Agenda item

Public Question Time

Questions submitted by members of the public in writing by noon on the previous working day (for a period up to 15 minutes).


The following public questions were asked:


Question from Mr Lloyd-Williams:


How much Council Tax Payers money has been spent supporting the Novium Museum since it has opened (including site purchase, design and build costs, running costs), and how much further Council Tax Payers money must be spent in the next 5 years to continue this support, please?


Response to question read by Mr Briscoe:


I’d like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to bring to everyone’s attention the fantastic resource we have in the Novium Museum, yes there are costs associated with it as with many of the other District Council facilities and services. I would have expected you however to have been familiar with the costs you are asking about having been a Dist. Cllr who sat on the Overview and Scrutiny Cttee. However, I’m sure you’re aware the Novium Museum opened in July 2012 and has progressed steadily in its achievements and fantastic Exhibitions including the ones on our own Tim Peake and Lego. The visitor numbers are steadily rising and with that the revenue from the shop, grants and sponsorship are increasing, and that’s without even considering the boost to the local economy of the City and wider District as a result. So, initially, the museum cost just over £6 million. This included the build, the fit and transference of artefacts from the site at the Little London Museum. However, that site was sold on along with the adjoining Tower Street site for a combined figure of nearly (2.5m) £2.465m in order to reduce the capital expenditure for the new premises. The Tourist Information Centre also moved into the new museum, which meant that we the council could lease the former TIC building, this is now generating an additional £49.5k pa for the council, this additional income is not attributed against the Novium’s budget even though it is because of the Novium that this has been made possible. Since the construction of the new museum, the museum service has cost the council £4,290,000 to run which equates to an average of £536,250 per annum.  The Novium Museum budget for 2019/20 is £610,900 but we’re currently carrying out a feasibility study into the running and facilities at the Novium and the results from this will inform the new Museum business plan, that will go to cabinet next year. As part of this work we are continuing to look for opportunities that will help us to reduce costs and increase income from the service. A good example of this is the work currently being carried out for the exciting forthcoming ‘Mystery Warrior’ exhibition. This exhibition is of International Interest, we have been chosen to host this exhibition due to our location and superb facilities in the Novium, we hope it will attract more visitors than both the Tim Peak and Lego Exhibitions. It is very hard to quantify the educational and economic benefits the Novium provides to schools and businesses of Chichester, but it certainly gives us the benefit of Media coverage and enables us to sell Chichester as a destination. The new Exhibition has already brought a £50k grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and sponsorship from Irwin Mitchell, money which would otherwise have gone to other Council areas. The cost of running the old museum in Little London and the TIC in South Street has been reviewed, when this is compared to the current budget for the Novium Museum taking the inflationary rate into account it showed that The Novium Museum actually costs £32,777 less than the Little London Museum and Chichester TIC. So, you can clearly see significant savings have been made through diligent management. Chichester prides itself on its diverse heritage and cultural offer, The Novium Museum plays a key role within this. Along with other attractions it encourages people to visit our city, spend in our shops, use our cafes and restaurants; and stay in our hotels. This can only be good for local businesses. What’s even better, is that the museum is free, accessible to all and offers something for all ages. We should be proud our District has such a world class facility and encourage its use. There is a public consultation currently in progress which I’d encourage you to complete as it looks at ways of improving our service, it runs till 1st Sept. Thank-you


Question 1 from Deborah May:


Could you as a District Council pledge to support these WASPI women and families in Chichester?    


Question 2 from Deborah May:


Would Chichester DC also be prepared to write to West Sussex County Council to also ask them to pledge their support to the WASPI women?


Response to questions read by Mrs Taylor:


Thank you for your question and I would confirm your statement that the Council does not decide national pension policy, however, we do have a role to support all members of our community. The Council feel it is for WSCC to make their own decision in this regard and so it is not our intention to write to them, however, the Council will write to the Minister offering our support to the WASPI campaign.


Question from Guy Knight:


At last weeks Chichester food festival the noise levels were set at a maximum of 65 decibels the equivalent of a domestic vacuum cleaner.  The music was played for 27 hours  and whilst the recorded music appeared to meet the agreed levels the live music  was intrusive was heard inside properties at the far end of North Close and in North street as well as causing a considerable nuisance to properties closer to the park.  In addition conditions regarding the event start time and dismantling of the site were disregarded by the operator. This was also the case with the Ice rink  and Oktoberfest How will Chichester District Council  ensure that future events are run in accordance with the agreed  conditions and thus  protect the well being of residents living near the park and will they refuse to allow operators who breach these conditions to run future events in Chichester?


Response to question read by Penny Plant:


The Environmental Protection Team at the Council refer to a national standard, the Noise Council’s Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts (1995) when setting Music Noise Levels ((MNLs) and other noise control measures for outdoor music events.


The Council seeks a balance between a music event enjoyed by many and the potential for disturbance and annoyance to those living in the vicinity.  Compliance with the code may not eliminate complaints as other local factors affect the acceptability and likelihood of complaints from concerts. 


For Rhythm and Blues Festival 2019, music was restricted so residents did have quiet times and all music ceased before 9pm on Friday and Saturday and 6pm on Sunday.  Noise levels were set at the boundary of noise sensitive properties for the music and for the more disturbing bass frequencies


Noise monitoring undertaken by the Environmental Protection team and the event organiser demonstrated compliance with the noise level requirements throughout the event.  The one exception was when the event sound engineer conducted a low level sound test on Saturday morning and this was addressed by the Council at the time of the event.


In terms of ensuring events are run in accordance with the agreed conditions, Hire of Land conditions include a clause where the hirer shall ensure no noise nuisance is caused and any violation may result in closure of the event.   No nuisance was witnessed during this event.


The Council agreed breakdown of the event with the organiser between 9am and 12.30pm however the fencing contractors were on site at 7am.  As soon as the Council were notified, the event organiser was contacted and ceased the activity. The event organiser has apologised and we are liaising with them over the incident under the terms and conditions of hire of the land. 


Question 1 from Mr Dicker:


In 2018 the Council stated that a consultation had to be conducted on the local Plan over Christmas and New year to ensure that tight deadlines could be met for ensuring that the local plan is in place for the examiner.  The initial plan was for this information to be presented to the examiner for the summer of 2019 having been represented to a public consultation.


I like circa 800 people responded to what I felt was the worst consultation paper I have ever read.  I now gather that the full council are to make a key decision in November 2019.  Can the council please confirm:


When will the public see the revised plan and comment on it prior to the November decision at full council?


Response to question read by Susan Taylor:


As stated in the Cabinet Forward Plan, it is currently expected that November’s meeting of Cabinet and Council will consider responses to representations and the proposed distribution of development to be included in the Publication Plan. There is no expectation that the full revised plan will be considered in November. Papers for November meetings of Cabinet and Council will be publicly available at least five working days before the relevant meeting.


Question 2 from Mr Dicker:


When will the council decide on whether to adopt the unmet housing need from the SDNP [1] as it does not appear in the key decision log before the local plan comes back in November?


Response to question read by Susan Taylor:


Such matters will need to be considered in conjunction with a number of other matters, including the updated evidence base for the Local Plan. It is currently expected that this will be discussed at the November meetings of Cabinet and Council but this position will be kept under review. Nevertheless, whilst it is for this Council to confirm its position in this regard, it is ultimately for the Secretary of State to conclude on the soundness of the approach through the examination

of the Local Plan Review.


Question 3 from Mr Dicker:


I heard recently that an officer of the council stated “there is NO PLAN to build in Flood Zone 3” can the council please explain why land at AL6 has been accepted into the current draft plan?


Response to question read by Susan Taylor:


The Local Plan Review proposes to allocate a number of sites across the Plan Area, with proposed boundaries identified to cover the extent of an allocation. The proposed boundaries of an allocation should not be inferred to identify the area of the site which is considered to be suitable for development. With specific regard to AL6, the proposed allocation also expects delivery of significant open space and green infrastructure, to include a county park. Such uses may well be acceptable within areas identified as being particularly prone to flooding.


Question 4 from Mr Dicker:


Can the council now confirm how many responses to the consultation where received, How many comments or observations made and what was the area which received the most comments ie AL area?


Response to question read by Susan Taylor:


Just over 3,200 representations were received from 729 respondents. Details of the issues raised and recommended responses to them are expected to be considered by Cabinet and Council in November.


Question 5 from Mr Dicker:


Has the council asked the MP to challenge the assessed housing need numbers with Government.  If so when, If not why not?


Response to question read by Susan Taylor:


The Government has prescribed a standard methodology which local authorities are expected to use in identifying the starting position for calculating local housing needs. This standard methodology has been prepared to enable the central Government objective of significantly boosting housing supply to be provided for across the country. The Council will continue to prepare its Local Plan in accordance with national planning policy. Whilst the Chichester Plan Area is recognised to have a number of constraints to address in meeting this need, insufficient evidence has yet to be identified which would suggest that the anticipated development needs could not be reasonably accommodated.


Question 6 from Mr Dicker:


How is the Peter Brett report without a link road progressing and when will this amended transport study be available for public consultation?


Response to question read by Susan Taylor:


The evidence base supporting the Local Plan Review is continuing to be updated. Updates to the transport study are expected later this year and will be carefully considered by this Council.


Question from Mr Andrew Bain on behalf of the Chichester Society read by Mr Wiggins:


Given the overall desire for removal of the level crossings expressed over many decades and confirmed in a recent survey in the Observer with 85% in favour, can we expect this removal to be included in the Master Plan for the Regeneration of the Southern Gateway?


We have proposed a height limited underpass on Basin Road as a feasible solution.


Response to question read by Tony Dignum:


Thank you for your question.


The masterplan has been adopted by the full Council on a free, unwhipped vote and does not include proposals for an overpass or underpass. The masterplan forms the basis of the development brief upon which developers will make their detailed proposals. Given a choice most people would obviously prefer there were no level crossings. That is why the Consultants who produced the masterplan were asked to look at the possibility of closing the level crossings and providing access via a bridge or tunnel. I note that like the Gateway Plus group you are advocating only a tunnel and not a flyover.


The consultants also rejected a flyover because of:


·       The length of the ramps. The southern ramp would have stretched from the northern boundary of the Royal Mail depot to the railway and the northern ramp would have been  a similar length


·       The adverse impacts on the look of the city and the views of Chichester Cathedral.


·       The adverse impact on the environment in terms of the presence of a flyover within the Conservation Area.


The consultants also rejected your proposed solution of tunnel.


They concluded that a tunnel would not be feasible, deliverable or desirable for the following seven reasons:


1.     significantcost – inthe orderof£10million  so adding to the abnormal costs of the Southern gateway scheme;

2.     substantialland-taketoaccommodate thetunnel approaches(approximately 125  metres eitherside ofthe line), similar to that required by a bridge;

3.     issuesof floodrisk fora tunnel;

4.     relocationof undergroundservicesincludingthe River LavantCulvert;

5.     localisedair quality issues aroundtunnelentrances;and within the tunnel

6.     maintainingrail services duringconstruction;

7.     Easing access would tend to bring more traffic into the city centre, contrary to the aims of the Chichester Vision.


While we sympathise with the wish to scrap the level crossings, we all should also recognize that the issues have already been carefully studied.