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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions and Other Communications

To receive any questions or petitions from the public, or communications submitted by the Lord Mayor or the Chief Executive and to pass such resolutions thereon as the Council Procedure Rules permit and as may be deemed expedient.



(NOTE: There is a time limit of one hour for the above item of business.  In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website in relation to meetings of the Council held whilst social distancing restrictions and other public health safety measures still apply, questions/petitions are required to be submitted in writing, to, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 14h June.)





The Lord Mayor (Councillor Gail Smith) reported that five petitions and questions from five members of the public had been received prior to the published deadline for submission of petitions and questions for this meeting.  On three of the petitions, representations were to be made on behalf of the petitioners, and the other two petitions would be received in the absence of a speaker.  All five questioners had been invited to attend the meeting to ask their questions.  Questions from another member of the public had been received immediately prior to the start of the meeting and, as chair of the meeting, the Lord Mayor had used her discretion and would permit the question to be asked.








Petition Requesting Transparent and Inclusive Safety Measures in Sheffield’s Green Spaces




The Council received a petition containing 2,148 signatures requesting the Council introduce transparent and inclusive safety measures in Sheffield’s green spaces.




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Alison Romaine and Jenny Llewelyn on behalf of Our Bodies, Our Streets. Ms Romaine stated that Our Bodies, Our Streets was a grassroots campaign which began during lockdown to challenge street harassment. She stated that Our Bodies, Our Streets had gathered the experiences of over 250 women and other marginalised genders in Sheffield. Ms Romaine said that Our Bodies, Our Streets wanted the Council to improve both the equality and inclusivity of green spaces throughout the year. She asked that the Council invest in inclusive, research-led lighting for green spaces. She stated that Our Bodies, Our Streets wanted the Council to engage with Sheffield’s universities, using data from women and marginalised gender groups to improve access to green spaces. The petitioners stated that public sexual harassment was an intersectional issue, with women of colour, disabled women and trans women experiencing multiple oppressions. Ms Romaine asked that all experiences be gathered through a diverse, collaborative commission. She referenced an Ofsted report which encouraged education at school level around the culture of misogyny and asked that the Council promote this through public education campaigns.




The Council referred the petition to Councillor Alison Teal (Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure). Councillor Teal thanked the petitioners for presenting this petition. Councillor Teal stated that the lighting suggested was aesthetically pleasing, and she felt this would be appreciated by residents in Sheffield. Councillor Teal stated she was interested in focusing on male violence, and she wished to consider how men deal with their emotions and their relationship with alcohol. She stated that she believed that the responsibility was on men to make substantial changes to ensure women felt safe in society. She thanked the petitioners once again and stated that she looked forward to meeting with the group and would invite officers to attend the meeting in order to identify which ideas presented could be practically implemented as soon as possible.




Petition requesting the Council oppose the Closure of the Norfolk Park Doctor’s Surgery




The Council received a petition containing 858 signatures requesting that the Council oppose the closure of the Norfolk Park Doctor’s Surgery. Four related Public Questions were also submitted by Kim McMaster and were included in the presentation of this petition. 




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Kim McMaster on behalf of the residents of Norfolk Park and the surrounding areas. Ms McMaster stated that there had been a protest outside the Surgery against its closure. She stated that it was residents’ understanding that the Surgery was being closed as General Practitioners could not be attracted to the surgery as it is located in a deprived area. Ms McMaster stated that she believed that everyone, no matter wealth, background or location, should have access to quality and convenient health services.




Related Public Questions were asked as part of this petition:


1.    ‘Norfolk Park has lost shops, buses, it's dentist, community space and hundreds of council houses. Now we face the closure of our GP practice, which was purpose built for the community and opened just 8 years ago. The old Master Plan for Norfolk Park said that we should now have hundreds of new properties, shops, services and a community space. What does the Council propose for the future of our estate and when will previous agreements be honoured?’


2.    ‘We have had lots of support from our local councillors and MP Louise Haigh in fighting the proposal to close our surgery that is only 8 years old.  Will Sheffield City Council commit to making a submission to the Clinical Commissioning Group against the closure of our practice? Doing this would be greatly appreciated by residents in Norfolk Park and surrounding areas.’


3.    ‘Also do you agree that the CCG should play a much more proactive role in supporting the surgery to stay open and helping them to recruit GPs? Could you also write to the CCG outlining these concerns?’


4.    ‘Finally we know that many people, especially the elderly, the disabled and those that don't drive, will struggle to get to a new practice some distance from Norfolk Park.  Could Sheffield City Council assist us in getting hold of data on the number of elderly and disabled people and non-car owners in the area?’




The Council referred the petition to Councillor George Lindars-Hammond (Executive Member for Health and Social Care). Councillor Lindars-Hammond thanked the petitioners for presenting the petition. Councillor Lindars-Hammond stated he was aware that Louise Haigh, the local MP for the area, and a number of local Councillors had been active in trying to protect health facilities in the area.


Councillor Lindars-Hammond stated that the Council would be happy to help to make the views of residents clear through talking with partners in the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who were currently consulting on this issue. He added that the Council would commit to making the argument for retaining Norfolk Park Surgery. He added he would be happy to meet with petitioners.




Councillor Terry Fox (Leader of the Council) responded to question one. He stated that the area of Manor Castle had seen a good deal of development. He added that he felt this development should not be limited to housing, but should include services and jobs. Councillor Fox said that Local Area Committees would allow local Councillors to further influence the communities they live in. He offered to meet with the petitioners to discuss this in further detail.




Petition Requesting that the Council Stop the Demolition of Outhouses on Atlantic Road, and to Either Repair or Replace them with a Suitable Alternative




The Council received an electronic petition containing 58 signatures requesting that the Council stop the demolition of outhouses on Atlantic Road, and either repair or replace them with a suitable alternative.




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Alan Gravill. Mr Gravill asked that the Council does not demolish the outhouses, but instead assist in rebuilding them. He stated that residents who live on the highest floor of flats use the outhouses to store their children’s prams. He stated he had assisted a neighbour in repairing an outhouse which has since been boarded up by the Council. Mr Gravill stated he would assist in repairing these. He also suggested that the tenants could pay an increased amount of rent to cover the cost of repairs.




The Council referred the petition to Councillor Paul Wood (Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management). Councillor Wood was unable to respond at the meeting, but it was stated that he would revisit this issue and respond in writing.




Petition Requesting a Removal of Double Yellow Lines on Hicks Street in Neepsend and Electronic Petition Requesting a Pelican Crossing in Crookes




The Council received two petitions which did not have speakers. The first petition contained 92 signatures and requested a removal of double yellow lines on Hicks Street, in Neepsend. The second, electronic, petition contained 7 signatures requesting a pelican crossing in Crookes.




The Council referred both petitions to Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport). Councillor Johnson stated in the absence of petitioners he would discuss this with officers and respond in due course.






Public Questions




Public Questions Concerning the Bridgehouses Footbridge, in Neepsend/Kelham Island




Russell Johnson asked the following question:


Sheffield's first iron bridge, built in 1795, refurbished in 1841, destroyed by the Great Flood in 1864 and rebuilt the following year, then renovated in 1921.


The Friends of Bridgehouses Footbridge group carried out some restoration, installed interpretation boards and historical information, and the then Lord Mayor, Talib Hussain, ‘reopened’ the bridge in September 2015. Since then a group of volunteers have maintained both the bridge and the site.


This part of our City’s heritage is now in need of further attention and the removal of the blockage at the southern end which was part of the Inner Ring Road construction.


Please will the Council:


(a)        Consider some sponsorship in the Centenary Year of the last major renovation to enable the Friends Group to improve, preserve and interpret this historic gem and its surrounding green area

(b)        Investigate the feasibility of re-opening the footbridge for pedestrian use?’




In response, Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport) stated that he was familiar with the bridge. He stated he would speak with Councillor Alison Teal (Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure) regarding sponsorship. He added he would also consult with officers. Councillor Johnson said he had been looking into increasing foot traffic here; however, he added there was a significant gap in terms of levels which would require significant adjustments and there was therefore not a plan to do this work currently.




Public Question Concerning Sheffield City Council’s Move to a Committee System




Richard Axelby asked the Council a question on behalf of Ruth Hubbard:


We are the largest city - and the first of the 'core cities' - to be transitioning to more democratic modern committee governance. Sheffielders mounted the biggest ever campaign seen anywhere for a change of governance (and many others across the country are now considering, or taking, similar action). In the face of an entrenched refusal by the then council ruling group to listen and change itself, it was citizens and communities working together who researched, initiated, developed, networked, informed, drove, delivered - and resoundingly won - our change of governance referendum. In the light of this, will this council ensure that community and stakeholder voices play a central and powerful role - as at least equal participants - in shaping, developing and designing the governance change required, in policy-building, and to produce a new council constitution? In the context of what has happened, wouldn't anything other than this be rather odd?




The report and recommendations you are receiving today seeks to reduce change to a technocratic and party political brokering exercise - with communities and stakeholders who have wholly driven change, as secondary and an afterthought. But the change sought by Sheffield citizens is not firstly "technical and procedural" and our shared democratic life is MUCH bigger than party politics. The change voted for is not "technical and procedural" (and e.g. about filling in legalistic and technical government statutory templates) - it is democratic, real, substantive and meaningful, and this is where we need to start if we intend to deliver actual change. With all due respect, our council has not yet demonstrated it has thought about and understood what this means.




By rejecting (or postponing) the report today, I cannot see anything by way of preparatory work that is stopped from happening. But the report is premature and is mistakenly oriented towards, and reduced to, technocratic requirements. It looks like a council not actually moving on, but seeking to return to 'business as usual'. Will this council think again? And, the new Leader or Deputy Leader have not yet been in touch with It's Our City! but will at least one of them, with representatives of the other political parties, now meet, soon, with us and at least a handful of other community stakeholders, to reflect on and discuss more productive, substantive and inclusive ways forward, and working together?’




An addendum was added to the above questions, thanking Councillor Julie Grocutt (Executive Member for Community Engagement and Governance [and Deputy Leader of the Council]) for contacting Ms Hubbard by email following the submission of her questions for Council.




In response, Councillor Julie Grocutt (Executive Member for Community Engagement and Governance [and Deputy Leader of the Council]) thanked Ms Hubbard for submitting the questions, and Mr Axelby for presenting these questions. Councillor Grocutt stated that she agreed that the report submitted was a technical report, and added that this was because the transition to a new system of governance involved a significant amount of technical work in order to manage the change required by May 2022. Councillor Grocutt stated that the purpose of the report was to ensure that Transitional Committees started to function, and that a cross-party governance committee be established to guide the transition and determine how the public and stakeholders are engaged and involved in the process over the year to come. Councillor Grocutt said that the Council saw this as an opportunity to engage with citizens in helping to design the services the Council provides. She added that Local Area Committees had already been established, and that the Council was committed to ensuring the community voice was represented across the city. Councillor Grocutt stated that the challenge for the coming year would be to come up with a system which maximised the transparency of public involvement and decision making across the Council.




Public Questions Concerning Speeding in Mosborough and Off-Road Bikes in Green Spaces




Kurtis Crossland asked the following questions:


1.      ‘What progress has the council made to tackle speeding in Mosborough since I presented a petition back in March?’


2.   ‘What plans has the council got to deal with off-road bikes ruining our green spaces in the Mosborough, Waterthorpe, and Westfield areas?’




In response, Councillor Douglas Johnson (Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport)  shared a note from officers, which stated that officers have previously considered the potential for speed limit gate way entry treatments and speed indicating devices to be provided with a view to these potentially being developed as local CIL funded projects. Councillor Johnson stated he would liaise with the local ward members and would see what could be done to progress these measures. In response to question two, Councillor Johnson stated he agreed this was an important matter, and one which was under South Yorkshire Police’s remit. He stated that the Council worked closely with South Yorkshire Police. He asked that Mr Crossland send in details of any specific incidents in order to allow the Council to look into what could be done.




Public Questions Concerning Conversion Therapy




Chrissy Meleady thanked the Lord Mayor for allowing the late submission of questions. Ms Meleady stated that conversion therapy has been ongoing for a number of years, and asked the following question: ‘Local Authorities, including Sheffield LA have a statutory duty, in partnership with health, to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of local people and communities.


The 6 principles of safeguarding are:-


  • Empowerment
  • Prevention 
  • Proportionality 
  • Protection 
  • Partnership 
  • Accountability 


In addition, people should be supported and encouraged to make their own decision. Prevention of abuse and harm should take place, along with the taking of action before abuse or harm occurs.  Everyone is accountable for safeguarding and all should be working together to safeguard people from harm, including safeguarding members of our LGBT+ community.


With the above in mind, along with the necessity for the LA to adhere to the Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty, what are Sheffield City Council doing to safeguard people from Conversion Therapy in all its forms and what action is being taken to designate Sheffield as a Conversion Therapy Free City?’




In response, Councillor Jayne Dunn (Executive Member for Education, Children and Families) thanked Ms Meleady for her question. Councillor Dunn stated that she and her colleagues did not support conversion therapy. She said that she had seen Ms Meleady’s article on the subject, and she confirmed that Sheffield City Council did not commission any conversion therapy. Councillor Dunn asked that Ms Meleady forward on any issues she had, and she stated she would review these along with Councillor George Lindars-Hammond (Executive Member for Health and Social Care). She stated that she would consider the options suggested by Ms Meleady.






(NOTE: Questions which had been submitted by Mark Smith, but which were not asked at the meeting, would receive written responses from the relevant Executive Member/s).