Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.



The webcast restarted and the Committee received the following questions from members of the public who had submitted the questions prior to the meeting:


(a)  Mike Hodson


At the 6 July LAC Meeting I asked some questions about whether the LAC had concerns about the process by which Parks & Countryside Service negotiated a Lease of part of Millhouses Park to True North Brew Co. that owns the Waggon & Horses pub adjacent to the park; and about how Parks & Countryside Service had dealt with the Friends of Millhouses Park as part of that process. 

The written answers I received did not answer the questions: and were written by an Officer of the Parks & Countryside Service, not by anyone from the LAC. I complained about this to the Chair and the LAC Manager; and Paul May our Chair and I met Cllr Sangar and Ms Bustamante in October to discuss my complaint. Cllr Sangar agreed that I was correct; that the answers I got did not answer the questions I put; and that the Minutes of that July meeting should be amended to show that was the case.  That has not happened because the Head of Democratic Services has advised that Minutes of Council Committees can only be amended by the Committee itself. 


I am also asking the LAC if they agree that it is part of the duties of Officers and Members of Local Area Committees to ensure that questions from the public are answered correctly and appropriately and in due time - as with all Council Committees - as part of the general democratic process? 


Does the SW LAC agree that the right to ask questions at public meetings of this, and other Council Committees, is an inherent part of the democratic process; and that where answers to those questions are able to be answered in the meeting that should be the norm?  And would they also agree that every effort should be made by Officers and Councillors on those Committees to ensure that the answers given are relevant, correct and complete; and that questioners should have the right to follow-up questions in the event that they feel that has not been the case?” 


The Chair, Councillor Andrew Sanger, stated that it was not an inherent right to ask questions at LACs but it was a right that Members had wanted people to have.  Sheffield Council had been a leader in this.  Following the referendum, the Council was in the second year of its committee structure.  Work was still being done by the Governance Committee to finalise the process for democratic engagement, including how public questions should be addressed.


He added that the South West LAC did not have policy making powers in terms of the Parks or Council assets and therefore the appropriate place for Parks related discussion was the Communities Committee.  The appropriate place for Assets discussion was the Finance committee.


He explained that the South West LAC welcomed questions on matters that could be addressed by the Committee and matters that are within the decision-making scope of the Local Area Committee.  Where an issue was being addressed at a Policy Committee the scope of input that a LAC could have might be minimal, particularly in the case of legal and contractual matters.    



(b)  Paul May


1.       How were the responses and round-table discussions at the July Meeting about Community Safety recorded and evaluated, and will they be reported, whether to a future meeting or by email? 


2.    Reading both the original Community Plan, and the updated version of the Plan produced more recently, it is clear there are many targets throughout the Plan which have both review dates and outcome dates. They also have timelines for achievement, many of which have now been exceeded. We have not seen any of these outcomes from the Plan reported at the SW LAC meetings. Can you tell us when these will be published and how they will be evaluated to give an overall assessment of how well the SW LAC has performed against its original targets? 


3.       Referring to the targets in the updated Plan, are these aspirational targets or just a list of those that came out of the Review? Will they also be assessedand contribute to that overall assessment?” 


Mr May’s question was read out by Mike Hodson as Mr May was not present at the meeting.


The Chair advised a full written answer would be provided but also stated the following:


Question 1

The LAC Team collated together all the notes from the engagement sessions and produce a table of summary feedback received, this was collated together onto one summary. They see the feedback from the engagement sessions as highly valuable as it underpins the work they deliver in terms of projects on the community plan. It is the basis of what they focus projects and support on.


Question 2

The LAC Team had been providing summary updates at the LAC Public Meetings, at the last meeting they did this in the style of an information board. This was a response to the feedback they received at the previous public meeting in March, where they were asked to limit the time of the presentation on the LAC plan updates by the attendees present. They expressed that they wanted to focus time on engagement instead.


The Chair added that a summary highlight report on progress made with the 22/23 Community Plan had been produced and copies of the report were printed off and available at the Public Meeting in September.  The LAC Team wanted to improve the reporting to residents on progress and were developing the webpages to include a section specifically for this. Here you would be able to read updates on each of the projects they had underway and this would open up an opportunity for residents to get involved, if they were interested.


The Chair also explained that the pace of delivery on some of the items had meant the LAC Team had to roll forward some of the actions onto this year. Over the last year, they had learnt the challenges of operating in a new organisational set up and understood more realistically the kind of agile approach required to ensure that they do deliver. The approach to achieving deliverables was very much developmental; test and learn. A large part of what they delivered was dependent on how far they could influence through collaborative working with other services and partners and their available capacity as well as the LAC Teams capacity. There was a wide breadth of activity in the plan that involved a number of partners and services collaborating together.


Question 3

The items in the updated plan formed the LAC Team’s work programme that they were currently delivering.  They were aiming to have achieved all actions by end of March ’23.  Under each of the themes and priorities set out they had listed actions that they assessed and deemed as being achievable in the time period and within the budget they had available, and that will be impactful on reaching results to address the issue. 


The Chair advised that the measure of success would be  whether they achieved the project/initiative, an assessment of outcomes would be delivered in the post March period and would need to involve testimonies from those that had either taken part in an activity that they had helped facilitate to help measure the social value impact. 


(c)  Christopher Pennell


“A Green Belt runs in the west of our LAC area (and for that matter also in west of the North LAC) and beyond that the National Park. Given the current propensity for national politicians to play fast and loose with Green Belt designations suggesting that much of it is scrubland and fit only for building houses on, should the Council do more to defend such land where it is clearly of value for reasons other than those set out in planning rules for creating Green Belt.


The South West developed Area hosts on the west Green Belt land which stretches across to the Peak District National Park boundary and provides significant ecosystem benefits to Sheffield residents, such as strong biodiversity, great access and recreational opportunities, valued landscapes in their own right to gladden the heart and spirit, and opportunities to combat climate change and to reduce flood risks.


Recognising that the value of such land as is designated as Green Belt within our LAC area is much more than the sum of the five purposes for Green Belt designation, the Dore community is drafting a Green Infrastructure Strategy for Green Belt land wrapped around developed Dore. We will in the New Year want to consult the City Council on our draft Strategy. Who should we consult? Who within the Council team has the knowledge and the clout to assess the true value and ecosystem service potential of the land beyond the developed areas of the South West LAC up to the boundaries of the National Park. Will we get a knowledgeable and considered hearing?” 


The Chair stated the following:


The Council was in the process of reviewing the Local Plan and many people had contributed to this.  Planning Officers were putting most of their efforts into getting the Local Plan adopted.


The development of a supplementary planning document that is specific to Dore would not be a priority for the Planning team at present, though they intend to develop a city-wide supplementary planning document on Biodiversity Net Gain and other aspects of design for biodiversity. 


He explained that their limited resources were currently being channelled towards supporting work on the development of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) for South Yorkshire (work being led by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority).  Mapping of natural capital (including the Dore area) had already been completed and the maps were available on the SYMCA landing page.  Dore Village Society might find it useful to use the information held there in developing their Green Infrastructure Strategy.


The Planning team anticipated that one of the aspirations of the LNRS would be to embed Natural England’s Green Infrastructure Standards within it.  This would also include elements such as active travel, ecological prioritisation, and waterways management.  The LNRS would cover the whole of the city, so would incorporate the Dore area. There would be engagement with the public and community groups as part of developing the LNRS.




The Chair thanked everyone present for attending the meeting and reminded them to fill in a feedback form.



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