(a) Questions to the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member (Neighbourhoods and Streetscene)
A number of people asked questions around holding meetings in private.
In response the Deputy Leader, gave an explanation as to why some decisions are considered as confidential and as such are not taken in the presence of members of the press or public.
(b) Questions to the Cabinet Member (Corporate Support and Assets)
Two members of the public asked questions relating to the Council acquiring property outside of the Borough.
In response, Councillor Colin Clark explained that in line with the Councils Asset Strategy, an opportunity had been presented to purchase some property outside of the Borough. The Council were always looking at different ways of generating income that would help to reduce Council Tax payments for its residents and at that time, the facts presented provided this assurance. However, after further investigations the Council had decided not to proceed with the purchase. Councillor Clark added that it was the Councils priority to invest in the Borough.
(c) Questions to Cabinet Member (Strategic Planning and Housing)
Councillor David Howarth had submitted a written question to the Cabinet Member prior to the meeting, as follows:
“I am sure that Councillor Hughes will remember that the now Tesco site in Leyland stood derelict for decades, being a blight on the town centre and resulted in numerous shops being boarded up along Towngate. The subsequent development completely regenerated that end of the town and the increased footfall saw an increased take up of empty shop units. The first decade has now passed since the Government Buildings Site at the top of Cop Lane in Penwortham was vacated, resulting firstly in derelict and vandalised buildings and now an open eyesore at the gateway to both the town and the borough. Would the Cabinet Member please provide an update on the latest position regarding the redevelopment of the site, and as it is no longer generating business rates following demolition of the buildings, would he give an undertaking to investigate and report back on the feasibility of a compulsory purchase order to avoid more decades of dereliction? “
Councillor Hughes provided the following response:
Members will be aware that there have been a number of planning applications on the site firstly from Sainsbury’s in 2011 and then more recently Tesco in 2016. The last application Tesco got as far as discharging some of the planning applications. We understand that Tesco marketed the site in mid to late 2018 and that a preferred bidder had been identified. To date no discussions have been held with the planning department by a named developer and no planning application has been received.
Councillor Howarth is correct to point out that the Council does have Compulsory Purchase powers through the planning acts. Use of a CPO is always a last resort as the process is long and complex. Nevertheless those powers are available to us. I will discuss the site with Officers for an update from Tesco as to their intentions and then we can look at options for ensuring the site comes forward as speedily as possible.
In response to a question from Councillor Michael Green regarding the performance of the Council’s Planning Team. The Cabinet Member provided the following response.
I can confirm that
the major application performance for 13 weeks in 2017/18 was 83.3%
which is above the national average of 81%. This is also in the top
quarter performance for district/borough Councils in the North
West. It is also worth highlighting that for seven of the 12 months
in 2017/18 the figure was 100%.
In terms of minor applications performance for 8 weeks in 2017/18 was 93.4%. This is exceptionally high performance compared to the national average of 78% and puts South Ribble in the top 5 local shire authorities nationally and the top in the North West. Again seven out of 12 months in that year performance was 100%.
In response to a question from a member of the public around building in the Charnock ward against the backdrop of a larger than usual amount of admissions to the local hospital for symptoms and conditions relating to vehicular emissions in that area, the Cabinet Member gave the following response:
The Government informs the Council how many houses they have to deliver every year with the target for 2018/19 standing at 4000 dwellings. If the Council does not have a Local Plan in place with identified areas of land for housing development, any developer can just purchase any land from a private landowner and build any number of houses. The Council also has to have a five year supply of land at any one time. The Authority has been working very closely with Chorley and Preston Councils who are facing the same issues. Infrastructure is extremely important to help alleviate vehicle congestion and we are all working together to help solve this problem. The Council needs to ensure that it gets the right balance but ultimately they have a statutory obligation to meeting the government’s targets.
(d) Questions to the Cabinet Member (Health and Safety, Wellbeing and Environmental)
Members of the public asked questions about increased air quality levels considering the amount of housing development that was planned for the Borough.
In response, the Cabinet Member provided the following responses:
The issue of air quality is of great importance when consulting with key partners on the developments such as Pickerings Farm and she is working extremely hard to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to alleviate these issues and areas of concern, this includes ensuring that there are adequate GP and Primary Care Services facilities in place for the area.
Air Quality across the Borough is a top priority for the Council with worrying statistics to be addressed and work was progressing with Lancashire County Council around addressing some of the issues the authority is currently facing around vehicular movement, including HGV’s. The Cabinet Member was hopeful that signs would soon be in place to divert HGV’s away from Turpin Green Lane by use of Junction 29.
In response to residents’ concerns about the change of parking contractor at the Lancashire Teaching Hospital Trust to Parking Eye, that included the hospitals of Chorley and South Ribble and Preston, the Cabinet Member explained that as she sat on the Board she was unable to comment at this stage. The hospital were however aware of the situation and the problems that people were experiencing and had arranged a meeting to discuss the issues further. The Cabinet Member would provide an update when able.
A member of the public asked for details of changes to the Integrated Wellbeing Service. The Cabinet Member said that she would look speak to lady outside of the meeting to discuss this further.
(e) Questions to the Cabinet Member (Finance)
None were received.
(f) Questions to the Cabinet Member (Regeneration and Leisure)
None were received.