To receive a report from the Leader of the Council and other members of the Cabinet on the conduct of Cabinet business since the last Council Meeting.
The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Devolution (Councillor Elise Wilson) reported that she had recently visited Stepping Hill Hospital to inspect the new vaccination centre and commended staff for the speed with which this facility had been set up and the efficiency of the service being delivered.
Councillor Wilson then reported on the declaration of a major incident by Greater Manchester Police in response to Storm Christoph. It was stated that while the worst had now passed, the situation continued to be monitored and updates would be provided to members as necessary.
It was further reported that the Borough Plan was now out for consultation. It was stated that the Plan was an important partnership document that aimed to shape Stockport’s priorities and the long-term vision for the Borough, and it was hoped that as many people as possible engaged in the consultation to ensure that it reflected the views of residents.
Councillor Wilson then reported on the progress towards the development of a Local Plan, and it was stated that Stockport was in the 10% of Councils that did not have an up-to-date Local Plan. Work on the Local Plan had now commenced in consultation with Group Leaders with further engagement to follow shortly.
It was noted that at a Greater Manchester level, the Mayor had not proposed to put forward an increase in the mayoral precept this year. However, there was a proposed increase of £15 in the police precept to help stabilise operational performance after the reforms the service has had to undertake over the previous 10 years.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) reported that at the last meeting of the Cabinet the current position with regard to the Medium Term Financial Plan was considered. It was noted that 12 months ago there was a degree of concern with regard to the increasing demand on Council services coupled with a loss of income and grants posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the position had improved over the past six months as a result of grants received from government.
Councillor McGee referred to the outstanding work undertaken by Council staff and the way in which they had adapted to undertake duties outside the scope of their original employment. Councillor McGee reflected on the impact of Storm Christoph alongside the ongoing winter maintenance programme that had tested the Council’s civil contingency plans and shown them to be robust.
The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor David Meller) reported that as a result of the impact of Storm Christoph, the A555 had been closed as the water tanks were full. It was noted that the pumps had been operational, however the fact the tanks were full meant that there was nowhere to drain the excess water. Councillor Meller stated that this was incredibly frustrating, however work was ongoing to look at the potential solutions and what was possible from an engineering perspective.
Councillor Meller then referred to the ongoing strike action affecting the British Gas site on Newbridge Lane, Stockport and condemned the actions of the company in firing staff and then rehiring them on worse terms and conditions particularly in the light of the risk those engineers had placed themselves at in ensuring customer’s heating was functioning during the winter months and the profits made by Centrica.
Finally, Councillor Meller welcomed the investment of £1 million towards the upkeep of Stockport Viaduct which played not only an important transportation role, but also had a key role in the regeneration of the Stockport Town Centre West area as part of the work of the Mayoral Development Corporation.
The Cabinet Member for Inclusive Neighbourhoods (Councillor Amanda Peers) reported that the recent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services into Greater Manchester Police was the focus of her report to the meeting and that she had requested an additional meeting of the Safer Stockport Partnership to discuss he implications if the report for Stockport and the perceived increase in cases of anti-social behaviour across the Borough.
Councillor Peers expressed her thanks to Councillor Mark Roberts as Chair of the Communities & Housing Scrutiny Committee for calling an extraordinary meeting of the committee to look at the issues raised in the HMIC report in more detail.
Councillor Peers then stated that recently Stockport had experienced some very serious incidents, including a 15 year old boy who was seriously injured by a police vehicle responding to an incident. A full independent investigation was underway, however the thoughts of the Council went to the young boy and his family. Councillor Peers further reflected on the tragic and unnecessary death of a businessman who had been delivering food while trying to support his business during the covid-19 pandemic. Councillor Peers expressed her sincere condolences to all of those affected.
The Cabinet Member for Adult Care & Health (Councillor Jude Wells) reported that the recently imposed lockdown measures had seen a reduction in the incidences of covid-19 in the Borough. This reduction had been across most age-groups with the exception of those 60 and over which was generally caused by outbreaks in care homes.
Councillor Wells stated that the test centres in the Borough had good capacity and encouraged to take the opportunity to have a test. It was further reported that a lateral flow test centre had been opened in Fred Perry House to support the workforce via targeted testing.
With regard to vaccination it was stated that Stockport was on target to meet the target set by the government for mid-February in terms of the first priority groups.