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 Smith asked the following question for which he had given notice:


“Might the Executive Member tell us, considering the changes, both existing and aspirant to the whole gamut of small community grant funding, particularly those envisaged from Trafford Housing Trust, if he is satisfied they will sustain, or indeed improve their equitability and remain true to all principles stated at their inception and also re-assure the chamber that any implementation of revisions will be a matter for full council and not the Executive in isolation?”

(Note: Before responding, Councillor Lamb declared a personal interest in this matter as one of the Council’s nominated Non-Executive Directors of the Trafford Housing Trust (THT).)


Councillor Lamb, Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships reported that THT was currently reviewing its arrangements for the distribution of community grants, which was an aspect of the obligations that the Council placed on THT at the time of transfer back in 2003. The review was being carried out to ensure transparent accountability and strengthen community engagement. At this stage no proposals had been put to the Council as THT would carry out a consultation exercise about any proposed changes. All Members of Council would have the opportunity to comment on the proposals but the advice received at this stage, in terms of the potential level of change to be proposed, would indicate that a formal response to THT by the Executive would be required on behalf of the Council. Should, following consultation, proposals be received that were broader reaching than was currently suggested, advice would then be sought to confirm that this was still the most appropriate approval mechanism.


Thanking Councillor Lamb for his response, Councillor Smith sought clarity through a supplementary question, as to whether the Council would or would not have THT maintain the obligations that had been given to tenants?


The Executive Member acknowledged the importance and substantial nature of the obligations placed upon THT and that it was working to make the process more transparent. At the moment it was envisaged that the Executive will take the decision, though it was waiting what proposals came forward. Until that time, Councillor Lamb urged all Members to engage with the consultation process.


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


“How confident is the Executive Member for Stronger Communities that the New Trafford Partnership Strategy will deliver the building of strong communities across all of Trafford?”


Councillor Lamb, Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships thanked Councillor Freeman for his question since it gave him the opportunity to update the Council on some important changes to the operation of the Trafford Partnership. For the past several months a review of the effectiveness of the Partnership had been undertaken to ensure that it was operating at its most effective in terms of the Trafford and Greater Manchester (GM) focus on economic growth and public sector reform. The Trafford Partnership would provide strategic direction and oversight of the activities designed to deliver economic growth and redesign of public services. The Partnership was also the body that links activity in Trafford with the wider GM devolution agenda.


Key to the arrangements were Trafford’s 4 Locality Partnerships, overseen by the Stronger Communities Board and an integral part of the Trafford Partnership. Over the past year, the Board had reviewed the work of and the effectiveness of the 4 Locality Partnerships and had championed Asset Based Community Development, which aimed to encourage groups of residents to identify what was strong about a community and work with that to bring about changes that make a real difference to people’s lives . The ‘Be Bold’ campaign was similarly aimed at encouraging Trafford residents to engage in activity that improved the wellbeing of neighbours and improve neighbourhoods. It was an open invitation to all Trafford residents and the Council’s Communities and Partnership Team respond to numerous requests for assistance and guidance.


The Executive Member concluded that the new Partnership arrangements would place a focus on community work and look for linkages to the work of our public, private and voluntary sector partners. He believed that GM had some of the most developed approaches to ensuring that our communities were strong and resilient and was confident that the new Trafford Partnership arrangements, together with the work of the Locality Partnerships would deliver strong communities across all of Trafford.


Asking a supplementary question, Councillor Freeman quoted from the new Trafford Partnership Strategy and enquired whether the Executive Member could please translate what the jargon meant and what guarantees could he give that charities and organisations that had previously been partly funded by the Council would continue to flourish under the new framework?


Councillor Lamb clarified that essentially the statement explained bringing public and voluntary sector partners together to jointly deliver more effective services. Partnership was a key central aspect for developing the Strategy as was the link to the devolution agenda.


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


“A number of serious anti-social behaviour incidents involving young people have occurred across parts of Trafford in recent times which are causing a great deal of concern in our communities.

One such incident happened in my own Ward at Sale Water Park involving a large group of young people .We were not notified of this incident until a letter was sent out to all Councillors recently seven months after the incident. I understand other serious incidents have occurred in other areas of the Borough, including Urmston and the Trafford centre.

There appears to be a worrying trend developing and I am sure you would agree that Councillors should be kept fully briefed on such events.

I would like to know what action is being taken to tackle this problem, what action is being taken to reassure residents and how you intend to improve communication with Ward Councillors?


Firstly, dealing with the issue of communication, Councillor Lamb, Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships agreed that Councillors should be kept informed of significant community safety issues. Residents would often ask Members for details of the more serious incidents and often Members can assist the Police by assuring the community of steps that are being taken to deal with incidents. Councillor Lamb accepted that the Sale Water Park incident should have been notified to the relevant ward Members and once the oversight was discovered an apology was emailed to Councillor Baugh on 22 December 2015.


Since the summer of 2015 there have been a series of incidents involving young people involved in violent assault in various parts of the borough. However, it only became apparent to the Police late in 2015 that the incidents were linked through the involvement of the same youngsters and was the reason why briefings for relevant ward Members were arranged before Christmas. Furthermore, another briefing had taken place within the previous 24 hours, therefore, believing that communications with ward Members on community safety issues was good, the Executive Member assured Members of the Council that he remained committed to sharing as much information as possible related to the more serious incidents.


Turning to the second aspect of the question, Councillor Lamb advised that the seriousness of the incidents had prompted, so far, two multi agency review meetings. A wide range of measures were being taken to protect the public and specifically the youngsters involved. The measures included:


       For the more serious offenders, Court Injunctions were sought under new ‘civil’ legislation which could be progressed quickly, whilst further criminal investigation /evidence gathering continued, which gave some immediate impact. In addition Court appearances to answer formal criminal charges had already taken place with some sentencing issued and adjournments until that day.

       Home visits to key offenders in an attempt to disrupt any further incidents. Also to give advice on consequences relating to any further disorderly behaviour.

       Extra Police visits and patrols at the schools most affected

       A joint letter from the Safer Trafford Partnership team sent to all parents of secondary school children, highlighting current issues and how they were being dealt with. The letter also included how parents / pupils / teachers could report incidents and intelligence anonymously and what the general youth offer was across Trafford. The letter has also been circulated to all Members.

       The Community Change Foundation had been commissioned to prevent other young people from being dragged into anti-social behaviour and criminality and to effect behaviour change for those already involved.

       Manchester Young Lives had been commissioned to ascertain locations of all incidents and deliver further outreach engagement with youth and deliver diversionary activities to prevent anti-social behaviour and effect behaviour change.


The Executive Member was sure Members could detect from the actions, not only a robust approach through the Courts to deal with the few persistent offenders but also an approach to those youngsters on the periphery which involved bringing about behaviour change through the commissioning of specialist interventions. He hoped that the approach in dealing with the series of incidents was reassuring to the Council and Trafford residents.


Suggesting that anti-social behaviour incidents had increased since the introduction of funding changes within youth and leisure services and the loss of police officers, Councillor Baugh asked as a supplementary question, whether the Executive Member agreed that this was due to cutbacks by his administration?


Councillor Lamb disagreed that any increase was as a result of any changes to the delivery of services and referring to the response he had just provided, emphasised there had been direct intervention. There had not been an intention to keep things from Members, with an apology being given and he asserted that throughout, the seriousness of the assaults had been the greatest concern.


(d)        Councillor Mrs. Brophy asked the following question, the first of two questions for which she had given notice:


“I have been contacted by many residents over the lack of street cleaning during the Christmas and New Year period.


I am also aware that many residents have reported a perceived degrading of street cleaning services with Amey including daily emptying of street bins.


Will street cleaning services be maintained at the next public holiday. Can the Executive Member provide Service Level Agreements with Amey for street cleaning during holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas?”


In the absence of the Executive Member for Environment and Operations, the Leader of the Council confirmed that not only would street cleaning services be maintained on the next public holiday but every day up to then, since there had been no change to service delivery. Councillor Sean Anstee also confirmed that the One Trafford Partnership operated services every day of the year, except for Christmas Day and that this year resources were deployed on New Year’s Day. Reporting that performance figures for the last quarter exceeded the 80% target, the Leader indicated that the Executive Member would be happy to share operational data with Councillor Mrs. Brophy.


Councillor Mrs. Brophy mentioned reports of leaves blocking drains and as a supplementary question asked if the Leader was aware of such instances? In response, Councillor Sean Anstee advised that he would ask the Executive Member to ensure a reply was provided to Councillor Mrs. Brophy outside of the meeting.


(e)        Councillor Mrs. Brophy asked the following question, the second of two questions for which she had given notice:


“In February 2014 I asked the Executive Member what is Trafford Council doing to mitigate against increased risk of flooding due to climate change in Trafford and across Greater Manchester. This was building on a previous question about changing weather and climate change in October 2009.


Most parts of Trafford were spared the extreme flooding in some areas of the county but we can’t be complacent in our duties to our residents. What areas in Trafford are at increased risk of flooding?


Many areas in the country and across the North West and locally in Trafford we had severe weather, particularly increased rainfall and it is predicted that we could have more storms and other unsettled weather.

What is Trafford Council doing to continue to ensure that our residents are protected and warned about flooding and other forms of extreme weather, as climate change starts to impact on all our lives?


On behalf of the Executive Member for Environment and Operations, the Leader of the Council informed the Council of the locations within the Borough at risk of flooding and advised that the Environment Agency had confirmed that there had been no significant changes to flood risk in Trafford since 2009. Advice regarding the risks was available on the Council’s website with the ability to search by postcode and location and emergency flooding procedures were maintained by the Council’s strategic planning section.


Councillor Mrs. Brophy mentioned that the Council had a lower target for carbon dioxide levels and gave notice of a future question on this issue. Councillor Anstee confirmed the question could be considered at a future Council Meeting and a response be provided.