Report of the Leader of Council outlining the business of the Executive undertaken since the last report July 2020.
The report of the Leader of the Council was submitted setting out the details of the business undertaken by the Executive.
The Leader and the Cabinet made statements and responded to questions.
The following questions were submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.1
1. Costs relating to Bassett Avenue
Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Leggett
Could the Cabinet Member reveal the final cost of the Bassett Avenue measures, from Winchester Road roundabout to the Chilworth roundabout. Could the costs be further broken down in to how much was the initial cone only scheme; and then how much was purely for the painting of the lanes/removal of the cones and finally how much is then the removal of the lane paint and restoration of the road to the pre measures state.
We are yet to receive the invoicing for removal works completed recently such as the removal of the top section of Bassett Avenue but will have these final costs in October as part of our standard invoicing and note that whilst the remainder of the trial scheme is in place the scheme remains live and with final costs yet to be received but is forecast to come in below the budget allocation.
2. Parking at the Common
Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Leggett
Recent data has shown that the number of cyclists on Hill Lane, South of Wilton Road increased by just 14 when compared to the last data we held (February 2019). Given we were comparing a winter weather day, with a summer day (13th July) and that other data shows 3 or 4 times more cyclists go through the common itself; would you now immediately reinstate some of the Common side parking along Hill Lane that has been lost; but especially on the section between Bellemoor Road and Burgess Road?
Data has been collected monthly on cycle traffic on the Common. August figures were higher than July and the baseline which was established pre-COVID.
Comparing figures now as to where we were is very different. We are, however, committed to review in line with the experimental TRO once the September figures are available.
3. Children’s Services
Question from Councillor J Baillie to Councillor Hammond
How aware were you of the issues in Children’s Services?
As you would expect I didn’t see the entirety of the whistleblowing concerns until the report was finalised. Which we’ve transparently shared with Councillors and the public.
Obviously, I was aware of the improvements needed from our Ofsted inspections and the themes of the Appreciative inquiry - which the Whistleblowing concerns reiterated.
Within a week of the concerns being raised, we had appointed Malcolm Newsam (Independent Consultant) who subsequently published his Learning Report.
4. Question from Councillor J Baillie to Councillor Hammond
Children and Families Scrutiny Panel
Will you commit to making all information available to the Children and Families Scrutiny Panel in order for proper scrutiny to take place?
The Children and Families Scrutiny Panel determines its agenda and area of focus for each meeting, and requests specific information from Children’s and Learning Services to allow proper scrutiny to take place. The administration is committed to sharing all relevant information with the panel, in order that the panel can add full value to the work of the services. Officers are diligent in providing the information requested by the panel in time for every meeting and I commit to ensuring that continues.
5. Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Paffey
Children’s Social Care Services
Concerns were raised at the Children and Families Scrutiny Panel over issues not being picked up by the Leadership or Executive teams, despite these being flagged by that same Panel. Does the Cabinet Member accept his role in failing to identify and address the issues within Children’s Social Care Services, despite the evidence of serious problems that needed urgent attention?
It was unclear which issues you were claiming had not been picked up and dealt with; if you wish to identify and evidence these I will happily provide a written response.
The Learning Report is a separate matter. At the Children and Families Scrutiny Panel, I stated that I do take responsibility for those issues for which I have politically responsibility. Along with the Council leadership, we have apologised, accepted the findings the report upheld, and committed to making the changes necessary, which will be subject to ongoing scrutiny.
6. Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Leggett
Citizen Energy is on course to have cost the Council around £200,000 in operational deficit for the period 2018-21. Add this to the £60+ million the parent company has cost the tax payer so far. How on earth can this be justifiable spending, when the energy costs we have been putting our most vulnerable residents on, isn’t even the cheapest 100% renewable energy they could secure from the open market?
It is a sad situation. Citizen Energy had 1500 customers making a combined save of £75k. They were consistently cheaper than the big six energy companies. We are in discussions regarding the contract process and it is a shame they couldn’t complete the contract term. Figures will be available once Robin Hood Energy complete their investigation and a termination agreement between the two companies is made available.
7. Question Councillor Bell to Councillor Leggett
Bus Lanes Bitterne Road West
Does the Council have any plans to remove the temporary bus lanes along Bitterne Road West on the same basis that they have now agreed to remove them on Basset Avenue?
The Council has committed to a review process in line with the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order process and will undertake further reviews of the schemes using the data.
8. Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Leggett
Does the Cabinet Member think it is right that Citizen Energy should now seek to secure the public energy supply contract that Southampton City Council will put out via an open procurement process; given the parent company may not even exist in a matter of months or weeks?
The Mayor interjected and suggested a response be made outside of the meeting.
9. Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Shields
As part of the traveller incursion press release you stated a major incident was avoided. Could you detail what major incident would have occurred if events had gone differently on the 21st August?
A ‘major incident’ in this context is where the police feel the need to intervene due to a breach of Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) and where one of the key trigger points, as defined in guidance produced by the Association of Chief Police Officers, has been activated. Prompt intervention by the local neighbourhood police team was able in this particular instance to avert any need for escalation.
10.Question to Councillor S Galton from Councillor Hammond
Green Transport Recovery Plan
At the 3rd August Cabinet Meeting you dismissed the OSMC request to pause any future plans, such as Millbrook Road West bus lanes, as you stated this was not within the Green Transport Recovery Plan. Could you explain why this item is in the Green Transport Recovery Plan documents, and accounts for around a quarter of the £4.2M cost of the identified schemes to date?
For everyone’s benefit - the Scrutiny meeting was on the Green Transport Recovery Plan and not our entire Transport strategies.
Ultimately, The Millbrook Road West scheme is a Transforming Cities Fund initiative, which your government has endorsed by giving us in excess of £50 m. It wasn’t a standalone project in the GTRP. Which was what we was discussing.
We will use some of the GTRP monies to accelerate certain transport schemes, which this TCF project is one of.
A number of these projects will be delivered over the next three years and include full consultation on that scheme proposals prior to any implementation
11.Question from Councillor S Galton to Councillor Paffey
Following our last Council meeting you, and other Labour Councillors publicly stated you had “blocked attempts by local Tories to take playing fields away from a Southampton school” – why did you make this mis-leading and wholly inaccurate statement as my motion was very clear; any pocket park or additional activities would not interfere with the primary use of pitches for team games and recreational play?
The facts have been made clear on numerous occasions. The whole field is designated as school playing fields. As a goodwill gesture the field was made available for people to use over recent years. The whole site is now needed for education purposes. Due to the building works at St. Mark’s School, playing field space is restricted and cannot be carved up to provide a pocket park. At July’s Council meeting an amended Motion did commit the Council to exploring the possibility of a public park in the area, but this is not the right site for it.