Operational Services Update Report
The Committee were provided with an update on recent operational service projects & performance over the last six months.
The Assistant Director (Environment) and the Waste Projects & Compliance Officer outlined key performance points to Members from the following service areas:
- Waste & Recycling
- Street Cleansing
- Horticultural Services
- Vehicle Workshop
In response to Members questions on each of the service areas, the Assistant Director (Operations) and the Waste Projects & Compliance Officer explained that:
- The length of time each cleanse took depended on a multitude of factors such as how dirty the floor was, when it had its last clean and if there was ample parking for the vehicle. Within the Town Centre, the machine was able to clean about 300-500 metres a day but shopping parades such as Perry Street usually took longer due to the restricted parking and less well-maintained pavements. The team had also faced challenges that stemmed from the pandemic but overall, the use of the machine to cleans streets in the Borough had been a success
- The shopping parades listed within the report were only the starting point for the operating schedule of the machine; once they had been visited then other shopping parades such as Painters Ash and Lawrence Square would be added to the list
- The team aimed to visit every shopping parade in the Borough at least once a year for a deep clean whereas the Town Centre would be cleaned more regularly as it received the highest footfall
- The majority of the grass verges in the Borough were owned by KCC but the team were looking at planting wild flowers on the verges that Gravesham did own, especially in the urban areas. The flowers would not be planted to cut pollution, but they would increase the levels of biodiversity in urban areas such as flowers, butterflies, bees, and pollination etc
- The team were in discussions with KCC regarding planting wild flowers on their grass verges, but they were working across the County and progress was slow. On a more positive note, KCC had increased their tree planting programme with a number of street trees being planted in Gravesham
- The team were also in discussions with the EDC regarding their parcels of land and what could be done to increase biodiversity on them
- There was still an ambition to transform parts Gravesend’s Cemeteries into wild flower meadows but over the last months it had been difficult for the team operationally which meant it hadn’t been a main priority
- Although not listed in the report, the team were currently working on a project at the Larkin Memorial on Telegraph Hill; the team were hoping to receive external funding from Highways England to work with partners to develop that bit of land. Discussions had also been held with those external partners about funding for other projects which could include meadow gardens in the cemeteries
- There were a number of officers, especially those in building services, who took their vehicles home with them and went straight to their work sites in the morning which meant it would hinder them if they had to go to the depot every morning to charge their vehicles. That was an area that was being investigated as part of the process for electrification of the fleet as the team did not want any operational benefits to be removed due to that. A common error was that electric vehicles needed to be charged to the max all the time, but they were similar to petrol/diesel vehicles in that they could run effectively ‘without a full tank’.. Many homes were not suitable for car chargers as not everyone had a drive. To combat that issue, the team had been looking at purchasing fast chargers which could charge up a vehicle in 20-30 minutes while the officer was restocking from the depot. Additionally, the vehicles would also be able to use the fast chargers that were planned to be installed in several car parks in the Town Centre
- The recycling of old car batteries was an interesting area; some companies such as Renault had been recycling them into storage containers to store power attained through solar panels. The Assistant Director (Operations) couldn’t commit to adding full solar panel use for Council properties to the ten-year carbon neutral plan, but he assured Members that the Council were mindful of where the electricity came from. There were more green forms of electricity available such as solar panels and wind turbine power; the new Civic Centre would likely incorporate a degree of power from such places. Members were reminded that electrification of vehicles and green electricity were the best options available now but in ten years, a new source of power such as hydrogen could be more widely available as everything was constantly changing
The Assistant Director (Operations) agreed to speak to the lead officer for Gravesham Joint Transportation Board about placing a KCC grass verges time on the agenda of the next meeting.
The table at 2.4 of the report listed the tonnages for quarters 1-3 but the Chair felt that the figures for percentage increases were more useful and asked that they be emailed to Members of the Committee. The Assistant Director ( Operations) agreed to circulate those figures after the meeting.
The Chair asked that the Committees thanks be passed down to the teams as their excellent work, in very difficult circumstances, was greatly appreciated by Members and the local Community.
The Chair praised the level of detail in the report and was encouraged to see that the Council achieved its highest ever rate of household recycling (45%), whilst delivering 99.8% of all scheduled bin collections in the borough.