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.
The Chairman opened the item by explaining that 5 questions had been submitted for consideration at the meeting. There would be no subsidiary questions.
Question submitted by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke
“Could the leader or relevant portfolio holder update Council on the progress of the strategic transport assessment promised at last April’s full council meeting, following the debate surrounding the Whitford Road development?
With the proposed development along Whitford Road, and the cut to the 144, this is now more important than ever.”
The Leader responded that the Strategic Transport Assessment (STA) was an important piece of evidence supporting the preparation of the emerging Bromsgrove District Plan Review. Consultants were commissioned in May 2021 and had been working on the following stages since this time:
• Stage 1: preparation of a Transport Evidence Base (TEB) which drew together available evidence on existing transport provision and movements within the District, the transport issues, and the potential infrastructure measures to mitigate impacts where they arise.
• Stage 2: definition of assessment criterion to assess six spatial option areas with regard to current and future transport connectivity.
• Stage 3(a): application of the assessment criterion to six spatial option areas to provide a high-level assessment of transport connectivity.
• Stage 3(b): refinement of the assessment criterion and application to more focused spatial option areas (‘clusters’ of potential development sites) with recommendations for infrastructure opportunities.
The earlier stages of this work were complete, with work currently ongoing between the consultants and Bromsgrove District Council and Worcestershire County Council officers to finalise stage 3(b). The final project was planned to be presented to the Strategic Planning Steering Group (SPSG) during the summer, with the dates still to be confirmed, and all Members were encouraged to attend for further detail on the STA outcomes.
Question submitted by Councillor P. M. McDonald
"When will the Council purchase its first electric vehicle?"
In response to this question, the Leader explained that Bromsgrove District Council had requested the assistance of the Energy Savings Trust (EST) to assess the efficiency of its current vehicle fleets in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy consumption and operating costs.
The report had provided a good overview of the fleet, but further work was being commissioned to look at each of the vehicles in detail in order to advise what the best vehicle solution was for the work undertaken and the distances travelled.
Procurement of the services of a specialist who could offer the Council the detailed advice needed to progress was currently underway. The areas where advice and support would be sought would be in relation to vehicle availability, suitability, emerging technology, the right time to invest, grant funding availability, fuel type, infrastructure systems and energy suppliers. Once the detailed information was available, a report would be produced that would provide a plan for the vehicle replacement for the following ten years and assist with the Council’s aim to be carbon neutral.
The Leader informed Members that it was anticipated that the replacement of the fleet with ultra-low emission vehicles would commence in 2023/24.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Robinson
“Do you agree that the latest proposal for the 144, which sees the route continue from Catshill to Longbridge but not onwards to Birmingham, is still inadequate and will you continue to lobby Worcestershire County Council to provide a full reinstatement of this vital service?”
The Leader commented that she would continue to lobby Worcestershire County Council to seek to provide full bus cover, to include Sundays and further evening services, for this route.
Question submitted by Councillor R. Hunter
“How many households in Bromsgrove that are eligible for the council tax rebate had received their payment by the end of April and how many have received it to date?”
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance responded that the estimate of eligible households on 8th May 2022 was 27,454 and that the number paid by 30th April 2022 was 15,793 which amounted to 57.5% of eligible households. It was also reported that a further 4,042 payments had been made on 8th May 2022 and that to date 19,835 payments had been made which equated to 72% of households within Bromsgrove.
Question submitted by Councillor J. King
“Did Bromsgrove receive any payment from the NHS for the use of the Artrix as a vaccination centre and if so, can the funds be put towards securing a sustainable future for the Artrix building as a thriving centre for arts and cultural activities in Bromsgrove?”
The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Climate Change commented that Bromsgrove District Council had been supporting the Holding Trust by providing facilities management support. This in turn enabled the NHS to use the building as a vaccination site. Council had been advised previously that the Artrix Holding Trust had the care and control of the building whilst work continued by the Holding Trust to determine the future of the venue. The Council had been advised by the Holding Trust that they were in receipt of funds from the NHS for the use of the building.