Agenda item

Public Question Time

To receive any questions from and provide answers to the public in relation to matters relevant to the Council’s activities.


Members of the public were invited to put questions to the Mayor and councillors on matters within the powers and duties of the Council.


Seven public questions were submitted as follows:-


·         Relating to who had been appointed to the Climate Emergency Taskforce established by the Council; what the Task Force aimed to achieve and the timescales involved; and whether the taskforce was aware of the report by Friends of the Earth listing 33 actions local authorities can take on climate change and if so, whether it supported these actions.


The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that following the declaration by the Council Meeting of a climate emergency, a Director level officer had been appointed to lead work in this area and discussions had taken place with other local authorities in Greater Manchester that had passed similar motions to determine whether there was learning that could be shared on their approaches.  Councillor Bailey confirmed that a cross-party task group had been established made up of councillors Vine, Foster-Grime, Nottingham and herself.  Councillor Bailey stated that there had been one meeting of the task group with another scheduled to meet in the coming week. 


Councillor Bailey reported that the members of the Task Group had received carbon literacy training either through the Council or online and around 170 officers of the Council had also had that training.  It was further stated that the Council had recently been awarded bronze accreditation by the Carbon Literacy Project and was working towards the silver and gold standard.


Councillor Bailey stated that the Council was undertaking a significant number of activities to reduce the Council’s carbon footprint, and that the Council’s Climate Action Strategy was due to be submitted to the Communities & Housing Scrutiny Committee in March 2020 and the report and recommendations of Friends of the Earth would be considered as part of this strategy document.


·         Relating to the opportunities available for members of the public to contribute to the Climate Action Strategy that was being developed.


The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the draft Climate Action Strategy would be published on the Council’s website in March as part of the agenda papers for the Communities & Housing Scrutiny Committee, and would therefore be available for public inspection.  Councillor Bailey stated that a summit would be held later in the year to which all interested groups would be invited to participate.


·         Relating to whether Stockport Council intended to support or participate in the Greater Manchester Walk for Women on Saturday, 7 March to celebrate International Women's Day.


The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Devolution (Councillor Elise Wilson) responded that the event being undertaken in Manchester had been arranged by Manchester City Council rather than on a Greater Manchester-wide basis.  However, it was stated that there were two events planned for Stockport including the Stockport Community Celebration that recognised the achievements of women living or working in Stockport by bringing together local people from diverse backgrounds to nurture cross cultural engagement and support inclusion.


Councillor Wilson stated that there was another event planned for ‘Stockport Future Leaders’ where it was proposed to invite young people or people who haven't started their work life yet where strong women leaders could share some of their experiences and hopefully encourage others to follow in their footsteps.


·         Relating to staff vacancies and staff reductions in adult social care with specific reference to a case where an elderly person with mobility difficulties was discharged from hospital with the promise of a care package but had yet to receive a visit from a carer.


The Cabinet Member for Adult Care & Health (Councillor Jude Wells) responded that the issue of vacancies was not considered to be a factor in the case that was raised by the questioner.  Councillor Wells stated that vacancies and staff turnover within Adult Social Care were roughly comparable with those elsewhere in the Council.  Anyone leaving hospital who had identified social care support needs would receive an assessment from an adult social care worker prior to the discharge. 


Councillor Wells stated that investment in Adult Social Care had been significant and funding continued to be committed from reserves to mitigate the risk posed by the uncertain nature of funding from central government. With regard to efficiencies, Councillor Wells confirmed that the Council was implementing a new model of care aimed at enabling people to remain as independent as possible and for the Council to be involved at the earliest possible stage in terms of prevention and intervention.


Councillor Keith Holloway (Chair of the Adult Social Care & Health Scrutiny Committee) further responded that the Adult Social Care & Health Scrutiny Committee tended to concentrate much more on service delivery rather than specific staffing issues, however the Committee did undertake more focussed work on issues of staffing when necessary such as during the consultation on specialist breast surgery provision at Stepping Hill hospital.


Councillor Holloway stated that he was also a member of the Greater Manchester Health Scrutiny Committee and as a result was of the view that Stockport's approach was significantly more robust than elsewhere and that the scrutiny committee continued to act as a critical friend ensuring that staffing resources are used as effectively as possible in supporting the most vulnerable members of the community.


·         Relating to the impact of cuts to crisis support funding, and why in the light of this the Deputy Leader of the Council stated that the level of funds available to people that needed them would be higher.


The Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities (Councillor Amanda Peers) responded that the proposed changes would provide a wrap-around package that would support individuals in their time of need.  Councillor Peers stated that the reason that the budget would be expanded is that funding would come from different sources, such as the commitment from Stockport Homes to offer furnished tenancies, the cost of which would be largely met from the housing benefit system.


·         Relating to the proposed removal of mature trees in Stockport Town Centre in order to build a bridge between the bus and train stations.


The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the access improvements between the new Stockport Interchange development and the Railway Station were being proposed as part of a package of measures to increase the use of public transport that in itself was designed to decrease the environmental impact of travel.  Councillor Bailey stated that she had raised the issue of tree loss at the Cabinet Meeting where the scheme had been approved, and the scheme would now require the replacement of any felled trees with semi-mature trees in a nearby location.


·         Relating to a government consultation on measures to criminalise the act of trespass when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales.


The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Devolution (Councillor Elise Wilson) responded that the Council was currently considering the implications of the proposals contained in the consultation to determine whether it needed to make a response before the deadline.