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 APMGs and indicated that they were a forum which had enabled all Members to get involved in policy making.
Mr Winnington praised the work of the improvement APMG and stated that its outcomes were constructive.
Mr Atkins responded by indicating that the APMG provided an opportunity for Members to come forward and utilise their skills outside the traditional committee system.
Fatal House Fire
(Paragraph 7 of the Statement)
Mrs Trowbridge expressed her deep sadness at the death of four children involved in the housefire in her electoral division. She also praised the community for the way in which it had come together in support. Mr Francis also paid tribute to the emergency services for the way in which they had responded to the tragedy. Mr Atkins added that the County Council was continuing to offer wide support to the teachers and fellow school pupils who had been affected by the tragedy.
(Paragraph 8 of the Statement)
Mrs Woodward referred to the budget proposals which had been put forward by her political group and how they had assisted in promoting a full debate on the MTFS.
Mr Atkins added that he would continue to press Central Government on a long-term, sustainable solution for the funding of social care.
(Paragraph 9 of the Statement)
Mrs Jessel, Mr Brookes, Mr Worthington and Mr Oates expressed their thanks to the Cabinet in respect of the proposals for funding to be made available to Members to support their local communities and how this funding could be utilised to lever further monies from other organisations.
Mr Davis indicated that some communities were in greater need of such funding than other, more affluent, communities and there perhaps needed to be a redistribution of such funding.
Mr Clarke referred to the proposal to introduce a scheme whereby each Member would have funding of £20,000 to spend on highway improvements in their Division and enquired as to the average cost of repairing a pothole or undertaking other minor improvement works. Mr Robinson also asked for an assurance that the County Council would be able to deliver those minor highway improvements that Members decided to fund out of their £20,000 allocation. In response, Mrs Fisher stated that Amey had confirmed that they had the capacity to undertake such works and it was important that those works were scheduled appropriately so as to achieve maximum value for money.
Mrs Heath and Mr Greatorex paid tribute to the success of Lichfield Library following its recent relocation from the Friary into the St Mary’s Centre.
Growing Our Economy
(Paragraph 10 of the Statement)
Mr Spencer stated that he welcomed the recent announcement that planning approval had been obtained for the extension of the i54 site in South Staffordshire.
Mr Snape and Mrs Woodward referred to the proposed McArthurGlen designer outlet in Cannock which, it was estimated, would bring an additional 1,000 jobs to the area.
Mr Bryan Jones also welcomed the construction of the Poppyfield Primary Academy, a 210 place primary free school in Cannock which was due to open in September 2019 for Nursery and Reception.
Mr Lawson referred to the importance of the highway network and expressed concern at the time it had taken for the Police to deal with the incident on the M6 earlier that morning which had led to the total closure of the southbound carriageway between Junctions 14 and 13 for around seven hours resulting in Stafford being gridlocked. In response, Mr Sutton, Mrs Woodward and Mr Deaville indicated that it was important for the family of the gentleman who had died that the Police had sufficient time to investigate the scene and the circumstances leading to the death.
Note by Clerk – Mr Lawson subsequently apologised for his comments and added that he did not intend to cause any offence.
Mr Colin Greatorex referred to the timescale for the construction of the Lichfield Southern Bypass and also the need for appropriate signage to deter HGV’s from using inappropriate routes within the City.
Mr Alan White explained the vital role the County Council played in promoting economic growth and creating employment opportunities within Staffordshire.
In response to a question from Mr Brookes in relation to the improvements to the A50 in Uttoxeter, Mr Winnington indicated that the County Council was in talks with JCB and Central Government regarding moving forward with Project B on the A50. He also referred to the proposed commencement of work on the Stafford Western Access Road (SWAR) in June 2019. Mrs Trowbridge mentioned the recent granting of planning consent for the Burleyfields development in Stafford and enquired as to whether the SWAR, which crossed the development, was on target for completion in 2021.
Philip Atkins OBE
Derek Davis OBE
Michael Greatorex (Chair)
(Paragraph 11 of the Statement)
Mrs Fisher indicated that the Council was one of the seven transport innovation project bids nationally which had been approved for government funding. She expressed gratitude to partner agencies and organisations for their involvement in and commitment to the project.
RESOLVED – That the Statement of the Leader of the Council be received.