1. The Leader of the Council or the appropriate Member of the Cabinet or the Chairman of a Committee to answer any questions on any matter relating to the powers and duties of the County Council, or which affects the county.
(Note: Notice of questions in respect of the above item on the agenda must be given in writing, preferably by e-mail, to Angela Guest in Democratic Services by 12 noon on Wednesday 6 July 2016).
2. Cabinet Member Briefings on their portfolios
These will be circulated by email to all Members prior to the County Council meeting, together with the Members’ questions and responses.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions.
Notice of nine questions had been received. The questions and replies are attached as Appendix B.
A number of supplementary questions were asked and a summary of the main points is set out below:
(Q1) Mrs Coleman asked if the county council would work with the boroughs, Network Rail and the train operators in looking at issues of commuter parking/traffic.
Mrs Turner-Stewart asked that the Cabinet Member bear in mind the Magna Carta site, which is close to zone 6, and to negotiate its inclusion in zone 6.
Mr Pitt asked if a Cabinet Member could sit on the Blackwater Valley Advisory Committee to increase its status, which he felt was lacking, especially considering that council officers, bus and train operators all attended the meetings regularly.
Mr Essex asked that stations outside of zone 6 also be considered as, for example, stations up to Gatwick had more expensive ticket prices than those inside zone 6.
The Cabinet Member responded that there needed to be a business case for including any area in zone 6 and that he would continue to work with transport operators. He said that parking was not an easy problem to resolve and that he would like to see more buses linking up with stations. He also stated that it was not appropriate for a Cabinet Member to sit on the Blackwater Valley Advisory Committee but that with the work taking place, of which this group was a part, many improvements had taken place. He understood the issue of franchises and would continue to work with transport operators and boroughs to improve the service for residents.
(Q2) Mrs Watson was disappointed with the Cabinet Member’s written response to her question and asked that she be given details of EU funding that the county council currently received.
Mrs Searle sought assurances that charities would be kept in mind for future funding as a response to the withdrawal of any EU funding they received.
The Leader said that details of EU funding were in the council budget book and would have this extracted and sent to Mrs Watson. He also said that the Secretary of State believes that whatever EU funding is currently being used to fund local areas should be redirected through to councils.
(Q4) Mr Cooksey asked for details of the roads where night lighting would be reduced and sought clarification regarding residents and members having an opportunity to have their say on proposals.
Mr Harrison requested details of savings gained by cutting night lighting.
The Leader asked if the Cabinet Member would agree that Mr Cooksey did not understand the budget pressures that the council was under.
The Cabinet Member responded that dimmed lights had been used in certain areas for the past two and a half years with no comments or problems. He confirmed that there would be full consultation. £240k of savings were sought for this year but that would not be achieved due to the consultation. He said the Liberal Democrats had not made any budget proposals and had left that to the Conservatives.
(Q5) Mr Essex asked the Leader to confirm which meetings had been held in public and whether there was a plan to consult the public before making decisions.
The Leader said that a 3SC meeting had taken place at Horsham yesterday and they had agreed to proceed to look at all the options to put to the public. A website was also to be set up to keep the public informed. A report would go to Cabinet and Council where Members would decide if they were happy to go forward with the consortium.
(Q6) Mr Sydney asked for a response to his question which he said the Cabinet Member appeared not to have read. The Cabinet Member stated that the Council did not have a policy of withholding information from library staff and thought he had made this clear in his written response.
(Q9) Mr Essex asked the Cabinet Member to confirm that the council were paying agency rates, if annualised, of £148k per year and provide a breakdown of savings if all the positions were filled by full time staff.
Mr Kington requested that the Cabinet Member provide details of the 10 highest paid agency staff in terms of annual total salary costs and how long those staff have been in post.
The Leader asked what savings were achieved by employing agency staff.
The Cabinet Member responded that there were areas of specialist work that agency staff were recruited for, such as IT, and there was also a national difficulty regarding social work recruitment. She would provide annualised details and length of employment information to Members.
Cabinet Member Briefings on their portfolios are attached as Appendix C.
Members made the following comments:
CM Business Support and Resident Experience – Agreed that the new pay and reward package would improve recruitment and retention of the people with necessary skills and thanked all involved for the hard work.
CM Schools, Skills and Educational Achievement – The 10 year forecast for Reigate and Banstead birth rates was reported as static and Mr Harrison was concerned that this was not the case, especially with movement of people from London. In the absence of the Cabinet Member the Chairman stated that the question could go to the Board.
CM Highways, Transport and Flooding – poor street repairs and checks – That all work was checked at least once and at the end of construction. It was also a role of local councillors to take this forward and the Cabinet Member asked Mrs Mason to provide the exact location of the pavement works she claimed had only lasted three days.
CM Environment and Planning – The Cabinet Member was asked if he could take forward putting Surrey on the same footing as London with regards to rail and bus passes. The Cabinet Member explained that there needed to be a business case and that it would be difficult for the Council to fund such a scheme. It was also confirmed that the Council would apply for funding from the £60m scheme launched last week for sustainable travel in town centres. In response to a question from Mrs Bowes regarding works in the Woking area the Cabinet Member replied that he had heard from the BID Team that Woking was on the list but as yet no confirmation of when the works would take place.
CM Wellbeing and Health – Agreed that the Surrey P&G games were a huge success and support had been committed for another four years. There were other big international games coming to Surrey and there was an opportunity for Members to look into volunteering.
CM Localities and Community Wellbeing – Agreed to send Members information regarding the dementia drop-in cafes.