Agenda item

Announcements and Communications

To receive any announcements from the Chair, Leader, Members of the Cabinet or the Chief Executive



The Chair announced the details of the engagements undertaken by herself and the Vice Chair had been circulated to all members.


The Chair began by informing members that last month she had received a tour of Skirsgill Highways Depot in Penrith, and had thoroughly enjoyed her visit.  She had not realised the size of depot or how large an area of the county depended on it for keeping our highways safe and functioning.  The Chair had met from across the site, learning about their individual roles and how these changed according to season.


Whilst there she had visited the sign shop and had learnt about the process from design to printing and cutting, and also got to see the salt shed and had been dwarfed by the sheer volume of grit stored and ready to be spread.


The Chairman also got to sit in one of the 33 gritters in the county fleet which was an enjoyable experience and gave her a greater appreciation for highways staff who worked in all weathers, conditions and at all times of day just to keep everyone safe and moving.


Yesterday, alongside the Mayor of Carlisle, the Chairman had switched on the City of Lights in Carlisle. An event which saw numerous buildings and local landmarks illuminated with coloured lights and projections; the centre-piece on this occasion being a stunning visual spectacle in Carlisle Cathedral.


The City of Lights was an exciting new project which if successful, would take place annually in towns across the county. It was a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of areas whilst showcasing what it had to offer and celebrating its cultural heritage and history.


Finally, the Chair informed members about an exciting new initiative that had been launched this year by some incredible people.


The Prom Dress Appeal was a collaborative project between the council and other agencies, retailers and the community that offered a good selection of quality donated prom wear and accessories at no cost to the families.


Young people could be nominated through schools, support agencies and children’s workforce across Cumbria. They would then be invited to an event to choose items for their prom.


The Chairman then took the opportunity to thank all of the Council teams for their commitment and hard work during Storm Ciara. The storm brought high winds, significant rainfall, high tides, snow, and also a damaged water main.


The Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities made a statement about the coronavirus.


Coronaviruses were common across the world and typical symptoms included fever and a cough that may progress to severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.


Generally, these viruses could cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.


This variant coronavirus caused flu like symptoms which were mild in most people, but like flu, could be fatal.  So far 45,171 confirmed cases had been identified globally, with the vast majority of those still within China. There had been 1,115 deaths, and 4,831 recoveries.


Over 1,300 people in the UK had been tested for coronavirus, with only 8, so far, testing positive.  However, this figure was likely to rise.  The Cabinet Member reassured members that although a small number of people in Cumbria had been tested, none had been positive.


The Cabinet Member for Highway and Transport made an announcement about Storm Ciara.  He took the opportunity to thank all of our teams for their commitment and hard work during the event.  The storm not only brought high winds, significant rainfall, high tides, and then snow, and finally a damaged water main.


Unfortunately there was around 40 premises (households and businesses) that suffered from flooding as a Storm Ciara and thoughts go out to those affected.  Community Teams were offering support to these householder, and the Flood and Development Management team were investigating the sources of flooding.


The council’s teams worked closely with partners to respond to the incident., and multiple council services responded during the storms.


As the storm abated, the weather changed and the damage to United Utilities water main was exposed, which then created a major incident for the council which the same services were then required to respond to again. Special mention must go to the County Council’s highways service who battled through the night in a full winter snow storm to keep Shap summit accessible for UU tankers to  water in the reservoir so that water supplies could be maintained.


Members joined the Cabinet Member in thanking the teams for all of their hard work over the last few days to support the communities of Cumbria. 


The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning made an announcement about

new Special Schools and provision for SEN.


The demand for the provision for children with identified Special Educational Needs was continuing to grow, and this was a national trend.  Unfortunately the funding for schools to cater for them appropriately was not.  The Government had made an announcement recently about an additional £780 million for one year nationally.  Cumbria County Council as very grateful for this, however, the allocated amount did not cover the amount Cumbria overspent on the money allocated to SEN. 


The Cabinet Member then reminded everyone that Cumbria County Council had provided two new buildings for maintained special schools, one at Mayfield and the other at Sandside Lodge, where they now had have world class facilities.  Mayfield and Sandside were both co-located with secondary schools , and numbers of pupils had increased at both locations.


Cumbria County Council had also supported the opening of two free schools : Cumbria Academy for Autism and the Studio School at Queen Elizabeth Kirkby Lonsdale which added greater capacity and range offered to children.


Finally, the Cabinet Member wanted to say thank you to all the mainstream schools that offered good provision to all children and where all of them made good progress despite many external pressures.  The national data showed that Cumbrian mainstream schools had a higher percentage of pupils with SEN in them and the SEN children in these schools do better than in other authorities.


The Cabinet Member for Customers, Transformation and Fire and Rescue made an announcement about Fire Engine Gambia.  At a previous Council meeting an announcement had been made about a decommissioned fire engine from Cumbria which had been donated to a local fire brigade in The Gambia.  She provided members with an update as this fire engine had already helped save a life.


Local firefighters from Kotu recently used the fire engine to attend a road traffic accident, deploying the cutting equipment provided to release a woman trapped in a vehicle and save her life.


The old fire engine at Kotu had gone to another fire station which did not have a pump, so this had been doubly beneficial.  The Cabinet Member for Customers, Transformation and Fire and Rescue also made an announcement about Windows 7.


Over the last 18 months, the ICT service had replaced equipment that ran on the windows 7 platform to equipment compatible with the latest Windows 10 version. The end of the programme was approaching and it had gone very well with minimal disruption to users during the transition.


The Cabinet Member for Health and Care made an announcement that all of Cumbria Care Residential homes were inspected regularly by the Care Quality Commission, and in December Inglewood received an unannounced inspection which had resulted in improving on its existing rating of ‘outstanding’


The outcome was still outstanding overall but had now achieved outstanding in respect of three of the five main areas.  This was an improvement on the existing position where two of the main areas were rated as outstanding. 


The inspection team had commented positively about the ongoing work at Inglewood and particularly that it was a well-led service with a commitment to quality and that the staff team put the needs of people first.. They also commented that people were treated with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion and supported people to live independently.


The Cabinet Member asked members to join her in congratulating the staff at Inglewood for this excellent achievement.


Finally, the Chief Executive introduced the newly appointed Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive), Mr John Readman to members, and they welcomed him to his first meeting.