(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 Anne Gowing in Democratic Services by 12 noon on Wednesday 11 March 2015).
(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 14 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:
(Q2) Mr Robert Evans asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning if he considered that having two similar incinerators within 10 miles of each other was unwise and would he like an incinerator in his area. The Cabinet Member said that the decision on the Eco Park at Charlton Lane would be taken by Cabinet in April 2015, after full consideration of the Value for Money information.
(Q3) Mr Cooksey said that he was seeking assurance from the Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding that Members be consulted on all new major schemes coming through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The Cabinet Member said that, as stated in his written response, the timetable for bidding could be changed by Government at short notice and in these cases it was not possible to share the details of the schemes with Members. However, future opportunities would allow for greater levels of engagement with local committees.
(Q4) Mrs Watson asked the Cabinet Member for Children and Families what measures would be in place to raise the awareness of Surrey residents in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation. The Cabinet Member provided Members with a detailed verbal response, stating that the County Council was working closely with partners, including Surrey Police, to raise awareness of this issue.
(Q5) Mr Mallett queried whether the restructure of staff within Surrey libraries should have been considered by the Communities Select Committee. The Cabinet Member for Community Services confirmed her support for Surrey libraries but said that staff re-organisation was an operational issue and not a Member issue.
(Q6) Mr Jenkins asked the Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding why Surrey County Council had not conducted a specific investigation into the flooding of the River Ash in February 2014. Both the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member consider that this supplementary question had been answered in the written response.
(Q7) Mr Harrison said that the Local Committee Chairmen met in private and requested that the minutes of the meeting where the part of the capital maintenance budget under the control of local committees was discussed, were published.
Mr Kington asked when the decision to reduce the Member Allocations was made and whether it had been published.
Mr Mallett expressed concern about the reduction in these allocations and considered that the decision should have been printed in the Budget papers.
The Leader of the Council advised Members that the details were in the Medium Term Financial Plan report, which had been published as part of the Cabinet agenda papers and would be considered at its meeting on 24 March 2015.
(Q9) Mr Beardsmore asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning for clarification on whether the internal officers were Spelthorne BC or Surrey CC officers and was informed that it was Surrey CC officers only.
(Q10) Mr Robert Evans said that the candidate concerned had not yet received a reply to his 4 February communication and requested that this could be expedited as soon as possible. The Leader of the Council agreed.
(Q11) Mr Cooksey asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning to clarify two points (i) how was the County Council going to consult with residents about the proposed changes for Community Recycling Centres (CRCs), and (ii) following comments from the Secretary of State, whether charging at CRCs would be permitted. The Cabinet Member confirmed that the County Council would adhere to the proper consultation process for advising residents of any changes and with reference to charging, that he would write to Mr Cooksey outside the meeting.
(Q12) Mr Jenkins asked the Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding why it had taken over a year to correct the omission of the Thames Water Aqueduct on the Asset Register. The Cabinet Member said that this was the responsibility of Thames Water.
(Q14) Mr Beardsmore asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning for an explanation of restoration and quoted examples in Spelthorne. The Cabinet Member agreed to check the details and respond to him outside the meeting.
Cabinet Member Briefings on their portfolios are attached as Appendix C.
Members made the following comments:
CM Environment and Planning – On the Rural Surrey LEADER programme – clarification on how businesses would benefit from the programme and apply for grants. The Cabinet Member encouraged all Members to promote this programme which would be of benefit to Surrey.
He was also questioned on the Eco Park and the new Waste Management Strategy, which no longer included mention of Energy from Waste.
Deputy Leader – Superfast Broadband - the Deputy Leader agreed, that as part of the Open Market Review, he would seek as much advice and guidance from all sources, including residents and Members.
Also, consideration on whether the programme review of Superfast Broadband and the Open Market Review should be a future item on the Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee (COSC) agenda. The Deputy Leader agreed that he would attend, if invited.
CM Schools and Learning – Support for the new Guildford University Technical College (UTC), which would support the regeneration of this area.
CM Community Services – The Cabinet Member was asked to confirm that the budget for the Magna Carta event had increased. However, she said that it had not. She also said that the Magna Carta was the ‘heart and soul’ of freedom and democracy and that she was proud that it had been sealed in Runnymede and that all Members would be invited to the celebration on 15 June 2015.
[Mr Kington has received further clarification of an increase in the budget from the Cabinet Member since the meeting.]
CM Adult Social Care – That the Care Act was the biggest change to Adult Social Care law in over 60 years and that the changes must be communicated to residents. In the absence of the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, the Leader of the Council confirmed that plans were in place to advise residents of the new caps on care costs from April 2016 and the requirement to apply for an assessment. He was also asked why there was no reference to the decision taken by Cabinet on 10 March 2015 to close six Surrey County Council Care Homes for Older People. The Leader of the Council said that it had been carefully considered by Cabinet and he considered that the right decision had been made and that the minutes of this meeting would be included as part of the Cabinet minutes item for the next County Council meeting in May.