Council Under Scrutiny at Annual Town Meeting

On Monday 18th April, preceding the monthly meeting,  the Town Council held its Annual Town Meeting in which councillors respond to questions from the public. Police The first question on the agenda sought clarification as to what the new changes to the Humberside Police Force might mean for the town, with rumours having circulated about the closure of the station and the loss of officers.  Councillors responded that they had been reassured in their meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove, that the station would remain open, although the option of sharing a central location on Newbegin with other emergency services was being considered.  They also announced that, although the PCSOs have been relocated to parade from Bridlington, the Specials in Hornsea have now been allocated a new vehicle and councillors expressed their confidence in the ability of the Specials to maintain an adequate service.  When asked to comment on a recent study which found Humberside Police Force to be the worst performing Force in the country councillors replied that more recent figures show considerable improvements. Cinema Street The most controversial topic was the decision by the Council to enforce the two hour limit on parking at Cinema Street Car Park.  The restriction is now being enforced by a private company, Horizon, who don’t charge for the service but retain the £70 fines imposed on those who exceed the limit. Due to protests from several traders on Newbegin, the Council had agreed to reconsider their decision at the Council meeting of 4th April.  Traders had asked for a compromise whereby the limit be extended to four hours but by the narrowest of margins of six votes to five, councillors had voted to remain with their original decision of a two hour limit.  The traders present claimed that, since the restrictions have been enforced, there is congestion at the Factory Shop Car Park with cars being forced into dangerous manoeuvres onto the High Street (‘an accident waiting to happen’), whilst the Cinema Street Car Park is virtually empty.  Councillors explained that the decision is now legally binding for the next six months but assured the public that in the meantime surveys will be undertaken to assess the impact of the new measures and the decision will be revised accordingly at the end of this period. At both meetings the councillors heard pleas from Community First Responders, Rosie and Andy Bullard, to be given permission to park in Cinema Street in order to be able to respond immediately to emergency calls (see letters page).  On both occasions permission was refused, although the Mayor John Whittle did promise to consider the matter to see what solution could be found. Precept Councillors  were also asked why, given that Hornsea already has the second highest Precept of any town in the East Riding, there has been such a sharp increase in the Precept (and council tax) this year. The Town Clerk explained that this was due in part to errors in the budget for the previous year and also because of the need to build up the reserves in anticipation of further cuts to the East Riding Council budget. Minor Injuries Unit On a more positive note the council was congratulated on its banner in support of the Minor Injuries Unit at the Hornsea Cottage Hospital, given that the NHS claims that it is being underused and are considering closing it.  The council is fully committed to keeping it open but Councillor Barbara Jefferson explained that as yet no decisions have been made and suggested that the time to mount a full campaign should be from June to September during the consultation period.  NHS chiefs have promised that a full consultation will be conducted with a decision to be taken in December.   A petition is available to sign in the Town Hall and shops around the town. Dogs In the ensuing Council meeting the new Public Space Protection Order was discussed and councillors voted to include the stipulation that dogs should be kept on leads at the Mereside and Elim Lodge areas since ‘unacceptable’ levels of dog fouling have been observed in these places.  Some residents have also voiced their concern to this paper about levels of dog fouling at other locations around the town.

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