I am pleased to welcome back all Members to the Council Chamber for the Council meeting, which is the first time we have convened here, in full, since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The key items of business on the agenda tonight are the Gambling Act policy, which will be presented by Executive lead, Cllr Martin Cartwright, and a report on appointing external auditors, which will be presented by Executive lead, Cllr Keith Lynch. We also have a motion presented by Cllr Michael Mullaney and seconded by Cllr Ann Pendlebury on universal credit.
I have set out below a few key updates.
I have recently confirmed my general support, along with other district leaders, to the County Council’s expression of interest to Government for a devolution deal. It is entitled “A great connected county – a devolution deal for Leicestershire” and will cover the following main themes; investment fund for key projects; infrastructure to support sustainable and inclusive growth via an uplifted transport settlement; environment and net zero powers and funding; digital connectivity and broadband; adult skills; tourism and healthcare integration; children and young people commissioning. Crucially it is important to note that the deal does not involve local government reform and restructuring for Leicestershire. I would have concerns over any proposals for elected mayors as a pre-condition of any devolution deal on which my strong views are well known.
Afghan resettlement and asylum seekers
The Council has been working with other Leicestershire districts to support vulnerable Afghan families and I am pleased to confirm we will be accommodating one family in the borough. Following contact from the Home Office over the potential use of a hotel in Earl Shilton for asylum seekers, I can report that following representation made by the Council and other agencies, including the police and fire service, the Home Office have made the sensible decision to withdraw this proposal.
Local policing operation
I would like to express my thanks to officers in housing and community safety who have supported the police with intelligence and via daily briefings in a major drugs operation over the last few weeks in the area. This has led to 43 people arrested for buying and selling drugs - known as County Lines. This includes a number of significant individuals who are believed to have been controlling the ‘County Lines’. This involves criminals from larger cities moving to particular areas, such as ours, often into vulnerable peoples’ houses in order to take over their lives by establishing a drug supply criminal enterprise in that area. This can have significant consequence for communities and vulnerable people, whilst also raising crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.
The policing operation, called Operation Impose, has executed 73 warrants. During the operation officers recovered almost £200,000 in cash, various offensive weapons and around 6kg of heroin with a value in excess of £300,000 – not taking into account street value.
I would like to also extend my thanks to Jamie Osborne the local policing commander and his colleagues at Leicestershire Constabulary for their work on securing these positive outcomes for our area.
Community centre opening – Burbage
I am delighted that the Meadows Community Centre in Burbage reopened in September, marked by a local celebration open day and supported by our Community House team. We continue to work with communities in community housing areas and across our rural communities to improve community engagement and inclusion thanks to the great work of our community housing team and support of local members.
An event took place in September at the Atkins building, marking the very successful partnership and work of Next Generation. The event also marked the formal handing over of the baton to the RCC in taking forward the great work with the voluntary sector. I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to Shani Smith and her colleagues at Next Generation for the legacy that they have created.
It was fantastic to see the return of this years’ Proms event that took place in our award winning Hollycroft park. This was a wonderful spectacle which saw an audience of 1,000 plus flag waving and feeling very proud.
We also saw the return of the annual Hinckley car show in September, which attracted over 13,500 visitors to see 600 classic cars on display.
Please keep Friday, 19 November as a date for your diaries for the Hinckley Christmas lights switch on.
Platinum Jubilee celebrations – street parties
Yesterday the Government published guidance on organising local street parties to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. We will ensure the guidance is added to our website and parishes are informed to support our communities in celebrating this historic event.
Launch of New Business Support Grant
Over the coming weeks the Council will be launching a new round of assisted recovery grants to local businesses to assist them in economic recovery, following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leader of the Council
5 October 2021
In his position statement, the leader referred to:
· General support for the county council’s expression of interest to government for a devolution deal
· Work to support Afghan resettlement
· The successful policing operation in relation to “County Lines”
· The reopening of the Meadows Community Centre in Burbage
· The recent VCS celebration and handover of voluntary sector support from Next Generation to the RCC
· Recent successful events including Proms in the Park
· Guidance received to support residents in organising street parties to celebrate the platinum jubilee
· The launch of a new round of recovery grants for local businesses.