Agenda item

Questions from citizens


Housing Conditions

LE asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and HR:

What is the Council going to do about the damp and mould in bungalows in the Beechdale and Bilborough areas of Nottingham?

Councillor Toby Neal replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor and thank you to LE for sending in the question. Nottingham City Homes and the Council proactively use data on repairs trends, the level of properties meeting the Decent Homes Standard, housing disrepair cases and compliance to understand the extend of damp and mould issues across all of our property holdings. There is no current indication of a trend relating to damp and mould cases in the bungalows in Beechdale and Bilborough. Furthermore, I can confirm there are no Council properties failing in the Decent Homes Standard due to the presence of damp and mould hazards or which have housing, health and safety rating systems, damp and mould hazards identified. Keeping homes warm, dry, and ventilated is the most effective way of preventing the occurrence of damp and mould, and energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty are two of the three investment priorities within the capital housing programme and the asset management strategy. We will be spending over £13million during 2022/23 on a range of initiatives, ranging from providing external and solid wall insulation, additional roof insulation, new energy efficient heating systems, installing solar panels and different types of ventilation systems. A further £10million is earmarked for these types of works in 2023/24. The funding for this type of improvement has been boosted by additional external Government decarbonisation and energy efficiency funding. We have allocated a further £5million in 2023/24 for the works to external fabric of homes including works such as the replacement of roofs. Over the past few years, the properties in Beechdale and Bilborough areas have received replacement boilers, increased amounts of loft insulation and new double-glazed windows and doors. All of these improvements contribute to improving the thermal warmth within a home and subsequently reducing the occurrence of damp, condensation and mould. I can confirm that these properties meet current energy efficiency levels, although the construction date and type of the bungalows means the thermal efficiency is not as effective as, for example, a new build property. Where specific instances of damp, condensation and mould occur, we identify the cause of the damp and have a broad range of interventions including the provision of free self-help damp kits, signposting to online advice and self-help, tailored one-to-one support for customers and development of a bespoke schedule of works. Given recent events, particularly the tragic death and subsequent coroner’s report on the death of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, we are currently reviewing our approach to dealing with damp and mould. This will include a review of process, how we listen and engage with customers, what solutions we put in place to reflect individual needs and the financial resources available. Energy efficiency remains a key priority and we will continue to invest to improve the thermal comfort of our tenants’ homes. Over the last few years, we have carried out a number of initiatives, where we have worked with Central Government to improve thermal efficiency on some of the older, non-traditional construction property types within the city. This has included some internal and external wall insulation, different types of heating systems and changes to internal ventilation. These initiatives were targeted at those properties with the lowest levels of thermal efficiency. During 2023, we will be doing some further work on what cost effective options we can apply over the future years to other properties including the bungalows on Beechdale. Once these plans become more developed, we will consult with tenants on these proposals. I would also add that, of course, if any resident of our properties, whether that’s in Bilborough or any other ward of our city, local councillors are there to help them deal with any issues and of course they can contact me directly through the City Council website.


Plant-based foods

CT asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment and Waste Services:

Nottingham City Council prides itself on being one of the more forward-thinking cities in the UK, putting climate considerations at the heart of governance. This awareness needs to include every aspect of council activities, including the provision of food. Nottingham City Catering is doing fantastic, award-winning work to make school food more climate friendly, which is setting an example for other local authorities and school caterers. I believe Nottingham is therefore well placed to extend this leadership beyond schools, by setting an example to the wider community regarding awareness of the climate impact of the food we eat. Other councils, for example Oxfordshire, Cambridge City, Exeter City and Lewisham Borough, have committed to serve only plant-based food at their internal events, and I’d like Nottingham to do the same. Therefore, given the climate emergency and our stated aim to reduce emissions, will Nottingham City Council commit to serving fully plant-based fare at all future internal events that are catered, as other councils have done? 


Councillor Sally Longford replied as follows:

Thank you Lord Mayor and thank you Citizen CT for the question related to plant-based food. I am really glad that CT has highlighted the excellent work already underway through the Council’s School Catering Team, which won an important national award for its green menu and marketing campaign last year. The Council recognises the importance of minimising the carbon footprint of all our activities and included in the objectives of the Carbon Neutral 2028 Energy Action Plan is the need to reduce the consumption of high carbon products and encourage more low carbon cooking and meals. We have our own internal colleague vegan network which works closely with the Catering Team to improve the offer and promote vegan dishes and in the next few months, we will: review internal event catering to develop a range of high quality vegan dishes and develop a policy relating to catering at internal events and meetings; review the range of vegan options available through our internal cafes to improve the range of options available for colleagues and visitors to purchase; continue to liaise with our suppliers to ensure that we have suitable vegan products available and plant-based options with an updated recipe library for internal teams to choose from; and continue to work with partners such as Pro-Veg to explore future improvements such as carbon labelling for its food and menus.


City’s relationship with Ningbo, China

RY asked the following question of the Leader of the Council/ Portfolio Holder for Strategic Regeneration and Communications:

Local group, Nottingham Stands with Hong Kong, submitted a petition with over 1500 signatories in June 2022 calling for the termination of the sister city relationship with Ningbo due to the human rights abuses and violation of modern slavery associated with Ningbo and the Chinese government. Cities like Newcastle and Bath recently passed motions to cut ties with China over human right abuses.  As residents of Nottingham we are concerned about our city's relationship with China, an authoritarian country with infamous human rights records. What action has been taken by Nottingham City Council in response to local concerns over our sister city relationship with China?

Councillor David Mellen replied as follows:

Thank you Lord Mayor and can I thank the citizen for their question. On 12 June 2022, the Council received a petition from ‘Nottingham Stands with Hong Kong’, which expressed a deep concern over the twinning relationship between Nottingham and Ningbo and called on the Council to sever its ties with Ningbo. As a result of receiving the petition, Nottingham City Council committed to reviewing the nature of all its currently twinning and international arrangements including its formal twinning arrangement with Ningbo in China. Nottingham is a place that embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion. It is home to many communities and is a city that is welcoming and supportive to those who come here from all backgrounds. We recognise that international relationships can support important aspects of the life in an international city, promote international trade, investment, and tourism. They can also enrich the cultural offer, enhance awareness of different communities, and heighten the education and cultural experience for the city as a whole. Furthermore, such arrangements can benefit the city by opening up opportunities for sharing of ideas and innovation and opening up mutual arrangements for international training, education opportunities for residents and citizens. We also know that, as civic leaders in Nottingham, we must also ensure that any current or future international relationships are with those places that uphold the same principles in relation to diversity, inclusion and human rights as we have and that there are tangible benefits for the city and its residents. Hence, the review we are undertaking as a Council must consider both the benefits of the relationships with other cities across the world, as well as the behaviour and values of the countries’ governments where the twinned cities are located. So, as part of the review of relationships with international cities, Nottingham City Council has been engaged with stakeholders and partners in the city to fully understand and assess the impacts of international links in Nottingham. Once this work is concluded, the Council will make clear its intention with regard to all existing international relationships, in particular to those who started a petition in June last year.

Knife Crime
KT asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion:
With knife crime at an alarming rate especially in pubs and clubs, why are there not metal detectors on every alcohol establishment in the town centre at the owner’s expense?

Councillor Neghat Khan replied as follows:

Thank you Lord Mayor and can I thank the citizen for the question. It is true that knife crime has increased compared to the previous two years, although some of this increase can be attributed to the removal of lockdown restrictions. Compared to other areas of a similar size and population, Nottingham knife crime figures are currently below average. Let me be clear, we absolutely acknowledge the increase and we are not complacent in our duties or our commitment to addressing this concerning increase. Knife crime figures fluctuate over the year.  December 2022 figures were 50% lower than in 2021. The recent Christmas and New Year period accounted for 13% of knife crime in December, which saw only 3 offences compared to 17 in 2021. This is a reduction of 82%.  Recorded locations of knife crime show that most offences occur in public or open spaces or dwellings. The proportion of knife crime offences occurring in hospitality venues is generally around 9-14% of all knife crime. This includes robberies and the threat and use of a knife as well as offences where a weapon has actually been used. In the past 3 months, 11% of offences have taken place in hospitality venues, this is significantly lower than the equivalent figure from the winter of 2021. Nottingham City Council, as the Licensing Authority, would consider proposals from Responsible Authorities, such as the Police, to insert conditions on individual premise licenses where they thought there was evidence of needing to do so. Any conditions applied would have to be reasonable and justifiable. It would also be important to consider the wider implications for safety at venues such as how the presence of the use of knife arches may impact on crowd flow and densities so that crushing did not become a risk or that queuing areas do not result in customers being at risk of collision from live motor traffic. Responsible Authorities and venue managers would be expected to work collaboratively and agree conditions that were feasible and promoted the licensing objectives. As the appropriate Licensing Authority, we are always open to working with Police colleagues to reduce crime and improve the safety of citizens in licensed premises.  At present there are currently no plans for a blanket approach to requiring knife arches all licensed venues. However, any proposals the Police have to promote safety will be welcome and considered within the parameters of licensing powers. Thank you.


Supporting documents: