Services for children and young people in Clifton
Councillor Maria Watson asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Schools:
On reopening in 2015 following a £500,000 renovation, the then Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services and current Leader said, and I quote: “There was a need for a new and updated centre in Clifton and we saw the importance of investing in somewhere children and young people can socialise and meet new friends.” Can the Portfolio Holder illustrate what it has done to replace the services lost in Clifton which it previously described as a “need”?
Councillor Cheryl Barnard replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor Watson for your question. As you will be aware, Nottingham City Council has had to make difficult decisions to ensure we are operating within a balanced budget and meeting the requirement of our Improvement Plan. We have previously outlined that it was imperative that we reduced the number of buildings and changed some elements of service delivery across Early Help Services and Youth and Play Services. I acknowledge that these have not been easy decisions for me, as I am committed to services for children and young people.
Going forward, we are looking to mitigate the impact of those building reductions and service changes through the transformation work taking place across Children’s Integrated Services. This will include city-wide service delivery for the Youth Service and our Early Help Service through a hub-and-spoke model. This will ensure we are maximising the city-wide reach of our remaining services and working closely with our community and voluntary partners to ensure that there are still services available in local communities. Nottingham City Council officers are currently in discussions with community and voluntary partners that have expressed an interest in taking on the running of play and youth sites or children centres across the city. They are working with providers to shape their offers and advise on the feasibility of their proposals. With regards to Clifton in particular, we are continuing to deliver some Early Help services in Clifton Cornerstone, including our Supporting Families Service and the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service, also known as CAMHS. We are also currently looking at expressions of interest for Clifton Young People’s Centre, which will support the continuation of services in the community and continue this excellent facility. We will continue to have ongoing discussions with community providers to take on responsibility for maintaining access to sites across the city to ensure wherever possible relevant services are still being made available.
This question does, however, make me wonder why Councillor Watson and her colleagues in opposition made no attempt to offer an alternative budget to show how they would have found money to continue these services at the same time as balancing our budget.
Councillor Maria Watson asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning:
Can the Portfolio Holder provide updates, both on the future of Aspley, Radford and Basford Libraries, as well as the progress on the Central Library?
Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis replied as follows:
Thank you. Firstly, I want to recognise the important role that libraries play in our communities. Access to quality local library provision makes a massive difference to people’s lives, expands people’s knowledge horizons, enriches their lives and opens future life chances.
At the Executive Board meeting on 24 May this year, we were able to make the decision to move forward with the fit-out for the new Central Library. The funding for that was already part of the Capital Programme. The development of this new library has been a long-standing commitment for the Council and constitutes a key component for the redevelopment of the Southside. Prior to the decision for the fit-out of the new Library, we have carried out detailed assessments on the affordability of the scheme, so we are happy that the contracts for the work have now been exchanged and the works will commence on site early next month. The works are scheduled for completion in summer 2023, when the new library will open to the public. The development of the new Central Library forms a core part of the City’s provision and it is also a statutory requirement. As I said earlier, it forms a key component for the Southside regeneration development around the Broadmarsh shopping area.
In terms of the future of Aspley, Basford, and Radford and Lenton libraries, these have been subject to a well-engaged consultation process. Many residents in all communities have engaged with the Council in a variety of ways, including petitions and public meetings, as well as the ‘Save the Libraries’ campaign group. We have received a total of 2,979 individual responses – those have now been reviewed and a comprehensive report is being developed that will be taken to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on the 3rd of August. This scrutiny, and actively listening to the voices of the people of Nottingham, is a key aspect of what we do. All responses and feedback will be used to help guide the final decision-making on the future direction of the Library Service in general, including the three libraries, and a final report will be presented in Executive Board later in autumn 2022.
Let me say that we are Labour Councillors – we are firm believers in public services and local democracy. It brings no joy to any one of us to have to bring proposals for closures of libraries. I need to stress that if the Conservatives were funding local government effectively, if they were a functioning Government and not a sinking ship, if they were listening to local need and responding with funding provision that would be 100% at local government’s discretion to allocate, if all of that was in place, we would not even need to have to consider such decisions, but from what I understand, at the moment, there is hardly a minister willing to lead the country, and the internal divisions in the Conservatives simply have become more important than the needs of British society.
Lots of the funding for culture and libraries is subject to strict criteria, which our officers are working effectively to apply for. They are doing outstanding work, and that is why we have such a great offer in Nottingham. If I trust anything, it is the hard work and dedication of our teams – they care about Nottingham. But let us not forget – there is a history of consecutive Tory Governments giving councils work to do without providing adequate funding for it, and local government is then blamed for many of the errors that were within the provisions of the Localism Act and other Local Government Acts, which is for Parliament to resolve and not Local Government. I say that it is the neo-liberal economics of the last twelve years, and Tory austerity, which is putting public services in jeopardy, and not Labour councillors. Thank you.
Housing Revenue Account
Councillor Kirsty Jones asked the following question of the Leader of the Council:
Given that the money unlawfully misspent by Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Homes now amounts to £40million, what impact does the Leader believe that the money wrongly going to the General Fund and not the Housing Revenue Account has had on the residents that it has been held back from?
In the absence of the Leader of the Councillor, Councillor Adele Williams, Deputy Leader of the Council, replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor for your question. Let me start by stating that, as a Council, we have already committed to ensuring that any money that should have been committed to the Housing Revenue Account will be in the General Fund once the Secretary of State has issued a Ministerial Direction, which we are awaiting.
Despite the misallocation of funding from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) since 2019, 701 additional Housing Revenue Account homes have been completed, purchased or in progress. This includes 115 new Council homes at Marlstones, Knights Close, Tunstall Drive and the former Clifton Miners Welfare site, as well as a new extra care facility at Windwood Heights in my ward, which is really impressive. There are 279 homes on site and in development, including sites at Beckhampton Road, the former Eastglade School and Kieron Hill Court in Clifton. 132 Council developments are in the pipeline, including 24 homes at Oakdene, 104 on the Padstow and Ridgeway sites as part of a mixed-tenure development, and 175 new Council homes from the second-hand market and from Section 106 provision by developers on private sites. Separately from this, since 2019, Nottingham City Homes has also completed 21 new homes and has acquired a further 14 affordable homes through a Section 106 acquisition not part of the HRA, but nevertheless let to people in need of affordable housing.
Though we are proud we have been able to deliver these schemes for Nottingham people, what we are absolutely clear about is that because of the changes we have implemented by strengthening our governance framework, we have been able to identify where historical issues like this have occurred and make sure that there is a clear plan to put it right. It is what people who are responsible for governance do and we are intent on continuing to deliver good homes for Nottingham people. Thank you, Lord Mayor.
Victoria Embankment Paddling Pool
Councillor Kirsty Jones asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Parks:
We wait with anticipation for the results of the proposed consultation on the future of the Victoria Embankment paddling pool, but it seems clear that the public opinion is already heavily in favour of returning it to its former glory. Can the Portfolio Holder outline how the Council is proposing to afford to replace the paddling pool when it seemingly cannot afford to repair it? Is this not just a holding tactic to head off more unflattering headlines of closing facilities?
Councillor Audra Wynter replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and can I thank Councillor Jones for her question. As you will be aware, the public has indeed expressed its support for the paddling pool to be restored and reopened. It was a well-used and well-loved feature of the Embankment, so I really appreciate and understand the strong sense of feeling on this issue. The paddling pool at Victoria Embankment was first installed in 1928 and has been a place full of happy memories for many people from across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Unfortunately, over the last decade, the paddling pool operations have become difficult and costly to maintain as the pumping system used to keep the water clean and hygienic is very old and it has become very challenging to source new parts to fix and repair the pool. In addition, the pool itself has developed a number of cracks and is now impossible to fill up as it loses water faster than it can be filled. As a result, the Council was unable to open the pool in 2020 and 2021 and, whilst we would like to reopen it, it is now clear that the pool is well past its ability to function and its economic life expectancy and, therefore, it is not fit or able to reopen. A community engagement survey is currently live online and will be open until 31 July. In addition, we are also seeking views of children in the local schools. This information will help to support a range of bids to external funders. Therefore, we are also keen to establish a community fund raising opportunity. With this in mind, we hope that the community and local businesses will support the fund-raising campaign, so we can do what we can to restore the much-loved feature of Nottingham. Thank you, Lord Mayor.
Highbank Community Centre
Councillor Kirsty Jones asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion:
Can the Portfolio Holder provide an update on the status of Highbank Community Centre and its future? Are there any indications that it may reopen anytime soon?
In the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion, Councillor Adele Williams, Deputy Leader of the Council replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor Jones for your question. The community centre management team at Highbank has unfortunately taken the difficult decision to step down, which has resulted in the centre having to be closed. As a result, officers from the Community Partnerships Team will be engaging with ward members and community organisations to explore alternative options for the management of the centre. We will ensure that ward members are contacted to discuss this matter further.
Fire safety in high rise buildings
Councillor Samuel Gardiner asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Human Resources:
5 years on from tragedy of the Grenfell Fire, could the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Human Resources please update Council on the actions we have taken to ensure the safety of residents of high rise buildings across the city and particularly the lessons learned from the ongoing inquiry.
Councillor Toby Neal replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor. I have no doubt that all of us were horrified by the Grenfell fire as it occurred, and we could not even begin to believe the systemic policy and judgement failures across Government, local authorities, Emergency Services and the private sector that would be, and are still being, exposed by the various stages of the Grenfell inquiry. It is hard to believe that what was a tragedy has actually turned into something worse – 72 lives lost, families devastated, and the community is still grieving. The Grenfell Inquiry faced one report in October 2019 that presented a number of key findings. This included lessons from other fires that had not been learned, that the cladding used was fuel for the fire, that emergency services were not prepared, and the building safety rules were incredibly lax. However, immediately after the fire, we began with Nottingham City Homes (NCH) to look at what measures we would need to take to ensure the safety of residents, given the information that was coming from the immediate aftermath of the fire and discussions with the Nottingham and Fire and Rescue Service and the then Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Just to let people know, NCH manages 13 Council-owned blocks that are at least 18 meters in height, or more than six storeys. Their blocks have so far received enhanced fire protection in the form of sprinklers in all flats and communal areas, upgraded video intercom systems that allow for individual access to communications and installations of PA systems throughout the communal areas. In addition, NCH has also undertaken a risk-based analysis of our low-rise blocks, which has led to the installation of sprinklers in such buildings as the homeless hostel at Highwood House. The Council and NCH, alongside Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service, has also worked hard to ensure compliance with the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Bill, which bring in new requirements and responsibilities. This includes Building Safety Manager roles with specified duties for the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety for high areas. We have also established a Building Safety Group with NCH to see the implementation of the Building Safety Bill. There are six big areas that we are concerned with: gas, electrical, lifts, water hygiene, asbestos and fire risk assessments. This applies to NCH-managed properties as a whole. All of this is reported back to the NCH ALMO Board and the Council/NCH Partnership.
Most importantly, I think, is that prior to Grenfell, we were already discussing with the Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) the establishment of an inspection group as part of our Safer Housing Team, and this came into operation in 2019 as the Joint Audit and Inspection Team partnership between the City Council and NFRS. It carries out inspections and audits of all multi-occupied residential buildings that contain 11 or more flats in the city, and the work of the team has been published on the LGA website and is seen as national good practice. This joint team initially concentrated on buildings with cladding as a priority and has undertaken the following: they have identified 534 multi-occupied residential buildings in the city; all buildings with cladding have been inspected and the cladding has been removed; and inspections have been completed at 168 premises, of which no further action was required at 68, a re-visit is required at 48 and we are still chasing work to be done at 59 properties. The team operates on a risk-based approach, where the highest-risk properties are inspected first. There are a number of factors at play here: the number of flats/occupiers and height of the premises; intelligence that we get from either Authority about concerns with particular historic issues; previous record of inspections that have occurred with those and any concerns that have been raised there. There is a confidential way to deal with concerns raised by tenants or other relevant stakeholders, and that includes accredited bodies and universities. Just as a very quick example, there is a case study that I have been given – the Lace Market Studios. The building is over 18 metres tall, occupied by students, had cladding (ACM, which was the cause of the exacerbation of the fire at Grenfell, and HPL). There was a particular type of alarm system and a phased evacuation strategy, but as well as the cladding issues, there were missing cavity barriers within the building. A rather complicated legal argument got underway between us and the developers, however, with the assistance of the National Joint Inspection Team, we put on an inspection to look through a whole range of things that meant we were able to impose a Notice. Consequently, the freeholder and developer stepped back from their legal arguments with us and have had a six-month Notice to carry out and complete the work. Within one month, they had removed all of the cladding, and I think that really underlines the work of the JAIT team in the city. It is a very effective team and one of the major pieces of work that we have done, alongside all of the other work that I have mentioned. I hope that addresses your concerns.
Potential statutory intervention
Councillor Nayab Patel asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Finance:
In light of the news that Central Government is minded to implement commissioners at Nottingham City Council, could the Portfolio Holder for Finance please comment on why they feel commissioners are being brought in despite the good progress made by and willingness to change and improve shown by Nottingham City Council to date?
Councillor Adele Williams replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you to Councillor Patel for the question. I know that we are considering the proposed intervention later today, so I will keep my remarks quite brief, as I will be speaking to that item. Members will know that on 23 June we were told that the Government was minded to appoint Commissioners to oversee some aspects of the City Council. Now, just to be really clear, should the Government decide that the appointment of Commissioners is necessary, then we will continue our collaborative approach because that is what is in the best interest of the city. Since 2021, we have demonstrated our commitment to doing this by working closely with Sir Tony Redmond and the Improvement and Assurance Board. However, I think it is right to set out the position that, since 2019, we have been making progress, being open about the difficulties we face and working hard to put things right, and it is because of that that I believe that the decision to appoint Commissioners, should it come to it, would, in my view, be unjustified. We have worked with the Government-appointed Improvement and Assurance Board to pick up all of their concerns and they have reported reasonably positively to Government about our progress. This is the work that has resulted in the reduction of Council debt of nearly £250 million, a Transformation Plan that will save (after investment) the Council £45 million and improve services for Nottingham people with it. We have set a four-year balanced budget and have changed the culture and governance so that issues like HRA are uncovered, shared transparently and sorted. The Council, under this leadership, has made significant changes to the way that we work and that openness is a feature, as is the determination to set things right if they are found to be not as they should be, and this has been recognised by the Improvement and Assurance Board headed by Sir Tony Redmond, who is the former Local Government Ombudsman. They have described our progress positively and, although we oppose the Government’s intervention to appoint Commissioners, we do see the continuity provided by Sir Tony Redmond could provide some assurance that our previous improvements are understood and can be built on.
However, because we are committed to bringing about Council-wide change and we have got a very clear plan of how to go about it, I think lots of us are curious as to what new actions would happen as a result of Commissioners coming in that would improve the working of this Council or result in any changes that Nottingham people would want to see. So later this afternoon, Councillors will have the opportunity to note this proposal and the representation we made. If this does happen, I do not believe that that will be based on what is best for the city – that is not what this decision would be about. We will of course work positively and openly, as we have done previously, in the best interests of our city, but we will be straight with them, and straight with Nottingham people, and will continue to fight for what Nottingham people need and elected a Labour council to do.
The Government cuts to our budget mean that it is really hard at the moment to do what we want to do to help our communities at this time, but we have been fighting for Nottingham and protecting our services against the worst effect of Tory cuts. We have made sure that Nottingham City Council and our amazing staff were there for people during the Covid crisis and we fought hard to get what we needed for our city during the pandemic, to keep people safe. After more than a decade of Tory austerity and the pandemic, we still managed to set a four-year balanced budget. This has not been easy, but Nottingham Labour also retained 75 Community Protection Officers, is still building Council houses, and has improved the private rented housing through the Licensing Scheme. We have kept ownership of our outstanding care homes, are running six leisure centres, we are supporting welfare rights services across the city because we defend what is needed by Nottingham people, and we are still supporting free events for families all year round, and you can still expect a regular bus service to get you that from our award-winning, City-owned bus company – and we have our own bus company because Nottingham protected it when many others were sold off to private operators and are now seeing less of a service and higher fares, but our greater public transport system has contributed to cleaner air than most other cities in the UK and made people less reliant on a car. The transformation of Broadmarsh is underway after the shopping centre administrator went into administration, a new Central Library will soon be fitted out, green space in the heart of our city will be created and developments bringing homes and jobs will be coming in the next few years. We understand what twelve years of Tory government has done to our city because we live in it. We are part of our communities – we do not just represent them. We will carry on, whatever happens, fighting for what Nottingham needs, and be ready to help our citizens with issues, the problems they are facing, and also to hear from them what their views are about what they want for the city in the future. Thank you, Lord Mayor.
Cost of Living
Councillor Audrey Dinnall asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Finance:
Does the Portfolio Holder for Finance recognise the true scale of the cost of living crisis currently affecting Nottingham people? What is Nottingham City Council doing to help people and what pressure can she bring to bear on Government Ministers to provide further help to people urgently?
Councillor Adele Williams replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor Dinnall for your question. We absolutely recognise the scale and the impact on our communities and everyone will have received emails through casework and met people at their surgeries that are absolutely struggling more than they were before. So, just to give us a sense of scale, the New Economics Foundation calculates that the basic basket of goods for a UK household that is used to calculate the minimum income requirement will now cost £2,300 more per year, on average – and this was calculated back in May when we though that inflation would be 8% at worst. It currently at 9% and the latest reliable calculation is to around 11%.
The Council is currently looking at the impacts of the cost of living crisis on the Council, services and citizens through a risk management-based approach, so working groups across the Council are looking at what this means in various service areas, and what the likely impact will be such as increased demand for support services, financial support, mental health support, homelessness, referrals to social care, and Community Protection support. We are doing this because what hits our citizens hits our services, and what hits our services hits our citizens, and we all know as councillors that the poorer households will be hit the hardest, as the increase of the £2,300 extra has nowhere to come from for poorer households – the lower your income, a larger proportion of your income and savings this represents, meaning so much less flexibility to manage it. The top 5% are the only group in Britain seeing their incomes go up away from inflation, while the rest of us are just landing under it. So what can we do to support? A range of support is available through the Council. We have grant-funded support around the Council Tax Energy Rebate, which is going out now to Nottingham residents – around 2000 per day. The Household Support Fund is going out soon and food and fuel vouchers will be accessed via wider support networks this time. We recognise that people are struggling and that this money, though welcome, is a short-lived and inadequate sticking plaster for the situation that citizens are in, so we are keen to address the root causes both in terms of support, but also in the wider jobs and training to help people improve their income. Then there will be the Holiday Activities and Food Programme aimed at those eligible for Free School Meals with the vouchers, but also the wider holiday activities will be open to people beyond only those on Free School Meals. There will be ongoing support around debt, welfare rights and money advice directly and through the voluntary sector. We are supporting food banks across the city that have, sadly, been supporting lots and lots of residents, and social eating initiatives that do have the positive aspect of bringing people together to address social isolation. People are given advice on how to reduce their energy bills, and some of our citizens have got retrofit insulation, saving both carbon and cash. Work on jobs and training is really important to support growing incomes in the city, and lots of our bigger work around transport, as well as making sure we have cleaner air and can get to work cheaply, is also bringing in better-paid jobs and good employers into our city. We are also working with our partners, such as the Integrated Care System, promoting good local employment and buying locally, so what is spent by the public sector and wider partners is purchasing locally, so that it is filling cupboards in Nottingham – not coffers off-shore. Advice and support is accessible through the Ask Lion website, but the more important question is what pressure can we bring to bear on Government Ministers? We could possibly join in on Councillor Webster’s representations and talk to the Chancellor as well, and I am planning to write to the Chancellor to share what this crisis looks like for Nottingham, if it is the same one by the end of the day. But we are seeing an absolute implosion of the Government – while our citizens are being hit by this onslaught, we are seeing potential leaders of the Conservative Party speaking to their backbenchers and membership – to people who are about as far away and unrepresentative as it is possible to be of Britain and Nottingham, and they are showing their true colours because they know that will land very well in the well-upholstered living-rooms of Conservative membership. They do not know or care what life is like around the kitchen tables for most people – hard-up Britain, where you can come home having worked all week and not be able to feed your kids – and that is an absolute shame, not of those individuals, but a national disgrace – homes where it is only just warm enough if you are lucky, with many people dreading the winter where they will not be warm enough to be healthy. The Tories, you will remember, had to be dragged kicking and screaming to back the windfall tax just to get the energy companies to pay a fraction of the windfall made off Britain’s back and from what used to belong to us to keep our homes from freezing. The Tories were not bothered about cold pensioners – they were only bothered that those cold pensioners might vote Tory – that is what that was about, just like they have mysteriously only just had enough of Boris lying to the nation after we have seen years of the world king living above the rules that the rest of us are bound by, but it was priced in to Boris, they thought, but when it turns out that it was not priced in for the electorate, when it turned out it was costing them votes, they found their principles – only then they said enough was enough. And now they are obsessed as part of this leadership race to fuel a culture war when British care workers cannot afford to fuel their cars. We know what matters to Nottingham is not dragging up division, it is standing together as we have done to weather this economic storm, and it is our job to change the political climate that has brought us here. But we have actually being doing it for years in the city – people have stood by each other, not just through Covid, but before. Food banks have been needed in our city for a long, long time and the foundations of this started with the Tories. The top 5% are seeing their income go up – they will still back the Tory Party. Thank you Lord Mayor.
Councillor Georgia Power asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Human Resources:
The 30th July will mark this year’s Nottinghamshire Pride celebrations, is the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Human Resources able to confirm Nottingham City Council’s support for this event and what other actions the Council is taking to be an inclusive employer for all LGBTQ+ persons?
Councillor Toby Neal replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor Power for the question. 2022 is a special year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the 1st official UK Pride march, which was held in London on 1 July 2072. The Pride movement was inspired by the Stonewall Riots and the protests that took place is the United States in 1969 and were a catalyst for change in the fight for equality for LGBT+ people worldwide. At the time of the first Pride march, LGBT+ people in the UK faced discrimination from individuals, institutions and the law. We can argue that the UK is a different place – that we recognise the rights of individuals to be who they are and that Pride is a social event that citizens can enjoy. But it is also true that there are those who seek to create division and Pride reminds us of the struggles of the past, and the need to continue the fight for rights for all. So I am proud to talk about this Council’s ongoing support for Nottinghamshire Pride, and I am looking forward to joining the march and to welcoming it back following its forced hiatus. It is a chance to celebrate, to protest and to demand more.
Talking specifically about what we as a Council do: the Council has been a supporter of the LGBT+ community for many years, both as an inclusive employer and supporting Notts Pride as an ever-growing event within the city – and I expect that this year’s march will be one of the largest that we have ever seen. Our LGBT Network will be at the event to promote their work, the workplace allies’ programme and be prepared to talk to attendees and answer any questions about the Council, its services and if people want to work for us. Corporate Marketing and Communications will also be ensuring that a Pride banner is on the Council House to show our support to the community, and that we will be promoting the event across all communication channels that are available to the Council. As with other major city-wide community events, Nottingham Events will provide value in kind support to the event, which includes the use of Council-owned event infrastructure, assistance and support with event planning, the Events Team providing temporary traffic restriction and regulation orders, there will be reduced cost usage of Council vehicles, and there will be promotion of the event via ‘What’s On’. I would also particularly like to highlight the volunteers from Community Protection and from Our Neighbourhoods who make sure they turn up to promote the Council, not as part of their daytime shift but because they think it is the right thing to do. I think that many of you will remember the rainbow crossing place into Hockley that came as a direct idea of Community Protection Officer Arran Hayes after supporting the event for several years. So our teams have been supporting it both in terms of the work that we provide to them, but the fact that they wish to volunteer to do things. Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion ambitions set out our commitment to strive to be an employer of choice for all people with protected characteristics within the LGBT+ community. We are a Stonewall Diversity Champion and we participate in the Stonewall Workplace Employers Index, and this year we moved up 62 places and are looking to get back into the top 100, where we were previously for two years. We have received a Silver Award for our commitments and efforts to become an LGBT+ employer. We are currently working on our submission for the Index for 2023, and I am very much hoping that we will return to the top 100. We are also a finalist in the 2022 PinkNews Awards nominations for Public Sector Equality. This is a ceremony that recognises the incredible contributions of people, organisations and companies that campaign for LGBTQ+ community and, generally, for equality worldwide. Our LGBT Network has a very strong voice in terms of our Equalities Board and the work that we do, and is also a key partner, as is the Council, with the Integrated Care Partnership, the Police, Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service, and many other key areas of the NHS, to embed good practice in terms of being a good LGBTQ+ employer in the city.
Speed on roads
Councillor Michael Edwards asked the following question of the Leader of the Council:
Is the Leader able to inform me as to what actions have been taken in Nottingham to reduce speed on our roads?
As Councillor Michael Edwards was not in attendance at the meeting, the question received a written response after the meeting from Councillor David Mellen. That written response is attached to these Minutes.
Councillor Andrew Rule asked the following question of the Leader of the Council:
The Leader of the Council will be aware that the Secretary of State has indicated that one of their main areas of concern with the Council’s improvement journey remains the lack of governance framework that defines the relationship between the Council and its companies. How does the Leader intend to rectify this?
In the absence of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Adele Williams, Deputy Leader of the Council, replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor Rule for your question, which references the then Secretary of State. Since 2020, the Council has undertaken a considerable amount of work in relation to the governance of its portfolio of companies, as well as to the financial sustainability of the companies themselves. You will be aware, as will people who have been around for some time, that, at one point, the Government was encouraging local authorities to be commercial and to be entrepreneurial to plug the gaping hole that they were planning to leave in Council finances. Consequently, many local authorities have commercial interests and we have been doing a lot of work around ours. The governance structure and processes have been taking account of the latest thinking and the best practice in relation to local government trading companies – in particular, the Lawyers in Local Government Code of Practice, and also the Governance of Council Interests in Companies, and CIPFA’s guidance document produced for the Council.
This is culminating in the establishment of a dedicated Shareholder Unit to oversee the companies’ interests, the development of a company governance handbook and an extensive programme of training and support for members on company boards and people who are shareholder representatives. At its heart, this governance model is concerned with demonstrating transparency and accountability that is essential for all parties to have confidence in each other and to make the best decisions in the interests of all, and this work, as members will be aware, has been undertaken working closely with the Improvement and Assurance Board. We will continue to make improvements and continue the good progress in this area. Thank you, Lord Mayor, and thank you Councillor Rule for your question.
Councillor Andrew Rule asked the following question of the Leader of the Council:
Next month will see the anniversary of the Leader’s decision to cancel Goose Fair due to Covid. Can the Leader of the Council reassure residents that Goose Fair will be reinstated this year and it will remain a free event?
In the absence of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Adele Williams, Deputy Leader of the Council, replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor and thank you Councillor Rule for your question. I am pleased to tell you all, if you are not already aware, that the Council and the Showmen’s Guild have shared the intent earlier this year that Goose Fair will return again this year as a 10-day fair from 30 September to 9 October. Planning for the event is going forward, and we cannot see any reason that it would not be able to proceed as planned. After two years of it being cancelled, we are really looking forward to it coming back and we will continue to work with the Showmen’s Guild to ensure that the fair is a safe and well-managed free event for all to enjoy.
We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the range of events that we have on offer in the city for people to enjoy themselves. Earlier this year we had Light Night return to the city, a Remembrance Sunday service took place as a civic event, we had the Riverside Festival and Bonfire Night, which were free to attend and enjoy. Alongside this, the Council also supported a number of one-off events, such as the Forest Homecoming event that many people here enjoyed, the Platinum Jubilee, the Queen’s Baton Relay took place this weekend, and we will host the Pride festival later this month, and I will see you all there. I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to our staff, who work really hard to deliver such a fantastic range of events across the city, and also, while we are in the Council House, particularly to the staff here who supported such an amazing event for Forest – it was an absolutely fantastic day, and massive thanks due to the people who supported the event in lots of different ways, not just in the Council House, but out in the Square or public realm and so on. Everyone really pulled together to make such an amazing day for our city. So as well as those large-scale events, we also have smaller things like the Adventure Cinema, the Multi-Cultural Festival, Nottingham Beach, Architects of Air, the Nottingham Carnival, the Luna Cinema and various neighbourhood fairs to look forward to. Nottingham is home to such a fantastic cultural offer – we have a great cultural community in the city and we can really party, so I am really proud to deliver such a great offer for the city. Nottingham will always be a great place to go out, and that is a success that we should celebrate and build on.