Agenda item

Questions from Councillors

The deadline for questions to be submitted to the Monitoring Officer is 30 December 2022.

Minutes:

Question from Councillor Andy Martin

The Local Plan Issues and Options document published earlier this year says the council plans to be proactive about supporting a change of character in a number of specific areas including the central part of Highcliffe from Lymington Road to the seafront.

Given that the document also outlines a commitment to preserving the character of, I quote “our locally valued coastal areas” could the deputy leader outline what the document is referring to as a change of character for Highcliffe in the context of planning for urban intensification, or what he thinks it might be referring to?

Response by the Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Development, Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Philip Broadhead

The local plan issues and options consultation document formed part of a huge consultation setting out the issues for the new BCP local plan alongside ideas from residents as we move forwards to the next stage of creating a draft plan. Its purpose was to gather views about idea rather than present any definitive proposals. I’m proud of the impact of this consultation and its focus on asking the public for their views before we do the bulk of any work – very different to how many authorities prepare their local plans.

The option for considering potential areas of change in the urban area sought people’s opinion about whether our future policies should be more proactive about supporting a change in character in these locations, especially as some of these changes are already occurring, for such characteristics such as urban form, type of development and the scale of development. As set out in the document this could involve proactively supporting modest increases in scale in some of these areas, for example from two storeys to four or five storeys along key retail streets. Some of these changes have already been happening in an ad hoc manner and this approach would allow it to be properly planned for.?

If we took this idea forward, we would seek to bring forward design codes for these areas to explore the options in more detail. While we wouldn’t want to prejudge this process for Highcliffe, it could explore things like setting maximum building heights for Lymington Road, where intensification has already been occurring, or considering options for higher density proposals in highly sustainable locations within proximity to the range of services and facilities within the shopping area, instead of more residential areas.

It is important to note that the areas of change were included as one option to respond to the many issues we face to ensure enough homes are built as currently there are significant issues with housing supply, including providing affordable and family homes, and homes that in turn support the economic growth of the area. More people living in these kinds of areas could help support the vitality of our high streets and centres, placing people near facilities and services, and help secure the infrastructure needed to support growth.? 

As is set out in the consultation document the reference to preserve the character of our locally valued coastal and countryside areas was set out in relation to the seafront, shoreline and coastline, not the urban areas referred to in the areas of change section. They are therefore two separate issues.

Question from Councillor Lesley Dedman

On 14th December 2022, BCP council cabinet discussed draconian changes to the provisions and charges of the council beach hut estate. The changes had been prepared without adequate engagement with the Beach Hut Associations. Despite representations against the plans and process from those most affected and ward councillors, this was passed unanimously as a cabinet decision with no discussion at council.

It is clear that when Central Government in September 2022 forbade BCP council administration from creating a Special Purpose Vehicle to commercialise the Beach Hut Estate asset in what they termed the dodgy deal, alternative proposals have been rushed through to still allow the sweating of this asset.

Does the Leader of the Council not agree with me, and the thousands of beach hut owners and representatives, that this decision to approve swingeing increases of 2.5 times inflation and up to 130% over 5 years, as well as changes to established terms, is inequitable, unjustified, and unfairly targets one section of our community in a bid to recover just some of the money which this administration has wasted on vanity projects?

And would he further agree that a much fairer approach would be a 10% increase across the board, followed by a proper and inclusive consultation with the stakeholders, and a review for the following 4 years?

 

Response by the Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, Councillor Drew Mellor

We have been clear on a number of occasions that we believe that what is equitable for all residents of BCP, our Council Tax payers, is that we look to be commercial with all of our assets and services that people choose to purchase from us as to do otherwise would be to ask the council tax payer to subsidise services people choose to buy. That would not be equitable.

What this decision also does is seek to harmonise beach hut fees that varied widely which again is not equitable and to just put a flat rise across all beach huts would be the wrong approach for equity and fairness across BCP, it would have compounded inequity and increased the disparity in pricing. Also 50% of the values of the beach huts were inflationary rises as well.

Additionally, a significant part of any income raised is directly linked to beach hut maintenance and investment in the seafront that beach hut associations have been calling for for years. our seafront in some areas and our beach hut stock in general, across the conurbation, has received inconsistent maintenance and investment and we are much more ambitious about what residents and visitors alike can expect from what is one of the jewels in our crown.

 

Supplementary Question from Councillor Lesley Dedman

The Council produced a report to validate this decision and it suggested, and it was repeated in Cabinet by a member that these beach hut owners are rich and I would just like to ask the Leader if he is aware that the huts especially in Christchurch where these charges are really going very very high are much used by pensioners, disabled folk, those that are ill and can’t travel, families with youngsters, grandparents, myself although I don’t have a hut. Does the Leader really think that these hutters are a privileged few as was said in Cabinet, who it is fine to fleece?

 

Response by the Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, Councillor Drew Mellor

I refute the assertion that we have said that people who have beach huts are rich that’s absolutely not the case. We have got the Mosaic data; we’ve got the map that shows who currently take these and it isn’t all around some of the most wealthy areas of our conurbation. And also, what I would say is if we actually look at where people take these beach huts what we are now doing through these changes is that these are just largely for local people, we have put that in there are have been more strengthened on that and so I would just refute the assertion.

 

Question from Councillor Andy Hadley

Council voted overwhelmingly to act on mitigating the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Since then, whilst the team has been strengthened, I understand a number of the interim measures have fallen by the wayside; two being the use of Renewables Tariff for electricity, and the use of Hydrogenated Vegetable fats in place of diesel in the Councils fleet operations. The job is becoming harder and more difficult as time goes by.

Can the PFH please advise what measures have been explored to bolster energy use reduction, renewable energy production/purchase, and accelerate use of alternatives to Diesel in the fleet, by the Council?

Can he advise what proportion of the “Green Futures Fund” has been committed, and on what projects.

Is the forthcoming Climate plan update on track for March, will it be more ambitious in addressing urgent actions, and will any of these be in place by May 2023?

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and Transport, Councillor Mike Greene

The renewables tariff that was used by the council did not in fact use energy from new renewable sources, instead it involved paying for certificates called rigos or egos which are traded instruments obtained by energy generators for their production of renewables in their activities, so although demand for those certificates helps encourage generators to produce renewable energy they do not actually translate to any real carbon savings.

The autumn spike in energy prices led to a distortion in this market which meant the certificate costs rose by almost 1000% and given that they are effectively an accounting adjustment with no direct link to carbon savings at this level we believed it did not represent good value for the council taxpayer.

The case with HBO is very similar, when we made the decision to use it the difference in price between Diesel and HBO was around 10 to 15 pence per litre, with the energy crisis the extra amount we would now have to pay is 49 pence per litre and no longer represents a good use of council taxpayers’ funds.

A very significant amount of work has been and continues to be done by the climate team on reducing energy use and increased renewables generation to keep us on track with our ambition to be Net Zero by 2030, for example we've now identified all our council energy demand and supply requirements across the whole corporate estate, business cases are now being prepared for each of our top 10 high energy sites to reduce energy demand and increase supply of renewables and we are looking at how we might group together smaller sites to overcome the structural barriers to greener energy supply. We're recruiting a programme manager to work with our asset and facility management teams to incorporate energy costs and opportunities for our buildings and land and develop a prioritised portfolio of capital works and we're looking for a longer-term energy partner who can help us to deliver our ambitions.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the cross-party members of the Energy and Buildings Portfolio Holders Support Group Climate Change for their role in these achievements.

Second question - so far the council's Infrastructure Board has passed the following Green Futures Fund projects for approval by CMB and Cabinet £150,000 contribution to unlock £1.8million of Central Government funding for energy efficiency measures across our estate including the Russell Coates Museum and Bournemouth Town Hall, £480,000 to upgrade the 2Riversmeet plantroom including control systems to allow energy efficiency measures to be implemented and the integration of renewable energy, £300,000 for geothermal feasibility studies across three sites and in addition £3million has been earmarked for generating renewables predominantly solar carports across our estate the climate action. Pioneer update is indeed on track for March and will be presented as a package together with the annual report and a new overarching climate strategy necessarily it will be more ambitious as ambitions will need to grow year on year to keep on our trajectory towards net zero for 2030.

I do expect some items to be in place by May this year but I'm sure that Councillor Hadley will agree that our actions in fighting the effects of climate change really shouldn't be governed by electoral cycles.

 

Supplementary Question from Councillor Andy Hadley

At the time I spoke specifically against the renewable obligations certificates because I didn’t think it was real green energy and I am interested in when you said about the energy production partners, but I am wondering if you are looking actively at community owned renewables in terms of working with those people in our own community that are very keen on renewable energy and on being a part of the solution.

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and Transport, Councillor Mike Greene

When it comes to the renewable obligations, like Councillor Hadley I also feel that there are a bit of a SOP and a way out of it, however they do have some use in overall encouraging the reduction in carbon and that’s why when there was a small difference in price in doing so I felt it right for the council to pay it but once it gets to a large difference and we do actually hope that that spike is going to be short term, I think we agree that it is not a sensible way of sending money which could be used in other ways to reduce carbon emissions.

As far as the community owned renewable generations we are looking right the way across at how we might be able to do so and I certainly am taking an interest indeed at looking at the community owned regeneration projects as we do so. Some of them potentially will be the way forward, potentially the way forward will be to partner with somebody else who is involved in a much larger scale, but I think there is probably room for both of those together as we pursue that target.

 

Question from Councillor Vikki Slade

Last year, the 2022/23 budget was predicated on the sale of the beach huts to generate income.  Now the rents of the beach huts are being increased by up to 127% over five years to help subsidise the budget for 2023/24.

We were told that the now banned beach hut sale would include full consultation with all beach hut owners and tenants but in reality there was only minimal engagement with the chairs of the 4 associations.

The new plan which will price out many existing beach hut tenants and most likely lead to many members on the waiting list abandoning their place has had brief engagement with the beach hut associations but no full consultation and the specific amendments suggested by those associations have not been included in the proposals.

How does this meet the high standards of consultation that were promised by this administration and what involvement did the lead member for consultation have with the associations?

Now that the local government settlement has given more breathing space on the finances and there is a suggestion that some cuts can be delayed to 2024/25 will the leader confirm that he will rethink the increases in beach hut rents?

 

Response by the Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, Councillor Drew Mellor

This administration has sought to dramatically improve the engagement and I’m proud that we’ve delivered an extensive and new public engagement exercise in relation to the budget that goes far beyond the engagement levels we inherited, we’ve installed a lead member for engagement, supported BCP FuturePlaces in a the wide ranging “Big Conversation”, an extensive local plan issues and options consultation. To maximise engagement, we have used a variety of methods as well as using our digital engagement hub, we have held focus groups, face to face drop in events and have been active in the community. Engagement is alive and well in BCP.

The process for setting annual beach hut fees has always included the beach hut associations as the means for collating feedback from that group as is absolutely right. It would be entirely inappropriate to attempt to circumvent the beach hut associations to do differently. It is also incorrect to state that all suggestions from those conversations were not included in the agreed proposals, there are a raft of alterations made to these plans directly following from feedback received.

In relation to the last part of your question I’ll refer you to the answer I have made previously to Cllr Dedman. We are increasing equity across out beach hut pricing, increasing investment in our beach hut stock and seafront infrastructure and we are, as has always been the case with this administration, increasing ambition for and delivery across BCP.

 

Supplementary Question from Councillor Vikki Slade

Can he please confirm what involvement the Lead Member for consultation had with the associations I don’t think the Lead Member was involved and can I also request details of how those proposals were changed because I wrote my question in consultation with the beach hut associations who confirmed that they were completely ignored, so I would like to see a record of what changes were made as a direct result of those meetings.

 

Response by the Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, Councillor Drew Mellor

In terms of the Lead Member for Engagement there is a huge amount of work and a whole raft of things that we are now doing differently that we weren’t doing before, so the Lead Member is doing a fantastic job.

In terms of how we negotiate and get stakeholder feedback about the beach hut rents that is not a full engagement that is a discussion with beach hut associations which is exactly the same as it was when you were the Leader of the Council and is exactly what we are delivering now.

In terms of the beach hut associations, we’ve agreed with them the general principle of harmonising we’re spreading the pricing structure over 5 years to help reduce the impact. Following their feedback we did clarify a range of points in the report, amended the pricing structure, strengthening the commitment to reinvestment and focus further on areas of particular importance to beach hut associations, including maintenance, we’ve amended proposals for transfer fees and opened the door  for further engagement on licence terms and conditions and we also limited the eligibility for waiting lists to BCP residents only, so we had a significant impact from those discussions and to state otherwise is incorrect.

 

Question from Councillor George Farquhar

Street lighting in Woodland Walk, Boscombe East and Pokesdown Ward

Can an explanation be given to why the faults and failures of 21 out of 24 Street Lamps in Woodland Walk have not yet been rectified? Despite being reported as being passed to a contractor on the 14th October 2022?

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the Portfolio Holder for Public Safety, the Manager and team of the Towns Fund, and the Neighbourhood Policing Team Inspector for their efforts to expedite these works. However public safety should not be at the gift or scheduling of a third party contractor.

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, Councillor Mark Anderson

I would like to thank Cllr Farquhar for his question.

The street lighting in Woodland Walk was installed approximately 10 years ago and is some of the 1st generation of LED fittings used for footpaths used in the UK and have served the residents in the area very well. Unfortunately, these are sealed units, which means that they cannot be repaired by replacement of components. We have discovered that due to the exceptional service provided, and improvements in the design and efficiency this type of LED street lighting are no longer being manufactured and therefore cannot easily be replaced.

Following the identification of the condition of the existing street lights and discovering that replacement stock was not available, the Street Lighting Team has been working with colleagues in the Parks Team and the Bournemouth Towns Fund Project, to identify suitable lighting units and funding so they can replace the current street lighting with more up to date fittings, these fittings will be able to be better maintained in the future, and will fully restore lighting along the Walk.

I will ensure Ward Members are fully informed.

 

Supplementary Question from Councillor George Farquhar

It is disappointing that the working life of the original LED lamps is only 10 years, I anticipate that the working life will be longer for the new technology, my question relates to the fact that I am getting a perception that all unnecessary spending is being paused at this precise moment in time. Can we have some reassurance that because these street lights are identified by not only the Neighbourhood Police Team but the local councillors and the Towns Fund Team as being a matter of public safety that these works will be expedited, and would the Portfolio Holder be able to give an indication of how quickly these new lamps will be actually identified and installed.

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, Councillor Mark Anderson

I can confirm that it is not a case that works have been postponed or suspended on this it is unfortunately the case that these were very modern at the time and I would agree that 10 years doesn’t seem to be a very long period of time for a street light to work but as I said originally they were some of the first in the UK. And I remember when we discussed them in the previous Bournemouth Borough Council Environment Committee how excited we were to be introducing these and the things we could do with them.

It is a shame that the lights no longer work and that they have failed and that they are sealed units, it wasn’t something that was mentioned or considered when we were looking at this at the time, but as soon as we get something and some times I will promise yourself and Councillor Jones that I will inform you both of the situation.

 

Question from Councillor Tony Trent

Having submitted a well-intentioned question on the subject almost two years ago, and sadly got a less than helpful answer, about the pressure that was put on certain open space footpaths during the main Covid-19 lockdowns, I would like to ask

(a)  Is there a plan to sort these footpaths out, thinking in particular the ones on Talbot Heath, so that if a future lockdown occurs, that they will be better able to withstand the increased footfall and remain useable.

(b)  Having walked some of these areas over the recent Christmas break, I note that the area of the two to three footpaths between the field, the Langside Avenue/Talbot Drive footpath link, and the 1980s Talbot Village development, and leading on to the heath – which I used to cycle daily to work for many years, has become almost impenetrable and overgrown. Is there a plan to restore these links to their former usefulness? Or are they being left for a proposed future development to sort out?

I also note lots of examples of disrepair, and will be taking these up individually, as I have others.

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, Councillor Mark Anderson

I would like to thank Cllr Trent for his question, I always welcome questions from him.

The Covid pandemic had wide ranging impacts and our green spaces were crucial in supporting people and this affected a lot of our sites. The impact of greater footfall and resultant impact on all aspects of green space maintenance – paths, viewpoints, benches, steps, bins, dog fouling, wildlife disturbance, camp fires etc – has been felt across a lot of our spaces with no change in budget position for maintenance.

Currently there are no specific plans to future proof sites in the event of a similar pandemic. However, work programmes will try and improve spaces where budget and resourcing allows and countryside sites will have annual winter works to manage fire risk as a priority, but also accessibility and for habitat improvements.

BCP Council is legally required to maintain all our Public Rights of Way and this maintenance is shared in Environment services between the green spaces and highways teams. In addition, some spaces are managed by the Countryside Team where Rights of Way pass across nature reserves. There is currently no planned maintenance of paths across Talbot Heath or in the vicinity by the Countryside Team, however any specific requests or issues that are raised will be considered for health and safety and accessibility.

The footpaths referenced in Talbot woods are not public Rights of Way and are informal paths. These will be inspected to assess the need for any improvement or clearance works.

 

Supplementary Question from Councillor Tony Trent

I am a little bit confused by the mention of Talbot Woods because we are talking about a heathland footpath but at least one footpath was available as far back as I can remember and I am going back 60 plus years and it appears to apart from about a 3-metre length of it to have not been touched for a while, its growing over and getting harder and harder to traverse. Is there a plan to start to do something here or when finance is available to do something here as it is a historic footpath whether it was registered or not. There are about three footpaths that merge into one but I am talking about having at least one footpath that is accessible and useable as has been the case for 60 plus years.

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, Councillor Mark Anderson

In answer to Councillor Trents question I refer him to my previous answer in that the only footpaths that we are regulated to maintain are the rights of way footpaths, the other ones have developed as desire lines and officers will look at doing those to see whether they need to be cleared back and they will be cleared back as and when it is deemed necessary. We can’t guarantee that there will be any specific routes that aren’t rights of way being cleared.

 

Question from Councillor Andy Jones

The Government recently announced a £654 million funding package for Councils to enable them to target support for those who need it most including vulnerable families and those at risk of rough sleeping. Can the Cabinet Member advise how much BCP Council will be receiving and how exactly this money will be spent to ensure maximum impact on helping those who most need it across our communities?

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for People and Homes, Councillor Karen Rampton

This government had committed to continue to provide local authorities with the homelessness prevention grant for the following two years BCP council's allocation will increase from £1.8 million in this year to £1.9 million 2324 and £2 million in 2425.

The increased funding allocation reflects the council's strong reputation in homelessness partnership collaboration and emphasis on preventing homelessness and where this does occur making it rare brief and non-recurring the grant also takes into account the use of temporary accommodation and the competitive private sector housing market which provides many with solutions to homelessness but also remains the highest cause of homelessness in our area.

The package of measures announced in December alongside grants received for rough sleepers initiative the Rough Sleeping Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant, the Accommodation For Ex-Offenders Grant the Domestic Abuse Support Grant enables the council and its partners to provide a comprehensive package of accommodation and support which is critical to achieving the priorities in our co-produced Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy and delivering the BCP homelessness partnership vision of ensuring everyone has a safe place to live that they can call home.

Specifically the Homelessness Prevention Grant provides temporary and specialist supported accommodation provision for families for young people and for those with more complex needs the grant provides many support services, amongst them being a landlord support incentive scheme to encourage local private landlords to provide homes for those threatened with homelessness it match funds our successful housing first scheme it provides early housing support workers dedicated to support families homeless social worker for single homeless and rough sleepers, bespoke training and development for housing options team it provides opportunities for over 20 housing apprenticeships and personalisation and prevention fund for one-off payments to keep people in their accommodation, housing officers focus on ex-offenders leaving prison and for care experience young people, supported housing with St Mungos with pivotal and BCHA over 2000 households each year in BCP are helped to remain in their homes or supported to find new ones thanks to the dedicated work of our housing team and many other committed partners who make up the BCP homelessness partnership.

 

Question from Councillor L-J Evans

The adequate provision of free-to-access public toilets should be a priority for BCP Council. The lack of toilets is a threat to residents' and visitors’ hygiene, health, mobility, dignity and equality.

In the past 6 months in Poole Town we have gone from planning for up to 3 new toilets, to one site being selected, to zero toilets actually being installed, with no clear idea as to when this will happen. Those in Dolphin Quay remain resolutely shut.

We desperately need an overarching strategy for toilet provision.

I would therefore like to know in relation to Poole Town:

     How many public toilets are available?

     How many publicly accessible toilets are available, in supermarkets, cafes, shopping centres etc?

     How many of those toilets are available at any hour; of those that are not, what times are they not accessible?

     How many of these toilets are suitable for and accessible by disabled people?

     How many of these toilets are suitable for and accessible by parents needing to take small children, especially if the parent has a pushchair or pram and is the only adult of the group?

     Do you consider the above to be adequate for the needs of the population?

I look forward to hearing the Portfolio Holders’ comments on the above (actual figures can be provided in writing).”

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Council Priorities and Delivery, Councillor Nicola Greene

Thank you to Councillor Evans for her question and for her interest in this area; as she points out the provision of adequate toilets for our residents, businesses and visitors is immensely important.  While not mandated as a statutory service, the provision of public toilets in the BCP area is a Council priority and there are currently 79 owned, maintained and operated by the Council at an annual cost of over £1m.

I’m pleased to confirm that there is an ongoing trial in Poole town centre of an innovative, modern self-cleaning facility which come from Europe but are less familiar to us in this country.  We identified three possible sites for these, with funding allocated for the first two; since they are a new model it was decided to pilot the scheme by installing one and evaluating the results of that trial.  This new facility is in Old Orchard but unfortunately has encountered difficult ground infrastructure from the legacy facilities which has caused a delay.  However I am pleased to inform Council that we anticipate it being installed by the very beginning of March this year.  Following on from that, and evaluation of the trial, we expect others to follow.

There are Council and private public toilets situated in Poole town centre, with the large Council facility near the old lifting bridge being refurbished and re-opened in October 2019, and which is now open 24 hours per day. In addition there is a public toilet beneath the Dolphin Quays development that is operated privately under a Planning Obligation and after the intervention by the Council Planning Enforcement team in 2021 and 2022 this has been opening during the days and early evening, although Councillor Evans may have highlighted an issue with this in which case we can take it up together with the Enforcement Team. There is also a large private public toilet managed by the Dolphin Centre which is also a Changing Places toilet with facilities for people with disabilities and their carers.

The Council also operates a Community Toilet Scheme where a contribution is made to local organisations and businesses to make their toilet facilities available to the public without the need for a purchase. There are 5 facilities in Poole town centre which include Sainsburys who have an easy to access toilet outside their main shop, the Lighthouse, The Spire, Poole Museum and the Slug and Lettuce.

All Council supported Community Toilet Scheme facilities, and the larger private facilities, are suitable for access by people with disabilities and pushchairs; with the Council’s facility on the Quay having separate disabled and family rooms; and the Dolphin Centre being a nationally recognised Changing Places toilet. There are signposts throughout the area towards the nearest facility, with the Councils toilet on the Quay having direction signs attached to most litterbins in the main tourist area near the Fish Shambles.

The provision of public toilets is a non-statutory service for Councils, and the soon to be four public toilets, along with the Council supported Community Toilet Scheme compares favourably to the provision by other like sized Councils and populations, some of whom have completely ceased providing this non statutory service and have left provision to the private sector.  However, BCP Council remains resolutely committed to providing good quality and accessible facilities for residents and visitors alike.

 

Question from Councillor George Farquhar

Repairs and preventive maintenance to cliff fencing along the Boscombe Overcliff.

Can an explanation be given to why maintenance and repairs to the cliff fencing in the Ward's eastward of Boscombe Pier do not appear to be prioritised for reasons of public safety.

In some cases the fencing has failed completely and does not offer any protection or safety barrier to children, residents, visitors or pet dogs from the dangers of the cliff face, which in places is approximately 100 feet high.

Despite following the correct reporting procedures, neither myself or my ward colleague Cllr Jones are getting swift progress from the appropriate Council teams. We are reporting these concerns on behalf of local residents and dog walkers.

In one case (PBF-001441) the repairs for a collapsed section of fence reported on the 3rd January 2022 have been outstanding for over a year. Further damage has been caused by trespass onto the clifftop itself despite frequent enquiries for progress on this repair and resolution.

Would the appropriate Portfolio Holder be willing to review the situation with Seafront Services to ensure preventative maintenance and swifter repairs are made. And to ensure public safety is a higher priority in future for clifftop fencing?

 

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, Councillor Mark Anderson

The Seafront Service maintains over 20 miles of fencing across the coastline, and it is often damaged due to extreme weather conditions, misuse, accidents and vandalism.  It is costly to maintain, and we spend around £ 50k on staff, contractors and fence materials each year.

Our officers work hard to ensure that it is maintained to the necessary standards and the Seafront Rangers inspect the fencing on a weekly basis.  Faults are also often reported directly via the Councils Customer Service.

Each area of damage or failure is logged, reviewed, risk assessed and prioritised.  Assessment criteria for prioritisation include location, footfall, severity of risk, presence of secondary barriers to access or harm such as goat fencing or foliage, etc.

Some repairs also take much longer than others and often contractors are required to support the in-house teams and are subject to availability. Some areas are damaged or vandalised again almost immediately and East Cliff, Boscombe and Southbourne are amongst the most affected areas and issues are often reported to the Police.

May I reassure Cllr Farquhar that public safety in all areas of the seafront is our top priority, and we continually review our approach to the provision of fencing, reporting, prioritising, and maintenance.

I have asked the Head of the Seafront Service to look into the specific case raised by Cllr Farquhar (PBF-001441) and will be happy to share the response in due course.