Venue: Council Chamber - County Buildings
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Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 21 July 2022 PDF 234 KB
Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 21 July 2022 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members
Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Chairman informed the Council that, although this was the news that we had been fearing for a little while, the announcement of the passing of Her Majesty was a huge shock to us all. It was undoubtedly a sadness which was felt across the county and the country. Her Majesty had been a constant, reassuring presence in our lives for so long. Her life of service to the country and its people had been a beacon for us.
The Chairman added that he looked forward with confidence to the reign of our new King and particularly to be able to welcome him on future visits to the County.
County Councillor Ian Lawson
The Chairman informed Members of the death, on 9 October 2022, of County Councillor Ian Lawson.
Mr Lawson had represented the Biddulph North (Staffordshire Moorlands) Electoral Division on the County Council since 2009.
He served on a number of the Council’s Committees including the Social Care Scrutiny Committee; Children, Young People and Families Scrutiny Committee; Regeneration and Infrastructure Scrutiny Committee; Property, Skills and Education Select Committee; Planning Committee; Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee; Audit and Standards Committee; Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee; Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education; the Charities and Trusts Committee and also the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire Authority.
Mr Lawson also served as Chairman of the County Council between May 2012 and May 2015.
Councillors Sutton, Eagland, Francis, Sutherland, Heath, Flunder, Smith, Hussain, Perry, Winnington, Ward and Alan White paid tribute to the contribution made by Mr Lawson to the work of the Council following which Members stood and observed a one-minute silence in his memory.
Statement of the Leader of the Council PDF 169 KB
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.
Staffordshire Means Back to Business – Oral Update
(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)
Councillor Smith expressed his thanks for the £20m investment which had been made in his electoral division.
Councillor Afsar referred to the impact of increasing energy prices on businesses across the County and enquired as to whether the County Council, working with the District and Borough Councils, would intervene to offer these businesses support in order so save jobs and livelihoods. In response, Councillor Greatorex indicated that the Government had recently introduced a national scheme to provide subsidies to businesses to help them through the rise in energy prices and that this scheme would run for six months.
Councillor Pert expressed his thanks to local residents for their forbearance whilst roadworks continued along the A34 to the north of Stafford. He also referred to the jobs which would be created by the new Pets at Home European Headquarters at Redhill.
In response to a comment from Councillor Pardesi that she was still awaiting a response to a question she raised at the Council meeting in July, Councillors Philip White and Alan White apologised for the omission and undertook to furnish her with a reply.
In response to a question from Councillor Hussain concerning pre-planning application advice, Councillor Alan White indicated that the County Council, through the Leaders Board, was working closely with the Borough and District Councils, to make services more effective and seamless.
Councillor Sweeney spoke about “Town Deals” and how this acted as seed funding to bring forward new job creation projects such as the development of the Chatterley Valley Business Park in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Councillor Sutherland paid tribute to the Council for the support it made available to businesses across the County. Councillor Philip White added that the Council was committed to working with partners to help people into work and he made particular reference to the Job Brokerage Scheme.
Approval of Staffordshire County Council’s Community Learning Procurement Arrangements 2023 to 2027
(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)
Councillor Philip White paid tribute to the excellent work of the Council’s Community Learning Team.
Integrated Performance Report – Quarter 1, 2022/23
(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)
In response to a question from Councillor Charlotte Atkins concerning filling the additional posts required as a consequence of the Government’s Social Care Reform, Councillor Jessel indicated that the Council was working on the assumption that the current timetable for implementation still stood, however, recruitment and retention was still an issue, both nationally and locally, but the Council was working hard to find local solutions to the problem including increases in the rate of pay in the sector.
Councillor Parry updated Members on the financial position of the Council at the end of Quarter 2 which was to be considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 19 October 2022. He explained that the latest revenue forecast outturn showed a forecast overspend ... view the full minutes text for item 29.
Staffordshire Electoral Review - Council Size Submission PDF 162 KB
The Council were informed that, in March 2022, the Local Government Boundary Commission initiated an Electoral Review of Staffordshire. The rationale for undertaking an Electoral Review was both due to the County’s changing population which had led to electoral inequality, and the length of time since the last review. There were two key stages to an Electoral Review: Stage 1 – which considered the Council Size; and Stage 2 – which considered division arrangements. Stage 1 commenced in June 2022 and the County Council was required to submit its Council Size submission to the Boundary Commission by 11 November 2022.
Members noted that the Council’s Submission proposed that the County Council:
a) Retains the current council size of 62 Elected Members
b) Requests a single Member per division review
The evidence outlined in the Submission demonstrated that the current council size of 62 Elected Members supported the Council to efficiently and effectively undertake the three key aspects the Boundary Commission considered when considering Council Size:
(i) Strategic Leadership – how many Elected Members were required to give strategic leadership and direction to the authority?
(ii) Accountability – how many Elected Members were required to provide scrutiny to the authority? How many Elected Members were required to meet the regulatory requirements of the authority?
(iii) Community Leadership – how the representation role of Elected members in the local community was discharged and how they engaged with people and conduct casework.
It was noted that the County Council’s current electoral arrangements included two Divisions with two Elected Members. The Submission outlined that these arrangements did not provide the most efficient conditions for community representation. Representing a larger electorate presented difficulties, and it was acknowledged that it could be difficult to split casework, and for electors to easily identify who ‘their Councillor’ was. As such, it was proposed that that County Council requests a single member per division review.
Members were also informed that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered the draft Council Submission on 13September 2022. The Committee agreed with the proposals within the Submission and feedback from the Committee had been incorporated into the Submission document. Cabinet also considered the draft Council Size Submission on 21st September and approved the Council Size proposals.
Councillor Winnington referred to the growth in the population of the County, with some electoral divisions having one and a half times the number of electors than the average. He added that, although the proposal to retain the current Council size of 62 was sensible, it may be that some areas warranted an additional seat. In response, Councillor Philip White indicated that the proposal to retain the current council size of 62 Elected Members was the minimum number the Council considered necessary and it may be that under stage 2 of the Review, which considered division arrangements, the case may be made for more electoral divisions. Councillor Alan White encouraged all Members to participate in Stage 2 of the Review and he expressed his thanks ... view the full minutes text for item 30.
Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel PDF 155 KB
In response to a question from Councillor Pardesi concerning the possibility of Firefighters, who were taking strike action over a dispute over pay, not attending emergencies, Councillor David Williams indicated that not all Firefighters were members of the Fire Brigades Union and that he could not foresee a situation where incidents requiring their attendance were not covered.
Councillors Hudson and Cox referred to the recent the Inspection report which had had raised a number of areas which needed improvement and they indicated that, although they could not defend the Force’s failings, they had every faith in the new Chief Constable that these matters would be addressed. Councillor Edgeller also commended the Chief Constable.
Councillor Afsar raised concerns in relation to an increase in anti-social behaviour in Burton.
Councillor Philip Atkins spoke about the lack of visible policing and that there was a very small proportion of the population committing the vast majority of crimes.
Councillors Edgeller and Peters also encouraged Members to inform their constituents about the Performance meetings held with the Chief Constable which were open to the public and could be viewed via a webcast.
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
Councillor Pritchard asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-
In August residents of my division, and the wider town, suffered as a result of the closure of the Ashby Road for utility works. Some residents were completely cut off from Tamworth by the closure, due to the 24 minute diversion.
Can the council look at how the rules on road closures could be updated to include residents in these decisions? This would both benefit residents effected by such roadworks and the Authority’s reputation.
Ashby Road rail bridge is a specific pinch point in the County where any roadworks will most often require a closure due to the width.
New developments are progressing along the Ashby Road, No Mans Heath corridor and require various utility connections. The council’s Traffic and Network management team coordinate these works and deliberately held-up the recent works so that they would be carried out in the quieter August summer holiday period.
For the residents to the East of the bridge this obviously caused some disruption. However, as with any road closure, advance notice was provided and a signed diversion route put in place, with alternative unsigned local routes also available and regularly used by local traffic.
Responsibility for the communication of a road closure rests with the individual utility provider, developer, or contractor. In addition to the legal notices all the remaining requirements, including letter drop, advance signage and discussion with affected bus companies, were all followed for this closure.
As part of the wider highways transformation programme, we will be reviewing best practice and considering what additional measures can be made to help raise awareness and reduce the impact of works that are likely to cause significant disruption to local communities or adversely impact on the council’s reputation.
Councillor Hussain asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture whose reply is set out below the question:-
Small charities, community enterprises and local groups are doing heroic work in this cost-of-living crisis by supporting families through the food bank and soup kitchens and so on. How can the council help them to carry on their fantastic effort, especially in areas like Eaton, Shobnall, Anglesey, Stapenhill, and so on?
First of all, I would like to join Cllr Hussain in expressing my appreciation and thanks for the tireless efforts of community groups across Staffordshire in supporting residents with a range of issues, including the cost of living. The Council has recently launched a campaign, to highlight the help and support that is available throughout the county to tackle the current cost of living pressures. The ‘Here to help’ campaign is directing people to support on things like managing debt, paying bills, food and essentials, staying warm and helping others.
The voluntary sector plays a vital role in making Staffordshire a great place to live, where everyone can prosper, be healthy and happy. Across the ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents
(i) Condition of the Pavements in Yoxall
Councillor Jessel submitted a petition from local residents complaining about the poor condition of the pavements along various roads in Yoxall.
(ii) Request for the removal of Lime Trees along Hillport Avenue, Wolstanton
Councillor Hutton submitted a petition from local residents requesting the removal/pruning of Lime Trees along Hillport Avenue, Wolstanton due to damage being caused to vehicles and property.
(iii) Closure of Shay Lane, Sebdon
Councillor Winnington submitted a petition from local residents requesting the prioritisation of repairs to Shay Lane, Sebdon to enable the road to be re-opened.