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 29 January 2020).
Notice of five questions had been received. The questions and replies were published in a supplementary agenda on 3 February 2020.
A number of supplementary questions were asked and a summary of the main points is set out below:
(Q1) Mrs Hazel Watson asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Wasteif he was aware that many Surrey residents were pleased with the Council’s declaration of the Climate Emergency but were disappointed with the lack of urgency and she also asked how many trees were planted since the launch of the Council’s initiative to plant 1.2 million trees by 2030.
Mr Essex requested that when the climate strategy is announced in April, it included plans for what would be done throughout the financial year.
In response the Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste explained that he did not accept that the Council lacked urgency as it would spend the money properly as a result of comprehensive consultations with residents including schools and businesses. The Council was also consulting with the Government on low emission buses and electric vehicle charging points. The number of trees planted across the year would be announced on 1 October and noted that the Council was proactive on the issue as it would have its own Tree Week beginning the first week of March - several thousand trees would be planted.
(Q2) Mr Robert Evans asked the Cabinet Member for Highways if he would agree that there were too many cases where roads were dug up in close succession and instances where borough boundaries were evident against London roads due to different road surfaces, which was problematic when done piecemeal.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Highways stated that he did agree some instances of reinstatement by utility companies was not adequate. The Council were pursuing lane rental which would be presented to Council later in the year for implementation, to encourage utility companies to act swiftly and competently.
(Q3) Mr Jonathan Essex asked the Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health to promote public transport more greatly - rather than issuing taxi vouchers - to support transport for residents in care, SEND and elderly residents, which would aid the increased demand within the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS). He sought reassurance that there would be a review of the funding for increased distanced travelled as a result of the budget, after three to six months and if not to consider whether funding should be drawn from reserves.
In response the Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health noted the Member’s useful suggestions and will speak to the Cabinet Member for Highways on the promotion of public transport. She stated that the Adult Social Care service would review the provision of transport concerning residents in care, SEND and elderly residents with the VCFS within three to six months.
(Q4) Mr Robert Evans asked the Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health if she was aware that there were about 35,000 employed in the care sector in Surrey. One third of those employed were non-British, 80% from the European Union (EU) and 8,000 were reaching retirement age and he queried the measures needed to deal with the challenges outside of the EU and the increased pressures within Adult Social Care.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health commented that she was aware of the pressures around staff recruitment and retention, those issues were a priority and were being addressed in ongoing conversations with service providers.
(Q5) Mr Jonathan Essex asked the Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health if she would commit to a best practice review to gauge a sustainable level of funding within Adult Social Care, benchmarking against what other councils spend and their outcomes.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health explained that the serviceregularly reviewed its expenditure in line with other local authorities and would to provide the Member with an update after discussing the matter within Adult Social Care.