Agenda item

Public Issues

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:

The deadline for the submission of a public questions is 4 clear working days before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a public statement is midday the working day before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.


A – Public Questions


Public Question from Sean Mills

BCP Council has declared a climate emergency and committed to transition the entire region to zero carbon by 2050. Buildings and constructions account for around half of our emissions and fuel bills are rarely out of the news. Many authorities set planning policy to ensure new buildings are zero carbon which London has been doing since 2016. Government research confirms that this does not deter house building nor add significant costs, instead it avoids the far greater expense of improvement later on. 85% of local plan consultation respondents last year agreed BCP should “set a local standard how soon will this happen?

Response by the Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Development, Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Philip Broadhead

We are currently exploring the policy options surrounding sustainability and zero carbon for new building through our BCP council's new local plan which will be hopefully agreeing later on this year. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Mills that new buildings along with retrofitting existing buildings is a huge part of ensuring that we meet our carbon reduction aspirations. Our job is to make sure that we get these policies right especially for something this important, we understand and Mr Mills has mentioned that there are wide-ranging support from the community and that this would indeed help meet our sustainability objectives we've also heard concerns from others that pursuing a zero carbon building ahead of National Building regulation targets has concerns for them as well. Therefore we in order to properly explore and consider in the round with a number of other development outcomes we'd like to see such as affordable housing and infrastructure delivery we've commissioned our own study to explore the impacts of all of these issues on development viability, this will then provide evidence to support the resulting policies for that draft local plan later on this year which will be worked up cross party.


Public Question from Frank Ahern

In July, the revised Local Development Scheme and amended timetable were unanimously approved by Cabinet, who stated: “We are keen to continue to engage our communities and stakeholders in the BCP Local Plan in order that they can influence the plan. Appropriate time is therefore set out within the LDS to continue to actively engage our communities before the draft of the Local Plan is published.”

The BCP Local Plan Update states that “face-to-face engagement will be an important component of our ongoing approach” (para 26) and identifies Autumn 2022 for the “Further engagement”.

This has not happened. Why not?   


Response by the Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Development, Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Philip Broadhead

We received a large amount of incredibly useful feedback to the response to the comprehensive issues and options consultation which ran from January to March last year and indeed it was one of the largest and most successful consultations ever done by this Council.

Since July the Cabinet have been engaging with stakeholders and other communities through targeted sessions undertaken in conjunction with futureplaces and specific meetings with the community groups keeping that work going and these events are all face to face and continue to add to our knowledge of the various issues and views of our communities across different parts of the BCP area.

However we're also aware of potential changes that government were proposing in relation to plan making consultation of these has now been published and these changes would have some significant implications I think positive implications for our local plan. Undertaking consultation in the Autumn would therefore be in abortive given the nature of the changes proposed at National level in particular and after much work directly with government on this issue I'm delighted the proposed changes to the levelling up and regeneration bill now mean that our new local plan can formally protect our precious green belt from inappropriate residential development something which I was determined to ensure in our local plan despite the challenges in doing so but something which is now much easier to facilitate.

I therefore can now give the firm pledge that this Conservative administration will protect BCPs Greenbelt from residential development safeguarding it for the future.

Now that we have some certainty around these issues we'll be stepping up the engagement process ahead of that work on the draft local plan something which again is being done cross-party through our Local Plan Steering Group we have a tremendous amount more work to do on this and plan to have further face-to-face events in only the next few months and as I mentioned earlier on Mr chairman the draft of the local plan will then be published in the Autumn.


Public Question from Julie Redman

In June 2021, the Bounce Back Challenge Fund was supposed to provide grants for innovative long-term economic development and future growth projects.   

The Bournemouth 7’s was already a successful festival and made more than half a million pounds profit in 2021.  Dorset Growth Hub initially assessed their project and recommended a grant of £15,000.   

Why did you go against the Dorset Growth Hub and increase their grant to £70,000 when their social media pages announced 80% of tickets to the festival had already been sold before the Bounce Back scheme was announced?   

It looks like the extra £55,000 has just increased their profits. 


Response by the Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Development, Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Philip Broadhead

As I have mentioned many times when talking about the Councils support throughout the pandemic I am really pleased with our response we delivered over about a quarter of a billion pounds of support to keep businesses, organisations and charities across BCP not just afloat through the pandemic, not just enabling them to survive but to also thrive. And of that quarter of a billion pounds the Bounce Back Challenge Fund (BBCF) was a very small part of that but an innovative scheme for ARG funding in response to the pandemic. As we have said before the scheme was open in Spring 2021 (18 months ago) and as mentioned it was competitive, and proposals were scored against 4 criteria – Innovation, Deliverability, Helping the Economy Bounce Back and Pride in Place.

The Award Panel agreed that applications must be assessed on the basis of the applications as submitted – and the award the full amount applied for or nothing there was no ability for re-negotiated revised or reduced schemes they simply were not possible.

Therefore, the Bournemouth 7s proposal scored high enough to be awarded by the panel the full amount that they applied for it was either that or nothing. The grant was not increased, and this indeed has been explained on a number of occasions.


Public Question from Alex McKinstry

December's announcement - that people attending meetings "must remain seated at all times" in the gallery - removes two-thirds of the Council chamber from public view. This prevents attendees from reporting, or even witnessing, significant events: applause, objurgations, or the sudden arrival of councillors mid-interval. It also prevents the public seeing how two-thirds of councillors vote - including entire groups (such as Poole Engage), and Independent members. How is this compatible with transparency, and the Council's duty to facilitate the reporting and photographing of meetings by the public (a statutory requirement under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972)?


Response by the Chairman of the Council, Councillor Nigel Hedges

The right of members of the public to be admitted to the public meetings of primary councils in England is contained in a number of statutes and regulations and has also been the subject of interpretation by the courts.

In all instances a person attending such a meeting in person must so far as practicable be afforded “reasonable facilities for doing so” the council must balance the right of members of the public to be admitted to the place where the meeting is to be held against consideration of health and safety according to the physical nature of the place and circumstances at the time I consider the measures that have been put in place to be reasonable.


Public Question from Stephen Chappell

With critical information being withheld from public scrutiny, it is difficult to assess the full implications of this far-reaching proposal.

One nagging and unanswered question is this:

       The Council, now freed from its Trustee obligations to fund the Art Gallery & Museum, cuts its grant to this ‘outside body’.

       The promise of external funding does not materialise.

       The new body becomes insolvent.

In this scenario, can the Portfolio Holder please tell me what would happen to the Art Gallery & Museum, and to its staff, if the new body was wound up?

Response by the Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Culture and Vibrant Places, Councillor Beverly Dunlop

The governance change is contingent on a mutually acceptable financial settlement being agreed between BCP Council and the new Trustee.   In recognition of the major risks both parties will ensure that the arrangements:     

o   Satisfactorily address the legacy of maintenance issues that the new Trustee will inherit

o   Deliver a  long-term commitment by BCP Council to provide revenue funding – ideally 10 years (in 5 year settlements), recognising from experience elsewhere that such changes in governance take time to deliver benefits

o   Be based on a robust business plan building on the Museum’s long-standing track record of income generation to date

o   Focus on Board development and fundraising strategy and skills to support success

  • BCP Council will maintain a close relationship with the new Trustee through an SLA, regular reporting and by appointing members to the Board (though true independence must be maintained)

A risk assessment has been undertaken of this complex change and will be updated through the process of transition.

The Council recommendations provide for a financial settlement to be negotiated in the transition years. The new Trust will not take on liability for the museum unless they are satisfied that they can deal with the short and medium risks

In the unlikely event of insolvency legal advice has recommended that whilst the Council will not wish to give carte blanche to the new charity that it will back the trusteeship of the charity in any circumstances, it is anticipated that the Council would contractually agree to take the trusteeship back in certain extreme circumstances.

I would like to add that rather than the Council being free from its obligation to the Russell-Cotes it is the museum and the art gallery that would be freed from an outdated restrictive governance arrangement that prevents it operating as a modern independent charity in control of its own destiny and allowing the experts that make up the management to make those informed decisions and this is evidenced by the many independent charities that operate museums such as the Russell-Cotes with great success with a fair and medium-term settlement, the same could be achieved of Bournemouth’s flagship cultural offer.


Public Question from Daniel Parkin read out by Alex McKinstry

There are reports circulating of formal complaints being “lost” by the Officer responsible for administering them.

There are also reports of complaints being severely delayed.  In one case a complaint remains outstanding since May 2022.

Notably, many of these unresolved complaints are about the conduct of administration councillors.

How many complaints are still outstanding, and how many of those have not had a response within 20 working days?

And will you commit to writing to all complainants to confirm receipt and a timeline for progress of their complaints?


Response by the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services,y Councillor Bobbie Dove

We are aware of two complaints submitted by a member of the pubic via our online system which had not been received by the team that manages these. In this instance we have advised the complainant and arranged for the complaint to be re-submitted and we are also checking the system to establish whether the complaint was directed elsewhere within the Council’s departments.

The process for a Standards Board complaint is included within the Council Constitution and as such may require that several stages of assessment are completed, including on occasion, an investigation, investigations by an external body and reports to Standards Board Committee.

And it is right therefore that the process is thorough and robust to ensure that any investigation into the complaint is fair and equitable to all parties involved.

Therefore, that does mean understandably that there are occasions when some complaints cannot be resolved within a 20-day time frame all complaints are acknowledged upon receipt and due to the various routes a complain to the standards board can take we a commitment to give an indication of timeline would have to be very carefully considered. This simply is because this could result in providing incorrect information and despite best endeavours timescales may subsequently have to be adjusted depending on the nature of the investigation.


B – Public Statements


Statement from Bob Lister (Chair of Poole Beach Association) (read out by the Chief Executive)

The Beach Hut proposal, taxes the Beach Hut Owner/tenants by 2.5 times the rate of inflation for the next year and by as much as 130% over five years.

This is totally unacceptable, we urge the Council to reject the Motion by The Cabinet.

With Rising Energy, Fuel, Mortgage & Food prices, these proposed increases condemn pensioners & young families to rescind their huts to affluent Out of Towners!

Sadly, with Local Elections a few months away, 8000+ Beach Hut votes will cause the Cabinet to lose some seats!


Statement from Alan Cook (Chair of Friar’s Cliff Beach Hut Owners Association) (read out by the Chief Executive)

I urge the Council to review the Provision of Beach Huts proposal approved at the recent Cabinet Meeting. This proposal unfairly taxes the Beach Hut Owner/tenants by 2.5 times the rate of inflation for the next year and by as much as 130% over five years.

There is no clear commitment in the proposal for specific projects for improvement of the seafront other than a vague promise of 'extra funding’ for maintenance.

Please do not underestimate the anger this proposal has engendered in your constituents with this dictatorial plan to extract the maximum income from hut owner/tenants.


Statement from Darren Pidwell (Chair of Mudeford Sandbank Beach Hut Association)(read out by the Chief Executive)

Even though we presented an equitable alternative which would have still delivered the MTFP objectives and allowed both Officers and the various BHA’s to build a detailed harmonisation plan over the course of the next 12 months, this was ignored by Cabinet, and we are now faced with significant above inflation price increases with the vague promise of improved facilities, details of which have not been established or presented to us. The plan as approved is flawed in its argument, our input has been ignored, and we urge the Council to review again our alternative proposal and to engage meaningfully.


Statement from Ann Gerrard and Debbie Dowsett (Chair and Vice-Chair of Bournemouth Beach Hut Association) (read out by the Chief Executive)

We question both the business acumen and morality of BCP when it comes to increasing the profitable contributions made by beach hut license fees, in real terms, to the Council Budget. Everyone is facing steep cost of living rises that have severely hit or decimated disposable income of beach hut families who BCP rely on for income. There have been vague suggestions of improvements to seafront services because of the licence fee increases but these will, if they actually come to fruition, be mainly for the benefit of day trippers who are attracted to boost the local economy.


Statement from Adam Sofianos

2022 saw increased public interest in (and scrutiny of) Council policies and performance.  Subsequently, there were complaints that the way some councillors dealt with the public on social media was inappropriate.

Then, during November’s meeting, we witnessed extraordinary behaviour here in this chamber.

And residents have complained that afterwards, they experienced continued personal intimidation on social media.

Meanwhile measures have been proposed which could restrict public participation, which feel anti-democratic.

Surely the public has the right to participate, and scrutinise, without intimidation.

Scrutiny is democracy.

Any other outcome threatens the reputation of this council, and the public’s trust in it.


Statement from Ian Redman (read out by the Chief Executive)

At the last Council Meeting, Cllr Broadhead was asked:  

What tangible value did a Bounce Back Challenge Fund grant of £70,000 given to Limetools Limited deliver? 

Cllr Broadhead failed to identify any value or benefit.

He also said “recent independent analysis ... had been highly positive”, but when asked, could not provide any evidence to back up this statement.

Working Live was 1 of 14 grants awarded against Dorset Growth Hub advice.  It looks like all 14 failed to help the economy bounce back, almost £0.5 million wasted.

Check and judge for yourself.