To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
A period of up to 15 minutes is allocated for the asking and answering of questions. This may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman with the agreement of the majority of those present.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Colella
“As the Leader stated at the Full Council meeting of 23rd January 2019 that there was to be a joint BDC and WCC Leadership meeting on 25th January in relation to Highways issues and that officers would circulate briefing notes from that meeting to Cabinet members, Group Leaders and the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, can the Leader explain why details of what was discussed at that meeting were not reported to the Cabinet meeting of 13th February, can he confirm briefing notes have indeed been circulated to all relevant members mentioned above and indeed can he now take this opportunity to give a detailed update to Full Council of that meeting?”
The Leader responded that he was surprised that Councillor Colella had not seen the note he had issued on 6th February to all Group Leaders, as it had merely set out procedural matters going forward. Officers would be monitoring the position and recommendations would be made through the Overview and Scrutiny Board and Strategic Planning Group to Cabinet in due course.
Questions submitted by Councillor S. Baxter
“Please can the leader report on the amount of business rates that have been paid for on the Burcot Lane site since the Council vacated the site and what the expected total bill for business rates will be by the time the old council offices are demolished.”
The Leader responded that £320k had been paid in Business Rates with a £45k reduction in the ensuing year.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Shannon
“Has the Leader noticed the current condition of Bromsgrove High Street, after a splendid resurface job carried out a couple of years ago the High St surface is now despoiled with hundreds, possibly thousands of lumps of discarded chewing gum also oil and diesel fuel stains. Worst of all, a large section of the former pristine paving in front of the Specsavers store has been excavated and replaced with poor quality black-top. After several months of this temporary surface sinking, a tripping hazard has developed for pedestrians, some with eye sight issues frequenting this section of the High Street. Can the Leader give notice of any planned cleaning/maintenance schedule for what has now become a rather grubby High Street?”
Councillor K. May, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships responded that she had met with officers from Worcestershire County Council (WCC), officers from this Council and the County Member who represents the Town Centre on 26th February, to discuss the issues that Councillor Shannon had raised and that she had previously noted. WCC were to meet with the utility companies to discuss the standard of their re-instatement work on the High Street and address the issues which had been raised. The Place Team were to introduce a cleaning programme, which Councillor May would be looking at closely.
Question submitted by Councillor R. Jenkins
“With Worcestershire Councils including this Council having been chosen to take part in the Government's 75% business rates retention scheme for 2019/20 and with all Worcestershire Councils agreeing that the extra income is to be spent on projects which then reduce spending on social care, can the Leader state how soon members will be able to submit applications for investing this additional income in their ward areas?”
The Leader responded that as Members were aware from the initial bid, it had been agreed that the collective gain from being a pilot would be invested in District and County services that prevented or reduced the cost of social care.
The formal Governance arrangements were currently being developed with the aim that business cases for new and innovative projects to reduce social care be approved by the Worcestershire Leaders Board. Once the arrangements were finalised, officers would be working with Members to identify areas of spend, which could include:
· Funding community transport to help reduce isolation.
· Additional work with Housing providers and District to plan and build facilities for the most vulnerable, including care leaves and those young people at risk of homelessness.
· Additional spending above the Disabled Facilities Grant to help people live in their homes longer and support disabled children and young people to live at home.
· Districts taking more responsibility for running community facilities.
· Joint work with Districts to focus on residents’ debt for the most deprived in communities.
· Fostering greater independent living through District run schemes.
· Enabling local businesses with relief to support schemes such as fostering and disability employment.