Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public


To receive questions from members of the public who wish to ask a general question in respect of matters within the Council’s area of responsibility or influence.


Subject to the Chair’s discretion, members of the public may ask one question and one supplementary question, which should relate to the original question and answered received.


Councillors may also ask questions under this agenda item.


(1)  Mr. Dickson explained that he was the Chair of the Dinnington Community Land Trust and that Dinnington had been the first area in the Borough to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan had been agreed by referendum and incorporated in Rotherham’s Local Development Plan. The main thrust of the Neighbourhood Plan was focussed on the health and wellbeing of the community, and it identified interventions that were necessary to reverse the downwards trend in that particular area. The Land Trust was a community interest company that was formed 2 years ago to ensure the Neighbourhood Plan was delivered in a timely manner. The data and analysis from the Trust had been provided to the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Head of Public Health to update the Strategy that was currently being refreshed. There had been several productive meetings to that effect. What Cabinet may not have been aware of was the progress that was being made in relation to social and affordable housing and sports and community facilities for the local community as an enabler to the health and wellbeing improvement sorely needed in Dinnington. Locally owned land was being utilised alongside the development of alliances with local sports groups to develop those facilities.


In his question to Councillor Roche, Mr. Dickson asked if he agreed that the work of the community in Dinnington to create affordable houses plus the creation of local sports and community facilities for its residents was a proactive way for the local community to try and improve its own health and wellbeing?


Councillor Roche stated that he had met with Mr. Dickson and the Director of Public Health several times. The best way forward was to continue those discussions and Councillor Roche confirmed that the Trust would be invited to the Health and Wellbeing Board to look at the information in more detail. Councillor Roche fully agreed that housing conditions were a key factor in Public Health as evidenced by cholera in the Victorian times. Housing was a key factor in peoples’ mental and physical health and as such, it was an aim of the Health and Wellbeing Board to work with the Housing Directorate to make sure houses were fit for purpose. In terms of health inequalities, Councillor Roche confirmed that this, alongside promoting physical activity, was one of the key aims of the Health and Wellbeing Board. Councillor Roche stated that he supported the Trust with their activities in that area but could not comment on specific schemes unless they were brought directly to him.


The Director of Public Health stated that housing and physical activity were all key parts of determinants of health. The Public Health Team were currently working with communities to support and build opportunities within those communities, so they were very supportive of the work being done in Dinnington. He was, therefore, keen to keep those conversations going and hear about the work being done by the Trust.


In his supplementary, Mr. Dickson asked all Cabinet Members if they agreed that every Directorate should be asked to support, wherever practicable, the initiative of Dinnington in their efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents?


The Leader responded on behalf of Cabinet and stated that wherever it was possible and practicable to do so, the Council would aim to offer its support as suggested by Mr. Dickson.


(2)  Councillor Ball stated that he had a question about the fires at Kiveton. He had written to the Chief Executive, the Assistant Director of Community Safety and Street Scene and had copied the Leader in. The email was an open invitation to the Cabinet Members to go and visit Kiveton fire site. This had come directly from the Chief of the Fire Service. Councillor Ball stated that “we” had to get in there due to the fire being in its current state for 6 months. The Council could supply some plant which would help the health of the residents of Kiveton and the surrounding area because of the smoke. It needed a concerted effort between the Environment Agency, the Council and the Fire Service along with anyone else. Could this be done?

The Leader explained that he had visited the Kiveton area, not the site, very recently and had experienced the acrid smell that residents were having to put up with for a prolonged period of time. The Council wanted to do everything it could along with its partners in order to tackle that.


The Chief Executive explained that the Local Resilience Forum, which was chaired by the Council and attended by the Environment Agency and Fire Service, were working on the matter. The Fire Service was on site and had primacy to control the fire. The Environment Agency had primacy over the site in terms of working with the Fire Service and looking at the activity that was needed to bring the fire under control and to prevent it from happening again. The Council was in constant contact with the Environment Agency and Fire Service to both support and appropriately challenge. A further meeting was schedule for the week of Cabinet to discuss the further actions that were taking place. The Environment Agency was looking at what further actions in terms of plant and equipment were needed.


Councillor Beck explained that progress had been made this far, with the measures that were in place and being undertaken by the Fire Service and Environmental Agency because of the Council’s intervention. The fire, in its current form, had been smouldering for about 6 weeks and before that as well in a separate event. If it was not for those Local Resilience Forums meetings which the Council had chaired and got the relevant people around the table for, there would not be the actions that were currently being undertaken by the Environment Agency. It must be remembered that it was the Environment Agency who had the statutory responsibility to take the principal lead in resolving the massive issue that was ongoing down there. The Council would use their powers as much as possible to ensure that the fire was put out as soon as possible because of the implications on public health for the people in Kiveton and surrounding areas. Once the fire was out, which hopefully would be as soon as possible, there needed to be a long-term solution from the Environment Agency to get rid of the waste. The waste was historic, and the Council would work with the Environment Agency to ensure they acted upon their statutory duties in this regard.


In his supplementary, Councillor Ball explained the scale of the fire and stated that there were 200,000 tonnes of rubbish that needed moving. The problem was that the Environment Agency had put plant in there, but it was not enough. The Council needed to help the residents now by supplying plant. The was no space on site to move the rubbish, douse it and dispose of it. The current process of taking out small bits to try and break the fire was not working. This was about the health of the residents of Kiveton, and the surrounding areas and it needed an intervention now. There was also concern potential strike action that could exacerbate the issue. Councillor Ball asked for Cabinet Members to have a site visit to see what could be done to help for the health of the residents.


The Leader stated that he understood the point been made and would take it away to assess what further work could be done by the Council and its partners.

(3)  Councillor Ball stated that some years ago there was a working party related to modular housing. Was there an update on this? Was it still active? Was the Council still looking at it?


Councillor Brookes explained that the working party on modular housing had not continued. A lot of information on modular housing had been requested during the development of the Housing Strategy and this information gave an unclear picture on the cost/benefit analysis of modular homes to achieve the type of eco-efficiencies that were wanted. It was currently thought that design interventions were more appropriate for what the Council was trying to achieve.