(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. “What is the time scale for work on the Trestle Market alterations and when is this due to start?”
Response from Councillor Ralphs, The Leader:
This project was part of the regeneration of Leek town centre. The Market Hall would be modernised to increase the number of stalls and respond to requests received from young people and shop keepers to increase footfall following the pandemic. Cabinet had complied with requests made when the last market report was called in by members and a further report would be considered by Cabinet at the end of March 2022.
By way of supplementary questions, Councillor Hoptroff requested that Scooter Fest be allowed use of the Market Hall for its event on 22 May 2022. In response, Councillor Ralphs confirmed that the event organisers had been advised last year that they could no longer use the Market Hall for the event. However, the event could still be held and the Council had offered the use of the car parks, gazebos and the Churnet Room.
Councillor Hoptroff felt that the Churnet Room was not a feasible option for the event as many visitors would have to cross Stockwell Street and requested for a comprehensive consultation to be undertaken. The Leader advised that there was a pedestrian crossing to ensure the road could be crossed safely and that consultation had already been carried out.
Question received from Councillor Malyon: -
Q2. “Could you tell me why or if it is true that Scooter Fest cannot use the Trestle Market when the event happens on 22/5/22?”
With reference to Scooter Fest being held in the Market Hall for the event in May, if the works hadn’t commenced, Councillor Ralphs commented that a finely balanced programme of works would start as soon as possible. Once completed, the newly refurbished Market Hall would benefit traders, customers and visitors as it would be provide a more interesting shopping experience. The use of the current Trestle Market was not integral to the success of the Scooter Fest event.
Question received from Councillor Page:-
Q3. “What process does SMDC follow when it receives a request from a community organisation to use Council facilities and buildings? Please could the response be provided in writing so that the Panel have this minuted?”
Response from Councillor Ralphs, The Leader:
The relevant department to contact was the Assets Team which was managed by Katy Webster.
Clarity was sought around the decision making process for the hire of assets owned by the Council. Members were advised that requests would be received by the Assets Team which would then be sent to Councillor Hart – Portfolio Holder for Property & Tourism. His recommendation would then be discussed with Cabinet and implemented as soon as possible.
Question received from Councillor Bentley:-
Q4. “When are these areas in Leek and Cheadle going to be cleaned up, as visitors and residents of the Moorlands don't want to see this when they shop in our towns.” (a number of photographs had been circulated to members of the Panel)
Response from Councillor Hart – Portfolio Holder for Property & Tourism:-
Most of the photos appear to relate to weed growth in the block paved areas around the Market Street car park, Leek . Generally, the service arrangements with AES are required to apply a herbicide treatment to all the pay and display car parks twice a year across the Staffordshire Moorlands. This tends to be undertaken in the drier months of May and then again in August to provide best coverage throughout the main growing season. A number of the photos show evidence of the last treatment (as the vegetation is browned and lying flat). Warmer winters do provide a habitat for continued weed growth but at a much less vigorous rate than experienced in the summer. More than two applications of herbicide are not usually recommended for environmental reasons. The area at the side of the market hall and entrance to the butter market off Derby street has been added to our weed killing schedule for 2022 by the markets team.
Some of the street furniture within the car parks, such as bollards and planters cause issues of access for the mechanical sweepers. The AES team have already started to target these areas in advance of a “Spring Clean” and will seek to remove the accumulations identified in the photos. Throughout the winter the frequency of cleansing is reduced as AES teams are diverted onto gritting duties when the conditions dictate this action must be prioritised.
AES will be targeting the identified car parks with jet washers over the coming weeks to clean up the signage and the areas targeted as part of the spring clean before they treat the areas with herbicide.
We can advise that Leek Town Council employ a lengths man but we are not aware of the town council’s work programme. In addition Cheadle Town Council do submit an invoice for £400 annually as part of the lengthsman scheme to the council (via AES) and they state on their invoice that this is for works around the Town Centre. The types of issues identified in the photos could be tackled via the lengthsman function.
Councillor Hart suggested that this matter could have been dealt with as a service request to the department or to him directly.