Agenda and minutes

County Council
Thursday, 14th October, 2010 10.00 am

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

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

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

28.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 22 July 2010

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2010 be confirmed.

29.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Great British Care Awards

 

Members were informed that the County Council had won the West Midlands regional award for promoting “Dignity in Care” based on the work done at Brighton House in Newcastle.  In addition, Glenys Robinson OBE, one of the Council’s social care assessors, had won the “Outstanding Contribution to Social care Award”.  Both of the aforementioned award winners would now go through to the national finals in the New Year.  Brighton House was also shortlisted for the “Putting People First” award.

 

NHS West Midlands Health and Social Care Awards

 

The Chairman informed Members that the County Council had recently been awarded the “Excellence in Commissioning” award in the NHS West Midlands Health and Social Care Awards for the savings it had achieved in the cost of residential and nursing placements.  The Council was also runner-up in the same category for the new “Memory Clinic” services it had commissioned to support people in the early stages of dementia.

 

Macmillan Cancer Support - World's Biggest Coffee Morning

 

The Chairman informed Members that, on Friday, 24 September 2010, she had hosted a coffee morning in the County Buildings in support of the Macmillan Biggest Coffee Morning Appeal.  The event raised £374 and the Chairman extended her thanks to those Members and staff who attended the event for their support.

 

50 Years Service

 

Members were informed that the Chairman and Leader of the Council, together with the Chief Executive, hosted an afternoon tea for Marty Whitehouse from the Council’s ICT division who, on 3 October, completed 50 years service with the County Council.  Marty had joined the Council in October 1960 and originally worked in the Data Prep team of the Treasurers Department where she was one of the first staff to be involved with IT in the Council preparing “punched cards” that were used to input data into the Councils first mainframe computer system.

 

Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

 

The Chairman informed the Council that, on 5 October 2010, she hosted afternoon tea in the Oak Room for volunteers from Douglas MacMillan Hospice, Katherine House Hospice, Landywood and District Volunteer Help Centre, SCALE and the National Memorial Arboretum who had recently been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  These five Staffordshire based volunteering groups were amongst 103 charities nationally to receive the Award this year in recognition of the outstanding contributions they had made to local communities by voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.  .

 

County of Staffordshire Rose

 

The Chairman informed the Council that, on Thursday, 23 September, she had had the pleasure of visiting Sandon Hall for the Staffordshire launch of the County of Staffordshire Rose.  The rose was originally the brainchild of Brian Cox, a member of The Staffordshire Society. It took over ten years to produce and was officially launched at the Hampton Court Flower Show in June.  The rose had already won gold, silver and bronze medals in various international trials.

 

Charity Music Show in aid of Help for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

Leader's Statement

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; his plans for the Council; and an overview of decisions taken by the Cabinet (and Portfolio Holders) since the previous meeting of the Council.

 

Staffordshire Compact Update including the Third Sector Commissioning Standards

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

In response to a question from Mr Lee Bates concerning the Staffordshire Compact, Mr Ben Adams indicated that the Compact was a crucial element in being able to offer the most straightforward of contracting arrangements to third sector organisations, particularly the smaller organisations who were of an insufficient size to be able to compete for larger contracts.

 

Treasury Management Outturn Report for the Year ended 31 March 2010

(Paragraph 4 of the Statement)

 

In response to a question from Mr Derek Davis concerning the size of the Authority’s borrowing and its assets, Mr Philip Atkins indicated that the Council’s overall level of borrowing stood at £532.239m whereas its assets, at current trading value, stood at £1.5bn.

 

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

(Paragraph 6 of the Statement)

 

Mrs Christina Jebb asked whether the announcement that East Staffordshire Borough Council had withdrawn from the proposed Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership would have any effect on the Partnership’s viability.  In response, Mr Philip Atkins indicated that East Staffordshire Borough Council had indicated their intention to join the Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and that this decision reflected the complex economic geography of the region.  He added that such partnerships needed to have “porous” boundaries to enable adjacent Partnerships to work together.  He concluded by indicating that, irrespective of East Staffordshire Borough Council’s decision not to be a member of the proposed Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, he believed that the case for the Partnership was still a strong one. 

 

Consultation on the provision of Magistrates and County Courts in Staffordshire

(Paragraph 8 of the Statement)

 

Several Members expressed concern at the Courts service’s proposals to change Magistrates and County Court arrangements in Staffordshire which, if implemented, would result in the closure of the Magistrates and County Courts in Tamworth and the closure of the County Court in Burton.  Mrs Liz Staples expressed the opinion that the foundation for the judicial system should be local people dispensing local justice and that, if the proposals went ahead there would be a loss of local knowledge.  In response to Members’ concerns, Mr Philip Atkins indicated that the County Council would continue to press the Courts service to retain the courts.

 

Supporting the Staffordshire Economy – Staffordshire Business Support Fund

(Paragraph 9 of the Statement)

 

Mr Matthew Ellis explained that there was to be a further extension of the fund to support care orientated businesses.  Another recent innovation was “Business in a Box” under which the County Council were providing help and advise to help “kick start” businesses providing care for vulnerable people. 

Mr Ellis also announced that the second trench of funding under the Community Wellbeing Fund was now available.

 

Staffordshire  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Petition Regarding the Closure of Burntwood Household Waste Recycling Centre

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report of the Director of Law and Democracy concerning the receipt of a petition opposing the proposed closure of Burntwood Household Waste Recycling Centre.

 

They were informed that the petition contained 12,222 signatures which, under the Council’s Petitions Policy, was sufficient to trigger a debate at the Council meeting.

 

Mr Steve Tranter, one of the “local” members, welcomed the recent announcement by Mr. Robbie Marshall, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Infrastructure that the Burntwood Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRS) was to remain open whilst a review of the longer-term financial viability of all HWRC sites in the County was undertaken.  He extended his thanks to Mr Marshall for listening to the views of local residents.

 

In response, Mr Marshall indicated that, in spite of the difficult economic conditions, the Directorate had been able to find sufficient savings elsewhere in its waste budget to be able to keep the Burntwood site open.

 

Several Members spoke in support of the decision to keep the Burntwood HWRC open and Mrs Christina Jebb stated that she hoped that Mr Marshall would commit to full and open consultation during the review of the longer?term financial viability of all such sites in the County.  Mr Derek Huckfield added that this review needed to take account of a range of issues including traffic generation and the increased incidents of fly tipping if one or more sites was identified for closure.

 

RESOLVED(a) That the receipt of the petition be noted.

 

(b) That the decision of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Infrastructure to keep Burntwood Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) open whilst a review of the longer-term financial viability of al  HWRC sites in the County is undertaken, be noted.

32.

Electoral Review of Staffordshire

Report of the Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report of the Chief Executive concerning the Electoral Review of Staffordshire which was being undertaken by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

 

They were informed that the Review was being undertaken as, since the last review (200/2003), the electorate in County Electoral Divisions had changed to the extent that 42% of those Divisions now had electorates which varied by more than 10% from the average.  (The threshold for a review was 30%).  The aim of the Review would be to correct this so as to ensure that each County Councillor represented approximately the same number of electors as his or her colleagues.

 

The first stage in the Electoral Review process was to determine the appropriate size of the Council (the total number of Councillors).  This figure would then be used as the basis for consultation on the other stages of the Review which would consider the possible electoral arrangements including the number of Councillors per Electoral Division; the boundaries of each Division; and the names of Divisions.

 

Members considered a draft response to the Local Government Boundary Commission’s consultation on Council size which made the case for a future scheme of representation based on 62 Members representing 62 divisions.

 

Several Members expressed their support for the proposals contained in the draft response to the Commission as they felt that a Council’s size of 62 was appropriate for Staffordshire.  Differing views were expressed however with regard to whether the Council should press for single Member divisions across the whole of the County and it was therefore suggested that those Members representing duel Member divisions should be given an opportunity to submit their views before the final response was forwarded to the Local Government Boundary Commission.

 

Several Members expressed their concern at the cost of the Review, especially bearing in mind that only six years had passed since the completion of the last Electoral Review in Staffordshire.  Mr Mark Winnington responded by indicating that he had already written to the Secretary of State to convey Members’ concerns.

 

RESOLVED – That the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, be authorised to update the draft response to take on board Members’ views and to then forward the response to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England by the consultation deadline of 25 October 2010.

33.

Report of the Audit Committee

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Audit Committee, Mr. R. Roberts OBE, presented to the Council an overview report detailing the work of the Audit Committee over the past year.

 

Following the consideration of the report, Mr Alan White indicated that, with the anticipated demise of the Audit Commission, the work of the Council’s Audit Committee would become more important.

 

RESOLVED – That the report of the Chairman of the Audit Committee be received.

34.

Proposed Changes to the Constitution

Report of the Director of Law and Democracy

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report of the Director of Law and Democracy proposing amendments to the Constitution to reflect changes to Council structures and processes following the introduction of a New Operating Model (NOM) for the Authority. 

 

RESOLVED – That the Constitution as revised (as outlined in Appendix 2 to the report considered by the Council) be approved and that the Director of Law and Democracy be authorised to make the necessary amendments to the Scheme of Delegation to Officers.

35.

Questions

Questions to be asked by Members of the County Council of the Leader of the Council, a Cabinet Member, or a Chairman of a non-Scrutiny 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.

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Minutes:

Mr. David Nixon asked the following question of the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

 

Question

 

I see in last week’s daily paper the headline ‘Academy plan for all Surrey schools.’   Quote - “The (Surrey) council said that a wholesale conversion to academy status was preferable to a small number of schools opting out of local authority control”. Seeing that Surrey County Council will be able to reduce drastically its L.E.A. bill with regard to pension provision, maintenance and heating of buildings etc. etc. are Staffordshire County Council thinking of going down this route as it is Conservative flag ship policy?

 

Reply

 

Staffordshire County Council has no plans to adopt a model of wholesale ‘conversion’ to Academy status for our schools.  We believe that the current diversity of educational provision, including various governance arrangements serve the Staffordshire population well.  We work with all our ‘family’ of Staffordshire schools, regardless of their status or governance arrangements and will support those schools which choose to become academies or Free schools in the future.

 

In terms of school funding, Staffordshire’s position for 2010-11 is as follows:-

 

·              Almost 91% of funding for schools goes, via the local council, directly to schools

 

·              The remainder is used to:-

 

support pupils educated out of school and in alternative provision (1%);

 

purchase services on behalf of schools, for example, building insurances, software and other licences and annual maintenance contracts (2%);

support costs met centrally on behalf of schools, including maternity pay (1%);

 

payments to third parties for educational provision, including payments to private, voluntary and independent providers of nursery education (3%); and

 

pay for a number of central support services, mainly related to meeting the needs of pupils with more complex needs (2%).

 

It is possible that some savings would be made, however, the level of savings would depend on what statutory duties or powers were retained by the authority, which we are expecting to be included in the next education bill and whether the authority continued to provide services to academies. It is therefore unlikely that the council would see any significant financial benefit.

 

Supplementary Question

 

A lot of this year’s Education Budget is spent on bureaucracy.  As schools opt out of local authority control will the Cabinet Member look to see if savings can be made?

 

Reply

 

Many of the grants we get from Central Government are ring fenced and we therefore have little control over how this funding is utilised.  I believe that this is a quite bureaucratic and wasteful way of doing business and I am hoping that the Government, in its comprehensive spending review, will do away with these ring fences so that we can utilise the resources to much greater effect.  The County Council is a very lean organisation with most of the education funding going directly to schools.  What we need to do is to tackle Whitehall red tape.

 

Mr. Ray Easton asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.

36.

Notices of Motion

Mr. P .E. B. Atkins to move the following motion:-

 

“Staffordshire County Council recognises that there is a need for fundamental reform of the relationship between central and local government if we are to reduce public spending, tackle entrenched social, economic and environmental problems and rebuild trust in democratic accountability.  The council supports the Local Government Association’s detailed proposals for Place-based Budgets which would bring together different streams of public spending into a single budget at the local level.  It believes that this proposal would: save public money; cut waste and bureaucracy; allow for better decisions to be made transparently and accountably; and increase local communities control over spending in their area.  It recommends that the Government begins the process of reform immediately by implementing Place-based Budgets throughout England and Wales as part of the 2010 Spending Review.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr. Philip Atkins moved, and Mr. Ben Adams seconded the following motion under Standing Order No. 11:

 

“Staffordshire County Council recognises that there is a need for fundamental reform of the relationship between central and local government if we are to reduce public spending, tackle entrenched social, economic and environmental problems and rebuild trust in democratic accountability.  The council supports the Local Government Association’s detailed proposals for Place-based Budgets which would bring together different streams of public spending into a single budget at the local level.  It believes that this proposal would: save public money; cut waste and bureaucracy; allow for better decisions to be made transparently and accountably; and increase local communities control over spending in their area.  It recommends that the Government begins the process of reform immediately by implementing Place-based Budgets throughout England and Wales as part of the 2010 Spending Review.”

 

 Several members spoke in support of the motion and, following a vote, it was:

 

RESOLVED – That the motion be carried.

37.

Report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members welcomed the news that Rising Brook Community Fire Station in Stafford, the first of ten new Fire Stations in the county, was opened on 3 September 2010. 

 

Members also expressed their concern at the recent increase in the number of attacks on fire fighters.

 

Mr Terry Finn reported that a team of fire fighters from the Stoke-on?Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service recently came 18th in the World First Aid Championships.

 

RESOLVED – That the Periodic Report of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority be adopted.

38.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Request for Traffic Management Measures to control parking along Manor Close, Alexander Close and Short Street, Uttoxeter

 

Mr. Geoff Morrison presented a petition from local residents seeking the introduction of traffic management measures to control parking along Manor Close, Alexander Close and Short Street, Uttoxeter.