Agenda and minutes

County Council - Thursday 14th March 2024 10:00am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

Contact: Mike Bradbury  Email: michael.bradbury@staffordshire.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

15.

Declarations of Interest under Standing Order 16

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.

16.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Council meeting held on 8 February 2024 pdf icon PDF 263 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 8 February 2024 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

17.

Chairman's Correspondence

The Chairman will mention a range of recent items of news which may be of interest to Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Former Clerk of the Council, Bernard Price DL  

  

The Chairman informed the Council of the death, on 28 February, of former Clerk of the County Council, Bernard Price DL.  Mr Price joined Staffordshire in September 1970 and, following a series of internal promotions, he was appointed County Clerk and Chief Executive of the County Council from 1st April 1983. He held the post for twenty years until his retirement on 31st March 2003.  

  

Mr Price was awarded the C.B.E. in 1997 for services to local government in Staffordshire He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law by the University of Keele in 2001 “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Staffordshire” Shortly after his retirement in 2003 he was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.  

  

Councillor Philip Atkins paid tribute to Mr Price for the valuable contribution he had made to the work of the Council following which Members stood and observeda one minute silence in his memory. 

18.

Statement of the Leader of the Council pdf icon PDF 104 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented a Statement outlining his recent work since the previous meeting of the Council.  

 

Staffordshire Means Back to Business - Oral Update  

(Paragraph 1 of the Statement) 

 

Councillor Charlotte Atkins referred to the Government’s decision to cease funding Local Enterprise Partnerships from April and enquired as to whether the transfer of their functions to local council’scame with any additional resources.   

 

Councillor Hood referred to Staffordshire’s excellent tourism offer with the large number and diversity of visitor attractionsavailable across the County She did however express concern in relation to public transport connectivity to those attractions and asked that this issue be looked into further.  In response, Councillor Alan White indicatedthat the Council had a bus service improvement plan in place and was also working on a local transport plan. 

 

Councillor Yatesspoke about the on-going lobbying activity in respect of the Fifty500 corridor and asked that the County Council engage fully with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council on this matter, particularly in respect of the development of the Local Transport Plan.   In response, Councillor Deaville referred to the importance of the Fifty500 corridor project and he, together with Councillor Alan White, confirmed that the County Council would work with the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to ensure that the Local Transport Plan provided for towns and villages to have appropriate highway links to access the corridor.  Councillor Hudson also spoke about the importance of the Fifty500 corridor and extended his thanks to his local Member of Parliament for her support in moving the project forward. 

 

Councillor Philip Atkins and Councillor Winnington referred to the important role played by the County Council, working with other organisations such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, in the delivery of major infrastructure projects such as the Branston Locks Interchange, i54 and the Stafford Western Access Road. 

 

Councillor Hussain asked what more the County Council could do to help support those families on low incomes.  In response, Councillor Philip White indicated that the claimant rate for Universal Credit in Staffordshire was lower than both the regional and national averages He added that there were as many vacant jobs in the County as there were people claiming Job Seekers Allowance and that the Council continued to work hard to create well paid employment opportunities, but this did not mean to say that it could not do more. Councillor Alan White indicated that the Leaders’ Board had also set up a work stream on tackling inequalities. 

 

Councillor Smith commended the work of Local Enterprise Partnerships but indicated that it was right that their work was now to be incorporated into local councils He added that it was important that local councils set up appropriate communication channels with the business sector to address their needs.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Pay Policy Statement 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 184 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council were informed that it was a legal requirement of the Localism Act 2011 for the County Council to have a Pay Policy statement which must be published annually before 31 March.? Amongst other matters, the Statement must set out the authority’s policies for the financial year relating to:? 

? 

a.  The remuneration of its chief officers,? 

? 

b.The remuneration of its lowest-paid employees, and? 

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c.  The relationship between –? 

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(i) the remuneration of its chief officers, and? 

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(ii) the remuneration of its employees who are not chief officers.? 

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The Council received the Pay Policy Statement for 2024/25.? 

? 

Resolved (a) That the Pay Policy Statement for 2024/25 (as set out in Annex A to the report) be approved.? 

 

(b) That it be noted that the ratio between the lowest paid and highest paid employee has reduced from 1:11 to 1:9. 

20.

Report of the Chairman of the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel pdf icon PDF 165 KB

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Minutes:

Councillor Edgeller extended her thanks to the Chief Fire Officer and his staff for the work they were doing in supporting the Health Service with regard to discharges from hospital. 

 

Councillor Pardesi referred to the use of bodycams by Police Officers and indicated that there were too many examples where bodycams had been turned off. 

 

Resolved That the report be received.? 

21.

Appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Committees

Additional documents:

Minutes:

On the nomination of the Leader of the Council, it was: 

 

ResolvedThat Councillor Samantha Thompson be appointed Chairman of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee. 

22.

Questions pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Questions to be asked by Members of the County Council of the Leader of the Council, a Cabinet Member, or a Chairman of a Committee. The question will be answered by the relevant Member and the Member asking the question may then ask a follow up question which will also be answered

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Yates asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport whose reply is set out below the question:-? 

? 

Question 

 

Over winter we have experienced an unprecedented increase damaging potholes so much so that it appears that both the Inspection Team and the responsive maintenance teams (Amey) have clearly been unable to cope – exemplified by potholes reported on 5th January, not being inspected until 22nd February, categorised for an emergency repair and still unresolved a full week later, this situation is being compounded by the delay in repairing Cat 3 potholes, that have deteriorated to the extent of being de facto Cat 1’s or Emergency potholes responsible in many cases for vehicle damage.?? 

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Is there an option in the Highways Maintenance contract to directly use alternative local contractors on a responsive basis to expediently repair these serious potholes outside of the contract with Amey, and thus prevent the potential for vehicle damage and risk of subsequent claims? 

 

Reply 

 

This winter has been particularly challenging and has recently been reported as the wettest winter in 130 years – seeing 2.5 – 3 times more than normal rainfall Following 10 named storms since the late autumn, rivers have been full and the ground saturated, together with cold winter nights the impact on fragile road surfaces has also been significant – with close on trebling of emergency and high-risk defects that we’ve ever recorded previously.  

   

Our highways teams deserve great credit for responded remarkably well to the challenge: moving resources and working tirelessly 24-hours-a-day and 7-days-a-week to ensure those defects that pose the greatest risk to public safety have been made safe as quickly as possible We've also been boosting our capacity in the inspection team to deal with the increase in enquiries.  

   

Throughout January and February across the county:  

  

·       98% of emergency defects were attended to within 2hrs;   

·       94% of category 1 defects were attended in 24-hours; and  

·       Just under 70% of category 2 defects were repaired within 7-days.  

   

In the Biddulph North Division alone 103 jobs have been completed since 1 January 2024.  

   

As we now start to wind-up the winter gritting operations and head towards the warmer and dryer main road repair season our full armoury of pothole repair resources will be ramped up again, including the high output seasonal velocity patcher crews.   

   

Over the next three years we’re investing an extra £50m into local road maintenance Through this investment we will be delivering an enhanced programme of capital maintenance schemes to replace sections of life-expired roads as well as carrying out around 100 miles of pothole prevention surface treatments and 30,000 individual pothole repairs each year.  

   

Delivering this extra investment will of course require increasing operational capacity We have the option of doing this directly or as sub-contractors through the contract with Amey. 

 

Supplementary Question 

 

Is there scope within the contract with Amey for the Council to directly employ sub-contractors who can be used in an emergency,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Petitions

An opportunity for Members to present and speak on petitions submitted by their constituents

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no petitions on this occasion. 

24.

Exclusion of the Public

The Chairman of the Council will move the following motion so that the County Council can consider confidential business in private:

 

“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 Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below”.

 

 

Part Two

(All reports in this section are on pink paper)

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved - That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below. 

 

The Council then proceeded to consider a report on the following matter and took decisions thereon: 

 

25.

Employment Tribunal Matter

(Exemption paragraph 1)

Minutes:

(Exemption paragraph 1)