To receive such reports as the Leader of the Council may wish to bring before the Council.
The Leader paid tribute to David Amies MP who had recently died in tragic circumstances.
Against the backdrop of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow the Leader reported that the County Council’s first Climate Change Annual Report had been received at Cabinet in October. The report outlined the significant progress being made across the county to reduce carbon emissions and ensure that Hampshire is prepared for the impacts of climate change. Over the last year the County Council had planted over 1,250 trees; secured Government funding for the installation of 50 on-street residential electric vehicle charge points; and provided support and advice to 40 Hampshire communities on reducing their carbon footprints and much more.
Turning to Covid 19, the Leader reported that infection rates were continuing to rise across Hampshire, in line with national rates and referred to the national vaccination programme including the offer of vaccinations to children between the ages of 12 and 15, and the offer of booster vaccinations as well as the annual flu jab to boost vital immunity against both viruses.
The Leader reported on the ‘connect4communities’ programme, led by the County Council, in collaboration with community partners, ensuring that around 40,000 children from eligible families across the county received food vouchers over the October half term. He was also pleased to report that the County Council would again facilitate the Holiday Activity and Food programme, funded by the Department for Education, during the Christmas holidays. The programme of schemes offers healthy food and activities to children who are eligible for free school meals and had successfully run throughout the Easter and summer school holidays reaching in the region of 100,000 Hampshire children during the summer. Eligible parents and carers were urged to ensure that their children are signed up for free school meals so they can access this scheme.
The Leader reported on progress with the Pan-Hampshire County Deal. In recognising the importance of full and meaningful engagement with its partners, including District and Borough Councils and neighbouring Unitary Councils, the County Council was working with all Leaders and Chief Executives to develop plans and documentation whilst maintaining the momentum already demonstrated to the Government. This was a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for change and by working closely with partners, it would be possible to deliver better outcomes for residents in the Pan-Hampshire area. The key purpose of the County Deal was about levelling up where it was needed and delegating power from the centre rather than reorganising local government
The Leader reported on the Chancellor’s Spending Review and Autumn Budget last Wednesday and particularly welcomed the return to a multi-year financial plan, following two consecutive single year events, which had made financial planning extremely challenging for the Council. The Budget included local government funding increases such as a £4.8 billion boost to grant funding over the next three years; details of how this would be distributed was awaited. Although this news was to be welcomed, the Leader reported of his disappointment that there was no long-term solution to the increased costs of social care which the County Council would continue to press for. The Leader observed that significant funding had been received by the health service over the last decade, and acute care in particular. He would like to see the same level of future health funding replicated in the primary care and social care sectors.
Whilst the Local Government Settlement was awaited with some concern, the Leader referred to the County Council’s strong track record of financial stewardship, alongside high performance, which would continue to be applied to ongoing budget pressures. The County Council would continue to do everything possible to support the most vulnerable adults and children, to fixing Hampshire’s extensive road network.
The Leader added his wishes to all who were celebrating Diwali and the Festival of Light. He was also pleased to learn that the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey had won Gold in the annual Britain in Bloom South and South-East region awards.
In concluding his report, the Leader thanked all staff for their hard work over the last few months, working both remotely and at their place of work during a difficult period. In particular he highlighted Hampshire Highways and their partner Milestone Infrastructure for the work they had done during the recent storms when 72 trees came down blocking roads across the County to clear these blockages and keep the road network running.