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.
Nine public questions were submitted as follows:-
· Relating to the cancellation of screen tests for Reception age children.
The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Devolution (Councillor Elise Wilson) responded that she agreed that children living through the pandemic had been disproportionately affected and that the impact would be felt for years to come. It was further stated that there is no national programme to do hearing screening for reception children and that many areas don't screen at all and instead offer a targeted programme.
It was stated that since neonatal hearing screening was introduced for all babies at birth, the evidence base for reception screen was less strong, however Stockport had chosen to continue with a local screening programme. During lockdown, a targeted programme was offered to both schools and parents and any targeted screening was completed in the first half-term in September to October 2021.
Councillor Dawson further responded that he understood the importance of testing as a form of reassurance but also that it provided an opportunity to intervene early and identify issues as soon as possible.
· Relating to whether the Council still supported the reinstatement of rail services from Stockport to Manchester Victoria via Reddish South & Denton Stations and would prioritise the modernisation of Stockport Station.
The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Devolution (Councillor Elise Wilson) responded that together with Transport for Greater Manchester the Council had submitted a ‘restoring your railways bid’ for a study to reopen this route. It was further stated the Stockport Station Prospectus had been developed with the Mayoral Development Corporation and Transport for Greater Manchester to seek funding to deliver both the vision and the capacity upgrades necessary, not only to unlock the potential of Stockport Station, but to also ensure local connectivity for future provision to Reddish South and other local stations.
Councillor Hunter responded that he was clear in both his and the Liberal Democrat Group’s support the Friends of Reddish South Station in their attempt to reintroduce a regular rail service though the station.
· Relating to damage to property caused by the installation of road humps.
Councillor Thornley responded that the temporary restrictions in Marple town centre speed cushions had proven very unpopular and meetings had been held with staff from the highways department at the council. However, as the cushions supported the 20 mph restrictions in the area which did receive widespread report, further work was needed through a public consultation to assess the future of the scheme.
· Relating to anti-social behaviour in Davenport.
Councillor Davies stated that he had been contacted by a number of residents in relation to this issue, and a multi-agency approach was being used to try and resolve this issue.
The Cabinet Member for Inclusive Neighbourhoods (Councillor Amanda Peers) further stated that there was a strong coordinated partnership approach to tackling anti-social behaviour and begging. Since this issue was first raised a number of interventions had been made and progress was being made.
· Relating to the proposal to seek White Ribbon accreditation and whether this would mean that all Stockport’s male councillors would commit themselves to never to take part in, condone or stay silent about violence against women and to make this public by wearing a white ribbon on White Ribbon Day annually on 25 November.
The Cabinet Member for Inclusive Neighbourhoods (Councillor Amanda Peers) stated that she had engaged with the questioner by email on this matter and the issues raised would be covered in her report to the Council Meeting later in the meeting.
· Relating to whether foster children of EU nationality have had their applications for settled status properly processed.
The Cabinet Member for Children, Family Services & Education (Councillor Colin Foster) responded that the need to register children in care under the European Union Settlement Scheme is recognised by Stockport Family and a lead officer has been designated to take this forward. It was confirmed that all current looked after children had been assessed and a double check was taking place.
· Relating to Great Moor library and the provision of Open+ facilities and whether it was the Cabinet’s position that residents don’t seem to care about the library.
The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor David Sedgwick) responded that the Open+ scheme would be extended to Great Moor library. It was further stated the comment referred to was made in reference to a statement within an election leaflet, but that he could confirm that this did not reflect his position and that he was happy to reaffirm his commitment to the library.
· Relating to the removal of information from the Council’s website in relation to local advice centres.
The Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement (Councillor David Sedgwick) responded that the advice centres were physically located within library facilities, and that for the past 15 months many of the libraries were closed. The service was operated online and by telephone during this time, however as libraries started to reopen, this face-to-face service would be available again and the website would be updated accordingly.
· Relating to whether there were estimates available for the cost of maintaining the Stockroom facility once built and whether a guarantee would be provided that those ongoing costs would not contribute towards future cuts.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that a consultation on what residents would like to see within the Stockroom was still ongoing, and such it was difficult to make an assessment of what future operating costs might be. However, it was stated that the Council had received a grant of £14.5m towards the capital costs of the scheme, and that the Council had a revenue budget of £272m which would cover ongoing costs such as lighting, heating and staffing. It was further stated that the Council had been required to make significant levels of savings over the past 10 years, and in that context it was difficult to give any assurances and that the Council may be required to change the way it did things because it was in the best interests of its residents.