(maximum of 40 minutes duration)
Questions to members of the Cabinet and responses given were as follows:
(a) Question: Repairs to entrance of Florence Park
Mr Hixson reported that a short length of road off Pound Farm Road giving access to Florence Park was in a dangerous condition. However, the land was unregistered and all councils declined responsibility. He asked whether the District Council would adopt the length of road and repair it.
Mrs Keegan (Cabinet Member for Commercial Services) replied that the situation was complicated and the road was not owned by the District Council.
Mr Over confirmed that the road did not appear to be owned by anybody. It gave access not only to Florence Park but also to a number of voluntary organisations’ premises and to some residences that were former council houses. It had been understood that West Sussex County Council (WSCC) had allocated some Section 106 monies for its repair, with Chichester City Council acting as project manager. However, some complications had arisen over drainage, and the City Council no longer felt able to manage the project. Meanwhile, WSCC was reviewing its S106 policy and had put the project on hold. The ideal solution would be for the S106 monies to be released and the repairs carried out.
Mr Oakley declared a personal interest as a member of West Sussex County Council He stated that WSCC had decided that the project was not a priority for S106 funding, and it might be in the best interests of the District Council to take control of the situation.
A number of members commented that the District Council should seek to take over ownership and carry out the works. However, others claimed that there was at least one similar parcel of land in the City and there was a risk of setting a precedent.
The Chief Executive replied that the officers would investigate the matter and report to a future meeting of the Cabinet.
(b) Question: A27 Chichester By-Pass Improvement
Mr Hall asked who would make the final decision on the A27 Chichester By-pass improvement,
Mr Dignum (Leader of the Council) replied that consultants acting for Highways England were believed to be considering six options. A public consultation was expected to take place in 2016, the results of which would be considered by Highways England, although any decision to undertake the improvement would be signed off by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Mr Dunn said that there was a lack of clarity about the procedure to be followed. Councillors had been told that the six options were confidential. Local people feared that only a single preferred route would be published for consultation.
Mr Dignum replied that the number of options for consultation was not known. He and the Cabinet Members for Environment and Housing & Planning and Mrs Purnell, together with the Chief Executive, would be meeting representatives of Highways England at the end of January. The process was not under the control of the District Council, whose involvement was as a statutory consultee.
Mr Dunn suggested that pressure should be put on the relevant Minister to clarify the process. Mr Lloyd-Williams added that the final decision would affect the District for decades to come.
(c) Question: Dwellings with outstanding planning permission
Mr Ransley referred to the table in the written answer to Mr Hall’s question, printed on page 14 of the council minutes, which showed 2,680 dwellings with outstanding planning permission. He asked if and how that number would be updated and how the Council was performing on delivery.
Mr Frost (Head of Planning Services) replied that he did not think the numbers in the table would affect the overall housing trajectory in the Local Plan. However, he would provide a written response.
(d) Question: Bus shelter, Farrs Field, Chichester
Mr Oakley referred to the reservation of £25,000 in a Section 106 Agreement for the provision of a bus shelter at Farrs Field, Chichester. He asked why the shelter had not been provided and whether it was true that the funds had been returned to the developer..
Mr Over confirmed that the money had been returned to the developer and a report on the circumstances had been made to the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee. The money had been required by West Sussex County Council but the deliverer was to be the District Council. However, difficulties had arisen over the location and future maintenance of the shelter, which had led to it not being provided. He would provide a written answer. Mr Oakley asked about a written answer to a question by West Sussex County Council, which blamed the District Council for the failure. Mr Over replied that he was aware of this and would comment on it in his written answer.