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RESOLVED – (a) That the minutes of the Annual County Council meeting held on 17 May 2012 be confirmed.
(b) That the minutes of the Special County Council meeting held on 17 May 2012 be confirmed.
The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members
Former County Councillor Frank Duffy
The Chairman informed Members of the recent death of former County Councillor Frank Duffy who represented the former Stafford Northgate County Electoral Division on the County Council between 1989 and 1997.
Mr Duffy served on the Council’s Education, Enterprise and Economic Development, Highways and Planning Committees.
Members paid tribute to Mr. Duffy and stood in silence in his memory.
Association of Print and Communication Managers (APCOM) Awards
Members were informed that, for the fifth year running, the Council’s Print Commissioning Services had scooped accolades at the prestigious Association of Print and Communication Managers (APCOM) awards. This year, the team were overall winners for Best Digital Print and runner-up in the Best In-house Promotional Piece. A third award, Highly Commended was picked up for Best Use of Design and Print in an Event/Campaign. The team were also Highly Commended in the category Print In-Plant of the Year.
2012 LGcomms- LGA Reputation Awards
The Chairman informed Members that the County Council’s Communications team recently won the “Employee Engagement” Award at the 2012 LGcomms-LGA Reputation Awards in recognition of the Team’s work in relation toemployee engagement around the Families First project.
The Families First Project involved structural reorganisation and a new way of working for over 1700 employees based in offices across eight districts over a period of two years.
German War Graves Cemetery, Cannock Chase
The Council were informed that 2012 year marks the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the German War Graves Cemetery on Cannock Chase. As part of the arrangements to mark this very special occasion, the Heersmusikkorps2, a German Military Band from Kassel were to perform a free concert at The Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford on the evening of Tuesday, 21 August 2012.
Olympics and Paralympics
Members extended their best wishes to the following Staffordshire based athletes who had been selected to compete in the Olympic/Paralympic Games:
· Lizzie Neave – Canoe Slalom
· Anna Rose Watkins (nee Bebington) - Rowing
· Beth Rodford - Rowing
· Richard Dobell – Paralympics Sitting Volleyball
· Kate Dennison – Pole Vault
· Richard Davison – Equestrian Dressage
· Jessica Luke – Paralympic Goalball
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 and an overview of decisions taken by the Cabinet (and Portfolio Holders) since the previous meeting of the Council.
Children’s Centre Public Consultation
(Paragraph 1.2 of the Statement)
In response to questions from Members concerning the proposed closure of Leek Day Nursery, Mr Lawrence explained that the proposal was about closing two buildings, not stopping services. He added that he had met with the parents of the children affected by the proposal and had given an assurance that those children would be moved into new provision elsewhere in the area.
Transforming Welfare Benefits and Fairer Charging in Staffordshire
(Paragraph 1.4 of the Statement)
Members welcomed the recent announcement that Stafford Hospital had been given a “clean bill of health” by the Care Quality Commission.
Making Staffordshire Safer – Automatic Number Plate Recognition
(Paragraph 2.1 of the Statement)
Members welcomed the joint initiative by the County Council and Staffordshire Police to introduce Auto Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology around the main arterial roads of the county which would make it harder for criminals to enter Staffordshire and commit crimes. In response to questions from Members, Mr Marshall indicated that the fixed ANPR sites would be supplemented by a number of mobile units which would allow for greater flexibility and responsiveness to emerging issues, whether that be crime or road safety issues. He added that the technology would assist the Police in tackling a wide range of criminality from terrorism to uninsured drivers.
Mr Michael Oates extended his congratulations to Mr Ellis on his recent selection as the County Council’s candidate for the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
2011/12 Financial Outturn and Performance Report
(Paragraph 3.1 of the Statement)
Members welcomed the 2011/12 Final Financial Outturn and Performance report which indicated that, during the year, the County Council delivered savings of £34.2m whilst, at the same time, freezing the level of Council Tax. Several Members also commended the contribution made by the Assets and Budget Scrutiny Committee in helping to develop the County Council’s financial strategy.
Portfolio Holder Delegated Decisions – Street Lighting PFI
(Paragraph 3.2 of the Statement)
Mr Morrison indicated that he welcomed the recent decision by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport to introduce a county wide street lighting dimming strategy and to enable local communities to apply for the switching off of street lights between midnight and 6am. In response, the Leader of the Council indicated that this decision not only empowered local communities but would also result in financial savings to the County Council.
National Memorial Arboretum
(Paragraph 5.1 of the Statement)
In response to a question by Mr Sweeney concerning the recent Government announcement that it was to abolish the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) as part of its plans to reduce the number of regular soldiers by 20,000, the Leader of the Council referred to the close links which the communities in ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Questions to be asked by Members of the County Council of the Leader of the Council, a Cabinet Member, or a Chairman of a non-Scrutiny 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
Mr. D. Nixon asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Assets whose reply is set out below the question:-
The U.K. Climate Change Projections 2009 on the Staffordshire County Council web-site are based on the now discredited Met. Officer’s Hadley Centre. This is forecasting hotter, drier summers and warmer wetter winters. Since 2007 we have had colder, wetter summers and colder drier winters.
(a) Why is the Staffordshire County Council web-site, therefore, still spouting forth on information that is not now relevant and that has been shown to be discredited?
(b) What is the point of the Staffordshire Council tax-payers funding people in jobs that to most of them seems an irrelevance?
(c) Are the climate jobs at Staffordshire County Council those jobs that the Tax-payers Alliance calls’ non jobs’?
(a) Firstly, the Hadley Centre is a world renowned centre for climate studies and has not been discredited. SCC’s policy on tackling climate change is based on peer reviewed science, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. This is the world’s leading internationally accepted authority on climate change, set up through the United Nations and comprising thousands of experts from over 120 countries.
The Member appears to be confused between climate and weather. Weather refers to atmospheric conditions which are happening at a particular point in time, whereas climate refers to the average and variability of weather over an extended period of time, often described by scientists as thirty years. Therefore the weather experienced in the last five years can not be claimed to invalidate the Hadley Centre’s predictions. Weather records over the last 100 years or so clearly demonstrate that the climate is changing. Weather in the UK is, as the member himself has observed, becoming more extreme and unpredictable. The vast majority of the County Council’s advice to the general public on climate change is concerned with enabling them to make financial savings through energy efficiency measures and behaviour in the home, as well as advice on grants to support those in fuel poverty. This is provided through the OC3 website which is jointly run and supported by every other public sector organisation in Staffordshire plus several third sector groups. This website received 76,254 hits in the last financial year, suggesting that the people of Staffordshire find it extremely relevant.
(b) Regardless of individual opinions on climate change, the Climate Change Team undertakes a wide range of projects connected not just to climate change but mainly to energy conservation, cost saving and renewable energy, making significant financial savings for the county council. To give some recent examples of cost saving projects:
i. A solar PV project on 13 of our libraries will make energy savings and generate income equivalent to £38,000 pa at today’s prices for the next 25 years (index linked).
ii. A second solar PV project has secured guaranteed free electricity for 25 schools for 25 years with the panels installed at no cost.
iii. Phase 1 ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
Report of the Director of Law and Democracy
The Council received a report of the Director of Law and Governance seeking approval to the final version of the Local Members’ Code of Conduct, including the section on Registration and Declaration of Interests and the associated amendments to the Constitution relating to the withdrawal of members from meetings when they have declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.
The Leader of the Council reminded members of the requirement to register Disclosable Pecuniary Interests within 28 days of the adoption of the Code, i.e. by 15 August 2012.
RESOLVED – (a) That the final version of the Local Members’ Code of Conduct, including the section on Registration and Declaration of Interests and the associated amendments to the Constitution relating to the withdrawal of members from meetings when they have declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, be approved.
(b) That the implementation of the Code of Conduct be monitored and reviewed after the May 2013 County Council elections.
Report of the Scrutiny Chairmen
The Leader of the Council expressed his thanks to all Scrutiny Committee Members for the valuable contribution they had made in helping to set the direction of the County Council.
RESOLVED – That the report be received.
RESOLVED – That the Periodic Report of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority be received.
An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents
Proposed Closure of Leek Day Nursery
Mr M. Lawrence presented a petition from residents of leek and the surrounding area opposing proposals to close Leek Day Nursery.
Upgrading of a Zebra Crossing on High Lane, Brown Edge
Mrs C.R. Jebb presented a petition from residents of Brown Edge and the surrounding area seeking an upgrade to the zebra crossing on High Lane, brown Edge to provide a signal controlled crossing.