To consider a call-in by Councillor Ashley Baxter that met the required criteria in accordance with Article 17 of the Council’s Constitution in relation to ‘Item 7, Public Realm Improvements, St Peter's Hill, Grantham’ that was presented and agreed by Cabinet on 1 December 2020.
The Chairman invited the Monitoring Officer to present the report and provide an overview of the role of Scrutiny and the Committee in considering the Call-in of the Cabinet decision, made on 1 December 2020.
In presenting the report the Monitoring Officer drew the Committees attention to paragraph 2.2 of the report, which set out the recommendations the Committee could make. It was also confirmed that the Request for Call-in had met the requirements, as set out in the Council’s Constitution.
Members were reminded of Cabinet’s decision as set out below:
1. Cabinet approves the installation of the statue on St Peter’s Hill Green, in accordance with the agreed planning permission.
2. Cabinet approves a budget allocation from the Local Priorities Reserve and authorise expenditure of up to £100k to underwrite the statue-unveiling event and any consequential works. Any fundraising from the public, businesses and others will go towards funding this budget allocation.
3. Cabinet approves the engagement of an external organisation, as part of the above allocation, to coordinate the unveiling, including event management, communications and fundraising campaign.
4. Cabinet delegates to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader and the Monitoring Officer, the authority to enter into a deed of gift agreement with The Public Memorials Appeal to transfer the ownership of the statue to the Council from the point of installation.
The Chairman invited the Members who had submitted the Call-in, to provide further details on their reasons for doing so. Councillors Wheeler, Clack, Dilks and Baxter were permitted, by the Chairman, to speak for up to five minutes each. The following points were raised:
· The late publication of the Cabinet report
· Ambiguity of the report title
· A lack of consultation with Scrutiny
· A lack of consultation with members of the public
· Concerns regarding the use of £100,000 to underwrite the event
Other Councillors in attendance who expressed a wish to speak, were also permitted by the Chairman to speak for five minutes each, Councillors Ray Wootten, Smith, Selby, Morgan and Kelly thanked the Chairman for the opportunity. The following points were raised:
· The historic value to Grantham
· Concern over the proposed timing of the unveiling, being in the midst of a pandemic
· A lack of consultation with residents
· The Council being liable for ongoing maintenance costs
The Chairman opened the debate to Members of the Committee and the following points were raised:
· A business plan not being in place
· It was acknowledged Margaret Thatcher was a divisive character, however, is part of the history of Grantham and as such should be recognised
· Inadequate public consultation had been undertaken
· The planning application for the statue, which was approved, had not received substantial representations from the public
· The risk to the Council in committing to underwrite £100,000 for the unveiling ceremony, be further explored
The Leader of the Council advised the Committee that positive feedback had been received regarding the statue and confirmed that a fundraising campaign would be put in place, with donations already being offered.
Upon the conclusion of the debate, the following motion was proposed and seconded:
a) That Cabinet gives further consideration to item two of their decision; with specific regard to the financial breakdown of the up to £100k, in relation to fundraising and details of the anticipated on-going costs.
b) Request that the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee be updated on the progress of the organisation of the event and fundraising.
A recorded vote was taken.
For: Councillors Fellows, Sandall, Smith, Stevens, Thomas, Westropp (6)
Against: Councillor Virginia Moran (1)
Abstain: None (0)
The motion was carried.
Councillor Virginia Moran left the meeting at 11:52