Agenda item - Written questions from members of the public.
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Written questions from members of the public.
A list of public questions received by the due date of 12noon on the 11 December 2020 will be circulated separately as part of an addendum at the meeting.
64.1 The Mayor reported that 5 written questions had been received from members of the public and invited Nigel Smith to address the council.
64.2 Nigel Smith asked the following question; Either myself or another campaigner asks a question about the A259 at every meeting of the full council and ETS. To date, nobody at B&HCC seems remotely interested in investigating our concerns about dodgy statistics and incompetent consultants nor do they seem concerned about why congestion and pollution are increasing despite a drop in vehicles.
Are we wasting our time?
64.3 Councillor Heley replied; Thank you for your question Mr Smith. The opportunity for members of the public to ask lead councillors questions at public meetings like this is a really important way in which we can enable people to highlight local issues and get involved in the council’s business. Ward councillors will also welcome, listen to, and do their best to help with local issues.
When you or other people have asked a question about the A259, which I believe you have been doing for some 5 years now. I am sure that councillors will have provided a full and considered response wherever possible. We do want to tackle congestion and pollution across the city by increasing sustainable and public transport use, managing traffic and reducing vehicle trips. Raising questions at council meetings about your concerns can also help to increase awareness of these issues amongst local people, and could help encourage changes in travel behaviour. So, on this and other occasions, I think your time has been well spent.
64.4 Nigel Smith asked the following supplementary question;
Which, a leading insurance company has ranked the A259 from the Marina to New Haven as the 7th most dangerous stretch of road in the whole of the UK, that is a fact. All the meetings in the world won’t reduce carbon emissions, actions will. To remedy this you really have to understand the issues. My question is simply – do you? And if you do why are the emissions for traffic not going down year on year?
64.5 Councillor Heley replied; Yes I do fully understand the issues and I believe emissions aren’t going down because we are not providing enough safe infrastructure which we are addressing to move to sustainable transport and people are still choosing to drive too much.
64.6 The Mayor thanked Nigel Smith for his questions and invited Rob Shepherd to address the council.
64.7 Rob Shepherd thanked the Mayor and asked the following question; The mandatory 5-year review of the City Plan and its Sustainability Appraisal, lacks a Transport Assessment Update for the Infrastructure Delivery Plan. The last annual monitoring Transport Assessment Update was in 2014. With the well documented unplanned rise in congestion since 2014, it is very unlikely the City Plan’s required housing developments can now be achieved sustainably, which invalidates City Plan Part 2 unless it addresses this.
When will you perform the obligatory Transport Assessment Update and publish it for consultation?
64.8 Councillor Heley replied; A Transport Technical Paper was published earlier this year to support the proposed Submission City Plan Part 2. This includes an analysis of the impact of development proposed in the Plan on the strategic road network. The reason was to ensure that the conclusions and measures set out in the Strategic Transport Assessment that supports City Plan Part 1 (CPP1) remain valid. It concluded that the measures remain robust with amendments to some of the traffic levels and measures. The Technical Paper can be viewed on the website.
In terms of the review of City Plan Part 1, the National Planning Policy Framework requires policies to be reviewed at least once every five years. City Plan Part 1 was adopted in March 2016 and a report on the need for an update to the Plan’s policies will be brought to TECC Committee in March 2021. Should a decision be made to proceed with an update to the policies in City Plan Part 1, this is expected to include an updated assessment of the transport implications of future planned growth. This would be published alongside a consultation draft of updated policies.
The Council recently published a Local Development Scheme which sets out an expected timetable for the progression of a revised City Plan Part 1 with the first formal stage of consultation anticipated to take place in late 2023.
64.9 Rob Shepherd asked the following supplementary question; It is in the territory of there is a big difference in monitoring/measuring congestion than actually just measuring traffic volumes. In previous answers you have said that the local A259 queues and congestion were last measured in 2018 and that an emergency bus lane was recommended on the basis of traffic management and analysis, having found out that you were incorrectly advised on both accounts and also not warned that the disastrous temporary A259 bike lane at the Pier was not viable, what actions are you taking to ensure you are better informed about our vital transport infrastructure so the City Plan’s target new housing can still be built sustainably?
64.10 Councillor Heley replied; I won’t give much of a reply because you are implying that officers have told me incorrect information, which I am not very happy with, but we can carry on the conversation on email.
64.11 The Mayor thanked Rob Shepherd for his questions and invited Jon Paul to address the council.
64.12 Jon Paul McCarthy asked the following question; Over the last year Saltdean has created a large group of sea swimmers, surfers and SUP. It would be amazing to have a facility for this group on the beach or even just the permission so we can crowdfund the cost of a hut. There is also plenty of space for at least 50 new huts and chalets in Saltdean with residents ready to purchase and maintain their own huts.
Please would the council advise whether new beach huts and chalets will be erected on Saltdean seafront in the near future - either council or privately owned - and if our swim/surf group can get to the top of the waiting list?
64.13 Councillor Ebel replied; Thank you Mr McCarthy for your question and it is positive that there is such interest for people to actively use the sea to the benefit of their health and well-being.
A report on the provision of beach chalets is due to be considered by the TECC Committee in January. The report will include a recommendation that a study is undertaken to consider the feasibility of the provision of additional beach chalets and huts on the city’s coastline. This study is necessary before any indication could be given whether it would be possible for additional provision to be made at any location.
The Council does not give priority to any individuals or groups on the waiting lists for beach chalets, the reason is simple, many people have been on these waiting lists for many, many years and for reasons of ‘fairness and transparency’ we cannot give priority to anyone. So, we have to be simply work according to the waiting list.
64.14 Jon Paul McCarthy asked the following supplementary question, I am more interested in the permission to get a club house, if we had permission to put something there, we could crowd fund the hut itself. The other thing was the leases on the huts I think are 20 years which seems like a very long time as I have only ever seen one hut open there and I have lived here for 10 years.
64.15 Councillor Ebel replied; In terms of permissions you are welcome to email us and we can discuss with officers, obviously there are more demands that there is space, but I am happy to put you in contact with our council officers and then the leases will be part of the report that is coming to the January TECC Committee. There are two types of lease, one is indefinite, and one is a limited lease. I can’t comment on how much beach chalets are used but we are looking into a feasibility study to provide additional beach huts and beach chalets but that will take a bit of time because we want to do it properly.
64.16 The Mayor thanked Jon Paul McCarthy for his questions and invited Jim Deans to address the council.
64.17 Jim Deans asked the following question; In 2018 and again in 2019 council all political parties thanked Sussex Homeless Support for the work done supporting Homeless, Rough Sleepers and those suffering poverty. 2020 in the first week of the covid-19 lock down we stepped up while other services closed their doors, from 1 street kitchen to 8 a week, yet council turned down our application for funding, why?
64.18 Councillor Gibson replied; I agree this is really disappointing and what I can do is read out the response of the ‘all party’ Member’s Advisory Group who made the decision on the bids for the Community Funds and they agreed, following the recommendation made by officers in respect of the bid from Sussex Homeless Support, Brighton & Hove City Council Commissioning Manager, Rough Sleepers & Single Homeless Support reports that TVs and Kindles have been purchased by the council that radios that Sussex Homeless Support seek have been donated by Tescos, 200 hot meals and pack lunches are prepared and delivered by Brighton & Hove City Council each day and toiletries have been donated by public and retail. Additionally travel costs can be met from within the existing budget. It is recommended not to fund this bid. They then added that they are sorry for this disappointing news.
So that was the response which you have probably seen before, I fully appreciate that you feel bitterly disappointed you must feel and you make the case very strongly about all the things that Sussex Homeless Support do and that you feel that it is unfair and certainly I am very aware of the work that your group does and your tireless efforts, always coming to meetings full of ideas and how to solve homelessness, if only Brighton & Hove Council and others could get their act together and your contribution is so appreciated.
I also think that the pods project that you are developing is really brilliant and, having visited the pods I am very excited that this could be a long term solution for homelessness and, as you know, I am working with you and the Community Land Trust to try and do something that will be lasting beyond the alleviation, which is providing food. I was also particularly impressed by the homeless bus that you got going last year before we had the current situation that everyone is in which obviously changes things and makes things a lot easier because 7 days a week we are now looking to offer accommodation for rough sleepers which is brilliant really that we can do that.
64.19 Jim Deans asked the following supplementary question; I refer to the list of successful applicants, I am not saying that a website for uploading music, when the biggest platforms are free and handing out thousands of pounds for Zoom licences when Zoom can be used for free are a waste of public money and that the organisations to receive money are not deserving, but I think feeding people on the street and Sussex Homeless Support are equal in the city in value and so I ask today does Sussex Homeless Support still have the support of the councillors?
64.20 Councillor Gibson replied, I am very keen on the pods project I want to work with you together and I want the council to find ways of being acceptable to work with the community which is in our joint programme better than have been done so far so I am committed to working with community groups, particularly groups like yours that are very good at fund raising, thankfully, because of this point in the decision with the grants.
64.21 The Mayor thanked Jim Deans for his questions and invited Keeley Bignal to address the council.
64.22 Keeley Bignal thanked the Mayor and asked the following question; This question is regarding the proposals to construct 600-700 flats on the site of Brighton Gasworks. Right now, people who live near to gasworks developments elsewhere – which are being developed by the very same developers proposing to build here in Brighton - are suffering damage to their health. At Southall in London, residents report asthma, breathing problems, nausea, chest pain, and even cancer and are pursuing legal action. We know that the Brighton gasworks site is contaminated with dangerous toxins including asbestos, lead and benzo(a)pyrene.
Will the Council prioritise the health of its residents over the need for more homes?
64.23 Councillor Hugh-Jones replied, I appreciate your concerns and fears. I can assure you the protection of residents’ health and safety remains a top priority for the city council – particularly when it comes to remediating a contaminated site like the Brighton Gas Works.
This is also a site which should be capable of being remediated safely and that we’d like to see redeveloped for much needed homes and jobs. As site remediation is highly technical and regulated, it is licensed and overseen by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the Environment Agency.
All planning applications must be determined in line with those local and national planning policy and guidance and relevant planning legislation, this includes environmental impact assessments and the impact of a development on human health.
A future planning application to redevelop the Gasworks site will be required to include detailed evidence in line with national guidance on Land contamination - risk management - published as recently as October 2020. This evidence will be scrutinised by officers of the city council as well as the Environment Agency and HSE to ensure public health is protected.
This evidence will be published for residents to scrutinise and comment on as well.
Finally, any future planning application will be carefully considered by officers and the Planning Committee. An approval decision would require the developer to comply with stringent planning conditions to address matters such as safe land remediation. These, then would have to be satisfied before any development could commence on the site.
The applicants have submitted an environmental impact assessment scoping report that happened during the summer and key internal and external consultees have been consulted and provided a scoping opinion. Both documents are now available on the council website so I urge you to have a look if you have not already done so. You may also be interested to know that the deputation that came to last Full Council on this same subject has been noted and passed to the planning service and will be dealt with as a representation on any future planning application at that location.
64.24 Keeley Bignal asked the following supplementary question; As a local resident, and I also have a background as an environmental scientist and have worked in air quality and undertaken research in some of these really nasty carcinogens, I can’t really express how concerned I am about release of these toxins into the atmosphere, particularly given that the nature of the proposed development with high rise and deep foundations and excavations. I worry that my little boy can play safely in the garden, I worry for my neighbour’s baby that has just been born, my neighbours at the end of the garden. People do not want to live their retirement not being able to breathe and in fear of being able to open their windows. Other developments have also had to comply with this long list of regulations and the evidence suggests that it hasn’t worked.
Do you not agree that the safest place for these lethal toxins is to keep them locked up where they are?
64.25 Councillor Hugh-Jones stated that she was not expert and would have to defer to those who are. She suggested that given Keeley’s expertise in the area they could discuss matters further outside of the meeting.
64.26 The Mayor thanked Keely Bignal for her questions and noted that this had concluded the item.