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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions and Other Communications

To receive any questions or petitions from the public, or communications submitted by the Lord Mayor or the Chief Executive and to pass such resolutions thereon as the Council Procedure Rules permit and as may be deemed expedient.

Minutes:

3.1

Petitions (1)

 

 

3.1.1

Petition requesting the Council to urgently review the provision of MOT bays at the Taxi Test Centre

 

 

 

The Council received a petition containing 368 signatures requesting the Council to urgently review the provision of MOT taxi bays at the Taxi Test Centre.

 

 

 

There was no speaker to the petition.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Development.

 

 

3.1.2

Petition stating that Sheffield should be Carbon Neutral by 2030

 

 

 

The Council received a petition containing 368 signatures, stating that Sheffield should be Carbon Neutral by 2030.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Graham Wroe and another petitioner. They referred to the state of the climate report 2018 and to the warmest years on record having been in the past 22 years with warming being more extreme at the earth’s poles. It was said that there were 12 years to act to reduce carbon emissions. Increasing temperatures had led to the increased occurrence of fire and drought leading to more fires, a reduction in forest and increased carbon emissions. They also described the effects of melting ice, warming water and the release of methane from melting permafrost. Climate change was also increasing at an expediential rate and once it had begun, there would be no stopping it. If this occurred, the effects would include food shortages, conflict over resources, extreme weather, and migration from uninhabitable areas. This was an emergency and rapid action was needed to decrease emissions. It would require systematic action from government and local government and to be treated as an emergency.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Development. Councillor Scott commented on the strength of feeling concerning man made climate change and it was known that climate breakdown may be as little as 12 years away and which would have a profound effect on every aspect of people’s lives, including flooding, fires, disruption to food supply and the natural world. He said that he believed climate change would define this century and it was the greatest social justice challenge.

 

 

 

He said that it was important that Sheffield was at the forefront of action relating to climate change and should now declare a climate emergency. However, whilst 2030 might be the target which the Council would set, he did not believe it would be right to set a target date for the City to become carbon at this point. A target was needed that was supported by an action plan, was credible and deliverable and one by which the organisations in the City would work together to get the right target. The condition of climate change presented a threat to humanity and was personal to people and families in different ways and there were real concerns about circumstances leading to war, flood famine and areas of the planet becoming uninhabitable.

 

 

 

Councillor Scott pointed to a link between climate change and inequality and said that action was also required in relation employment rights, poor housing, migration, justice, racism and poverty etc.  He also commented that inequality and austerity was not compatible with taking urgent action with regards to climate change. He said that he was determined that Sheffield would lead and bring about a greener and fairer future.

 

 

 

 

3.2

Public Questions

 

 

3.2.1

Public Questions Concerning Climate Change

 

 

 

Rachael Hand stated that Sheffield Climate Alliance welcomed the declaration of a climate emergency and asked whether the Council could explain the how other institutions and citizens could contribute to change.

 

 

 

Dr David Jones asked what immediate actions the Council would take to reduce emissions and what would be the effect; and what was the best estimate for Sheffield’s total annual emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

 

 

 

Heather Hunt asked, if a motion was passed by the Council concerning a climate emergency, would the Council ensure clear communications with residents, including on its website and to keep people updated in postal communications.

 

 

 

Jenny Carpenter asked how the Council would ensure that decisions which it took contributed to countering climate change and would it seek funding for retrofitting of housing stock so that heating bills and carbon emissions could be reduced.

 

 

 

Robert Howarth stated that the refurbishment of housing was more carbon neutral than demolition and rebuild. He asked whether the Council would plan for a large programme of refurbishment and new build under Council tenure and what were the practical steps that would be taken in this regard in 2019.

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, responded to the questions. He stated that with regards to other partners in the City, the Green City Partnership Board had been established and this would enable discussions concerning climate change, and organisations on that Board could be said to have influence over the greatest proportion of emissions and they also had control of issues including their own employees and supply chains. He said that he recognised that such discussion was now of a more urgent nature and that both he and Councillor Lewis Dagnall were co-chairs of that Board so could ensure that conversations could be had with more speed. 

 

 

 

He said that as regards immediate and urgent actions, a short time would be used to make sure that proposed actions were the right ones and were as challenging as possible. He said that he would write to Dr Jones with the current action plan, although he acknowledged that the actions set out for 2019 would need to be examined and he would welcome views of Dr Jones or other interested parties as well as the Partnership Board to make sure it was sufficiently robust and that it included other actions, as required. 

 

 

 

Councillor Scott stated that the Council website would be utilised to publicise activity and a press release had already been produced and further work would also be done. He stated that people would have to make different types of changes and a broader and positive vision was needed in relation to climate change, including creating a fairer and greener city which was better for everyone and something which would inspire hope.

 

 

 

With regards housing, he understood that Council properties had been insulated as far as possible, and improved through investment made over the past 15 years in insulation and energy efficiency. However, private sector housing which was not in the control of the Council or a registered provider generally presented a challenge with regards insulation. Improvements were required in addition to more tools to help regulate the private rented sector, including a need for change brought about by national government.

 

 

 

Councillor Scott concluded that there was a definite sense of importance of climate change and in the declaration of a climate emergency and that the Council would wish to work with people, including those represented at this meeting, to take action and help avoid the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change.

 

 

3.2.2

Public Question Concerning Electricity Supplier

 

 

 

Thomas Wills asked when the Council would ensure that its electricity was from a zero carbon supplier.

 

 

 

Councillor Olivia Blake, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Council, stated that the Council was at present in the process of re-procuring its electricity supplier. It did have a good energy mix at the present time, including the energy recovery facility for heat and power for some buildings in Sheffield. The impact on the environment would also be something to take account of in the Council’s ethical procurement policy.

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Development stated that decentralised energy might also be part of the energy mix, together with renewable energy. He understood that within the Council’s present energy supply, it included, where possible, renewable energy. However, the use of renewable sources was not guaranteed in the current arrangements. This would need to be reviewed, firstly so as to ascertain whether the current arrangements had worked and secondly, to make an assessment with regard to choices and consequences of looking at guaranteed renewable energy supply and the potential risk of disruption to supply and any back-up option. He said that renewable energy sources might also include nuclear energy. He said that whilst the use of renewable energy was an ambition for the Council, it was an intricate issue and difficult to give a guarantee at this time in relation to renewable energy.

 

 

3.2.3

Public Question Concerning Intolerant Rule of Law

 

 

 

Roger Doonan asked whether the Council would denounce repressive and intolerant values connected with imperialist authority and rule, which he said was present in the City. He called upon the Council to denounce imperialism, and delusions associated with it, in favour of greater tolerances.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, stated that she would agree with the some of the comments made by Mr Doonan concerning oppressive regimes and she commented with regard to the approach of the leader of her own party with regard to oppressive regimes.

 

 

3.2.4

Public Question Concerning Ecclesfield Library

 

 

 

Victoria Bowden asked whether the Council planned to repair the roof of Ecclesfield Library, which was made of wooden shingle tiles, some of which had become displaced by extreme weather, before it deteriorated further. She asked whether there was a plan to replace the roofing to enable the trustees to plan with regard to finances and once the lease for the building was signed.

 

 

 

Councillor Mary Lea, the Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, commented on the success of Associate Libraries. Most had signed leases although Ecclesfield had not yet done so. She said that she would find out what it was intended would be done with the roof of the Library prior to the signing of a lease and would inform Victoria Bowden accordingly.

 

 

3.2.5

Public Question Concerning the Adult Social Care Budget

 

 

 

A question was asked on behalf of Tanju Cakar concerning cuts to local government budgets, including for adult social care. It was stated that although the Council had sought to protect the adult social care budget, this would not be sustainable and a question was asked as to what the Council would do to stop the cuts to social care and whether the Council would commit to using reserves to implement a no-cuts budget.

 

 

 

Councillor Chris Peace, the Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, stated that the cuts to adult social care were not sustainable. The Council prioritised adult social care and it would have to use some reserves largely due to the demand in adult social care. She commented that she was disappointed that there had not been a national response to this problem from Government, although the Council had made representations to the Government in this regard. The Government had produced a long term plan for the NHS but had not done so in respect of adult social care and it had also not produced a Green Paper for adult social care.

 

 

 

Councillor Peace said that the Council was working to build relationships with health partners. In cases where the local authority was not able to provide care, it was most likely to affect primary care and acute health services. Therefore, a way had to be found to manage the issues and this would include the use of a joint approach and pooled budgets. She commented that a national approach to these matters was required and also referred to the possibility of rescinding the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

 

 

3.2.6

Public Question Concerning War Graves Commission

 

 

 

Roy Millington referred to a question which had been asked at the 9 January meeting of Council concerning whether the Council was paid by the War Graves Commission for graves to be kept in order. He said that he had not yet received a written response to the question.

 

 

 

Councillor Mary Lea, the Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, stated that a letter had been produced in response to Mr Millington’s questions and she was sorry he had not received it. She would make sure the letter was sent to him. She confirmed that the War Graves Commission did not provide funding to the Council. However, the Council’s Parks and Countryside Service funded the War Graves Commission to care for war graves in respect of the York and Lancaster Regiment in France and the Royal British Legion cared for war graves in cemeteries in Sheffield. 

 

 

3.2.7

Public Question Concerning Maternity Services

 

 

 

Ruth Milsom made reference to the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities considering how to respond to proposals in the Hospital Services Review. She asked what measures the Health Scrutiny Committee would be taking to make sure that Maternity Services would be kept at a safe level of provision.

 

 

 

Councillor Chris Peace, the Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, stated that a recent and very well attended meeting of Sheffield Save Our NHS demonstrated how much people were concerned about their health services. She said that the question concerned the Integrated Care System in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and Hospital Care Review. She made reference to the recent urgent care review and to the commendable joint approach across organisations and political parties with regards the retention of the walk in centre and minor injuries unit, the plans for which were put on hold.

 

 

 

Councillor Peace said that the use of the scrutiny and political process was important and it was a matter for the Scrutiny Committee with regards to the action they might take. She said that she believed that there would be consideration of the issues raised and commented that there were also a number of other matters in the Hospital Services Review which were of concern. With regards maternity services, there were other issues in addition to health and medical care, such as support in the community for women who were pregnant and taking a holistic approach.  Councillor Peace congratulated the campaign group on its work and said that there would continue to be dialogue with the campaign group regarding these matters.

 

 

3.2.8

Public Question Concerning Catering Services

 

 

 

Josephine Campling asked whether the Council would reduce the amount of meat it purchased and provide vegan options with the catering it provided and commissioned.

 

 

 

Councillor Olivia Blake, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Council, said that the Council’s catering provider had recently agreed to use compostable packaging. Vegan options were already provided for catering for events. She said that she would speak with the catering service further in relation to the provision of vegan meals, including in catering outlets for employees.  

 

 

3.2.9

Public Question Concerning Housing Insulation

 

 

 

David Mason asked what the average U-value was for Council houses in Sheffield and what action was being taken to improve it and encourage landlords and homeowners to better insulate properties.

 

 

 

Councillor Jim Steinke, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, stated that he would provide a written response to the questions and he commented that the Council was activity encouraging landlords and home owners to better insulate their properties.

 

 

3.2.10

Public Questions Concerning Transport

 

 

 

RoseyDunhey asked why the Council was prioritising investment in road schemes; why the targets of the Transport Strategy included improved accessibility by road to the city centre and Upper Don Valley and Lower Don Valley; new road links between Sheffield and Rotherham and improved road links between Sheffield and Manchester.

 

 

 

Heather Rostron asked what steps would be taken in 2019 to make people feel safe to cycle in Sheffield and a question in relation to a commitment by IKEA to improve cycling provision.

 

 

 

Henry Budden asked when the Council would introduce clean air space in the City where polluting vehicles were restricted.

 

 

 

Frank Sheridan asked whether, beyond the clean air zone which encouraged changes from older to newer vehicles; the Council would introduce comprehensive road pricing using existing available powers in legislation.

 

 

 

Jo Millett asked what steps would be taken in 2019 to make it more comfortable and convenient for people to walk in Sheffield and what action the Council would take concerning pavement parking to improve conditions for walking.

 

 

 

Naomi asked when the Council would bring forward its intended workplace parking levy to discourage car use and liaise with businesses which provided car parking.

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, responded to the questions. He said that buses also used the roads and it was critical to improve public transport, regardless of ownership or regulation arrangements relating to buses, and to make sure it was not adversely affected by vehicle congestion. More efficient junctions and the giving of priority to buses would help in this regard. He said that he would be able to share the modelling which had been done in this regard.

 

 

 

He said that, whilst he realised the Inner Ring Road had been controversial, the changes made would be better for pedestrians by reducing the number of road crossings pedestrians needed to make and the inclusion of segregated cycleways and a toucan crossing. There would also be a reduction in bus journey times and improved reliability and punctuality. The changes to the Inner Ring Road were being made not to create latent demand but to create a better integrated and efficient junction at a key location.  The issue had been considered by a Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee and it was apparent that the Council needed to communicate more clearly the intentions with regard to the scheme.

 

 

 

Councillor Scott said that with regard to IKEA and cycling, there was some learning for the planning service regarding planning conditions and the Council had reviewed and tightened the process with regards conditions set as part of the planning process. This was an ongoing issue and there was continuing communication with Cycle Sheffield and IKEA with regards to the requirement relating to the planning condition relating to cycling and as part of delivering what was promised as part of the planning application for IKEA.

 

 

 

He said that with regards to pollution in the City Centre, the clean air zone which was proposed at the end of 2020 would have an effect on pollution elsewhere in the City as well within the inner ring road. However, the clean air zone was not the sum of the ambition for the City. It would bring about air which was legally compliant but not necessarily safe air. Therefore, more would need to be done to prioritise active travel and to make sure walking, cycling and public transport were more attractive to people.

 

 

 

Councillor Scott said that with regards road charging, powers were available to the Council to instigate measures under the transport legislation. However, approval by the Secretary of State was also required. The most recent Secretaries of State had explicitly said they did not support the charging of car users. Therefore, the Council was not committing resources to pursuing that issue at this time.

 

 

 

With regard to the workforce parking levy, funding had been identified to begin a study. However, there were some barriers to overcome. He had visited Nottingham to see the impact and some of the benefits of a work place parking levy. The Council had committed to undertaking a study, which would take approximately 6 to 9 months to complete. He asked people to contact him if there were points which he had not fully addressed.

 

 

3.2.11

Public Questions Concerning Leaving the European Union

 

 

 

Neill Schofield asked a question concerning the effect on the construction industry of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) with no deal and also with regard to the effect on community safety and social cohesion and public safety and, in particular what the Council was doing to alert people and to mitigate issues that arose.

 

 

 

Councillor Jim Steinke, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community, stated that in relation to community safety, there had been discussions with the police and other organisations regarding what proportionate action might be taken in any event. There had been issues concerning hate crime at the time of the referendum concerning the membership of the EU. It was also important to make sure that matters were not exacerbated and any response would be considered and proportionate. It was also recognised that there was a chance that some groups may attempt to take advantage of tensions. He assured people that there were discussions taking place relating to these matters.  

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, stated that the building industry and house building would be adversely affected by the UK leaving the EU. A large proportion of building materials were imported from the EU and the supply of materials and labour might also be affected by shortages, with the possibility of the costs of construction increasing and an effect on the viability of home building. It was important that some protection was put in place with regard to the construction industry. The situation also affected the ability to undertake spatial planning with any confidence as to the future capacity of the market.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, stated that public concerns were understood and it was important that people knew what the Council was doing in relation to the UK leaving the EU. An initial assessment had been done and in the immediate term, it was thought that there would be little or no impact or short term disruption to service delivery. An internal officer working group was meeting each week and assessments would be updated as information became available. The wider issues were more difficult to assess because of uncertainty surrounding the UK leaving the EU.

 

 

 

Councillor Dore said that as regards the issues of community cohesion and the mechanics relating to Brexit, it had been announced that councils would receive some funding to help prepare and for Sheffield it amounted to £105K this year and the Council would release this funding in accordance with the ongoing assessments.  The Local Resilience Forum, a multi-agency group, was also in place and the City Council actively participated in that group together with other statutory partners. The Sheffield City Region had considered the economic impact of withdrawal from the EU, including in relation to business and the construction industry and the potential effect with regards the workforce, supply chains and other matters. There was work being done in specific areas of the Council, and there would be co-ordinated activity across the Council. She recognised the public concern, including the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

 

 

3.2.12

Public Question Concerning NHS

 

 

 

Mark James made reference to campaigns including with regard to supporting the fight to save the NHS and concerning the Orgreave truth and justice campaign and he asked a question concerning action and urgency and asking the Council to set a needs based budget, to fight cuts and not to get into situations where it was implementing bourgeois laws and arresting protesters.

 

 

 

Councillor Chris Peace, the Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, stated that the Council supported the fight to save the NHS and this was paramount, including in relation to protest and in looking at policy.  She believed the Council would have to consider some difficult choices. However, choices were also available in the application of values to the way the Council was run. She said that she would disagree with Prime Minister’s assertion that austerity was over. The Council had adopted an early intervention approach and it did put fighting inequalities at the heart of policy.

 

 

 

Councillor Olivia Blake, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Council, stated that there were concerns in relation to the setting of an illegal budget and she referred to the example of Northamptonshire County Council, which had seen the intervention of commissioners and an approach to closing services and use of capital in an attempt to balance the budget. Despite this, the situation in that local authority was not resolved. She said there was a need to call on the Government to offer fair funding to local authorities and Councils in the north of the country had taken a disproportionate level of cuts to local authorities. She commented that the situation as regards local government was one of financial crisis and the Government was not able to explain what money was required to deliver statutory services.

 

 

3.2.13

Public Question Concerning Quality Bus Contracts

 

 

 

Joe Diviney asked whether the Council would commit to using its powers to implement quality bus contracts to reduce fares to make it affordable and take public transport into public ownership.

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, stated that with regards quality contracts, there existed powers for re-regulation in the Sheffield City Region and through working with the City Region Mayor and he said that, at this point in time, this was better for Sheffield than the option of quality bus contracts. He said that he believed that re-regulation was the right thing to do other than a nationalisation of services and the bus network being run for people and not profit.

 

 

3.2.14

Public Question Concerning Transgender People

 

 

 

Martha Foulds stated that a pub in the City had hosted a group firmly opposed to the rights of Transgender people and whose speakers described them in derogatory terms and supported similarly derogatory social media comments. She asked what action the Council would take to ensure that Trans people in Sheffield felt safe when visiting licensed venues in the City.

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, said that he was proud that the question had been asked by Martha at this meeting and commented on her bravery and given the discrimination and bullying that people experienced. He said that there was a broader issue relating to dignity and respect for fellow citizens and the standards in place to protect people. The Council was clear that Trans rights were human rights and such rights will have been opposed, fought for and won. He referred to core ideals of fairness, inclusion and equality for everyone. He said the Council would not allow any licensed establishment to inflict indignity on any population or community. He said that he had asked officers in the Licensing Service to review how the Council supported Trans people and what training could be provided for licensed establishments.

 

 

 

He said that he knew there were a number of people that might feel isolated and scared and said that the Council saw them, valued them, stood with them and would do everything in its power to support and protect them.  He commented that the progress to equal rights for all may be incremental and sometimes difficult but believed that it would happen and could be achieved together.

 

 

3.2.15

Public Questions Concerning Old Town Hall

 

 

 

Nigel Slack referred to the announcement that the Old Town Hall had been sold. He asked if the Council could tell the Sheffield public to whom it had been sold and give assurances that any redevelopment would respect the building and its place in Sheffield’s history.

 

 

 

He also asked the following questions:

 

 

 

Whether the Castlegate conservation area would be in place before the sale completed as this would afford significant extra safeguards for the building.

 

Did the Council intend to enforce the ‘urgent’ repairs to the building to secure it as weatherproof, as the limited work that had been going on was seen by heritage groups as inadequate for the long term.

 

Would the Council take a prudent approach and continue with preliminaries for the Compulsory Purchase of the building, in case the sale or the new developer’s plans failed.

 

 

 

Councillor Mazher Iqbal stated that the Council was not the buyer or the seller of the Old Town Hall. He said that he was optimistic that a solution would be found with regards to the building. The plans for the redevelopment of Castlegate were announced two years ago and there was a Regeneration Board and representation by Friends Groups and others. The kick-start for that area had brought a significant amount of investor activity and including funding from Government for the digital incubator and investment concerning improvement to the route between Castlegate and Victoria Quays. 

 

 

 

He said that as regards the Conservation Area, the sale had taken place before the Conservation Area designation was in place. However, he also noted that through the planning process and the Old Town Hall’s listed building status, he was confident that the building would meet the relevant requirements. Meetings had taken place with the Friends of the Old Town Hall and that group had been concerned to ensure repairs were carried out by the owner of the building. A survey was undertaken which identified £1 million of works required to the building. It had been a challenge to get the building owner to do the necessary work and a Court Order had been obtained to carry out the survey work. The landowner had been contacted as a result and urgent repairs to the building had been done in the last two weeks.

 

 

 

Councillor Iqbal said that a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was a legal order which took some time to progress with significant cost and that option would be pursued only if there was no alternative option for the building. At present, there was a solution in the private sector and it would be difficult to pursue the option of a CPO. He said that he was optimistic about the future for the Old Town Hall building and also for that area of the City.

 

 

3.2.16

Public Question Concerning the UK leaving the EU

 

 

 

Nigel Slack asked what was the Council's response to the Governments threats to bring the Army onto the streets in the eventuality of a 'no deal' Brexit?

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council responded that the prospect of a no deal Brexit engendered a feeling of complete and utter despair and also showed, if a government was preparing for the Army to be on the streets, why a no deal Brexit could not happen.

 

 

3.2.17

Public Questions Concerning Streets Ahead Programme

 

 

 

Isobel O’Leary asked whether the Council would join her in congratulating Amey employees who had employed simple and cheap engineering methods to restore pavements and kerbs to areas around trees which had previously been due to be felled. She asked for an explanation as to why investigations and engineering solutions already paid for in the Streets Ahead contract had not been used before and why many trees had unnecessarily been felled.

 

 

 

Calvin Payne asked a question concerning wrongful arrest in 2016 and a Freedom of Information request which he said showed the Council’s involvement and knowledge of the use of Trade Union law. He made specific reference to an email concerning the legal implications of Section 241 of the Trade Union Act. He asked whether the legal department had taken on board the statement of the Leader of the Council concerning opposition to the use of Trade Union law.

 

 

 

Christine King referred to issues including wrongful arrest, security and surveillance, a high value contract and initially heavily redacted contract and a value for the number of trees to be felled which had differed. She stated that it was increasingly apparent that many trees did not need to be felled. She asked, given these issues, why was it described as ‘a distraction’ to seek to understand how and why all of this had happened.

 

 

 

Alan Story made reference to an article in the Financial Times on 13 December and he asked what risk assessment had been carried out regarding the expected sale of Amey PLC to Greybull Capital for the workers, people and trees of Sheffield. 

 

 

 

Mark Smith referred to the arrests of people who had protested in relation to street trees with many having been proved wrongful arrest and to legal costs. He said that it was known that a lot of the felling of trees had not been as a last resort and asked for reconsideration of the decision not to hold an inquiry.

 

 

 

A question was asked on behalf of Chris McAndrew concerning private finance initiatives and reference made to the Sir Robert Hadfield Wing at the Northern General and to costs being above the value of services provided. He asked a question in relation to the contract with Amey and the costs and accounts for that contract.

 

 

 

Russell Johnson asked which provided the most benefit for people, mature healthy street trees providing environmental and health benefits or insisting on no minor kerb deviations that were used in other cities and were not required by legislation.

 

 

 

Adrian Hallam made reference to offers made by Yorkshire Water to part fund measures relating to drainage and asked the Council to reconsider returning to the offers made by Yorkshire Water to part fund measures to reduce the amount of water and the cost of processing storm water through the sewer and where this might have a bearing on resolving issues regarding trees and kerbs.

 

 

 

Heather Mitchell referred to an incident in February 2017 involving people protesting in relation to the felling of a tree and to a statement by a police officer concerning the use of Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act in relation to people on private land and which it was said had been agreed by the South Yorkshire Police and the Council. She asked the following questions:

 

 

 

Who in Sheffield City Council agreed to the use of Section 241 Trade Union and Labour Relations Act against people on private land?

 

 

 

If this was not the Leader of the Council, was the Leader informed and asked for approval?

 

 

 

If the decision was approved by an officer without the Leader’s approval, why did this happen?

 

 

 

What process was used by the Council to agree with South Yorkshire Police to the use of the above powers on private land?

 

 

 

Helen McIlroy asked whether the Leader and Chief Executive of the Council would accept an invitation from the People’s Audit to walk on some streets in the City to discuss and open a dialogue about the monitoring and scrutiny of the standard of work done by Amey.

 

 

 

Councillor Lewis Dagnall, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene, responded to the questions. He said that there had been a process of mediation in 2018, prior to Christmas and the view of the Bishop of Sheffield, who had chaired the process, was that substantial progress had been made.  He said he had been pleased to join campaigners and Amey workers to see the new work which Amey was doing and resulting from the change in approach. He said that by a process of discussion and dialogue, a way forward had been found which allowed the City to receive the investment in highways sought by the Council and to respond to concerns regarding highways trees.

 

 

 

Councillor Dagnall said that with regard to the questions concerning benefits of street trees and kerb lines, he had contacted Mr Johnson and had answered the questions. He said that section 2 of the joint position statement between the Council, Amey and the STAG (Sheffield Tree Action Groups) Steering Committee referred to the benefits of street trees to people in the City; and section 7.2.1 referred to the temporary relaxation of kerb specification and as part of a phased approach. This showed that the Council was allowing kerb deviations to accommodate the new approach regarding trees. 

 

 

 

He said that with regard to the possibility of an inquiry, the Council was not persuaded that an inquiry was what the City needed at this time.

 

 

 

Councillor Dagnall stated that in respect of the arrest of protesters, decisions regarding arrest were for the police to take and the police had an appropriate means to challenge those decisions as the individuals concerned had done. He said he welcomed the fact that a settlement with the police had been reached and that people had received compensation and which would hopefully resolve matters and also allow the City to move on.

 

 

 

He said that the Council understood that Amey remained committed to the Streets Ahead programme, as was the City Council and the Department for Transport and which would transform highways maintenance for the next generation. He said that whilst he appreciated the interest in the issues concerning the matters reported in the Financial Times, as far as the Council was concerned, Streets Ahead would continue.

 

 

 

Councillor Dagnall referred to the question concerning Yorkshire Water and he requested that he be sent the details of the offer by them to enable him to discuss the issue with Council officers and to review the situation.  He said there was a need to achieve the investment in the highway to receive funding from the Department for Transport and as part of the highways maintenance programme and that other ideas may not always be compatible with that.

 

 

 

He said that there was a separation of powers of the Council and the Police. There was opportunity to take matters up with the Independent Office of Police Complaints and in addition, people could write to the Police and Crime Commissioner to raise issues. He reiterated that he had welcomed that people had reached an agreed settlement with the Police in relation to unlawful arrests.

 

 

 

Councillor Olivia Blake, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Deputy Leader, said that with regards to PFI and the Hadfield Building and cost of the Amey contract, it was troubling that a number of PFI projects in the NHS had caused significant cost to the public purse because they may have had to be remedied in some way. The Council had some arrangements through PFI apart from the contract with Amey, including one for an office building and PFI schools. The model of funding for many public sector investments had used PFI. The Conservative and Labour parties had said that PFI would not be used as a model in future. It was important to look at the best way of doing things in future.

 

 

 

There was a different sort of arrangement for the highways contract in Sheffield, contrasted with the Hadfield Building referenced in the question, whereby the cost at the end of the Amey contract was already known. Payments were made quarterly. The cost was £2.2 billion originally. However, this had reduced to £1.95 billion. Much of the funding was from the Government in the form of PFI credits.  Councillor Blake said that she would provide further information to the questioner in writing.

 

 

 

Councillor Lewis Dagnall, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene, stated that the Economic and Environmental Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee examined the Streets Ahead Programme and delegates, including  the People’s Audit had been involved and had presented ideas to the Committee. Questions were also answered about the programme, including with regard to holding Amey to account. He understood there was dialogue with the People’s Audit with which the Council would be pleased to continue.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council stated that she would be pleased to walk down any of the roads in the City.

 

 

 

 

3.3

Petitions (2)

 

 

 

Petition Requesting Free Travel for Young Carers

 

 

 

The Council received an electronic petition containing approximately 2,038 signatures, requesting free travel for young carers in Sheffield.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Laura Selby and two young carers, both of whom described how they cared for members of their family, including their siblings and supported their parents. Their families had a range of medical conditions and other needs, including cancer, mental ill health, autism, severe asthma, arthritis and learning difficulties.

 

 

 

This situation was sometimes considerably stressful to the young carers because they felt the pressure on them to make sure everything was okay and this could also be very tiring. Their caring responsibilities were in addition to them studying for A levels.

 

 

 

There were approximately seven thousand young carers in Sheffield and the petition of 2,038 signatures was started by Louise Haigh MP and requested free travel for young carers in Sheffield. Some cities already provided free travel for young carers. There were many costs associated with illness and disabilities that families had, including extra travel going shopping and for medical appointments, which could be expensive and families might not be able to afford public transport.

 

 

 

The petitioners stated that young people should also be given the chance to take a break from caring and to enjoy a social life. Carers saved the local authority and government a considerable amount and were not eligible to receive carers’ allowance. Enabling them opportunity to travel using free public transport would help to deal with the stress of being a young carer and to keep themselves well. A pilot for leisure and travel for young carers was run during the summer and a report was also available with the findings from the pilot and to support the petition.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Development. Councillor Scott thanked the petitioners for presenting the petition and describing their own circumstances. He said it was important that the Council listened carefully to the experiences of young carers. He said that he understood the need and recognised the practical issues that had been outlined by the young carers, including extra travel because of caring, shopping and medical appointments. It was also important that young people could go out, relax and socialise and caring responsibilities could make this harder. He said that the Council did want to support young carers and as had been stated, young carers saved the Council money. He said that it was understood why free travel for young carers would be fairer.

 

 

 

Councillor Scott said that work would be done with bus and travel operators and with the PTE to make sure there was provision which was fair and which worked for the young carers and for others. It was important to work together on this matter and therefore meetings would be arranged to make sure all the issues were properly understood and to include Councillor Jackie Drayton, the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families.

 

 

 

Councillor Jackie Drayton, the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, stated that previously, a Pledge had been developed with young carers, which covered a range of matters important to young carers and she suggested that transport and travel might also be considered as part of the Pledge. She also pointed to the work of carers’ organisations, including in helping to give a voice to young carers.