Agenda and draft minutes

Annual Council, County Council - Tuesday 17 May 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Deb Moseley  Democratic Services Team Leader

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair of Council

To elect a Chair for the ensuing municipal year. The Chair to make a declaration of acceptance of office.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Note – During the meeting item 3(4) Chair’s Announcements was considered as the first item of business, however, these minutes adhere to the order of business as set out on the published agenda.

 

Councillor Margaret Bell, seconded by Councillor Mejar Singh proposed that Councillor Dave Humphreys be elected as Chair of Council for the ensuing year.

 

There were no other nominations.

 

Resolved:

 

That Councillor Dave Humphreys be elected as Chair of Warwickshire County Council for the municipal year 2022/2023.

 

In accepting the position as Chair, Councillor Dave Humphreys expressed his sadness at the circumstances of his election and undertook to represent the whole of Warwickshire to the best of his ability.

 

Vote of thanks to the retiring Chair

 

Councillor Humphreys led a vote of thanks for the outgoing Chair, Councillor Pete Gilbert, and noting Councillor Gilbert’s style of facilitating open debate, Councillor Humphreys expressed his intention to follow the example that had been set.

 

Councillor Isobel Seccombe extended congratulations to Councillor Humphreys on his election to the Chair and thanked Councillor Gilbert for steering the Council throughout his year in office.   It had not been an easy year due to the pandemic and the physical return to the Chamber and thanks were due to Councillor Gilbert for his smooth running of the Council’s business and for ably representing the Council at events. 

 

Councillor John Holland echoed previous comments and commended Councillor Gilbert for his efforts to consider all opinions across the Chamber.

 

Councillor Robert Tromans expressed his thanks to Councillor Gilbert for his support and for his work in Nuneaton and Bedworth where he had been a “tower of strength” and a credit to the county.

 

Councillor Jerry Roodhouse congratulated Councillor Humphreys on his ascendence to the Chair and thanked Councillor Gilbert for his skill as a Chairman.

 

In response, Councillor Gilbert expressed his gratitude to the late Councillor John Horner who had supported him to a very high standard during the year and had been a credit to the Council, taking the Chair on two occasions.  Councillor Gilbert paid tribute to his fellow councillors for the quality of the debates he had had the pleasure to Chair and thanked the County Council officers who had supported him, in particular, Dawn Mardle for her fastidious organisation skills, and also to Monica Fogarty, Sarah Duxbury, Paul Williams and Deborah Moseley.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Council records its appreciation for Councillor Pete Gilbert’s

service as Chair of the Council for 2021/22.

2.

Election of Vice Chair of Council

To elect a Vice Chair for the ensuing municipal year. The Vice Chair to make a declaration of acceptance of office.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Isobel Seccombe proposed that Councillor Christopher Kettle be elected Vice-Chair of Council for the ensuing year and was seconded by Councillor Jo Barker.

 

There were no other nominations.

 

Resolved:

 

That Councillor Christopher Kettle be elected Vice-Chair of Council for the 2022/23 municipal year.

3.

General

Additional documents:

3(1)

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Jackie D’Arcy, Brian Hammersley, Andy Jenns, Sue Markham, Jack Kennaugh, and Caroline Phillips.

3(2)

Members’ Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-pecuniary Interests

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

3(3)

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 459 KB

To consider and agree the minutes of the 15 March 2022 meeting of Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 15 March 2022 were agreed as a true record.

3(4)

Chair's announcements

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Pete Gilbert, made the following announcements:

 

(1)  Death of Councillor John Horner

 

“The burden has fallen to me too often over the last twelve months to inform members of the passing of former and sometimes serving colleagues.  Today, that burden falls even heavier. 

 

I, like all of you, was deeply saddened to hear of John Horner’s death.   He is a great loss to this Council, he was a fantastic Vice-Chairman, and he will be missed here at Shire Hall and across our county.  He was independent minded, intelligent and in this for the right reasons.  I know from my conversations with him that his sole focus here was ensuring that the Council represents the people it serves.  You could uniquely like John, respect John, but not agree with everything he said.  He was a man of principle, of quiet passion and someone I was proud to call a colleague and, later, a friend. 

 

This Council will be far poorer without him.  He would have made quite a brilliant Chairman - I’m sure far better than me – and arguably it still would have been a waste of his quite significant talents.  He was so sharp, so bright also enigmatic to boot and I have wondered in recent days whether people like John will be encouraged to engage in politics in the future.  We need more people like John here, not fewer.

 

John also had a wry wit. One of the comments I remember him making to me I’m going to share with you today. I said to John once that I would have liked to have ended one conversation feeling less stupid at the end than I did at the beginning. He smiled and quietly said, “Peter, impossible”!

 

A great man, and a great loss to us and to everybody in this county but an even greater loss to his wife, his children and to their wider family.  So sudden and far, far too soon.”

 

Councillor Gilbert invited Council to stand for a minute’s silence in memory of Councillor Horner before inviting Councillors to pay their own tributes.

 

The Leader, Councillor Isobel Seccombe, acknowledged that it had been a difficult week due to the shock of Councillor Horner’s sudden death, which had come far too soon.  She noted that she had known him since at least 2007 and reflected on his talents and qualities: very bright, capable, intellectual, possessing a dry wit, sardonic and amusing.  He did not always toe the line but was a valued member, friend and colleague.  The intellect he brought to the Group and the Chamber was valued.  He had been a member of the cabinet with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service and had also been a chair of overview and scrutiny.  He had pursued the areas that concerned him, which were those of his community, and always stayed true to the issues his residents felt mattered.  Councillor Horner was a country man, who took long walks with his dogs, and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3(4)

3(5)

Petitions

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

3(6)

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).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

4.

Appointments to Committees and Other Bodies pdf icon PDF 265 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Isobel Seccombe, Leader of the Council, moved that Council agree proposals tabled at the meeting. Councillor John Holland, Leader of the Labour Group, seconded the proposals, which were put to the vote and agreed as set out below.

 

Resolved:

 

1.     That the Council confirms the Committee structure and delegations of non-executive functions to member bodies as set out in the Constitution

 

2.     That the number of places on Council Committees be as follows

 

Committees

Con

Lab

LD

GR

WRA

 Total

Audit & Standards Committee (6)

4

1

1

 

 

6

Regulatory Committee (12)

10

1

 

 

1

12

Staff & Pensions Committee (6)

4

1

1

 

 

6

Adult Social Care & Health (10)

7

1

1

1

 

10

Children and Young People (10)

8

1

1

 

 

10

Communities (10)

7

1

1

1

 

10

Resources and Fire & Rescue (10)

7

1

1

1

 

10

Political Balance Entitlement 2022

47

7

6

3

1

64

 

 

3.     That the Council agrees the appointment of members to the Committees and other bodies as set below:

 

Opposition Group Spokespersons are indicated for Overview and Scrutiny Committees (Sp)

 

Committees

Con

Lab

LD

Green

WRA/Ind

Total

Audit & Standards Committee 

(6 +2 co-optees

J Bridgeman + R Edwards Zara

John Cooke

Brian Hammersley Christopher Kettle

Bhagwant Pandher

Sarah Feeney

Bill Gifford

 

 

6 

Regulatory Committee 

 

Jill Simpson-Vince (C)

John Cooke (VC)

Jeff Clarke

Dave Humphreys

Jack Kennaugh

Christopher Kettle

Justin Kerridge

Jan Matecki

Chris Mills

Adrian Warwick

Sarah Feeney

 

 

Judy Falp

12 

Staff and Pensions Committee 

 

Andy Jenns (C)

Brian Hammersley Christopher Kettle

Mandy Tromans

 Sarah Millar

Bill Gifford (VC)

 

 

6 

Adult Social 

Care & Health  

OSC 

Clare Golby (C)

John Cooke

Marian Humphreys

Christopher Kettle

Jan Matecki

Chris Mills Penny-Anne O’Donnell

Mandy Tromans

 John Holland (VC)

Kate Rolfe (Sp)

Tracey Drew (Sp)

 

10 

Children &Young People OSC 

Yousef Dahmash (C)

Jo Barker

Brett Beetham

Pete Gilbert

Justin Kerridge

Brian Hammersley

Marian Humphreys

Jill Simpson-Vince

 Barbara Brown (Sp)

Jerry Roodhouse (VC)

 

 

10 

Communities OSC 

 

Jeff Clarke (C)

Richard Baxter-Payne

Dave Humphreys

Bhagwant

Pandher

Tim Sinclair

Mejar Singh

Andrew Wright

Jackie D’Arcy (Sp)

Jenny Fradgley (Sp)

Jonathan Chilvers (VC)

 

10 

Resources and 

Fire & Rescue OSC 

Adrian Warwick (C)

Parminder Singh Birdi (VC)

Piers Daniell

Pete Gilbert

Sue Markham

Rik Spencer

Rob Tromans

Caroline Phillips (Sp)

Sarah Boad (Sp)

Will Roberts (Sp)

 

10 

Joint Staff Negotiating Body (2) [*+ Leader Appointment x2] 

+Izzi Seccombe

+Andy Jenns

Barbara Brown

Bill Gifford

 

 

 

Joint Teachers Negotiating Body (2) [*+ Leader Appointment x2] 

+Kam Kaur

+Andy Jenns

Barbara Brown

Bill Gifford

 

 

 

Pension Fund Sub-Committee 

*appointments are made by Staff and Pensions Committee 

Brian Hammersley Christopher Kettle

Mandy Tromans

Sarah Millar

Bill Gifford

 

 

 

Pool of Members to sit on the Appointments Sub-Committees and Staff Appeals Sub-Committees. 

Margaret Bell

Parminder Singh Birdi

Peter Butlin

Jeff Clarke

John Cooke

Andy Crump

Yousef Dahmash

Piers Daniell

Brian Hammersley

Dave Humphreys

Andy Jenns

Kam Kaur

Justin Kerridge

Jan Matecki

Jeff Morgan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Overview and Scrutiny - Annual Report pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Yousef Dahmash, Chair of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, proposed that the annual report be received by Council and was seconded by Councillor Jeff Clarke, Chair of the Communities Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Chairs of the Committees each highlighted the work of their Committee and paid tribute to the invaluable support provided by Officers and more particularly the Democratic Services Team.

 

The following points were raised during the debate:

 

·       The onus on Members to further drive the scrutiny agenda and direction of travel.  

·       The challenge for new Members taking up scrutiny roles after the 2021 election

·       The importance of parity of esteem for the scrutiny function, particularly in a council with a large majority and the potential to adopt a Chair of Chairs to provide co-ordination as suggested by the Review of Scrutiny

·       That all sides of the chamber had contributed constructively to overview and scrutiny meetings

·       The focus on providing the best outcomes for residents and how even small changes could have a big impact

·       Reflection on the Review of Scrutiny and subsequent action plan.  Improvements had been achieved through the committees’ flexible, proactive, and responsive approach to corporate priorities and the use of technology

·       The exemplary role of the Adult Social Care and Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee, particularly for its work on women’s health and the ambulance service

·       The possibility of receiving more evidentiary contributions from frontline workers, particularly from the NHS and care organisations.

 

Resolved:

 

That Council notes the Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2021-22.

6.

Annual Monitor of use of the Urgency and Call-in Procedures July 2021-April 2022 pdf icon PDF 264 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Isobel Seccombe presented the annual report on the use of the Council’s urgency and call-in procedures, and noted that several urgent decisions had been required during the course of the year and that there had been limited use of the call-in process over the last year. Councillor Kam Kaur seconded the proposal to note the report.

 

Councillor Jonathan Chilvers considered that the Council struck a good balance between the needs for urgency and transparency in its decision making.

 

Resolved:

 

That Council note the report.

7.

Education Schools Capital Programme 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader) moved the recommendation as set out in the report.  Councillor Parminder Singh Birdi seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.  During the debate, the following points were made:

 

·       Attention was drawn to the Local Plans of each of the five district and borough councils and that the county council was required to provide school places to support the house building set out therein.  It was claimed that it had previously been estimated that the implications were a requirement for 63 new schools.  Councillor John Holland asked if this was the correct figure and how many of the schools had been built

·       It was asserted that it had been previously acknowledged that the Oakley Grove School was not built on the preferred site and the costs involved were questioned, considering any losses, and how this compared to the cost that would have been incurred if building had taken place in the centre of the Heathcote estate

·       The sufficiency of school places was questioned, particularly in Warwick district, where huts were being provided.  The opinion was expressed that it was important to ensure that there were adequate school buildings for children who progressed through the school system

·       The view was expressed that schools must not be built to a lower quality due to inflation and a shortage of school spaces and should be fit for the future so that retrofitting of efficiency measures was not required and to maximise revenue savings for the council and the schools

·       The provision at Myton School was welcomed

·       Disappointment over the absence of provision for Rugby in the report was expressed and assurance was sought that the urgent need in the area was being recognised

·       It was noted that the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee were planning a task and finish group focussed on sufficiency.

·       The delivery of the extension to the Queen Elizabeth Academy was welcomed as an exciting development for the school.

 

Councillor Singh Birdi noted that the debate had extended beyond the recommendations in the report and asserted that provision needed to be economically viable and compliant with building regulations and welcomed the proposals.

 

In response, Councillor Peter Butlin noted that the Council had delivered five new schools since 2016, with a further four being delivered in the following four years.  He reflected on the reasons for the siting of the Oakley Grove school and stated that, after consideration, the current site was the preferred site.   He advised that developments would be built to the new building regulations and whenever possible and financially viable, it was the Council’s intention to exceed those standards, but the primary concern was to ensure there were sufficient school places in Warwickshire.  He noted work had been commissioned to determine where and when school places were needed so that decisions about school building in Rugby and across the county were made on current data and projections.

 

Vote

 

A vote was held. The recommendation was agreed unanimously.

 

Resolved:

 

That  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Review of the Warwickshire County Council Members' Allowances Scheme - Report of the Independent Panel pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Isobel Seccombe, Leader of the Council, noted the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel and the suggested increases to Members Allowances.  However, it was her view that, due to the economic situation that had developed since the Panel completed its work, the increase was not accepted and, instead, she moved the Member Allowances Scheme as set out at Appendix 2 of the report.  Councillor Peter Butlin seconded.

 

Amendment

 

Councillor Jonathan Chilvers proposed an amendment seeking an additional paragraph to be inserted after paragraph number 12 of the Member Allowances Scheme as set out at Appendix 2 of the report:

 

“Details of all allowances paid in accordance with paragraphs 2 (Basic Allowance) and 10-14 (Special Responsibility, Co-Optee and Spokesperson Allowances) of the Members Allowances Scheme 2022-2026 and received by each Councillor in respect of each role they undertake will be published on the Council website.”

 

In moving the amendment, Councillor Chilvers stated that he was supportive of the link to the staff pay increase and did not think it was appropriate to increase pay beyond that. However, he did consider that the Executive were underpaid, particularly the Leader and Deputy Leader whose allowances compared unfavourably to those paid at neighbouring authorities and he would have been supportive of an increase for those roles.  He also considered that the proposed change in arrangements for opposition groups was fairer. He added that he was proposing the amendment so that all information about Special Responsibility Allowances was published and to give greater transparency about the expenditure of the Leadership pots to support payments for Group Spokesperson and Cabinet Support, both of which he considered were valid roles, but he welcomed more transparency on the payments.

 

Councillor Will Robert seconded the amendment, considering that the publication of information set out in the amendment would ensure that the expenditure within the scheme was transparent to the public.

 

Debate

 

Councillor Sarah Feeney noted that staff on NJC terms had lost money in real terms over the past 12 years and this similarly limited increase would help to focus attention on staff pay. 

 

Councillor Sarah Boad highlighted and applauded the availability of reimbursement for carer expenses, which was echoed by Councillor Judy Falp.  Councillor Boad suggested that political groups should ensure potential candidates were aware of the ability to claim these expenses as one way to support a cross section of representatives.

 

Councillor Peter Butlin expressed the view that if the Panel’s recommendations had been received in the previous year, he would have accepted them to bring allowances in line with other authorities.  However, in the current climate, with a rising cost of living he did not believe it was the right time to increase councillor allowances.  Whilst he did not consider it was appropriate to top the comparison table on allowances, Councillor Butlin supported the view that it was important to try to attract a broad spectrum of people to represent Warwickshire and he recognised that allowances played a part in that.  He, therefore, reluctantly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Notices of Motion

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

 

Bus Services in Warwickshire

Following a motion agreed by Council in July 2021, a cross party Member Group was set up to work with officers to develop a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

 

It is noted that the Warwickshire?Bus Service Improvement Plan was unsuccessful in getting any government funding.

 

Services are still suffering from a reduced frequency of service and low passenger numbers, and now Stagecoach have raised the cost of many journeys.

 

This Council agrees to ask the BSIP Group to look at the Plan with officers, and to report back to Cabinet with a costed list of those actions that the Group considers could be taken through the appropriate Council governance processes for alternative funding consideration.

 

Proposer: Councillor Sarah Boad

Seconder: Councillor Bill Gifford

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following motion as set out on the agenda was proposed by Councillor Sarah Boad:

 

Bus Services in Warwickshire

 

Following a motion agreed by Council in July 2021, a cross party Member Group was set up to work with officers to develop a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

 

It is noted that the Warwickshire Bus Service Improvement Plan was unsuccessful in getting any government funding.

 

Services are still suffering from a reduced frequency of service and low passenger numbers, and now Stagecoach have raised the cost of many journeys.

 

This Council agrees to ask the BSIP Group to look at the Plan with officers, and to report back to Cabinet with a costed list of those actions that the Group considers could be taken through the appropriate Council governance processes for alternative funding consideration.

 

In proposing the motion, Councillor Boad reflected on the allocation of funding and stated that it would be tragedy if the work done by officers and the exciting plans for bus services in Warwickshire came to nothing.  She was keen to see the work continue and residents be encouraged to use bus services.  She lamented changes to bus services in Leamington, noting lengthy journeys and increasing costs, and expressed the view that a modal shift was needed, not just to walking or cycling, but to also include public transport.  This required a well-used, efficient service with reasonable journey times and routes, particularly for bus-pass users.

 

Councillor Bill Gifford seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.

 

Debate

 

During the course of the debate, the following points were made:

 

·       The work of the BSIP was applauded and disappointment was expressed that funding had not been secured

·       The need to encourage and support bus travel across the county in urban and rural areas was acknowledged

·       An inventive and creative approach would be needed as it was difficult to nudge people away from car use as their default vehicle

·       The benefit of bus use for alleviating loneliness was highlighted, together with the benefits for those who had limited other travel options

·       The council needed to be conscious of the commercial viability of bus companies, particularly those replacing their fleet with hydro or electric vehicles, with the example of the sale of Johnsons bus operations in Stratford being cited

·       It was suggested that the group needed to consider not just funding, but the root cause of bus services not making money and why people did not use the services

·       The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on bus provision was notable with bus routes being redrawn and lengthened, and some areas being excluded from the new routes.  Despite the lifting of Covid-19 regulations, services had not been reinstated and remained less frequent

·       Fare increases by Stagecoach were noted, particularly that in Leamington it was cheaper for a family to go by taxi than bus.

·       A view was expressed that the implementation of the Local Transport Plan should address the issues being raised by the motion

·       The importance of having a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

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.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1)       Councillor Sarah Millar to Councillor Heather Timms

 

“When will the Portfolio holder confirm with the commercial partner “Solar Together” the launch of the new round of registrations for Warwickshire residents to express their interest in the potential cost savings of group buying solar panels and battery storage?”

 

Councillor Timms advised that supporting residents in their journey to reduce carbon emissions had been the goal of the Solar Together scheme since its creation in 2021.  Phase 2 of the scheme was expected to be launched before the end of this calendar year.  However, there was awareness that there were national and local supply chain challenges and increasing costs so there was an element of availability for the scheme.  There was also a desire to review Phase 1 of the scheme which had not yet completed with the council’s partner before the next round was launched.

 

2)       Councillor Jan Matecki to Councillor Isobel Seccombe

 

“It has now been nearly three months since Russia invaded Ukraine.  Ukrainians continue to put up an amazing brave resistance against the brutality of the Russian army.  Many women, children and the elderly continue to flee their homes in search of safety.  Warwickshire residents are amongst the most welcoming in this country with many of them generously offering up their homes to give sanctuary to displaced Ukrainians.  I would like to ask the Leader what is this council doing during this crisis to help and support Ukrainian families that come to this county?”

 

Councillor Isobel Seccombe thanked all the residents of Warwickshire for their commendable generosity to Ukrainian people who had been displaced and the Council’s team who were also working hard to provide help. 

 

She stated that the Council was doing a lot of work, some of which Members would already be aware of and, in her response, Councillor Seccombe provided the headlines of this work.  A Warwickshire Welcome pack had been devised and translated and made available to sponsors and guests to provide signposting to health and wellbeing, education and child care services.  A set of safeguarding and welfare visits were taking place to understand the nature of buildings being offered and also to listen to the needs of the families, ensure that people were not being put into more danger and vice versa and ensure that appropriate signposting to support was provided.

 

The scope of the accommodation that should be appropriate had been agreed and there was a great working relationship with the districts and boroughs taking place who were stepping up to help and support in this particular area.  The Fire and Rescue Service was also linked into the process.

 

Dedicated email addresses had been set up to ensure prompt responses for general enquiries, payments, DBS checks together with a dedicated freephone telephone number. A webpage had also been created which could be translated instantly.  Councillor Seccombe would circulate the email addresses and freephone numbers to councillors. 

 

In terms of payments, sponsors had access to £350 per month and a one-off payment of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Any Other items of Urgent Business

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.