Agenda item

Questions from citizens


Display of Religious Symbols

A citizen asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture:What is Nottingham City Council’s policy on the permanent display of religious symbols on publicly owned land?


Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis replied as follows:

The policy was agreed by the Council’s Executive Board and is available online within the Committee Reports section of the Council’s website. The title of this policy is “New Statues, Monuments and Public Artworks in Parks and the Public Realm Owned by Nottingham City Council”. It is important to note that the policy does not cover commemorative trees and benches, nor does it cover temporary installations, murals, plaques, or any installations on private land, although those may require planning permission.  The policy provides an extra layer of nuance and due diligence, looking at considerations such as location, local history, funding, maintenance of structures that are proposed, quality of materials, community support, etc. When the policy went through the Portfolio, I did ask for a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion – considerations to ensure that future monuments and installations express the full diversity of lived experiences in our city. We looked at areas such as the representative function of space for people from diverse ethnic and gender backgrounds. There is still a way to go in terms of achieving equality of representation in our public spaces, but this policy, as well as the new street naming policy which was brought forward last year, is a positive way forward in making space more representative, and space more accommodating to all of our diverse communities.  It should be noted, lastly, that the statues and monuments policy does not replace the traditionally known planning process. Planning is a statutory function and anyone who proposes any installation which is of a certain scale will need to go through planning processes, depending of course on their application and the size of the proposed installation. The statues policy is an extra layer of consideration for issues related to culture which takes place before the planning process in most cases. That means that approval can be given by the Portfolio Holder responsibility for culture on a specific installation, but in most cases that will require a further approval which is given in relation to planning considerations, and that will be given either by a Planning Officer or by the Planning Committee depending on the scale of development. I hope that answers your question, thank you.



A citizen asked the following questionof the Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment and Waste Services and Parks:What is the Council’s current spending commitment to maintain, repair, improve and expand the provision of playgrounds in Nottingham? How does this commitment compare to patterns of spending over the past decade?


Councillor Corall Jenkins replied as follows:

With regards to the delay in replacing the swings in Ruddington Lane Recreation Ground, may I first apologise for the disappointment caused by the delay in the replacement. The old swing unit was removed because it had become dangerous, and, as always, our priority is to maintain the health and safety of the users of the play area. However, I have spoken to the Green Spaces Development Team and I can confirm that the swings have been delivered and we are now waiting for contractors to confirm a date for the installation of the swings. Unfortunately, the play equipment is often made to order and delivered by specialist play area contractors. Clearly, this can create some delay and there can be supply chain delays, and also timetables can be delayed by the capacity of contractors. However, the Service understands your concerns, and will take steps to ensure advance communication is carried out to inform ward councillors about any future removals or any delays in installing replacement equipments.


Audit Committee

A citizen has asked the following questionof the Chair of the Audit Committee: The recent Ernst and Young audit report concerning the Council's finances has reportedly not been reviewed by the Leader, Deputy Leader (notably the councillor responsible for finance), or other Council members. Additionally, the public, who have contributed £240,000 in council tax for this consultancy, has not been privy to the findings. Yet, decisions regarding the Council's response to the report were finalised in the Audit Committee meeting on 30th June.  Given the Council's previous history of making political decisions without comprehensive information, evident from situations like Robin Hood Energy and the discrepancies in the Housing Revenue Account, two questions arise: a) Is the Chair of the Audit Committee content with the resolutions agreed upon during the 30th June meeting? b) Is it a routine practice for the Committee to make fiscal decisions using taxpayers' money without thorough knowledge of the facts?


Councillor Sam Gardiner replied as follows:

As has previously been communicated at Full Council, the report was prepared by EY.  It was developed to give technical advice and opinion as to the effectiveness of financial controls at Nottingham City Council. To address the first question, I remain satisfied as to the appropriateness of the resolutions agreed at Audit Committee on  30 June 2023, which included the following: The Audit Committee noted the outcomes of the controls review, specifically the findings of the controls assessment, which underpins a conclusion that Nottingham City Council is operating within a considerably weakened control environment which is not fit for purpose in allowing a local authority to enact effective financial stewardship; and noted the immediate steps that the Council will undertake to address the findings.  The Audit Committee requested future updates on the remediation work through the financial improvement plan reports; discussed establishing a sub-group that can assist the remediation work, and also wants to establish new panels, the remit of which will be established at a future meeting. Finally, the Audit Committee members want to voluntarily undertake a CIPFA self-assessment of the Audit Committee to provide assurances externally. It is clear, Lord-Mayor, that there were several outcomes from this one agenda item on Audit Committee on 30 June. It is clear that this will remain a standing item with the progress of remediations being monitored. It is worth nothing that the Audit Committee does have Opposition councillors within its membership, and there was a closed door session where councillors could ask any questions or seek clarity where they saw fit.


As to the second part of the question in relation to the Committee making fiscal decisions, the Committee has not taken a fiscal decision. The Committee has listened to the advice of the professional officer, reviewed it, and agreed with the proposed course of action, but to be absolutely clear the Committee was never asked to make a fiscal decision.


The Audit Committee has a job to do, Lord-Mayor, and I am confident it will carry out its roles and responsibilities effectively.


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