Agenda item

Questions to the Leader of the Council

To deal with questions (if any) which councillors may wish to put to the Leader of the Council. It will be at the Leader’s discretion to re-direct questions to relevant Members of the Cabinet. A councillor wishing to raise a question must notify the Chair of the Council of the text of the question prior to the commencement of the meeting. (NB This item is limited to a maximum of 5 questions, with no more than 1 question being asked per councillor. If a question requires a detailed or technical response, the Leader may decide that a written response is more appropriate).





Councillor Catlin

Is the Leader aware that it is presently taking Lewes District Council, 7 weeks from receipt of a Tribunal Appeal request in the benefits section, for that section to actually dispatch it to the tribunal service?


Does he share my view that this is unsatisfactory, and how will it be addressed?



Response (by Councillor Smith, Leader of the Council)


Councillor Smith responded that he shared the concerns raised. He advised that staff changes and other factors had contributed to the delay.


Currently there were 13 appeals outstanding across Lewes and Eastbourne, 8 of which were over 4 weeks old. It was anticipated that the four week target would be achieved by mid-August. Progress would continue to be monitored.


Councillor Carter

I understand that the business case for the port access road for Newhaven has been finalised by East Sussex County Council, ready for submission to the Department for Transport. However, it seems there has been no review of the air quality management plan for Newhaven in the business case, and the District Council does have legal responsibility to ensure air quality targets are met in Newhaven. The principle of a port road was agreed a number of years ago when the air quality in this area was not as bad as it is now. This new road will open up an additional area of vegetated shingle on Newhaven beach for port expansion and industrial development, which will result in more traffic. Would the leader clarify whether or not an air quality review has been done as part of this business case, and if not, write to ESCC to request that a review be done?



Response (by Councillor Smith, Leader of the Council)


Councillor Smith responded that the member of staff from East Sussex County Council with the relevant information was currently unavailable. An answer would be sought from Councillor Smith when the officer returns.


Councillor Osborne

Never in all my years as a Councillor have I had as many complaints as I’ve had in the last week and over a much longer period of time about the phones not being answered at Lewes District Council.


Not only the phones not being answered but then calls get transferred to Eastbourne, and the staff there who are dealing with the overspill unfortunately can’t answer questions about the issues, that residents of the Lewes District are raising.


I ask the Leader to urgently look and this and provide any resources that are needed to resolve the problem.



Response (by Councillor Smith, Leader of the Council)


Councillor Smith responded that the Council was at the end of a transition period and that hopefully things will start to improve once new staff have been trained.


Councillor Saunders

Referencing the recent Cabinet meeting on the 2 July 2018 and consideration of the report regarding the regeneration of Newhaven Town Centre, I was extremely pleased to see that recommendation of 30 minutes free parking was approved. I was also pleased that Councillor Nicholson at the meeting supported the suggestion of 1 hour free parking.


I would urge the Leader to revisit this suggestion because I’ve spoken to a Council officer who said that the financial implications of extending the parking to 1 hour would be minimal, compared to the regeneration prospects of the project.


Can you increase that recommendation from 30 minutes to 1 hour free parking and this would be a great help to the regeneration of the town centre?



Response (by Councillor Smith, Leader of the Council)


Councillor Smith responded that it was decided that the issue of free parking in Newhaven would not be considered in isolation and was part of a wider project, including new traffic regulations for enforcement in the high street.


The resolution at the meeting on the 2 July was slightly amended from the original officer recommendation to allow free parking of at least 30 minutes, perhaps more depending on officer modelling.