Agenda item

Leader's Announcements and Cabinet Question Time (30 Minutes)

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 Monitoring Officer 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, addressed Council and began by thanking Members for their contributions over the last year and the commitment to both the role of Councillor and to the community. Councillor Archibald moved on and thanked both NHS and all other key workers who had put themselves at risk throughout the pandemic and informed Members that he planned to write a letter, to the NHS, third sector and charity workers, thanking them for their work during the pandemic.


Councillor Archibald referred to Local Government Reform and highlighted the ongoing change to how the Council worked, he encouraged Members to sign up for My Account and requested that Members, as leaders in the community, advised the public to do so as well. He moved on to thank all officers for their continued hard work.


The Leader recognised the strain, that the hard work throughout the pandemic had put on officers and highlighted that some projects had been reprioritised. He advised Members that the Council wished to curb the use of paper agendas and recommended using the corporate email network and Mod.Gov to receive both public and private agendas. The Leader recognised the time and resources taken up in producing paper copy agendas and added that Officers were no longer receiving paper copies. In concluding his address to Council, the Leader encouraged Members to contact officer to ensure that any remaining Locality Budgets were used before the deadline.


In accordance with paragraphs 10.2 and 10.3 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure, the following written question had been submitted to the meeting:-


From Councillor Judy Filmore to Councillor Dyan Jones, Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder- I learnt on a recent Council training on Climate Change that one of the highest percentage of carbon emissions in the UK comes from transport at 28%. Our Council relies on charging private cars to use our car parks in order to provide a substantial income towards our services. Instead of reducing carbon emissions, it seems we are reliant on carbon emissions continuing at the same rate.  What are your thoughts on how we can as a Council resolve this conundrum?


Councillor Dyan Jones responded, highlighting that any reduction in vehicle emissions was dependent on the number of electric vehicles on the road which in turn relied on access to electric vehicles. She added that the Council’s current car parking fee structure was based on providing spaces to all vehicles.


Councillor Jones stated that an improvement in access to electric vehicles wasn’t in the Councils control but that the Council remained committed to providing electric vehicle charging points across the district. The Portfolio Holder highlighted the Government mandate to end the sale of Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles by the end of 2030 and the sale of Hybrid vehicles by 2035. She moved on and highlighted that an approximate 40,000,000 vehicles were on the road in the country, and with government advisors recommending a ban on new diesel lorries no later than 2040, the issue lay with the government to work with manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions from transport and ultimately support, in particular, rural Councils. In concluding her response, Councillor Jones emphasised that the Council’s role going forwards, would be to manage a smooth transition as the usage of car parks changes.


From Councillor Judy Filmore to Councillor Suzie Pye, Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder - In Ulverston a food waste project has been set up which essentially sells food to local people which otherwise would have been wasted from local shops and supermarkets. They have been consistently giving one third of the food boxes that go out each week to families that cannot afford to pay the small cost. What started as a food waste project has in addition become a much needed service to families in poverty. Given that we recently declared a Poverty Emergency is our Council going to provide funding for projects that alleviate poverty in the same way that limited funds recently could be applied for linked to the Climate Emergency?


Councillor Pye informed Members this time last year, there had been five Food Banks in South Lakeland. In the following 12 months, the number of food initiatives had tripled with further organisations being discussed to begin in the coming months. She added how humbling it had been to witness the response from communities over the last year to the increased need for such initiatives.


The Portfolio Holder informed Members of the diverse mix of food initiatives which included the traditional food banks and food shares as well as more informal take-what-you-want boxes. She added that a green agenda was a common trait in these initiatives whereby, surplus food had been diverted from landfill and redistributed amongst communities. Councillor Pye added that these initiatives had an increasingly important role to play in helping people who had struggled financially, to access food and highlighted that 3.6 million tonnes of food was wasted by the food industry each year, with 8.4 million people in the UK struggling to afford to eat, with food initiatives facilitating in bridging the gap between those figures.


Councillor Pye, informed Members that she was proud to be involved with Sedbergh Food Club, where the initiative receives a van of rejected food each week, courtesy of Fareshare with 123 households being supplied with food in the previous week. Sedbergh Food Club catered for two groups of households, one group who used the club for environmental reasons and others where the food provided may have been the difference maker in managing to put the food on the table.


Councillor Pye highlighted the importance of these initiatives and cheap or free food being provided under the banner of environmental action. She ran through a number of other initiatives that had been created including toy shares and repair cafes.


In concluding her response, Councillor Pye discussed funding of the food initiatives which the Council had supported with Kendal Food Hub last summer but noted that all of the initiatives had been able to access sufficient DEFRA funding via Cumbria County Council in recent months. Councillor Pye urged Members who had been aware of any food projects who had struggled to start up or any community project aimed at alleviating poverty, to contact her to discuss how progress could be made.


From Councillor Eamonn Hennessy to Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder - The recent announcement by GSK of their decision to close down their operation in Ulverston and Barnard Castle clearly has significant implications for both the economy of South Lakeland and Ulverston. Would Cllr Ashcroft, as portfolio holder for Economy please update on the situation and what approach the council intends to take in addressing the situation?


Councillor Ashcroft responded by that Glaxo Smith Klein (GSK) had confirmed  its decision to sell the antibiotics business to Sandoz, which was consistent with other decisions made globally as part of the company’s strategic direction. It is anticipated that Sandoz would eventually take production in house, however, Councillor Ashcroft confirmed that there had been a four year manufacturing supply agreement between GSK and Sandoz meaning that manufacturing is expected to continue for that period.


The Portfolio Holder raised the importance of GSK as an employer for Ulverston and South Lakeland, which provided well-paid, skilled jobs and serving the local supply chain with the skills-base being a key strength of the Furness area and wider Morecambe Bay. He informed Members that the Council was actively engaged with the GSK Taskforce, which was chaired by Simon Fell MP and aimed at mitigating the impact and being proactive in ensuring a bright future for the workforce and wider site.


Councillor Ashcroft assured Members that the Council would be seeking to ensure that an adequate employee support programme was in place and that jobs are retained, where possible, as well as the strategic site in Ulverston for future employment. In addition he confirmed the continuation of the work with partners in administering the GSK Enterprise Fund, providing finance to help job creation in the area.


In concluding his response, Councillor Ashcroft informed Members that the Council had commissioned a Masterplan for the site which was to work with an experienced consultant and local stakeholders to consider the future of the site with a particular aspiration to retain life sciences and advanced manufacturing capabilities on the site.


Note – Councillor Brian Rendell left the meeting at 9.54 p.m.


The written questions been put and answered, the following verbal question was put:-


Councillor Helen Chaffey to Councillor Phillip Dixon, Customer and Commercial Services and People Portfolio HolderWhen will Green Bin collection, be resumed?


Councillor Phillip Dixon responded by informing Members that the green bin collection was likely to be restarted soon and it had been postponed due to a number of staff members either suffering or shielding from Covid.