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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public

Minutes:

5.1

Petition in respect of Planning Application for a Pub at Millhouses Park

 

 

5.1.1

Ted Gunby, representing the Friends of Millhouses Park, submitted a petition containing 1,704 signatures opposing a proposal for a pub to open which would use 400m of Millhouses Park.

 

 

5.1.2

Mr Gunby commented that in the not too distant past, Millhouses Park had been a no go area. The Friends of the Park had drawn in £700k of funding to ensure improvements and had worked closely with the Parks and Countryside service to transform the Park. It was now a green flag park and destination park and people visited the Park from far away. There was also many obvious health benefits from being able to use the park.

 

 

5.1.3

Mr Gunby added that the petition submitted was a matter of principal. There was already too much green and open space being lost across the City and the use being applied for in this instance was wholly inappropriate. The petition therefore called on the Council to reject the proposal.

 

 

5.1.4

In response, Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, thanked the Friends of the park for all the work they had done in transforming the Park. She confirmed that there had been an expression of interest from the pub to extend their business. However, no discussions had been held with them as yet.

 

 

5.1.5

Councillor Lea added that there was no set Council policy in respect of this and she wanted to look into that before any decisions were made. Should any firm proposals be submitted, discussions would be held with all parties and the comments made by the petitioner today would be taken into account.

 

 

5.1.6

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Julie Dore, added that the Cabinet had recently taken a decision to review the use of facilities and parks. She wanted to look at parks in a way that any changes made had to enrich the users of parks across Sheffield. She thanked Mr Gunby for the petition and stated that this would be fed into the general review of the use of parks and, if the Council was asked to make a decision on the pub, the comments of the petitioner would be taken into account.

 

 

5.2

Public Question in respect of Heart of the City 2

 

 

5.2.1

Deborah Egan asked were Cabinet Members aware that, according to the plans for Heart of the City 2, this would mean the removal of a significant cultural asset to Sheffield. Were they aware of what this demolition would mean? The plans presented today were significantly different to those which were approved by Cabinet in 2015.

 

 

5.2.2

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment, commented that there were no proposals for demolition at this stage. Talks about the HSBC building were taking place and the Council would be consulting on that. The facades on Pinstone Street would remain as they were and the Council was trying to keep as much of the heritage in the area as they could. He would welcome a discussion with Ms. Egan and other Cabinet Members.

 

 

5.3

Public Question in respect of Highway Tree Strategy

 

 

5.3.1

David Dillner commented that the Highway Tree Strategy described as imminent by Councillor Terry Fox in 2015 was conspicuous only by its absence. Could Mr Dillner have a statement explaining why and when we are likely to see it published? By “Highway Tree” Mr Dilner referred specifically to trees on the street.

 

 

5.3.2

Councillor Mary Lea commented that the Sheffield Tree Strategy was a work in progress but nearing completion and street trees were part of that. There were 35,000 trees on the highway and a section of the Strategy would cover highway trees.

 

 

5.3.3

Councillor Julie Dore added that trees were only removed from the street as a last resort, in accordance with the contract, based on the ‘6 D’s’.

 

 

5.4

Public Question in respect of Development of City Properties

 

 

5.4.1

Nigel Slack commented that he was interested to see the sales brochure for City properties at the MIPIM event in Cannes. He noted that a number of the properties being offered as investment/redevelopment potential were home to thriving City Centre businesses, both social and small independent businesses, in particular the entire block between Brown Street and Pinstone Street. Have any of these businesses been advised of the potential redevelopment?

 

 

5.4.2

Councillor Mazher Iqbal stated that he thought the brochure referred to by Mr Slack was very good and he was glad that the Chief Executive of the Council had represented the Council in Cannes. Of the block referred to by Mr Slack, a developer had approached the Council, but as this was private land discussions had been held with those affected before the brochure was published. However, it was not a site that the Council was marketing itself.

 

 

5.5

Public Question in respect of Schools Deficit

 

 

5.5.1

Nigel Slack commented that, following the recent collapse of an Academy chain with schools in Sheffield and reports in the media from 16 March about state schools in deficit, how many schools in Sheffield, from both categories, were in deficit currently? And how has this changed from 12 months ago?

 

 

5.5.2

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, responded that the question was timely as we needed to ask why schools were getting into deficit. This was because schools had not had an increase in funding at the same time as the cost of running schools was going up. The Government had given extra money to Sheffield but, in the future, would be taking money from primary schools to pay towards secondary schools.

 

 

5.5.3

Councillor Drayton added that the criteria for receiving free school meals was also changing and pupil premium would be affected as this was based on levels of deprivation. The Council did not have access to the information about levels of deficit in Academies. Of the 98 maintained schools in Sheffield, 13 were in deficit as of 31 March 2017 and this could have risen to 16 at the current time.

 

 

5.6

Public Question in respect of Learn Direct

 

 

5.6.1

Nigel Slack asked what was the impact on the City’s learners of the failure of Learn Direct?

 

 

5.6.2

Councillor Drayton responded that she had not yet got this information from Council officers. Between 2013/14 and 2016/17, Learn Direct apprenticeship qualifications had gone down from 67% to 49%. During that time, the Government had continued to give Learn Direct funding, over  £153 million, and this was to an organisation that was failing young people according to the views of OFSTED, so Councillor Drayton was sure that there would be people in Sheffield affected.

 

 

5.6.3

It was right for Mr Slack to highlight the issue and Councillor Drayton was aware OFSTED had contacted Learn Direct to ensure improvements were made. Councillor Dore added that in her opinion the answer was further devolution, as local areas were best placed to determine local needs.

 

 

5.7

Public Question in respect of Cash Payments to GP’s to not Refer Patients to Hospital

 

 

5.7.1

Nigel Slack commented that following reports at the end of February about some Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) offering GP practices cash payments not to refer patients to hospital, have the Council checked whether this was the case with Sheffield’s CCG? If so, what were the findings?

 

 

5.7.2

Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care responded that this was primarily a question for the CCG but the answer was no.

 

 

5.8

Public Question in respect of Green City Strategy

 

 

5.8.1

Nigel Slack commented that he believed the Green City Strategy was an interesting document. It had vision and ambition and, as commented on by the Cabinet Member, the challenge was now delivering it. Mr Slack asked who were the partners envisaged as members of the Green City Partnership Board?

 

 

5.8.2

Mr Slack added that, as he believed, having alienated every local and most national environmental community and professional groups, did the Council plan on mending those fences and deliver a strategy with them rather than a top down imposition of its own views.

 

 

5.8.3

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, welcomed Mr Slack’s comments that the Green City Strategy was a visionary document and added that the aim for it was to be ambitious and bold. He did not believe the Council had alienated every environmental group in the City. The people who had read the Strategy were happy with it and the Sheffield Climate Alliance had called it the most ambitious Strategy in the country.

 

 

5.8.4

Councillor Scott added that it was clear that there had been a lot of debate and discussion on the 35,000 street trees in the City but there now needed to be discussion on other areas regardless of the policy on street trees. The Strategy built on the work of the Green Commission and the Commissioners involved in that would give a good idea of the calibre of people looking to be involved with the Partnership Board.

 

 

5.8.5

Councillor Scott would be happy to meet with anyone and would like to know people who felt they had been ignored, so he could be proactive in getting in touch with them.