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The members had before them:
A. The Agenda papers (previously circulated);
B. 11 questions submitted to the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance (previously circulated); and
C. The Minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2020 (previously circulated).
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.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr K D Daisley, Ms P Hill and Mr T A L Wells.
Mr J H Smith declared an interest in Agenda Item 8 (c) – Constitutional Matters – Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Member Bodies – as his wife, Mrs F Smith was proposed as Vice-Chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and did not take part in the debate or vote.
Chairman (Agenda item 2)
To elect a Chairman of the Council to hold office until his or her successor becomes entitled to act.
The outgoing Chairman described his year of office and thanked Council and its officers for their support.
RESOLVED that Mr G R Brookes be elected Chairman to hold office until his successor becomes entitled to act.
Vice-Chairman (Agenda item 3)
To appoint a Vice-Chairman of the Council to hold office until immediately after the election of a Chairman at the next Annual meeting of the Council.
The nomination of Mrs J A Brunner was moved by Mrs J A Potter and seconded by Mr B Clayton.
It was then proposed by Mr R C Lunn and seconded by Mr L C R Mallett that Ms P Agar be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Council.
RESOLVED that Mrs J A Brunner be appointed Vice-Chairman to hold office until immediately after the election of a Chairman at the next Annual meeting of the Council.
Public Participation (Agenda item 4)
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 Monday 13 July 2020. Further details are available on the Council’s website. Enquiries can also be made through the telephone number/e-mail address listed below.
Mr D Lavelle asked a question about road alterations in St John’s, Worcester.
Mr C Cooke asked a question about the Council declaring a climate emergency.
Mr J Robinson asked a question about A38 improvements in Bromsgrove
The Chairman thanked Mr Lavelle, Mr Cooke and Mr Robinson for their contribution and said they would receive a written response from the relevant Cabinet Member.
Minutes (Agenda item 5)
To approve as a correct record and authorise the signing of the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2020 (previously circulated electronically).
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 6)
To receive any announcements to be made by the Chairman.
To consider the report of the Cabinet– Summary of decisions taken and to receive answers to any questions asked on the report (White pages).
The Leader of the Council reported the following topics and questions were answered on them:
· Approval of Worcestershire Children First’s Business Plan
· West Mercia Energy – Treatment of WMS Pension Liability
· Resources Report – Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring – Month 10 (31 January) 2019/20
· Corporate Landlord and Facilities Management
· COVID-19 Response and Restart
· Covid-19 Economic Restart Plan
· Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring – Financial Outturn
· Review of Delivery Model for Medical Education Provision
· Scrutiny Report – Care Work as a Career.
To consider a report on (Yellow Pages):
(a) Council meeting dates;
(b) Political balance;
(c) Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of member bodies; and
(d) Attendance at Meetings of the Authority.
(a) Council meeting dates 2021
County Council meeting dates were currently scheduled up to November 2020. To enable the 2021 meetings programme to be produced, the Assistant Director Legal and Governance suggested that further meetings of the Council were now scheduled for 2021. In accordance with the usual practice and pattern of meetings, further meetings (Cabinet, Committees and Panels) would be arranged in the light of the Council dates and members notified in due course.
RESOLVED that the Council meeting dates for 2021 be approved as follows:
(b) Political Balance
Council in January 2020 agreed revised political balance following the Bromsgrove South by-election and the resignation from the Conservative Group of Mr R Bennett. Mr Bennett had subsequently re-joined the Conservative Group.It was therefore proposed that the Conservative Group gained a place on the Planning and Regulatory Committee (which increased in size by 1) and on the Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Panel (which also increased in size by 1).
RESOLVED that the recalculation of political balance as set out in Appendix 1 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.
(c) Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Member Bodies
The Council needed to make the appointments to various chairmanships and vice-chairmanships of member bodies and of Lead Scrutiny Members. The nominations
for a number of appointments were set out in the Appendix to the report.
The Chairman of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Panel thanked Mrs J A Potter for her support as the Vice-Chairman to the Panel.
RESOLVED that the constitutional appointments as set out in Appendix 2 to the report be confirmed.
(d) Attendance at meetings of the Authority
During the current Coronavirus situation, Council meetings were being held using remote technology in accordance with Regulations made under section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Although the Council had held a number of meetings recently, some were cancelled in the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak. This and the potential for a member to be unable to connect to a meeting and a risk of not being able to attend meant that the opportunity for attendance might be reduced as a result.
The provision in law for a member to be removed from office automatically through non-attendance at meetings for a period of 6 consecutive months was still in place. The Council could approve reasons for non-attendance in advance to prevent automatic disqualification from office. It was therefore suggested that Council approved for all Councillors these reasons for non-attendance (cancellation of meetings and inability to join a remote meeting) and the situation was reviewed in January 2021.
RESOLVED that under Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972, the reasons for the failure of any member of Worcestershire County Council to attend meetings of the authority be ... view the full minutes text for item 2194.
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 July 2020.
The Council had before it a Notice of Motion standing in the names of Mr M E Jenkins, Mrs F M Oborski, Mrs E B Tucker, Prof J W Raine and Mr T A L Wells.
The Notice of Motion was moved by Mr M E Jenkins and seconded by Mrs F O Oborski who both spoke in favour of it. The Cabinet Member for Highways responded on behalf of the controlling group.
The Motion being in relation to the exercise of an executive function then stood referred to Cabinet for a decision.
Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 2 - Cycling (Agenda item 9)
The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mr R C Lunn, Ms C M Stalker, Mr L C R Mallett, Mr P M McDonald, Mr P Denham and Ms P Agar.
The motion was moved by Mr R C Lunn and seconded by Mr P Denham who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.
· The Covid-19 outbreak gave the Council an opportunity to look at ways of doing things differently to improve health and the environment with particular focus on cycling. In line with Government legislation, the Council needed to promote cycling in all ways possible to increase take up, remove obstacles and encourage safe participation. The Council should review the work of other councils to ensure best practice was adopted. Areas for scrutiny to look at could include prevention of parking in cycle lanes, member involvement in the creation of cycle lanes and increasing the number of cycling proficiency courses. The health benefits, the need for more storage racks as well as the introduction of more 20 mph speed limits in built up areas could be examined
· The Covid-19 lockdown had provided an indication of the benefits of a reduction in the use of combustion engine driven vehicles leading to a reduction in air pollution and congestion. Every effort should be made to encourage residents to undertake short journeys by foot or bike rather than by car
· The urgency of this matter had heightened by the Covid-19 lockdown and hence the request for cycling to be added to the OSPB work programme. In addition, if there had not been such a poor response to the last cycling scrutiny exercise by the Council, this motion would have been unnecessary
· This motion provided an opportunity to take a fresh, creative and forward-looking approach to active and inter-module travel, seeking views on segregated cycleways and traffic priority systems
· A request by Council was a perfectly legitimate constitutional means of adding an item to the OSPB work programme
· The Chairman of the OSPB commented that due to his role, he had addressed the motion with an open mind. However, he considered that as the motion merely asked OSPB to consider this issue for inclusion in its work programme, it was legitimate. The work programme for OSPB was considerable but if the motion was passed by Council then the Board would give it serious consideration. It should be noted that any member of the Council could present reports to OSPB.
Those speaking against the motion made the following points:
· The use of a motion was not an appropriate method of including items on the OSPB work programme
· The Cabinet Member for Highways commented that Council should respect the carefully considered decisions made by members of OSPB especially given the additional work pressures on the Board during the pandemic. Cycling had already ... view the full minutes text for item 2196.
Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 3 - Compliance with the 2010 Equalities Act (Agenda item 9)
The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mr R C Lunn, Ms C M Stalker, Mr L C R Mallett and Ms P Agar.
The motion was moved by Mr P M McDonald and seconded by Mr R C Lunn who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.
Those speaking in favour of the motion made the following points:
· The recent “Black Lives Matter” campaign had highlighted the need to ensure that this Council was compliant with the Equalities Act 2010 and promoted equality and diversity in relation to race, class, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership and political affiliation. The Council needed to ensure that it protected workers’ rights. All tenders should include a question as to how the tendering organisation ensured equality and demonstrated that it acted free from discrimination. Therefore, a cross party committee should be established to look at the structures and processes that were in place to ensure that the Council was compliant with the Equalities Act and all other procedures and protocols.
· The lack of ethnic diversity amongst the chief officers of the Council should be noted.
Those speaking against the motion made the following points:
· The Cabinet Member for Transformation and Commissioning commented that the Council was fully compliant with the Equalities Act. There were specific procedures and protocols to support this and these policies adhered to ACAS best practice. The Council employed a dedicated Equalities and Diversity Officer who provided advice on all elements of the Act. The Council employed a dedicated recruitment team to support the recruitment process. Recruitment was a key priority for this organisation and in the last 12 months, the Council had received almost 2,000 applications to join this organisation as a result of its reputation. Recognised trade unions were regularly engaged on Council policy, including recruitment, staff retention and compliance with the Act. Elected members had been offered the opportunity to take part in diversity training and 32 members had received training to date. Further training was available on request. Any breach of the Act should be brought to the attention of the Chief Executive.
The motion was lost.
Notices of Motion - Notice of Motion 4 - Apprenticeships and employment for the 16-24 age group (Agenda item 9)
There was insufficient time to consider this motion within the allotted 60 minute time limit for the consideration of Notices of Motion.
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 theAssistant Director for Legal and Governance by noon on 7 July, 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 and the Chairman agrees the matter is urgent.
A total of 11 questions had been circulated, 7 were answered on the day. The answers to all the questions are attached in the Appendix.
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; and
b) Pensions Committee.
The Council received the report of the Audit and Governance Committee containing a summary of the decisions taken.
Reports of Committees - Pensions Committee (Agenda item 11 (b))
In response to a query about the Black Rock investment company putting pressure on companies to disinvest in fossil fuels companies, the Chairman of the Pensions Committee commented that work was ongoing to examine the Fund’s approach to carbon investment and good governance. A working group was being set up to look at responsible investment. It was anticipated that a report on this matter would be brought to the Committee in December.
The Council received the report of the Pensions Committee containing a summary of the decisions taken.