Agenda and minutes

County Council - Tuesday 13 December 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Deb Moseley  Democratic Services Team Leader


No. Item



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Apologies for Absence

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Councillors Richard Baxter Payne, Yousef Dahmash, Jack Kennaugh, Sue Markham, Chris Mills, Penny-Anne O’Donnell, Caroline Phillips, Howard Roberts, Kate Rolfe, Isobel Seccombe and Mejar Singh.



Members’ Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-pecuniary Interests

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Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 214 KB

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 September 2022.

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The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 29 September 2022 were agreed as an accurate record for signing by the Chair.



Chair's announcements

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The Chair recalled some events that he had recently attended:


Star Awards


The Council’s STAR Awards celebration event was held on 28th November.  The Star Awards are the Council’s annual peer-nominated, peer-judged award scheme. Warwickshire County Council depends on the passion, dedication and hard work of all its employees to deliver the best for the people of Warwickshire. The STAR Awards gives Council employees the opportunity to recognise those colleagues who consistently go above and beyond, improving outcomes for local people, communities, businesses, and staff. 


The Chair extended huge congratulations to the winners and finalists and to the 170 colleagues who were nominated in 2022 by their peers.


The Chair’s Award winner was the Warwickshire County Council Commonwealth Games 2022 Project Team.  This was a truly great team effort, with credit going to teams in thirteen different service areas.  The Council’s contribution to the Commonwealth Games was a huge success and built on six years of successful cycling history for Warwickshire. The games saw the biggest sporting event in Warwickshire history with over 30,000 spectators and several live TV sites across the county that attracted a high number of visitors.   The events were two years in the making and there was involvement from over 70 colleagues from across the Council.  They worked so successfully, with very many organisations and different systems and protocols.  Their work showcased Warwickshire's heritage and beauty which will have boosted Warwickshire's profile for tourism and investment potential both nationally and internationally and will translate into lasting benefits.  


British Empire Medal Recipients


Sorrelle Clements had undertaken some amazing work for Coventry Libraries over ten years with a focus on increasing engagement, accessibility and inclusivity.  Sorrelle received the award for her services to Libraries.


In response to the emergence of Covid, Lawrence Kelly set up the Wellbeing Sanctuary within the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust to give colleagues a chance to de-stress In a confidential, safe place.  Lawrence went on to help with the successful launch of the Mental Wellbeing App in May 2020.  Lawrence received the award for his services to Mental Health.  The Chair was impressed with the way he thanked everybody that had worked with him, noting that the work was a team effort and he had received the award on their behalf.


Warwick University


The Chairman had been impressed by a presentation from a group of students who had put together a website with colleagues from various disciplines to help improve the approach to inclusion and exclusion. 


Now That's What Nuneaton Calls Music


The Chair invited Councillor Mandy Tromans to share details of a project combining the talents of pupils from 25 different schools from across Nuneaton to record a charity Christmas album. 'Now That's What Nuneaton Calls Music: Christmas Edition 2022'.  The project aimed to raise funds for the Nuneaton Community Christmas Lunch Group to cover the cost of lunch at Newtown Centre for those alone across the town on Christmas Day. Any extra funds would be shared with Nuneaton Salvation Army  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1(4)



To receive any petitions submitted in accordance with the Council’s Petitions Scheme.


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Public Speaking

To note any requests to speak on any item on the agenda in accordance with the Council’s Public Speaking Scheme (see note at end of the agenda).


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Addition to Capital Programme 2022/23 Oakley School pdf icon PDF 69 KB

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Councillor Peter Butlin (Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property) moved the recommendation as set out in the report.  In doing so, he noted that a main contractor (Wilmott Dixon) had been appointed and a reserved matters planning application had been approved by Warwick District Council.  The allocated budget was subject to the results of further required site

surveys and the continued development of the detailed design which, at the

time of allocation, had still to be completed. Understanding from these processes had been included in the tender process and the results of the tender exercise had increased the cost estimate by an additional £4.311m. 

The most significant element of the increase related to ground works, with inflation and a range of mechanical and electrical requirements together with the additional costs of the highways works to improve traffic management also being a factor. It was critical that the Council entered into a contract with the main contractor prior to Christmas so that the project could progress, prices be fixed, and completion dates were not put at risk


Councillor Jan Matecki seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.




Councillor John Holland noted that the funding needed to be agreed for the project to go ahead and school places to be provided on time.  He briefly reflected on the availability of an alternative site for development.


Councillor Tracey Drew noted the proposed expenditure as set out in paragraph 1.6 of the report and sought assurances that the building design would be fit for the future without any need for costly retrofitting at the time of opening. 


Councillor Matecki noted that the costs outlined in the report compared favourably to the percentage increases on construction costs that he had seen reported elsewhere.  He further noted that the ground stabilisation at the site was not due to its topography and it was not possible to know what ground work may have been required at alternative sites.  He also noted that funding was required for traffic management and the work with the developer that had taken place to reduce the need for lengthy road closures.  He pointed out that the alternative to approving the funding was that the school would not be built which was a risk to the education of those children who would attend.


Councillor Butlin drew attention to paragraph 3.2 of the report which set out that the additional £4.311m funding would be allocated from existing unallocated Basic Need grant.  In response to Councillor Drew, he asserted that he was confident the building would not require any retrofitting.




Upon being put to the vote, the motion was carried with unanimous support.




That Council approves the allocation of an additional £4.311 million to the Oakley School project to be funded from unallocated Education Capital Resources, and its addition to the Capital Programme.


WFRS Prevention, Protection and Response Strategy pdf icon PDF 101 KB

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Councillor Andy Crump (Portfolio Holder for) moved the recommendation as set out in the report.  In doing so, he highlighted that the strategy set out the approach to make Warwickshire safer for the next five years and supported the outcomes and objectives of the Council. 


Councillor Parminder Singh Birdi seconded the recommendation, noting that a good response to the consultation had been received with a high proportion of residents supporting the approach.




Councillor Sarah Boad noted the difficulties of consulting in such a way that met statutory requirements but also attracted sufficient responses.  She thanked those who had taken the time to respond and particularly drew attention to paragraph 4.8 of the report which set out the responses to what else Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service should consider in the prevention, protection, and response priorities and the frequency of responses around funding, resources, education and response.   She congratulated the Fire Service on its social media presence and the prevention and safety messages that were shared.  Her sense was that residents valued the Fire and Rescue Service and welcomed the cross-party involvement in CRMP meetings and the responsiveness of Fire Officers to the questions and queries raised in that forum.


Councillor Sarah Feeney expressed her disappointment that Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough and Rugby Borough were under-represented when comparing where survey respondents resided to the 2021 Census populations for these areas and that the age of respondents was also comparatively high.  She considered that learning from other consultations which had greater youth engagement could be helpfully shared ahead of the next survey, particularly noting the success of the bus surveys conducted by the Bus Service Improvement Plan Group. 


Councillor Sarah Millar thanked those involved in preparing the report and was pleased to see the climate change theme running throughout the strategy.  She recalled concerns in the summer around fires on Newbold Comyn and the work that had taken place to raise awareness of the risks posed by portable barbecues.  It had been a summer of extremes and she was of the view it would not be a one-off. 


Councillor Jonathan Chilvers applauded the work of the Fire and Rescue Service, particularly recalling the response to the fire at the Leeson Polyurethanes facility in August 2022 and the gratitude of local residents.  He also noted that there was no mention of arson in the report and sought further details about the time spent on arson cases and the concern this caused.


Councillor Falp added her support for the strategy whilst noting that a good service had to be well funded and reminded Members to consider this during budget setting activity. 


Councillor Crump welcomed the comments received and applauded the work of the Fire and Rescue Service, particularly its partnership working and the events of the extreme summer. He noted that the level of engagement had increased since the last consultation but that he would like to see a higher number of responses, particularly among young people and work was underway to increase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Local Pension Board Appointment pdf icon PDF 77 KB

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Councillor Christopher Kettle moved the recommendation as set out in the report.  Councillor Bill Gifford seconded the recommendation




Councillor Sarah Millar expressed her disappointment that there were no women on the Board and that this appointment would not redress the position.  She had raised the issue of gender diversity at the Council meeting in March 2022 when two new Members of the Board were appointed and sought assurance that greater efforts in future would be taken to encourage women to the Board.


Some Members echoed the views of Councillor Millar, making the following points:

  • The Board should be representative of its Members and the majority of LGPS Members were women
  • More female role-models were required in male-dominated industries in order to increase diversity
  • More should be done to understand why women with the relevant interests, skills and qualifications did not volunteer for the role
  • The selection process for the role should be reviewed to attract more women to the role


Some Members expressed the following alternative views:

  • The best possible person should be appointed to the role particularly as it required particular expertise and skills
  • The role required a considerable time commitment in terms of training and development, particularly for someone from a non-pensions background
  • The outcome of the selection process did not mean that it was not a robust process
  • The pool from which the appointment was made was relatively small and no other candidate had come forward
  • The outcome of the selection process was not reflected in the authority as a whole which had a female Leader, four females appointed to the Cabinet and a female Chief Executive. 


Councillor Kettle noted that there were no other names put forward for consideration and that an amendment to the Motion had not been tabled.  He did not consider that a male appointment would differentiate their responsibilities in terms of male and female members of the scheme and, in fact, the nominee was highly qualified to deliver in the role.




Upon being put to the vote, the motion was carried with a majority in support.




That Council approves the appointment of Councillor Ian Shenton as a scheme employer representative on the Warwickshire Local Pension Board for a three year term in accordance with the Terms of Reference of the Local Pension Board.


Notice of Motion

To consider the following motion submitted by members in accordance with Standing Order 5:


Labour Motion


Taking into account Article 2 Paragraph 2.3 of the Constitution which sets out the Roles and Functions of All Councillors and the Elected Member Role Profiles at Part 4(1) of the Constitution, this Council will review the role of local councillors in relation to decisions in their Division and make recommendations as to how it might be enhanced.


Proposer: Councillor John Holland


Seconder: Councillor Sarah Feeney

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Councillor John Holland moved the following Motion as printed on the agenda:


Taking into account Article 2 Paragraph 2.3 of the Constitution which sets out the Roles and Functions of All Councillors and the Elected Member Role Profiles at Part 4(1) of the Constitution, this Council will review the role of local councillors in relation to decisions in their Division and make recommendations as to how it might be enhanced.


In doing so, he explained that the focus of motion was understanding the profile of the councillor, as described on the Council’s website, to produce a vision for the people in the areas they had been elected to represent and build up support for the vision.  As a point of reference, he recalled presentation on the JSNA which had been provided before the May 2021 election which he considered may mean that new councillors were not aware of the needs and how they might be met.  He considered that a review of how local councillors are performing and providing support to them would improve the quality of the Council.


Councillor Sarah Feeney seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.




During the debate, concern was expressed at the cost of such a review in terms of diverting officer time, when there was already clarity of the roles and responsibilities of councillors, and current councillors had demonstrated their effectiveness.  The support of mentors within groups was suggested as best practice to understand how to get work done in the division councillors represented. 


Conversely, some Members welcomed the idea of developing ways to increase effectiveness, particularly for those in minority groups, by consulting and sharing information with local members at an early stage.  It was considered that the relatively small cost of conducting a review to consider how this might be achieved was outweighed by the benefits.


Councillor Feeney emphasised the point of the motion was to ensure that every Councillor was involved in decision making for their residents.  She noted that good organisations regularly reviewed policies and procedures and wanted to understand how community power worked within the confines of the Constitution. 


Councillor Holland refuted suggestions that the review would incur a high level of costs.  He considered that it was important councillors could demonstrate their effectiveness and considered that the suggested review would reveal how to do that through quality control and an assurance that councillors were doing the right things.




A vote was held and the motion was defeated.



Member Question Time (Standing Order 7)

A period of up to 40 minutes is allocated for questions to the Leader, Cabinet    Portfolio Holders and Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny Committees.


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(1)      Question to Councillor Watson from Councillor Roodhouse


“BT landlines are to be phased out by 2025.  We know that there is a growing digital divide.  What actions is WCC taking to support individuals?”


In response, Councillor Watson explained that BT were not phasing out landlines but the infrastructure was changing from analogue infrastructure (ie the old copper networks) to a new digital (fibre) infrastructure.  All network providers, not just BT, were carrying out this work as part of the digitalisation of the UK to provide improved high speed services.  These changes may have an impact on some security, safety and alert systems.


In industry most security companies were aware of the changes and had already made preparations to change signalling devices and the way they were powered.


The general advice for individuals was to contact the supplier or maintainer of their devices for advice.  Most systems would continue working but there were some changes being made to signals and associated power systems since local power was now required rather than the old telephone exchange.  These changes had been underway for some time and it was a change that the Council was aware of and had been engaging with care partners.


Councillor Watson noted that this issue was covered by the larger 5G roll out, which the Council was also working to bolster.  Councillor Watson advised that he would share this information with Councillors.


Councillor Roodhouse sought assurance that communications on this subject would be shared with the wider public and elected members going forward.


Councillor Watson responded that some messages would be issued that elected members could share with the communities they represented.


(2)      Question to Councillor Butlin from Councillor Roodhouse


“Warwickshire County Council supports Educaterers that supplies school meals.  What assurances can the Portfolio Holder give in regard to its financial stability and what work is being carried out in promoting this service, especially with the extra energy and cost of living crisis?”


Councillor Butlin responded that in respect of Educaterers’ financial stability, it had been a difficult couple of years due mainly to Covid and more recently inflationary impacts. Educaterers continued to provide a high-quality service to all schools during the Pandemic, without the requisite level of income to support all its costs due to reduced pupil numbers taking up meals. Consequently, the Council provided Covid funding from the general Covid grants from Government to off-set loses across the last two trading years for Educaterers. This still left a small residual loss for the company based on other factors though.


The Council had also resolved the historic pension liability issue for Educaterers, as per the Cabinet decision under the exempt item on the 12 April 2022.


Educaterers had seen a steady recovery in the number of meals provided in schools and hence its income base, however, inflationary pressures were still making trading conditions extremely difficult, compounded by twin factors of the national minimum wage rises and reluctance on the part of schools to pass on costs to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Any Other items of Urgent Business

To consider any other items that the Chair considers are urgent.

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