Agenda item

Chairman's Report


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 16 November 2021.


The Chairman commented that it was pleasing to see the ongoing recovery in Active4Today, as it recovered from the challenges of the past 22 months.  The membership base was now at 89% of what is was pre-Covid, after staying 30% down since the centres were able to re-open last year, 2021.  The live membership base at the Dukeries Leisure Centre was up 20 per cent on where it was pre-Covid, buoyed by the continuing success of the new pool which opened summer 2021.  The costs associated with running the centres continued to be higher into 2023 than they were pre-Covid, there was an improving picture as detailed in the report contained within the agenda.


The Chairman informed the Committee that when he was the portfolio holder for leisure and culture, the centres cost around £1-million a year. This was reduced down to around £250,000 pre- covid.  The Chairman’s aim was to return to that or lower, over the medium term.


At the September meeting of the Leisure and Environment Committee, an update was provided regarding the National Waste and Resources Strategy, which was being wrapped up in the new Environment Bill.  When first published in December 2018, the National Waste and Resources Strategy proposed widespread changes to the recycling landscape, including standardised and separate kerbside collection of a range of materials.  The Environment Act was approved by Parliament before Christmas 2021, which meant the legislation was now law and ministers had the power to introduce a range of waste reforms. The line from government was that DEFRA was still working on responses to a number of consultations on the changes, which remained at present.  At the latest Joint Waste Management Committee, held between the district councils, County Council and Veolia, a representative from DEFRA confirmed that the statutory guidance would be available in the spring.  As such, there was not a detailed description about what the exact requirements would be or, crucially how the new burdens would be funded. It was confirmed that as soon as that information became available, colleagues would produce a report for committee consideration.  Despite the lack of clarity, the committee would be aware of the significant growth that had been undertaken in the garden recycling service since the service was brought back in house on 1 April 2021.  Due to some minor disruption at the height of the covid response, a decision was taken to offer the service at the discounted rate of £30 for 2021/22. That price was due to increase in 2022/23, but given the growth in the service and the recycling rate as a result, an urgent decision was included on the agenda, to increase the price back to £35.  The Chairman was supportive of the decision as the service was proving to be successful in both bringing income into the authority and increasing recycling rates.


The Chairman also confirmed the Council’s support regarding proposals to introduce solar PV on a range of Council buildings.  As part of the plans, PV would go onto the leisure centres in Newark, Southwell and Ollerton, saving energy costs and reducing the Council’s carbon footprint in line with the Climate Strategy and Action Plan. A report would be submitted to the March meeting of the Committee and would set out the latest with the PV plans. 


The Council was also undertaking its latest Day of Action in Southwell, in March 2022. These days were hugely popular and made an impact in communities.  Fly-tipping was also being tacked in Newark and Sherwood, as part of work to make the district cleaner and greener.


A report was also included on the agenda regarding another positive development in trying to restrict access to Deerdale Lane, which, was affected by industrial scale fly-tipping.  Work was being undertaken with partner agencies to tackle that crime, restricting access to known hotspot areas and prosecuting where evidence could be obtained.


At the September meeting, the Council agreed to enter into a one-year pilot with a waste enforcement company called WISE, to address those disposing of litter inappropriately.  An update of the work undertaken was provided on the agenda.


AGREED           that the Chairman’s Report be noted.