Agenda item

Questions to the Leader or Executive Members (9:36 pm)

To question the Leader and/or Executive Members in respect of any matter within their portfolio responsibility, in accordance with Standing Order B11.


Members were invited to question the Leader or Executive Members. Questions were received from the floor from the following Members, and replied to as indicated:


Questions to Cllr Kilbane, Executive Member for Economy and Transport


From Cllr Crawshaw: The unanimous position of the Planning Committee was that the ring road should be dualled but that it was absolutely imperative that we capture all the additional benefits in terms of taking traffic out of the city centre and out of the villages but also all of the active travel elements and public transport benefits that could be found as well. Unfortunately, the committee was unable to condition those within the approval and so we added an informative to be agreed by myself and the vice-chair. I’d really like to hear the ways in which you will work to ensure all of those benefits will be delivered?

Response: Thank you to everybody on the Planning Committee. There are things that you can and can’t do within planning law. We inherited the scheme and we took it forward as we promised we would do. We addressed the issues that Active Travel England had raised with the scheme and the things missing from it. We took it as far as we could without unnecessarily delaying it further. The Local Plan, which is going through adoption, is contingent on the dualling of the ring road. What we have to do now is to take the results of the city wide local transport consultation, and they have been overwhelmingly in support of our sustainable travel in the city, and make sure that we use the opportunity that dualling the ring road brings to tie in the advantages of moving to a more sustainable means of travel. We need to make sure it takes traffic out of the city centre and it will be down to this authority, the subsequent authority, and the new incoming elected Mayor to ultimately maximise the benefits.


From Cllr Fenton: I have been in correspondence with an officer recently regarding a grit bin review that’s ongoing in terms of the location of grit bins around the city. Will Councillors have the opportunity to engage in that review?

Response: Absolutely.

Supplementary from Cllr Fenton: Are you able to set a timescale on when that opportunity might arise?

Response: If you can email me the details of the officer concerned I will then respond to that email.


From Cllr Nicholls: There was a trial agreed some months ago for 20mph speed limits, any updates on that implementation?

Response: The parish council in Bishopthorpe, and the local councillor, submitted a request for 20mph speed limits around the whole village, which I was very happy to grant.  It will be used as a trial to see what the impact is on the village. If it works in the village then it could be rolled out to other areas who are requesting them. We need to act on this now. If you could email me, and I will pick this up with officers. 

Supplementary from Cllr Rowley: Dunnington also requested that 20mph trial as well, so can I assume that Dunnington will be high on the list of priorities?

Response: Yes, Dunnington and Poppleton are in the queue like most villages. The issues we are dealing with is that we are not sure when the new plans for drivers comes out from your administration and whether they will allow 20mph zones to cover whole areas, so if you could do some lobbying on behalf of residents that would be great. There are also issues around enforcement and highway processes that we are working through, and part of the Bishopthorpe trial is to make sure we have worked through them properly before we roll it out further.


Questions to Cllr Kent and Cllr Ravilious – Executive Members for Environment and Climate Emergency


From Cllr Healey: Following the trial to improve air quality on Gillygate, can you please confirm if this trial found that air pollution issues merely moved to other parts of the city as standing traffic increased on Lord Mayor’s Walk and other nearby roads.  Will you please commit to sharing the information obtained through the trial and what plans are now to be taken forward?

Response: It was a very short trial and we couldn’t draw conclusions from it. It was just for two weeks so there is no way we can say if that would change the air quality on Gillygate. It was simply a test of whether altering the traffic signals had an adverse effect on other roads in the city and what we found was that we could alter the traffic signals on Gillygate and not have an adverse effect on other roads in the city, so it showed that we could try to do that to see if we can then improve the air quality. We are now looking as if we can roll this out into a longer trial and we will include increase monitoring on other roads to see if air quality changes across, not just Gillygate, but other roads in the surrounding area. We will also be looking at health impacts with the Director of Public Health to see on particularly poor pollution days whether there are increases in hospital admissions. We are going to do a really thorough study to see if we can improve the poor air quality on Gillygate, which can’t carry on.


From Cllr Kelly: Can you tell us what’s happening with York’s climate commission and what direction you expect it to take going forward?

Response: On 11 January 2024 over 100 organisations, partners, businesses and voluntary groups came to the Merchant Adventurers Hall. It was hosted for free by them and they are committed to their own climate action plan, which includes a ground floor heat pump and solar panels.  It was a fantastic collaborative day that allowed people to put themselves forward and to take their organisations to join the city to meet our net zero and nature recovery targets. Out of that day, 10 working groups emerged ranging from waste, energy, environment, food and nature recovery. Several have already met and each group had set their own actions to take place over the remainder of this year to support and go even further than the council. It’s a work in progress and is a co-design, and so far it’s been a really encouraging productive collaborative partnership. We will be meeting again in January next year to celebrate the progress been made and steps taken.


Question to Cllr Webb, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education


From Cllr Whitcroft: I’d like to welcome the new home for children in care in the Fishergate Ward that was opened by this administration on Friday.What’s happening with the Together We Can programme and what’s the plan for children in care in York in the future?

Response: Thank you to all the Members across the chamber that took the time to visit our home on Friday and to all the council officers who had been working incredibly hard to progress policy and make the changes that we need to see in our city for the better.  We are working with our colleagues in health to deliver the Together We Can programme for our young people. It’s about helping them to thrive, supporting their development and wellbeing. We are going to have council staff working from the home. There will be no labels, there will be people who are supporting young people in that home. Those young people will know them, they will know the council workers who are in there with them. It provides a home for people who are really vulnerable and helps them stay in York. I do really welcome everyone’s support for this and long may it continue.


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