Agenda item

Questions under Rule 11.2


Councillor Yalden asked the Recycling and Environmental Services Portfolio Holder the following question:


‘As the Councillor is aware, there are 24 recycling centres in the HWRC network of which 12 are under consultation for closure. Hampshire County Council has stated that Casbrook recycling centre at Romsey will be closed unless there is significant investment. Council leader Rob Humby said: "We currently have 24 HWRCs and we think that's more than any other shire county. He said "We truly believe most of the residents of Hampshire are law abiding and will not fly-tip." However, as you can imagine residents are very angry about these proposals. Will TVBC formally request via the current consultation that HCC retains and upgrades Casbrook Common HWRC?’


Councillor Drew responded to confirm that the Council did not support the closure of the Household Waste and Recycling Centre located at Bunny Lane, Romsey. He noted that it was an important and essential facility that was valued by residents based in the south of the borough and that closing the site would cause an inconvenience to residents who, in many cases, would have to travel much further afield to dispose of their waste.


Councillor Drew further advised that the Council would be making this clear in the formal consultation response to the County Council and thanked Councillor Yalden for her question.


Councillor Yalden asked a supplementary question expressing concern that she felt that the closure of the site could lead to an increase in fly tipping and a reduction in the Council’s recycling rate and that if the centre should be closed would the Borough Council consider assisting with funding to allow the centre to remain open and to make improvements to the facilities available?


Councillor Drew responded that he felt that most residents would not fly tip should the centre close and that the recycling rates at the centre were unlikely to impact on the Council’s own recycling rate as it was owned and operated by Hampshire County Council. He further advised that as the consultation had not yet concluded he would not be supportive of the Council investing funding in the Household Waste and Recycling Centre located at Bunny Lane, Romsey.


Councillor Drew noted that it was vital that all Councillors made their own representations to the consultation and encouraged their communities to do so to.



Councillor Parker asked the Community and Leisure Portfolio Holder the following question:


‘Could the portfolio holder please advise us as to when the report from the consultants conducting the review of tourism in Test Valley will be made available to members?’


Councillor Swain responded that the outcomes of the report were presented to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee roundtable on 22 November 2023 where the consultant outlined the outcome of the study and what actions could be undertaken to best support the tourism sector in the Borough. Councillor Swain confirmed that the Tourism Review report would be made available on a confidential basis to Councillors in the next Councillor Bulletin. 


Councillor Parker asked a supplementary question asking what the timetable was for the recommendations of the tourism review being considered by Cabinet?


Councillor Swain responded that the timetable was not yet confirmed but details would be brought forward once known.



Councillor Parker asked the Democracy and Governance Portfolio Holder the following question:


‘’A recent report from the Electoral Reform Society suggests that as many as 11,696 voters could be missing from the electoral roll for Romsey and Southampton North constituency. Does the portfolio holder believe this figure to be reasonably accurate and, if so, what is being done to increase voter registration?’


Councillor Lodge responded to state that he did not believe the figure to be accurate and that it was unclear what figures the Electoral Reform Society had used, but it was likely that they had scaled national data. Consideration of locally available data showed that there were 55,144 electors registered to vote in parliamentary elections for the constituency with the Office for National Statistics census figures from 2021 suggesting there were 59,187 people aged 18 and over living within that area, which would include residents of all nationalities. Therefore, the figure was likely to be significantly lower.


The council undertook an extensive range of activities to encourage voter registrations including an annual canvass, sending empty property poll cards and leaflets with annual council tax bills, registering people over the phone if they contact the Council to say they have recently moved and working with colleagues in communities to ensure information on registering for elections was available.


Councillor Parker asked a supplementary question enquiring as to whether Southampton City Council, who were responsible for two areas within the parliamentary constituency outside of Test valley, carried out the same number of initiatives and activities to encourage voter registration?


Councillor Lodge responded that the Council had no authority over those two areas within the Southampton City Council boundary and he was therefore unable to advise on the work they undertook, but that Councillor Parker could contact them asking for details.


Councillor Gidley asked that Portfolio holder for Climate Emergency and Countryside the following question:


‘Since the beginning of 2023, how many reports of instances or complaints of pollution in Test Valley's waterways have been brought to the attention of the Portfolio holder and what action has been taken as a result’.


Councillor Adams-King responded as the relevant Portfolio Holder with responsibility for environmental Health. He responded to confirm that the control and regulation of the pollution of waterways lies with the Environment Agency (EA).


The EA did not have a statutory responsibility to report pollution incidents to the Borough Council. Since the beginning of 2023 the EA had however reported two incidents of pollution by Southern Water, to the Council one of which being the recent incident which occurred on the River Test at Fullerton, this week. The incident was reported to him as the relevant portfolio holder, along with the Overview and Scrutiny chairman and local ward members.


The Council had no authority to take action against Southern Water. However, he was pleased to say that the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF) had taken up a number of operational issues up with Southern Water this week. Due to the LRF’s scale and membership, it was the Council’s best chance of getting action from Southern Water.


Councillor Gidley asked a supplementary question to note that she did not believe there had only been two incidents and asked what assurances there were that Southern Water and the EA were reporting what was necessary?


Councillor Adams-King responded that the figure he had reported represented all reports from the EA to the Borough Council but acknowledged this was unlikely to be all incidents that had occurred. He noted that obtaining information from the EA was challenging with further work to understand the number of incidents along with other issues being investigated by the LRF.


Councillor Geoff Cooper asked the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee the following question:


‘Following Councillor Neil Gwynne's motion of November 2022 with amendments from Councillor Adams-King, which was passed by this Council, how many reports from the Portfolio Holder for Climate Emergency and Countryside regarding instances or reports of pollution have been reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee? 

And in light of recent events involving Southern Water, has there
been any progress by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee insummoning the Chair of Southern Water to appear before the committee, to answer for his company's poor lack of service to residents, including losses of supply and data breaches and for Southern Water's persistent environmental vandalism of our rivers and waterways?’


Councillor Jeffrey responded to confirm that both Southern Water and the Environment Agency had been invited to attend a meeting of the Committee to discuss incidents of pollution and general issues of Southern Water’s performance in Test Valley. The Council had not received a response from Southern Water however, the Environment Agency had indicated that it may send a representative to a future meeting although there had been no confirmation of when this might be. Councillor Jeffrey noted that the committee did not have the power to summons either of the agencies to attend one of its meetings. Councillor Jeffrey would continue to pursue the invitation to both agencies to attend a future meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Geoff Cooper asked a supplementary question as to whether the request for attendance by the CEO of Southern Water could be broadened to allow an alternative representative from the organisation?


Councillor Jeffrey responded to confirm that he would of course welcome any representative from Southern Water to a meeting of the Committee.