To consider questions from Members, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 11.2, to the Leader, a Member of the Executive or the Chair of any Committee.
Lord Liddle asked if the County Council had undertaken a risk assessment about the possibility of a no deal Brexit, and whether there would be any plans in place to mitigate this, especially in relation to industries and agriculture in Cumbria.
The Leader responded to say that no information had been forthcoming from Government on the possible effect of a no deal Brexit on local authorities. However, Cumbria County Council would be unable to put in place plans to mitigate the circumstances of a no deal Brexit, in the time available. He felt the consequences of a no deal Brexit would be profound for both business and agriculture in the County.
Mr J Airey asked when the details of the payment made to the previous Corporate Director – Economy and Infrastructure would be made public. He was aware that a Freedom of Information request had been made for this information, but this had been refused.
The Leader responded to say that under Access to Information Regulations there are a number of categories under which information could be exempted and this one was refused under Category 1 as it contained information relating to any individual. However, it was likely some of this information may be included in the Annual Accounts, once published.
Mr C Whiteside asked the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport for an update in progress of developing ‘shovel ready’ schemes for the A595, and how many were ready.
The Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport responded to say that he met with Highways England on a regular basis and bids were submitted where appropriate. However, the current scheme being developed was for Grizebeck. He would keep members updated when schemes were developed for the A595.
Mr F Morgan asked the Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities why she thought the health and wellbeing of Cumbria was receiving less funding for public health than the rest of the country.
The Cabinet Member responded to say that she agreed that it appeared that the funding provided for Cumbria suggested that we were not as popular as our neighbours in the South, even though there was clear evidence of health inequalities in this County, and it was a great challenge to keep services going with less and less money.
The Cabinet Member added that the importance of prevention was a priority for this Council, and funding was vital, therefore she would be the first to stand up and ask for more. However Cumbria would also concentrate on doing the best it could with the funds available.
Mr D Wilson asked the Cabinet Member for Economic Development if he could outline details of the plans in relation to the future of Millom Network Centre.
The Cabinet Member responded to say that there was a dispute between the Network Centre and Millom School, which he was unable to disclose. However, the County Council wanted to ensure that services would be maintained in Millom. He AGREED to provide a written response.
Mr M Barbour thanked the Cabinet Member for Economic Development for the help and support he had given so far to residents at Moresby Parks. However, he asked if it would be possible to ensure that any terms of sale protected the rights in perpetuity and whether there was any possibility that the sale could be delayed for a further couple of months.
The Cabinet Member said the sale had already been delayed until 14 March, and there was no intention to delay this any further. The County Council was taking measure to ensure that before the land was sold it would be dedicated as ‘open access’.
Mr A Lamb had read with interest the comments from the Leader of the Council with regards to any proposed GDF and particularly his comments about the unsuitability of the local geology. He asked the Leader to provide the evidence for his comments given that he had previously voted against a desktop study being carried out to establish the suitability of the geology. He also asked the Leader to confirm whether the comments reflected the position of the administration with regards to GDF.
The Leader responded to say if the members wanted any information on the suitability of the geology and hydrology in this location to look up the Nirex enquiry, which contained extensive information about this.
Mr SB Collins asked the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport if he could put pressure on the Environment Agency to reprofile outfalls to ensure the water was drawn into the main river rather than into the drainage system.
The Cabinet Member AGREED to arrange a meeting with colleagues to discuss this and would invite Mr Collins to attend.
Mr B Shirley asked whether the County Council would consider updating its policy for support for rural buses, which he felt was out of date. Currently money could only be spent on advertising, but now with social media etc advertising was much easier to publicise. He felt this would be better spent on improving bus services.
The Leader responded to say that this was a County Council Policy, and a council decision that private bus services would no longer be funded by the County Council. There was no intention to review this policy.
Mr P Turner asked the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport if he would look at the County Council’s Policy for Village Wheels as was aware of a number of issues with the scheme which need resolved, especially in relation to deadlines for confirmation of bookings.
The Cabinet Member AGREED to set up a meeting and invite Paul Turner to attend.