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 12noon on the 13th April 2018 will be circulated separately as part of an addendum at the meeting.


85.1      The Mayor reported that 7 written questions had been received from members of the public and invited Mr. Hawtree to come forward and address the council.


85.2      Mr. Hawtree thanked the Mayor and asked the following question; “Would Councillor Daniel please tell us why the cross-Party working group for Hove’s Carnegie Library was not told that proposals for basement use would entail further loss of public space on the ground floor?”


85.3      Councillor Daniel replied; “The overall changes to Hove Library were on the agenda of the Members Cross Party Working Group for some time, including the one held in October 2017.  There was a general discussion on this issue but, it is true that the detailed plans were not presented at this meeting as they were not ready at that point.  There was however a general agreement from that Working Party that works should be progressed as quickly as possible in order not to lose the local nursery provision, who wanted to move in as soon as possible.


The alteration to create staff space became evident as plans developed, subsequently the detailed plans, which have now received planning consent, went out for a 28 day public consultation.  Normally its 21 but because it crossed the Christmas break officers added time to that consultation period and then those plans were taken to the next Hove Library Members Working Group on 12th March.  Obviously papers were circulated to those Members a week before as I understand it and Members discussed these proposals and asked questions.  I would also point out that we all receive these applications in our emails as a matter of course; however I do agree that it would have been ideal to flag this application to the Working Group in case they missed it in their general email inbox. The discussions at the last working party meeting did cover that the fact that there were some comments on the plans during that public consultation and particularly what was discussed was the loss of shelving space on the ground floor and this has been confirmed that there will be no loss of shelving space, it will be re-provided making use of walls that are not currently being used for shelving so I would like to reassure you on that point. As the applicant of course, if at this point in March the Working Group Members had raised concerns about this work on the ground floor we would be able to report it as it is our project and check in on those concerns.  Just because a planning consent is given that actually does not mean we have to use it immediately.  At this point though it seemed that Members were happy with the progress and the explanation around the shelving space and obviously now I understand that things appear to have changed and I will be meeting with the Working Group next week to re-visit this conversation and to evaluate the implications for the budget and plans of any delays that are caused.  I hope that this is helpful.


85.4      Mr. Hawtree asked the following supplementary question; “As we have seen from the petition and the Notice of Motion months later they feel as though they have been traduced and as such will Councillor Daniel now assure us that steps towards disciplinary measures will be brought to bear upon the Head of Libraries who put in this application whose previous post here was Head of Security at the Pavilion.


85.5      Councillor Daniel replied; “I believe it is inappropriate for me to reply that as I would legally not be allowed to answer.”


85.6      The Mayor thanked Mr. Hawtree for attending the meeting and his questions and invited Ms. Paynter to come forward and address the council


85.7      Ms. Paynter thanked the Mayor and asked the following question; “Can you explain, please, the motive and reasoning behind the Planning Department's unusual decision not to provide any neighbour consultee lettering whatsoever for either BH2017/03940 or BH2018/00469 - the 2 currently controversial planning applications intended to alter Hove's Grade 2 Listed Carnegie Library both physically and functionally?”


85.8      Councillor Cattell replied, “I would like to start by correcting your contention that the instances you cite are unusual.  It is in fact a long established practice in Brighton & Hove Planning that adjoining neighbours are not consulted on listed building applications.  This is not to say that those applications are not properly or publically advertised.  They are correctly advertised in accordance with planning and listed building legislation.  This involves site notices displayed on and near the site in some cases there will be more than one notice depending on the complexity and where the site is.  There is also a press notice which goes in the local press which in our case is the Brighton & Hove Independent.  If you look at the planning register on the council’s website you can look at any application with listed building consent and just click on the consultations tab you will see that there are no neighbour consultations.  I actually looked back at about three years’ worth the other day just to make sure.  If however the works proposed on a listed building application involve an operation that also requires planning permission that is when the neighbour consultations are sent out.


Turning to the more recent application for this listed building consent, this is the (BH2018/00469) this has been submitted by Hove Village Day Nursery Limited. They are the prospective occupants of the basement, this proposal does actually require a planning application and now one has been submitted, the reference is (BH2018/01123) and it has been registered.  The neighbour letters will be going out tomorrow.  I checked with the case officer earlier today and I can confirm that neighbouring properties which will be potentially affected by the proposed works have been included. Once the application is showing as ‘under consideration’ on the planning website you will be able to see for yourself.  Again if you just click on the button that says consultations and you can see who has been consulted.  Finally you mention that proposed works under consideration will alter the function of the library. However, in planning terms the uses of the library and the uses of the nursery both fall under class D1 of the Planning Use Classes Order, therefore an application for change of use is not required in this case.”


85.9      Ms. Paynter asked the following supplementary question; “Can you say please why the practice of providing neighbour consultation and consultee letters for listed applications was abolished and perhaps you could say when.”


85.10   Councillor Cattel replied; “2004 is a long time ago I don’t know when the procedure changed, but I can assure you that it is the case now, that we don’t send out letters for any works for listed building consent. Look at the planning application for Kings House, there will be no neighbour letters. I honestly don’t know why there wasn’t a planning application to go with the one you quoted from 2004 but, I am sure, this will be resolved once the Head of Planning has recalled the file from Newhaven, where we keep the paper records.  There was a time when we didn’t actually put all the paperwork on the website, that only started fairly recently.  In fact it has only been under this administration that all paperwork to do with all planning applications and other applications has actually gone on the site so I can answer some of the question but not all of it. I will defer to the Head of Planning when she comes back to you to make those explanations.”


85.11   The Mayor thanked Ms. Paynter for attending the meeting and her questions, and invited Ms. Wilcock to come forward and address the council.


85.12   Ms. Wilcock thanked the Mayor and asked the following question; “What factors does the Council take into account when determining a planning application submission date for its own land or property?”


85.13   Councillor Cattell replied, “When considering when to submit a planning application for its own land or property the Council will consider the programme or timetable relating to the specific project for which planning permission is required.  Projects would normally have a business case or project plan with the timing of submission of the planning application forming one of the milestones of the project plan. 


            In determining a planning application date? I’ll be honest I don’t  know because there are a lot of factors that will be determining that, and sometimes if there is a project, then they will work back from the dates of which they expect the project to happen, everybody does that. I was a planning consultant and that is exactly what I used to advise my clients, you work back from a certain date. So I always make sure to add a little bit on, because you can never tell when a planning application will possibly end up at a planning committee. You can’t say for sure whether an application will go to committee or whether it won’t, there are so many different factors to determine. All major applications, that is applications with ten or more housing units or I think it is 10,000sq m of floor space (it is a long time since I have been in practise) that go to committee and most minor ones, they will come to committee if they hit certain criteria which is laid out in our Scheme of Delegation. When it comes to a business case the council will build in a bit of float to see when it is best to submit that application.”


85.14   Ms. Wilcock asked the following supplementary question, “There is always a fear that potentially controversial planning applications will be tactically timed for important holiday periods, for example, the December through to the New Year. Thus, to reduce the likely involvement by the public.  So, to what extent is this council committed to ensuring maximum democratic involvement when it comes to valued public buildings such as Hove’s Carnegie Library?


85.15   Councillor Cattell replied, “I think there is always this thrown at planning departments, that it was deliberately submitted in December, in August, just before Easter.  There is never a right time to submit a planning application for somebody. As Councillor Daniel said in her responses earlier, every Member in this Chamber receives in their inboxes every week a weekly list of planning applications, so they can go through them and look at the application to see if anything actually affects their ward and then they can call them in within the 21 days but, in this particular incident, it was 28 days.  The fact that we did get some responses in before the 28 days was up actually shows that it did work, and there was a site notice outside.  I don’t accept the implication that this was done to ‘pull the wool over people’s eyes’ and I think when it is ready the application goes in, so I can assure you that we don’t sit and plan and plot to make sure that people don’t get there say.”


85.16   The Mayor thanked Ms. Wilcock for attending the meeting and asking her questions and invited Mr. Edwards to come forward and address the council.


85.17   Mr. Edwards thanked the Mayor and asked the following question, “In 2015, the Surrenden and Fiveways Area was consulted on a controlled parking zone.  With a 47% turnout, the area voted yes.  Subsequently, two controlled zones have been designated over parts of the consulted area, at Fiveways and Balfour (where 55% voted against a scheme in the first consultation). On 20 March, ETS Chair told us we are ‘at the back of the queue’ for a new consultation because we voted against a scheme in 2015. But we didn’t (50% of roads voted yes).  Why can’t the democratic rights of Surrenden Area residents be recognised with a parking consultation now?”


85.18   Councillor Mitchell replied, “Thank you for your Written Question regarding the previous consultation in the Surrenden area which took place in July and August 2015.  1,627 responses were received to this original consultation, giving a response rate of just over 47% from these responses 53% voted in support of an extension to the existing Residents Parking Scheme and 47% were against.


            When the results were further analysed clear that a majority of residents in the Fiveways area were in favour of a scheme, with nearly 76% of respondents in favour and within the rest of the consulted area there was a distinct difference with only approximately 43% of respondents in favour of an extension to the Residents Parking Scheme and 57% against.  Therefore, the October 2015 ETS Committee took these results into account and agreed to take forward a new resident parking scheme in the Fiveways area where there was obvious and very clear support.


            The Balfour Road area campaigned for a further consultation with and it was agreed at the January 2017 Committee to take forward the Balfour Road Area Scheme following a consultation with a clear majority of 66% voted for inclusion in a parking scheme which began operation in October 2017.  At the March 2018 meeting of the Environment, Transport & sustainability Committee I did not say “you were at the back of the queue”, what I did say was “that work on a resident’s parking scheme for the Surrenden area would begin this year with a report coming to the Committee proposing the area to be consulted.”


85.19   Mr. Edwards asked the following supplementary question, “It is clear from the work that we have done in the area that there is now a substantial majority support from the residents of the 26 streets and we have financially modelled the proposal and, we believe, that it would generate more than £300,000 of additional annual revenue and be delivered without affecting any of the existing programmes. So why won’t the council act to solve real road safety and parking problems in the Surrenden area now?”


85.20   Councillor Mitchell replied, “Within the parking scheme priority consultation timetable agreed by committee last October there were several areas who now have an assurance, having seen that agreement, that they are going to be consulted on having a parking scheme at the time set out in that consultation programme. In addition there are two areas that are going to have their existing parking schemes reviewed and that was part of an agreement given by the Committee when those areas were implemented last year. Several of the areas on the parking scheme timetable have never been consulted and they have never had the benefit of a prior consultation. Therefore the parking scheme that was consulted as part of the parking scheme consultation timetable that was democratically agreed will be adhered to.”


85.21   The Mayor thanked Mr. Edwards for attending the meeting and his questions and invited Mr. Furness to come forward and address the council.


85.22   Mr. Furness thanked the Mayor and asked the following question, “It has recently come to my attention, Councillor Mitchell, that any number of trees in Benfield Valley South, directly behind houses in Hangleton Road, have been brutally mutilated with a BLUNT chainsaw and the wood apparently stolen for fuel by an adjoining resident.


            As the upkeep of these trees is the sole responsibility of this Council, can you please indicate how you, as Chair of Environment, plan to rectify this outrage and when?”


85.23   Councillor Mitchell replied, “There have been a number of instances of cutting Council trees in Benfield Velley south but, by and large, these are residents cutting back small amounts of boundary vegetation. When an officer visited the site last week it was apparent that in one place recent cutting had taken place well beyond the boundary of the houses backing onto the site. This particular case will be discussed with the Council’s Legal Team to decide if it is in the public interest to pursue legal action for criminal damage and theft. In the meantime a letter drop has been actioned to all the properties backing onto the site warning them of the likely consequences of cutting the Council’s trees down, this letter will also cover the issue of dumping waste on the Council’s land which is also a problem that was noted during the site visit.”


85.24   Mr. Furness asked the following supplementary question, “You say that a letter drop has been done, I know this to be so, on the other hand you say it is going to be investigated whether or not it is in the Council’s interest to pursue a prosecution. We are thanks, to the Green administration, supposed to be a bias free council what have you got to say about that?”


85.25   Councillor Mitchell replied, “In cases like this we take advice from our Legal team and we will act upon that advice.”


85.26   The Mayor thanked Mr. Furness for attending the meeting and his questions and invited Mr. Lowe to come forward and address the council.


85.27   Mr. Lowe thanked the Mayor and asked the following question, “How much funding has been set a-side to repair the footbridge at Hove station?”


85.28   Councillor Mitchell replied, “I can inform you that the Council has set aside £500k for repairs for Hove footbridge.  This will cover detailed survey work and priority repairs.  The Council will also be discussing further works with Network Rail and access from the track. Plus an analysis of the historic structural elements of the bridge.”


85.29   Mr. Lowe asked the following supplementary question, “Will that money also include looking at possible layouts for the footbridge so it is accessible even though it is really old.”


85.30   Councillor Mitchell replied, “First and foremost we have to get the survey done and then that will inform what further work is needed and whether further funding is needed but I do hope that given that the bridge is a historic structure I do hope that access will be good.”


85.31   The Mayor thanked Mr. Lowe for attending the meeting and asking his questions and invited Mr. Strong to come forward and address the council.


85.32   Mr. Strong thanked the Mayor and asked the following question, “There is overwhelming evidence that cycling has huge physical and mental health benefits, as well as for air quality.


The city has had an excellent record of delivering cycling, with increased usage across the community (which has recently stalled). However, there remains no overall direction for development of cycling (or walking) as recommended by Government guidance.


In July 2017 full Council unanimously agreed a motion to develop “a specific and ambitious cycling strategy”.  Despite further support at ETS and Council there has been no progress.


When work will start on a Cycling Strategy and Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan?”


85.33   Councillor Mitchell replied, “I think you will know from discussions at the Transport Partnership of which you are a regular attender the primary work in this area during 2018/19 is going to be to scope and develop a  Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan in line with the Government advice that you have referred to.  This decision has been made by taking into account existing commitments and resources within the City Transport Division, and the need for the availability of an officer and the budget required to do this work.  


The Infrastructure Plan will then help inform the development of  a cycling strategy, as well as helping to seek the necessary funding which will be required to continue delivering improvements in all forms of sustainable, clean and healthy transport options across the city. 


Although specific Government grants for cycling seem to be less available than they have been in past years, I am not aware that the delivery, or use, of cycling in the city has recently stalled and would be very surprised at that, given that our cycle counters show an almost 5% increase in trips since 2016, and we know that the unprecedented usage figures that have accompanied the Bike Share scheme since its launch last year, and the excellent work that has been done so far as part of the council’s Access Fund project.  As an access Fund Board member you will be aware of this.”


85.34   Mr. Strong asked the following supplementary question, “Making it safer for and more convenient to cycle in Brighton isn’t just for cyclists as Chris Boardman and Andy Burnam’s cycling commission said it is about benefiting everybody walking and cycling and indeed motorists, so when will you agree to redress the historic balance over  many years that the support, not just by this Council, but everyone for motorized transport has had on those with the quietest voices in transport particularly, disabled people, children, older people and indeed many women and there isn’t a moment too soon to start trying to redress this balance, so would you agree that expediting this and getting on with it very quickly is important.”


85.35   Councillor Mitchell replied, “I believe I have demonstrated that we are ‘getting on with it’ as you put it, this requires funding and resources and those are being actively sought.”


85.36   The Mayor thanked Mr. Strong for attending the meeting and asking his questions and noted that concluded the item.

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