Agenda and minutes

County Council
Thursday, 10th December, 2015 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - County Buildings. View directions

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

Media

Items
No. Item

36.

County Councillor Geoff Morrison

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman informed Members of Mr Morrison’s continuing absence from Council meetings due to ill health.

 

RESOLVED – That in light of Mr Geoff Morrison’s continuing ill health, and for the purposes of Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972, his continuing absence from Council meetings be authorised until 17 March 2016.

37.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16

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Minutes:

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

 

Member

Minute Nos.

Interest

Gill Heath

43

Personal

Alan Dudson

43

Personal

Janet Eagland

43

Personal

Susan Woodward

42

Personal – Member of the Labour Group of the Local Government Association

 

38.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 8 October 2015 pdf icon PDF 362 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the County Council meeting held on 8 October 2015 be confirmed.

39.

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:

British Empire Medal Presentations

 

The Chairman informed the Council that, on Monday, 16 November 2015 she had the honour of hosting a special ceremony in the County Buildings during which two Staffordshire residents were awarded the prestigious British Empire Medal (BEM) for their invaluable contributions to their local communities.  The two awards winners were announced in The Queen’s Birthday Honours list earlier this year and the medals were presented by the Lord-Lieutenant, Mr Ian Dudson on behalf of Her Majesty.  Mr Michael Warrilow JP was awarded his BEM for services to the community of Stoke-on-Trent and Mr Michael Mellor was awarded his BEM for services to the Chase Arts in Public Spaces Organisation and to the community of Cannock. 

 

40.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 299 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 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 informed Members that, following a full recruitment and assessment process, Darryl Eyers had been appointed by the Special Committee as the Council’s Director for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills.

 

Countryside Estate Review

(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)

 

Mr Jenkins referred to the need for the Review to recognise the role of the Countryside Estate in protecting the County’s wildlife.

 

Mr Williams informed Members that the County Council was not the only body which managed land on Cannock Chase as Shoal Hill Common was managed jointly by the District Council, Parish Council and volunteers.

 

Mr Parry indicated that the Review was about how the County Council should work with others to find new and better ways of managing the Estate.  There was no intention to sell off parts of Cannock Chase or any other Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Council’s ownership.

 

Libraries in a Connected Staffordshire – Part 5 Mobile and Travelling Library Service

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

Mrs Compton indicated that the Mobile and Travelling Library Service was a lifeline for those who were isolated in rural areas and that she was pleased that the service would continue.  Mr Loades also expressed his support for the proposals.

 

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Growth Deal Annual update

(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)

 

Mr Taylor enquired as to whether the Leader of the Council could provide Members with information on the additional business rates likely to be generated as a result of the projects and also what types of jobs were likely to be generated. 

 

Mr Smith also referred to the need for the County Council to support those schemes which generated “quality” jobs such as the Lichfield South Technology Park.

 

Mrs Woodward referred to the need to ensure that when new business parks were constructed, consideration was given to the provision of a transport plan in order to ensure that the workforce could readily access such sites by public transport.

 

In response, the Leader of the Council explained that the application process for growth deal monies required the submission of a meticulous amount of information to show the benefits the project would bring including the types of jobs which would be generated and how the sites would be accessed (including by public transport).  He also referred to the need for colleges to equip students with the skills required by local businesses.

 

Second Quarter Budget Monitoring Report 2015/16

(Paragraph 4 of the Statement)

 

In response to a question from Mr Jones in relation the Chancellor’s Spending Review and the reduction in government grants to local authorities, Mr Parry indicated that the journey ahead would be very challenging and would get incrementally harder.  He added that, to date, the Council had achieved savings of £150m and would need to save a further £30m in 2016/17 and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Consideration of the Petition in respect of the Countryside Estate

In accordance with the County Councils’ petition scheme, to consider the petition calling on the County Council to “refuse to sell our publicly owned green spaces and AONB (Areas of Outstanding National Beauty) to private investors”.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were informed that under the Council’s Petition Scheme any petition that exceeded 5,000 valid signatures automatically triggered a debate at the next available Council meeting. 

 

A petition had been received stating – “Refuse to sell our publicly owned green spaces and AONB (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) to private investors”.

 

The petition consisted of over 11,700 signatures of which over 7,000 were valid signatures (i.e from Staffordshire residents). 

 

Mr Paul Woodhead, as spokesperson for the petitioners, outlined the reasons for the petition together with specific issues raised by the petitioners which included:

 

·         The initial proposals included “sale” as one of the options.

·         There was a lack of information on the merits of the community interest company approach.

·         Local taxpayers wanted their taxes spent on green spaces to enhance people’s quality of like.

·         The County Council was the custodian of the Country parks.

·         There was the potential loss of wildlife habitat should the land be sold or managed differently.

·         The proposals formed one of 87 cuts detailed in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.

·         There should be more investment in the Countryside, not less.

·         The information supporting the consultation was vague.

·         The consultation did not contain any information on the anticipated approach to conservation.

·         All the information on the proposals under consideration needed to be in one place.

·         There was no publicly communicated vision for the County’s Country Parks.

·         Three sites had already been removed from the consultation.

·         There needed to be a proactive approach to conservation.

 

In responding to the petition, Mr Winnington expressed his thanks to those who had taken the time to sign the petition.  He confirmed that, from the start, the County Council had been clear about what the aims of the review of the Countryside Estate but he felt that there had been a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation of the facts by other parties.  He also confirmed that the possible sale of the Country Parks had quickly been discounted and, out of the ten original options considered, the Cabinet had agreed that the following four proposed options be taken forward and form the basis for public consultation:

 

·         Continue with the current management and ownership arrangement but develop strategies with the aim of increasing income from individual sites and boosting community involvement.

·         Seek partnership arrangements with local community or voluntary sector groups whereby they could acquire leasehold or take over the management of one or more sites via appropriate leasing arrangements.

·         Establish a multi-agency partnership of landowners to actively manage all green space sites in a specific area. This could include pooling of resources and skills to generate economies of scale.

·         Establish a not for profit trading company or Community Interest Company to run the Estate.

 

Mr Winnington went on to explain that the consultation would run until January and he encouraged the public to take part and submit their views.

 

Mr Adamson indicated that the review of the Countryside Estate had caused a lot of concern as one of the original options on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Notices of Motion

(a) Mr. M. Winnington to move the following motion:

 

That this Council:

 

(i) Continues to express concerns on the impact of HS2 on Staffordshire, especially given the acceleration of the phase to Crewe.

 

(ii) Welcomes the efforts the council has made to mitigate the impact of Phase One on the county and its communities and our commitment to build on the experience gained to reduce the impact of Phase 2a.

 

(iii) Continues to ensure Staffordshire’s voice is heard in terms of mitigation on the environment and meaningful compensation for affected residents.

 

(iv) Engages with Government, HS2 Ltd, district and borough councils and neighbouring authorities to gain maximum economic benefits from HS2, building on the partnership of Midlands Connect to deliver better connectivity for all Staffordshire.

 

(b) Ms. S. Peaple to move the following motion:

 

This council believes that Lord Porter, Conservative Chair of the Local Government Association, was correct when he responded to the Autumn Statement by saying that “Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light, they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a) Mr. M. Winnington moved, and Mr Chapman seconded, the following motion:

 

That this Council:

 

(i) Continues to express concerns on the impact of HS2 on Staffordshire, especially given the acceleration of the phase to Crewe.

 

(ii) Welcomes the efforts the council has made to mitigate the impact of Phase One on the county and its communities and our commitment to build on the experience gained to reduce the impact of Phase 2a.

 

(iii) Continues to ensure Staffordshire’s voice is heard in terms of mitigation on the environment and meaningful compensation for affected residents.

 

(iv) Engages with Government, HS2 Ltd, district and borough councils and neighbouring authorities to gain maximum economic benefits from HS2, building on the partnership of Midlands Connect to deliver better connectivity for all Staffordshire.

 

Mr Winnington referred to the recent announcement around the acceleration of HS2 Phase 2A, the section running between Fradley and Crewe, which would now be constructed by 2027, six years earlier than originally planned.  He also informed the Council that the government had commenced a consultation on property mitigation and compensation.

 

Mr Chapman spoke about the devastating effect HS2 would have on a number of communities within Staffordshire and how the County Council must continue its work to secure mitigation measures and meaningful compensation for affected residents.

 

During the debate which followed, Members expressed their support for the motion.  Mr Tagg also referred to the continuing work by the County Council to get the best economic benefits for the people of Staffordshire and also the need to improve the road links with the proposed HS2 station near Crewe, including upgrading the junction of the M6 (Junction 16) with the A500.

 

Following a vote, the Chairman declared the motion carried.

 

RESOLVED - That this Council:

 

(i) Continues to express concerns on the impact of HS2 on Staffordshire, especially given the acceleration of the phase to Crewe.

 

(ii) Welcomes the efforts the council has made to mitigate the impact of Phase One on the county and its communities and our commitment to build on the experience gained to reduce the impact of Phase 2a.

 

(iii) Continues to ensure Staffordshire’s voice is heard in terms of mitigation on the environment and meaningful compensation for affected residents.

 

(iv) Engages with Government, HS2 Ltd, district and borough councils and neighbouring authorities to gain maximum economic benefits from HS2, building on the partnership of Midlands Connect to deliver better connectivity for all Staffordshire.

 

 

(b) Ms. S. Peaple moved, and Mr Taylor seconded, the following motion:

 

This council believes that Lord Porter, Conservative Chair of the Local Government Association, was correct when he responded to the Autumn Statement by saying that “Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light, they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”

 

Ms Peaple referred to the need for the Council to take Whitehall to task  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Recommendations to Council pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(i) Application to Register the Staffordshire County Flag

 

The Council were informed that the Flag Institute maintained and managed the national registry of United Kingdom flags.  This was to ensure that there was a definitive record of those which existed both nationally and regionally.  A number of County Councils across the UK already had a recognised adopted flag. 

 

Although the “Staffordshire Flag” (which was technically a “Banner”) had been adopted by the County Council and had been in use since 2009, it had never been formally registered with the Flag Institute.  In the current absence of a registered flag, the County Council’s banner was the most easily recognisable symbol of Staffordshire. Despite its beginnings as a County Council symbol it could often now be found flying across the County as it had been widely available commercially for some time. This commercial availability had helped to enable widespread recognition across the county as well as foster a sense of identity amongst Staffordshire’s communities.

 

An alternative design for the Staffordshire County Flag had been prepared by the Association of British Counties.  Their design incorporated the Stafford knot in gold on a red background.  However, it was unclear as to whether the Association was actively pursuing the registration of its design as it was neither currently used nor publicised in Staffordshire, nor was it commercially available.

 

RESOLVED (a) That an application be made to the UK Flag Institute to register the Staffordshire Banner as the County Flag for Staffordshire.

 

(b) That delegated authority be given to the Director of Strategy, Governance and Change to take any necessary action to secure the registration of the Banner as the Staffordshire County Flag.

 

(c) That the County Council formally and publically waive the copyright to the flag to allow the public to fly it freely.

 

(ii) The new Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire (2015 to 2030)

 

The Council were informed that the new Staffordshire Minerals Local Plan, which would replace the current Plan, contained policies to control the location, operation and restoration of mineral sites. It would help the County Council, as the Mineral Planning Authority, to balance demand from the industry for more quarries and the need to protect Staffordshire’s communities and the environment.   

 

The key issue addressed by the Plan was the need to meet an anticipated shortfall in sand and gravel up to 2030 as sensitively as possible.  The Plan aimed to provide up to 5 million tonnes per annum of sand and gravel to maintain supplies, for instance for building new homes in Staffordshire, mainly from 11 extensions to existing quarries.  An area of search was also identified for potential sites towards the end of the plan period.  In addition, the Plan updated current policies in order to ensure that the impact of quarrying was minimised, high standards of operation were achieved and to secure the restoration of sites so that they left behind a postive legacy that would enhance the environment for the benefit of local communities.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

Outcomes of Overview and Scrutiny Work - May to September 2015 pdf icon PDF 237 KB

Report of the Chairman of the Corporate Review Committee

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report which provided an overview of scrutiny work that was undertaken between May and September 2015, highlighting how scrutiny had added value to the democratic process.

 

The Select Committee Chairmen spoke about the valuable role played by scrutiny and each gave a brief overview of some of the work undertaken by their respective committees.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be received.

45.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 196 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In moving consideration of his report, Mr Chapman reflected on the recent terrorist acts in France and Belgium, the flow of migrants into Europe and the significant challenges such issues raised for Police Forces across Europe.  He also indicated that he has delighted with the recent Government announcement that it was not cutting Policing budgets.  Mr Chapman also cited examples of collaboration between the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service.

 

Mr Jenkins referred to the Proceeds of Crime Act and asked how much had been collected in the Force’s area over the last five years and what those monies had been spent on.  In response Mr Chapman indicated that comparing year on year was dangerous because there was a lag in collecting all the relevant information. However the following figures were available:

 

·         2006/07 – £345,000

·         2007/08 – £459,000

·         2008/09 – £501,000

·         2009/10 – £314,000

·         2010/11 – £362,000

·         2011/12 – £416,000

·         2012/13 – £463,000

·         2013/14 – £382,000

·         2014/15 – £284,000

 

He added that the monies collected under the Proceeds of Crime Act had been utilised to support a number of projects and initiatives by a range of organisations including:

 

·         Staffordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board

·         Burton Albion Community Trust

·         Stoke-on-Trent City Council

·         Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council

·         Staffordshire Police Cadets Scheme

·         House of Bread

 

Mr Huckfield asked, if the Fire and Rescue Authority and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office were to be combined, which of the two bodies would take the lead role.  Mr Chapman responded by indicating that there was currently a consultation by Central Government to see if there was potential for the governance of the Fire Service and the Police Force to be brought together under the Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

In response to questions from Mr Francis on the progress of the sale of the site of the former Police HQ on the Cannock Road in Stafford and the use of police horses from other police forces, Mr Chapman indicated that the marketing of the site of the former Police HQ was ongoing and that the Police and Crime Commissioner was in discussions with the Planning Department at Stafford Borough Council.  With regard to the use of police horses, Mr Chapman indicated that to “buy-in” the use of police horses from other Forces as and when required was more cost effective than Staffordshire having its own Mounted Section.

 

RESOLVED – That the Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police and Crime Panel be received.

46.

Report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In moving consideration of the report, Mr Bloomer informed the Council of the following additional matters:

 

·         Peter Dartford, the Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, had announced his intention to retire from the Service with effect from 8 April 2016.

·         The Fire and Rescue Authority, at its meeting on 22 December 2015, were to consider a motion in respect of collaboration.

·         Firefighters from Staffordshire were assisting the Fire and Rescue Service in Cumbria following the recent severe flooding.

 

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

47.

Questions pdf icon PDF 181 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:

Mr Jenkins asked the following question of the Cabinet Support Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

How many prosecutions have been taken against H.G.V. drivers for breaching the 7.5 Tonnes restriction in Staffordshire in each of the last five years for which records are available?

 

Reply

 

In 2011, 2014 and 2015 there were no prosecutions of H.G.V drivers for breaching the 7.5 tonne weight restriction. In 2012 12 drivers were prosecuted, and in 2013 there were 5 prosecutions.

 

The spike of prosecutions over 2 years was due to activity at several hotspots where HGVs were causing persistent nuisance to communities.

 

The police, trading standards and the highways agency have the power to enforce over weight vehicle legislation including weight restricted zones and structures such as bridges. Until a few years ago we promoted a scheme we called ‘Weighwatch’. Members of communities affected by HGVs were asked to collect data e.g. times, dates, location and vehicle registration numbers.  We would then write to the companies suggesting that they may be committing offences unless they were delivering in the area. If problems persisted then we planned enforcement activities to deal with offending drivers.

 

Enforcement requires proving that the vehicle was plated at over 7.5 tonne and travelled the full length of the zones without delivering or collecting. This would entail 2 officers parked up and then following likely offenders. Evidence of time, date and location is recorded and a photograph taken. We are able to access information from DVLA about the vehicle and its owner and pursue a prosecution.

 

In hotspot areas we have also leafleted industrial estates to educate transport companies and reduce the problems.

 

Supplementary Question

 

It is very disappointing to receive a reply like this since we are the enforcement authority.  Will you put the manpower in place to curtail this consistent nuisance?

 

Reply

 

As a caring and progressive County Council we have to consider the quality of life of our residents who are living near to these roads.  And we also have to consider the transportation of goods and the local economy; so we have to weigh-up those important considerations.  You will be aware that work on this issue is on-going through the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee. 

 

Mr Jenkins asked the following question of the Cabinet Support Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

What percentage of the road drain/gullies that exist in the Watling North Division in Tamworth, have now been inspected, cleaned or rectified in the last 2 years?

 

Reply

 

In urban areas highway gullies often work together as a network to drain the highway. Depending on the gradient of the road and number of surrounding gullies the network will work effectively for the majority of the time even if some of the gullies have individually become blocked. Unless standing-water is occurring on a regular basis and presenting a particular risk to road users, in the majority of cases  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Speed and Volume of Traffic along the A449 at Rodbaston, Penkridge

 

Mr Sutton presented a petition from local residents seeking the introduction of a 40 mph speed limit along the A449 between Boscomoor Island and Rodbaston College’s North Drive.

 

 

 

Chairman