To receive any questions from and provide answers to the public in relation to matters relevant to the Council’s activities.
Members of the public were invited to put questions to the Mayor and councillors on matters within the powers and duties of the Council.
Fifteen public questions were submitted as follows:-
· Relating to the progress with regard to a proposal by local residents to redevelop the former tennis court area in Gatley Park into a community and recreation space.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the area of land included within the original proposal comprised the pavilion and an adjacent plot of land. It was stated that the Council had issued a proposed head of terms offering a lease by way of a letter in January 2018 to which a response had not been received. It was suggested that the questioner contact officers to discuss the proposal further. With regard to the issue of the former tennis courts, it was stated that this lay outwith the original application area and was now being developed into a multi-use games area.
· Relating to whether the Council would agree that in the light of having previously declared a climate emergency, it would be appropriate for the Cabinet to request that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund divest out of fossil fuels.
Councillor John Pantall responded that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund had implemented a policy with regard to the issue of climate change that comprised three strands, specifically to reduce energy use, emissions and carbon footprint with the range of organisations invested in; working to influence fuel providers; and the promotion of alternative sources of energy.
Councillor John Taylor further responded that it was important to recognise that as a key stakeholder through its investments, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund had the opportunity to shape the behaviour of those companies in which it had invested.
· Relating to whether in the light of the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency whether it would follow the example of Cambridge and Oxford councils and establish a citizens’ assembly to propose effective and proportionate measures to act on the Council’s declaration.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the proposed citizens’ assemblies had not yet met although the proposal was worthy of further investigation. Councillor Bailey further stated that in any proposal developed for Stockport it would be important to involve children and young people.
· Relating to when Stockport’s outdoor market would resume.
The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) acknowledged that there had been an element of a lack of communication which needed to be improved going forward. It was stated that the market had a strong heritage, however it was losing on average £60,000 per annum and as such any proposal for the reopening of the market needed to ensure it was sustainable and complemented the indoor market and regeneration in the Produce Hall.
· Relating to a meeting regarding Stockport Market in June 2018 at which Councillor Meller stated that the Council was seeking outdoor traders that could provide a more quality, desirable offer and what was meant by this statement.
The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) responded that there was agreement amongst those present at that meeting about the need for a quality offer for the outdoor market building on the bespoke markets taking place in the Market Place at the moment.
· Relating to the progress of an application by the Gatley Carrs Conservation Group to protect the site by registering it as Field in Trust.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that there were no plans for the development of Gatley Carrs and that she would undertake to investigate the current status of the application to register it as a Field in Trust.
· Relating to a wildflower scheme being developed by Councillor Steve Gribbon and whether there were any plans to extend this to other areas of Stockport.
Councillor Steve Gribbon responded that councillors in the Marple area had wanted to investigate the introduction of a scheme that would benefit the environment as well as giving long term financial benefits to the Council. It was stated that Rotherham Council had planted over eight miles of wildflowers that had since become a tourist attraction in its own right but had also saved over £25,000 per annum in mowing and maintenance costs. It was stated that discussions had already taken place with the local Public Realm Officer in relation to those sites that might be suitable for wildflower planting in the Marple area and that the work already undertaken could readily be rolled out to other areas of the Borough.
Five questions were submitted where the questioner was not present at the meeting, and in accordance with the Code of Practice, the Chief Executive was requested to respond to the questioners in writing.
The Mayor then reported that the 30 minutes allocated to public question time had since elapsed, and that any remaining questions would receive a written response.