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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 R Pritchard will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Thomas Jay, the following question:-


We are suffering from a serious issue in my ward, we are seeing raw sewage spew out of a manhole on the Ashby Road whenever it rains. It’s clear this is cause by water flow from the new Arkall Farm development. Will the Leader, and this council, join me in calling for Severn Trent Water to fix this issue and prevent more raw sewage from running of into drains, watercourses and the adjacent River Anker.


The Leader Councillor T Jay gave the following response



Thank you, Cllr. Pritchard for bringing this question to Full Council, and well done on your campaigning to get this issue resolved for residents.


I’m sure that your hard work on important issues like this won’t go unnoticed by the residents of the Spital Ward.


I thoroughly agree that this is a serious issue.


Children have been witnessed crossing nearby and getting splashed by this sewage whilst waiting to cross the road.  It is extremely serious. 


I will ask that Tamworth Borough Council’s CEO writes to Severn Trent Water on behalf of the Council and your residents asking them to address this issue with urgency.


If this doesn’t get action, I would suggest that we try and get the nearby developers, planning for Lichfield & Tamworth, and Staffordshire County Council together as interested partners with Severn Trent Water.


Thanks again for bringing such an important issue to Full Council.




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor R Pritchard will ask the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, Councillor S Smith, the following question:-


It’s been confirmed that an appeal has been submitted by developers looking to build houses on land behind Browns Lane. Will the Leader reassure me that the council will make a robust argument to the Planning Inspector and continue to resist this development?


Response was provided by the Leader of the Council in Cllr Smith’s absence


Thanks again for this question. I know that you have campaigned hard on this issue over many years.


I’m sure many will remember the campaigning you did against the Browns Lane One and Arkall Farm developments.


This resulted in significantly fewer properties being built on our borders than previously planned – a massive win on behalf of residents, not just in your Spital Ward but across Tamworth as it would have impacted us all.


Regarding this specific development, I can confirm that discussions have already begun by Tamworth planning officers with the neighbouring authority Lichfield planning officers to coordinate appeal activity.


As Leader of our Conservative Group, I’m committed to fighting for what is right for our town and I know our group is also fully committed to this.


I therefore strongly support Cllr Pritchard’s view that a robust argument should be made, and you have my word that it will be.




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor M Bailey will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor T Jay, the following question:-


Would the Leader agree that the sale of the Council land to Staffordshire County Council for the construction of a care home is a positive strategic step towards our Town being fit for the future?


The Leader Councillor T Jay gave the following response


Our town is lacking in provision for care home space for our elderly residents.


I therefore totally agree with Cllr Bailey that this is a positive strategic step in ensuring our town is fit for the future.


This brings a plot of land that has been unused for years back into use, brings in a significant capital receipt into the Council for future projects and gives us a new care home to be better prepared for our elderly residents.


Excellent news and another example of a positive step in the right direction for our town under this Conservative administration.




Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor A Cooper will ask the Leader of the Opposition, Councillor C Dean, the following question:-


Given the Leader of the Oppositions many references to the term “forgotten estates” , can I ask that she clarifies where these places are within the Borough and given the Labour group have also stated that the council is in a terrible financial position, if that is the case what services would Labour be cutting to ensure that these estates weren’t forgotten, if they were ever to take control?


Councillor C Dean gave the following response


Thank you for giving me the chance to highlight the problem of the Forgotten Estates, I'm just surprised that you need to ask where they are.  Just in my ward Councillor Daniels and myself regularly hold residents surgeries and at our  monthly surgeries we have a group of residents who come regularly to highlight the problems on the Estate of the area around Dorma Avenue and Councillor Harper will be able to confirm this as they've also spoken to him about it.  I'll be happy to let you have a list of the areas, I've got about 50 photographs here we've taken and that's just what I've put together this afternoon. My colleagues I'm sure you know because they've also spoken on it and have been working on this as well and just as an aside I did find it amazing after raising this issue at the state of tamworth last week I actually had a roads sweeper outside from my house last Wednesday which was I haven’t seen before. 



On your second point with regard to the council finances, we've been told every

meeting regarding the budget setting that there will be problems in the next few years, it's not something that hasn't been highlighted to us so we will take the time to speak with Becky Smeathers and her team who I know we're already working to overcome the problems that have been highlighted.  We will  speak with the Chief Executive, Directors and their teams to see if there are any efficiencies that can be made.  The Conservative group are as aware as us that

local authorities are all facing challenging times with their budgets but as I have continually stated our focus will always be with the residents and their wellbeing.


Councillor Cooper asked for clarity on the second part of the question


I don't feel the second part of the question was answer Mr Mayor, I'm afraid there was nothing in there to say, where there would be cut’s in order to address those issues


Councillor C Dean responded


If we were to  take control in May like every responsible administration we'd have a proper look at the books and probably make some different choices based on different priorities and values always for the benefit of the people that the town but as a say like all councils up and down the country it'll be in the context of chronic underfunding year on year from this tory government.  It would be really irresponsible of me to give you a list of things without knowing the full facts and nobody in the right mind would ever do that.




We have got our budget and we've got our priorities, because we remember who we're represented. So, in that case, why didn't the opposition leader of the council propose an alternative budget at budget scrutiny.  Instead, they voted for our budget, it was a brilliant balance project Mr Mayor but why didn't you propose an alternative budget at budget scrutiny that we could have looked at and voted on, why weren’t these issues brought in there, I just find it really strange.


Councillor C Dean gave the following response


We've highlighted these things time and time again as we said at the budget meeting it was bought through it was a balanced budget there was no reason for us not to vote for it   We're a new group, we're looking at the way

things are run.  We will be looking at ways going forward whether we are in control or not because we have the experience now, we've had a good tutor in Councillor Cook in how scrutiny runs and how to question things and I just find it amazing that you think we could make a difference in this amount of time and we could change around what you've done.   I will say one thing we do seem to have changed something because it seems that since we've been highlighting this there is now some extra money in the budget for street scene so it sounds as if you've been listening to us.  What I would like to say though is street scene is fabulous and we are so grateful for the work that they do and we know how hard they work but it just seems that there's

underfunding there and they needs to be a review of how that goes






Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor P Turner will ask the Portfolio Holder for Engagement, Leisure and Events, Councillor T Clements, the following question:-


As we plan events within Tamworth Borough, does the Portfolio holder agree the events organised and delivered by Tamworth Borough Council, fully supported by the Controlling Group, not only deliver a positive financial impact on local businesses across the town centre, but many none financial benefits to the good people of Tamworth in general?


Councillor T Clements gave the following response


Yes Cllr Turner, Tamworth Borough Council run a wide range of events and activities for the residents of Tamworth to engage in and support visitors into the town centre, which support an increase in footfall in the Town, which also have the potential added benefit of support to local businesses, along with supporting the wellbeing of our residents too.


As fellow Members will be aware the Council run and support a wide range of large-scale events, business events, light ups of the castle and events run from the castle through to supporting community led events like the Royal British Legion, Armed Forces Day.


In some surveys and data collated by our Economic Development team 74% traders and businesses strongly agree and agree that footfall of the market is higher when there is a big event held at the Castle/Castle Grounds.


And a stakeholder survey identified main attractions / destinations and the Tamworth programme of events as key strengths for the tourism and visitor sector in Tamworth.


Anecdotally we have also recognised that our events bringing circa around 500 pounds in extra car parking charging charges when the residents pay. We need to understand as well that the weather has an impact on the events that we can do and it's just been announced that we've had the wettest February on record of the last 200 years.  I've got plenty of data if you wish to have that.  But we also need to remember that events are good for mental health and being

outside, St George's Day, We Love Tamworth events brings charity groups together to be able to raise a little bit of money to keep them going for the future. 





Under Procedure Rule No 11, Councillor L Wood will ask the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, Councillor S Smith, the following question:-


What are the current figures on homelessness in the Borough, and what is the Council doing to tackle this pressing issue?


The Leader answered the question in the absence of Councillor Smith


Thank you, Cllr L Wood, for your question, I am delighted to provide the information as this topic goes to the heart of supporting vulnerable people and has been the subject of several Cabinet and Scrutiny considerations in the last couple of years. 



  • If Cllr Wood is referring to those households who are in temporary accommodation and have presented as homeless then Tamworth continues to have single figures in bed and breakfast (emergency nightly paid accommodation).  As at 18th March we have 22 families in self-contained dispersed accommodation.  This contrasts sharply when bench marked with our peer groups who have in-excess-of this.  For example: Joint working with Birmingham City Council has shown they have almost 4,000 in temporary accommodation of which around half of this are in nightly emergency B&B.  Again, evidence that Tamworth supports homelessness prevention.


  • From the discussions at H&W Scrutiny and reflecting in the Cabinet reports’ on the 14th December 2023 SWEP and the HOME HUB updates were heard on this. If you are interested in what the Council is doing in detail, then I would urge you to look through the Council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020 – 2025 as Cllrs will see that the causes of homelessness are clearly understood and the actions an improvement plan is focused on making a difference tackling these issues.


  •  I can summarise some of the headlines which have contributed to supporting this vulnerable client group.

The launch of the HOME hub in collaboration with key partners across Tamworth seeing around £200,000 invested in face-to-face support through a multi-agency approach.  HOME – Branded by our lead partner:


Holistic help to stabilise housing problems.

Outreaches within communities working towards positive outcomes.

Multi-Agency approach, one hub for all issues

Empowering and enabling people to build resilience and a better future.


Clients can call for more information if they are worried about losing their home then call the Tamworth FREEPHONE Telephone Support Line 0808 175 4041”


CAMMS (Citizens advice Mid Mercia – lead partner)  CT CIC, NO 8, Home start, Betterway recovery all provide early intervention across a range of issues such a debt, employability, health and wellbeing aspirations and social prescribing.


We also have:


Ø  Continued work with the Heart of Tamworth on our Severe Weather emergency Protocol (SWEP)

Ø  Trained mediators within the team to facilitate and prevent family break downs

Ø  Cross working with the Private sector team to engage with Private landlords

Ø  Maximising a wide range of Housing options in relation to specialist support, for example pathways, TCHA

Ø  Direct investment in Eller beck and Chestnut, providing 20 units within the Council stock of specialist support for 18- 25 year olds.

Ø  A continual focus and commitment on the Council’s Allocation policy and efficient management of the Housing register as approved last week by Cabinet on the 14th March 2024, showing that waiting times to move into the Council’s own stock across general needs continue to reduce.




I agree a lot is done by voluntary groups, charity groups having spoken to them Government data from July – September last year shows that 43 households were classed as homeless and 38 were threatened with homelessness.  One charity state that in the last 12 months 207 had no fixed address 56 of those were children, other local charities have stated that they have dealt with 267 people in the last year who presented themselves as homeless.  I am just wondering how the figures are so different when it comes to what local charities say.  I’m not saying we are not taking it seriously but when you say single figures and local charities say different, I am just seeking clarification.




You refer to charity and volunteer groups as if they do it themselves the council supports a lot of those groups, so it is a joint exercise.  The figure at the moment up to 18th March is around 22 families, that doesn’t mean they are the only 22 families for the whole year, others will come in, others will have gone out so there will be more than the 22 throughout the year  rolling but at the moment its 22 and its around that figure and its not significantly higher than that at any point in the year.  I thought you may have gone into rough sleeping which we have talked about in the last year but pleased you have kept it to homelessness.  








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