The Leader to make a statement.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions and/or make comments.
The Leader made a detailed statement. A copy of the statement is attached as Appendix B.
Members raised the following topics:
· Paid tribute to Dave Hill CBE, Executive Director of Children, Lifelong Learning and Culture:
- What he had achieved was truly transformational during a time of crisis in Children’s Services, he was a pillar to the Council committed to improving the lives of children.
- He identified talented people who could help Children’s Services and it was vital to continue to strive alongside the officer team that he created.
- That school leaders reflected on the strong foundations that he laid to transform Children’s Services and were determined to build on them.
· Praised the Council’s leadership and thanked staff for their work and response to the pandemic, noting that partnership work with residents through employing local knowledge and solutions remained effective.
· Welcomed the recent statement by the head of NHS England that the pandemic was a catalyst to drive improvements and reform in adult social care.
· That the Council and local government needed to work closely with central Government to ensure that they were supported financially during the pandemic.
· Welcomed the recommencement of services such as road repairs and the reopening of facilities such as high streets, Community Recycling Centres (CRCs), with libraries forthcoming.
· Noted that the transformation plan regarding the provision of extra care places and units for those with autism and learning difficulties to get people back into community was behind schedule.
· Noted that there had not been any updates on the detailed review of Surrey property that had been undertaken eighteen months ago.
· Welcomed the Leader of the Council outlining the proposals for Surrey’s future concerning the devolution White Paper which was to be published in the autumn and welcomed the opportunity to scrutinise the Council’s options.
· Concerned that future options for Surrey on devolution, were a consuming distraction for the Council which was dealing with a number of crises regarding the care home sector, the vulnerability of the county’s children including the prevalence of domestic abuse; and the impact the pandemic was having on the airline, retail and hospitality sector and the Council’s future prosperity - suggesting the establishment of a business development board.
· Highlighted the gaps in schools concerning children with Special Educational needs and Disability (SEND) and families without IT or broadband. A recovery plan including input from headteachers and specialists should be developed.
· Welcomed the Leader of the Council’s statement outlining the opportunities and challenges ahead, highlighting that the Council’s ambition had not dimmed and its transformation work had not stopped.
· Supported the Leader of the Council’s exploration into the Council’s future options in advance of the White Paper on devolution and asked what additional powers he would like to see for Surrey; noting that a new unitary system could provide savings for services and be good for business due to less bureaucracy.
· Noted that Members must be consulted on the matter of devolution before plans were shared with the media and raised concerns if the Council was looking to establish a single unitary authority.
· Asked what the Council would do to proactively listen and reach out to the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community so that individuals were empowered to share their views and if the Council had identified statues or street names in the county that bore past commemoration to slave traders.
· That if the Council would use its budget to review what has worked at ground level and to reflect on its experiences of Covid-19 as part of the work regarding the Local Outbreak Control Plan.
· Commended the volunteers and charities in Surrey for their work, particularly in relation to mental health and homelessness during the pandemic. Noting the invaluable support from the Community Foundation for Surrey who had raised £1.5 million with approximately half of that sum being distributed to 140 charities - in addition to the Council’s Voluntary, Community & Faith sector (VCFS) Hardship Fund in which £250,000 was awarded to local organisations.
· That the pandemic had highlighted the excellent work of the Voluntary, Community & Faith sector (VCFS) and the service to communities by inspirational individuals.
· Praised the temporary traffic measures in Farnham town centre during the pandemic but called for a review on banning HGV trucks in the centre.
· Asked when the Leader of the Council would speak to all political leaders in the borough and district councils on devolution and if the Leader would consider holding a Member Briefing on the matter to ensure constructive dialogue.
· Thanked all staff in the county for delivering key services and support during the pandemic.
· Noted that it was not the right time to debate the proposed local government reorganisation and devolution, as the final form of the UK’s departure from the EU and the progression of Covid-19 was unknown. The priority for the Council should be to improve service delivery without major upheaval.
· Shared concerns about the children who had missed out on schooling as a result of Covid-19, providing reassurance that the matter was being addressed. Highlighting the work of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee Task and Finish Group on SEND provision, RAG (Red-Amber-Green) ratings and risk assessments carried out by the Education and SEND teams on children with SEND, the Council’s work with school leaders and partnership work with the Schools Alliance for Excellence to support remote learning during the pandemic and the application for funding from the Government’s £650 million allocated for catch-up provision to support disadvantaged pupils.
· Paid tribute to Terry Dicks a former county councillor who passed away in mid-June.