Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by councillors:

 

(a)      Petitions: to receive any petitions submitted to the full Council or at the meeting itself;

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

 

(i)            Sea Swimming   Councillor Robert Nemeth

(ii)          West Pier – Councillor Robert Nemeth

(iii)         King Alfred – Councillor Robert Nemeth

(iv)         Urgent Call to Address Crime  Councillor Nick Childs

(v)          Fly-Posting on the Seafront – Councillor Robert Nemeth

(vi)         Funding for Memorial Plaque  Councillor Nick Childs

(vii)        Communal Beach Hut – Councillor Bridget Fishleigh

 

(c)      Letters: to consider any letters;

 

(i)            Senior Officer Report Request – CouncillorStephanie Powel

 

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

 

(i)            Register of Heritage Assets – Councillor Nemeth and Mears

(ii)          Field Officers – Councillor Bell and Lewry This item has been withdrawn having been listed in error.

(iii)         Commitment to Helping those with Hidden Disabilities – Councillor Powell and Williams

(iv)         Pavilion Gardens Summer Concerts – Councillor Mears and Nemeth

 

Minutes:

            (a)   Member Questions

 

(i)     Sea Swimming

 

74.1    Councillor Nemeth asked the following question, “Given the increase in the number of sea swimmers in recent years, and given the prevalence of troubling safety incidents in West Hove, would the Chair support my call for a new lifeguard station, with associated safety flags and facilities, in Wish Ward?”

 

74.2    The Chair replied, it is the council’s intention for summer 2021 to provide beach lifeguard cover which replicates, as far as is feasible, the pre-Covid lifeguard service.  This means that lifeguards would operate on the beach in West Hove over a 6 week period for the traditional school summer holiday. However, there are significant caveats to this which centre on the ability to recruit a sufficient number of qualified beach lifeguards to cover these posts, as well as compliance with whatever Covid restrictions and operating protocols may be in place at the time. 

 

During the pandemic beach lifeguard training and assessment courses have not been able to run and it is not clear when this restriction may be lifted.  On a national level this has significantly reduced the number of qualified beach lifeguards from which beach operators can select their seasonal staff.  The issue faced by the council is centred on the availability of appropriately qualified staff.  The council is aware that the number of sea swimmers and water users has grown exponentially in the past year.  This has been due in part to the prolonged period of warm weather we experienced, but principally due to the lack of alternative leisure opportunities and the number of resident and visitors who enjoyed staycations as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.  However, this sudden increase in sea users has affected all of our coastline, not just the beaches in Wish Ward.  Whilst we appreciate the number of people using the beaches in Wish Ward may have increased last year, when compared with other council operated beaches the physical, behavioural and environmental risk factors have not increased in parallel.”

 

74.3    Councillor Nemeth requested that the Chair keep an open mind on this matter.

 

74.4    The Chair confirmed that he always kept an open mind on matters.

 

(ii)   West Pier

 

74.5    Councillor Nemeth asked the following question, “What is the Administration’s position on the future of the West Pier; a much photographed tourist asset which is of course privately-owned but liable to collapse/deterioration?”

 

74.6    The Chair replied, “The West Pier Trust as owners of the freehold of the original west pier, have consulted their members on the future of the pier.  It has been agreed that while a new contemporary West Pier remains a long term aim it is not achievable in the short to medium term.   The West Pier Trust have chosen to focus their fundraising efforts instead, on a restoration of one of the original old West Pier kiosks which would be placed at a designated site on the new landscaping to the east of i360 and would be used as a community and education centre.     It is also worth noting that two extremely beautifully replicated tollbooths from the West Pier also form part of the Brighton i360 building and in this sense keep the spirit of the old pier very much alive on the current site.

The council do not own the West Pier, or the landward end. The owner, the West Pier Trust is a charitable trust.   The council’s key role therefore has been to ensure the Section 106 obligations within the planning obligations are carried out in relation to the existing sea wreckage between the shore and the "sea island" (the remaining frame of the original pier head pavilion) .   Part of the wreckage was removed during the build of the i360 and the columns were relocated as part of the landscaping works.   The area between the shoreline and the sea island is inspected regularly by the Trust and where wreckage appears and is a potential danger to swimmers or small craft arrangements are made for its removal.”

74.7    Councillor Nemeth requested the Chair push the West Pier Trust to make sure there was a plan in place.

74.8    The Chair stated it was important to keep an open mind and suggested Councillors and himself look at the feasibility of meeting with West Pier Trust.

 

(iii)  King Alfred

 

74.9    Councillor Nemeth asked the following question, “The last two King Alfred Leisure Centre development attempts collapse through proposals not being financially viable with the principal non-sport related net cost being ‘Affordable’ housing. What representations has the Chair of this committee made, in her capacity as head of sports for the City, to ensure that housing development dreams do not trump sports provision once again?”

 

74.10  The Chair replied, “Replacing the ageing and deteriorating King Alfred Leisure Centre is a longstanding priority, the need for which increases year on year. The projects primary objective is to deliver improved, extended, and modern sports facilities, whether on the existing site or elsewhere in the west of the city. This forms a key element of the city-wide Sports Facilities Investment Plan that is nearing completion, and which is scheduled to be reported to this committee in June.

 

When terminating the previous project in October 2019, the Policy & Resources Committee agreed that, in formulating the next project, it must address financial viability. This has been a fundamental consideration in the development of the revised project. Whilst the delivery and financing arrangements are yet to be determined, an enabling development, predominantly much needed new homes, will be an essential part of the package. The number of homes and the level of affordable housing will be considered at the appropriate time and with due regard to financial viability.

 

As chair of this committee I am in regular discussion with Councillor MacCafferty, Leader of the Council and Chair of the King Alfred Project Board, and we will continue to explore all ways possible to get the most we can from the site so it is of maximum benefit to local people”

 

(iv)  Urgent Call to Address Crime

 

74.11  Councillor Childs asked the following question, “Given the intolerable level of harassment, drug crime and anti-social behaviour outside and around the Coop Supermarket on St James St, what urgent action will be taken by the Council and Sussex Police to prevent the lives of residents, Coop employees and customers being further blighted?”

 

74.12  The Chair replied, “Thank you for the question Cllr Childs. I am aware that there have been two meetings with yourself and council officers, police colleagues and other partners to explore the issues regarding St James St and the issues around the Co-op.  Partners are working together to identify people of particular concern so that engagement can take place with them and appropriate support packages can be explored B&H Police regularly patrol the area and will continue to do so. A day of action was carried out by police on 2nd March in various spots across the city. One of which was St James’s Street with focus on the area at the back of the Co-Op. Letter drops were completed, whereby officers were knocking on doors of local residents to encourage reporting of crimes to the police, as well as obtaining any info from them, and listening to their concerns. It is vital that residents report instances of ASB and crime so that resources can be targeted where it is most appropriate to do so.

 

Hi vis foot patrol in the area was conducted by 2 PCSO’s and 4 PC’s. Lots of residents were happy that the patrols were taking place and appreciated the impact they have.

 

Reports of issues raised by the Co-op will be shared with the police via the Business Crime Reduction Partnership. Police colleagues have also been made aware of the new outreach service. There are currently ongoing discussions with the new provider to look into how they  will link into partnership work to address substance misuse related begging and ASB. I understand that the police alongside yourself, will look at any environmental changes which might be implemented to improve matters in the area and that once identified will be discussed with the store manager. The police have agreed to look at the use of community protection warnings to those individuals causing most concern.”

 

74.13  Councillor Childs requested a policy be brought against hard drug use in public places.

 

74.14  The Chair offered to consult further on this.

 

(v)   Fly-Posting on the Seafront

 

74.15  Councillor Nemeth asked the following question, “Would the Chair join community groups, amenity societies and tourist businesses by making a strong and unequivocal statement against fly-posting on the Brighton & Hove seafront, and will she pledge to call on colleagues to investigate and prosecute where possible those participating in fly-posting campaigns in tourist areas?”

 

74.16  The Chair replied, “I agree that illegal fly-posting is a blight on the environment, whether the seafront or other areas. The legislation is very specific in relation to fly-posting in that the Fixed Penalty Notice can only be issued to the individual committing the act, not the venue or promoter relating to the event or promotion.

 

The seafront forms part of the Environmental Enforcement Team’s patrol route, with officers patrolling extensively during the summer months, to deter environmental crimes, including fly-posting. Officers will issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to anyone caught fly-posting.”

 

74.17  Councillor Nemeth stated that there should be no distinction between illegal flyposting that was attractive and that wasn’t and that this must be brought down regardless.

 

74.18  The Chair stated support for this and noted that the relevant department be involved in this.

 

(vi)  Funding for Memorial Plaque

 

74.19  Councillor Childs asked the following question, “I was delighted that the Planning Committee agreed to the informative that I proposed to attach a plaque to the new development of the Coop Lewes Rd, in memorial to the 20 residents killed there by a Luftwaffe bomb in Sept 1940. Whilst the developers have agreed to assist with the cost, should there be a shortfall, would the Committee be prepared to consider funding given that the costs are likely to be in the hundreds of pounds only?”

 

74.20  The Chair replied, “I very much welcome the proposal for a Blue Plaque to commemorate this sad event. I am advised by officers that this was supported strongly by Planning Committee and was secured by an informative attached to the planning permission.

 

In terms of funding for this – officers would expect this to be funded by the applicant. I’m afraid there is no council funding available in these circumstances – however, I’m advised that the applicant attended committee and indicated their willingness to carry this out.”

 

74.21  Councillor Childs enquired if Committee would agree to work with Councillor Grimshaw and himself at considering alternative ways of commemorating other victims of this site.

 

74.22  The Chair agreed to arrange a meeting to set a place to commemorate and start a project on this with regard to the City’s rich history.

 

(vii)    Communal Beach Hut

 

74.23  Councillor Fishleigh asked the following question, “Whilst I appreciate that the council is reviewing its beach chalet and hut strategy, we have an urgent need for a communal beach hut in Saltdean which will provide a base and storage for the fast-growing Saltdean surf and swim club.

 

Please can we put up a wooden beach hut on the Undercliff. We will pay for everything including insurance. We are also happy to pay ground rent to the council.

 

It can be moved to a different location if necessary, once the beach

chalet/hut strategy is agreed.”

 

74.24  The Chair replied, “The seafront has become the most popular destination in the city for residents and visitors to spend their leisure time.  As a result, the council’s Seafront Team receive numerous requests from individuals, groups and businesses seeking to establish a presence on the seafront.  It is necessary therefore, for the council to carefully manage and control what is built on the seafront in order to protect that which makes the seafront such an appealing place to be. 

 

The addition of new buildings and facilities must follow due process and be considered within the wider strategy and policies for the seafront.  It is the council’s policy to tender any opportunities to build or develop land on the seafront whenever these become available.  This is to ensure all new property opportunities, whether for commercial or community use, are offered in a fair and open way. 

 

The council therefore cannot give consent to for a beach hut to be built on the Undercliff.  However, if the Saltdean Surf and Swim Club are looking for temporary storage for beach specific equipment which cannot be accommodated elsewhere then officers will be pleased to link with the Club to identify whether there is any space within existing council premises.”

 

(b)       Member Letter

 

74.25  Councillor Powell addressed the Committee and read her letter.

 

74.26  RESOLVED – That the letter be noted.

 

(c)   Member Notices of Motion

 

(i)     Register of Heritage Assets

 

 74.27 The Chair noted the motion and informed the committee that as requested at full Council he had asked officers to prepare a report for a future meeting of the committee.

 

74.28  RESOLVED: That the information be noted, and a report be brought back to a future meeting of the committee.

 

(ii)   Commitment to Helping Those with Hidden Disabilities

 

74.29  The Chair referred to the motion and stated that Brighton & Hove City is committed to helping disabled people, including those with hidden disabilities and conditions. The Council will be developing an action plan, and undertaking a programme of work in 2021, with the central aim of creating a more inclusive and accessible city for disabled people.

 

This work will be co-produced between the council, relevant partner organisations and disabled people. We are engaging with local Community and Voluntary Sector organisations and social enterprises that support and work with disabled people (including people with hidden disabilities and conditions) to explore the scope of this programme.

 

Through this process we will be focusing on a number of themes to support collective progress towards aspirations around accessibility. This will include supporting council services and local businesses to become more inclusive and accessible for disabled people.

 

We are keen to explore the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme as part of this work, alongside other positive schemes, in partnership with disabled people. We recognise the national reach of this scheme and are happy to consider what its impact will be locally. Our aim is to drive forward and promote initiatives and schemes that will have the most impact for disabled people and positive outcomes for creating a more accessible city. Through our programme of research, engagement and collaboration we believe we will be best placed to do this effectively.

 

In addition to the above, Brighton & Hove City Council also continues supporting disabled residents and staff through a variety of positive initiatives and approaches. We continue to offer opportunities through our Supported Employment Programme – an employability skills programme aimed at disabled people (including those with hidden disabilities and conditions).

 

We also continue to develop our skills and understanding with a range of learning and development opportunities for staff including, Dyslexia and Neurodiversity in the Workplace, Inclusion Essentials, Inclusive Leadership, Making Reasonable Adjustments, Mental Health Awareness, Suicide Awareness, and Resilience training.

 

We continue to engage with and support local events including Disability Pride and What’s Out There and we celebrated neurodiversity day this year with an in-house event for staff led by our Disabled Workers and Carers Network.

 

The council has a number of projects underway in relation to accessibility including a project on Assistive Technology, and another on responding to the new digital accessibility laws. We will be developing guidance and a training programme to support this agenda.

 

Co-production is central to our approach towards equality and inclusion. We work in partnership with our Disabled Workers and Carers Network on matters around accessibility and inclusion for disabled staff. For example, through this partnership working we are developing guidance and resources for managers to support neurodiverse staff, staff well workforce surveys, and new policies.

 

We will continue to work with our Disabled Workers and Carers Network on shared aims around accessibility, including support for those with hidden disabilities and conditions. We will also seek their views on schemes like the Hidden Disability Sunflower scheme and explore if this would be effective for staff in the council. This will be aligned to our wider programme of work to create a more inclusive and accessible city for residents, outlined above.

 

74.30  Councillor Williams noted the comments and expressed the need to ensure that there was access to purchase lanyards.

 

74.31  RESOLVED: That the Notice of Motion be noted.

 

(iii)  Pavilion Gardens Summer Concerts

 

74.32  Councillor Mears proposed the Notice of Motion on behalf of the Conservative Group, which Was formally seconded by Councillor Nemeth.

 

74.34  The Chair stated that the gardens have been leased to the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust. They have responsibility for the upkeep of the area and for any events which happen there. I realise it has been a very hard year for the Trust because of the Pandemic and they cannot afford to support the concert series in 2021. For this reason, I can confirm that the Council will provide a budget of up to £2,600 or £200 per concert in 2021/22 to cover this cost. Despite our budgets being very constrained, we know that culture plays an important part in the health and wellbeing of our residents, especially as we emerge from the Pandemic. The Council’s Outdoor Events team will discuss making these funds available with the Trust. Officers will also discuss steps required to ensure the concerts comply with government regulations regarding COVID safety.” 

 

74.35  RESOLVED: That the Notice of Motion be noted.

Supporting documents:

 


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