Agenda and draft minutes

Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 2nd February 2023 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

Contact: Howard Bassett, Democratic Services Officer  Telephone 01392 265107 or email

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 751 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 1 December 2022.




Subject to the amendment of recommendation (2) in Min. No. 34 to read:-


(2)        the Local Plan team consider the production of a Biodiversity Status Report, a Nature Recovery Plan and a Tree Canopy Cover Action Plan for inclusion within the Local Plan, with specific and measurable targets for Exeter.


the minutes of the meeting of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 1 December 2022 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.





Declarations of Interest

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of interest were made by Members.




Questions from the Public under Standing Order No 19

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the email by 10.00am at least three working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting any questions must be submitted by 10.00am on Monday 30 January 2023.


For details about how to speak at Committee, please click the following link -




No questions had been received from members of the public.




Questions from Members of the Council under Standing Order No. 20

To receive questions from Members of the Council to the relevant Portfolio Holders for this Scrutiny Committee. The Portfolio Holders are:-


Councillor Denning -   Portfolio Holder for Customer Services and Council Housing

Councillor Ghusain -   Portfolio Holder for City Management and Environmental Services

Councillor Pearce   -   Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention

Councillor Williams -   Portfolio Holder for Recycling, Waste Management and Waterways


Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the email.




In accordance with Standing Order No. 20, the following questions had been submitted by Councillors Rees and D. Moore and had been circulated in advance to Members of the Committee. The responses of the Portfolio Holders are set out in italics.  


Questions to the Portfolio Holder for Recycling, Waste Management and Waterways - Councillor Williams


Councillor Rees


What is the basis for the calculation of the ‘household waste collection’? (Table 6 BVP184a kg per head Devon Authorities Strategic Waste Committee (DASWC), Waste Performance Statistics 2021/22)?




BVPI 84a: Total Household waste arisings (HWA) per year in kg, divided by the population. Put simply, total HWA includes green, grey, brown bins, food waste, street cleansing, Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) reject, Bring banks, and Reuse. 


The low figure for Exeter is often held up as an achievement, that is, that Exeter residents produce less waste. Can the Council confirm that the low figure for Exeter is primarily as a result of the low levels of garden waste (as highlighted in the waste statistics report)? 




Exeter is in the top 10 Waste Collection Authority (WCA) nationally for BVPI 84a with 292.8 kg per person per year, and the best of the eight Devon Districts which exceed Exeter’s value by between 11% and 35%. Whilst Exeter does indeed produce less garden waste compared with the other districts, even excluding garden waste from the arisings total, Exeter residents still produce the less waste per head by comparison with the other seven Devon Districts. It is worth noting that high levels of garden waste contribute to higher recycling rates.


Please can Councillors be provided with Household Grey Waste data (not recyclables or garden waste) for the different districts, so that a meaningful comparison can be made?




The data requested for the Devon Districts is listed as NI 191 in the Devon County Council Kerbside Residual Waste Composition Analysis Report, October 2022 which Councillor Rees referred to in her previous questions. There is a detailed Waste analysis breakdown for each District, produced in October 2019, available in the Appendix to the report, which is available online from Devon County Council.  



Questions to the Portfolio Holder for Recycling, Waste Management and Waterways – Councillor Williams


Councillor D. Moore


Regarding cardboard recycling:


A. How much cardboard is recycled, for the current year and each of the previous three years?




2019-2020: 448 tonnes

2020-2021: 1,138 tonnes

2021-2022: 1,174 tonnes

2022-2023: 574 tonnes Q1 & Q2 only (Q3 figures due shortly)


B. Where does the City Council send cardboard to for the next stage of recycling processing?




Both the UK and abroad depending on market conditions


C. Are all the processing plants for cardboard used by the City Council in the UK, if not why not?




Mainly abroad at present as the UK market is flat in regards to acceptance and price and we always try and get the best price in the marketplace to help support our frontline services. The UK does not have the infrastructure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Update from the Portfolio Holder for City Management and Environmental Services - Councillor Ghusain pdf icon PDF 274 KB


Councillor Ghusain reported on the City Management and Environmental Services areas of her Portfolio, detailing the issues relating to achieving the Council’s published priorities, major ongoing programmes of work, issues impacting delivery, financial performance and budget requirements and potential changes being considered.


The following responses were given to Members’ queries:-


·         using investment from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Safer Streets and Shared Prosperity Funds, it was hoped that the £1million CCTV upgrade project would be completed by July. This included the upgrade of the CCTV Control Room and changing the cameras from analogue to digital. There would be capacity to link up with other systems and offering a monitoring service to neighbouring authorities. We are hoping to work with Devon County Council to share camera access on the highways network, the latter being a  reciprocal arrangement, with the County to be able to view the City Council system;

·         a number of the new cameras would be in place by the end of March with others scheduled to be installed before the end of July because of technical considerations. Many of these would be located on the new lamp columns to be installed by the County Council. When complete, a plan of the camera locations would be available to be shared as appropriate but not for widespread dissemination;

·         the upgrade includes completing the provision of signage to include phone numbers for the public to use if feeling vulnerable;

·         staff recruitment, particularly in Public Realm, remained an issue caused by a number of factors including Covid and Brexit and was not unique to Exeter. There were also some 500,000 immune comprised people who were unable to join the labour market because of issues relating to vaccine availability. To combat this, advertised jobs emphasised the pathway to additional training and career advancement and there was close links with Exeter College to offer skilled job opportunities;

·         whilst there had been some High Street businesses closing, resulting from issues such as energy increases, Exeter City Centre was performing well compared with other towns and cities and the Exeter BID played an important role in supporting businesses and encouraging new investments;

·         the river bed below Trews Weir had been visible as a result of the low water level but the Weir itself had not been undermined. As part of a funding bid to the Environment Agency to upgrade the Weir, a fully complaint fish pass would be provided. Care would be taken when moving sections of the medieval wood as part of the work;

·         the play re-furbishment programme included equipment specifically for disabled children;

·         the improved railway station patronage was to be welcomed, due in part to the re-opening of the Okehampton line and the importance of using Plain English was noted; and

·         concerns regarding pedestrian safety at uncontrolled crossings in Paris and Cheeke Streets should be raised with the County Council Road Safety Unit. City Councillors on Exeter HATOC would also be advised of these concerns.




Re-cycling and Food Waste Collection pdf icon PDF 8 MB

To consider the report of the Director Net Zero Exeter and City Management.


The Service Lead and Director will give a verbal presentation which will cover:-


·         Food Waste Collections;

·         The MRF Upgrade;

·         Depot enhancements; and

·         Other initiatives/service information.


Members are requested to consider questions they may wish to put under the above headings.




The Service Lead Environmental Health and Community Safety spoke to the attached presentation on the Waste, Recycling and Fleet Service including Food Waste Collection covering key statistics, recruitment, operational setup, current and future food waste collection phases, the Materials Recycling Facilities upgrade and Glass Bank replacements.


Members commended the Service Lead on an excellent presentation.


The following responses were given to Members’ queries:-


·         as comparisons of recycling rates with neighbouring rural authorities did not provide a true picture because of the urban/rural mix of the other Devon Districts, recycling figures would be obtained from comparator authorities through the APSE network as part of benchmarking;

·         whilst the City Council was the waste collection authority, the County Council was the disposal authority and were responsible for costs associated with disposal at the Energy From Waste Plant and, ultimately, it was hoped that the cost involved would be reduced. Food waste is taken to an anaerobic digestion facility;

·         it was anticipated that the full rollout to food waste collection would provide a significant increase in recycling rates from the current levels to nearly 50%.

·         the Government had finally released draft legislation for consultation on recycling with view to achieving some consistency in its delivery and, whilst it unfortunately did not include a requirement to promote the Deposit Return Scheme for glass, additional funding might be available;

·         the current level of reject material at the MRF would improve further upgrade and, whilst contaminables resulted in rejected materials being deposited at the Energy From Waste Plant, the on-line A to Z advice on recycling has been updated and Councillors were encouraged to promote this with the public.

·         the original depot amalgamation programme incorporating Belle Isle Nursery, had been revised because of additional costs associated with the site configuration, underground services and MRF expansion. At present, only small food waste skips were being used at the depot in compliance with the Council’s environmental operating permit with a purpose built food bay to be built and Environment Agency and South West Water consent were also factored into the time line; and

·         the ability of the Waste, Recycling and Fleet Service to adapt and absorb the ever increasing workload resulting from new development across the city was praised.


Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee noted the report and thanked the Service Lead and the Waste, Recycling and Fleet Service for their excellent work.



The meeting adjourned at 7.00pm and re-convened at 7:07pm



Review of Exeter City Council's Homelessness Service - Report of the Homelessness Task and Finish Working Group pdf icon PDF 774 KB

To consider the report of the Homelessness Task and Finish Working Group.


Members are asked to note that Richard Crompton, the Service Lead Housing Needs and Homelessness will be in attendance to answer any specific questions.



Additional documents:


Councillor M. Mitchell, as Chair of the Group, presented the report of the Homelessness Task and Finish Working Group, the Group having been established following a request to the Scrutiny Programme Board by Councillor Barbara Denning regarding the impact of any increase in homelessness in Exeter as a result of benefit cuts and increases in the cost of living. At the same time, the City Council was consulting on its Homelessness Strategy. As well as a call via the Council website for the public to submit their views, opinions and experiences of homelessness in Exeter, two sessions had been held with witnesses working in this field.


Seven formal meetings had been held between June and December and Councillors Rees and Sutton had visited and talked to users of the St. Petrock’s services. The Chair of the Group recorded the Group’s gratitude to those members of the public who had responded and the following organisations who had contributed as witnesses:-


·         Shelter;

·         CAB;

·         Devon County Council;

·         Exeter City Council Housing Needs;

·         Exeter Wellbeing;

·         CoLab;

·         Julian House; and

·         St. Petrock’s.


Responding to a Member, he stated that the sessions had been predicated on each body responding to Members’ queries on their previously submitted statements rather than being required to present to the Group. Whilst the bodies had not been asked to comment on the scrutiny process itself, they had been given the opportunity to review the Group’s report and their observations had subsequently been taken on board.


The Task and Finish Group Chair advised that the recommendations divided into two categories:-


·         Those that relate to other local and national bodies and to Central Government; and

·         Those within the control of Exeter City Council.


The Service Lead Housing Needs and Homelessness reported that the consultation exercise had enabled partners to share their views with Members in a structured manner and this had been particularly beneficial with many of them to be included in the more formalised partnership approach being recommended as part of the Homelessness Strategy within the report to Executive on 7 February 2023. Whilst the recommendations presented did not conflict with, and could be accommodated within the Strategy, because of resource constraints the Strategy was unlikely to pick up all individual suggestions. However, it was anticipated that many could be progressed within the Strategy Action Plan. The Committee Chair echoed this caveat and urged Members to follow the debate on the Executive report.


Another Member also commented on the budgetary restraints on the Council and remarked that progress on the first section of recommendations was not within the Council’s gift. All wished to see an end to homelessness and the ongoing positive relationship with partners was vital in bringing forward initiatives.


In respect of recommendation 12, a Member referred to forthcoming Devon Partnership Trust cuts in its Mental Health Services, a revised geographical coverage to now include Plymouth, Torbay and Teignbridge. Whilst mental health services were the County Council responsibility, the work of the City Council’s Homeless Advisory Team encompassed support  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Forward Plan of Business and Forward Work Plan pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Please see for noting a link to the schedule of future business proposed for the Council which can be viewed on the Council's web site. This on-line document is a source for Members to raise issues at Scrutiny on forthcoming Executive agenda items:-


Also attached is a work plan for scrutiny items.


Should Members wish to raise issues in respect of future business please notify Howard Bassett in advance of the meeting.




Members noted the Forward Plan and the Scrutiny Work Plan. 


It was suggested that the Community Safety Partnership Team be invited to address the next meeting on 30 March 2023.