Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Simon Lewis  Committee Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

Available papers

The members had before them:

 

A.    The Agenda papers (previously circulated);

 

B.    5 questions submitted to the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance (previously circulated); and

 

C.   The Minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2019 (previously circulated).

Additional documents:

2158.

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 Ms R L Dent, Mr P Grove, Mr J A D O’Donnell and Mrs M A Rayner.

 

Mrs L C Hodgson declared an interest in Agenda Item 11 (c) – Report of Audit and Governance Committee as a newly appointed Governor of Northleigh Primary School.

 

2159.

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 Assistant Director for Legal and Governance 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, 15 January 2020). 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:

Mr D Lucas asked a question about pedestrian access along section three of the route to the Worcestershire Parkway Station.

 

Mr R Coates made a comment on Notice of Motion 5 - Car Club marked bays.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Lucas and Mr Coates for their contribution and said they would receive a written response from the relevant Cabinet Member.

2160.

Minutes (Agenda item 3)

To approve as a correct record and authorise the signing of the Minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2019 (previously circulated electronically).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2161.

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4)

To receive any announcements to be made by the Chairman.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Noted.

2162.

Reports of Cabinet - Summary of decisions taken (Agenda item 5) pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet – Summary of decisions taken and to receive answers to any questions asked on it (White pages).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

·         Worcestershire Passenger Transport Strategy

·         Kepax Bridge

·         Update on Local Area Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Action Plan including the Local Government Ombudsman Report

·         Worcestershire Safeguarding Children’s Board (WSCB) Annual Report 2018/19

·         EU Exit Preparedness Update Report

·         2020/21 Draft Budget and Medium-Term Financial Plan Update 2020-22

·         Libraries Strategy

·         Fair Funding Consultation Outcomes for 2020-21 – National and Local Changes to the Fair Funding Arrangements for Schools

·         Balanced Scorecard Performance and Corporate Risk Update

·         Decision to Award Contract for an Integrated Drug and Alcohol Service for Adults and Young People

·         Treasury Management Mid-Year Update to 30 September 2019.

2163.

Constitutional Report - Bromsgrove South by-election and Political Balance (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To consider the recalculation of political balance following the result of the Bromsgrove South by-election (Yellow pages).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a constitutional report on political balance following the Bromsgrove South by-election.

 

RESOLVED that the recalculation of political balance set out as an Appendix to the report be approved and the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance be required to give effect to it in accordance with the nominations from the respective Group leaders from time to time.

2164.

Notices of Motion 1 - Proposals for Voter ID (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To receive the report of the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance 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 Assistant Director for Legal and Governance no later than noon on 7 January 2020.

 

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, Mr M E Jenkins, Mr T A L Wells Mrs F M Oborski and Prof J W Raine.

 

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

 

Those in favour of the Motion made the following points:

 

·         The evidence from national statistics indicated that Personation was not a serious issue at UK elections. Under the voter ID proposals, a significant number of people would be unable to vote because they did not have the necessary photographic ID. The Government’s proposals to provide free of charge election ID documentation would not be sufficient and would still leave some voters disenfranchised. Should the Government supply voter ID equipment, there would still be an administration cost to the Council with no assurance from the Government that the full cost would be recovered. The system would slow down the voting process, increase queues at voting stations and decrease voter turn-out, especially given the state of the public transport system

·         Voter ID would deter people from voting without having the intended impact on serious electoral fraud. The people most affected would be women, ethnic minorities, and the poorest and most vulnerable members of society

·         It was inappropriate to put artificial barriers which deterred people from voting. Lessons should be learned from the levels of disenfranchised voters resulting from the introduction of voter ID in certain states in the USA

·         Voter fraud was more prevalent in the postal voting system than at polling stations

·         It was hoped that the Government would establish a pilot scheme prior to the final decision whether or not to introduce the scheme nationwide

·         The particular historic circumstances behind the decision to introduce a voter ID system in Northern Ireland was not relevant to or supportive of its introduction elsewhere.

 

Those against the Motion made the following points:

 

·         The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Skills commented on behalf of the Conservative Group that the introduction of voter ID had been a Conservative party manifesto commitment, had been included in the Queen’s Speech and was likely to be enshrined in legislation. It was difficult to envisage, with the promised Government assistance, that people would be disenfranchised. Clearly, there would be short-term issues but people would get accustomed to the system. The mechanics of showing your ID at a polling station would add minimal delay to the voting process. It was a modern solution which would demonstrate integrity in the voting system

·         The introduction of voter ID was about democracy being seen to work. The scheme operated well in Northern Ireland with high voter turn outs and little delays in voting.

 

On being put to the vote, the Motion was lost.

2165.

Notices of Motion 2 - Employment agencies (Agenda item 7)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mr R C Lunn, Mr P McDonald, Ms P Agar, Mr A Fry and Mr L C R Mallett.

 

The motion was moved by Mr R C Lunn and seconded by Mr P M McDonald who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.

 

Those in favour of the Motion made the following points:

 

·         It was queried why and for how long the Council had paid large amounts of money to staff on agency contracts for periods over 6 months on a higher rate than equivalent full-time staff when it would be cheaper to employ staff on short-term contracts. All employees should be paid through the PAYE system. Agency staffing arrangements caused reputational damage to the Council. A scrutiny exercise could establish the extent of the problem and whether any savings could be made 

·         Agency workers had little affinity or loyalty to the Council as an employer. Despite this, the Council had employed an officer through an agency at the highest level of the organisation, paid at a considerably higher rate than the equivalent for a permanent staff member

·         A scrutiny exercise would give Council an assurance that it was not wasting resources on unneeded agency staff.

 

Those against the Motion made the following points:

 

·         The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Transformation and Commissioning commented, on behalf of the Conservative Group, that the high-level agency staff member referred to, had been appointed by a cross-party Appointments etc Panel. The officer worked 4 days a week with no holidays or sick pay and a permanent appointment had been made thereafter. The arrangements represented good value for money for the Council but more importantly brought about improvements to the outcomes for children and young people in Worcestershire

·         There was a very limited market for high-level, high-calibre staff who were required on a temporary basis

·         It should be borne in mind that agencies took a sizeable cut of the daily rate paid to an employee recruited through them

·         The motion failed to differentiate between the unique issues associated with the recruitment of high-level staff in comparison with the recruitment of other temporary staff.

 

On being put to the vote, the Motion was lost.

2166.

Notice of Motion 3 - Royal Mail and Post Office Services (Agenda item 7)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mr R C Lunn, Mr L C R Mallett, Mr P M McDonald, Mr A Fry and Ms P Agar.

 

The motion was moved by Mr R C Lunn and seconded by Ms C M Stalker who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.

 

Those in favour of the Motion made the following points:

 

·         This motion was concerned with the provision of Royal Mail and Post Office services in the county and how those services could be improved by working together. The difficulties experienced at Mount Pleasant in Redditch and Tenbury Wells showed how the absence (albeit temporary) of post office services impacted on the lives of local people, for example people needing to travelling long distances to return parcels

·         There was an issue countywide where post boxes were not always situated in the most appropriate place

·         The post office in the Dines Green area of Worcester had been closed without any alternative provision for local residents. The Council could liaise with the Post Office to find alternative solutions and a scrutiny exercise could help to facilitate this

·         The closure of the Post Office in Ronkswood area of Worcester had severely impacted the ability of pensioners to access their pensions

·         Since the last bout of post office closures some time ago, the main problem had been not so much the closure of post offices but rather the way that post offices were funded

·         Any arrangements that would encourage the Post Office to improve its services would be welcomed

·         The Chairman of the OSPB commented that the motion merely asked the OSPB to consider undertaking a scrutiny exercise. With its heavy workload, he would not expect the scrutiny exercise to be undertaken immediately and would recommend that OSPB defer any consideration until the next review of the future work programme

·         Although there was a role for the local member to provide support for local post office services, there were occasions where the additional gravitas of the Council’s involvement would be necessary.

 

Those against the Motion made the following points:

 

·         The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Communities commented on behalf of the Conservative Group that there was a role for the local councillor to champion local post offices. It was not appropriate for Council to make a request that the OSPB to change its work programme (which had been agreed by Council in September 2019)

·         There were examples in the county where post office services had improved, with opening hours extended and banking services provided. The extent of post offices services provision was a commercial matter for the Post Office and not relevant to scrutiny

·         Although scrutiny was not the appropriate route for this issue, the Council should continue to make representations to the Post Office, particularly concerning the provision of services in hard-to-reach areas

·         This issue had already been raised at OSPB  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2166.

2167.

Notice of Motion 4 - Maintenance of hedgerows and trees that overhang or obstruct pathways (Agenda item 7)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mr A D Kent, Mrs E A Eyre and Mr R C Adams.

 

The motion was moved by Mr A D Kent and seconded by Mrs E A Eyre 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:

 

·         An increased number of complaints had received last year about overgrown hedgerows encroaching on footpaths which impacted on the ability of pedestrians to navigate them as well as reducing visibility at junctions. On many occasions, hedgerows were privately-owned and dealing with these complaints was time-consuming and costly for the Council. The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Highways was being asked to consider supporting delegated authority to parish councils to serve notice and take enforcement action on landowners in these circumstances as well as the ability to side out and maintain the growth of the hedgerow thereby providing a more responsive and cost-effective/neutral solution to the problem

·         Overgrown hedgerows were pushing pedestrians to the edge of pavements which had safety implications

·         This issue was too complex to pass onto the parish Lengthsman and needed a proactive approach from County Highways

·         Non-parished areas should also be considered as part of this motion

·         Parish councils should be empowered to recover costs from landowners for this work

·         It was possible for parish councils to utilise the expertise of parish Lengthsman in exercising the responsibilities of this scheme. Parish councils did not have to take part in the scheme

·         The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Highways commented on behalf of the Conservative Group, that he was happy to support the motion and bring an initial report to Cabinet. He would also establish a pilot project to test the proposals before bringing a final report to Cabinet. The safety of pedestrians was a top priority for the Council, especially for the elderly and disabled. The implications of permitting third parties to serve and enforce notices and side out footways on behalf of the Council would need careful examination. It was possible to extend the parish Lengthsman scheme to enable parish/town councils to take action against landowners who allowed hedges/trees to become overgrown. There would need to be a process to manage any scheme as well as the costs involved, particularly where the work was not deemed a Council priority

·         It was impossible to believe that empowering parish councils would reduce service costs. Parish councils could not possibly match the economies of scale achieved by in-house service provision, especially in respect of legal challenge. The motive behind this motion was to empower parish councils without any consideration of the possible cost to the council taxpayer

·         This motion would create a two-tier system whereby non-parished areas would end up with a worse service.     

 

RESOLVED: “Many residents in Worcestershire believe that it is the responsibility of Worcestershire County Council to maintain the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2167.

2168.

Notice of Motion 5 - Marked Bays for Car Club Vehicles (Agenda item 7)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

2169.

Annual Report of the Leader of the Council (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To receive this report and to receive answers to any questions on it (Blue pages).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented his report.

 

The Leader then answered a broad range of questions from members.

 

The Chairman thanked the Leader for his report.

 

The report was noted.

2170.

Annual report of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To receive the annual report of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board and answers to any questions on it (Grey pages).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board introduced the report. He thanked his predecessor, the Vice-Chairman of the Board, the members of the Board and officers for their contribution to the scrutiny process over the past year.

 

The Vice-Chairman of the Board thanked the Scrutiny Panel Chairmen for their contribution over the past year.

 

The report was noted.

2171.

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 Assistant Director for Legal and Governance by noon on 7 January 2020 or

·         If it relates to urgent business, the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance is notified at least half an hour before the start of the meeting.)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Five questions had been received by the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance and had been circulated in advance of the meeting. The answers to all the questions are attached in the Appendix.

2172.

Reports of Committees - Audit and Governance Committee (Agenda item 11(a)) pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To consider the reports of Committees and to receive answers to any questions asked on those reports as follows (White pages):

 

a)    Audit and Governance Committee;

b)    Pensions Committee; and

c)    Planning and Regulatory Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

2173.

Reports of Committees - Pensions Committee (Agenda item 11(b))

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received the report of the Pensions Committee containing a summary of the decisions taken.

2174.

Reports of Committees - Planning and Regulatory Committee (Agenda item 11(c))

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received the report of the Planning and Regulatory Committee containing a summary of the decisions taken.