To receive such announcements as may be made by the Leader.
In summary, the Leader of the Council:-
1. Noted that the meeting was the last Council meeting of the summer and wished those who had holidays booked a well-earned break. However, she stated that the work of Members, and the organisation would continue, with its challenging and productive agenda over the remaining summer weeks.
2. Referred to an event which had taken place earlier in the afternoon where many Members had joined her to formally launch the Council’s new vision for workplace culture, behaviours and the employee deal. This was a key moment in the Council’s Brighter Future Together Culture programme, and she considered it right to take time to recognise this important achievement. In addition to the event in Sandbach, events had been held across Cheshire East in the Council’s key office buildings, as the formal launch was rolled-out to key audiences. Over one thousand members of staff, Councillors and union representatives had contributed to the development of these key documents, and she believed that each and every one should feel a real sense of ownership; and must recognise that, important as this day was, this was just one step on the journey to shape and embed the culture of Cheshire East Council. Officers and managers were now embarking on a journey to use these documents to shape the way they worked together.
3. Welcomed the judgment of the previous week’s Employment Tribunal. The complainant had alleged that she had been treated unfairly, and dismissed, due to her making a whistleblowing disclosure relating to payment of the national minimum wage for staff working sleep-in shifts. The Tribunal had fully rejected and dismissed these claims, following a thorough, 10-day hearing, which had concluded on 15 June 2018. She regretted that this matter could not be resolved prior to legal proceedings but, after full consideration of the circumstances, it had been felt that there was no alternative but to defend the allegations made by the complainant. Staff were the Council’s most important asset and were essential for the effective delivery of Council services. She stated that the Council was committed to ensuring that all of its staff felt safe and were able to raise any concerns they may have about work matters. She went on to refer to a range of processes and procedures that the Council had to support staff where they had concerns.
4. Referred to the Council’s Chief Executive, Mike Suarez’s, recent resignation from his post with immediate effect and reassured Council that the current interim management arrangements remained in place. She stated that the Council had been working under these arrangements for over a year now and the Corporate Leadership Team was operating as a strong, cohesive unit. While this time had been difficult in many ways, she was proud to say that Cheshire East Council had continued to deliver excellence for service users, residents, and businesses. She went on to thank each and every member of staff for their dedication and commitment.
5. Welcomed the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in the Mencap vs Tomlinson-Blake Tribunal appeal. The Court had ruled that sleep-in shifts were exempt from national minimum-wage rules, because staff should not be considered to be working when they were sleeping. The original Tribunal ruling had meant that employers could have faced significant unfunded back payments. The resulting additional cost could have placed care-providers in significant financial difficulty and, therefore, potentially putting the care of vulnerable people at risk. The fact that the Court of Appeal has now overturned this ruling had removed this risk. She stated that the Council recognised and valued the important work its dedicated staff provided, and was committed to ensuring that staff were paid fairly for their work, and would now consider the implications of this judgment in detail.
6. Reported that, since its Annual meeting, the Council’s services had received yet more accolades and awards:
· The Registration Service (Births, Marriages and Deaths) had recently been voted ‘Best Ceremony Provider’ at the North West Wedding Awards
· The Junior Recycling Officer scheme, run by Ansa, had been highly commended at the MJ Awards
· Tatton Park Farm had also been highly commended at the North West Regional Construction Awards
· The Digital Waste Permit project had won at the national Paperless Awards
8. Stated that the adoption of the Local Plan Strategy in the previous July had been a major achievement by the Council. It had put in place a clear set of requirements for how and where sustainable growth in the Borough should take place. The Council had now moved to a position where it had the best chance of ensuring that development decisions were plan-led, that properly reflected what it considered to be sustainable development, as defined through the Local Plan, rather than being dictated to by developers through ad hoc, speculative applications. Not only did the Council have one of the most up to date Local Plans of any authority in the country, it now had the “hallowed” five year supply of housing land, which was the second key component in being able to steer development to the right locations. The Council would shortly be publishing its latest housing delivery results, which would show that, in 2017-18, over 2000 new homes had been built in the Borough. The Council had also been busy developing its Community Infrastructure Levy, which would reach its independent examination stage in September. This would put a mechanism in place to secure additional contributions from developers towards local infrastructure projects. The autumn would also see public consultation taking place on the second part of the Local Plan
9. Reported that Cabinet had approved a scheme to provide funding that would assist communities where new housing developments had been built. The New Homes Bonus Community Fund was an initiative that supported residents to improve their local communities through visible, sustainable projects. The Fund, which provided a total of £2m over the next two years, would give local communities an opportunity to present their ideas for projects to ward members and town and parish councils for consideration. The scheme would be launched in October and the first round of funding would be released under the scheme early in 2019.
10.Reported that the Council was making great strides, was addressing the challenges it faced and was working towards a Brighter Future, with an emerging new culture. It was making key achievements, such as some of those that she had covered today. The Council would make more into the future and would continue to serve the residents, businesses and visitors to the Borough with all of the expertise, energy and commitment which was so abundantly found in the organisation.