To consider any questions which may have been received from Elected Members and which are asked pursuant to Standing Order No. 11.
The Chief Executive reported that she had received the following questions from Councillor Kitching in accordance with Standing Order No. 11.
1 ‘In the light of the new letter to the Government agreeing to Barnsley now joining the Sheffield City Region (SRC) devolution deal, what legal changes would be needed to make a 2022 break possible?’
Councillor Andrews BEM (Deputy Leader) reported that any changes to the configuration of the Sheffield City Region would require an Order to be made by the Secretary of State under the Local Democracy, Economic Development Construction Act 2009. That Order could allow for changes to the boundary of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority to allow Barnsley to join a new Combined Authority for a wider Yorkshire geographical area. The Council would be required to give its formal consent to the Order.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘Does the Deputy Leader have any evidence based criteria which they are going to use to evaluate whether it is in Barnsley’s best interest to stay or leave the Sheffield City Region Deal in 2022 or is this just a gamble on Barnsley’s future?’
Councillor Andrews stated that he was unable to comment for the Secretary of State.
2 ‘How much did the Community poll on SCR deal vs One Yorkshire cost?’
Councillor Andrews BEM (Deputy Leader) commented that the cost of the poll was £107,184.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘Given the continued strain on Barnsley’s finances and the fact that the Leader has stated repeatedly in this chamber and in the press that he would honour the results of the poll, and has now done the opposite, does the Deputy Leader feel that this money could possibly have been better spent?’
Councillor Andrews responded by stating that he did not think that this money could have been better spent.
3 ‘What arrangements are in place if central government rejects the proposed deal sent to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on March 25th 2019?’
Councillor Andrews BEM (Deputy Leader) stated that it was now for the Secretary of State to respond to the letter which had been sent by the four South Yorkshire Local Authority Leaders. The Council would consider the response once this was received. It was very much hoped that there would be a positive response to help the Council in its ambition to move towards a wider Yorkshire devolution deal.
Councillor Kitching did not ask a supplementary question.
4 ‘Is the development of site MU1 as proposed by the Local Plan and the further development of Capitol Park dependent on the scheme to build a gyratory road junction on Penny Pie Park going ahead and what effect would the failure to build the gyratory have on the future development of these 2 sites?’
Councillor Miller (Cabinet Spokesperson for Place) responded by thanking Councillor Kitching for the question. He stated that this question and response was very similar to one given at the last full Council meeting and he referred Councillor Kitching to the answer given at that meeting.
Councillor Kitching commented that if the Cabinet Member recalled he was unable to answer the question at the last Council meeting given that the case was still with the Secretary of State/Planning Inspectorate which was why she was asking the question again. The Secretary of State had now made a decision and she felt that he was now in a position to answer this question. She, therefore, asked as her supplementary question: ‘Could Councillor Miller now answer that question.’
Councillor Miller stated that each new development proposal including any at Capitol Park including any site MU1 had to be consistent with existing and predicted highways conditions as well as any committed highway schemes and the phasing of their delivery. This was in order to inform what, if any, other interventions were required by and when. Given that the Local Plan had only just recently been adopted this work was not sufficiently advanced to provide such an answer.
5 ‘How many objections to the appropriation of land at Penny Pie Park have been received to date?’
Councillor Miller (Cabinet Spokesperson for Place) responded by thanking Councillor Kitching for the question. The Authority had received 238 complaints/questions and 17 in respect of the amended plan.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘Understanding that the decision whether to appropriate the land at Penny Pie Park for highways use lies within the remit of the Council, what criteria will be applied to test the validity of these objections?’
Councillor Miller responded by commenting that he did not feel that this was a supplementary question but was a different one altogether. He felt that he had fully answered the original question. The Council did not receive a petition as this had been put on a website for crowd funding and this only received 2,637 signatures. Bearing in mind the thousands of people who went down this road the gyratory system was something that needed to be undertaken.
6 ‘Now that the development of site MU1 is imminent, what will be the arrangements for consulting with residents to produce the Masterplan framework for the site?’
Councillor Miller (Cabinet Spokesperson for Place) responded by stating it was anticipated that there would be a four week consultation including a ‘drop in’ session.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘What consultation on the Masterplan framework has already taken place and will take place with developers?’
Councillor Miller stated that the Authority consulted more than any other council surrounding Barnsley when any proposals were brought forward and although there was a statutory minimum the Council exceeded this every time. One of the things he was struggling with, however, was that due to the ever increasing financial restrictions on the Authority imposed by the former coalition government, the Council had lost over 3,000 staff and £107m out of the budget and this meant that the responses to queries and consultation could not be obtained as quickly as before. Officers worked extremely hard but a great deal of experience had been lost with the reduction in staffing and information could not now be obtained as quickly as it had in the past.
7 ‘Residents of Gypsy Lane and Lundhill Road area in Wombwell are incredibly concerned about the loss of their local playing fields as a result of the proposed housing development there. Sports England, a statutory consultee on the Local Plan, have also expressed their dismay about the loss of these, and other, sports and leisure facilities. How exactly does the Council plan to mitigate the loss of the playing fields in Wombwell, ensuring that all residents there have continued access to outdoor green space for sports and exercise?’
Councillor Miller (Cabinet Spokesperson for Place) stated that this land had been allocated for some time under the Local Plan as a mixed use development. This was informed by the Playing Fields Strategy for the Borough which recognised the Wombwell High School playing pitches would be replaced at the Netherwood Advanced Learning Centre. This included full sized 3G flood lit astro turf football pitch, 3 grass football pitches, 2 full size rugby pitches and 5 multi use tennis/netball courts all of which were available for hire by the community. The Local Plan also included green space policy requirement compensation for the loss of functioning green space. Interestingly, however, he noted that Councillor Kitching had voted for the loss of green space within the Penistone area for the use of a car park.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘Is the Council willing to engage with Sports England on this matter because my understanding is that up till now they are not doing so? If Sports England submit a legal appeal, would the Council fight it?’
Councillor Miller stated that, as always, the officers of the Authority would comply with all legal requirements and would respond accordingly to any contact made from anyone. He was sure, however, that the Wombwell Members who had lobbied him directly would continue to make him aware of all the concerns of residents and in particular the residents of that area.
8 ‘Can the Council guarantee that the promised new school will be built on this site, and if so, when?’
Councillor Miller (Cabinet Spokesperson for Place) stated that the site was allocated within the Local Plan as a mixed use site including the provision of a Primary School. Funding and appropriate planning permission would, however, have to be sought before there was any certainty on delivery and timescales. Also, as a result of decisions of the former coalition government the ability of the Council to build new schools had been taken away from the authority and this was now put in the hands of the voluntary sector. Residents of the area were, however, well aware that this land was to be used for this purpose.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘What parking provisions are the Council putting in place around the school to mitigate the impact on residents throughout the school day but also at school run times as it would be a shame to concrete over anything else later?’
Councillor Miller stated that officers would look at all impacts on that area whether it be highways or planning and the education service would be looking at the potential impact as the Council normally did.
9 ‘These same residents have also raised concerns about the proposed Highways access plans to this site, citing concerns about the potential impact of hundreds of vehicles accessing Lundhill road and using Park Street Junction. What are your plans to hear and act on their concerns?’
Councillor Miller (Cabinet Spokesperson for Place) stated that the authority would be looking at this area once the site was progressing in terms of highways and traffic movements and what restrictions required to be put in place. He reported that the Local Members in the area had spoken to him about their concerns on behalf of the residents and all issues identified would be addressed.
Councillor Kitching asked a supplementary question: ‘Residents in Penistone West, Dodworth and Wombwell have expressed to me their concerns that the Council appears to have a policy of build houses first and deal with the infrastructure later. These were the concerns I raised myself in response to the Local Plan. Could the Cabinet Member explain why that is please?’
Councillor Miller stated that the authority would work to address all issues raised.
10 ‘Last week marked the 5 years since same sex marriage became legal in the UK, an achievement of the Liberal Democrats in coalition government. In light of this, can the Cabinet Member, on behalf of the Council, give assurances that it fully supports the implementation of LGBT+ sex and relationship education within the borough’s schools?’
Councillor Cheetham (Cabinet Spokesperson for People Achieving Potential) responded by thanking Councillor Kitching for the question. The Council would, of course be supporting this approach and it was quite right that it did so. It was quite an anniversary that was being celebrated. However, as a result of decisions of the coalition government, the forced academisation programme, the pre-schools programme the decisions regarding Local Authorities and the obliteration of LEA’s the Council had little power and influence over curriculum or other matters within schools but the Authority would do its best.
Councillor Kitching did not ask a supplementary question.