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):-
· Executive Members very much appreciated receiving invitations to the Committee’s meetings as they found it helpful, for carrying out their role, to attend.
· Local government reorganisation – (i) The Structural Change Order had now gone through the House of Commons and the House of Lords and was awaiting ministerial sign off. (ii) All councils, with the exception of Richmondshire District who had not been present, had signed off the Implementation Plan, which was the ‘road map’ to the successful transition to go from 8 councils into a single unitary council and gave options for the councillors to be elected in May 2022 to choose the new council’s ways of working. A copy was being sent to all current Members. (iii) The work of the various work streams was going well.
· Devolution – Discussions with the Minister and civil servants had now commenced and were very positive.
· Ukrainian evacuees would be welcomed with open arms once they started to arrive in the county.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd (Deputy Leader of the Council):-
· Local government reorganisation – (i) Councils’ treasury staff were working tirelessly and collaboratively to deliver the transformation programme so that North Yorkshire residents saw no visible change to services on 1 April 2023, ie on the date when the new unitary council came into being. (ii) The County Council’s proposal for local government reorganisation had included a clear mandate for localism, eg to area constituency committees, and he hope that that pledge would be honoured by the new council. His personal preference was to go one step further by giving rights and responsibilities to local Members to make very local decisions on behalf of their communities. Various Committee Members expressed support for County Councillor Gareth Dadd’s personal preference.
County Councillor David Chance (Executive Member for Stronger Communities):-
· The Syrian Refugee Scheme was going exceptionally well, with people who had been relocated in North Yorkshire being extremely thankful for the lives that had been given to them. Afghan refugees continued to be received in North Yorkshire and that was likely to continue throughout the Summer. Detailed information was awaited from the Government about the arrangements to assist Ukrainian evacuees and he had no doubt that Yorkshire would be very supportive.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie (Executive Member for Access):-
· NY Highways, the teckal company created by the County Council, had had a benign first winter in terms of providing a winter gritting service and had, in fact, probably spent more time dealing with flooding on roads and removing trees blown over during storms than with ice and snow.
· Major Schemes – (i) Kex Gill was still proceeding and one or two legal aspects were currently being worked through before an announcement could be made about the appointment of a contractor. (ii) Work had been held up a little at the A1(M) junction 47, although this had not caused congestion.
· Bus services improvement – The Harrogate Advertiser, on 17 March, had carried a fairly big article on its front page, and in inside pages, about buses following discussion at the meeting on 15 March of the County Council’s Executive. He remained fairly confident that the whole fleet of Harrogate Bus Company would be converted to electric traction.
· In response to a question from County Councillor Philip Broadbank, County Councillor Don Mackenzie undertook to enquire why a meeting between officers and local Members, regarding the provision of a footpath and street lighting at Kingsley Road/Bogs Lane, had not taken place, as agreed by the Area Constituency Committee on 6 January 2022.
· Rail – The December 2021 timetable had shown a doubling of rail services between Harrogate and York, which was excellent. However, there would be a little hiccup from May 2022 for a few weeks, namely, that Northern, the train operator, was having difficulties running a full service throughout the north of England and were consequently having to make or two savings on many of their routes.
· Digital infrastructure – The County Council was introducing free public Wi-Fi to 18 town centres. This was now available in Knaresborough and Ripon. It would be available in Harroqate the Boroughbridge shortly, thereby assisting those local economies.
County Councillor Michael Harrison (Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration, including Health and Wellbeing Board and Extra Care):-
· COVID infection rates at present in North Yorkshire, England, and the Harrogate district were reported. There were rising hospitalisations with COVID locally, although many of these were people who were in hospital more generally for other reasons and had transpired to have COVID on being tested when admitted to hospital.
· The continuing negative impact of COVID on the hospital sector and the care home sector. These sectors continued to follow the segregation protocols which had been in place during the previous two years. The social care sector remained fragile with resourcing constraints.
· Encouragement for Members to promote of the makecarematter.co.uk recruitment hub website.
(a) That Executive Members be thanked for attending this meeting and for their updates.
(b) That Executive Members be thanked for attending and providing updates at each meeting of this Committee during the last 18 months, for which Committee Members are very grateful.