Questions raised by councillors

Read questions asked by councillors and the responses.

Members may at any time ask a question of the leader, executive member or the chair of any committee or sub-committee by providing written notice of the question to the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Democratic Services. The leader, executive Member, committee or sub-committee chair concerned must provide a written response within 10 working days. The question and response will then be published here.

Questions asked and responses given are presented in date order, with the most recent question first. If a question has a response it will be noted in the title.

Questions

Question to Cllr Derek Bastiman, Executive Member for Open to Business, from Cllr Andrew Murday submitted on 21 December 2023 - with responses

In November, it was announced that North Yorkshire Council had entered an agreement with Activity Wales Events Ltd (AWE) to run three Long Course Weekend events. The council will pay Activity Wales Events Ltd £25,000 for each event. The initial event in September 2024 is expected to attract 2,000 competitors and with each competitor there are expected to be 3 supporters. The cost charged to competitors can be as much as £250 each, so the turnover for the first year of the event is therefore several hundred thousand pounds. In successive years, it is expected that participation and therefore turnover will increase.

My questions are as follows:

  1. What is the council’s revenue share?

    None. North Yorkshire Council are paying a hosting fee to bring the event to North Yorkshire, with the economic impact benefiting the communities in and around the Pateley Bridge area. The risk and reward sits with Activity Wales Events (AWE).

  2. What is the council’s profit share?

    None – as above.

  3. What sum is AWE obliged to pay to the council to reimburse the costs incurred by the council in connection with the event (road closures etc)?

    Any costs incurred by the event are the responsibility of Activity Wales Events and not the council. Activity Wales Events will have to apply for the necessary permissions, licences, road closures etc and as such are responsible for all associated costs through that process. Where additional event support and resources are required, such as waste management, the council has the option to quote for such work if it has the capacity to do so.

  4. What are the council’s anticipated costs to the council apart from the payment to Activity Wales Events Ltd of £25,000 per event?

    North Yorkshire Council’s most significant contribution will be in the form of officer time, ensuring that Activity Wales Events have the necessary support to secure all the necessary licences and permits for the event to be delivered safely. This is consistent with the approach the council takes in supporting other large events. Any further costs will be at the council’s discretion, i.e. should it wish to deliver any ancillary activities or events as part of Long Course Weekend.

  5. When will there be communication between North Yorkshire Council and the relevant town and parish councils regarding the event?

    This is planned to start in February once the final route details have been confirmed. The draft proposed run route is in the process of being shared with internal colleagues such as highways as well as the emergency services. Release of the route was delayed due to awaiting confirmation from the National Trust that they would allow the marathon route to pass through the grounds at Fountains Abbey. Once the initial views of principal partners are known, any amendments can be made before routes are released into the public domain. This will then allow the community briefings to begin.

Questions to Cllr Derek Bastiman, Executive Member for Open to Business, from Cllr Felicity Cunliffe- Lister submitted on 3 December 2023 – with responses

Q) At the Member’s Seminar in April this year, we were advised that the Destination Development Plan was being developed ready for adoption in June 23. Can you please confirm this is also what is referred to as the Destination Management Plan (as opposed to the Destination Development Partnership?).
A) The Destination Development Plan is just an earlier term used to refer to the Destination Management Plan. We now only use the term Destination Management Plan. This doesn’t relate to a Destination Development Partnership.

Q) I am now advised by Gemma Rio that the aim is for this to be completed by February 2024. I have yet to see a second draft, having been advised that the consultants would be working on it in September and then to be advised that this was now being drafted in house with the consultants only reviewing the document at the sign-off stage. I appreciate that the LVEP submission may have been given priority recently, but this is a significant delay which could impact North Yorkshire tourism negatively. Can you please confirm that the DMP is now to be allocated full resource?
A) The Destination Management Plan is in the process of being developed. This work is being done alongside the development of the York & North Yorkshire LVEP as well as a review of the internal resource dedicated to tourism. At this point the Head of Service and wider team are juggling multiple priorities. Although these more strategic projects do inevitably take time, they are not impacting on the vast amount of work continuing to be delivered to support the visitor economy.

Q) Janet Deacon advised in September that the consultants had advised that the Action Planning Forums be held as soon as possible so as not to delay the next draft. I understand from Gemma Rio that these have not taken place – her intention was to issue invitations end November for December dates for the Action Planning Forums. I raised my concerns with her then that attendance might be very low at such short notice and during the busiest trading months of the season for the hospitality trade. I have not heard further, and I would like to attend. Have any dates been released or invitations sent?
A) These are now scheduled for the 15th, 16th and 18th of January. The team is in the process of finalising the availability of facilitators with a view to issuing invitations in the next week or so.

Q) Gemma Rio has advised that she is only going to invite those who volunteered for this from the groups who attended the August consultations. I am very concerned that this group will not be properly representative of the industry, please can you confirm who is or will be invited. Can you please also confirm that the second draft will be circulated before these forums take place to ensure that those attending have proper opportunity to scrutinise what is proposed.
A) This year we have held 34 consultation workshops across North Yorkshire. For these sessions we invited every contact on our collective lists (totalling over 1,600) and as well as promoting the sessions extensively on the Council’s social media channels and through the press. This resulted in 457 industry stakeholders booking a place. At these sessions we asked every attendee if they would like to be involved in the next set of Action Planning Forums. Those who said yes will receive an invitation in the next week. We have scrutinised this list of volunteers and identified any gaps in terms of sector representation. This has led to additional names being added to the list to ensure we can have a balanced and robust discussion at each of these Forums. We are comfortable that this may lead to smaller numbers at these sessions because the idea of these sessions is to encourage smaller working groups to develop action plans. This approach has been successfully delivered by our consultants in the management of the Northumberland DMP so we are confident that it will be effective for us too.  The second draft is being further developed alongside the planning for the Action Planning Forums and therefore we don’t anticipate circulating another draft ahead of the Forums. However for each Forum we will be providing an outline of the priorities and the sub themes that sit beneath them, as well as some sample/draft action plans to use as a jumping off point for the discussions.

Q) Having engaged consultants, please can you explain what they were initially appointed to do and what their remit is now. Can you please explain the rationale behind any changes, what has been charged to date and what savings, if any, have been achieved by way of restricting their contribution.
A) The budget for this piece of work was £20,000. This has now been spent.  This piece of work included gathering and analysing existing data on the North Yorkshire Visitor Economy, consulting with stakeholders and facilitating a number of workshops to gather intelligence and understand the vision and aspiration for the destination, and outlining some core priority areas. Due to the extent of consultation delivered in the first three stages of this project, the budget was used earlier than anticipated. However the consultants were able to deliver a robust draft from which the internal team can now build upon the reach final draft.
 
Q) At the members’ seminar in April, we were advised that a DDP would deliver (amongst other things) a development of themes to encourage cross-county visits – Food and Drink, Gardens, History and Heritage, Culture, Literary Heritage and develop tour and itinerary planning across the county – and linked to national and international trails. This was very encouraging to hear, but these strands did not appear in the first draft. I commented on the draft in depth, which was significantly lacking in most areas, and reviewed with the document with the FSB who also shared my concerns. I understand they have raised these direct with you. Bearing in mind the significance of this plan, creating a 10 year strategy for the county, I would strongly recommend that the consultants are engaged to deliver the following and final draft. Please can you confirm if this is in hand.
A) The document is at a point that it can be further developed in house using the feedback received from the industry. Once this is closer to being a final draft, further consultancy time will be brought in to provide a critical eye before moving to formal sign off.  Regarding the cross cutting themes, these will be further picked up at the ‘Product’ Action Planning Forum in January, and are also being incorporated in the Marketing Strategy which will support the delivery of the DMP. 

LVEP and funding

Q) Following the announcement that the joint bid for a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) for both York and North Yorkshire has been approved, can you please confirm :
•       how much funding was anticipated to be gained from the initial LVEP application by NYC, and 
•       how much funding it is now anticipated will be accessible by NYC as a result of this joint appointment?
A)    There is no core funding associated with LVEP accreditation. However by becoming an accredited LVEP we, in partnership with York, are now eligible to apply for any future funding made available through Visit Britain/England.

Q) Whilst the current draft DMP formed the foundation for the LVEP bid, please can you confirm if the new partnership has been considered in the further development of the DMP and if so how. Is it the case that NYC and York will each have their own DMP, and if so what are the common themes and what are the areas of potential conflict that require consideration? What are the crossovers in strategy that need to be ringfenced in the DMP and subsequent Marketing Plans?
A) North Yorkshire will have its own DMP and York will have its own Tourism Strategy – both seeking formal approval early next year. However there is a requirement for there to be a York & North Yorkshire Framework and York & North Yorkshire Growth Plan which will sit over the top of our two individual strategies. These piece of work will identify shared opportunities and challenges, outline shared priorities and set a plan for delivery ensuring no conflict or duplication. The intention is to deliver the framework and Growth Plan by the end of March.

Q) In April I asked David Caulfield what the budget allocation is and what resources are available for the ongoing administration and support for the various NYC destinations/brands. This was not confirmed at the time, other than that the budget would be maintained from the previous borough councils. Is this now available? Have any savings been made with the centralisation of resources? Are there regional teams and if so are these still based on the geographic boundaries of the old destinations?
A) The Head of Service is currently undertaking a review of staff resource which will include the identification of any savings. However as this review is in the process of being undertaken, it is too early to confirm what the structure of the team may be, and any savings that may be made through this restructure.

Q) At the Members’ Seminar we were advised that once the LVEP’s have been accredited the development of Destination Development Partnerships will emerge. Are we at this stage now and if so can you please update me on progress with this. I have already raised my concerns about the value of the Yorkshire brand not being recognised and the need for it to be retained, can you confirm what steps have been taken via a Destination Development Partnership or otherwise to protect this?
A)  The development of Destination Development Partnerships is led by Visit England/Britain. At this stage there is only one DDP in England - the North East pilot led by NGI. Our understanding is that learnings will be taken from this pilot before Visit England/Britain makes any decisions on rolling the scheme out across the rest of England. In the meantime work is taking place at a Yorkshire level by the Leaders & CEOs of the Yorkshire & Humber Councils to establish ways of working on a Yorkshire level. This has included the appointment of a consultants to review potential areas of cross working including trade show attendance, major events, and tourism awards. 

Question from Cllr Neil Swannick to Cllr Carl Les, Leader on 28 November 2023 - with response

In a question to Cllr Les on 26 July this year I asked for an update on progress on the Council resolution on the crustacean die-off affecting the North East fishing industry, and in particular whether he had received a response from the Secretary of State to North Yorkshire Council's call for a Public Enquiry. His response was: We are still awaiting a response to the letter sent to the Secretary of State, which may appear disappointing but I'm not surprised, as we asked for a number of disparate actions across government.

Could Cllr Les please tell me whether he has yet received a response to his letter?

Response from Cllr Carl Les

As of 29 November 2023, we are still awaiting a response to the letter sent to the Secretary of State.  I am following up and hope to have a response soon.

Question to Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, from Cllr Andrew Murday submitted on 15 November 2023 – with response

Government data, obtained by the RAC, shows that there has been a marked reduction in road surface maintenance in the past 5 years. Specifically, in England in 2017-2018, 1,588 miles of roads were surfaced compared to 1,123 miles in 2021-2022. Similarly, figures for surface dressing of roads in the same time period show a reduction from 5,345 to 3,551 miles.  Please could you provide the equivalent figures for road surface maintenance in North Yorkshire?

Response from Cllr Keane Duncan:

In 2017/18 we delivered 24.8 miles of resurfacing schemes and 339 miles of surface dressing. It should be noted that these figures do not included capital patching works, which are typically completed in advance of a road being surface dressed.  In 2021/22 we delivered 20miles of resurfacing schemes and 225miles of surface dressing.

In terms of percentage changes – in 2021/22 we delivered 20% less miles of resurfacing schemes and 34% less miles of surface dressing. This compares to a national reduction of 29% for resurfacing 33% for surface dressing. This is a reflection of a combination of increased costs for carrying out works and a reduction in available funding compared to 2017/18.   

Follow up questions (with answers) to Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, from Cllr Michelle Donohue Moncrieff to the question that was originally submitted on 22 August 2023

Dear Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff
 
Thank you for your supplementary questions and I would like to reassure you that I took advice from the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Democratic Services to ensure the appropriate constitutional processes were followed. To answer your questions (and I have grouped 1 and 4 together) please see the information below:

Questions

1. The Executive decision dated 30th May 2023 relating to the Harrogate Gateway were key decisions. Why was the 7th August 2023 decision by the Monitoring Officer classified as not being a key decision?
 
4. The original response states that the decision was made under delegated powers to the Monitoring Officer under Schedule 4 Paragraph 11.3 (d). This clause relates the Monitoring Officer’s powers in relation to legal challenges taken against the Council. It does not explicitly give the Monitoring Officer the power to overturn decisions made by elected members. Which part of the constitution explicitly delegates that specific power to the Monitoring Officer?

Answer 

This matter was considered by the Monitoring Officer at the time who provided the legal advice regarding the decision-making process.  As the Council was being judicially reviewed, the Constitution provides that the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Democratic Services is authorised to defend or participate in any legal proceedings where he considers that such action is necessary to protect the Council’s interest (Article 14.03).  Further under paragraph 11.3(d) of the Officers’ Scheme of Delegation in the Constitution, the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Democratic can compromise any claims or legal proceedings and is given that specific delegation. Under paragraph 11.3(c) the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Democratic Services is delegated the powers to specifically ensure lawful decision-making. The Council was served with a Claim on 19 July 2023 and the Council needed to respond by 9 August 2023 with the Acknowledgement of Service. Within that timeframe it is not possible to comply with the requirements of the key decision-making process and therefore the Constitution allows the relevant officer to make the necessary decisions for the best interests of the Council. Ultimately the decision was to not implement an Executive decision and for the matter to be referred back to the Executive so that ultimately the elected members would and do have oversight of the future decision-making process with regard to the Scheme. For this reason it was considered that the item was not a key decision and any future items would be on the Forward Plan and to be determined by members. This was the position when the matter was considered by the Executive on 19 September 2023.  

Question

2. The decision was dated 7 August 2023 but not published until the 22 August 2023 (on the same day I submitted my original questions) as a result most elected members only became aware of the decision through reports in the media. Given its significance why was this decision and the rationale for taking it not communicated to elected members in a more timely manner

Answer

The law provides that a decision record should be made as soon as reasonably practicable after the decision.  This matter was still being considered through the court process and is still subject to a final Consent Order. In these circumstances it is not considered that the timeframe was unreasonable. However the Council will always look at ways we can improve our communications with all members.

Question

3. The Decision log makes reference to a Corporate Services – Executive Members and Corporate Director Meetings. Who attended the meeting? Please provide the minutes for this meeting.

Answer

The relevant Executive Members were briefed in advance of the decision being taken but it was not a meeting of the Council, and there are no minutes due to the speed in which the court proceedings were progressing and the necessary decisions needed to be taken.
 

Question to Simon Myers, Executive Member for Culture, Arts and Housing, from Cllr John McCartney submitted on 23 August 2023 – with response

A scheme to stimulate demand for energy efficiency measures in homes across North Yorkshire has been awarded £1.2 million.  What specifically will this £1.2 million be spent on?

Response from Cllr Simon Myers

The local energy advice demonstrator pilot project in North Yorkshire will fund:

  • £602,000 for whole house retrofit plans for 325 households, engagement activities and dedicated advisors to educate over 650 residents on the value of retrofit and market-building activities to maximise impact beyond the initial neighbourhoods
  • £297,000 for 250 training places for construction professionals wanting to get involved with retrofit, upskilling for community climate action volunteers and a training manager to proactively drive contractor interest 
  • £15,000 for external evaluation
  • £287,000 for household support, project management, project support and overheads

Question to Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, submitted on 22 August 2023 by Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff – with response

Could the Executive member clarify the nature of the decision to rescind the Harrogate Gateway project. Is it a pause/review or cancellation?  Who rescinded the decision?  Given that the decision to proceed was made by the Executive made only a few weeks ago, which part of the Council’s constitution was followed to reverse that decision?  What the primary reason for the rescinding of the Executives’s decision?  Did the Council believe that the legal challenge would be successful?

Response from Cllr Keane Duncan

Thank you Cllr Donohue-Moncrieff for your question.  The Council received a legal challenge by way of judicial review to the decision of the Executive on 30 May in relation to the Harrogate Transforming Cities fund project. The challenge is brought on six grounds in relation to the decision.

Given the necessity of having a public inquiry before confirming the relevant Traffic Regulation Order required to deliver the scheme, it was considered prudent by the Monitoring Officer to accept this ground of challenge.

For this reason, and after consultation with the Leader of Council and myself as the relevant Executive Member, the Monitoring Officer considered it prudent to consent to the quashing of the decision of the Executive to protect the Council’s interests.

This decision was made in this way, under delegation given to the Monitoring Officer within Schedule 4 paragraph 11.3 (d) of the constitution, in order to ensure court timetables can be complied with and avoid any further exposure to costs and time delays. A copy of the decision notice can be found here.

A further report on the project will be considered by Executive on 19 September. This will set out potential next steps for the project, associated timescales and costs to ensure the Executive can make a fully-informed and democratic decision about how best to proceed.

Question to Cllr Simon Myers, Executive Member for Culture, Arts and Housing, from Cllr John McCartney submitted on 23 August 2023 – with response

Following the response from Cllr Dadd to a question from me, submitted on 23 July 2023, about the number of empty domestic properties there are in North Yorkshire, the answer is a staggering 3,838.

My question to you, Cllr Myers, is what policies and processes do North Yorkshire Council have in place to bring these homes back into use?

Response from Cllr Simon Myers

Firstly to put the figures in context, the figure for North Yorkshire equates to roughly 1.1-1.2% which is slightly above the national average at 1% but is below the figure for Yorkshire and Humberside which is 1.6% or a little less. There is a natural churn in the housing market as properties are sold, refurbished or re let and this plays a large part in the figures.

Nationally there has been an upward trend over the last couple of years and there may be a number of factors in this, particularly in light of the slowdown in the Housing Market.

Obviously, it is a matter of concern, particularly in the context of the increasing number of people on housing waiting lists across the region.

At the moment we are still addressing this issue in ways inherited from the former district and boroughs which had differing approaches to the problem, some having designated officers to deal with the issue whereas most did not. These include as a minimum the use of various powers (a combination of housing, planning and environmental health legislation) to tackle nuisance associated with long term empty dwellings where needed.

We now have a head of service in place to lead the renewal team with private housing across the new authority. One of the first pieces of work will be looking at what we do well, areas where specific focuses on empties are required, and any gaps in how we approach these. We will also give consideration to more proactive measures to engage and encourage landlords to bring back into use.

The new housing strategy for the council is in draft form and will soon go out to consultation. Within the draft housing strategy, we have highlighted the need to develop an empty homes strategy for North Yorkshire, and have identified it as a key action in the strategy. Through this, we can develop a more co-ordinated approach to tackling empty homes across North Yorkshire. Developing the strategy would also give us the opportunity to undergo some more detailed analysis to empty homes issues in North Yorkshire and identify any potential hotspots.

I hope the above answers your question. These are early days for the new role of the Council as the strategic housing authority and there are many challenges, but we are determined to do our best to meet them. Adopting best practice across the entire county and developing strong and consistent policies will be a positive outcome from LGR.

Questions to Cllr David Chance from Cllr Peter Lacey on 19 July - with responses

Question 1

How many North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund claims for household goods, white goods and furniture are as a result of people moving home other than of their own volition, for example through rent arrears, eviction, safety concerns.

Answer 1

The purpose of the assistance fund is to provide practical help for vulnerable people who are moving home or seeking to remain within their community often – but not always - due to a crisis. The fund helps to provide a few essential items. There are a range of reasons why people apply for help including: homeless vulnerability, domestic abuse, physical disability, substance dependency. 

Since April this year 21.52% (1390) of all standard applications were made through the homeless vulnerability category. Just under a quarter of awards made in this category were as a result of landlords serving notice and in the majority of cases this was because they are selling their properties.

Question 2

What steps the council is taking to increase support for people in vulnerable groups who experience housing insecurity in that this is evidenced to have significant negative impact on people’s physical and mental health.

Answer 2

There is a range of support available for people experiencing housing insecurity. North Yorkshire Council are committed to the prevention of homelessness. The authority recognises that homelessness prevention is key to developing an effective response to the challenges of homelessness. The Housing Options service provides advice and assistance in each locality that is tailored to an applicant’s needs, the advice available also includes support for those who are in financial need. As previously stated, the options available will vary dependent on the applicants’ requirements but may include ensuring the applicant is in receipt of the correct income, this includes assistance with applying for housing costs to prevent homelessness.

If an applicant requires support with current debt, then our officers will assist with tackling housing arrears and other debts whilst referring to specialist agencies for ongoing support with managing their finances. 

All Housing Options localities are recognised authorised agents for the North Yorkshire Local Assistance fund, the fund provides practical support for vulnerable people which can include essential items such as food, utility top-up one and white good items.

North Yorkshire Council also recognises that applicants may require financial assistance to obtain accommodation to prevent and relieve homelessness, the authority will assist with financial help towards the cost of a bond and/or first month’s rent in advance for the applicant to move into alternative affordable accommodation (please note, conditions apply).

It is also important to note that all localities within the Housing Options service have a dedicated Homeless Prevention Team. The Homeless Prevention Officers work with those in temporary accommodation and those at risk of homelessness in the community. For those who are currently housed but are struggling to maintain or sustain their accommodation the officers will provide a holistic approach in capturing a customer’s needs. This may include ensuring the applicant has assistance to prevent an immediate financial setback and from becoming in long-term financial crisis, our homeless prevention team helps residents stay in their homes by supporting them with utility support and payment plans for any debt owed within the accommodation. 

Within Health and Adult Services there is the Income Maximisation team whose role it is to improve the financial health and well-being of our citizens. We provide this as a preventative service, but the same offer is also provided as part of the means tested financial assessment for social care and support customers. It includes holistic advocacy, advice and support for vulnerable people across the whole of North Yorkshire, to ensure that they receive their full entitlement to both cash based and non-cash benefits. The Revenues and Benefits service also offer Council Tax support. 

Additional housing and living well staff have been employed to support migration programmes and to provide additional overall capacity within those teams.

Question 3

Given that these household items will have a significantly higher unit cost than food or energy vouchers what pressure will this increase have on the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund budget and therefore if it might be necessary to make contingency to increase this fund.

Answer 3

Demand on the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund will sometimes experience peaks and troughs. We regularly monitor demand and keep the level of expenditure under review in order that we can respond as necessary. The council’s general contingency fund is used to support the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund budget if there is a need for additional funds.

Question 4

Give assurances that the indication elsewhere in our Council papers that Councillors are able to use their locality budgets to fund organisations that support a very similar group of vulnerable people, whether this is an attempt to ease pressure on the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund budget at the expense of the community development opportunities typically funded through Councillor locality budgets.

Answer 4

The criteria for Member Locality budgets were set by the Executive and variations to the criteria agreed by the Executive Member. Locality budgets support organisations and community projects responding to local needs and priorities - whereas North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund is support for individuals. Members can recommend projects that they wish to support in their areas and as in previous years this will include a range of community initiatives. This year, recognising that many voluntary groups are already expanding their activities to support people due to the cost-of-living crisis – for example opening their buildings as warm spaces over winter – this has been added to the criteria in order to provide assistance to local groups and charities. This is in addition to the personal support offered through North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund.

Question to Cllr Carl Les, Leader of the Council, from Cllr Neil Swannick submitted on 26 July 2023 - with response

I had notified Cllr Carl Les of a question I was planning to ask following the Leader's statement on 19 July, about progress on the resolution about crustacean die-off events along the North Yorkshire and Cleveland coast since October 2021, passed at the Council meeting of 17 May 2023. Unfortunately, the session ran out of time.

I cannot find any reference to the issue anywhere in the Council agenda of 19 July and as the resolution of 17 May committed the Council to certain actions, including calling on the Secretary of State to set up a Public Enquiry, I would expect that to be within the Leader's remit.

Will the Leader of the Council please provide an update on progress?

Response from Cllr Carl Les:

We are still awaiting a response to the letter sent to the Secretary of State, which may appear disappointing but I'm not surprised, as we asked for a number of disparate actions across government which will take time for a number of conversations to take place, viz.

  • Support for the local economy
  • Secure financial compensation
  • Secure investment needed to rebuild stocks
  • Create and fund a task force
  • Reconvene a panel of experts, admittedly only after new evidence occurs
  • Use existing national tourism bodies to promote the coast
  • Convene a public enquiry

I think it's important to focus on what we have done in the meantime, as required by the Notice of Motion viz.

  • Work with other authorities, attend and engage with the working group. This we have done at their regular meeting, where it was formally put to members that NYC should become a formal member of the working group. I have been asked to nominate members to attend and engage, along with relevant officers.
  • Members from the coastal ACC, and the wider council, and the Executive Member for Open to Business have visited Whitby to see the lobster tanks and talk with industry figures
  • The Chief Executive and I took advantage of a visit to Scarborough to visit the lobster tanks on West Pier to better understand the business
  • Use regional tourism bodies to promote the coast – this was evidenced on our stand at the Great Yorkshire Show, and also in partnership last week with the Herriot Group of Attractions exhibiting at Kings Cross Station.

We will keep the issue of crustacean die-off under review, and report progress to the Council, including the TEE&E Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Scarborough and Whitby ACC.
 

Question to Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Managing our Environment, from Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff submitted on 20 July 2023 – with response

Prior to vesting day, the Bathing Water Partnership operated at both officer and director Level with Scarborough Borough Council acting as a stakeholder?

Has North Yorkshire Council continued on this involvement as the successor Local Authority?
If the answer is yes, who are the NYC contacts (officer and director level) on the Bathing Water Partnership?

What engagement if any has the Council (officer or directoral) level had with the BWP since vesting day?

Has the Executive Member met with Yorkshire Water or the Environment Agency to discuss the current situation in relation to bathing water quality?

Response from Cllr Greg White

Prior to vesting day, the Bathing Water Partnership operated at both officer and director Level with Scarborough Borough Council acting as a stakeholder?

Yes

Has North Yorkshire Council continued on this involvement as the successor local authority? If the answer is yes, who are the NYC contacts (officer and director level) on the Bathing Water Partnership?

There are three layers of governance, from strategic to technical and advisory:

  • partnership board = Karl Battersby leads for North Yorkshire Council
  • steering group = Michael Leah leads for North Yorkshire Council
  • technical action group (TAG) = Chris Burrows leads for North Yorkshire Council and chairs

What engagement if any has the Council (officer or directoral) level had with the BWP since vesting day?

We have re-engaged with the partnership and arranged meetings for Board. The TAG met on 25 July 2023.

Has the Executive Member met with Yorkshire Water or the Environment Agency to discuss the current situation in relation to bathing water quality?

I have not directly discussed Scarborough’s bathing water with either organisation.  I have, however, sought and received assurance that discussions are taking place between them and our relevant officers.

Question to Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance and Resources, from Cllr John McCartney submitted on 23 July 2023 – with response

How many empty homes are there in North Yorkshire?

How many have Council Tax paid on them?

How many pay premium Council Tax because they have been empty for more than two years?

Can you please provide the figures for the Area Constituency Committee areas and for the individual NY Electoral Divisions?

Response from Cllr Gareth Dadd

How many empty homes are there in North Yorkshire?

There are 3,838 unfurnished long term empty properties in the North Yorkshire Council area. For this purpose long term refers to properties empty for 6 months or more.

How many have Council Tax paid on them?

The owners of all 3,838 properties are charged Council Tax – the charges range from 100% to 400% of the full Council Tax applicable to the properties valuation band depending on how long the property has been empty.

How many pay premium Council Tax because they have been empty for more than two years?

Of the 3,838 properties, 140 pay 400% Council Tax as they have been empty over 10 years. 183 pay 300% Council Tax as they have been empty over 5 years. 678 pay 200% Council Tax as they have been empty over 2 years.

Can you please provide the figures for the Area Constituency Committee areas and for the individual NY Electoral Divisions? The data is currently available by legacy District boundaries due to the revenues system configuration.

The data below includes the number of unfurnished long-term empty properties in each area (that’s over 6 months) and includes the number of unfurnished properties that attract a premium for being empty for over 2 years, 5 years and 10 years. None of the other categories of empty properties such as furnished second homes have been included.

Area Numbers

Craven

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax = 15*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 33*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 56*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 566. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax.

Hambleton

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax = 26*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 34*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 134*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 533. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax

Harrogate

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax = 20*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 27*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 176*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 650. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax

Ryedale

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax = 9*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 14*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 60*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 370. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax

Richmond

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax = 7*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 23*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 89*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 383. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax

Scarborough

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax = 19*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 19*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 109*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 763. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax

Selby

Empty and unfurnished >10 years paying 400% Council Tax =44*

Empty and unfurnished >5 years paying 300% Council Tax = 33*

Empty and unfurnished >2 years paying 200% Council Tax = 54*

Empty and unfurnished over 6 months total = 573. (*incl above) Those empty between 6 months and two years paying 100% Council Tax

Question to Cllr Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Health and Adult Services from Cllr Matt Walker – with response

STD’s infection rates are increasing national and locally; could you please provide an update on the reintroduction of walk-in appointments that are known to reduce social stigmas and are clearly evidenced to reduce infection rates.

Response from Cllr Michael Harrison:

I would be very interested if the councillor would supply the clear evidence that walk in appointments are known to reduce social stigmas and reduce infection rates. I will be pleased to forward that on to the public health professionals in the team to see if we need to review our service offering as a result.

During the pandemic we were advised to bring in online access to STD testing, and this has developed considerably. But this is not an either or. NICE guidelines state that providers should offer a mix of timed appointments and walk-in clinics to meet the needs of the local population, and that is what we do, alongside online, text and telephone.

YorSexualHealth (YSH) have a face to face service offering in Northallerton, Catterick, Thirsk, Richmond, Selby, Sherburn, Scarborough, Whitby, Malton, Harrogate, Ripon and Dyneley.

We have a long-term agreement for this service and, in contrast to some neighbouring councils, have invested in a good local service, rather than outsourcing.

Question to Cllr Simon Myers, Executive Member for Culture, Arts and Housing from Cllr Matt Walker – with response

“Further to the exec committing to signing The Yorkshire & Humber Climate Action Pledge and recognising the climate and nature emergency. Could Cllr Myers give us an update on the work he is doing himself to ensure that we as an authority has the necessary planning policy development, particularly on housing, including special planning documents and lobbying national govt, to tackle the climate emergency.”

Response from Cllr Simon Myers:

I believe your question is really a Planning Policy Question and I have referred it on to Cllr Bastiman.

However, to give you a bit of information about what we are doing in Housing to further the ambitions and commitments of the Council;

  • Ensuring that all new Council homes are built to Future Homes Standard and meet EPC “C” as a minimum, with a net-zero carbon aim.
  • Developing a social housing decarbonisation plan, with the aim of getting all our council housing stock to achieve EPC “C”
  • Supporting our Housing Association Partners to meet net-zero carbon ambitions in the delivery of new affordable homes
  • Working with partners to maximise opportunities to improve energy efficiency within the private housing stock including the ongoing work being done around various Government funded initiatives, our latest £14.5 million HUG 2 programme now open for applications being an example.

These are early days in the development of the new Council’s policies and hopefully the draft policies on Housing and Housing Allocations will soon be out for consultation and all Members input will be very valuable.

Question to Cllr Simon Myers, Executive Member for Culture, Arts and Housing from Cllr Peter Lacey – with response

Until LGR, Borough and District councils gave grants to bands to perform on bandstands around the County. This provided a boost to the funds of a whole variety of musical groups and was an excellent way for public funds to support the performing arts. From April this year, this funding has not been made available. Why has this budget been lost, and who decided to remove it?

Response from Cllr Simon Myers:

Before LGR some former District and Borough Councils did provide grants to Bands performing at Bandstands, notably Harrogate and Scarborough. Some grants are paid by Town Councils (Knaresborough) and private individuals (Pateley Bridge).

Where there were existing policies to pay grants, these have been continued.

Harrogate Borough Council stopped these payments in the 2021/22 Budget setting process, therefore there was no existing policy and this was not a decision of the new Council.

Question to Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Executive Member for Education, Learning and Skills from Cllr Philip Broadbank – with response

Are there any Council supported schools in North Yorkshire that still have lead pipes in their drinking water systems?

Response from Cllr Annabel Wilkinson:

Members will be aware that, although lead has not been used in new plumbing installations since 1970, significant amounts remain within the water distribution network nationally.

Like many councils, the Council does not routinely record the presence of lead pipework within its buildings, including schools. Annual condition surveys that are undertaken are visual, non-intrusive, surveys only and would not, therefore, identify lead pipework that is contained within ducts or voids within school buildings. The Council has, however, worked with schools to replace lead pipework where it has

been identified, either through routine maintenance or within the context of broader refurbishment programmes. This will continue to be the case.

The Council remains committed to providing safe environments for all pupils and staff.

Question to Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Executive Member for Education, Learning and Skills from Cllr Barbara Brodigan – with response

It is good to see that the Outdoor Learning Service has successfully completed its first full financial year since reopening. It is noted that the service is endeavouring to make the most efficient use of its resources and opportunities.

What support is being made available to parents of disadvantaged children and young people to ensure that they are able to take advantage of the service, particularly during the current cost of living crisis?

Response from Cllr Annabel Wilkinson:

It is the responsibility of individual governing bodies to determine how they support pupils to attend all types of residential visit, whether with the Council’s Outdoor Learning Service or elsewhere.

Schools must follow legislation on charging for activities.

The Education Act 1996 sets out the law on charging for school activities in England

The governing body of a school is required to maintain a charging and remissions policy. No charges can be made unless the governing body of the school has drawn up a charging policy giving details of the optional extras that they intend to charge for, and a remissions policy.

The remissions policy must set out any circumstances in which the school propose to remit (wholly or partly) any charge which would otherwise be payable to them in accordance with their charging policy. The governing body may decide to reduce the cost for those children whose parents are in receipt of certain benefits.

Question to Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Managing our Environment, from Cllr John McCartney submitted on 6 July 2023

Parish and Town Councils have a duty to provide allotment gardens if enough residents say they want one. There is a power to compulsory lease or purchase land for allotment gardens. But, that power does not sit with Town or Parish Councils, it sits with North Yorkshire Council. What is North Yorkshire Council’s policy or view on using that compulsory lease or purchase powers if a Parish or Town Council wishes to provide allotment gardens for their residents.

There are 731 Town and Parish Councils in North Yorkshire. How many of these communities have allotment gardens in them? Do North Yorkshire Council have any policies relating to allotment gardens? For example do we have a planning policy to provide allotment gardens in new green spaces and in large new housing schemes?

From Cllr Chris Aldred to Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive member for Children and Families submitted on 22 May 2023 - with response

Can the Executive Member confirm that Council isn’t adhering to the minimum rates for foster parents recommended by the independent Fostering Network organisation? If this is so, how does the Council expect to retain foster carers and recruit new ones when it fails to pay the full costs incurred through the allocated allowances  - as independently verified? What is the current recruitment rate for new carers and how many children are currently placed with more expensive agencies, if we do not have enough foster carers of our own?

Response by Cllr Janet Sanderson to the question raised by Cllr Chris Aldred

Foster Carer Allowance payments have historically followed the rate of Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation and so inflation is always matched. Due to the very rapid rise in inflation last year, the unusual step was taken to increase foster carer payments mid-year on 1 October 2022 by the rate of June 2022 CPI. Then on 1 April 2023, a further increase was made to match December CPI.
 
In further recognition of increased fuel costs, the parameters around mileage claims were enhanced to include the first 100 miles. Previously it had been expected that this was absorbed from the allowance payment.
 
Additionally, for accredited foster carers, their premium was increased by 15% (so more than inflation) to maintain competitiveness with other local authorities in the region. In October 2022, a benchmarking exercise across the region was carried out to ascertain the payments made by other local authorities.
 
Furthermore, three new payments were introduced on 1 April 2023:

  • three week bridging payment for Accredited Foster Carers
  • golden hello for newly approved Foster Carers
  • recommend a friend payment to existing Foster Carers

Also, from 1 April 2023, foster carers were given access to the Vivup Staff Benefit Scheme that provides things link reduced cost on groceries.
 
With respect to the payment rates recommended by The Fostering Network, since 2016 The Fostering Network has not given suggested payment rates. What they have recommended is increasing payments annually by the rate of inflation (as North Yorkshire has done). The Fostering Network currently have running a ‘’The 'Cost of Fostering' - cost-of-living campaign’.  This campaign is calling upon government ‘to provide urgent funding to cover the cost of fostering so children and young people do not miss out’. The campaign is based upon an independently calculated formula of the cost of bringing up children in foster care across age bandings. North Yorkshire is not aware of any local authority that is paying these higher rates.
 
The government sets minimum weekly fostering allowance payments as below:

  Age 0-2 Age 3-4 Age 5-10 Age 11-15 Age 16-17
Government recommended £154 £159 £175 £199 £233
North Yorkshire £182.10 £182.10 £207.47 £258.12 £314.02
TFN 'cost-of-living campaign' £215 £215 £258 £324 £324

Included in the middle row of the above table are the current Fostering Allowance rates paid by North Yorkshire that are higher (and significantly higher for teenagers) than the government recommended rates.  For additional comparison, The Fostering Network '’Cost of Fostering' - cost-of-living campaign’ rates have also been included in the bottom row.
 
In October 2022 North Yorkshire completed a regional benchmarking exercise of weekly Fostering Allowance payments for 11-15 year old children/young people. The findings were as set out below:

Local Authority North Yorkshire Calderdale Bradford Kirklees Leeds Hull East Riding
11-15 year old Fostering Allowance £242.45 £182 £177 £205.42 £205.58 £231 £226.75

At this time North Yorkshire was paying the highest Fostering Allowance. This benchmarking exercise is about to be repeated to see how the payments to foster carers have changed since annual increases have been applied etc.

The recruitment rate for foster carers is that we currently have nine assessments underway for new unrelated fostering households. Enquiries to become unrelated foster carers are low, generally ranging from 1 to 3 in a week. However, all agencies are reporting low enquires at the moment. There are currently only four North Yorkshire looked-after children who are being fostered by external independent fostering agencies.

We continue to be vigilant in ensuring that we remain competitive and the assistant director has committed to meeting the Chairs of the Foster Carer Associations on a quarterly basis.

Question to Cllr Derek Bastiman, Executive Member for Open to Business, from Cllr Mike Schofield submitted on 17 May 2023 - with response

What changes can be made to the unsuccessful bids for project funding to make them successful? How many in total have been applied for? How many have been successful? How much has been spent on consultants for the unsuccessful bids?

Response by Cllr Derek Bastiman to the question raised by Cllr Mike Schofield

Feedback was captured from government on each of the unsuccessful Levelling Up Fund (LUF) round two bids. This primarily centred around the value for money aspects of the bids and sections where more detail would have been beneficial. We have also taken lessons learned from a review of other successful bids. 

We expect details for Levelling Up Fund (LUF) round three to be released in July 2023 prior to the summer recess. There is uncertainty as to how the next round of funding will operate including confirmation as to whether those areas previously successful and in receipt of levelling up funds will be eligible to bid. If eligible, we will need to review the detailed guidance before considering which projects for the North Yorkshire area would be prioritised to increase the likelihood of success. 

Whilst awaiting the announcement work continues reviewing potential projects, which if not taken forward as part of any bid could form part of the pipeline of major schemes currently being developed. Officers are also taking lessons learned from the bidding process and have been able to use this to inform other bids/applications.  

In total, five bids were submitted to the previous round of Levelling Up Fund (LUF). Bids requested in excess of £122 million of grant from the government for investment in the area. Of these bids one was successful for the Richmond area at Catterick for £19 million of grant. In preparing the bids £796,000 was expended on consultant support for the development of the submissions. This total includes £250,000 of grant awarded by the government for category one areas (Richmond and Scarborough) to use towards bid preparation in these areas. The expenditure on unsuccessful bids by district, borough and the county council totalled £466,000 (excluding the government contributions). This equates to 0.45% of total grant requested from the levelling up fund. The successful bid by Richmondshire expended a total of £205,000 in securing an award of £19 million equating to around 1% of expenditure in securing the grant. Clearly all bids were submitted by individual councils prior to vesting day. Any bids in the future would be developed as one council, would reflect this new position.    

Question to Cllr Carl Les, Leader of the Council, from Cllr Chris Aldred - with response

Things seem to have gone very quiet on the double devolution front, despite your enthusiastic championing of this “exciting prospect” for parish, town and city councils prior to the abolition of the district councils – quote from August 2020 as follows: “We believe this double devolution which passports powers from Whitehall to the town hall and the town hall to the village hall is an exciting prospect. We are seeking more powers from the government, but we want more powers to be devolved to the very local area as well. We want to bring people together to get more things done at a local level.”

Could I ask:

  • have any parish, town or city councils been approached – or approached North Yorkshire Council – as to their wish to participate in such a scheme and if so which ones?
  • what sorts of powers and services are under consideration for being devolved to these councils?
  • on what basis will a decision be made to devolve and who would take the final decision?
  • is there a timetable in place for the progression of this process now that the unitary authority has been established? If so, can you share it?

Thank you.

Response from Cllr Carl Les to the question raised by Cllr Chris Aldred regarding double devolution

Outline timetable:

  • invite town and parish councils to submit expressions of interest – late November 2022
  • closing date for receipt of expressions of interest – 31 March 2023
  • evaluation of expressions of interest – summer 2023
  • North Yorkshire Council Executive decision on up to six to develop a full business case – autumn 2023
  • joint development of full business cases – autumn 2023 to spring 2024
  • evaluation of full business cases – spring 2024 (on a case-by-case basis as they become ready for evaluation)
  • North Yorkshire Council Executive decision on which full business cases to progress – spring 2024 (on a case-by-case basis as they become ready for a decision)
  • transfer date – very unlikely before April 2024 (on a case-by-case basis as they become ready for implementation)

I can confirm that 12 Expressions of Interests have been received and are currently being evaluated, following evaluation a report will be brought to Executive for decision on up to six to develop to full business case as per timetable.

Question to Cllr Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Health and Adult Services, from Cllr Peter Lacey submitted on 15 May 2023 - with response

In March this year the Government cut in half the additional funding promised to invest in the social care workforce. Could you inform Council of how much had been expected, what this had been earmarked against locally and what the cut in this figure means for local services?

Response by Cllr Michael Harrison to the question raised by Cllr Peter Lacey

£500 million nationally was a figure set out for workforce in the government’s initial £5.3 million announcement for adult social care in November 2021. This was for the period up to 2025. (Most of the money was to pay for the charging reform and market sustainability fund). No figures were ever given at council level – or when in the period up to 2025 we would see the workforce funding. Therefore, we have never committed anything to it or added it to budgets.
 
In the announcement to halve it to £250 million, the DHSC has said:
 
"We are investing at least £250 million over the next two years to:

  • better recognise social care as a profession - by describing the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours that people need to work in adult social care, we will improve career pathways and opportunities for progression
  • empower the workforce to deliver high quality, personalised care that supports people drawing on care and support to lead independent and fulfilled lives - this will increase opportunities to develop skills and expertise, and undertake learning and development

However no allocations have been made yet to councils (it looks likely this will be autumn/winter 2023)."

To provide you with some reassurance, it is worth noting that North Yorkshire Council invested an additional £6 million in 22/23 for social care measures/pressures focused around workforce (£4 million non-recurrent and £2 million recurrent) and is investing c£14 million over the next three years in care sector provision as part of the cost of care. This is in addition to £18 million of additional national funding that we have budgeted for.

Question to Cllr Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Health and Adult Services, from Cllr Andrew Murday submitted on 15 May 2023 - with response

In your statement you comment on measures to deal with hospital discharges. It is well established that the providing adequate resources in the community to care for residents after discharge from hospital is a major factor in managing the flow of patients through hospital. When those resources are inadequate the number of so-called bed-blockers increases and patients end up being held in unsuitable facilities whilst they wait for a hospital bed to become available, or alternatively have their planned admission to hospital cancelled for lack of an available bed.

I would be grateful if you could provide the figures on the number of patients that are currently in hospital, deemed suitable for discharge but unable to be discharged, and if possible say whether this figure is going up, staying the same or going down over the past 12 months.

Response by Cllr Michael Harrison to the question raised by Cllr Andrew Murday

I’m afraid I cannot give you a direct answer to your question. There is no single NHS database that accurately reflects all hospital discharges or potential discharges. We work with five main hospital sites (York, Scarborough, Airedale, Harrogate, Friarage and James Cook) and several others with significant discharges (Darlington, Leeds, Wakefield’s sites and Lancaster) and they all count slightly differently.

The “no criteria to reside” status which a hospital uses to indicate people ready for discharge includes people who might not need social care support (for example, may need district nursing) and also, at any hospital, will include people waiting for support from multiple local authorities, not just North Yorkshire Council. 

But in the spirit of trying to give you an answer, as of yesterday, 204 people had been referred to North Yorkshire Council for discharge. Of this snapshot:

  • 35% are with brokers currently sourcing an onward service – some of these will be people with complex requirements
  • a further 13% are expected to leave hospital within the next 48 hours
  • the remaining 52% are actively being reviewed by a social worker, awaiting family feedback or Mental Capacity assessment or are nearing completion

We are supporting the discharge of more people each week than it has ever done before, despite the real challenges in the care sector. Before the pandemic, we discharged, on average, 45 people per week via social care – now it ranges around 75 per week and this figure has increased since Christmas. The throughput is there, but we must bear in mind that getting someone out of hospital into the most appropriate setting with the appropriate support is very important. We have around 400 people in short term residential accommodation who in the short-medium term we (and they) would rather they were at home, with support. So whilst we have got them out of hospital, and that acute hospital bed is available as a result, and they are safely being looked after, the pressures in the domiciliary care sector are still meaning they are not yet at home where we would all ideally like them to be.

Question to Cllr Simon Myers, Executive Member for Culture, Arts and Housing from Cllr Bob Packham submitted on 14 May 2023 - with response

The Council now owns 8,400 homes. The £14.5 million grant for improved insulation and energy efficiency measures is welcome but will enable such work on less than 10% of our stock.

Much local authority housing was built either between the wars or in the immediate post war period. It was often poorly insulated, and whilst there is evidence of some improvement schemes over the years there are still many properties that have a low EPC rating and I have myself seen evidence of damp and water ingress in our properties.

Prior to local government reorganisation, Selby District Council instigated a stock condition survey and my understanding was that it was close to completion at local government reorganisation.

Will the Executive member support, as a matter of priority, the completion of a condition survey for all our stock as the basis for a strategy to ensure all our properties meet the highest possible EPC rating, aiming for a minimum of a C rating, wherever this is feasible, and will he ensure that proposals to achieve this are reported to the appropriate Scrutiny Committees and Council for consideration?

Response by Cllr Simon Myers to the question raised by Cllr Bob Packham

Prior to local government reorganisation, Selby District Council instigated a stock condition survey and my understanding was that it was close to completion at local government reorganisation.

We are committed to decarbonise the Council housing stock and this must include the development of a delivery plan to do so by March 2024. This plan shall of course be informed by Stock Condition Surveys. We would look to maximise external funding opportunities to help deliver this commitment. The three previous Stock Holding Authorities held different data regarding Condition Surveys and we are working to develop a comprehensive set of data for all our housing across the County.

The delivery plan is likely to be the subject of scrutiny and of course approval by this Council. I know that we all share a commitment to provide decent homes for our residents. The imperative to retrofit existing housing is very challenging but we are committed to it. I believe we can all work together as a Council and with outside agencies to deliver this.

Question to Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Executive Member for Education, Learning and Skills, from Cllr Bob Packham submitted on 14 May 2023 - with response

I was recently surprised to learn at an Area Committee meeting that despite recent extensions to several schools in the west of the former Selby District, there is a significant expected shortfall in the number of primary school places by 2026 across three Council Divisions. In addition, I noted last week that the Council are not intending, for the time being, to extend a school in Skipton, which the Planning Committee was informed was necessary due to recent development in the area.

Both of these areas have been the subject of significant growth over recent years, but the former County Council does not appear to have provided for an adequate increase in school places especially at Primary level. In both cases it is understood that original development proposals were to include new schools, but this was subsequently amended to involve extensions to existing schools. Officers have agreed to meet concerned Councillors in these areas to discuss the specific cases.

As a single Council going forward there is an opportunity for much closer liaison between Education and Planning in the Council and avoid these issues in the future. Will the Executive Member ensure that where large scale development is proposed liaison takes place at a very early stage and that the Council acts corporately to ensure that developers contributions meet the full cost to the Council of ensuring adequate provision of local school places resulting from new development?

Response by Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Executive Member for Education, Learning and Skills, to the question raised by Cllr Bob Packham.

I am aware of both of the cases mentioned and also that, as acknowledged, officer briefings specific to each area are being arranged.  Although the data referenced did show potential shortfalls there are always a numbers of factors that need to be continually reviewed to assess if and when that future position will arise. These include analysis of the underlying demographic, the housing build trajectory and the pupil yield rates. The background for each of the areas are very different, and the location specific briefings will explore all of the relevant aspects in detail. I would like to reassure that there has always been positive liaison between officers working on education planning in the former County Council and colleagues working on local planning across the county, but I also agree that the single council will provide opportunity to further enhance that area of work.

The Council consulted on a revised Developer Contributions for Education Policy in line with guidance from the Department for Education (DfE). The new policy was effective from July 2020.
 
The policy sets out the levels of contribution that will be requested from developers in North Yorkshire towards the cost of providing the school places necessary to support their developments. These are calculated by multiplying the projected pupil yield from the development by the national average costs published in the DfE school places scorecards, adjusted to reflect regional factors. This is in line with DfE guidance. The policy makes provision for these rates to be updated annually and new rates came into effect from 1 April 2023.

I cannot guarantee to you Councillor Packham that developer contributions will meet the full costs to the Council for school place sufficiency projects. There are a number of reasons for this, but primarily because of construction cost inflation between the agreement of contributions and the subsequent project delivery date. However, I can assure you that the Council will continue to pursue developer contributions for education infrastructure at all times in accordance with the prevailing law and statutory guidance.

Question to Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Executive Member for Education, Learning and Skills, from Cllr Peter Lacey submitted on 14 May 2023 - with response

With the recent reminder at His Majesty’s coronation of the value of music and therefore the importance of opportunities for all children to participate in music education could we be assured that were the proposed bid to the Arts Council turn out not to be successful that this important area of education would not suffer.

Response by Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Executive Member for Education, Learning and Skills, to the question raised by Cllr Peter Lacey.

At this stage it isn’t possible to predict the outcome of the bidding process. However, it is clear that whoever is successful at securing the lead organisation position will need to demonstrate (in the bid) that delivery will, as the minimum, be maintained at current standards, they will also need to show how the opportunities for children and young people can increase and improve. If the North Yorkshire Council Music Service does not secure the funding, the new Lead Organisation would almost certainly need to commission the Music Service to continue delivery, as the funding will still be linked to our specific area for example, North Yorkshire. The Music Service is currently the biggest deliverer of instrumental lessons in the region.

I want to thank you for asking this question, as it gives me the opportunity to sing the praises of our wonderful Music Service.
 
Six music centres all performed Easter concerts last term and summer concerts are now being planned.

Pupil numbers are increasing. We have increased the number of primary schools having whole class instrumental lessons.
 
We are continuing to develop our partnerships with organisations across the region. These include new projects with NYMAZ (North Yorkshire Music Action Zone) and Brass Bands England; COAST, the East Coast LCEP (Local Cultural Education Partnership) and NYCEP the newly formed North Yorkshire Cultural Education Partnership.

We have maintained contact with the Band of the Grenadier Guards and hope to do a workshop with them next year. We are also seeking to provide a summer school using FEAST funding at Skipton Academy.

Question to Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Managing Our Environment, from Cllr Rich Maw submitted on 11 May 2023 - with response

Could the Exec member please tell me how many of the County’s beaches are currently declared unfit for swimmers by the Environment Agency? I am aware of the poor quality of water in South Bay Scarborough which has been declared as unfit for swimmers and would like to know what it is that we are doing to remedy this?

Response by Cllr Greg White to the question raised by Cllr Rich Maw.

The bathing water quality list is maintained by the Environment Agency Bathing water quality (data.gov.uk)

Only Scarborough South Bay is classified as poor bathing water quality. Beach signage advising against bathing is in place. North Yorkshire Council are partners in the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership along with Yorkshire Water, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the Environment Agency. Specifically for Scarborough South Bay, despite extensive investigations into the causes of the recurring poor bathing water quality, no specific cause has yet been uncovered. The Partnership works towards improving bathing water quality across all Yorkshire Beaches with some success with Whitby and Scarborough North Bay getting ‘blue flag’ status:

Tynemouth, Seaburn and Whitby beaches given Blue Flag for 2023 | The Northern Echo

From Cllr Andy Brown to Cllr Carl Les, Leader – 24 April 2023 - with response

As North Yorkshire Council is a major customer of both Yorkshire Water and Northumberland Water would the Leader of North Yorkshire Council please write to the owners of those companies making it clear we are not satisfied with the amount of sewage that they put in our streams and rivers the figures speak for themselves and are really what we expect in for our residents.

As North Yorkshire Council is a major customer of both Yorkshire Water and Northumberland Water would the Leader of North Yorkshire Council please write to the owners of those companies making it clear that we do not expect to pay large bills only to discover that sewage is being routinely released into our local rivers and the rules about only doing so during exceptional weather are being regularly flouted. Could they provide us with an assurance that they will reduce the amount of sewage considerably by investing in infrastructure that will allow them to keep our rivers and stream to recover from the sewage that they have put in them comply with the law and only release untreated sewage in genuinely rare and exceptional weather conditions when the system is at risk of severe overload.

Response from Cllr Carl Les, Leader, on 10 May 2023 to the question submitted by Cllr Andy Brown on 24 April 2023

Thank you for raising this issue. North Yorkshire has sadly been in the national and local press several times in recent years with reports of pollution in our rivers and shores. Last month, Scarborough South Bay has been categorised as not safe for bathing by the Environment Agency after classing its Bathing Water Profile as “Poor”. 

Earlier this year, it was highlighted nationally that the Aire is in the top ten of English and Welsh rivers for raw sewage discharge, with the Ouse coming in at number 18. Looking into the figures behind the press articles, I was pleased to see that both the number and hours of sewage discharges have dramatically decreased – the hours of discharge into Aire has decreased by 7,329 hours, and the Ouse has decreased by 7,560 hours. Each discharge of sewage however impacts residents and wildlife.

As you rightly point out, North Yorkshire Council pays for the provision of water to our buildings but we also represent residents who are concerned with these events. Yorkshire Water has committed to a £180 million programme to deal with this issue across Yorkshire, as part of its £790 million programme to improve rivers across the region by 2025. Northumbrian Water is investing millions of pounds each year to reduce sewer flooding and improve water quality, and working with communities via their Rainwise scheme.

Although monitoring and regulating such discharges are a function of the Environment Agency and not the Council, it concerns the North Yorkshire environment. Therefore, the Council will contact Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water to request an update on what is planned to improve the situation in our rivers and offer assistance to speed up the process. Our Council officers are already involved in multiple river catchment partnerships and flood alleviation schemes. We are about to deliver a government funded “Local Investment in Natural Capital” exploring how nature-based solutions can assist with issues such as these.

Finally, it is worth being aware of the River Restoration Centre’s 2023 Conference Declaration:

“The consensus view from the conference is that to achieve the social, environmental and economic benefits of restoring healthy rivers and functioning floodplains in the UK: 

  • we must communicate better the importance of physical habitat and natural processes for the health of our rivers 
  • we must plan at the catchment scale to restore natural processes and connectivity in rivers and floodplains
  • we need physical habitat and natural processes to be recognised as being equally important as water quality and quantity for healthy rivers
  • we need to increase the scale and rate of implementation of restoration actions
  • we urgently need the policy, funds and capacity to restore healthy rivers
  • we need physical habitat and natural processes to feature more highly in national campaigns
  • we need science, research and monitoring to understand and measure success
  • we need better-defined national targets for river morphology and habitat quality"

These highlight the complexities of river restoration going on across the country and are all relevant to the rivers of North Yorkshire. 

We will invite Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water to update on their progress to date and discuss the above issues with them.
 

From Cllr Andy Brown to Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation – 18 April 2023 - with response

Could the Executive lead for Transport please say whether he thinks it is right for North Yorkshire to remain one of the only two council areas in the whole of England that has a policy of no new fixed or average speed cameras?

Response from Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, to the question from Cllr Andy Brown

Speed enforcement, including the issue of safety cameras, is the responsibility of North Yorkshire Police – not North Yorkshire Council directly. However, we know road safety is a key issue for communities right across North Yorkshire and it is right that this council and its elected representatives are involved in ensuring the approach to enforcement is as effective as possible. I would, therefore, like to assure Cllr Brown that I wish to see all options explored that could help reduce harm on our roads, including the potential for safety camera enforcement.  

Myself and the Leader of Council, Cllr Carl Les, recent wrote to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and York, Zoe Metcalfe, offering the Council’s support in helping expedite a planned police-led speed enforcement review, which includes the feasibility of safety cameras. I would like to see this review progress at pace so an informed and timely view can be taken on the extent to which fixed and/or average speed cameras have a role to play in enforcing speed limits in North Yorkshire, as part of a combined approach, alongside education and engineering, in improving road safety in North Yorkshire.

The York and North Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership plays a key role in ensuring the strongest possible cooperation between all relevant partners organisations and the Council will continue to provide input to this as an active and founding member. I will keep councillors updated on progress with the police’s speed enforcement review.

From Cllr Andrew Murday to Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation – 1 April 2023 - with response

In mid-March I dutifully posted out on various social media platforms the ‘Let’s Talk’ under 25’s survey on climate and transport. I am sure other councillors will have done the same. It was particularly good to see that it was ensured that the survey was made relevant to the target audience by consulting Youth Councils.

I understand that subsequently the transport questions were removed and it became a climate survey only.

I would be grateful if could clarify why, by whom, and when the survey was changed. I would also like to know when an analysis of the transport responses, submitted before the change to the survey, will be released. 

Response from Cllr Keane Duncan, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, on 20 April 2023 to the Question from Cllr Andrew Murday, submitted on 1 April 2023.

Thank you for your question, which is the first ever written question asked under the new council’s constitution.

As mentioned at the recent seminar for elected members, we will soon be launching the first round of consultation on the new Local Transport Plan (LTP) for York and North Yorkshire. The content of a transport survey is being confirmed and will be launched soon.

While we initially envisioned producing a young person’s version of the wider public survey, the under-25 survey you refer to was launched before the main survey had been finalised and published.

Given this, it was determined the best course of action was to remove the transport elements of the under-25 survey until the main survey had been launched. The climate change elements of this survey remained live as this constituted consultation on the Climate Change Strategy agreed by the Executive on January 17. Read the draft climate change strategy report.

While we originally intended to explore production of a specific younger person’s transport survey once the main consultation had gone live, it is now envisaged that there will be just one survey for all age groups. Demographic data such as age will be captured as part of the responses to ensure the feedback is representative.

We are now, therefore, not expecting to launch a dedicated under-25 transport survey. Instead, officers will be engaging directly with groups deemed typically harder to reach, including younger people via forums such as the Youth Councils.

Responses to the original survey, shared via the Commonplace platform, will remain accessible. We plan to make significant efforts to ensure anyone under 25 who engaged with the original survey is encouraged to complete the wider survey when launched. Analysis of responses received will be shared with councillors to help inform decision making on the LTP.

All elected members will be informed when we launch the public survey and any assistance with promoting this will be very welcome. I hope that this gives the explanation you were seeking.