In accordance with the Council’s Standing Orders, the Leader of the Opposition shall be given the opportunity to raise one matter relevant to the Borough that has arisen since the last meeting of the Council. The Leader of the Council shall then have the opportunity to advise the Council of matters relevant to the Borough that have arisen since the last meeting.
The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Phil Bibby, asked the following question:
“In relation to the Stevenage Connection Area Action Plan, no-one would disagree with the necessity to revamp the Station gateway to the town centre, but this is only now going out to consultation, with plans for the SG1 development well progressed. Do you see a danger that no funding is secured for developing this area in the short-term, which is vital for the success of regeneration as a whole?”
The Leader of the Council replied that the Council had always planned to develop an Area Action Plan for the Station. She referred to the Town Investment Plan bid submitted to the Government by the Stevenage Development Board, the outcome of which was expected imminently. If the funding bid was successful, there was likely to be an indication from the Government about which projects contained in the bid were expected to be progressed. She stated that she would not be surprised if one of those projects would be the scheme for improvements to the Station area. She added that Mace, the developers of the SG1 scheme, had been involved throughout in discussions regarding the Station Area Action Plan, in order to ensure connectivity between these two projects. She commented that the scheme for improvements to the Station area had also received significant support from major businesses in the Borough, many of whom had representation on the Stevenage Development Board.
The Leader of the Council provided updates on the Covid-19 vaccination programme; the Prime Minister’s relaxation of Covid restrictions Road Map; and local Covid-19 infection rates. She then invited Councillor Adrian Brown to address the Council. Councillor Brown gave a moving account of his recent experience in the Lister Hospital Critical Ward following his contracting of coronavirus. He thanked everyone for their messages of support and best wishes during his time in hospital and afterwards.
The Leader of the Council provided further updates on plans for a 6 month pilot scheme to reduce the cost of collection of bulky waste for up to 3 items; and works to build up the highway in certain parts of the High Street to increase pavement seating/dining areas.
The Council then received updates from relevant Executive Portfolio Holders on the following matters:
· Green Homes Grants;
· Stevenage Gateway Area Action Plan;
· Local Community Budgets;
· Covid support for Community & Neighbourhood Teams;
· Neighbourhood Meetings; and
· Community Safety in Bedwell.
The Leader of the Opposition informed the Council that Hertfordshire County Council would be producing a position statement regarding electric vehicle charging points (proposing a mixture of off-street charging points, car park charging points, destination charging points and rapid charging stations). He added that HCC felt that on-street charging points had a role to play, but were struggling to find out how this would be managed on a day-to-day basis. He asked how parking would be managed in a street with electric charging points (in terms of a potential scramble between electric and fossil-fuel vehicles for parking spaces), and what would happen with the parking displaced from streets containing electric charging points?
The Portfolio Holder for Economy, Enterprise and Transport undertook to consult with officers and provide the Leader of the Opposition with a written reply.
With the Mayor’s permission, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group asked why the pilot proposal to reduce the cost of bulky waste collection of less than 3 items had not been included as an amendment to the 2021/22 budget?
The Strategic Director (CF) replied that this item was not a budget amendment for 2021/22, but would be included in the 2020/21 Third Quarter Revenue Budget monitoring report to be submitted to the meeting of the Executive on 10 March 2021, and upon which the Overview & Scrutiny Committee would be afforded the opportunity to comment.