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Agenda item

Question Time:

(i)                 To answer questions from members of the public pursuant to Procedure Rule No. 10.


(ii)               To answer questions from members of the Council pursuant to Procedure Rule No. 11





Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Richard Ford will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jeremy Oates, the following question:-



Tomorrow, Tamworth will be hosting the Queen's Baton Relay. The Baton will end its journey through Tamworth at a huge festival of sport and music in the Castle Grounds.


Tamworth has also secured the honour of being the only Commonwealth Games Festival Site in Staffordshire. Over the next three weeks live footage of the games will be shown in the Castle Grounds, accompanied by a three-week summer festival of sports, concerts and community events.


Will the Leader of the Council join me in congratulating all the Council staff and volunteers, who have worked so hard in securing and organising all these amazing events?


Councillor Oates gave the following answer


To say this is the biggest stage of events for Tamworth is an understatement.


3 weeks of community events, live screenings of the Commonwealth Games, cinema showings, sports demonstrations, everything from a Piggyback World Record Attempt to a silent disco to shows with world famous performers – Tamworth has it all available this summer. 


We kick off the events with welcoming the Queen’s Baton Relay tomorrow evening, following by a Queen tribute on the stage (a free event).


I hope to see you all there.


Of course, councillors this doesn’t just happen, it takes a huge effort, large resources and a team of officers who are all pulling out every stop to make this happen.


I welcome this opportunity to formally congratulate the staff in initially securing the ‘Live Site’ status (the only one in Staffordshire), and on developing a programme of events that has something for everyone.  It is one of our most inclusive summer programmes ever.


On behalf of all councillors, I want to thank all the staff involved and wish you every success.  We as councillors look forward to joining in the events and welcoming new and old visitors to the town as well as seeing our communities enjoying the summer.




Major events such as the Commonwealth Games are a platform for the host city and indeed the wider region to elevate their image and create long-lasting socio-economic benefits.  Tamworth as a unique opportunity to tap into these benefits that will come from us being in the Greater West Midlands area, it will help the region grow, encourage communities to realise their full potential and will live happier and healthier lives.  Can I ask the Leader what he believes will be the legacy of these games on Tamworth and what plans are in place to help realise this?


Councillor Oates gave the following response


In terms of legacy’s, it’s often easier to plan for a legacy and then miss the boat.  What we have done in Tamworth we have built on the opportunity that the Commonwealth Live site as brought to us, and we have built the Summer Festival of Events.  For me they are a key part of the economic legacy for Tamworth.  They are putting Tamworth on the map. You can travel into Birmingham on the train, or you can sit in the Castle Grounds and watch the games and get involved in the other activities that are going on. There is an economic legacy for Tamworth in terms of the tourism and for local businesses in the Town Centre and that’s just as being the host.  In terms of the friendly games, inspiration and aspiration, competitive sport inspires people.  People can get fit and healthy by going to a gym and running on a treadmill, but competitive sport keeps people interested and gives aspiration and provides sporting heroes, we need to capture that and we need to build on the inspiration these competitive games will give.  The summer activities programme that Tamworth Borough Council as been involved with for many years involves local sporting groups and the provide tasters of the activities.  This year there is stand up paddle boarding, gymnastics and other things that are being offered as a taster.  Link that in with the Commonwealth games and you have a massive opportunity for people to try something different and learn something new.    

Also, this year the local Council are creating an addition to our nomination scheme there are a number of local nominations levels and this is about celebrating those people that commit to supporting out communities and bring people on whether that is in sport, education or other elements for the community.  So in addition to the games we would like to see some nominations for people who are encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles  and integrated lifestyles in the community and this is another way we can celebrate that and another way we can build that legacy.      







Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Chris Cooke will ask the Portfolio Holder for Voluntary sector, Town centre, Evening economy & Community Safety, Councillor Martin Summers, the following question:-


Anker Valley Estate in my ward (Spital)  has seen some recent criminal activity with individuals trying car doors, thefts from cars, bikes stolen and other petty criminal acts. What can the council do to support residents along side the police to reduce crime on the estate?


Councillor Summers gave the following answer


The Council, through the wider Community Safety Partnership meetings, are aware of residents’ concerns on the Anker Valley Estate and that the Police taking positive actions through the local PCSO and the resident single point of contact.  


We would encourage all members of the public to continue to report criminal activities to the Police through the usual channels and will work with them to understand what, if any actions can be taken in partnership, which may include crime prevention information or other engagement activity as necessary to assist.





Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Roy Rogers will ask the Portfolio Holder for Engagement, Civic Pride and Pride in Place Councillor Tina Clements, the following question:-


Will the cabinet member for Engagement, Civic Pride and Pride in Place be encouraging all members here to nominate individuals or small groups for the new civic pride nominations as part of her new role.


Councillor Clements gave the following answer


Thank you to Cllr Rogers for your question. This is my first time standing up in full council as a new cabinet member.


Of course, I will be encouraging all members to nominate the very people who have the heart of Tamworth at the forefront of everything they do. this new civic pride award fits in with the other nominations we currently have and will enable us to recognise those who do so much in our communities, most of them quietly going about it under the radar. so please get behind the new civic pride award and get those nominations in by Sept 16th. 




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Ben Price will ask the Portfolio Holder for Skills, Planning, Economy & Waste, Councillor Stephen Doyle, the following question:-


A major housing development has been proposed on the boarder of my ward in Mile Oak, on fields off Dunstall Lane / Bonehill Road.


Will the portfolio holder ensure that should an application be submitted by the developer, residents in my ward will have the opportunity to have their views heard on the application?


Councillor Doyle gave the following answer


The development you referred to is Grangewood Park as named by the agents.


As far as I am aware, no planning application has been submitted so far, but if one is submitted, it will be to Lichfield District Council and they will be the determining authority.


When an application is submitted, anybody who wishes to comment on it will be able to do so, and that includes residents of the neighbouring wards in Tamworth, this I’ve clarified with the Tamworth Planning Team.


For those comments to be taken into consideration though, they will need to be submitted to Lichfield District Council, not to Tamworth Borough Council.


I understand the agents have set up a website, following a recent public consultation event, where people can look at the proposals and leave feedback for them, and I am more than happy to share those details with you.


The address of the website is I would suggest that any local residents who have concerns about the proposal visit the website in the first instance, or they can email any queries to


Should the Residents of Tamworth have any issues in contacting either Lichfield Council or the Developers then I will be only to willing to offer my assistance as Portfolio Holder for Tamworth Planning.




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Thomas Jay will ask the Portfolio Holder for Voluntary Sector, Town centre, Evening economy and Community Safety, Councillor Martin Summers, the following question:-


Tamworth has recently seen some large and disruptive traveller encampments. Residents are concerned about the mess caused to open spaces and parks, as well as the anti-social behaviour that can take place while camps are there. There is also the not insignificant cost associated with cleaning the space after the travellers have left. What is the Council doing to ensure its open spaces in Tamworth are secured against encroachment by unauthorised travellers?

Councillor Summers gave the following answer


We are aware of the residents’ concerns following the recent encampments in Tamworth.  It was a horrendous time for residents, loss of business at the Co-op having to shut early.


Officers from Street scene, Partnerships, Environmental Health including community wardens met with Staffordshire Police to discuss this matter last week. The decision was taken for street scene to carry out a full security audit on the Bolehall Swifts land, the location of the recent very large unauthorised encampment. The purpose of which will be to identify any further measure to prevent caravans from accessing the site in the future. If these measures cannot be met from existing budgets, then member approval and release of additional budget will be required. And I believe you are going to discuss help form Staffordshire County Council.                             


However, I must stress that no amount of security measures will ever be 100% effective at preventing access to these sites as travellers are typically equipped with the tools required to avail themselves entry.


There clearly needs to be further discussions in relation to unauthorised encampments. The Infrastructure Safety and Growth committee will be best placed to lead this work.


Of course, Tamworth Borough Council is not alone in responding to the issue of unauthorised encampments and working with Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioners Office Illegal Encampment Group, Police, representative Councillors and officers are working towards identifying longer term solutions.





Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Samuel Smith will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jeremy Oates, the following question:-


The summer holidays can be an expensive time for parents. So, I welcome the wide range of free events available to local children during the summer holidays. This summer the holidays start with the council’s own Castle Summer Fest and the official Commonwealth Games live site. There is also the Police and Crime Commissioners Space scheme returning and the County Councils Activities programme. Will the leader ensure that the council promotes all these schemes through its social media and websites, ensuring the widest number of parents as possible are aware of these great, and free of cost, activities?


Councillor Oates gave the following answer


Any public campaigns and information around the Holiday and Food Scheme activities are managed by Staffordshire County Council through the Family Hub for eligible children. The Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s Space website is available for young people wishing to book activities for themselves.  These activities have been arranged with partners through Council teams. We continue to work proactively to ensure all publicity for these schemes is shared through our own social media channels, Staffs County Council and Tamworth Police, so that the wider Tamworth community can take advantage of all the activities available.


In addition, Tamworth Borough Council, under its Active Tamworth branding, also offers free holiday activities through the summer which this year includes activities such as stand up paddleboarding, learn to cycle, Skytrail, trampolining and dance. This year there are activities suitable for children aged 1+.


Incorporated into the electronic leaflet is information directing people to the Space scheme website to ensure promotion of all free activities for the area.


This leaflet can be found on


This TBC free summer activity programme has been promoted via TBC social media channels, the Primary Schools Heads Forum & through the Families Strategic Partnership and specifically the Early Help Team to ensure effective distribution to all sectors of the community.


I will ask for any graphics or flyers available digitally be sent  to all councillors so we can distribute on appropriate social media channels




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor John Harper will ask the Portfolio Holder for Voluntary sector, Town centre, Evening Economy and Community Safety, Councillor Martin Summers, the following question:-


A section of the pedestrian boardwalk running through the Warwickshire Moor at Bolehall was recently set ablaze by vandals. This deliberate act of arson resulted in serious damage to the structure which, since its installation some years ago, has become a hugely popular amenity where local people can enjoy the natural environment is safety. Two notice boards containing Public Space Protection Order information have also been vandalised.

Can the council tell the residents of Bolehall when the damaged boards and boardwalk will be repaired, and if other sections of the boardwalk which may require attention will be attended to at the same time.


Councillor Summers gave the following answer


Unfortunately, this is the second time there has been serious fire damage to this well used, picturesque and accessible boardwalk and jetty on Warwickshire Moor Local Nature Reserve. The costs involved are not insignificant. The previous repair was upwards of £40k and the current estimated costs for this repair is in excess of £60k.


The recent arson incident was reported to the Police, and I understand investigations are ongoing. The Council insurers have been notified and officers are awaiting a response as to whether this will be covered on the Council’s insurance policy, however I must advise that the current excess on the policy is £10k.


It is not possible at this moment in time to give residents a timescale when the damaged boards and boardwalk will be repaired as there is no allocated budget for this. The longer term view of this asset and required funding will need to considered and approved by members following the completion of the investigations.


In the meantime new public notice boards have been ordered and will be replaced as soon as possible.


Supplementary Question


I would ask Cllr Summers if he would join me in condemning the perpetrators of this crime which all they do is serve to destroy the enjoyment of their fellow citizens.  I would appeal to anyone who as any information of this crime to  pass it onto with the police. 


Councillor Summers gave the following response


Of course, I condemn the acts of mindless vandalism.  It is a blight on the town that we don’t need and I would hope that if anyone as any information they would report it to the Authorities. 




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Richard Ford will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jeremy Oates, the following question:-


The recent act of vandalism in the Castle Grounds has resulted in two toilets being left unusable as well as the defibrillator being stolen and thrown in a bin. 


Can the Leader give reassurances that the council take these acts of hooliganism seriously and will always seek to repair damages as a priority?


Councillor Oates gave the following answer


It is unfortunate that such an important and well used facility has been vandalised in this manner, depriving visitors to the Castle Grounds of an essential service. It is even more disappointing that a defibrillator as been damaged especially as these were provided with the support of local community groups who fund raised for it.   As soon as the vandalism had been discovered by our cleaning staff it was reported through to our repairs contractor and every effort is being made to complete the repairs and bring the vandalised toilets back into use. Fortunately, due to the layout of the facility some toilets will remain usable by the public.


Supplementary Question


It makes me angry to see these reckless acts of unnecessary thuggery happening in the town that is beloved by all of us.   Why the actions of a few individuals can ruin things for so many people are unacceptable how these people can think its acceptable to  damage something that is so important is beyond me.  Not only do these actions put a public amenity out of use it also costs the taxpayer £1,000’s to rectify.  I hope the Leader of the Council will join me in condemning these actions and let me know what actions we can work with with our partner organisations to help ensure this never happens again. 


Councillor Oates gave the following response: 


It is very tempting to stand here and say this is why we don’t have nice things because we spend all our cash spending money repairing all the things somebody as destroyed.  Somebodies’ sons, daughters, brothers sister, aunts or uncles are wondering round this Town spoiling things for other people.   Do these people live like this in their own homes?  Tamworth is not a living room, but it is still where we live. My message to these people is have some self-respect and have some pride in your home and the place where you live, there is no need to go around behaving living like deranged feral animals. Yes, Cllr Ford I will commit this Council to continue to support  partners in attempting to prevent this type of behaviour and I will also work with partners and community groups to ensure that their efforts particularly in fundraising and hard work in terms of friends of parks the aforementioned Board walk  and the defibrillator that was mentioned earlier aren’t wasted by the likes of a few self-centred ungrateful individuals. 




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Ben Price will ask the Portfolio Holder for Voluntary sector, Town centre, Evening Economy and Community Safety, Councillor Martin Summers, the following question:-


Could the portfolio holder explain Tamworth Borough Council’s position and any powers regarding products used in nail bars in the Borough?


Councillor Summers gave the following answer


Nail Bars are regulated under the general powers within the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  Owners are required to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which should include assessing the risk of chemicals used within the work place both on staff and customers.  A hierarchy of risk control should be applied which involves looking to eliminate, substitute and as a last resort provide PPE.  Some chemicals may also require a COSHH assessment under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. 


All these duties are on the dutyholder/owner.  EH would investigate if a complaint was received either by a member of the public or staff.  We do not carry out routine inspections unless this was identified in a workplan lead largely by HSE’s priorities for the year.




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Sheree Peaple will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jeremy Oates, the following question:-


We have seen in the local press that a petition has been launched regarding the use of the Tamworth Holiday Inn to house up to 200 single male asylum seekers.  Presumably this follows an agreement between the hotel and the home office or other government agencies.  What consultation took place with Tamworth Borough Council members or officers before this decision was taken?


Councillor Oates gave the following answer


Following the Governments recent decision to make all areas of the country asylum dispersal areas in response to increasing demand which has left up to 30,000 vulnerable people in asylum holding accommodation, the decision of the Home Office to consider the Tamworth Holiday Inn was considered as a commercial agreement without prior consultation with Tamworth Borough Council. There has now been an opportunity to discuss the matter with Serco, the Home Office contractor, with both the Borough and wider partnerships including Staff County Council and Tamworth Police.  Thank you for the officer finding that meeting and making sure we attended. 


The Council fully supports and is happy to engage in discussions to support asylum seekers settle in our communities whilst decisions are made about their future, however a formal expression of concern has now been made to the Home Office by the Council around the decision to use the Holiday Inn due to the its prominence at the heart of the town and tourism economy. concerns about the demand on public services and potential risks to both the asylum seekers themselves and to residents and visitors to the town centre. The expression of concern emphasised that the Council would support the Home Office in seeking another hotel where possible not within the town Centre. 


Should the decision to use the hotel not be re-considered, the Council, with wider statutory and voluntary sector partners will seek to work fully with Serco to ensure that all risks and mitigating factors are considered to ensure that the asylum seekers can be assisted as much as possible during their stay and local residents can be supported during the asylum seekers stay. 


Supplementary Question


Earlier the leader of the council referred to the current heat wave and the importance of looking after oneself and others and can I just re-iterate that. And with regard to Asylum seekers, I am pleased that the Leader as committed to providing assistance wherever possible.  I am sure that the Leader would join with me in agreeing that just because someone is an asylum seeker doesn’t automatically make them a criminal, and we should doing everything we can to extend the hand of friendship to people who are very often in difficult circumstances.


Councillor Oates gave the following response 


I agree with Councillor Peaple that just because someone is an asylum seeker does not automatically make them a criminal or of a criminal persuasion. Very often asylum seekers who arrive on a boat across the Channel are often victims of people trafficking and they have been exploited.  It is extremely important that we support people in that journey through the asylum process but we also support local residents in ensuring that we can integrate and  perform as communities going forward. 





Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor Sheree Peaple will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jeremy Oates, the following question:-



Would the Leader please update members as to the latest position on the proposed reform to the business rates retention scheme and any anticipated financial implications for the council?


Councillor Oates gave the following answer


As outlined within the Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy approved by Council in February 2002,the government has only held single-year Spending Reviews over the past 2 years, with 2019 being a single year due to the political turbulence around Brexit, and 2020 being a single year, given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on 7th September 2021, the Chancellor wrote to Secretaries of State to confirm the government’s intention to complete a multi-year Spending Review (SR2021), setting revenue and capital budgets for 2022/23 to 2024/25.


However, as part of the Spending Review carried out in 2021, no announcement was made about the government’s plans for funding reform or a reset of the Business Rates Retention (BRR) system, both of which were originally expected to be implemented in 2019/20, but which have been delayed a number of times.


The 2022/23 local government finance settlement was published in December 2021 (& confirmed in February 2022), is for one year only and is based on the Spending Review 2021 (SR21) funding levels. This is the first time since 2015 that, in the context of a multi-year Spending Review, the government has only provided local authorities with a single-year settlement. 


No detailed announcements are made on funding reform, though the following statement was made:


Government is committed to ensuring that funding allocations for councils are based on an up-to-date assessment of their needs and resources. The data used to assess this has not been updated in a number of years, dating from 2013-14 to a large degree, and even as far back as 2000.


Over the coming months, we will work closely with the sector and other stakeholders to update this and to look at the challenges and opportunities facing the sector before consulting on any potential changes.


As part of this we will look at options to support local authorities through transitional protection. Councils should note the one-off 2022/23 Services Grant provided in the Local Government Finance Settlement in 2022/23 will be excluded from potential transitional protections.


While this means the Council will be able to retain its business rate growth for 2022/23, it also means that the uncertainty continues and potentially the Council still faces losing this growth from 2023/24 as, over the coming months, the Government have stated that they will work with the sector before consulting on funding reform.


Latest Update


On 28 June 2022, the then Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities gave an address at the Local Government Association conference.


Along with thanking the sector and highlighting various key policies relating to and delivered by local government, the speech confirmed that from next year there will be a two-year settlement (assumed to mean for 2023/24 and 2024/25), and that a consultation would follow over the summer. We wait to hear if this will now take place.


There is also an intention to reduce the number of individual and bid based funding streams.


The speech also confirms that further devolution deals will be offered to all parts of England that want them by 2030. These will be under a new "coherent" framework, offering counties and districts a chance to agree a deal, and suggests that these will not necessarily require an elected mayor:


"While I’m an unabashed admirer of the mayoral model, I also recognise it won’t be right everywhere."


In addition, the speech announced the creation of a new Office for Local Government. This is intended to "shine a light on how local authorities are performing and delivering", covering key services, progress towards net zero and so on.”




It’s not surprising given the current state of chaos that the Government finds itself in that we haven’t actually got an answer so far, but will the Leader agree with me that this is something that does need to be resolved and will he commit to pushing for answers as soon as possible.


Councillor Oates agreed that Council will commit to pushing for answers









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