Agenda and minutes

County Council
Thursday, 15th February, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

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

Media

Items
No. Item

58.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.

59.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 14 December 2017 pdf icon PDF 311 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Hood indicated that there was a typographical error on page 11 of the minutes in that the figure of “11,000” should in fact be read “1,000”.

 

RESOLVED – That, subject to the above-mentioned correction, the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 14 December 2017 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

60.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

By-election Results – Codsall

 

The Chairman reported the election, on 8 February 2018, of Mr Robert John Spencer as Councillor for the Codsall (South Staffordshire) County Electoral Division.

 

Members extended their congratulations to Mr Spencer on his election to the County Council.

61.

Connected Staffordshire - Strategic Plan 2018-2022 pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing outlining the ambitions for what Staffordshire will look like by 2023.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader presented to the Council the Strategic Plan 2018-2022.

 

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 2023, 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 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 five priorities in the Plan were:

 

·         Create the right conditions for economic growth across the whole of Staffordshire that produces more, better paid jobs for residents.

·         Support the construction of more housing to meet the growing needs of our families and people young and old.

·         Improve Education and Skills provision in our schools, colleges and universities so that more people gain the training and qualifications they need to succeed.

·         A joined up approach to Health, Care and Wellness that encourages people to take responsibility for their own health and plan for their future, so that we can support those who really need it.

·         Ensure Children and Families have a network of support to help manage their own problems and stay safe and well.

 

These priorities were underpinned by the following “enablers”:

 

(i)            Our workforce is the greatest asset we have for improving the lives of Staffordshire people, so we need to give our employees the skills, tools and confidence to do their jobs well.

(ii)          People Helping People is how we support citizens to help themselves and one another to improve their communities and act on the things that matter most to them.

(iii)         Our digital programme will make greater use of technology and data to work in more modern, effective and lower cost ways.

(iv)         Work with and through our networks of public, private and community organisations to achieve our ambitions.

 

Members noted that the vision, priority outcomes and principles set out in the Strategic Plan would be delivered through the county council’s Delivery Plan which contained more detailed measures, targets and activities.  Performance against the Strategic Plan and Delivery Plan would be 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.

 

Several Members expressed their support for the Plan and in particular the priority of supporting the construction  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2018/23 and 2018/19 Budget and Council Tax pdf icon PDF 482 KB

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance outlining how the Council will finance its operations over the next five years and recommending a budget to the Council for 2018/19.

 

NOTE: Members are reminded that, under Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax it is an offence for them to vote on the budget. Members are also required to disclose at the meeting the fact that this Section applies to them.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a joint report by the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 20018/23 and 2018/19 Budget and Council Tax proposals.

 

Mr Sutherland 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, 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, and also to his Cabinet Colleagues and Members of the Senior Leadership Team.

 

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 Sutherland expressed the view that this had been the most challenging budget to date but a balanced budget for 2018/19 had been achieved, although this was not without risk, and there still remained a significant estimated gap from 2019/20.  He explained that there was no single answer to addressing this gap and therefore the developing Strategic Plan proposed six strands of activity which together set out the approach to balancing the MTFS over the medium term i.e. –

 

·         Grow Council Tax

·         Grow Business Rates

·         Lobby Government

·         Leverage Balance Sheet

·         New Offer – Digital, Smart Staffordshire Project and People Helping People.

·         Reduce Costs

 

He also outlined the schemes included in the Capital Programme including investment in the Stafford Western Access Route and Lichfield Bypass, investment in the Keele IC6 Smart Innovation Hub, and the creation of a new primary school in Cannock and a new secondary school in Burton.

 

Mrs Woodward referred to the Government’s austerity measures which had resulted in inadequate funding being made available to support social care.  She also expressed the view that the Council’s proposed MTFS was “risky, fragile and vague on all of its savings targets” and that, for those reasons, she could not support it.  In response to Mrs Woodward’s concerns about the “fragility” of the budget, Mr Parry indicated that this had been necessary but the proposals included an additional £36m in funding for social care and £10m for Children and Families.  Mr Alan White added that the County Council was facing the issues “head-on” and, although it did not like increasing Council Tax, this had been necessary.  He added that the Council was constantly striving to improve its efficiency and over the past eight years had achieved between £120m and £130m in savings

 

Mrs Woodward spoke about the role and effectiveness of the Community Cabinet Support Members and enquired as to what projects and savings they had delivered to date. She also referred to the savings detailed in the MTFS and asked whether more detailed reports on the impact of each of these proposals would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration.  She concluded by opposing the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 295 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 since the previous meeting of the Council.

 

Lichfield Southern Bypass

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

Mr Colin Greatorex and Mr Adams welcomed the news of the proposed construction of the final section of the Lichfield Southern Bypass and added that the scheme would bring a number of benefits including improved traffic flows and the construction of additional housing and office space.  In response, Mr Winnington extended his thanks to officers, the district Council and the developer who had been involved in the design and delivery of the scheme.

 

Enlargement of St Stephen’s Primary School, Fradley

(Paragraph 4 of the Statement)

 

Mrs Eagland extended her thanks to the Cabinet for their approval to the increase in school places at St Stephen’s Primary School, Fradley.  In response, Mr Atkins indicated that the provision of appropriate infrastructure was vital to the creation of new homes.

 

Enlargement of Baldwins Gate CE (VC) Primary School

(Paragraph 5 of the Statement)

 

Mr Philip White indicated that the proposal to increase capacity at Baldwins Gate CE (VC) School, along with other similar proposals, showed the County Council’s commitment to investing in the education of Staffordshire’s children.

 

National Funding Formula implementation for Staffordshire Schools

(Paragraph 6 of the Statement)

 

Several Members indicated that although there had been significant progress on the fairer funding for Staffordshire Schools, there was still more work to do on this issue.

 

Carers Campaign

(Paragraph 8 of the Statement)

 

Mr Alan White referred to the initiative to join forces with care providers to recruit more than 400 carers in the County.  Mr Davis also referred to the important role played by those people who cared for a family member. In response, Mr Atkins indicated that, in financial terms, the contribution made by unpaid carers in Staffordshire was equivalent to £1.6bn.

 

Mr Robinson enquired as to whether there were plans for changes to the personal wellbeing budget.  In response, Mr Atkins indicated that he did not have the relevant information to hand and would therefore respond to Mr Robinson after the meeting.

 

Broadband Roll Out

(Paragraph 9 of the Statement)

 

Mr Robinson expressed concerns that some utility companies were failing to properly reinstate roads and footways when undertaking works.  In response, Mr Winnington indicated that the County Council was working with the utility companies to ensure the proper reinstatement was undertaken following works.  Mr Atkins added that this was a national issue and not restricted to Staffordshire.

 

HS2 Progresses

(Paragraph 10 of the Statement)

 

In response to concerns from Mrs Hood in relation to the potential adverse impact on local residents of the proposed railhead at Stone, and from Mr Tittley in relation to the disruption which would occur during the construction works and the potential negative impact this could have on the local economy, Mr Winnington and Mr Atkins indicated that each County Councillor whose division was affected by Phase 2a of HS2 had been allocated a budget of £3,500 to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Recommendations to Council pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a) Pay Policy Statement 2018/19 - 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.

 

In response to a question from Mrs Woodward, Mr Atkins confirmed that the County Council was being reimbursed by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council for the cost of the support currently being provided to them by the Council’s Director of Strategy, Governance and Change.

 

RESOLVEDThat the Pay Policy Statement for 2018/19 (as set out in Annex A to the report) be approved.

65.

Outcomes of Overview and Scrutiny Work May - December 2017 pdf icon PDF 330 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Brookes paid tribute to the contribution made by his vice-chairman and fellow Members of the Corporate Review Committee for their work on the development of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.  He also acknowledged the work undertaken by the Chairmen and Members of the Council’s other Select Committees.  Mrs Woodward added that she would also like to commend the work of the officers who supported the Council’s Select Committees.

 

In response to a question from Mrs Beech concerning progress on the Council’s consultation on the possible introduction of self-service libraries, Mr Parry indicated that the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee may wish to look at the findings arising from the consultation once it had been concluded.

 

Mr Alan White added his thanks to the contribution made by the Council’s Select Committees and referred to how their work supported the work of the Council’s Executive to the benefit of the people of Staffordshire.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be received.

66.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

I response to a question from Mr Robinson, Mr David Williams indicated that the Police and Crime Commissioner was still awaiting the Government’s response on the Business case relating to the changes in Police and Fire and Rescue Services' Governance in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

 

RESOLVEDThat the report be received.

 

The Chairman adjourned the meeting until 2:00 pm

 

Present at 2:00 pm:

 

Ben Adams

Charlotte Atkins

Philip Atkins, OBE

Ann Beech

David Brookes

Gill Burnett

Ron Clarke

John Cooper

Alan Dudson

Janet Eagland

Ann Edgeller

Helen Fisher

John Francis

Colin Greatorex Michael Greatorex

Gill Heath

Jill Hood

Syed Hussain

Keith James

Julia Jessel

Trevor Johnson

Bryan Jones

Jason Jones

Ian Lawson

Alastair Little

Johnny McMahon

Paul Northcott

Jeremy Oates

Kath Perry

Jeremy Pert

 

Bernard Peters

Natasha Pullen

Kyle Robinson

David Smith

Paul Snape

Mike Sutherland

Stephen Sweeney

Simon Tagg

Carolyn Trowbridge

Alan White

Philip White

Bernard Williams

David Williams

Mark Winnington

Susan Woodward

 

 

67.

Report of the Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Sweeney informed the Council that the Chief Fire Officer, Becky Bryant, had been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Keele University.

 

RESOLVEDThat the report be received.

68.

Questions pdf icon PDF 193 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 Compton asked the following question of the Cabinet Support Member for Learning and Employability whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

Given the claim that more than half of the biggest multi-academy trusts (MATS) have issued warnings about funding deficits, is the County Council aware of any academy trusts which are in financial difficulties in Staffordshire?

 

Reply

 

MATs are accountable to the Secretary of State for Education through the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

 

The RSC, Christine Quinn and her office, work closely with ESFA who would highlight any major concerns to her.

 

The RSC would make the county council aware of any such concern so we could work together on local issues.

 

The county council and RSC hold regular strategic meetings and I can confirm that, to date, we have not been made aware of any such concern for an academy trust in the county.

 

Mr Brookes asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Commercial whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

Would the Cabinet Member give the County Council an update on Entrust and our share partner Capita?

 

Reply

 

Capita has recently appointed a new chief executive who has reviewed the business and said that the company is currently spread too thin and needs to consolidate and take a longer term view of the business.

 

There was a recent announcement to the City that no dividend payments will be made this year, there is a pension fund deficit payment required and there will be a share issue later in the year to raise more capital.

 

This had an immediate effect with investors and hence a reduction in share price by around 40%.

 

Entrust’s view was that this is a reaction from the market based on these short term issues and tied up with nervousness in the outsourcing market following the Carillion collapse.

 

In the longer term Capita's current position on Entrust is that this should be a "beacon" company/service for Capita and something to promote and replicate.

 

So my summary at the moment is that Entrust will be part of Capita's long term business plan and there isn’t any immediate risk to Entrust.

 

I will continue to monitor the situation closely and continue to have close dialogue with the company.

 

Supplementary Question

 

Can this information be communicated to Members and also the public so that they can feel reassured?

 

Reply (by Mr Winnington on behalf of Mr Deaville)

 

Yes.

 

Mr Hussain asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Commercial whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

Which County Council's properties are ear marked for sale in Burton upon Trent in the next three financial years?

 

Reply

 

At the present time the following properties are identified for sale. However our holdings are periodically reviewed as services and demand changes and as we look to make our use of properties and ways of working more efficient.

 

69.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a) Resurfacing Works – Woodlands Avenue and Pickwick Place, Butt Lane

 

Mr Robinson presented a petition from local residents calling on the County Council to prioritise the resurfacing works along Woodlands Avenue and Pickwick Place, Butt Lane.

 

(b) Clough Hall Playing Fields and Barnett’s Field

 

Mr Robinson presented a petition opposing the potential development of Clough Hall Playing Fields and Barnett’s Field and calling on the County Council, as landowner, to protect the future of Barnett’s Field.

 

(c) Provision of a pedestrian crossing to Blake Street Station, Sutton Coldfield.

 

Mr Smith presented a petition seeking the County Council’s support regarding a request to Network Rail for the provision of a pedestrian crossing to Blake Street Station, Sutton Coldfield.

 

 

 

Chairman