Agenda item


To receive a statement from the Leader of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.


The Leader presented his statement and started by welcoming Councillor Harper to the Council. The Leader then raised the flooding incident that had taken place in Catcliffe, Treeton and other areas across the Borough in October 2023. 180 homes had been affected and funds of around £170,000 had been administered in support of those households. The Leader praised the exceptional response of the staff which had been huge in the immediate aftermath. The Leader stated that, even with the exceptional levels of rainfall, the flooding should not have been as extensive as it was if it should have happened at all. Over the coming months it would be important to understand the facts and influences on that to come to the right conclusions for the future.


To conclude, the Leader confirmed that Thurcroft Library had now been officially opened. This was the latest stage in the investment in libraries across the Borough.


Questions on the statement where then invited. Councillor Adam Carter started by offering his congratulation to Councillor Harper on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group. He also agreed with the Leader that the flooding in Catcliffe and Treeton should not have happened, at least to the extent that it did.


Councillor Bennett-Sylvester welcomed Councillor Harper and also passed on his thanks to the officers involved with the communication of information in relation to the floods. He asked the Leader if there had been an increase in demand for temporary accommodation and if, therefore, there was a need for additional accommodation across the Borough? If there were additional pressures, how long were these expected to continue?


Councillor Griffin stated that houses in his Ward of Whiston had also been flooded and he asked the Leader if he agreed that such homeowners should be provided with complete and accurate information about the steps that were being taken to reduce that risk and if so, would the Leader agree that it was unhelpful for a Member of Parliament to communicate with residents in a way that was partial, incomplete and inaccurate?


Councillor Ball welcomed Councillor Harper. Councillor Ball also informed the Chamber that there had been three deaths in three weeks on roads in the Borough. He offered his thoughts to the families of those involved and praised the work of the emergency services. Councillor Ball questioned why there was no longer a Cabinet Member who was dedicated 100% to transport following a rise in concerns?


Councillor Mills asked a question in relation to the flooding and why some residents in Ravenfield were denied access to sandbags?


In response to the questions, the Leader agreed with Councillor A. Carter that they were of one mind when it came to the prioritises in relation to the flooding.


In response to Councillor Bennett-Sylvester’s question, the Leader confirmed that the communications team were represented in the room and his thanks was noted. A written response would be provided in relation to the numbers in temporary accommodation.


The Leader noted Councillor Griffin’s concerns in relation to properties in Whiston that were flooded or nearly flooded. He agreed that, particularly when residents are in difficult, stressful situations, they rely on all elected representatives to be fair and accurate with the information provided. It was not helpful for any representative, least of all a Member of Parliament, to be making statements that were not full. The Leader expressed his support for the decisions taken by the Council to put money into flood defence schemes, such as those at Whiston, and it was hoped that those schemes would be funded to completion over the next couple of years.


In response to Councillor Ball, the Leader confirmed that he had taken on the responsibility of transport himself and would keep Members up-to-date with his Cabinet appointments as and when required.


It was confirmed that a written response would be provided to Councillor Mills in relation to sandbag availability in Ravenfield.