Agenda item

Questions

The Leader of the Council, the Deputy Leader of the Council or the Chair of any Committee or Sub-Committee to take any questions that may be submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.

Minutes:

Question No. 1

Question From:

Councillor Chris Mitchell 

Question To:

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of the Council

Question:

Councillor Bayliss, as the Leader of the Council I hope that you would support me in the view that the Council should, when dealing with the public always do so with respect and courtesy. Further I hope that you also agree that we as Councillors, in holding public office, should treat those members of the uniformed services and all professions and businesses that provide a service to the public our full support as in doing so we set an example to those members of the public who may believe otherwise.  Could I ask that you publicly state that Worcester City Council support those people who provide a service to both the residents of Worcester City and all visitors to this great City?

 

Answer:

On behalf of myself, as Leader of the Council, I can say that I certainly echo those thoughts and would certainly support all those delivering services to the public and believe they should always be treated with respect.

 

Supplementary Question:

Councillor Bayliss, thank you for your positive and reassuring response. However, it would appear not all Councillors share your views. I recently heard a certain Member – an over-reaching Councillor’s podcast - in which the said Councillor was publically denigrating hardworking bus drivers, who under their stressful conditions deliver an environmentally friendly transport service to the residents of this city and our visitors. How do you feel about this unsavoury behaviour?

Answer:

I too heard the interview, and was surprised to hear - this was a quote that I heard: “Bus drivers need to be rather better at customer service and help people who are disabled, give people time who have difficulties getting on and off, and just offer basic politeness, which I’m afraid is quite often missing.” That’s a direct quote from the interview. I think that’s a pretty damning criticism of a group of workers in the city, who are giving a public service in difficult circumstances. It’s also a terrible generalisation of a whole group of people, and if a Tory had said such a thing about nurses in this city, they would have been castigated rightly for that. But because these workers work in a private bus company, they appear to have been fair game. I as Leader of the Council disagree with that. Bus drivers in Worcester are doing a challenging job and I think they deserve the support of Members across this Chamber for the services that they are providing.

 

Question No. 2

Question From:

Councillor Stephen Hodgson  

Question To:

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of the Council

Question:

How much did the Warndon Parish Council by-election cost that was held on Thursday 13th December 2018, and which organisation will be liable for meeting this unforeseen expense?

Answer:

The cost of delivering the by-election is still being finally tabulated, but the estimate is that it will be just under £10,000. Meeting those costs will be the responsibility of Warndon Parish Council.

 

Supplementary Question:

Is Councillor Bayliss aware that this particular by-election could actually have been avoided, because the provisions of the 1972 Local Government Act allow Parish Councils to co-opt to vacancies? This particular Council seat will be contested, like the rest of the Council, in May this year. And in fact is he also aware that this by-election required 10 signatures from local residents, and at the meeting where the vacancy was announced, the Parish Council Clerk expressed the financial consequences of what happened if a by-election was called, and also pointed out that 10 names had to be received, and what happened was 4 of those names were Labour Party members of Warndon Parish North, including one candidate in last year’s election to the Council?

 

Answer:

My Mayor, the City Council deals with administration of elections on behalf of the Parish Council. It is therefore a matter for this Council. I personally regret that a by-election was called, given that there are only 4 months of the term and the turnout for this election was a mere 7% of the electorate of Warndon Parish North. In fact only 77 people voted all day between 7am and 10pm in the evening, which really shows you just how pitiful the turnout was in this election. Perhaps that reflects that voters knew the election was going to be only for 4 months. I do regret that in a time of austerity, £10,000 of public taxpayers’ money, for Warndon Parish Council in this case, was wasted on needless by-election, and I certainly hope that those members who called it – including Members who are sitting in this Chamber – regret doing so. And I certainly hope that if anybody from that area does knock on your door that you ask for your £5 per resident back.

 

Question No. 3

Question From:

Councillor Andy Stafford   

Question To:

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of the Council

Question:

For many years local residents have made requests for a new children’s play area on Cornmeadow Lane. I have taken every opportunity to push for this, the most recent opportunity being in July last year in response to a request for nominations for open space improvement projects.

 

Last month, without prior communication with local members or residents, we were informed that an existing children’s play area at Sheldon Park Road, currently comprising just three swings, would be transformed into an all singing, all dancing, 15 station children’s play area. This size of play area, in this location, is completely inappropriate and represents a wasted opportunity to provide much needed facilities in the right location. The suddenness of the news, along with plans to complete by the end of March this year, has caused great upset amongst nearby residents.

 

I am pleased to report that officers have agreed to put the plans on hold so that local members and residents can have their say.

 

What can we do to improve Councillor/officer communication in order that similar situations do not happen again?

Answer:

Well, I’m glad to hear from the Member that Officers have now been in touch with him and his Ward colleagues regarding this plan. I certainly believe that Officers do their best to communicate with Members, particularly through the Committee structure. I do think where significant developments are planned in the Ward, there is a need for officers to make sure they engage with local Ward Members across this Council Chamber. Local Members know their patch best and will have a view on that. So before going out to the public I certainly hope that Members are communicated with and consulted. I hope that will help him in tackling any issues like this in the future.

 

Supplementary Question:

Can I count on your full support in ensuring that we get the best possible outcome for the residents in my Ward when it comes to upgrading this children’s play area?

Answer:

Yes.