Agenda item

Questions Under Standing Order 23

To receive questions from Councillors in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 23.4(a).


Questions received under Standing Order 23 and their related responses are set out below:


Question 1 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Wilson


With Reference to Nitrate Neutrality... If the UK leaves the EU on 31st October...Will this Council and Builders in the Borough still be bound by the Dutch Court Ruling on Nitrate Neutrality?


Response: The need to undertake Habitats Regulations Assessment, including assessing the impact on water quality, comes from the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. These are UK regulations. It has been confirmed verbally and through draft regulations that Government do not intend to weaken the environmental standards in the Habitats Regulations.



Question 2 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Bowerman


I find the Havant Council website difficult to use, even frustrating to find what you are looking for... Could you put the "Customer Services" Telephone number on the front page? 


In Councillor’s Bowerman’s absence, a written reply to be provided after the meeting.


Question 3 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Bowerman


Reference the Customer Services Telephone number... It has a number of menu's you have to go through before getting to the one you think is the correct one. Are they all necessary? Could they be reduced?


In Councillor’s Bowerman’s absence, a written reply to be provided after the meeting.


Question 4 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Bowerman


The Customer Services auto system did not recognise "Universal Credit". Could this be added to the recognition system and a redirect to the DWP telephone/website added?


In Councillor’s Bowerman’s absence, a written reply to be provided after the meeting.


Question 5 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Pike


With the increasing need for us to address the need for Havant to play its part by making reductions in our emissions of C02, how are we planning to be able to accelerate our programme? Are there even more ambitious projects such as solar farms or wind turbines to produce more of our own electricity?


Question 6 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Pike


Could you tell us more about retrofit installations and the publicity campaign to encourage residents to save energy, carbon and money through the Energy Company Obligation. (Please tell us what it is.)


Response:  If a resident is on a low income, but their home is high cost, or if the resident has certain health conditions which mean they are vulnerable to living in a cold home. Retrofit Partners make applications to HBC, and we approve the work. The Retrofit partner applies directly to the obligated energy company. All money flows from the obligated energy company to the installer who undertakes the work. There are plans to publicize this activity once all existing retrofit partners have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding which covers areas like safeguarding, data protection, GDPR and industry standards. A short paper describing the retrofit can be provided if required.


The short explanation of how funding for retrofit measures are delivered through the Energy Company Obligation are broadly in line with criteria in a published 'Statement of Intent' which can be found here:




Question 7 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Pike


Are our builders complying with our recommendations to build to standards that are sustainable?


Response:  There are minimum national standards for energy performance and C02 emissions for new buildings set within the Building Regulations. The checking of the design and construction of building work to ensure it meets these standards is carried out by the Local Authority or Private Sector Building Control – it is the developers choice who they use.


Where the Building Control body becomes aware that the standards are not being met there is a process where ultimately the Local Authority (and only the Local Authority) could take enforcement action to ensure the building work complied. However, for the Local Authority to know that the standards have not been met relies on the inspection process being 100% failsafe, which being a ‘spot-check’ system it can never be, particularly one which exists in a price competitive market where reducing the number of inspections (and therefore price) can potentially win more work.


There is a reliance on everyone in the supply chain from product manufacturers, architects, developers, builders and Building Control to ensure projects are built to meet the statutory requirements.


Question 8 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Pike


What is the Havant's policy, at the moment, regarding Nitrate Neutrality?  Are we still able to build?


The Council’s Position Statement on the matter goes into full detail and is available at www.havant.gov.uk/nitrogen. This allows planning applications for nutrient neutral development, or those that are issued with Grampian conditions, to be approved. However, this does severely limit the amount of development that can take place. As a result, our officers and myself [Cllr Pike] are devoting a huge amount of effort into finding a solution for the short term so that developments need not be held up by this issue and sustainable development to address the need for housing in the Borough can recommence in full.


Question 9 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Wilson


Is our Brexit team funded by Central Government?


A Council Brexit team is in place and meets on a regular basis to review preparations for Brexit. We have a nominated lead officer, our Director of Regeneration & Place who is the point of contact with Central Government. Our Brexit team and Brexit lead officer is made up of existing staff and resources.


Question 10 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Wilson


Did they (Brexit team) receive central advice about how to proceed and what to expect?


Response:  Central Government have provided advice on how to prepare for Brexit including a checklist of items to review. The checklist includes the following: statutory & regulatory services for which the Council is responsible for, border areas, supply chain, data handling, local partnership working and communications. In addition, the Government have been holding monthly calls for local authorities with updates from the Department of Transport, Department of Health and Home Office, the last call being held recently on 23rd September 2019.  Further to this there are 9 regional Brexit leads from across the Country to feed in and receive information with weekly updates provided from Central Government.


Question 11 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Wilson


What traffic problems are expected.  What other Council preparations are being made?  (as a result of Brexit)?


Response:  The Local Resilience Forum (LRF) have led on responding to any traffic issues as a result of no-deal. Traffic problems could include road congestion (impacted as a result of our proximity to Portsmouth Port) or fuel shortages.  The LRF have completed work on traffic modelling, in liaison with Department for Transport, to understand potential impacts on the road network. The LRF coordinate emergency plans and procedures for major incidents across the area. Through the LRF organisations work together to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. There is a dedicated sub-group of LRF working on Brexit of which Havant Borough Council are involved through our Emergency Planning team.


The Council has its own business continuity plans in place to ensure essential council services are still provided in the event of no-deal Brexit. These business continuity planning have involved an exercise in understanding which staff can get into work (those who live locally and can walk) and which staff cannot in the event of road congestion or fuel shortages. For those staff providing essential council services who may struggle to get into work due to road congestion they will be able to work from home. 


Question 12 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Wilson


What help, other than the web site, are we able to offer local residents and businesses (as a result of Brexit)?


Response:  Our external work is focussed on supporting local businesses and residents. We have recently conducted a survey with local businesses to understand how prepared they are for Brexit, in particular no-deal Brexit. We are reviewing the survey information and this will help us inform what further work we can look at doing to support local businesses. Local businesses also had access to assistance from Solent LEP. Our webpage has recently been updated with further information and links to the 'Get Ready for Brexit' Government webpages. These webpages contain the necessary information for what businesses and residents need to do to be prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

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