Agenda item - Stanmer Park Restoration Project Update

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Agenda item

Stanmer Park Restoration Project Update

Report of the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture

Decision:

That the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee:

 

1)            Notes the progress made on the Stanmer Park restoration project, as outlined in this report.

 

2)           Grants delegated authority to the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture to:

             i.             take all steps necessary to discontinue the relocation of the CityParks depot to Hangleton Bottom; and

            ii.             procure and award a contract for the development of the CityParks depot and associated landscape works at Stanmer Park.

 

3)            Agree to re-establish the joint authority (cross-party) member working group with the South Downs National Park Authority, to also include key stakeholders in the Stanmer Park and Stanmer Park Home Farm complex restoration projects. As a task and finish group it will be reviewed with partners and stakeholders at regular intervals in terms of its purpose to ensure it remains effective.

 

4)            Request officers to bring a report to the next Committee meeting to agree the Terms of Reference for the task and finish member working group

Minutes:

14.1      The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture that set out progress made on the Stanmer Park Restoration project and requested delegated authority to discontinue the relocation of Cityparks to Hangleton Bottom and procure and award a contract for the development of the Cityparks depot at Stanmer Park.

 

14.2      On behalf of the Green Group, Councillor West moved a motion to add recommendations 2.3 and 2.4 as shown in bold italics below:

 

2.3    Agree to re-establish the joint authority (cross-party) member working group with the South Downs National Park Authority, to also include key stakeholders in the Stanmer Park and Stanmer Park Home Farm complex restoration projects. As a task and finish group it will be reviewed with partners and stakeholders at regular intervals in terms of its purpose to ensure it remains effective.

 

2.4    Request officers to bring a report to the next Committee meeting to agree the Terms of Reference for the task and finish member working group

 

14.3      Introducing the motion, Councillor West explained that there had not been sufficient reporting or oversight of the project of what was a critical location for the council. Councillor West stated that there had formerly been a cross party group with oversight that had been disbanded and the motion sought to reintroduce that group in order to improve partner and stakeholder engagement.

 

14.4      Councillor Heley formally seconded the motion.

 

14.5      Councillor West stated that the proposal to reverse the decision to move Cityparks to Hangleton Bottom had come as some surprise but that was mainly because Members had not been kept informed. Councillor West stated that part of the HLF funding requirement was a reduction in the amount of traffic in the area and whilst some operations had been dispersed, there would still be presence on site. Councillor West added that the sum requested for the new development was very high and there was an absence of plans or detail of the proposal.

 

14.6      The Head of Operations, Cityparks clarified that the reason the amount was being requested was because the site in its current form was unsightly and given the amount of funding allocated and vision of the project, it was sought to ensure the site was contained, safe and would not make a visual impact on Stanmer Park. Furthermore, the introduction of compactors would reduce lorry movements through estate. The Head of Operations, Cityparks explained that the amount requested was based on estimates and detailed survey work would ascertain the exact amount required.

 

14.7      Councillor Wares noted that questions had been raised by stakeholders on the proposed design of the buildings and whether they would be appropriate for Stanmer Park. As those designs were not yet known, Councillor Wares stated that this should be dealt with by the proposed working group that would also have stakeholder involvement, giving thorough oversight. Councillor Wares noted that process to initially relocate Cityparks to Hangleton Bottom then reverse that decision had been handled extremely poorly and that error had been compounded by the costs incurred to decant various parts of the service that would now have to be reversed at further cost. Councillor Wares stated that he was highly disappointed that resources had been wasted.

 

14.8      Councillor Hamilton highlighted that as Lead Member for Finance & Property for the past four years, he had been consistently advised that the terms of the HLF Funding agreement necessitated that Cityparks be relocated. Councillor Hamilton noted that now did not appear to be the case and asked whether he had been misinformed or there had been a change in the HLF policy.

 

14.9      The Head of Operations, Cityparks explained that in terms of money spent, some surveys had been undertaken on the Hangleton Bottom site that may be useful for any future use of the site. On the matter of relocation, funding had not been spent unproductively as the temporary offices at Stanmer would be used should staff return there and the costs for the transfer to the Hollingdean Depot had been minimal as staff occupied offices that had already been vacated. The Head of Operations, Cityparks explained that subject to committee approval, discussions would continue with HLF on the matter of reduction of the number of heavy vehicles moving through Stanmer Park.

 

14.10   Councillor Lloyd asked if given Member anxiety about how the process had been handled, whether the committee should undertake an audit on the matter.

 

14.11   The Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture stated that he could provide assurance that whilst the last committee report on the matter had been eighteen months previous, progress had been made since then and work on wall garden and the HLF aspects of the project would start this month. Where progress had not been made was on the relocation where surveys had found that the relocation to Hangleton Bottom was no longer viable. The Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture stated that it was correct to highlight and report that to the committee at the earliest opportunity. Furthermore, officers had undertaken proactive discussions with HLF to ensure that the funding would not be placed at risk if Cityparks was to remain at Stanmer Park and HLF.

 

14.12   Councillor West stated that an audit could give useful input not just on the process and financial issues but also the future governance arrangements that was a request from the HLF.

 

14.13   The Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture stated that the Internal Audit team could undertake a review of the process or that could be done by the task and finish group.

 

14.14   Councillor Lloyd moved the following motion to add a recommendation 2.5 as shown in bold italics below:

 

2.5    That an audit be carried out by the Internal Audit team and the outcome be reported to the Audit & Standards Committee

 

14.15   Councillor West formally seconded the motion.

 

14.16   Councillor Wares stated that he saw the merit in auditing the process followed for the relocation of Cityparks however, he did not believe the whole project needed to be reviewed and praised officers for being open and honest. Councillor Wares stated that he was unlikely to support the motion proposed.

 

14.17   Councillor Moonan suggesting that alternative option would be for the proposed cross-party group as a priority look at the work undertaken thus far and assess whether there was value in referring the matter to the Internal Audit team for consideration.

 

14.18   In relation to the suggestion made by Councillor Moonan, the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture stated if the cross-party working group decided an audit was required, officers would absolutely ensure that would happen.

 

14.19   Councillor West stated that if the cross-party working group received the support of Internal Audit to make that examination itself, that would be a preferable option.

 

14.20   Councillor Lloyd stated that he wished to withdraw his proposed motion on the basis of the assurances provided by the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture.

 

14.21   The Chair then put the motion to the vote that passed.

 

14.22   The Chair then put the recommendations, as amended to the vote that were approved.

 

14.23  RESOLVED- That the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee:

 

1)            Notes the progress made on the Stanmer Park restoration project, as outlined in this report.

 

2)           Grants delegated authority to the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture to:

                 i.          take all steps necessary to discontinue the relocation of the CityParks depot to Hangleton Bottom; and

               ii.          procure and award a contract for the development of the CityParks depot and associated landscape works at Stanmer Park.

 

3)            Agree to re-establish the joint authority (cross-party) member working group with the South Downs National Park Authority, to also include key stakeholders in the Stanmer Park and Stanmer Park Home Farm complex restoration projects. As a task and finish group it will be reviewed with partners and stakeholders at regular intervals in terms of its purpose to ensure it remains effective.

 

4)            Request officers to bring a report to the next Committee meeting to agree the Terms of Reference for the task and finish member working group

Supporting documents:

 


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