To receive announcements from the Leader and, in accordance with Paragraphs 10.2 and 10.3 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure, to deal with any questions to the Leader and/or Portfolio Holders on any topic which is within the jurisdiction or influence of the Council and is relevant to their Portfolio. Any Member who poses a question will be entitled to ask one supplementary question on the same topic.
Members are encouraged to give 24 hours’ written notice of questions to the Solicitor to the Council of questions to be raised under the Agenda Item. If no notice is received, then the Portfolio Holder can reserve the right to give a written answer. Where written notice of questions has been given, these will be taken first. Should a Member wish to ask more than one question, questions should be listed in order of priority. If more than one Member sends in a question, these will be taken in alphabetical order of Members’ names, alternated from meeting to meeting. Each question and each response is restricted to three minutes.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Giles Archibald, alluded to recent developments in Syria and expressed concern with regard to the suffering of thousands of people as a result of events. He also referred the 800,000 homes in California currently without electricity, the reason for which, he said, could be traced back to Climate Change.
Councillor Archibald encouraged those Members who had been unable to attend the recent Kendal Vision community planning event, at which a vision for Kendal had been outlined, to visit the JTP Architects Website. He commended the work of the Kendal Futures Board and those businesses and residents who had participated.
Councillor Archibald updated Members with regard to the settlement in Cumbria of 200, mostly Syrian, refugees, with six families having been homed in South Lakeland. He wished to place on record his thanks to the County Council for its tremendous and discreet work in this regard. Councillor Archibald felt proud of the part played by South Lakeland District Council in changing these people’s lives and thanked its officers for their involvement.
In accordance with paragraphs 10.2. and 10.3 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure, the following written questions had been submitted to the meeting:-
From Councillor Ian Wharton to Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder - “Could you please provide an update on the redevelopment of Ulverston Leisure Centre?”
Councillor Ashcroft explained that, as Members would be aware, the Council had been investigating the development of a new leisure facility at the Priory Road site in Ulverston. This was a project which was supported by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to bring new and combined facilities to replace the Council’s ageing facilities and to enable future development of the GSK site. Councillor Ashcroft explained that Cabinet had approved for work to progress to develop the necessary information on facility mix, capital cost and future revenue operating cost in order to enable a future Cabinet decision to implement a new facility. Since then, work had involved engagement with the construction supply chain to more accurately investigate the options for construction methods, associated cost and procurement routes. Officers had been talking with principal contractors, specialist suppliers and quantity surveyors and expected to be in a position to advise Cabinet of the best way forward within the next couple of months. Of great importance was what the project would deliver for the residents of Ulverston and officers were engaging with user groups regarding the balance of facilities on offer; the Council was determined to ensure that the right mix of facilities that worked for all was achieved. Councillor Ashcroft drew particular attention to the fact that both officers and himself were holding regular meetings with the Lawn Tennis Association and residents regarding concerns. This was a work in progress and Councillor Ashcroft undertook to update Members as necessary.
From Councillor Matt Severn to Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder - “Please can you update me as to the latest developments on the Lancaster & South Cumbria Economic Region?”
Councillor Ashcroft informed Members that when the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region (LSCER) prospectus had been launched in June, it had been said that the next stage would be to engage with business and key stakeholders to listen to ideas with a view to firming up future investment plans. That work was ongoing and was informing the development of a joint growth deal submission. The submission had not yet been finalised but there were already some significant and exciting proposals being discussed that it was believed would stimulate greater economic growth across Morecambe Bay and prosperity for businesses and residents across the three local authority areas. Certainly, it was believed that working collaboratively would provide a far greater chance of attracting the sort of investment that could drive real improvements across the three districts. Councillor Ashcroft said that, once the proposals were finalised and the submission was complete, he would update Members.
Councillor Severn posed a supplementary question, directed to Councillor Giles Archibald, Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder, asking whether South Lakeland District Council, in the light of the LSCER partnership, would continue to work with its Council colleagues in Eden.
Councillor Archibald said that it would.
From Councillor Doug Rathbone to Councillor Suzie Pye, Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder - “Could the Portfolio Holder please update me on granters for ‘changing places’; how many we have, how many are still in the offing and what support we are getting as a Council for this?”
Councillor Giles Archibald, Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder, responded on behalf of Councillor Pye. He referred to the cross-party support some months earlier for the earmarking of £50,000 in the Capital Budget for Changing Places toilets for use by seriously disabled people who found it difficult to travel within the area due to the lack of adequate facilities. The Council had subsequently invited community organisations to initially apply for £2,500 to put towards feasibility studies, following which those projects found to be eligible would be awarded a further grant. Councillor Archibald referred to the Changing Places Website which currently showed only one such facility in the area, at Kendal Leisure Centre, demonstrating the importance of providing more. He went on to say that eight bids had been received for feasibility studies, four of which had been considered to be of merit and so recommended for awards of £2,500. Three out of the four had accepted the award and gone on to carry out feasibility studies: Cartmel Township Initiative (Cartmel); Outside In (Kendal Nether Hall); and Millerground (Windermere). Councillor Archibald informed Members that, following review of the feasibility studies by officers, all three had been found to comply with the requirements of the original brief and were achievable. It had, therefore, been recommended to Cabinet for the remainder of the £50,000 to be split equally between the three groups. Councillor Archibald further informed Members that he had made the decision to increase the amount through other budgets so that the Council could grant £20,000 to each of the three projects. This would allow at least two of the three to proceed, if not all three. Councillor Archibald felt pleased that the Council was in a good financial position and so able to support these worthy projects.
Councillor Rathbone advised Members that further information campaign could be found at www.changing-places.org .
From Councillor Eamonn Hennessy to Councillor Dyan Jones, Economy, Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder - “Can the Portfolio holder for Climate emergency update the council on the output from the Climate conversations and can she comment on how seriously this Council takes the loss in Biodiversity?”
Councillor Jones said that Climate Change and loss of Biodiversity were big challenges. She referred to the Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration earlier in the year and to the subsequent refocussing of the Environment Portfolio towards Climate and Localism. Councillor Jones explained that, similarly to last summer, she had been out to meet with residents, seeking views about the future and sharing ideas based around the three themes of informing, influencing and implementing. This had generated a lot of ideas which the Council was determined to address, many of which would be enhanced by working in collaboration with partners, including local parishes and communities, Cumbria County Council, local Members of Parliament and Government, the national parks authorities, etc. Councillor Jones explained that the Council had been working hard to implement actions from last year’s meetings, as well as examining what could be further done. Streetscene officers had been giving talks to local groups and she had been meeting and sharing ideas with partners. Members had been inspired to start initiatives within their own wards and to hold community events, such as the eco-fair in Ulverston, the wellbeing day at Arnside and the eco-day in Sedbergh. Local action and community groups played an important role, developing, supporting and promoting ideas across the district. Community groups, such as Ambleside for a Future, in collaboration with CAfS (Cumbria Action for Sustainability) A to Z project, were leading the way. Councillor Jones pointed out that many suggestions demanded urgent attention by Government and said that the Council would be writing to ministers to highlight changes needed, for example, to current laws relating to planning and building regulations. Councillor Jones closed, drawing Members’ attention to the Council’s Website and a press release relating to past actions and future aspirations.
From Councillor Helen Chaffey to Councillor Eric Morrell, Customer and Commercial Services and People Portfolio Holder - “Please could I ask Councillor Morrell for an update on the Millerground play area?”
Councillor Morrell responded, informing Members that the playground at Millerground, also known as Rayrigg Meadow, had been opened on 26 May 2019 by Mayor John Saunders and Councillor Giles Archibald. This was part of the Millerground Enhancement Plan which also consisted of new accessible paths from the car park to the shore. Phase 1 of the paths had been completed in March, with Phase 2 having commenced in September and due for completion by the end of the year. The playground had received excellent reviews, and was being used by both local and visiting children. It had been supplied by HAGS (playground manufacturer) and funded by South Lakeland District Council, the True Colours Trust and the National Lottery Community Fund.