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Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 14 October 2010
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 2010 be confirmed.
The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members
Charity Music Show in aid of Help for Heroes – Council Chamber, Friday 26 November 2010
The Chairman extended her thanks to those members who supported her chosen charity, Help for Heroes, by attending the Charity Music show in the Council Chamber on 26 November. The event raised approximately £2,000 for Help for Heroes.
National Training Awards
Members were informed that the County Council’s Management Development Team were presented with a Regional Training Award at this year’s National Training Awards. The Award was in recognition of the Team’s “Optimising Team Performance” course which had been attended by more than 750 of the Council’s managers. Evidence had shown that managers who had been through the course had made changes which had resulted in, on average, £20,000 worth of cost savings in their areas.
Association for Public Service Excellence Awards
The Chairman informed Members that the Council’s Cleaning Services Unit had recently been recognised at the prestigious Association for Public Service Excellence Awards. The Unit scooped the title of best service team for building and facilities cleaning.
RSPCA award for protecting farm animals during floods
Members noted that the Council’s Animal Health Team had received the Innovator Award in the RSPCA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) scheme for its pioneering work to protect farm livestock from the threats of flooding. The work involved identifying all farms in the county that were at risk of flooding, establishing a contact database to warn farmers of impending flood conditions, and providing information and support to all farmers on how to protect their animals from floods.
Guardian Public Servant of the Year 2010 Award
The Chairman informed Members that the Council’s Parents' Commissioner, Charlotte Bailey, was named as a runner-up in the Guardian Public Servant of the Year 2010 award in recognition of her work in producing a Parenting Strategy. Charlotte had consulted with more than 2,000 parents across Staffordshire to produce the Strategy. Through this work, she realised that the County Council needed to improve the way it engaged with parents when designing and delivering services. As a result she went on to develop a Parent and Carer Toolkit that included consistent standards for effective consultation. This free web based toolkit could be used by any service to assess and develop ways to work with children, young people and families.
The County Council's Dementia Navigator Scheme in North Staffordshire was also revealed to be a runner up in the 'Service Delivery' category, under sub category 'Families and Communities'. The service provided information to sufferers' carers and families including local support networks and opportunities for activities.
Children and Young People Now Awards
The County Council scooped two awards and was shortlisted for a further four at the recent Children and Young People Now awards ceremony in London.
The Staffordshire Young People's Service Bumps and Babies group, which helped young mothers gain advice and new skills, won the Early Years Award. The Staffordshire Moorlands Community and Learning Partnership's Lads and Dads group won top prize in ... view the full minutes text for item 40.
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
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.
In introducing his statement, the Leader of the Council invited Mr. I.M. Parry, the Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People to inform the Council of the results of the annual assessment of the County Council’s Children’s Services and the developments in relation to academy proposals in Tamworth and Rugeley. Mr. Parry indicated that Ofsted’s annual assessment of the County Council’s Children’s Services had rated the County Council “Grade 3” which meant that it “performs well”. Ofsted’s findings placed Staffordshire among the top performing authorities in the country.
With regard to the academy proposals in Tamworth and Rugeley, Mr. Parry indicated that, in Tamworth, the County Council was exploring the option to establish two “collegiate academies” that would attract major investment and draw on the expertise of some of the country’s pioneering educationalists. In Rugeley, it was proposed that the already federated Hagley Park Sport College, Fair Oak Business and Enterprise College and Aelfgar Sixth Form Centre, known as the Rugeley Federation for Learning, would become an academy, strengthening existing collaborative links.
Improving the Way We Work
(paragraph 3 of the Statement)
In response to a question from Mr. Allan White, Mr. Atkins outlined the ways in which the County Council was changing the ways in which it provided services by putting customers first, providing better value for money and improving the prosperity of the County. Mr. Parry added that the County Council had taken a different approach to most other authorities and had started to transform its services in a very targeted way rather than cutting budgets indiscriminately. Mr. Ben Adams also added that under this new way of working some services would be expanded. For example, the Council’s Library Service would see a range of enhancements over the next few years.
Mr. Steve Povey and Mr. Derek Davis expressed concern that much of this transformation had taken place without consultation with the opposition parties on the County Council. They stressed the need for all the political parties to work together on the transformation agenda.
Mr. Matthew Ellis and Mr. Mark Winnington referred to the business principles that were being applied to the way in which services were provided and stressed the need for the County Council to proceed with pace. Mr. Atkins concluded by indicating that the Council’s transformation agenda was not something that had been “plucked out of the air” but had been a long time in its planning. This approach was working well as could be seen by the number of awards the County Council had won recently, both nationally and regionally. In addition, the County Council was now well placed to respond to the proposals contained within the Localism Bill.
Staffordshire Cares -Development of a Single ... view the full minutes text for item 41.
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.
Mr. John Francis asked the following question of Mrs. Gill Heath, the County Council’s spokesperson on the Staffordshire Police Authority:
(i) Why have the cells in the Stafford Police Station been closed, meaning prisoners are now transported to Watling Street, removing the arresting officer and possibly an escort from the streets of the Borough of Stafford for considerably longer than it would have been the case had the detainee been taken locally to Eastgate Street. The journey to Watling Street also impacts on the environment through extra carbon emissions and increased fuel costs and vehicle wear and tear?
(ii) What was the cost to recently furbish the cells at Stafford station, only to be subsequently closed?
(ii) What is the true cost of relocating from the Cannock Road site to the Weston Road and Beaconside Technology Park sites and, will the now reduced value of Cannock Road site, when eventually sold, actually cover the cost of the move, including the cost of the new and refurbished building work required?
The decision to centralise the management of the Force’s custody suites was taken by Staffordshire Police after a lengthy and thorough research project to examine opportunities to deliver more effective and efficient custody services. Previously, in the event of staff absences or during peak times of detainee numbers, the Force had to fill the gap with frontline officers taken from response and neighbourhood policing duties for a whole shift. Prior to centralisation, this occurred on 22% of occasions.
The Force now has three 24/7 facilities based at the Northern Area Custody Facility (NACF) in Stoke-on-Trent, Burton and Watling Street, which are all modern, well equipped facilities. There are now dedicated staff that run the custody provision, managing five shifts of nine officers spread over the three sites, with the flexibility to float between sites to meet demand. By taking a more flexible approach and increasing resilience, the percentage of shifts where other officers have had to be taken from their primary role to cover custody duties has fallen to 6%.
It is important to point out that a number of custody suites remain available to cover peak times and to provide a fall-back in the event of a primary site being unavailable. The Police Authority took the decision to expend a total of £220,000 on the custody suite of Stafford Police Station to bring the suite up to national standards for the safe detention of persons in custody.
With regard to the relocation of Police Headquarters, the relocation budget in the Capital Programme is £16.178m. In 2008, when the decision to relocate was taken, it was estimated that the value of the Cannock Road site was around £20m. It is clear that the impact of the recession has meant a fall in land values. The position is being very closely monitored and the Police Authority will act in accordance with its statutory duty to secure from any sale of land the best consideration reasonably obtainable by ... view the full minutes text for item 42.
The Council considered a report of the Director of Law and Democracy proposing changes to the Scheme of Delegation for Officers.
RESOLVED - (a)That the Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive and the Contract Manager be appointed as County Council representatives on the W2R Contract Management Board and be granted delegated Authority as indicated in paragraph 1 of the report; and
(b) That the Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive be granted additional delegated powers in relation to Planning Committee matters as indicated in paragraph 2 of the report; and
(c) That the Director of Law and Democracy be authorised to amend the Scheme of Delegation to officers accordingly.
Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police Authority
Mr. Atkins referred to the Force’s medium term financial strategy and stated that he understood that the Force were not proposing to seek an increase in the level of precept for 2011/12.
Mr. Adams referred to the Force’s performance against its 10 key priority targets and indicated that the Force should be commended on its performance. He also welcomed proposals by the Force to re-organise its divisional structure so as to coincide with the District Council boundaries.
In response to a question by Mr. Bill Day in relation to consultation and engagement on the Communities First Programme, the Force’s performance, the budget for 2011/12 and partnership working, Mrs. Heath indicated that she was unsure as to whether a briefing had been arranged for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and would therefore pursue this matter further. Mr. Paul Atkins expressed concern that Chasetown Police Station was not being properly utilised in that, currently, there were only four PCSO’s stationed there. In response, Mrs. Heath indicated that she would look into this matter further and that there may be an opportunity to share the use of the facilities at the Station with another partner organisation.
Mr. Simon Tagg referred to the Force’s performance for the six month period commencing 1 April 2010 and expressed concern that the Force needed to improve its performance in relation to the removal of obstructions from the highway. In response, Mrs. Heath indicated that she would report the Member’s concerns to the Force.
Mr. Povey referred to recent press articles suggesting that PCSO powers may be extended to include the issuing of fixed penalty notices for littering. He expressed the view that this proposal could de-value the roles of PCSO’s and may be better undertaken by parking enforcement officers. In response, Mrs. Heath indicated that this was a new initiative in the Staffordshire Moorlands Area. It was not intended that PCSO’s would be specifically targeting the issue of littering but if they came across offences during their normal day to day work they would now have the power to deal with them by way of the issuing of a fixed penalty notice.
RESOLVED – That the Periodic Report of the Staffordshire Police Authority be adopted.
Report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority
Mr. Len Bloomer referred to the Fire and Rescue Service’s “Push the Button” campaign and indicated that the video had been produced in-house at very little cost.
Mr. Finn extended his congratulations to “Red Watch” at Lichfield Fire Station for their success at the recent United Kingdom Rescue Organisation Rescue Challenge. He indicated that the Team came 27th out of the 47 teams taking part. However, most of the other teams consisted of trainers rather than front line firefighters.
Mr. Mark Winnington indicated that he hoped that the Fire and Rescue Authority would follow the County Council’s lead by not seeking an increase in the level of precept for 2011/12. In response, Mr. Bloomer indicated that the Fire Service were facing a reduction of 13% in the level of grants it received and he was not therefore able to give an assurance that the Authority would not be seeking an increase in its precept.
In response to a question from Mr. Derek Davis concerning the Regional Fire Control, Mr. Bloomer indicated that a decision was yet to be taken on the future of regional fire controls. He added that the West Midlands Regional Management Board was to be disbanded. However the five fire services that comprise the Board in the West Midlands Region would continue to work together.
Mr. John Francis indicated that he hoped that all members of the Council would take the opportunity of visiting their local Fire Station and getting to know the staff who worked there, and also the Regional Commander.
RESOLVED – That the Periodic Report of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority be adopted.
An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents
Retention of Flash Village School
Mrs. Gill Heath presented a petition opposing the possible closure of Flash Village School.
Adoption of May Place, Newcastle-under-Lyme as a Highway Maintainable at the Public Expense.
Mr. Simon Tagg presented a petition from residents of May Place, Newcastle-under-Lyme seeking the adoption of the road as a highway maintainable at the public expense.
Request for a Reduction in the Speed Limit through Wetwood
Mr Frank Chapman (on behalf of Mr. Henry Butter) submitted a petition from local residents requesting a reduction in the speed limit on the B5026 through Wetwood.
Armitage Pre School
Mr. Philip Atkins presented a petition from residents of Armitage and Handsacre opposing proposals for the reduction in funding to voluntary and private nurseries.
Perton Village Nursery
Mr. Philip Atkins presented a petition from residents of Perton and the surrounding area opposing proposals for the reduction in funding to voluntary and private nurseries.
Exclusion of the Public
The Chairman of the Council will move the following motion so that the County Council can consider confidential business in private:-
(All reports in this section are on pink paper)
RESOLVED - That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below.
(exemption paragraph 1)
The Council considereda recommendation of the Pensions Committee concerning the payment of a Death Grant to the children of a Pension Scheme member following her death.
RESOLVED - (a) That the decision of the Pensions Committee to approve the establishment of a Trust Fund be endorsed and that the Director of Law and Democracy be authorised to agree its final terms
(b)That Mr P.R. Davies (Councillor), Mr P Jones (Councillor), Mr J A Hodges (Principal Solicitor) and Ms J Caiazzo (Pensions Manager) be appointed to serve as Trustees of the Fund in accordance with the Trustee Act 2000 and for the period to be agreed by the Director of Law and Democracy.
(c) That the Leader of the Council be authorised to appoint replacement Trustees as necessary.