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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:

 

 

4.1

Petitions

 

 

4.1.1

Petition Requesting Improved Safety Measures on Sharrow Vale Road

 

 

 

The Council received an electronic petition containing 12 signatures and requesting improved road safety measures on Sharrow Vale Road.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by a parent of 3 children at the local school.  He stated that there had been numerous road safety incidents and several near misses involving children on Sharrow Vale Road. He asked the Council to look at what could be done to reduce the volume and speeds of traffic on Sharrow Vale Road. He commented that traffic levels had increased with the number of new businesses in the area and many children from outside of the catchment area attending the School and people used the route to avoid the congestion on Ecclesall Road.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jayne Dunn, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene. Councillor Dunn responded that the Council had introduced a number of measures to improve road safety, including 20 mph zones in residential areas and mobile CCTV. However, the budget for such measures was restrictive and the schemes were subject to set criteria. The request would be assessed according to these criteria.

 

 

 

(The above minute was amended in March 2018, at the request of the petitioner, to remove his name from the minute.)

 

 

4.1.2

Petition Concerning the Central Grass Verge on Butchill Avenue

 

 

 

The Council received a petition containing 40 signatures and requesting that action be taken in relation to the central grass verge on Butchill Avenue.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Amy Slinn who stated that the verge was comparatively wide and the road was narrow and had cars parked on the verge, which caused difficulty for vehicle access and egress for residents. There was particular concern for emergency vehicle access. The verge itself was in a poor condition because of vehicles having parked on it. The petitioners requested that Council officers visit the site to assess the situation.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jayne Dunn, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene. Councillor Dunn responded that an assessment had previously been undertaken on Butchill Avenue and the request had not scored highly enough to justify further work. However, she said that she would request that it was reassessed, although she could not promise that the outcome would be different. Councillor Dunn offered to speak further with Amy Slinn, as the Lead Petitioner.

 

 

4.2

Public Questions

 

 

4.2.1

Public Question Concerning Proposed Road Widening on Chesterfield Road

 

 

 

John Dryden asked a question concerning the consultation regarding the proposed widening of Chesterfield Road and asked if the Council would be carrying out more active consultation with local people.

 

 

 

Phil Shaddock asked whether it was considered that there had been adequate consultation on the proposal to widen Chesterfield Road. He said that the proposal involved making Albert Road a one way, which would mean a difficult detour for residents, which some people may not have realised.

 

 

 

Councillor Leigh Bramall, the Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, responded that all the properties affected by the proposal on Chesterfield Road and London Road, Broadfield Road and Heeley Retail Park and Albert Road and Thirlwell Road as far as Plantation Road and Saxon Road had been sent a letter and temporary traffic signs had also been set up, together with a display of plans at Lidl and the medical centre. 18 individual responses had been received, including responses from Albert Road. A petition had also been presented in relation to this issue and included people on Albert Road. This indicated that people were aware of the proposals. However, he would request that officers examine whether improvements could be made to the consultation. It was also likely that the proposals will change and further consultation would take place in that regard. The application upon which a decision would be made was expected in February or March 2015 and, at that time there would also be opportunity for people to put their views.

 

 

4.2.2

Public Question Concerning Council Tax

 

 

 

Phil Shaddock referred to a resident who had been waiting over a month for a reply to a formal complaint concerning Council Tax. He asked how many formal complaints were being processed by the Council and how many of these had been outstanding for over a month.

 

 

 

Councillor Ben Curran, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, responded that, in relation to complaints concerning Revenues and Benefits, there were 2 complaints that had been open for 11 and 27 days respectively. No complaint was outstanding at this time. There had been 109 complaints and the average response time was 24 days.

 

 

 

In relation to general complaints, there were 86 open complaints and 57 complaints were open for more than one month. 52 of those complaints concerned parking. There was a plan in place to deal with the backlog. Details of complaints were published on the Council website.  Councillor Curran stated that he would send details of the link to the website to Mr Shaddock.

 

 

4.2.3

Public Question Concerning Bus Lane Near to Heeley City Farm

 

 

 

Shane Harper referred to the proposed introduction of a bus lane near to Heeley City Farm. He stated that the introduction of the bus lane would result in the felling of 65 to 150 mature trees and their replacement by saplings. He said that a petition was also being compiled and requested that the City Council do not proceed further with the scheme until such time as it had received and considered the petition.  

 

 

 

Councillor Leigh Bramall, the Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, responded that the bus lane scheme was part of the Better Bus Area scheme through which £18 million had been granted by the Government to develop new transport infrastructure and improve bus services.

 

 

 

Fares had been reduced and, if more people used bus services, the level of air pollution would reduce. The development of new infrastructure was not easy, particularly in built up areas and a balance needed to be reached in such situations. The concerns of local people were taken into account and in relation to the proposals for Heeley, the three ward Councillors and Megg Munn MP had spoken with him as Cabinet Member and an open session would be held at Heeley City Farm to discuss the proposals. Further work would be done to achieve the best possible outcome and to ensure that as many trees as possible might be preserved. Councillor Bramall stated that many people depended upon bus services.

 

 

4.2.4

Public Question Concerning City Region Deal

 

 

 

Nigel Slack asked if the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (SCRCA) had reached agreement on the 'Heads of Terms' of a new City Region Deal and if so, he asked what were the Heads of Terms?

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, responded that an agreement had not yet been reached, although there was a Government timetable. The Autumn Statement may make reference to a Deal but the Heads of Terms had not been signed or agreed.

 

 

4.2.5

Public Question Concerning creation of a ‘Garden City’

 

 

 

Nigel Slack stated that the Government had announced the intention to create a new 'Garden City' within commuting distance of London. He asked what the Council thought this will mean for its commitment to a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, responded that she understood that the creation of a ‘Garden City’ would lead to the creation of more housing and there was a debate about whether housing should be built on brownfield sites or upon other areas. She stated that she hoped there was a commitment to both addressing housing need in the north of England and the creation of a ‘Garden City’. 

 

 

4.2.6

Public Question Concerning the Minimum Wage

 

 

 

Nigel Slack stated that the Autumn Statement illustrated that the Chancellor had missed more borrowing targets than anyone might have believed possible.

 

 

 

He stated that welfare reforms were forcing people into poverty-level jobs, increasing the in-work benefits bill and affecting income tax receipts. He said that, if they were allowed, corporate businesses would drive down wages and the Government will keep public service pay as low as they can. He stated that the only way to pull people out of this combined poverty trap and reduce in work benefit bills, was to increase the Minimum Wage.

 

 

 

Mr Slack referred to Seattle in the USA, which, following a referendum, had increased their minimum wage to $15.

 

 

 

Mr Slack asked whether the Council would support the call from Trades Unions like the BFAWU (Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union)and poverty campaigners to raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour and press leaders nationally to commit to this positive anti-poverty move.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, stated that with regard to the minimum wage, she would like to see evidence as to whether £10 per hour was actually the correct amount. Consideration should also be given to the state of the economy and the welfare resources that were available should also be examined. Low wages would mean that there would be a greater expenditure on welfare and, in effect, the welfare system could be seen to subsidise businesses.

 

 

4.2.7

Public Question Concerning Protection of Older People

 

 

 

Martin Brighton stated that, last year, nationally there were 20,000 additional deaths of elderly people due to the cold (i.e. an unnecessary death of an elderly person every 7 minutes during the winter). He asked what the Council was doing to protect its vulnerable elderly during the coming winter?

 

 

 

Councillor Mary Lea, the Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Independent Living stated that the Council was working with partners to encourage GPs to make sure people received the flu vaccine. The Council’s front line staff were also being offered the flu vaccination and were being advised on arrangements for service users eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine. NHS staff also received the flu vaccine. Work would be done with care home providers, including independent sector providers, to promote the take-up of the seasonal flu vaccination.

 

 

 

There was Government guidance on dealing with cold weather. Through the Right First Time project, the Council and the NHS were working together to ensure that older people were treated in hospital as quickly as possible and returned home to the care and support they needed.

 

 

 

A programme had been developed in Lowedges, Batemoor and Jordanthorpe to support older residents and make sure they had access to health and support services. As part of the initiative, Community Support Workers had been appointed to support older people in the community including visits to their homes to make sure they were prepared and could manage during the winter period.

 

 

 

There were joint contingency plans in place to support people during very adverse weather conditions, including those who were being cared for in their own homes. The Council would continue to work with the voluntary and community sector to support vulnerable older people.

 

 

4.2.8

Public Question Concerning Statements and Control

 

 

 

Martin Brighton stated that during the past year, the Council Leader had made many statements at Cabinet or in the Chamber. However, he said, Executives and Elected Members have simply ignored the Leader when it suited their personal agenda. He said that these people can also be named and shamed. He asked:

is this a Council that is out of control?

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council stated in response, that the Council was not ‘out of control’. She said that if specific detail was given then Mr Brighton would be more likely to receive a better response to questions. She said, for example, that Mr Brighton had recently sent to her a request to obtain a particular policy of the Council and a specific response had been made to his request.

 

 

4.2.9

Public Question Concerning Statements

 

 

 

Mr Brighton submitted a written question containing quotes from documents that had been released under the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act. He asked if the Council agreed that this type of material should be spread about him.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council stated that she was not aware of the verbal or written extracts from documents which Mr Brighton was referring to. However, she said that she would not be happy about those types of statements being made about anyone and she did not know who had made the particular statements to which he referred.

 

 

4.3.

Petitions

 

 

4.3.1

Petition and Public Questions Requesting the Implementation of Dog Control Orders

 

 

 

The Council received a joint electronic and paper petition containing 130 signatures and requesting the implementation of Dog Control Orders on public paths, shopping areas and in recreational areas.

 

 

 

Whilst there was no speaker to the petition, two public questions were also received on the subject of Dog Control Orders from Denise Allman. The Lord Mayor (Councillor Peter Rippon) read the questions on behalf of Denise Allman, which were as follows:

 

 

 

“Sheffield Dog Warden Service has stated that they receive at least 1 complaint a day in respect of dogs not on a lead, creating a variety of problems from dog on dog attacks to older and disabled people getting injured. Within the last year, Sheffield Dog Wardens visited Manchester to observe their practice in respect of Dog Control Orders. Sheffield Dog Warden Service informed [her] that in their opinion, Manchester’s Dog Control Orders are effective, since they do not see one dog without a lead and to emulate this practice in Sheffield would make Sheffield Dog Warden Service to the public more productive and efficient. In view of these findings, why did Sheffield City Council decide not to use relevant legislation to implement Dog Control Orders?”

 

 

 

“Many Councils, such as Coventry City Council have consulted their citizens in respect of introducing Dog Control Orders. Since this petition is just a “snap shot” of the strength of feeling, it has provoked public discussion, particularly in the Wadsley and Hillsborough area (including Hillsborough Library discussion group) about the need for the Council to promote responsible dog ownership through the use of Dog Control Orders. Would Sheffield City Council consider carrying out a similar city wide exercise using all methods of communication, to ensure that those without computer access/skills are included in the consultation process?”

 

 

 

The Council referred the Petition and questions to Councillor Jayne Dunn, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene. Councillor Dunn stated that the Council was examining a consultation process relating to Dog Control Orders and that she would keep in contact with the petitioner. She confirmed that different methods of communication would be considered.

 

 

4.3.2

Petition Objecting to the Decision to remove the 60+ Age Designation  at Painted Fabrics Estate, Norton

 

 

 

The Council received a petition containing 86 signatures and objecting to the decision to remove the 60+ age designation applied to flats at Painted Fabrics Estate, Norton.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Harry Harpham, the Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods. Councillor Harpham stated that he had received the petition and telephone calls on this subject and the consultation, which was ongoing. He stated that he had asked for a meeting with the Lead Petitioner to discuss the issues which had been raised.