Review of 2012 – Communities

Before the first set of scrutiny meetings kick off this year we thought we would look back at the past twelve months and highlight some of the key areas that scrutiny members worked on last year.

Street Lighting

Streetlighting

Part-night street lighting was one of the Council’s most controversial policies of 2012 and it looks as though that will continue through 2013 as the programme is rolled out across the County.

Towards the end of last year a group of Councillors were tasked with looking at the proposals and consider a number of areas including; alternative technologies, the impact on crime and road safety, and the level of savings that would be achieved. The group made a series of recommendations that focused on keeping residents safe and improving communication with the public.

The full report can be read here: Street Lighting Task and Finish Group Report

The issue provoked a lot of negative press attention over the Christmas break and, in response, the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be hosting a special Q&A session with the Cabinet member and street lighting engineers to give people a chance to have an input.

Subsidised Bus Services

Bus Stop

In 2011-12 the budget for subsidised bus services was hit with a major reduction of 45%. Good public transport links are vital for many people in the County and Councillors wanted to know what they could do to help the situation.

A small group of members, working closely with Transport Operations officers, put together proposals for an innovative, low cost set of evening bus services that would run on Friday and Saturday evenings. The services were designed to reduce transport inequality and support the night-time economy across Warwickshire. The Cabinet agreed to consider the proposals as part of the 2013 budget so we’ll soon find out if the proposals become a reality.

The full report can be read here: Bus Services Report

Libraries

Libraries

2012 changed the face of the library network in Warwickshire. We saw the introduction of 12 community libraries that are being run by local community groups, opening hours changed across the County, and the first stages of the mobile library service reconfiguration have been agreed. Scrutiny members have been working to ensure the best possible service is delivered to local people, despite big reductions in funding.

Fire & Rescue

Fire

Warwickshire’s Fire and Rescue Service has been through a period of major structural change and has faced some significant challenges over the past twelve months – but despite this the service has been an open and forthcoming scrutiny partner.

Scrutiny has been involved at every stage of the ongoing implementation of the Fire & Rescue Service Improvement Plan and the updated Integrated Risk Management Plan, and continues to work with the service on keeping Warwickshire residents safe.

Spreading The Word

YouTube

2012 also saw the debut of scrutiny updates on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot about how to better connect with people and this was one of our favourite ideas – it’s quick, free and has the potential to reach a lot of people who would never think of coming to one of our meetings in person. Giving more people the opportunity to find out what goes on at our scrutiny meetings will hopefully lead to more people getting involved in future scrutiny work.

Scrutiny videos are posted on our blog and you can find them on the WCC YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/Warwickshirenews

Street Lighting Scrutiny Review

Photo used under a creative commons licence from Flickr user Cmaj7

Last week we kicked off a scrutiny review looking at some major upcoming changes to street lighting in Warwickshire.

Warwickshire County Council has set itself a target to save £500k per year from the street lighting electricity bill. This will mean that around 39,000 (80%) lights will have to be switched off in the early hours of the morning. To operate the lights on this ‘part-night’ basis requires the purchase and installation of a central management system that will cost £1.64 million of capital investment.

The scrutiny review will be looking at the following areas:

Timing of the switch-off
Should it be a phased switch-off over a number of weeks? Or should all of the lights be switched off at the same time?

Which lights will stay on?
What criteria is being used to decide the 20% of lights that will be staying on? Is it fair?

Public consultation
How have the Council engaged with residents and have they listened to what they have to say?

What will be the impact on communities?
Will there be any impact on road safety, crime, anti-social behaviour etc.?

Benchmarking
Which other Councils have taken this approach to street lighting? Was it successful? What can Warwickshire learn from their experiences?

You can follow the progress of the review on this blog over the coming months.

If you want to give us your views, or if you want to get involved with the scrutiny review, just leave a comment on this post or email me at daveabbott@warwickshire.gov.uk

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee – 9th February 2012

The next meeting of the Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee will be held on the 9th of February in Committee Room 2, Shire Hall, Warwick.

The following items will be considered at the meeting:

  • Neighbourhood Policing Review – Following changes to the way the Police force operates in Warwickshire that began on 9 May 2011, this report discusses the changes and how they have been received so far.
  • Transport Infrastructure for Major Development – This report gives an overview of how the County Council supports major development.
  • Street Lighting Energy Saving project – Following a budget cut of £500k, Warwickshire will move to part-night street lighting. This report outlines the proposals and gives background for a member working group who will be looking at the issue in more detail.

The complete agenda and papers can be viewed here: Communities OSC Full Agenda and Papers – 9 Feb 2012.pdf (262Kb)

Members of the public are encouraged to attend. There is half an hour at the beginning of the meeting for members of the public to ask questions. If you’d like to ask a question, please send it through in advance to Dave Abbott – daveabbott@warwickshire.gov.uk

You can find out more about the work of the Committee on Warwickshire County Council’s website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/communitiesosc

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