Agenda item

Questions by the Public

To receive questions from and provide answers to the public in relation to matters which are about something the council is responsible for or something that directly affects people in the city, in accordance with Part B, paragraph 11 of the Constitution.


Questions, of no longer than 50 words, can be submitted to the Democratic Support Unit, Plymouth City Council, Ballard House, West Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3BJ, or email to Any questions must be received at least five complete working days before the meeting.


There were 10 questions submitted by members of the public.


The following question was submitted by Grace Strickland –

Question: The shortage of SEN places has caused a huge gap in provision, when will the council and public be informed of the outlined planned investment to pay for the extra places required? 

Answer: The majority of our children with EHCPs are educated in mainstream schools, forming approximately 2.5% of the mainstream school population.  


Our maintained special schools are full and we have a plan for short term expansion and a strategy for expansion of special places. These need to go alongside the approaches used by the council, schools and MATs to ensure mainstream schools are, and continue to be as inclusive as possible of children with SEND.  


In the short term, the council is using government grant to expand Cann Bridge School. Funding is being used to provide modular classrooms for an additional 16 children from January 2024. 


We expect and need to have the specific plans agreed by the end of 2023. We will be working with our special schools and our MATs to take this forward.  


The following question was submitted by Mr Batkin –

Question:As the proposal to implement additional restricted parking in Zone GG requires the agreement of all Ward Councillors for them to be signed I would ask the Cabinet Member if the lack of response from Cllrs Allen and Gosling is reasonable and consequently what can be done about it? 

Answer: Officers have been involved in dialogue with a Ward Member concerning a request for proposed changes to some unrestricted parking within this area, however no proposals have been discussed concerning additional restricted parking under a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) It is correct that any changes within a ward does require the consensus of all Ward Members.   


In light of your I will ask officers engage with all Ward Members in respect to thoughts on considering any changes to restricted parking in accordance with the Councils CPZ policy


The following question was submitted by Ryan Aldred –

Question:I know of 6 incidences of voter suppression in the May local elections thanks to new voter ID laws. Will you, as Leader of the Council, write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to demand this disenfranchising, undemocratic law be overturned?  

Answer: The Council agreed in March to undertake a review of the impact of voter ID and report to the September Audit and Governance Committee and following that review will make further representations.  


I have also raised this issue at the Local Government Association and will continue to do so over the course of the next few months, particularly as a further raft of needless changes in relation to absent voting, overseas electors and EU citizens’ voting and candidacy rights are expected to come into force in advance of the May 2024 polls 


The Voter Authority Certificate has been a disaster and I believe that there are still people staying away rather than being turned away, due to lack of ID or not applying for a VAC I will continue to make know my opposition to these changes through all avenues available to me  


The following question was submitted by George Wheeler –

Question:The two bus shelters (in-bound) at St Budeaux Square were removed last June (2022) to allow major works to start in August 2022. That work has still not started. When will it start and if that is not imminent, will you consider providing temporary shelters until then, please?

Answer: Construction of the transport improvements at St. Budeaux, including installation of the shelters, is scheduled to commence from September 2023.

PCC does not own any of its bus shelters and neither does it have any temporary shelters. It is also not possible to source a temporary shelter in the intervening time period.


The following question was submitted by Fiona Smart –

Question:Bristol has run its 10-day Festival of Nature for 20 years. Exactly why, in view of rapidly worsening climate chaos and biodiversity decline, is Plymouth failing to organise a similar huge 10-day citywide festival to educate and motivate its citizens and voluntary groups who desperately want an opportunity to help? 

Answer: Thank you for your question. I agree that we should be learning from good practice nationally and I share you passion for empowering the general public to help tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. 


I’m pleased to confirm that Plymouth has already been exploring the Festival of Nature concept at as part of the Green Minds partnership project we have led. This has involved running a Festival of Nature from Poole Farm involving a wide range of community organisations who have an interest in promoting nature to people in the city. We recently ran a public Green Minds conference in early June which I was pleased to open - a celebration of Nature Based Solutions and an opportunity for workshops and discussions about best practice.   


Over the past 5 years, we have also supported the national Love Parks Week every July, supporting local organisations to deliver events in natural spaces


The following question was submitted by Jonathan Smart –

Question:Newly planted trees needed many litres of water each week for three years after planting otherwise they and public money is wasted. Precisely what are the arrangements to ensure that all trees planted by PCC receive sufficient water for these critical years and especially during prolonged dry spells?  

Answer: Thanks for your question. I appreciate your concern for newly planted trees. 


Plymouth City Council have a schedule for watering new trees that we are responsible for planting and caring for. This schedule runs from April through to October and involves teams of staff with bowsers delivering 60 litres of water a fortnight throughout this period regardless of dry or wet spells. We do not tend to pause watering as the rainfall throughout the summer months is still not sufficient for recommended levels and as we know dry periods are increasing in longevity and frequency as a result of climate change. 


Before undertaking a tree planting programme we ensure that there are suitable funding streams available to cover this establishment period as a minimum for all maintenance and establishment costs and a contingency for potential replacements. We have utilised the Urban Tree Challenge Fund and most recently the Trees for Climate Fund programme delivered through the newly established Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest. 


We monitor the success of newly planted trees to ensure that we pick up replacements as necessary in the following planting seasons. We also work pro-actively with our maintenance teams to build knowledge and improve our processes. For example, this year we are utilising collecting water from Moorcroft Quarry to fill bowsers and water newly planted trees in the east of the city. 


The following question was submitted by John Stone–

Question:I would like to know when the litter namely the ribbons from the city centre is to be removed from the safety fences? It should never have been left so long acting as a focal point for protesters.

Answer: Thank you for your question and thank you for your concerns regarding the state of Armada Way which we inherited from the previous Conservative Administration. 


The Leader has already taken decisive action in relation to withdrawing the previous decision by Councillor Bingley that is the subject of judicial review proceedings Action has also been taken to tidy up the site and get this stalled project moving as businesses and local residents want us to get on with the project. 


In relation to the ribbons on the safety fencing, I can advise that some of these will be removed as part of the works that were undertaken on Friday 16 June 2023 to re-align the fencing. We have been working to open up Armada Way ahead of the main summer season and forthcoming events.  


The following question was submitted by Melanie Le Bars –

Question:The Council's targets for carbon emissions reductions are below levels they needed to hit in 2023. Have Councillors undertaken Carbon Literacy Training before, applied learning and how does your pledge to reduce carbon emissions through action, as the course implored, offset carbon sequestration lost from felled mature trees? 

Answer: Thank you for your question. Reducing emissions across Plymouth is a top priority for me. 

The City Council has a Net Zero Action Plan (NZAP), which was unanimously adopted by the City Council on 27 March 2023.?This sets out how positive actions are proposed to be taken to continue to drive the City Council towards becoming a net zero organisation by 2030.?We are measuring how we are doing as an organisation and good progress is being made, but we acknowledge that there is much more that needs to be done. 


As you mentioned, part of that is Carbon Literacy Training. I, and a number of the Labour Cabinet have already completed Carbon Literacy training. We continue to roll this out to more councillors and officers to ensure that net zero is being prioritised by every department.? 


The following question was submitted by Elizabeth Bailey –

Question:Given the catastrophic decision to fell healthy mature trees in Armada Way, making Plymouth infamous nationally and beyond, will the new Labour-led council implement a Charter for Plymouth’s trees, bearing in mind the previous complete lack of regard to Plymouth’s Plan for Trees?

Answer: The Plan for Trees was developed under Labour in 2019 and set out a strategy for the many thousands of trees in Plymouth. The principles agreed, after much consultation remain relevant:

· Promote

· Protect

· Care

· Enhance

The PfT policy also provided the catalyst for a reinvigorated tree-planting programme and our new Community Forest that has resulted in the Council planting and caring for 14,137 new trees. This policy remains largely fit for purpose and will drive towards meeting the ambition of providing trees in parts of the city most at need.

However, I can only agree that the previous administration showed disdain for the Armada Way trees and perhaps paid scant regard for our Plan for Trees. We are now reviewing a number of policies related to green and growing to see what lessons can be learned. We are especially focussed on ensuring that all of our policies and activities take account of the Climate and Nature Emergencies.

This does not mean that on occasion we will not have to remove some trees. There is a need to manage our woodlands, particularly with the ongoing challenges around trees that are suffering from ash die-back and those that are towards the end of their life and represent a hazard.


The following question was submitted by Marie Thacker –

Question:When will the council get on with the Armada way project considering the FOI showing monies spent from delays caused by the Judicial Review process?

Answer: Thank you for your question.

We have said that we consider the judicial review is academic and we need to get on with delivering a new scheme - taking in to account and seeking to accommodate the remaining trees.

I will be providing a full update to all councillors under the next item on the agenda demonstrating progress since we took control of the council less than a month ago. This will demonstrate that we have taken back control of this project.

I am however pleased to be able to announce that the I and senior Cabinet Members will be reviewing the options for the redesign for Armada Way tomorrow with a view to going out to consultation on them and then moving forward to ensure we have an implementable scheme following this.