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:-

Due to the late publication of the report for this meeting the deadline for the submission of public questions has been extended to 12.00 Noon Monday 18 July 2022.

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


All questions and statements should be sent to


The Democratic Services Officer advised that there had been no petitions received on this occasion but that there had been five public questions received and five public statements. Members of the public were present to ask their questions and Mr McKinstry was present to make his statement, the other statements were read out by the Democratic Services Officer.


Questions received from Mr Lawrence


1.   With millions in Council assets now in opaque SPVs, the BCP is exposed to corruptibility & non-transparency criticisms. While Overview & Scrutiny Committees are undermined by one party domination, its meetings reduced by 75% and diluted into 2 bodies, how can they maintain impartiality, relevance and standards?




The Overview and Scrutiny Committees are required to be appointed in accordance with the political balance requirements. The allocations determined by Council comply with those requirements.


The Overview and Scrutiny Committee arrangements, as established by the Council, shall operate in line with the following six principles:


1.     to contribute to sound decision making in a timely way by holding decision makers to account as a ‘critical friend’;

2.     to be a Councillor led and owned function that seeks to continuously improve through self-reflection and development;

3.     to enable the voice and concerns of the public to be heard and reflected in the Council’s decision-making process;

4.     to engage in decision making and policy development at an appropriate time to be able to have influence;

5.     to contribute to and reflect the vision and priorities of the Council; and

6.     to be agile and be able to respond to changing and emerging priorities at the right time with flexible working methods.

Regardless of political make-up, an effective Overview and Scrutiny function should be capable of operating to these principles. To further support these principles the Constitution is explicit that the use of the Party Whip is incompatible with the role of Overview and Scrutiny and shall not be used.

It is accepted that there has been a reduction in the number of meetings of Overview and Scrutiny, although I would dispute the quoted percentage reduction. However, pre-Cabinet scrutiny is only one way for non-executive councillors to examine and comment on matters scheduled to be considered by Cabinet. Any councillor may request to attend and speak directly to Cabinet on a matter under consideration at one of their meetings.

The Constitution makes further provision for any of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees to commission work on specific matters including the establishment of Working Groups, Sub-Committees and Task and Finish Groups; convening inquiry days; or the appointment of rapporteurs and scrutiny member champions.


2.     If leaders receive substantial directorships and fees, to limit conflicts of interest and restore confidence and integrity, could they be required in councillors’ registers of interests?




The Directorship positions held by councillors on council-owned companies are unpaid positions.


The Council’s adopted Code of Conduct requires the declaration of registerable interests and is divided into two schedules.  The first schedule, referred to as Table 1, requires the disclosure of registerable pecuniary interests as required by regulation under the Localism Act 2011. Table 2 expands on the statutory provisions by requiring all BCP Councillors to disclose ‘Other Registerable Interests’. The other registerable interests include the disclosure of ‘any unpaid directorships’, which for clarity includes those positions held on council-owned companies.


Both Registers are published on the Councillors’ main web page under the heading ‘Public Registers’


3.   Do Committees have sufficient time, resources, authority and independence to restrain any risky and unorthodox ventures to preserve capital receipts for the storms ahead and the needy?




The operational principles of the Overview and Scrutiny committees, as referenced in response to the first question, establish the responsibilities and independence of the respective committees and may establish a forward plan to identify priority areas.


Pre-cabinet scrutiny is only one tool available to hold decision makers to account. As previously advised the Constitution provides for any of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees to commission work on specific matters including the establishment of Working Groups, Sub-Committees and Task and Finish Groups; convening inquiry days; or the appointment of rapporteurs and scrutiny member champions to focus on the priority issues.


Questions received from Mr Parkin


4.   In January, after BCP leaders first unveiled their plan to sell BCP’s beach huts, Cllr Mellor said of the financial report: “we have done a massively in-depth piece of work with KPMG”.  When councillors asked to see this report, they were told it was only in “draft form”.  Then just a few days later Cllr Broadhead claimed on social media: “There is no KPMG Report”.


a)     Can you confirm exactly what was the “work” provided by KPMG?




KPMG has supported the work associated with the securitisation of beach hut income. The relevant reports will be made available as part of the pack of information presented alongside the officer report to the Corporate and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


b)     Can you also explain why this report has never been shared with full council or published to date?




It is important that any reports from KPMG are seen in the context of a formal officer report be that to either the Corporate and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee or Cabinet.


5.   The beach huts appear to be sold for around £50m-£54million, yet produce a massive 10% yield. What yield are you expecting by reinvesting this money and from what? Can you please also confirm which company has valued these beach huts and on what basis as the valuation appears very low, and that more than one company has been used to value these assets?




The full details of any potential disposal will be set out as part of the formal report and will include details of the basis of valuation and any amounts. The council has been supported in the valuation exercise by Vail Williams.

Public Statements


Statement received from Mr McKinstry


This scheme to transfer BCP's beach huts to a separate entity is in my view illegal. It's being attempted under FUCR regulations, which were designed to encourage councils to sell surplus assets, not put viable ones to innovative use. Nor would the transfer constitute a "disposal" as required by Section 9 of the Local Government Act 2003. (Far from being disposed of, the assets are being shuffled out of reach for 20 years.) DLUHC has been "reflecting" on BCP's proposals; I hope their opinion matches mine, and that any further creative transactions involving our three towns' assets are strongly discouraged.


Statement received from Mr Tallamy


My statement is based on my views as a bewildered BCP resident. Bewildered by the mixed messages presented by the leaders and the lack of openness and transparency shown to councillors and residents. Is there a KPMG report or not, has the Government approved the legitimacy and fiscal validity of the Beach Hut scheme, if not what are the ongoing discussions with Government Ministers? Surely the legalities etc.. should have been finalised before the scheme was announced rather than how it has been, causing concerns and often heated debates across the BCP conurbation


Statement received from Mr Chapmanlaw


I'd like to see the advice the Leader supposedly received from KPMG regarding the beach hut scheme. On 9 February, Cllr Howell asked to see this advice and the Leader said the report would come to full Council. The report, or draft report as it was then described, was not however produced at Council on 22 February and still hasn't been produced five months later, not even for this scrutiny meeting. The Leader continually criticises the Unity Alliance for their non-existent fire sale; at least fire sales are legal, whereas with this beach hut scheme, the legality is still unclear.


Statements from Ms McDade


1.   As a beach hut owner I’ve had no correspondence from the council regarding this. I find this both surprising, and concerning, given the fact that we were emailed about set up of a beach bar. I’d have thought inviting us to comment on this issue was at least as important. You outline ‘Beach hut associations’ as a key stakeholder. It should be ‘beach hut owners, and users, with the ‘Beach hut associations’ as one way of engaging with us. It shouldn’t be your only method, especially when membership has a cost attached.


2.   Despite taking it upon myself to try and find out about this, and the proposed impact, it’s extremely difficult to navigate the documentation to make comment. The agenda still lists the report to follow. As a mother of two boys under 11, living in a small two bedroom flat, and working locally, our beach hut is our outdoor space and we are therefore very keen to protect it and have the opportunity to comment properly on any proposed changes.