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 M. Thompson
“In the last full council meeting the Labour Group moved a motion for the council to replace every tree it cut down with 6 saplings. The motion was rejected because of lack of a business case. The Labour Group do not believe that such (small) gestures, which help reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to help combat the enhanced Greenhouse Effect, require a business case. However, in view of the above, please can the relevant portfolio holder answer the following question, to help with the so-called business case:
If a = average price of a sapling, b = average number of trees felled per annum by Bromsgrove District Council and c = 6ab.
What is c?”
The Leader referred the question to the Portfolio Holder who had answered this question at the last Council meeting.
The Portfolio Holder for Planning advised that he had previously carried out some research with regard to this question and had looked at various nursery suppliers who provided Whip or Bareroot plants which were small i.e. up to 60cm tall. Due to their very low costs, far less time and effort was required to get them established therefore the potential cost of plant failure was also very low.
The Portfolio Holder added that he had randomly chosen some nursery sites online to look at prices for this type of planting stock and in general they range from around 90p - £2.22 per tree – normally based on ordering a multiple bundle of say 10 – 20 at a time. Each one of these would probably require a protective planting tube and stake at approx. £2 per tree. For the planting of say 6 – 10 trees on a single site he estimated a requirement for one member of staff for 1 hour maximum at a salary cost of £10 per hour plus a vehicle to travel to the location. As is clearly evident this type of planting is very low cost.
However, if there were any increase in the size of tree to be planted then it was expected the cost wold increase exponentially – larger Standard size trees for example could cost several hundreds of pounds each and the aftercare costs were also much higher. The appropriateness of the type, size and location of any tree planting would need to be evaluated and a general cost was very difficult to accurately quantify, as each site would most likely have different requirements and restrictions.
Apart from half a dozen young trees that came down as part of the Sanders Park cycle path scheme (which were taken down by WCC rather than ourselves) the Portfolio Holder did not think that the Council had felled any trees in the last financial year – some were pruned but not felled and he added that Leisure would have had around 400 new trees planted at one of the Bromsgrove allotment sites.
Questions Submitted by Councillor P. McDonald
“Would the Chairman please inform me of the total travelling costs of all employees over the last two years?”
The Chairman referred this matter to the Leader, who responded that for illustrative purposes the last 3 years of BDC costs were provided, in order for Members to see the downward trend.
16/17 – £80,907k
17/18 - £64,476k
18/19 - £57,323k
Question Submitted by Councillor J. King
“Can you confirm if any Bromsgrove Council Services use the chemical Glyphosate and if so what measures are you putting in place to protect the health and safety of employees and the public given the increasing evidence of the serious harm this chemical can cause?”
Councillor M. Sherrey, the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services responded that the Council did use it and where it was used the Council complied with all relevant guidelines in regards to Health & Safety.
Question Submitted by Councillor R. Hunter
“How are you addressing residents’ concerns about the recent introduction of charges at the Artrix Car Park and could you comment on whether it would be feasible for Bromsgrove District Council to offer assistance?”
The Leader thanked Councillor Hunter for his question and responded that, as Members were aware the Artrix was not part of the Council, so it would not be appropriate and nor was she able to address residents’ concerns about the parking. This was a matter for the Artrix and the college. However, she assured Members that as a community leader the Council would continue to work will the Artrix to help and support where it was able.
Question Submitted by Councillor S. Hughes
“Can you explain why both Worcester and Redditch but not Bromsgrove have been invited to bid for a Town Deal as part of the £241 million Towns Fund announced by Chancellor Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, in the Spending Review earlier this month?”
The Leader responded that she believed it was fair to say that the details on this matter were very limited at present but she understood from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy that the criteria for those areas that had been invited to bid included:
· Income deprivation
· EU exit exposure
· Economic shocks (whether there have been any)
· Investment opportunities
· Policy alignment (I have asked for clarification on this but I assume this is alignment to government policies).
The Leader further understood that the prospectus for the bids has, as yet to be published.”
The Government had outlined that as part of the process of identifying the initial 100 places, towns had been chosen on the basis of a number of criteria. This took into account various qualitative and quantitative indicators and had included income deprivation, skills, productivity, investment opportunities, and policy alignment.
Question Submitted by Councillor S. Colella
“Would the leader thank the Head of Strategic Planning on behalf of Hagley for writing in such clear terms to Wyre Forest DC on its Local Plan Review consultation in particular its failed processes and the total lack of a transport infrastructure plan to support its development growth?”
The Leader thanked Councillor Colella for his question and confirmed that she would pass on his thanks.
Question Submitted by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke
“Given the recent reporting regarding parking at the Artrix, does the leader share my concerns regarding the sustainability of the current model, and will she act so that people won’t be deterred from visiting the Artrix so, like our sports hall, our town doesn’t lose another valuable facility?”
It was confirmed that this question had been withdrawn by Councillor Rone-Clarke.
Question Submitted by Councillor A. English
“I note from a local newspaper article that BDC have been awarded £50K from the Government to help prevent illegal developments in the Green Belt. I am disappointed that members of this Council have been briefed through a newspaper but am pleased that we applied for and have been granted this money. I am now interested to know how this money will be spent and whether it will be used to address the cultural shortfall of 17 authorised pitches (figures including turnover) for the five year period (2019/20 to 2023/24) for the Gypsy/Traveller community in Bromsgrove District, so helping to mitigate unauthorised development in the Green Belt.”
The Leader responded that the press release had come from Sajid Javid MP’s Office; not from Bromsgrove District Council and that the monies were specifically for planning enforcement matters, with an emphasis on tackling unauthorised and illegal traveller encampment matters in the Green Belt.