Agenda and minutes

County Council - Thursday 8th October 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting via Microsoft Teams

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

Media

Items
No. Item

17.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Member

Minute Nos.

Interest

Reason

Mark Deaville

20

Personal

Director of Nexus

Jill Hood

20

Personal

Trustee of Stafford Age UK

Alan White

20

Personal

Wife works for a major supplier of flu vaccinations

Mark Winnington

20

Personal

Non-Executive Director of Nexus

Mark Winnington

20

Personal

Member of the Sow and Penk Internal Drainage Board

 

18.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 23 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 319 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 23 July 2020 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

19.

Chairman's Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Death of Former County Councillor Douglas Constable

 

The Chairman inform Members of the recent death of former County Councillor Douglas Constable.

 

Mr Constable represented the former Burntwood Saints County Electoral Division between 1989 and 1993 and served on the Council’s Education, Fire and Public Protection, Policy and Resources and Planning Committees.

 

Cllrs Alan White, Philip Atkins and Susan Woodward paid tribute to Mr Constable following which Members observed a one minute silence in his memory.

 

Covid-19

 

The Chairman extended the Council’s thanks to all those people who were playing their part in assisting in Staffordshire’s recovery from the pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

She added that it was fantastic to see children return to schools last month and she paid tribute to headteachers, school and council staff who were doing an incredible job, making classrooms safe for learning, and acting quickly to keep them that way.  She also paid tribute to the school transport team for rising to the challenge of getting all entitled children to and from school safely.

 

She also added that while many people were following government guidance and staying at home, this was not an option for frontline and key workers, who continued to care for and provide support within Staffordshire’s communities. On behalf of the Council, the Chairman extended an unreserved thank you to each and every frontline and key worker.

 

The Chairman also indicated that everyone had a responsibility to help to keep people safe, keep Staffordshire open and to do everything they could to prevent further restrictions and disruption to businesses, schools and our way of life.  This meant that everyone should abide by the Government’s guidance, wash their hands, cover their face in shops or on transport, and keep social distancing.

20.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 309 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:

Integrated Performance Report - Quarter 1, 2020-21

(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)

 

In response to a question from Cllr Charlotte Atkins concerning the on-going financial crisis in the Children and Families Service and also in Social Care, and progress of the Council’s Social Care Green Paper, Cllr Alan White indicated that, in the absence of the Government’s Green Paper, Cllr McMahon was taking forward proposals for a Staffordshire Green Paper. Cllr McMahon added that Covid-19 had had a profound impact on the care home market and that the Council was to review its strategic approach and plans to ensure that they addressed the ongoing challenges facing the sector.  Cllr Sutton indicated that, with regard to the Children’s Services, the County Council had invested £8.1m in the service to improve outcomes for young people and also to reduce the number of children who needed to be taken into the Council’s care.  He added that, amongst other initiatives, the Council was progressing with proposals for its own in-house residential Children’s Home provision and was participating in the Big Fostering Partnership which was aimed at increasing the number of foster families and reduce the need for children to be taken into residential care.

 

Cllr Winnington spoke about the effect of Covid-19 on businesses in Staffordshire and made the following three pleas:

 

·       At the next Council meeting can greater reference be made in the Leader’s Statement to the economy and jobs;

·       Can the County Council work with partners to ensure that Staffordshire businesses had the best offer in the West Midlands; and

·       Can business start-ups be given the greatest priority possible.

 

In response, Cllr Philip White explained that the County Council had established an Economic Recovery Group; expanded the work of the Redundancy and Recruitment Task Force; was developing a Young Persons Business Start-up Scheme; introducing a Business Start-up Loans Scheme; working with the Local Enterprise Partnership to roll-out two new programmes in South Staffordshire and Tamworth; progressing measures to help the regeneration of Stafford town centre; were working on a comprehensive proposal to bring about a Staffordshire version of the Towns Fund; and was working in coalition with other authorities on a growth corridor.  Cllr Alan White also added that the Cabinet, at its next meeting, were to receive an update on the impact of COVID-19 on Staffordshire’s communities and economy.

 

Cllr Robinson referred to the overspend in Quarter 1 and to the Local Government Association’s calling on the Government to provide additional funding for local authorities.  He enquired as to whether the Leader shared the view that without this additional funding the Council would struggle to maintain the provision of front-line services at current levels.  In response, Cllr Alan White confirmed that the County Council was continuing to lobby hard to secure additional funding for Children and Families and also Social Care.

 

The Award of the Service and Testing of Domestic Water Systems Framework Agreement

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)

 

Cllr Bryan Jones spoke about the importance of safe water systems which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

People Helping People Fund - Annual Report and next steps 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 718 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the Annual Report for the People Helping People Fund.  They were informed that the Fund saw £2500 allocated to each County Councillor, to invest in projects about keeping people independent, healthy and supported within the places they live.  Councillors were able to use as much or as little of this £2500 as they wanted to support projects which needed it, or even to work together with other councillors and jointly support bigger projects.

 

The rules of the Fund were designed to ensure that projects would make a tangible difference, were things that mattered to the local community, and were about building on the success and energy that already existed across Staffordshire, or helping to create it where it didn’t exist already.

 

As a new way of working, the People Helping People Fund in 2019/20 had been a successful shift and formed a great foundation to build on.  Though the coronavirus pandemic meant that the County Council naturally refocused its resources to help with the crisis, it was hoped that by next year the timing would be right to move the County Councillors’ fund back towards a targeted approach aimed at making a real and lasting difference – building on the success so far and taking it further.

 

Members noted that:

 

  • The final total grant awarded was £86,127 (out of £155,000 total budget)      

 

  • This raised a total match value of £276,035, which in terms of a return on investment was more than £3 for every £1 spent through the Fund. 

 

·       The Fund had supported the delivery of projects (or parts of projects) worth a total of £362,162.

 

Several Members spoke about how the Fund had been utilised in their area and had made a difference to people’s lives.

 

Cllr Little asked that when introducing similar initiatives in the future, neighbourhood fetes etc should not be forgotten as they played an important role in social cohesion.  Cllr Snape also paid tribute to those officers who had assisted Members in considering the applications and awarding funding under the scheme.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be received.

22.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Adams indicated that he welcomed the news that the HMICFRS PEEL inspection of Staffordshire Police in 2018/19 had given an overall rating for Staffordshire Police as “Good”. He, together with Cllr Trowbridge, added that, alongside the Fire and Rescue Service report, this showed that the two Services were working well for the people of Staffordshire.  Cllr Adams and Cllr Deaville also paid tribute to the Panel for the robust way in which they challenged the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire.

 

Cllr Hood spoke about crime levels in Stone and the need for additional Police Officers on the beat. Cllr Lawson also enquired as to how many new Police Officers had been recruited in the Staffordshire Moorlands area.  Cllr Smith referred to an issue in his area whereby 999 calls were directed to the West Midlands Police Force rather than Staffordshire and indicated that he had raised this issue with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. In response, Cllr Sweeney indicated that the next meeting of the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel was due to take place on 26 October and if Member had a question for the Commissioner they could attend the meeting or submit the question in writing to the Chairman of the Panel.

 

RESOLVEDThat the report be received.

23.

Questions pdf icon PDF 188 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 Clarke asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

Seven years ago, Amey started to identify and to monitor 186,000 drains and gullies across Staffordshire, the purpose was to bring about a schedule which would allow drains to be cleaned, either once every one, two or three years. It would also identify drains which are in need of repair or need to be replaced, again this would enable the County Council to plan a maintenance schedule over a long-term period.

 

All this information should now be in place.  Would the Cabinet Member get Amey to distribute this information to all Councillors, so that we get a clear picture of the issues in our divisions, and allow us to work with Amey to meet the above objectives? 

 

Reply

 

The routine gully cleansing programme is now available on the Members portal. This allows Members to see how often the gullies in their division are emptied and when the next planned visit is due.

 

The data collected as part of setting up this system shows that around 5%, or 10,000, of our highway gullies have been identified as needing repair – for example to loosen jammed lids or replace collapsed brickwork.

 

As part of the recently announced £2.0m in-year investment into Community Highway and Rights of Way priorities around £1m has been allocated towards these kinds of local gully hotspot repairs. 

 

Local Members have been asked to work with their local Highway Officers to help identify and prioritise those requiring the most urgent attention.  A full schedule is currently being compiled.  This will be shared with Members to help track progress of their own priorities. 

 

It is likely that some of these repairs and other investigatory work will also identify issues requiring more substantial work and many of these are also likely to be complicated by the involvement of third-parties like Severn Trent Water (STW), the Environment Agency (EA) or private land-owners.    This new schedule of issues will be of further help to local Members in engaging with those third-parties.

 

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

 

Question

 

In June, Government announced a fund to support those in need of food and basic essentials during the Covid19 crisis. In response, the County Council set up its “Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies” in August with a grant from Government of approx £800,000. Of this, £600,000 was allocated to Family Hubs for distribution to families in need via Edenred food vouchers, each voucher being worth £15. Can the Cabinet Member tell me please how many vouchers have currently been allocated to Staffordshire families in each of our Districts?

 

Reply

 

Defra announced the Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Emergency Supplies. This grant was made available from 05 August 2020 to support all residents of Staffordshire who may require support. This  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Petitions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Brookes indicated that he was in receipt of two petitions from local residents in respect of speeding in Uttoxeter.

 

 

Chairman