Venue: Small Hall - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Ainsley Gilbert
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2016 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Sharon Holder.
Declarations of interest
If a Committee member has any prejudicial or personal interest in a particular item they should declare the existence and nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.
At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a prejudicial interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter. The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Standards Committee.
Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance, then
the Councillor with a prejudicial interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration unless the disability has been removed by the Standards Committee.
Item 5 – Revised Community Sport and Physical Activity Strategy
Councillor Charlie Dewhirst explained that he was an employee of the Rugby Football Union and that he therefore had contact with Sport England, the organisation which it was hoped would fund some elements of the Council’s Community Sport and Physical Activity Strategy. This was not a pecuniary interest.
Item 6 – Safety at Sports Grounds
Councillor Larry Culhane explained that he was a fan of Fulham Football Club which was subject to control by the Council’s Environmental Health team.
Richard Buckley, Head of Environmental Health (Residential), explained that biodiversity meant the variety of plants and wildlife in an area. He explained that biodiversity was important as species relied upon each other for survival as part of ecosystems. There were a number of laws which promoted biodiversity and protected habitats and species, as well as placing various duties on local authorities.
The council had undertaken a biodiversity survey in 1988 which showed that 14 percent of the borough was green space, and that 60 percent of that space was parks, sports pitches and amenity grassland under council control. There were also 13,000 trees on streets and housing estates.
The air quality commission had made a recommendation for an Urban Ecology Plan to be drafted as well as for changes to the local plan and improvements to the way that the council managed its trees and planting. A number of other improvements were also going to be made to the Local Plan’s sections dealing with biodiversity as a result of its ongoing revision.
The council was already doing lots of work to improve biodiversity, for example, banning the use of glyphosate weed killers, encouraging community planting schemes, building sustainable urban drainage schemes on highways and putting in green roofs and other environmentally friendly measures on its housing estates. The council was also supporting a campaign to protect fish living in the tidal Thames; the improvements in water quality had led to the Smelt fish now spawning in the Thames near to Hammersmith Bridge.
Richard Buckley explained that the council now planned to draft an Ecology Policy based on these key principles: building a robust ecological network through the Local Plan and Air Quality Action Plan; putting people at the heart of biodiversity by engaging with local residents, schools, volunteers and environmental groups; reducing environmental pressures by creating new habitats, green corridors and stepping stones, and managing existing habitats well, and; improving our knowledge and understanding of the current position. He suggested that the council might wish to develop a specific biodiversity action plan and explained that there were opportunities to provide more, bigger, better and joined habitats, noting that housing controlled 45,000sqm of flat roofed buildings.
Councillor Dewhirst suggested that a new biodiversity survey needed to be undertaken as the previous one was nearly 30 years old. He was also concerned that residents might unwittingly break the law by cutting back hedges at the request of highways officers and asked that letters to residents ask them to check if there were nesting birds in them before undertaking the work. Richard Buckley agreed to look into the issue of hedges being cut back.
Councillor Dewhirst felt that the council needed to do more to deal with the effect of glyphosate no longer being used as he had received complaints from residents regarding weeds growing in pavements. Councillor Harcourt explained that the council was trialling a number of different methods to control weeds in order to identify which worked best. The results of ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
Ullash Karia, Head of Parks and Leisure, explained that sports and physical activity were great ways of enjoying yourself and getting fit at the same time. He explained that the council had drafted an ambitious strategy which aimed to engage residents as well as being a document which required action.
Jardine Finn, Sports Development Manager, said that there was already great work on engaging people in physical activity being done in Hammersmith and Fulham. He noted particularly the St Mungo’s scheme to get homeless people to take part in sports and the recent disability tennis tournament staged in the borough. Mr Finn explained that the purpose of the strategy was to show the council’s commitment to involving more people in physical activity and to help the council to target its resources. Action plans would be developed to implement the strategy.
The cost of supporting people who were not physically active was high and increasing whilst Public Health England had suggested that if being active was a pill, doctors would be rushing to prescribe it. There was already a good level of participation in physical activity in Hammersmith and Fulham but this needed to be increased further. Sport in school needed to be supported as 24 percent of children living in the borough were classed as obese on leaving primary school. Breaking down barriers to disabled people participating was also important.
The strategy’s priorities were:
- Tackling inactivity
- Ensuring that every child enjoys being active
- Helping people to remain active, affordably
- Supporting residents to develop grassroots sports
- Creating better physical activity environments
- Developing evidence based approaches to improving participation
The Community Sport and Physical Activity Network had been consulted on the strategy and had contributed to the current draft. The strategy was currently being consulted on via the council’s website. Ullash Karia explained that officers were keen to hear views from residents and stakeholders as the strategy needed to engage them.
Councillor Dewhirst said that he was impressed with the strategy’s focus on inactive people; not only would inactive residents get a lot out of sport, there was also likely to be considerable funding available to help get them doing physical activity. Jardine Finn agreed and explained that partnerships with charities would also be important in securing grant funding.
Natascia Bernardi, Action on Disability, explained that the charity had been working with the council and Sport England on a project to help disabled young people get into sport. They were doing this by working with local clubs to remove any barriers to participation, although there were some barriers such as specialist equipment which were difficult to overcome without sufficient funding. She said that the charity wanted to extend the scheme to adults and wanted to work with the council to bid for funding to do this.
The Chair asked whether there had been a shift away from regular sport to less traditional physical activity such as park runs. Jardine Finn said that this was certainly ... view the full minutes text for item 22.
Ann Ramage, Head of Environmental Health (Commercial), explained that the council was responsible for ensuring safety at sports grounds in Hammersmith and Fulham. There were a minimum of 65 fixtures in the borough each season, although cup competitions and European games could increase this number to well over 100 in some years. This meant that there was a significant amount of work for officers to do to keep fans safe.
Most of what the council did was collaborative work to point out potential problems and get those responsible to deal with these. All involved generally understood the importance of safety and the potential impact if things went wrong so it was relatively easy to make improvements. Resident concerns were also dealt with by officers and all three clubs seemed keen to ensure that their neighbours were not adversely affected by games any more than necessary.
There were also a number of formal mechanisms such as the Safety Certificate which allowed officers to set the number of spectators permitted in each stand. The capacity was determined by both the physical structure and capacity of the stand and the safety management arrangements in place. Other formal aspects of the work included arranging and holding Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meetings which regularly see all agencies and the club discuss the operation of the stadium and resolve any issues. Supporters are also involved in these meetings, and while it is not possible to include them in the meetings due to confidentiality, they were now being involved in the work of SAGs as the Council was sharing the agenda with recognised supporter groups and allowing them to put their views forward, either in writing, or if necessary in particular circumstances, in person.
The main challenges to ensuring safety in recent times had been:
- The attitudes of television companies and national and international governing bodies, in particular in relation to match scheduling.
- The reduction in police support inside stadiums and the support needed by clubs to take on more responsibility for managing crowd behaviour.
- The need to understand and respond to the different football cultures which existed outside of the UK when their teams came to play in the borough.
- The difficulty of getting large numbers of fans into the stadium in a short period of time.
The Chair asked what the cost of providing this service was. Ann Ramage explained that it was difficult to calculate the cost, as whilst there was a core team of three officers, there was also a lot of time spent by other officers from across the council on ensuring safety. She noted that Hammersmith and Fulham was unique in having three professional football teams within its boundaries. She also explained that the clubs were generally willing to pay for improvements which officers thought were necessary.
Councillor Dewhirst asked how residents had responded to the extended closure of Fulham Road on Chelsea FC matchdays. Ann Ramage explained that the changes and the reasons for them had ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
The date of the next meeting was noted to be 30 January 2017.
The work programme was noted.