The full council meeting at Rushcliffe Borough Council this month had a very full agenda, with some items being left over from the last meeting before the COVID 19 lockdown.
The meeting was the first for the new mayor of Rushcliffe Councillor Sue Mallender (Green Party) of Lady Bay Ward in West Bridgford, and she broke with tradition straight away by starting the meeting with a humanist celebrant. She plans to draw on the diversity across Rushcliffe for her council openings, which have up until now been made by a nominated “Mayor’s Chaplain”.
Councillor Jones (Liberal Democrats) of Musters Ward in West Bridgford brought forward a motion asking for a review of planning enforcement in the Borough after Rushcliffe School was twice flooded in the last twelve months and a popular Victorian property in West Bridgford disappeared overnight. His motion was supported by the Labour and East Leake independents groups, but amended by the Conservatives. The final motion was passed unanimously.
A number of council members asked questions of the council’s cabinet members, focusing mainly on planning and flooding issues.
The Council Leader Councillor Robinson (Conservative) of Edwalton Ward spoke on a revised offer of the discretionary grant for businesses in Rushcliffe and paid tribute to former Councillor Ron Heatherington (Conservative) Sutton Bonnington, who has stepped down this year. Cllr Heatherington is a former mayor of Rushcliffe, seen here with the current mayor Cllr S Mallender.
Items on the asset strategy on the council and changes to the council’s constitution passed unanimously.
The next new items of business considered were from the Labour Group, who brought forward two motions. The first was by Councillor Jen Walker (Labour) of Ruddington Ward focusing on the Borough’s cycling provision. An earlier version of this motion was to be heard before the COVID 19 lockdown in response to the closure of the A52 Bridge, which wrought traffic chaos in the county.
The original motion stated that the borough should carry out a piece of work as a strategy for Rushcliffe, but this was amended to ‘strive to work with the county council’. The Labour Group felt this went against the original motion and voted against the motion. The amendment was passed and the resulting motion was agreed unanimously by the full council. Councillor Walker said “Rushcliffe Borough Council published a cycling strategy in 1995 and much of the work in that document has been accomplished. In light of the latest failed attempt of Nottinghamshire County Council to get the full allocated funds offered to them from central government for cycling provision it is important for Rushcliffe to have an ‘oven-ready’ strategy that the County can draw from. It was disappointing that my motion has now been watered-down to remove any real drive to make improved cycle provision a reality for our residents but with the right pressure and community interest we will use this motion as a building block to make alternative transport a priority in all our work, especially through scrutiny and planning.”
The Labour Group’s second motion from Councillor Penny Gowland (Labour) Abbey Ward focused on the feasibility of planting wildflowers in the Borough’s road verges. Councillor Cottee (Conservative) Keyworth Ward pointed out that the County Council manages all “grass verges”, however as it was also noted that the Borough have areas of grass that are next to and near to roads, as well as parks. This motion was quickly amended to include “grass areas” and it too passed with all council members voting in favour of it. Councillor Gowland was happy with the result saying “The outcome will be fantastic for biodiversity across the Borough, thank you to everyone for your support.”
The last motion of the night was from Councillor Carys Thomas (Independent) of East Leake Ward, focusing on how the new Community Infrastructure Levy funds would be spent across the borough. West Bridgford was mentioned as the only area which does not have a dedicated town or parish council to allocate its funds, so councillors from other parts of Rushcliffe and ultimately the council’s cabinet have the final say on funds in West Bridgford. Councillor Thomas was pleased that her motion passed and stated that she “was pleased with the support everyone has given to the motion”.
More councillor questions were raised after this and the meeting was adjourned by the Mayor.
The Labour Leader Councillor Benjamin Gray stated “Tonight’s meeting was an example of what a good opposition can do, we brought some great motions where with the proper follow up we will see some positive changes across the borough. We really appreciate all parties getting on board with our green agenda, continuing on the motion Councillor Walker brought to council last year.
These new online meetings seem to be bringing more people to local politics and I hope more people will get involved, it would be good to have some citizen’s questions at the next full council.”