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.


Question 1


Councillor Kelly asked the Leader (on behalf of a constituent) if the statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher was owned by South Kesteven District Council, where funding/donation money was to go and whether the amount received to date, covered the unveiling event.


The Leader of the Council replied that the statue was currently owned by the Public Memorials Appeal, but would be transferred to the Council as a ‘Deed of Gift’.  Details were currently being finalised in relation to where the money would go.  He had already received enquiries from individuals and organisations about contributing to the unveiling event.  Currently the decision made by Cabinet on 1 December 2020 had been called-in and was going to the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 5 January 2021.  He stated that it was his view that the event would be fully paid for by the private sector and the funding received would also contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the statue and also contribute to the Baroness Margaret Thatcher exhibition at Grantham Museum.


Question 2


Councillor Dawson asked the Leader for an update on St Martin’s Park development at Stamford.


The Leader replied that the site had been purchased in March 2019.  The collaboration agreement between South Kesteven District Council and Burghley Estates had been signed. The outline planning application had been validated and could be viewed through the planning portal: the reference was S20/2056.  Morris Homes would be delivering the residential development, Inspired Living would be leading on the retirement development and Burghley Land Ltd would be delivering the commercial and mix use parts of the site.  The Heads of Terms with all three parties had been agreed and sales contracts would start to be drafted by the Legal Teams in the New Year.  Demolition on site was currently being discussed with the partners and it was hoped that it would start in 2021, excluding the 1904 building which it was hoped could be turned in to more commercial space.


Question 3


Councillor Dilks asked the Leader why there was no mention of the Riverside report or the Housing Compliance report within SKToday which had recently been circulated, only reference to Good Housing for All and High Performing Council, he felt the publication was an ideal opportunity to let residents know what was going on.


The Leader responded that the themes highlighted by Councillor Dilks referred to the Council’s key aims within the Council’s Corporate Plan.  Council house tenants received a specific publication called Skyline and both the Riverside report and the Housing Audit report would be mentioned within the next publication of this document and would be shared with Members as well.


Question 4


Councillor Sandall wished to place on record her thanks to the Leader and the team responsible for the work done to enable St Martin’s Park, Stamford to be used as a Covid-19 testing facility which had been easy to access and use.


The Leader stated that he would pass on her thanks to the teams involved that had made it possible to use St Martin’s Park as a testing facility.


Question 5


Councillor Wheeler asked the Leader what could be done to support businesses during this devastating time to ensure that they would remain viable during the difficult months ahead as Government had kept Lincolnshire as a whole within Tier 3, even though the number of cases in Stamford were well below the average and were comparable to Rutland County Council who remained in Tier 2. She also asked what MP’s and the Leader were doing to address this oversight when a review was undertaken in two weeks’ time, as other Counties had been divided up and she gave Peterborough and Cambridgeshire as an example.   


The Leader stated that there were support packages in place which included discretionary grants for businesses.  He had been in touch with businesses in the south of the District and those within the hospitality sector and that he would be raising the matter with Business Lincolnshire.  The MP’s for the south of the District, Gareth Davies MP and Rt Hon Sir John Hayes MP, had been working closely with Government Ministers to try and get South Kesteven removed from the Lincolnshire area, unfortunately it was not within his gift to change the Tiers but he would continue to make representations to Ministers in relation to the Tier structure for Lincolnshire.


As the meeting had reached the three-hour time limit an extension of 35 minutes was proposed, seconded and unanimously agreed.      


Question 6


Councillor Exton asked the Leader for an update on the old ambulance station premises in Stamford.   


The Leader replied that Lindum Construction had started work on 5 October 2020 and construction would run for a period of up to 16 weeks.  Works were on target with a completion date of 25 January 2021.  Letting agents were marketing the building and viewings would be taking place in the New Year.


Question 7


Councillor Stevens asked the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations for assurance that the Big Clean work would continue in the New Year.      


The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations responded that members of the Big Clean team were out and about locally every day.   If special measures were brought in, this would be looked at, as they had been back filling loader work through the Covid-19 crisis.  He hoped that the Big Clean initiative would be kept going for many years to come.  


Question 8


Councillor Crawford asked the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy when the refurbishment and the moving of the Registry Office in relation to the Corn Exchange, Bourne, would be complete.  She also asked that her thanks be given to those involved with the work that had already taken place.


The Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy stated that a lot of work had been done in relation to the refurbishment of the Corn Exchange Bourne and the registry office would be moved to the side of the library so that Lincolnshire County Council would all be in the same area, providing the Registry Office with its own entrance/exit.  The old offices that the Registrar had would be used as dressing rooms for performers.  The stage had been repainted, there were new curtains, lights and the hallway had been painted. It was hoped that the work would be completed by the end of this financial year. A personal thanks was given to Ian Bland and his Team for all their hard work.


Question 9


Councillor Ray Wootten asked the Leader about the independent report carried out by Julie Picken on Riverside. Although both he and Councillor Jacky Smith were mentioned within the report, he asked why they had not been interviewed and their evidence gathered for the report.


The Leader stated that he was not part of the decision making in relation to the report and how it was investigated.  He was happy to send a letter to Julie Picken asking her to consider adding an addendum to the report with an interview with both Councillor Ray Wootten and Councillor Jacky Smith as Ward Councillors, however it would be up to Julie Picken whether or not she carried this out.


Question 10


Councillor Baxter asked that the Chairman and Leader on behalf of all Members pass on their gratitude and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all Council Officers and the staff of the Council’s wholly owned companies.    He asked if the Leader would consider a small investment that could be of benefit to all staff, if he hadn’t already, to recognise the contribution that staff had made during the year.


The Leader responded by stating that a token of thanks would be given to all Officers, with the addition of a half day’s holiday for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.


Question 11


Councillor Selby thanked everyone involved in setting up the vaccination centre at the Meres Leisure Centre in Grantham. He also thanked the Interim Assistant Director for Housing and his team for the work done in his ward in relation to housing case work.  He asked if a referendum was to be taken in relation to the Margaret Thatcher statue as reported in one of the national newspapers and who would be unveiling the statute. He suggested that local names be put in a hat to either unveil the statute or attend the unveiling.  He also referred to a painting done by the local artist Terry Shelbourne that was currently in the archives at Lincoln and he asked if this could be displayed when the unveiling took place.


The Leader stated that the newspapers had misquoted what had been said at the recent Cabinet meeting in relation to the referendum and that one would not be taking place.  A person of significant national interest would be unveiling the statue and for security reasons he could not say anything further.  There would be an opportunity for local people to be involved in the event and attend the unveiling.  He would make enquiries in relation to the painting.


Question 12


Councillor Paul Wood asked the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations if the food waste scheme was to be expanded.


The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations stated that the food waste trial had been successful and would continue as per the current trial. DEFRA was expected to issue a paper on the future of waste which had been delayed due to Covid-19.   One of the issues believed to be within the paper was that authorities would be required to collect food waste from every household from 2023.  Collecting food waste was expensive and had financial implications.  Work was on going with partners to help find a solution.


Both the Leader of the Council and the Opposition Group Leader thanked all staff for the work that they had done over last year in dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. They also thanked volunteers who had helped within the community during difficult times.