New Plymouth City Council chief answers your questions
"IT FEELS like we are on a treadmill and the treadmill is speeding up," says council chief executive Tracey Lee.
Ms Lee, who has been in charge at the council for less than three months, is facing massive challenges to deal with all the pressures posed by a big city during a time of austerity.
"We have to balance the books so, by hook or by crook, we have to find savings," she said.
"We have taken the low-hanging fruit, and everything from now on will have an impact."
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"It's going to be a tough journey. It isn't necessarily that there will be worse outcomes, but we have to ensure we are keeping people safe."
Q Can Plymouth afford not to have an airport?
A The council has been clear on our position on the airport.
The site is protected and the council has put in place five tests for any potential airport provider.
The council just doesn't have the money to provide an airport. Inevitably, there are choices to be made.
We are looking to save £17.8million next year and it's not going to get easier.
There are always going to be things we want to do but can't afford, so we need a private sector solution.
Q Plymouth City Council has a poor reputation for in terms of PR and communication. Their energies seem devoted to keeping a low profile. What will you do?
A We have done a lot over recent years to ensure that residents are aware of services and how they can be accessed.
There is a lot more we can do to market and promote the city.
I am keen that we have one message and one voice.
The question is whether we are making the most of our opportunities.
Q When will Plymstock get its long-waited swimming pool and is there a 'plan B' to make it happen soon?
A The pool has been promised as part of the Sherford new town development.
We are working hard to move that along.
Q Lots of foreign cities, especially in Germany, are cleaner and better run than Plymouth. Can we learn from them?
A It's important that we learn from our European partners. Whether we do enough of that is another question.
If any of your readers have specific examples, get in touch – there is no monopoly on ideas.
Q Can we have more sporting and cultural events like the America's Cup and the British Art Show?
A Destination Plymouth and the two city business improvement districts are focused on organising more events and making sure they are good quality.
Q Can we have more encouragement for dog owners to keep control of their pets?
A If people have got concerns of that nature it's important for them to report those concerns to the council's contact centre. We are happy to look to see if there's a pattern in the reports.
Q What is a 'co-operative council' and how will I know when I see one? Is this not just re-branding old ideas about consultation?
A I don't think it's re-branding. We have always had pockets of good practice, but it wasn't consistent.
Being a co-operative council is saying this is the way the council does business.
It moves from a culture of projects using co-operative principles to an organisation which says, 'This is in our DNA'.
We will invite our partners [such as police, health, fire service, schools and the university] to be part of a brilliant co-operative city.
You should be able to feel you can influence decisions as a resident. If you want to, you will be able to help design solutions to city problems.
Residents should be able to get more involved if they want to. It's about community.
This is going to take time to get right and to make sure it's something which, as an organisation, we live, breathe and own.
Q Construction of the North Yard incinerator is well under way. How are you going to persuade the people who live near by to accept it?
A What is important for the community from that area is that they should ensure there is maximum community benefit from the S106 agreement [the developer's contributions to infrastructure].
That doesn't take away from the energy from waste plant but we need to ensure residents get some benefits. That's where we want to work with the community.
The incinerator operator MVV Environment Devonport will pay £150,000 a year into a Community Fund, to be spent on projects agreed by the North Yard Community Trust, which will also be funded by MVV.
This is intended to compensate those most affected by the plant, for example by providing and maintaining public spaces, improving transport, protecting local history and heritage, supporting social enterprise and businesses and the provision of youth facilities.
Q What is the future of the Dockyard and Naval Base? Should we be pushing to have the Trident submarines based here, and what do you feel about nuclear submarine dismantling?
A The Dockyard is in our DNA. We will want to make the strongest case for base-porting and maintenance of ships like the Type 26 frigates.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review was clear that there was a role for Plymouth as a naval base.
We are keen for the Devonport Task Force [she is a member of the task force] to continue to lobby to make sure the benefits of the dockyard are there and it continues to play an important role.
We need to be fully engaged with any proposals by the Ministry of Defence for nuclear dismantling in Devonport.
Q Why do Plymouth taxpayers have to support council trade unions at a cost of more than £100,000 a year?
A It's important that we have the right methods of engaging with staff, and the unions are part of that process.
We have a duty to inform, consult and negotiate, so we have to get these mechanisms right.
Private companies may not put in hard cash, but for example union reps may have to take time off.
Q Why is Tinside Lido closed before May 31 and after September 1 when there is often good weather?
A The lido is very much weather dependent. We have previously opened it to coincide with what used to be the traditional British summer.
It is now run by Everyone Active. If we were to ask them to open the pool earlier in the year or stay open later the cost of operating it would increase.
If it's open it has to be staffed with lifeguards, managers, cleaners and so on, regardless of whether it is busy or not.
Q What is your personal vision for the city?
A From my own point of view, I want a city that is growing and where everyone can grow and attain.
But we do need to ensure that we are improving the outcomes for everyone.
The Plan for Jobs is about using the power we have and our role as community leaders to facilitate faster action. We need to act to deliver.
We haven't got the cash to throw at problems. We'll have to work harder with our partners.
One of the hardest things for people is getting the run-around from public sector organisations. We want to make it easier for people to access services.