To consider reports from Cabinet Members.
The Council received reports from the Leader and relevant Cabinet Members on specific issues upon which they had been asked to comment, as set out below:
(a) Policy, Corporate, Resources and Asset Management
Councillor Hart circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Shaw on the threats to Devon from the end of the Brexit transition period, especially in the absence of a EU trade deal, and any preparations to mitigate these.
The Leader highlighted that negotiations were ongoing between the UK and the EU, but the exact opportunities and impacts on businesses remained unknown. The Council had undertaken some economic modelling, working with Oxford Economics to consider the current economic impact from COVID-19. It was thought that a number of companies remained unprepared for a no deal exit, with the focus for many being upon addressing the consequences of COVID-19.
However, since 2016 the Heart of the South West Economic Resilience and Opportunities Group, chaired by Phil Norrey, had met with Whitehall officials fortnightly to explore and lobby on issues relating to Brexit and more recently EU transition. The Group had also asked Government to share its plans for winter preparedness including the COVID response and recovery and EU Transition so the Council could update its planning assumptions and risk register. The Devon and Cornwall Local Resilience Forum was also standing up arrangements to plan and mitigate impacts from EU Transition across Devon and Cornwall but, like the Council, was awaiting information from Government as to the areas of risk.
The Leader also responded to questions on grants and businesses, the lack of national clarity, EU funding and food security.
(b) Community, Public Health, Transportation and Environment
Councillor Croad circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Hannaford, on the Governments new COVID Marshall scheme and further reported on progress with the 10-point green action plan motion as requested by Councillor Wright.
In response to the announcement of COVID wardens, the Cabinet Member’s Report said that the detail behind the announcement was still awaited and it was therefore difficult to respond to the detailed questions (how many the DCC area would have, locations and the Governance and reporting structures). He would seek to develop answers with District Council and Police colleagues, as well as other community safety partners.
In relation to the 10-point green action plan, the Environmental Performance Board had considered how the issues raised might be addressed through changes or additions to the Council’s own suite of environmental action plans. As a result of this, the Board identified options for enhanced action in relation to several environmentally related topics, which were detailed in the Appendix to the Report.
To ensure ongoing accountability and transparency on progress, the Cabinet Member had published the highlight reports presented to each meeting of the Environmental Performance Board via the Environmental Policy web pages https://www.devon.gov.uk/environment/environmental-policy, which would remain the main approach to reporting on progress.
The Cabinet Member added the caveat that in reviewing progress, the huge demands of dealing with the pandemic had affected the progress, but positively, it had been recognised that environmental objectives must underpin plans for COVID recovery. To that end, to support the Devon Climate Emergency, the Environmental Performance Board had deliberately prioritised effort to progress the Council’s carbon reduction plan, as well as assisting in the development of the Devon Carbon Plan and Climate Impacts Plan.
(c) Adult Social Care and Health Services
Councillor Leadbetter circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Shaw on the Covid situation, outbreaks in care homes, and any measures taken.
The Report gave an overview of the situation to date including that Devon had experienced significantly fewer outbreaks and fatalities in its care homes than had been typical elsewhere. However, a number of key actions had been identified by the Council, NHS and independent sector providers as contributing factors to minimising the impact of COVID-19 on the staff and residents of care homes in the county and these were listed in the Report, including issues such as lockdown, international infection prevention, a whole system collaborative approach and Personal Protective Equipment.
The Report also highlighted the planning that had taken place in partnership and thedevelopment of a local plan for Phase 3 of the response to COVID-19 and ensuring alignment and co-ordination with the local Adult Social Care Winter Plan.
The Report also detailed the arrangements for COVID-19 testing in care homes and the work locally to support care homes as well as weekly monitoring of the capacity tracker, the national strategy, coronavirus testing kits and the Department of Health and Social Care COVID-19 testing pilot within Extra Care Housing (ECH) and Supported Living (SL).
The Report then focussed on the support to care homes in Devon to date, hospital discharge guidance, the contribution made by the STP Proud to Care COVID-19 Immediate Recruitment Campaign and the new STP Proud to Care campaign for Autumn/Winter 2020 to attract new people to health and care vacancies in Devon, both to support winter pressures, and recruitment in anticipation of a local or national resurgence of COVID-19.
The Cabinet Member said he would write to Councillor Shaw with more detail on testing.
(d) Highways Management
Councillor Hughes circulated a Report, to respond to Councillor Shaw, with an update on the policy of 20 mph limits in town/village centres.
The Report highlighted that the Speed Management Working Group (which comprised of Members, Police representatives, and Council Officers) had
continued to meet virtually on a monthly basis throughout the COVID lockdown period, to consider a number of recommendations and the outcomes of the Newton Abbot trial, given any new requests for 20 mph speed limits had been deferred until after the Newton Abbot trial scheme, but added to a central waiting list and reviewed to see what other measures might be appropriate, as resources permitted. The 20mph Policy would be informed by findings from the Newton Abbot trial and requests on the waiting reviewed under the new Policy and implemented dependent on funding and priority.
The Newton Abbot trial had been a key focus for the group and it was anticipated that initial data gathering and design would commence in the coming months as the network returned to normal and some stability was found.
The Cabinet Member added that he was pleased with the progress made.