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Agenda and draft minutes

Commissioners' Public Meeting with Councillors
Wednesday, 13th January, 2016 11.00 a.m.

Venue: Town Hall, The Crofts, Moorgate Street, Rotherham. S60 2TH

No. Item




1.1       Lead Commissioner Sir Derek Myers welcomed everyone and re-stated that the purpose of this meeting is to allow the Commissioners to place in the public domain progress on their work and receive questions and/ or comments of Elected Members and the public.


1.2       The meeting is also an opportunity for the three political party Leaders to provide updates on their party’s progress.


Commissioners - progress since last meeting pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Additional documents:


2.1   Commissioner Newsam reported on:


a)          Capacity issues within Children’s Services in December as a result of a series of accidents and illnesses to senior staff.  He acknowledged thanks to Linda Harper who had undertaken the role of Acting Director for Children’s Services in the absence of Ian Thomas, Director for Children’s Services.                

b)          Appointments of the Heads of Service recently confirmed as: Vicky Schofield (Head of Quality Assurance), Ailsa Barr (Head of Localities) and Gary Pickles (Head of Looked After Children).  The role of Deputy Director for Children’s Services is to be advertised shortly.

c)           The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which has received positive results arising from a recent assessment which now demonstrates that working processes are secure. 

d)          Evolve and the very effective joint work between South Yorkshire Police and the Council on the prevention, disruption, protection and prosecution of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

e)          The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the continuing liaison in respect of Operation Stovewood (investigation into non recent CSE) where approximately 300 suspects have been identified.  This represents a significant workload for Children’s Services and is estimated that an additional £3m worth of social care resource is required over the next 3 years to complete this investigation.  The Council is working closely with the NCA on a joint bid to the Home Office to meet this cost.

f)            CSE support services and a 3 year tender approved in December 2015 for support services which will come into force from 1st April 2016.  The outreach service to potential victims of CSE (managed by Barnardo’s and jointly funded by the Council, DCLG, DfE and KPMG) will also be launched later this month representing a big step forward. 

g)          St Edmond’s Children’s Home and the recent minded-to decision to approve the closure.  This decision will feed into the broader review recently commissioned into the future of Children’s residential services within the Council.

h)          Future challenges of restricted resources and attracting permanent and experienced social workers.


2.2   Commissioner Manzie reported on:


a)          Senior management appointments now confirmed as: Chief Executive (Sharon Kemp); Assistant Chief Executive (Shokat Lal); Assistant Director for Legal Services & Monitoring Officer (Dermot Pearson); Strategic Director for Finance and Customer Services (Judith Badger); Assistant Director for Community Safety and Street Scene (Karen Hanson).


        The Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment and two Assistant Director posts for Commissioning and Independent Living and Support are at the interview stages.  The post of Strategic Director for Adult Care and Housing will be re-advertised as a result of an unsuccessful first interview phase.


        Other new internal appointments: Corporate Equalities Officer (Zaidah Ahmed); Voluntary Sector Co-ordinator (Waheed Akhtar) and Cabinet Support Officer (Emma Hill).


b)          Progress on the Improvement Plan in which the majority of actions will be achieved by the end of January 2016.  This is being handed over to the incoming Chief Executive to work on phase 2 with Members and Commissioners.  Further work on the Corporate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Questions from Elected Members


3.1   The following areas were raised by Members:


a)          Lack of consultation with regard to scrutiny proposals and these being too premature.


b)          The closure of Flanderwell Children’s Autism Resource Centre (after 11 months in operation) and lack of consultation with autistic and psychological services. 


Action:  Ian Thomas, Director of Children’s Services to provide a detailed briefing on background and the process for decision for Members.


c)           Cuts to a large number of frontline staff and how this reflects on the Council given the recent appointments of senior staff.  Further clarification is also required on the number of redundant posts within the Council.


Action: Commissioner Manzie to provide a briefing note for all Members clarifying the number of redundancies in the Council.


d)          New Licensing Policy and concerns regarding out of town taxis applying trade in Rotherham and the limitations the Council has on the control and management of this due to the current legislation.  Rotherham should continue to make representations to Government on this issue.


e)          The unhealthy Council budget and clarification required on the additional 2% levy on Council Tax to help fill the funding gap and ensuring the Council is compliant with Government regulations.


f)            Ensuring the views of children are fed into the work within children’s services – particularly ongoing work on the review of Children’s residential services within the Council.


3.2   Individual Commissioners responded as appropriate.


3.3   Members recorded their thanks for the work undertaken by Commissioner Stella Manzie for her work on supporting and dealing with Councillor complaints.



Party Leaders - report on progress


4.1   Each Party Leader provided an update on their progress:


4.2   Cllr Read, Leader of the Labour Group and Council updated on ongoing budget discussions and reductions in frontline staff; the Council’s Vision; work on monitoring the Improvement Plan which has completed 96% of its overall actions in the first part of the programme; Corporate Plan and the next phase of developing this which is an important tool in holding the Council to account; the Governance Review; ongoing discussions on devolution in the Sheffield City Region and the economic challenges facing Rotherham i.e. Tata Steel announcement of job losses. 


4.3   He recorded thanks to the RiDo team for their efforts in securing additional Government funding for those affected by Tata Steel restructuring and job losses.  He also highlighted that recent progress on the intervention was a vote of confidence in Members and thanked those Members of the Advisory Cabinet who had participated in the Council’s recent health check service reviews.


4.4   Cllr Caven Vines, Leader of the UKIP minority party, passed on congratulations to Commissioner Myers and Cllr Reynolds for their roles in helping secure additional funding for the Council.  He informed Members of a presentation he has given to the LGA on CSE and on a number of visits to local authorities across the country where he has been gathering information on how to tackle austerity cuts.  He highlighted the need for the Council to look at long-term funding streams for income generation.


4.5   Cllr Martyn Parker, Leader of the Rotherham Independents’ Group highlighted he is in the process of sending out a series of letters to encourage people to stand in election and stressed his concerns regarding the Council reverting back to its former ways following the departure of Commissioners in due course. 


Public Question Time


5.1   Two Members of the public asked questions and raised the following:


a)          Welcomed Advisory Cabinet meetings taking place in public from 18th January but questioned why these could not be held in the evening as with other Councils.


b)          Lack of notification to the public regarding meetings and the need for the Council to use its resource to better publicise these to improve public attendance.


c)           The consultation with Rotherham residents ‘Roadshows’ in 2014 and the questions used being unfit for purpose.


d)          Commissioner fees and the wish to see reduced costs and roles of Commissioners diminished as a result of the appointment of the new Chief Executive and return of some functions to elected Members. 


5.2   Individual Commissioners responded as appropriate.


Next Meeting


Wednesday, 16th March 2016 (11.00-1.00pm) – Town Hall, Rotherham.