The Action Log of the meeting held on 27 February 2017 is attached for information and discussion.
Members of the community were asked to note the following progress on actions:
Pavement Parking – an update on the Harrison Road Parking Scheme would be provided during the course of the meeting. A resident complained that no action was being taken about parking problems. Councillors explained that it took a long time to implement changes of this nature; there was a legal procedure to go through. However it could be seen that improvements made in Braemar Drive were working very well.
Request for larger litter bins – it was reported that officers were dealing with this request and were waiting for safety equipment and for the ground conditions to improve.
Attendance of Councillor Clair - some members of the community expressed strong concerns and dissatisfaction that Councillor Clair was not present. Councillors reiterated that Councillor Clair had submitted his apologies as he had another meeting to attend. The Chair was asked to report the attendees’ concerns to Labour Group as it was the second meeting that Councillor Clair had not attended. The Chair agreed to forward those concerns as requested but said he was reluctant to hold discussions about someone who was not present. Action: Councillor Willmott
Library books – an attendee expressed dissatisfaction that his concern expressed at the previous meeting, about the Council paying too much for library books had not been included in the action log, but it was pointed out that this had been recorded under item 49: Transforming Neighbourhood Services Update. In response to a further concern from the attendee, the Chair suggested that he might wish to ask the question at full council.
Rushey Mead Library and Recreation Centre
The Chair read out an update from the Head of Neighbourhood Services which reported that the decision to move the library services into the Recreation Centre was taken in January 2017. Three options for changes to the Centre had been made available for members of the community to view and comment on last year. All comments received had been taken into consideration in order to draw up final plans for the works. Plans with drawings and comments would be made available during week commencing 12 March.
It was not known when the work would start. Councillors had asked the Head of Neighbourhood Services but had not been given that information.
Attendees expressed a number of concerns and raised questions. including the following:
· It did not make sense to spend over £3m on the Haymarket theatre, when it would be competing against another local theatre.
· Residents were not being listened to or supported – Councillors understood the residents’ frustration but he and Councillor Patel had worked hard to support local issues and had challenged the City Mayor and Executive.
· What were the guidelines for councillors to respond to emails and what was the procedure if a response wasn’t sent? The Chair stated that the Rushey Mead Councillors had received hundreds of emails relating to the library, and they tried to respond to them all. However, it was deemed a response was not required if they were only copied into an email, as the response was required from the main recipient. A complaint against a councillor for not replying to an email, should be sent to the Chief Whip.
· Councillor Master, the Assistant City Mayor was taking into account the views of the user groups but he had not sought the views of other residents.
· The people responsible for taking the decision had attended the opening of the new Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre but were avoiding Rushey Mead residents.
· Residents were not being given any updates from the Councillors. The Chair stated that they had not been given any updates themselves until earlier that day.
· A resident questioned what would happen to the library if it closed. The Chair explained that the normal process would be for the building to be offered to other council departments and if there was no take up, the building would be sold. The council’s duty would be to seek best value. In response to queries as to whether the building might be sold to a religious organisation, Councillor Patel stated she had seen it written down that the library would not be sold to a religious or faith organisation.
· Why did Leicester not hold a referendum about changing to the Mayoral system? Councillors responded that they did not want to debate that issue at a community meeting, but members of the public could challenge such decisions through a petition process.
· A feasibility study had previously been requested. Councillors responded that they had tried to access funding to carry out a feasibility study and Councillor Willmott had raised a question at Council, but the decision had been taken and the Assistant City Mayor would not change his mind.
· Could there be another public meeting with all the relevant officers and decision makers present? The Chair responded that Councillors could only invite but could not enforce attendance, but the request for a public meeting would be passed on. Action: The Community Engagement Officer / Ward Councillors.
· Councillors stated that they understood the strength of feeling and had worked very hard on this issue. They were sorry that they had been unable to change the plans for the merger but would continue to keep trying. In the meantime, the community were urged to work together and remain united.