Local democracy during coronavirus

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Agenda item

Motions on Notice

To consider the following Motions on Notice under Standing Order 22:

 

Motions submitted for consideration directly by Council, in accordance with Standing Order 22.1

 

(i)           From Cllr Daubeney

 

A Planning System that Works for Residents

 

“Proposed changes to existing planning legislation risk further reducing the democratic oversight and deregulating the planning process, failing to address the need for a balance in the planning system to maintain heritage and accountability.

 

Council notes:

·        The significant concerns expressed by residents, Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, CPRE and many professional planning bodies and local government representatives over the Conservative Government’s Planning Reforms.

·        Local resident concerns about their reduced ability to object to building works under Permitted Development Rights which have been extended under this Government.

·        Widespread concerns and condemnation of the Planning White Paper proposals across Local Government, The Planning and Architecture Sector, and organisations concerned with protecting green open spaces and heritage.

·        Government proposals to deregulate planning will remove the rights of residents to influence or object to inappropriate development where they live.

·        Local councils, in consultation with their businesses and residents are best placed to understand the issues in their area and respond with a spatial strategy tailored to that area.

 

Consequently, Council resolves to call on the Government to scrap its Planning White Paper and instead:

·        Undertake a wholesale review of Permitted Development Rights.

·        Make the Planning Inspectorate more accountable to local people.

·        Ensure that local resident engagement is at the heart of planning and any reforms do not threaten the accountability and engagement process and Councillors are able to play their democratic role.

·        Implement reforms that would help local authorities build more social housing, including cheaper loans, access to low-priced public land and the right to keep 100 per cent of the sale price of council homes sold off under Right to Buy scheme to reinvest in new homes.”

 

(ii)         From Cllr Doughty

 

Working Towards Improving Democracy and Services

 

“Council acknowledges the challenges Covid-19 has brought to everyday life of our citizens. Many millions have worked tirelessly and shown resilience without complaint in order to help keep the city and country running. This applies to within the Council organisation and we give grateful thanks to them.

 

Council is pleased the UK vaccination programme has been amongst the most advanced, with a sizeable majority of adults having received their first vaccination and a majority (almost two thirds at time of print) of adults now having had their second jabs. Data shows that despite further new Covid cases, the vaccination programme is breaking the link between cases and the levels of serious hospital admissions previously seen.

 

Now, Council believes more ambition is needed by the Council leadership in restoring basic democracy which has been sidelined and improving basic services our residents expect. The administration has shown no urgency to properly restore the Committee Calendar so elected Councillors (not just the Executive) can have oversight and scrutinise decisions being taken. It remains unacceptable for many meetings taking place ‘informally’ with no minutes publicly available for accountability. Concerning for residents is the continued deterioration in basic services, recently including repeatedly late and in many cases completely uncollected green waste, overgrown vegetation which is once again becoming a problem and deteriorating roads and paths throughout the city.

 

Therefore, Council asks that the current administration commits to:

·        Return to work at West Offices of all Directors and Senior management. While working at home might be possible for some tasks sometimes, after 16+ months, a focus on leadership is needed to address some of the service issues experienced here in York.

·        A report to Customer and Corporate Services Scrutiny Management Committee on actions and mitigations taken to save taxpayer money in York. This in light of claims of a £6M funding shortfall in York due to Covid despite record national spending by Government. The report should detail how savings have, are and will be made and also indicate how the Council ensures the upto 20 likely redundancies indicated in local media recently are not amongst frontline key workers directly providing the services that residents value.

·        A commitment to review the Council Committee Calendar in the coming weeks to enable a return to as normal as possible a Calendar.

·        A commitment that Council meetings are held at West Offices where possible, or similar prominent city buildings (ensuring sensible cost) if they have a greater capacity.   It would be hoped that educational establishments such as the universities and Community stadium management etc. would be cognisant that their institutions have already received huge financial assistance (and otherwise) from the taxpayer, directly or via the Council.

·        Risk assessments for possible meeting venues to be shared with all Councillors especially in light of concern that a large City venue, which despite being open to the general public (in large numbers at times) appeared to be discounted for meetings by CYC, on health grounds for CYC staff and Councillors.”

 

(iii)        From Cllr Runciman

 

Fixing Social Care

 

“The past year has further underlined the vital role that our social care services play in supporting our communities. The pandemic has exposed the fragility of those services and amplified the workforce, funding and sustainability challenges.

 

Council notes:

·        Our thanks to all those who work in social care systems, from carers to cleaners and caterers, to those working in care homes and domiciliary care, and those who provide so much care for friends and family, expecting nothing in return.

·        Despite years of promises, the Government has failed to outline a feasible plan which would fix the long term funding issues in social care.

·        Social care must be a full and equal partner with the NHS in enabling more people to remain independent, living in their own home or in their community.

·        Using adult social care precept to fund social care is unsustainable; depending on unfair council tax is not the solution.

·        Social care costs for over-65s have increased in recent years in York as well as the rest of the UK.

 

Consequently, Council resolves:

·        To have all Group leaders jointly call on the new Health and Social Care Secretary to urgently begin cross-party discussions to enable Ministers to bring forward comprehensive plans that would address short and long term funding needs of the care sector.

·        Such proposals should set out:

o   Funding for short-term stabilisation, addressing short-term funding challenges, which have been worsened by Covid, to prevent further deterioration in the access to and quality of care.

o   A long-term plan for social care that sets the priorities for investment and transformation of services and systematically addresses the workforce challenges;

o   A funding settlement that provides local government with the necessary finance to implement the long term plan over the next five years; and

o   Arrangements to protect people from incurring catastrophic care costs by pooling the risk and making the current means-test more comprehensive.”

 

(iv)        From Cllr Melly

 

Ensuring Access for All

 

Council notes:

·        that York is a Human Rights City;

·        that every local authority has a duty under the Equalities Act to enable people to get as close as reasonably possible to where they need to get to;

·        that disabled people are not a single homogenous group and therefore a raft of measures may be required in order to make the city centre fully accessible and to appropriately mitigate any reduced vehicular access;

·        that having alternative provision of services - eg online services - is not a substitute for access;

·        the significant numbers of complaints made by Blue Badge holders who feel excluded from the city centre following recent extensions to the pedestrianised footstreets area;

·        that even before the Covid19 access changes, accessibility to York city centre was poor for many residents;

·        the “Healthier, Greener York” motion passed by Council in December 2019 calling for a city-wide approach to reducing car-dependency, which drew a clear distinction between essential and non-essential journeys and which specifically requested that the Executive Member for Transport “works closely with disability advocacy groups and Blue Badge Holders to ensure that access to the city centre is maintained and improved for people with mobility difficulties or who are otherwise unable to use public transport”.

 

Council believes:

·        that there are many benefits to extending the pedestrianised footstreets area for residents, businesses and visitors, including disabled and non-disabled people;

·        that increasing city centre access for some should not come at the cost of creating barriers for others;

·        that accessibility is about meeting the needs of all residents visiting the city centre as opposed to merely ensuring access to the edge of the city’s historic core;

·        that ensuring accessibility includes ensuring sufficient provision of appropriately located seating, toilets, changing places, baby change facilities, cycle racks and Blue Badge parking;

·        that whilst at times the different needs of different disability groups may conflict with one another, City of York Council must not privilege one group over another, nor pit the needs of one group against another;

·        that City of York Council has not yet done enough to ensure the city centre is accessible to all residents.

 

Council resolves to request that the Executive and relevant Executive Member:

·        undertake a review of city centre seating, working closely with older adult and disability advocacy groups, to ensure sufficient ‘rest-stops’ are available throughout the pedestrianised footstreets area;

·        ensure that all new benches installed across York are age and disability friendly, with appropriate backs and arm rests;

·        ensure sufficient provision of fully accessible toilets, baby-changing facilities and changing places that are open at appropriate times and that are well-signposted;

·        undertake a review of cycle rack provision to ensure secure parking is available for the full range of cycles, including mobility aids and trailers;

·        explore options for a frequent shuttle ‘train’/bus that is fully accessible, not limited to Blue Badge Holders, not stigmatising and that enables people to get to and from a range of places within the pedestrianised footstreets area that they need access to;

·        review the provision of charging points for mobility aids such that those who wish to access the city centre via this method can be confident that they will not get stuck and be forced into embarrassing or stressful situations;

·        direct council officers to work with partners, through the Quality Bus Partnership, to work collaboratively with local disability representative groups to review how drivers prioritise wheelchair users’ access and makes Class 3 access training available in York;

·        in conjunction with Age Friendly York, local disability representative groups and Quality Bus Partnership, develop agreed criteria for accessible bus stops;

·        review the policy around choice of road and pavement surfaces city-wide, to ensure that aesthetic and financial considerations are not prioritised over ergonomics or accessibility, and that a consistent approach is taken to tactile paving city-wide;

·        ensure that an easily accessible, up-to-date map of Blue Badge parking is available to residents online and in hard copy upon request;

·        review and consider national best practice examples for pedestrian core accessibility such as Chester and Leicester, and implements measures that improve pre-existing access such that City of York Council meets its obligation to ensure equality of city centre access for all York residents.”

 

 

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