Agenda and minutes

County Council
Thursday, 11th February, 2016 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - County Buildings. View directions

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

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

49.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 10 December 2015 pdf icon PDF 365 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 10 December 2015 be confirmed.

50.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Queen’s New Year's Honours List

 

The Chairman informed the Council that County Councillor Brian Edwards, who represented the Kinver County Electoral Division, had been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2016 for his services to Local Government.  The Council extended their congratulations to Mr Edwards on his award.

 

County Councillor Geoff Morrison

 

The Council were informed of the death, on 9 February 2016, of County Councillor Geoff Morrison who had represented the Uttoxeter Town (East Staffordshire) Electoral Division on the County Council since 2005.

 

Mr Morrison had served on a number of the County Council’s Committees including the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee, Corporate Review Committee, Safeguarding and Public Protection Select Committee, Health Scrutiny Committee, Social Care Scrutiny Committee, Healthier Communities and Older People Scrutiny and Performance Panel, Regulatory Committee, Corporate Parenting Panel, Safety of Sports Ground Panel and the Planning Committee. He had also represented the County Council on the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Fire and Rescue Authority.

 

Honorary Alderman Peter John White

 

The Chairman informed Members of the death, on 8 January 2016, of Honorary Alderman Peter John White.  Mr White represented the former Castle Liberty (Tamworth) County Electoral Division on the County Council from 1975 to 1977 and also the former Stonydelph (Tamworth) County Electoral Division between 1997 and 2009. 

 

Mr White had served as a Member of the Council’s Cabinet between 2001 and 2009 and held a range of portfolios including Environment and Corporate Performance, Social Care and Health, and Support Member for Waste.  He was appointed as an Honorary Alderman for his services to the County Council in December 2009.

 

Members paid tribute to Mr Morrison and Mr White and then stood in silence in their memory.

51.

Our vision for Staffordshire - Strategic Plan 2014-2018 and the Business Plan 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 218 KB

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy, Finance and Corporate Issues outlining what the Council aims to achieve as outlined in the Strategic Plan

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader presented to the Council the Strategic Plan 2014-2018 and the Business Plan 2016-17.

 

Members noted that the Strategic Plan was a high level plan, setting out the county council’s vision, priority outcomes and the principles of how everyone connected with the county council would work. The Strategic Plan outlined the Council’s ambitions for what Staffordshire would look like by 2033, and covered a period of four years.  The Strategic Plan sat alongside the Medium Term Financial Strategy which covered a time period of five years in accordance with best practice.

 

The Strategic Plan provided focus for the organisation and ensured that the Council’s resources were being directed towards the delivery of its vision for a “Connected Staffordshire where everyone has the opportunity to prosper, be healthy and happy”, and also the three priority outcomes that had been agreed by Cabinet in August 2013, i.e. the people of Staffordshire will be able to access more good jobs and feel the benefits of economic growth; be healthier and more independent; and feel safer, happier and more supported in and by their community. 

 

The Leader of the Council indicated that the three priority outcomes must remain the driving force of the Council’s work; however in refreshing the business plan for 2016-17 there would be particular focus on:

 

·         Working hard to ensure that the economy continues to grow and that everyone has a good job with good prospects

·         Helping people to help themselves to lead happy and independent lives with less need for services and support

·         Continuing to support those least able to help themselves through creating new models of care in line with our resources

 

Members noted that the vision, priority outcomes and principles set out in the Strategic Plan would be delivered through the county council’s business plan which contained more detailed measures, targets and activities.  Performance against the Strategic Plan and Business Plan would be reported to Cabinet every quarter and any issue which arose would be monitored and addressed by relevant Cabinet Member and Senior Leadership Team leads. Progress made against the priorities identified in the Strategic Plan would also be scrutinised by the County Council’s Select Committees.

 

Mr Parry indicated that the last few years had been a period of significant change and transformation and that the Business Plan was focused on ensuring that the County Council was fit for purpose and that the services it provided were efficient and affordable. He also cited examples of where the Council had invested in improving infrastructure in order to attract businesses to the county such as the roll-out of Superfast Broadband and the creation of business/retail parks.

 

Mr Adamson expressed concern at the impact of the Council’s decisions to reduce its funding of some voluntary organisations/community groups and indicated that such decisions often adversely affected the most vulnerable people in the County.  In response, Mr White indicated that the Council cared about and supported vulnerable people in the County but that the proposals in the Strategic Plan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2016/21 and 2016/17 Budget and Council Tax pdf icon PDF 483 KB

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy, Finance and Corporate Issues outlining how the Council will finance its operations over the next five years and recommending a budget to the Council for 2016/17

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a joint report by the Leader of the Council and the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy, Finance and Corporate Issues on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 20016/21 and 2016/17 Budget and Council Tax proposals.

 

Mr Parry expressed his thanks to the Director of Finance and Resources and to those members of staff who had assisted in the development of the MTFS and also to the Chairman and Members of the Corporate Review Committee’s Medium Term Financial Strategy Working Group for the robust manner in which they had challenged and questioned Cabinet Members during their scrutiny of the MTFS/budget proposals.

 

Members noted that The MTFS had been prepared in conjunction with the Strategic Plan and contained the framework for the preparation of detailed revenue and capital budgets, decisions on council tax and savings and investment plans.

 

Mr Parry explained that the MTFS had been prepared against a background of reductions in local government finance and an increase in demand for services to support vulnerable people.  It was therefore imperative that the County Council was innovative in the way in which it provided services and that resources were targeted where they were most needed.  It was also recognised that, in many cases, the voluntary sector or other partnership bodies were better placed to provide some services which, historically, had been provided by the County Council.  Mr Parry also added that in view of the reductions in local government finance and the increase in demand for services, it was proposed that council tax would increase by 3.95% in 2016/17 which equated to an increase of around 10p per day at a Band D rate.  He also added that, with the removal of the Rate Support Grant and changes to Business Rates, the County Council would become financially independent from Central Government.

 

Members also noted that the proposed budget would result in achieving a balanced budget for 2016/17 in difficult financial circumstances. The future years were not balanced, even with an additional Adult Social Care precept assumed in all years and there was still work to do in order to balance the draft budget in 2017/18. Mrs Woodward  and Mr Adamson suggested that the County Council should lobby Central Government with a view to securing additional funding and added that a number of Councils, particularly in the South East of England, had done this successfully.

 

Mr Parry indicated that, over recent years, the Council had been reshaped in order to manage demand on services, reduce costs by £156m over five years, and to introduce creative, more affordable ways of making a positive difference to the lives of Staffordshire people – all with one of the lowest county council taxes in the country.  He added that it was essential for the Council to work closer and smarter with its public sector partners who together spent over £7billion a year of public money in Staffordshire.

 

Several Members spoke about their disappointment at the need to raise Council Tax by 3.95%;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 293 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.

 

A50 Growth Corridor – Progress Report

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

Mr Greatorex indicated that he welcomed the A50 growth corridor project and the associated new housing it would bring.  He also spoke about the urgent need for local councils to change their attitudes towards the development of new housing sites and, instead to work to stimulate the growth of new and replacement housing stock.  Mrs Woodward referred to the Housing and Planning Bill which was currently making its way through Parliament and indicated that the County Council should take the opportunity to forward its views on the Bill to Central Government. Mr Atkins added that he was pleased that Members were supportive of the A50 Growth Corridor proposals and the associated new housing.

 

In response to a question from Mr Huckfield in relation to the percentage of Business Rates currently retained by the County Council, Mr Atkins indicated that the current level was 9%.

 

The Future Business Model for the Shugborough Estate

(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)

 

Several Members expressed their concern that there had been a lack of transparency around the Cabinet’s decision to surrender the Council’s lease of the Shugborough Estate to the National Trust.  It was also suggested that the issue could have been referred to scrutiny for their views before the decision was taken.  In response, Mr Parry indicated that the National Trust had requested that the negotiations for the surrender of the lease should be kept confidential until an agreement had been reached.  Although the negotiations were held in private, as soon as the decision had been formally taken by the two bodies, the report to Cabinet, setting out the background and the reasons for the decision, was put in the public domain.  He also added that the Shugborough Estate had been suffering from falling visitor numbers for several years; the County Council did not have the funds to invest in the Estate to try to attract more visitors; and that the Estate had been running at a loss for many years.  Mr Adams added that he welcomed the agreement with the National trust on the surrender of the lease as he was of the view that the Trust had the necessary skills to manage the Estate and also the funds to invest in its future development as a major tourist attraction in Staffordshire.

 

In response to a question in relation to how the costs associated with the surrender of the lease would be met, Mr Parry indicated that the cost of borrowing the funds to cover the cost of surrendering the lease were equal to the Estate’s annual running costs and that the County Council would make considerable savings by no longer having a liability for the future maintenance of the Estate over the full period of the lease.

 

Sportshire: Progress  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Recommendations to Council pdf icon PDF 180 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pay Policy Statement 2016/17 – Section 38 of the Localism Act 2011

 

The Council were informed that it was a legal requirement of the Localism Act 2011 for the County Council to have a Pay Policy statement which must be published annually before 31 March.

 

RESOLVED – That the Pay Policy Statement for 2016/17 (as appended to the report) be approved.

55.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 195 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In moving consideration of the report, Mr Chapman referred to the recent inspection of the Staffordshire Police Force by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which found that the Force was “inadequate”at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable and supporting victims.  He added that the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner had attended the meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on 1 February 2016 and had discussed the measures which were being put in place to address the concerns raised during the recent HMIC inspection.  Mr Adams explained that the protection of vulnerable people was not solely the responsibility of Police Forces and Mr Lawrence added that the County Council had offered its support to the Chief Constable and were working closely with Staffordshire Police to address HMIC’s concerns.

 

Mr Chapman also indicated that the Police and Crime Commissioner had resolved to not increase the Council Tax precept for 2016/17

 

Members discussed a range of issues including the need to strengthen the number of “front-line” officers and why the annual running costs of the Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s office were similar to those of the West Midland PCC which was responsible for a much larger Police Force.

 

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

56.

Report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

57.

Questions pdf icon PDF 14 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:

Mrs Woodward asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Children and Community Safety whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

I’m sure that the Cabinet Member will agree with me that child-minders and childcare providers give an invaluable service to families in Staffordshire. I’m sure he will agree too that update briefings for them are important in order to keep them abreast of new initiatives and guidelines and to help them provide the best quality childcare. Is he aware, however, it would appear that Entrust are now to charge £50 per person per session for attending update briefing meetings which were previously offered free of charge and of the potential adverse impact on attendance?

 

Reply

 

Childminders across Staffordshire play a key role in supporting families and we are delighted that more than 80 per cent of our childminders are now rated as either good or outstanding by Ofsted.

 

Currently the County Council is in the process of agreeing a new service delivery agreement, but understands that there needs to be a balance between costs to Entrust and costs to childminders for information, guidance and learning.

 

As self-employed carers, we would also expect childminders to also be given information on the potential to offset some payments as part of their business costs.

 

Supplementary Question

 

What are you actually doing in a proactive way to influence this new service delivery agreement and to ensure, rather than to expect, that childminders are given the potential to offset some payments against business costs?

 

Reply

 

What I have to decide is should the services that we or Entrust are delivering across Staffordshire be delivered free of charge or, if the person or organisation receiving that service is making a financial benefit, should they be expected to meet part of the costs of delivering that service - and that is where we are today.  No decision has yet been made – Entrust may be looking at this and talking to people about this but no decision has yet been made. 

 

Mrs Astle asked the following question of the Leader of the Council whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

At the last full council meeting I raised the following with Mr Atkins:

 

Is Mr Atkins aware that I require a meeting between myself and Mr Atkins as I disagree with the statistics that unemployment figures are reducing, the area that I represent this is untrue.

 

The Stoke/Staffordshire LEP was awarded £11m to tackle social exclusion and poverty in disadvantage area’s in Stoke/Staffordshire, BBO funding, Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel has been omitted.

 

Parts of Kidsgrove town centre falls within the Ravenscliffe ward and the town centre is suffering from boarded-up premises and lack of investment.

 

Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme will be implemented in the Ravenscliffe and Kidsgrove as:

 

Crime and anti-social behaviour is increasing above the national average

 

Unemployment figures are above the national average

 

Educational attainments are below the national average

 

There is an higher than average transition of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Parking along Fairway, Stafford

 

Mrs Rowlands presented a petition from local residents concerning the parking of vehicles along Fairway and adjacent roads in Stafford.

 

 

 

 

 

Chairman