The Chairman provided an update to the Committee on the developments that had taken place within the Committee’s remit since the last meeting held on 21 June 2021.
Dukeries Leisure Centre
The new pool had been completed in July and had been officially opened by Rebecca Adlington. The pool had been delivered on budget and was already having a positive impact in the community. It was also assisting Active4Today to recover from the effects of the pandemic with membership at the Leisure Centre having increased beyond the pre-Covid levels.
The Council’s Carbon Footprint
A report included on the Agenda informed Members of the ongoing work to reduce the Council’s carbon footprint, of which the leisure centres were one of the main contributors. The Council had procured the support of a specialist consultant to look at options for investing in photovoltaics (PV) on Council buildings, including the leisure centres. This could have a dual effect of reducing energy costs and also reducing the Council’s carbon footprint. Castle House already had PV on the roof and did not use gas as an energy supply which was further evidence of how seriously the matter was taken.
During the next committee cycle, the Council would be looking at a major tree planting scheme of 6000 trees at Vicar Water which was in addition to the 6000 plus trees already planted.
The Council had taken delivery of their first 2 electric vehicles and were expanding the range and number of electric vehicle charge points across the district, with 15 becoming available in public car parks in the autumn.
As Members would see from the report on the Agenda, nationally, there would be significant changes in how local authorities recycled. Some proposals previously published as part of the National Waste & Resources Strategy were likely to be included in the new Environment Bill which was due to receive Royal Assent in the autumn. If unchanged this would require garden waste to be collected free of charge as well as a common set of recyclables being collected from the kerbside from 2023, including glass and food waste. As yet, the details of the proposed changes remained outstanding.
Regardless of the proposals, the Council was making progress in recycling. Since bringing garden waste in-house, the customer base had risen by almost 4,000 from the initial figure of 12,000 which had led to a significant increase in the recycling percentage for the first quarter of the year, almost 40%, although it was appreciated that the first quarter was when garden activity would have been at its highest.
Living in a Clean and Pleasant Environment
This headline is something which the residents of the district tell us is important to them. The Agenda includes proposals in relation to entering into a one year pilot with a company to increase the Council’s enforcement activity.
On the whole, people wanted to do the right thing and dispose of litter, dog fouling and cigarette butts in a responsible manner. In order to promote this the Council had increased the number of bins available and had invested in such things as actions days and litter picks throughout the district.
However, there remained a minority of people who did not follow that example and the proposed initiative was to target those people who spoiled the community with their actions. The Council was determined that the district would remain clean and green and a place to be proud of.
Following the Chairman’s report, a Member queried whether it was possible for the public to purchase trees which could then be planted in memory of someone they had lost. She added that due to the pandemic, families were often unable to grieve in the usual way and that planting a tree may give them a location and focus. The Chairman advised that he would raise the question and report back.