To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.
(NOTE: There is a time limit of up to 30 minutes for the above item of business. In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions at the meeting are required to be submitted in writing, to email@example.com, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 16th October 2023).
The Policy Committee received no petitions from members of the public.
The Committee received two questions from members of the public.
Question from: Andy Kershaw
1.The committee is recommending a strategic partnership with an independent Chair to take the fundraising forward and the repair and restoration of the Rose Garden Café and so will members also ensure that the council (Parks & Countryside) puts forward this for an allocation from its own capital programme?
2.Why, when it was brought to the council’s attention that it retained responsibility for repairs and maintenance to the Rose Garden café, has it NOT undertaken any proactive repairs or maintenance in the 12 months since the closure of the café and limited reopening? Is this not yet another example of the councils, neglect and failure to fulfil its obligations under the lease agreement with the operator?
3.What happens if the strategic partnership fails to secure the necessary funding to undertake all of the repairs and restoration costs? Does the council plan give itself residual power to demolish the Cafe?
4.The report specifies that options 1, 3,4 &5 which include demolition are merely paused. Why is this because it is seen by campaigners and the friends of Graves Park as bad faith and the Sword of Damocles, continuing to hang over the building.
5.Will the committee sanction the Rose Garden Café partnership seeking alternative and cheaper quotations for the work outside of the somewhat breathtaking costs, which have been quoted for the repair and restoration of the building?
6. Will the committee now proceed to the task of working together with the community to get things moving and not waste any further time or expense with a costly consultation exercise, which will not give it any greater responses from the public than the 11,000 signatures did to our petition to save it? And why are we even considering this option if genuine partnership is to be embraced?
The Chair thanked the questioner for bringing the questions to the committee and explained that the Parks and Countryside Service did not have a budget for capital programmes and that most projects were delivered using external funding. The Parks and Countryside Service would support fundraising for this project wherever possible. Any decision for Sheffield City Council to allocate capital funding to the project would not fall under the remit of the Charity Trustee Sub-committee.
Internal and external scaffolding was installed at the cafe to mitigate any risk of structural failure and during the period since the café closed extensive surveys have been completed to understand the nature and scale of the problems.
No proactive work had taken place on the building over the last year. To bring the café back into full use a budget for the required proactive work would need to be identified. The Council confirmed that it would undertake any necessary reactive work to enable the café to operate safely.
The Council had spent over £110,000 to protect the building since July 2022 and weekly inspections of the scaffolding were being carried out by the repairs team.
The Chair emphasised that the Council was not pursuing demolition. The proposed plan was for a Rose Garden Café Partnership to develop a strategy for restoration which would be brought back to the committee for a final decision. The restoration approach was believed to be the option which most aligned with the charitable objectives of Graves Park. It was also highlighted that the report stated;
“We are however absolutely clear that the demolition and ‘do nothing’ options are not options that the Council wishes to pursue”
Question from: Friends of Graves Park
1. Is the Council now taking demolition off the table and going to start working with the Friends of Graves Park and the Save the Rose Garden Café group to refurbish the Rose Garden café building? If so when?
2. Can the Council, as a matter of urgency, put together a business plan with the FOGP and the SRGC group before the end of this year?
3. Will the Council undertake to do the tests on the front wall, so that we can, as a matter of urgency, identify the cause of the lean on the front wall?
4. Since there have been numerous delays already, can we accept the petition of 11,500+ (this includes paper signatures), the public meeting and the Save the Rose Garden Café movement as a consultation, to avoid any further delays to the process?
5. Does the council accept that the Friends of Graves Park Executive Committee, according to its constitution, has the power to:
· “convene public meetings and in any other way elicit the view and interests of those who use the park and of other interested members of the public concerning the maintenance and development of the park as a public amenity and promote the objects of the Charity.
· “provide a recognised channel of communication between the community and Sheffield City Council (the Council) on matters relating to the park.” (FOGP Constitution (revised) 22-3-2000)
The Chair thanked the questioner for bringing the questions to the committee and referred to his answers to the previous questions and to the report submitted to the committee for item 5 on the agenda. The Chair emphasised the desire to proceed quickly to establish the partnership subject to the recommendations of the report being agreed.
It was noted that the Council works with a number of partnerships and acknowledged that the Friends of Graves Park had specific powers in its constitution but that it was not appropriate for the Council to comment on the constitution of an independent body.
The structural engineer engaged by the Council to assess the front wall of the building suggested that the design of the roof had made it inevitable that there would be a front force on the wall. The report included the suggestion from the Friends of Graves Park that a conservation accredited engineer (CARE engineer) be appointed to undertake a survey and could also be a partner to provide professional advice throughout the journey.