Service overview

Our Environmental Services account for many of the regulatory functions of the Council including the protection of people from harmful products and environments, repairing and maintaining our roads as well as waste disposal and recycling. There are a number of measures included in the LGBF that measure both satisfaction with and the cost of delivering a range of Environmental Services functions; however these are not explored here.

Domestic noise complaints are handled by our Environmental Health & Trading Standards unit who deliver many regulatory functions which are centered on the protection of people from harmful environments such as air, land, water and noise pollution, as well as food safety, trading standards and animal welfare. Waste recycling, street cleansing and the maintenance of our road network are handled by our Waste Services and Roads Services Units respectively.

National Policy Context

In terms of waste recycling, the Scottish Government use the structure set by EU policy and the associated Directives to provide a national framework for the regulation of waste. The Zero Waste Plan for Scotland was published in June 2010 and proposes that discarded materials are treated as a resource rather than a waste. Since then, the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 have been introduced. Under these regulations, we must reduce the amount of material being sent to landfill.

Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the associated Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (Scotland) 2006 require local authorities and others to keep specified land and public roads clean and litter-free. Clean and safe local environments are a vital element of improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. The Carnegie UK Trust found that issues such as vandalism, graffiti, litter, dog fouling and discarded rubbish have a serious and long-lasting impact on people's quality of life. Moreover, those most affected are most likely to live in the UK's most deprived neighbourhoods where high litter levels directly contribute to increased health inequalities.

In terms of domestic noise complaints, neighbourhood noise is included in Part 5 of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004. The provisions of Part 5 are enabling and flexible and came into force on 28 February 2005.

Brief Local Profile

Falkirk has a population of over 157,600. While the population of the Council area has been increasing in recent years, the number of households has been increasing at a greater rate. The number of households in the council area has grown from 56,780 in 1991 to 68,223 in 2009, an increase of 11,443 or 20% while the population has only increased by 6.5% within the same period. Additionally, we have 970km of carriageways to maintain and approximately 1700 km of footways. The majority of our network (75%) is urban.

What we know affects performance

Only household waste is now used to measure Scotland's progress towards the recycling targets. In previous years the recycling and composting rate was based on Local Authority Collected Municipal Waste (LACMW). Therefore previous years cannot be compared directly. There is also a new definition for recycling, and some activities no longer count towards local authority household recycling rates.

Furthermore, statistics published by Keep Scotland Beautiful consistently show that the general public are the main reason litter is a problem in Scotland. This trend remains, despite many national and local anti-littering campaigns. Business waste accounted for only 4.7% of littered sites across Scotland. Domestic waste resulting in a litter issue affected only 3.6% (5.9% in high density residential locations).

In terms of our noise complaints, there are multiple factors that can affect response times. The varying volume and degree of complexity of complaints can impact both positively and negatively on response times. There can be significant differences in response times between urban, rural and semi-rural areas. In certain circumstances our response times can occasionally be negatively affected by delays in the arrival of partner agencies.

In terms of road maintenance, there is a significant difference in costs between urban, rural and semi-rural councils. The higher traffic volumes experienced in urban and semi-rural areas, where some large towns are located, is a key factor behind the variations in spending.

Link to corporate community plan/priorities/national priorities

Waste recycling and street cleaning as functions link with our organisational goal of enhancing and sustaining an environment in which people want to live, work and visit. The handling of domestic noise complaints links in with our goal to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of our citizens and communities and our road maintenance activities link in with our goal to further develop a thriving, sustainable and vibrant economy.

Council Performance

Below is a brief overview of our performance as measured by those indicators set out in the LGBF. More information can be found on the LGBF website and in our performance reports published in our performance section.

The percentage of total waste arising that is recycled.

This indicator shows the percentage of total waste that is recycled. Only household waste is used in the measurement of this. Household waste includes household bin collections, other household collections such as bulky uplifts, and waste deposited by people at household waste recycling centres and recycling points/bring banks. Our household waste recycling rate for the 2014/15 period increased to 54.3%. Our rank also increased for this period to 7th in Scotland. The Scottish average during 2014/15 was 42.8%.

Street Cleanliness Score (Percentage Acceptable)

The cleanliness index is determined following inspection of a sample of streets and other relevant land. Relevant streets and land are defined in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse 1999. This measure includes streets receiving A and B code of practice defined ratings and provides a measure of the proportion of streets considered 'acceptably clean’.

The percentage of our streets considered acceptable for the 2014/15 period decreased for the first time to 94.6%. However our rank actually increased for this period from 22nd to 15th in Scotland. The Scottish average during 2014/15 was 93.9%.

The percentage of A, B, C and U class roads that should be considered for maintenance treatment

These four indicators calculate the proportion of A, B, C and unclassified roads that need consideration for maintenance repair together with the portion of roads requiring further investigation and/or monitoring. Note that all trunk roads, including motorways, are dealt with by Transport Scotland and are therefore not included.

A summary of our performance for the 2014/15 is as follows:

  • A Class – 28.3%, Rank 17, Scottish Average 29.0%
  • B Class – 36.6%, Rank 23, Scottish Average 36.1%
  • C Class – 38.5%, Rank 17, Scottish Average 37.4%
  • Unclassified – 34.0%, Rank 9, Scottish Average 39.3%

Explanation for variation in performance

There are a number of factors influencing our performance in respect of street cleansing, none more so than the financial challenges we have faced and the reduction in the profile of local environmental quality at both a local and national level. The significant change in our response times to domestic noise complaints is largely due to a change in how this indicator is calculated. It is expected that over time the data will become more of an accurate reflection of how quickly we are responding to complaints of domestic noise.

What the Council is doing to improve services?

Our current Zero Waste Strategy replaces the Council’s previous waste strategies. It summarises current arrangements for waste management and sets out the actions that will be necessary for the Council to move towards the vision for a Zero Waste society over a period of up to 10 years. The strategy will guide future decision-making by the Council and successful delivery will require the engagement of all key stakeholders. Additionally, it is hoped that the recent launch of the National Litter Strategy should have a positive impact on public behaviour.

In terms of our response to domestic noise complaints, we continually review our operational procedures and make changes where necessary to improve efficiency and performance. Our response times are reported regularly to management and officers are continuing to follow changes to the British Standards guidance on best practice and implement changes as appropriate.

We also regularly attend Family Group workshops to discuss outputs and performance with other similar Councils. We also participate in both the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) for Roads, Environmental Health and Trading Standards.