Report from Marion Reddish on Full Council Meeting

Leaders Report

July 2017.

Full Council met on July 20th. Three hour meeting.

We observed a minutes silence in respect of the late Alderman Dilys Cornes.  Dilys was a true Liberal Democrat who worked extremely hard for the people of Audley. I was delighted to lead the tributes on behalf of the party but the few minutes given to me were not enough for a lady who had given her life in service to others, not only as a County and Borough Councillor but as a magistrate and faithful member of the parish Council and local Methodist church. I hold Dennis and the family in my prayers, along with many others who will be doing so.

Labour had cancelled the Council meeting due to lack of business, however the Conservatives put a motion to the Mayor to reconvene it so we could have a meaningful debate on the Kidsgrove leisure centre. One of the frustrations of being a small group is we do not have the necessary 5 members to call something in, and neither of the two main parties are unlikely to ask us! Unfortunately for us the other smaller groups have a clear preference for one of the main parties regardless of their own politics. It was interesting that the newly formed Kidsgrove independent party were clearly supporting the Tories, despite their very strong Labour routes not so long ago!

KIDSGROVE LEISURE CENTRE. On the back of the Conservative motion ‘This Council believes it is in the public interest that there be an open and honest debate about the reasons for the closure of Kidsgrove Sports centre’ the Labour party submitted their own in response. The Labour motion was six paragraphs long and covered a multitude of replies. Summary being

  1. The Council notes the signing of the District Deal (2015) and the public statements made by the leader of SCC to support a new Leisure centre in Kidsgrove, thus addressing public health issues.
  2. This Council (NBC) reaffirms the commitment to the construction of a new leisure centre in Kidsgrove as soon as possible, as a fundamental right for its residents.
  3. The Council notes that if the Borough is left to secure funding in its entireity this will delay the project. The Council recognises that a partnership between both Councils is more likely to deliver in a timely fashion and address the responsibilities of both Council.
  4. The Council therefore instructs the CEO and the Leader to press SCC to abide by the deal made in 2015 to deliver a new sports centre as a matter of urgency.
  5. The leader and CEO request that the leadership of SCC as the asset holder enter into meaning discussions with the newly formed Community group to discuss acquiring an interest in the existing building.

These principles were voted on by a named vote which was passed unanimously after a long debate. Comments expressed during the meeting about the Labour motion include-

  1. Total cost of repair in the next 10 years would be £ 3,194,268.( Not an option in my view!)

1.A Kidsgrove Community trust has been set up to look at the feasibility of taking over the ownership of the present building to reopen as a private enterprise. This would not however be an alternative to the new build, this runs alongside the negotiations for a new leisure centre. The Council will be supporting the Community group to get expert advice. 6 months stay of execution in place on old building.

  1. Questions were asked by the Conservatives about why Labour had done nothing about the state of the centre since coming into administration, especially over the past three years. Labour were asking questions of the Tories about the amount of money they spent from the reserves fund whist in power. I suppose we were part of their administration so Ian and I were quiet. However Jubilee two was part of that decade. Lots of cross party failing out!

Maybe less arguing and more working with residents was the order of the day!

  1. Some debate took place about where the new build should happen, was the present one the right one? Alternative sites suggested but no firm resolutions were made. More work to be done on sites available. The sale of Birchenwood site and the keele golf course were debated again both of which are in Greenbelt so not immediately available.
  2. Should the new build be a hub for partnerships? NHS and Council? Rang a few bells with me but we will wait and see what is suggested!

At least every Councillor present voted for the principle of a new centre and in the meanwhile, we agreed to support the Community group.

We had our usual questions to the Leader. The more interesting ones included-

1 Question on the future of the GUILDHALL, now most of the present services will be in the new hub, due to open in the AUTUMN. Answer from the Leader… Gone out to tender, looking for community based activities to meet there. I will be looking at this closely and very much taking into account the views of residents across the Borough.

  1. Question on PLANNING ENFORCEMENT or lack of it! Answer… substantial rise in case work, without the resources needed to address the issues. This has always been a particular concern to me, more money was poured into the area a couple of years ago but clearly not enough. I have recently had a meeting with the Head of planning where we discussed the apparent shortfall.
  2. Question on the ELECTION independent review body. Concern was expressed and shared by me about how independent it was. We await their report.

Election comment in general. Disappointing result for us in the General and at County level, but that is in no way a reflection on the candidates who stood. The squeeze was on nationally, and locally there were sitting Cllrs who were well known for their good work. However we have it all to do again next year locally in May, when we have all out elections across the Borough. The ward Boundaries will be different and in some cases that will mean reduced support in our target wards, please do help us to do well by, producing or helping us deliver leaflets, sitting on our decision making Exec committee or offering financial help. If you can help let me know and I will pass on your name to the most appropriate person.

REMINDER THE LOCAL STRATEGIC PLAN CONSULTATION IS HAPPENING AT THE MOMENT. Please do get involved by making your views known this is an important document which will determine our housing demand and supply for many years to come. I am very frustrated that this important piece of work has been put back yet again! At nearly every Planning committee I attend we are told by developers, because Newcastle cannot demonstrate a five year housing plan, we have to accept applications which are not suitable for our Borough.  Go to

www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/jointlocalplan and make your views known.

 

Marion Reddish, Leader of the Group.

 

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Date23rd July 2017  Author  CategoryNews  CommentsNo comments  

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