Agenda item

Public Question Time

Public questions of which due notice has been given and which are relevant to the business of the Cabinet.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that Mr Mick Rivers had registered to ask a question in respect of Agenda Item 9.

Question: ‘I am Mick Rivers I live on Prospect Place immediately behind the Futurist on what is referred to as the slope. My property has this footprint development on three sides. I note the 2012 Futurist brief had 4 main aims when it was put together with People: safety health happiness and inclusiveness being the first aim. The current corporate aim also has People: safety health happiness and inclusiveness. When the report to vote on demolition was published, the people element had been removed. This shows the council to have no aim to look after people’s safety health happiness or inclusiveness. With safety a low priority I am very concerned the council will not provide enough thought to life risk and not ensure enough money is provided to cover claims for death, injury damage, destruction of property or loss of earnings. I understand £10 million is an industry minimum for a normal large build. The council refers to this build in the report in front of you as “A high risk project.”

 

The previous report you voted on (with the life risk, injury and destruction of property removed) considers ‘catastrophic collapse of the slope’ Clearly this has potential for collapse of buildings causing death, injury or destruction to many buildings. Has the council seriously considered this and what is the total value of Personal Liability insurance planned?  In the event of a major collapse, where the public liability insurance does not cover all eventualities, where will the money come from to cover the death, serious injury, the rebuilding/repairing of what could be all or large areas of Blands cliff, Prospect Place and the old Brewery Apartments and also loss of earnings for businesses?’

 

The Portfolio Holder for Project Leadership, Harbours, Coast and Flood Protection, Councillor Cockerill then provided the following reply:

‘Safety is always the highest priority of the Council, and there is statutory legislation in place to ensure the protection of life and property when undertaking construction projects.

 

The Council has no option but to comply in full with this legislation and therefore there is no need to reproduce it in reports to Members.  It is all done as standard.

 

The Council has properly assessed the risk and has identified that the Futurist Building supports the cliff behind and there is potential for the cliff to collapse if the works are not done properly.  The risk of this occurring has been assessed as the lowest possible rating of “very low”.  Full mitigation measures are proposed including the employment of a competent consultant and contractor, carrying out slope stability analysis, putting in place PI insurance, and ensuring proper site supervision.

 

Detailed questions have previously been raised in February 2015 by Mr Rivers, and the officer advised Mr Rivers that “In the event that Councillors make a decision to demolish the Futurist then I will provide responses to all of the questions raised.”’

 

That decision was not taken until last week (9 January 2017) and the next stage of the project is to prepare the detailed design and demolition methodology to ensure the Futurist can be demolished without causing damage to property or risk to life.  This process will take up to 32 weeks and at the end of the period all of the information to give assurance of the safety of the demolition process will be available.  It will also be presented to the Planning and Development Committee for examination and ratification before any physical works commence.

 

The Council’s proposed contract with Willmott Dixon makes provisions for £10m insurance for each and every claim in respect of third party liability.

 

I am therefore satisfied that consideration has and will continue to be given to residents who may be affected by the works, that the risks have and will continue to be properly assessed and that works will not be allowed to commence until all of these risks have been removed or mitigated and the demolition can be carried out in the safest manner.

 

I am also satisfied, that in the exceptionally unlikely event of any adverse occurrence, sufficient levels of insurance are in place to protect everyone concerned.’

 

Councillor Cockerill then put a question on behalf of Filey Town Council requesting an update in relation to the external investigation into the Marriott case.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Human Resources, ICT and Transport Services, Councillor Backhouse then provided the following reply:

‘The employment tribunal case involving one of our former employees, Mr Ben Marriott has concluded.  Although the Council remains disappointed by the Tribunal’s decision, to avoid any further court costs and implications on the public purse, the Council reached a settlement with Mr Marriott.  For the record, the settlement was for the Council to pay £95k to Mr Marriott.  The Council refused the inclusion of a confidentiality clause as part of the settlement as the Council considered it important in the interests of transparency for the settlement to be made public.  The Council’s legal fees in the matter are approximately £16.7k.  The Council did not engage a QC in relation to this matter.  The external investigation we have instigated with our external auditors, Mazars, is underway and we await the investigation’s findings sometime in the new year.’ 

 

In reply to a Member’s question, the Monitoring Officer, Mrs Dixon confirmed that in respect of staffing issues such as this, the local authority protected its employees’ rights to confidentiality, and councillors would only become aware of such matters on a need to know basis, for example, through serving on an Employee Appeals Panel.