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Agenda item


To consider a progress report on individual risks identified in the Council’s Strategic Risk Register in relation to Project/Programme Management.


The Committee considered a deep dive into the Strategic Risk “Project/Programme Management” which included the sub-risks (a) The Council fails to reduce carbon emissions across its operations and the town, (b) Climate breakdown causes an increase in sea levels and severe adverse weather events, and (c) Failure to modernise transport network.


(a)        The Council fails to reduce carbon emissions across its operations and the town


Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Regeneration and Communication, provided an update in relation to sub-risk (a). He informed the Committee that good progress had been made in carbon emissions work undertaken by the Council, but that carbon emissions and climate change more widely presented an ongoing challenge.


The Committee noted that the risk had a red rating and that although the Council had worked hard to achieve the targets it had set itself, that climate issues had causes and consequences wider than Blackpool and beyond the Council’s control. Mr Cavill added that this had been recognised but that the Council could seek to improve the situation locally through its own carbon targets and assisting businesses and residents to reduce their emissions.


Mr Cavill also explained that the risk scores were realistic based on what the Council could achieve. In addition to work to prevent the negative consequences of climate change the work being undertaken also involved protective actions, such as sea water defences. These would help protect Blackpool from consequences such as sea level rises that were out of the Council’s control.


Members also discussed if and how the Council could offset the impact of the substantial regeneration work underway within Blackpool. Mr John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental Services, advised that the carbon impact of a project was considered as part of its planning. Contractors were also asked to ensure that they took carbon emissions into account when undertaking work.


(b)        Climate breakdown causes an increase in sea levels and severe adverse weather events


Mr John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental Services, provided an update in relation to sub-risk (b), he reported that the Council was well placed strategically to mitigate the consequences of sea level rises and increased severe weather. This included £150m in investment over the next five years from the Environment Agency (EA) into sea defences and beach management projects that would ensure protection for the next one-hundred years. In addition to this Mr Blackledge also reported that the Council continued to work with partners and neighbouring authorities on climate change work that would benefit Blackpool.


Mr Neil Jack, Chief Executive, reported that the Council had also invested in projects such as Beach Nutrition, which sought to allow nature itself to provide part of the solution. He added that such projects were generational in nature and would provide part of the long term solution to climate challenges faced in Blackpool.


(c)        Failure to modernise transport network


Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Regeneration and Communication, provided an update in relation to sub-risk (c). He reported that the Council had worked closely with its wholly-owned company, Blackpool Transport Services Ltd (BTS), to ensure that the transport network was modernised. This work had included the agreement of a Tramway Asset Management Strategy and involvement in substantial projects supported by the Department for Transport (DfT). Mr Cavill also advised that the Council had ensured that the new multi storey car park being constructed would include thirty electric vehicle charging points and that work was underway to identify more locations across Blackpool.


The Zero-Emissions Bus Regional Area project was raised by Members with the Committee querying the delays that had been experienced and the impact on cost. Mr Cavill explained that the main cost increase had been in relation to the equipment needed for BTS to operate a fleet of electric buses since the initial tender exercise. He further advised that the DfT had stated that the Council and BTS were responsible for any changes in cost. These increases had related to the need to secure a power reserve for the charging of buses, the cost of vehicles and the need to change from the initially planned AC chargers to DC equipment. Despite this, Mr Cavill stated that the Council was confident that the project would progress and noted that it was planned that ninety vehicles would be purchased through the project, for which procurement was ongoing.


It was also clarified that responsibility for the operation of the buses procured would be BTSs, including ensuring safety and maintenance. BTS was also therefore leading on the procurement exercise for the vehicles advised by a consultant to ensure it was prepared for the operation of electric buses.


The installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging points was raised with the Committee noting that a target of two-hundred and forty points by the end of 2024 had been set. In respect of the current number of points, Mr Cavill reported that the exact number would be confirmed following the meeting. Mr Blackledge added that the Council planned to operate a model whereby the EV charging would be operated by private providers and that the work underway had been aimed at facilitating that.


Members questioned if the proposed number of charging points was sufficient considering the increase in EV ownership. This number had been adopted, Mr Cavill explained, due to the fact that the majority of EV owners preferred to charge their vehicles at home rather than at a public charging point due to the lower cost. The Council therefore had sought to ensure the correct EV infrastructure was in place for private sector operators and that coverage was spread across Blackpool. It was also noted that EV technology continued to develop and factors such as charging speeds would likely improve as time passed. The Council would keep the current approach under review as EV technology and its take up developed in years to come.


Resolved: That


1.                  The update be noted; and

2.                  That the exact number of electric vehicle charging points be confirmed to Members of the Committee in writing following the meeting.

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