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RESOLVED – That the minutes of the Meeting held on 10 October 2013 be confirmed.
The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members
The Chairman referred to the death on 5 December 2013 of former South African President, Nelson Mandela and indicated that a Book of Condolences had been placed in the Shirehall Gallery in Stafford. He also indicated that he had written to the South African Embassy to convey the Council’s condolences.
Municipal Journal Future Leader Award 2013
The Chairman informed Members that Darryl Eyers, the County Council’s Head of Economic Planning, had been commended in the Municipal Journal Future Leader Award Category. The Award was aimed at recognising and promoting talent among young staff members whose expertise and professionalism showed that they were destined for senior leadership roles within local government and the wider public sector. The commendation recognised Darryl’s input into promoting economic development across the Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership as well as his wider contribution to corporate improvement and innovation.
Jordan Publishing Family Law Awards 2013
The Council noted that Kate Loader of the County Council’s Legal Services Team had won the Local Authority Lawyer of the Year category at the Family Law Awards 2013. The Awards were launched by Jordan Publishing in 2011 to recognise the important work of family lawyers, and celebrate their many successes and outstanding achievements.
Society of Procurement Officers Awards - Local Government Procurement Professional of the Year 2013
The Chairman informed the Council that Paul Timmins of the County Council’s Procurement team had won the Society of Procurement Officers’ Local Government Procurement Professional of the Year Award for 2013. Submissions for the Award were judged on the procurement contribution entrants had made to their organisation and for forward-thinking and innovative approaches that had resulted in a positive, on-going, legacy for colleagues and/or the beneficiaries of procurement services. Paul’s work in projects such as the Procurement Partner, ESS and Infrastructure Plus, together with his recent attainment of a Master’s in Business Administration, were highly contributory to this award.
Society of Procurement Officers Awards - Outstanding Achievement in Procurement – County Council Category
Members noted that Staffordshire had also won the ‘County Council’ category in the Outstanding Achievement in Procurement awards hosted by the Society of Procurement Officers for its work on the Education Support Services (ESS) Joint Venture procurement. The project involved a spend of £4bn, the letting of a 20 year service delivery agreement with Entrust, and the protection / TUPE transfer of up to 5,000 Council employees to the Joint Venture Company.
Social Enterprise West Midlands Inspire Award
The Chairman informed Members that Ian Simpson, the Council’s Head of Procurement, had been awarded the 2013 Social Enterprise West Midlands Inspire award. The award recognised an individual or body who was leading the way and breaking new ground and who had demonstrated how they had led innovation, championed new approaches and been bold in their leadership and direction. Ian won the award for leading Staffordshire`s work around the Social Value Act and particularly for his work in creating nearly 300 apprenticeships for Staffordshire Citizens in the Council`s supply chain.
Guardian Public ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
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.
“Living My Life, My Way” – A Strategy for Disabled People 2013 - 2018
(Paragraph 1.3 of the Statement)
In response to a question from Mr Taylor in respect of consultation on the strategy, Mr White indicated that there had been twice as many people responding to the consultation on the strategy than there were users of the service. He added that the strategy proposed a shift in focus from “service based” to “outcome based”. Mr Atkins added that the proposals would give service users more choice and would bring about a shift away from the traditional method of service delivery whereby the County Council dictated what services it would provide as opposed to what service users wanted.
Keeping Staffordshire Moving: Highway Permit Scheme
(Paragraph 2.1 of the Statement)
Mr Wileman indicated that he welcomed the proposals set out in the review and added that this was another example of the County Council listening to, and responding to, residents’ concerns.
In response to questions from Mr Jenkins and Mr Hollinshead relating to year on year reductions in the budget for highway maintenance, Mr Parry indicated that, over the past four years, there had been an additional investment of £30m in highway maintenance in Staffordshire. Mr Tagg added that the County Council was continuing to take steps to improve the condition of the County’s roads and that the proposals set out in the review would be implemented within 12 months. Mr Atkins also indicated that that a recent audit had highlighted a 10% improvement in the condition of the County’s highway network and that Staffordshire was now in the top quartile of authorities with regard to the condition of its roads. He also referred Members to the Divisional Highway Programme through which local members were able to prioritise highway works within their respective districts.
Keeping Staffordshire Moving: Civil Parking Enforcement Review
(Paragraph 2.2 of the Statement)
In response to a question from Ms Woodward, Mr Tagg confirmed that Members at both County and District levels would be kept informed of progress during the review. He also indicated that he welcomed the recent announcement by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire regarding measures to tackle obstructions on the highway. Mr Lawrence added that it was intended that the new parking enforcement arrangements would be more cost effective than the current system and less of a burden on the Council Tax payer
Changes to Cabinet Member Portfolios
(Paragraph 3.1 of the Statement)
Mr Taylor informed the Council that he had appointed Charlotte Atkins as an additional Member of his Shadow Cabinet (as Shadow Cabinet Member for Care).
Recommendation for Member Seat on the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust
(Paragraph 3.5 of the Statement)
In response to a question from Mr Taylor as to whether, if the Council were to be successful ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
Report of the Director of Democracy, Law and Transformation
Revised Annual Investment Strategy 2013/14
Members were informed that, each year, the Council was required by Government regulations to publish an Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) for its treasury operations in advance of the start of the financial year. The AIS for 2013/14 was approved by Cabinet on 16 January 2013. There was scope in the regulations to amend the AIS at any time where this was necessary. Following the appointment of a new treasury advisor, Arlingclose, it was proposed to adopt their credit worthiness assessment and to consider new options for managing the Council’s long-term loans position. As a consequence of this, it was proposed that changes be made to the AIS for 2013/14.
In response to questions from Members in relation to investments with the Co-operative Bank, Mr Parry indicated that the bank had announced its intention to withdraw from the local government sector and that, as a result, the County Council would be looking for a new provider for its “current account” banking activities.
RESOLVED – That, in accordance with regulations, the revised Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) 2013/14, as set out in Appendicies 1, 2 and 3 to the report, be adopted.
Report of the Director for Place and Deputy Chief Executive
The Council considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Place concerning a proposal to petition against the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill through the Parliamentary stages in order to attempt to secure improvements to the scheme and to safeguard the interest of Staffordshire’s residents and businesses.
During the debate on the report, Members raised a wide range of issues in relation to the HS2 proposals including the detrimental impact the scheme would have on the Staffordshire landscape and the need to secure appropriate mitigation measures; the need to secure adequate compensation for those directly affected by the scheme; traffic congestion issues during the construction period; alternative solutions for increasing rail capacity including improvements to existing infrastructure such as the West Coast Main Line; affordability and spiralling construction costs; and the lack of public support for the scheme.
Mr Davis indicated that one of the positive impacts of HS2 would be the creation of employment opportunities during the scheme’s construction phase. He also indicated that he was opposed to the proposal for the County Council to provide financial resources of up to £200,000 to petition against the Bill. Several other Members also expressed concern at the cost of opposing the Bill as they were of the view that the Government would proceed with HS2 irrespective of the opposition to the scheme. Mr Taylor also enquired as to whether the proposed allocation of £200,000 to petition against the Bill was only for Phase 1 and would an additional sum of money be required to oppose Phase 2. In response, Mr Atkins indicated that the County Council did not have the power to stop HS2, that decision rested with Central Government, but it was essential that the County Council petitions against the Bill in an attempt to secure the mitigation measures that were required to reduce the scheme’s impact on local communities and on the County’s environment. Petitioning against Phase 1 would also help to set out the County Council’s position when Phase 2 of the scheme came under consideration. He concluded by indicating that it was imperative that the views of Staffordshire residents were heard by Central Government and that petitioning against the Bill was the best means of achieving this.
Following a vote, in which 36 members voted in support of the recommendations set out in the report, 0 voted against and 24 members abstained, the Chairman declared the recommendations carried.
RESOLVED – (a) That the County Council reaffirms its position in opposing High Speed 2 as there are no clear or confirmed economic benefits for Staffordshire and it will have significant impacts on our environment and countryside.
(b) That, in the judgement of the Council, it is expedient for the Council to oppose the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill deposited in the 2013-14 session of Parliament.
(c) That the Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure along with the Director for Place and Deputy Chief Executive be authorised to develop the ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Ms Atkins extended her congratulations to Rebecca Bryant on her recent appointment to the post of Deputy Chief Executive / Executive Director of the Fire and Rescue Service. Mr Deaville also extended his congratulations to James Russell from the Service’s Business Intelligence Team who was presented with a Highly Commended in the North West Finals of the 2013 Apprenticeship Awards.
RESOLVED – That the Periodic Report of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority 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 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
Ms S. Woodward asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing whose reply is set out below the question:-
Can the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing tell me what help is available for older or disabled people who have difficulty in completing an application form for a Blue Badge disabled parking concession in Staffordshire, where they may get that help and what is the nature of it?
There are a number of ways someone can apply for a Blue Badge, online, by phone or by calling into one of the access points.
For those with access to the internet the online application form is available on the main website, the applicant can complete the form themselves or friends and family can assist them.
If a resident calls the County Council contact centre the application can be completed by the advisor during the call.
If residents prefer to discuss their application in person, the contact centre can provide a list of customer access points where residents can be given help to complete the application. There are access points located in District and Borough Council offices and local libraries.
It seems to me that the perceptions from the centre as to what is going on in localities does not reflect the reality of the situation. I have heard of cases whereby people have gone into their local district council office or library and have been unable to get direct help to fill in the Blue Badge application forms and are just put in front of a computer screen. That can be extremely daunting for someone who does not know how to use a computer. Therefore, I would ask the Cabinet Member if he will undertake to review what is actually happening in district council offices and libraries in terms of the support given for the completion of Blue Badge applications.
Yes, I most certainly will undertake this review. My understanding is that anybody who is disabled who can use the internet is left to do so. If they can’t, they can go to any of these access points and they will receive assistance to complete their Blue Badge application. Our duty in this county is to support the most needed and vulnerable.
Mrs M. Compton asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing whose reply is set out below the question:-
How much funding did Staffordshire County Council receive for the Local Crisis Support Scheme? How many people have applied for goods and services under this scheme and been successful and what percentage of the fund has been spent so far?
The new crisis support scheme provides support to people in severe hardship, where all other support has been exhausted. This support is in the form of white goods, clothing food and utilities.
This replaces cash grants and loans previously paid by the Department for Work and Pensions, which were abolished under changes brought ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents
(a) Reinstatement of the Roads and Footpaths in the Shoal Hill area of Cannock
Ms. Spicer presented a petition from local residents of the Shoal Hill area of Cannock seeking the proper reinstatement of the roads and footpaths in the area following recent public utility works.
(b) Consultation on the Future of Day Services for People with Learning Disabilities
Ms. Atkins presented a petition from local residents opposing the possible closure of the Moorlands Day Service in Leek.
(c) Proposed Sale of County Council Owned Land in Gnosall
Mrs. Mary Booth, a member of the public, presented a petition from local residents opposing the proposed sale of County Council owned land in Gnosall for housing development.
Exclusion of the Public
The Chairman of the Council will move the following motion so that the County Council can consider confidential business in private:-
(All reports in this section are on pink paper)
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 (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below.
Inward Investment in Staffordshire: Powerhouse Central - A Wave 2 City Deal for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
(exemption paragraph 3)
Report of the Director for Place and Deputy Chief Executive
(Exclusion paragraph 3)
The Council considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Place concerning the progress of the negotiations with Central Government on the Wave 2 City Deal for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
Following a short debate, during which members expressed their support for the proposed City Deal, Mr Atkins moved, and Mr Taylor seconded, that the recommendations contained in the report be approved. Following a vote, the Chairman declared the recommendations carried.
RESOLVED – (a) That the Council agrees to a Wave 2 City Deal with Central Government, as outlined in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire City Deal document titled ‘Powerhouse Central’, to support the creation of jobs and accelerate economic growth across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
(b) That the Leader of the Council, in consultation with the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation and the Chief Executive, be given delegated authority to make any final amendments to the final City Deal agreement and sign on behalf of the County Council.
(c) That the County Council enters into a partnership with the SSLEP and SOTCC to deliver the objectives of the City Deal.
(d) That the Leader of the Council, in consultation with the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation and the Chief Executive, be given delegated authority to sign a Collaboration Agreement on behalf of the County Council.