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 answer received.
Councillors may also ask questions under this agenda item.
Mr A Mahmood enquired that as the proposed new burial site at East Herringthorpe had been declared unfit for purpose by the Environment Agency, could the public be informed as to what the Council’s plans were going forward?
Councillor Alam explained his understanding was that concerns had been raised by the Environment Agency but there were mitigating factors. He felt they always put in objections to these expansions to look at water retention and he felt it was a work in progress.
The Leader clarified that this was regarding the proposed expansion of existing facilities at East Herringthorpe.
In his supplementary Mr Mahmood felt that the Environment Agency were doing their job and were informing people of what the situation was. He noted that Dignity’s 35-year plan was due in March but had not yet been produced. He asked what was happening with the plan and when it would be available?
Councillor Alam indicated that Dignity had been asked to produce the 35-year plan as part of the contract agreement. Officers had been working with Dignity and this had not yet been provided therefore there would be financial sanctions put in place to encourage them to provide the 35-year plan.
The Monitoring Officer noted that the 35-year plan was something that the Council would continue to push for and continue to use all of it contractual powers in order to ensure that Dignity delivered against the contract.
Mr Arshad Azam noted that when he had attended Cabinet previously, he spoke about transparency, integrity, toxic environment amongst other things. He expressed gratitude to the Monitoring Officer for responding to his question. He asked the Leader how everyone could meet to have civilised conversations to drive some of this forward without the need to attend lots of meetings to ask simple straightforward questions.
The Leader responded to say that where those kinds of issues existed his recommendation was that they contact the officers directly. He noted that where conversations had taken place as a larger group about these emotive subjects that these had not gone as planned. He had a responsibility for the safety of staff and councillors and did not want to put people into difficult situations. If there were particular issues or questions that needed to be raised, then the first point of contact was with the officers and where it was needed a few people could meet or speak on the phone to discuss the issue.
In his supplementary question Mr Azam suggested that was conducted with a small number of individuals. He then referred to Mr Omar regarding the proposed independent review. He felt the agenda and recommendations of the review were not independent and had been set by the Council. He queried how things could move forward with a collaborative approach. He would welcome having a small number of people, avoiding confrontation, getting together to discuss the issue.
Councillor Alam explained that Mr Omar wanted to lead on the whole process, which the Council was happy for this to happen. Mr Omar asked officers to arrange meetings with various stakeholders and he pulled out at the last minute explaining that he was being hounded by some members of the community. Mr Omar had been leading the process as the Council had wanted it to be independent and he could meet anyone he wanted.
He then explained that the Council was planning some consultation around October with key stakeholders. That consultation should not be used for operational issues. The Council had responsibility for the contract and Dignity had responsibility for service delivery. The Council wanted Dignity to be responsible for operational issues to ensure they were delivering the best service to the community.
The Leader explained the Council had committed to conducting an independent review and where others had views about what should be considered these would be considered but would also include areas the Council wanted considered as well.