Agenda item - Written questions from members of the public.

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Agenda item

Written questions from members of the public.

A list of public questions received by the due date of the 13th October 2011 will be circulated separately as part of an addendum at the meeting.


21.1         The Mayor reported that a total of six written questions had been received from members of the public and invited Ms. Andrews to come forward and address the council.


21.2         Ms. Andrews asked the following question, “Many Councillors are aware that the King Alfred Ice Rink project represents an independent investigation into the opportunity to site a temporary enclosed ice skating facility on the disused land, to the west of the King Alfred Leisure Centre, for a minimum term of 3 years.  The project has received support from many sections of the community including several local Councillors, Keep Sussex Skating and the National Ice Skating Association who share the vision of this important amenity for all those who live in Brighton & Hove and all who visit our city.  We recognise that there are significant planning concerns regarding the structural integrity of the site and it would not be sensible to begin to address these concerns without understanding the basic structural issues first. We would like to emphasise, clearly, that we do not require any Council funding to progress this project, nor do we take permission to survey the site to be any indication whatsoever of Council approval for this scheme.


            It is essential that we determine whether the site is structurally suitable for this project, and if not, what structural works would need to be incorporated into any business plan and proposal to establish this new serious ice skating venue for our city. We will then be in a position to decide whether or not to progress with this vision.  In order to determine whether this opportunity has any chance of progressing, we request permission from the Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation & Tourism for Jon Orrell of Hemsley Orrell Partnership to undertake a qualified inspection of the site?”


21.3         Councillor Bowden replied; “The King Alfred site has not been marketed and is subject to conversations within the council about its future.  I appreciate that at the present time your suggestion for a temporary ice rink on the derelict former ten pin bowling area is an idea which you would like to develop into a proposal.  I would be willing for your surveyor to undertake an inspection of the area of the site that you have identified, in order for you to determine whether you wish to develop your idea further. The council would require a copy of the inspection findings and any costs in relation to the survey would need to be met by yourselves.


            However, as you have recognised in your question, by allowing the structural survey to take place it does not imply any agreement by the council as landlord that the site is available or an invitation to tender.  Should the council wish to consider any proposal in the future, a credible business plan would be required, and it would be necessary to ensure that other ice skating provided by the council such as at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Centre is not compromised.  Therefore, while I am happy to assist you in developing your idea by allowing the survey, I need to be very clear that landlord consent it not being provided for a temporary ice rink. “


21.4         Ms. Andrews asked the following supplementary question; “I would just like to say thank you councillor Bowden and we will instruct Jon Orrell to undertake the survey.”


21.5         The Mayor thanked Ms. Andrews for her questions and noted that Mr. Cooke had been unable to attend the meeting to put his question regarding the Local Development Vehicle and therefore a written answer would be supplied to him from the Cabinet Member for Housing.


21.6         The Mayor then invited Ms. K. Richardson to come forward and address the council.


21.7         Ms. Richardson asked the following question, “Residents have emailed numerous questions and freedom of information requests relating to the proposed Elm Grove parking ban that have so far been ignored or evaded.   Including about the:


    Decision maker and process to introduce the proposal with relevant meeting minutes,

    Comparative data on accidents that evidences high levels and increasing danger on Elm Grove cited as the rationale for the ban,

-     Origin of ‘feedback’ cited as rationale and evidence that community feedback has been used fairly, and

-     Role of NSL Service Group in relation to this proposal.


            Can I ask when will residents be given transparent answers?”


21.8         Councillor Davey replied, “Thank you very much for your questions on parking on Elm Grove.  As your question and the three others that follow cover similar issues, I hope my response will cover the points that you have raised.  As you know, there is also a working group meeting regularly so there are further opportunities for the community and council to share information and look at queries and questions.


            In regard to the actual proposal for Elm Grove; there was no suggestion that all pavement parking was to be enforced.  The council stated that it would be carrying out its duty to enforce parking adjacent to double yellow lines here in Elm Grove, as it does elsewhere in the city.  Pavement parking on double yellow lines is illegal, and no one has a ‘right’ to drive or leave their vehicles on pavements.  After evidence presented by officers showing the amount of vehicles parking on junctions, by pedestrian crossing points and obstructing the pavement, I took the decision to enforce action in the most dangerous areas.  The data on road safety has been shared with the working group and sent by email.


            Cars were parking by bollards and cycle racks put in place to help keep junctions clear as a safe route for children going to Elm Grove School.  Earlier soft measures didn’t stop people from acting in this way.  Finally the NSL Service Group had no input into this proposal.  The working group which has been set up will be looking into ways we can manage these competing demands for space, but the status quo cannot continue.”


21.9         Ms. Richardson asked the following supplementary question, “Thank you for your response. The majority of the community welcomes the opportunity to have a working group and we’re thankful of the Council’s own work to do that. There is a strange feeling still within the community that the working group is not dealing in the transparent way with the community and is being led by the Council rather than the Community.


            What the parking group would be keen to see is a community led consultation which would require an independent chair, transparent communication around what the scope is of that working group and community input into the agenda.”


21.10    Councillor Davey replied, “I haven’t been involved in the working group and it is quite right that I’m not, so I think the terms of reference for the working group and its internal workings are a matter for the group to discuss and come up with the best mechanisms for working.”


21.11    The Mayor thanked Ms. Richardson for her questions and invited Ms. T. Richardson to come forward and address the council.


21.12    Ms. Richardson stated that as her question had been covered, with the agreement of Ms. Jenkins she would ask the one listed for her instead,The 9th September notice warned that pavement parking would not be tolerated beyond 3rd October.  Despite this being a major imminent change to parking affecting thousands the council failed to inform affected residents beyond Elm Grove; locals had to organised themselves to raise awareness wasting both time and money.  Many locals expressed significant distrust of the council believing your approach to be strategically intended to rush the proposal through unnoticed or to divide opposition to it.  Community trust needs to be rebuilt.


            How will communication with residents be improved and will the council apologise for the poor management so far?”


21.13    Councillor Davey replied, “I accept that the Council should have communicated the issues and problems with some of the pavement and parking on Elm Grove more clearly and I am happy to apologise for this not happening.  There is much confusion over what has been proposed, and I’m hoping that the first meeting of the working group has helped to address some of that lack of clarity and that better understanding, will come through that working group and hopefully help rebuild some of that trust.”


21.14    Ms. Richardson asked the following supplementary question, “I would reiterate what my sister said; that we’re very happy that a working is being established however, its current format is more of a talking shop, there’s no actual working group yet to have been formed. A lot of the ground that we went over in the first meeting was things that we already identified with local residents in the community and there is no set agenda for that meeting.


            It wasn’t communicated to the key groups that have been established over this, Brighton Parking Group and Elm Grove Residents Action Group whom were set up last year in relation to the community parking zone. I would again reiterate that we do need to have an independent council chair for this group not a member of the Green Party who has it on their agenda to reduce parking across Brighton.”


21.15    Councillor Davey replied, “I will discuss it with the ward councillors and take it back to the group to see what other arrangements might be feasible.”


21.16    The Mayor thanked Ms. Richardson for her questions and invited Mr. Nicholls to come forward and address the council.


21.17    Mr. Nicholls asked the following question, “Last year Elm Grove Residents Action Group campaigned against the council's plan to introduce CPZ to the Elm Grove Area.  At the Environment Cabinet Member Meeting on 16th Sept 2010 discussing Community Consultation, a strong commitment was made by the council that it would work with residents and to get ‘clear written support from residents’ before going ahead with any further proposals.  The council is clearly going against the spirit of this commitment which has unsurprisingly angered and outraged many residents they made this promise to. 


            Why then was the community, including Elm Grove Residents Action Group, not informed of the proposed plan to change parking arrangements on Elm Grove and how will you ensure that you keep your promises to the community of Hanover and Elm Grove going forward and include us in decisions on parking provision in our local area?


            Will you explain why the council has put forward a proposal that goes against the spirit of this commitment?


21.18    Councillor Davey replied, “The enforcement of double yellow lines is not something where residents or indeed councillors have any choice and is important that there is no confusion over enforcement action with consultation on new parking schemes.  This has never been about putting in place a new parking scheme or even more double yellow lines.  We have respected the clear vote from the community last year that it did not want any form of controlled parking introduced into Elm Grove, and there are absolutely no plans to do so.”


21.19    Mr. Nicholls asked the following supplementary question, “Given the sensitivity and that the community has already spoken quite loudly on this issue, our understanding was that it wasn’t just about a CPZ, we know that you are not proposing a CPZ in Elm Grove we’ve always understood that but it is a parking proposal whether it’s enforcement or whatever.



            We still see this as something that should have been consulted on as per previous commitments only made just over a year ago and so that’s the supplementary questions is; given that sensitivity and what we feel is the overwhelming majority opinion against parking proposals that either necessarily or un-necessarily restrict resident parking and business parking, that you will actually consult with us, how will you consult with us? And how will you help try to represent the views that we’ve demonstrated with the petition today and the CPZ proposal which was huge opposition to this?”


21.20    Councillor Davey replied, “The working group is the way to do that, I believe there’s wide representation on that working group and I hope that the proposals that come forward there can then be shared with the local community so that they can express their views.”


21.21    The Mayor thanked Mr. Nicholls for his questions and noted that this concluded the public questions.

Supporting documents:


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