To consider questions from Members, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 11.2 to 11.5 to the Leader, a Member of the Executive or the Chair of any Committee.
Members asked whether the Council was planning to submit a Statement of Intent for funding from the Supported Bus Services and what would it be spent on, should it prove successful.
The Cabinet Member responded to say the County Council was currently investigating this and details would be shared with members once firm proposals were known.
Mr Hughes welcome the additional funding for bus subsidies but he asked the Cabinet Member to ensure that local committees were consulted on how this additional money would be spent.
The Cabinet Member informed members that this was a bidding process for funding, and the County Council would be submitting a bid by the end of April.
Mr Betton asked the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport whether he would be carrying put an investigation, and undertaking a lessons learned exercise in relation to the events on Warwick Road on during Storm Ciara. Mr Betton had been one of the first on the scene, and he was disappointed in the response from all the authorities, which he felt was not quick enough.
The Cabinet Member assured the local member that a lessons learned exercise would be carried out and all relevant parties would be included in this.
Mr Turner asked the Leader when Special Planning arrangement (SPA2) was going to be signed and agreed by Cumbria County Council, which he understood to be the only party still to sign. This delay was holding up major contract work involving nuclear waste from other areas of the UK.
The Leader responded to say the member had been misinformed, as there was no SPA2 yet in existence. Cumbria County Council had been working for over 12 months with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on this, but so far the SPA2 was still awaited. He reassured members that the County Council was ready to sign up to this once it had been produced.
Mr Whiteside asked the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services if she shared the concern which had been expressed by women in Copeland about the public health implications for mothers and babies of the redundancy of the breastfeeding co-ordinator at Howgill Family Centre, and whether she considered that this and other redundancies by Family Action were consistent with the spirit of the assurance that staff at the Howgill centre would be TUPE’d over to Family Action.
The Cabinet Member replied to say that there would continue to be breastfeeding services in West Cumbria. Family Action had followed due process for all redundancies. These posts were not part of the contract that Family Actin took on so for these posts due process was not required to be followed.
Mr Lamb had watched the a programme on Channel 4 recently about West Cumbria Mining and was disappointed that the Leader of the Council had chosen not to defend Cumbria County Council and its officers, who had been working on this project for over 2 years. By not commenting the Leader risked allowing the anti-nuclear pressure groups, who sought to hold West Cumbria back at every opportunity, to set the agenda on this issue.
The Leader responded to say he had never been approached by Channel 4 for to comment on this. If he had, the response would have been that this decision was now subject to judicial review, so it would be inappropriate for him to comment.
Dr Haraldsen asked the Cabinet Member for Economic Development to state that this administration wholeheartedly supported the siting, and manufacture, of small and advanced nuclear reactors in the west of the county. He also asked him to confirm whether the County Council would play a strong role in advocating for new nuclear in Cumbria.
The Cabinet Member replied by saying that he had been negotiating with NuGen for over 5 years about the siting of small and advanced nuclear reactors but these negotiations had stalled due to a number of factors, including changes to investment policies at NuGen. However, he confirmed should these negotiations reoccur the County Council would support the proposals.
Mr Roberts asked the Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Services, that given the escalating concerns about the spread of Coronavirus and the fact that the Royal College of GPs believes it could be “several months” before an end to the epidemic, what resilience measures does this County Council had in place to protect the public. He asked whether the Cabinet Member for Public Health agreed that hand gel dispensers should be installed in council buildings across the county, for the safety of the members of the public and staff who used these buildings.
The Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities agree to provide a written response.
Mr Lister asked the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport to ensure that pressure was kept on Connect Roads, especially on the commitment to the BAPAat Heathfield Bridge. He also asked for a commitment from the County Council to ensure Dubmill Point remained part of the county infrastructure.
The Cabinet Member assured members that there was no intention to close Dubmill Point on a permanent basis, although the road would need to be closed during periods of extreme weather.
With reference to Heathfield Bridge the Cabinet Member shared the local member’s frustration. This road had been left unrepaired by the PFI contractor Connect Roads Ltd for far too long and he acknowledge the inconvenience this had caused to the travelling public. Council officers had been working hard to ensure that Connect Roads complied with their contractual obligations and repair this damaged bridge.
For reasons outside the control of the Council Connect Roads had been unacceptably delayed in agreeing with Network Rail the Basic Asset Protection Agreement needed to do the work. However, Connect had finally confirmed this had now been agreed. He would keep the local member updated of progess.