To receive such reports as the Leader of the Council may wish to bring before the Council.
The Leader reported on a number of Remembrance events across the county to mark the centenary of the end of World War I that were attended by many Members of the Council including events in Members’ own Divisions. The County Youth Orchestra also repeated their performance of Mozart’s Requiem in Winchester’s twin town of Giessen and was joined by a German choir, which the Leader had pleasure in attending.
The Leader had recently attended the NCAS conference in Manchester and the CCN conference in Guildford. At both conferences the point was made very clear that upper tier councils were facing huge funding pressures with escalating social care costs and children’s care costs increasing at the fastest rate. The County Council, like many other Councils, were experiencing pressures in this regard and the Leader had made representations to the Prime Minister, corresponded with Treasury ministers and had face to face meetings with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) including the Secretary of State.
The recent meeting of the Hampshire Partnership had updated partners on the work of the Hampshire Commission 2050 and all Members were encouraged to follow the work of the Commission and make representations. The Policy & Resources Select Committee had received a report and the work of the Commission is available on the County Council’s website. Meetings are open to all to attend.
In regard to Brexit, the Leader advised Members that there would be a detailed report to Cabinet to assess the implications of Brexit for Hampshire and what measures should be taken locally to deal with potential eventualities.
The Leader reported that he was in dialogue with the Leaders of
the Isle of Wight Council, Portsmouth City Council and Southampton
City Council to continue to foster
close co-operation and partnership working. Regular meetings were being set up, including with
the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.
On the theme of close co-operation, the Leader confirmed that in its response to the Government consultation on LEPs, the County Council has proposed that either the Solent and EM3 LEP should merge or if that was not achieved, that they work more closely together.
The Leader took the opportunity to comment on access to information for County Councillors and in particular, the use of and access to exempt reports. The Leader assured Members that he was committed to ensuring that all elected Members should have the fullest access to information that can be achieved within the constraints of the law and good governance. The Leader drew Members attention to the Council’s responsibilities which can concern highly sensitive and confidential information about vulnerable service users, as well as various forms of commercial confidentiality. The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) earlier in the year had accentuated the Council’s responsibilities and highlighted that no Councillor has an automatic right of access to any information simply by dint of being an elected Member. The application of exemptions to reports were rare and the evidence of concerns being raised about such reports was rarer still. The Leader drew Members attention to the evidence of many external inspections by the Information Commissioner, Ofsted and the CQC, that the Council’s management and sharing of confidential information is rated very highly, according to their critical standards. The Leader confirmed that he would be considering a report in this regard at his Policy & Review Decision Day in December which would include options for development and clarity. The report will be published in advance and the Leader confirmed he would be happy to take comments in advance of his decision.
In conclusion, the Leader also paid tribute to Karen Murray, Director of Culture, Communities and Business Services on her retirement following more than 40 years of excellent service and extended his best wishes for the future.