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) Policy, Corporate and Asset Management
Councillor Hart circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Shaw, on the Council’s proposals to hold Council, committee and other meetings, given the provisions for online meetings had not been extended. The Report highlighted the initial introduction of the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 which applied to local authority meetings to be held before 7th May 2021, the contents of the letter from Luke Hall MP on the 25 March which announced the regulations could not be extended due to the limited availability of the parliamentary timetable, the current court case to permit continuation of remote meetings and the outcome as well as some of the actions now required so that the Council could hold ‘in person’ meetings safely.
(b) Infrastructure Development and Waste
Councillor Davis circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Hannaford on opportunities to work with Great Western Railway and Network Rail to make St Thomas Railway Station more accessible for disabled people and those with mobility issues. The Report highlighted that the St Thomas Station site had significant complexities which made the delivery of lifts challenging, however, the Cabinet Member would explore with Network Rail and GWR the scope for including Devon stations, including St Thomas in future funding rounds.
(c) Economy and Skills
Councillor Gilbert circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Hannaford, on the latest figures, trends and statistics regarding youth unemployment in Devon and work being done with partners to help get young people back into work, including retraining and upskilling. There had been an increase in youth unemployment over the past 12 months due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. The Report outlined the direct support for young people and unemployment, in terms of supporting programmes and pathways to allow young people to access work and other training and learning opportunities, including the new Exeter Youth Hub.
The Council’s decision to support an economic recovery programme would include additional support for young people.
(d) Highways Management
Councillor Hughes commented, as requested by Councillor Dewhirst, on the
roll out of the LED streetlight conversion. He highlighted that nearly 52% - of Devon’s streetlights had been converted to LED with the remainder expected to be converted in the next 18 months. He outlined that some of the integration of legacy systems were still causing issues in some cases and also that the contractor was supplying a new software system which should be operational in the summer.
(e) Children’s Services and Schools
Councillor McInnes circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Hannaford on the quality of school meals and snacks offered to children and the proactive work to monitor any issues and processes to rectify operational performance when required.
The Report highlighted that School Governing bodies and Academy Trusts were responsible for the provision of school meals, but that a large number of Devon schools were contracted with Devon Norse (a Joint Venture with the Council) therefore there was more control over meals provided. The Report also provided an update on a specific incident and the outcome of this.
He also reported, as requested by Councillor Aves, on transitions for children and young people having to change schools or go to college who had EHCPs in the age range of 0-25, including average waiting times, outstanding EHCP’s support for families, the online hub and comparisons with other Local Authorities.
He then responded to questions on capacity of SEND team, placements outside of the Council area and also placements made from outside of the area into Devon and acceptable travel times for journeys to school.
(f) Adult Social Care and Health Services
Councillor Leadbetter circulated a Report, as requested by Councillor Ackland on the White Paper -Integration and Innovation and Devon’s Health System plans on ICS governance and the Proud to Care Campaign and its impact on the domiciliary care market across Devon and adequacy of the workforce.
The Cabinet Member highlighted that more detail was pending including guidance on key undertaking such as the arrangements and establishment of the ICS Health and Care Partnership and an ICS NHS Body, that a task and finish group to develop a proposed governance model had been established but that currently the ICS governance arrangements remained the same as those presented to the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee in March.
He also gave some further details on the Proud to Care Campaign, its aims and impacts and numbers of job seekers recruited. There were still on-going workforce sufficiency challenges but the Workforce Development Commissioning (Care and health) team was continuing to look at new ways to support care providers with meeting their recruitment and retention needs.
He also reported, as requested by Councillor Hannaford, on the Laurels NHS gender identity clinic (GIC) and work with key partners to ensure resources to effectively deal with the issues, commenting that the service was an NHS service commissioned directly as part of the NHS’s arrangements for specialist services. He reported on the charitable organisations which provided social and wellbeing support for people waiting for an appointment and highlighted the Council would do what it could to work jointly with partners for additional resources where appropriate.
He also responded to questions on potential governance arrangements of the ICS Board.