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 Hannaford, on the strategic role of the County Council in housing delivery and also, as requested by Councillor Greenslade, on the opportunities for growth the rural economy could provide.
He further responded to questions on affordable housing, housing requirements and council tax on second homes.
(b) Highways Management
Councillor Hughes commented, as requested by Councillor Hook, on bus lanes in Devon, including mileage of bus lanes across the county, enforcement agents for infringements, the numbers of fines issued and revenue collected.
He also circulated a report, responding to Councillor Dewhirst, as requested, on any measures being taken to mitigate the impact of the closure of Wolborough Street in Newton Abbot to local people and the impact on businesses in Ipplepen and Abbotskerswell.
The Cabinet Member responded to a question on unpaid parking fines and the actions of the Council with persistent offenders.
(c) Community, Public Health, Transportation and Environment
Councillor Croad circulated a report, as requested by Councillor Hannaford, on the work being done by the Council, with others, to provide help and support for people experiencing domestic violence and abuse. The update also included the new Splitz model as well as an analysis on some of the key challenges, such as access to legal aid, access to support services, closures of refuges and budget cuts.
He also responded to questions on the impact of the cap on universal credit, whether the numbers of spaces in refuge accommodation was sufficient for current requirements, budget provision for Devon Rape Crisis services, the provision of courses in Teignbridge by Action for Children and the partnership work of Operation Encompass supporting children and young people exposed to domestic abuse.
(d) Infrastructure Development and Waste
Councillor Davis commented, as requested by Councillor Aves and Councillor Greenslade, on the recent announcement that the Government was looking at rail travel in the South West and also the potential changes to rail franchises and any possible impact for services in Devon, including details of the consultation.
The Cabinet Member also responded to questions on the progress of the proposed new station at Marsh Barton, the importance of good rail links to London, air quality issues and opportunities for franchise investment, capacity on the Barnstaple to Exeter line and proposals for the Okehampton line.
(e) Economy and Skills
Councillor Barker commented / reported, as requested by Councillor Atkinson, on the region’s access to superfast broad band, the performance of BT under the contract, any enforcement issues for poor performance, provision of sufficient cabinets, the numbers of properties failing to meet the superfast broadband speeds, new investment and also the provision of full fibre connectivity in the current contract.
He also reported, as requested by Councillor Dewhirst, on the Chancellor’s £3 billion expenditure on Brexit and preparations by the Economy, Enterprise and Skills for the event and then responded to questions on potential export issues resulting from Brexit.