To receive such reports as the Leader of the Council may wish to bring before the Council.
The Leader congratulated Councillors Kendal and Harvey on their second term of office as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively and thanked Members for re-electing him as Leader of the County Council and congratulated those Members who had been re-elected and those that had been elected to the Council for the first time, with commiserations to those who were not re-elected. He thanked district, borough and County Council staff for all their hard work to deliver what had been complicated elections to administer to support democracy.
The Leader referred to the challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic during which the focus had been to reduce the spread of the virus and keep Hampshire safe. While the Government’s announcement on easing restrictions was awaited, he emphasised the importance of continuing to follow the rules. The pandemic had also had a major impact on already constrained finances – a consequence of the growing demand for social care for vulnerable children and adults, against a backdrop of rising inflation and reduced Government funding.
The Leader reported that he continued to believe the best way forward for Hampshire is the two-tier model of local government, by working in partnership with the District and Borough Councils to ensure that efficiencies are gained from the work done to support the communities that those local authorities serve. He expressed his hope that if the Government decide on a unitary authority approach that this will be clearly stated in the White Paper which is anticipated for publication in the autumn. If this was the case, the Leader was of the view that a whole county unitary model would work best for Hampshire on the basis that any savings that might be made by that model would be lost if services already provided throughout the county were to be disaggregated.
The Leader reported that the Administration’s overriding objective remains to keep Hampshire safe, continue to deliver the highest outcomes for residents, and maintain Hampshire as a successful and prosperous county - supporting post-COVID economic recovery, balancing economic success with care for the environment, and tackling climate change. He also highlighted the continuing prioritisation of support for the most vulnerable in the community with a commitment to delivering high performing services, and a desire to maintain council tax amongst the lowest of any county in England. The Leader also commented on the need for the Government to address the Social Care situation and for a more equitable form of tax for both on-line businesses and shops.
The Leader expressed his sadness at the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and referred to the Duke of Edinburgh Award as a lasting legacy. He also added his condolences in respect of former County Councillor and Honorary Alderman John Waddington.
The Leader thanked the Chief Executive, John Coughlan for his work during his career with the County Council and commented that it had been a pleasure working with him. The Chairman invited Members to speak after which the Chief Executive thanked everyone for their kind words.
Lastly, the Leader confirmed his intention for the title of Honorary Alderman to be conveyed on a number of past County Councillors at a Special Meeting to be convened prior to the start of the full Council Meeting on Thursday 22 July. Following consultation with the Group Leaders it was proposed that Chris Carter, Peter Edgar MBE, Roy Perry and David Simpson be conveyed the title.