Agenda item

Public Question Time

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 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the meeting on the card provided.  These are available at the meeting. You can also submit via the Council’s website at


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.


Four public questions were submitted as follows:-


·         Relating to the timescale for the appointment of a free school provider at Woodford Garden Village and whether this would be before the January 2022 deadline for primary school applications.


The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that the subject of the question also constituted a substantive item for consideration later on the agenda for the meeting.  However, it was stated that should a decision be taken to cease further consideration of proposals to relocate Queensgate Primary School, then there would only, be one option remaining which was the free school presumption and the report within the agenda outlined a prescribed chronology of events that would then need to take place which would include a competition period for academy sponsors to submit tenders.  This would mean that it would not be possible for a sponsor to be appointed prior to the deadline for the submission of applications for primary school places.


·         Relating to the provision of support for free car parking in the town centre, and whether a commitment would be given to the reinstatement of the 300 metroshuttle bus service.


The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) responded that the Council was heavily promoting the use of public transport through initiatives such as the development of a new transport interchange in the town centre.  The budget amendment that was passed in relation to free parking was an attempt to support local businesses at a time when any and all support was welcome.  It was further stated that the metroshuttle bus service had originally been introduced with financial support from Tesco and had cost the Council £250,000 a year which was a significant ongoing cost for a service that attracted relatively low levels of patronage.  It was also noted that the routing of the service through the Underbanks area of the town centre may compromise the investments and interventions that were being made there.


·         Relating to whether the Council would publish how it would assess whether the responses to the Phase 1 consultation on the Stockroom would trigger the Phase 2 formal consultation on the future of Central Library and whether the results of the Phase 1 consultation would be made publically available.


The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor David Sedgwick) responded that it was important to understand the engagement being undertaken at the current stage and a formal consultation stage.  It was stated that people were currently being asked what they would like to see in the Stockroom proposal and what the disadvantages of that might be as well.  If it was decided to move to a formal consultation then there would an opportunity to comment on the specifics set out in the proposal.  It was noted that the pre-consultation engagement being undertaken was identified as best practice for initiatives such as this.


Councillor Sedgwick stated that the Council wanted to make sure that Stockroom was inclusive and considered people’s ability access and use it regardless of age and circumstance.  The Council had also appointed specialist communications company to support council in this process.


Once the results of the engagement were known, the relevant Cabinet members would discuss these and determine whether it should proceed to the formal consultation stage.  The information set out in the engagement process will be published and submitted to scrutiny committee for consideration.


The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) noted that the Council had published information via Facebook to reassure local residents that the Central Library building would not be demolished or abandoned and nor would the freehold be sold or redevelopment be permitted for residential use.  Should library facilities be located from the Central Library building, then alternative uses would be sought that would be sensitive to the building’s historic character, retain public access and allow the opportunity for community uses.


·         Relating to the previous commitment by the Leader of the Council that the provision of a permanent encampment for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people as part of the Local Plan process and that it would consult with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in doing so.  It was queried what the Cabinet’s intentions were in this respect as the most recent report considered by the Council Meeting failed to specifically mention this engagement.


The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) stated that now that the Council Meeting had endorsed the general principles underpinning the draft Local Plan, the Council would start to reach out to various community groups across Stockport and it would endeavour to ensure that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups were represented in this process.