Paper number: COU/WS/22/011 TO FOLLOW
Council Procedure Rules 8.1 to 8.3. The Leader will submit a report (the Leader’s Statement) summarising important developments and activities since the preceding meeting of the council.
Members may ask the Leader questions on the content of both his introductory remarks and the written statement itself.
A total of 30 minutes will be allowed for questions and responses. There will be a limit of five minutes for each question to be asked and answered. A supplementary question arising from the reply may be asked so long as the five minute limit is not exceeded.
Councillor Griffiths, Leader of the Council, presented his Leader’s Statement as outlined in paper number: COU/WS/22/011.
Members confirmed that they had received copies of the statement, which had been circulated following the distribution of the agenda for the meeting.
In his introductory remarks, Councillor Griffiths:
a. Personal remarks: expressed his condolences to the family and friends of former Forest Heath District Councillor Chris Barker.
b. Platinum Jubilee events and celebrations: congratulated Her Majesty The Queen on her Platinum Jubilee and paid tribute to those supporting celebratory public events being held in and by local communities. He also acknowledged the people and organisations of West Suffolk that had been formally recognised in HM The Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List.
c. UK Shared Prosperity Fund: outlined details of the Council’s opportunity to obtain a sizeable amount of new Government funding for investment through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The deadline for submitting the Council’s investment plan to Government was 1 August 2022, therefore, to ensure all members had the opportunity to consider the proposed investment plan allocations following Cabinet’s planned consideration on 19 July 2022, Councillor Griffiths announced that with the agreement of the Chair, an extraordinary meeting of Council would be formally called to consider this matter on 26 July 2022.
The Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:
a. Support for small businesses: that the Council was supporting the growth of small businesses not only in Haverhill but throughout West Suffolk. Examples included working in partnership with MENTA in Brandon and Haverhill, together with its recent investment in incubation units at Suffolk Business Park, Bury St Edmunds. Should any specific opportunities arise where the Council might be able to provide support to small businesses, the Economic Growth team would welcome suggestions.
b. Social rented properties: that the four new properties available for social rent in Brandon, as referred to in paragraph 26. of the Leader’s Statement had not been built by Barley Homes. Any social rented property required a significant grant from Government and Barley Homes did not qualify for that. Where possible, the housing associations that worked in partnership with the Council were actively encouraged to apply for Government grants to try and fund more social rented properties within the district. The topic of ‘Right to Buy’ and the implications associated with that was acknowledged as being significant and the Council, with partners, was lobbying Government on a variety of measures to try and help people in need, which included those faced with housing challenges and the impact of the rising cost of living.
c. Grass cutting schedule: in respect of whether the current grass cutting schedule was providing an effective delivery of service, Councillor Griffiths gave recognition to the Operations team that provided the grass and grounds maintenance service. Working with partners such as town and parish councils, housing associations and Suffolk County Council, West Suffolk Council made every effort to meet the challenges of delivering this service in a timely manner, much of which was weather dependent, and some areas being purposely left uncut to encourage greater biodiversity. Ward members and town / parish councils should be receiving grass cutting updates to keep them abreast of the Council’s current schedule.
d. Recycling and Waste Strategy (RAWS): recognising the excellent work of the Waste and Street Scene team during the pandemic, as highlighted in paragraph 7. of the Leader’s Statement, Councillor Griffiths agreed that the expected forthcoming introduction of RAWS and the implications associated with this was complex and would be looked at in detail by the Council. Support would be provided to the service where appropriate.
e. Members and officers: that councillors led the strategic direction of the Council, setting the policy framework and budget, and made decisions on a variety of matters in order to get things done. That under the excellent leadership of the organisation’s Chief Executive and his Leadership Team, officers provided support to councillors in carrying out the work set out in the strategies, policies and specific budgets in place.