Agenda item

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 Council Housing Development and Support Services

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 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 Bennett, Harvey, M. Mitchell and Sparling 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 and Waterways - Councillor Williams


Councillor Bennett


Please could the Portfolio Holder provide information on the performance of the glass collection service and if the service is expected to run without further interruptions this year?




The team are working incredibly hard to rectify the performance but there are some issues outside their direct control. The vehicle used is a bespoke collection vehicle. It is over 11 years old with ageing parts that are difficult to source. Due to the nature of the vehicle we are unable to hire one to cover the vehicle while it is fixed. In addition, there is the issue of not being able to successfully recruit for LGV drivers and having to take the driver from this vehicle to bolster the statutory waste and recycling collections. Of course, measures are being explored to re-think the glass collections within the city, but the underpinning issue is that the Government is unclear when glass will be collected from the kerbside. That really isn’t helping the people of Exeter. I can assure you that everything we can control is in place to clear the glass side waste should the vehicle fail.


Supplementary question and answer.


Will action be progressed to address issues around kerbside collections or will the Government review be awaited first?




It is necessary to wait for clarity from the Government as it would be irresponsible to make major decisions and incur unnecessary costs prior to the results of the review being known.


Councillor Harvey

What arrangements are planned to solve the following problems with the food recycling collection:-




I am pleased to offer reassurance as the current Portfolio Holder that I have been addressing matters since I started. We are unfortunately playing catch-up on many of these things but I can assure Councillor Harvey that I am the right person to undertake this challenging job. 


1)                  Lack of appropriately qualified drivers.

Advertising roles on a rolling advert to recruit LGV drivers, looking at upskilling current employed staff to the appropriate level for the vehicles.


2)                  Lack of appropriate vehicles.

We have one full time food vehicle delivery plus a spare. A 1 x 7.5 tonne food vehicle was delivered at the end of June 2022 and another 7.5 tonne food vehicle will be delivered at the end of September this year.


3)                  Collection arrangements with the collecting authority.

The other half of the existing round is being rolled out on Thursday 7 July 2022 (the other half of Alphington).


4)                  Licensing arrangements with the appropriate authorities regarding the storage and transfer of food waste.

Capacity on site is limited to 15 tonnes per day. The food waste bay on site is a priority for the site re-development.


5)            When do you envisage food waste collection being rolled out to further areas of the City?

In the next six months, subject to recruiting enough Drivers/Loaders. Areas are still to be determined.

Supplementary question and answer.


What amendments, if any, have been made to change staff terms and conditions and what progress has been made?




Changes are being considered, but it would not be appropriate to reveal these at present.


Councillor M. Mitchell


Please can the Portfolio Holder provide an update on the trial food waste recycling service and give an indication of the next stage of the rollout of the service and where this will be?




I refer Councillor M. Mitchell to the previous answer.


Supplementary question and answer.


Is the Portfolio Holder confident that, in two years’ time, Exeter will have improved its current position in the 2021 national recycling league table where it came 313th out of 338 District Councils, in comparison to East Devon, for example, which was ranked 9th.




The statistics do not take into account the actual amount of waste collected. In Exeter this is 300kg per person per year compared with the Devon target of 413 kg. Moreover, the nature of waste collected in the city differs to that of rural areas where there is a greater amount of green waste. Once the collection of food waste is rolled out, Exeter’s position in the table will significantly improve.  


Questions to the Portfolio Holder for City Management and Environmental Services - Councillor Ghusain


Councillor Harvey


What plans are in place to re-wild or develop in any other way the old Northbrook golf course and what budget has been allocated for this purpose.




Executive approved in principle the concept of a wild arboretum for the Northbrook site in 2021. Since the approval, the Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council have continued to work together to develop a second stage proposal for Executive, under the Valley Park Committee Memorandum of Understanding. This will outline the scope, delivery programme, and funding streams for the arboretum in full. Devon Wildlife Trust/Exeter City Council principles around biodiversity and ecology enhancement will apply within the space, and that will include a scaled back grass cutting regime. In regards to budget, it is anticipated that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will contribute to some of the budget requirements. Members will be updated about this at the appropriate time.


Councillor Sparling


Please can the Portfolio Holder provide a location map of the new CCTV cameras installed as a result of the Safer Central Exeter funding, confirm by when these will be installed and also if there has been, or will be, a further bid made by the Council and/or its partners for community safety in Central Exeter?




The Procurement exercise is up and running and it is anticipated that the new cameras will be installed by September. 

Supplementary question and answer.


Councillor M. Mitchell asked the following supplementary question on behalf of Councillor Sparling.


In the event of a further bid in respect of Central Exeter, will the Portfolio Holder undertake to consult with local communities to obtain their input and feedback on the location of any further CCTV cameras?




The location of new cameras has already been decided and the request for consulting communities on any further installations will be considered.


Question to the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention – Councillor Pearce


Councillor Sparling


In December 2020, the Council passed a motion on addressing food poverty. Please can the Portfolio Holder provide an update on this work?


The Chair read out the following Notice of Motion passed unanimously at the meeting of Council on 15 December 2020.


The Council resolves:


1.    That the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Culture supported by the Member Champion for Equality and Diversity take responsibility to:


a)    develop a city-wide food action plan.

b)    set up a working group to research and map the extent of food poverty in the city;


2.    To commit to setting up a food partnership with Devon County Council, city-based partners and stakeholders to develop and implement the Exeter Food Action Plan;


3.       To campaign, in association with Exeter MPs, for Government to:


a)      legislate the existing commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals to end hunger by 2030;


b)      commit funding in the next spending review to increase access to nutritious food, whilst awaiting development of the National Food Strategy;


c)       support local food production and suppliers, so that food supplies are sustained throughout the pandemic and as a result of exiting the EU, to protect workers’ jobs, and to contribute to Exeter’s commitment to Net Carbon Zero 2030; and


d)      increase Universal Credit to help people suffering food poverty, with an equivalent uplift to those on legacy benefits.




As you know, the City Council has no statutory obligation on the Food Action front. That said, Councillor Ghusain and Councillor Oliver were instrumental in connecting Free Food Providers in Exeter by facilitating the creation of a platform and a framework (the first meeting of the Exeter Free Food Network was held in February 2020).After several meetings, the group was renamed Exeter Community Food Network (ECFN), with representatives from Exeter Food Bank, local faith and community groups, and other organisations involved in the provision and distribution of free food. Exeter Connect/ECI is now hosting these bimonthly meetings. I will be attending these meetings going forward and ensure that progress is continued.