Member question: Councillor D Fouweather, received 8 February 2017
Subject: City of Democracy
a) I understand that the Chief Executive was the driving force behind the City of Democracy initiative. However this is a member led authority so permission would have had to be sought to progress the initiative.
b) Can you tell me who authorised the Chief Executive to pursue and progress the idea of a City of Democracy?
c) The total spend on this project exceeded 25k and therefore the Council’s contract standing orders would apply.
d) A report should have therefore been produced outlining the costs and setting out the process for consultants to bid.
Was a report produced?
How many consultants placed a bid to run the project, who evaluated and selected the applications and who made the final choice to appoint Republica?
Did the council draw up a report for cabinet outlining all costs and the reasons given for selecting Republica?
a) No executive decision has been required to date. The ResPublica work is simply a feasibility study. You will recall that the initial idea for promoting Newport as a 'City of Democracy' was suggested by the Independent Chartist Commission. This was highlighted by Kevin Ward, who served as an independent adviser to the commission, in his article in the South Wales Argus on Tuesday 7 February. As Newport City Council is a member led authority any decision to proceed with the initiative will be considered by cabinet in due course.
b) Please refer to answer above.
c) Contract standing orders do apply.
d) Contract standing orders allow for an exemption from the requirement to seek tenders for a number of reasons. One of the reasons for an exemption is if the work required to be conducted needs specialist skills. The Chief Executive followed the process for an exemption in this case as, in his judgement, the feasibility study required specialist skills which were provided by ResPublica. This is a common operational decision which doesn't require an executive decision. Issued 14/2/2017
Member question: Councillor M Evans, received 14 June 2016
Subject: former Sainsburys site - redevelopment
I have just been informed by Stephen Fear, the developer hoping to redevelop the former Sainsbury’s site that Natural Resources Wales have been holding up the plans for months. I am reassured when he says the Planning Officers have been very professional but he is clearly frustrated by the delays. Apparently they were ready to demolish the site before Christmas but NRW have been reluctant to sign the agreement. Are you aware of this situation and the reasons behind it? Have you, or can you take any action to resolve this situation?
Thank you for your question.
I am sure you will appreciate that there is little that I or any member of the council can do in such a case as this is a matter for the developer to resolve with NRW.
However, officers advise me that the developer was not in a position to start the demolition work before Christmas. Although planning permission had been granted for the development, the consent could not be issued until they had resolved the split ownership of the site with Newport City Homes and completed the necessary section 106 agreement.The developers did not resolve the ownership issue until a few weeks ago and the decision notice has now been issued, but with conditions included to safeguard against any flood defence works being progressed by NRW. The developer will have to submit a demolition statement to comply with the planning conditions, but officers have not been alerted to any concerns the developer may have with NRW.
I would consider such issues to be a matter for the developer and NRW to resolve, but until now any delays appear to have been caused by the land ownership problems, not the flood defence work.