Agenda item

To consider reports from Cabinet Members.


The Council received reports from the relevant Cabinet Members on specific issues upon which they had been asked to comment, as set out below:


(a)       Economic Recovery and Skills


Councillor Gilbert circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Hannaford on levelling up digital connectivity, including access to gigabit broadband speeds, the challenges in rural connectivity and data on access to gigabit broadband in Devon. The Report highlighted the importance of fast and reliable broadband and the significant capital investment through the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme to support this aim, including new contracts being underway rolling out full fibre connections. The Cabinet Member also said that the Council had contributed to a recent Government consultation on addressing the very hard to reach areas, stating a case for focusing on rural connectivity. Briefing-Very-Hard-to-Reach-Premises-consultation-CDS-response.pdf ( as well as working with Government to advance Project Gigabit and secure national investment to upgrade digital connectivity.


The Report also included, in response to Councillor Atkinson, information on Levelling Up bids, the Team Devon's Prospectus 2020 pledge to re-build the County’s economy, monies obtained, impact on the HotSW LEPs Plan to Build Back Better, the programmes and projects listed in the prospectus and Government plans for the HotSW LEP and relationship to the shared prosperity fund. He highlighted that the Government’s forthcoming £2.6bn Shared Prosperity Fund had yet to be announced and would form part of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper in December 2021. Furthermore, Team Devon partners had sought to work together closely on priorities and programme ambitions over the past two years, seeking to focus on a selection of shared aspirations through the recovery prospectus and its underlying themes.


(b)       Children’s Services and Schools


Councillor Leadbetter circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Letch on what the Council and Children's services were doing to identify, assess and help child carers. The Report highlighted the legal definition of a young carer and also the definition applied by the Council as well as the work of the Young Carers Support Service and young carer assessments by Devon Young Carers to identify young carer support needs. Westbank, Devon Young Carers was the commissioned provider who offered a range of support services and at the end of September 2021, 1880 young carers in Devon were known to and being supported by Westbank, Devon Young Carers. The Report provided an overview of the contract for support services for young carers as well as their work as a champion for young carers across the system, including publicity and communications plans and national events such as Young Carers Action Day as well as the Devon Young Carers Multi-Agency Steering Group and Devon Carers Leads Group and many schools having a ‘Young Carer Champion’ identified in their school.


(c)       Climate Change, Environment and Transport


Councillor Davis circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Atkinson, on progress in installing 400 electric vehicle charge points by the end of the year including locations, highways standards, future requirements for EV charge points and plans for funding and installation, who owned charge points and responsibility for repair and publicity regarding location of charging points. The Report outlined that progress could be viewed on the online map that would be updated regularly and that the Council would continue to make use of Government funds for charge point installation and explore investment models with the private and community sector.


The Report also covered, in response to Councillor Hannaford, the Council’s official response to the DEFRA Beaver Reintroduction and Management In England Consultation, highlighting that the Council had been well placed to provide comment, having been closely involved in the River Otter Beaver Trial.  The response strongly supported most aspects of the proposed approach to beaver reintroduction as set out in the consultation, however the main area of concern related to the suggested approach to funding for beaver reintroductions and the duration of that support, therefore the Council’s response called for national funding to be allocated, provided over a sufficiently long ‘project plan’ period during the re-establishment of beavers.


The Cabinet Member reported on two further issues, as requested by Councillor Hodgson, the first being air quality issues including reference to a report into measures taken, funding allocated (i.e. including 106 monies) and spent, and an assessment of the outcomes in terms of air quality and behaviour change that DCC and its District Council partners had instigated to address air quality issues. The Report also included an explanation of how the inclusivity requirements and Policy was applied for Devon pedestrians. The Cabinet Member highlighted that the assessment of air quality, and the establishment of Air Quality management Areas (AQMA), was a District Council function, however, the Council’s Transport Planning and Highways Development Management teams liaised closely to maximise the air quality benefits of transport and accessibility improvement schemes and Section 106 contributions.


The Cabinet Member added that the Manual for Streets was used by designers primarily for the design, construction, adoption and maintenance of new residential streets but it could also apply to existing streets. The guidance advocated inclusive design principles, which included placing people at the heart of the design process and it acknowledged diversity and difference.


(d)       Public Health, Communities and Equality


Councillor Croad circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Atkinson, on the NAO report of 19th November on preparedness for the pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts on society and the effects of the Government failures (as highlighted by the Report) has had on Devon’s health, economy and resilience and any lessons for Local Government. The Cabinet Member commented that the Council had constantly reviewed its responses during the pandemic to see how services and resilience could be improved in the future and the search for continuous improvement and preparedness to future incidents was set out in the Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025. 


(e)       Adult Social Care and Health Services


Councillor McInnes circulated a Report as requested by Councillor Hannaford on the Government plans for a revised social care cap and any work done to assess the impact of the changes for local residents and care system and market sufficiency. The Report highlighted that the Government had yet to publish its impact assessment of the proposals and this would assist with the assessment of the local impact which would be included in the Council’s response to the national consultation on the proposals. The Cabinet Member also commented on Deferred Payment Agreements and that the Council was currently using this power, with 102 DPAs in Devon.


The Report also covered, as requested by Councillor Hannaford, issues surrounding the care worker shortage which had been raised by a Unison survey. The Report commented that workforce sufficiency remained the single biggest challenge in adult social care, however Devon had recently received £2.4M as part of the national workforce recruitment and retention fund to invest in supporting adult social care providers over the winter period. The Council also continued to develop its Proud to Care campaigns and the LoveCare programme was currently looking at a Team Devon ‘Care Offer’.

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