Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Simon Lewis  Committee Officer

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

Available papers

The members had before them:

 

A.    The Agenda papers (previously circulated);

 

B.    8 questions submitted to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services (previously circulated); and

 

C.   The Minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2019 (previously circulated).

Additional documents:

2123.

Apologies and Declaration of Interests (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies and invite any councillor to declare any interest in any of the items on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr R W Banks, Mrs A T Hingley, Dr A J Hopkins, Mr J A D O’Donnell, Prof J W Raine, and Mr C B Taylor.

 

It was noted that Mr C J Bloore had resigned as a councillor earlier the same day.

2124.

Public Participation (Agenda item 2)

To allow a member of the public to present a petition, or ask a question relating to the functions of the Council, or to make a comment on any matter on the agenda.

 

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating both the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case, 11 September 2019). Further details are available on the Council’s website. Enquiries can also be made through the telephone number/e-mail address listed below.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs L Denham presented a petition requesting Worcestershire County Council to ensure properly funded bus services to address social isolation, environmental issues, equality of access to employment and public services and congestion.

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs Denham for her petition and said she would receive a written response from the relevant Cabinet Member.

2125.

Minutes (Agenda item 3)

To approve as a correct record and authorise the signing of the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2019 (previously circulated electronically).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

2126.

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4)

To receive any announcements to be made by the Chairman.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Noted.

2127.

Reports of Cabinet - Matters which require a decision - Organisational Redesign Programme (Agenda item 5) pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To consider the reports of the Cabinet and to receive answers to any questions asked on those reports as follows:

 

a)    Reports of Cabinet – Matters which require a decision (Yellow pages – A report on the organisational Redesign Programme will follow after the Cabinet meeting on 5 September 2019); and

b)    Report of Cabinet – Summary of decisions taken (White pages).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the Organisational Redesign Programme.

 

In the ensuing debate, the following points were raised:

 

·         The Leader of the Council introduced the report and commented that the organisational redesign provided an opportunity to re-examine and re-evaluate the way the Council worked including its use of ICT, assets, buildings and total reward to create a sustainable organisation for the future and provide financial savings over the next two years. Staff had been engaged through seven thematic groups. The redesign was being led by the Strategic Leadership Team, overseen by the Chief Executive. C.Co had been engaged to provide external challenge and an understanding of best practice across the country. Following three rounds of challenge, a three Directorate model had been determined which included Directors of Economy and Infrastructure, People and Commercial and Change. Children’s Services would operate as a separate company within the Council. The three tiers would comprise of the Chief Executive, Strategic Directors and Assistant Directors. This would stream-line the existing arrangements and allow Strategic Directors to focus on strategy and the future direction of the Council. Assistant Directors would focus on service delivery and operational matters. Human Resources and Finance would report directly to the Chief Executive. This proposal was phase one of the wider redesign and transformation process. If agreed, the aim was to get the top structure in place by next year

·         The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Adult Social Care paid tribute to the work of the staff involved in the seven thematic groups. The redesign was not overly radical, blending the old with the new to provide a clear understanding of Directorate responsibilities. The biggest change was the creation of the new People Directorate

·         There should not be any compulsory redundancies as a result of the redesign

·         It was important to have the right people in the right positions in the Council. The roles of the Cabinet members would need to be realigned to reflect these changes. It was not clear how these changes would bring about savings of £3m. It was important that the new arrangements were implemented consistently across the organisation

·         It would be helpful to receive an explanation of the lessons learned from best practice across the country

·         The proposals for the redesign or aspects of it should be referred to the Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel

·         The job title of Assistant Director did not seem to reflect the level of responsibility of the role. There should be specific job descriptions underpinning the generic job descriptions. There remained a considerable amount of savings to be achieved annually through the redesign which would be painful to accomplish

·         It was disappointing that the redesign had been County Council focused and had not included a review of the relationship with the district councils

·         Concern was expressed about the wide range of service strands and heads of service under the responsibility of the Director of People

·         the relationship between Cabinet Members with Responsibility and the Assistant Directors was unclear in the report.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2127.

2128.

Reports of Cabinet - Summary of decisions taken (Agenda item 5)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council reported the following topics and questions were answered on them:

 

·         Adult Services – Care and Support Services – Direction of Travel

·         Libraries Re- modelling

·         Recommissioning the Council’s Customer Services

·         Balanced Scorecard and Corporate Risk Update – Quarter 4

·         Quality of Utility Works on the Public Highway – Notice of Motion.

2129.

Constitutional Matter - Appointment of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To consider the appointment of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (Yellow Pages).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the appointment of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board.

 

In the ensuing debate, the following points were raised:

 

·         The Leader of the Labour Group proposed Mr R M Udall as his Group’s nomination as Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board. Mr L C R Mallett seconded the nomination

·         The Leader of the Council indicated that given the late and unexpected circumstances surrounding the resignation of the Chairman of the Board, he proposed that consideration of the appointment of a successor be deferred until the November Council to allow members time to reflect on the situation. This deferral was seconded by Mr A I Hardman

·         This was an important appointment made by Council and in the circumstances, it was appropriate to defer consideration. The Vice-Chairman had been and could continue to chair Board meetings in the interim without compromising the work programme

·         Concern was expressed that the Labour Group’s nominee would unnecessarily focus on local issues in his role

·         The administration should respect convention and accept the valid nomination from the Labour Group

·         Any delay was unnecessary and would leave the Board without a Chairman and begged the question whether the Board was able to continue in these circumstances.

 

RESOLVED that the appointment of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board be deferred until the Council meeting on 7 November 2019.

2130.

Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2019/20 (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To consider the future work programme recommended by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (Yellow pages).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2019/20.

 

In the ensuing debate, the following points were raised:

 

·         The Vice-Chairman of the Board introduced the report which had received cross-party support and commended the programme to Council. She gave an assurance that during this interim period, she would act in a collegiate manner to ensure that scrutiny continued to work effectively

·         The Board would be considering some very important issues in the next few months particularly in relation to Children’s Services and the creation of Worcestershire Children First.

 

RESOLVED that the 2019/20 Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme be endorsed.

2131.

Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 1 - Public Footways (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To receive the report of the Head of Legal and Democratic Services on any Notices of Motion received by him (Lilac pages).

 

Councillors are asked to note that any Notices of Motion must be received by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services no later than noon on 3 September 2019.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mrs E B Tucker, Prof J W Raine, Mrs F M Oborski and Mr M E Jenkins.

 

The motion was moved by Mrs E B Tucker and seconded by Mr M E Jenkins who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.

 

In the ensuing debate, the following points were made:

 

·         The footways budget was inadequate, did not reflect the policy priority and did not allow footways to be maintained to the required standard. In particular, standards were not being enforced on developers.  The importance of safe footways for the social welfare of elderly and disabled people should not be under-estimated. The intervention criteria that determined when maintenance work could begin was very high. As a result, footways were not conducive to safe walking with, in many instances, undulating footways and footpaths sloping towards the kerb

·         The quality of footways was a public health issue as well as a highways issue and it was important to ensure that the criteria for maintenance work was set at an appropriate level

·         The Cabinet Member for Highways indicated that he was happy to accept the motion on behalf of the administration. He recognised the importance of tackling social isolation and encouraging children to cycle and walk to school. Spending on footways had increased from £1.8m in 2014/15 to £5m in 2019/20 and as a percentage of the highways budget from 6.2% to 14% and had risen every year. The Government’s Incentive Fund of £6m had enabled the Council to repair 50 miles of pavement, improving quality and quantity. Members also received an additional £43k annually for highways repairs. The criteria for repairing highways defects was in line with Government Policy. A number of factors were taken into account including condition surveys and public enquiries so that the footways in most need were attended to. There were detailed specifications for developers creating footways on new estates or undertaking work on existing highways. All these matters would be included in his report to Cabinet

·         The Department for Transport’s displacement criterion for repairing damaged footways was extraordinary high and the Council should intervene before that level was reached

·         It was disappointing that officers were unwilling to consider undertaking the maintenance of long stretches of footways along roads in rural areas

·         It was requested that the Cabinet Member establish in his report whether the Council had the capacity to undertake the work for which funding had been allocated

·         Parking on pavements was a particular problem, causing damage to pavements and obstructing pedestrians. The Department for Transport should be lobbied to introduce a ban. In response, it was commented that this was a grey area and there were occasions where it was necessary for motorists to park on the pavement

·         It was important for people with sight issues that tactile footplates were monitored and replaced where damaged 

·         The quality of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2131.

2132.

Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 2 - Road Verge Biomass Harvesting (Agenda item 8)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mrs E B Tucker, Prof J W Raine, Mr M E Jenkins and Mrs F M Oborski.

 

The motion was moved by Mr M E Jenkins and seconded by Mrs F M Oborski who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.

 

In the ensuing debate, the following points were made:

 

·         It was acknowledged that the Council was doing a lot to improve the biodiversity of verges. This motion sought to establish what more could be done and whether anything could be learned from the approach taken by Lincolnshire County Council in using grass cuttings to generate energy albeit recognising that circumstances might be different in this county. This motion was also in line with the Council’s pollinator-friendly approach

·         An assurance was sought that the policy of cutting road verges at least one metre from the highway would continue

·         There should be more planting of wildflowers on roadside verges in the county

·         The Cabinet Member for Environment indicated that the Council was already undertaking the proposed measures. The topography in Lincolnshire was different and allowed the machinery to be used in a way that reduced the carbon footprint which might not be possible in this county. He gave an assurance that view splays would continue to be cut back in line with Council policy. The Council was looking at other ways of reducing grass growth for example by introducing other plant species. It was important that there was no increase in carbon emissions whatever approach was adopted. He encouraged members to make use of the Natural Network Programme

·         As a pollinator-friendly Council, the Council undertook to cut as little of the verge as possible

·         There was a lack of information regarding the cost and carbon emissions involved in the approach adopted by Lincolnshire County Council. The impact of the cut and cart approach on soil fertility levels also needed to be considered

·         Lincolnshire County Council had adopted the right approach by cutting the grass in order to improve the biodiversity of the verge. However different approaches should be considered that might be more appropriate to this county

·         There were also good examples of wildflower planting on grass verges in urban areas eg. Rotherham Council

·         A concern was expressed about the impact on grazing animals of allowing grass verges to grow where ragwort was present.

 

On being put to the vote, the motion was agreed unanimously.

 

RESOLVED: “Lincolnshire County Council is letting its grass verges grow wild over summer in order to encourage pollinators such as butterflies and bees instead of mowing them.  At the end of the summer, the grass will be cut and the long cuttings sent to be used as biofuel.  The money made from the scheme will be put back into maintaining the verges for next year.

 

The Council has produced a “tool kit” for other interested  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2132.

2133.

Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 3 - Preparations for Brexit (Agenda item 8)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Prof J W Raine, Mrs E B Tucker and Mr M E Jenkins.

 

The motion was moved by Mrs F M Oborski and seconded by Mr M E Jenkins who both spoke in favour of it. The motion was altered by the mover and seconder based on information received from the LEP so that the motion read “25,000 jobs” rather than “Number of jobs”. Council agreed to deal with the motion on the day.

 

In the ensuing debate, the following points were made:

 

·         The figure of 25k jobs at risk was provided by Worcestershire LEP. The Government’s Yellowhammer report had highlighted issues with high tariffs, delays for HGVs at ports and the disproportionate impact on low income families as a result of fuel/food price increases. In particular the number of jobs at risk was a major concern. This Council should be aware of the steps it was able to take to support local employers in this scenario

·         A point of order was raised whether a motion could be proposed by a councillor who was not a signatory to it. The Head of Legal and Democratic Services advised that being a signatory to a motion and speaking to it at Council were separate matters. The constitution required at least three signatories to get a motion on the agenda for Council but there was no requirement for them to attend or speak on it. Although Moving and seconding the motion was normally undertaken by the signatories it did not need to be where another was put forward.

 

The following amendment to the motion was moved by Dr K A Pollock:

 

A number of jobs in the county may be at risk after BREXIT. What preparations are being made by the Council?

 

Many jobs within Worcestershire may be at risk when the UK leaves the European Union, and some people believe that even more may be affected, if the departure is effected without a deal.

 

This Council asks for a report to Cabinet on its own preparations to support the local economy and residents of Worcestershire throughout this challenging time, and on the mechanisms in place to co-ordinate with other organisations such as the Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire Business Central, the Chamber of Commerce for Herefordshire and Worcestershire and the six District Councils.

 

The mover and seconder accepted the proposed amendment as an alteration to the motion. Council then debated the substantive motion as altered.

 

In the debate, the following principal points were raised:

 

·         The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure explained that the amendment placed emphasis on the role of business partners rather than the Local Resilience Forum which had responsibility for major emergencies for example flooding. Although the matter was taken seriously, this amendment did not assume the worst-case scenario

·         The impact of Brexit on the rural economy of the county would be significant given the potential  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2133.

2134.

Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 4 - Employment agencies (Agenda item 8)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was insufficient time to consider this motion within the allotted 90 minute time limit for the consideration of Notices of Motion.

 

2135.

Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 5 - Bewdley Fire Station (Agenda item 8)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was insufficient time to consider this motion within the allotted 90 minute time limit for the consideration of Notices of Motion.

 

2136.

Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 6 - Royal Mail and Post Office Services (Agenda item 8)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was insufficient time to consider this motion within the allotted 90 minute time limit for the consideration of Notices of Motion.

 

2137.

Report of the Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Health and Well-being (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To receive the report of the Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Health and Well-being on current issues and proposed developments within his area of responsibility and to receive answers to any questions on the report (Green pages).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Health and Well-being presented his report.

 

The Cabinet Member then answered a broad range of questions from members.

 

The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for his report.

2138.

Question Time (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To receive answers to any questions asked by Councillors (Orange pages).

 

(Members are reminded of the timescale adopted by Council for notice of questions. A Councillor may only ask a question if:

 

·         It is delivered in writing to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services by noon on 3 September 2019 or

·         If it relates to urgent business, the Head of Legal and Democratic Services is notified at least half an hour before the start of the meeting.)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Eight questions had been received by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and had been circulated in advance of the meeting. The answers to all the questions are attached in the Appendix.  

2139.

Reports of Committees - Audit and Governance Committee (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider the report of the Audit and Governance Committee and to receive answers to any questions asked on that report (White pages).

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Committee introduced the report and commented that two years ago the Council had failed to sign off the Accounts on time. A significant amount of work had taken place since then and he was now pleased to report that the Accounts for 2018/19 (not 2017/18 as referred to in the report) had been signed off on time with an unqualified opinion by the external auditor. A number of significant outstanding issues had been addressed and he thanked members of the Committee for their contribution and congratulated the Chief Financial Officer and his team for their tireless efforts to get to this point. 40% of local authorities nationally had failed to sign off the accounts on time. It was excellent news that this Council had completed its Accounts on time. 

 

The Council received the report of the Audit and Governance Committee containing a summary of the decisions taken.