Agenda and draft minutes

County Council
Thursday, 10th October, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

Contact: Mike Bradbury  Email: michael.bradbury@staffordshire.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

25.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following Members declared an interest in accordance with Standing Order 16.5:-

 

Member

Minute Nos.

Interest

Reason

Susan Woodward

28

Personal

Trustee of Chasewater Friends

Phil Hewitt

28

Personal

Member of Heath Hayes Parish Council and Member of Chasewater Friends

 

26.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 25 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Corporate Services referred to Minute No. 20 (Members’ Allowances Scheme – Independent Remuneration Panel Report) and indicated that, following the Council Meeting on 25 July, a question had been raised with him as to whether the Panel’s recommendations had been adopted in part (as detailed in the draft minutes) or in full, and he sought clarification from Members on this matter.  On consideration of this matter it was agreed that the draft minutes accurately reflected the decisions of the Council.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 25 July 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

27.

Chairman's Correspondence

The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members’ Long Service Awards – Simon Tagg

 

The Chairman informed the Council that, since 1985, the County Council had recognised the service of its Members who had completed 12 years (ie three full terms of office) through the presentation of a Long Service Award.  Mr Tagg first became a member of the County Council in 2007 and had served on the Council since that date.  The Chairman presented Mr Tagg with his award in recognition of the contribution he had made to the work of the council over the past 12 years.

 

Former Corporate Director (Change) – Colin Savage

 

The Chairman informed the Council of the death, on 29 September 2019, of Colin Savage Dip Arch, RIBA.

 

Mr Savage joined the County Council on 1 September 1987 as the Council’s County Architect.  Following a reorganisation in 1992 he became Director of Property Services.

 

In the mid 1990s Mr Savage led the County Council’s team on Local Government reorganisation and afterwards the transfer of services to the City of Stoke-on-Trent.  A further County Council reorganisation in 1997 saw him become Director of Corporate Services as adviser to the Policy and Resources Group of Committees and Head of the Corporate Services Division.

 

In 1998, following a further reorganisation, Mr Savage was appointed Director of Cultural and Corporate Services.  This reorganisation merged together Libraries, Arts and Archives, the Countryside Division and Shugborough, Property Services, Waste Management, Registration, Rent Office and Public Relations.

 

Following the appointment of Nigel Pursey, in 2003 he became Corporate Director (Change), assisting the Chief Executive in managing the change process. Mr Savage retired from the County Council in 2004.

 

Mr Atkins and Mr Davis paid tribute to Mr Savage for the contribution he had made during his employment with the Council.

 

28.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 295 KB

The Leader will inform the Council about his work and his plans for the Council, and will give an overview of decisions taken by the Cabinet (and Portfolio Holders) since the previous meeting of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented a Statement outlining his recent work since the previous meeting of the Council.  In introducing his statement, the Leader also informed the Council of the following additional matters:

 

·       A521 Programme to Support New Homes by St Modwen

 

As those of you who represent Staffordshire Moorlands will know, highways work began on important scheme on Monday to support a housing development by St Modwen near Blythe Bridge

 

This was a challenging scheme, but our engineers worked closely with St Modwen, its contractors, local councillors and local communities to find a workable solution.

 

I am pleased to say that after listening to comments and pouring over the designs once again, a compromise was found which although will take a little longer will keep the A521 partially open, rather than closed for 10 weeks.

 

·       National award for Sam Bailey

 

As a rural county we are immensely proud of our farming heritage and Sam Bailey is one of those who is helping ensure the future is in safe hands too.

 

Sam, 23, of Green Lane Farm, Yarlet, was chosen by Farmers Weekly as its young Farmer of the Year.

 

Sam is milking 140 cows, as well as tending a flock of 250 sheep, and is the youngest tenant on Staffordshire County Council’s County Farms estate. So huge congratulations to him.

 

·       Isabel Trail

 

Last week we learned of a tragic accident on the Isabel Trail in Stafford in which family man Neville Scattergood died.

 

While investigations are continuing and the trail remains closed this week, all our thoughts are with Mr Scattergood’s wife and family after this terrible accident.

 

 

Integrated Performance Report Outturn 2018/19 and Quarter 1, 2019/20

(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)

 

Mrs Atkins referred to the underspend in 2018/19 and enquired as to whether it could have been utilised to reprieve the proposed cut in residential provision within the County’s Special Schools.  In response, Mr Atkins indicated that the County Council was facing increasing financial pressures and needed to make savings of £62m over the next five years and that the prudent thing to do is to put any underspend into general balances to be available to support the challenging Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) in 2019/20 and beyond.

 

Burton upon Trent Regeneration Strategy

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

Mr P White, Mr Peters and Mrs Jessel referred to the excellent relationship which existed between the Borough Council and the County Council which had resulted in the preparation of the Burton upon Trent Regeneration Strategy and the benefits it would bring to the area.

 

Mrs Woodward expressed the hope that similar discussions could take place with the leadership of Lichfield District Council, particularly in respect of the regeneration of Burntwood which was in need of capital investment.  Mr Dudson expressed similar comments in respect of Cannock Chase District and the need for regeneration within Rugeley.  In response, Mr Deaville indicated that the Council was working in partnership with all the District and Borough Councils within Staffordshire.

 

Staffordshire  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Notices of Motion

Mrs Atkins to move the following motion:

 

“In the interests of the environment, safety, better air quality and increased school choice, this Council supports the reform of the school transport system including the introduction of dedicated buses. This Council will urge the Government to facilitate the necessary legislative changes.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Atkins moved, and Mrs Woodward seconded, the following motion:

 

In the interests of the environment, safety, better air quality and increased school choice, this Council supports the reform of the school transport system including the introduction of dedicated buses. This Council will urge the Government to facilitate the necessary legislative changes.”

 

In moving consideration of her motion, Mrs Atkins highlighted a number of issues including the following:

 

·         The current school transport system had largely been unchanged over the last 20 years. 

·         20% of traffic congestion was due to the “school run”.

·         The “school run” adds an extra 2m tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per year.

·         The current Home to School Policy does not address the issue of child safety, particularly in rural/unlit areas.

·         The Home to School Policy can negatively impact parental choice, particularly for low income families.

 

Mr P White indicated that he could not support the motion for the following reasons:

 

·         The introduction of dedicated buses would be expensive and create dependency on the state.

·         The dedicated buses would stand idle for the majority of the day.

·         Currently, 95% of pupils make their own arrangements to get to school.

·         The proposals would undermine the commercial bus network.

·         He did not agree that the proposals for would lead to an improvement in air quality.

·         The proposals would not lead to improvements in health, for example fewer children may choose to walk to school.

 

Mr P White also indicated that the County Council was taking part in the Department for Education consultation.

 

Mr C Greatorex indicated that he too shared the concerns raised by Mr P White.

Following a vote it was:

 

RESOLVEDThat the Motion be not carried.

30.

Appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Committees

To consider recommendations of the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Atkins moved, and Mr White seconded, the following changes to the Chairmanship/Vice-Chairmanship of Committees:

 

Corporate Review Committee

 

 

 

            Chairman

David Williams

            Vice-Chairman

David Brookes

 

RESOLVEDThat Mr D Williams be appointed as Chairman of the Corporate Review Committee and that Mr Brookes be appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

 

31.

Outcomes of Overview and Scrutiny Work January - June 2019 pdf icon PDF 436 KB

Report of the Chairman of the Corporate Review Committee

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Woodward, Mr Atkins, Mr Brookes and Mr Tagg paid tribute to the Scrutiny staff in the Council’s Member and Democratic Services Team and, in particular, Mrs Tina Gould, who had recently retired from the Authority.  Mrs Woodward also welcomed Mrs Mandy Pattinson into her new role within the team. 

 

Mr A White stated that he welcomed the challenge to the Executive that the Council’s scrutiny function provided as it was through scrutiny and challenge that the Council made better decisions.

 

Mr Tagg referred to the Car Parking Strategy and requested that an update be provided by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport in due course.

 

Mr Atkins also paid tribute to the members of the All Party Working Groups for the work they had undertaken.

 

RESOLVEDThat the report be received.

32.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 215 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Hussain highlighted the issue of knife crime, which had seen a 4.7% increase in the County, and enquired as to whether it would not be advantageous to implement the successful programme operated in Glasgow which had resulted in such crimes reducing by 62%.  He asked that this matter be raised with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

 

Mr Spencer commended the work of “Catch 22”, a social, not for profit business, delivering support for victims of CSE and children who went missing.

 

Mrs Beech reported that, in July, her local Parish Council were informed that there would be no Police assistance for the Remembrance Day parade and that the police would only be there to lay a wreath.  She added that, thankfully Audley Parish Council had stepped in and applied for two road closures for two different services around the Parish and Audley Bowmen had offered to provide the marshalling.  Although the marshalling was to be provided at no cost, the road closures costed £1800 which the Parish Council could ill afford.  Mrs Beech requested further clarification on this change in Police policy including who gave the instruction, was it a one-off or would be applied to all remembrance services. She also enquired as to when the new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner was elected, would the Panel be requesting him/her to review the policy

 

Mr Robinson referred to the final page of the Report and indicated that there was an error in that the reference to “the closure of Kidsgrove Police Station” should read “the closure of the public Police Desk located in Kidsgrove Town Hall.”

 

Mrs Woodward referred to Police establishment numbers and the Commissioner’s intention to recruit an additional 69 officers between 2018/19 and 2019/20.  She indicated that in an announcement on 9 October, it was reported that an additional 90 officers were to be recruited in Staffordshire.  Mrs Woodward enquired as to whether these additional 90 officers included the 69 previously announced or were in addition to them, making a total of 159.

 

Mr Sweeney thanked Members for their questions and undertook to forward them to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for a response.  He also undertook to circulate the Commissioner’s responses to all Members.

 

Mrs Edgeller reminded Members of the opportunity to submit questions in writing to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner at meetings of the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel.

 

RESOLVEDThat the report be received.

33.

Questions pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Questions to be asked by Members of the County Council of the Leader of the Council, a Cabinet Member, or a Chairman of a Committee.  The question will be answered by the relevant Member and the Member asking the question may then ask a follow up question which will also be answered

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Woodward asked the following question of the Leader of the Council whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

All County Councillors and Unison members across Staffordshire will be aware of the recent emails from the Regional Secretary of Unison alleging serious financial mismanagement within the County Council. The Leader will also be aware of discussions that I have had over many months with the Chief Executive and senior officers to address concerns raised by Unison, along with my Deputy Group Leader and others. Will he now undertake to respond in detail to the serious questions raised in the emails that Members have received?

 

Reply

 

We firmly refute these allegations which are misleading or simply untrue.  

 

The Unison claims refer to historical matters which have already been investigated and, where appropriate, action was taken. Some failings in procurement practice between 2012 and 2016 were identified, and procurement practices have been changed as a result. An independent investigation found there was absolutely no fraudulent activity or personal gain by employees because of this.  

 

Staffordshire County Council remains willing to work with all of our trade unions in a constructive and respectful way. We would hope that trade unions would share that approach and seek to represent the best interests of their fee-paying members.  

 

We will be responding to Unison in due course. If any member wants any further information they have only to ask, as has always been the case. After all, it is the elected members that run this Council, not Unison, which is why it was dealt with by a cross party committee.

 

Supplementary Question

 

I hope that every Member across this Chamber will take seriously the information we have been sent by Unison.  I, my deputy and members of my group have met with the Chief Executive and Directors to talk through some of the issues and we’ve also met with senior officers of Unison.  Some questions remain and we will continue to pursue those and hope that Mr Atkins and his group will deal with these matters in a fair, open and transparent way.  May I ask for his reassurance on that please?

 

Reply

 

Yes, you can rest assured that we are always fair, open and transparent.

 

Mrs Woodward asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Commercial whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

Can the Cabinet Member please tell me what have been the costs of securing the Greenwood House site in Burntwood from 2009 to the present?

 

Reply

 

Whilst the site has remained unused since 2009, the site itself was not secured in any way until 2014/15 when small scale vandalism began to happen.  Since then through to the end of March 2019 a total of £42,881 has been spent securing the site.  This excludes the costs of removing the recent travellers and cleaning up the site after they vacated.

 

Mrs Atkins asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Petitions

An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a) Petition in support of the proposed “Area of Reflection” being incorporated adjacent to the Town’s War Memorial in Market Square, Uttoxeter

 

Mr Atkins Presented a petition, (on behalf of Mr Brookes), from Uttoxeter Town Council and the residents of Uttoxeter, in support of the proposed “Area of Reflection” being incorporated adjacent to the Town’s War Memorial in Market Square.

 

(b) Request for the Installation of Limited waiting lines around Shenstone Station

 

Mr Smith presented a petition from residents of Admiral Park Drive, Richard Cooper Road, New Road, Station Road and Holm View Close, Shenstone requesting the installation of limited waiting lines around Shenstone Station.

 

 

 

Chairman