This report outlines the content of the Council Plan 2022. Council is asked to approve the Plan and supporting State of Warwickshire evidence base.
Councillor Isobel Seccombe moved the motion and presented the Council Plan which built on the draft version presented to Cabinet in December. She noted that the style and presentation of the plan had been developed to ensure the final, adopted version was publicly engaging and provided clarity on the priorities and actions of the Council going forward. This included more clearly setting out the Council’s ambitions for Warwickshire, along with the three strategic priorities and seven areas of focus on page 5 of the plan. The Plan, which would be a working document, provided the principles for budget setting and service delivery. Councillor Seccombe also reflected on the State of Warwickshire report and her pride in the Council’s achievements in the previous two years to support vulnerable residents and build a community that was responsive to those in need. She also welcomed the introduction of the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund to support the business sector.
Councillor Andy Jenns welcomed the plan and noted the wide consultation that had taken place with the public, partners, staff and trade unions.
Councillor Bill Gifford welcomed the Plan. He stated that residents were frustrated at the delays in Leamington (‘Leamington Closed for Business’) caused by the Rail and Utility companies being given the maximum time not the minimum time to complete their works, in contrast to the approach of the County Council. He considered that the Council should share best practice with partners. He also commented that the Council could communicate bad news better not just good news.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse noted the strategies hyperlinked within the Plan but considered that there were more that could be included. He reflected upon emerging themes and data regarding exploitation of children and adults and expressed the view that this could have been reflected further across the priorities.
Councillor Jeff Morgan reflected on the position with regard to education in Warwickshire, which was generally good, but expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of Nuneaton Academy which created a gap in the excellent provision across Warwickshire and the impact that this had on children in the area.
Councillor Will Roberts noted the objectives in the Plan to tackle the climate emergency but did not feel that the aims of 2030 and 2050 made for a sufficient priority, particularly when compared with the West Midlands. His view that there was not enough emphasis on the climate emergency in the Plan and he, therefore, could not support it.
Councillor John Holland expressed some reservations about the Plan, particularly noting the impact of the Levelling Up agenda and the different priorities across the north and south of the county and urged that steps be taken to provide for local decision making to support local needs and delivery.
Councillor Kam Kaur expressed pride in the Plan and thanked the officers involved in its creation. She considered that the Plan set out the Council’s ambitions, underpinned by the MTFS, and she noted the host of individuals whose views had played an important role in the Plan’s development.
Councillor Jeff Cooke welcomed the design and layout of the plan and its comprehensive coverage of the Council’s areas of activity. He considered that it clearly and concisely set out the Council’s aims and objectives. Referencing previous comments, he noted that work with partners was taking place in Leamington Spa to consider all aspects of development, including traffic management and flows and considered that this was a good example of partnership working.
Councillor Margaret Bell also welcomed the Plan and the State of Warwickshire report which had provided the evidence base for the Plan itself. She particularly noted the demographic of the county and the need to focus services and support on an older than average population. She considered that the report recognised the challenges that this presented and the need to shape services accordingly.
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers considered that the Plan contained some good elements which provided clarity and structure and enabled the public to hold the Council to account for the areas in which they had an interest.
Councillor Wallace Redford reflected on previous comments regarding the frustration caused by road closures and provided reassurance that active discussions were taking place with utility companies to improve their performance in this regard.
Councillor Sarah Boad expressed her hope that town and parish councils would feature strongly in partnership working. She reflected on the need to support the public to use of public transport which was key to several priorities, including climate change objectives, but noted the difficulties that this presented in terms of lengthy routes and reliability.
Councillor Tim Sinclair noted the evidence base in the State of Warwickshire and reflected on the strong performance of the Council in caring for its residents, protecting the environment and economy. Councillor Claire Golby echoed this sentiment but considered that the document presented stark reading for Nuneaton and Bedworth and expressed her hope that the Plan would help to improve the situation, particularly in terms of educational outcomes, life expectancy and reduction in crime. Councillor Golby respected the green agenda but felt that this was a longer term issue and that improving educational outcomes required immediate action and therefore this made it imperative to support the Plan. Councillor Judy Falp also supported the Plan in terms of its prioritisation for children and education.
Councillor Heather Timms expressed pride in the way the Plan set out the journey to net zero and how the transition would be managed.
Councillor Adrian Warwick noted the county’s proud motoring heritage, recognising its importance to the economy and the freedom presented by car ownership. He felt it was, therefore, important to differentiate between car usage and car ownership to work with the green agenda.
In response, Councillor Seccombe welcomed the debate, drawing the conclusion that the Plan was easy to read, well presented and data driven. She considered that relationships with utility companies had already been strengthened and reflected on the great number of strategies that the Council owned and which were reflected in the Plan. She felt that safeguarding was a theme running through the document as was partnership. She commented that it was a strategic paper that provided the principles for the direction of work. She lamented the fact that the Green group had indicated that they could not support the Plan due to their views on the climate emergency as she felt that the overarching aim of the Plan was to provide better opportunities for the people of Warwickshire. Councillor Seccombe thanked those Members who had spoken and felt that the Plan created a clear direction for travel, an awareness of where the differentials were not good enough and a way to drive opportunities and improve. She welcomed the ambition of the Council which she considered could be achieved through the implementation of the Plan.
A vote was held. The motion was agreed by a majority.
That Council approves the Council Plan (appended to the report at Appendix 1) and supporting State of Warwickshire evidence base (appended to the report at Appendix 2).