Questions submitted by Members under Procedure Rule No.9 will be published by way of supplement following closure of the deadline.
The Chairman advised the meeting that four question pursuant to Council Procedure Rule No.9 had been submitted to the meeting. This had been circulated to all Members, separately to the agenda.
The Chairman invited, Councillor John McNeill, Ward Member for Market Rasen, to put his question to the Leader, as follows: -
"The Boundary Commission for England following the passing of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 in December 2020 and the publication of the relevant Parliamentary electorate data in January 2021 commenced a new review of Parliamentary constituencies in England (referred to as the ‘2023 Review’), of which the first statutory consultation on initial proposals concluded on 2nd August 2021.
The Boundary Commission for England anticipate publishing the responses to the first consultation early this year and undertaking their second consultation from 22nd February 2022 for six weeks. Following this and the formulation of their proposals they intend to publish their proposals late this year and conduct a four week consultation on them. Their intention is then to submit and publish their final report in June 2023.
The current proposals by the Boundary Commission for England for the Gainsborough constituency, of which West Lindsey is a part, is to remove that part of the constituency comprising Wragby Ward of East Lindsey District Council and in effect make the Gainsborough constituency have the same boundary as the district of West Lindsey.
Is the Leader aware of the detail of these proposals?
Given the current proposal, would he support the District Council engaging in the Boundary Commission for England’s second consultation to propose that the name of the Gainsborough constituency, despite its historical associations, be amended to ‘West Lindsey’? Would he further agree that and support all members of this Council to make representations on this matter to the Boundary Commission for England?
"Surely the Leader will agree that there can be few similar opportunities to, not only promote the brand of West Lindsey nationally, but also to support the desire of many in this Council and District who are concerned about the perceived Gainsborough-centric bias of the District Council.
Councillor John McNeill”
The Leader of the Council, Owen Bierley, responded as follows:
Thank you for your question Cllr McNeill.
Yes, I am indeed aware of the review of the Parliamentary constituencies in England and in particular of the proposals for the Gainsborough constituency which, as you suggest, do present a unique opportunity to further our ambition to firmly place West Lindsey as a distinct and acknowledged entity, recognised at a national level.
This is especially important in the context of a potential bid for devolved powers for our County and in light of the present consultation on an extended Selective Licensing Scheme. It is closely related to our success, last year, in gaining an award of £10.27m in the first round of bidding in the Levelling Up Fund and in demonstrating the efficient delivery of the scheme.
Whilst I believe many people are aware of the Ridings of Yorkshire there is far less recognition of the significance of the historic Parts of Lincolnshire, Lindsey, Kesteven and Holland another matter this could only help to address.
Accordingly I welcome your timely question Cllr McNeill and will be pleased not only to make such a representation on behalf of our Council, but also to promote the opportunity and support others to engage in the forthcoming consultation too.
Thank you again for your question Cllr McNeill.”
Councillor McNeill thanked the Leader for the response.
The Chairman then invited the second questioner, Councillor Trevor Young, Ward Member for Gainsborough South West Ward to put his question to the meeting, as follows: -
“In recent weeks there has been numerous rumours and concerns from the public regarding the newly opened waste depot site facility at Caenby Corner, could the Leader of the Council please provide a verbal update to members.
Councillor Trevor Young”
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Owen Bierley, responded as follows: -
“Thank you for your question Cllr Young.
Sir Edward Leigh MP formally opened our new Operational Services Depot in early December and the facility is now fully operational. I’m delighted to report that the levels of safety and welfare facilities for our operational colleagues have improved enormously following the move. This has been a major capital investment and unsurprisingly, there have been a few very minor teething issues. I am confident the Waste Management Team, alongside the developer will resolve all of these in the coming weeks. A stage four project closure report will be heard by the internal Portfolio Board in the next couple of months, however it is very much being viewed as a success as the project has been delivered on time, under budget and to a very high standard.
Thank you again for your question Cllr Young.
Having heard the response Councillor Young, with permission from the Chairman, posed a supplementary question:
Leader in terms of the planning and approval process for the facility Members were assured that this was a state-of-the-art facility and that it was future-proof. It is concerning that reports I am receiving from public and staff regarding such things as doors not being wide enough to take vehicles, platforms not high enough for machines such as the sand bagger and the facility does not take items such as brick rubble, or no provision has been made – that is a real concern given the level of fly-tipping. Can I ask Leader what are your views on that?
The Leader of the Council responded, indicating that this was the first time he had been made aware of such issues. As such he indicated that he would need to speak with relevant Officers and provide further information outside of the meeting to Councillor Young.
The Chairman invited the third questioner, Councillor Liz Clews, Ward Member for Scotter and Blyton, to put her question to the meeting.
With Councillor Clews having been addressing Council for a short time, a point of Order was raised as concerns were raised that Councillor Clews was not putting the question as submitted. The point of order was upheld by the Chairman, who advised Councillor Clews that she could only raise the question she had submitted and information previously stated would fall outside of the question.
Councilor Clews then put her question as submitted and as follows: -
“Lincoln County Hospital serves a large proportion of West Lindsey residents in relation to urgent treatment and emergency health services.
Following the recent announcement that the County Hospital declared a ‘major incident’ there are obvious concerns by Gainsborough and surrounding village residents regarding accessing emergency treatment in a timely and safe manner.
Could you explain what discussions have been taken place with NHS colleagues and what systems have been put in place following the announcement of the ‘major incident’ to ensure West Lindsey residents have access to the appropriate services in time of emergency?
Councillor Liz Clews”
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Owen Bierley, responded as follows: -
“Thank you for your question Cllr Clews.
The situation is being managed through the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum (LRF). Depending on the nature of the current threat, strategic and tactical meetings can be held as often as daily in order to identify the need for, and provide, mutual support. This includes information sharing regarding the current risk level within each partner agency and ensures a timely response to emerging issues. Senior officers have engaged fully with this process throughout the Covid crisis and have offered support to other agencies whenever it has been logistically possible. This support means that the NHS and other agencies can concentrate of delivering their core functions, especially primary care. Practical examples where the Council has supported the LRF include our Communications team sharing important messages on all our platforms, especially the booster vaccine campaign, which helped Lincolnshire have one of the highest rates of fully vaccinated residents in the country. We have also helped logistically, for example offering up a van and driver to distribute LFT tests to local pharmacies. This is quite understandably appreciated and indeed all members will recently have received a copy of a generous letter of thanks from the Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
Thank you again for your question Cllr Clews”.
Whist Councillor Clews did indicate she held real concerns and wanted to understand what was happening at the hospital, in the light of concerns residents had raised with her, the Chairman ruled it was not a matter that the District Council had authority over, nor could individual cases or complaints regarding the services and practices at The John Coupland Hospital be discussed, and as such, there was no supplementary question to be put.
The Chairman invited the fourth and final questioner, Councillor David Dobbie, Ward Member for Gainsborough East to put his question to the meeting as follows: -
“I am aware of the personal reasons for the changing of the time of the Governance and Audit Committee from an afternoon meeting to a morning meeting but this has led to me having to step down from this Committee, as I work nights and cannot make morning meetings.
Should meetings not be held mostly on evenings to facilitate the engagement of those that work?
Councillor David Dobbie”
Councillor McNeill, Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee responded to the question as follows: -
“Thank you for question, as Chairman of the Governance & Audit Committee, I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Chairman of the Council and the Leader of the Council.
I can confirm that the majority (seven of nine) of the meetings of West Lindsey District Council or its Committees are scheduled to meet in the evening, while only two meet during the day – being the Chief Officer Employment and the Governance & Audit Committees.
When meetings should be held is a matter determined by Members and it is considered annually by Full Council under Part V, Rule 1.3 (f) of the Constitution. The next opportunity to do so will be at our Annual Meeting of Council on 9th May 2022 at 7.00pm.”
Having heard the response Councillor Dobbie, with the permission of the Chairman posed the following supplementary question:-
“I understand the Governance and Audit Committee are always striving for best practice and have an opportunity to attend North Kesteven’s Committee next. week. They hold their meetings at 5.00pm. Why do we not look at something like that? Then we would hold meetings that facilitate people like myself , who work nights, I am not asking for late evenings but early evenings, like North Kesteven who we are going to share best practice with. Why can’t we do something like that? I will be proposing that going forward and would like this Council to consider it as an option. Thank you.”
Councillor McNeill responded as follows
Following the meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee on 28th September 2021, I received representations from three members of the current Governance and Audit Committee, to consider the possibility of changing the time of our meetings from afternoons to mornings.
Therefore, I made enquiries regarding the matter with Officers at the Governance and Audit Committee Chairman’s Briefing on 21st October 2021 and I undertook an informal consultation exercise with all the elected and independent Members of the committee during late October and early November 2021. The result of this was that Officers, including representatives of our audit functions, and all nine members who responded to the consultation were either very much in favour of the change or at worst indifferent to it. To be clear no one expressed a view that the proposed change would cause a difficulty or be in any way inconvenient. Although I acknowledge that you were the one member, I had been unable to contact and obtain your views.
Given the response to the consultation the possibility was raised during the Governance and Audit Committee’s Pre-Meeting Briefing on 4th November 2021 and again during the Governance and Audit Committee meeting held on 9th November 2021 – Minute 40 refers – where your objection to the proposal was first raised.
Members will be aware that this was not a matter which the Governance and Audit Committee can determine itself, and so a report was submitted to the meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee on 16th December 2021, requesting such a change.
At that meeting a lengthy debate was had about the advantages and disadvantages of changing the time of the meetings of the Governance and Audit Committee, both in terms of Member availability and public participation – available to watch on the Council’s website.
At the end of the debate the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee voted and resolved that the meetings of the Governance and Audit Committee would commence at 10.00am for the remainder of the civic year - these being meetings 11thJanuary 2022, 8th March 2022 and 12th April 2022.