Agenda item - Chairs Communications
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- Meeting of Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, Tuesday, 15th November, 2022 4.00pm (Item 38.)
38.1 The Chair provided the following communications:
“As always, it’s been a busy time since the last meeting of this committee in September as our packed agenda shows. Alongside all of this work we have been working closely with officers to understand the impact of yet more government cuts as we head towards 13 years of austerity
Years of government cuts to our funding has meant that we continue to have to make difficult decisions on services and look at alternative ways to fund many of our projects. This has a real impact on the offer we are able to provide to our city and make no mistake this is nothing short of a controlled demolition of public services.
In the last decade alone Conservative cuts have been responsible for- over 800 libraries have had to close, spending on youth services in England and Wales has been cut by 70% in real terms, 600 public toilets have closed. In Brighton & Hove we have had to close more than usual over winter. However, I am delighted that the toilet Refurbishment Programme will commence on Monday 28 November. The works will take place across all sites at the same time – Station Road (Portslade), Kings Esplanade, Daltons and Saltdean Undercliff.
On the agenda today is the part pedestrianisation of Gardner Street, this is an exciting project which has received support from businesses and residents alike. I am however aware that there are some concerns raised by disability rights organisations demonstrated by the deputation today. I, like the council officers, take these concerns extremely seriously which is why I and Council Leader MacCafferty met with BADGE this morning just yesterday. I look forward to further debate on this later today.
I’d like to thank officers for their quick work in bringing a report to this committee proposing a ban on pavement parking on Elm Grove. I asked for this back in June and, given how busy they are, I’m very grateful they’ve been able to act so swiftly to bring this forward. This ban, if supported by committee today will end a problem that has plighted residents on that road for many years and give us the blueprint of how to bring it to other parts of the city.
While thanking officers for their speed, I think it is important to note the huge strain they are under. Public servants who have joint the council to support the development of the city are being put under huge pressure as a result of Conservative government cuts. However, I must also raise the impact that councillors make in this room. Officers have brought 146 reports to this committee over the past two years, which are constantly delivering on the council’s corporate plan. Each report costs to council up to £1500 to produce in officer time and this doesn’t take into account the cost of subsequent delivery of what this committee has approved. The call for up to five reports at every ETS committee and a total of 36 reports has led to a backlog of 22 “called for” reports which will take around 330 hours of officer time to prepare – this is not possible to resource in the next 12 months within our budget constraints and on top of delivering the corporate plan priorities. There are a number of amendments and NOM’s today which call for more reports and I would urge council members to consider the impact on Council resources when taking such votes.
Since the last meeting of this committee, our City Clean teams removed 18 tonnes of rubbish, silt and fly tipping from the A27. It’s a timely reminder that keeping verges clean and litter free is everyone’s responsibility.
Finally, I’m pleased to say that we’ll also be presented with an Air Quality Action Plan for the city with bold and ambitious targets designed to improve the quality of air we breathe and the health of the people who live in Brighton & Hove. The health and wellbeing of our residents is our main concern, and I am delighted that to bring this report today”.
The committee held a moments applause in memory of Councillor Peltzer Dunn.