Councillor Burnett asked the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Efficiency for the latest figures for sign-ups to the new charged garden waste service and for information on income and expenditure in respect of this.
Councillor Sweeney advised that, to date there had been 9,251 sign-ups with over 10,000 actual bins for where more than one bin had been requested. Councillor Sweeney confirmed that there were costs of £68,000 to get there and also the cost of collecting unwanted bins.
Councillor Fear asked the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Efficiency for an update on the asbestos situation at the former Civic Offices.
Councillor Sweeney confirmed that the Council had received specialist advice. A full refurbishment or demolition survey would be required but any survey would be intrusive, potentially disturbing the asbestos which then becomes a problem. It is therefore best to leave it alone until further decisions are made. The safety of workers and the people of Newcastle was paramount.
Councillor Marion Reddish asked the Leader for an update on actions taken in connection with the odours, believed to be emanating from Walleys Quarry, off Cemetery Road.
The Leader stated that landfill sites were regulated by the Environment Agency who would use any information from the public to progress an necessary enforcement.
Complaints had been coming from residents in and around the town centre as well as near to the site. The weather conditions had also increased the potency of the odour.
It was understood that a public meeting was being arranged for February and local ward members for Knutton and Silverdale were encouraged to attend.
The Council is working with the Environment Agency in respect of any statutory nuisances.
Councillor Reddish asked the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing, Councillor Jill waring for an update on the number of registered homeless in the Borough and how many slept rough in the Town Centre.
Councillor Waring stated that there were currently 109 active cases: with 45 classed as ‘prevention’; 27 classed as ‘relief’; two full homeless and 35 pending enquiries.
Current intelligence suggested that last week, there were six rough sleepers in and around the Town Centre and the Lyme Trust had counted three individuals. It was not confirmed if they were ‘homeless rough sleepers’.
With regard to litter/items left behind by rough sleepers, a scheme was currently being piloted between Streetscene and CCTV operatives that, where items were left, arrangements would be made to attend with the police and remove the items.
Councillor Reddish suggested that it would be interesting to know the definition of a rough sleeper.
Councillor Waring advised that it was difficult to confirm a ‘genuine’ rough sleeper as opposed to those who did have accommodation. Councillor Waring would advise Councillor Reddish if she found out.
Councillor Dymond asked the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing about the possibility of implementing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at Clough Hall Park.
Councillor Waring stated that there had been no reports of anti-social behaviour in Clough Hall Park since September 2018. With regard to implementing a PSPO, if the evidence was robust enough to make it viable then it could be explored. A full consultation would be required.
Councillor Waring was aware that large groups gathered and that there was the same issue in Bathpool Park.
Councillor Dymond stated that she had received some complaints from residents but they had not involved the police as yet. Councillor Dymond requested a meeting with the Portfolio Holder to discuss the matter further.
Councillor Ruth Wright asked the Leader about the possibility of setting up a Town Centre Working Group to discuss various issues that were arising.
The Leader stated that there were already numerous interventions led by a number of working groups which ward members could be involved in. The Council has staff working with teams such as a rough sleepers action group which met fortnightly, there are weekly outreach sessions. In addition the Lyme Trust meet on a monthly basis. There was also work with neighbouring authorities and our partners.
Officers would be in touch with Councillors’ Wright and Shenton about renewing their involvement in the town centre.
Councillor Wright then asked about a group that had been set up in Autumn 2017. Why had it been halted and if the funding was still available.
The Leader stated that he was not aware of this group as it was before he became Leader of the Council. He would ask officers to inform Councillor Wright.
Councillor Shenton asked the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing for an update on any planning in place for Brexit, following the meeting that took place in January.
Councillor Waring stated that the Council was continuing to prepare for Brexit and was working with partners. The Government had issued further guidance to local authorities and that the Council would have a £35,000 share of the Brexit Fund.
Councillor Shenton asked what the funding would be used for.
Councillor Waring said that she would put this in writing.