Agenda item

Executive Business

Verbal report of the Leader of the Council.


A verbal report of the Leader of the Council was given 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.  Capital Programme


Councillor Moulton to Councillor Winning (Councillor Keogh to respond


QUESTION: Is the Labour Administration committed to delivering a new play park at Paignton Park and to retaining the £100K investment allocated by the previous Conservative council in the Capital Programme?


ANSWER: The administration is currently undertaking a review of the Capital Programme to ensure that all investment, either revenue or capital, has a clear purpose and strong business case.  Play Area procurement (including Paignton Park proposals) will be considered at a future meeting of the Strategic Capital Board.


2.  Portswood Broadway


Councillor Moulton to Councillor Keogh


QUESTION: In the council’s latest consultation on proposed changes to Portswood Broadway, have any restrictions been put in place to prevent people completing it multiple times online?


ANSWER: The Portswood Broadway consultation is carried out via an online survey. To mitigate multiple copies of the survey being completed by individuals, website cookies are used, which restrict respondents completing multiple copies of the survey.


3.  Budget


Councillor Fitzhenry to Councillor Letts


QUESTION: Can the Cabinet Member for Finance advise council of the most up to date budget gap and outline what measures have been taken since July’s meeting to balance the books? 


ANSWER:  The in-year budget gap for 2023/24, as reported to 19 September Cabinet is £16M. That is as at the end of period 5 (to 31 August 2023).


In terms of future budget gap, the estimate is being continually updated. For 2024/25, the gap was £46.14M as reported to Council in July and the most recent estimate is £43.56M. The most recent estimate for 2025/26 is £48.53M and for 2026/27 is £55.17M shortfalls.


Additional proposed savings will be presented to Cabinet in October to reduce the gap both this year and also next year.  Those proposals are being finalised. Where necessary consultation will need to take place before decisions are made on those proposals.


4.  Southampton City Council Workforce


Councillor P Baillie to Councillor Letts


QUESTION: Have you found out yet what the large number of SCC staff taken on over the last 6 years actually do? 


ANSWER:  Summary information regarding the number of new roles across the last few years has been shared with me. There have been increases in both public and non-public facing roles. I am meeting with our Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development later this month to look at some of the detail.


I am pleased to be able to say, though, that there is now a downward trend in overall posts and headcount, largely as a result of cost control measures and service redesign.


5.  University Technical College


Councillor J Baillie to Councillor Kaur (Councillor Winning to respond)


QUESTION:  Will the council do all it can to support the new University Technical College (UTC)?

ANSWER:  We welcome the opportunity for students to have more choice in the Post 16 sector with links to employers.  The Council will continue to work with all relevant government departments to ensure that the breadth of education and skills training that is needed for the young people in Southampton is achieved.


6.  Air Quality


Councillor Chapman to Councillor Keogh


QUESTION:  Poor air quality is the greatest environmental risk to health globally with air pollution particularly effecting the most vulnerable in society: children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions - often from less affluent areas. For visitors to the city particularly for those travelling in groups, active travel is impractical, and railways too expensive. What would this administration advise as an alternative to the convenience of the car and relatively cheap parking found in the city? What can residents reasonably expect to be delivered in the next two years to reduce both pollution and the traffic burden in the city?


ANSWER:  The SCC Local Transport Plan (LTP) – Connected Southampton 2040 has a vision to make Southampton a modern, liveable and sustainable place to live, work and visit by investing in better and more innovative transport. The goals of the Plan include widening people’s sustainable travel choices and so encouraging them to get around actively and healthily, and helping Southampton become a zero emission city.


The goals of the Plan are being actioned thought the LTP4 Implementation Plan 2022 – 2025, which identified a range of projects being delivered and in development. Our City Centre is transforming with improvements to Southampton Central Interchange and a new bus hub at Albion Place, an Enhanced Partnership has been signed with local bus operators which will help deliver improved bus services and reduced price ticketing options (such as the group fare 5 for £5 offering and evening fare offers), the roll out of new EV charging to move towards lower emission vehicles, multi modal transport corridors which provide bus priority and promote alternative travel on corridors such as Portswood and A33 Western corridor. These align with our Green City 2030 commitments - delivering clean air with low emission transport options.


7.  Safer Journeys to School


Councillor Wood to Councillor Winning (Councillor Keogh to respond)


QUESTION:  How we work has changed dramatically in recent years. In many families with primary school aged children both parents work. In many single parent families, the sole parent works. Many more people are now working from home and options for before and after school childcare are either expensive or limited. As a single parent I know that childcare can take a significant part of income.


Not all children are in an easy walk from their school. Due to increases in traffic and other safety concerns even a short walk won’t be safe for young children to walk unaccompanied.


What is the Council doing to make it easier for parents, especially working parents, to get their children safely to school, to reflect changes in employment practices?


ANSWER:  Our Local Transport Plan – Connected Southampton 2040 has the goals of creating a System for Everyone and A Better Way to Travel – which for school travel means safer routes to school, supporting sustainable travel options, creating a completed coherent cycling network, and school streets that have timed closures for general traffic that create safe conditions for all.


The Council is constructing new crossings and safer routes to school for Springhill, Freemantle C of E, Hightown Primary, Bassett Green, Glenfield and Beechwood Junior School with funding from Active Travel England. Enforcement of existing parking restrictions and Keep Clear zig zags at schools is being done with new camera enforcement at six schools which will make accessing schools safer.


Southampton has thirteen permanent school streets and a further five sites under a trial to assess their suitability for permanent school street. The Sustainable Travel Team provide initiatives such as BikeIt programme, promote Park & Stride locations for schools and contribute to Modeshift Stars school awards which help schools promote walking / wheeling / cycling.

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