Agenda item

Questions from Councillors

The deadline for questions to be submitted to the Monitoring Officer is 13 February 2023.


Councillor Stribley moved that due to the lateness of the hour, all questioners receive written answers. Some Councillors supported the proposal, but by consensus it was agreed that the meeting continue with the questions verbally asked and answered.

Councillors S Baron, D Butt and J Butt left the meeting at 11.31pm.

Councillors N Brooks, E Coope, R Rocca and A Stribley left the meeting at 11.35pm.

Councillors M Davies, R Lawton and P Hall left the meeting at 11.36pm.


Question from Councillor D Kelsey

Recent reports in the press have disclosed that Bayside, one of our seafront offerings, made a loss this year. Could the Cabinet Member outline how our seafront operations have performed this year, especially compared to other years and what are our expectations of future years?”


Councillor M Earl left the meeting at 11.39pm.

Councillors D Borthwick and P Miles left the meeting at 11.40pm.


Response by Councillor B Dunlop

A bit of history, if I may.

I can recall, as a Bournemouth councillor, when the seafront didn’t wash its face and it was supported by council tax.  The game changer was to take a bold approach to seafront development and festivals.  For example projects like Boscombe Spa seafront, the new pier, the overstand building designed by Wayne Hemmingway, cemented that mindset. Audacious is how we were described by one local business.

It is this bold, innovative and at times audacious mindset that has slowly animated the seafront, site by site, bringing new restaurants, events and activities and income to support other services.  Activities, events and festivals all contribute to income, the more we develop destination and culture, the more it benefits our residents, businesses and visitors.

Seafront catering, for example. In the years between 19/20 and 22/23, the turnover from internally managed seafront catering outlets has risen from nearly £2.5m to over £4m/yr. Income generated from new pop-up restaurants and additional car park income allows us to try those new ideas.

Where we are currently, is that Destination and Culture is projecting a year end surplus of £6m, not just income, a surplus over and above the service costs.

And we expect this growth to continue as we bring more old sites back into use, through partnerships, exciting developments and investment. The £20m levelling up fund is estimated to trigger over £100m in further investment. 

We should be really proud of what has been achieved and if I may and to finish of this story, I’d like to pay tribute to someone who has recently left the authority, but this council didn’t have an opportunity to thank him. 

So, I would like to this council, to place on record, the enormous contribution made by Chris Saunders to the former Bournemouth Council and BCP Council. 

To many of us he will always be remembered as Mr Seafront.


Question from Councillor A Martin

Councillor Martin did not ask his question on Bayside following Councillor Dunlop’s previous answer, but requested that a written response be made available after the meeting.


Question from Councillor G Farquhar

Could Councillor Mellor explain why he chose to ignore the sanction imposed by the BCP Standards Committee, chaired by Councillor Borthwick?

This being contrary to 8.4 of the Code of Conduct requiring every Councillor to: ‘comply with any sanction imposed on me following that I have breached the Code of Conduct’

The reason laid out in the Code of Conduct is ‘It is extremely important for you as a Councillor to demonstrate high standards, for you to have your actions open to scrutiny and for you not to undermine public trust in the local authority or its governance.’

The meeting of the Standards Committee reviewing Code of Complaint 110 against Councillor Mellor found:

On the complaint of:

1.      Bringing the office of Councillor of the Council into disrepute while acting in an official capacity.

It was found Councillor Mellor was in breach of the Code of Conduct in that:

Councillor Mellor was not as transparent as he should have been in relation to the Beach Hut Scheme.

Councillor Mellor did not pass information from Ministers of Central Government that the guidance on the Flexible Use of Capital Receipts was subject to imminent change, and he did not pass this information in a timely manner to Council Members or BCP residents.

Failure to attend the Overview & Scrutiny meeting on 20 July 2022, as this was discourteous.

The ‘sanction imposed’ by the Standards Committee was for Councillor Mellor to ‘make an apology to the Overview & Scrutiny meeting for failing to attend on the 20 July 2022. And a further apology should be made to Full Council for any misleading statements made in relation to the Beach Hut Scheme.

Since it is stated that the complaint against Councillor Mellor would not be closed until those apologies have been made, could Councillor Mellor explain in what way he believes he is upholding the Nolan Principles of Public Life? In particular Principle number 7: Leadership

“Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour whenever it occurs.”


Councillor K Rampton left the meeting at 11.43pm.


Response by Councillor Philip Broadhead

The Council’s Constitution sets out who may be asked question at meetings of the Council, namely ‘the Chair, the Leader, a Portfolio Holder or the Chair of a Committee’. Councillor Mellor was no longer one of the above. However, Councillor Farquhar’s comments would be passed to Councillor Mellor.

Additionally, this is not the first time that the Standards procedure has not been followed (e.g., Councillor Dedman.)

Supplementary Question from Councillor G Farquhar

A procedural question: Will it be noted in the minutes when Councillor Mellor left the meeting? When is next Standards Committee meeting?

Response from the Monitoring Officer, Susan Zeiss

The next meeting of the Standards Committee is 28 February 2023, and there is currently no other meeting of the Committee planned beyond that. However, the Committee can arrange meetings on an ad-hoc basis, based on need. Council is advised that Councillor Mellor left the meeting at 11.28pm.


Councillors M Anderson and S Anderson left the meeting at 11.49pm.


Question from Councillor A Jones

On 2 February I wrote to the Cabinet Member for Sustainability & Transport asking him to meet myself and Councillor Farquhar on site to discuss the ongoing abuse of the cycle lane in Christchurch Road and agree an urgent resolution. Will he commit to such a meeting, and if so, when?

Response by Councillor Mike Greene

I did read in the Echo about Councillor Jones’ request for a meeting with me and, on my return from vacation on 15 February I saw the email itself.  I would be happy to meet the ward councillors on site over the next few weeks.

Supplementary Question from Councillor A Jones

When exactly?

Response by Councillor Mike Greene

We will review our diaries.


Question from Councillor D Brown

Residents are increasingly reporting faults with street lights. These have historically been resolved relatively swiftly in most cases, unless there was a significant problem such as a fault with an underground cable. The BCP Council website advises that “Once reported it normally takes up to 10 working days to fix an issue.” However, it has been noticeable over the Winter that more and more of our LED street lights are out or flickering for months on end, and in some cases for over a year, even when reported numerous times.

During the dark Winter nights this has left sections of roads, pathways and cycleways poorly lit and dangerous, and is also affecting public areas which can be subject to anti-social behaviour where the maintenance of good lighting is essential.

Can the Portfolio Holder advise how many outstanding cases of faulty street light reports are currently awaiting repair?

What is he doing to resolve the lengthy delays being experienced at the moment?

When will the street light maintenance and repair service be brought back to normal service levels?

Response by Councillor Mike Greene

There have been ongoing issues with the supply chain for electronic components for streetlights since the pandemic as most of these originate from China. These issues are out of the Council’s control, and we have been awaiting for some time the arrival of electronic drivers, which are currently in very high demand and in equally short supply.  Like other councils, we have been receiving these items in small quantities.

We ordered around 1,000 lanterns, which were eventually delivered at the end of January, and this has enabled some faults to be rectified more quickly. The team has been liaising with our contractor to get extra resources in to catch up now that the lanterns are available.

At the end of January, the team reported that there were a total of 1,437 faults across the conurbation, 774 of which were awaiting parts. The remainder were faults that had yet to be looked at, but the contractor was working through these. I am pleased to report that the latest figures, as of 17 February, show that we are now down to only 1,139 outstanding faults, made up of 374 repaired over the last week alone, and 76 new reports. This hopefully demonstrates that, as and when the parts come in, the contractor is making good progress.

With regards to information provided to customers, the message on our website does indeed state ‘Once reported it normally takes up to 10 working days to fix an issue’.

But for some time now the website’s message has continued with: ‘However, there is currently a shortage of certain components worldwide. This affects our supply chain and whilst we always try to make repairs in a timely manner, it does mean that some are taking considerably longer than usual’.

It is likely that these supply chain issues are going to continue for some time, so the team continues to liaise with the contractor and will be ordering additional stock of lanterns and components, as much as can be sourced, over the next few months.

Supplementary Question from Councillor D Brown

The lack of lighting undermines the ‘Cleaner, Greener, Safer’ programme when pathways are in darkness. Can Councillor Greene prioritise fixing areas of most importance?

Response by the Councillor Mike Greene

I would be happy to recommend this to the relevant portfolio holder and officers.


Question from Councillor R Burton

Over the course of this winter my ward has suffered an increased number of incidents of road and pavement flooding. I imagine it has been similar in other wards across BCP. I know that our officer team work hard to clear the roads and pavements when this occurs, and I would like to thank them for their work in often difficult uncomfortable, and sometime dangerous conditions. I also note that there has been some investment the gully clearing service since BCP was formed and that this winter has seen complications due to abnormal leaf fall pattens among other things.

The average annual rainfall across BCP is increasing, evidenced by the mean rainfall data collected at Hurn. With the amount of traffic and parked cars on the roads making gully cleaning more difficult, in addition to abnormal natural and climatic events becoming more common, what plans are in place to mitigate the effect of climatic change on the increased likelihood of flooding caused by surface water runoff and sometime lack of capacity across the councils approximately 60,000 gullies?

Response by Councillor Mike Greene

Firstly, may I thank Councillor Burton for acknowledging the work our teams have put in over recent months dealing with flooding issues across BCP, and also for his awareness of the challenging working conditions. A copy of these comments will be shared with the teams concerned.

Councillor Burton is right to acknowledge the extended leaf fall season which commenced early in 2022 due to the drought, and continued well into the Christmas period. This, accompanied by several weeks of persistent high rainfall has made this winter particularly challenging.

BCP has three crewed gully tankers and brings in additional contracted resource to assist where practical. The work is, as Councillor Burton indicates, increasingly challenging due to growing numbers of parked vehicles, and I would like to look into potential solutions to that. In other locations, works can only be completed at night or under road closures.

Through the Council’s transformation programme; better mapping of assets; and utilising flood risk data, the intention is to make improvements in the scheduling of works, which we hope will, to some extent, mitigate the risks due to climate change.

Supplementary Question from Councillor R Burton

Can you keep me updated as more info comes in?

Response by Councillor Mike Greene

I will refer the request to the relevant portfolio holder.


Question from Councillor T Trent

On the 14 December I requested the opportunity to speak to Cabinet, and it was granted accordingly.

I was particularly concerned that whilst BCP Council was participating in the Governments “Levelling Up” ambitions, they seemed not to be engaged in existing activities that actually DO level up our most challenged communities – citing Youth Services and Community Support, the former having been subject to threatened cuts and withdrawal of services for some time. I was given a clear assurance by Cabinet Members and the Lead Member for Levelling Up that this was not going to be the case (which I have on an audio recording).

Fast forward to late January/February and we see both youth facilities and community support on the list of partially achieved (Amber), and being explored (Blue), cuts to the BCP Budget for 2023/24.

In January those of us in the community started to hear rumours that the open access youth services were to be removed from the new Bourne Community Hub from late March. Out of the blue, and with barely any notice themselves, the staff were given the task of telling the young people attending these open access services – in a building that was designed in partnership with Youth Services to allow for such activities, that the service will be withdrawn from the 4 March.

The Bourne Valley Youth Club Management Committee, that support these services, were officially told at their meeting on the 9 February – well after the young people heard about it, that the club was closing. The budget, still two weeks from being approved, was cited as one of the reasons for the closure.

The only line in the budget paper, still confidential at the time, that covered savings in Youth Services was £47K to be saved in property costs. The amount saved by removing this service from this hub is less than £3,000 a year – or around a quarter of the SRA for a Lead Member for Levelling Up. Meanwhile a sum of £18.2M has been awarded by Government in the name of “levelling up” to do such socially essential work as painting Bournemouth Pier.

Could it be explained why this has been done, at this time, to an area well near the top of the list (Nationally) of those that require help with levelling up, and that to keep something going after March 4th that funding granted from the Lottery Big Local Fund to extend youth provision for those under the normal age range catered for by Youth Services, will now have to be re-purposed to keep basic services going.

Could someone explain how such a cut to a service for young people, many whom are also vulnerable, can be regarded as “levelling up”? And whether, even at this late stage, the decision referred to above can be reversed, and that any future proposals go through a long consultation period – say a minimum of six months, for any reduction in provision so the management committees and communities can make alternative plans?

Response by Councillor Mike White

This Council has just this evening approved a £14.6M or 20% increase in the Children's Services budget. Within this the Youth Services budget remains unchanged.

In relation to the Bourne Valley Youth Centre the club is not closing. Poole Community Trust are offering a range of opportunities on site for young people and families. There is also a pre-school on site. Overall, there is no reduction in services offered to our young people in this area.

Supplementary Question from Councillor T Trent

Is it not regrettable that monies previously given to Poole Communities Trust has been withdrawn to fund a youth club which has been taken away by youth services?

Response by Councillor Mike White

My understanding is that we offer same services in the Bourne Valley area that we have always done but we may not be offering them all from that particular centre.