Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Friday 26th February 2021 10:00am

Venue: Meeting to be conducted using Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Nick Pountney  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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Keith Flunder declared an interest in the minutes (item 109), as a recipient of grant support.



Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 15 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 204 KB

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RESOLVED That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


HS2 Update - Impact on Staffordshire pdf icon PDF 257 KB

Report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills

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The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Economy updated the committee on the economic impact of HS2 in Staffordshire and the action taken to mitigate it. The County Council did not support HS2 and recognised the significant human impact of the scheme. The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member confirmed that he remained focused on getting the best deal for Staffordshire in terms of mitigation, compensation for residents, improved connectivity and economic benefits.


He identified some positives - following petitioning during the parliamentary process for Phase One, the Handsacre link would be constructed with potential large scale development in Stafford coming on the back of that. HS2 Ltd had committed to use local suppliers, materials and labour in Staffordshire where possible and although difficult to quantify, there would be spending in local communities by the HS2 workforce.  There was also potential for delivery of HS2 highway works through the I+ partnership which could generate income for the council and there could be some opportunities for apprenticeships and local jobs created.


However, there would be disruption to drivers on the road network during construction as well as disruption due to construction noise.  There would inevitably be loss of environmental habitats although the economic impact of these was difficult to quantify there would be impact on tourism.    


Any real benefits would not be felt until after construction and were not defined – the stop at Stafford should generate a boost to the economy of the town centre – and there were opportunities in the north of the county opening up the A53 corridor.  


The Chairman acknowledged that while any benefit to the county was some way off, already the disruption was being felt and asked to what extent the council understood the positives and negatives and how well prepared are they. 


The Cabinet Member said that there had been a clear commitment from HS2 to use local goods and services but that had not been quantified.  The HS2 Project Manager agreed that HS2 had not quantified their intentions clearly but they had made the supply chain and local businesses aware of them.


A Member described work ongoing by HS2 in Hints and the significant disruption that was causing with very little support from HS2. Many complaints had been made by local residents. The Cabinet Member acknowledged the disruption at Hints. The Member regretted that south east Staffordshire were not likely to experience any direct benefit from HS2 due to the decision to not open a station in the locality but were experiencing the grief.


A Member welcomed improved connectivity in the north of the county and hoped opportunities would be taken to improve existing rail services as a result.


The Cabinet Member said there had been some research into offsetting the impact of HS2 and improving other lines and there was ongoing dialogue with the DfT. He believed all lines would benefit from linking to HS2 and there was potential to connect the Moorlands with Stoke – this would be explored further.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 113.


Update on Return to Schools and School Transport

Oral update from the Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND)

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Return to Schools


The Cabinet Member for Education and SEND updated members on activity in schools during the third lockdown and preparations for returning children back into schools from 8 March 2021 in line with Government direction.


All schools had remained open for vulnerable children and those of key workers and only closed if there was a local outbreak.  The Local Outbreak Control Team had been very effective managing the situation and liaising with schools.  Average daily attendance had been significantly higher than the first lockdown.

The remote leaning offer had been continuously refined and developed over the period and was now comparable with the accepted core learning offer.  Whilst Ofsted routine inspections had been suspended, monitoring assessments continued to monitor performance.


The Cabinet Member described the situation regarding lateral flow tests for staff and children in primary and senior settings.  Dedicated transport continued to be provided. Schools were preparing for full reopening on 8 March for all pupils except those shielding or isolating.


In terms of public examinations, grades would be determined by teachers who would be required to provide their evidence base. Results would be quality checked by exam boards. 


The Chairman identified two key aspects in reviewing the lockdown and going forward - the health and safety of the school community and the implications of that on the wider community and secondly, the quality of learning which in recent months had appeared to be improved and developed.   He asked the Cabinet Member if he know how schools had been managing particularly their relationship with parents. The general consensus was that teachers far preferred a classroom setting for learning but the remote offer had improved significantly since it had started. Issues about IT had also largely been resolved.


The Cabinet Member praised the work of all teachers and school leaders in their transition to a remote learning platform.  The Assistant Director for Education Strategy and Improvement acknowledged that schools had developed their remote learning offer and they continued to identify the most vulnerable cohort to maintain ongoing dialogue.


A Member said that home learning had been a huge challenge for parents and asked how cohorts of children would catch up with what they must have missed and how would the quality of education resume. He felt school’s liaison with parents could have been better and acknowledged that community links with primary schools had improved and hoped this would continue going forward.


The Cabinet Member said that Government funding to schools to enable pupils to catch up during school holidays had been announced. The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People had received funding for holiday activities but this was not necessarily for education.


The Assistant Director said that it was early days but Sir Kevan Collins had just been announced as the new Commissioner for Education Recovery and £1bn funding (equating to approx. £80per pupil) had been committed for ‘catch up’.


There were three elements:


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 254 KB

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The Committee agreed to the inclusion in their work programme of the Staffordshire Adult Community Learning Self Assessment annual report and of a standing item on HS2. The Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education annual report would be circulated to members for information.


Members discussed Climate Change and whether the annual report should be received by the Select Committee. It was agreed that as Climate Change was a corporate matter, it should be presented to Corporate Review Committee.


RESOLVED That the work programme be amended to include the items detailed.



Exclusion of the Public

The Chairman to move:-


“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 Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below”.



Part Two

(All reports in this section are exempt)




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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 Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below.



HWRC Update

Report of the Cabinet Member for Commercial Matters


Exemption paragraph 3