In accordance with paragraph 3.33 of the Cabinet Procedure Rules, a period of 10 minutes is allocated for members of the public to address the meeting on any matter relevant to the work of the Cabinet. Individual members of the public may speak for up to two minutes. The Chairman or person presiding will have discretion to vary this requirement where he/she considers it appropriate.
Members of the public wishing to ask a question or make a statement at the meeting should provide at least three clear working days’ notice in writing and should include the question with that notice. This will enable an informed answer to be given.
Jane Emery asked if the Cabinet had plans to review the emergency assistance scheme, and if so, whether Nantwich and Middlewich foodbanks could be involved.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, IT and Communication responded that a review of the scheme would be undertaken at the end of 2021 and would be subject to consultation. This would depend on funding still being available.
Nick Adams asked what social value elements the Council had secured with the signing of the recent £35m IT contract and £4.5m broadband contract and what learning could be taken from the contracts.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, IT and Communication responded that as both contracts were for large items of IT infrastructure, various factors prevented the specific assignment of social value key performance indicators to the contracts themselves. However, both contracts formed the cornerstone for numerous Council services that would provide social value. The Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Corporate Services added that the Council would monitor contract performance against social value indicators and outcomes, and lessons learned would be reflected in updates to the Council’s commissioning training package.
Sue Helliwell referred to a proposal in the budget to commercialise the Highway Service Contract by allowing the contractor to undertake external works for third parties in order to deliver savings for the Council. She asked who the third parties were.
The Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste responded that the Council would secure income through its contract for highways based on work to be delivered to third parties including individuals, developers and businesses. Examples of such work included the provision of vehicle access crossings and the maintenance of private access roads and car parks.
Congleton Town Councillor Robert Douglas referred to a Freedom of Information request he had submitted requesting details of the new sites that Cheshire East Council was considering as suitable replacements for the existing Household Waste recycling site at Congleton. He said that the Council had refused to provide the information on grounds of commercial sensitivity. He repeated his request for the information which he said did not compromise commercial sensitivities.
The Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste responded that, as mentioned at the previous Cabinet meeting, the Council had received a very good response to the consultation regarding the HWRC review and was now considering the results. The matter would be considered by the Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 12th February to enable pre-scrutiny of the issue before Cabinet considered the matter. She would not wish to comment further until she had considered the results of the consultation and the observations of scrutiny. The FOI request had been appropriately responded to through that process.
Caroline Whitney expressed concern at proposals to reduce the community grants budget from £200,000 a year to £150,000 a year in 2021/22, and to £50,000 a year in 2022/23. She asked that Cabinet change the recommendation and not make the larger planned reduction in 2022. She also queried a planned refocus of the Communities Team, and expressed disappointment that a service provider had learned from the budget document, rather than the commissioner, that their service was not being recommissioned.
The Leader asked that the full text of the question, which was quite lengthy, be published on the website for this Cabinet meeting.
The Portfolio Holder for Communities responded that Community Grants remained one of many key resources the Council provided to the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sectors. The decision to reduce the Community Grants budget over two years rather than with immediate effect had been made to ensure that the Communities Team could support the regular recipients of this grant to become more sustainable. In view of the need to respond to all three questions in detail, the Portfolio Holder undertook to provide a written response.