Leaders speech to Full Council: 14th October 2020

Leaders speech to Full Council: 14th October 2020

15/10/2020 - Leader of the Council, Councillor Milan Radulovic MBE addressed full Council on 14th October 2020 on topics including COVID-19, Local Government Reform, the Toton and Chetwynd Masterplan and progress on the Corporate Plan.

COVID-19

As members are well aware the number of positive COVID-19 cases in our area has escalated rapidly in the last couple of weeks.

Whilst the sudden rise does coincide with the return of students to our area in significant numbers, there are also concerns about household transmission in other areas. I have been involved in discussions with other district council leaders and the leader of the county council and our view that urgent measures restricting household movement needed to be taken was made known to the government.

It is disappointing to me that it was not until Monday of this week that the Prime Minister announced that our area is to be placed in tier two of restrictions which means:

  • People must not socialise with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

  • People must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law).

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed in law.

  • Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.

  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees

  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with) or for youth or disability sport.

  • People can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible

I would like to thank Phil Sudlow and his outstanding team for the excellent work they continue to do to support businesses and individuals financially by implementing so quickly and efficiently the grants and reliefs announced by government.

Broxtowe Borough Council have been able to support 1,445 local business by making payments of over £17.2m through the Business Grants scheme. 

In addition to this, the Council was able to create a Discretionary Business Grants Scheme which was to support businesses that didn’t hit the criteria of the original scheme but had still been impacted negatively as a result of Covid-19. This scheme was created and rolled out in line with Member approval, supporting a further 90 businesses at a total of £883,000. 

Although these schemes are now closed, the government has announced a further scheme should an area need to go in to local lockdown measures. Further details are still to be published on this scheme but the initial information suggests a payment to businesses of £1,500 for every three weeks they are closed.

We are now live ( in fact on Monday) with a web page dedicated to Test & Trace which includes an online application form for the new self-isolation payments individuals on low incomes are now entitled to receive at www.broxtowe.gov.uk/testandtracepayments

 We have now been set up on the Test and Trace Tracker so we are able to check eligibility and will be able to start making payments relatively quickly. 

The scheme has been purposely designed to be simple and reduce the administrative  burden.  The main principles are

  • The claimant’s usual weekly earnings will be between £95 and £305 (lower limit is based on Statutory Sick Pay and upper limit is minimum wage over 37 hours).  Evidence will be required.

  • Not have capital in excess of £3,000 (will accept a declaration to this without significant checking)

  • Have a reduction in their income of at least 50% as a result of self-isolating.

  • Do not qualify for the main Self-Isolation scheme. 

  • Must apply within 4 weeks of being told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.


Local Government reform

The Government has invited county and district councils in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and Somerset to submit locally led proposals for unitary local government, responding to requests from these areas. The Government said that these councils in these three areas now have the opportunity to develop and submit their proposals for how they want to restructure local government in their area to establish unitary local government.

This would mean moving from a two-tier system of county and district councils, to a system where there is a single tier for any given area. Nottinghamshire has not received such an invitation from the government at this stage.

I was present on a district councils network conference call when the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick made it quite plain that he expected Councils at this time to “get on with the day job” and support communities to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.  It would be wrong to assume that the threat of local government reorganisation has gone away however.

We understand the white paper on devolution and local government reform will not now be published until next year. Meanwhile as an authority we will continue to take all prudent steps to ensure that we are well prepared to respond to whatever might be in that white paper.

District council leaders are working well together in this regard. I sense no appetite whatever for any form of review that would include Broxtowe becoming part of the City. This view was recently expressed across all political parties here in Broxtowe at the Policy and Performance Committee. 


Toton and Chetwynd Masterplan

Toton and Chetwynd are at the heart of developments which will have huge benefits across to the west into Derby, Derbyshire and across to the West Midlands, north and south into Leicestershire and Leicester, with economic impact as far reaching as Lincoln and Lincolnshire to the east.

This work is one part of the proposed East Midlands Development Corporation which is seeking Government backing from Treasury and aligns with the work of Midlands Connect and the Midlands Engine.

The Development Corporation’s objectives are to deliver 84,000 jobs for the East Midlands as well as an uplift of £4.8billion to the local economy. The linkages between Toton & Chetwynd include those to East Midlands Airport, Ratcliffe on Soar power station and beyond.

A public consultation is taking place for six weeks from October 12 2020 involving the key partners Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council (supported by Erewash Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council) in connection with the creation of a Masterplan for Toton and Chetwynd..

This will involve leaflets going out to 38,000 households (c80,000+ residents) in Toton, Chilwell, Stapleford, Sandiacre and Long Eaton asking for their views on the plans.

The public consultation comes after months of discussions with our communities, partners and consultant teams to pull this work together, with the decision to proceed taken on the 16th September at the Toton Delivery Board.

Despite the current pandemic we believe it is right to show communities we are planning for the future and we have a duty to give them an opportunity to have their say.

The Strategic Masterplan must be approved by Broxtowe Borough Council. Once it has been approved it will become a supplementary planning document, which means it will be used by the Council to make decisions about planning applications for the sites.

The Strategic Masterplan will establish:

  • A vision and key principles for Toton & Chetwynd Barracks

  • Locations for different land uses and design principles for future development.

  • The roads, public transport, walking, cycling and open space networks needed to support development.

  • New community facilities (schools, healthcare facilities, retail provision) required.

  • Phasing of development and infrastructure so that they come forward together, and at the right time.

  • A further public consultation will be held in 2021.

In parallel with this we are continuing to work to bring forward proposals to establish an interim vehicle to act as the delivery mechanism for these ambitions before legislation can be passed setting up the Development Corporation as a legal entity.

The role of the interim vehicle would include:

  • Developing the proposals and detailed business case for the development corporation.

  • Master planning, submitting conventional planning applications and other

  • development control applications, and developing business cases for each project.

  • Agreements and land negotiations, where required.

  • Discussions with funders.

  • Raising finance.

  • Acquiring land (the interim vehicle will have no statutory powers).

  • Delivering early infrastructure.

  • Selling serviced land.

The interim vehicle would be a company with limited liability and Broxtowe has an opportunity to become a founding member of it. Further details relating to the voting rights and financial contribution and the governance arrangements are being discussed with a view to bringing a report to the December Council for approval.


MTFS

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the council with additional budget challenges.

Our current year’s deficit is likely to require a £1.2m take from balances. However the challenge for next year is to tackle a projected £1.9m budget gap. With the economic context continuing to adversely impact on our local businesses, the council has experienced and will experience further reductions in business rates and rents, which will seriously impact on our financial position.

The Finance and Resources Committee approved a business strategy identified £490,000 of potential savings and income, but you can see that much more is required in order to balance the budget as our reserves will not be available to cover this scale of gap in the longer term.

Good news

Now I think we are all in need of some good news so I shall do my best to raise the spirits of members and officers alike by telling you all the positive things we are doing in Broxtowe which we can be proud of.

I would like to add my congratulations to Nicolette and Lindsay on winning the activities officer award from the professional body. It is remarkable that so soon after their appointment they have made such a positive impact on the lives of older people living in our schemes in Broxtowe. I sincerely hope we will be able to appoint more such people to make the lives of people better particularly at the present time.

I’m also delighted at the success of LLeisure’s bid for funding support from the Arts Council which will bring in an additional £51,000 to support the DH Lawrence Museum at this difficult time.

Housing

  • The residential sale of land at Beeston Square is progressing as planned.

  • The shell is now finished on the two dementia-friendly bungalows at Willoughby Street, Beeston; tenants hoping to move in around Christmas time.

  • Tenders for the building work to construct 5 flats for ex service personnel are due back at the end of October.

  • A consultation event has been held with local residents and interested parties about the proposal to redevelop Fishpond Cottage for up to 9 new homes for rent.  Officers are reviewing the results of the survey and an update for members will be provided at November’s Housing Committee.

  • A consultation event in the form of an electronic and postal survey is planned for the autumn for Chilwell/Watnall garage sites with local residents and councillors.  Officers will review the results of the survey in due course and an update for members will be provided at November’s or January’s Housing Committee.

  • The Council is working with a local house builder to build 35 new rented homes on an allocated housing site west of Coventry Lane, Bramcote.  The outline planning application is going to planning committee later this year.  The development as a whole is designed to provide 178 new houses in a variety of sizes, styles and pricing brackets. The proposed purchase of the affordable housing will be subject to committee approval in due course. The first of the new homes are expected to be available to buy between December 2021 and January 2022.

  • Initial discussions are being held with the owner and agent of the former ski slope site in Cossall about the potential to develop approximately 60 new Council homes.

  • I am excited by the possibility that an application is being discussed with planners for the 200 or so homes on the Boots site and at the speed at which this development may progress.

  • The Council has been successful as part of a joint bid with Rushcliffe and Gedling for “Next Steps” funding (NSAP) -£42,000 has been awarded. Out of the Revenue pot, we requested funding to fund hotel provision for the coming winter months as well as new private sector landlord incentives. These include enhancement to our prevention fund, deposit scheme, rent in advance scheme and a subsidised landlord insurance scheme.  This is in view of the stay on evictions and the employment situation creating a backlog of potential clients being evicted or numbers of people at risk of eviction.  We are also hopeful of support for the provision of a new accommodation scheme across South Notts of around 20 units of supported accommodation for those at risk of homelessness/rough sleeping and new support workers/navigators employed through Framework to provide the support to this client group. 

Health

  • A survey of people living with dementia has been conducted and was reported to the Leisure and Health Committee, which then agreed a new initiative which will support people living with dementia to access art and social activities run by a local organisation called “the Studio” at Padge Road, Beeston. This will happen as soon as COVID-19 restrictions make this possible.

Business Growth

  • Despite the challenges of developing a difficult town centre site, whilst maintaining COVID-secure working, Bowmer + Kirkland are progressing well on site with practical completion of the cinema in Beeston due before the calendar year end.

  • The Arc Cinema remains committed to and confident about the cinema development and has confirmed its intention to open in the first quarter of 2021/22. Beeston will be the first and biggest of The Arc’s premium brands for the UK

  • The Council’s letting agents have reported the return of tentative interest from potential café & restaurant operators that are being actively courted. These are mostly coming from independent retailers developing fresh new offers which is exciting news for both the development and the vitality of Beeston town centre as a whole.

  • Provision of new public toilets in Beeston near the bus/tram interchange, has been agreed.

  • Our COVID-19 information officers have been out and about across the Borough to talk to business owners about new Government measures. They help check in on businesses to make sure they are operating in a COVID-secure way, and ensure our residents are safe when out in our town centres.

  • The Stapleford Towns Fund Board continues to work on plans. It intends to submit proposals to the Government in January 2021.Work continues on the development of a new business hub in Stapleford, from the old Police station site which the council owns in the town.

  • Plans have been drawn up for the development of a business hub in Eastwood from Durban House which the Council owns in Eastwood and which is currently empty. Funding support is being sought from the local enterprise partnership.

  • We are ahead of our Apprenticeship strategy targets and the Government’s apprenticeship targets, with 11 apprentices currently employed, and we are always looking for new apprentice opportunities within our workforce planning.

Environment

  • A new Climate Change strategy has been adopted by the Environment and Climate Change Committee.

  • We have experienced a huge increase in glass recycling in recent months of 44%. Similar increases are being experienced for garden waste (19.8%) and dry recyclables (7.9%). In addition to this a new role has been created to work with existing members of the environment team, both office and frontline employees, as well as engaging with residents in order to improve awareness of recycling and contamination, and targeting resources to low performing areas to improve recycling and waste management practices.

  • Garden waste subscriptions are up 10% on this time last year ( £70,000 of additional income for the council

  • The Council has received some very positive feedback from DEFRA on its Air Quality action plan.

  • The latest of this year’s Pride in Parks play area improvement schemes at Swiney Way , Chilwell, is now nearing completion.  It has seen very outdated equipment at this open space, replaced with modern play facilities on a rubber surface.  The area is specially designed for younger children. During the design process a request was received for a surfaced path through the open space to connect both access gates.  Working with the local contractor undertaking the project the scheme was able to be modified to include a path which allows access to the site throughout the year. The scheme costing £42,000 is funded from the Council’s Capital Programme.

  • A new interpretation panel has been installed just inside the entrance at Brinsley Headstocks Local Nature Reserve.

  • Brinsley Parish Council have celebrated the second phase of their Pride in Parks Improvements at Brinsley Recreation Ground. This included the official opening of a wheelchair-accessible swing and new outdoor fitness equipment. £18,000 funding for the project was provided by Broxtowe Borough Council as part of the Pride in Parks initiative, with the Parish Council also contributing financially to the scheme.

  • Following the success of last year’s fruit tree giveaway event, this year we will be following it up by giving away 500 free ornamental trees.  These trees, suitable for domestic gardens, will be available to Broxtowe residents. Keep a look out for how to apply very soon.The trees on offer will be flowering cherry, a silver birch cultivar (with a real wow factor with its snowy white bark) and a double white flowering hawthorn.

  • Some exciting improvements have been made at Hall Om Wong Open Space this year. New equipment, new surfaced footpaths, walkways and a wildflower meadow are just a few of the changes that have been made.

  • At Colliers Wood and Brinsley Headstocks Local Nature Reserves, a significant proportion of the grassland is now being managed as hay meadow to benefit biodiversity. Path edges are cut regularly and grass tracks mown through the meadows to allow people to enjoy them and there is still mown areas of grass to kick a ball, let the dogs run or have a picnic. Through the autumn and early winter, the Friends groups will be introducing seed of once common native wild flowers into the meadows, further enhancing biodiversity. An ongoing record of the species found at the sites is made and as time passes there should be an increase in the variety and number of wild plants and animals, helping protect the meadows for future generations. Already wild orchids have been recorded at both sites and butterfly numbers have increased.

Community Safety

  • Approval has been given to consult on the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order(PSPO) in order to control nuisance from gatherings of motor vehicles at and around Tinsley Road Bridge, Eastwood. A number of complaints have been received by both the Council and the police about gatherings of motor vehicles at and around Tinsley Road Bridge, Eastwood. While the simple act of parking vehicles is not in itself illegal at this location, and if undertaken considerately, could not be construed as anti-social, the “meets” involve engines being revved loudly and music playing loudly. This results in disturbance to residents in dwellings in the area, particularly as it often occurs late at night.

  • Approval has also been given for the introduction of two more restricted areas as part of the existing Alcohol Control Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in order to continue helping to control issues around public consumption of alcohol. Members requested that consultation be undertaken to extend the existing PSPO in respect of two further Restricted Areas which were Beeston Cemetery, and a number of streets around Carwood Road and Markham Road. Consultation was required by the legislation and only one response received which just indicated “in favour”.


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