Members of the public are invited to put questions to the Chair and Cabinet Members on any matters within the powers and duties of the Cabinet, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice. (Questions must be submitted no later than 3 hours prior to the commencement of the meeting via the Council’s website at www.stockport.gov.uk/publicquestions).
Members of the public were invited to submit questions to the Cabinet on any matters within its powers and duties, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice.
Seven public questions were submitted as follows:-
· Relating to whether it would be possible to publish the locations of trees to be felled by the Council along with the rationale for doing so on the Council’s website.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that there were approximately 1.5 million trees in the Council’s care and their maintenance was a primary concern of the Council. It was stated that far more trees were planted than removed in any one year, and the Council’s policy was that for every tree removed, two were planted in its place. The Council’s Climate Change Strategy aimed to plant new woodlands amounting to tens of thousands of trees. Councillor Bailey stated that in normal circumstances, trees were only felled when they were dead, dying, diseased or proven to be causing damage.
It was confirmed that there was currently no notification provided on the website of trees that were proposed to be felled, and in the current circumstances is was not considered practicable to do so as IT resources were currently being targeted at responding the demands imposed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the suggestion had been noted and would be reconsidered when resources permitted.
· Relating to the creation of an unofficial lorry park by the A555 airport relief road, wherein HGVs were stopping for prolonged periods on the old A6 Buxton Road, and the impact that this was having on local resident’s privacy, safety and property values.
· Relating to the street lighting on the old A6 Buxton Road and whether it could be modified to reflect that the area was now residential and not a major A-road as the LED lights were creating a light-spill issue into the surrounding properties.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that both of these questions had been asked at the meeting of the Stepping Hill Area Committee on 15 December 2020 at which officers had been asked to provide a written response to the questioner.
· Relating to an apparent difference between the language used in the motion passed by the Council on 22 October 2020 where it stated that a decision “…to permanently close or remove services from Stockport Central Library [would not be taken] unless and until there has been a proper public consultation…” and that of a letter from the Deputy Leader of the Council on 8 December 2020 where it was stated that “Any decision to permanently move library services, would be subject to a detailed consultation and engagement exercise, that would take into account the view of a range of stakeholders…” and whether this variance could be explained.
The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that there was no variance in the intention behind both statements and that ‘a ‘detailed consultation’ and a ‘public consultation’ would always include a range of stakeholders. It was stressed that any future proposals to move services away from Central Library would always be subject to a detailed public consultation.
· Relating to what alterations were needed to Central Library to make it Covid-safe so that it could be reopened to the public.
The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that the Council had responded to a Freedom of Information request providing an early estimate of the cost involved in making Central Library Covid-safe and the alterations that would be required. It was stated that One Stockport Hub would provide a much needed temporary library service in the town centre, and that once social distancing requirements had been sufficiently relaxed, library services would move back to Central Library.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) further stated that the Council had a duty of care to its residents and staff and the Council would ensure that it complied with government guidance and legislation to ensure the safe reopening of its facilities.
· Relating to losses on investments made by Greater Manchester Pension Fund in oil companies, and whether the Cabinet would try and influence decarbonisation of the Fund.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that the Council did want to see decarbonisation, however the first duty of the pension fund was to its beneficiaries as a fully funded scheme. It was stated that the Council would continue to make representations through its nominated representative on the Greater Manchester Pension Fund Management Panel to balance its duty to beneficiaries along with the climate change agenda.
· Relating to the Parking Policy report on the agenda for the meeting (Agenda Item 12), and how the special circumstances that exist in the Stepping Hill area were recognised within it.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the report sets out a revised policy and approach to residents permit parking schemes across the borough. It was stated that the parking situation in and around Stepping Hill Hospital was well documented, and there had been extensive efforts made to address the problem. However, the scheme that was proposed by the Council to address this had not been supported by local residents. The policy document that was in front of the Cabinet at the meeting did not seek look at individual localities as this would require individual schemes to be developed in accordance with the principles set out in the policy. However, it was stated that there would always be locations were there was limited roadside parking capacity and where demand exceeded availability, and as a result every scheme would require compromise.