A period of up to 40 minutes is allocated for questions to the Leader, Cabinet Portfolio Holders and Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
Question 1 Councillor Jerry Roodhouse to Councillor Les Caborn
Q “This Council adopted the “Dignity in Care 10 points” following a motion in 2007. Could the Portfolio Holder confirm what actions have been taken to ensure that these 10 points have been followed through?”
A. This has been ongoing for some time and has become fully embedded in our quality frameworks. All our commissioned providers work to ensure quality and dignity of care. Their work forces are fully trained, and whistle blowing is promoted. The service specification that a care provider must adhere to is person-centric and ensures ongoing engagement with the families of those in care. Care plans are highly inclusive, and we work constantly with the CQC and Healthwatch to adapt care guidance for providers.
In response to a supplementary question from Councillor Roodhouse Councillor Caborn agreed to write to care providers regarding the Dignity in Care network.
Question 2 Councillor Jerry Roodhouse to Councillor Kam Kaur
Q. “Covid and working from home has shown how crucial a good broadband provider is along with a good connection. Customer experiences are very varied from these providers and in some cases no responses are received to complaints. Will the Portfolio Holder undertake to write to the Secretary of State Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE, at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport with a copy to the LGA highlighting these concerns and asking that stronger standards of customer care need to be introduced?”
A. I completely agree with you that secure and reliable access to fast Internet services has become critical to everyone, especially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasing need to work from home. I can inform you that we already have plans in place to improve digital connectivity across Warwickshire, including fibre and 4G/5G mobile connectivity.
Internet Service Providers are an additional link in the connectivity system and it is also essential that they maintain a good level of performance. Overall, we are not aware of problems with any particular service providers but will certainly raise your concerns with DCMS.
I would suggest, at this stage, we speak with our contact in DCMS, one of the Senior Policy Advisers working within the Barrier Busting Task Force in DCMS and get these concerns shared with both OFCOM and the Secretary of State. Hopefully, by taking this course of action we can escalate and work towards a resolution of the problem.’
As a supplementary question Councillor Roodhouse asked that any letter go to the Secretary of State and the LGA. This was agreed.
Question 3 Councillor Jerry Roodhouse to Councillor Heather Timms
Q. “Increasing pollinators, and tree planting all help towards increasing our natural environment. WCC is a major landowner and along with school playing fields make up a substantial amount of land. Would the Portfolio Holder agree to write to all Academy's and Schools under LA control asking them to identify areas that do not need grass cutting and could be used to support pollinators and asking them also to identify areas where extra trees can planted also to bring forward quickly a policy for the increase of pollinators and trees on County Council owned land?”
A. The County Council works hard to encourage bio-diversity and has its own biodiversity strategy. It has been recognised as being the first local authority in the country to display bio-diversity net gain. Bio-diversity is encouraged through the Covid-19 recovery plan and the Council Plan 2025. The Council’s Forestry Team operates a tree planting scheme and works with voluntary groups and schools. A meeting was held with representatives of the Woodland Trust who currently work with Parish Councils. There is scope for them to work with schools also. A letter will be sent to schools to encourage tree planting.
Councillor Sarah Boad noted that tree planting is very popular. However, the HS2 project is resulting in the removal of trees apparently when there is little case for doing so. She asked Councillor Timms to write to HS2 with a request that fewer trees be felled. This she agreed to do.
Question 4. Councillor Bill Gifford to Councillor Les Caborn
“As Covid 19 numbers rise especially in and around the University of Warwick Campus, I am sure we are all concerned for the welfare of the young people who have moved into our area. What actions such as providing food and other basic commodities to students who are having to self-isolate at home are the County Council taking with Coventry City Council to ensure their safety and that any increased Covid-19 infections amongst Warwick University students do not spread to the wider community in Coventry and Leamington Spa?”
A. The County Council and Warwick District Council are working closely with universities and have established a clear student code of conduct. A joint letter has been sent to students and landlords and we are working to ensure robust data collection. Only a small proportion of Coventry University Students reside in Warwickshire. However, a significant number or Warwick University Students do. We have been responding to any local outbreaks of Coronavirus although the majority have been associated with the Coventry campus. Regular operational meetings are held with Coventry City Council Public Health and the universities.
A separate answer will be provided regarding the provision of food and other commodities.
Question 5 Councillor Dominic Skinner to Councillor Les Caborn
Q. “Significant changes are being proposed for the minor injuries unit at Stratford Hospital and at the Ellen Badger Hospital in Shipston. Local members only learned of these proposals through the media.
Can the Portfolio Holder assure members that the business case for these changes will be brought to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for consideration?”
A. A briefing has been offered on the changes proposed in Shipston. Further discussions will be held with the provider and if any major changes are identified these will be brought before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Question 6 Councillor Helen Adkins to Councillor Colin Hayfield
Q. “A motion was passed previously by Council to instigate a report on schools in deficit and Warwickshire and what measures the County Council is putting in place to support those schools. That report is awaited. Can the Portfolio Holder please provide an update on it?”
A. There is a working group that monitors school deficits. It was thought that a briefing note on the situation had been provided to the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
In response Councillor Helen Adkins stated that a briefing was inadequate. It is important that a report is provided outlining the actions being undertaken.
Council was reminded by Councillor Seccombe that the County Council is not permitted to financially support schools that are in deficit.
Question 7 Councillor Keith Kondakor to Councillor Heather Timms
Q. “What actions are proposed to move towards single waste management arrangements?”
A. If this were to be progressed it would be through the Warwickshire Waste Partnership. At present the members of the Partnership show no desire to have single waste management arrangements. Discussions on the issue will be pursued through the climate change agenda.
Councillor Keith Kondakor observed that a move to electric bin lorries and greater education around waste would be of use.
Question 8 Councillor Dan Gissane to Councillor Leas Caborn
Q. “Despite assurances, waiting times for children’s and adult mental health services continue to be unreasonably long. What is the County Council doing to see these times reduced? What is the County Council doing to signpost people to other providers and support groups?”
A. This has been discussed at Overview and Scrutiny at length. It is important to be clear of all the facts. (Councillor Gissane agreed to email Councillor Caborn with his concerns for a more comprehensive answer).
Question 9 Councillor Keith Kondakor to Councillor Jeff Clarke
Q. “Under the Transforming Nuneaton Plan the planting of a number of trees is proposed on the potential site of the transport hub. How will the trees eventually be re-located?”
A. The plans are under development, so it is not possible to provide a definitive answer on this. As fresh information becomes available so this will be fed through. It will be important to ensure that whatever landscaping is done is sustainable.