Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee
Wednesday, 20th June, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Julie Roberts  Email: julie.roberts@staffordshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were none at this meeting.

2.

Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 4 April 2018 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 4 April 2018 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

3.

Improving Attendance and Participation in our Schools and Settings pdf icon PDF 209 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and the Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 Members were informed that Staffordshire continued to have below national average absence rates in its primary, secondary and special schools.  Primary and secondary schools were 0.2% lower than the national average of 4.7%, and this was the fourth consecutive year in which the County had maintained lower than the national average absence rates.  Special schools had achieved 1.8% below the national average for their overall absence rates.  It was acknowledged that there had been an increase in Staffordshire’s absence figures, however this was within the context of a national rise in student absence figures.

 

It was a cause for concern that Staffordshire Pupil Referral Unit schools (PRUs) were 13.5% above the national average for overall absence, however there were some signs of improvement with a narrowing of the gap between the national and Staffordshire figures for persistent absences.  The local authority was working with the PRU headteachers to explore ways to improve attendance, and an independent review had been commissioned of the entire PRU estate. 

 

In relation to permanent exclusion from schools, unvalidated data for the current academic year was indicating a notable reduction in the year on year increase previously experienced.  This was not solely due to a reduction in permanent exclusions, but a significant increase in permanent exclusions being rescinded.  This was often achieved through the work of the District Inclusion Officers who now sat within the local authority and who liaised between the school, parents and a potential alternative education provider or school, to agree a managed move or package of support which meant the child could continue in their education without the period of disruption usually caused by a permanent exclusion.

 

Work around children missing education continued to perform a vital task of identifying children in Staffordshire who were without education, and then ensuring that they were provided with an opportunity to receive education.  In the current academic year 729 cases had been processed, with a positive outcome rate of 97.5%.  This work had begun to embed itself, with high numbers of schools responding to a regular census.  This reported on students who were on a reduced timetable and therefore were categorised as children missing out on education, and those that had a plan in place and were expected to return to full-time education.  Work had also now begun to develop a data platform to capture this information, which would create live reports on these children, enhancing the ability to identify promptly and where necessary to challenge any cases of concern.

 

In relation to PRUs a member queried whether they had governing bodies, and asked what was being done to engage with them.  It was confirmed that regular meetings were held between them and the local authority.  Members were informed that the Alternative Provision Panel were mindful that children were going into PRUs and staying too long, when they needed to be progressed back into mainstream education as quickly as possible, and consequently greater pressure was being put on them to achieve this.  A member queried  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Staffordshire's Libraries Strategy pdf icon PDF 578 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Communities.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a summary of the outcome of the Public Consultation that took place between 8 January and 1 April 2018, which would inform the Strategy for Staffordshire Libraries offer 2018/21.  The report also expanded on the proposed Strategy for Staffordshire’s Libraries offer 2018/21 which was previously considered by the Committee in September 2017.

 

Within Staffordshire the Library Service contributed to delivering health and wellbeing, digital inclusion, literacy, life skills and social cohesion outcomes.  It was essential that as a Libraries Strategy was implemented for the future that the authority continued to work with internal and external partners to ensure that the library service remained relevant and continued to be sustainable.  As part of the County Council’s statutory network there were currently 43 Libraries, 2 Mobile Libraries and a Travelling Library.

 

Members considered details of the numbers of people engaging with the Library Service, and of how library use in Staffordshire had changed between 2014/18, together with a comparison with national trends. 

 

Members were informed that 3,666 individuals, organisations and stakeholders had shared their views as part of the consultation.  Their responses had delivered meaningful insight into preference and impact and provided robust representation of some of those individuals most affected by the proposals.  A full analysis and report of the consultation had been undertaken by the Council’s Customer Insight Team to ensure independence.  Members considered a detailed analysis of the public consultation outcomes, around Self Service Proposals, Community Managed Library Proposals, and the Mobile and Travelling Library Service.  Having analysed the results of the consultation, it was proposed that self-service was piloted at Stafford Library and Penkridge (if this library does not transfer to community management).  It was not envisaged that either of these libraries would be fully self-service and the proposed number of hours that each library could be staffed would be based on an analysis of use. The pilot would be monitored over a 12 month period and then evaluated.

 

With regard to Community Managed, it was proposed that the four least busy County Council Managed and Delivered libraries be transferred.  These libraries were identified as Cheadle, Clayton, Eccleshall and Penkridge.  This was met with a high level of disagreement during the public consultation  however to enable these four libraries to remain part of Staffordshire’s statutory network and deliver an MTFS saving it was proposed that Cheadle, Clayton, Eccleshall and Penkridge are offered for Community Management. 

 

In relation to the Mobile and Travelling Library Service, the public had been consulted on a set of principles which would inform the future planning of mobile routes.  It was therefore proposed to apply the principles that had been consulted on to inform the review.  This would mean that routes would be re-drawn, the larger Travelling Library vehicle would be withdrawn at the end of March 2019, and the service would be delivered via the two smaller mobile libraries which were more flexible and therefore able to access more isolated or rural communities from April 2019. 

 

A member asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Update on the Final Report and Recommendations of the Working Together to Address the Impact of HGVs/HCVs on Roads in Staffordshire - Briefing Note pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Minutes:

The Committee received a briefing note on the action plan and implementation of the recommendations of the Working Together to Address the Impact of Heavy Goods Vehicles/HCVs on Roads in Staffordshire final report.

 

Members were informed that since 2016 resources had been allocated to progress further work focusing on the A515 through Staffordshire, updating the Staffordshire Freight Strategy, engaging with local communities and businesses, and lobbying Members of Parliament regarding the county’s HGV concerns.  Members considered these areas in more detail, and commented that they were pleased to see the recommendations were moving forward.  They also commented that the issue was about the whole of the County, not just the A515.

 

RESOLVED – That the briefing note be received.  

 

 

6.

Public Rights of Way Review - Briefing Note pdf icon PDF 283 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a briefing note on the key outputs of the Public Rights of Way (PRoW) Review, the bulk of which had been completed in April 2018.

 

Members noted that Staffordshire had one of the longest PRoW networks, spanning 4,510kms.  The Review commenced in August 2016 and sought to: manage the demand placed upon it from users and landowners; reduce operating costs to meet the service’s MTFS commitment, £290K by 20/21; and introduce more affordable ways of making a positive difference to Staffordshire’s residents, landowners and visitors.  They were informed of a range of outputs which had arisen from the nine work-streams within the Review, intended to provide the best solution to deliver in the safest way within the resources available.  A member commented that this was a pragmatic way forward, but emphasised the importance of complaints being dealt with in a timely manner.  Members welcomed the fact that some progress was being made, but agreed that they wished to scrutinise the issue of the backlog with section 53 applications at their next meeting in July.

 

RESOLVED – That the contents of the briefing note be noted and that the backlog with section 53 applications be scrutinised at the Select Committee meeting on 19 July.

 

 

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Minutes:

The Select Committee received a copy of their Work Programme for 2018/19.  No additional items were suggested for inclusion.

 

RESOLVED – That the Work Programme be noted.

8.

Exclusion of the Public

The Chairman to move:-

 

“That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below”.

 

 

Part Two

(All reports in this section are exempt)

 

nil

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED - That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) indicated below.

 

Midlands Connect Proposal to become a Sub-National Transport Body – Consultation

 

(Exemption Paragraph 3)  

9.

Midlands Connect Proposal to become a Sub-National Transport Body - Consultation

(Exemption Paragraph 3)

 

Report of the Leader of the Council.

Minutes:

(Exemption Paragraph 3)