Issue - meetings


Meeting: 15/07/2020 - Council (Item 11.)


In accordance with Standing Orders, written answers to the following questions will be tabled at the Council meeting:


(A)       Question from Councillor Doug Bainbridge


“How much money has been spent on “consultants” by the Council over the last 5 years.  Year by year?


(B)       Question from Councillor Andy McGuinness


“Given the impact on the ability to open facilities due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, what discussions has SBC had with Stevenage Leisure Limited about the need for additional support measures and what contingency plans are being developed by the Council in this regard to ensure the future sustainability of these invaluable leisure facilities?”


(C)      Question from Councillor Robin Parker CC


“When will SBC commit to fully functioning IT, e-mail and telephone services and what has been the cost of the many repeated failures in these since the start of 2019?”


(D)      Question from Councillor Graham Snell


“SBC has been without a website which is fit for purpose for at least 3 years, so what is the date when residents can expect the new website to be launched and how will this be communicated to residents?”


(E)       Question from Councillor Tom Wren

“Please can an explanation be given as to why 16 mature trees were felled at the former Chells Play Centre site on Eliot Road, without any planning permission being in place for the development?”

(F)       Question from Councillor Adam Mitchell CC

“There has been significant delay to the implementation of the new Council website, at a time when it is most needed by the residents of Stevenage during the COVID-19 outbreak.  What is causing this delay?”             

(G)      Question from Councillor Stephen Booth

What work has the Council's Environmental Health department been engaged on in connection with the Coronavirus outbreak, including work carried out in conjunction with Hertfordshire County Council's Public Health department, since the beginning of March 2020?

(H)      Question from Councillor Alex Farquharson

“Would you describe the number of highly paid Council officers and the amount of taxpayers’ money paid to them as acceptable?”


The Council received eight questions from the 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 Doug Bainbridge


Supplementary question – “What evidence can you provide to me and what has been published to demonstrate both value for money and exactly what these consultants have achieved for the people of Stevenage?”


In reply, the Portfolio Holder for Resources asked Councillor Bainbridge to send her an e-mail with some further detail in order that she could provide a written reply to the supplementary question.


(B)       Question from Councillor Andy McGuinness


Supplementary question – “Can Councillor Henry elucidate a little more on the Sport England funding and can he give a date when Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre might be reopening?”


The Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People, Leisure & Culture replied that there were many calls on Sport England funding.  SBC was trying to arrange a meeting with the Regional Director in order to discuss in detail both the way that the Council works with Stevenage Leisure Limited and also the Council’s ambitions for looking at sport, leisure and health and wellbeing in the future.  It was confirmed that Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre was planning to reopen on 25 July 2020.


(C)      Question from Councillor Robin Parker CC


Supplementary question – “Could the Council’s telephone service’s opening message be shortened to avoid the need to listen to over a minute of introductory remarks?”


The Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods and Co-operative Working replied that he would discuss the matter with officers and report back.  He commented that the Council was committed to move away from telephony to online services, but accepted that the telephone service would for the foreseeable future continue to be a first point of contact for some residents.


(D)      Question from Councillor Graham Snell


Supplementary question – “Can you tell me the accumulated estimated cost of developing the Council’s new website, and would there be training on it for Members?”


The Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods and Co-operative Working replied that it was intended that assistance for members on the public on the new website would be provided by the Customer Service Centre.  As well as member training on the new website, he was keen that there was further consultation with Members on its style and content.  The Council aimed to deliver the website (with a soft launch) in September 2020.  He undertook to provide Councillor Snell with the estimated cost information requested.


(E)       Question from Councillor Tom Wren


Supplementary question (asked by Councillor Robin Parker CC on behalf of Councillor Wren) – “What steps are being taken to ensure that the removal of trees without planning permission does not happen again?”


The Portfolio Holder for Environment & Regeneration replied that approval was given for the removal of the trees on the Eliot Road site prior to the bird nesting season.  The site was allocated for housing, and the trees were assessed as not being of major  ...  view the full decision text for item 11.