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Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16
There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.
RESOLVED – That, subject to the amendments referred to below, the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 13 December 2018 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman:
(i) The correct spelling of the word “role” on the seventh line of the first paragraph on page three of the minutes;
(ii) The insertion of the word “health” after the word “mental” in the third line of the sixth paragraph on page three of the minutes; and
(iii) The correct spelling of the word “ageing” on the second line of the first paragraph on page four of the minutes.
The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members
Former County Councillor Jesse Brough
The Chairman informed the Council of the death of former County Councillor Jesse Brough. Mr Brough had represented the former Cannock No. 4 County Electoral Division Member of the Council between 1977 and 1981. He served on a number of the Council’s Committees including the Education, Planning, Fire and Public Protection and Waste Disposal Committees.
Former County Councillor Bernard Michael Jones
Members were also informed of the death, on 19 December 2018, of former County Councillor Bernard Michael Jones. Mr Jones served on the County Council between 1967 and 1970 and represented the former Essington County Electoral Division. He served on a number of the Council’s Committees including the Education Committee, Finance Committee, Civil Defence Committee, Health Committee and Road Safety Committee. He was also Chairman of the Youth Service Sub Committee.
Mr Atkins, Mr Brookes, Mr Derek Davis and Mr Sutton paid tribute to the contributions Mr Brough and Mr Jones had made to the work of the Council during their periods in office following which Members stood and observed a one minute silence in their memory.
Honorary Alderman Henry Butters
The Chairman also informed the Council of the death of former County Councillor Henry Butter. Mr Butter represented the Eccleshall (Stafford) County Electoral Division on the County Council between 1988 and 2013. The Chairman indicated that Mr Butters had requested that upon his demise “there are no silences observed, no eulogies given and no civic service; just announce my death and move to next business.”
In accordance with the County Councils’ petitions scheme, to consider the petition seeking the retention of funding for School Crossing Patrols.”
Members were informed that under the Council’s Petition Scheme any petition that exceeded 5,000 valid signatures automatically triggered a debate at the next available Council meeting.
A petition had been received seeking the retention of County Council funding for School Crossing Patrols. The petition consisted of an e-petition: “Retain our County Council Funded Crossing Patrols” and two paper petitions: “I say no to Lollipop Cuts”; and “Petition to Protect School Crossing Patrols” with a combined total number of valid signatures of 5,409.
Mrs Sam Chappell, on behalf of the petitioners outlined the reasons for the petition which included:
That the County Council accepts the petition and conveys thanks to those who took the time to ... view the full minutes text for item 49.
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 2019/20.
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.
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) 20019/24 and 2019/20 Budget and Council Tax proposals.
Mr Sutherland expressed his thanks to the Deputy Director of Finance and 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.
Introducing the report Mr Sutherland explained that the early commencement of work to address the forecast £35million deficit for 2019/20 had proven beneficial in that it had provided for detailed consideration of all options available and consultation with interested parties as appropriate.
He explained that Cabinet proposed a net revenue budget of £508.634million for 2019/20 giving a Council Tax requirement of £351.132million. This necessitated a Precept increase of 2.95% at property Band D level.
As an example of the financial pressures facing the Council, Mr Sutherland reported that £315 million would be allocated in 2019/20 towards the cost of care for the young, old and most vulnerable members of the community, compared with the £200 million allocation some 10 years ago. He added that the Council would continue to Lobby Central Government for appropriate funding for the provision of social care.
Highlighting specific points in the proposed budget the Mr Sutherland indicated that the Council had consulted the public on the budget proposals and had listened to their concerns including the retention of School Crossing Patrols, the continuation of the concessionary fares scheme. He also referred to the Council’s capital investment strategy which provided for a number of schemes including the Stafford Western Access Route, the Lichfield Southern By-Pass and the construction of new primary schools at Pye Green and Fradley.
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 2019/20 had been achieved.
Mr Sutherland moved, and Mr Atkins seconded, the recommendations contained in the report before the Council.
Mr Adams referred to the Council’s proposals for increased spending on health and care over the next five years to the tune of £28m; an additional £9m for families and communities; and £8m on economy, infrastructure and skills.
Mrs Woodward referred to the financial pressures most top tier councils were currently facing, particularly in relation to the funding of adult social care and also children’s services. She also referred to the various campaigns and lobbying for additional funding for these services which was on-going at both local and national levels. She expressed concern about the reduction ... view the full minutes text for item 50.
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, Mr Atkins indicated that after the council papers went to print, there was the news that the 1966 World Cup hero Gordon Banks had very sadly passed away. He added that Gordon Banks OBE was a legend, revered by football fans in Staffordshire, England and around the world, yet everyone who met him would say that he was the most humble person, someone who had time for everyone. A campaign had been gathering momentum here in the county for Gordon to be knight, an honour which would have been richly deserved, not only for his contribution to football but for his selfless charity work.
Enlargement of Manor Hill First School, Stone
(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)
Mr Philip White indicated that the enlargement of the school was necessary owing to the growth in housing in the school’s catchment area.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Growth Strategy
(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)
Mr Robinson enquired as to how the Growth Strategy would assist efforts to provide a new Leisure Centre in Kidsgrove within the next five to ten years.
Mr Sweeney indicated that the Newcasltle-under-Lyme Borough Council had a shared vision with the County Council on the growth of the Borough.
In response, Mr Atkins indicated that the provision of leisure services was the responsibility of the Borough Council and that the County Council would continue to work with them to promote growth and increase income to the Borough which, in turn, could be used for the provision of leisure services.
Adult Learning Disability Community Offer 2022
(Paragraph 4 of the Statement)
Mrs Woodward referred to the need to ensure that there was appropriate quality of provision as well as securing value for money. In response, Mr Alan White indicated that the provision of the Adult Learning Disability offer continued to evolve as time goes by that the consultation on the proposed offer going forward would be open until March. He urged service users and their famililies to take part in the consultation so as to inform the development of the proposals.
Enlargement of The Rawlett School – An AET Academy (Tamworth)
(Paragraph 5 of the Statement)
Mr Adams welcomed the proposals for the enlargement of the school and he also paid tribute to the Council for the way in which it planned to ensure the provision of sufficient school, in the right places, across the county.
Executive Responses to All Party Member Groups
(Paragraph 6 of the Statement)
Mrs Woodward expressed concern that she had not seen and significant “outcomes and learning” from the work of the All Party Member Groups (APMG).
Mr Clarke referred to the work of the Innovation APMG in reviewing the provision for promoting children’s emotional and mental wellbeing and enquired as to when the Group would continue its work and examine the prevention of such issues.
Mr Little and Mr Funder spoke in support of the ... view the full minutes text for item 51.
Report of the Chairman of the Corporate Review Committee
She reported that she was inviting views from women members on the Council on their experiences, the aim being to identify ways of supporting and encouraging women to take up the role of councillor.
Mr Alan White also paid tribute to the members of the Select Committees, and the officers who supported them, for the contributions they had made to the work of the Council. Mr Sutton also praised the members of the Corporate Parenting Panel for the contributions they had made.
the recommendation of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee that Community Highways Infrastructure Managers share details of meetings arranged with Parish Councils with the local County Member did not appear to be happening consistently, Mrs Jessel indicated that she would take this matter up with the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport.
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
Susan Woodward asked the following question of the Leader of the Council whose reply is set out below the question:-
I was very surprised to see you as a co-signatory for an open letter to Party Leaders (https://www.midlandsconnect.uk/media/1550/hs2-open-letter-final-210119.docx) urging their support for HS2, in spite of unanimous and cross-party opposition to the project here at Staffordshire County Council and wide opposition across the communities we represent. You say, inter alia, “Our support must not flounder or stall. We must unite to deliver HS2, and we urge you to join us by offering your vocal and unwavering support.” Can you explain to me, the Council and the wider public, when your position on HS2 changed, why you decided to act in a way that is contrary to the County Council’s clearly expressed position and what discussions took place with fellow councillors before you co-signed this letter?
The position of the county council remains as per the motion set out below and as approved by Full Council in December 2015.
However, HS2 is a complex issue with partners, Members and people across the Midlands and in the North West having differing views, concerns and priorities. While of course it is easy to pick out any one line from a comprehensive letter, as a county council we are keen to seek clarity on the progression of the scheme.
Phase One has already been given Royal Assent, where we have gained substantial environmental mitigation, and which will allow Staffordshire residents to benefit from HS2 via the Handsacre Link, and the key part of this letter for Staffordshire is that if HS2 is to be delivered, we would like to see “support for Phase 2a in reaching Royal Assent before the end of 2019, as planned.” This will not only remove uncertainty for everyone, particularly those whose property is blighted, but will allow us to press on with our commitment to get the best deal for Staffordshire.
It is important to remember that the decisions on HS2 rest with Parliament and not this council.
That motion approved in December 2015 said this council:
(i) Continues to express concerns on the impact of HS2 on Staffordshire, especially given the acceleration of the phase to Crewe.
(ii) Welcomes the efforts the council has made to mitigate the impact of Phase One on the county and its communities and our commitment to build on the experience gained to reduce the impact of Phase 2a
(iii) Continues to ensure Staffordshire’s voice is heard in terms of mitigation on the environment and meaningful compensation for affected residents.
(iv) Engages with Government, HS2 Ltd, district and borough councils and neighbouring authorities to gain maximum economic benefits from HS2, building on the partnership of Midlands Connect to deliver better connectivity for all Staffordshire.
As a county council, we remain focused on getting the best deal for Staffordshire in terms of mitigation, compensation for residents, economic benefits and improved connectivity if Parliament makes the decision to proceed ... view the full minutes text for item 53.
An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents
(a) Highway Safety in the Talke area
Mr Robinson presented a petition from residents of St Martins Road, Talke Pitts in relation to highway safety issues, including rat running and excessive vehicle speeds, and calling on the County Council to address their concerns.
(b) Request for a Pedestrian Crossing and/or Traffic Calming Measures on Bridge Street, Uttoxeter at the Junction with Chamberlin Close.
Mr Brookes presented a petition on behalf of residents of Chamberlin Close, Uttoxeter for a Pedestrian Crossing and/or Traffic Calming Measures on Bridge Street, Uttoxeter at the Junction with Chamberlin Close.