Issue - decisions

Questions by the Public

10/11/2023 - Questions by the Public

There were 5 questions from members of the public received in accordance with the Constitution:


The following question was submitted by George Wheeler -

Question: The 2023-4 budget included provision for a further £20,000 to be made towards replacement of the public toilets in St Budeaux Square. Can you tell me when this work is to be undertaken, please?

Answer: You are right in identifying that a £20,000 provision was included in the Council budget for 2023/24. This is directly because of the Plymouth Labour amendment moved as a result of the lobbying by Councillor Haydon. This administration is committed to the provision of public toilets in the vicinity of St Budeaux Square and shops. Over the past few months, I have had conversations with Councillors Haydon and Dingle about the provision of these toilets. I am happy to support their campaign and want to hear from the people of St Budeaux. I have already announced that the Council will open a consultation of future provisions of St Budeaux toilets by the end of September. The consultation will run for two months. I will review the findings of the consultation in order to ensure that the new toilets we provide meet local needs and aspirations. I will then commission provision of toilets for St Budeaux.


The following question as submitted by Dave Curno -

Question: PCC confirmed it would seek peer advice from another Council when considering the Armada Way TPO application and that it had approached another Council. PCC’s reply to a FOI request FS-case-541381192 indicates this was not in fact done. Who made the decision not to request recommendations from another Council?

Answer: Thank you for your latest question on Armada Way. The previous FOI was answered factually when we responded: ‘that Plymouth City Council did not request or receive any recommendation from another Local Authority in respect of the TPO request for Armada Way’. In response to a complaint to the Council’s Monitoring Officer about a potential conflict of interest between officers dealing with the Armada Way project and those assessing the TPO request, it was agreed by the Strategic Director for Place and the Monitoring Officer that the TPO should be subject to independent assessment. The Strategic Director for Place did contact a number of Local Authorities to discuss the process for conducting an independent TPO assessment. At no time did the Strategic Director request or receive their review or recommendation on the merits of the armada Way TPO case. The Strategic Director for Place delegated the decision making powers in respect of assessing the request for a TPO to the Head of Development Management. The Head of Development Management appointed an independent Tree Consultant - JK Tree Consultancy - to carry out the TPO assessment and make a recommendation for the consideration of the Head of Development Management. It is common practice for Council’s to seek advice from independent and appropriately qualified chartered consultants. Therefore, no one made a decision not to request recommendations from other authorities.



The following question was asked by Mr Ramage -

Question: Christian Aid has moved away from using Barclays as its bank because of their record on fossil fuel financing and their lack of commitment to improve in this area. I have previously asked PCC to review its use of Barclays and received a dismissive reply. Cause for a re-think?

Answer: We believe that the Christian Aid based their decision on the outcome of a competitive tendering process following a review of their banking arrangements. There are limited suppliers in the market providing banking services to local authorities (currently two) and the Council has to consider the risk of reputational damage due to all of the administrative changes required when moving to a different banking provider. The Council adopts the key recommendations of CIPFA’s (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) Treasury Management (TM) in the Public Services: Code of Practice, with annual updates, the last update being in March 2023. When investing in banks and funds, the Council will ‘prioritise banks that are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and funds operated by managers that are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, the Net Zero Asset Managers Alliance and/or the UK Stewardship Code.’ Barclays are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and the Net Zero Asset Managers Alliance. Please note, the Council does not undertake any active investment with Barclays Bank other than through their daily banking activity, as they are the Council’s main provider of banking services.



The following question was asked by Gin Farrow-Jones -

Question: By vote abstaining on the ‘meaningful community engagement’, Labour effectively approved of the decision for it to be the response to the petition on the trees. Are you satisfied with how the overwhelming opposition to the Armada Way scheme was dealt within the document?

Thank you for your question.

Plymouth Labour proposed and passed an amendment during that City Council meeting held on 30 January 2023 to reflect our concerns about the Armada Way scheme. We called for a meaningful community engagement process to take place quickly in February 2023 which prioritised the natural environment and climate resilience. The amendment also called for tree felling to be suspended. Plymouth Labour and Green councillors were dismayed at the summing up by Councillor Jonathan Drean on the substantive motion in response to the petition and, despite the nature of the debate itself, how he categorised the planned public engagement process. Labour Councillors therefore showed our frustration by supporting the Labour amendment but not voting in favour of the substantive motion - which was going to pass anyway because of the

arithmetic of the City Council at that time. The way in which the consultation responses were reported on the previous Richard Bingley Armada Way scheme is the subject of on-going legal proceedings. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for

me to comment any further on these matters at this time. But what the City Council does know is that I have committed to undertake an independent review on various aspects of the Armada Way scheme in due course.



The following question was submitted by Lynn Sears -

Question: Please will someone explain why public questions and their responses are not automatically made available during the meeting since the answers are pre prepared. Since the questions from the last meeting were not published until the minutes were done months later?

Answer: The current position is that the Lord Mayor will ask the questioner to ask their question. If the questioner is not present or an answer cannot be given on the day of the meeting, the question and response will be published as part of minutes. The Monitoring Officer will have a reply sent to the questioner within 10 working days. Councillors providing the answers sometimes change prepared responses, and as such responses may not be ready immediately. In order to ensure that questions and answers are more easily available for all residents, I have directed officers to publish the questions and answers on the council’s website the day after the Council meeting.