A 45-minute period in which members may ask questions of the Leader, Cabinet Members, the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and opposition group leaders excluding the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Development Management Committee, Licensing and Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Committees and Governance and Audit Committee.
Councillor Baxter asked the Cabinet Member for Growth for a progress update on the new Deepings Leisure Centre.
The Cabinet Member for Growth set out the wider leisure agenda before providing an update on leisure facilities for each of the district’s four market towns. She explained that in the coming months, the Council would need to make decisions regarding its leisure provision for the current and future generations. The life of leisure facilities meant that it was important to get things right, so time would be taken to amend any plans as a result of feedback received. She added that the leisure facilities provided by the district council would need to complement the facilities that were available through both the private and voluntary sector, respecting each town’s needs and characteristics. A commitment was made that proposals should offer value for money. It was noted that a new Head of Leisure had been appointed. Architects had also been appointed.
In respect of Bourne, agreements were being finalised with the school and Lincolnshire County Council to enable the extension of the existing building with a full refurbishment. It was anticipated that work on this centre would be completed by the middle of 2022.
It was still the intention to build a new facility in the Deepings that offered an improvement to existing facilities and complemented the active sporting community that already existed in the area. The Council had been in negotiations with landowners to secure an appropriate site. The existing playing fields site had been selected for feasibility work and extensive consultation. This offer provided the opportunity to consolidate all leisure activity on a single site. Subject to planning and highways approval, it was anticipated that delivery would be completed within two years of securing the site. Initial meetings were already scheduled with the local community.
A business case for facilities in Stamford had yet to be finalised, which limited the information that could be shared. The overriding ambition was to ensure the money invested filled the void in the private sector provision, complementing what it had to offer and to enhance the family-friendly facility that already existed.
Consultation on proposals for Grantham would be delayed until the centre’s busiest time in January 2020 to maximise public engagement. Proposals that would be considered included a smaller facility in the town centre, refurbishment of the existing facility or the construction of a new facility on the existing site.
It was anticipated that the first report on Bourne would be brought before the relevant overview and scrutiny committee in November 2019.
Councillor Chivers asked the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations for an update on the water that had been running down Harrowby Hill.
The Cabinet Member stated that it was brought to his attention during the summer; whilst it was the driest on record, properties were being flooded. Relevant parties, including Anglian Water, met to discuss the matter. Since then, extensive work has been carried out, which identified leaks. Initial work showed that the leak had been plugged. Remedial works were also undertaken on Chatsworth Avenue, which had also subsided. It was noted that works would continue in the area because there were natural springs.
Councillor Dilks referred to a recent public meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) that had been held in the Deepings. The meeting had been called following an unlawful encampment of travellers, who he described as wreaking havoc on the area. He said that Lincolnshire Police faced criticism for their lack of action but, at the meeting, the PCC admitted that the community had been let down and outlined lessons that had been learned. The Leader was asked whether he would join the public in thanking the PCC and Lincolnshire Police for their honesty and integrity. He went on to ask whether the Leader whether he would agree that admitting a mistake had been made and apologising was the best thing to do.
The Leader said that he would not re-cover old ground, but he did express his gratitude to the PCC and Lincolnshire Police.
Councillor Steptoe referred to concerns that had been raised within his Ward about the future of Earlesfield Community Centre and its demolition and replacement with housing. He asked the Deputy Leader what the plans were for the centre.
The Deputy Leader said that he was not aware of any plans for the site but he would ask the Cabinet Member for Communities and HR to arrange a meeting and find out the position.
Councillor Knowles referred to the question that he had asked at the previous Council meeting about non-disclosure agreements. The former Leader had committed to send a written answer to all Councillors, but no response had been received.
The Leader stated that he would ensure the answer to the question was circulated.
Councillor Ray Wootten referred to the Healthy Conversation, which closes on 31 October 2019. He asked the Leader whether he supported local people, councillors and campaign groups in support of Grantham hospital’s accident and emergency department being re-opened as a 24/7 facility without the need to call 111.
The Leader reaffirmed the Council’s support, stating that it was vital that Grantham for Grantham to have a 24/7 service, especially when put in the context of the Council’s growth ambitions and its proximity to the A1 and the East Coast Mainline.
Councillor Linda Wootten also referred to the overnight closure of Grantham’s Accident and Emergency Department. She stated that since that time 2,598 patients had attended Peterborough Hospital’s A&E out of hours. She asked the Leader whether he supported the Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee Chairman’s decision to investigate that increase.
The Leader spoke positively about the decision to scrutinise and challenge.
Councillor Morgan stated that the CCG and community services were undertaking a second review of their plans for Grantham A&E. She referred to a document that had 30,000 local comments and signatures and asked whether the Council had responded. The Leader stated that he was not sure whether a response had been submitted but he would find out and ensure that the Council did provide a response.
17:27 – It was proposed, seconded and agreed that the meeting be extended for an additional 30 minutes.