Agenda item


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 Anne Gowing in Democratic Services by 12 noon on Wednesday 8 October 2014).



Notice of 17 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) Mr Robert Evans asked whether it was acceptable for the Council to enter into this project without a cost benefit analysis and budget. He also expressed concerns relating to the increased response times for 999 calls to Surrey Fire and Rescue. In the absence of the Cabinet Member for Community Services, the Cabinet Associate for Fire and Police Services was invited to respond. She said that commercial sensitivity was critical when purchasing property or land and therefore, any details would be confidential. However, Members were able to contact officers directly to obtain that information. She also confirmed that funding for the new fire station in Spelthorne was included within the Surrey Fire and Rescue budget. Finally, she said that ‘community’ risk was constantly monitored, looked at across the county and that the proposed location for the new fire station in Spelthome would be able to meet the response times for emergency incidents.


(Q2) Mr Forster said, as the Cabinet Member for Community Services was not at the meeting, he would take his supplementary question outside the meeting.


(Q4) Mrs Watson asked the Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding Recovery why the quality issues concerning Bailley Road and Ashley Road had not been addressed. The Cabinet Member explained that the solution was dependent on weather conditions and the work could only be undertaken between May – September. However, he confirmed that the improvements would be included in the programme for next year.


(Q6) Mr Beardsmore asked the Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning to provide re-assurance, which she did, that the new commissioning model for youth provision would still ensure good provision at Spelthorne Youth Centre.


(Q7) Mr Cooksey expressed concern about the rate of progress to date in reducing the number of wetspots across the county. The Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding Recovery said that Mr Cooksey was aware of the wetspots programme and its’ progress – he hoped that the county would continue to reduce the number. However, progress was subject to availability of resources.


(Q8) Mr Jenkins asked if it was the case that SITA’s design failed to meet Ofgem criteria for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) and why had it failed to be accredited to date. Also, was the County Council going back on a previous statement that the Plant would not be accepted as a gasifier if it failed to qualify for Ofgem accreditation.

Mr Beardsmore made three points: (i) it is Ofgem’s opinion that counts because they were a determining factor on whether or not the plant was a gasification plan, (ii) that ‘pre-accreditation’ and ‘accreditation proper’ were different things so the reference to ‘accreditation power’ was irrelevant, and (iii) it was not essential to have the revenue from ROCs for the plant to run but it probably would not run as a profit without it.


Mr Essex asked for confirmation on whether the financial impact had been included or excluded from the ‘Value for Money’ analysis on the different options in the previous Cabinet report on the Eco park.



The Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning said that, apart from agreeing to provide a response outside the meeting in relation to the financial implications, he had nothing further to add to his written response, other than to say that there would be a report to Cabinet on 25 November which would provide additional information.


(Q9) Mr Ivison referred to the offer from the Ministry of Defence for resources and support to help towards promoting the knowledge and awareness on WW1 in schools. The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning thanked him for bringing this information to her attention and said that she would advise the relevant officer of this resource. She also confirmed that awareness of the origins of WW1 did form part of the history curriculum for schools.


(Q10) Mr Mallett referred to the School Transport Policy and asked whether it could be further amended from September 2015 to alleviate the issues in his division concerning free transport to EsherHigh School rather than to a nearer out-county school. The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning said that any change could not be implemented from September 2015 because the policy for that academic year had already been published.


(Q11) The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning said that she would discuss any possible plans for the Manor school site in Byfleet with Mr Forster outside the meeting.


(Q13) Mr Cooksey said that the new gully cleaning programme had resulted in a reduction of gully cleaning and therefore a considerable number of gullies remained blocked. He asked for a guarantee that the new programme would result in an improvement. The Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding Recovery said that he was unable to provide a guarantee but that the new programme would be an improvement.


(Q14) Mr Jenkins considered that he had not received an answer to his question relating to whether Surrey County Council had made any of its officers available to potential developers of this site to undertake work. Mr Essex said that the issue was wider than Highways issues and asked about the effect that any development would have on school place provision. Mr Beardsmore asked if the County Council was able to have access to data gathered – whatever happened to any development proposals. The Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning confirmed that he thought that the County Council would have access to the collated data, also provision of school places would be factored into any proposed development. However, he said that both the Leader and the Chief Executive of Spelthorne Borough Council had confirmed that no planning application had currently been received for this site.


(Q15) Mr Mallett asked the Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning to request that Babcock 4S were asked to advise schools to include a statement on Schools’ Governing Body agendas relating to the new statutory requirements to all Governing Bodies for maintained schools to reconstitute by September 2015. The Cabinet Member said that she would check with Babcock FourS, however, there was a task group set up and information was also disseminated via the Schools Bulletin.

Mrs Hicks referred to the fact that the County Council was no longer going to nominate governors. The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning confirmed that this was being considered as part of the reconstitution and that the local authority was reviewing this but no decision had yet been taken.


(Q16) Mrs Watson asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, and was given, the name of the contact officer with responsibility for the Surrey Road Verges Action Plan – John Edwards.


(Q17) As Mrs Watson had asked questions at a previous Cabinet meeting and at this Council meeting relating to Superfast Broadband, the Deputy Leader suggested that if she had any further questions, that she approached the team directly for a response to her concerns.





Supporting documents: