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21st March 2006
Minutes of the Corporate and Regulatory Services Committee held on Tuesday 21 March 2006 in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane at 7.30 p.m.
Present: In the Chair: - Councillor J McNulty
Other Members: - Councillors I Barr, A Bresland, D Breslin, J Donnell, J Emery, G Foley, D Hussey, C McGill, K McGuire, C McHugh, B McMahon, E McMenamin, J O’Kane
Total = 14
In Attendance: - Clerk & Chief Executive, Human Resources Officer, Head of Finance, Chief Building Control Officer, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Administrative Assistant
On the proposal of Councillor McMahon seconded by Councillor Foley the meeting went “into committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor Emery seconded by Councillor McMenamin the meeting went “out of committee”.
Mrs Maureen Henebery, the Head of Finance (HF) attended the meeting and reported on the following items.
Payment of Accounts
The HF confirmed that the saving on Derv, through Diesel Card Ireland was still approximately 22% more cost effective than the UK price.
In response to Councillor McMenamin, the HF confirmed that the fees for the sculpture engraving related to the plaques for the new sculpture at Castlederg.
General Revenue Account
No 75 – Dr. Rodney Gamble
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF confirmed that the medical report fees involved 4 members of staff. She noted that the scale of fees had been agreed with Council through the Human Resources Department.
No 78 - Glenelly Development Trust
Councillor Emery noted that grant aid had been paid to the group but that Members, who had been nominated to the group at the AGM, had not been contacted for many years. The CE said that the position in this regard would be checked and Members would be updated.
No 95 – Invest NI
In response to Councillor McGill, the HF confirmed that the payment related to a contribution from the Economic Development Department regarding the ‘Start a Business Programme’ initiative.
No 132 – Mower and Machine Company
In response to Councillor Donnell, the HF advised that the company was based in Galway and, as the payment related to goods, VAT was not charged.
No 151 – Omagh District Council
In response to Councillor Breslin, the HF advised that the payment mainly related to the contribution for the Western Group service fees for Environmental Health and Building Control.
Councillor Hussey joined the meeting at this point. (7.45 p.m.)
Strabane Training Services (STS)
Councillor O’Kane declared an interest as a Director of the Board.
In response to Councillor O’Kane it was agreed to check if the previously agreed payment had been made to STS yet.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Bresland, the accounts for the month were approved.
Euro Account £9,082.15
Imprest Account £42,915.48
General Revenue Account £778,865.68
Summary of Councillors’ Expenses – £ 17,455.23
On the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor McMahon the summary of Councillors’ expenses was approved.
Summary of Councillors’ Expenses – Strabane District Policing Partnership – £2,221.74
On the proposal of Councillor Emery seconded by Councillor Bresland, the summary of Councillors’ expenses was approved with 5 votes for, 0 against and 9 abstentions.
On the proposal of Councillor McMahon, seconded by Councillor McMenamin the meeting went “into committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor Emery seconded by Councillor Emery, the meeting went “out of committee”.
Chief Building Control Officer’s Report
Mr John Stewart, Chief Building Control Officer (CBCO) attended the meeting and presented his report, a copy of which had been previously circulated for Members’ attention. Arising out of the report the following was discussed.
The CBCO reported that there were 40 applications approved which complied with the requirements of the Building Regulations.
BR/2006/0014 – St. Anne’s Primary School
Councillors McNulty and O’Kane declared interests in the above application.
BR/2005/0353 & BR/2006/0018 – WELB
Councillors Hussey and McGill declared interests in the above applications as WELB Board members.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin seconded by Councillor Emery, the meeting went “into committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Emery, the meeting went “out of committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor Bresland, seconded by Councillor McMenamin, the report from the CBCO was adopted.
Chief Environmental Health Officer’s Report
Mr Patrick Cosgrove, Chief Environmental Health Officer (CEHO) attended the meeting and presented his report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. Arising out of the report the following was discussed.
Members E-Mail Action Plan
The CEHO reported on the timetable for the installation of a SSL/VPN box within the Council system, the new broadband and dial up connections for Members, the testing of remote access connections, modification to Members’ laptops and E-Mail training. He noted that it was anticipated that the E-Mail system would go live, week commencing 10 April 2006 and that Members would be required to sign a declaration for Inland Revenue purposes. He advised that if there was no Special Meeting of Council for presentations on 4 April 2006, that evening could be used as an E-Mail training session for Members in addition to the afternoon of 5 April 2006. He advised Members that, in addition to the monthly payment of £19.99 per Member, there was an additional standing charge of £75. He added that, despite this one-off payment, the new service would still be more cost effective.
Members’ views/queries included the following:
· Changes to GBytes
· Technology advancements within other Councils
· Some Members would not be as advanced in E-Mail technology due to inaccessibility of the system
· Wireless broadband
In response to Members, the CEHO clarified that the new broadband facility would restrict Members’ usage to within 10 GBytes, which he assured Members would more than cover normal usage of their laptops. He noted that Derry City Council had provided broadband facilities for their Members. He said that there was no plan to install wireless broadband in Members’ homes. He noted that Price Waterhouse Coopers had been contacted regarding tax liabilities to Members. The action plan incorporated this advice.
An Executive Summary on the medical effects of air pollutants had been circulated for Members’ attention. He noted that the Council was making strenuous efforts in attempting to resolve the effects of outdoor and indoor air pollutants.
The CEHO advised Members of amendments to the results of the surveys, which had been detailed in his report resulting in the following revised table:
Properties Surveyed – 4750
Levy: 66 Accepted; 8 Refused; 40 Complete
Smoke Control: 13 Accepted; 3 Refused
Warm Homes: 25 Accepted; 1 Refused
He noted that in addition to the above, 5 of the Levy Scheme and 162 non-scheme properties had requested insulation measures.
The CEHO advised Members of a meeting held earlier that day with the funders of the conversions. He noted that the funders were reluctant to include in the scheme the pre 1969 houses whose owners were not on any state benefit. It had been noted that the funding for the scheme would end at the end of March 2006. He reported that 2 contractors were endeavouring to process the conversions as quickly as possible. He added that 40 conversions had been completed and work was continuing on another 26 houses. He reported that the smoke control notices had been published in the papers and that, to date, the DOE had not received any complaints.
Councillor O’Kane reported on allegations by residents who had been approached by the CEHO that they had been told that they would be prosecuted and that holes would be put in their boilers. He added that under Article 13 of the 1981 Order Council was only approaching the DOE for certification.
The CEHO confirmed that it was ultimately the responsibility of the DOE to make the Orders. The CEHO clarified that he had spoken with a number of residents and informed them that if the Smoke Control Orders proceeded and residents continued to burn coal in contravention of the Order, they would run the risk of being prosecuted. He added that the onus would be on Council to prosecute.
Councillor O’Kane queried why the process was only being implemented in the Strabane district. The CEHO clarified that Smoke Control Orders had been implemented in other towns and he itemised towns involved in a similar process.
The Chairman said that he would not allow an extended debate on this issue again as the matter had been comprehensively discussed at previous meetings.
In response to Councillor McHugh, the CEHO said that Council was keen to speak to residents of pre 1969 homes and advised Members to contact him with the relevant details.
Councillor Donnell referred to the request in the CEHO’s report for Council to pay the 30% (approximately £700 per dwelling) due from the householder. The CEHO said that he wished to defer that request.
Noise Pollution - Quad Racing
The CEHO advised Members that the Environmental Health Department (EHD) had received a number of complaints concerning the use of a field outside Strabane town at weekends for quad racing. He added that both the landowner and the person leasing the land had been approached and informed that if the noise was judged to be a nuisance then Council would consider instigating legal proceedings. He noted that Officers were currently investigating the noise and the Town and Country Planning section of the DoE had also been informed. He advised Members that Officers had visited the location and installed the appropriate equipment on a weekend but the noise had ceased. He said that Officers would continue to monitor the matter.
Councillor Bresland noted that there was also a quad track in Sion Mills.
Councillor McMenamin noted that he had received several complaints about the noise of the quad racing on St. Patrick’s Day.
In response to Councillor Breslin, the CEHO confirmed that the complaints had been received from local residents.
In response to Councillor Hussey, the CEHO noted that, in addition to the Western Group Officer, the EHD had one Officer who had the experience and professional qualification in noise assessment.
Councillor Hussey referred to a recent planning application for an inert waste recycling plant, which he felt would be a beneficial facility. He noted that an Environmental Health Officer from Omagh had made a contribution on the perceived noise levels, which was to the detriment of the planning application. He noted that his query had no reflection on Officers.
The CEHO informed the meeting that this was an Officer from the Western Group who had considerable experience in dealing with these issues and was competent to make comments on behalf of the EHD of Strabane District Council.
Councillor McMahon left the meeting at this point. (9.00 p.m.)
The CEHO noted a previous request from Council to provide information on the role of Environmental Health Officers in planning applications. He said that the key purpose was to provide professional guidance and identify any deficiencies within a proposed planning application. He said that if a development progressed without the problem areas being addressed, inevitably there would be complaints from residents and Council could perhaps find itself taking statutory action to prevent a nuisance. He appreciated that this could be seen as a hindrance to developers but noted that a professional opinion was required as to whether developers were meeting the required standards of environmental health. He noted that the EHD did not make proposals on how applicants could meet the deficiencies as Council could become liable for future problems.
The Chairman felt that a written report on this issue would be beneficial for Members.
West Tyrone Area Plan – Health Impact Assessment
The CEHO reported that, in conjunction with Investing for Health, the Council together with Omagh District Council had been investigating the use of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) tool on the proposed WTAP. He noted the benefits of the scheme in identifying avoidable differences in health status, which he said could be perpetuated by the planning policy. He referred to the proposed costs as outlined in his report. He noted that the Strabane district had the lowest health status record in Northern Ireland.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Breslin the costs for the scheme were approved.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor McGuire, the report from the CEHO was adopted.
Strabane Air Quality Insulation Select List
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin seconded by Councillor McHugh it was agreed to open the select list tenders received for the above. The CE noted that one had been received.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Breslin the voluntary contribution application from Chernobyl Children’s Aid was agreed and £200 was awarded.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Barr the voluntary contribution application from the Rainbow Project was agreed and £70 was awarded. This was agreed with 9 votes for, 2 against and 2 abstentions.
On the proposal of Councillor McGuire, seconded by Councillor McMenamin the voluntary contribution application from ABC Action on Breastfeeding was agreed and £300 was awarded.
Waste Management Conference ‘Dealing with Waste’, 24-26 April 2006, Downings Co Donegal at an estimated cost of £458.27. Details, including costing had been circulated for Members’ attention.
On the proposal of Councillor Hussey, seconded by Councillor McMenamin it was agreed that an Officer at the CE’s discretion could attend the conference.
It was further felt that the conference could also be raised at a forthcoming meeting of the North West Regional Cross Border Group.
9th World Congress on Environmental Health, 18-23 June 2006, Dublin at an estimated cost of £1,306.95. Details, including costing had been circulated for Members’ attention.
On the proposal of Councillor Hussey, seconded by Councillor McMenamin it was agreed that an Officer could attend if the conference was felt to be of benefit.
Any Other Business
The CE informed the nominated Members that the meeting with the Chief Executive of the Planning Service had now been scheduled for 11 May 2006 at 3.30 p.m. at the Planning Service Headquarters in Belfast.
Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council
The CE advised Members that the Dungannon & South Tyrone Council had extended an invitation to one Councillor to attend a familiarisation trip to their Council area on 30 March 2006. It was agreed to mark the details as read.
Strabane Library & Community Resource Management Committee
The CE informed Members that the meeting of the above Committee, which had been scheduled for 28 March 2006, had been cancelled.
The meeting concluded at 9.20 p.m.