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 Democratic Services by 12 noon on Wednesday 3 July 2019).
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 seven questions had been received. The questions and replies were published in a supplementary agenda on 8 July 2019.
A number of supplementary questions were asked and a summary of the main points is set out below:
(Q1) Mr Will Forster asked if the Leader of the Council could write to the new Prime Minister and the new Secretary of State for Education once they were in office, asking them to adequately fund all schools and SEND in Surrey. The Leader of the Council agreed to note that.
(Q2) Mr Chris Botten asked if the Leader of the Council would note the success of having senior Cabinet Members involved in the delivery of Infrastructure Local Plans. The Leader of the Council noted the comment.
(Q3) Mrs Hazel Watson asked the Cabinet Member for Highways for a copy of the new Strategy and Action Plan on Drive SMART and asked for a progress report in six months’ time. The Cabinet Member for Highways will ensure all Members would have a copy and agreed that in six months’ time a progress report would be given to the Council.
(Q4) Mr Robert Evans asked the Leader of the Council if he had any special measures to ensure that Surrey County Council would not run out of money to meet its legal obligations in next three years. Mr Evans also asked if the Leader of the Council had made any specific plans to visit the new Prime Minister once in office. The Leader of the Council stated that this would be achieved through good financial planning, for the first time the books were balanced in the last financial year but there would be a challenge this year for the Council as there would be in many local authorities. CIPFA have looked at the Council’s budget process and transformation plans, to ensure sound financial management. The Leader recognised the severe underfunding of local government and lobby the Conservative Government.
(Q5) Mr Ernest Mallett stated that the terminology of the response was unclear. Mr Mallett asked the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families if Youth Centres would close due to no open access being available for voluntary groups. He also restated the last bullet point of his question which he felt had not been answered, by asking if the premises and equipment would be open to voluntary providers. Lastly, he asked if any work had been done to reduce the potential for increased crime and vandalism due to the withdrawal for the provision of Youth Services.
Mr Essex asked if local committees could have an update on youth provision on how this has changed in the last three years.
Mr Harrison asked if voluntary groups such as the Horley and Edge Centres would be charged rent for the use of these premises.
Mrs Mason agreed that the first three bullet points of Mr Mallett’s question had not been answered. She asked the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families if she accepted the widely held view in Epsom and Ewell, that young people had been abandoned without alternative suitable provision of Youth Services such as the Edge Centre.
Mr Townsend asked that if there is an upcoming consultation on youth centres, when will this happen.
The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families replied that the current position on Youth Service provision is unchanged since the restructure and that greater provisions were a work in progress. That none of the youth centres would be closed during the restructure. There would also be new support structures such as an adolescent safeguarding service and the targeted youth support service. That the Edge Centre had a low level of take up for women which would be addressed.
(Q6) Mr Jonathan Essex asked the Leader of the Council if he could confirm why these locations were sensitive, what would the general scope of sites be and the time, length and previous uses of these sites. The leader of the Council responded that these sites were commercially sensitive and that a briefing under the Part 2 of the Local Government Act was available.
(Q7) Mr Robert Evans asked the Cabinet Member for Finance if he felt that this was another case of the figures not being made available and since Surrey County Council had budgeted for this project, why was the cost not disclosed.
Ms Turner Stewart asked if the Cabinet Member for Finance would agree that once operational the station would have an impressive range of capabilities so that it could be a multi-agency facility.
The Cabinet Member for Finance agreed with Ms Turner Stewart’s question.
Once the facility has been completed and the final invoices have been received, the Council will be informed of the cost of the project.
Cabinet Member Briefings: these were also published with the supplementary on 8 July 2019.
Members made the following comments:
Cabinet Member for Highways: on the issue of surface dressing, that the money spent on anti-skid surface dressing in a particular division would have been better allocated to address the severe flooding issue on the A24. The Cabinet Member stated that the resurfacing budget would not have covered the major flooding issue and that the resurfacing was done on safety grounds. He would be happy to go to the Member’s division to discuss the matter further and put any further issues to the local committees.
It was asked that in what circumstances would Surrey County Council as the Highways authority be not best placed to undertake important highways maintenance and would there be sufficient funds to complete these works locally. The Cabinet Member responded that it was down to District and Borough Councils to decide their work projects, such as Woking’s higher quality pedestrianised areas and noted that income from the licensing in these areas were kept within the local District and Borough Councils.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Development and Infrastructure: on the A320, that the infrastructure bid would be delivered by March 2023 and that the Council should be informed about the details of the spending. The Cabinet Member stated that he had only recently seen the terms and conditions of the bid and that once he and the relevant officers had gone through the document, he would discuss this with the Member where it concerned him locally.
Members also raised the issue of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and questioned how they operated. That many member briefings on these had been cancelled and it would be useful to be informed of the difference between the East and West LEPs. The Cabinet Member stated that each LEP had its own way of interpreting issues and delivery strategies, with the four boroughs in the east covered by Coast 2 Capital and seven boroughs in the west covered by Enterprise M3. More member briefings would be arranged and representatives from these groups would be happy to discuss their local industrial strategies with Members.
It was asked whether the LEPs covered the whole of Surrey County as this was not the case previously. The Cabinet Member confirmed that that the LEPs do cover the whole of Surrey County with Coast 2 Capital covering the boroughs in the east and Enterprise M3 covering the boroughs in the west.
It was asked whether there would be an impact on the LEPs in Surrey County as they were served by two LEPs, as the Government has now limited to one LEP per county. The Cabinet Member stated that there was a recent boundary review done by the LEPs and that he would continue to respond to local government consultations on this matter.
Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste: on the statutory consultation response concerning Heathrow, whether it should go through Council, Cabinet or the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee rather than one Cabinet Member and Officers in private. The Cabinet Member stated that it was current practice to produce a reply in consultation with the relevant Officers. There had already been five member briefings s on the expansion of Heathrow and there would be another one in July. The views raised in those briefings would form part of the Cabinet Member’s consultation response.
Deputy Cabinet Member for Property: on the property project delivery of a site in Mole Valley and the likelihood of its approval. The Deputy Cabinet Member reported that the particular property was in the first tranche of properties in the Joint Venture and was expected to be processed by the end of this year.