The Leader to make a statement, including reporting on the appointment of the Deputy Leader and Members of the Cabinet.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions.
The Leader thanked the outgoing Cabinet for their enormous contributions over the past two and a half years, he made a detailed statement (Appendix A) and reported on the appointment of the Members of the Cabinet (Appendix B) noting that Becky Rush was appointed as Deputy Leader and that there would be a further appointment to the portfolio of Cabinet Member for Health which he would hold for the time being.
He noted that the details of each of the Cabinet Member portfolios would be made available on the Council’s website and that he and the Cabinet Members would be arranging drop-in sessions with Members in the coming weeks.
Members raised the following topics:
· Noted the newly constituted Council, four-year term ahead and Council headquarters, as well as the challenge of Covid-19 recovery going forward.
· Emphasised that it was the role of the opposition to highlight issues, scrutinise thoroughly and oppose where necessary; the Residents' Association and Independent Group as the official opposition would act as a critical friend to ensure the best for all residents including the most vulnerable.
· Highlighted the issues within Children’s Services, that despite recent improvements there were areas that needed to be addressed and that it was vital to scrutinise the newly commissioned Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Contract (EWMH) with a particular focus on the transition from Children’s to Adult Social Care Services.
· That the momentum gained in the last year regarding adult mental health must be maintained, ensuring that recommendations from the Mental Health Task Group continue to be implemented.
· Noted the continued disappointment in central government on the lack of funding and pressure in local authorities regarding Adult Social Care.
· That the focus for Land and Property Services must be on using the Council’s assets more productively, by growing in-house expertise regarding the provision of extra care housing and by working closely with borough and district councils. It was crucial to spend wisely so as not to allow the costly deterioration of the Council’s property assets.
· Hoped that the planned overall £3 million in savings from the move to Woodhatch Place and the Dakota building would be achieved and monitored.
· Noted the need to constantly review the Council’s finances, that the £176 million in efficiencies over the next four years must not be at the cost of service reduction.
· That the Council must not lose sight of climate change in all its work.
· Congratulated the newly elected Chair and all Members, despite political differences it was a privilege to serve the county.
· Noted that the enlarged and experienced pool of Liberal Democrats would play their part on the committees by scrutinising the Leader and Cabinet, on areas such as Covid-19 recovery, climate change, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and ensuring better value for money for residents.
· Praised staff for enabling the socially distanced meeting, noting disappointment in the Government’s decision to not extend the provision for remote formal council meetings.
· Welcomed the more politically balanced Council, was pleased that Members could meet in person in the new Council headquarters and hoped that the way Woodhatch Place was utilised would set the tone for how the Council could lead on the delivery of Surrey’s climate commitments whilst improving the wellbeing of its residents.
· Noted that Covid-19 had exacerbated challenges which needed to be overcome, by pressing for improvements in Children’s services and Adult Social Care, to re-provide youth services, to expand mental health support for young people, to expedite extra care sites for older residents and deliver the new special needs places for vulnerable children in Surrey.
· That with the Council operating within the county and remote working a norm, asked the Leader to provide an update on plans to reduce Woodhatch Place’s carbon emissions and the progress on the promised transport measures such as the new bus service.
· Noted the decline in long distance business airline travel as a result of the pandemic and that Surrey’s future must link the wellbeing and work of its residents with the Council’s plans to cut carbon emissions to zero.
· That the focus must be on green recovery, businesses in Surrey must deliver much of the £15 billion needed to cut the country’s carbon emissions to zero and halve carbon emissions in Surrey by 2025.
· Stressed the need to end persistent unemployment and to replace airport job losses, and asked how the Council with government investment would lead to create diverse local economies including the provision of long-term climate and care jobs in Surrey - utilising National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and new training opportunities.
· Congratulated the Leader and Conservative Group on their continued administration, as well as the political parties which had increased their seats, welcoming the new Labour and Co-operative Member.
· Reiterated that it was the role of all Members to support and challenge the administration.
· Highlighted three local issues of concern to residents including the disarray at a local borough council, the cuts to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the negative state of roads including potholes.
· Asked the Leader to press the eleven Surrey Members of Parliament to lobby the Government to provide national investment to tackle local issues, including support to those in Surrey with Grenfell Tower style cladding.
· Stressed that one issue that had not changed was the county’s Ofsted rating, despite improvements the recent interim visit highlighted problems within Children’s Services including disability services, children’s long-term neglect and children’s placements. To be regarded as successful, over the next four years the Council must achieve a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating or better.
· Highlighted the Leader’s omission of Surrey’s Climate Change Strategy, that climate change and biodiversity decline were existential threats and asked whether the Leader would ensure that there would be targets in place and lines of accountability across the county to measure progress.