To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.
(NOTE: There is a time limit of up to 30 minutes for the above item of business. In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions at the meeting are required to be submitted in writing, to firstname.lastname@example.org, by 9.00 a.m. on 25th September 2023).
A petition had been received from Mohammed Faysal Ansar which had received 13 signatures:
“Amey to clean street properly or give back control to Sheffield Council
We the undersigned, petition the council to give back control with regard to the cleaning of Sheffield's streets to the City Council. Do you love going out for a walk in your local area, if the answer is yes you would expect to go out for a walk and enjoy the scenery around you? You would also expect it to be nice and clean, nice and tidy, but today around the streets of Sheffield you see streets full of litter and people going for a walk and walking in their local area which is a total mess. I could give one example of this, Page Hall. It was a nice and tidy and beautiful place to live, still is ,but what do we see instead on the streets of Page Hall and around, Sheffield residents cleaning the streets themselves because Amey, the company that is employed to clean the streets, on behalf of Sheffield Council, take too long to respond to the mess people of Sheffield are concerned about in their local area?
Not forgetting back in 2012 Sheffield Council employed a company to refurbish Sheffield roads, the same roads that today you see full of litter, where ever you go.”
There was no speaker to this petition therefore the petition was noted and the petitioner would be provided with a written response in respect of the issue.
Andy Buck attended the meeting and asked the following questions:
“1. Will the Council:
a) hold further discussions with Amey with a view to expediting the preparation and then implementation of plans to resurface Chippinghouse Road and neighbouring streets;
b) guarantee that at the very latest these streets will be resurfaced by March 2025;
c) confirm that the necessary work on each street will be undertaken in a single period, rather than split over two or more periods?
2. Will the Council guarantee that Amey will repair all the sections of Chippinghouse Road marked up for repair on 15 September 2023 before the yellow markings fade and disappear?
3. What is the Council doing to improve the handling of complaints about Streets Ahead? Will the Council ensure that my complaint of 24 March 2023 is responded to?”
The Chair responded with the following answers:
1. a) Yes, discussions are ongoing, and Amey are also committed to discussing these adjacent streets to achieve a joined-up solution to these areas that have waited a significant amount of time for resurfacing.
b) The target date is March 2025 and Amey are committed to using all reasonable efforts to undertake the work by then.
c) Amey have confirmed that they will target their programmes to maximise programme efficiency. Any mitigations related to the trees will tend to be delivered prior to resurfacing and there will be a natural short break between the differing workstreams.
2. Yes, Amey have confirmed that they will repair all sections marked up for repair.
3. Amey are preparingan action plan to deal with the long timescales associated with customer enquiries. With regard to the complaint of 24 March 2023 many of the points have been addressed in the Streets Ahead response dated 7th August. With regard to the ongoing remaining issues these will be responded to by October 2023, however the ponding issue will have to be addressed as result of the delivery of the surfacing programme when implemented.
Greg Hewitt, on behalf of Sheffield Action on Plastic, attended the meeting and asked the following question:
“A Sheffield City Councillor informed me that "The Plastic Free Resolution is something that all Councils should support and I am keen to help Sheffield achieve the Plastic Free Communities status and to develop a Plastic Free Action Plan."
The Councillor promised that if elected they would commit to the following points:
1. For Sheffield City Council to lead by example and remove single use plastic items from its premises and operations.
2. To encourage plastic free initiatives, promote the Sheffield Action on Plastic campaign and support events.
3. Name a representative of the council to sit on the Core Group of Sheffield Action on Plastic.
Can the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee please add this as part of its workplan?”
The Chair responded with the following answer:
The Council does not currently have a specific policy on single use plastics, however we will be developing a new waste strategy which will set out how Sheffield’s waste will be managed over the coming years. Whilst the scope and detail of this strategy will need to be agreed through the Committee system, it is expected that the new Waste Strategy will include consideration of Council waste as well as household waste, and potential measures to increase sustainability, through waste reduction and recycling.
The development of the waste strategy will begin once Government has provided its long-awaited confirmation of a number of key waste policies. This will ensure that Sheffield’s future strategy meets legislative requirements.
A Climate Impact Assessment tool was introduced in 2022 to identify the potential climate impacts of Council projects, policies and programmes, and includes (among other things) consideration of resource use, use of products, and waste. The use of this tool will help to highlight opportunities to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics. Where opportunities to do this are identified, this can be carried through service delivery, or as a contract requirement in procurement.
This year, we established a working group to provide advice and support to businesses on the requirements of the Single Use Plastic ban. This new legislation requires that from 1 October 2023 businesses must no longer supply, sell or offer certain single-use plastic items including plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene coffee cups.
Messages to encourage the reduction and recycling of plastic items are included in our waste and recycling communications, and we would welcome a conversation with the Sheffield Action on Plastic group to explore the potential to include details of events and initiatives in future communications.
The Chair added that he would be attending a meeting of the Sheffield Action on Plastic Core Group in October.
Two questions had been received from David Cronshaw. David Cronshaw did not attend the meeting to ask their questions therefore a written response would be provided.
Geoff Cox attended the meeting to ask the following questions on behalf of Greener Greenhill:
“As a community based climate and nature group, we have experimented with collecting certain products that need specialist recycling if their materials are to be re-used. This has necessitated finding routes to return these products to appropriate re-processing facilities. Dental products (toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes) were original recycled via Terracycle but now via Boots Pharmacy, Heeley, and medicine blister packs were recycled via Superdrug (in Rotherham).
If we are to create a circular economy, and prepare our city options for a time when less waste will be incinerated, we need to pilot and test different mechanisms for collection, holding and dispatch. It was significant, for instance, that Superdrug in Rotherham needed to restrict its recycling offer to just the shop’s immediate customers when increased use from people like ourselves overwhelmed it. Capacity building, and proper resourcing, at these different stages is essential if a circular economy is to work in practice.
We recognise that city-wide solutions are needed, but feel that voluntary and community groups like ourselves have much to offer in terms of piloting approaches in different neighbourhoods and gathering close-to-the-ground feedback.
Will the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee agree to setting up a ‘Recycling and Re-use Pilots’ working group which includes councillors, officers and representatives from the business, community and voluntary sectors to identify, scope and commission such pilots? Will Sheffield Council appropriately fund these pilots? Recognising the urgency of addressing these issues will Sheffield Council agree to start a programme of such pilots within three months with an agreed and appropriate timescale to make an initial report on their findings?”
The Chair responded with the following answer:
We acknowledge and appreciate the input of community groups in providing local solutions for some recycling schemes. It is important that when providing recycling collections across the whole city we ensure that there are reliable and secure recycling outlets available for the materials we collect. Our existing services, which provide collections of paper, cardboard, glass, cans and plastic bottles have long established recycling markets, which means that the materials we collect for recycling are then sent for recycling. There are a number of other materials that could theoretically be collected through our recycling services but many have limited or unreliable outlets or have long-distance disposal options, which means we have to carefully consider the environmental, and financial viability of collecting such materials. The Chair stressed the importance of ensuring that materials that are collected are recycled, particularly where these are shipped abroad, and that residents have confidence that they are recycled.
With numerous upcoming changes expected through the Environment Act we do expect to be taking more recyclable materials in the next few years, including plastic pots, tubs and trays, and potentially cartons and soft plastics. The exact detail and timing for these new requirements has been long awaited from Government, and once confirmed this will inform the development of a new waste strategy that will set out how Sheffield will manage its waste and recycling over the coming years. Government is also expected to provide clarity on what funding will be made available to Local Authorities to help pay for these new requirements and as we continue through periods of restricted funding and pressured budgets.
The Environment Act will have a major impact on the waste industry, not just in terms of new recycling collections, but because product manufacturers will be required to pay fees on the products they place on the market, based on how recyclable their products are. This is important because they will be incentivised to reduce packaging, and where packaging is needed the fees will make sure it is reusable or recyclable. This should mean that manufacturers using hard to recycle materials for their packaging will move to using materials that are recyclable, and this will help to provide more secure and sustainable recycling markets in the future.
One question had been received from Simon Geller on behalf of Sustrans, the Sustainable Transport Charity. Simon Geller did not attend the meeting to ask the question therefore a written response would be provided.
Geoff Palmer attended the meeting to ask the following questions:
“Who at Sheffield Council supervises/monitors the work AMEY Contractors do?
Why are the management team at Amey continually allowed to" BLOCK" and refuse to do the necessary Road Repairs, they are totally out of control and should be made to face the Committee in person to face their failures.
I do have numerous letters from AMEY management which I would be prepared to show you as evidence of their continuing refusal to do works, if this is permitted."
The Chair responded with the following answer:
The Streets Ahead Highways Maintenance contract is based on the principle of self-monitoring. Sheffield City Council carries out sample checks to validate the Amey self-monitoring regime and any areas of non-compliance are dealt with accordingly. Sheffield City Council robustly challenge Amey where poor working practices are identified, and outcomes include financial and technical sanctions.
The overall road condition in Sheffield continues to benchmark well against national figures. Each carriageway and footway is assessed on a two-year cycle. Carriageways and footways that fail to meet the required standards are rectified in the following year cycle.
As part of Streets Ahead there is a team of highway safety inspectors who conduct inspections of each area of Sheffield. The frequency of inspections depends on the hierarchy of the road, with principal roads being routinely inspected on a monthly basis, and local estate roads routinely inspected on an annual basis. Should there be any potholes that require attention then they will be noted on these inspections and repaired accordingly. Any road or footway that is deemed dangerous or unsafe as part of a risk-based inspection will be addressed. We also encourage members of the public to report any issues which give cause for concern.
Repairs to hazardous potholes have shown good performance throughout the year. These are potholes which are greater than 40mm in depth. It is notable that during quarter 4 of 2022/23 which is the winter seasonal peak Amey achieved 98.7% quarter average.
However we know performance around lower category defects (potholes less than 40mm deep in carriageways) isn’t as good as it should be and further detail is set out in closed Appendix 3 of the Amey Performance Report (Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee, 27 September 2023) for Cllrs to debate.
One question had been received from Chloe Cheeseman. Chloe Cheesman did not attend the meeting to ask their question therefore a written response would be provided.
A group from Extinction Rebellion attended the meeting to ask the following questions:
“1. This motion is weak because it has no timeline. Please amend the motion to set a date by which Glyphosate will no longer be sprayed on our streets and pavements? 2025 would seem reasonable.
2.The background in this motion gives very little detail about the harmful effects of Glyphosate to nature or to human health. Do you realise we are currently experiencing the 6th mass extinction of species, and insects are taking the biggest hit. UK's flying insects have declined by 60% in the last 20 years. In 2019, Biological Conservation reported that 40% of all insects species are declining globally and that a third of them are endangered. The first thing to do to reverse this trend is to stop poisoning them with herbicides, insecticides and pesticides. As well as destroying their food sources Glyphosate has a direct health impact on bees. It alters the beneficial gut flora of bees making them more susceptible to disease and it harms the bees navigation abilities which endangers the hives' survival.
3. In 1.4 in the motion it is noted that Glyphosate is deemed to be safe and efficacious for use as a herbicide. This ignores the conclusions from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which labelled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic”. Independent scientific studies have revealed numerous acute and chronic effects of glyphosate-based herbicides. In addition, the ingredients added to glyphosate products may be toxic. Many of these chemicals are trade secrets and we rely on the manufacturers to ensure the products have been tested to be safe. Studies have found that glyphosate-based herbicides can interfere with various organs and biochemical pathways in mammals. It causes imbalances in gut bacteria and some studies have found that glyphosate appears to accumulate in human cells. At low concentrations it damages liver, kidney and skin cells and long term effects include cancer, infertility, pregnancy problems, birth defects and respiratory diseases. Please amend 1.4 accordingly.
4. Also in 1.4 the motion mentions current legislation but not that the EU may well be about to ban Glyphosate.
6. GMB represents around 630,000 workers including those most at risk from exposure to the chemical such as parks staff, gardeners and agricultural and forestry workers. Dan Shears, GMB National Officer, said: “GMB is clear the guidance from the World Health Organisation should be heeded and glyphosate must be treated as a severe health risk to the general public. In situations like this, surely it is better to be safe not sorry? Employers should stop using glyphosate immediately and replace it with safer alternatives – many of which have been trialled by councils in the UK.”
7. In 2.2 the motion mentions the report that was commissioned by Cardiff City Council. It is important that you realise that this report was written by Dr Daniel Jones. He is Managing Director of Advanced Invasives. Customers of Advanced Invasives include international herbicide producers like Bayer, the manufacturer of Glyphosate! Bayer have a long history of misleading the public and legislators about the safety of their products, notably Neonicotinoids which are now recognised as extremely harmful to bees and other insects.
8. In 2.5 it is stated “Annual usage figures of Glyphosate decreased from 140,000 litres of diluted product being used across this city in 2020 (pre-trial) to currently less than 50,000 litres of diluted product being used in 2023, representing a huge overall reduction in use of Glyphosate based products in the public realm.” But 2023 is not yet at an end. Is 50000 litres an estimate for the whole year, or is it the figure for just part of the year? If so what fraction of the year does it include?
9. In 3.1 it is proposed to continue spraying Glyphosate alternatives on soft surfaces. Does this include tree pits and areas surrounding trees? Is the Committee aware that Glyphosate damages the fungi on the tree roots that help the tree collect nutrients and water. It is very important for tree health not to spray Glyphosate near them.
10. In 3.3 you admit that the Glyphosate free trial was unsuccessful at evaluating the impact on the highway of not applying any chemical weed killers. This is a great shame. You have not identified what went wrong with the trial or how it could have been done better. Obviously you should not repeat the same mistakes, but surely further trials should be possible, on different terms, having learnt from previous mistakes.
11. In 3.7 it is stated “the Council are working with Amey to put in place a Contract Change Notice pursuant to the Contract which will enable a relaxation to some of Amey’s contractual obligations to manage weeds across the Council’s land”. Exactly what changes to the contract are being proposed?
12. In 7.2 it is noted that “the total potential cost implication of complete cessation in a worst-case scenario could be as high as £150 million of additional expenditure.” Has anyone costed the worst case scenario of continued use of Glyphosate? A court in the US which ruled that Roundup – which contains glyphosate as its key ingredient – was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages. This was the first case of its kind but there are another 8,000 similar cases pending in the US alone. Amey workers are regularly observed spraying Glyphosate without masks. When Graham Wroe asked one why he was doing this he said that masks are scary for the public. There is a big concern that in the future Sheffield Council could face massive compensation bills if workers ill from Glyphosate use take them to court. Apart from the possible legal costs, the worst case scenario for continued use of Glyphosate is the continued decline and possible extinction of many species of bees and other insects. Has anyone costed the implications of that?
13. a) In 8.1 the motion concludes that approval of the recommendations will allow “A continuous reduction in the use of glyphosate in highway areas across all of Sheffield.” You really need to set a timescale for this reduction.
b) Secondly the motion says it will allow “The opportunity to work with residents in various areas of the city to promote awareness and encourage action in line with the Nature Emergency outcomes. This will achieve an important step in the city’s response to the declared Nature Emergency. Working with residents on this is to be welcomed, but it is vital for the Council to take the lead. You have declared a Nature Emergency, so you must act on this now.
c) Thirdly it says it will allow “Alignment with the timescales for further central government guidance and/or legislation and future licensing of information on the future licensing of Glyphosate.” This Government is best friends with the Chemical and Oil industries. Sheffield can't wait for them to take action. Sheffield needs to take the lead.”
The Chair responded with the following answers:
1. The Committee report opens with a clear recommendation that officers are to return to Committee as soon as central government guidance and/or legislation on the use of pesticides in the public realm has been published, with an update promised before the end of 2025.
At this time, given the Council’s financial situation, the indicative £150 million cost of a complete cessation of Glyphosate to the Authority and a lack of licensing for alternative products for use on hard surfaces mean that this is realistically out of the Council’s control and is a matter for Central Government and regulatory bodies to drive forward.
As soon as we get specific guidance we will be coming back to Committee for a decision on the best way forward.
2. The Committee report is clear that Glyphosate will not be used on soft surfaces, flowerbeds, shrub beds etc where bees and other insects would acquire their food source. As per the Health and Safety Executive publication, Glyphosate is not a neonicotinoid; these types of pesticides are insecticides and are used to treat crops against the actions of certain insects such as pollen beetles, this is not how we operate weed control in the public realm.
The report also cites at 1.5 Academic Studies such as Tarazona et al (2017) around concerns of the potential effect upon insects and bees so does recognise this school of thought.
Glyphosate will only be used on weeds which have already emerged in pavements on a “spot treatment” basis. The trials so far using this methodology have yielded reductions in usage down to around one-third of what it previously was.
The Committee report is clear that residents can help us further reduce usage by removing weeds from hard surfaces from pavements in their neighbourhoods. Put simply - when teams arrive at a street, if there are no weeds, no Glyphosate will be used.
3. As per Tarazona et al (2017), since Glyphosate was introduced in 1974, all regulatory assessments have established that glyphosate has low hazard potential to mammals.
We acknowledge that the IARC reported in 2015 that Glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”. The carcinogenic status from the IARC places Glyphosate in the same tier as red meat and night shift working.
The IARC conclusion was however not confirmed by the EU assessment nor by joint World Health Organisation (WHO) Food and Agriculture Organisation / FAO evaluation, both of which used additional information beyond that reviewed by the IARC in coming to their decision.
1.4 of the report paraphrases the Health and Safety Executive national regulatory stance, so this section is not the Opinion of the Authority, but that of the relevant regulatory body.
The Chair asked the questioner to send links to studies that had been referenced in the question.
4. Britain is no longer a member of the EU so this would be out of scope of the report.
On 19 September 2023, the Commission put forward to the Member States a revised Renewal Report and a draft Regulation which actually proposes the renewal of approval of Glyphosate’s license, not the removal of it.
5. Yes, this is reflected in section 6.3.2 where the report recognises that Glyphosate is used in food production in the UK – it is routinely used in cereal crops such as wheat and barley hence why it appears in end-user food and drink products such as wine, beer and bread.
6. The IARC conclusion was not confirmed by the EU assessment or the recent joint World Health Organisation (WHO) Food and Agriculture Organisation / FAO evaluation, both of which used additional information beyond that reviewed by the IARC.
1.4 of the report paraphrases the Health and Safety Executive national regulatory stance, this is not the Opinion of the Authority but that of the relevant regulatory body.
7. The Health and Safety Executive as the regulatory body are clear that Glyphosate is not a neonicotinoid; these types of pesticides are insecticides and are used to treat crops against the actions of certain insects such as pollen beetles, this is not how we operate weed control in the public realm.
8. Figures reported were to just before the report was prepared, it is acknowledged a small further increase may be encountered, but given the incredibly rainy summer weather, spraying had substantively stopped by the time of writing as this product is not used in adverse weather conditions where the rainfastness time is unlikely to be achieved (i.e. if rain is forecasted).
9. As the question had been altered since it had been submitted, a written answer would be provided after the meeting.
10. The areas of the trial were subject to a large number of residents and 3rd parties spraying the highway. We have worked with Edinburgh Council (more detail in the report) and listened to our consultation outcomes and will work with residents and volunteering groups to embrace this willingness to help remove weeds on the highway and reduce the amount of chemical we have to use.
11. A temporary 2-year relaxation of Performance Requirements relating to weed growth in grass verges, under hedgerows and in shrub beds to ensure that they are not penalised for alternative products being less efficacious.
12. Employees transferred under TUPE regulations from the Council into the private sector in 2012. Amey’s manage any risks to their employees, which includes detailed risk assessments, COSHH assessments and appropriate controls and Personal Protective Equipment Policies as well as health surveillance for their staff.
13. a) With reference to earlier sections - timescales are outlined in the report which are aligned to likely forthcoming clarification from central government on the usage of Glyphosate prior to 2025.
b) Agree, we hope the volunteer sector and those who are actively engaged in wanting to help us reduce the use of Glyphosate will spread the word that if there are no weeds in the pavement, then no Glyphosate will be sprayed and encourage people to become more involved at community level as has been so successful for Edinburgh Council in their Pesticide Free Balerno campaign.
c) The Health and Safety Executive are the relevant licensing body for pesticides in England and once we get clarification we will be able to return to committee to seek a decision on the way forward.
Joel Gilbert attended the meeting to ask the following question:
“There is a feeling SCC has given up when it comes to supporting residents who have to walk in the city. Primarily, for me, this about pavement parking to such an extent the pavement becomes impassable, including having vehicles having all 4 wheels on the pavement sometimes for weeks at a time! As an example when walking my nephew to the park along Shirecliffe Lane last week I had to push the buggy (uphill) along the middle of the road to face oncoming traffic as both pavements were unpassable. This is not something that should need a consultation to remedy, walking a 15 month-old on a pavement s is not a nice to have, so what steps are the committee planning on introducing to make sure pavements are more accessible for humans?”
The Chair responded with the following answer:
There is no general legislation outside of London for an offence of pavement parking. A specific Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) must be written to prevent parking on pavements in any locations that the council would want to prohibit pavement parking. The TRO must be consulted on. Signs and lines also have to be installed to show where pavement parking begins or ends. The policy to introduce pavement parking restrictions has designated the city centre as the only location pavement parking enforcement will currently be introduced. The responsibility for transport policy and any amendments to this approach sit with the Transport, regeneration, and Climate Policy Committee. However, locations where double yellow lines are installed may also allow the enforcement of parking on the pavement. The double yellow line applies from the centre of the road up to the nearest barrier or wall, so may encompass a pavement in some circumstances. Double yellow lines also need TRO’s which must be consulted on. Requests for new parking restrictions are dealt with by the council’s Strategic Transport and Infrastructure Service. They have a limited budget which is used to prioritise new measures in the areas of greatest risk. I would encourage any evidence of the risks posed in areas of the city be sent to email@example.com
In addition to raising concerns with the council’s transport team to collate evidence, I would also encourage any instances of obstructive parking on the pavement as described in this incident to be reported to the police via the non-emergency number of 101 or online at smartcontact.southyorkshire.police.uk The police can enforce obstruction of the highway without there being a traffic regulation order present.
The Chair added that an operation by the Sheffield North West Neighbourhood Policing Team called Operation Parksafe was running in northwest Sheffield and there was a consultation on whether to extend the operation to the rest of the city. The Chair also noted that the Committee would be considering a review of the Council’s Parking Enforcement Policy later in the meeting which would strengthen some of the enforcement powers that the Council has.
James Martin attended the meeting and asked the following questions in relation to item 11 on the agenda on behalf of Disability Sheffield:
“1. Noting 4.4.2, Disability Sheffield would welcome constructive and proactive engagement with SCC officers as the design of the reporting and feedback mechanism will be vital to help ensure this is accessible for the full breadth of the disabled community who are affected by issues such as parking across dropped kerbs and pavement parking. Will the committee require this?
2. Additionally, can the committee consider requiring that regular publication/reporting of the number of reports, final outcome/action taken, general geographic area should be built into reporting and enforcement systems to give suitable oversight (hopefully to seeing an improvement over the coming years)?
3. Finally, we would like to flag that the consultation period was run for a very short period, and we are concerned that all those negatively affected by pavement parking and parking across dropped kerbs were not able to make representations of trouble spots. Choosing which areas to prioritise or tackle first will be important to start unblocking access (some locations will have a longer distance to the next crossing point) and some areas of contravention will also create safety issues for pedestrians who can work around the obstruction. It would be helpful if officers were to take some time with the disabled community to understand what offences cause the most problems in order to give confidence on the approach being taken. Will the committee be interested in Officers using Access Liaison Group time to assist in this manner?
To note, there may be issues for disabled drivers which we have not had time to analyse.”
The Chair responded with
the following answers:
The committee would welcome Disability Sheffield's input into the designing of the reporting and feedback function.
The committee would like to see inclusion of the statistics requested in the annual parking report.
The committee would welcome the input of the access liaison group in helping shape the priority areas.