Agenda item

Members' Open Questions

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 Planning Committee, Licensing and Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Committees and Governance and Audit Committee.

Minutes:

Question 1

 

Councillor Selby apologised for his lateness as he had been to the funeral of Terry Shelbourne, a local artist based in Grantham.

 

Councillor Selby asked the Leader if there was any assistance the Council could give in promoting the EU settlement scheme, which gave EU citizens the right to remain in the UK after Brexit. The scheme was free to apply for and the deadline was 30 June 2021.  Failure to apply before this deadline may mean a loss of rights for those EU citizens within the UK.  The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) South Lincolnshire had a Team which was funded by the Home Office that offered free support and advice to clients applying for the scheme.  However, due to the pandemic and the closure of their offices the CAB were struggling to attract clients, including those most vulnerable within the community.  Councillor Selby asked if a small article could be included within the Council’s media publications.

 

The Leader of the Council added his condolences to the family of Terry Shelbourne.

 

The Leader agreed to raise the promotion of the EU settlement scheme with the Communications Team, to increase its profile. He would also request that the Cabinet Member for Communities, investigate how the issue could be further promoted.

 

Question 2

 

Councillor Paul Wood asked the Leader of the Council how the Scrutiny review was progressing, following the decision agreed at the last meeting of full Council.

 

The Leader stated that the Chief Executive had been in contact with the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS), via the Local Government Association (LGA).  A scoping exercise was being undertaken to consider the effectiveness of the current process and opportunities for improvement, potential structure changes, engagement of Members in the process, role of Chairman in the Scrutiny Committee and the training requirements.  The Chief Executive had met with the CfGS that week to look at timings, taking into consideration the pandemic and the current lockdown, it was felt that a review should be undertaken when the demands from the pandemic had subsided.  He stated that the review was moving forward, and that Members would be involved.

 

Members were also advised that after a successful recruitment exercise, a Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Democratic Services had been appointed.  It was hoped that they would be in post within the next few months.

 

Question 3

 

Councillor Sandall expressed concern to the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy that the static market traders at Stamford market were not wearing face masks, especially as the new variant of Covid-19 was more contagious.  She enquired if there was a policy in place regarding this matter.

 

The Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy stated that it wasn’t mandatory to wear face coverings outside. The Market Supervisor had spoken to traders about wearing face coverings and had asked that those who could, wear them whilst engaging with customers.   The Cabinet Member reiterated the need to adhere to social distancing, hand washing and wearing face coverings where required.

 

Question 4

 

Councillor Whittington asked the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations what level of support was being given to the vaccination centres.  He appreciated that they were being run by the NHS and volunteers, within South Kesteven.  There were concerns about the access to the centres, which had proved difficult for some residents during the bad weather.

 

The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations stated that both the Street Scene Teams and EnvironmentSK Ltd were working hard to keep car parks salted and clear.  Keeping people safe who were visiting the vaccination centre at the Meres Leisure Centre, Grantham, was paramount and efforts would continue to achieve this.  He took the opportunity to thank the teams for their hard work during very difficult circumstances.

 

Question 5

 

Councillor Woolley asked the Leader of the Council if he agreed that the NHS colleagues and the volunteers were doing a fantastic job in relation to the vaccination programme, with over 17,000 being vaccinated within the South Kesteven area, which included all care homes.

 

The Leader of the Council agreed with the comments that had been made.  The contribution of the NHS staff and volunteers who had been involved in the vaccination process had been superb.  Over 50,000 doses of the vaccination had been given in Lincolnshire.  England having just over 6.6million doses administered, with over 1.2 million being in the Midlands.  This was a very positive message.  Tragically the number deaths relating to Covid-19 had increased, thoughts and prayers went out to those residents who had suffered during the crisis.

 

The Leader advised Members that he was a member of the Lincolnshire Outbreak Engagement Board, along with other Lincolnshire District Council Leaders and representatives from the Police and Health Services.  He stated that the integration and communication with the various bodies, had made the vaccination programme a continued success within South Kesteven.

 

 

 

 

Question 6

 

Councillor Dilks asked the Leader of the Council if the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on the Notice of findings had been received, following the Riverside report and compliance with the Stop Notice issued by the HSE on the Council’s work to remove asbestos at the properties at Riverside in Grantham.

 

The Leader of the Council replied that the Health and Safety report was expected in April 2021.  The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning confirmed the date and stated that any asbestos issues had been dealt with.

 

Question 7

 

Councillor Crawford asked the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations where people should go for advice in relation to storms and flooding within the area. 

 

The Cabinet Member of Commercial and Operations stated that Lincolnshire County Council was the flood co-ordinator for the area. They had a response team in place and concerns/advice should be directed to them. They were working with Parishes, in relation to flood warning and emergency planning protocols.

 

Question 8

 

Councillor Steptoe asked for confirmation that the heating system at the Riverside flats in Grantham was now complete and if any compensation had been considered.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning stated that the heating upgrade had been completed before Christmas, although there had been a breakdown over Christmas, but this had been addressed promptly. 

 

Upgrades to the hot water system had been undertaken, seven units were still to be completed. 

 

Payments in the form of rent credits would be made to residents, which would not affect any benefits that they may receive.

 

Question 9

 

Councillor Baxter asked the Chairman of the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) why issues in the Housing Department, Riverside Report, lack of Voids Policy and only building 14 houses within the last three years had not been addressed by the Committee, holding the Cabinet to account.

 

 

The Chairman of the Rural and Communities OSC stated that they did hold the current Cabinet Member responsible.  There had been various meetings over the year to scrutinise those matters, which Members were able to attend. 

 

Question 10

 

Councillor Fellows asked a question in relation to the new public consultation in relation to the removal of statues, was this something that would be considered in relation to the Baroness Thatcher statue.

 

The Leader stated that the process for the erection of the statue was already underway. As part of the planning application process, consultation had taken place. 

 

Question 11

 

Councillor Exton asked if there were any plans to increase the residents parking in Stamford, to include Exeter Street and Exeter Road.

 

The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations stated that currently there was a residents parking scheme in Stamford with a set number of places available.  To increase the scope of the scheme, Lincolnshire County Council would need to be contacted, there was a policy process in place which included surveys and consultations.  Currently 400 permits had been issued and there was a waiting list for 88.  He was happy to meet Stamford Members to discuss the issue in more detail.

 

Question 12

 

Councillor Knowles asked the Deputy Leader about LeisureSK Ltd’s Business Plan and the proposed budget, which did not take account of the current lockdown and the closure of all leisure centres.

 

The Chief Executive replied that the business plan for LeisureSK Ltd is being renewed and would be discussed by the LeisureSK Ltd’s Board, which would then report back to the Council’s Companies Committee.

 

Question 13

 

Councillor Wheeler stated that she had started the process in relation to the residents parking in Stamford and would be happy to attend a meeting with other Stamford Members.

 

Councillor Wheeler asked about Covid-19 testing; if Members could be notified when the testing was taking place. It was suggested that Stamford Arts Centre be used as a vaccination centre, rather than St Mary’s Health Centre, due to the limited space available.

 

The Leader stated that he would look into the use of alternative sites and would report back to the Member.

 

Question 14

 

Councillor Kelly raised concerns about St Mary’s Surgery, Stamford and the lack of organisation for those waiting to be vaccinated. The lack of social distancing and waiting times were of great concern, especially to those who were vulnerable, waiting outside in poor weather conditions.  The medical team were fantastic, but it was felt that the car park organisation was inadequate.

 

The Leader of the Council indicated that he would raise the matter at the Lincolnshire Outbreak Engagement Board and with the Director of Public Health. Lincolnshire County Council, Executive Councillor for NHS liaison and Community Engagement stated that she would raise the issue with the CCG, and that new sites were becoming available.

 

Question 15

 

Councillor Bisnauthsing noted that following the recent flooding in Stamford Meadows and Bath Row, in Stamford, the gate seals on the barrier in the vicinity appeared to have perished. Councillor Bisnauthsing wanted to know who to contact to assist.

 

He also echoed the comments made in relation to the St Mary’s Surgery in Stamford.

 

The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations stated that the gates would be the responsibility of the Environment Agency.  A note was made of the concerns and would be passed on appropriately.

 

The Leader further confirmed that he would take the concerns regarding the St Mary’s Surgery in Stamford to the Lincolnshire Outbreak Engagement Board and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

 

Question 16

 

Councillor Stevens asked if the Best Kept Village competition would be reinstated for 2021 and if there would be any assistance to the Villages, with litter pickers.

 

The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations stated that due to its size Deeping St James fell outside the village criteria. Options would be looked at to encompass larger areas, including towns.  If parishes required litter removal, they should contact the Head of Street Scene who would make the necessary arrangements. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations confirmed that the Best Kept Village competition would take place in 2021.