To consider reports from Cabinet Members.
The Council received reports from the relevant Cabinet Members on matters of interest or service developments relating to their remits which had occurred since the previous meeting or were likely to have an impact in the future or on specific issues upon which they had been asked to comment, as set out below:
(a) Policy & Corporate
Councillor Hart commented, as requested by Councillor Greenslade, on the current position with regard to Devolution and the impact of the defence review. He also drew attention to recent reports of a possible bid for unitary status by one or more District Council’s in Devon acknowledging, were that to prove to be the case, the County Council should, in his view, consider what line to take to safeguard the interests of the whole of the County.
(b) Children, Schools & Skills
Councillor McInnes circulated a report (appended to the published Minutes) and commented, as requested by Councillors Hannaford and Hannan, on action being taken to support West Exe School in the continuing absence of the Head teacher (to ensure it continues to operate effectively) and upon the provisions of the Children & Social Work Bill and representations made to the Minister of State on the Bill, expressing concerns at what was being proposed. He undertook to circulate copies of correspondence relating to the latter to all Members of the Council.
(c) Performance & Engagement
Councillor Parsons circulated a report (appended to the published Minutes) and commented, as requested by Councillor Hannan, on the Council’s policies for engaging Consultants and compliance therewith; acknowledging that while the Council’s policy did not appear to have been fully complied with in every instance there had been no breach of taxation or HMRC requirements and the rules and administration thereof would be reviewed.
(d) Economy, Growth & Cabinet Liaison for Exeter
Councillor Leadbetter circulated a report (appended to the published Minutes) and commented, as requested by Councillor Westlake, on flood prevention work on and the resilience of the rail network in Devon including an update on the Report of the Peninsula Rail Task Group which had been presented to Parliament on 23 November 2016. The Cabinet Member also commented, as requested by Councillor Hannaford, on discussions held with Exeter City Council to secure action by that Council in reinstating a bank in the Redhills areas of Exeter and upon the rollout of superfast broadband by BT at the Sowton Industrial Estate in Exeter as part of that company’s commercial investment which was outside the Connecting Devon & Somerset Programme.
He also responded to questions on the resilience of the railway line at Dawlish and Teignmouth and upon the Secretary of State for Transport’s recent announcement on the future organisation and delivery of rail services and infrastructure provision upon which further clarification was awaited.
(e) Highway Management & Flood Prevention
Councillor Hughes commented, as requested by Councillors Hook and Greenslade, on yellow box marking at junctions (where any issue should be raised in the first instance with the relevant Neighbourhood Highway Team) and upon the aftermath of flooding caused by Storm Angus, respectively, particularly in relation to communities in North Devon.
(f) Adult Social Care and Health Services
Councillor Barker circulated a report (appended to the published Minutes) and commented, as requested by Councillor Biederman on the action being taken by the Council to mitigate any identifiable adverse impacts of Clinical Commissioning Groups Sustainability and Transformation Plans on communities and any redirection of resources to deliver likely changes. The Cabinet Member also responded to questions on bed blocking and community hospitals and on funding for all aspects of health and social care.
(g) Community & Environmental Services
Councillor Croad commented, as requested by Councillor Dewhirst, on the action being taken by the County Council to facilitate District Council’s litter picking on ‘high speed’ roads, and to discharge it own responsibilities in relation thereto, reiterating the advice given in his response to a previous question by Councillor Dewhirst and referring also to discussions at the Devon Local Government Steering Group on this matter instigated by Teignbridge District Council.