Agenda item

Public questions

This report sets out the public questions received for this meeting. 


Question A – Carl Dunks of Rainham submitted the following to the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer:


“Can the Portfolio Holder give his view on the use of electric scooters?”


Question B – Ruth Banks of Gillingham submitted the following to the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer:


“I am concerned about the lack of parking and the safety of anyone, particularly women, at night or very early hours of the day when their vehicle isn't parked in their own street/road.


This is because there are not enough parking bays to accommodate the indiscriminate giving out of permits to all that apply.


Can the Portfolio Holder please tell me what he plans to do about this?”


Question C – Kevin Fowle of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Hackwell, the following:


“I am concerned and frustrated about the total lack of any warning about the ward boundary changes. I received nothing in the mail or any contact from the current wards’ elected councillors. I have unanswered emails from both, so have no faith in that channel.


The law states that proposed changes should be communicated for feedback. I am not a social media user, it is totally wrong to rely on social media, online web sites and inadequate elected representatives so why was there no direct, to the door communication of those affected?”


Councillor Hackwell thanked Mr Fowle for the question. He said that the review of the electoral arrangements in Medway was undertaken by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England rather than Medway Council. The process was set out in legislation and allowed the Commission to decide how they would consult. Three public consultations had been held as follows:


·       17 December 2019 - 9 March 2020, to seek views on where new ward boundaries should be.

·       30 June – 7 September 2020, on draft recommendations.

·       1 December 2020 – 11 January 2021, on further draft recommendations for Rainham and Twydall.


The Commission had written to over 460 interested parties and stakeholders as well as the local media and the MPs representing the Medway Council area. They also publicised the Review and the various consultation periods on their social media channels and website and Medway signposted people to the Commission website via its own social media channels. Local views were accepted through the Commission website, by e-mail and by post. Everyone who wrote to it as part of the review was notified regarding the start of the next round of consultation.


Councillor Hackwell said that the Electoral Commission had received 143 submissions in response to the initial consultation on ward boundaries, 325 submissions in response to the consultation on the draft recommendations and 133 submissions in response to the limited consultation on further draft recommendations for Rainham and Twydall.


The boundary changes would come into effect for the local elections in May 2023. A short article about the overall impact had been included in the forthcoming edition of Medway Matters.


Question D – Liz O’Hanlon of Rainham submitted the following to the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe:


“Given we are in a climate emergency and tree planting is a key part of tackling poor air quality and climate change, (Please exclude volunteer led activity and ‘friends of groups’ in this figure) via Norse (or directly from the Council), how many replacement trees and additional trees are the council planning on planting in the next 12 months?”


Question E – Stephen Taylor of Chatham asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:


“As a local family who has purchased an electric car to help the environment during this climate emergency, could the Portfolio Holder set out how the Council is trying to make it easier for families like ours who want to do the right thing, specifically with regards to charging our vehicles and the options for those who live in houses with no off-street parking?”


Councillor Doe thanked Mr Taylor for the question. He said that the Council was preparing an Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy, which would identify ways to facilitate the delivery of infrastructure to support a transition to EVs, to help ensure that all residents and businesses could access reasonably priced public charge points.


Over the past year, Medway had installed 34 electric vehicle charging points in some of the town centre car parks, which complemented those provided by the commercial sector. The provision of on-street charging was also being investigated and discussions were taking place with a commercial provider about a potential pilot scheme. As part of the strategy, the demand for electric vehicle charging points across Medway was being explored. 


Councillor Doe encouraged residents who owned an electric vehicle, or were thinking about buying one, to visit the Council website, where locations could be suggested for on-street charging points. This would help the Council to plan the provision of charging locations and to demonstrate the local need when applying for funding.


Question F – Nina Gurung of Gillingham submitted the following to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty:


“The Council is investing a considerable amount of funding into the refurbishment of the Paddock in Chatham. What measures are in place to protect the users of this greenspace from the high levels of air pollution, both gaseous and particulate, arising from the adjacent bus station?”


Question G – Alan Wells of Chatham submitted the following to the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer:


“As traffic congestion adds to Medway’s emissions each year and reduces local productivity, cycling - especially at peak hours - would help reduce emissions and ease congestion across Medway. At present there are no designated cycle paths or cycling infrastructure going on and off Medway City Estate. The roads affected are Sir Thomas Longley Road (most notably), Neptune Close, Royal Eagle Close, Clipper Close and Whitewall Road, Anthony's Way leading onto the estate from Canal Road and Commissioners Road.


Cycling paths on the estate would benefit workers and people using the estate. As a cyclist myself, the roads around the estate can become treacherous especially during peak times.


Cycling infrastructure would also add as an incentive for people using the estate to cycle as a different and safe mode of transport, as well as added environmental benefit.


Are there any plans for the Council to invest in cycling infrastructure for Medway City Estate in the near future?”


Question H – Satinder Shokar of Rochester submitted the following to the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe:


“With this seemingly never-ending cost of living crisis, our local food banks for some time now have been taking on too much of the burden. An example of this is a local food bank that has seen the number of meals delivered more than double in the space of one year, they provide on average 14,000 meals per month.


If the Council is unable to reduce the number of residents needing to use food banks, are they at least able to provide an emergency injection of financial support to these organisations? As the cost of groceries has increased by over 13% and the number of donations isn't matching this increase.”


Question I – Vivienne Parker of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:


“At the moment staff at our Healthy Living Centres have to pay to park in Council car parks when they are working. Would it be possible for the Council to give them free parking passes or enable them to reclaim their parking costs?”


Responding on behalf of Councillor Filmer, the Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Hackwell, thanked Ms Parker for the question. He said that the Council needed to charge for using its car parks to ensure that it had funding to keep them operating efficiently and well maintained. This meant that the Council was unable to offer free parking throughout the year.


Councillor Hackwell said that Medway’s parking charges were very reasonable compared with other areas, and that in long stay car parks, customers could buy season tickets to make parking even cheaper.


Question J – Alan Stockey of Rainham asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:


“The prior version of the Climate Change Action Plan included 11.10 – “Ensure the Heatwave Plan and Cold Weather Plan are reviewed and updated annually.”


It is noted that this action has been removed from the latest version of the Climate Action Plan, but it is not clear what has been done to address this given the experiences of 40c heatwave in recent months. It is a given that such temperatures will no longer be extremes and the preserve of emergency plans only and will need particular focus to ensure a coordinated approach to publishing places of refuge and clear communications out to the communities.


I would like to know, given that the Council has felt it appropriate to remove this reference in the latest Action Plan, what policies the Council plans to put in place to address more regular extremes of temperature?”


Councillor Doe thanked Mr Stockey for the question. He said that action 11.10 had been embedded in the Council ‘s core duties and had therefore been  removed from the 2022 Climate Change Action Plan.


In order to prevent the Action Plan from getting too long, certain core duties, as explained in the Plan, had been regarded as being a part of everyday work and work on these duties and delivery of the Action Plan would continue.


Question K – Bryan Fowler of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships, Councillor Rodney Chambers OBE, the following:


“How much budget will Medway Council be setting aside annually for maintaining the water feature in the Paddock, Chatham for the 5 financial years commencing 2024? This includes maintenance cleaning, water and electricity charges.”


In response to the question, Councillor Chambers confirmed that a budget allocation had been made to cover water, electricity, cleaning and maintenance of the water feature. As the maintenance contract had not yet been awarded, the budget allocation could not be currently shared. Councillor Chambers said that the maintenance schedule for the water feature would be stringent and would comply with the appropriate regulations.


Question L – Chris Spalding of Gillingham asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:


“Tomorrow is the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is Remembrance Day.


At the Council meeting in January 2019, my very good friend, the late Councillor Mick Pendergast, put forward a motion that some tickets to Medway Council events be donated to the charity, Tickets for Troops.


The motion received cross party support and was carried unanimously.


At the Council meeting on 18 July 2019, I enquired how many tickets had been donated thus far.


Councillor Rupert Turpin, responding on your behalf, gave, in my opinion,

a waffling response in an attempt to deflect away from the answer which was no tickets had been donated.


I appreciate we have had Covid and Lockdown, but can you kindly tell me how many tickets have been donated between January 2019 and 31 October 2022?”


Councillor Doe thanked Mr Spalding for the question. He said that 40 tickets had been offered to ‘Tickets for Troops’ for the Rochester Castle Concerts in 2018 and 2019. However, the charity had not taken any of the tickets made available on either occasion.


Rochester Castle Concerts were now delivered by a commercial organisation and a request would be made for a similar offer to be made to ‘Tickets for Troops’ for future years.


Councillor Doe said that through Medway’s theatres, a minimum of 20 tickets were offered to Little Troopers, a charity supporting children of military personnel with at least one parent serving overseas, to a performance of the annual Pantomime. This offer had been fully taken every year since it was first made in 2015.


The Theatres team also offered tickets to the annual Pantomime every year to a number of charities. These were Holding on Letting Go; Wish Upon a Star; Gingerbread and; various local hospice and respite centres.


Councillor Doe said that if further demand was identified then consideration would be given as to how to accommodate this in view of budgetary considerations.


Question M – Nigel Jackson of Strood asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:


“Can the Portfolio Holder update Council on the progress made regarding the April 2019 motion on Uber operating in Medway?”


Councillor Chitty thanked Mr Jackson for the question. She said that significant efforts had been made in relation to this issue.


Councillor Chitty assured Mr Jackson that efforts would continue and that any difficulties that arose would be addressed accordingly.


Note: As Mr Dunks, Ms Banks, Ms O’Hanlon, Ms Gurung, Mr Wells and Mr Shokar were not present at the meeting, the Mayor stated that they would receive written responses to their questions, 7A, 7B, 7D, 7F, 7G and 7H respectively, in accordance with Council Rule 8.6.

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