To answer questions received under Council Procedure Rule 6.2.
NB In accordance with the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 6.2.9 there will be a maximum of 30 minutes allowed for questions and answers. Any question not answered within the 30 minute time limit will receive a written reply within 5 working days.
The following questions were asked under Council Procedure Rule 6.2.2:-
a) Councillor P J Scott asked the following question of Councillor S Davies, Leader:
‘There is a lot of concern locally in the Newport area and the rest of the borough about the slowness of the Covid Vaccination roll out especially among the elderly and care homes. Other areas seem to be getting their vaccinations. The residents need some clarity. Can the leader tell me if he knows why the Wrekin area appears to be left behind whilst others are being prioritised?’
The Leader thanked Councillor Scott for the work he had been doing for the residents of Newport on this issue and stated that he shared Councillor Scott’s frustration at the speed of the roll out of the vaccine. Less than 50% of care home residents in the Borough had a vaccination, which was not good enough. The Leader stated that a centre in Newport was planned and was due to open in February, with more details to be released shortly. The Telford International Centre site was due to open at the end of January and then a centre at AFC Telford.
b) Councillor K Middleton asked the following question of Councillor S Davies, Leader:
‘During this health pandemic Telford and Wrekin council comms team and public health messaging has in my opinion been outstanding! Providing clear and concise guidance and information to residents, keeping them up to date in the form of social media posts, emails, letters, radio interviews and live Q&As, enabling them to engage and build confidence in our local public health message. We have all seen the negative impact of mixed messaging on how people respond and adhere to the guidelines. Do you agree that a vital part of fighting coronavirus is a consistent message to the public?’
The Leader replied that communication was very important and the Council was doing all it could to keep residents informed. The Council had regularly posted on social media and had written to every home in the Borough twice, with a third letter going out later this month.
As a supplementary question, Councillor Middleton asked the Leader what his message was in respect of the vaccine?
The Leader stated that the vaccine was safe, a life saver and that everyone should get the vaccine when they are called for it. There was no need to travel hundreds of miles to get vaccinated, centres were being set up in the Borough. He urged residents to follow the rules.
c) Councillor N A Dugmore asked the following question of Councillor A J Burford, Cabinet Member: Health & Social Care:
‘Would the cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing please update the Council on the number of Covid vaccinations performed in Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire to date with comparative data for neighbouring authorities?’
Councillor Burford expressed his frustration with the speed of the vaccine roll out and noted that, nationally, the NHS had been guarded with data, as they are aware that the spread of vaccinations is patchy. From initial figures it looks as 1 in 4 over 80s in the Borough had been vaccinated. Councillor Burford stated that he hoped to see a rise in numbers once the local vaccinations centres had opened.
Councillor Dugmore asked if the Council had asked the NHS to supply the data when it was available.
Councillor Burford confirmed that the Council was just starting to get data through and a close eye would be kept on all the data.
d) Councillor N A Dugmore asked the following question of Councillor S Davies, Leader:
‘Will the Leader confirm the names of the Group Leaders and their deputies on Telford and Wrekin Council?’
The Leader confirmed that he was the leader of the Labour Group, with Councillor Richard Overton serving as his deputy. The leader of the Liberal Democrat / Independent Group was Councillor Bill Tomlinson, with Councillor Thomas Janke as the deputy. Councillor Dugmore was the leader of the Conservative Group, and his deputy was Councillor Adrian Lawrence.
As a supplementary question, Councillor Dugmore asked if the inclusion of the independent councillor at leadership meetings conferred leadership status on this Member.
The Leader stated he was not sure what leadership meetings the Councillor was referring to. He noted that meetings had been held with Councillors Tomlinson and Dugmore. Other meetings had been held in respect of vaccinations, where the independent Member had attended, which, given the leading nature of his campaign and the cross party nature of the work, was thought to be right thing to do.
e) Councillor J Loveridge asked the following question of Councillor S A W Reynolds, Cabinet Member: Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning:
‘Could the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning confirm that following the government's recognition of the issues of home learning during school closures, that Telford & Wrekin schools were allocated laptops at the beginning of the Autumn term?’
Councillor Reynolds replied that during the first lockdown, the government promised that children would not be excluded from learning. The Council had received the first allocation of laptops, but while waiting for this to happen, had established their own scheme as children were falling between the gaps and there was a shortfall in the number of government issued laptops.
Councillor Loveridge asked if the laptops had now been delivered.
Councillor Reynolds stated that initially, the government slashed the number they would provide to a fifth of what had been announced. However, there had been a U-turn and the government had advised they would provide the full allocation of laptops.