Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Members:

 

(a)         Petitions: To receive any petitions;

 

(b)         Written Questions: To consider any written questions;

 

(I)           Pesticides Used at Hollingbury Golf Course – Councillor Ebel

(II)          Brighton & Seafront  - Councillor Ebel

(III)        City’s Charity Sector – Councillor Powell

(IV)        Deployment – Councillor Powell

(V)         Equalities – Councillor Powell

(VI)        Libraries Plan – Councillor Rainey

(VII)      Lifeguards  - Councillor Nemeth

(VIII)     West Brighton - Councillor Nemeth

(IX)        Planning Rules Relaxation  - Councillor Nemeth

(X)         Madeira Drive - Councillor Nemeth

(XI)        Planning Enforcement - Councillor Nemeth

(XII)      Waterhall - Councillor Nemeth

(XIII)     Hove Lagoon Pump - Councillor Nemeth

(XIV)    Bee Bricks - Councillor Nemeth

 

(c)          Letters: To consider any letters;

 

(i)            Valley Gardens – Councillor Wares

 

 

(d)         Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.

 

 

 

Minutes:

 

(b)          Written Questions

 

(i)           Pesticides Used Hollingbury Golf Course

 

6.1       Councillor Ebel put the following question:

 

Following the lease for Hollingbury golf course being agreed with Circle,

concerns have been raised about recent chemical damage to the greens. The chemical seems to have been used inappropriately and completely damaged the grass. Can you please confirm:

 

a)         What type of chemical was used on the golf course

b)         Whether Circle are allowed to use this chemical under the terms of the lease

c)          Whether Circle held the correct licence to spray this chemical

d)         That Circle complied with the relevant health & safety regulations

when this chemical was applied

e)         That the Council has been carrying out checks to ensure any weed killers are used in line with the relevant regulations

 

6.2       The Chair gave the following response:

 

“a)       While  a glyphosate based weed killer was used in this instance, the leaseholder has confirmed that such a weed killer will not be used in the future.

b)         As a leaseholder, Circle Golf are required to comply with statutory health and safety requirements and environmental legislation.  Therefore any substances used are required to comply with these laws.  The product is labelled  as ‘non-hazardous’ and is an EU licenced product which is legal in the UK, so would be regarded as acceptable.

c)         The Circle have confirmed that the member of staff holds the relevant certificate.

d)         The Circle have confirmed that they complied with the required Health and Safety requirements.

e)         As The Circle are occupying the land under a lease rather than a management contract the Council have no right or responsibility to be involved with the day to day operation of the facility.  Also, the council should not intervene with the leaseholders management of the golf course unless there is a significant breach. That responsibility has been granted to The Circle under the lease.  The council must also be mindful that there is a covenant within the lease (as for all tenants) that The Circle have the right to quiet enjoyment, and regular interference could be seen to be a breach of this.

 

6.3       Councillor Ebel gave the following supplementary question:

 

“How would BHCC in particular work with police to tackle ASB and crime?”

6.4       The Head of Safer Communities offered to provide a written response.

 

(ii)           Brighton & Hove Seafront

 

6.5       Councillor Ebel gave the following question:

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic pubs and restaurants are closed and it is unlikely that they will fully reopen with no restrictions over the summer. As a result of this residents and visitors to the city will increasingly use the city’s open spaces, and in particular the beach, Hove Lawns & the promenade. Whereas pubs & restaurants are licensed establishments controlled by the license holder, this does not apply for the city’s open spaces. Even in a normal year without a pandemic it is a difficult task to keep beach goers safe.

 

The Seafront Team currently has only a limited number of staff. Can the

administration look into increasing the team size to ensure the team has the capacity to keep beachgoers (visitors to our city as well as local people) safe?”

 

6.6       The Chair gave the following response:

 

While the core Seafront Team is on duty 365 days a year, a significantly expanded seasonal team is recruited for each summer. Despite the challenges created by the current pandemic over 40 staff will join the core team to work as Seafront Co-ordinators, Beach Lifeguards and to crew the rescue launch. In addition, security stewards are being engaged on a flexible basis to assist with monitor particular pinch points that lead from the Upper Prom to the Lower Prom, to assist with the flow of pedestrians to the beach.”

 

6.7       Councillor Ebel gave the following supplementary question:

 

            “Can a community meeting be held with issues mounting up.”

 

6.8       The Assistant Director Culture, Tourism & Sport agreed that this was possible.

 

(iii)        City’s Charity Sector

 

6.9       Councillor Powell asked the following question:

 

Local charities are at the heart of supporting some of our most vulnerable communities. They, like all of us, are adapting to new ways of working which present challenges. Given that the council's Equalities team provide some support to them, they will have some useful feedback on how charities are coping at this time. Could the Chair therefore detail how the council has supported local charities with the challenges presented by covid-19 including:

 

a)         Decrease in funding

b)         Adapting to new ways of working, including different ways of service delivery

c)         Providing training and support to staff

d)         Increase in Service Users

e)         Increase in new and/or complex needs from service users

f)          Operational challenges of charities and their staff

g)         Furlough, and minimised staff levels”

 

6.10    The Chair gave the following response:

 

“a)       Officers are concerned that the local CVS sector will be severely impacted by the loss of income from fundraising and other loss of income caused by the pandemic. The impact will be caused by the loss of income caused by the consequences of lockdown – charity shops closing, other trading opportunities reduced, the cancellation of fundraising events (boot sales, fetes, major events such as Pride, Brighton Marathon), changes in charitable trusts and foundations priorities (not funding business as usual activities), lower investment returns, reduced demands from a weakened economy and lockdown, and loss of individual donations. The scale of the impact on the Brighton & Hove CVS is currently not clear. Officers had considered a financial survey of the sector, but were cautioned away from this as the feedback reported from Community Works was that the sector was already engaged in a number of surveys and that charity officers did not have the capacity for more. Officers were happy to step back from this approach, in particular as the result of a survey conducted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is due to be published by the end of June 2020. This report will identify the financial challenges faced by the sector as a result of the pandemic. A Report published by Pro Bono Economics (May 2020) has confirmed concerns, reporting that in April 50% of charities feared that they could go out of business in the next 6 months, rising to 70% in 12 months.

           

b)         The All Party Members Advisory Group (MAG) agreed on 26th March 2020 to allocate £150,000 from the BHCC Communities Fund (Engagement Fund) to support the local CVS sector in responding to the pandemic:

     

Grants of up to £5,000 can be applied for by any organisation that is a registered charity or community interest company operating within the city. The priority for this first tranche of funding will be for organisations providing support to vulnerable residents whose vulnerability does not meet the government’s seriously vulnerable criteria.

 

 

 

Examples

·         A service that supports people who are vulnerable with other underlying health conditions, including disabilities or mental health conditions

·         A service that supports younger residents who are vulnerable through their lifestyles

·         A service that supports residents who are vulnerable through their social circumstances, including their accommodation

What we will fund

·         Organisational running costs including volunteer expenses, transport, staff costs

·         Small capital costs that support organisational delivery during the emergency

·         Specific costs that enable the organisation to adapt the delivery of services during the emergency.

 

The MAG meeting of 21st May 2020 approved the final tranche of bids. The original £150,000, plus a brought forward surplus from 2019-20 of £20,000 have now been allocated; 46 bids have been approved.

 

c)         Officers are keen to develop and agree a support package for the local CVS sector, working in collaboration with infrastructure organisations. At this stage the nature, format and delivery route has not been agreed. Feedback from the sector suggest that chief officers are just emerging from the challenges of service change caused by lockdown.

 

d)         Many local CVS organisations are seeing increased demand for       services, but this is not universal across the sector. It is also reported that many expect to see the demand increase as the year progresses, for example those in the advice sector where demand has decreased as many people are now getting advice through other messaging, but as lockdown decreases and poverty impacts will see this demand increase substantially.

 

Another aspect is in relation to the ‘reach’ of help services as a result of the pandemic. This is perhaps best illustrated by the impact of food distribution, in which the network of food banks, deliveries, and meals has reached into some communities which may not have been linked effectively into networks of support. This is a positive impact but one that has to be sustained.

 

Please also see Communities Fund investment at (b) above as some of this investment has been to support the increases in service users.

 

e)         The immediate needs impact of the pandemic has focussed on isolation, mental health and access to food. Many charities that work with people with mental health or related conditions have worked creatively and quickly to continue to offer support to their service users on line through one to one support online or via the phone. Many services delivered much of this work pre-pandemic through group delivery, and the challenge has been to resource the change to one to one delivery, with the potential to have to reduce capacity accordingly.

 

The medium to long impact will be on mental health and increased poverty. The numbers of people losing their jobs, increase in Universal Credit claims, and the resultant individual and family poverty. In addition, charities are concerned about capacity both in their services and in the statutory services for this increased demand, with charity staff and volunteers also concerned about volunteer and staff burnout.

 

f)          There have been a number of operational challenges for charities. These include:

·         Lack of IT equipment for staff clients and volunteers to enable remote working

·         Cost pressures to address this – partly relieved by Community Fund mentioned earlier

·         Lack of IT equipment for clients to enable remote delivery to take place

·         Staff and volunteer absence caused by self isolation, quarantining, looking after family members who are unwell

·         Staff managing caring responsibilities at home (children at home)

·         There will be substantial accommodation issues for most charities as they attempt to move back to building based work. The provision of safe working environments for staff, volunteers and service users has the potential to be expensive and may require long term home working for staff and revised business delivery models with new accommodation sought to enable safe delivery, for example, of group based therapeutic services. For most of the local charities, the nature of the building stock that they have become used to may not be appropriate to sustain safe practice.

·         Please also see the investment from the Communities Fund at (b) above as this has supported the equipment needs of both the charity and service users.

g)         It is not known how many staff across the charity sector in the city have been furloughed. Charity work that is funded through the public sector cannot furlough staff who are employed to do that work.

 

For those staff who are not funded by public sector income, it is likely that furlough will have been used. However, the length of lockdown, social distancing measures, etc. have not been possible to anticipate and so many charity Trustees, chief officers and staff will have been determined to continue to operate a service for their clients even if the funding looks precarious. The challenge for Trustees and chief officers will be managing the changes to the furlough system in the context of potential loss of fundraised income, hence the need to ensure that support, training and guidance is in place to ensure that this is managed effectively. It is very likely to lead to job losses across the local CVS sector.

 

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on BAME individuals in respect of their personal health, the impact on already isolated and marginalised communities, and the death of George Floyd and the BLM are important to highlight as we plan for a sustainable future for the charity sector.”

 

6.11    Councillor Powell gave the following supplementary question:

 

“What support is being given by BHCC to meet support in particular to emergency funding?”

 

6.12    The Assistant Director Culture, Tourism & Sport stated that

 

(iv)        Deployment

 

6.13    Councillor Powell gave the following question:

 

A number of staff who work in tourism roles have been deployed to services including Bereavement Services, and those residents receiving all levels of care through Adult Health and Social Care. Working in these areas would no doubt mean difficult, challenging and often distressing phone calls between the Service User and the council employee - some of whom may have never worked in a frontline capacity in this way before.

 

Could the Chair describe to the committee the types of training and support that staff are being offered at the outset, and on an ongoing basis during the pandemic to deal with this type of work?”

 

6.14    The Chair gave the following response:

 

The nature of the deployment work was that employees volunteered and they were able to return to their substantive work if the role did not work out. We had 3 instances in 91 matches.

      

Staff provided to Bereavement Services were from the Brighton Centre and Royal Pavilion. The nature of this work ( stewarding work -  to ensure that the public maintain social distancing in the crematorium grounds ) required a similar skill set that security staff already had.  Assessment Services and Referral Officers for Access Point were provided with on – the job training. This has been so successful with the majority of staff that the manager would like to encourage the deployees to apply for work in this area. An Induction checklist was provided to all receiving managers to support staff being deployed to an area of work.

 

I am pleased to tell you that staff from our libraries have been very involved in the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) throughout lockdown. Library staff make up the majority of staff involved in this important work and they have been working collaboratively with staff from other teams to ensure the smooth distribution of PPE to key settings across the city. One of the library staff members has many years’ experience working with the distribution of humanitarian aid and brought their skills (and spreadsheet templates!) to get systems in place and to create a functional logistics operation. The team’s work has undoubtedly contributed to saving lives in the city and I am grateful for their efforts.

 

 

 There are also a range of distance learning resources hosted on the Learning Gateway (the council’s learning platform) a list of which I can send to you.  aimed at addressing the development needs of new starters or people working under temporary deployment. Courses include:

 

·        Coronavirus Awareness

·        Infection Prevention and Control

·        Information Governance, GDPR and Cyber Security

·        Personal Protective Equipment

·        Health and Safety

·        Fire Safety

·        Care Certificate: Person Centred Values

·        Safeguarding Adults

·        Safeguarding Children

·        Fluids and Nutrition

·        Safer People Handling.

·        Basic Life Support

 

The content is a mix of locally hosted and curated content suitable for people working in social care and other settings. Additionally there are courses relevant to the present work context including:

 

·        Remote working

·        Building resilience

·        DSE

·        Email stress  Lone Working

·        Stress Management and Wellbeing

·        IT courses”

 

6.15    Councillor Powell gave the following supplementary question:

            “Was there a possibility of ongoing training work for staff?”

 

6.16    The Chair stated that a written answer would be provided.

 

(v)          Equalities

 

6.17    Councillor Powell gave the following question:

 

Last year, Resources Committee heard a report on the Councils fair and inclusive action plan, produced in response to a second Global HPO report.

 

The report was triggered as little action had been taken between the 2013 report and the 2018 report. Could the Chair please assure the committee that the fair and inclusive action plan is in progress and commit to a future report to this committee?”

 

6.18    The Chair gave the following response:

 

The Fair & Inclusive Action Plan remains very much in progress and is overseen by the Corporate Equality Delivery Group.   Directorate Action Plans have been updated to include relevant equality objectives against which progress will be monitored as part of the Performance Management Framework.  

 

The action plan will now form an important strand in the anti racism work we are undertaking. A meeting with the Council’s leadership network this week highlighted some of the actions already taken, as well as identifying the gaps. 

 

 An update on the Fair & Inclusive Action Plan was provided at the Members Modernisation meeting in January this year and a more detailed report will be provided to this committee in Autumn 2020.”

 

6.19    Councillor powell gave the following supplementary question:

 

“A need for senior leadership was still required. Would BHCC work with Councillor Moonan (check audio)

 

6.20    The Chair stated that a program, brought to P&R Committee, was already being rolled out.

 

(vi)        Libraries Plan

 

6.21     Councillor Rainey gave the following question:

 

The proposal is to have an iterative process for the development of the new Libraries Plan.  Libraries regularly receive feedback from library users and there is a wealth of existing data from previous engagements with library users and other stakeholders that can inform the initial draft plan. 

 

The draft strategic plan will be put out for consultation for a minimum of six weeks this autumn, seeking feedback through:

·                     Online survey and hard copies in libraries

·                     Consultation through community and voluntary sector groups and other partners who can seek the views of residents in their neighbourhoods or targeted client groups.

·                     Council members and council services with whom Libraries Services work

·                     Libraries staff and unions

 

The draft plan will be at a fairly strategic level and set the direction and priorities for the service, with a commitment to carry out more consultation in 2021 around detailed aspects of the service and stock, based on the survey started and abandoned due to COVID earlier this year.  This feedback will be used to make amendments to the Libraries Plan, and to provide more specific information. 

 

A lot of the feedback Libraries receive is gathered from people actually entering libraries and completing the surveys or engaging in focus groups.   There is a real possibility that even after lockdown is eased, there will be a continuation of social distancing for quite some time, which will particularly disadvantage vulnerable people.  So to restart the previous consultation as soon as libraries reopen seems unfair to some residents who may not feel confident to venture into public spaces so soon. 

 

However, given the impacts of the current crisis, it seems appropriate to provide some high level information about the current direction and priorities of Libraries Services so that there is transparency about how things are currently operating, given that the previous plan ended in March 2020, and also committing to amending the plan once we have the comprehensive feedback from the consultation next year.

 

A report is scheduled to be brought to this Committee in March 2021.”

 

6.22    The Chair gave the following response:

 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact upon the delivery of council services.

 

The recruitment process and the need to re-design the service to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic have contributed to a slight delay in the commencement of a service.

 

The service commenced in a new form last weekend.”

 

6.23    Councillor Rainey gave the following supplementary question:

“Can committee please provide details on the extent of the Arise library strategy briefing plan?”

 

6.24    The Chair stated that it was currently in the pre-consultation phase and that a further consultation would be taking place over a minimum of 6 weeks.

 

(vii)       Lifeguards

 

6.25     Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

Will the Chair urgently write to the members of this committee giving a full explanation as to why lifeguards are not in place (or were not in place if the problem has been resolved by the time of the meeting) on the beaches of Brighton & Hove?”

 

6.26    The Chair gave the following response:

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact upon the delivery of council services.

 

The recruitment process and the need to re-design the service to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic have contributed to a slight delay in the commencement of a service.

 

The service commenced in a new form last weekend.”

 

 

6.27    Councillor Nemeth gave the following supplementary question:

 

            “Was the issue with regard to planned reduced service or recruitment?”

 

6.28    The Assistant Director Culture, Tourism & Sport stated that there was a full recruitment process however during this period Brighton had engaged the lockdown period. It was stated that 40 lifeguards had now been successfully recruited.

 

(viii)     West Brighton

 

6.29    Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

“Given the recent strength of feeling that was expressed by the public when Hove was downgraded to simply being a western suburb of Brighton by the Council, will the Chair commit to pushing for funding for ‘Hove’ boundary signage as existed in the past?”

 

6.30    The Chair gave the following response:

 

While it is of course important that the history of Hove is maintained, unfortunately, there is no specific funding available for the provision of new signing unless it is linked to a particular scheme or project.  The maintenance of existing signing prioritises replacing safety signs as funds are limited at this current time.”

 

6.31    Councillor Nemeth gave the following supplementary question:

 

“Within the city plan part 2 there was an amendment for signage. Can BHCC please clarify this?”

 

6.32    The Head of Planning stated that there was a late amendment to a policy in the City Plan Part 2 which had agreed to submitting to a planning inspector. It was stated that this didn’t require signage, a review could be considered should funding be made available.

 

(ix)        Planning Rules Relaxation

 

6.33     Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

“What plans does the Council have, if any, to examine which planning rules might be relaxed to stimulate the economy during/after the Covid crisis?”

 

6.34    The Chair gave the following response:

 

“Several temporary changes to planning rules have been introduced to help developers and businesses with recovery. These have been implemented locally and some of the measures are:

-          To allow temporary extensions to construction hours in response to the government’s request. We have provided clear guidance on the website to developers. This will allow us to consider and mitigate any impact on residential amenity that might arise from these requests.

-          Temporary permitted development rights have been introduced to allow more flexibility to allow takeaways from restaurants, cafés and bars for a year until March 2021. In addition to this councils and health providers can establish temporary facilities to support the response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

-          Relaxing controls which restrict the time and number of deliveries to shops and supermarkets. The government has requested that local planning authorities (LPAs) should not undertake enforcement action where such planning conditions have been breached

-          The Government is also considering extending the life of planning consents in response to delays on building starts caused by the emergency.

An example of where we can assist locally is the Part payment policy for CIL. This is before TECC Committee today and will assist developers by spreading the costs of CIL across a longer period.

In terms of policy – we need to carefully consider the impact the pandemic has had for our town centres, housing delivery and employment floorspace before introducing long term planning policy changes. This needs to be carried nationally and locally. There will be an opportunity to consider these changes when we review City Plan Part One.”

 

6.35    Councillor Nemeth gave the following supplementary question:

 

“Is CIL the only project being taken locally not imposed by Government?”

 

6.36    The Head of Planning stated that in terms of construction hours, a local approach had to be taken. BHCC supported an extension to the standard period of consent.

 

(x)          Madeira Drive

 

6.37     Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

“Will the Administration commit to the continuation of historic motoring

events on Madeira Drive regardless of the street’s future with regard to car use?”

 

6.38    The Chair gave the following response:

 

Each year the applications to hold all events on Madeira Drive are brought to this committee to provide landlord’s consent. This will continue irrespective of the use of Madeira Drive.

 

Madeira Drive has been shut in response to the current pandemic, to provide additional space in the city for walking and cycling.  This closure is identified in the council’s Brighton and Hove City Council Urgent Response Transport Action Plan and policy framework as we prepare the city to come out of lockdown.   The closure of Madeira Drive continues to be assessed and a decision will be made at the  Environment Transport and sustainability committee on the 23rd June.  This decision will include considering walking, cycling and the needs of local businesses.” 

 

6.39    Councillor Nemeth gave the following supplementary question:

 

“Is there any unequivocal assurance that speed trials, minis and scooters will receive support from the administration?”

 

6.40    The Chair stated that this would need to be discussed with officers and colleagues.

 

(xi)        Planning Enforcement

 

6.41    Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

“Please provide up to date statistics for this service which show the effect of the Corona virus on new cases, overall case numbers and solved cases.”

 

6.42    The Chair gave the following response:

 

Officers have prepared a table which sets out comparative performance on Enforcement Cases between March and May 2019 and 2020.  This table will be emailed to you and will be supplied in the minutes of this meeting. It shows that there has been a reduction in the number of complaints received compared to last year - particularly in April. It also shows a more significant reduction in enforcement cases closed between the two periods – a fall of 25%.”

 

(xii)       Waterhall

 

6.43    Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

           How much has now been spent on mothballing Waterhall Golf Course

since its closure by the Council at the end of March?”

 

6.44    The Chair gave the following response:

 

As Waterhall Golf Course closed in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown it has not been fully vacated or mothballed. To ensure the site is secure the council’s corporate security company make daily checks and the existing CCTV and security systems have been improved. To date approximately £9K has been spent.”

 

6.45    Councillor Nemeth gave the following supplementary question:

 

“Can Committee further clarify on the separation between clubhouse and land which is referred to in the introduction of the report?”

 

6.46    The Chair stated that assurances had been given and that now leaseholder had withdrawn from the situation, the report would be brought back to September Committee.

 

(xiii)     Hove Lagoon Pump

 

6.47    Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

“Will the Council publicly commit to putting in place a maintenance contract for the pump at Hove Lagoon, as per industry standards, to avoid unnecessary expense and closure as has now taken place at least twice at the Lagoon in the past two seasons?

 

6.48    The Chair gave the following response:

 

           The council is in the process of arranging a maintenance contract.”

6.49    The Executive Director – Economy, Environment & Culture offered to find the timetable for procurement.

 

(xiv)     Bee Bricks

 

6.50    Councillor Nemeth gave the following question:

 

“Given the inevitable difficulties that exist in checking that bee bricks have in fact been installed on new developments as per the wishes of this committee, will the Council commit to writing to those who have gained planning permission after the relevant date last year to ensure compliance?”

 

6.51    The Chair gave the following response:

 

Bee brick conditions have been attached to the majority of householder and minor applications since 1 November 2019.

Applicants are required to comply with the bee brick condition, as they are all planning conditions attached to their consent. Conditions are worded in a way to make that clear to applicants and failure to comply is at their risk.

 

In terms of monitoring compliance - there would be real challenges with resourcing pro-active condition monitoring. It would require the diversion of resources away from processing planning applications and enforcement cases – which are currently the priority. In terms of future development, however, you can be assured that if a complaint is received it will be investigated.”

 

6.52    Councillor Nemeth gave the following supplementary question:

 

            “Why isn’t a letter being sent out?”

 

6.53    The Head of Planning state that BHCC was unable to do this at the time as resources were being focused on planning applications and providing an enforcement service. The Head of Planning stated that they were unaware as to why the industry had not been made aware and that they were happy to write to raise awareness and promote this.

 

(c)          Members Letters

 

(i)           Valley Gardens Phase 3

 

6.54      The Committee considered a letter from Councillor Lee Wares with regard to the Valley Gardens Phase 3.

 

6.55      The Chair provided the following response:

 

Thank you for writing to me on 19 May as Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee regarding your concerns about Phase 3 of the Valley Gardens scheme and the city’s tourism and wider economy.  I do apologise for the delay in responding to you and that you did not receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your letter.

 

As the city as a whole is striving to manage the consequences of this unprecedented pandemic and its effects on people’s lives and businesses, I can fully understand and sympathise with the concerns of those who are working within our highly valued and successful visitor economy.  The resilience and future sustainability of the city is therefore at the heart of our recovery programme, and part of that work will be to ensure that the tourism sector will recover and then continue to flourish.  I have every confidence that it will, and I will do what I can in my role to help achieve that by working with elected colleagues and officers across the council, and with those stakeholders who are affected within the city.

 

I am aware that there have been discussions and questions raised during the development of the Valley Gardens Phase 3 design, and that these have been heard and considered at a number of committee and council meetings over a number of months.  You will be aware that Councillor Pissaridou and the other members of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee have listened  and responded to these concerns and views, in addition to those expressed during the pubic consultation, when making decisions about this part of the scheme.  Stakeholders, such as the Valley Gardens Forum and Tourism Alliance, and bus and taxi operators and sustainable transport user groups, have been engaged in the process and will continue to be involved in developing the design, which I welcome.      

 

Phase 3 is the final stage of what will be a complete and fantastic transformation of Valley Gardens which will help to regenerate it all the way from London Road and St Peter’s Church to the Palace Pier and wider seafront, and those areas adjacent to it like the North Laine and St James’s Street will also benefit from this.  I am confident that the combination of the accessible and refreshed, landscaped gardens; increased areas of public space; and the sustainable transport infrastructure that has secured investment from the Local Enterprise Partnership and the council’s Government-funded Local Transport Plan capital programme will draw in more people and over time will become much enjoyed, remembered, and revisited by visitors as well as the local community. 

 

Councillor Pissaridou’s recent letter (6 May) set out the positive future that Valley Gardens can bring for the city, despite these difficult times.  The Government’s current focus during the transition from lockdown is on delivering greater changes that give people more space and enable the use of active travel.  This is entirely consistent with the objectives of this scheme, which has been developed and designed over a number of years and is therefore a leading example of what can be achieved.  Once we have got beyond this immediate period of difficulty and uncertainty for our residents and businesses, I believe that this scheme will stand the test of time and be at the heart of the city’s future for many years to come.  It is about creating more accessible public space for everyone and will provide a vastly improved setting for our heritage and tourism assets.  The city’s economy will therefore benefit as will its residents, because we can build even further on the current desire that local people are showing to use sustainable transport to get around for work as the city gradually begins to open back up, as well as for leisure and exercise.  This scheme will help the city prepare for the future as we move forward and recover from the impacts of the pandemic and continue our journey towards carbon-neutrality by 2030.  Therefore, I think it should continue to be progressed based on the decisions that the council has already made. 

 

We want everybody to participate in the city’s future and to consider how they can contribute towards it – businesses, local communities and visitors – because a sustainable economy and a stable climate are not mutually exclusive.  In my role as Chair of the TECC Committee, I will happily engage with, listen to and work with those with an interest or stake in the local economy, particularly the tourism sector which is so important to our city and the local community, in order that we can make informed and balanced decisions that will ensure that the city’s recovery is completed as quickly and effectively as possible.”

 

(d)          Notice of Motion

 

(i)           Support for the City’s Creative and Cultural Sector

 

6.56      The Committee considered a Notice of Motion from Councillor Rainey and Councillor Ebel which sought to provide support for the City’s creative and cultural sector by requesting a report be brought to future TECC committee.

 

6.57       Introducing the motion Councillor Rainey noted the plight of the cultural and artistic sector. It was stated that the creative industries generated 1.55 billion pounds in turnover in 2018 and that this had increased by 20% since 2014. It was noted that there had been little financial security as sole traders and small companies needed greater publicity and support.

 

6.58       Councillor Ebel formally seconded the motion.

 

6.59       Councillor O’Quinn remarked that the City’s cultural and creative sector had been devastated by the Corona virus emergency and that culture was a lifeblood to a vibrant society. It was stated that culture helped to build social capital and fostered social inclusion, community, pride and tolerance.

 

6.60       Councillor Nemeth agreed and expressed support for this notice of motion.

 

6.61       Resolved – that a report be brought to a future committee.

 

(ii)          Charity Sector and Support for Volunteering

 

6.62      The Committee considered a Notice of Motion from Councillor Powell and Councillor Ebel which requested a report to a future committee regarding the charity sector and with a view to providing support for volunteering.

 

6.63      Introducing the motion Councillor Powell stated that Covid had a detrimental impact on the charity sector and requested BHCC to consider how to ensure further partnerships in working with the voluntary sector.

 

6.64      Councillor Ebel formally seconded the notice of motion.

 

6.65      Councillor Simson expressed support for this notice of motion.

 

6.66      Jo Martindale, stated pride in this sector. It was stated that a large amount of organisations were making attempts to meet the challenge of operating during such a challenging time such as migrating to an online office.

 

6.67      The Chair stated the following:

 

Our voluntary and community sector is hugely valuable in this city.

 

Volunteers stepped up rapidly to respond to the COVID crisis, informally via street and mutual aid groups, and more formally by volunteering through community works and the food partnership.

This should of course be recognised, and I fully support the proposal to explore how we can reward and recognise the role of our volunteers.

 

Sadly, the sector will have suffered from the impact of the COVID crisis, and, as I have already outlined in my response to Cllr Powell’s written question, we do not yet know what that impact will be, until we have begun to come out of the crisis and counted the cost.

What we do know is that  the impact of  lockdown, social distancing measures, and medium to longer term demand for services  are not yet known,  and that  many charity trustees, chief officers and staff were determined to continue to operate a service for their clients even if the funding looks precarious.

I have spoken with some of the sector representatives, who have signalled a likely increase in demand post lockdown, particularly relating to mental health support, domestic abuse support and financial advice services.

The council, in its role as civic leader,  needs to ensure that support, training and guidance is in place to avoid disastrous outcomes , however, we are likely to see  job losses across the local voluntary and community sector.

A report to  this committee setting out the challenges to the sector, as well as some possible solutions, is welcome.

I will therefore be voting in support of this motion.”

 

6.68    RESOLVED – that a report be brought to future TECC Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents:

 


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