Agenda item

Accountability of the Executive and Committee Chairs:

To receive any written or verbal questions from Members under Standing Order 12.

Minutes:

37/21 – ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE EXECUTIVE AND COMMITTEE CHAIRS:  The Mayor advised that in accordance with Standing Order 12(9) two written questions had been received and which would, in accordance with the Standing Order, be dealt with as the first questions under this item. He would then invite verbal questions of the Executive Members and Committee Chairs from other Members of the Council.

 

As required under Standing Order 12, the Leader and Cabinet Members submitted details of their primary portfolio objectives for 2021/22 as referred to at Minute 43/21 and the Mayor also invited questions in respect of the objectives.

 

  1. Question to the Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise and Economic Development from Councillor Victoria Oldham

 

It has recently been publicised in the local and national media, that animal experiments are conducted at the Labcorp site on Otley Road in Harrogate.

Animals used on site, include beagle puppies, non-human primates, rabbits, mice and mini pigs.

It has long been acknowledged that the costs of animal experiments are high and that they are not reliably predictive of what will happen in humans.

The current drug development failure rate stands at a staggering 96% and the global non-animal testing market was worth $1.11 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow by up to $1.65 billion by 2023.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-54849-w

 

Bearing these factors in mind, why is there an insistence that investment in medical progress need be in the outdated and unreliable field of animal experiments rather than the humane , cutting edge and economically viable non-animal methodologies?

Local jobs are important to our district, but at what cost? Will you consider leading on introducing a moratorium on animal testing within the Harrogate Borough?

 

Response:

 

I suspect that I share a similar view to most people in that I don’t like and don’t want medicines tested on animals. But the law insists that medicines have to be tested on animals prior to being tested on humans and prior to being used as medicines. We all use medicines which protect and save millions of lives. The recent COVID 19 vaccines are great examples of the benefits of medicines but all drugs are delivered through this process.

 

I do have great faith in science and research. New testing methods can and do reduce the number of animals and the duration of their use. I support the continued development of technologies that reduce animal testing.  I hope that one day these technologies will mean no medicines are ever tested on animals.  It is not however possible to declare a unilateral moratorium on animal testing in the Harrogate borough. It is not within our powers and it may also mean the development of new medicines and vaccines becomes a considerably longer process.

 

The Home Office provides considerable regulation in the industry and I remain grateful therefore that the huge work carried out by Labcorp in delivering safe medicines, in the best regulated methods, with stringent internal policies, as their work continues to save millions of lives.

 

As a supplementary question Councillor Oldham then asked if a visit could be arranged for Councillors to visit the Lapcorp site in order to satisfy themselves as to the methodologies being used at the site.  Councillor Swift confirmed that the Home Office were responsible for monitoring compliance with regulatory controls, but that a site visit could be arranged to enable the Councillors to better understand the work being undertaken at the site.

 

  1. Question to the Chair of the Human Resources Committee from Councillor Chris Aldred

 

Would Cllr Metcalfe confirm how many Staff Reviews are currently being undertaken by the Human Resources department and which areas of Services they cover?

 

Response:

 

There are currently two staff reviews underway, covering Parks and Environmental Services and Harrogate Convention Centre. 

 

A review covering the Ripon Spa Baths and Leisure Centre has recently been completed and the Destination Management Organisation review has also completed.  In relation to the two reviews currently underway HCC consultation starts on the 13th of October and the Parks and Environmental Services consultation ends on the 10th of October.

 

In response to a supplementary question on whether any future reviews were planned Councillor Metcalfe agreed to provide a written response.

 

Councillor Pat Marsh referred to the recent comments by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Philip Allott, in relation to the death of Sarah Everard at the hands of a police officer and asked the Leader if he would join her in condemning him for his insensitive remarks.  The Leader confirmed that the comments were wrong and there was no defence for them.  The Police and Crime Panel would be holding a meeting on the 14 October to hold the PFCC to account.  Councillor Mike Chambers would attend on behalf of the Council and would convey the Council’s comments.

 

Councillor John Ennis asked the Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling if it would be possible to conduct a review of lighting levels on the Stray so that residents could feel safer when walking on the Stray at night.  The Cabinet Member advised that there was some uncertainty over where the responsibility lay for Stray lighting and he would look into the matter.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Watson, the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling agreed to circulate details of how many notices had been affixed to car windscreens when they had been blocking the path of waste and recycling vehicles.