Cabinet Portfolio Holders: Councillors Kam Kaur and Peter Butlin
This report outlines the content of the Council Plan 2025 and the planned work to ensure its accessibility. Council is asked to approve the plan.
That Council approve the Council Plan 2025.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe (Leader of the Council) moved the recommendation and was seconded by Councillor Kam Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation).
In introducing the Council Plan 2025 Councillor Seccombe expressed a common desire to make Warwickshire the best it can be. She noted that Warwickshire is in good shape but that, like other councils, Warwickshire County Council is required to manage reduced resources and increasing demand for services. The Council’s finances are healthy, and this can be attributed to good financial management by officers. Savings of £58.5m will be required over the next three years but there will continue to be the need to protect the most vulnerable in society whist working to stimulate the economy in the light of the upcoming government comprehensive spending review.
Council was reminded of many of its achievements. These include a 29% increase in the number of social workers, greater commercialism, the acquisition of the Pears Centre in Exhall for the delivery of special care services for young people, the success of the reablement service, the continuing delivery of safe and well inspections by the Fire and Rescue Service, support for the local economy and young people seeking to become work ready and the condition of the County’s highway network.
Councillor Seccombe emphasised the need to take account of and mitigate against climate change adding that population growth and increasing demand for services will make it of greater importance that communities are able to support themselves.
It was emphasised that the new plan has a focus on enhancing service delivery and not on the need to make savings.
Amendment 1 – Liberal Democrat.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) moved an amendment, seconded by Councillor Sarah Boad (Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) who reserved the right speak, comprising 3 elements. This stated,
Page 7 Climate Change
In box ref UN amend to read as follows "we will make sure our work is in line with the Committee on Climate Change and UN Sustainable Development Goals".
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Page 3 Vision
Priority Warwickshire's Communities
Add extra section Work with partners to reduce the level of Child Poverty across Warwickshire.
Page 3 Vision
Priority Warwickshire's economy
Add extra section, become a leader by working with partners, Universities in creating a circular economy for Warwickshire.
Also Change box with UN goals (is in line with the Committee on Climate Change and UN Sustainable Development Goals).
In support of the Liberal Democrat Group amendments, Councillor Roodhouse expressed his general support for the plan but made the following points.
· The UN sustainability goals as cited in the plan are very aspirational. It is the Committee on Climate Change that undertakes work on risk. The Council should base its objectives on the targets of the Committee on Climate Change.
· The Council should consider establishing a Portfolio Holder role that focuses solely on climate change.
· Child poverty is a major issue that needs to be addressed through the plan.
· A circular economy is required if resources are not to be allowed to run out. A number of major companies now recognise the value of the circular economy recognising that a linear approach is not sustainable.
· Warwickshire should ensure that it does not become over reliant on a handful of industries. The automotive industry can be transient in nature.
Amendment 2 – Labour
Councillor Richard Chattaway (Leader of the Labour Group) moved an amendment being seconded by Councillor Maggie O’Rourke. This amendment asked that the recommendation be altered to say,
“That Council approve the Council Plan 2025 and asks Cabinet to ensure the development of appropriate metrics and performance management arrangements to underpin the Plan”.
In speaking to the amendment Councillor Chattaway made the following observations.
· It is wrong that the Plan before Council had been considered and agreed by Cabinet previously.
· A desire to make Warwickshire the best it can be has little relevance to a resident in a deprived area.
· There is no point in acknowledging projects that have ben completed for some time. The focus should be on addressing key areas of concern eg unequal educational attainment, backlogs in children’s’ mental health assessments and treatment, the uneven spread of economic growth, the struggling economy in some town centres and poor and expensive bus services.
Amendment 3 – Labour
A further amendment was presented from the floor by Councillor Helen Adkins who was seconded by Councillor Caroline Philips.
“This Council will commit to the following targets on climate change.
1) For Warwickshire as a County Council to be Carbon Neutral by 2025, and
2) For Warwickshire as a county to be carbon neutral by as close as possible to 2030”.
Councillor Adkins stated that carbon neutrality is an increasing expectation of the public. In seconding the amendment Councillor Philips stated that the Labour Group did not consider that the recent task and finish groups had not gone far enough especially with transport planning.
A series of members spoke to the item. The following points were made.
Councillor Colin Hayfield (Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning) –
1) the plan is high level and seeks to paint a picture for Warwickshire’s future. It does not need to be highly detailed. For example, the Education Strategy provides the detail of how education will be delivered.
2) 30% of children leaving reception are not “school ready” whilst 33% leaving primary school are not at the level they should be.
3) The education gap between communities needs to be addressed.
4) Investment in early years can bring a ratio of return of 13 to 1.
5) All schools should be good or outstanding. The current figure is 86%.
6) A new education strategy focusing on Nuneaton is being created.
7) NEETs levels are not high in Warwickshire when compared to other areas. However, they should be lower.
8) The demand for services in the high needs area continues to increase.
9) The continuing backlog of children awaiting mental health assessments is of such concern that the Council may need to consider developing its own assessment service.
10)The Pears Centre in Exhall is an exciting development. There may be a case for developing a similar facility in the south of the County.
11)The Council has an extensive programme of school building an expansion.
Councillor Jeff Clarke (Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning) –
1) Transport is key to getting people to school and work
2) A series of major road projects are underway across the county.
Councillor Dave Parsons –
1) The plan is aspirational but lacks detail on how results will be achieved.
2) People are not living longer, and child poverty continues to be an issue of concern with food bank usage increasing.
3) Private rented accommodation and universal credit have a negative impact on personal finance.
4) Children who go to school hungry tend to underachieve academically.
5) A “deprivation emergency” should be declared by the Council.
Councillor Keith Kondakor –
1) The plan fails to recognise the importance of buses.
2) 14 million bus journeys are made in Warwickshire every year.
3) Electric cars will take a long time to become mainstream. Enhancements to bus services could be introduced very quickly.
4) The pursuance of a circular economy should be encouraged.
Councillor John Holland –
1) The Council Plan and the budget could have been considered as a single item.
2) Public Health focuses on improving people’s health. This should be at the forefront of everything the Council does.
3) Public Health initiatives and climate change initiatives are often linked. Eg cycling is good for people’s health and benefits the environment.
Councillor Adrian Warwick
1) It is not possible to have a single work strand for climate change. Many are required.
2) A target around carbon neutrality would require costing out.
3) New data management tools like Power BI should be used to the full to get a comprehensive understanding of issues.
4) Recycle and re-use should be emphasised.
Councillor Pam Williams
1) Children’s services currently face many issues but display much innovation in what they do.
2) Developments of note include the work of the MASH, housing projects in Nuneaton and the success by the Council of increasing the number of social workers it employs.
Councillor Heather Timms (Portfolio Holder for Environment and Heritage and Culture) –
1) The plan is high level and is aimed at the whole of Warwickshire.
2) The conclusions of the cross-party working groups on climate change have been captured in the plan.
3) For the successful delivery of this and other plans there is a need to work with partners such as district and borough councils and parish and town councils as well as the wider community.
4) The Portfolio for Environment and Heritage and Culture embraces climate change. There is no need to create a new one.
Councillor Andy Crump (Portfolio Holder for Fire & Rescue and Community Safety) –
1) The intention is that the plan will set the basis for greater work with communities.
2) The plan will enhance work around road safety, resilience and flooding, Trading Standards and intelligence led operations such as those aimed at tackling drug trafficking.
Councillor Peter Gilbert –
1) It is important that people take the time to read and understand the plan.
2) Issues and challenges should not be “glossed over”
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers (Leader of the Green Group) –
1) There is much in the plan to be welcomed especially around sustainable development.
2) Some of the targets contained in the plan could have been more ambitious eg 1% increase in composting annually.
3) There should be more ambition around the promotion of the circular economy.
4) Schools have the potential to be exemplars in terms of energy use. However, in a recent instance a school that was looking to install a ground source heat pump was eventually obliged to use a traditional gas boiler for want of a small amount of additional funding.
Councillor Bill Gifford -
1) The targets proposed by the Labour Group regarding carbon neutrality are not unreasonable.
2) There is a case for creating a Portfolio that is solely responsible for climate change.
3) It would have been useful to have had sight of the Labour Group amendments prior to the meeting.
4) The pension fund should give consideration to carbon neutral investment.
5) Warwickshire is fortunate having two excellent universities that are working on the green economy.
Councillor Dominic Skinner -
1) Recycling and reuse are examples of the circular economy.
2) There is a real need to make commitment to meeting targets.
3) Climate change should be the overarching consideration and for this reason a dedicated Portfolio Holder position should be created.
Councillor Jenny Fradgley -
1) Agree that a dedicated Climate Change Portfolio is required.
2) Too much time has been spent debating and agreeing the need for cycleways. It is action that is now required.
3) Tree planting is to be commended but parish councils require larger partners such as the County Council to enable this to happen.
Councillor Sarah Boad –
1) There is a lot of talk around supporting young people. However, services have been cut and there is less money available to support them.
2) School budgets are under pressure, children’s centres have been cut and whilst babies are often taken to those that remain, fewer toddlers are attending.
3) Child poverty continues to grow, and life chances are seen to be slipping away.
4) Firmer targets are required for climate change. Warwick District Council is leading the way with its proposed additional £1 a week charge to support climate change schemes.
5) It is not possible to create a zero-carbon vehicle as manufacturing has an environmental cost.
6) Regarding bus services Stagecoach continue to present problems, changing services and stopping them when subsidies cease. Pensioners etc have bus passes but do not use them as the services are poor.
7) People are now returning to car usage having tried rail services from Kenilworth station and found them wanting.
8) Electric vehicles are in their infancy. There is not enough material to provide everyone with one.
Councillor Maggie O’Rourke –
1) It is important that the plan is delivered and that target dates are set.
2) Partnerships are key to success.
Councillor Kam Kaur –
1) For years there has been pressure to reduce the number of Portfolio Holders. Now there are demands to create more.
2) Members need to be prepared to do more to address climate change.
3) It is important to remember the other elements of the plan. Climate change is important but not the only issue to be managed.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse –
1) That the Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning recognises the challenges being faced in education is welcomed.
2) It is essential that the Child Poverty Strategy is reinvigorated.
3) The work being undertaken by the two local universities on the circular economy should be explored. Certain Nordic countries are more advanced in their thinking on this than the UK.
4) The work on climate change that Councillor Timms has undertaken to date is to be commended. She cannot, however, hope to do it all.
5) Consideration of the Council Plan prior to the budget made sense. Decide what needs to be done and then ensure that the financial commitment fits.
6) The Labour Group’s amendment proposing target dates for carbon neutrality are to be welcomed.
Councillor Richard Chattaway –
1) Strategies are no good without action plans to back them up.
2) Strategies on early years, transport and capital expenditure are not regarded as working form communities.
Councillor Helen Adkins –
1) Plenty of authorities have set target dates for carbon neutrality. It is hard to understand why this council should be reluctant to do so.
2) Decisions made by the County Council should not hinder Warwick District Council in delivering its climate change agenda.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe –
1) The Council Plan 2025 has been in development for some time. The development process has involved many stakeholders being a plan for the County Council and the people of Warwickshire.
2) The Council is already working with Warwick District Council on its climate change initiatives. It hopes to work with other district and borough councils.
3) The circular economy is untried. It is not at a stage where it could be incorporated into the plan.
4) Evidence from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates that child poverty has not grown as some members would suggest.
A vote was taken on the Liberal Democrat Group amendment (Appendix A) which was lost, the vote being 9 for, 32 against and 8 abstentions.
A vote was taken on the first Labour Group amendment (Appendix B1) which was lost, the vote being 8 for, 39 against and 2 abstentions
A recorded vote was taken for the second Labour Group amendment (Appendix B2) in accordance with standing order 31.4 as set out below:
For (17) Councillors Adkins, Boad, Chattaway, Chilvers, C.Davies, N. Davies, Falp, Fradgley, Gifford, Holland, Kondakor, Parsons, Phillips, Rickhards, Roodhouse, Skinner, Webb.
Against (32) Councillors Barker, Bell, Singh Birdi, Brain, Butlin, Caborn, Cargill, Clarke, Cockburn, Cooke, Crump, Dahmash, Gilbert, Golby, Gran, Hayfield, Horner, Jenns, Kaur, Pandher, Parry, Reilly, Roberts, Sareant, Seccombe, Shilton, Simpson-Vince, Timms, C. Warwick, P. Williams, Williams, Wright.
For (17) Adkins, Boad, Chattaway, Chilvers, C.Davies, M.Davies, Holland, Kondakor, Parsons, Phillips, Rickhards, Roodhouse, Skinner, Webb.
A vote was taken on the substantive motion as set out in the report. This was agreed 32 for, 8 against and 11 abstentions.
That Council approve the Council Plan 2025.
The meeting adjourned for lunch at 12.15.
The meeting re-convened at 13.00.