Panel that the local haulage company had been selected as part of a national trial.

The Chairman thanked Members and Officers for their comments and that investigations on the viability of a 20 m.p.h. limit in certain residential roads in Hitchin should be considered as a scheme/s within the Highways Locality Budget.
8 HIGHWAY JOINT MEMBER PANELS - SUCCESSOR ARRANGEMENTS
The Head of Highways Management Group (HOH) presented the report of the North and East Herts Service Manager which at Appendix A detailed the briefing note prepared by the HCC Executive Member for Highways and Transport concerning the potential successor arrangements to Highway Joint Member Panels.

The HOH confirmed that the HCC Cabinet at its meeting held on 16 July 2012 (Minute 3 refers) had endorsed the proposals put forward to Cabinet by the Highways and Transport Panel at its meeting held on 3 July 2012. The HOH described to the Panel the main components of the successor arrangements including the procedure for formal notice of closure, continuation of the Highways Liaison Meetings, Contract Re- procurement update and enhancement of engagement with District, Borough and other local elected Members. The HOH reminded the Panel of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 works and allocation of monies from Councillors Locality Budgets. The HOH advised the Panel of the change of main Highway Contractors at 1 October 2012.

The Chairman thanked the Head of Highways Management Group for the clarification of the proposed successor arrangements that would commence on 1 October 2012 and invited comments and or questions from Members.

There ensued a debate on the way forward from the Joint Member Panels to Highway Liaison Meetings and several Members expressed concern that there was insufficient opportunity to involve the five NHDC Area Committees under the proposed arrangements and that the anticipated loss of contact between HCC and District Councils was to be regretted. A Member considered that the two pilots at Broxbourne and Dacorum were not a good comparison for other Councils in Hertfordshire and that the proposals did not mention the question of petition presentation. It was suggested that highway petitions could in the first instance be presented to Area Committees and then passed to the appropriate County Councillor to go forward to Highway Liaison Meetings. The LADM agreed that he would forward to all Members the web site link that gave much more detail on the successor arrangements:
(http://www.hertsdirect.org/your- council/civic_calendar/cabinet/16954176/)

Members were also concerned about the scheduling of Area Committee Meetings and Highway Liaison Meetings and that this perceived difficulty should be discussed at the meeting of the NHDC Chairman and Vice - Chairman’s meeting scheduled for 5 September 2012. The HOH advised that the Highways Liaison Meetings at Broxbourne and Dacorum were very different and the HLM model is meant to be a forum and a Member stated that this decision had been taken by HCC and if more than two meetings per annum were necessary then there should be more and it was anticipated that each District would have a different approach.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the proposed successor arrangements for the Joint Member Panels as detailed in Appendix A be noted;

(2) That the proposal to withdraw county officer support and written reports for the HJMPS in October 2012 be noted;

(3) That the award of the Highway Service Team Contract to Ringway and the award to Opus and Arup of the Client Support Team Contract commencing on 1 October be noted;

(4) That the North Herts Highways Partnership Joint Member Panel supported the change to Highways Liaison Meetings and Highways Locality Budgets at 1 October 2012 and as detailed in the briefing note prepared by the HCC Executive Member Highways and Transport.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the Joint Member Panel are appraised of the future arrangements for Highway Locality Budgets in 2012-2013.
9 HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNTY COUNCIL - HIGHWAYS SERVICE TRANSFORMATION - OCTOBER 2012
The Head of Highways Management Group (HOH) presented the report of the North and East Herts Service Manager which clarified the changes to the way HCC Highways Service would be organised with effect from 1 October 2012. The HOH advised the Panel that there would be significant changes to the HCC’s staffing structure as detailed at Paragraphs 5 and 6. The Panel noted that the timing of the re-structure had been set to match the changeover of the highways procurement and service support contracts at 1 October 2012.

The HOH confirmed that all contract procurements were on target for transfer at 1 October 2012 and that four of the six contracts had been awarded. The HOH advised the Panel that the changeover at 1 October 2012 would see the end of local and central teams and the inception of four locally focussed teams: South West (Dacorum, Three Rivers and Watford), Mid (Hertsmere, St. Albans and Welwyn Hatfield), East (Broxbourne and East Herts) and North (Stevenage and North Herts).

The four teams (16 officers) would be Local Highways Officers whose role would be to support communities and Members - especially with Highways Locality Budgets. At County Hall teams would be responsible for contract management, network management and major projects, together with the Integrated Traffic Control Centre which holds traffic flow information on the highway network in Hertfordshire.

The Panel noted that at the beginning of 2012 Hertfordshire Highways became the first HCC service to be delivered by SERCO and supported by the HCC Customer Service Centre with the major objective of resolving and answering queries at the first point of contact. The HOH advised that members of the public and of course Councillors could use www.hertsdirect.org/highways which would provide as close as possible real time information on for example traffic conditions and planned roadworks.

The Chairman thanked the Head of Highways Management for the transformation of the highways service in October and the Panel acknowledged that there would be a lot of changes for Members and Officers alike.

During the ensuing discussion Members expressed considerable concern about the proposals for Member support on highway issues. The HOH confirmed that each team would have a senior manager and that there were significant highway officers in each local group and that there would be an officer for local development control. In response to a question the HOH that the interface between Members and Parishes on for example potholes would be via the Customer Service Centre as described above and the HOH confirmed that there would be no direct link between Members and Highway Officers and any complex matters should be taken up with the appropriate County Member. The HOH advised the Panel that there was still work to do to formulate the lines of communication between District Council Officers, Parish Councillors and one consideration might be via contractor staff.

In response to another question the HOH confirmed that the Highways Control Room based at Welwyn Hatfield District Council would close at the end of September 2012 and move to County Hall. Another Member requested that the Parish Link with Hertfordshire Highways should be maintained, having a named individual as a contact was very important to Parishes and this function had taken a considerable time to establish and should not be lost. The Panel strongly supported the retention of highway officers in their current areas and made a strong request that officers were not moved around within the proposed local groups. The Panel were unanimous in declaring that the current system for reporting and repair of potholes should be retained.

RESOLVED:

(1)That the information concerning the new style highways service to replace Hertfordshire Highways with all staff based at County Hall in October 2012 be noted;

(2)That the move to four locally focussed teams away from local and central teams be noted;

(3)That the role of the Local Highways Officers in assisting Members prepare programmes of work under the Highways Locality Budget be noted;

(4)That the proposal for highway officers to meet with District Council Officers and explain the changes and prepare for working with local communities be welcomed.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the Joint Member Panel are appraised of the new arrangements for highways schemes and projects with effect 1 October 2012.
10 HIGHWAYS LOCALITY BUDGETS - PROGRESS ON WORKS DELIVERY
The Lead Assistant District Manager (LADM) reminded the Panel that with effect 1 April 2011 the Highway Locality Budget had been introduced and was now in its second year throughout Hertfordshire following approval by the HCC Cabinet.

The LADM confirmed to the Panel that the Phase 1 schemes ( predominantly road surfacing works for all Members had been agreed in North Hertfordshire and either programmed or were about to be programmed and the LADM referred the Panel to Paragraph 3.1 for a full list. The LADM next reviewed the Phase 2 schemes which covered revenue works such as ditch clearing and white lining of roads and as listed at Paragraph 3.2.

The Panel reviewed the schemes within Phase 1 and 2 and noted that a large amount of the work had been delivered. A Member requested that there should be a more proactive approach to the timing of weed killing as it was clear that lead in times were not in step with seasonal growth even though there had been a lot of rain recently which was unseasonal. The LADM took note of this request and advised the Panel that there was a dedicated HCC web site for each works under £60K.

The Chairman thanked the Lead Assistant District Manager for the updating report and one comment from the Panel was to maintain good contact with local Councillors as they had much local knowledge of work done and to be done.

RESOLVED:

(1)That the current status of Phase 1 Highways Locality Budget Works as detailed at Paragraph 3.1 be noted;

(2)That the current status of Phase 2 Highways Locality Budget Works as detailed at Paragraph 3.2 be noted;

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the Joint Member Panel is appraised of the proposed successor arrangements to Highway Joint Member Panels.
11 OPERATIONAL SERVICE OF HERTFORDSHIRE HIGHWAYS HJMP - JULY 2012
The Lead Assistant District Manager advised the Panel that all planned clearing of road drains, cutting of grass verges had been completed before the start of the 30th Olympiad. Of particular note were the works undertaken on all roads within North Hertford that received the Olympic Torch Relay and highways in the vicinity of the Lee Valley White Water Canoe Centre. Other works had been completed within the prescribed time frame and that HCC planned to deliver 80 per cent of the Integrated Works Programme in the first six months of 2012-2013 with the outgoing Alliance Partners.

The LADM described to the Panel the works within the Micro-Asphalt Programme, the surface dressing programme and progress on delivering Category 2 and Cyclic maintenance.

The Chairman thanked the Lead Assistance District Manager for the updating and in response to a question the LADM confirmed that there would be no new salt bins in North Hertfordshire and advised the Panel that if there was a justified request then one waste bin would be moved from one location to another.

RESOLVED:

(1)That the work undertaken by Hertfordshire Highways for the Olympic Torch route in Hertfordshire and the area surrounding the Lea Valley White Water Centre be noted and applauded;

(2)That the updating on the progress of works delivery in the Integrated work Programme with current Alliance Partners prior to the contract change on 1 October be noted;

(3)That the updating on the micro-asphalt programme and service dressing programme be noted;

(4)That the updating on the progress of works delivery for Category 2 and cyclical maintenance works be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the Panel were aware of the work undertaken by Hertfordshire Highways prior to contract change.
12 SECTION 106 CONTRIBUTIONS UPDATE
The Lead Assistant District Manager presented the report of the Area Highway Development Control Manager at Hertfordshire County Council and the purpose was to advise the Panel of the current status of the S106 contributions held by HCC for use on highways and transportation measures.

The LADM referred the Panel to Appendix A the Table of S106 Contributions and the contribution allocated against the development at The Former Hideout Club in Norton Way North, Letchworth Garden City (Ref. 06/00811/1) which was categorised at red and confirmed that all work had been done and the financial contributions expended.

The Chairman thanked the Lead Assistant District Manager for the update on the S106 contributions held by HCC. There were no questions.

RESOLVED:

(1)That the details of Section 106 monies held by Hertfordshire County Council as listed at Appendix A be noted;

(2)That the proposed use of the Section 106 monies as detailed at Appendix A be noted;

(3)That Members be requested to forward any additional comments on schemes that might be financed by S106 monies held by HCC to the Area Highways Development Control Manager.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To allow the JMP comment on the status of the Section 106 monies held by Hertfordshire County Council and those schemes identified for financial support.
13 OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
The Head of Highways Management Group (HOH) presented the report of the North and East Herts Area Service Manager which gave details of the performance of Hertfordshire Highways in the period 1 December 2011 to 31 May 2012 and referred the Panel to Appendix A which gave data for Customer Performance Indicators.

The HOH advised the JMP that decline in performance for pothole repair and footway repair was in part due to the adverse impact of the adverse spring weather and rain on the road surfaces causing more pot holes and in part to problems with changes to the HCC fault reporting system.

The HOH confirmed that work was ongoing to resolve these problems with the main service provider and although the improvement in performance had yet to be realised every effort was being made to resolve the problem. There would be detailed monitoring and further corrective action taken if required. The HOH advised that the new contractors at 1 October would be introducing a new reporting system and the Panel noted that in the last two weeks prior to this meeting there had been a vast improvement with permanent repairs and a marked decline in the reporting of potholes. The HOH opined that the incoming contractors had to meet enhanced performance targets and the quality of repairs would improve.

In response to a question the HOH advised that there would be no opportunity for the outgoing contractor to ease off meeting performance targets as the contract had included the need to meet performance targets as the results would be linked to additional or less financial payments.

The Panel were pleased to note that the street lighting service had not been affected by the weather or operational issues.

RESOLVED: That the data supplied on the Operational Performance Indicators at Appendix A for the period 1 December 2011 to 31 May 2012 be noted;

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the JMP are regularly informed of the performance on key service activities.
Published on Thursday, 23rd August, 2012
8.56p.m