Agenda and minutes

(Budget), County Council
Thursday, 10th February, 2011 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

49.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16.5

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Member

Minute Nos.

Interest

Reason

S. Povey

 

 

Personal

Members of family have attended Flash CE (VC) Primary School

 

50.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 9 December 2010

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 9 December 2010 be confirmed.

51.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Messages of Congratulation to Prince William and Kate Middleton

 

The Chairman announced that arrangements had been made for the public to send messages to Prince William and Kate Middleton for their wedding day through a congratulatory book at the county council.   Each message from county residents would be presented on its own page and bound into a commemorative book which would then be forwarded to the royal couple before their wedding on Friday, 29 April 2011. 

 

Congratulatory messages could be sent in a number of ways including in person at County Buildings; via e-mail or via the Chairman’s pages on the county council website at –

www.staffordshire.gov.uk/yourcouncil/civicoffices/chairman.

 

Southern Staffordshire Regeneration Awards

 

The Chairman informed Members that the Wombourne Community and Learning Partnership and Wombourne Youth Action Team had been announced as winners of the Young Persons Award at the recent Southern Staffordshire Regeneration Awards.

 

The awards recognised and promoted the breadth and quality of regeneration activates across southern Staffordshire and showcased enduring initiatives inspired by local people which enhanced local neighbourhoods and communities. 

 

The Wombourne C&LP worked with a local youth forum where young people identified a suitable site, designed a layout for a multi use games area, consulted with residents, met with and lobbied the statutory bodies, applied for funding, and liaised with the local companies involved in creating the games area.  The initiative was also shortlisted for the National Children and Young People Now Awards 2010.

 

The Lollipop Person of the Year Awards

 

The Council were informed that Alastair Chapman, who was based at Gentleshaw Primary School, had been crowned Lollipop Person of the Year for the West Midlands region.

 

Alastair was nominated for the award by pupils at the school who wrote letters and poems, drew pictures and filmed an assembly which was held in honour of Alastair and the vital road safety role that he carried out.

 

Alastair took on the role of school crossing patrol officer at Gentleshaw primary in April 2009 but started working at the school in 1994 when he joined as caretaker.

 

German War Graves Exchange Visit to Bremen

 

The Chairman informed the Council that between 27 and 30 January 2011, she, together with several other Members of the Authority, had the honour of representing the Council at the 47th “Music Show of the Nations” in Bremen, Germany.  The Music Show was held annually in aid of the German War Graves Commission.

 

Councillor Achievement Awards 2011

 

The Council were informed that, at the Local Government Information Unit and CCLA Councillor Achievement Awards 2011, which were announced on 8 February, Matthew Ellis was “highly commended” in the “Online Councillor of the Year” category of the Awards.  Three other Members were also shortlisted in the following categories of the Awards:

 

·                Partnership Achievement of the Year – Philip Atkins

·                Young Councillor of the Year – Ivan Jennings

·                Scrutineer of the Year – Alan White

52.

Strategic Plan 2011-16 and Outcome Plans 2011/12

Report of the Leader of the Council outlining what the county council will be trying to achieve over the next five years as outlined in the Strategic Plan and the cross-cutting Outcome Plans

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader presented to the Council the Strategic Plan 2011-2016 and the Outcome Plans 2011-12.

 

Members noted that the Strategic Plan was a high level plan, setting out the County Council’s priorities and aims for the next five years. The Plan provided a focus for the organisation and ensured that the Council’s resources were directed towards the delivery of the following cross-cutting outcomes:

 

Ø      Staffordshire’s economy prospers and grow, together with the jobs, skills, qualifications and aspirations to support it;

 

Ø      Staffordshire is a place where people can live safely - increasingly free from crime, the causes of crime and the fear of crime;

 

Ø      In Staffordshire’s communities vulnerable people are able to live independent and safe lives, supported where this is required;

 

Ø      Staffordshire’s children and young people can get the best start in life and receive a good education so that they can make a positive contribution to their communities;

 

Ø      Staffordshire is a place where people live longer, healthier and fulfilling lives;

 

Ø      Staffordshire is a place where people can easily and safely access everyday facilities and activities through the highways and transport networks;

 

Ø      Staffordshire’s communities can access, enjoy and benefit from a range of learning, recreational and cultural activities;

 

Ø      Staffordshire’s people are involved in shaping the delivery of public services;

 

Ø      Staffordshire’s communities are places where people and organisations proactively tackle climate change, gaining financial benefit and reducing carbon emissions.

 

These priorities were underpinned by the County Council’s agreed Core Values:

 

Ø                        Customer and citizen focus.

 

Ø                        Listening and responding to local needs.

 

Ø                        Encouraging personal responsibility while protecting those who need us.

 

Ø                        Prepared to be bold and to show leadership.

 

Ø                        Provide efficiency and economy through innovation.

 

The Strategic Plan would be delivered through, and underpinned by, the Outcome Plans.

 

In response to questions from Members, Mr. Atkins indicated that the Strategic Plan had been the subject of extensive consultation with the public and partner organisations.  Scrutiny had also played a vital role in formulating the Plan.  He concluded by indicating that responsibility for the delivery of each of the priorities in the Plan had been allocated to individual Cabinet Members and to the Council’s Senior Leadership Team but that staff were also key to the delivery of the Plan’s aims.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the Strategic Plan 2011-2016    be adopted

 

(b) That the Outcome Plans be adopted.

 

(c) That the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of the County Council, be authorised to make any minor amendments to the Strategic Plan 2011-2016.

 

(d) That the Senior Leadership Team Outcome Leads, in consultation with the appropriate Cabinet Member, be authorised to amend their respective Outcome Plans during the year as targets are developed to support the delivery of outcomes and the achievement of innovation and efficiencies.

53.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2011-16 and 2011/12 Budget and Council Tax

Report of the Leader of the Council outlining how the Council will finance its operations over the next five years and recommending a budget to the Council for 2011/12

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a report by the Leader of the Council on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 20011/16 and 2011/12 Budget and Council Tax proposals.

 

He informed the Council that the Cabinet, on 2 February 2011, considered the budget proposals for 2011/12 which involved a 0% increase in Council Tax.  He also paid tribute to his Cabinet colleagues, the Innovation and Efficiency Board, Scrutiny Members and to the Director of Finance and Resources and his staff for their hard work in shaping the budget.

 

Mr. Povey moved, and Mr. Locke seconded the following amendment:

 

“That the recommendations contained in paragraph 1 of the report be amended by the addition of the following recommendation:

 

(c) This Council notes with indignation, that whilst Staffordshire is facing a massive 12.6% (£25m) reduction in its financial settlement in 2011/12, the UK’s contribution to the European Union (EU) is set to rise by 60 % over two years.  This Council notes that, despite the opposition of some conservative MPs and Labour and Conservative MEPs, it is likely that the Government will agree to a further 2.9% increase in the overall EU budget.  This Council believes that the EU should be treated the same as other tiers of government and in these austere times should share responsibility, along with Central and Local Government, for pubic spending reductions.  Sharing the burden would result in less severe cuts for local authorities, and give more assistance to councils to protect front line services.  This Council therefore urges Staffordshire’s 12 MPs not to support an increase in the EU budget.”

 

Several Members spoke in support of the proposal to write to the Staffordshire MPs but indicated that the proposed amendment to the budget recommendations was not the best way to take this matter further.  The Leader of the Council indicated that he was prepared to write to Staffordshire MPs to express Members’ concerns in relation to proposed increases in the UK’s contribution to the European Union.  Accordingly, Mr. Povey, with the consent of Mr. Locke, withdrew his amendment.

 

Mrs. Jebb moved, and Mr. Easton seconded the following amendment:

 

““That the recommendations contained in paragraph 1 of the report be amended by the addition of the following recommendations:

 

(i)            That Cabinet review carefully the earmarked reserves to identify where a small percentage of these could be reinvested into frontline services;

(ii)          That Cabinet notes the requirement for £9m general reserves in the papers from 19 January 2011 (paragraph 53) has reduced to a requirement for £8.2m general reserves in the papers for 10 February 2011 (paragraph 10.4).

(iii)        Request that this unallocated £800,000 is used to immediately restore frontline services you have cut – starting with school crossing patrols.”

 

A wide ranging discussion then ensued including the role of Scrutiny in helping to formulate the budget proposals; the level of the national debt; the local government staff pay freeze; and the measures being taken by the County Council to improve road safety, particularly around schools. Following a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

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.

 

Future of FlashCE (VC) Primary School

(Paragraph 4 of the Statement)

 

Mrs. Heath referred to the decision of the Cabinet to commence a formal statutory consultation on a proposal to close Flash CE (VC) Primary School on 31 August 2011 and asked that this be held in abeyance whilst the proposed review into the sustainability of primary education in the North Moorlands was undertaken.  In response, the Leader of the Council indicated that, currently, the School only had 9 pupils on its roll.  It was difficult to envisage pupil numbers rising significantly, particularly when the building of new homes in the area was discouraged by the Peak Park authority.  Such low numbers raised a real concern about the school’s ability to deliver, and continue to deliver, a good quality education now and in the future.  It also had a direct impact on the school’s ability to attract and retain the high quality leadership needed for it to be viable in the longer term.

 

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

(Paragraph 7 of the Statement)

 

In response to a question by Mrs. Downes, Mr. Lawrence gave an overview of the establishment and work of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise Partnership.  He indicated that, recently, the LEP had successfully co-ordinated bids to the Regional Growth Fund and had also hosted an event at Keele University which had provided an opportunity for the wider Staffordshire business community to be involved in shaping the county’s future.    

 

Building Staffordshire’s reputation for excellence

(Paragraph 8 of the Statement)

 

Mrs. Lamb referred to the way in which the County Council was coping with the current economic situation and expressed the view that not all local authorities within Staffordshire were managing to plan as effectively for the reduction in Government grant etc.  In response, Mr. Adams stressed that it was important to listen to local communities in order to understand their needs and also to be transparent when taking decisions.

 

RESOLVED – That the Statement of the Leader of the Council be received.

55.

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr. Locke asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Assets, Performance and Organisation:

 

Question

 

It is clearly important that the needs of religious minorities should be accommodated if reasonably possible.  But concern has been expressed elsewhere in the country that, with a view to satisfying such needs, all meat served in schools or other institutions is now halal-compliant.  What is the situation with regard to halal meat in meals for which Staffordshire County Council is responsible?

 

Reply

 

In Staffordshire, halal-compliant meat is not served in County Council establishments but can be specifically ordered through our suppliers if required.

 

Mr. Nixon asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Environment:

 

Question

 

I find that I have a constant battle with Staffordshire County Council’s gully emptying department. to get grids emptied. In 2008 when I asked for the grids in Lower Milehouse Lane to be emptied I was told that they had been emptied but, on inspecting them, I found that 36 out of 40 grids were still blocked. The above has repeated itself over the last two years but I find that the latest saga needs to be brought to the Council’s attention. Blocked grids in Liverpool Road pavement Cross Heath (ref.No. 1075285 and 1076946), Kimberley Road pavement, (Ref No. 1075286), grid at junction of Albany Road and Baden Street (ref No.1076853), Liverpool Road pavement at Milehouse (Ref. No.1076948), the last grid in Coppice View (Ref No.1070694) although are all still blocked I have been told have been emptied or in one case the job has disappeared off the screen. However, the news that Hempstalls Lane grids are not blocked and it is only leaves over the top of the grids that needs sweeping away by Newcastle Borough Council takes some beating. Last week I counted 12 blocked grids in this Lane. When are the residents in my ward going to get the service that they pay for through their community charge?

 

Reply

 

One of my senior officers has met Cllr Nixon to discuss and resolve the issues on Lower Milehouse Road. As he knows there are problems with broken connections due to either tree root ingress or damage by utility company installations. We undertake follow up schemes to rectify those but there are a great many of them over a number of sites across the county.

 

All but one of the other reports are in close proximity to each other and are all as a result of a blocked drain on the A34. We have already commenced work on this but replacement of new manhole covers and significant investigation work is required. It is not simply a case of gully emptying.

 

All the gullies in the County are routinely emptied on a frequency corresponding to the road hierarchy. However some gullies can become blocked in between the emptying programme. When these are reported to us the locations are inspected and if simple gully cleansing is required this is arranged immediately.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Review of Cabinet Member Portfolios

Statement by the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council announced that, following a review of Cabinet Member Portfolios, the following Members had been appointed to the new Portfolios:

 

Leader of the Council                                                        Philip Atkins

 

Deputy Leader of the Council                                           Ian Parry

           and Finance and Transformation                          

 

Economic Growth and Enterprise                                    Ben Adams

 

Highways and Transport                                                    Mike Maryon

 

Culture, Communities and Customers                             Pat Corfield           

 

Environment and Assets                                                   Mark Winnington

 

Children’s Wellbeing                                                          Mike Lawrence

 

Adults’ Wellbeing                                                               Matthew Ellis

 

Public Health and Community Safety                               Robbie Marshall

 

Education and Skills                                                          Liz Staples

57.

Electoral Review of Staffordshire

Report of the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a report by the Leader of the Council in respect of the proposed draft Stage 1 submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) consultation on a pattern of divisions for Staffordshire County Council.  He also circulated to members copies of the following representations which had been received since the draft submission had been circulated to Members and were not therefore taken account of in that submission:

 

  • Letter dated 4 February 2011 from Paul Farrelly MP.

 

  • E-mail dated 7 February 2011 from Mr. S. Winterflood, Chief Executive, South Staffordshire Council.

 

  • Letter dated 4 February 2011 from the Clerk to Brereton and Ravenhill Parish Council.

 

  • Proposals submitted by the Conservative Group on the County Council.

 

The Leader of the Council expressed his thanks to those members of staff who had been involved in preparing the draft submission to the Commission and also to those elected members who had engaged in the consultation process which had helped to formulate the Council’s proposed submission.

 

Mrs. Perry and Mr. Lawrence stressed the need to retain Cheslyn Hay/Essington as a dual member division as, in their opinion, it was not possible to find an acceptable way of dividing the Division into two single member divisions.

 

Mr Locke indicated that he supported the proposal for the Kidsgrove and Talke dual member division to be split into two single member divisions but that he was of the view that the proposed Talke Division should not encompass Red Street.

 

Mr. Reade referred to the representations that had been received from the Chief Executive of South Staffordshire Council and indicated that half of Penn Common already fell within the Kinver County Electoral Division.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, be authorised to make any necessary amendments to the draft response to reflect Members’ views, as set out below, and to then forward the response to the LGBCE by the deadline of 21 February 2011:

 

(i) That Cheslyn Hay, Featherstone, Essington and Great Wyrley be a dual member division as it is considered that keeping communities intact is important compared to numbers of electors.

 

(ii) That in Stafford Borough:

 

Division

 

Electors

in 2010

Electors

in 2012

Eccleshall

add High Offley Parish

+797

+ 851

Gnosall & Doxey

minus High Offley Parish

- 797

- 851

Stafford Central

minus Coton CNB

- 713

- 773

Stafford North

add Coton CNB 

+ 713

+ 773

Stafford South-East

minus Baswich BSC (part)

- 232

- 232

Stafford Trent Valley

add Baswich BSC (part)

+ 232

+ 232

Stafford West

no change

0

0

Stone Urban

minus Walton WAA & WAB (part)  

- 1,345

- 1,308

Stone Rural

add Walton WAA & WAB (part)

+1,345

+1,308

 

 

 

Division

 

Variance

in 2010

Variance

in 2012

Eccleshall

 

- 7.5%

- 1.4%

Gnosall & Doxey

 

+ 1.2%

+ 2.8%

Stafford Central

 

+ 2.1%

+ 10.8%

Stafford North

 

- 2.0%

- 4.1%

Stafford South-East

 

+ 17.2%

+ 15.0%

Stafford Trent Valley

 

+ 2.6%

+ 0.03%

Stafford West  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

To consider the report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

59.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Request for Parking Restrictions along Kingsway and Martin Drive, Castlefields, Stafford

 

Mr. Heenan presented a petition from local residents requesting the introduction of parking restrictions along Kingsway and Martin Drive, Castlefields, Stafford.

 

Request for a change to the parking restrictions along Market Street and Crown Bridge, Penkridge

 

Mrs. Downes presented a petition from local traders/shopkeepers requesting a change to the parking restrictions along Market Street and Crown Bridge, Penkridge to enable vehicles to park for 1 hour.

 

Retention of the Taxi Rank in Hassel Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

 

Mr Nixon presented a petition opposing proposals to relocate the Taxi Rank currently located in Hassel Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme.