Labour Listening to Northampton and Asking the Questions

Labour asking the questions and holding the Council to account

At the next Northampton Borough Council Full Council the Labour Group will as usual be submitting written questions to the Councillor Mackintosh Conservative administration which I thought I’d share.

These are important issue impacting on everyone who live in the town and come for Labour listening to the people of Northampton.

Once we have received the answers I’ll also share them.

Northampton Borough Council

Labour Group Questions to Full Council on 23rd April 2012

Cllr Mason Leader of the Labour Group to Cllr Markham (Conservative)

Can the Portfolio Holder assure us that she is serious in using all £49.3 million in the Decent Homes Backlog Programme from the Homes & Communities Agency? Can you give a further assurance that the Housing Directorate has the capacity and expertise to use this funding effectively and deliver the improvements promptly?

Cllr Mason Leader of the Labour Group to Cllr Mackintosh (Conservative)

The Labour Group welcomes the “U-turn” but why did Northampton Borough Council originally bid for £240,000 of County Council funding to provide specialist advice and then suddenly withdraw?

Cllr Mennell (Labour) to Cllr Markham (Conservative)

Why does this Council not have a ‘Clean Up Package’ in place after a major fire has taken place in a Council house? NBC does not appear to have any provision to restore Council homes up to a decent standard when a fire has taken place in the building.

Cllr Davies (Labour) to Cllr John Caswell (Conservative)

I welcome the opportunity to match fund up to £10k for the use of supplying park play equipment on Briar Hill Recreation ground. As you will be aware Briar Hill has been badly neglected for the last 5 years and as an area where there a large number of families living in flats and houses that don’t have any outside space this investment is greatly needed in the area. Many parents have for a while been asking for such investment and are actively participating in helping to shape how they want to see the park developed and although the project is in its initial phase it is gathering a great deal of positive momentum locally. Given this I wish to enquire whether there is potential to progress a similar project at Far Cotton Recreation ground, again this is an area greatly used by children and although the play equipment is not in as bad a state of repair as Briar Hill it is outdated and has huge community will in seeing newer more up to date equipment installed. With this in mind would the council be able to pledge a similar amount in match funding?

Cllr Davies (Labour) to Cllr Markham (Conservative)

There is growing concern with reference to the introduction of new policy around the allocation of housing. Specifically once a tenant has been allocated accommodation the onus is now on them to arrange other more suitable housing if required and support from the council is limited. The problem with this is that it will potentially leave a number of our most vulnerable members of the community in inadequate and unsuitable accommodation for their needs for example parents with children in one bed flats, elderly residents in flats with stairs etc. Unfortunately these are the tenants who would most likely need the most help in finding more long-term suitable accommodation and are less likely to have the skills, understanding nor the IT equipment available to them in order to ‘arrange their own’ transfers. Therefore could the council promise to investigate with other partners such as CAB, Children’s Centres & local schools implementing potential safeguarding measures which could be put in place to help assist families and individuals who will most need help with this matter?

Cllr Davies (Labour) to Cllr Mackintosh (Conservative)

I understand that the Delapre Abbey Preservation Trust is supposed to allow representatives from each of the three parties on the board. Could you therefore advice when we will expect to receive official notification of this?

Cllr David Palethorpe (Labour) to Cllr Tim Hadland (Conservative)

Following the advice from Queens Counsel in September 2011 that work on the development of the West Northants Joint Core Strategy should be stopped until the Localism Bill and National Planning Policy Framework became legislation would the Cabinet member now confirm that the administration is progressing the development of the Joint Core Strategy with our partners from Daventry and South Northamptonshire District Councils.

Will the Cabinet Member for Regeneration also confirm that the West Northants Joint Core Strategy will be completed and available for public inspection in October 2012 with an implementation by April 2013?

Will the Cabinet Member of regeneration also inform the Council if the Northamptonshire County Council continue to object to the draft West Northants Joint Core Strategy and are proposing to submit an amended Core Strategy based on increase housing development on the Northampton Borough Council northern boundary?

Cllr Beverley Mennell (Labour) to Cllr Mary Markham (Conservative)

When is the Council intending to next update the tenant handbook? Where can councillors and tenants access the Health & Safety guidelines in relation to NBC houses?

Cllr Les Marriott (Labour) to Cllr Brendan Eldred (Conservative)

Some Forum users have expressed concern at the way the Leader ‘hijacked’ them to carry out initial consultation with the general public regarding the bus interchange proposals. Forums are designed to be consultative bodies and specific to certain parts of our population such as pensioners and disabled. There is therefore concern as to the future operation of these Forums.

Would the Conservative Administration confirm its support for these forums and their continuation in their present form as laid down in the NBC Constitution?

Cllr Les Marriott (Labour) to Cllr Mary Markham (Conservative)

52% of NBC housing stock in Northampton is meeting the Decent Homes Standard. Why is the Conservative Administration including these in their plans for a full-scale stock transfer?

Cllr Mason (Labour) to Cllr Hadland (Conservative)

In the Northampton Chronicle and Echo (14/4/12) it was reported that the owners of the Grosvenor Centre say the development at Rushden Lakes would “significantly compromise” its plan for expansion. However, will the Portfolio Holder give a firm assurance the Grosvenor / Greyfriars project will still be delivered to its current timescale?