Agenda item

Public Question Time



It was noted that the following public questions had been received in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules, for consideration at this meeting:


a)         from Marie-Bernadette Checkley:


(Background: I along with my neighbours objected to the planting of trees in front of our homes by SHDC. Our objections were overruled by officers who ignored the support given to us by local members.


Question: “Why is it that residents supported by local Members are overruled by officers?”


In the absence of Cllr Abbott, the Chairman of Council provided the following response:


"The Administration are committed to increasing biodiversity and tree coverage across our green spaces, as trees within an urban environment bring a wide variety of benefits and are largely welcomed by residents.  As owners and managers of many mature trees, we recognise that careful consideration must be given to their placement and not to cause future conflict with neighbouring properties.


For that reason, following engagement with the local residents of Borough Park, we took the decision to reduce the number of trees we planted and changed the species type to a smaller one.  In this way, a balance has been struck by enhancing the park for the whole community, whilst mitigating any potential impact of residents bordering the park."


b)         from John Grocock


(Background: in his article about Housing (Totnes Times 21 September) Cllr Brazil bemoaned the fact that in the new town of Sherford there is ‘not a solar panel in sight’.  Furthermore, he was generally critical of houses being built which are not ‘energy self-sufficient and zero carbon’.


The following week (Totnes Times 28 September) there was information about the Council’s purchase of properties in Sherford and construction by them of houses at St Anns Chapel.)


Question: “Given Cllr Brazil’s concerns, what measures have been taken to ensure that these houses are ‘energy self-sufficient and zero carbon’?”


Response from Cllr O’Callaghan (lead Executive Member for Housing):


"The housing at Sherford is being built by private developers and received planning permission in 2013.  This pre-dates our current standards, but does meet the government standards relevant at that time.


As a planning authority, we have subsequently declared a Climate Emergency and in response to this have adopted the Plymouth and South West Devon Climate Emergency Planning Statement in 2022.  This sets out our expectations for all new development coming forward to ensure that it minimises carbon emissions and supports resilience to climate impacts by reducing embodied carbon, using low and zero carbon heating systems and use of low carbon materials.


Our development in St Anns Chapel greatly exceeds current building regulations standards and are very thermally efficient.  One key specification that the Council set for that development, specifically to address this issue, was a permeability standard of 3 m3/hr.m2, despite current building regulations permitting more than twice that at Bm3/hr.m2'


c)         from Richard Howell


(Background: I appreciate that the proposed Devolution Deal is not specifically on the Agenda but the recommendation that Members withdraw from the Heart of the South West Joint Committee in part as a consequence of the development of the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay devolution deal is, from which noticeably Plymouth have already chosen to withdraw.


According to Leader John Hart the County Council will approve the Devon Devolution Deal at its Cabinet in March and it will be ratified at a Full Council shortly afterward.)


Question:   Although there is to be a consultation neither the residents of the South Hams nor our elected representatives will be allowed to vote on whether we wish to have another layer of local government imposed upon us.


Do Members consider this acceptable?



Response from Cllr Thomas, Deputy Leader of Council:


"The details of the Devon Devolution Deal have not yet been announced by Government and therefore the implications of any deal for the residents and businesses of the South Hams are, as yet, unknown. Once the details of the deal become clear, the Council will of course consider it in due course".


d)         from Jim Funnell


Question: “The Task & Finish report recommends a communication and engagement programme with local parish and South Hams region to inform public opinion. Will this engagement clearly identify the risks, delay and current projected net financial losses to the Freeport as highlighted in the report, as well as the benefits?”


Response from Cllr Birch (lead Executive Member for Economic Development, Commercial Strategy and Governance):


"The answer is "Yes'.  The Council will be determining the means and/or methods by which the recommendations in the Task and Finish Group report can be implemented and complied with, this is, of course, subject to the Recommendations being carried when the item is considered later in this meeting".

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