Agenda item

Agenda item

Question and Answer Session

To receive questions from members of the public under procedure rule no.10.  The procedure rule provides that members of the public may ask members of the Cabinet any question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the District, provided that three clear days’ notice in writing has been given to the Head of Legal and Commercial Services.


There were three questions asked which are set out below together with the responses.  Each member of the public who asked a question was invited by the Chair to ask one supplementary question which is also set out together with the response.


Question from Mr Palmer


My name is Stephen Palmer and I live in Donington Le Heath. In our Parish of Hugglescote and Donington Le Heath and running through the villages we have a very small river, the River Sence. This is little more than a stream, locally referred to as the ‘brook’ and more and more regularly it smells of sewage.


Severn Trent’s EDM (Event Duration Monitoring) data for 2022 shows 361 deliberate discharges of raw sewage with a total duration of 2,466 hours into the River Sence. Children play in this water and it runs through two nature reserves.


These are not spills and neither are they storm discharges.

The increasing incidence of deliberate discharges has less to do with the weather but more to do with the huge increases in the Parish (and beyond) of both residential and industrial development with zero new infrastructure.

Can the Portfolio Holder explain what powers the LPA has ensure that waste from old, new and proposed dwellings is treated and disposed of properly and to halt new and future developments until Severn Trent can give assurances that sufficient infrastructure is in place to enable all sewage to be treated properly and not deliberately discharged into our villages’ waterways?’


Response by Councillor A Saffell


Responsibility for ensuring that waste flows from housing that is connected to mains sewers are disposed of correctly lies with the relevant sewage undertaker, Severn Trent Water (STW) who, under the Water Resources Act 1991, have a legal duty to comply with its sewage treatment works and storm overflow discharge permits, issued by the Environment Agency (EA). Failure to comply with Permit conditions can result in enforcement action being taken by the EA.


The essence of STW’s legal duty to provide and extend our sewerage network and sewage treatment capacity is laid out below.


Severn Trent Water has a general duty under section 94 (cluses 1a and 1b) of the Water Industry Act 1991:


a)     To provide, improve and extend such a system of public sewers (whether inside its area or elsewhere) and so to cleanse and maintain these sewers and any lateral drains which belong to or vest in the undertaker as to ensure that the area is and continues to be effectually drained; and


b)     To make provision for the emptying of those sewers and such further provision (whether inside its area or elsewhere) as is necessary from time to time for effectually dealing, by means of sewage disposal works or otherwise, with the contents of those sewers.


In effect, this places an absolute obligation upon STW to provide such additional capacity as may be required to treat additional flows arising from new domestic development.


In terms of the Local Plan Review, the Council will consult with STW as part of the wider consultation on site allocations. It will be then be for STW to identify any issues on specific sites. More generally STW was also consulted as part of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan baseline study for the Local Plan Review. This identified some capacity issues at the Snarrows Waste Water Treatment Water Works which serves Coalville and also Kegworth, but notes that STW has indicated that schemes will come forward to address these, as per their requirements stated above.  If necessary, allocation policies in the Local Plan Review could include criteria to ensure that new development is phased and aligned with mains and waste water infrastructure provision.


For the determination of planning applications, under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015, STW is not a statutory consultee in respect of applications for new housing, but the Local Planning Authority will nevertheless normally consult STW on any new major full or outline housing applications, and as such, there would be an opportunity for them to draw attention to any issues relating to sewage treatment capacity. My officers can’t recall any instances where STW have responded to a planning application consultation for development on sites in the Parish of Hugglescote and Donington le Heath to indicate that there is not sufficient capacity at the receiving waste water treatment works.


Supplementary question and response


Mr Palmer did not feel there was any concern and asked if it was acceptable for residents to have unsanitary waste in a stream running by their homes.  Councillor A Saffell empathised with Mr Palmer and confirmed that the officers would continue to liaise with the Environment Agency on the matter.


Question from Ms Davies


‘Residents in the area of the Lovell development, off Highfield Street, are experiencing not only an intrusive level of noise, but thick red dust on their properties, mud on the roads and now, yet again, the cutting down of trees in a TPO area.


Are the council aware of the impact this development is having on residents and the environment?’


Response from Councillor A Saffell


I can confirm that the Council are aware of concerns raised about the impact this development is having on residents and the environment. Unfortunately, the planning system does not have powers to prevent new developments from having no impact at all on neighbouring occupiers and as such it is an inevitable consequence that some impact during the construction phase should be expected.


However, the Council’s Planning Enforcement team have been monitoring the situation in relation to the Lovell development off Highfields Street and have actively been visiting the site to check that the developer is complying with their planning conditions. The planning permission is subject to a construction management plan condition which seeks to reduce any adverse impacts on residents and having assessed the situation on site, the Planning Enforcement Officer has advised that the developer is complying with its terms as approved. The Planning Enforcement Team will continue to monitor the site to make the developer is aware of their continuing requirements to ensure that the construction of the development on this site has minimal impact on local residents.


In terms of trees removed that are protected by a Tree Preservation Order, this was permitted by the granting of the planning permission for the Lovell Development. The trees were protected via a group order (so not TPO’d individually) and when the Lovell planning application was submitted, the developer submitted a detailed tree report to justify the works they were proposing on that part of the site. This was carefully considered by the Council’s Tree Officer as part of the consideration of the application, and it was agreed that some of trees in the group order could be removed as individually they weren’t worthy of protection. It was also considered that the trees removal would not harm the status of the group order which still seeks to protect the remainder of the trees on site for the collective contribution that the group makes to the visual appearance of the area.


To clarify further, the granting of a planning permission for development, as in this case, supersedes the requirements of a Tree Preservation Order and the works that have been carried out on site are in line with that agreed in the planning permission for the development of housing on the site.


Supplementary question and response


Ms Davies quoted planning policy which referenced an efficient planning enforcement system.  She asked if the Council was still of the opinion that planning enforcement was fit for purpose.  Councillor A Saffell stated that he would visit the site and seek information from the planning enforcement team on the position, he would then make contact with Ms Davies.


Question from Ms Dillon


There are 650 MPs in the elected Parliamentary chamber, all there to scrutinise the plans set forth by the government. The formation of political parties is a relatively recent development within our Parliamentary system, in particular the whipping system. It could be argued that the Party system has reduced the effect of those 650 voices – reducing democracy; power of the people, within Parliament.


The motion put forward implies that the Party allegiance of our MP is more important than the character of the MP, so I ask you to consider the following question in regards to the motion:


Should the MP of North West Leicestershire be a Party representative to the region, or should our MP be representing constituents interests whilst scrutinising government plans, policies and legislation?’


Response from Councillor R Blunt


I would like to thank Siobhan for her interesting question which is timely in view of the motion which appears later on our agenda this evening.

I have used sources from the UK Parliament and BBC websites in putting together my response.

Historically, as I understand it, the House of Commons has acted on the principle that all Members of the House of Commons are individually elected, and voters put a “cross against the name of a candidate”. While decisions on candidates may be affected by their party labels, Members of Parliament (MPs) are free to develop their own arguments once elected, until it is time to face the voters in the next general election.

The role of an MP, as set out on the websites referred to above is to:

“Represent his/her constituents, including those who did not vote for them or did not vote at all.

MPs represent their constituents in areas where the UK Parliament takes decisions. MPs either debate or ask questions in the House of Commons or they work in smaller groups known as committees.

Other important roles of MPs in Parliament are to help make laws and to scrutinise (check-up on) the work of the government or investigate issues.

The Parliamentary duties of an MP include:

·          writing to or organising meetings with relevant ministers

·          speaking in Parliament during a debate

·          asking questions during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs)

·          introducing Members Bills on topics of concern to their constituents

·          lobbying other organisations (such as local councils, health boards) and individuals on behalf of their constituents

·          raising the profile of an issue in the media

·          involvement in committees which scrutinise new legislation or question the work of the government.

When they are not working in parliament, MPs work in their constituencies, communicating with their constituents by writing letters, emails and replying to phone messages. Often MPs will hold 'surgeries' where local people can meet with their MP and ask questions. Constituents usually meet with their MP to seek help with a problem or issue. Some MPs send out newsletters to their constituents and communicate via their own website or social media accounts”.

I would, therefore, take the view that MPs, are a representative of their constituents rather than a delegate of their political party, should they be a member of one.

Supplementary question and response


Ms Dillon asked if Councillor R Blunt considered the role of the District Councillors to be similar to the Members of Parliament.  Councillor R Blunt felt that once the elections were finished, District Councillors represented the people of the District regardless of their political parties.


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