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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.

 

 

(NOTE: There is a time limit of one hour for the above item of business.  In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website in relation to meetings of the Council held whilst social distancing and other public health safety measures still apply, questions/petitions are required to be submitted in writing, to committee@sheffield.gov.uk, by 9.00 a.m. on Tuesday 16th November.)

 

 

Minutes:

4.1

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Gail Smith) reported that six petitions and questions from two members of the public had been received prior to the published deadline for submission of petitions and questions for this meeting.  On three of the petitions, representations were to be made on behalf of the petitioners, and the other three petitions would be received in the absence of a speaker.

 

 

4.2

Petitions

 

 

4.2.1

Petition Requesting the Council to Create 10,000 New Green Jobs in Sheffield Within Two Years

 

 

 

The Council received a joint electronic and paper petition containing 343 signatures requesting that the Council create 10,000 new green jobs in Sheffield within 2 years.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Joan Miller. Ms Miller stated that petitioners were requesting that 10,000 new green jobs be created in Sheffield to tackle inequalities, youth unemployment and the climate and nature crises. She said that these jobs should be future proof, reduce carbon emissions, restore nature, and low carbon roles which would help Sheffield thrive. She added that she felt roles of this nature would provide a positive marketing opportunity for Sheffield City Council. Ms Miller said that she had attended Council almost 10 years ago to present a similar petition. She said she felt other Local Authorities were doing more to create green roles, and she referenced Barnsley Council, Leeds City Council, Manchester City Council and Coventry City Council. Ms Miller stated that in Leeds the leadership of the Climate and Nature emergency team was publicised on their website; however, she stated that she could not locate this information on Sheffield City Council’s website. She added that she was aware of the 10 Point Plan and asked that the Council create the structure to implement the plan. She referenced a suggestion made to create a network of action focus task groups, and she listed some action focus groups she felt the city needed: a green jobs and skills task force, communications, alternative finance, retrofitting, renewable energy, waste recovery and nature recovery. She asked that these task groups begin shortly.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Paul Turpin (Executive Member for Inclusive Economy, Jobs and Skills). Councillor Turpin thanked Ms Miller for bringing her petition. Councillor Turpin stated that he felt the response had not been sufficient and added that work had begun on a report to address these issues. He stated that there was an opportunity to do more within Sheffield, and he acknowledged the example provided by Manchester City Council. Councillor Turpin shared some statistics from the Local Government Association’s research into roles in the low carbon economy. He stated that he would keep Ms Miller updated on this issue.

 

 

4.2.2

Petition Requesting the Implementation of a 20mph Speed Limit as part of the Park Hill/Norfolk Park Parking Scheme

 

 

 

The Council received a joint electronic and paper petition containing 162 signatures requesting that the Council add a 20mph speed limit whilst implementing the proposed parking scheme for Park Hill and Norfolk Park.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Nadine Fischer. Ms Fischer stated that she and her daughter were local residents in the area. She said that the local streets were heavily congested and said that many residents had multiple cars. She stated that there was considerable danger when attempting to cross the road. Ms Fischer said that the petition had been brought following an incident in which a local resident had had their wingmirror clipped by another vehicle whilst trying to put their toddler into the car. She added that following discussions with residents in the area she had found that this incident was not isolated. Ms Fischer said that the hills in the area created further road safety issues.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport). Councillor Johnson thanked Ms Fischer for bringing the petition. He said that he supported the idea that all residential areas in Sheffield should have a speed limit of 20mph. He stated that Officers had informed him that there were 89 areas which still required a change to the speed limit and added that these areas were ranked by priority. Councillor Johnson said that the Park Hill/Norfolk Park area was currently at number 32 on this list. He stated that he had been informed that funding and resources impacted when changes could be made. He added that he would review this area again and see if changes to the speed limit could be made at the same time as the introduction of the parking scheme.

 

 

4.2.3

Petition Requesting Safety Measures at Petre Street Woodland

 

 

 

The Council received an electronic petition containing 47 signatures requesting that the Council introduce safety measures at Petre Street Woodland.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Karen Malone. Ms Malone stated that fly tipping was a significant issue in the Petre Street Woodland area. She said that the Pitsmoor Litter Picking Group were visiting the site in an attempt to clear the area, and that they often found needles. Ms Malone said that the area was overgrown which made it harder to clear. She added that there was a skip area which she felt needed to be fenced off to prevent the overspill of rubbish. She suggested that thinning the woodland would reduce the drug taking currently taking place in the area and asked that more bins be added to the area to aid local people in disposing of rubbish. Ms Malone stated that Councillor Mark Jones had been assisting in cleaning up the area. She asked that all residents be provided with bins, the woodland area be thinned out to improve access to the area and that cameras be introduced to improve safety.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport), as Councillor Alison Teal (Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure) was unable to attend the meeting. Councillor Johnson thanked Ms Malone for bringing the petition. He stated that he felt a number of good points had been made, and he said he would take this issue to Officers and communicate with Councillor Teal on the outcome. He encouraged residents to contact the Streets Ahead team to report any incidents. He added that he would speak to local Councillors regarding possible investment which might come from the local budget. He thanked Ms Malone and her fellow residents for their work to improve the area.

 

 

4.2.4

Petition Requesting Motorcycle Barriers on the Gennell Between Bartle Road and Leadbeater Road

 

 

 

The Council received an electronic petition containing nine signatures requesting motorcycle barriers on the gennell between Bartle Road and Leadbeater Road.  There was no speaker for this petition.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Alison Teal (Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure).

 

 

4.2.5

Petition Requesting Motorcycle Barriers on the Public Footpaths leading onto Jaunty Playing Fields, running behind Jaunty Road and Basegreen Close

 

 

 

The Council received an electronic petition containing 22 signatures requesting motorcycle barriers on the public footpaths leading onto Jaunty Playing Fields, running behind Jaunty Road and Basegreen Close.  There was no speaker for this petition.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Alison Teal (Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure).

 

 

4.2.6

Petition Requesting (a) Clarification for Private Hire Drivers Regarding Bus Lanes and Bus Gates in the City and (b) the Council to undertake a Policy Review of Private Hire Vehicle Specification

 

 

 

The Council received an electronic petition containing 79 signatures requesting (a) clarification for Private Hire Drivers regarding bus lanes and bus gates in the city and (b) the Council to undertake a policy review of Private Hire Vehicle specification.  There was no speaker for this petition.

 

 

 

The Council referred the element of the petition regarding bus lanes and bus gates to Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport), and the element regarding Private Hire Vehicle specification to Councillor Paul Wood (Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management). 

 

 

4.3

Public Questions

 

 

4.3.1

Public Questions Regarding Local Area Committees (LACs) in Sheffield

 

 

 

Nigel Slack asked the following questions of the Council:-

 

I would like to draw attention to a weakness in the current framework of the LACs and in particular to the use of delegated powers. Currently it is planned that LACs will meet only 4 times per year and that as a result, at least in my 'South LAC' a decision has been made to allow officers to make delegated decisions up to £5,000 for 'emerging' issues.

This may not sound like a great expense but for illustration it is half the annual allocation to Graves Park Ward. Furthermore, there has been no consultation on this decision as, according to the minutes, none is required.

In addition, the procedures for the LACs seem to rule out making decisions by all councillors except at formal meetings. This further exacerbates the issue, denying 11 of the 12 Councillors from having a say in such circumstances.

All together these circumstances aggregate to deny the residents any role in participating in effective decision making and also exclude 11 of 12 local Councillors from decisions between formal meetings. The power to make decisions is therefore effectively vested in the person of the Chair.

The LAC is mirroring the very situation that led to the recent referendum and perpetuates the exclusion of most Councillors and all residents in decision making.

Will the Leader review the scheme of delegation that allows this undemocratic process to arise, and will the Governance Committee review the procedures around the LACs to prevent so much power residing in the person of the Chair?’

 

 

 

In response, Councillor Terry Fox (Leader of the Council) thanked Mr Slack for his questions. He stated that LACs would evolve over time and would change with demands and with the implementation of a Committee System. He stated that the delegation only applied to the budget allocated to the LACs, such as the £100,000 allocated to the LACs by the Leader. He said that ward pots were separate budgets, not under the control of the LACs, and added that ward pot decisions were always made in conjunction with Councillors with an Officer’s decision.

 

 

 

He said that it was not lawful for LACs to make decisions except at formal meetings held in public. He added that all LAC members were jointly involved in making the decision to delegate the authority for limited spending decisions to an officer. He said that the delegation enabled some activity, when required, to allow expenditure to be carried out between LAC meetings.

 

 

 

Councillor Fox stated that the Council was committed to making the process transparent. He welcomed suggestions on this issue from local residents and stated that these suggestions would be taken on board. He stated that it was unlawful for the Chair, or any other single Member, to make decisions relating to LACs. He stated that Executive decisions may be delegated by the Leader to the Executive, or Committee of the Executive. He stated that LACs may further delegate to an Officer, and Officer delegation may include provision that decisions must be taken in consultation with a Member, but he added that the ultimate decision must be the Officer’s in conjunction with the Member. Councillor Fox stated that LAC decisions must be based on community engagement. He said that under the Committee system decision-making might be delegated by Full Council rather than by the Leader. He added that the committees, sub-committees and working parties may, by a collective decision at the formal meeting, further delegate to Officers. He said there would be no decision-making power for any one individual Member.

 

 

4.3.2

Public Question Regarding a Traffic Incident on Mosborough High Street

 

 

 

Kurtis Crossland asked the following question of the Council: ‘In October, there was yet another crash on Mosborough High Street. Since presenting my petition earlier this year asking for you to tackle speeding in Mosborough, has the Executive Member taken any steps to do so?’

 

 

 

In response, Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport) stated that speeding was a matter for the Police rather than the Council. He stated that he had attended a meeting in the area with Councillor Tony Downing and Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings and he encouraged all ward Councillors to be involved in similar discussions. Councillor Johnson stated that speeding was to be included in the Police and Crime Commissioner’s new priorities. He said he felt this was a promising development. He suggested that this be looked at by the LAC using the funding given to this area. Councillor Johnson said he would follow up with the Ward Councillors.