Leader's and Portfolio Holders' Announcements
- Meeting of Council, Tuesday, 25th February, 2020 6.30 pm (Item 59.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 59.
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.
The Chairman invited the Leader and Portfolio Holders to make any announcements.
Councillor R Blunt made the following announcements.
He began by supporting the Chairman’s decision to cancel the Civic dinner and agreed that it was not right for the event to be subsidised by the ratepayer.
Last weekend, our staff were once again out assisting people in our district as the country was hit by another storm.
Our housing, parks, waste staff were joined by many other on call staff to check on people and vulnerable areas and respond to reports of incidents.
We received 65 calls about the storm including flooding and wind damage. We provided sandbags across the district, concentrating on particularly badly affected areas including Measham where there was significant flooding from the River Mease.
Our sheltered accommodation at Hood Court was flooded, with the water affecting mainly communal corridors and a handful of flats. Six residents, whose flats had flood damage, were evacuated. Repairs to the flooded areas have already begun and evacuated residents will be able to return to their homes as soon as possible.
With the help of the Local Resilience Forum, we also arranged for overnight accommodation for one family from Appleby Magna, whose home had been flooded. Thank you to those staff who worked very hard over the weekend to help those who were affected by the storm, and also to members who I know were very active in their communities.
Last week Cabinet agreed to support the work of the Midlands Engine exploring the establishment of a Development Corporation, which would provide an opportunity to boost development, jobs and infrastructure across the East Midlands - in particular in the north of our district and across the border into Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
If it is established, one of the three sites that the development corporation would look at is East Midlands Airport, the rail freight interchange and the Segro site, which is hugely important for our district in terms of jobs and connectivity. The development corporation would attract significant investment and raise the profile of the East Midlands, addressing some of the historic under-funding this region has experienced.
It is important that this council is involved in the work from the very start to make sure we have a place at the table and we are able to advocate for our district. We will be establishing a cross member-working group to make sure you are kept informed and involved as this important project progresses.
Whilst it is not a North West Leicestershire project, I would like to mention the start of work at the Snibston Colliery site. This county council project ties in keenly with our own regeneration work in Coalville, and it’s been great to see the community pull together to support the plans for a new country park, café, heritage trail and green infrastructure.
The plans also include reopening the original colliery gates for access. It gives me an enormous amount of pride to know that those gates will open for the first time in 40 years. People will be arriving as the miners did – now to enjoy the country park.
Close by to the Snibston project is the removal of the traffic calming on Ashby Road, which is due to start in the summer. Through a consultation, the county council was able to establish that 77% of people agreed that Ashby Road needed improvements and that 68% agreed with the proposed works. I am pleased that this council is able to support the project, which is clearly high on people’s wish list for the town, by providing half the cost. I believe it will make a much more welcoming entrance to the town.
Big Weekend in the National Forest
And finally, this year, venues in Ashby and Coalville took part in the Leicester Comedy Festival as part of the BIG Weekend in the National Forest, sponsored by this council. This is a first for the district and I am really pleased to report that over 600 people supported nine comedy performances in venues ranging from the Century Theatre, Conkers, The Lyric Rooms and Ashby and Coalville libraries. The weekend also hosted the National Forest’s Funniest Kids which saw children from Belvoirdale and All Saints schools performing.”
The Chairman thanked Councillor R Blunt for his announcements and invited questions and comments from the floor.
Councillor D Harrison expressed his sincere thanks the officers for the work that they had carried out to support residents during the flood. He noted that the work to prevent further issues was complex, but it was planned that the Council would work together with other parties to, hopefully resolve the issues.
Councillor S Sheahan also wished to thank the officers that assisted residents of the Riverway estate in Measham during the recent floods. He highlighted other areas of the district that he had visited during the events and that he hoped to discuss the issue with Leicestershire County Council.
Councillor J Geary welcomed the comments in relation to Snibston site and was confident that members could all work together to support the residents that they had been elected to represent. In relation to the flooding, he asked if the Council was keeping a true record of all properties and businesses that had been flooded and parcels of land that were still under water. He felt that it would show where hotspot areas were for future flooding instances and could be used to avoid developing on flood plain.
Councillor R Blunt advised that all incidents of flooding should be reported to the LCC flood website. Any area should be reported. He noted an incident that had arisen in the past and that it involved several authorities working together to resolve. He thanked Councillor J Geary for his support in relation to Snibston and advised Members that it would be called Snibston Colliery Park and it was hoped to be open during the year.
Councillor R Canny stated that there was severe flooding at Cavendish Bridge and that residents had asked what the Council was doing about climate change, to which she advised that the Council had committed to do something about. She noted that the residents also expressed concerns over the enormous amount of building happening in the area and what more was to come. She was pleased to see that in relation to the Development Corporation the authority would look at the impact that it would have on the residents.
Councillor R Boam expressed his concerns over the support that the authority offered to its elderly residents during the floods, as many were unable to get to the depot to collect sandbags. He advised that he went himself to collect for her.
Councillor R Ashman made the following announcements.
I am very pleased to report that this council has been praised for exceeding its house building targets. In a letter from Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, he thanks officers and councillors for the effort we have put in to achieve this result.
He praised NWLDC for really rising to the challenge of providing the necessary homes, and acknowledges that this can be a difficult task.
The Government will be continuing with their plans to increase the housing thresholds so it is important that we maintain an up to date Local Plan and continue to deliver housing completions for years to come.
Local Plan review
Speaking of the importance of the Local Plan, I am pleased to be able to advise members that the Local Plan review has now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. We have met the two-year deadline imposed by the previous inspector to avoid the adopted plan being deemed to be out-of-date.
This means that the adopted Local Plan can continue to be given full weight when we determine planning applications and so we will not be in the position we were a few years ago when we were forced to approve many planning applications which we otherwise would not have wished to support.
My thanks to the officers behind the Local Plan and the members of the cross-party Local Plan Committee, who continue to work incredibly hard in this complex and detailed area of work that has an important impact on this district.”
Councillor A Woodman made the following announcements.
“At Full Council in November Councillor C Sewell queried the use of glyphosate by council employees. I am pleased to inform members that as of 1 April all council employees will cease using it. Whilst the chemical was managed in a safe way and its use was kept to an absolute minimum, our intention was to stop using it once a suitable alternative option became available which is now the case. There will be additional expense of around £5,000 per annum to the council for using the new chemical, and whilst it is unlikely that glyphosate is carcinogenic, we would not subject our employees to anything that may cause risk to their health and wellbeing if there is any possibility at all of this happening, and if there is a suitable alternative option available.”
The Chairman thanked Councillor A Woodman for his announcements and invited questions and comments from the floor.
Councillor S Sheahan thanked Councillor C Sewell for asking the question at the last Council meeting and Councillor A Woodman for ensuring the outcome that had just been made.