Agenda item



Three questions were received:


1)        Question from Councillor Parker to the Deputy Leader of the Council:


It was encouraging to see the report that went to Health Scrutiny Committee and was publicised on the Council website about the reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre. This helps to counter some of the negative comments that sometimes surround the Town Centre


Can the Deputy Leader please highlight some of the initiatives that have been implemented to bring about this reduction?”


The Deputy Leader stated that Public Space Protection Orders had been implemented; Safer Night’s Schemes; Operation Saltmine; Safe Space; Street Medics; gating, extended CCTV; security marshalls and weekly enforcement meetings.


Councillor Parker asked a supplementary question:


“Does the Deputy Leader have any statistics to back up the good work that is being done in Newcastle?”


The Deputy Leader stated that information provided by the police  showed a reduction in anti-social behaviour of 10%; reduction of reported crime 3%; increased engagement with the community and businesses; increase in CCTV cameras; improved partnership working.


2)        Question from Councillor Bettley-Smith to the Leader of the Council:


I am sure the Leader is familiar with German U Boat (SM U118) that washed onto Hastings’ beach on 15 April 1919. But, for others, two coastguard officials, showed visitors around the submarine daily over several months. Visitors complained about the smell of ‘rotting food’. The two officials died in December 1919 and February 1920, respectively: not due to ‘rotting food’ but due to their prolonged exposure to low levels of chlorine gas. Visitors had no lasting effects. Here we are dealing with Hydrogen Sulphide: but the principle is the same, given Hydrogen Sulphide is poisonous. Therefore, will the Leader, in pressing for a Public Inquiry, insist the relevant authorities consider the long-term health risks, of our residents’, our Council Tax payers, prolonged exposure to the stink from Walley’s Quarry?”


The Leader stated that officers were in regular contact with a range of

agencies including the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which had replaced Public Health England and, the UK HAS continued to assess the health risks monthly.  They had acknowledged that there was a greater degree of uncertainty with the historic H2S data up to August 2023.  They were therefore only able to consider current exposures.  The UK HSA latest health risk assessment covered the period September to November, 2023 and concluded that the risk of long term health problems was likely to be small but could not be excluded at this stage.


The Hydrogen Sulphide data continued to show low level exposure to the population around the landfill site and the two monitoring station sites showed a monthly average concentration in November above the long term lifetime health based grievance value.  MMF2 showed a concentration below the guidance value.


The findings of an independent peer review were awaited, due to be released in February.


Councillor Bettley-Smith asked a supplementary question:


“Was the Leader appalled that permission for this outrageous, totally unacceptable landfill scheme was given planning permission by the then Minister responsible, John Prescott.  Having been Chief Executive of the Government Decontamination Service as part of DEFRA and having dealt with landfill sites as a chartered surveyor working for the then Minister for Agriculture, the benefit of hindsight was not needed to know that such sites pose significant environmental and public health risks.  Would the Leader agree that John Prescott and/or his Labour colleagues appear to have had no regard whatsoever for the environmental and public health consequences of their decision to grant permission for Walleys Quarry landfill and that they did not even consider the economic impact on Keele University, local businesses or the social impact of the disastrous scheme on the community”


The Leader stated that, at the time all Councillors at Borough and County level opposed this and it was overturned by the Secretary of State following advice from Civil Servants.  It was the wrong decision and the wrong location for a landfill site.  It needed to be borne in mind that if this ever came to a public inquiry, that those responsible were held to account.


3)        Question from Councillor John Williams to the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Town Centres and Growth:


“The subway that connects Liverpool Road has been closed since the start of the Development of the new car park on the Ryecroft development site.


Residents young and old living to the north of the town Centre especially in my ward Cross Heath are crossing over a busy duel carriage way to gain access to our Town Centre. Alternatively they have to walk 500 metres to cross by the bottom of West Brampton or walk down the north side of the A34 cross Knutton Lane go under the subway to Bridge Street and walk up the steep bank to the town Centre. Our residents, many of them elderly, have expressed some frustration because when they walk to the Town Centre to shop and support local businesses or meet up with friends there are forced to make a long detour or cross over a dangerous dual-carriageway.

In addition the fencing around the site has created a blind bend for drivers      when joining Rycroft from Liverpool Road. Making the junction very dangerous.


Please can the portfolio holder advise on when the Liverpool Road/Ryecroft subway is going to be re-opened for pedestrians to access the Town Centre safely, and secondly, please can a communication be put on the website to update residents of on-going works.”


The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Town Centres and Growth stated that the subway would reopen in November, 2024.  It had been blocked off as a safety measure and the hoarding works and positioning were in line with guidelines of the Highways Authority.


Councillor John Williams asked a supplementary question:


“The boarding around the site was dangerous as it went right up to a blind bend onto the Ryecroft and the hoarding went across the footway which would stop people coming into the town centre to shop”


The Portfolio Holder reiterated that the hoarding works and positioning were in line with the consented scheme that Staffordshire County Council commented on as its role as Highways Authority.

Watch the debate here

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