Agenda item

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.



(a)      Question from Councillor Caroline Phillips to Councillor Andy Crump:


“Can the Portfolio Holder confirm what steps are being taken to ensure that the DPH recommendation on working together to reduce domestic abuse will be delivered jointly with Warwickshire Police?”


Councillor Crump responded that domestic abuse affected all parts of society and everyone had a role to play in its reduction.  He explained that the Police were putting significant resources into this issue, including the creation of the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART).  The Director of Public Health’s report acknowledged that everyone had a role to play in tackling domestic abuse and partnership working was a key approach.  Partners were taking the issue very seriously.


(b)      Question from Councillor Jerry Roodhouse to Councillor Martin Watson


“With the UK in recession and last year marking the weakest year for economic growth since the financial crisis there needs to be a focus on providing investment and levers to facilitate growth. The Institute of Directors have revealed that 73% of its members lack confidence in the ability of local authorities to provide effective business support. What assurances can be provided that decision makers at WCC will support organisations like CW Growth Hub who have built an excellent reputation over the last decade and provide them with the tools needed to ensure that the necessary levers are used to maximum effect to stimulate and maintain growth at a local level.”


Councillor Watson responded that he was proud of the Council’s work to support businesses and the reputation it possessed for business support.  The landscape of business funding had changed over the previous 18 months with European funding changing and the disbanding of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).  However, the Warwickshire LEP had performed well and had been restructured and retained and developed with the Growth Hub which would continue to be funded in partnership with Coventry City Council for another two years.  Programme funding of £3.6m had supported over 770 businesses in the region across 19 industries.


By way of supplement, Councillor Roodhouse asked for assurances that there was no reduction to funding for the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub over the next three years.  Councillor Watson expressed the view that although there were changes to the structure, the additional funding from the UKSPF and other funding opportunities had led to an increase in funding not a reduction. He agreed to provide specific figures.


(c)      Question from Councillor John Holland to Councillor Peter Butlin


“There is a Court Order in place regarding surface water run off from the Cape Road car park. Will Councillor Butlin stay involved until the Order is discharged?”


Councillor Butlin responded that he had received regular briefings following the flooding issues affecting Cape Road residents.  The Council had undertaken to conduct flood alleviation work and was working with Severn Trent to develop a futureproofed solution for any future development schemes for the Cape Road car park.


(d)      Question from Councillor Tracey Drew to Councillor Jan Matecki


“Now the new Kenilworth School and Sixth Form is open, a significant number of issues remain unaddressed, in particular around nearby road safety and active travel. What is happening and when can residents, students and councillors expect to see the long-anticipated action on the ground. Please see list of concerns in the letter you received today from Kenilworth Town Council.”


Councillor Jan Matecki replied that officers had engaged with Kenilworth Town Council and Kenilworth School over the course of the previous year and held meetings on site to discuss concerns.  He had requested officers to write a full response to the Town Council’s letter.  Councillor Matecki pointed out that the decision to relocate the school was made by the school and Warwick District Council and therefore improvements to the highway infrastructure to accommodate the school were the responsibility of the school, rather than the County Council.  The Council would continue to work closely with the Town Council and the School on this matter and the safety of school children would be a top priority when considering the safe access to school.


(e)      Question from Councillor Sarah Millar to Councillor Jan Matecki


“Could the Portfolio Holder provide an update on the budget available for mending potholes in the county. How much additional budget is Warwickshire expected to receive from the repurposing of the HS2 budget between now and 2032 (from the £1.2bn allocated for the West Midlands)? How much does this breakdown at per year between now and 2032?”


Councillor Matecki responded that Warwickshire was to receive additional funding of £2.056m each year for the next eleven years for highway maintenance as part of the money being repurposed from HS2.  This funding was specifically for maintenance works on highway assets including roads, footways, street lighting, bridges, traffic signals and highway drainage. Whilst none of the funding would be used to directly repair potholes, a substantial proportion was likely to be spent on road surfacing schemes which would prevent pothole formation over the long term.  It was to be determined exactly how the funding would be spent but the team was looking at and prioritising some high-cost maintenance schemes that were typically not affordable from the annual government grants for maintenance.  A significant proportion of the following year’s funding would go towards three long stretches of resurfacing works on the A444.  A data-led approach would be used to target the areas of worst road condition for future years.


Councillor Matecki explained that potholes were repaired using a combination of revenue funding, as well as capital funding.  Generally, the revenue funding was used for reactive repair, and the capital funding was used for pro-active repairs to larger areas where potholes would likely form.  For 2023/24 the budget for revenue defect repair gangs was £1.970m.  In addition, approximately £1.75m of capital would be spent on small patching works.


In the current financial year 7,890 potholes had been repaired across the network.  Warwickshire had a strong reputation for making repairs and was ranked 4th out of 30 peer authorities in the National Highways and Transportation Survey for overall highways maintenance, condition of highway and how quickly potholes and damaged roads were dealt with.


(f)       Question from Councillor Jonathan Chilvers to Councillor Isobel Seccombe


Councillor Chilvers asked the following question without notice:


“The public speaker, Elissa Novak, asked about the distinction between actions of political parties or groups in regard to their members being separate to the actions of the Council which she stated had caused confusion in the context of events since the Children & Young Peoples Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting in January.  In a situation like we’ve had, could you clarify the distinction between the role of the political party/group and the role of the council’s own procedures.”


As Councillor Seccombe was not in the chamber at the time the question was posed, Councillor Butlin agreed that a written response would be provided.

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