Agenda item

Leader and Cabinet Members' Question Time (15 minutes)

Any Member of the Council may ask the Leader of the Council or any Cabinet Member any question without prior notice, upon:


·       Any matter relating to the Council’s administration

·       Any matter relating to any report of the Cabinet appearing on the summons

·       A matter coming within their portfolio of responsibilities


Only one supplementary question is allowed per question.


Cllr Stephens expressed concern that Amey PLC may have breached its contract with the Council to provide environmental and waste services; in particular an allegation reported by the media on 13th June that materials collected for recycling had been sent to landfill and asked the Cabinet Member for Environment if the matter would be referred to the police and the agreement terminated.  The Cabinet Member for Environment replied that evidence was being gathered and if it proved strong enough then it would be referred to the police.  He confirmed that if there had been a clear breach then the contract would be terminated.


Cllr Hilton sought reassurance that Amey’s performance was being monitored as closely as possible in the light of the reported failings.  The Cabinet Member for Environment commented that he was prepared for more meetings if they would be beneficial.  The Corporate Director informed Cllr Hilton that in addition to Members’ meetings officers met Amey at least monthly and a monitoring team was now in place within the Eastern Avenue Depot.  He referred to an increase in failure notices issued and an enhanced performance management regime introduced in April allowing penalties which will be imposed when the team has gathered the necessary data.  Cllr Hilton noted that the contract was in place until 2022 and enquired if it would be better to terminate early risking financial penalties rather than a failing service.  The Cabinet Member for Environment cautioned against early termination at this stage as the scale and duration of litigation costs were unknown and could be substantial.


Cllr Hilton asked when the introduction of Public Space Protection Orders would be considered by Members.  The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods confirmed that a report was being drafted and gave assurance that plenty of opportunity would be given for members to comment.


Concerning the closure of the Council’s reception area on the last Wednesday of every month Cllr Coole informed Members that he had encountered vulnerable members of the public at the entrance unable to gain immediate access to services and asked if the policy would be reconsidered.  The Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economy clarified that the closure enabled the training essential for an improved service to take place and that an alternative means of access, via telephone, was available.  He further commented that there had only been one Wednesday closure to date giving too short a period to properly judge the impact of the policy on the public.  The Managing Director stated that the new arrangements were being kept under review and that Members would in time receive a written briefing.


In relation to agenda item 7 (Local Delivery of Grass Cutting in Podsmead) Cllr Haigh questioned the statement in the report (3.5) that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee gave broad cross party support to the project.  The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods responded that it had been her understanding that the concept had been approved of and favour given to taking it forward.  Cllr Haigh asked if extensions to other locations would receive Cabinet Member and Council consideration first.  The Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhoods emphasised that although interest had been shown by other communities, this project related to Podsmead alone.