In accordance with paragraph 1.18 of the Council Procedure Rules, opportunity is provided for Members of the Council to ask the Mayor, the appropriate Cabinet Member or the Chairman of a Committee any question about a matter which the Council, the Cabinet or the Committee has powers, duties or responsibilities.
At Council meetings, there will be a maximum question time period of 30 minutes. A period of two minutes will be allowed for each member wishing to ask a question. The Mayor will have the discretion to vary this requirement where they consider it appropriate. Questions will be selected by the Mayor, using the criteria agreed by Council. Any questions which are accepted, but which cannot be dealt with during the allotted period will be answered in writing. Questions must be brief, clear and focussed.
Cllr T Dean referred to the letter the Leader, along with the Leaders of Warrington Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council, had sent to the Government prior to the announcement of the latest restrictions asking for higher delegated powers to instigate tighter restrictions Covid restrictions on the Cheshire and asked the Leader where these requests had been approved by the Council prior to submission and why had it taken so long for them to be shared with elected members. The Leader and Deputy Leader responded and stated that the document had been intended as a discussion document with the Government, but this had not happened and was published as soon as the Tier 2 restrictions were imposed. As the Council operated a Leader and Cabinet model, it was within the Leader’s powers to agree the document with the other Council leaders.
Cllr R Bailey referred to the confusion motorist, cyclists and pedestrians faced with the increasing number of 20 mph zones being put in place and the low key, not easily accessible, online consultation on Active Travel scheme. She referenced a suggestion from Audlum Parish Council which had not yet received a response from the Council and asked if all the Government Grant had been spent. Cllr L Crane, Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste responded that all the measures in place were temporary and experimental and that tweaks could be made to the and asked that anybody with specific concerns raise them on the consultation page or with their local ward councillors. Not all the funding had been received and it was expected that the second tranche would be received shortly.
Cllr P Groves asked a question in relation to the provision of bus services in rural areas and the absence of consultation with local ward members before services were suspended or removed. Cllr C Browne, Deputy Leader, responded that the Council had submitted an expression of interest to the Rural Transport Fund earlier this year and sought the support of local MPs to support this submission. The consultation on the Bus Strategy had been delayed due to Covid and was expected to take place early in the next financial year. Covid Bus Support Grant money had been used to save a few bus services which may had ceased due to financial losses made by commercial operators due to a reduced number of passengers.
Cllr L Wardlaw referred to the proposed eight committees under the Committee System and asked how much had been spent between May 2019 and now and the predicted future costs of this governance. Cllr J Nicholas, Chairman of the Constitution Committee, responded by saying that it was six policy committees and a sub-committee that were being proposed, and that he did not have the costings to hand but the new arrangements were expected to be cost neutral.
Cllr J Clowes referred to the tests that needed to be met for schemes to received funding from the Active Travel Scheme and asked to what extent had the Council had to scale back and revise submissions in round one, and whether the Council was confident that phase 2 schemes would meet the tests. Cllr L Crane, Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste responded that the early measures had been introduced exceptionally quickly due to the funding arrangements and they had to be in place by a certain date and had been based on schemes proposed in the past. There was more time for consultation for the second tranche of funding. A number of the early schemes had been tweaked but the Government did not have any problems with our schemes.
Cllr A Gage referred to the condition of the road in Gladstone Street and other roads in Willaston and stated that they had been waiting some time for repairs and improvement. He asked why Edleston Road was scheduled to be resurfaced when this road was in good condition. Cllr L Crane, Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste responded that she was aware of many roads which needed attention in the Borough. The Council used an asset-led approach to repairs which considered several criteria, such as the nature of the road and the level of traffic, from the Well Management Highways and Infrastructure Code of Practice.
Cllr A Farrall referred to the progress made by the Council on its responsibilities to the Armed Forces community, having received the first award under the Armed Forces Covenant employer recognition scheme and asked the Portfolio Holder for Communities whether he agreed with him that, although there was still more work to be done, this authority was now taking real steps to support the Armed Forces community in Cheshire East. Cllr M Warren, Portfolio Holder for Communities, responded by stating that the Council in its draft Corporate Plan had stated that one of its ambitions was to achieve the Gold Award under the Armed Forces Covenant employer recognition scheme by 2023.
Cllr A Gregory asked if Cheshire East was moved into Tier 3 Covid restrictions whether this ensure that it would receive a financial package which would support businesses. Cllr S Corcoran, Leader of the Council, responded that he hoped that the Government would not impose Tier 3 restriction on Cheshire East. It would be a decision by the Government on how much funding would be provided for businesses. It was noted that under Tier 2 business which remained open were not getting financial help, but it was expected that funding would be made available soon.
Cllr A Moran referred to the increased use of computers and laptops for work by Council officers and elected members and asked if that the Council ensured that there was health and safety guidance provided on their use. Cllr J Rhodes, Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Corporate Services, responded that the Council has circulated documents on good working practice to officers and members.
Cllr S Gardiner referred to the many schemes and projects which were coming to fruition, such as the Crewe Town regeneration and the Congleton Relief Road, and had been commenced under the previous Administration and asked if the present leadership would be willing to recognise the work they had done on these projects. Cllr S Corcoran, Leader of the Council, responded that it was great to see these projects come to fruition and was happy to rejoice with all members of the Council on the success of these projects.
Cllr P Redstone referred to the forthcoming Disability Month and asked what the Council was doing to promote disabled people's rights and their struggle for equality. Cllr M Houston, Equalities and Diversity Champion, agreed to provide a written response.
Cllr S Akers Smith referred to the Active Travel funding and asked if a third tranche was being made available. Cllr L Crane, Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste, responded that she not yet seen anything about on a further tranche of funding for this scheme.