Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee
Wednesday, 19th September, 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

19.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were none at this meeting.

20.

Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 19 July 2018 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 19 July 2018 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

21.

Infrastructure+ Improvement Plan Progress Review pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

Minutes:

The Select Committee received an update on the progress of the previously agreed Infrastructure+ Action Plan and on the progress of the extra £5m in-year (2018/19) investment in highway maintenance.

 

The Infrastructure+ contract had commenced on 1 October 2014.  During the summer of 2015 a working group of the Select Committee had scrutinised the governance and reporting arrangements and in April 2016 had agreed an Action Plan of improvement with the then Cabinet Member for Economy, Environment and Transport.  Members considered a third annual update on progress.  The nature of the Infrastructure+ Strategic Partnership was that it was readily able to adapt to the Council’s changing needs.  This flexibility was being demonstrated by delivering at short notice the four year commitment of reinvesting £5m per year in highway maintenance. 

 

The core element of the contract was the maintenance, management and improvement of over 6,300 Kms of highway network.  Best use of resources was achieved by adopting preventative maintenance strategies and targeting resources as set out in the Council’s Cabinet approved Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Plan (HIAMP).  However, working within the limits of the available funding meant that achieving locally desirable service levels was not always possible.  This elevated the need for effective local engagement, timely communication and availability of clear information.

 

Members were informed that the recommendations of the Select Committee formed part of the Action Plan for the Customer and Communication Outcome Group that sat within the governance structure of the Infrastructure+ Contract.  This group was now chaired by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, and wider membership was currently being reviewed.  The Group had developed and launched a Highways Portal within the Members’ Intranet pages on 1 November 2016.  This had recently been upgraded with additional information and relaunched at a members’ event held on 31 July 2018.  Members received a short demonstration of the Portal and the information it provided, based on the format of “Frequently Asked Questions”, which had received positive feedback from members.  The purpose of the Portal was to assist members to respond directly to the many local highway enquiries which they received.  Feedback from members would be integrated into the design and ongoing development of the Portal, which addressed a number of the Select Committee’s recommendations.  Improvements were also being made to streamline the defect reporting and customer feedback processes. 

 

Members welcomed the fact that the membership of the Outcome Group was being opened up.  A member commented that it was difficult to track issues which were raised via the myStaffs app as it could be hard to identify them in the absence of a map or location details in the response.  It was acknowledged that further improvements to the defect reporting system could be made and this would be considered by the Outcome Group.   In response to a question about Japanese Knotweed members were informed that there was a lot of information available on the Portal. 

 

In relation to the recommendation that Community Highways Infrastructure Managers be asked to share details  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Delivering Housing in Staffordshire pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Joint Report of Cabinet Member for Commercial and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the proposed progression of two connected pieces of work to contribute towards the delivery of the Strategic Plan.  These were:

 

a)    The preparation of a Strategic Infrastructure Plan (SIP) to support the construction of homes and creating new jobs by assessing the cumulative impact of growth across Staffordshire and considering infrastructure requirements to support that growth.  This plan would aim to ensure new developments were supported by the appropriate infrastructure including roads, schools, employment opportunities, high quality transport, green spaces and excellent digital connections such as superfast broadband.  The plan would also identify any new proposals as to how that could be funded and delivered.

b)    A detailed feasibility study to be undertaken to understand the most appropriate way to develop appropriate housing, to enable the County Council to actively engage in the housing market, providing a leadership approach that would expedite the delivery of appropriate new homes across the County in a planned and sustainable fashion.

 

Members were informed that the objectives of this work were to deliver a robust strategy and “ask” of developers and funders to support infrastructure delivery.  It was also to facilitate, enable and deliver planned housing growth in the numbers and tenure of new homes, so that the County had a range of accommodation that people could afford to buy or rent.  A further objective was to generate a potential revenue income stream to support essential County Council services into the future, in the face of significant financial challenges.  This would require an acceptance of financial and procedural parameters to established ways of working which some may find challenging. 

 

Members received a presentation on delivering housing in Staffordshire, and the Cabinet Member for Commercial drew their attention to the pledge set out in this, to “Deliver value for money for residents and businesses and live within our means”.  It was widely accepted that nationally the current housing market systems were not delivering the numbers, type or tenure mix of homes to support growth in tandem with the needs and demands of people.  Not enough new homes, or the right variety of homes were being built; prices were continuing to rise faster than incomes and it was becoming increasingly difficult for young people to buy a home of their own.  For Staffordshire, this meant that the County was potentially not meeting indigenous growth demands.  As a result of this the County may be unable to retain skilled workers, including graduates, which would affect the County’s ambition of having a balanced economy and one of the strongest performing shire economies. It was therefore essential to have a sound and solid strategy and a robust and sustainable business case, in order to ensure that the right type, number and location of housing was delivered.

 

Members queried what the unique problems were in Staffordshire.  The Cabinet Member for Economic Growth responded that the County was in the middle of three big conurbations, and faced the likelihood of overspill demand.  The implications of this would be unplanned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 196 KB

Minutes:

The Select Committee received a copy of their Work Programme for 2018/19.  They were informed that an update on The Freight Strategy was to be considered at their meeting on 15 November and an item on The Safer Roads Partnership was to be added to the meeting on 14 December.

 

RESOLVED – That the above additions to the Work Programme be agreed.

24.

Exempt Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 19 July 2018

(Exemption paragraph 3)

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the exempt minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 19 July 2018 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.