The Council and democracy Questions to The Executive

Questions to The Executive for 2023

Cllr Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader was asked a question by The Oasis Centre:

Why does the council not have a clear policy for supporting homeless people in line with Housing Act 1996 section 211.   A FOI in 2020 says you have a procedure but in the last month I have seen several people who are having to pay beyond their means for self-storage as their housing case workers have said they are not entitled to storage support, which is contrary to the statements made in response to the FOI.

Cllr Joanna Midgley replied:

The Homelessness code of guidance states that the Council has an obligation to make reasonable steps to store people's belongings. It also states that the Council can make a reasonable charge for the storage and reserves the right to dispose of property in certain circumstances. In Manchester, instead of automatically storing belongings and then expecting the individual to pay for the storage, the Council takes a case-by-case approach to the storage of belongings.

This means that many people chose to take their belongings to their temporary or private rented sector property, thereby not needing to pay for storage.  Other people have friends and family who may store items for a period of time.  Nevertheless, there are some people who require storage for their belongings, whether this be on a short or longer-term basis.   In these instances, the Council provides details of storage companies for the households to compare prices as it would not be suitable for the Council to offer only one option to households as this would show preference.   Council officers then go through an affordability assessment with individuals to assess what they can pay towards the storage.  Based on the outcome of the conversation's households are expected to either fully pay, contribute towards or have their storage paid for them.

The Council may or may not subsequently recharge these costs dependent upon the individual circumstances.

29 August 2023

Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods, was asked a question:

Hello, I am getting in touch to ask what steps the Council is taking to address the problem of waste collection in Manchester, in particular in relation to the reduced level of service in the collection of organic waste. I recently submitted an EIR request and received the following response "Currently, the Council does not have the resources available to deliver a weekly green bin service. The Council continues to see more general waste and recycling presented for collection, therefore crews that would have been assigned to weekly green bin collections are being used to ensure other collections are completed. This situation remains under review." It is rather unsatisfactory, and hardly hygienic, that the weekly collection of organic waste has been dropped during the summer months considering how quickly this type of waste deteriorates in the heat. The Council has continued to increase council tax - of the money collected, what amount is being ring fenced for waste collection and management?

Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon replied:

The standard green bin (food and garden) collection frequency in Manchester is fortnightly. Until 2020 we also funded extra collections during spring and summer. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of general waste and recycling presented for collection increased across Manchester. We had to use the crews that would normally provide extra spring and summer capacity to maintain these services. 

Unfortunately, this demand has not dropped back to pre-pandemic levels and so we have not been able to reintroduce extra spring and summer green bin collections. 

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

24 August 2023

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, was asked a question: 

Labour Shadow Trade Secretary has said he backs well-planned low traffic neighbourhoods and one designed by the community. Do you agree with him, and will you commit to fairer and more inclusive consultations on low traffic neighbourhoods with transparency, community input and hard evidence?

Councillor Tracey Rawlins replied: 

Manchester City Council are committed to area based traffic management interventions which support local communities to walk, wheel and cycle safely in their area.  We are committed to meaningful engagement and consultation which helps to shape the designs of such interventions and which is supported by data driven evidence.

9 August 2023

Councillor John Hacking, Executive Member for Skills, Employment and Leisure was asked a question by Alexander J Frewin:

In light of the recent news regarding the demolition of the AMC Cinema at the Great Northern Railway Warehouse, for yet more apartment blocks and offices in an already crowded space, may I ask what plans there are to increase access to sport for these new would-be residents? It is my concern that as the city centre balloons with more and more mega-high-rise apartment blocks, little is being done to support the needs of those people through new, council-owned-and-operated facilities. Of specific concern is the lack of a major ice facility to support local ice hockey teams both amateur and professional. Our nearest and dearest in Sheffield and Nottingham have access to ice Sheffield and the National Ice Centre alike, both multi-rink ice facilities catering to a multitude of sports and offering the people of their localities access to professional ice hockey in the city centre. In contrast, Manchester's professional team are playing 30 minutes out of town in Altrincham (and much longer for those living in the northern, eastern or western parts of the city), and they are doing so in a rink that was meant to be temporary, is not the correct dimensions and is extremely run-down. It's a farcical look for one of England's big three cities, especially one with so much history in its' ice hockey. To solutions, it is my belief that whilst growing the number of residences in the city is the right move, a smart council would use the ground space these buildings occupy for much needed city-centre facilities such as the prior mentioned ice complex. A site such as that of the Great Northern Railway Warehouse offers the ground space needed to add a small-to-medium-sized facility, with the capacity to host roughly 5,000-6,000 spectators on a regular basis, which is slightly lower than the average attendance of a professional ice hockey match in Sheffield. There is nothing to stop this from happening other than poor planning, so please, for the sake of many sports enthusiasts in the city, consider this question. Why are we not doing more to support sport in our city by building new council-owned, public-access venues underneath new apartment and office complexes, and how do you plan to rectify this for the thousands of new families invited to live in the city centre?

Councillor John Hacking replied:

Thank you for your enquiry about sports provision and investment in sport across the City and the potential for an Ice facility. We are proud of our investment record across the City for sports and leisure provision. In terms of facilities, we have invested heavily in over twenty new or refurbished sport and leisure facilities in the last two decades, many of which are accessible from the city centre via public transport, most notably new facilities at the Manchester Aquatics Centre, the Etihad Campus, Beswick and Hough End. We do this in partnership with Sport England and National Governing Bodies of Sport where there is a desire to co-invest. We also invest in a variety of other services again with Partners such as Sport England and Health colleagues to support people to be physically active utilising parks and our open spaces.

We are currently finalising our latest Indoor built facility strategy that will help guide us in our next phase of development and investment and identify areas of potential

improvement and investment and although ice provision is not specifically focused on it can help guide any future interest from third party developers who may be interested in revisiting an ice facility.

The Council has previously been supportive and receptive to proposals for ice provision, but these facilities are expensive to build and maintain and therefore they do require third party investment from either national funds or private sector investment in order for this to be viable. In 2017 a scheme was approved in East Manchester with Council land being made available to support a developer who unfortunately failed to establish the necessary funds to complete the development.

7 March 2023

Councillor Gavin White, Executive Member for Housing and Development, was asked a question:

Why does it take Northwards Housing over an hour just to answer the phone, that is disgusting customer service and their so called tradesmen are just as bad.  I had a job in the kitchen started mid-December and it is still unfinished due to awful errors.


Councillor Gavin White replied:

The contact centre is unfortunately experiencing very high demand at the moment particularly pertaining to repairs. They are recruiting for additional advisors to alleviate this and have ensured a number of other methods are available, including visiting the offices, using the online services, and taking advantage of the call back option which will hold your place in the queue instead of waiting.

I can only apologise for any frustration caused by this but can assure you that Manchester City Council Housing Services (formerly Northwards Housing) are doing everything they can to reduce this wait time.

7 February 2023


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