Agenda item

Questions by Councillors

Questions to the Leader, Cabinet Members and Committee Chairs covering aspects for their areas of responsibility or concern by councillors in accordance with Part B, paragraph 12 of the constitution.







Councillor Murphy

Councillor Mrs Pengelly

Why did this administration allow Belvedere Garden of Remembrance to be used as a bar for the SailGP event?

Response: Councillor Mrs Vivien Pengelly will ensure that Councillor Deacon provides a reply to Councillor Murphy for her question as soon as possible.

Supplementary Question: Councillor Murphy would like to be assured that this would never happen again and also a public apology to the armed forced community.


Response: Councillor Mrs Vivien Pengelly will ensure that this never happens again and apologised to the Armed Forces.



Councillor Singh

Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman

I represent the Drake ward which will be the gateway to the redeveloped train station. We have problems with bins being left out, will the cabinet members responsible think about new schemes in regards to enforcement with bins being left out on the street causing obstructions?


Response: The teams in enforcement have bought a new camera which has been effective in catching fly tippers and those that are regularly causing those such issues. Councillor Bridgeman can ensure that Councillor Singh’s suggestion is taken forward and would like to take more people to Court in relation to fly tipping, littering and any sort of damage. Councillor Bridgeman is aware of the issues on North Road East and the camera will be deployed there soon.

Supplementary Question: Councillor Singh would like a meeting with Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman to discuss a scheme that is working in another part of the country.


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman agreed to the meeting.



Councillor Pat Patel

Councillor Nicholson

Following on from the meeting that was organised by Councillor Nicholson with the Mayflower Medical Group on the 9th September. The Mayflower Group represents a fifth of Plymouth residents for patient numbers. Please can I ask that you maintain pressure on the Mayflower Group and offer any and all support to ensure the turnaround of service delivery to all patients in order to relieve pressure for other GP surgeries as well as the accident and emergency department as Derriford Hospital? Also that the Mayflower Group continues to listen to its patients through the reactivation of the patient participation group and ensure that communication lines remain open to keep everyone informed of actions being taken and the improvement plan that is being implemented.


Response: Thanked Councillor Pat Patel and 14 other members for their attendance at the meeting that took place on the 9th September. It was a meeting which provided an honest appraisal of the difficulties that the Group are currently facing. The Mayflower Medical Group are committed to maintaining a dialogue with members and sharing the improvement plan that they are undertaking to seek to rectify the issues raised by the CQC. The Mayflower Group acknowledged that the issues raised had not been good enough and significant improvement is required.


The patient participation group was in the process of being re-established and a number of members of the council will participate in that group to bring about direct intervention with the Mayflower Medical Group in trying to improve standards that they deliver.


This matter as well as general GP access is on the agenda for the Health and Wellbeing Board and on the agenda for Councillor David James scrutiny panel and will keep up the pressure to ensure that the delivery of services are at the highest possible standard.


Councillor Mrs Lynda Bowyer

Councillor Downie

Studies conducted in the pandemic show that young people are most vulnerable to increased psychological stress. Data also showed that young women and people with young children are at risk of mental health, what measures have you put in place to address this?

Response: I don’t have the exact funding figures to fully detail the answer but we have been successful in achieving funding which will be directed to where you have asked for it to be directed. Councillor Downie will respond to Councillor Mrs Linda Bowyer with exact figures next week. 

Supplementary Question: What extra resources are you proposing to commit in the future?


Response: Councillor Downie will get those proposals to Councillor Mrs Linda Bowyer when he has them to hand.



Councillor Ian Bowyer

Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman

This Administration brought forward a Corporate Plan which would deliver quality service for street services. When will Plymouth receive this quality service?


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman advised that we have just come out of a pandemic and have inherited a poor service from the previous administration. Although the current staff work incredibly hard there are additional pressures of not having enough staff which has impacted the service.

Supplementary Question: Can you advise me and my residents what a good quality service would look like when it finally arrives.


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman advised that the administration had inherited the poor service but they are currently working to turn this around.



Councillor Jemima Laing

Councillor Downie

Every Councillor is a Corporate Parent, it was disappointing to see that no conservative members were present at the Corporate Parenting Group at the quarterly meeting last Tuesday. To not have a single conservative member present was hugely impolite to the officers and partner organisations who work very hard to prepare for these meetings and disrespectful to the children and young people these meeting focus on. It ignores the 10 wishes contained in the earlier agenda item spoken about Bright Future. Can Councillor Downie offer reassurances that at least one member of the Conservative group will attend meetings in the future. 

Response: Councillor Downie was disappointed that there had been no representation from conservative members at this meeting and he will ensure that there is representation at the Corporate Parenting Group at all times.

Supplementary Question: Can I ask that Conservative Group members liaise amongst themselves and if they are not able to attend the meeting, can they put in a request to postpone the meeting?


Response: I have been in recuperation from major surgery, I haven’t been contactable, phone broken down and waiting for a replacement, I do apologise.



Councillor Sue McDonald

Councillor Downie

Change of date for the allocation of pupils’ premium to schools based upon the number of children eligible for free school meals. This year’s funding will be based on the number of children in schools and the count has been put back by the conservative government from January 2021 to October 2020, creating a three month gap resulting in some children not being counted despite their entitlement. Will Councillor Downie be prepared to commission an impact assessment on the loss of funding to schools in Plymouth?

Response: I can ask officers if it is achievable to do that analysis.

Supplementary Question: Is Councillor Downie aware that the government is refusing to compensate for these schools even those in the poorest 10% of deprivation that will be hit disproportionality. In the document Bright Futures page 41 of west locality bullet point 6, a higher proportion of children will be eligible for free school meals. Councillor McDonald highlighted that children on the west side of the city will be hit disproportionality hard.


Response: Councillor Downie advised that he was not aware of that policy but thanked Councillor McDonald for bringing it to his attention.



Councillor Margaret Corvid

Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman

Can you reassure residents of the Drake ward that the weeds and litter will be cleared and when. There has been a significant increase in complaints and significant delay in casework submissions for their actions and remediation.


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman advised that there is a dedicated member of staff in the Drake Ward who litter picks, however expressed disappointment that this member of staff will go back on a subsequent day to find the same amount of litter there. It takes 3-4 weeks for weeds to die back before staff are able to sweep and scrape them all. Additional bins will be distributed to the Drake ward to alleviate litter issues.

Supplementary Question: Can you give a timetable as to when and where these additional bins will be deployed?


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman will take this question back to the team and provide a response to Councillor Corvid.



Councillor Mark Coker

Councillor Jonathan Drean

When Plymouth Live ran an announcement about the buses from CityBus, what input did Plymouth City Council and yourself as Cabinet member have before that announcement was made.

Response: Councillor Drean had been with the Citybus team on the Wednesday discussing staff shortages but was assured at that time that it was a day to day problem. Councillor Drean was disappointed the following day by the headlines in the media. Councillor Drean has spoken with them and they have apologised. Councillor Drean will circulate his announcement in relation to this to members.

Supplementary Question: What input did Plymouth City Council have in getting out a clear and concise message to the travelling public?


Response: The passenger information system delivered by twenty first century are looking into problems there and I will check what statements have been released. They are a commercial services and they are pushing out their own statements with regards to what is going on with their services. Emails will be sent out with quotations from Citybus and Stagecoach to members. 



Councillor Andrea Johnson

Councillor Nicholson

2,000 new trees are being planted in the city but I am interested in the existing trees in the city. Have many new Tree Preservation Orders have been approved and applied to protect and preserve existing trees within the city. 


Response: Councillor Johnson will be provided with the requested statistics and soon as they are available.


Supplementary Question: will you commit to protecting and preserving existing and older trees as much as a priority as purchasing new ones?


Response: On a personal level it is just as important to protect and preserve existing trees due to their greater impact on climate change.

I will discuss this with Councillor Maddi Bridgeman as it has been an historic Council policy that a tree on City Council land is not subject to a Tree Preservation Order.



Councillor Dan Collins

Councillor Drean

With the short notice torrential downpour last week how many vehicles clear the drains of the city, especially on the main arterial roads?


Response: We have three vehicles clearing drains, two undertake normal work and a third vehicle will do half reactive and half programme work.


Councillor Sue Dann

Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman

How many complaints had been received in relation to grass cutting in the months April, May, June and July?


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman will come back to Councillor Dann with the exact figures within a few days. 

Supplementary Question: A response from Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman stated in a previous email to a councillor that the inherited schedule had received thousands of complaints about grass cutting. This councillor asked Councillor Dann to look at this as part of the role as shadow portfolio role. How many residents have complained during April, May, June and July which was before your answer to the email. Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman advised that it was 112. Councillor Dann also asked how many councillors had complained about grass cutting and the answer was 162, totalling 274 complaints, this is not thousands of complaints about an inherited grass schedule.  How are you measuring the performance of the council when the actual figures the council have got which are different to the emails you say you are receiving.


Response: Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman will provide those figures to Councillor Dann.



Councillor Pat Patel

Councillor Drean

Can you appraise Plymouth residents as well as Cornwall residents when the Tamar bridge will return to four lanes of traffic and a further lane for pedestrians and cyclists?

Response: Councillor Drean advised that the final phase of the main deck began in September and the project remains on schedule to be completed by October. The bridge management team are aware of the impact of traffic and delays to residents as well as those visiting, hauliers as well as other local businesses and are doing everything possible to minimise delays. The bridge control team have electronic information to see where queues are on both sides of the bridge and if they need to change the direction of flow, this has to be done manually and this can take 10-15 minutes to change the flows.


Councillor Tudor Evans OBE

Councillor Downie

Due to a combination of circumstances it is reported that around 400 taxi drivers have left the profession in the last 12 months. What has the portfolio holder for Education done to prioritise and ensure that there is enough school taxi drivers to provide transport for our most vulnerable children to school?


Response: Councillor Downie advised that since children returned to school last week, there hasn’t been any children stranded at home without transport and the reconstruction of the service had been sufficient.

Supplementary Question: what has the portfolio holder done about it?


Response: Councillor Downie – I was in hospital for a few weeks and medicated the team that I oversee undertook work to ensure children were transported to and from school. 



Councillor Chaz Singh

Councillor Patrick Nicholson

In regards to the announcement made earlier for care home job opportunities, training schemes, access to more jobs and upskilling. Could you give a care home briefing in similar fashion to the schemes that would be available to all councillors?


Response: Care home briefings will be sent to all members of the Council with one due to be sent out tomorrow. There had been 39 applicants but seeking recruit in the care sector of 100 new entrants into the profession. This is a great opportunity to move into the sector to develop in a very rewarding career.


Councillor Jemima Laing

Councillor Nick Kelly

I am very sorry to hear that Councillor Downie has been unwell and uncountable due to a broken phone. Could you provide some reassurance as to the systems you have put in place as Leader when crucial cabinet roles cannot be fulfilled due to elongated sickness?


Response: Councillor Downie was in hospital and having major surgery and was in hospital and we didn’t contact him on those days, however since then we have traded messages about his welfare but equally there are cabinet planning meetings and we discuss anything that comes as an urgent matter to ensure there is adequate coverage with regards to anything in this city. But ultimately there are so many items that the Council deal with ad-hoc every single day that you wouldn’t bring everything unless it’s a problem and as you heard earlier from Councillor Downie and about the provision to get children to school, it wasn’t an issue as it had already been covered off, if it had become an issue and we were made aware of that we would take adequate steps to make sure that issue had been solved as a matter of urgency.


Supplementary Question: Can you ensure that Councillor Downie has a functioning telephone?



Response: this council has come a long way with regards to technology however sometimes things do go wrong. Councillor Downie has a requisite order currently with DELT, our IT service provider to ensure he has access to the relevant Council software and hardware.


Councillor Mark Coker

Councillor Patrick Nicholson

Are you aware if there is a backlog in planning enforcement cases?


Response: There has been for a number of months a backlog, there has always been a certain caseload in Strategic Planning enforcement. I was concerned at the level of enforcement action that was still outstanding or ongoing a month or so ago. Mr Barnard as a senior level team have reviewed all of the enforcement cases and as reported at the last Planning committee there had been a reduction of around 100 cases. The team undertaking enforcement is a team of three of which there had been some turnaround, I hope that performance will continue to increase and cases will continue to reduce. 


Supplementary Question: Five months waiting for Councillor queries on a planning enforcement notice and not having a response for local residents is very detrimental to community cohesion but thank you for updating me on where we are going.


Response: If you have concerns about performance or particular cases, please bring them to my attention and they will get prioritised. The general standard of approach has improved and is hopefully an improving situation.



Councillor Sue Dann

Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman

Where is the money coming from in relation to the current budget pressures and the commitments already promised by this administration for Street Services?



Response: As soon as I joined as the portfolio holder, the first thing I looked at was the structure of the entire service and how we could improve efficiencies. A good example of this would be the bulky waste, we have reintroduced that and the public have got real god value for money, this service will bring in some revenue. We are also reviewing commercial waste and looking at how businesses can engage with us rather than going to private companies. We also had a lot of temporary staff which incurred additional costs, we are now looking to take staff on and fully employed Council staff.


Councillor Dan still had concerns in relation to budget pressures and the additional promises Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman has made, but looks forward to seeing if this can be delivered. 





Please note that questions, answers, supplementary questions and supplementary answers have been summarised.