Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 28th September 2023 10:00am

Venue: County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Jonathan Lindop  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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There were no Declarations of Interest made.


Minutes of meeting held on 6 July 2023 pdf icon PDF 187 KB

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RESOLVED - That the minutes of the meeting held on 6 July 2023 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Employment and Skills Strategy pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Report of Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills      

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The Committee considered a report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills regarding the production of a draft Employment and Skills Strategy for Staffordshire (schedule 1 to the signed minutes).


The Strategy set out the Authority’s vision for Staffordshire’s workforce and identified priorities aimed at better equipping them to meet future economic challenges and thrive in a pioneering and dynamic County. It supported the delivery of the County’s Economic Strategy which had been adopted in March 2022 covering the period to 2030.


Members heard that the Vision was:-


“Developing local skills which enable more people to access higher value, better paid jobs across a wide range of priority and locally important sectors, to help deliver a diverse, inclusive and sustainable economy acrossStaffordshire”; and;


the mission for local employment and skills stakeholders was to:-


“Create strong and effective partnerships which support our people to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to achieve their ambitions and play a productive role in the growth of the Staffordshire economy”.


The five priorities identified in the draft Strategy were:- “(i) Ensuring All Are Work Ready and Can Access Employment; (ii) Providing Inspirational Careers Advice; (iii) Developing Technical Skills to Drive Productivity and Growth; (iv) Supporting Innovation and Enterprise and; (v) Creating a Place of Learning”.


Members heard that the draft Strategy had been subject to a four week public/partner consultation period during which positive feedback had been received with 87% of respondents either ‘strongly agreeing’ or ‘agreeing’ with the above-mentioned vision and 91% either ‘strongly agreeing’ or ‘agreeing’ with the Priorities. In addition, ongoing input and positive feedback was being received from key partners through forums including the Stoke-on-Trent, and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership Skills Advisory Panel and College Principals Group etc.


The proposed delivery approach for the Strategy was to:- (i) work in partnership to lever and align public sector investment; (ii) match and maximise public and private sector investment e.g., Apprenticeship Levy; (iii) work with government on the opportunities for more powers and funding through devolution e.g., Adult Education Budget; (iv) maximise employer investment in skills and involvement in the design of skills provision and; (v) shape and influence the strategic commissioning of other funds and priorities e.g., HS2, West Midlands Freight Interchange, A50 A500 Strategic Corridor, the Local Skill Improvement Plan as a route to delivering technical skills.


During the full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued, Members gave detailed scrutiny to the draft Strategy, asking questions, seeking clarification and raising areas of concern as necessary including:- (i) the extent of partnership working which had taken place with Agricultural Colleges in the development of the Strategy; (ii) how the specific needs of disadvantaged and under represented groups were to be met under the Strategy; (iii) the potential impact of fast evolving areas of new technology eg Artificial Intelligence and how this had been addressed by the Strategy; (iv) new high-tech industry in the County and how it could be better supported by measures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


HS2 Impact on Staffordshire - Update

Oral report/presentation of HS2


NB. The Chairman requests that Members confine their debate to matters relating to Education, Skills and Prosperity only.

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The Committee received an oral report and PowerPoint presentation (slides attached atAppendix 1 to the signed minutes) by HS2 giving them a six-monthly update on theimpact of the development of the new high speed rail line (Phases 1 and 2a) oneducation and prosperity in Staffordshire.


The meeting was attended by HS2 Engagement Manager – Phase 1 (Paul Mullins) and; (ii) Senior Community Engagement Manager - Phase 2a (Victoria Roberts).


During the presentation, the representatives highlighted:- (i) the rephasing of Phase 1 works and implications for Compounds, Utility Diversionsand Security and Grounds Maintenance; (ii) their Communication Strategy; (iii) progress with regard to Phase 2a having regard to the rephasing of Phase1 (iv) Local Business Involvement; (v) Jobsand Skills: opportunities for local people; (vi) Jobs and Skills opportunities;(vii) engagement undertaken with the Education sector; (viii) operation of theCommunity and Business Funds and; (ix) the Community Investment made.


In the discussion which ensued Members scrutinised and held HS2 to account over their efforts tosafeguard/enhance prosperity in the County, raising various matters of concernincluding:- (i) the impact of rescheduling construction works on the sand and aggregate industry; (ii) the uncertainty surrounding an anticipated announcement by Government on the future of the project and the negative effect of this on the economy; (ii) the terms under which land previously subject to Compulsory Purchase Orders could be returned to its original owners; (iii) the unique difficulties in completing large scale infrastructure projects in Staffordshire and wider region/country; (iv) further community projects which might be eligible for grant aid from HS2 and; (v) the extent to which schools and other educational establishments had been engaged with by HS2 since their previous update to the Committee.


In response to requests from Members, the representatives of HS2 undertook to provide further details of:- (i) the projected impact of re-phasing of Phase 2a works on forecast job creation statistics for the County and; (ii) specific support they were making available to the Aggregates supply industry during this time.


RESOLVED – (a) That the oral report and presentation be received and noted.


(b) That the efforts made to date to maximise the opportunities available to Staffordshire residents from the construction of the high-speed rail line, by HS2 be welcomed.


(c) That a further update be brought to the Committee in April/May 2024.


(d) That any further information received in relation to the above-mentioned requests be forwarded to Members as soon as possible.


Highways Transformation Progress and Performance Quarterly Update

Oral report and presentation by Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

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The Committee considered an oral report and PowerPoint presentation (slides attached at Appendix 2 to the signed minutes) of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport updating them on the progress made with regard to the Highways Transformation Programme.


During the report and presentation the Cabinet Member highlighted various  Highway Schemes which had recently been completed including; (i) A522 Uttoxeter Road, Beamhurst, JCB Roundabout - Drainage, Kerbing, Footway Patching and Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget Cost £300,000); (ii) A5195 Burntwood Roundabout - Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget Cost £35,000); (iii) A5192 Eastern Avenue, Lichfield - combined Integrated Transport and Structural Maintenance Scheme (Budget £300,000); (iv) B5027 Lichfield Road, Stone – Resurfacing Scheme (Budget £250,000); (v) A4601 Avon Road, Cannock – Drainage, Kerbing, Footway and Ironwork Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget £1.35m); (vi) A521 Uttoxeter Road, Blythe Bridge – Drainage Kerbing, Footway Patching and Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget £1.0m); (vii) A34 Stone Road, Stafford – Drainage, Kerbing, Footway and Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget £1.4m); (viii) A34 Walton Roundabout Stone – Drainage, kerbing and Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget £500,000) and; (ix) High Street, Tutbury – Carriageway Resurfacing Scheme (Budget £180,000).


In addition, the Cabinet Member informed them of:- (i) four other highway improvement schemes with a total value of £1.36m, which were nearing completion; (ii) a further twelve schemes with a total value of £4.58m, which were currently undergoing design and investigation work and; (iii) the highway Preventative Maintenance Programme for 2023/24 and 2024/25.


In the full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued, Members gave feedback/their views and spoke of their experiences with regard to  the Transformation Programme to date, asking questions, seeking clarification and raising areas of concern as necessary, including:- (i) the impact of an increased use of electric vehicles on the Highway network; (ii) weed control and tree maintenance; (iii) Highway defects reporting arrangements; (iv) programming of Highway Works to minimise disruption especially outside schools and; (v) communication with local residents and Local Members about Highway works in their areas.


A Member spoke of the considerable disturbance caused to businesses in Blythe Bridge during the five-month closure of Uttoxter Road which had led to the closure of some (previously well established) enterprises. In response to concerns expressed by the Committee, the Cabinet Member agreed to investigate what additional support (financial and practical) could be provided to local communities by the County Council in the future.


Members welcomed news of the additional investment which had been made in the Highways Network throughout the County, in particular the Member Prioritised Department for Transport Pothole Fund, which was critical to achieving the Authority’s Strategic Priorities in relation to economic growth and connectivity.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That satisfactory progress had been made in the Highways

Transformation Programme to date.


(c) That the Cabinet Member be urged to have regard to the above mentioned comments in his work to implement the new future delivery model for Staffordshire Highways.


(d) That the Cabinet Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 224 KB

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RESOLVED – That the updated Work Programme (schedule 2 to the signed minutes) be approved.


Date of Next Meeting - Tuesday 17 October 2023 at 10.00 am, County Buildings, Stafford

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RESOLVED – That the date, time and venue of the next meeting be