Agenda and minutes

County Council
Thursday, 17th March, 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

60.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 10 February 2011

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Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2011 be confirmed.

61.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

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Minutes:

Divisional Commander’s Team Achievement Award

 

The Chairman informed Members that the Staffordshire Moorlands “Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership” had recently received an award from Staffordshire Police in respect of the set up and promotion of “No Cold Calling Zones” across the Staffordshire Moorlands.  These zones were proven as an effective method of reducing incidences of doorstep crime and the fear of crime amongst residents.

62.

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.

 

Joint Third Quarter Performance and Budget Monitoring Report

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

In response to questions from Members in relation to how the County Council was coping with reductions in the funding from Central Government, Mr. Atkins indicated that a decision had been taken to protect and invest in front line services and that, where some authorities were cutting services, the County Council was expanding some services.  An example of this was the Library Service where proposals were currently in hand to provide free Wi-Fi in a number of the County’s Libraries.  He paid tribute to the commitment shown by staff and explained that, although the County Council would become a leaner organisation over the next few years, it was hoped that this could be achieved through natural wastage rather than compulsory redundancies.  He concluded by indicating that the County Council was concentrating its resources on service delivery and securing better outcomes for the people of Staffordshire whilst, at the same time, protecting those who were the most vulnerable.

 

Staffordshire Transport Asset Management Plan

(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)

 

Mr. Chapman indicated that he welcomed the recent announcement that there was to be additional investment in highway maintenance to repair the damage caused to the county’s roads over the winter period.  He added that this announcement had raised the expectations of Parish Councils and that it was important that there was some flexibility in the maintenance programme in order to recognise the needs of rural areas.  In response, Mr. Atkins confirmed that there was to be an additional £4m investment in highway maintenance.  Mr. Marshall added that local members would in future play a vital role in identifying local priorities and that this additional investment in highway maintenance would be used to make sure that repairs were undertaken properly rather than pot holes being “patched”.

 

Staffordshire Passenger and Accessibility Management Plan –

Young Persons Travel Card and Concessionary Fares

(Paragraph 4 of the Statement)

 

Mr. Beale indicated that he welcomed the recent announcement that the County Council was to introduce a 24/7 concessionary travel scheme for the elderly/disabled and also a young person’s travel card.  Mrs. Jebb added that whilst she appreciated the introduction of the new concessionary fares scheme, it was important to ensure that rural areas were served with adequate bus services.  She added that Stoke-on-Trent City Council had recently announced its proposal to cease its subsidy of the bus service between Stoke-on-Trent and Bagnall which could result in some rural communities becoming isolated.  In response, Mr. Atkins indicated that it was important that local communities used their bus services if they wished to retain them and that the main thrust behind the concessionary travel scheme and young persons travel card was to get more people on to local bus services  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

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:

There were no questions on this occasion.

64.

High Speed Rail (HS2) - Preliminary Discussion

Report of the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a report in relation to the public consultation on a High Speed Rail Network and more specifically, on a route between London and Birmingham/Lichfield.  The public consultation had commenced on 28 February 2011 and was due to run until the end of July 2011.

 

Mr Atkins indicated that, whatever people’s views on the proposals, it was necessary to try to keep the cost of the public consultation down.  He added that the issues not only concerned HS2 between London and Birmingham/Lichfield but also its extension (HS3) to Manchester and Leeds.

 

Mr. Parry expressed the opinion that the proposed high speed rail link would have a detrimental impact on employment levels and prosperity within Staffordshire and would also damage the local environment.  He also expressed the view that Staffordshire could become a commuter belt for London and that the business case for the high speed rail network was flawed.  He concluded by indicating that, in his view, it would be better to invest on improving the existing rail infrastructure so as to increase capacity.

 

Mr. Parry moved and Mr. Marshall seconded the following amendment:

 

         “That the recommendations contained in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Report be amended by the addition of the following recommendation:

 

         (3) That the County Council adopts a position which opposes the proposed High Speed Rail Link on the grounds that:

 

               (i)   Its business case is flawed

               (ii) It offers no economic or social benefit to Staffordshire

               (iii) It is potentially damaging to the economy and prosperity of Staffordshire

               (iv) It proposes significant and unacceptable environmental damage and disruption

               (v)  That investment in infrastructure and transport should focus on improving affordable rail and road transportation.”

 

Mr. Marshall indicated that HS2 would not be “green” and, at its best, government indicated that it would be carbon neutral.  He explained that one of his concerns was that, in Staffordshire, the proposal would result in an area of equivalent size to Manchester being concreted over and that most of the benefits arising from the high speed rail network would go to London, particularly as Staffordshire would not be getting a station on HS2.

 

Mr. Marshall also expressed concern that, if HS2 was to go ahead, there may well be an adverse impact upon existing services linking Staffordshire and London.  Furthermore, the cost of construction would result in an increase in the national debt and that there were other ways to increase existing service capacity which were more cost effective.

 

A number of Members spoke in support of the recommendations and the proposed amendment.  In addition, Mr. Davis, Mr. Easton and Mr. P.E. Jones expressed the view that the County Council also needed to consider the wider benefits of the HS2 proposals to the UK as a whole and not just its impact on Staffordshire.

 

Mr. Copper indicated that investment in rail would best be served by concentrating on ways to increase capacity rather than speed.  Following a vote, the Chairman declared the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Recommendations to the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Treasury Management, Annual Investment and

Minimum Revenue Provision Strategies 2011/12

 

RESOLVED – (a) That, in accordance with regulations, the Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) 2011/12, comprising investment instruments, credit quality and terms of investment (Appendices 1, 2 and 3 to the Report) be adopted.

 

(b) That the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy 2011/12 (Appendix 4 to the Report) be adopted.

 

Members’ Allowances Scheme – Independent Remuneration

Panel Report

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel be received.

 

(b) That the hourly rate for the Carers/Dependants Allowances in the Members’ Allowance Scheme be changed to the actual cost of care up to a maximum of £14.42 per hour.

 

(c) The period of office for Ray Betteridge, Patrick Grange, Jane Landick, Gerald Griffin and Ian Starkie as members of the Independent Remuneration Panel be extended to 31 March 2012.

 

Staffordshire Local Transport Plan

 

RESOLVED – That the Local Transport Plan be approved and that the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport be authorised to make any necessary minor changes required to the Plan prior to its publication.

66.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police Authority

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Minutes:

In response to a question from Mrs. Maxfield concerning proposals to reshape the Force and the effect this may have on local police stations, Mrs. Heath indicated that the proposals would result in the police force’s divisional boundaries coinciding with the District/Borough Council boundaries.  She added that there was a commitment to keep police services in local communities and that the opportunity to share buildings with other local partners would be examined.

 

Mr. Francis enquired about the efficiencies which could be achieved through combining “back offices” with another public body such as the Fire and Rescue Authority.  In response, Mrs. Heath indicated that this was being investigated by the Force.

 

RESOLVED – That the periodic report of the Staffordshire Police Authority be received.

67.

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

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Minutes:

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

68.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Westway Public House, West Way, Stafford

 

Mr. Jennings presented a petition from local residents seeking the retention of the Westway Public House, the site of which was the subject of a planning application for the provision of a care home for the elderly.

 

Proposed Highway Improvements in Derby Street, Leek

 

Mr. Povey presented a petition from local residents objecting to the proposals to install a Pelican Crossing and remove a roundabout in Derby Street, Leek due to the detrimental impact of these works on the adjacent Nicholson War Memorial.

 

Retention of Service 44 between Hanley and Bagnall

 

The Chairman presented a petition (on behalf of Mrs Jebb) from local residents seeking support for the retention of Service 44 between Hanley and Bagnall following an announcement by Stoke-on-Trent City Council of its intention to cease to subsidise the service.

 

Re-establishment of Trees next to Pearl Brook/Queensway, Stafford

 

Mr. Heenan presented a petition from local residents seeking the re-establishment of trees/shrubs next to Pearl Brook/Queensway, Stafford following their recent felling.