Agenda and draft minutes

County Council
Thursday, 16th February, 2017 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - County Buildings

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

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

50.

Apologies for absence (if any)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

County Councillor Margaret Astle

 

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

 

RESOLVED – That in light of Mrs Margaret Astle’s continuing ill health, and for the purposes of section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972, her continuing absence from Council meetings be authorised until 4 May 2017.

 

County Councillor Jeff Sheriff

 

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

 

RESOLVED – That in light of Mr Jeff Sheriff’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 4 May 2017.

 

51.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Member

Minute Nos.

Interest

Reason

Susan Woodward

Personal

Trustee of Safe and Sound (Life Resources Skills Project)

Charlotte Atkins

Personal

Trustee of Leek CAB Board

 

52.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 8 December 2016 pdf icon PDF 497 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Miss Wood referred to page 18 of the minutes (relating to her question to the Leader of the Council) and indicated that the date in the last line of her supplementary question should be “2020” and not “2010”

 

RESOLVED – That, subject to the amendment referred to above, the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 8 December 2016 be confirmed.

53.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Former County Councillor Mrs Joyce Merry JP

 

The Chairman informed members of the death, on 19 January 2017, of former County Councillor Mrs Joyce Merry JP.  Mrs Merry represented the former “The Hayes” (Cannock Chase) County Electoral Division on the County Council between May 1989 and June 2001.

 

She had served on a number of the Council’s Committees including the Education, Fire and Public Protection and Planning Committees.  She was also a Member of Cannock Chase District Council.

 

Members paid tribute to the contribution Mrs Merry had made during the time she served on the County Council and then observed a one minute’s silence in her memory.

 

Special Committee

 

The Chairman informed the Council that, since their last meeting, she had exercised her powers under Appendix 3 to Section 11 of the Council’s Constitution to appoint a Special Committee consisting of County Councillors P. Atkins OBE, C. Atkins, M. Sutton, S. Woodward and herself.

54.

Our vision for Staffordshire - Strategic Plan 2014-2018 and the Business Plan 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 216 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader presented to the Council the Strategic Plan 2014-2018 and the Business Plan 2017-18.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

Mrs Peaple indicated that she was pleased that the County Council was to continue to focus on looking after those who were unable to look after themselves. 

 

Mr Smith referred to the need for the County Council to work in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority. Mr Adamson added Cannock Chase District Council had received around £7m investment from the West Midlands Combined Authority for Kingswood Lakeside which would create approximately 400 new jobs. In response, Mr Atkins indicated that the £7m was a loan and would need to be repaid.  Mr Adams spoke about how the County Council was working with the Combined Authority; how business rates generated in Staffordshire would be invested by the relevant Local Enterprise Partnerships; and the need to ensure that Staffordshire received its fair share of the those monies. 

 

Mr Francis and Mr Brookes referred to the economic growth and inward investment which had taken place in the County over the past four years including the development at Redhill.

 

Mrs Woodward indicated that the Structure Plan was a high level plan and that the “devil was in the detail”.  She added that the County Council faced huge challenges over the coming twelve months.

 

Mr Winnington stated that Staffordshire was one of the fastest growing regions (outside of London), not only in the UK but also in Europe.  He added that there was almost  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2017/22 and 2017/18 Budget and Council Tax pdf icon PDF 537 KB

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy, Finance and Corporate Matters outlining how the Council will finance its operations over the next five years and recommending a budget to the Council for 2017/18

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 Matters on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 20017/22 and 2017/18 Budget and Council Tax proposals.

 

Mr Parry expressed his thanks to the Director of Finance and Resources, the Chief Accountant, those other 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 added that it had been the most challenging budget to date for a number of reasons including the commencement of the transition from the Council receiving a major part of its funding from Central Government to financial independency through the retention of Business rates.   He also spoke about the need for the Council to be smaller and smarter and also the financial pressure facing the Council due to an ageing population which would result in the Council spending almost £1m per day on social care.  He added that these pressures would mean that the County Council would need to make sacrifices elsewhere.

 

Members noted that the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement gave local authorities the ability to increase the social care precept to a maximum of 3% in any one year but no more than 6% over a three year period. It was proposed to seek Council’s approval to a social care precept of 3% in 2017/18 (with planning assumptions of 3% in 2018/19, 0% in 2019/20 and 2% thereafter). The planning assumption for the general precept was an increase of 1.95% each year. Therefore the total increase to council tax in 2017/18 would be 4.95%. The planning assumptions for the remaining years of the MTFS period were that council tax would increase by 4.95% in 2018/19, 1.95% in 2019/20 and then 3.95% in both 2020/21 and 2021/22.

 

Mr Parry indicated that the Council was intending to spend £5m on the provision of drug and alcohol services and was also examining ways of investing more in the County’s highways network.

 

He concluded by indicating that Staffordshire was the third lowest Shire Authority in relation to the level of Council Tax.

 

Mr Jenkins indicated that Council Tax in Staffordshire had risen by 11.2% over the past four years which was higher than the rate of inflation and that, during the last five years, £40m had been taken from reserves.  He added that the County Council needed to “fight its corner” with regard to the reductions in funding from Central Government.

 

Mrs Dean indicated that she did not support the reductions in funding which was being proposed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 207 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 since the previous meeting of the Council.

 

Quarter 3, 2016/17 Performance Report

(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)

 

In response to a question from Mr Jenkins regarding the target for the number of schools in Staffordshire rated “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted, Mr Adams indicated that the County Council had focussed its support to those schools which most needed help.  He added that the Council also encouraged schools to work together to share best practice and that the target for schools rated “good” or “outstanding” had recently been stretched from 90% to 92%.

 

Staffordshire Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Plan 2017

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

Mrs Woodward referred to the need for local members to be kept informed of proposed roadworks in their respective divisions and also being able to have knowledge of, and influence over, the schedule of works.  In response, Mr Deaville indicated that these were local issues whereas the Asset Management Plan was concerned with a county-wide, strategic, long-term approach aimed at improving efficiencies in relation to the highway infrastructure.

 

Mr Marshall expressed concern at the quality of some of the repairs undertaken by Amey and enquired as to when the contract with them was due to expire.  In response, Mr Winnington indicated that the contract with Amey was in its first phase and that, overall, he was content with the quality of the work they had undertaken.  He added that County Engineers were responsible for quality checking the work undertaken by Amey.  Mr Huckfield also stated that he was happy with the quality of the work in his division which had been completed by Amey. 

 

Mr Adams referred to the need for the utility companies to work together to programme their proposed works in order to mitigate the impact of those works on road users.

 

The Keele Deal

(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)

 

Mr Sweeney, Mr Tagg and Mr Huckfield indicated that they welcomed the Keele Deal as it would give rise to good quality, well paid jobs into the local area.  In response to a question from Mr Sweeney about Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s financial contribution to the Deal, Mr Winnington indicated that the Borough Council were one of the partners within the funding arrangement for Innovation Centre 6 at Keele. 

 

In response to a question from Mr Tagg as to whether local colleges were beginning to tailor their courses to the skills needed to take advantage of those jobs which would be created through the Deal, Mr Adams indicated that Newcastle-under-Lyme College was one of the best colleges in the Country and that he would like to see closer working between the colleges and universities in the County to provide higher level skills.

 

The Chairman adjourned the meeting until 2:00 pm

 

Present at 2:00 pm:

 

Ben Adams

George Adamson

Charlotte Atkins

Philip Atkins OBE

Ann Beech

David Brookes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

Notices of Motion

Mrs C. Atkins to move the following motion:

 

This Council calls on the Cabinet to review its decision regarding the costs of maintaining fixed equipment to assist people with disabilities in their own homes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Atkins moved, and Mr Olszewski seconded, the following motion:

 

“This Council calls on the Cabinet to review its decision regarding the costs of maintaining fixed equipment to assist people with disabilities in their own homes.”

 

Mrs Atkins and Mr Olszewski gave examples of how the policy would impact on individuals and expressed the view that it was short-sighted and could result in more people going into residential care rather than being supported to live in their own homes.

 

Mr Huckfield expressed his support for the motion.

 

In responding to the motion, Mr White indicated that he felt that the motion was reasonable and that he was happy to arrange for the decision to be reconsidered.

 

Following a vote, the Chairman declared the motion carried.

 

RESOLVED – This Council calls on the Cabinet to review its decision regarding the costs of maintaining fixed equipment to assist people with disabilities in their own homes.

58.

Recommendations to Council pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a) Pay Policy Statement 2017/18 – 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.

 

RESOLVEDThat the Pay Policy Statement for 2017/18 (as set out in Annex A to the report) be approved.

 

(b) Proposed Changes to the Constitution - New Regulatory Requirements re Procedure for Discipline or Dismissal of Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and Chief Financial Officer

 

The Council were informed that under the current Constitution, the procedure for the dismissal or discipline of the Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and Chief Financial Officer (‘Relevant Officers’) was for a Special Committee to consider a report by a Designated Independent Person [DIP] and, in the case of dismissal, to then make a recommendation to Full Council for approval before the dismissal notice could be served.

 

On 11 May 2015 new regulations came into effect which replaced the requirement to have a report by a DIP with the need to have a Panel (Committee) which included in its membership at least 2 Independent Persons appointed by the Authority under the Localism Act 2011. These were Independent Persons who currently had a role to advise the Monitoring Officer on complaints against members (‘Standards complaints’).

 

The regulations required that the County Council must incorporate the new requirements into its Standing Orders.

 

RESOLVEDThat Appendix 3 (Officer Employment Procedure Rules) to Section 11 of the Constitution be amended as set out in Annex B to the report.

 

(c)  The new Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire (2015 to 2030) - Proposed Adoption

 

Members noted that in December 2015, the County Council approved the submission of the new Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire (2015 to 2030) (‘the new Plan’) to the Secretary of State for examination.  The new Plan was then subject to an examination carried out by Mr Andrew Mead, a Planning Inspector appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State, to determine whether the new Plan was ‘sound’ and complied with legal requirements.  The examination involved hearing sessions taking place from 30 March to 13 April 2016 as well as consideration of the responses to a public consultation on proposed modifications to the Plan that was carried out between 1 July and 19 August 2016.

 

In a report dated 25 November 2016, the Planning Inspector confirmed that the new Plan was ‘sound’ with the main modifications as proposed by the County Council and which were subject to public consultation.  The County Council was now, therefore, in a position to adopt the new Plan with the main modifications recommended in the appendix to the Inspector’s report.  There were also additional (minor) modifications to provide clarification on or to update the content of the new Plan which had been previously approved by the Council.  On 2 February 2017, the County Council’s Planning Committee commended to the County Council the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 257 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In moving consideration of the report, Mr Chapman indicated that, following the announcement from the Chief Constable that she was to retire, the selection process for the appointment of her replacement had commenced.  He also stated that Police and Crime Act had now received Royal Assent and, where a local case was made out, could pave the way for a change of governance as far as the Fire Service was concerned.

 

In response to a question from Mrs Dean in relation to a reduction in the availability of representatives from the Police Force to attend public meetings, Mr Chapman indicated that this was an operational issue and he advised Mrs Dean to pursue the matter with the local Police Commander.

 

Mrs Rowlands asked Mr Chapman whether he had had any recent conversations with the Police and Crime Commissioner on the impact of the reduction in funding for drug and alcohol services in the County and, if not, would he take this matter up with the Commissioner as a matter of urgency.  In response, Mr Chapman indicated that he would raise this issue again with the Commissioner and would inform Mrs Rowlands of the outcome of those discussions before the next meeting of the County Council.

 

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

60.

Report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In moving consideration of the report, Mr Sweeney indicated that the Fire and Rescue Authority, at its meeting on 15 February, approved a 1.75% increase in the Council Tax precept for 2017/18.

 

Mrs Mitchell enquired about the current position in respect of the proposed life skills centre at Stafford Fire Station.  In response, Mr Sweeney stated that a letter had recently been received from the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service at the Home Office stating that he was not content for the project to proceed whilst the his concerns, and those of the local Members of Parliament, remained unresolved.  Mr Sweeney added that he was to meet the local Members of Parliament and would report the outcome of those discussions to the next meeting of the Fire and Rescue Authority on 31 March.

 

Mr Jackson referred to the national figures on response times in rural areas, which had shown an increase, and enquired as to whether this increase was mirrored in Staffordshire.  In reply, Mr Sweeny indicated that he was not aware of any increased response times for rural areas in Staffordshire.

 

Mr P. Davis requested that his congratulations be extended to the Fire and Rescue Service and the Audit Teams for the work they had done this year in respect of the preparation of the annual accounts as the Service was one of only a select few that was named in a national publication by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) as having their accounts signed off two months early.

 

In response to a question from Mr Huckfield, Mr Sweeney confirmed that the Service was still offering free Home Fire Risk checks and that these had recently been extended to incorporate a “health, safe and well check”.

 

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

61.

Questions pdf icon PDF 203 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. P. Davis (on behalf of Mr. Clarke) asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

“A road in my division, Victoria Crescent, recently had more than a dozen pot holes repaired. I had waited nine months after reporting the poor and potentially dangerous condition of the road, which had deteriorated further in that time. After only a few weeks following the repair, the material used has crumbled, leaving the road as it was before. I would suggest that this does not represent good value for money, especially in these straitened times. Would the Cabinet Member tell me how many repairs have been carried out in Victoria Crescent in Burton in the last three years? Shouldn’t Amey take full responsibility for returning to undertake competent repairs immediately and for the residents not to have to wait for another nine months?”

 

Reply

 

Repairs were conducted on Victoria Crescent on the 7th September 2016 utilising a velocity patching repair technique, which is a combination of aggregate and emulsion/binder. This treatment type has been used in Staffordshire successfully for several years now, with few failures.

 

Following a site inspection, initial findings have shown that there has been aggregate loss on this site which would suggest that in this instance that there has been a problem with the emulsion which has resulted in non-adherence of the aggregate. These repairs will be reworked as soon as possible.

 

This is a challenging site to carry out works on in terms of its nature as it is subject to; on street parking, traffic calming and also forms part of a bus route, however, the outstanding works will be programmed once all of these influences have been co-ordinated.

 

In the last 3 years 17no safety repairs have been carried out at this location.

 

Mrs. Rowlands asked the following question of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Matters whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

“How much has the capital receipt from Entrust delivered to this council in the financial years 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16?”

 

Reply

 

The County Council received £24.886m in 2012/13, £2.218m in 13/14 and 14/15 and £2.094m in 15/16.

 

Supplementary Question

 

This is compelling evidence that the capital receipts from Entrust are declining.  How does Chartwells fit into this picture, who provide catering and cleaning services to schools; is there a capital receipt from them?

 

Reply

 

I respectfully request that you ask the right question to get the answers you are seeking.  I think what you were looking for this afternoon was an answer to a different question – what dividends we have had from Entrust – whereas you actually asked me about what capital receipts we had received.  If you had asked me about dividends, I would have said that this is a fledgling company and that we haven’t quite got there yet as the company is not quite making enough profit to pay a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a) Resurfacing of Manor Green, Stafford

 

Mrs. Rowlands presented a petition from residents of Manor Green, Stafford raising no objections to the road being resurfaced with tarmac in place of the existing concrete surface.

 

(b) Shire Oak Quarry

 

Mr. Smith presented a petition from residents of Stonnall village objecting to the planning application to provide an eastern extension to Shire Oak Quarry.

 

(c) Charges for non-household waste deposited at Household Waste Recycling Centres

 

Mrs. Todd presented a petition opposing the recent introduction of charges for non-household waste deposited at Household Waste Recycling Centres.

 

 

 

Chairman