Report of the Leader of the Council outlining
business undertaken by the Executive since September 2020
The report of the Leader of the Council was submitted setting out the details of the business undertaken by the Executive.
The Leader and the Cabinet made statements and responded to questions.
The following questions were submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.1:-
1. Reduction in income
Question from Councillor Hannides to Councillor Hammond
In view of the anticipated reduction in income from business rates, council tax and fees, what measures are the Executive taking to mitigate this and what action is being taken to support local businesses, boost the local economy and save local jobs?
A range of different actions had been put in place to help and safeguard jobs and take account of issues around the budget process. The Council recognises its unique role and would do its best to support recovery and build sustainable growth in the City. Engagement work had been taken place and a Leaders task force set-up with industry specific round table held, the first being the hospitability sector with more to come. There was also a wider support programme with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Solent Apprenticeship hub and kick starter programmes in place. Work was also taking place with both Further Education and Higher Education Partners in the City with a range of investment to safeguard and provide strategic direction around particular themes.
2. Southampton Airport Expansion
Question from Councillor Fitzhenry to Councillor Hammond
Can the Leader outline the Cabinets political position on the Southampton Airport Expansion proposal?
The accountable decision maker for the Southampton Airport Expansion was Eastleigh Borough Council. I have set out concerns at the start of the year prior to its submission to the City Council Planning and Rights of Way Panel (PRoW). Whilst there had been some good progress against some of the concerns from the airport, there are still issues which require further work. It would be for a forthcoming PRoW to consider the item and form the consultation response to Eastleigh Borough Council.
3. Bedford Place
Councillor Fitzhenry to Councillor Leggett
Will the Cabinet member outline his criteria for the re-opening of Bedford Place?
Any decision made by the Council on the future of the temporary Bedford Place road closure will need to take into account the general approach set out in the Green Transport Recovery Plan Monitoring & Evaluation Framework and in partnership with Go!Southampton.
All schemes will need to consider the changes in the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and the need to maintain social distancing and the support needed to safely reopen the economy. The Bedford Place scheme in particular will need to support the hospitality and other businesses once this current lockdown is eased and we continue to work in partnership with Go!Southampton to ensure we consider the views of all business and hope for some good trading over the festive period.
The monitoring and evaluation of the Bedford Place scheme will consider qualitative data from representations made on the scheme through the Temporary TRO consultation, online platforms (e.g. CommonPlace), pre-scheme and forthcoming business surveys conducted by Go!Southampton, take up of additional space for outdoors dining, views of partners and stakeholders including Go! Southampton, Councillors, emergency services, Schools, residents and transport operators (e.g. taxi and deliveries).
A range of quantitative data will also be used, including traffic movements & speeds, cycle & pedestrian movements, parking/loading and disabled access etc.
The above criteria will be analysed carefully and objectively and reported back to the Head of Service the Cabinet Member for consideration and in line with the Monitoring and Evaluation framework. As has already occurred with the Bedford Place scheme, adjustments and enhancements will be made and decided in the context of the data and wider context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
4. Cost of Bassett Avenue temporary road measures
Councillor S Galton to Councillor Leggett
It has now been 2 months since I asked for the breakdown of costs related to the Bassett Avenue road measures in September’s meeting. I have yet to receive an answer from yourself or officers. Can you provide this information yet:
The total cost of the Bassett Avenue temporary road measures (related to cycle lane re-provision) between the Winchester Road roundabout and the Chilworth Roundabout.
The breakdown of this total cost to include a breakdown of the costs of:
• The initial cone only scheme
• The removal of the cones and the painting of lines
• The cost of removing the lines and restoring the road to its original condition
Balfour Beatty Living Places carried out the works to install the temporary pop up cycle lanes along Bassett Avenue and The Avenue as one complete scheme, so it is not possible to provide a breakdown of costs as per the question.
What can be provided is as follows for the entire length of Bassett Avenue and The Avenue:
Balfour Beatty have advised a cost to install temporary pop up cycle lanes on Bassett Avenue and The Avenue as £115,429.68
Since the initial installation costs have been £7,919.13 which include maintenance and alterations to the scheme including the linemarking of the remaining section of Bassett Avenue.
The cost of removal for the section of Bassett Avenue has been £26,936.48.
5. Blue Badge Parking Charges
Councillor S Galton to Councillor Leggett
The Executive have chosen now to introduce new blue badge parking charges, using the justification of ensuring a turnover of vehicles and citing the Government’s decision to expand the blue badge scheme.
Officers have confirmed to me that this decision was progressed before the decision of the new national restrictions and it was made and justified prior to Covid-19 pandemic.
As such, will the Leader agree to postpone any of these new charges or trials, until we can fully assess the impact of Covid-19 on our City and District centres.
In considering your response I would urge you to consider the following points:
· In the cabinet report it states the decision is in the interests of all users. Given the challenges those living with a disability face, and the excess of parking choice and capacity across our City – is it not the right thing to do to support our most vulnerable by not introducing new taxes?
· We have only seen a 20% increase in blue badge holders since the Government rightly expanded the criteria; and many of our car parks are currently operating at between 50-60% capacity; reflecting the significant drop in footfall due to Covid-19.
· Officers have always stated this isn’t about raising revenue – at a time we don’t have a capacity issue in our car parks why carry on with these proposals, unless you want to raise more revenue from blue badge holders?
· The purple pound may actually prove crucial in reviving and changing how our City and District centres survive and adapt to the post COvid-19 world – if this isn’t about revenue raising there can be no argument against re-thinking your plans, in light of the much changed situation we are now in.
The Council is seeking to ensure that all car park users (which includes other Blue Badge Holders) have a reasonable chance of accessing a parking space in car parks, which by virtue of being close to retail and/or employment areas, usually experience high demand. This is the underlying reason for the use of Pay and Display which ensures that spaces are not dominated by any one user for a sustained period.
We are providing Blue Badge Holders with one free hour for every paid hour at these sites to allow for additional time needed. Blue Badge Holders will also not be required to pay during the evening period.
The Council consulted widely on the proposal in September 2019 and this included engaging with Spectrum, our disabled access consultee. We also carried out bench marking against 16 other Local Authorities who currently have Blue Badge Holder charging in place to look at the measures they have implemented.
While the circumstances of this year have mitigated some of the demand issues, it is anticipated that the demand for parking spaces in these car parks, will return to high levels of use once patterns of behaviour have returned to normal.
The Council currently has in the region of 9800 Blue Badge Holders and we noted a 20% increase in the number of applications following the introduction of the government changes to the scheme that expanded the criteria. Which I am sure you will agree, would be a substantial additional number of Blue Badge holders that we want to be able to support with access to parking in those areas with high demand, which this proposal will support.