Agenda item

Questions to Portfolio Holders, if any.

(At least two clear days notice required, in writing, to the Proper Officer in accordance with Procedure Rule 15).




Question received from Councillor Hoptroff: -


Q1. “There has been a lot of public backlash at the allocation of £22,500 on fees for the Leek Trestle Market consultation.It is perceived that the Cabinet have already made their decision, so any opposition to their plan that comes out of the consultation will be disregarded anyway.Can Councillor Wain justify the allocation of this money?”



Proposals to refurbish Leek Market Hall were discussed at the Service Delivery and Overview Panel meeting on 29th January 2020 where members highlighted the importance of consultation with members and traders. Some members of the Panel felt that a wider consultation of the proposals for the market should take place and suggested that a full public meeting should be held. In July 2020, the decision report to undertake a feasibility study and business case to explore options for Leek Market Hall was subject to a call in request where it was noted that ' A key aspect of the feasibility study is the commitment to a full consultation' and that 'the debate on the Trestle Market in the Council Chamber earlier this year was a full one which was well attended and many present continually emphasised the importance of wide consultation with as wide as possible'.


In response to this, a specification was issued to appoint consultancy services for the preparation of a feasibility study and business case to explore possible enhancement and investment to Leek Market Hall to provide improved retail facilities and trader opportunities.


7 tenders were received and assessed. Quarterbridge Project Management were awarded the contract, having the best technical competence score and best commercial (Vfm) score. The submitted costs from the 6 other tenders ranged 102% to 159% of Quarterbridge’s submission.


The specification also requested that widespread consultation was undertaken to inform the feasibility study and business case report. Stakeholder consultation has been conducted with District Councillors, Leek East Ward Councillors, Leek Town Councillors, Archer Fairs (licensed antique market operator), Stall holders and Leek's business community. A final report is expected in April.


By way of supplementary questions, Councillor Hoptroff informed the Panel that the public were concerned that the outcome of the consultation had been pre-judged and requested assurance that all comments made in the report would be taken into account.


Councillor Ralphs was of the opinion that this query didn’t relate to the original question. The public backlash referred to by Councillor Hoptroff, related to the spend on further consultation which had been requested as part of the Call-in procedure, rather than a feasibility study. It was confirmed that a final report would be considered by the Service Delivery Overview and Scrutiny Panel. 



Question received from Councillor Malyon: -


Q2. “Could someone tell me why we have a member of the public as a Cabinet Members advisor from June 2019 to the present day?”



The Leader explained that she could request advice from anyone. This included advice from officers and when needed, from specialists in particular areas of work. Advisors were not paid or privy to any Cabinet meetings or documents.


Councillor Malyon asked when this had been scrutinised and if advice on planning matters had been provided. In response, the Leader confirmed that scrutiny panels did not scrutinise her requests for advice and she did not have any involvement with planning matters, unless the application was within her ward.


Questions received from Councillor Wilkinson:-


Q3. “What are the operating times of Tape Street Car Park in Cheadle?”



The operational hours of the Tape Street Car Park are 8am – 6pm. Restrictions apply within these hours. However the chargeable hours are 9.30am – 3.30pm This means that customers are only required to pay and display between 9.30am to 3.30pm.


By way of supplementary questions, Councillor Wilkinson felt that these times were restrictive during the evening and should be changed in-line with other car parks in the area. The Leader suggested that this important query should be submitted as a question to the Car Parking Working Group and the Cheadle Stakeholder Panel.


Q4. “This Council has spent in the region of £60,000 on consultants Cushman & Wakefield. Is there any justification in spending more money on consultation?”




Councillor Ralphs explained, that the consultation was a direct result of the Call-in of the Cheadle Town Centre Projects report in November 2020 and the Stakeholder Panel had also agreed for further consultation to be undertaken.


Councillor Wilkinson highlighted the importance of the correct consultation, feedback to residents and requested the reasons previous projects had not come forward in Cheadle.


In response, the Leader advised that these queries and requests for information would be dealt with by the Stakeholder Panel.

The second supplementary question was around the Council’s budget for projects in Cheadle and if there would be a requirement for match funding. Councillor Ralphs explained that the Stakeholder Panel would identify projects that residents wished for in Cheadle. For any identified  projects, a business case would need to be made and then funding would be sought.


Question received from Councillor Page:-


Q5. “Please could Councillor Porter provide an update on the transfer of Wetley Moor Common to SWT as promised at the last Service Delivery meeting on 27 January 2021?”



SMDC is continuing work behind the scenes to progress the transfer of eleven countryside sites to SWT not just Wetley Moor. Officers have met with colleagues from SWT and are in ongoing dialogue to ensure that the management arrangement that had previously been developed in 2018 remains fit for purpose for both organisations, due to the time that has passed since its initial development.

Furthermore we have received a commitment from SOTCC that a report will be presented to their Cabinet in May in regards to the transfer of Wetley Moor and officers will work with colleagues to enable this to happen. It is expected that a further report will need to come back to members at SMDC once the final arrangements have been developed. 













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