Agenda item

Questions By Members

This is an opportunity for Members of Council to ask the Mayor, Members of the Executive or the Chairman of any Committee or Sub-Committee a question on notice under Procedure Rule 10.2.


The Mayor reported that 5 questions had been received under Procedure Rule 10.2.


(a)    Councillor Andrew Western asked the following question for which he had given notice:


“Please could the Executive Member advise why Trafford will not be hosting a Holocaust Memorial Event this year, and what support if any the Council offered to organisers to ensure that such an event took place in Trafford this year as previously?”


Councillor Mrs. Evans, the Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships reported that the Council had supported a number of events in relation to Holocaust Memorial Day over recent weeks with particular focus on engaging a wider number of people across the borough to be aware of, and understand, such a disturbing event in history. The Council’s approach, which had been well received by regional representatives of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, focused on a three week engagement period with the theme ‘The Power of Words’, poet Pavel Friedman’s thought provoking poem, ‘The Butterfly’. The public was invited to participate and contribute to a central display at Sale Waterside, closing at Noon on 5 February 2018.


The Council had managed to reach over 11,000 people via social media channels, libraries and schools and all Members of Council were notified of the planned activity on 17 January 2018. Libraries and Sale Waterside had been decorated and used as the base for community events involving schools and local groups and the display at Sale Waterside had been praised for its creativity and its impact. The Council recognised the tremendous efforts and enthusiasm which had been shown by all and hoped to continue the small community based theme next year.


Welcoming the initiatives, Councillor Andrew Western asked as a supplementary question whether, running alongside the excellent events outlined, the Council would consider reinstating the support that was offered to the organisers of Holocaust Memorial Day central events in previous years, so that they could happen again in the future. Councillor Mrs. Evans indicated that she would be delighted to discuss matters for next year so that the Council could improve and enhance what had been on offer that year. The Executive Member believed awareness was growing as a result of the innovative approach and would welcome a conversation with Councillor Andrew Western to expand things further.


(b)    Councillor Mitchell asked the following question for which he had given notice:


“Members will rightly be concerned with the recent spate of anti-social behaviour, gang related activity and deeply unpleasant and criminal incidents across the south of the borough. Please would the Executive Member outline to Council the steps being taken in partnership with Greater Manchester Police to deal with this and provide assurance to our residents?”


Councillor Mrs. Evans, the Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships explained that since 6 January 2018, the Altrincham and Hale areas in particular had been experiencing a period of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and robberies committed by young people on young people. A multi-agency meeting was held on 13 January and a series of actions were coordinated which included:


·         a number of acceptable behaviour contracts with young people involved;

·         engagement with local secondary schools;

·         delivery of already planned knife crime sessions in schools;

·         support for schools and reassurances to parents and the wider community of the Council’s commitment to assist;

·         the ‘Travel Safe Programme’ with Transport for Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Police had been operational on Metrolink 2.00 p.m. to Midnight every day since 24 January; and

·         Two ‘Operation Stay Safe’ events with the Youth Offending Service were being planned to cover Altrincham in the near future.


As the pattern of behaviour became known a command structure was immediately established and Council officers had since been working with the police. It was understood that two series of incidents were at play: low level ASB linked to local secondary schools and a small number of incidents on local transport; and a series of robberies (5 in total) occurring on 6, 9 and 22 January which were currently not believed to be connected.


A comprehensive operational plan was in place and the Council was looking to commission focus outreach groundwork with young people and targeted work with both the victims and those responsible. Funding for such a response was already set aside.


In addition, the Council and Police issued a press statement detailing safety advice for young people and responses were being made to enquiries raised directly by residents.


The Executive Member hoped that her update provided an assurance that without hesitation or a prompt, the Council had acted decisively with its partners in an attempt to bring the incidents to an end.


As a supplementary question Councillor Mitchell asked the Executive Member to outline what action was being taken to affect a sustained increase in police presence across Trafford. Indicating that it was a decision of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Councillor Mrs. Evans advised that the Council would be making representation to the Mayor that, in view of the recently announced £12 increase in the police precept for the recruitment of more officers, he should set out an individual plan for Trafford to indicate how the borough would see a viable increase in front line policing.


(c)    Councillor Lally asked the following question for which he had given notice:


During the last full Council meeting held on the 29 November 2017, Labour members abandoned the chamber without notice to the Mayor, senior officers and other elected members. Does the Leader of the Council believe this warrants a formal apology to the Mayor and this chamber?”


The Leader of the Council, Councillor Sean Anstee trusted that Members had had time to reflect and considered that it was unfortunate since, in the main, Councillors had their political differences but worked through issues with a mutual respect for each other.


Stating that residents would have been disappointed, Councillor Lally asked a supplementary question whether the Leader could outline examples whereby the controlling administration had worked with local groups to overcome difficult issues. Councillor Sean Anstee declared that his administration had a record of engagement with both Members in the Council Chamber and with the community more widely. He expressed that there were numerous examples across the borough where the administration and its councillors, had worked pragmatically with local communities to find a way, in partnership, to make a positive change to the citizens of Trafford. The Leader believed that this approach to engagement was the manner in which the Council should approach all debate and Members should seek to use politics in Trafford for the positive force for good they could be.


(d)    Councillor Mrs. Brophy asked the following question for which she had given notice:


What is Trafford Council doing about the escalating anti-social behaviour, criminal activity and violence in Altrincham, Sale and the surrounding areas impacting significantly on our young people?


As this was a similar question to that which had been put by Councillor Mitchell, Councillor Mrs. Evans, the Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships referred Councillor Mrs. Brophy to the response she had given earlier (Minute 61(b) refers).


Councillor Mrs. Brophy asked as a supplementary question what was being done with schools and youth services to mitigate the impact of what was happening and whether the Executive Member could expand further on the plans to bring youth services together on the ground. Councillor Mrs. Evans advised that the Safer Partnership Community Team was not only working with communities and partners but also Councillors to develop a closer rapport with the police. With a relatively low crime rate in Trafford, there had been a spike in a specific area and partners had worked quickly to identify and deal with the problem. Councillor Mrs. Evans summarised that there was complete engagement with all schools and should Councillor Mrs. Brophy require more detail there was an extensive list of fluid and reactionary actions that would hopefully address the issues quickly.


(e)    Councillor Baugh asked the following question for which she had given notice:


We have received many phone calls from residents concerned about the state of our roads which are flooding due to blocked gullies. Residents tell me that the gullies are not being emptied and are filling up with earth and dead leaves. The situation in Priory ward has never been as bad. Can you tell us what steps are being taken to rectify this situation as it appears the gullies are not being emptied on a regular basis? I have photos as evidence.


Councillor Shaw, Executive Member for Highways, Parks and Environmental Services advised that the Council’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System was the agreed access route for Member requests to ensure the quickest response as it was linked to live operations, and encouraged all members to set up their accounts. Councillor Shaw confirmed that officers had responded on 19 January 2018 to a flooding issue reported by Councillor Baugh on 18 January, at which point it was acknowledged that there had been some delays, however, gulley cleansing on Broad Road and Temple Road in Sale had been scheduled.


The Executive Member advised the Council that an analysis of all service requests from residents of the Priory Ward since 1 November 2017 revealed that there had been 18 reported issues for drainage and flooding. Ten had been responded to and closed, of which four were subject to gully cleansing on Broad Road and Temple Road, Sale. Eight reported issues received in January were currently outstanding but were scheduled for completion. In respect of the regular maintenance programme for gully cleaning for the Priory Ward, 1320 of 1498 scheduled since 1 September 2017 had been cleaned but unfortunately 178 were unable to be due to access issues, most likely to have been parked vehicles.


Asking a supplementary question, Councillor Baugh wished to know when and which gullies were being emptied and believing Councillors should be informed when work was happening, asked for such information to be sent. In response, Councillor Shaw indicated that he was happy to provide the information.