To receive petitions and public questions in accordance with Standing Order 9.
Under Standing Order 9 the Mayor invited the following Public Questioners to pose their questions:
1) Question from Jo Rust
“Elizabeth Truss, MP for SWN, recently claimed that "We are not making cuts to local authorities. What we have done is give them more revenue raising powers so that decisions can be taken locally"
Some local authorities have been forced to declare technical insolvency as councils struggle to weather the financial pressure caused by budget cuts.
How close is our borough council to this happening here?”
Councillor Long responded welcoming the fact that the Government were allowing councils to control their destinies, he drew attention to the fact that many of the problems in the county were with those providing the children’s and adult services which the Borough Council did not have responsibility for . For the statutory services which the Council did provide he considered that as the authority was soundly managed it was able to continue to provide them.
By way of supplementary Mrs Rust asked if the additional revenue raised had been sufficient to plug the central government funding cuts?
Councillor Long responded that so far, yes it had been as the council was carrying out house building and commercial properties which would deliver homes for people in west Norfolk for sale and rent.
2) Question from Francis Bone
“The guildhall is a jewel in the crown of the borough council and King’s Lynn. As a building that has this total significance and international interest why has the council not entered in dialogue with LArCH, Lynn Art, Culture and Heritage Group who want to work with the council with its team of experts including people who help raise bids to support the campaign to find the best outcome to the benefit of not the town but also the country.”
Councillor Mrs Nockolds responded:
“I believe the Guildhall Complex is not the only jewel we have in King’s Lynn & West Norfolk.
I am not sure what you mean about consulting with the stakeholders of the complex.
We have held many discussions with all the groups but at an individual level. As each group, who uses the Guildhall, have different needs and ideas I prefer it this way.
I also believe the Council are looking at the wider picture of all our Heritage buildings and the future of our town centre in a creative way and to build on our strengths we have already. Towns are not just about shopping. Culture and Heritage plays a unique role in creating a sense of place.
You may be aware that the Council has implemented a feasibility study as to whether King’s Lynn needs a Creative Hub. We have held a consultation evening and now we are asking the public to complete a survey.
Would a Hub provide inspiration and experiences for young creators, offer opportunities and resources for start-ups, or to enable networking and attract more people to town.
We already have a Creative company producing a new Active Reality project which combines with the light projectors, named REVEAL. It has been designed by over 30 young creators half of which live and work in West Norfolk.
In other words Culture means different things to different people.”
3) Question from Michael de Whalley
“I understand the Council, having failed in its only Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid, is considering handing over the lease for the Guildhall of St. George to a retired property developer, who intends to establish a niche art gallery specialising in contemporary landscape. Given compelling research by Professor Woodcock claiming the Guildhall to be the only remaining theatre in which William Shakespeare played, and that the venue now attracts performers such as Ian McKellen, should the Council reconsider its position and make a second HLF bid to develop the Guildhall, in conjunction with local community groups, as a theatre of National and International importance?”
Councillor Mrs Nockolds responded as follows:
“I am fully aware of the importance of the St. Georges complex hence it has been a Hall for Hire since 2010. I have been attending performances there since 1973. Due to our SLA with the KL Festival I am a representative on the Board so am aware of the forthcoming Shakespeare Festival. I have also had a discussion with the organiser of the drama event at which he announced the visit of Ian McKellen who is also travelling the country with his drama company.
I have read the document which suggests that Shakespeare could have visited the Guildhall, the document does not give any proof of his visit.
The importance of this Grade 1 C15th building, which is owned by the National Trust, is the reason the Council are talking to a variety of partners to secure the future of the Guildhall complex.
As soon as I know any news regarding the Guildhall I have made a promise that I will ensure that members of the public will be informed. Negotiations always take a while especially if one wants a good and sustainable outcome.”
By way of supplementary, Mr de Whalley asked whether the Council could give assurance that the plans for the Guildhall weren’t the first step in its total commercialisation.
By way of response, Councillor Mrs Nockolds stated that the plans had to be sustainable, and in the best interests of the council tax payer. The interested party was interested in restoring the property and was an advocate for West Norfolk and wanted the building to be somewhere people would visit in King’s Lynn.