Questions to Council

Questions to Council

Date of MeetingOral/Written Question Councillor
6 July 2016OralCan Council describe the steps to be taken to improve the performance of Envirocall to benefit both residents and the staff who work in this area?Cllr Raymont
 WrittenThe council’s difficulties with its refuse bin collecting employees have now gone on for over 60 days and show no sign of disappearing. Why has Council allowed irregular working practices and why continue to pursue this matter at the expense of good staff relations when the Head of Highways and Local Services states that the comparatively small savings target he seeks has already largely been met?
 
Cllr Donnelly
7 September 2016

Oral

 

Can Council please be advised on the service improvements and review at Envirocall as recently promised?Cllr Raymont
 OralPlease explain how the ward-based priority objectives that members and residents have been setting will be reflected in mainstream council operations and spending?Cllr Faulkner

 

 

OralAre there any proposals for further measures to ensure safeguarding of potentially vulnerable users of taxis since safeguarding training was agreed by City Council in March 2015?Cllr Lower
 OralCan Council confirm if it has plans to follow the example of other local authorities by making internal audit reports available to Audit Committee?Cllr Stone
 WrittenWill Council confirm that it was ‘people power’ that forced the Council not to proceed with its proposals for the Blue House roundabout? Cllr Hillicks
 WrittenWill Council institute an urgent review of the provision, maintenance and emptying of litter bins in public places?Cllr Faulkner
 WrittenIf Council still uphold Decent Neighbourhood Standards will it publish regular performance statistics in the City Council website?Cllr Stone
 WrittenCan Council confirm that a policy decision has been made to end council maintenance of developer-owned open space; if no such decision has been made why has maintenance of the site at Roachburn Road been stopped?
 
Cllr Donnelly
2 November 2016OralCan Council confirm that the bus lane cameras in the vicinity of Central Station are not yet operational and explain why?Cllr Stone

 

 

OralCan Council outline their policy proposals on the development of sweet shops in the vicinity of schools and what action is proposed?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenIn relation to the press article and Audit Committee report regarding falsified accounts by an officer of the council and Members be advised as to what policy is in place to ensure that public finances are scrutinised?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWill Council agree that the cost of office space provided for Members could be rationalised, freeing up monies that could be used to retail school crossing patrols Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenCan Council advise what plans have been made to capitalise on the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and are there any plans which will involve joint working with other local authorities in the region? 
 
Cllr Huddart

11January 2017

 

OralCan Council please explain why there is no impact assessment in the budget consultation documentation alongside the proposal to save £154,346 per annum for the introduction of a communal bins system for terraced properties across the city? Cllr Raymont
 OralCan Council explain why its investment strategy seems set to be published after that process is complete and will Council agree to publish a draft before Council considers and votes on the Newcastle 2020 budget and financial plan?Cllr Faulkner
 OralIn relation to the John Dobson Street works, has there been any improvement or impairment in bus movements and has any assessment been made in respect of a possible city centre bus loop to remove busses for Blackett Street?Cllr Stone
 OralWhat public mandate exists for the introduction of a tripartite North of Tyne devolution deal and are there plans to consult the public?Cllr Lower
 WrittenCan Council please publish the results of the promised review of the Envirocall service, and also set out in detail the actions taken to improve customer experience and service quality?Cllr Raymont
 WrittenCan Council give an assessment on how successful the first few months of the Independent Tenant Voice service has been and advise how the Council intends to improve the service?Cllr Faulkner
 WrittenDoes Council share concern that Council dashboard figures show that the city has fallen below the national average for GCSE attainment and what steps are proposed for addressing this?Cllr Cott
 WrittenCan Council justify the administration’s proposal to implement pay scale increases for senior directors at the same time as seeking to reduce pay and conditions for low paid staff in light of its professed commitment to fairness?Cllr Ashby
 WrittenDoes Council stand by the proposal of an earmarked local tax for maintenance of local parks in recent evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee and, if not, can they explain why they appear to advocate such a suggestion?Cllr Ashby
 WrittenThe council has an opportunity to retain a percentage of the estimated £4m sale proceeds for the former Jesmond Dene nurseries site to provide income to maintain green spaces in the city.  Could Council explain why they will not commit to such reinvestment opportunities and will this be reviewed?Cllr Gallagher
 WrittenIn the latest edition of City Life it was announced that the Council would be terminating its grass cutting service on privately owned land in the City. In your report to Overview and Scrutiny in December 2016 you stated that the maintenance of our public spaces is crucial to the continued development of Newcastle communities and businesses.  Will you explain how you equate your statement and in particular confirm if Chadderton Green will continue to be maintained?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWill Council advise whether they propose to take advantage of savings likely to be offered by the UK Municipal Bonds Agency or state why they are not prepared to borrow at rates more advantageous to local people and business?
 

Cllr Donnelly

 

1 February 2017WrittenWhat representations has Council made to Government in respect of social care funding in recent months?Cllr Taylor
 WrittenIn light of Council dashboard figures suggesting that the city has moved from being one of the safest core cities to above the national average crime rate, and that burglary levels have risen by between 50% to 100% in many parts of the city in the last year, what representations has the council made to the Northumbria Police Crime Commissioner in respect of addressing this?Cllr Lower
 WrittenWill Council publish the report of a recent study making recommendations about the operation of the council’s domestic waste collection, and/or provide a report to Council summarising its key findings?Cllr Gallagher
 WrittenIn light of escalating complaints, in what way does Council consider that removal of waste bins from bus stops improves litter clearance, and the cleanliness of the city's public domain?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenGiven recent breaches of air quality standards at monitoring sites across the City, plus worrying results from independent analyses in Gosforth and Jesmond by Space for Gosforth in collaboration with Newcastle University, could Council outline what actions are being taken in the short term and whether there will be any policy changes in the medium/long term to deal with this problemCllr Kane
 WrittenWalbottle Campus has recently been highlighted as one of the under-performing schools within the North East.  In view of the Council’s statement “Newcastle City Council’s vision of working together to make a difference to the lives and prospects of people who live, work and learn in Newcastle” could you please explain what action and strategies will be undertaken and what targets and time frame will be set, to ensure that the life chances of every child in this City are catered for?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenCould Council explain why, prior to the budget being agreed, Members Services, the Leader’s Office, Cabinet Office and Opposition Office, (offices and administrative support for councillors costing over £250,000 per year) have been moved and why closure of the Members Services Unit has not been considered as an option to save costs?
 
Cllr Donnelly
1 March 2017OralHas Council changed their assessment of the likely savings from commercial lets of space available after the refurbishment of the Civic Centre and what legally binding long-term leases have been secured to date?Cllr Raymont
 WrittenIn relation to the former nurseries site, Jesmond Dene Road.  Can Council please explain the reasons and rationale of the move, including whey this unique and major site is being sold in this manner, what will be done with its proceeds, what advice was taken as to market value and why it was been allowed to lie empty for so long.Cllr Donnelly
 Written

On 16 February 2017 the Evening Chronicle published a story headed “Newcastle City Council give away eight pieces of land in the City for free”  Will Council explain how at a time of austerity and Council cuts the council has allowed land to be lost through adverse possession laws.

For the benefit of transparency and on behalf of the residents, please state the locations of the eight plots of land and their estimated value.
 

Cllr Donnelly
5 April 2017Oral

Can Council tell us what representations they have made to LGA and Government about business rates, and what assessments they have ordered about the impact:

(a) On businesses in Newcastle?
(b) On the City's revenues?

Cllr Ashby
 WrittenIn light of the statement regarding a crackdown on pavement parking by motorists, will Council please explain what they will be doing on behalf of Newcastle residents and also what policies they will be introducing?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWould the Council please explain their policy on reserves, if it has changed and, if so, where and when this was agreed?
 
Cllr Faulkner
28 June 2017OralAs preparations for The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage are now advanced in some areas, I would like to ask what preparations Council are overseeing that Newcastle has made for this important celebration either individually or in conjunction with other authorities/organisations?  As there are also EU funds available for Cultural & Heritage related activities, can Council also outline if any of these available EU funds have been applied for or granted?Cllr Huddart
 OralCan Council please confirm whether it will be Council policy to utilise land and building sales proceeds to create an endowment fund to provide income in perpetuity to assist with the management of parks and green spaces in the City?Cllr Raymont
 WrittenCan Council please confirm whether it will be Council policy to utilise land and building sales proceeds to create an endowment fund to provide income in perpetuity to assist with the management of parks and green spaces in the City?
 
Cllr Ashby
6 September 2017OralIn light of recent the DEFRA publication of national guidance on Air Quality and the requirement to produce a local plan by Spring 2018, can Council confirm that senior DEFRA officials have visited Newcastle and raised concerns about air quality in respect of the Central Motorway and Tyne Bridge and the Council’s intended approach to tackling air quality, both in terms of identified hotspots and citywide and what are the Council’s plans for consultation.Cllr Stone
 OralWhat is the council’s policy on promoting kinship care?Cllr Stone
 WrittenWhat is the City Council’s policy on mitigation to safeguard residents against Lyme Disease and will the Council increase grass cutting to reduce the risk to the public at large and remove serious risks?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWill Council please state what the intended policy is with regard to the continuation of Blackett Street being used as a main arterial route in the City by transport operators?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWhat does Council think of the decision of the new management at the City Hall to cancel the booking of Roy "Chubby" Brown, given that bookings were taken for years by the previous council-run management and that bookings for the likes of the equally offensive Jimmy Carr are being honoured, and does she agree that, however odious his material may be, there are issues of censorship and potential restraint of trade (as previously advised by our legal section) that we would not wish the city to be associated with?Cllr Faulkner
 WrittenGiven that the Director of Public Health was not consulted around the administration's policy to withdraw school crossing patrols, can Council please confirm who was consulted on this decision and why the public's views expressed in the formal budget consultation were ignored?Cllr Raymont
 WrittenGiven the promise last year to review and improve the performance and responsiveness of Envirocall can Council give an update on what improvements have been made since June 2016 and what is planned to be improved over the next six months with timescales?Cllr Raymont
 WrittenCould the Council set out its current approach to ensuring community cohesion in Newcastle, given that the most recent information on the Council’s website dates from 2008?Cllr Ashby
 WrittenWhat is the administration’s policy towards the installation of so-called “intelligent” traffic lights, where they could/should be installed in the city, and what costs and benefits might be weighed in the decision-making assessment?Cllr Ashby
 WrittenWould Council apologise to elected members for having failed to involve them in prior consultation on the siting of the new larger litter bins when this had been promised and, will they advise officers to implement immediate changes to those locations where the bins are causing obstructions or are otherwise in demonstrably inappropriate locations?
 
Cllr Gallagher
1 November 2017WrittenCan Council provide an update to inform of any recent steps taken in respect of the development of a new Bus Strategy and the issue of concessionary fares funding? What are the implications for NEXUS budgets?Cllr Stone
 WrittenCan Council confirm that they continue to regard the Envirocall service as unfit for purpose, and can they identify a date when they expect it will be fit for purpose?Cllr Kane
 WrittenIn light of political pronouncements on opposition to gambling sponsorship, does the council have a view on NE1’s introduction of the “Geordie Lottery”?Cllr Faulkner
 WrittenIs NECA fit for purpose and does its continued existence provide value for money?Cllr Lower
EmergencyOral

In the Leader’s capacity as lead member for transport on the NE Combined Authority, can he confirm that the buck stops with him in terms of Nexus' operation of the Tyne & Wear Metro in respect of the failure of the Metro service on Sunday 29th October, and as such, will he make an immediate statement to council on:

- the circumstances of the service failure
- the failure to implement effective contingency plans,
- the failure to honour Metro's Conditions of Carriage,
- how he, NECA, and Nexus propose to address this unsatisfactory state of affairs.

The Evening Chronicle of 10th December reported that the Council has turned down an additional £4m on its sale of the former Jesmond Dene Nursery as it did not pick the highest bidder for the land (nearly £13m). It also turned down the second best offer (£12m) while pursuing the lowest (£9m) offer.

Cllr Stone
10 January 2018Written

Will Council please advise whether when they made the decision to accept a sum of almost £4million less than full market value they were happy that all the above legal requirements were met?

Will they make public any advice they took on the matter including the reasons for the decision?

Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenDoes Council share my concerns that ‘Digital Inclusion’ is actually excluding some of the most vulnerable in our city?  The move to online payments for some services, such as the Garden Waste Scheme, is making life difficult for some residents, especially those who do not or cannot access a computer.Cllr Allen
 WrittenGiven recent discussion in Parliament in which the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU was forced to make an embarrassing disclosure that the Government had not in fact produced sectoral impact assessments for Brexit, can Council comment on whether the council has similarly produced a Brexit impact assessment which seeks to identify risks and mitigation both for Newcastle and for the City Council, and if so, if they will ensure that this is presented to Council for scrutiny?Cllr Ashby
 WrittenAfter the death of Nelson Mandela, an Honorary Freeman of Newcastle, Council gave special Lord Mayor's Awards in his name to individuals and organisations in our city who had made exceptional efforts to bring communities together and promote understanding of, and respect for, different cultures and beliefs. Would Council agree that it would be appropriate to hold a second set of such awards to coincide with the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth this year (18 July 2018)?Cllr Faulkner
 WrittenEarly drafts of the proposed Parks’ Trust business model included a commercial high ropes course. Can Council give a cast-iron guarantee that the proposed Trust would never seek to install a commercial high ropes course in Heaton Park? If so, can they explain how this pledge will be guaranteed?Cllr Kane
 WrittenIn order to comply with ever restrictive emissions control measures, many cities are developing plans to reduce CO2 and NOx emissions. These include expanding light rail and tram systems as well as hybrid buses and banning heavy vehicles from town centres.  In some cities successful schemes have been introduced for local taxis powered from hybrid and electric sources which are both popular and have helped improve air quality. Can Council describe what proposals they are overseeing to introduce similar schemes in Newcastle?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenIn light of concerns about the amount of plastic waste which is ending up in our rivers and seas, and, the threat this poses to marine, avian and animal life.  Can Council describe initiatives they are developing to increase the type and volume of plastic waste currently recycled in Newcastle?
 
Cllr Huddart
7 February 2018WrittenIn view of the increase in crime in Newcastle and the fact that Councillors no longer have SNAPs meetings to work together with agencies to seek solutions, will Council advise what action they are taking to ensure that everything is being done to prevent crime from escalating further in the City, particularly given that the Police and Crime Commissioner has reserves of £16.9m?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenFollowing media coverage regarding dealing with waste and bearing in mind that Council pledged no waste would be incinerated in Newcastle again following the Byker incinerator scandal when it was revealed that 2000 tons of toxic ash had been dumped on allotments and paths across Newcastle. Will Council advise what the Authority’s intention is regarding the possibility of using an incinerator to dispose of waste?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenIs Council satisfied with the amount raised from other investors into the Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund (other than the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear itself, the fund managers) Can Council update with the latest cumulative figure raised and any proposals to raise more money into the fund for the arts in our city?Cllr Gallagher
 WrittenHow many visitors to Newcastle are expected or being planned for during the Great Exhibition of the North and are Council satisfied with plans for receiving and welcoming them, providing them with information as tourists and dealing with their queries when they are in our city?  Could Council outline what those plans are?Cllr Faulkner
 Written

Council will be aware of the comments made by the public regarding the implementation of the New Year’s Eve event on the Town Moor.

In particular the following factors:

  •  Concerns a risk assessment was not carried out about an event to which families with children were invited, to stand in a muddy field in darkness without lighting for more than an hour before it commenced.
  • Complaints about the way tickets were allocated so that people from across Tyneside were able to get them but local residents were not.
  • Complaints of the prices charged by vendors and questions arising such as whether the Council benefits from fees or profit share from them.
  • Universally bad feedback on social media, especially those who were so upset that they left early (except for the very few in the first couple of rows)

 Does Council believe it brought something extra to our City which was stated as in aim in a previous report to Council, and can they ensure that next year’s event is more accessible and in a safer setting?
 

Cllr Ashby
7 March 2018WrittenWill Council advise of the detailed due diligence carried out before deciding to avoid using reserves in setting the 2018/2019 budget and in what circumstances they envisage the future use of the £83.3 million currently standing idle?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWill Council advise what policy will be put in place to ensure that the standards of public highways are improved and maintained?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenCould Council set out what they believe the benefits to Newcastle to be from the attendance of the Leader, The Chief Executive or other Council representatives at overseas property events such as MIPIM in Cannes and the recent Expo Real in Munich and how the case for attendance at such events is different now to their time in opposition when they were publicly critical of the then Council even considering attendance at MIPIM?Cllr Faulkner
 WrittenIs Council aware that over the past ten years an amount of money was awarded from ward committees in Walker, Walkergate and Byker to a particular charity which organised and paid for visits to the United States, attended by Newcastle Councillors for these wards, yet such detail was not disclosed on the applications?  Could Council also outline for City Council any emerging policies or strategies to ensure, with reduced expenditure available due to government cuts, that the award locally of public funds in for the benefit of local residents and communities and that this will be properly monitored?
 
Cllr Denholm
4 April 2018WrittenWill Council explain the policy for swiftly allocating funding to the new wards following the elections on 3 May 2018, ensuring the principles of fairness?Cllr Donnelly
 Written

Having allocated £1m for a Spring Clean the Council is only too aware of the increasing problems of litter, dog faeces and fly tipping, exacerbated by the 50% reduction of bin provision and insufficient new bins being sited.

Although the new bins are larger they do not balance out the restriction due to reduced numbers in placing them adequately to cover areas of need thus causing a deficit. This together with the fact that the new designed bins are being widely vandalised IS causing an extra cost.

Will Council advise if new policies are planned in the new wards to improve the standard of waste collection across the City?
 

Cllr Donnelly
27 June 2018WrittenWill Council please explain why they used legal powers to refer 1012 motorists’ bus lane penalty charges to “enforcement agents” during a six month period while they have declined to use statutory powers to appoint agents to recover the very substantial Council Tax and rental debts lawfully owed to the Council and which they have written off annually for many years as unrecoverable?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWhen does Council expect to be able to publish the Council’s proposals for addressing DEFRA’s requirements to produce a Clean Air Plan to address air pollution in identified areas of Newcastle which currently exceeds limits, and what plans do they have to consult the public on this?Cllr Stone
5 September 2018OralThe Council’s service level agreement for replacement of missing or broken recycling bins and glass caddies is delivery any time within 40 working days.  Does Council agree that making residents wait up to 8 weeks for a replacement is inconsistent with the Council’s policy of encouraging recycling?Cllr Gordon
 OralWhat substantial discussions have Council or officers had with parents of children with SEND since the publication of the recent OFSTED report?Cllr Cott
 WrittenWill Council please outline a detailed policy for improving air quality and reducing noise, with particular reference the very congested junctions around the Coast Road?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenWill Council please update members on the progress of the formation of the North of Tyne Combined Authority?  In particular confirming the financial equality of the temporary staffing arrangements already made between the three Councils
 
Cllr Donnelly
7 November 2018WrittenCan Council please outline any discussions held regarding the development of alternative schemes to driveway charging points across the city, in order to facilitate the greater use of electric vehicles?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenIs Council confident with the progress being made by the current consortium delivering the Centre Station south side entrance proposals and can they explain any current commitments expected of the City CouncilCllr Ashby
 WrittenConsidering the uptake of brown bins during this financial year, the extended subscription period and the increase in charges to £40.00/year.  It was noted in a statement by Council that 21,000 people needed to sign up to keep Brunswick recycling facility open all year round. In-light of the apparent difficulties in achieving this year’s target, residents are concerned about the future status of the Brunswick facility. Will Council guarantee, without any increases in brown bin charges in the next financial year, it will continue the current service level at Brunswick site?Cllr Lovatt
 WrittenWill Council consider implementing a system of publishing real time warning messages via appropriate channels (e.g. social media, website, overhead gantry electronic signage) when sage daily air quality levels are being exceeded on major routes in the city?Cllr Stone
 WrittenWill Council please describe their policy of investing in the deteriorating highway network across the city, taking into account s106 and CIL funding?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenWill Council please update members on the success or otherwise of the Great Exhibition of the North and whether the pound for pound expenditure, visitor numbers and financial benefits achieved the original objectives and supported the Council’s policies for growth, investment and tourism?
 
Cllr Donnelly
9 January 2019OralIn addition to schemes to reduce emissions from public transport and improve air quality, some cities have also introduced schemes to develop hybrid and electric taxi services.  Will Council outline proposals to introduce similar schemes into Newcastle?Cllr Huddart
 OralRecent announcements from Michael Gove indicate that Councils will be ‘compelled’ to offer separate collections of food waste, which also featured in the recent Waste Commission Proposals.  Will Council outline ways in which these collections will be introduced into Newcastle to ensure compliance?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenWill Council agree to augment the Council’s Trees Strategy with a published service standard for maintenance of existing trees, particularly where unsafe?  Also, will Council consider residents’’ loss of light and obstruction to receiving TV signals as reasons for tree maintenance?Cllr Allen
 WrittenCan Council confirm that it is usual practice to agree to adopt open space realm and planting areas on new build housing developments following a period of around ten years to allow this to ‘mature’, and can they explain why this policy is not being followed in respect of adoption of open space and bridlepaths on the Haydon Grange estate, now over 20 years old, despite the wishes of residents and ward councillors that Council should do so?Cllr Stone
 WrittenWill Council please confirm that their policy of borrowing to invest in capital assets for income production and capital appreciation is now and will be in every way in line with the CIPFA Code and Central Government’s Statutory Guidance?Cllr Donnelly
6 February 2019Written

In light of the following statement in the Council's MediumTerm Plan Appendix 3 (Cumulative Impact Assessment)

 "The BME unemployment rate continues to be higher in the North East (7.4 %) and Newcastle (7.4%) compared to the England average (6.6%). Additionally, a greater proportion of the city’s BME residents are economically inactive (45%), exceeding both the North East (39.3%) and England (29.2%) averages. 

 BME communities tend to represent a higher proportion of the population in some of the most deprived areas of the city and are therefore potentially more vulnerable to reductions in some of our services."

 [4.6, p13]

 Does Council consider this variance in economic inactivity to be in compliance with its equalities duties, and can it set out the steps it is taking to address this disparity in terms of budget consultation and its corporate policies?

Cllr Stone
6 March 2019WrittenAlarming news reported recently suggests that some insurers are refusing to insure playgrounds in parks across the Country. Both the England Children’s Commissioner and the Mayor of London have reported concerns. Can Council confirm that they will guarantee the continued operation of all our vital existing playgrounds in parks through the City through necessary funding for insurance costs?Cllr Woodwark
 Written

The Council is moving towards introducing congestion charging in large areas of the City

  •  The Council has cleared the City of 8,414 trees In the last three years – twice as many as any other local authority. 
  • The Council, after changing the status of large areas of green lung greenbelt land, has granted permission for 6000 homes to be built on it. 
  • The Council’s proposed increase on parking charges, which already raise £8.5m, which will have a serious impact on the public using the City Centre (with the possibility of more job losses)           
  • The Council’s programme of introducing electric vehicle charging points has been slowed to stall – just as the international introduction of electric vehicles is beginning to take off. 
  • The Leader of Council recently stated to the press that City air pollution problems have been allowed to build up over decades.

Will Council, in the light of these facts, please explain the contradictory policies for the protection of the environment and the health and well-being of Newcastle residents.
 

Cllr Donnelly
3 April 2019WrittenWhat representations has the Leader of the Council made to the North of Tyne Combined Authority in his role as Cabinet Member for Business Competitiveness and what discussions has he had with the Labour Party’s candidate for Mayor about making adult skills training (including literacy and numeracy) a high priority in its strategic approach for the North of Tyne area?
 
Cllr Ashby
 OralWill Council consider the reinstatement of regular committees with officers and councilors in the new developments in Callerton and Throckley?
 
Cllr King
6 November 2019Written

The Killingworth Road scheme has drastically overrun due to issues both within and outwith the Council’s control.  This has also presumably increased costs.

Can Council confirm that they will be instructing officers to seek to recover compensatory funds from the utilities and others? Will Council commit to a public inquiry into the issues and publish lessons learned?

Cllr Gallagher
 Written

During the Killingworth Road scheme the Council had to change its plans due to the inability to purchase all the necessary land.  This has led to the proposed bus lane being shortened considerably.

 Can Council confirm whether they signed off this scheme before confirmation of all land purchases being received?  Would it not be normal practice to delay starting any major highways scheme until all necessary land has been secured?

Cllr Robinson
 Written

There are a number of properties on Killingworth Road and Gallalaw Terrace that have been adversely affected by the Killingworth Road highway scheme.  Businesses on Station Road have also been adversely affected by the delays to the scheme.

Will Council consider instructing the Council’s Revenue department to give discounts in Council Tac to the domestic residents and a discount in Business Rates to the business owners over and above any minimum level of compensation usually applied.

Cllr Taylor
 WrittenGiven the Council’s intention to close Blackett Street for the duration of the Christmas market, can Council confirm what the policy is to protect people from the elements whilst waiting for buses, particularly those heading westbound on Newgate Street.Cllr Donnelly
 Written

At a time when confidence in politicians is at an all-time low it does not help that information is deliberately kept from the public in the many Delegated Decisions which we receive on a weekly basis by the Council, which are private and confidential. All of which will be in the public interest. 

Elected members, according to the Newcastle Charter, are advocates for the residents they serve. As this is the case we are in a position where residents are not informed on any of these matters until it is a fait accompli. How does this fit with the Council’s communication/consultation strategies to ensure that residents are at the very heart of Council policy rather than at the end of the process once decisions have been made?
 

Cllr Donnelly
5 February 2020WrittenWith the Government and Local Government declaring a Climate Emergency would Council advise as to how this will be addressed whilst as the same time undertaking a vast amount of housing development which seriously affects the carbon foot by reducing the available green space, which in turn impacts on wildlife and the ability to plant thousands of trees across the City?Cllr Donnelly
 Oral

In the Budget for 2019-20 Council removed the exemption provided for blue badge holders that allowed people with disabilities to park in Council operated car parks for free.

Now that this policy has been in place for almost a year, what steps has Council taken to instigate a post-implementation impact assessment?  Will this policy be reviewed by Council at any point to ensure that it does not create a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, now and in the future?

Cllr Ferguson

4 March 2020

 

 

Written

 

To protect and maintain front line services the Council over the past years has purchased Northern Rock Tower for £22m in 2009 (this to create at least 300 jobs and secure a further 2000 in the City).  £45m was allocated to refurbish the Civic Centre and lease space to the Courts.  More recently a £13.3m loan was made to Newcastle Hospitals NHS for a 9-storey car park, £15m was loaned for the Crown Plaza Hotel and £8.9m for street lighting and energy saving LED lights and the list goes on.  
 

When services like grass cutting, litter and graffiti removal and general environmental services are being drastically reduced/cut will Council provide details of how the above policy has improved front line services for the taxpayer.
 

Cllr Donnelly
24 June 2020WrittenDoes Council consider that the data retention protocols for ANPR and face scanning CCTV in the council’s area are adequate and transparent?Cllr Stone
 WrittenGiven the current non-disclosure by the council of the Government’s letter to Newcastle and Gateshead in respect of its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plans, and given the delay in introduction of CAZ in other cities, can Council give an assurance that they expect the Newcastle-Gateshead CAZ to be operational and compliant with safe air quality levels by January 2021?Cllr Stone
 WrittenRecently, a further two northern Councils have stated their intent to take their ALMOs back into Council control.  This will affect some 35,000 properties and help reduce the number of ALMOs nationally from some 70 a decade ago to around 28.  Will  Council comment on these developments and give reassurance from the Council Cabinet about their confidence in the business management and future of YHN as the City’s ALMO?Cllr Huddart
 WrittenWill Council consider exploring the feasibility of Private Rented Sector properties, which are likely to be empty and unlet in the coming University year, being used for tenancy arrangements by those in need of social housing?Cllr Huddart
 Written

Newcastle City Council is said to issue 40,000 permits a year to utilities to dig up roads and pavements.

What changes to policies, procedures and personnel is Council considering so that:-

  1. Each application is given proper scrutiny and
  2. Councillors are alerted to permits issued for their wards.
     
Cllr Ashby
2 September 2020WrittenGiven the Council's commitment to Zero Waste, can they outline what they plan to do to reduce the contamination of materials collected in recycling bins, particularly communal bins.Cllr Kane
 WrittenIt has recently been reported that Byker and Walker suffer from some of the worst child obesity in the UK. It is noticeable that few improvements in cycling provision have been made in these wards in recent years. Can Council outline how they will ensure that deprived wards in Newcastle, including Byker and Walker, will receive the same investment in cycling infrastructure as more affluent wards?Cllr Kane
 Written

The region with the highest fixed period and permanent exclusion rates is the North East.  The fixed period rate for 2018/2019 is 8.00 compared to 5.36 nationally. The permanent exclusion rate has increased from 0.14 to 0.17 compared to 0.10 nationally. Children who have been excluded from school are at risk from further truancy, poor educational attainment and a lack of information about employment, education and training opportunities post-16 which may lead them into a life of crime.

 What is Council’s policy for reducing fixed period and permanent exclusions and supporting these young people into becoming productive adults of the future?

Cllr Morrissey
 Written

At this time, many parents and children are anxiously awaiting the results of appeals panels to see if their children will be admitted to a school within their local community.

Can Council assure all parents in delivering school places there will be a school within walking distance for their primary aged child and that secondary aged children will not have to travel across the city and out of their community to receive the education all children are entitled to?

Cllr Morrissey
 WrittenWhat specific steps will Council be taking to look at widening and deepening the role of the Skills Hub as a major resource to help identify work, training and apprenticeships given the small budget and capacity, and the Council’s commitment to expand this service?Cllr Cott
 WrittenWhat steps has Council taken to lobby the Government regarding issues facing students affected by the crisis regarding A-Level results and other qualifications this summer? What further lobbying will they be undertaking to support students moving into their second year of studies who may also be affected by Government decisions about the grading of their courses?
 
Cllr Cott
7 October 2020OralCouncil will presumably be aware that (as of the time of writing - 23rd September) Newcastle has the third highest Covid infection rate and may soon hold the unenviable record of the worst affected rate in England, having experienced the sharpest rise in the country in the course of recent days, with Elswick and Shieldfield - Low Heaton identified as being in the top 20 sub-ward output areas for cases. What reasons does Council attribute to Newcastle's recent dramatic rise in infection rates compared to other parts of the country?Cllr Stone
 OralIn light of media coverage in the last week or so, what lockdown measures does Council believe are appropriate for the region right now, and how do these differ from the restrictions most recently imposed by the Government given comments in the media recently?Cllr Cott
4 November 2020Written

Conflicting policies have consistently characterised your administration over the past several years:

  • Savage spending cuts on services
  • Consistently compounded Council Tax rises well over inflation
  • Colossal Civic Centre project spending on borrowed cash
  • 21% Pay rises for the Chief Executive (over 12 times inflation) in the last 3 years taking the salary cost to £184,000pa
  • A recruitment freeze and cessation of all non-essential spending in an attempt to balance the books. 

Will Council please explain to residents how these contradictory policies fit in with the administration’s Fairness Agenda?

Cllr Donnelly
6 January 2021Written

On Dec 16th 2020 a landmark Coroner’s ruling in the case of Ella Kissi-Debrah a 9 year old previously sporty, active girl who had developed Asthma, decided that exposure to poor air pollution contributed to the Asthma she had contracted and her death from respiratory failure.

 In light of this ruling, would Council outline the activities  initiated to ensure citizens are not exposed to nitrous dioxide and particulate matter in excess of WHO guidelines, especially in locations such as Great North Rd, Coast Rd and Central Motorway, and the avoidance of similar litigation.

Cllr Huddard
 WrittenWill Council explain why they have not yet published a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), when it expects to be able to do so, and what Stage of the LCWIP Process they consider has been reached to date?Cllr Stone
 OralCan Council explain why they appeared not to activate its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol over the Christmas-New Year period, given that London and many other cities activated SWEP due to overnight temperatures of zero or below for at least three consecutive days, and that according to Met Office data these conditions applied in Newcastle between 27th December and 31st December?Cllr Stone
3 February 2021Written

Council will be well aware that residents are facing a 5% rise in Council Tax and administration to date has invested £30m into the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  The question that I have been asked by my residents is how a further £5m of funding devolved from National to Local Government has been awarded to top up the £30m already allocated.  Under what principles is the Council being run and does Council believe that the Crowne Plaza 4-star hotel is a cultural asset.

 

Cllr Donnelly
 Written

Last year, Ouseburn Ward Councillors were told we could have a ‘school street’ scheme around Hotspur Primary to reduce congestion, improve air quality and provide a safer environment for children entering or leaving school.  We have since been told that the Council cannot enforce such a scheme, so it will not go ahead.

 In the meantime, the requirement for social distancing has created increased friction between drivers and parents queuing outside Hotspur, and many other schools in the City, and at least one parent has been hit by a car.  Can Council explain why cities such as Birmingham and Brighton have successfully implemented School Streets, but Newcastle can’t?

Cllr Kane
 OralWhat reasons does Council attribute to the increasingly high prevalence of failed/faulty traffic and pedestrian crossing signals in the city, and what steps are being taken to address this?Cllr Stone
3 March 2021WrittenResidents in Newcastle are rightly very proud of the number and quality of listed buildings we have in the city.  However, there are concerns being raised about some of these properties, especially the council owned Keelmen’s Hospital.  The frontage of Keelmen’s Hospital isn’t being maintained in the way that it deserves.  There is vegetation growing out of the walls and this gives the appearance of a run down and neglected building. Keelmen’s Hospital is also being marketed for sale jointly with the Salvation Army building next to it.  Does Council not agree with me that this strategy severely limits the number of potential purchasers who are likely to come forward to take on this iconic building?Cllr Allen
30 June 2021Written

There has been a drive by Central Government, in light of Brexit, and most recently because of the
global pandemic, to focus on buying British goods to kickstart the economy.  We are all aware of
local businesses suffering and at a time when they need our support Council’s have big buying
powers and should be leading by example in setting a ‘Buy Local, Buy
British’ policy first.

Would Council therefore advise what steps will be taken to ensure that within the Council’s Directorates and policies, products should always be sourced and made within this country and local suppliers used rather than looking further
 afield.

Cllr Donnelly
 Written

The last review of ward boundaries by the Boundary Commission for England was flawed from the start
with huge discrepancies in the sizes of ward electorates.  Those discrepancies are increasing, with
the difference between the ward with the most and least electors now at 4,277 according to the
latest documents supplied to Constitutional Committee.

I am sure Council agrees with me that each vote should as far as possible be of equal weight in every area of our city. Therefore will they agree to write to the Boundary Commission requesting that a review of the
Newcastle upon Tyne City  Council ward boundaries be immediately set in motion?

Cllr Gallagher
 Written

Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, has launched an online survey asking residents, particularly women, to give their views as to what makes them uncomfortable, or even frightened, when out and about, particularly at
night.

The Council is spending £8m in order to save on electricity consumption by 50% to 70% with projected annual savings of £1.4m, however, at what cost has this been done to ensure residents feel safe and secure travelling
across our city at night?

 Could Council advise what they intend to do, for the benefit of community safety, about the unsatisfactory illumination of street lighting, given that over a period of time, street lighting column bulbs have been reduced
from 150 watt/75 watt down  to, in some cases 24 watt to 33 watt.

Cllr Middleton
 Written

Motorbike Anti-Social Behaviour is a growing problem in the Outer West of Newcastle with residents stating they feel intimidated by the riders who are taking over the streets and some of our green spaces.

When standing for re-election the Police and Crime Commissioner promised to invest in drones to track and take action against the riders. Will Council make representations to Northumbria Police for the Outer West to pilot the Police and Crime Commissioner's drone programme and for this to be given dedicated resources?

Does Council agree with me that prevention is better than cure and we need an urgent review of potential access routes that may have been created by broken fences and gates that stop  motorbikes and where identified, should be urgently repaired?

Cllr Mitchell
 Written

A report presented to Cabinet in June 2019 about Play Space Investment showed that Lemington Ward was amongst the seven wards with the most substantial gap in access to youth play space. The report stated that the skate park at the West Denton Community Association should be retained as “its removal would result in a very large gap in access.”

The skate park has subsequently been removed and the site identified for a housing development, further increasing the gap in access in Denton and Westerhope Ward and neighbouring wards. With the loss of this provision, most young people in Lemington Ward will be well in excess of 15 minutes walk from the closest youth play area. Lemington Ward has three children’s play areas and all are in desperate need of repair and no youth play provision at all.

Does Council agree with me that young people in Lemington
 Ward deserve access to a local park?

Cllr Smith
 Written

In more than 20 years representing my ward on the city council, rats have rarely been an issue. Over the past year, there has been a significant increase
in rat-related casework and I understand from colleagues and from YHN this is a citywide trend.

 What is the Council’s strategy for addressing the increase in citywide reports of rats, and is it sufficiently effective?

Cllr Stone
1 Sept 2021WrittenCould council advise how the motion on Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which was passed at City Council on 30 June 2021 affects the future decision making regarding both new and existing developments which have not yet been finalised, together with details of the criteria/process that will be used?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenIn light of the motion that was passed at City Council on 30 June 2021 on Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill will council undertake a review of all developments proposed on open space land that the council owns?Cllr Smith
 WrittenThere is an under provision of youth play space in Denton and Westerhope Ward, how will this be addressed?Cllr Mitchell
 OralBoth the Government and Council have set targets to reduce carbon emissions and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next couple of decades.  What plans does council have to enable conversion of older housing and businesses and encourage the building of new gas free properties?Cllr Huddart
 OralSeveral Local Authorities and dozens of charities and support organisations have agreed NOT to co-operate with Home Office proposals to deport rough sleepers.  What is councils opinion on these proposals and will they be supporting the plans to deport these people?Cllr Huddart
6 Oct 2021OralCan the Cabinet Member comment on whether the council administration expects to bring forward proposals to increase the Newcastle Living Wage to the £10 National Minimum Wage proposed by the Leader of the Labour Party in his recent conference speech in the council's budget consultation for 2022/23?Cllr Ferguson
 OralCan the Cabinet Member set out the council's policy, and any relevant co-ordination and communication of it, in relation to the traveller community and provision of dedicated traveller accommodation sites in the city, and comment on how this corresponds to the administration's stated policies on equalities and inclusion, given that there appears to be no reference to either in the Council's Local Plan or its Equalities or Inclusion policies and statements.Cllr Stone
3 Nov 2021WrittenWhat has the council done since 2017 to stop pavement parking?Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenCould the Cabinet Member clarify the council policy on tackling motorbike and anti-social behaviour and, in particular, finding somewhere "safe and secure" for those who want to enjoy their hobby without breaking the law, as both the Police and Crime Commissioner and I have proposed and what support will be given to deliver this?Cllr Smith
 OralCan the Cabinet Member outline the conversations she has held with developers to ensure that any proposed new domestic properties to be built in the City after 2022 will have air or ground source heat pumps?Cllr Huddart
12 Jan 2022WrittenCan the Cabinet Member explain how the council administration's decision to grant a loan of £7.6million to build a multi-storey car park at the Helix site fits with the council policy on car parking in the city centre?Cllr Smith
 OralCan the Cabinet Member comment on whether the council administration expects to review the Tree Policy as a result of Storm Arwen?Cllr Smith
2 Feb 2022WrittenCan the Cabinet Member advise how the Council is going to redress the policy commitment from 2012 to ensure that those in the Outer West of the City and Newcastle as a whole get the best in local transport improvements/investment and the higher network improved as previously promised?Cllr Donnelly
 OralCan the Leader of Council update Council on the current status of any discussions involving central government, this council, and other local authorities on revised governance arrangements for the North East region (excluding the Tees Valley)?Cllr Cott
2 Mar 2022Written

Opposition literature distributed in West Fenham ward states that the LibDem team are "opposing plans by the council to make more cuts to much needed street cleaning and bin collection crews"  This statement has caused a great deal of distress to council staff and their families and has led to the Director of Operations and Regulatory Services writing to council staff to assure them that there are NO planned job cuts to refuse collection or street cleansing teams.

Can the cabinet member please confirm that this is the case and outline future plans for those services?

Cllr Kilgour
 WrittenWill the cabinet member ensure that Waverley Park and the play areas at Maple Close in Dumpling Hall and Blucher are included in the next phase of funding for upgrading parks?Cllr Smith
6 July 2022WrittenCould the Leader of Council advise what is being done to reinstate Ward Committee meetings which are considered crucial by the residents to be kept informed, together with the timescale for programming them in?Cllr Donnelly
 Written

As part of the Safe Newcastle Partnership, wards across the City purchased redeployable CCTV.  However, the equipment was purchased some significant time ago and the cameras are not HD, do not have night vision and in reality are no longer fit for purpose.

As the City Council must be aware and continue to be committed to this important resource, would the Leader of Council please advise what policy and procedures are in place to update the equipment across the City to the new improved standard?

Cllr Donnelly
 Written

This year there has been an improvement in some wards regarding strimming alongside guardrails and street furniture etc.  However, there is no follow-up in chemical treatment to prevent the same from happening again.

Could the Leader of Council advise on the full details of the current policy on strimming and chemical treatment used across the City and any changes/improvements planned?

Cllr Hunter
 Written

After the Council's budget was set on 2 March it has taken until Friday 24 June (nearly 4 months) to establish the ward budget for Chapel ward.  This will no doubt be similar for the other 25 wards in the City.

Chapel Ward has been allocated a mere £3,250 which is disproportionate to the population and Council Tax paid.  The discrepancy in the monies allocated per ward is untenable and the present system needs to be reviewed.

Would the new Leader of Council please advise if he intends to re-visit the current system of allocating funds, possible using a cap on lower and upper budgets rather than the present system which might be fairer?  Also, in the interests of openness and transparency publicise the allocation of monies to all the 26 wards.

Cllr Hunter
 Written

In January 2022, I asked the Cabinet Member whether there were plans to review the tree policy as a result of the challenges created during the recent storms and despite concerns expressed by numerous residents about the impact of trees close to their homes.  I was told that the tree policy would not be reviewed.

During the recent local election campaign, I was advised by residents in Lemington Ward that Labour canvassers had indicated that the problems being expressed would be tackled by a review of the tree policy.

Is this one of the policies that the new administration is planning to reset or were residents being misled?

Cllr Smith
 Written

In his budget speech, the former Leader of Council announced that £1.2million was being set aside for delivering programmes in every ward of strimming fence lines, cleansing traffic islands and crossings, improving neighbourhood focal points and enhanced shrub maintenance, grass cutting and weed killing.

How has Cabinet determined that this additional money will be distributed between wards and categories of spend?

Cllr Smith
 OralAt the Council meeting of 6 November 2019, Council voted to adopt a zero waste policy.  Can the Cabinet Member outline how this policy has been integrated into the waste strategy to date, and what still needs to be done?Cllr Kane
7 Sep 2022Written

The Government recently announced proposals to enable tenants of Housing Associations to buy their properties at a discounted rate and the new Leader of the Conservative Party expressed desire to widen the opportunity for more social housing tenants to buy their own Council owned properties.  Both these proposals will lead to further reduction of properties available to rent for low-income families.

What action has the Cabinet Member taken to lobby Government on behalf of this City Council, or in conjunction with other agencies or authorities to ensure our residents have access to a stable supply of affordable properties to meet future varied housing needs.

Cllr Huddart
 WrittenThe Council is investing £1.2m additional funding into front line services.  This has been brought forward through residents' requests to improve the neighbourhoods where they live.  What will be put in place to consult residents, together with details of the full policy/procedures to ensure that the best use is made of the funds.Cllr Middleton
 WrittenDoes the Cabinet have any plans to level-up access to play areas for children and younger people in every part of the forgotten Outer West?Cllr Smith
 Oral

Amongst the social housing blocks owned by the City Council there are some 200 lifts which older residents and those with mobility problems rely heavily on.

All lifts have maintenance contracts with clauses to ensure swift attention in case of equipment failure but some are taking days or weeks to rectify.  A new repair and maintenance contract was signed recently following a procurement exercise.

As the contract has resulted in a series of lift related problems across the City will the Cabinet Member outline the steps taken to revise or replace the contract to ensure lifts are repaired quickly which reflects value for money and that tenants receive apologies and reassurance about future lift repair performance.

Cllr Huddart
 OralCan the Cabinet Member explain what assessment she has made of the Deaton Review which showed how embedded social inequality is in the education system and tell us how she will assess how it's seven guiding principles for policy makers can be implemented in building a more equitable education system in Newcastle so all children and parents can have confidence going forward.Cllr Morrissey
5 Oct 2022WrittenCould full details be given on what action/improvements/policies will be/are in place to address the issue of the removal of School Crossing Patrols across the City and the safety of children accessing schools.Cllr Donnelly
 WrittenIn July 2022, the council passed a motion demanding action on motorbikes driven illegally in Newcastle.  What work has the Cabinet Member undertaken with Northumbria Police, council officers and the Cabinet and any policy changes they have initiated in response to this motion?Cllr Smith
2 Nov 2022OralWill the Cabinet Member for an Efficient City refer the matter of the Thurrock loan to Audit Committee for consideration regarding the risk management strategy needed to assess the viability of inter-authority loans?Cllr Huddart
11 Jan 2023WrittenWill the Cabinet Member review the policy for cleaning snow and ice from bridges, including those in Lemington Ward, during the winter months?Cllr Smith
 WrittenWhat reassurances can the Cabinet Member offer about the adequacy of the level of parking enforcement activity outside of the city centre, and what plans does she have to review available enforcement powers and/or seek additional powers in respect of pavement parking given the council's inability to take any action in even the most egregious cases of obstruction of the pavement?Cllr Stone
 OralWill the Cabinet Member detail what steps have been taken to address the concerns of the taxi industry with regard to the Clean Air Zone, with specific reference to the concerns raised about the difficulty of procuring fully accessible compliant taxis.Cllr Campion
1 Feb 2023WrittenAs wood burning stoves are increasingly being used to heat homes what changes to enforcement are being considered to endure the rules are being followed.Cllr Mitchell
 WrittenWhat action or changes in policy is Cabinet considering to tackle the scourge of fly tipping in the City?Cllr Smith
 OralIn case of electricity cuts to accommodation like housing plus, assisted housing and over 55s apartments, back up provision will ensure enough energy for 1 hour of dimmed lighting, but will not be strong enough to work other appliances or lifts.  Does the Cabinet Member consider this arrangement is adequate, given many of the citizens living in this type of accommodation are elderly, disabled or vulnerable in some way?Cllr Huddart
1 Mar 2023WrittenCan the Cabinet Member confirm that there are no plans to enforce 15 minute neighbourhoods in Newcastle through the use of fines or road closures and what plans does it have to address gaps in provision for local communities?Cllr Smith
 OralCan the Cabinet member assure Council that the recent problems regarding the repair and maintenance of lifts in YHN managed properties have now been sorted out and settled?Cllr Huddart
 OralCan the Cabinet Member comment on the implications of Tolent going into administration for the local economy and outline the Cabinet's emerging policy for managing financial and deliverability risks for the Council arising from Tolent's capacity to deliver contractual commitments on major Council construction schemes such as the Pattern Shop and Central Gateway.Cllr Stone
14 June 2023WrittenWill the Cabinet Member look again at the policy on provision of school crossing patrols and ensure that Lemington is considered as part of any changes?Cllr Joanne
 WrittenThe Maple Close Play Area at Dumpling Hall was missed from the list of sites identified for investment in June 2019.   Will the Cabinet Member review the policy on the allocation of funding for maintenance of parks and play areas to ensure that Maple Close is addressed urgently?Cllr Smith
 WrittenWhen Lidl Lemington opened, it contributed £3,329 as the Neighbourhood portion of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).  The CIL can be used to improve the local area but the funding from Lidl was allocated to the Gala Field at Newbiggin Hall which is a one hour uphill walk from Lidl and not freely accessible to many Lemington residents.  Meanwhile there has been insufficient funding to deliver improvements to much needed play areas in Lemington.  Will the Leader of Council commit to a change in policy to ensure that the Neighbourhood portion of the CIL is allocated to the area affected by the development and, where it is proposed that funding be used outside the immediate area, local councillors should be engaged in how funding is used?Cllr Smith
 OralFollowing another highly successful Rugby League Magic Weekend on June 3rd and 4th, which saw many thousands of good-natured visitors to Newcastle enjoying their visit to the city while delivering a significant boost to the city's economy and hospitality industry, can the Cabinet Member confirm that the council is fully supportive of taking appropriate steps to ensure that Magic Weekend returns to Newcastle in 2024, and will explore suitable avenues and funding opportunities with partners including NUFC, the Rugby League, and the North of Tyne Combined Authority to ensure that this major sporting event can return to the city next year.Cllr Stone
12 July 2023WrittenThe Council carries out a bin review every year where officers look at any suggestions submitted.  However, councillors are not involved or included in this process.  Could the Cabinet Member review the policy and process so that elected members are actively involved at every stage of the review.Cllr Marc Donnelly
 WrittenThe investment in the Civic Centre announced prior to Covid and to date amounts to £45.3m.  Despite this extensive investment the majority of staff continue to work at home meaning that the taxpayer is subsidising a largely empty building.  Could the Cabinet Member advise what they are doing to review policies regarding working arrangements for staff and the impact on future accommodation arrangements to ensure that the best use is made of Council assets and that the public are at the heart of any decisions which are made to ensure the taxpayer is getting value for money?Cllr Marc Donnelly
 Written9 out of 10 Councils are struggling to find and keep suitable staff.  The Grainger Market is an example of this as it recently highlighted that the Council had to outsource the service because it wasn't able to recruit staff in-house.  At a time when it is even more critical that services are in place to support the needs of the public, could the Cabinet Member advise what changes in recruitment and employment policy are being considered to better recruit and retain staff and what approaches are being considered for posts that cannot be recruited, such as the percentage of posts that may be outsourced like the Grainer Market above?Cllr Hunter
 WrittenThousands of homes are being built on green belt and in line with the Council's Master Plan and Design Code.  Though great reference is made to providing health provision for new and existing residents, sadly in reality no new Health Centres are being built.  Could the Cabinet Member advise what changes in policy are being considered to ensure that the necessary services are delivered at the same time as the new housing developments?Cllr Hunter
 WrittenThe Government has the Brown Field Land Release Fund (BLRF2) which was launched in January with Councils across England able to bid for a share of £60m to regenerate disused and unloved brown field sites.  It is anticipated that the fund is expected to delivery 17,600 new homes.  Newcastle City Council has seen a large proportion of green belt land lost for housing development, alongside former school sites.  Could the Cabinet Member review the policy to ensure that Newcastle takes full advantage of the above fund to ensure that genuine brown field sites are always used in preference to losing valuable green belt land and our precious open space?Cllr Margaret Donnelly
 WrittenWith thousands of homes being built across the City, there seems to be a fundamental difference between the approach taken by neighbouring Councils.  Northumberland is building bungalows across the County.  These are sites which are being developed by private developers but the same cannot be said for Newcastle.  It has recently been accepted that local plans produced by districts, boroughs and cities across the Country rarely have provision for housing for older people and that the cost to modify existing homes is very expensive.  Considering the over 65's demographic is set to go from 11.2m today to 17.2m by 2040, with older people accounting for between 25-30% of the population.  Will the Cabinet Member commit to putting in place a policy to ensure that the specific need for suitable housing is included in present and future developments?Cllr Margaret Donnelly
 WrittenGiven the ongoing issues at St John Vianney Catholic Primary School, will the Cabinet Member consider reviewing the future of the old Parkway School site as this was originally intended to provide an alternative school site for St John Vianney?Cllr T Mitchell
 WrittenCouncil passed a motion in November 2020 to explore the benefit of a Universal Basic Income.  In light of the experiences through the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and the recently announced Universal Basic Income pilot in Jarrow, can the Cabinet Member confirm whether a change in policy will be brought about to campaign for change?Cllr Smith
 WrittenA number of police stations across the Northumbria Police force area, such as Etal Lane, closed to the public during the pandemic and have not reopened.  The Police & Crime Commissioner has pushed up the Northumbria Police precept but not yet delivered on election pledges.  This has created a challenge for residents in reporting crimes to the police.  Will the Cabinet Member make representations to Northumbria Police and Police & Crime Commissioner to ask for police stations to be returned to pre-pandemic arrangements?Cllr Smith
6 Sep 2023WrittenLibrary ready but NO Internet. Cabinet Member will be aware that the temporary library in the Outer West was due to open to the public late July.  It is stocked but due to a Virgin Media connection and a Broadband Network the facility remains closed.  Could the Cabinet Member intervene urgently to ensure the withdrawal or review of any policy that is keeping the temporary library closed and depriving the community of a facility which offers far more than an internet connection.Cllr Marc Donnelly
 WrittenWhen  is a Bus not a Bus? According to press reports, the Council recently fined a Vintage Tour Bus for using a 'Bus Lane'.  This was a Vintage Double Decker bus which offers historic tours of the North East  bringing tourists to the area and showing our rich heritage and history.  The City Council should not be redefining the definition of what will be seen by all City residents a 'bus' and tourists must be encouraged to continue to visit and explore the City.  A vehicle is considered to be a bus if the driver holds a category D licence.  Could the Cabinet Member advise if the policy on Bus Lanes will be updated to ensure that the council defines a bus the same way as bus manufacturers, the wider public and Government.Cllr Marc Donnelly
 WrittenLitter Fines.  Fines for littering, fly-tipping and graffiti have all increased as part of a Government crack down on anti-social behaviour.  the current maximum penalty of £150 for littering or spraying graffiti will increase to £500, while the maximum fine for fly-tipping will rise from £400 to £1,000.  Could the Cabinet Member confirm that they will review the policy and process for managing fines to ensure that this blight on all neighbourhoods is dealt with by penalising the offenders, thus ensuring that the considerable cost is borne by those guilty of carrying out this anti-social behaviour.Cllr Margaret Donelly
 WrittenIt is important that all residents are able to access key information.  While the council's social media accounts and website can provide key information online, there is a sizeable proportion of the local population who do not use online sources.  The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimates that approximately 10% of the population of Tyneside do not routinely access the internet, with a large number of these not accessing the internet at all.  Therefore, Newcastle City Council noticeboards continue to play a key role in providing information for residents who would not otherwise have access to information.  Many noticeboards in Lemington Ward and across the city are in a state of disrepair.  It has been suggested that repairs to noticeboards should be funded from ward budgets but the level of funding varies significantly between wards and there are many other demands on ward budgets.  Would the Cabinet Member consider establishing a fund to bring all noticeboards in the city to an acceptable state of repair?  This proposed time limited fund could be achieved by using savings from delays in recruitment, vacant posts and other savings achieved during the 2023/24 financial year, and repairing all noticeboards at once is likely to deliver some economies of scale.Cllr Smith
 Written

The Newcastle Charter states that ward budgets allow ward communities to fund "support local projects, initiatives and research".  It has become clear that more and more expectations are being placed on ward budgets and they have not been set at a level to cover all of these demands.  Could the Cabinet Member review the policy for ward budgets to:

  • Make it clear the council infrastructure within a ward that ward committees are liable for maintaining from their own budget rather than central city council budgets,
  • Increase the level of ward budgets to take account of these additional demands,
  • Have the amounts of all ward budgets confirmed as part of the budget setting process.
Cllr Smith
 OralWhat consideration has the Cabinet Member given to modifying policies and practices on consultation procedures - especially in respect of offering the public the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to solving controversial or high profile issues in the City - in the light of recent experiences and the deliberations of the Task and Finish Group on Budget consultation methodology, of which he was a member.Cllr Ashby
 OralDoes the Cabinet Member believe that the city council is working effectively with Northumbria Police to enforce 20mph speed limits in the city, and can she comment on the adequacy and effectiveness of current levels of enforcement?Cllr Burns
 OralDoes the Cabinet Member believe that the 2023 Air Quality ASR's findings of NO2 emission levels at the Stephenson Road monitoring point (DT81) significantly in excess of the target 40 microgramme mean emission levels should be considered to be an acceptable level for public health of residents in nearby neighbourhoods, and if not, can she set out to Council and report to Cabinet on what she proposes to do about it?Cllr Stone
4 Oct 2023WrittenIn light of the number of incidents flash flooding and the potential for this to increase given the changing climate, is the Cabinet Member considering an increase in the number of times the drains are cleaned to make sure they are operating at peak efficiency?Cllr Smith
 Written

The Customer Service Centre at West Denton closed its doors to the public when the temporary library opened. The building awaits demolistion. I officially opened its doors on 8 December 2003 as the Council's 'first' local purpose-built centre at a cost of £3.4 million. In just three weeks 15,000 people had used the Centre showing how valuable and needed the service provided was. At the time 6 local customer service centres were opened across the City, by 2007. Newcastle Council stated in the Neighbourhood's First Leaflet, printed in March 2004 "The centres are being built as a direct result of you telling us what you want from us - easy access to Council services in your area, under one roof." As the bulldozers move in it is obvious that policies have moved away from a Customer First driven agenda.

Could the Cabinet Member consider reviewing the policy and process for dealing with residents' queries and ensure that we are not leaving those behind who cannot access the internet?

Cllr Marc Donnelly
 WrittenBack in 2004 the City Council raised the issues of parking on pavements and grass verges. Will the Cabinet Member initiate a review of the policy and process for tackling parking on pavements and grass verges to ensure that pavements are passable and safe for pedestrians, and grass verges are not damaged which occurs a cost to the taxpayer and for the Council to update residents on the By-law that was being pursued back in 2004.Cllr Marc Donnelly
 Written

Back in 2003 in the Council's publication Streets Ahead the then Cabinet Member for Community Planning said "Improving street lighting is a top priority for residents in bother areas (Newcastle and North Tyneside) and we expect this project to have a significant impact on road safety, tackling crime and improving the local environment." In some cases street light columns are buried in trees and project very little light on to the footpath. the policy at the time was to make streets safe.  What has changed?

Will the Cabinet Member consider reviewing the policy for managing street lighting which has become lost in tree foliage to ensure that lighting in all areas of the City are up to the required standard of safety and illumination, making it safer for all?

Cllr Marc Donnely
 OralWhat message does the administration consider the current condition fo Northumberland Street send to citizens, visitor, businesses and investors in the city centre, and what timetable is he able to offer on the delivery of the City Centre Transformation Programme given that the display boards on Saville Row are still displaying a construction start date of August 2021 and a completion date of Summer 2022 for improvement works on Northumberland Street?

Cllr Stone

 

1 Nov 2023Written

Further to announcing that the Council was carrying out a review on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods over the summer, it will be concluded in December into how it had implemented numerous road closure trials.

Following the publicity in introducing the Jesmond low traffic neighbourhoods initiative where Police response rates fell and it also stated ambulances and other emergency vehicles would be seriously delayed due to the diversions caused by the trial. The Council cannot have a policy that places residents at risk. 

Will the Cabinet Member review this policy and provide an update on what action/adjustments could be considered to ensure that mistakes are not repeated? 

Cllr Marc Donnelly
 Written

A recent report found 93% of Council maintained Schools in England were rated Outstanding or Good, compared to 87% of Academies. The same report also found 72% of Council maintained schools have maintained their Outstanding rating compared with 60% of Academies. 

Evidence shows the Council should be able to open their own schools again, allowing freedom to improve standards for every child and compete fairly, clearly showing that Council maintained schools are out-performing academies. 

Will the Cabinet Member advise whether there needs to be a change in policy in favour of retaining council maintained schools and whether he will make representations to national Government in support of this policy?

Cllr Marc Donnelly

 

 

Written

There are a lot of problems at the Cenotaph and surrounding areas of Old Eldon Square with vermin defacating on it and members of the public are feeding the birds, making the problem worse. It is unclear what the current policy is.

Will the Cabinet Member consider changing the policy to ensure action is taken to protect the Cenotaph and Old Eldon Square from vermin, such as introducing a ban on feeding birds in Old Eldon Square?

Cllr Hunter
 Written

Around 4 in 10 households in Newcastle do not have access to a car and residents on foot, due to safety, are unable to use the recycling centres and struggle to dispose of waste responsibly. The recent pop up household recycling events were a big success. 

Moving towards net zero, households choosing not to have a car may increase the numbers unable to access to the city's recycling centres. It could be possibly done safely if there were designated times for people bringing waste on foot.

Will the Cabinet Member consider organising further events for areas with the lowest car ownership as well as reviewing the policy on the management of recycling centres to allow some access to recycling centres for people on foot?

Cllr Smith
 Oral

In a now deleted tweet from Wednesday 11 October, announcing her departure from Cabinet, Cllr Byrne stated: "I have had concerns for some months that there may be officers undermining (Newcastle City Council). This issue has not been resolved and I realise that it is not possible for me to remain in Cabinet if I do not trust officers." This accusation came in the wake of my questions to Cllr Kemp at the last meeting of Council regarding allegations of bullying and a "toxic culture". 

Could the Leader of Council outline what he plans to do to draw a line under this matter and restore public confidence that management and governance at the highest level is operating as it should?

Cllr Ferguson
 Oral

Can the Leader of Council confirm to Council that the climate between officers and cabinet is now free from bullying and toxicity, that he does not anticipate further departures from either side in coming weeks, and that there are no foreseeable reasons for further delay to publication of the Council’s corporate plan, transformation plan, and digital transformation plan?

Cllr Stone
 Oral

Does your appointment signify a change in the Council’s waste management policy, particularly in regard to incineration?

Cllr Kane
6 Dec 2023WrittenWill the Cabinet Member agree to work with local ward councillors and officers to investigate the feasibility of identifying a replacement neighbourhood recycling facility on a suitable nearby site, following the decision by Sainsburys head office to discontinue the well-used recycling facility at the Benton Road Store, and to make a public commitment that citywide neighbourhood recycling capacity will be taken into consideration in the development of the new Newcastle Plan? Rentals.Cllr Stone
 WrittenBring back School Crossing Patrols - Would the Cabinet Member consider reviewing the Ok policy on School Crossing Patrol provision across the City and provide and update on what actions/adjustments they might consider to ensure that every child, wherever they live can access their school safely?  I hope we can look again to reinstate many of the School Crossing Patrols that were lost.Cllr Marc Donnelly
 WrittenParking Meters choice to combat fraud - In light of these additional risks, would the Cabinet Member review the policy on the replacement of cash parking machines and, if not, provide an update on what actions/adjustments they would consider making to ensure that residents are not put at risk of fraud after being forced by the Council to no longer pay using cash?Cllr Marc Donnelly
 OralDoes the Cabinet Member believe that direct engagement with residents' groups and interested parties is a vital part of consultation and decision making?Cllr Browne
 Oral

No-one will find themselves unmoved by the horrific scenes we are seeing unfolding in the Middle East right now.  The conflict in Israel and Gaza has provoked a strong reaction across the world.  As a result, Jewish and Muslim communities everywhere, including here in our own city of Newcastle, have increased feelings of vulnerability and concern for their safety.

Does the Cabinet Member believe that there are any additional steps that could be taken to reassure and support he Jewish and Muslim communities of Newcastle at this difficult time, whilst we all hope and pray for a resolution to the conflict.

Cllr Ferguson
24 Jan 2024WrittenThe Government recently announced an £8.3 billion boost for road repairs.  This extra funding is redirected from HS2.  Local Highways Authorities across the country will receive £150m this financial year, followed by a further £150m in 2024/5, with the rest allocated through to 2034.  Will the Cabinet Member review the policy in light of these additional funds and advise how residents will be kept up to date regarding the improvements to the highway network?Cllr Marc Donnelly
 WrittenAs part of the Budget proposal the Council is consulting residents on no longer printing CityLife magazine twice a year.  Could the Cabinet Member review the current system of disseminating information across not just the City, but individual wards, and advise the details of what action/policy will be put in place to simplify and improve the process to keep residents fully informed with an up-to-date, user friendly web page which can easily signpost residents to information/services?Cllr Marc Donnelly
 Written

Further to recent distress caused to hundreds of families as a result of the council's levelling of grave memorials in a number of the city's cemeteries, particularly Heaton Cemetery, does the Cabinet Member have confidence that the council has complied fully with relevant Government guidance issued to local authorities (1) and the Local Government Ombudsman's guidance to the public (2) that councils may be at fault if they:

  • carried out the testing with staff or contractors who were untrained,
  • failed to assess the risk posed by the memorial properly,
  • laid memorials flat without considering other methods of making a memorial safe.

In responding, can the Cabinet Member additionally confirm that the council will arrange to make available to elected members the findings of any formal risk assessment it has carried out in respect of grave memorials and public safety.

Cllr Stone
6 March 2024Written

Utility Costs - Cost of Living Crisis - In these times of austerity and increasing utility costs for both gas and electric, I was surprised to see that the Christmas tree at the Civic Centre still has the lights not only remaining on the tree but lit up some 50 days after they should have at least been switched off!

This obviously is a waste of valuable resources but is the tip of the iceberg when the Civic Centre is lit up late each evening like Blackpool illuminations with every floor fully lit when it is extremely unlikely that there is anyone working in the building.  When the Council is constantly offering residents advice and tips on saving energy and being cost conscious surely they should be setting an example.

Would the Cabinet Member please review the policy on what cost saving approach can be implemented to ensure that the Council is both leading by example and ensuring that public finances are efficiently managed?

Cllr Marc Donnelly
 Written

Underinvestment in Pavement Repair/Priority - At a recent Question to Council, Council accepted that there was a £12.64 billion backlog of maintenance required on the highway network across the City.  In recent years funding has been extremely limited and has concentrated predominantly on roads rather than footpaths, leaving residents vulnerable to slips, trips and falls.

Would the Cabinet Member please review the policy on the repair/maintenance of not only roads but pavements?

Cllr Marc Donnelly
12 June 2024Written

On 12 July 2023 a Motion was presented to Council regarding grass cutting.  The amended Motion that was agreed accepted that all other local authorities cut grass more than Newcastle.  Cabinet were asked to update the Green Spaces Management Plan in response to our changing climate.

In light of this there has clearly been a change of policy as large parts of the Outer West (City) have recently had grass which has been knee height (and when it was cut it resembled more of a farmer's field haystacks).

Would the Cabinet Member please review the policy in light of the commitment made nearly a year ago and explain why the commitments made at that time are not being fulfilled as set out and agreed by Council>

Cllr Marc Donnelly
 OralDoes the Cabinet member believe her involvement in the decision to end the Heaton LTN is more accurately portrayed by her colleagues claim during the campaign that it was 'an officer decision' or more recently released emails under FOI that clearly imply senior political level sign off?Cllr Kane
 Oral

Accident data from the North East Road Users Casualty Dashboard indicates that in the last year, pedestrian accidents have increased nearly threefold on Gosforth High Street compared to the average across the past decade, since the new bus lanes were introduced.

Given that the Council's policy on transport and travel is clearly in flux, given U-turns on a range of schemes across the City, does the Cabinet member believe that the policy for Gosforth High Street should similarly be reviewed in light of the concerning trend of increasing pedestrian accidents?

Cllr Woodwark
 Oral

The role of Housing is closely linked to the physical, social, mental and economic wellbeing of the City's organisations, businesses, Council and citizens.  There is currently a mismatch in the supply of properties to meet the ongoing needs of our population for affordable homes for rent or purchase.

The transition of YHN back into City Council management will leave a gap in the procedures and practices formerly overseen by YHN Board and its sub committees.

What policies does the Cabinet Member believe should be introduced to ensure the City's housing provision and services continue to be subject to an effective Scrutiny process?

Cllr Huddart
10 July 2024WrittenThe Council agreed this year to introduce a charge for those who needed a replacement recycling caddy.  However, after receiving a number of requests I, and I am sure many other councillors would be under the impression that damaged caddies through use ie the collection, would be replaced without a charge.  This is not the case and unless the caddy is seen to be damaged by checking the CCTV on the vehicle at the time of the collection the resident is left to foot the bill.  It seems very unfair to tax residents for a service that they are willingly participating in but through no fault of their own are having to pay for replacements.  Would the Cabinet Member please review the policy?Cllr Marc Donnelly
 Written

Within the Council;s Green Space Management Plan it states that "The Council is committed to biodiversity to protect habitats and species in Newcastle.  Our grass cutting arrangements in many parts of the City will help these local habitats."  The commitments made by the Council on 12 July 2023 are not being met and an urgent review needs to take place.

This year grass cutting has been almost non-existent which has restricted children from being able to play and residents enjoy the neighbourhood where they live.  Within the Plan it goes on further to state that the Council will reduce the amount of weedkiller used in a number of areas to further support this commitment.  Weeds this year across the City remain and have been as tall as guardrails, encroaching into residents gardens, footpaths and roads.

Would the Cabinet Member please review the policy in light of the Green Spaces Management Plan which is in direct conflict with the policy that was agreed in July 2023?.

Cllr Marc Donnelly
 OralWe would like assurances that there will be a review of the current bus shelter situation on Gosforth High Street and a proposal put forward to provide a bus shelter for passengers of the bus services 30, 31 and 35 so they don't have to spend an 8th winter without a bus shelter.  And an indication of when the bus stop review on Gosforth High Street will be presented to Councillors.Cllr Lovatt
 OralLast October, I presented a petition from residents of West Fenham regarding the installation of traffic lights at the junction of Netherby Drive and Silver Lonnen and the combination of the existing pedestrian crossing with traffic lights.  While the Councillor's response to the petition last October focussed on two accidents that had occurred at the junction, that is not why the petitioners had called for installation of traffic lights.  Will the Cabinet Member therefore revisit this issue with her Cabinet Colleagues with a view to acceding to the wishes of the residents of West Fenham?Cllr M Mitchell
 Oral

On 9th October 2021, when the takeover of Newcastle United Football Club by the Saudi Arabion Public Investment Fund was announced, the former Labour leader of Council said "I don't want to brush the human rights issues under the carpet.  So, what I've done is I've asked the incoming owners to open a dialogue with fans, so that fans feel that they have a route to express and raise those concerns".

On 31st August 2023, the Labour MP for Newcastle Central said the City "must not forget" Saudi Arabia's "atrocious" human rights record, and that she will "raise the human rights abuses of the Saudi regimes by all mean open to me".  In response, a Council spokesperson said "We are a proud City of Sanctuary and while we have huge concerns over Saudi Arabia's human rights record, we do not think it is right or fair to blame anyone involved in the day to day management of the club with human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia".

In light of recent revelations that the Council was a major part of a trade delegation to Saudi Arabia, and that the Leader of Council lobbied the Football Club, and by implication the Saudi Public Investment Fund, for £23m of funding, is the Leader of Council satisfied that his Administration is living up to the statements made by his party colleagues about the concerns raised by NUFC fans about human rights abuses?

Cllr Ferguson

 

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