To receive a statement by the Leader of the Council on the activities and decisions of Cabinet and items included on the Forward Plan.
A report was submitted which provided an update to Members on the activities and decisions of the Cabinet, together with the Forward Plan.
In respect of paragraph 2, Members stated that the odour from Walleys Quarry could still be smelt. It was stated that residents had been advised by the Liaison Committee that they could not attend Committee meetings. The Leader stated that he too had smelt the odours recently. With regard to the Liaison Committee, at the next meeting the Council would be able to put across the point about local community representation.
A request was made for the Council to press the Environment Agency (EA) to ensure that their remit was discharged correctly in dealing with the odour issues. In addition, it was requested that this issue remain a top priority for the Council. The Leader confirmed that through officers and himself, it would be ensured that the EA kept a focus on this issue and it would continue to be a priority for this Council.
On paragraph 3, it was asked if interest from money currently invested from the Funds would be used to balance the books and if so, would there be full discussion as to where the interest would be distributed across departments. The Leader assured that the money received had been invested to create a return and would be spend on the schemes whether it be Future High Street or Town Deal Funds.
The Leader was asked if the Town Deals Funds and Future High Street Fund were secure, in view of media reports on funding cuts. This was confirmed as being the case.
On paragraph 4, it was stated that the final accounts did not acknowledge a £70,000 donation from Kidsgrove Town Council. The Leader was asked who would be managing the CIC’s accounts going forward. The Leader stated that the Town Council’s contribution was referred to at Cabinet. The money was given to the Community Group for equipment and was not therefore in the Council’s final accounting for refurbishment and rebuilding. Regarding the accounts, the Group would be doing those themselves.
On paragraph 6, it was asked what this Council’s attitude was towards parking income. The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Town Centres and Growth stated that a decision had been made to make car parking rates as affordable as possible through different incentives. The Council did not use its car parks as a way of raising large amounts of money.
On paragraph 7, the Leader was asked to commit to working with ward Councillors and residents groups in Bradwell, when designing and enhancing the open spaces. The Leader confirmed that public consultation did take place when deciding where to plant trees and other enhancements.
On paragraph 8, it was asked whether contaminated land had been considered for development once it had been decontaminated. It was also asked what the housing figure had been under the Joint Local Plan. The Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning stated that some of the land had been used before and therefore could have been contaminated. With regard to the housing figures under the Joint Local Plan, these were, in 2015 - 679 dwellings per year and 586 dwellings per year in 2017.
The Leader was asked if any work had gone into looking at land banking. It was also asked that if the target figure of 7000 homes was reduced by the Government, would the Council press ahead with the 7000 homes as set out in the report. The Leader stated that one of the biggest land bankers in Newcastle was the Borough Council with its green space and carbon capture areas that are protected from development. The figure of 7000 homes would be kept as people wanted to move into or remain in the Borough so there had to be houses available.
On paragraph 9, it was stated that the Council had been shortlisted for an award in the most improved performer category for the waste and recycling service. The Leader stated that the awards ceremony would take place on 1st December and wished the Council good luck at the event.
On paragraph 10, it was stated that the date of the next Cabinet meeting was the 5th anniversary of the current administration and 10th anniversary of Councillor Simon Tagg being Leader of the Council at different periods and he deserved a vote of thanks for his work.
Resolved: That the Statement of the Leader of the Council be received and noted.