Councillor Ecclestone withdrew the three questions he had submitted as set out in the agenda.
1. Councillor A Dowden submitted a question asking ‘After receiving numerous complaints last winter from different areas of Southern Test Valley, about the state of footpaths where leaves had fallen and later the footpaths became muddy and slippery for pedestrians and cyclists. Would the Executive Member for Environmental Services consider the hiring this Autumn of a few small sweeping machines to help to prevent these unnecessary Health & Safety hazards?’
The Environmental Portfolio Holder thanked him you for his question. I am aware that there were some issues relating to the quality of leaf removal at specific locations in southern Test Valley last year. In short, the answer is yes, we will ensure that we hire in the appropriate vehicle to assist with the removal of leaves and detritus during autumn leaf fall.
2. Councillor Daas submitted a question asking ‘Could the Planning Portfolio holder update the Council on any progress made in bringing the Romsey Brewery Site forward for completion of the extant Planning?’
The Planning Portfolio Holder thanked Cllr Daas for his question
Resolving the immensely frustrating problem of the Brewery Site has been my top priority since becoming Portfolio Holder for Planning. Our Planning and Legal teams have been working assiduously to find a solution including considerable liaison with Government agencies. That process is detailed, sensitive and commercially confidential. Providing a public update could at this point prejudice both the options available to the Council and the significant progress we have made in investigating and advancing those options.
I have been happy to provide updates and answer questions from Romsey Members about the Brewery Site in our monthly Romsey Future Members Briefings. It is a shame that you, Cllr Daas, have failed to attend any of the 21 meetings of the group held since you were elected in 2019. Had you done so you would be better briefed about our progress. Our next Romsey Future Member Briefing is on Monday 13th September, where I would be happy to provide you with a detailed, confidential, update should you wish."
Councillor Daas requested an update as he was unable to attend the meeting on 13 September.
3. Councillor A Dowden submitted a question asking ‘Would the Leader of Test Valley Borough Council notify the Full Council how many Afghan refugees has he agreed to accept under the new Government resettlement scheme?
The Leader thanked Cllr A Dowden for his question on this hugely important issue. “Like you all, I have watched in horror the unfolding situation in Afghanistan. It is a humanitarian disaster which requires us to help in any way we can. Officers have been in daily contact with County Council colleagues who are co-ordinating the response in Hampshire, in conjunction with the Home Office. Officers know that we want to do as much as we can and have fed this message back in their meetings. To date the only official request we have had is to make two family houses available under the Afghan Locally Employed Staff scheme. We offered two furnished properties immediately, in partnership with Aster. The scheme is targeted at those Afghans who worked with our armed forces over the last 20 years. Whilst we have yet to receive our first families we understand that it is just a matter of time. Two Saints have now been engaged to support the Afghan families with their day to day needs, across the County. A further scheme, the Afghan Resettlement Scheme, has now been announced by the Home Office. That scheme is targeting those most at risk, primarily at women and children. Once again the relevant agencies know of our willingness to assist and were are awaiting further details. It’s natural that people want to assist the Afghan families that will be living in our communities in the County. The County Council is currently developing ideas of how that could work in practice.”