Agenda item

Agenda item

Leader's and Portfolio Holders' Announcements

Members are reminded that under paragraph 11.1 of part 4 of the Constitution, questions can be asked of the Leader and Cabinet Members without notice about any matter contained in any address.  Questions shall be limited to five minutes in total for each announcement.


Councillor R Blunt announced that the new public art for the Ashby cultural centre would be installed on Wednesday, 13 March.  He stated that this was the culmination of the work to improve the public realm, increase car parking in Ashby de la Zouch and support the creation of a new cultural quarter in the town.  Working jointly with the Town Council, £1.1 million had been invested to create a new 52 space car park.  The original gates had creatively been incorporated and the new artwork had been chosen with the help of a public art competition.  The overall design drew its inspiration from the National Forest. 


As part of the work to build confidence in Coalville and support the regeneration of the town centre, Councillor R Blunt announced two community drop-in sessions on 13 and 15 March, which had been set up in response to a public petition.  The drop-in sessions would enable residents to see what was happening in the town, get involved with community groups and events, and give feedback to the Council.  He expressed his commitment to the regeneration of Coalville.


Councillor R Blunt announced that the purchase of the Litten Tree public house had been completed since the last meeting.  He added that the Council would be working with existing market traders to ensure the move could be made as smoothly as possible.


Councillor R Blunt referred to the transformation of the former Midland bus depot on Ashby Road, which was an example of the Council working with the private sector to enable the restoration of a derelict building on a key entrance to the town.  He explained that the site was not in the Council’s ownership but by supporting the owner a great outcome had been achieved which improved the town. 


Councillor R Blunt provided an update on the Royal Hotel in Ashby de la Zouch and emphasised that bringing the building back into use was a top priority.  He added that the building was one of the jewels in the crown of Ashby de la Zouch and he hoped to see it restored as soon as possible.  He stated that the first priority was ensuring the building was maintained and kept safe.  He explained that planning permission for the site was complex, but the Council was working with Historic England to ensure that the minimum amount of enabling development was granted to pay for the cost of restoring the hotel.  He added that he was keen to support the Town Council with the purchase of the Bath Grounds to ensure this remained a public open space. 


Councillor R Blunt stated that it had been a pleasure to serve with all members of the Council.  He expressed particular thanks to Councillors T J Pendleton and A V Smith who were retiring.


Councillor S Sheahan welcomed the commitment to the drop-in sessions, however he felt it would be difficult to gauge the view of the residents of Coalville and to convince them that the Council could deliver as there had been a lot of false starts.  He added that expectations needed to be managed. 


In response to a question from Councillor S Sheahan, Councillor R Blunt advised that the public artwork was chosen on quality rather than price, and was chosen by the general public.


Councillor J G Coxon welcomed the works to North Street car park. He added that the Town Council was working hard to secure the purchase of the Bath Grounds from the developers, which would ensure the funds could be put towards restoring the Royal Hotel to its former glory. 


Councillor A V Smith stated that she had thoroughly enjoyed being the Deputy Leader of the Council for the past 8 years.  She announced that Everyone Active had been chosen as the Council’s partner for the management of the leisure centres.  She reported that work would commence at Hood Park in August and would be completed by November 2019.  The work to build a new leisure centre in Coalville would require planning permission and it was hoped that work would start on site in September.  She congratulated the officers involved in the project. 


Councillor N Clarke expressed concerns regarding the increased budget for the leisure centres and asked if the finances were spiralling out of control. 


Councillor A V Smith responded that the cost had increased however the plans had also improved.


Councillor S Sheahan sought assurances that the cost of the leisure centres would not increase further.  He emphasised the need to develop services alongside local people and for their benefit, not simply for profit.


The Section 151 Officer clarified the current borrowing position in respect of the leisure centres and the projected borrowing requirement in 2022. 


Councillor T J Pendleton thanked Councillor R Blunt and commented that he had thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and pleasure of the Regeneration and Planning Portfolio. 


Councillor T J Pendleton referred to the adoption of the joint strategic growth plan which had enabled in the region £150 million towards infrastructure projects in the county.  He announced that the strategic growth plan had been shortlisted in the Royal Town Planning Institute’s annual awards and was the only sizeable strategic plan to be so shortlisted.