Issue - decisions

Questions at Cabinet Meetings

12/02/2019 - Questions at Cabinet Meetings

Public Questions

 

No public questions were considered at the meeting.

 

Member Questions

 

A total of 25 (member) questions were submitted for consideration prior to the meeting.

 

Please refer to the link below to view the responses to the questions: -

 

http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/documents/b15064/Cabinet%20Questions%20and%20Answers%20Wednesday%2030-Jan-2019%2010.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=9

 

If unable to access the document at the link above, please go to the link below and select the ‘Cabinet Questions and Answers’ PDF document at the top of the web page: - 

 

http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=117&MId=9224&Ver=4

 

The following supplementary questions were asked at the meeting.

 

Question 1: Cllr Kate Haigh

 

Agenda item 8: Tendering of Services for Homelessness and People in Vulnerable Circumstances

 

Expressing concern about the vulnerable people within her division needing housing with access to services and community support, Cllr Haigh asked if the multi-agency co-ordination groups, (responsible for making placements across the county network of services), were aware of the needs of vulnerable people and if the Cabinet Member was prepared to visit the Coney Hill and Matson communities to look at the work being undertaken in these areas?

 

Response by: Cllr Roger Wilson (Cabinet Member: Adult Social Care: Commissioning)

 

Cllr Wilson confirmed he was aware of the work being undertaken in the Coney Hill and Matson communities and that he had been very impressed when visiting the areas during previous visits. Cllr Wilson informed Cllr Haigh both he and Cabinet Member Adult Social Care: Delivery, Cllr Kathy Williams, would be pleased to revisit the areas, particularly to look at the work being undertaken in conjunction with the County Council. 

 

Question 2: Cllr Kate Haigh

 

Agenda item 8: Tendering of Services for Homelessness and People in Vulnerable Circumstances

 

Cllr Haigh expressed concern about shortages of suitable accommodation at some housing agencies. Whilst acknowledging the value of partnership working with District Councils at strategic levels, Cllr Haigh asked how, at operational levels, the County Council could make best use of available accommodation to address homelessness?

 

Response by: Cllr Roger Wilson (Cabinet Member: Adult Social Care: Commissioning)

 

Cllr Wilson reinforced that the County Council was working closely with the District Councils to address homelessness in Gloucestershire. Referring to the creation of an open framework for the delivery of services to people in vulnerable circumstances and homeless people with complex needs, (to be considered later in the meeting), Cllr Wilson informed members that the proposal aimed to provide the necessary flexibility which would enable the councils to respond quickly to the needs of the homeless in Gloucestershire.

 

Question 3: Cllr Paul Hodgkinson

 

Agenda item 9: High Needs

 

Cllr Hodgkinson referred to pressures emerging from government changes in the provision of High Needs support for schools with high numbers of SEND pupils, (Special Educational Needs), and asked how much money would be lost to individual schools?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles advised that the amounts varied between each school and agreed to provide a detailed list of information after the meeting.  

 

Question 4: Cllr Paul Hodgkinson

 

Agenda item 9: High Needs

 

Cllr Hodgkinson asked if, for the following year, Cllr Boyles would commit to providing, (as an absolute minimum), £4,800 per pupil high needs support?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles explained the County Council transferred all monies Central Government provided for schools. The Central Government Grant would dictate how much funding would be allocated to each pupil.

 

Question 6: Cllr Paul Hodgkinson

 

Agenda item 9: High Needs

 

Responding to the answer to his original question, Cllr Hodgkinson stated ‘it had not been the Liberal Democrat Group who had allowed Beaumont School to fall into disrepair’. Referring to the deficit in capital investment for Beaumont School, Cllr Hodgkinson asked if Cllr Boyles would commit to ‘filling in the remainder of the deficit gap’?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles confirmed part of the work at Beaumont School had been completed whilst other works were ongoing. He stated that, should other ‘bigger works’ be required, the school needed to approach the County Council for support. It was announced £3m special needs funding would be accessible towards this work.

 

Question 10: Cllr Paul Hodgkinson

 

Agenda item 6: Financial Monitoring Report

 

Cllr Hodgkinson made references to data relating to the turnover of permanent social workers at Gloucestershire County Council in comparison to regional and national figures, despite the additional funding awarded to Gloucestershire ‘going forward’. Cllr Hodgkinson asked Cllr Boyles to explain the implications for the children of Gloucestershire?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles referred to information provided at a recent Children’s Improvement Board meeting, where the quality of social workers had been considered, including the need for a cohort of stable managers from which to regulate the number of caseloads and maintain the continuity of social workers for children. Acknowledging that there would always be gaps and discrepancies in the number of social workers, Cllr Boyles informed members that the County Council was working hard to ensure correct statistics were in place to provide accurate and up-to-date information. In addition, a list of activities had been produced aimed at improving the stability of children’s services. This included seeking to employ a cohort of senior managers as permanent employees as part of the council’s long-term agenda.

 

Question 11: Cllr Colin Hay

 

Agenda item 7: Sufficiency Strategy – Children’s Services

 

Cllr Hay asked how many Children’s Centres were working specifically with excluded children?

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles confirmed the Children Centre’s worked with a range of partners.

Question 12: Cllr Colin Hay

 

Agenda item 11: Options for Youth Support Service 2020

 

Cllr Hay asked the Cabinet Member to provide details of figures relating specifically to Children’s Services?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

It was agreed Cllr Boyles would arrange for officers to provide a written response after the meeting.

 

Question 14: Cllr Colin Hay

 

Agenda item 11: Options for Youth Support Service 2020

 

Cllr Hay asked the Cabinet Member to confirm if the redesign of the Youth Support Service in 2021 would impact on the budget for these services?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

It was confirmed that during the review of the Youth Service, in 2021, the council would look at the remodelling of the service. The council would be looking at this issue.

 

Question 15: Cllr Colin Hay

 

Agenda item 11: Options for Youth Support Service 2020

 

Cllr Hay highlighted the value of using council buildings for community use and agreed to raise the issue with cabinet members after the meeting.

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles agreed to speak with officers on the issue after the meeting. He advised of the need to adhere to confidentiality restrictions when delivering children’s services but stated that, if these could be overcome, he could see no reason why some of the council’s buildings could not be used for other community uses.

 

Question 16: Cllr Paul Hodgkinson

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Hodgkinson thought it was incredible there would be no cost to the taxpayer in respect of external legal advice fees following the FOI (Freedom of Information) tribunal on the Ernst and Young Report. Seeking clarification, Cllr Hodgkinson asked the Leader of the Council to confirm if this response was correct?

 

Response by: Cllr Mark Hawthorne: Leader of the Council

 

Cllr Hawthorne reaffirmed there would be no cost to the taxpayer and suggested the County Council should be congratulated at no cost being borne by this authority.

 

Question 17: Cllr Paul Hodgkinson

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Hodgkinson asked the Leader of the Council to confirm the total figure spent on internal and external legal costs to ensure the documents relating to the FOI (Freedom of Information) tribunal on the Ernst and Young Report were kept out of the public domain?

 

Response by: Cllr Mark Hawthorne: Leader of the Council

 

Cllr Hawthorne clarified that the documents  had been placed in the public domain after being advised what should be withheld. He said it was regrettable the legislative regulations for UK contracts had been so unclear.

 

Question 19: Cllr Colin Hay

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Hay asked for assurances there would be no detrimental impact following cuts to the Public Health Budget.

 

Response by: Cllr Tim Harman

 

Cllr Harman acknowledged the complexity of the issue and commented on the wide remit of the public health budget having to cover all ages.  He said that, from the evidence it held, the council was doing all it could. There were some positives, however, for which he proposed the council support and take forward some of the budget consultation initiatives proposed during a recent public health meeting.

 

Question 20: Cllr Colin Hay

 

Agenda item 7: Sufficiency Strategy – Children’s Services

Cllr Hay noted the support of local MP’s for children’s services and welcomed the £4m) additional social care funding announced by Government in December 2018. Cllr Hay asked if Cllr Boyles agreed with the LGA, (Local Government Association), on the need to address the urgent and pressing issue relating to the funding crisis facing children’s services affecting the country. Cllr Hay referred to a £3.1 billion funding gap in children’s services nationally. This was later corrected to denote the funding gap for all local authority services, not just children’s services. Cllr Hay asked if Cllr Boyles agreed it was important to campaign with the LGA on the issue of funding?

 

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member: Children and Young People)

 

Cllr Boyles agreed it was appropriate to work with other groups to secure funding. He believed the proposed budget was very clear in how it intended to cater for the demands placed on children’s services. Referring to the work undertaken in response to the Ofsted Children’s report in 2017, Cllr Boyles outlined how the council aimed to provide the highest level of service to overcome any issues in this area. He confirmed the council would always strive for funding.

 

Question 21: Cllr Rachel Smith 

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Smith questioned the clarity of the recent budget consultation and asked if the consultation had been a box ticking exercise?

 

Response by: Cllr Mark Hawthorne: Leader of the Council

 

Cllr Hawthorne confirmed this was not the case and that the consultation had involved a huge amount of engagement; this included public meetings and budget road shows, all of which had been very well attended. The information from the consultation had been fed into the budget report and formed part of the Corporate Strategy, for which there would be opportunities in the future to consider the outcomes. Cllr Hawthorne referred to the overwhelming public support that had been received and the broad support for the priorities set out in the budget. He believed the proposed budget reflected huge understanding of the needs of the people of Gloucestershire.

 

Question 22: Cllr Rachel Smith 

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Smith questioned the council’s commitment to improving the air quality for Gloucestershire and stressed the need to include air quality monitoring as part of the council’s planned road schemes.

 

Response by: Cllr Nigel Moor: Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning

Cllr Moor reaffirmed the council’s commitment to improving air quality and suggested Cllr Smith visit the council website to consider some of the projects included in the council’s highways capital programme. Drawing attention to the detail and scoping that had been attributed to major schemes at Arle Court Roundabout, Cheltenham and Llanthony Road, Gloucester, Cllr Moor said he had confidence in the government air quality assessments that had been undertaken for these schemes. In addition, the council would undertake its own air quality assessments, as required.

 

Question 23: Cllr Rachel Smith 

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Smith acknowledged the council’s investment in encouraging cycling and walking across the county but once again questioned the increase in vehicles and carbon emissions from the impact of creating more roads. Cllr Smith asked how Cllr Moor would this explain position to his grandchildren?

 

Response by: Cllr Nigel Moor: Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning

 

Cllr Moor said he would not have an issue in explaining the council’s investment in Gloucestershire’s road network to his grandchildren. The investment was not only aimed at developing new and improved roads for car users but to also provide better road surfaces for cyclists and walkers. Another ambition was to reduce the level of congestion affecting the county. Furthermore, the aspiration to move to electric vehicles in the long-term still warranted the need for an effective road network system.

 

Question 25: Cllr Rachel Smith 

 

Agenda item 5: Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

Cllr Smith questioned the council’s investment in cycle-ways in proportion to the investment in the County’s highways. Cllr Smith suggested the investment in cycle-ways was out of proportion with the investment in highways and asked Cllr Moor to ‘put his money where his mouth was’?

 

Response by: Cllr Nigel Moor: Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning

 

Cllr Moor refuted Cllr Smith’s statement and said, as a cyclist himself, the council’s investment in cycling would be a huge benefit. Cyclists would not want to cycle on poor roads.