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.


Question 1 – Councillor Jan Hansen to the Leader of the Council


Councillor Hansen asked the Leader of the Council whether he would agree to hold a meeting with Horbling Parish Council to discuss the Horbling Conservation Area.


The Leader of the Council agreed to be involved in a meeting with Horbling Parish Council and extended the invite to the Cabinet Member for Planning and Planning Policy.


Question 2 – Councillor Paul Wood to the Leader of the Council


Councillor Paul Wood noted the six-month review that had recently been undertaken following the Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge and asked the Leader of the Council for feedback.


The Leader explained to members that there had been a six-month review held by the members of the Peer Review Panel. A report was due back in three weeks’ time and the details of this would be reported back to Full Council. The Panel were impressed with both the officer and political improvements since their last visit and noted significant progress across a number of areas of the Council.


Question 3 – Councillor Phil Dilks to the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy


Councillor Dilks congratulated the villages of Ropsley and Welby for their recent success in South Kesteven District Council’s Best Kept Village competition. He asked the Cabinet member why Deeping St. James had been banned from the competition and requested assurance that the ban would be lifted.


In reply, the Cabinet Member congratulated all of those villages that had had success in the competition and gave a special mention to those that had received a gold bin. The Cabinet Member highlighted to members that she had inherited responsibility for the Best Kept Village competition from a previous Cabinet Member. The competition was being reviewed and further information would be provided to members when available.


Question 4 – Councillor Chairmaine Morgan to the Leader of the Council


Councillor Morgan highlighted the national cost of living issue and asked for an explanation of why the subject was not included on the agenda for this meeting, how the Council would manage the issue, and whether an extraordinary meeting could be considered.


The Leader of the Council highlighted that the issue was part of the agenda for the postponed Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 5 October 2022. Additionally, the Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities had held a number of working group meetings on this topic.


The Leader of the Council informed members that the cost of living was a priority; the Council was working with a number of community groups across the district. The issue, and the finances around it would also be discussed at the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Note: Councillor Kaffy Rice-Oxley left the Chamber and did not return.


Question 5 – Councillor Lee Steptoe to the Leader of the Council


Councillor Steptoe queried when a bidding based letting system would be introduced for the Council’s housing stock.


The Leader of the Council asked for clarification from the Director of Housing and Property, who responded that the timeline would be shared with all members in due course. Currently, his team were looking at IT packages that would allow a choice-based letting system to work.


Question 6 – Councillor Philip Knowles to the Cabinet Member for Waste Services and Climate Change


Councillor Knowles requested an update on the progress of the grounds maintenance contract.


The Cabinet Member informed members that there would be a Joint Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss the continuation of grounds maintenance. There were three options to consider; private providers, in-house provision, or retaining service provision through EnvironmentSK Ltd. Once the options had been discussed at the Joint Meeting, a report would be put to the appropriate decision makers.


Question 7 – Councillor Anna Kelly to the Leader of the Council


Councillor Kelly asked for an update on the Scrutiny Review and asked whether an action plan had been formulated.


The Leader of the Council and the Deputy Chief Executive outlined that a draft action plan was on the agenda for Governance and Audit Committee to consider on 28 September 2022.


Question 8 – Councillor Ian Selby to the Leader of the Council


Councillor Selby asked whether communication with the general public could be improved as he had heard several comments from constituents remarking that the standard of communication from officers was poor.


The Leader of the Council replied requesting evidence for this statement, as residents were communicated with on a daily basis across a range of departments and issues. Other work, such as the South Kesteven magazine, and the upcoming Communications Strategy demonstrated officer commitment to good communication with residents.