Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Venue: Via video conference call

Media

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Martin Tett, Leader, Buckinghamshire Council apologised for the technical difficulties which had resulted in a delayed start.

 

There were no apologies for absence. 

2.

Declarations of interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Martin Tett, Leader, advised that all the members had previously declared any personal or financial interests under the previous councils but asked that any new declarations be made before the item if necessary.

 

There were no declarations of interest. 

3.

Question Time

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following  question was received from Councillor Robin Stuchbury:

 

“Would the 11+ take place as I have received a considerable number of questions on this very concerning subject?  Could the 11+ take place with the known circumstances where children of modest or low incomes, who would not be in education?  Would they be able to achieve the very best result for their educational future if the 11+ happened in September noting that there had been disruption to GCSEs and A-levels Exams?

 

I understand that the grammar schools were all academies and the decision may not be within Buckinghamshire Council’s hands on whether the 11+ could actually take place with the background of children being out of education for a long period in advance of the test in September.

 

My primary reason for asking this question was that it would be so unfortunate if this generation of children’s life chances were changed through circumstances beyond their control and not having the formal education and support of their teachers and heads in preparation and gaining an understanding of the 11+ in advance of sitting the exam this year.

 

So I’m asking; would you be undertaking to question the academy group in Buckinghamshire as to what their aspirations were in regards to the 11+ taking place in September and communicating this to the public.  Would they be putting any special procedures in place so that children in catchment areas within Buckinghamshire, who did not have the ability for tuition, were not prejudiced in taking this exam, against families who could afford online tuition or out of catchment area/county children who may be benefiting from additional support over and above what our important children living within the education authority area had during these unprecedented times. We must ensure that all children in Buckinghamshire had the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions; the coronavirus could prevent this happening.”

 

Councillor Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education, provided the following response:

 

A Cranmer advised that it was difficult to provide a clear response but Buckinghamshire Council was currently liaising with The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools Group (TBGS), who owned and managed the test for Buckinghamshire. TBGS was working closely with their test supplier, GL Assessment, to find a solution and all parties would be included in discussions with the Department for Education to understand the national implications of the virus on secondary selection and to ensure the Buckinghamshire solution was the best of all possible outcomes.

 

The application portal would open on schedule on 1 May 2020. This would enable the Council to establish, at the earliest opportunity, the group of children to be included in the secondary transfer process for 2021 school entry.   A Cranmer advised that there were online resources available to all and encouraged parents to continue with the selection process as normal.

 

Councillor Stuchbury re-emphasised his concern that pupils from low income families might not be able to use the online resources and would not receive the mentoring in the principles of the 11+ exam  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Forward Plan (28 Day Notice) pdf icon PDF 569 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  Cabinet NOTED the forward plan.

5.

Covid-19 Update

A verbal update on Covid-19 will be provided by Mr Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Hospitals Trust.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive, Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust provided the following update:

 

  • A Level 4 incident was declared in the first week of March 2020 due to the coronavirus; this had never been experienced before.
  • Significant transformation had been carried out at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (SMH) and Wycombe Hospital (WH) to segregate patients into green and red zones in order to provide protection and track the infection.
  • Successful collaboration had taken place between Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT), Buckinghamshire Council (BC) and the health commissioners.
  • Approximately 95% of out-patient appointments were transferred to a virtual platform in the first two weeks of the crisis.
  • The majority of routine surgery and screening programmes had been suspended.
  • Approximately 4,000 staff had been trained in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE); the national supply chain model was providing the PPE.
  • Cancer services had been set up at the Chiltern Hospital in Great Missenden.  The cancer ward in SMH had been relocated to the Shelburne Unit at WH to protect the particularly vulnerable patients.
  • Approximately 2,500 members of staff were working from home.
  • A mental health support line had been set up in partnership with Oxford Health to deal with the increased demand for mental health services.
  • All emergency services, including maternity, had continued.
  • BHT was engaging with local businesses to supply equipment and catering.
  • The district nurse service had continued as normal and community services had played a significant role in linking in with BC colleagues and health commissioners to protect vulnerable residents and children.
  • A level of change had been achieved which would normally have taken 3-4 years.
  • The virus would be here for a while and would become the ‘new normal’; preparations would be made for a possible second wave of infection.
  • There was concern over the impact on residents’ health as attendance for the most clinically serious ‘type 1’ admissions to Accident and Emergency (A&E) had reduced by 45%.
  • The economic downturn would also impact people’s health and BHT was working with BC and partners to support the non-hospital care sector.
  • The priorities were to learn from the crisis and to shape future provision.
  • People who needed urgent care should seek help immediately.
  • A plateau had been reached and BHT was looking at safely bringing back other urgent services such cardiovascular.
  • Risk assessment and segregations would need to be carried out to ensure safety of patients before bringing back routine services and would be a regional response in collaboration with other hospitals.

 

The Chairman invited a number of Cabinet Members to ask questions or provide a brief update as follows:

 

  • In response to a query on the supply of PPE; N Macdonald explained that BHT had moved to a national PPE distribution model and overall the model had worked as the hospitals had not run out of PPE.  BHT had been well supported by local businesses which had been making PPE and schools had offered their stock.
  • A member of the cabinet asked how many patients were discharged early  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Council Tax Hardship pdf icon PDF 605 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Katrina Wood, Cabinet Member for Resources, introduced the Council Tax Hardship item and stated that the Government had announced it would provide the local authority with grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area, due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing some residents to struggle to meet their council tax payments.  Cabinet was recommended to approve the policy for Buckinghamshire Council which was set out in Appendix A and had been drawn up in line with government guidelines.  An estimated £1.6 million would automatically be given to those working age residents already on the Council Tax reduction scheme who met the government's criteria; there was no requirement for them to apply for the hardship fund as it would automatically be applied to their account.  The remaining £1.2 million would be used for individuals in need and would be decided on a case by case basis.  This approach was the most effective way to target the available funds to where they were needed most. It would also result in a large number of our most disadvantaged residents having to pay no Council Tax at all.   Once the initial £150 awards were made, BC would be in a position to review the remaining allocation and identify the optimum method of distribution.

 

Government guidance suggested Billing authorities should re-visit the broader approach during the year and that they may wish to consider using remaining grant allocation as part of the wider local support mechanisms. At this early stage this report recommended that remaining funds from this specific allocation were used to give immediate extra support to claimants experiencing hardship through the established discretionary council tax awards process.

 

K Wood highlighted that software would be required to implement the award; updates were required to deliver a uniform and consistent approach to the claimants.   M Tett advised that it had been suggested that the remaining £1.2m be given back to everybody in the county as general relief on their council tax but this would equate to approximately £2 per head and would not be in line with Government guidance.

 

Members of the Cabinet raised the following points:

 

  • There would be no cash flow implications as BC had already received the £2.8 million council tax hardship grant.
  • The cost of upgrading the software could be claimed back against “new burdens”.
  • New bills would be issued to those in receipt of the extra relief.

 

RESOLVED:  Cabinet APPROVED the following recommendations:

 

1.     The Discretionary Policy set out in Appendix A.

2.     That Buckinghamshire Council used its discretion to award up to an extra £150 Council Tax Reduction to working age claimants for 2020-21.

3.     That any remaining funds were retained for distribution to claimants experiencing hardship using the Discretionary Award Payments Policy.

That the S.151, in consultation with the Leader and the Portfolio Holder for Resources, be authorised to make any technical scheme amendments to the Council’s Discretionary Award Payments Policy to give effect to Recommendations 2 and 3.

7.

Committee Appointments and Proportionality pdf icon PDF 887 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

This report seeks approval to the proportionality arrangements for committees of Buckinghamshire Council established in the constitution, and the designation of elected members to individual committees.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Recommendations: That the Executive of Buckinghamshire Council: -

 

1. Approves the updated proportionality arrangements set out at table 2;

 

2. Subject to the Regulations coming into force:

 

a) agrees to designate appointments to Council committees at Appendix 2, and then confirm these on 11 May 2020;

 

b) notes the appointments to Select Committees at Appendix 3, as designated by the Chief Executive, following discussion with the Group Leaders.

 

3. Agrees to delegate to the Monitoring Officer powers to vary the membership of a Committee at any point on a permanent or casual basis upon the written nomination of a Group Leader..

Minutes:

Martin Tett referred to the report which contained the names of the members who been selected for the Buckinghamshire Council committees.   Once agreed, the induction process and member training would commence.  M Tett stressed that this was a very important item as it was fundamental to the operation of the Council. 

 

M Tett also announced the following as representatives of Buckinghamshire Council on the Local Economic Partnership:

 

·        Steve Broadbent

·        Steve Bowles

·        Martin Tett

·        Nick Naylor

·        Isobel Darby

 

Councillor Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member, Communities and  Public Health, announced the Community Board Chairmen as follows:

 

  • Beeches - David Anthony
  • Buckingham and villages - Charlie Clare
  • Wing and villages - Anne Wight
  • Winslow and villages - Susan Renshell
  • Haddenham and Waddesdon - Michael Rand
  • Aylesbury - Mark Winn
  • Wendover - Julie Ward
  • Missendens - Peter Martin
  • Chesham and villages - Patricia Birchley
  • North West Chilterns - Gary Hall
  • High Wycombe - Arif Hussain
  • Amersham - Graham Harris
  • South West Chilterns - Dominic Barnes
  • Beaconsfield and Chepping Wye - Anita Cranmer
  • Denham, Gerrards Cross and Chalfonts - Santokh Chhoker
  • Wexham and Ivers - Jilly Jordan

 

M Tett announced the following cabinet member responsibilities:

 

 

RESOLVED:  The Cabinet AGREED the following recommendations:

 

That the Executive of Buckinghamshire Council: -

 

1. APPROVE the updated proportionality arrangements set out at table 2;

 

2. Subject to the Regulations coming into force:

 

a) AGREED to designate appointments to Council committees at Appendix 2, and then confirm these on 11 May 2020;

 

b) NOTED the appointments to Select Committees at Appendix 3, as designated by the Chief Executive, following discussion with the Group Leaders.

 

3. AGREED to delegate to the Monitoring Officer powers to vary the membership of a Committee at any point on a permanent or casual basis upon the written nomination of a Group Leader.

8.

Date of next meeting

Tuesday 26 May 2020 at 10.00 am.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

26 May 2020 at 10.00 am.