Agenda item

Chair's announcements


(a)      Death of Former Councillor Philip Morris-Jones


The Chair regretted to announce the death in June 2023 of former Councillor Philip Morris-Jones, who had served as a Conservative Member for the Fosse Division from 1989 to 2013.


Councillor Isobel Seccombe noted that she had served alongside Philip for a long time and recollected that he was a very dedicated local councillor, committed to his community and the parishes he represented in the Chamber.  He had also been Chairman of the County Council. An engineer by trade, he ran a business in Coventry and, during his tenure, his views and thoughts on behalf of the business community had been valued.  Councillor Seccombe reflected on his funeral service and extended her thoughts to his family.


Councillor Adrian Warwick noted his honour and privilege to represent the Fosse division after Philip who had set a very high bar, taking his public office and duty seriously.  He had worked tirelessly for the community and there was rarely a meeting he had not attended.  He was deeply missed and sympathies were extended to his family.


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse noted that Philip had been very passionate about his community whom he had served extremely well.  Councillor Roodhouse stated that he had been fortunate to know him from his industrial work and he would be missed.  Sympathies were extended to the family.


Councillor Sarah Feeney had got to know Philip towards the end of his life and she recognised him as a deeply committed Christian who did what he saw as the right thing to do for his community.  After serving at the County Council, he had joined the local Parish Council and he took his duties there very seriously.  She knew his wife, Joanna, deeply missed him and would be heartened by the kind words shared in this meeting. 


(b)      Death of Former Councillor Raj Randev


The Chairman stated that it was his sad duty to inform Council of the recent passing of former County Councillor Raj Randev.  Raj, from the Labour group, served as a Warwickshire County Councillor for Warwick West between 2001 and 2009.  Raj served as Portfolio Holder for Adult Services.  Condolences were extended to his family and friends.


Councillor John Holland had known Raj well and remarked on his ability to work with others and tackle problems.  He noted a number of projects that he had worked on and his endeavours as Portfolio Holder for Adult Services.  He achieved a great deal in his eight years’ service. 


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse considered he had been fortunate to work with Raj.


Councillor Isobel Seccombe noted that Raj was a gentle person and she recalled his efforts to serve his community and his endeavours as portfolio holder. 


Council stood for a minute’s silence in memory of former Councillors Philip Morris-Jones and Raj Randev.


(b)      Retirement of Kushal Birla


The Chairman announced that Kushal Birla, Director of Business and Customer Services would leave the Council at the end of September after a distinguished career of public service that had spanned 38 years.


Kushal joined the organisation as a young trainee Trading Standards Officer and throughout the years had demonstrated her exceptional commitment to improving the lives of Warwickshire residents and communities, and had been an outstanding public servant.


Kushal exemplified all that was good about public service and community engagement. She was energetic, passionate, and had a ‘can do’ positivity that for many years had galvanised and inspired Warwickshire’s communities. 


Kushal’s work had been driven by a passion for improving the lives of people, and her leadership had been critical in delivering kindness, support and care to Warwickshire’s communities in the most challenging times.? 


On behalf of the Council, the Chairman recorded how much Kushal would be missed by the colleagues and teams she have worked with, and thanked her for such an outstanding record of public service.


Councillor Isobel Seccombe stated that Kushal was a dynamic individual who had led her team with enthusiasm.  The Library Service, of which the Chamber was very proud, was her greatest passion and the Council owed a great deal to her in this regard.  Councillor Seccombe expressed her thanks.


Councillor Yousef Dahmash noted that it was rare to find someone who no-one had a bad word to say about.  She was an institution within an institution who would be sorely missed.


Councillor John Holland had worked with Kushal for 38 years and he found her very helpful, and his wife, who had managed the Citizen’s Advice Bureau had also had a positive relationship with Kushal.  Councillor Holland reflected on the way that Kushal listened to local councillors to understand the needs of the local community.


Councillor Judy Falp shared that she had been lucky to have Kushal as her manager for a number of years.  She recollected sharing with her a vision for a civic centre and library in Whitnash to which Kushal had lent support and how well it was working was testament to her good decision making.


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse also noted that he had never heard a bad word said about Kushal who was a joy to work with.  Warwickshire was a better place due to her service for the county.


Councillor Heather Timms expressed her thanks to Kushal who had supported her since her election to the Council in 2005.  She noted that her abilities had left a real physical legacy and her passion had been for public service, reaching out to communities and making services available to them. Councillor Timms wished Kushal well in her future endeavours.


Councillor Kam Kaur placed on record her thanks and gratitude to Kushal.  Since joining the Cabinet in 2014 as Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation, she had observed Kushal lead on community managed libraries, which was now an exemplar for other authorities.  She expressed heartfelt thanks to Kushal for all the work she had done and wished her well.


Councillor Bill Gifford thanked Kushal as a marvellous officer who had produced a strong, excellent team.  He commented on her strengths as a senior leader, particularly her ability to manage in the background while allowing her team to come forward and shine which meant that there could be confidence in the Library Team and her wider department going forward after her departure.


Monica Fogarty, Chief Executive, noted that officers had already said their goodbyes to Kushal who was a very private and modest person.  She had served the Council for a long time and she would be hugely missed.  Kushal and her family were watching the web stream of the meeting, which Kushal was finding very emotional.  Sending a message through Mrs Fogarty, Kushal thanked the Chamber for their kind comments.


(c)      Children and Families Awards


The Chairman stated that on 13 September around 200 members of staff from the Children and Families Service gathered at an event to celebrate their collective and individual achievements over the past year.  It was an excellent opportunity to take time to recognise the great work of the service and positive outcomes for Warwickshire families. Everyone's efforts were celebrated and just over 100 staff members received recognition certificates for going the extra mile.  The Chairman expressed congratulations on behalf of the Council.


(d)      Virtual School Awards


The Chairman note that the Virtual School Awards had also recently took place, which recognised the educational achievements of children in care.  The event was held at Warwick University and was a great celebration of the achievements of Warwickshire children in care.


(e)      Fostering Awards


In the summer, the Council had held a Warwickshire Fostering Fun Day.  Supported by Cllr Markham and other members, the rain did not stop foster carers and children in care celebrating with lots of fun games, a play bus, BBQ and lots more. Foster carers reported it was a fantastic event.  The event had included the annual Fostering Awards, recognising the life changing impact foster carers have on children when they welcomed them into their homes and family.  Warwickshire Foster Carers of the year 2023 had been announced as Warwickshire couple Steve and Suzanne, for whom fostering was a real family affair, and their children also embraced fostering and provided support to the young people in care, helping them to feel heard and safe and part of the family.


(f)       Corporate Games


The Chairman congratulated all the colleagues from across the Council who came together to compete in the UK Corporate Games in August. The event took place on the University of Warwick campus, and was the UK’s largest multi-sport festival for businesses and organisations.


Organisations large and small entered for three days of competition, and the Council’s team met head-to-head with the likes of the University of Warwick, Balfour Beatty and Coventry City Council. The team put in a fantastic performance and didn’t let the damp conditions or limited time to practice stop them from achieving a very well-respected 15th place in the medals table and a total of 162 competition points.  The final medal tally for Warwickshire County Council was 2 gold; 2 silver and 5 bronze


The Chairman extended a huge well done to everyone who took part and to all their family members and friends who came to watch and support - even in the pouring rain! 


(g)      Chairman’s Activities


The Chairman advised that he had had the opportunity to attend the awarding for British Empire Medals (BEM) to:


  • Mr Aby Joseph was awarded an Honorary BEM for Services to Care Home Residents & Staff during COVID-19.  Aby went above and beyond throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, most notably - despite being a father of two very young children - at the start of lockdown, voluntarily moving into the Care Home to provide constant support for residents and colleagues.


  • Mr Douglas Shorter was awarded the BEM for Services to Young People in Warwickshire.  Mr Shorter was Scout Leader and Member of the 11th Nuneaton (Weddington) Scout Group Trustee Committee for over 50 years.


The Chair had also attended numerous other events in the County but he had highlighted these awards in particular to demonstrate the commitment that residents had to the community and to making lives better.


(h)      Highways Maintenance Reporting


The Chairman reminded the Chamber that officers from County Highways Team were in the ante chamber and were hoping to have a conversation with as many Members as possible to talk through the reporting of potholes, general maintenance of highways and footpaths and how best to work with our communities to make sure that they are reported and that residents have a realistic idea of what can be done and the timescales involved.  .