Venue: Council Chamber, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions
Contact: Mike Bradbury Email: email@example.com
Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16
There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.
RESOLVED – (a) That the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 20 July 2017 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.
(b) That the minutes of the special meeting of the County Council held on 20 July 2017 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.
(c) That the minutes of the special meeting of the County Council held on 31 August 2017 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members
By-election Results – Hednesford and Rawnsley
The Council were informed of the election, on 7 September 2017, of Mr Bryan Jones as Councillor for the Hednesford and Rawnsley (Cannock Chase) County Electoral Division. Members congratulated Mr Jones on his election and welcomed him to his first meeting of the County Council.
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
The Leader of the Council presented a Statement outlining his recent work since the previous meeting of the Council. In introducing his Statement, the Leader circulated a supplement detailing the following issues:
6. £5m Pothole Investment - Good roads are important for the county council, not just in terms of getting from A to B, but in supporting a growing economy.
We therefore took the decision to invest an extra £5m this year, specifically to tackle potholes. We still repair those that pose the biggest risk as soon as possible, but we wanted to tackle more of the lower category ones which are important to communities.
As a result, in the past year we have competed more than 31,000 repairs – compared to around 20,000 in a typical year.
As well as fixing reported potholes, crews have taken the opportunity to fix any others they come across which may not have been identified. They have also carried out patching of wider areas. I would like to thank the highways crews for their continued hard work in delivering better roads for the people of Staffordshire.
7. Ofsted Inspection - One area of the county council which, as leader I am particularly proud of is our children’s services. Keeping the most vulnerable children safe is a huge responsibility and we are fortunate to have a really dedicated team running the service.
We were of only a small number of councils which took part in a pilot for a new Ofsted inspection regime and I am pleased to say that all services supporting children in need of our help and protection were rated as “good”.
I think we all recognise this is hugely challenging area and while this result is a testament to the fantastic work of the children’s team, this is something we all continually strive to improve and will never be complacent about.
8. 30 Hours Childcare - Another pilot scheme we took part in was the Government’s pilot to offer qualifying working parents the chance to benefit from 30 hours funded childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.
The scheme was rolled out nationally on September 1. In Staffordshire the latest figures show the families of around 3,900 children took up the 30 hours’ offer, equating to almost 4.5 million hours of funded childcare in the county a year.
At the end of last month, Michelle Dyson, Director of Early Years and Childcare at the Department for Education found out more about the Staffordshire story when she came to Staffordshire Place. During the visit, Michelle met county councillors and officers, before talking to business representatives and visiting nurseries in Staffordshire.
9. Education - Our local universities are hugely important to a thriving Staffordshire economy, with Staffordshire University, Keele University and the University of Wolverhampton all playing a key role in the county.
In particular, I would like to note the success of Staffordshire University which was recently announced as the biggest climber in the Sunday Times Good University Guide, up ... view the full minutes text for item 41.
Appointment of Independent Persons under Localism Act 2011 and Appointment of Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) Members
Members were informed that the County Council’s Code of Conduct for members was introduced in 2012 in accordance with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011. That Code required the involvement of Independent Persons in considering alleged breaches of the Code. An Independent Person had to be consulted by the Monitoring Officer at various stages of the complaint handling process. Separately, if the complaint was pursued, the Member complained about had the right to seek the views of an Independent Person.
Recently, legislative changes to the Employment Rules for the Head of Paid Service, the Monitoring Officer and the Chief Finance Officer required Independent Persons to be included in the membership of a special committee which had to make recommendations to Council on any disciplinary action against the holders of those posts.
For some time the County Council had appointed two Independent Persons; however the changes referred to above meant that a wider ‘pool’ of Independent Persons was advisable. To address this, the Audit and Standards Committee had recently carried out a recruitment exercise which resulted in five suitable applicants. Interviews were held by a Special Panel of the Audit and Standards Committee and the following two candidates were recommended to Council for appointment:
• Mr Tom Roach (A retired HR professional with experience in the education sector and in the private sector - UK and Europe)
• Mrs Christina Robotham (A retired Staffordshire Headteacher)
Members were also informed that the County Council was required to have an Independent Remuneration Panel comprising 3-5 members to consider and make recommendations to Council on a Members’ Allowances Scheme. To date the County Council had sought to have Panels of five members however, recently, four vacancies had arisen due to varying circumstances. The Audit and Standards Committee therefore ran a recruitment campaign to coincide with that for the Independent Persons detailed above. Five suitable candidates were interviewed by a Special Panel with the following two recommended to Council for appointment:
Members noted that here were no Regulations precluding a person from carrying out more than one Independent role. The Special Panel felt that the wide variety of skills and knowledge held by Mr Roach and Mrs Robotham would be advantageous to both roles.
It was also recommended that the IRP progresses its work on the Allowances Scheme on the basis of 3 members with a further recruitment drive next year.
In response to a question from Mr Dudson, Mr Tittley undertook to provide him with details of the allowances paid to members of the Independent Remuneration Panel. He also confirmed that, even though the IRP Members’ allowances were paid by the County Council, there was no conflict of interest.
RESOLVED – (a) That Mr Tom Roach and Mrs Christina Robotham be appointed as Independent Persons as required under the Localism Act 2011 and as members of the Independent Remuneration Panel, ... view the full minutes text for item 42.
In moving consideration of his report, Mr D. Williams indicated that the Panel had taken a different view to that of the County Council when considering the business case for the joint governance of the Police and Fire and Rescue Service in Staffordshire and had decided to support the “Governance” Model.
Mr Brookes referred to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Annual Report and expressed his disappointment that Rural Crime was not listed as a priority. He also raised the issue of sentencing and indicated that in some cases, such as fly-tipping, the fines being imposed by the courts did not cover the cost of removing the materials which had been fly-tipped. In response, Mr D. Williams indicated that sentencing was a matter for the Courts, not the Police or Police and Crime Commissioner.
Mr Francis indicated that the Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee was to look into the issues of Domestic Violence and Modern Day Slavery and referred to the need for the Council to work closely with the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner to address these issues.
Several members discussed the differences between Modern Day Slavery and low pay.
RESOLVED – That the report be received.
In moving the consideration of his report, Mr Sweeney indicated that Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary had recently become Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service as its remit had been extended to include Fire and Rescue Services.
Mr Tagg referred to the potential fire risk arising from the use of coiled extension leads and enquired whether the Service was proposing any publicity to raise awareness of this issue. In response, Mr Sweeney indicated that he would raise this issue with the Chief Fire Officer.
In response to a question from Mr Francis, Mr Sweeney indicated that the Police and Crime Commissioner was pressing forward with his proposals for the joint governance of the Police and Fire and Rescue Service despite the opposition from both the County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
RESOLVED – That the report be received.
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
Mrs Woodward asked the following question of the Leader of the Council whose reply is set out below the question:-
The Leader will be aware of the impacts on the County Council’s employees of the current public sector pay cap and the national campaign for it to be lifted. Specifically, he will aware of the following impacts of the cap:
· NJC basic pay has fallen by 21% since 2010 in real terms
· NJC workers had a three-year pay freeze from 2010-2012
· Local terms and conditions of many NJC employees have also been cut, impacting on their overall earnings
· NJC pay is the lowest in the public sector
· Job evaluated pay structures are being squeezed and distorted by bottom-loaded NJC pay settlements needed to reflect the increased National Living Wage and the Foundation Living Wage
· There are growing equal and fair pay risks resulting from this situation.
Will he undertake to meet with local NJC union representatives to discuss the pay claim and the pay spine review?
Staffordshire County Council (SCC) acknowledges that NJC employees pay has been constrained for a number of years since the introduction of the pay freeze and subsequent public sector pay cap.
SCC is aware that nationally changes to terms and conditions are being made at a local level however; SCC has made no significant changes to its employee’s terms and conditions aside from the collective agreement which amended essential car user eligibility.
SCC is also aware of the mounting national pressure regarding the public sector pay cap and has assumed 2% in its Medium Term Financial Strategy up to 2021 to accommodate potential pay increases.
SCC has responded to the NJC Employers side consultation with regards to the 2018/19 Trade Union pay claim and remains committed to the national NJC pay bargaining process.
SCC is actively supporting the national pay spine review, commissioned jointly by the NJC Employers and Trade Union sides, with its goal to achieve a revised pay spine that is capable of:
Should you wish to discuss the points you have raised further then I would recommend that the appropriate setting is at the Trade Union Consultative Committee Strategic Forum.
Mr Little asked the following question of the Cabinet Support Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-
Could the portfolio holder please give a breakdown per electoral division as to the number of outstanding category 3 Highways issues which are unresolved and the percentage of which per division which fall outside the 60 day target for repair?
The county council agreed to invest an extra £5million this financial year to help repair potholes across the county. Alongside this investment we were clear that the public wanted to see ‘right first time’ repairs ... view the full minutes text for item 45.
An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents
(i) Resurfacing of Milton Crescent, Talke
Mr Robinson presented a petition from local residents calling on the County Council to resurface the footway along Milton Crescent, Talke.
(ii) “Save Staffordshire Bus Subsidies”
Mrs Atkins presented a petition calling on the County Council not to cut bus subsidies.
(iii) Request for Parking Restrictions along St Michael’s Close, Penkridge
Mr D. Williams presented a petition from local residents calling on the County Council to introduce parking restrictions along St Michael’s Close, Penkridge.
Changes to Committee Memberships
Note: At the request of the Leader of the Council, the Chairman agreed that this matter be added to the agenda for the meeting as an urgent item.
On the motion of the Leader of the Council it was:
RESOLVED – That the following recommendations of the Leader of the Council relating to changes in Committee membership be approved:
(a) Committee Membership –
(i) That Ian Parry be appointed to the Corporate Review Committee in place of Simon Tagg.
(ii) That Bryan Jones be appointed to the vacant seat on the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee.
(iii) That Ian Parry be appointed to the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee in place of Jeremy Pert.
(iv) That Jeremy Pert be appointed to the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee in place of Gill Burnett.
(v) That Paul Northcott be appointed to the vacant seat on the Audit and Standards Committee.
(vi) That Bryan Jones be appointed to the Corporate Parenting Panel in place of Paul Northcott.
(b) Appointment of Chairmen/Vice-Chairmen –
(i) That Ian Parry be appointed as Chairman of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee.
(c) Cabinet Support Members to chair and lead the All Party Member Groups
(i) That Simon Tagg be appointed to chair the Improvement APMG in place of Paul Northcott.
(d) Appointments to Outside Bodies -
(i) That Simon Tagg be appointed to the vacant seat on the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority.