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, questions/petitions are required to be submitted in writing, to, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 4th September. Questions/petitions submitted after the deadline will be asked at the meeting subject to the discretion of the Chair.)





Mayoral Engagements/Events




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) reported that to mark the first anniversary of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, a digital display of the book of condolences produced at the time, would be available in the Town Hall foyer.  This would tie in with the Town Hall Heritage Open Days.




The Lord Mayor then reported that he had visited Sheffield’s twin city of Bochum, Germany, the preceding weekend with the aim of reviving the links between the two cities.  Potential inks between universities, Chambers of Commerce and schools would be explored.




The Lord Mayor also reported that he was taking part in a fundraising event for St. Luke’s Hospices on 15th September, walking 9 miles, and visiting several St. Luke’s shops on route.  He invited Members to meet him at shops in their own ward or to walk with him.




Petitions and Public Questions




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) reported that one petition was to be received at the meeting and questions would be taken from ten members of the public.  This included a written, postal question from a member of the public which, although only brought to his attention immediately prior to the meeting, had been posted to the Council prior to the published deadline for submission of petitions and questions for this meeting.  He therefore proposed to use his discretion, as chair of the meeting, and permit the question to be asked on this occasion.




Petition Calling On The Council To Allow A Front Seat Passenger In A Hackney Carriage Cab With A Partition But No Intercom




The Council received an electronic petition containing 22 signatures, calling on the Council to allow a front seat passenger in a hackney carriage cab with a partition but no intercom.




There was no speaker for this petition.




The petition was referred to Councillor Joe Otten (Chair of the Waste and Streetscene Policy Committee) to provide a written response to the organiser of the petition.




Public Questions




Question From Abdul Raheem




“I would like to ask Members of the Sheffield City Council why I have been sent PCN letters for entering Sheffield Clean Air Zone while my vehicle was exempt from Sheffield Clean Air Zone charges. A Council officer who works at Sheffield City Council financial support applications for CLEAN air zone department, e-mailed me that my vehicle was exempt from Sheffield Clean Air Zone charges until 26th of July 2023, yet I still received PCN letters on the 7th of August 2023. All PCN letters are dated from 26th June 2023 and 27th June 2023 and 28th June 2023 and 2nd of July 2023 - all these PCN letters I received on 7th of August 2023.  I have email evidence from a senior officer of exemption given to my vehicle registration number.”


Mr Raheem also added that council departments should work together more effectively on this matter and that paper was being wasted sending out unnecessary notices, which has environmental impacts.




In response, Councillor Ben Miskell (Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) advised that following investigation, the PCNs had been cancelled and this had been confirmed in writing.  He apologised that this issue had arisen and stated that he was working with representatives of the taxi industry on it.




Question From Julie Pearn




“Now that the Council has admitted that it wrongly characterised my remarks about twinning with Nablus on 20th February as antisemitic; and did not mean to falsely imply that I was antisemitic: will the Council now move forward with twinning arrangements with Nablus without any further unnecessary delay?”




In response, Councillor Tom Hunt, Leader of the Council & Chair of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee stated that a comprehensive review of all the Twin and Sister Cities was underway, given that there were 14 formal relationships with different places around the world already.


He added that the Council received many approaches each year and it had become necessary to establish a framework to consider these approaches within the Council’s staffing and budget resources.  A draft framework was currently being reviewed and a cross party approach would be taken to this.  The Nablus approach would be considered once the framework had been agreed and was in place, by the end of 2023.




Questions Regarding the Nether Edge Active Travel Neighbourhood Scheme




Viv Lockwood (representing the Banner Cross Neighbourhood Group):


“The introduction of the Nether Edge Active Neighbourhood scheme was meant to make changes to streets “creating a safer, cleaner and quieter environment for local residents and businesses to enjoy.” It has done just the reverse by closing Archer Lane with consequential hugely increased congestion, traffic chaos everywhere and pollution levels soaring. Given that accidents and air quality were never thought important enough even to evaluate when the scheme was first implemented, does the Council agree with the overwhelming number of local residents that it should now be brought to an end and that a thorough assessment be undertaken into how such an ill thought-out and badly delivered scheme ever saw the light of day in the first place?”


Mr Lockwood added that an examination should also be made of what he considered to be highly questionable data which had been presented to justify the scheme.




Mohammad Maroof:


“It is understood that a report on the future of the Archer Lane closure, along with other transport initiatives will be submitted to the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee on 20 September 2023.


Will you agree with me that this report must be withdrawn until proper consultation on the results of the monitoring data and other issues are shared in a meaningful way with the affected community as promised during public meetings? 


The way the initial consultation was carried out meant that a very small number of residents knew a lot about the scheme, but the vast majority of affected residents knew little or nothing about the scheme. The community for months had to continually ask for public meetings to explain the scheme, these meetings eventually happened in October last year. At these meetings the Officers promised to come back to the community with full details of all the monitoring data before any report went to committee. This has not happened.


I hope you will see the sense in saying it is not acceptable to release vast amounts of data with no explanation days before a committee and expect a community to respond in any meaningful way.


Throughout this part of the overall proposals Officers have said they are not accountable to the community/residents, hopefully, the Council is - Do you agree with officer’s comments?”




Marion Gerson:


“In the 2021 consultation process for the Nether Edge Active Travel Neighbourhood, 5 desired outcomes were identified.  The third of these was improved air quality.

However, many of us live in residential streets that have been seriously affected by a big increase in traffic pollution since Archer Lane and Little London Road were closed. In spite of our asking, no attempt was made to measure air quality on our roads directly.

There are monitoring stations on Abbeydale Road at Butterworth Cycles and Carter Knowle and in Nether Edge outside 13 Osbourne Road and 35 Montgomery Road that may at least give some indication of the consequences of the closures.”  Traffic Officers from Connecting Sheffield have not reported data from these and did not respond to my request in July for this data. Instead, I was pointed towards an interactive map on the Council's website but that doesn't have data beyond 2021 which is, of course, useless. 

Can we please have the up-to-date air quality data from these locations made available both to us and to the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee at least a week before that Committee considers the decision as to whether to continue with the closure of Archer Lane or not?”


Ms Gerson added that she has subsequently been advised that the map will be updated.




In response to those questions, Councillor Ben Miskell (Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) stated that a decision would be taken on the scheme at the next Transport, Regeneration and Climate Committee, which he encouraged residents to attend.  He added that part of the Council’s response to the climate emergency was to reduce carbon emissions whilst enabling the economy to grow.  At the same time, it was also important to make communities safer places to live for all.


He stated that the Council had been collecting data on the Nether Edge Active Neighbourhood over the last twelve months.  He had raised the issue of relevant monitoring data being put in the public domain and had been advised that this would happen by the end of the week.  He was working with local councillors to make sure the correct decision on the scheme in Nether Edge was made.




Question from Annie O’Gara




“On July 14th, a Sheffield Coalition made up of the city’s Trades Council, Palestine Solidarity, Labour Friends of Palestine and Kairos groups, sent a formal letter – our first official communication with the Council - to every member of the Council and to the Leader, Tom Hunt. We specifically asked him to reply.

The letter concerned the Government’s proposed legislation (“Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas matters)) – known as the Anti-boycott bill.

This bill is anti-democratic. It limits the ability of public bodies to make ethical choices about spending and investment that reflect widespread public support for human rights, climate goals and international law. It violates the rights of individual pension holders to invest their pensions in line with their values. It gags individual Councillors from expressing sincerely held views, unless these fit in with the Government’s agenda.

The bill applies very widely from climate change issues to human rights and international law.

Despite its serious implications for Sheffield City Council, and for the citizens of Sheffield, we have received no reply, even though a response was promised on July 17th and a reminder of this promise has been sent.

When will Tom Hunt reply on behalf of the Council he now leads?”




In response, the Leader of the Council (Councillor Tom Hunt) apologised for the delay in responding and confirmed that the written response is being prepared and will be sent out soon. He explained that the bill was still being considered by Parliament and that his party, Labour, had voted against it.


The position of his party was that they believe that all public bodies must act without bias or selectivity when making ethical decisions on procurement and investment, however they were concerned that the Bill risks significantly undermining support for groups around the world facing persecution, such as the Uyghur.


He stated that the Labour Party had asked the Government to bring forward alternative proposals because the Bill in its current form placed unprecedented restrictions on the ability of public bodies, to express a view on policy, and had potential widespread and negative implications for local government pension funds and was likely to be subject to repeated and extended legal challenge.




Question from Abid Hussain




“Creating adequate burial provision is a city-wide issue in Sheffield, with land at cemeteries depleting at an alarming rate. Representations have also been submitted from across the city as part of the Sheffield Local Plan consultation which closed on 20th February 2023. Could Sheffield City Council provide an update on what progress has been made in identifying new sites for burial provision and timescales for making this provision available to the communities of Sheffield?”


Mr Hussain also underlined that this is a sensitive issue and stated that he was aware of private sector land that was former public land, lying barren in parts of Sheffield that could be used for burials, to ensure adequate provision was in place, not just for the Muslim community but for all communities.




In response, Councillor Richard Williams (Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee) stated that the Council’s Bereavement Services Team had just appointed a temporary officer to help develop a burial, cremation and cemetery strategy for the whole city.  Through consultation, this strategy would lay-out the Council’s aspirations for the service over the next 5-10 years, including what burial provision was needed. This officer would take the lead in liaising with Property Services to establish what land may be available for cemetery development and would have quarterly meetings with appropriate and interested elected members, reporting progress through the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee.


Additionally, it had been investigated as to whether one of the existing cemeteries in the Tinsley/Darnall area could be expanded but the land had proved to be unsuitable. Other options in this area were being explored.


Councillor Williams added that except for Tinsley cemetery, which was closed for new burials, there is around 5 years of available burial space before capacity is reached in some cemeteries and up to 30 years in others. He acknowledged that this was a sensitive issue and advised that it was a priority.  He also offered to regularly meet with Mr Hussain.




Question from Shirley Bagnall




Linda Walker spoke on behalf of Shirley Bagnall:


Ms Bagnall’s letter had stated:

“I am the lady who wrote the letter of protest about the bus service we are receiving on Chancet Wood and that is our priority.

But I would like to ask a few questions. Who is in control of the money funded by the government? Is this money being monitored so it is going to the right departments and areas where it is needed and spent wisely?

I was speaking to the security manager in the Sheffield Market and he told me the artificial plants scattered around the market had cost 20 thousand pounds. To me that is a waste of money and could have been spent on better things.

Also, the road works we are constantly getting on Greenhill Avenue, we understand these jobs have to be done but there are days and good weather when there is no work being done at all. Does the taxpayer have to pay them when they are not working as well?

I also heard on the news the Manchester mayor had received funding so why haven’t we?  They are a Labour controlled city like Sheffield. Come on Sheffield Council you have to do better than this!”


Ms Walker added that in particular there were issues with the 76a bus which had got worse since it had been taken over by TM, having been formerly operated by Stagecoach.  There were too few buses, and they did not always turn up. This had led to doctor’s appointments being missed.




In response, Councillor Ben Miskell (Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) stated that as Mrs Bagnall’s letter had been delayed, a full written response to all her points would be provided. 


Regarding the bus service, he agreed that many people in Sheffield get a poor bus service since deregulation.  He reported that Oliver Coppard, the South Yorkshire Mayor, had launched a Campaign for a Fair Bus Deal (which can be joined online) and this highlights that 42% of bus services have been cut due to cuts in government funding over the last 10 years.  The Council continues to work with the South Yorkshire Mayor and the Shadow Transport Secretary to put pressure on the Government.




Questions from Fiona Hinson




Fiona Hinson stated that she was representing residents of the Springwell Estate, some of whom were with her in the public gallery but many more of whom had not been able to attend due to work commitments.   She also underlined that a 4000+ signature petition had been provided in addition to other formal objections.  She formally requested that the land off Eckington Way, being unsuitable for the proposed development, was removed from the draft Local Plan.   She asked the following questions:


“1. A formal FOI request was made to Cllr Tom Hunt, following the Strategy and Resources meeting that I myself attended as the original questions posed at this meeting were not answered in required detail, and the response will be provided by 15th September which is too late for this meeting. These questions included:

a) How did the Labour Mosborough ward councillors manage to have their proposed site that was considered suitable from the local planners removed before the draft became public?  The response was that concerns were raised about social cohesion - what were these concerns? We asked for specifics for reasons why other sites deemed suitable by local Planners had been ruled out and the response was not adequate. 

b) From the site selection methodology, the vast majority of sites in private ownership have been ruled out, and you have deemed this as the most suitable to sufficiently separate from sensitive uses nearby because employment uses would be taking place. So why were sites such as say Norton Aerodrome for example removed that met policy? This site has direct access to a strategic road, and accessible utilities and making provision for GRT community housing? 

c) The site has not been measured, you have confirmed this, so how have you arrived that the gross site size is 6.8 hectares? From our own measurements of this site, it is considerably less and with the consideration of the environmental buffers - the developable elements are much smaller than the 3.4 you mentioned in your response. 


2. Why do SCC never learn from their mistakes? 

a)  Tree Felling - where the independent review condemned and said 'strategic leadership failure' and of being 'dishonest' - where SCC didn't listen to the protests and strength of feeling, and are now making apologies 

b) Abbey Glenn - where SCC approved light industrial use, as being promised at this site, yet they're having to apologise again 'after the event' due to the noise and disruption to residents because it wasn't what they 'expected' when approval was given 

c) Pushing decisions that SCC 'feel' are best for the people, but without adequate consultation. The GRT site at Tinsley, Huntsman's Gardens, is a prime example where SCC used funding for a purpose-built site that the GRT community didn't actually want and it was closed, after it ran at a significant loss. You mentioned at the February LAC you'd made contact with the Showmen's Guild and they'd shown an interest, but do you have clear confirmation this site is the right / appropriate site for them after your amendments are made, as we've been made aware that the GRT Travelling Showpeople don't actually want Beighton; a point which we as a panel are taking up with the Showmen's Guild for clarity.

Have they seen the detail around the reduced site size with environmental buffer, provisions for privacy, the gas pipe and high voltage pylons that require 24/7 National Grid access - all issues you say will be addressed at 'planning stages'?

d) Never look at the 'wider picture' but silo project approvals - just see all the development approved in this area over the last 10 year period, with absolutely no change to infrastructure. A problem you recognise but make no attempt to address in your draft local plan around transport, only the perceived minimal impact of additional elements.  So, you acknowledge there's a problem, but you'll do another review on this. So we have no clear plan on what you will do in terms of actions which traffic congestion was one of our key objections. 

Finally, the whole process of the public consultation is disputed. The result had already been pre-determined, from when the draft was issued, as the responses to all objections are the same presentation slides we saw at the LAC in February. Any 'removal' no matter how flawed the decision around this specific site for the provision of GRT housing would be classed as a major amendment, and as you have no 'Plan B' to fall back on at this stage, and say this is your professional judgement, it would mean SCC don't meet their objective of delivering a local plan that is already years late. But you can tick a box to say it's been submitted, and all the problems will be kicked down the line to 'planning stages'. 

As the Green Party have already commented, if the site is not here it has to be elsewhere in the City. This is based on the planners 'clear advice' - the same planners who at the February LAC meeting said they had not actually visited the site, BEFORE, the draft plan was made public. They say they have since visited, but cannot provide the dates (not sure why when professionals use Outlook calendars?) but still feel the site is the best of the worst options they came up with, but this would be expected if removal with no alternative meant the rest of the draft local plan was delayed as a result of addressing all the 4,000 petitions and objections raised by local residents, councillors and local businesses.”


Ms Hinson also underlined the potential damage to wildlife that would be caused by tarmacking over an arable field.




In response, the Leader of the Council (Councillor Tom Hunt) thanked Ms Hinton for attending and for submitting the Freedom of Information Request.  He stated that the FOI response would be sent to her, and made available to the public in the usual way.


Councillor Hunt emphasised that the consultation process for the Draft Local Plan had complied with national planning regulations and with the Council’s own Statement of Community Involvement and it had not been predetermined, everyone’s views had been listened to and taken into account.  The site had been visited by Officers and by the Head of Planning.


He continued that if the draft plan was submitted for examination and then subsequently adopted it would be reviewed at regular intervals and any planning proposals that came forward for any site in the plan would be subject to the usual planning process.






(NOTES: 1. The questions which had been submitted by Ibrar Hussain, but which had not been asked at the meeting due to his absence, would receive a written response from Councillors Joe Otten (Chair of the Waste and Streetscene Policy Committee) and Ben Miskell (Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) and be published on the website; and




2. The Lord Mayor reported that several questions on the topic of non-ionising radiation risks had been received from Michael Mullin.  The Lord Mayor stated that these latest questions were rather repetitious of a series of questions which had been asked and answered at the previous Council meeting, and therefore, under the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 15.1(e)(iv), and on the advice of the Council’s Monitoring Officer, he had not accepted Mr. Mullin’s latest questions as he deemed them to fall within the category of “matters of an irrelevant, repetitious, defamatory, frivolous or offensive nature or a general misuse of the opportunity”, as they seek to maintain an ongoing dialogue on a matter which has been substantively answered by the Council and on which the Council has made its position clear.)




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