Agenda item

Public Question Time

a period of up to 15 minutes is available to deal with questions submitted to the Council in accordance with the Executive Procedure Rules;



It was noted that the following public questions had been received in accordance with the Executive Procedure Rules, for consideration at this meeting.  The Chairman advised that, since all of the questions were related to the same subject matter, then the lead Executive Member would provide one combined response.  Following this response, those members of the public who were in attendance would each then be invited to ask a supplementary question based upon the original response that had been given.


Q1 from Karen Squire:  

Do the Executive Committee feel that it is appropriate for work to start on the Marldon Play Park redevelopment when there is no confirmed budget, no confirmed final quote, no completed project plans and no funding streams to bridge the gap between the cost, (at least £100,000) and the grant applied for (£45,000), as well as no documented feasibility studies undertaken, despite the area being well known for having hard bedrock close to the surface? The Parish Council have stated they will start ground works in the very near future despite none of the above being in place.


Q2 from Andrew Field: 

(Background: I understand that Marldon Parish Council are requesting a grant award of £45,000 for the redevelopment of the Marldon Play Park located in Torfield at the Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday 22nd. October).


Are the Executive Committee satisfied that the bidding process for the redevelopment of the play park has been submitted on a like for like basis bearing in mind the large variation both in prices received and scope of proposed works?


Q3 from Martin Rogers:  

Are the Executive Committee aware of the confirmed budget for the Marldon Play Park and where the additional funding streams are coming from?  Sums discussed have ranged from £173,000 - £100,000


Q4 from Linda Balster:

Are the Executive Committee satisfied that due consideration has been given by the Parish Council to the refurbishment and improvement to the current amenities in the Play Park, bearing in mind that two recent reports haven't condemned any of the current equipment?


Q5 from Peter Moore:  

(Background: I understand that Marldon Parish Council are requesting a grant award of £45,000 for the redevelopment of the Marldon Play Park located in Torfield at the Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday 22nd. October).

“The neighbourhood planning group is not sitting but these costs will affect any future plan. For eight months residents cannot speak at parish council meetings, letters have had no response, and the parish council has no social media presence, so how has the wider community been consulted?”



Qs 6 and 7 from Jason Elson:  

6:    Many residents aren’t aware what’s happening. There’s a poster on the noticeboard but no posters around the village, no signs in the park or proper social media. The cost is significant and this could increase the precept affecting all residents. Is it appropriate to start without a full community consultation? 


7:    The information on the Parish website regarding the proposals is spread over several pages with details within the minutes. Do the Executive Committee consider the information complete, clear and easy for residents to follow?



Q8 from John Armstrong:

(Background: the Marldon play park plans include costly groundworks for disabled facilities).


Is the Executive Committee satisfied that proper consideration has been given to the fact that, despite these costs, there is no disabled access to Torfield itself?  There are steep hills, steps, no pavements and no suitable entrances.


Response to all the questions:


‘It is for Marldon Parish Council to decide on how best to manage its assets.


Marldon Parish Council own the site in question and it is for the Parish Council , not the District Council to determine how best to manage their finances, contract procedures and assets.  Any complaints that the Parish Council has failed to follow its procedural rules should be addressed to the Parish Council.


The Parish Council has an arrangement with South Hams to undertake an insurance and inspection service of play parks, something we do for many parishes.  This information has been made publically available. Recently, we understand the Parish has been considering what improvements and investments to make in its play park and has made a request to South Hams Council for some section 106 money, £45k, for works to the park and that they have published a consultation on their website.


The District Council receives contributions from developments within parishes that are to be used for the purposes of sport, recreation and community facilities.  These are referred to as S106 funds.  A request for S106 money in connection with Torfield Play Park was received last week (13th October), and officers have a meeting scheduled for today (22nd October) to review the request.  Consideration of the request will be in line with the District Council’s procedure rules. 


An officer recommendation, in consultation with the local ward member, will be taken to the appropriate public meeting, which in this case is expected to be the Executive on 3rd December.’


Supplementary Question from Karen Squire:

With regard to the response given, complaints had been raised with Marldon Parish Council on a number of occasions with regards to the play park and also with regard to many of the questions that had been raised at this meeting.  Unfortunately, the Parish Council was refusing to respond and interact with members of the public.  As had already been said, members of the public were not allowed to speak at Parish Council meetings and emails were not responded to.  At the time when the Executive Committee would be considering the allocation of grant funding would Members be satisfied that the Parish Council had followed due and proper procedures?


In reply, the lead Member confirmed that the District Council would be looking into the Parish Council’s procedures when we examine the eligibility for the Section 106 funds.  In addition, the Member informed that he would provide a full and detailed response to the question outside of this meeting.


Supplementary Question from Peter Moore:

Mr Moore stated that the neighbourhood planning group was not currently meeting, but these costs would affect any future plan.


Mr Moore repeated the previously raised concerns whereby, for eight months, residents had been unable to speak at parish council meetings, letters have had no response, and the parish council had no social media presence.  In questioning how the wider community had been consulted, Mr Moore asked whether the Executive Committee could place a rider on funds to ensure that a good (and objective) public consultation exercise (which was published) had been carried out?


In reply, the lead Executive Member gave a commitment to provide a written response outside of this meeting.



Supplementary Question from Jason Elson:

The Parish Council state that they have run a consultation exercise on their website but they also state that they would not run a consultation as it is a refurbishment of the equipment.  The consultation on the website relates to various plans and costs which did not relate to the plans and they were not like for like quotes and it was extremely confusing.  To date, the consultation exercise had consisted of one poster next to the shops.  As there was no community consultation, I believe that there should be a condition to the release of the funds that required the Parish Council to run a full and proper community consultation.


In response, the lead Executive Member again advised that he would provide a written response outside of this meeting.


At the discretion of the Chairman, some points were raised by the wider membership that included:


(a)    Clarification that the local Ward Member  would be consulted prior to the report being presented to a meeting of the Executive meeting; and

(b)    Some concerns being raised over the manner in which the Parish Council was conducting its business.



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