Verbal updates of Executive Members on the issues identified below. Executive Members also responded to Members’ questions regarding these issues.
County Councillor Carl Les (Leader of the Council):-
· Omicron and the huge pressure on the NHS and the care sector including staff shortages due to illness, and the need to encourage residents to have the vaccinations and booster. He also applauded volunteers who had kept vaccination stations open, including on Christmas Day.
· The “Make Care Matter” recruitment campaign to encourage people to consider the care sector as a good employment opportunity and career.
· Climate change and steps being taken to decarbonise the Council’s estate and the encouragement being given to others to follow that route too.
· Local Government Reform:- the positive progress which was being made, including the setting up of a number of workstreams with a view to achieving the smoothest possible transition from eight authorities to one single authority; and Devolution, in respect of which councillors were awaiting the opportunity to enter into talks with civil servants.
· Council Tax and the budget to be set by full Council in February 2022, to allow the Council to do the things it needed to do, especially for vulnerable people, and other things that needed to be done for everybody eg winter gritting of roads to keep the County moving. However, the Council also needed to be mindful of the ability of people to pay.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd (Deputy Leader of the Council):-
· Council finances, in respect of which he or Gary Fielding would be happy to respond to any Member’s questions of fact (but not policy). He advised that he was disappointed at some recent media coverage about investments made by the County Council in the Harrogate area.
County Councillor David Chance (Executive Member for Stronger Communities):-
· The support, including a range of new services, which continued to be offered to communities during Covid through the 23 Community Support Organisations (CSOs). The Council was proposing to retain the support of the CSOs for a minimum of a further 12 months.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie (Executive Member for Access):-
· The Head of Highways had sent out an up-to-date report on the situation regarding winter gritting. In addition, a further ten weather stations and roadside cameras had now been put online on the County Council’s website.
· The frequency of trains between Harrogate and York doubled with effect from 12 December 2021 thanks to a £10million investment led by the County Council which improved track and signalling in the Cattal area.
· A Bus Services Improvement Plan had gone out to public consultation.
· Free public access WiFi had recently been launched in Knaresborough, in addition to Ripon, and would be made available in Harrogate later in 2022.
County Councillor Michael Harrison (Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration, including Health and Wellbeing Board and Extra Care):-
· Many of the challenges in the Health and Adult Services Directorate, and across social care, had been more widely, well communicated. Figures to add to Members’ understanding were:- NYCC staff absence for Covid related reasons was approximately 15% ie about 3 times more than it had been throughout the pandemic.
· Daily meetings with all care settings across the County had been reactivated to focus any support which might be needed as any crises unfolded.
· A number of care homes had “hot” Covid outbreaks and there were others for which confirmation of results was awaited following positive Lateral Flow Tests. The challenge was that, if a care home had an outbreak, it was prevented from accepting new admissions. This further reduced the amount of availability of care home beds across the county. The Council was opening up additional beds wherever it could. A challenge was that, if people needed to be discharged from hospital because they no longer needed to be there, but they could not go home without support, or if they needed to go into a care home bed, the restriction on care home admissions was impacting on hospitals.
· The majority of the Council’s Reablement Teams were being redirected to provide routine home care. In addition, hospital VCS services were being expanded to try to assist with discharges. One impact of diverting resources to address more critical need was that many Respite Services etc were being scaled down, which impacted on relatives and friends who relied on respite.
That Executive Members be thanked for attending this meeting and for their updates.