Agenda item

Statement of the Leader of the Council

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.


New Supported Living Dynamic Purchasing System

(Paragraph 1 of the Statement)


In response to a question from Mr Dave Jones concerning how placements were quality assured, Mr Alan White indicated that not only were there mandatory systems in place through the Care Quality Commission, but the Council’s own commissioning quality officers also ensured that placements were appropriate and of the required standard.  He added that the Council also relied on those in receipt of placements, their family, Members of the Council who visit care settings and also Healthwatch to raise any concerns they may have.


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards – Amendments to the Mental Capacity Act 2005

(Paragraph 2 of the Statement)


Mrs Woodward expressed her concern that the Council had been reprimanded by the Local Government Ombudsman and had appeared to have been singled out for the way in which it triaged Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding (DoLS) applications despite, as reported to the Council’s Audit and Standards Committee, other local authorities adopting similar approaches  She enquired as to whether the Council’s Safe and Strong Select Communities Committee would be permitted to continue to look into and monitor the situation?  In response, Mr Alan White indicated that the approach the Council had taken on DoLS was down to its interpretation of the legislation and, to his knowledge, the vast majority of local authorities were similarly non-compliant.  As a consequence, legislation to replace DoLS had been laid before Parliament and was currently awaiting Royal Assent. 


The Staffordshire County Council Apprenticeship Strategy

(Paragraph 3 of the Statement)


Mr Philip White welcomed the introduction by the County Council of its Apprenticeships Strategy which aimed to embed Apprenticeships within the county council’s workforce, achieve maximum levy spend and work towards meeting the public sector target.  He added that the Council would work with its other public sector partners and also businesses to make sure that maximum benefit is secured from the levy funding.


Adult Learning Disability Community Offer 2022 Programme

(Paragraph 6 of the Statement)


Mrs Woodward indicated that she welcomed the Council’s Adult Learning Disability Community Offer Programme and suggested that, with regard to sustainability of the Offer, financial sustainability should not be the only driver.  In response, Mr Alan White gave an assurance that the proposed Offer would not only be financially sustainable but also sustainable from the point of view of users of the service and also for the staff cohort who provided the service.  He added that a range of options were currently being considered and would be referred to Scrutiny before being considered by Cabinet.


Development of Council Owned Older People’s Nursing Homes

(Paragraph 8 of the Statement)


Mr Dave Jones welcomed the proposals for the Council to develop its own nursing home provision and enquired as to what role Members could play in helping to identify those areas where there was a shortage of provision.  In response, Mr Alan White indicated that he would welcome Members’ input in relation to identifying area where there was a shortage in provision.


Mr Clarke also indicated that he welcomed the proposals and, in particular, the decision to refurbish the former Hillfield site in Burton.  In response, Mr Atkins indicated that the Hillfield site was the first of three proposed sites for the Council to build new nursing homes.


Mr Alan White indicated that the funding of social care still remained a major cause of concern and, despite extensive lobbying by this and other local authorities, the Government’s Green Paper on this matter was still awaited.  He added that, with this in mind, the Council was to bring forward, within the next couple of months, its own Green Paper on Social Care in Staffordshire although this did not obviate the Government from publishing its Green Paper on the future funding of social care.


Domestic Abuse Tri-Partite Agreement

(Paragraph 9 of the Statement)


Mrs Woodward and Mr Adams enquired as to whether the services provided under the two Domestic Abuse Tri-Partite Funding Agreements were bedding in appropriately and efficiently.  Mrs Woodward also expressed the hope that the new arrangements would deliver what they had promised and that the Council’s Scrutiny Committees would have a role in monitoring the performance of the service.  In response, Mrs Heath indicated that the new contract arrangements commenced in October 2018 and that she would look to bring a report back to Members on the performance of the service.


Mr Sutton added that domestic abuse was one of the major factors that led to children being taken into care and that it was therefore important that the Council, together with its partners, had this issue at the forefront of its thinking.


Final Outturn Report 2018/19

(Paragraph 10 of the Statement)


Mr Brookes paid tribute to his fellow Members who served on the MTFS working group and the Corporate Review Committee for the valuable contribution they had made during the budget setting process.


Mr Sutherland added that the spending controls which were put in place during the year had enabled the Council to achieve the necessary savings and he extended his thanks to all members of staff who had assisted in the delivery of those savings, to Rob Salmon and his colleagues in the Finance Team and also to the MTFS working group.


Enjoying the Summer Safely

(Paragraph 11 of the Statement)


Mrs Woodward indicated that she was sure that all Members of the Council would wish to join her in extending sympathy to the family of Carl Storer who died as he heroically went to the aid of a young girl in Chasewater.  She also referred to another recent water related death in Stowe Pool in Lichfield.  She enquired as to whether there was a need to review the “no swimming” signage at Chasewater to make it absolutely clear about the dangers of swimming in open water.  Mrs Woodward also referred to the additional demands placed on the Ranger service during warm weather when they had to inform people not to swim in Chasewater.  In response Mr Winnington reiterated the dangers of swimming in open water and indicated that, following a recent review, additional signage and floatation aids would be installed at Chasewater.


Mr Atkins, Mr Deaville and Mr Alan White echoed the points made by other Members about the dangers of swimming in open water and Mr Deaville also referred to the death of a young person at Westport Lake last summer.  He also informed the Council that the Fire and Rescue Service was doing a lot of work around raising awareness and water safety.


Highways Investment

(Paragraph 12 of the Statement)


Mr Clarke enquired as to whether highway maintenance teams, when they went out to undertake a pothole repair, had the discretion to carry out additional repairs in the immediate vicinity to the job there were sent out to do.  Mrs Jessel also expressed similar concerns to those raised by Mr Clarke.  In response, Mr Atkins confirmed that the highway teams did have that discretion but there were other factors involved such as whether they had sufficient materials on board their vehicle to be able to undertake those additional repairs.


Mr Flunder and Mr Hewitt referred to how Divisional Highway Programme (DHP) monies were being used effectively in their Division to support the provision of minor highway works requested by local communities.


Mr Brookes indicated that whilst he welcomed the £20,000 available to each Member to invest in local highway projects, he was concerned that as much as 20% of this funding may be swallowed up in administration costs.  In response, Mr Deaville indicated that all works would have an element of administrative fees and these would be included in the final invoice for those works.


Mrs Hood also raised the issue of repairs not being carried out correctly the first time round and thus requiring additional visits from the maintenance crews.  In response, Mr Parry stated that his understanding was that the cost of such additional visits rested with the contractor and not the County Council.  He, and Mr Atkins, also referred to the additional investment made by the Council in highway maintenance which was now starting to have an impact on the ground.  Mr Bryan Jones also indicated that, in recent weeks, he had seen a reduction in the number of highway related issues reported to him by his constituents.


Mr Hussain also referred to the poor quality of some of the reinstatement works undertaken by the utility companies.


Air Quality

(Paragraph 13 of the Statement)


Mr Robinson, Mr Tagg and Mr Wileman referred to recent initiatives for promoting cleaner air and also the need for the County Council, as highway authority, to work closely with the district and borough councils to ensure the implementation of action plans to tackle air quality issues.  Mr Parry also indicated that the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee had also debated this matter and the need to tackle the issue through a mixture of regulation and behavioural shift.  Mrs Trowbridge added that Staffordshire High Schools should be invited to have an input in developing polices on improving air quality as young people often had innovative ideas.


Mr Philip White referred to the issue of parents leaving their cars idling outside schools and the need to tackle the associated air quality issues through a mixture of raising awareness and also the possibility of persuading parents to walk their children to school or park away from the school and walk the last few hundred metres. 


Staffordshire Warmer Homes Fund

(Paragraph 14 of the Statement)


In response to a question from Mr Dudson as to whether the Fund could be utilised to cover the cost of providing cladding to improve the insulation of concrete homes, Mr Alan White indicated that such funding did not fall within the scope of the scheme and it was for local housing authorities and Housing Associations to pursue this issue with Central Government.


Mrs Hood welcomed the initiative and spoke about the need for publicity to raise the awareness of the scheme particularly as older people could be suspicious about anything that was offered for “free”.  She also enquired as to whether landlords could apply for funding under the initiative.  Mrs Trowbridge responded by indicating that those tenants who met the criteria could request their landlords to apply for funding under the scheme.  Mr Colin Greatorex also indicated that officers were contacting individuals directly concerning their eligibility under the scheme.  He, along with Mr Alan White, added that there was also a vital role to be played by Members in promoting the scheme to their constituents who were eligible for the funding.


Dignity in Care Awards

(Paragraph 17 of the Statement)


Mrs Clements, Mr Michael Greatorex, Mr Alan White and Mr Atkins referred to the Council’s Dignity in Care Awards and paid tribute to those people in Staffordshire who provided both paid and unpaid care for others in the community.


Your Staffordshire Card


Mrs Woodward referred to the call-in of the Cabinet Member Delegated Decision relating to the withdrawal of the Your Staffordshire Card and expressed her thanks to the Members of the Corporate Review Committee for their constructive debate on the call-in and for allowing a member of the Youth Parliament to address the Committee.  She did however express concern that, following the announcement of proposals to withdraw the Card, members of the Youth Council had emailed Members of the Council to express their concerns but, in the majority of cases, had not received a response.  She urged Members that, when they received emails from young people, they provided them with the courtesy of a response.


RESOLVED – That the Statement of the Leader of the Council be received.


Supporting documents: