Written answers to the following questions will be circulated on a supplementary agenda.
(A) Question from Councillor Margaret Notley
“I am fully aware that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused major financial problems for SLL, but why was careful financial monitoring not carried out to highlight problems earlier and will there be strict monitoring with any new contract, when the present one expires in 2023?”
(B) Question from Councillor Adam Mitchell CC
“Do you believe the Council has done enough to move towards paperless working?”
(C) Question from Councillor Nicholas Leech
“How would you describe your record on delivering more electric car charging devices?”
(D) Question from Councillor Wendy Kerby
“I would like to ask the following question with regard to the article in the Comet “Council breaks safety laws in major refurb of flat blocks” and the Council's subsequent response:
Have the Council reviewed the results of the contractor's internal investigation into this incident? What corrective action have they taken to mitigate the situation and what further action are they taking to prevent recurrence?”
(E) Question from Councillor Graham Lawrence CC
“Is the Council’s support for thousands of new flats in Stevenage appropriate and realistic for the Post-COVID world?”
(F) Question from Councillor Alex Farquharson
“Do you believe the current relationship between the Council and staff trade unions is appropriate and in the tax payers’ best interest?”
(G) Question from Councillor Andy McGuinness
“What is the Council doing to maintain our town’s cherished woodlands?”
(H) Question from Councillor Graham Snell
“Given that the proposed changes to Lytton Way will not take place for several years, what changes will be made to help passengers with mobility difficulties travel between the new Bus Station and the Train Station?”
The Council received eight questions from Members to Committee Chairs/Portfolio Holders. The responses to the eight questions had been published in the supplementary agenda for the meeting.
(A) Question from Councillor Margaret Notley re: Leisure Management Contract
No supplementary question was asked.
(B) Question from Councillor Adam Mitchell re: paperless working
Supplementary question – “In view of the fact that the cost of printing committee agenda in 2020/21 was £39,000, and in the light of the Council having declared a Climate Change Emergency in 2019, does the Portfolio Holder find this excessive cost embarrassing and an inefficient use of tax payers money?”
The Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods & Co-operative Council replied that progress was being made to move towards a paperless way of working, with Members being encouraged to use the ModernGov app for accessing committee papers. This was part of the wider transformation exercise regarding improved digital access to meet Climate Change ambitions.
(C) Question from Councillor Nicholas Leech re: Electric Vehicle Charging Points
Supplementary question – “What is SBC doing to substantially increase the number of Electric Vehicle Charging (EVC) points in the town to increase Stevenage’s position in the County “League table” of numbers of EVCs?”
The Portfolio Holder for Economy, Enterprise & Transport replied that a recently held Local Government Association webinar on EVCs had identified a number of areas that needed to be addressed with the Government, including a requirement for the Government to clearly indicate the national rollout capacity; to provide national leadership on a preferred technical solution; and to provide sufficient capital and revenue resources. In the meantime, SBC would be working with Hertfordshire County Council to support the principles contained in their EVC Action Plan.
(D) Question from Councillor Wendy Kerby re: safety issues in relation to the major refurbishment of the Council’s flat blocks
No supplementary question was asked.
(E) Question from Councillor Graham Lawrence re: the building of new flats in the town
Supplementary question – “Will you reconsider the plans for flats, and build proper houses with gardens that people need and want to live in?
The Portfolio Holder for Environment & Regeneration replied that it would be difficult to double-guess the look of the post-Covid world. When the Stevenage Local Plan was produced, the Planning Inspector had considered the numbers, type and mix of residential units proposed to be acceptable. He stated that GlaxoSmithKline had just announced expansion plans for the Catalyst/Catapult life sciences park, which it was estimated would create 5,000 new jobs, and he felt that the type and quality of accommodation to be provided by the SG1 development would be suitable and ideally located for those individuals who would be looking to start or continue a career in the life sciences sector.
(F) Question from Councillor Alex Farquharson re: the relationship between the Council and staff trade unions
Supplementary question – “Why is SBC content to not charge Trade Unions a fee for allowing trade union subscriptions to be deducted from employees’ salaries, when other Councils charge Trade Unions for this service?”
The Portfolio Holder for Resources replied that she would provide a written answer to the questioner regarding this matter.
(G) Question from Councillor Andy McGuinness re: maintenance of the town’s woodlands
Supplementary question – “Will be Tree and Woodland Strategy be backed up by appropriate funding?”
The Portfolio Holder for Environment & Regeneration replied that the condition of the Borough’s woodlands had improved over recent years, assisted the work of the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust. He undertook to keep Members informed of the further improvements being made, but it should be borne in mind that there were budget limitations. However, he undertook to keep trees and woodlands high on his agenda for his portfolio.
(H) Question from Councillor Graham Snell re: mobility travel between the new Bus Station and Train Station
Supplementary question – “What specific help would disabled people be given to access the Train Station from the new Bus Station?”
The Portfolio Holder for Economy, Enterprise & Transport replied that he would provide the questioner with a written answer to the supplementary question.