Councillor Andrew Parker asked:
Could the Leader update the Council on the effects that the cost of living and inflation rises are having on people across the Borough and what actions the Council is able to take to help residents at this difficult time?
The Leader stated that the Council was working with its partners to measure the impact and to ensure that support was available for those who needed it. As well as passporting funding across the Borough, the Council had worked with the County Council and other partners to provide slow cookers to households and funding had been secured to provide warm packs, warm clothing and blankets to be given out to those who needed them. The Council was also, working with the County Council to deliver the Warmer Homes Scheme. In addition a network of warm spaces was being set up.
Councillor Parker then asked:
Did the Leader agree that it was encouraging that the Council was making such a proactive response. The Leader agreed.
Councillor Joan Whieldon asked:
Can the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing Holder update the Council on the work being carried out to reduce rough sleepers in the town centre and how many rough sleeper were there at the last count?
The Portfolio Holder stated that earlier this year the Council had set up a Coordinated Rough Sleepers Initiative through which funding was provided to create a supported pathway for rough sleepers and a number of key posts to deliver this work had been established. There was a multi-agency homelessness hub based at the Salvation Army offices in the town centre and the rough sleeper accommodation programme with Aspire which had had an immediate positive impact with the number of rough sleepers currently being four.
Councillor Whieldon then asked:
Could the Portfolio Holder advise what, if any arrangements were being made for the winter.
The Portfolio Holder stated that the Council’s Severe Winter Emergency Protocol was again in place, running from 1st November to 31st March next year, when temperatures hit zero or below. Overnight accommodation was provided at St George’s on an ad hoc basis. A local third sector organisation had shown an interest in running St George’s as a night shelter where it would be open every night over the winter months.
Councillor Richard Gorton asked:
Could the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Town Centres and Growth advise how many people, currently on the Borough Council’s waiting list for an allotment have been waiting for two or more years to be offered a plot?
The Portfolio Holder advised that the Council provided 240 plots split across six sites with other allotments provided by parish Councils and Kidsgrove Town Council. There were currently 215 residents who had been waiting for two or more years for a plot.
Councillor Richard Gorton then asked:
In view of the number of people on the waiting list, would the Portfolio Holder agree that more should be done to reallocate allotments that were neglected or abandoned by plot holders.
The Portfolio Holder stated that at the ‘Acres’ plots, if people did not turn up for a while, the plot would be taken off them. This could be an incentive for the Council, although most people would not have an allotment if they did not intend to use it.