Agenda item

Public Question Time

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.


Six public questions were submitted as follows:-


·         Relating to what action was being taken to communicate important information about the EU Settlement Scheme to residents and what resources had been allocated to contacting EU citizens.


The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that awareness raising and support on the EU Settlement Scheme had been part of a key area of preparation in Stockport as part of the local action plan overseen by the Brexit Advisory Group which was established in 2019.  Leading up to the end of the transition period and in recent months communication and engagement had been aimed at all Stockport residents as well as targeting some of the most vulnerable residents encouraging EU citizens to apply for settled status.


Councillor Booth further replied that she would provider her additional response to the questioner in writing.


·         Relating to whether Councillors Smart and Clark still approved of the extension to the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road through flood plains above the River Mersey in Stockport.


Councillor Lisa Smart responded that she was in favour of taking traffic away from residential roads and away from children walking to school, but was also in favour of encouraging people out of their cars by investments made in public transport a further focus on active travel.  Councillor Smart stated that until such a time that a viable alternative was proposed, she was firmly in favour of the A6 to M60 road as the missing link in the local highway network.


Councillor Angie Clark stated that she agreed with the statement made by Councillor Smart and further stated that while the area she represented continued to suffer from serious traffic congestion and accompanying poor air quality, a bypass offered the least worse outcome.


·         Relating to the development of a multi-storey car park at the Stockport Exchange development and whether a record of discussion around the environment impact of the car park were available alongside figures to show the emissions from its construction and how annual reductions in carbon emissions in Stockport were progressing to the 13% outlined in the Climate Action Now document.


The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) responded that the car park had been granted outline planning consent in 2014 to provide additional car parking capacity needed to support the development of Stockport Exchange.  Councillor Meller stated that it would not be commercially deliverable to provide this level of employment space without any car parking and the amount provided through this development was well below the Council's maximum parking standard which reflected its accessible location and connections to public transport.


The new car park had been designed to be as sustainable as possible and the designs incorporated electric vehicle charging, future-proofing further EV provision where possible and the provision of solar PV cells on the rooftop was also being investigated.


Councillor Meller stated that the original submission contained a detailed transport assessment and air quality assessment and it was confirmed that these would be refreshed as part of any future reserved matters application.  Councillor Meller added that with regard to active travel, the Council had been allocated over £20 million from Transport for Greater Manchester through the Mayoral Challenge Fund for the development of active travel schemes.  Finally, it was stated that an equalities impact assessment was not necessary because of the outline consent that had already been approved.


·         Relating to why the Cabinet was proposing to spend public money to move the library service back and forth from the Central Library building when the government’s roadmap suggests that social distancing would no longer be required from 21 June 2021 meaning the library may only be operational in Merseyway for a matter of weeks.


The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Devolution (Councillor Elise Wilson) responded that works had now been carried out and largely complete to convert the retail unit into a One Stockport Hub, a covid-secure space that would provide a much needed temporary library service.  The facility would also include digital heritage space, a museum shop and a limited archives service.  It would also provide much-needed bookable IT access for people in the town centre and wider Borough.  It was stated that 21 June 2021 was the earliest date that social distancing measures could be relaxed and until the government had conducted a review, this was not certain.  In the meantime, the new Hub would provide a much-needed library service in the town centre until social distancing measures were removed and services could be reinstated at Central Library.


·         Relating to the options appraisal exercise on the future of Central Library and what its terms of reference would be, who would conduct it, what the process would be and what the projected timetable was.


The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that CBRE had been appointed to carry out the options appraisal for the Central Library building which would provide a comprehensive study of uses for the building.  It was confirmed that this work was already underway and it was anticipated that this would be completed the summer with the intention that this would be submitted to the Corporate, Resource Management & Governance Scrutiny Committee prior to its consideration by the Cabinet.


·         Relating to a recent High Court judgement that found Manchester City Council had failed its public sector equality duty in not considering the likely health effects on children of building a car park near a primary school and whether Stockport Council had carried out an equalities impact assessment in relation to the building of the car park at Stockport Exchange which was within a few hundred metres of a number of primary schools.


The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) stated that the response to this question had been dealt with in his earlier response to a question on the same subject.