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Agenda and draft minutes

Commissioners' Public Meeting with Councillors
Wednesday, 16th March, 2016 11.00 a.m.

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

No. Item



Lead Commissioner Sir Derek Myers


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 from 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.


1.3   This will be the last meeting that takes place before the local elections and Commissioners will review future meeting arrangements thereafter.


Commissioners' Progress pdf icon PDF 69 KB


Each Commissioner will speak for a few moments to talk through

his / her area of work and progress to date. (Record of ‘minded-to’ decisions

made by Commissioners since 11th January – attached).


·       Commissioner Malcolm Newsam

·       Commissioner Mary Ney

·       Commissioner Julie Kenny

·       Commissioner Sir Derek Myers

o   including 12 month progress review and restoration of                                      some functions to the Council


Additional documents:


2.1   Commissioner Newsam reported on:


a)          Overall progress of the service since the last Ofsted inspection and over the last 12 months where the Council has sustained significant areas of progress.  There are no longer widespread failures in the service, all cases of children either vulnerable or at risk of harm are allocated and there are no untoward delays in children and families being assessed and receiving services.


b)          Capacity within Children’s Services and the significant strides the Council has made to strengthen the leadership capacity within the service.  There is now a permanent Head of Service tier and the Council is currently recruiting to the post of Deputy Director for Children’s Services. The Council has also increased the number of social worker posts who now have much more manageable workloads.


c)           The management, leadership and governance of the service was recently commended by Ofsted following their recent improvement visit.


d)          The Council still remains too reliant on temporary managers and social workers which impacts on the sustainability of improvements and the overall quality and effectiveness of practice.  The Chief Executive has agreed to enhance the HR and Finance functions of the service to help deal with this longstanding challenge.


e)          The review of the residential sector which has seen the closure of two residential care homes.  Commissioning of provider services still remains underdeveloped.


f)            The performance management system which the service now has in place and is interrogated effectively by senior managers.  The Council is strengthening its quality assurance arrangements which is already showing signs it is achieving better traction, although there is more work to be done.


g)          The robust Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) arrangements in place to protect children at risk of child sexual exploitation. 


h)          The recent outcome of the successful prosecutions following the trials into non-recent child sexual exploitation which concluded on 26th February with six defendants found guilty. A number of commendations have also been received for the proactive approach that the Evolve team has taken to support witnesses and survivors. 


i)             The ongoing role of the Council in tackling child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and the Council’s involvement in two major operations involving the engagement of over 160 young people.


j)            The outstanding victim management strategy employed by the team which puts the Council at the forefront of how to tackle child sexual exploitation. 


2.2   Further progress now needs to be made in making sure the Council develops the capacity to resume the executive responsibilities of Children’s Services.  The Secretary of State for the Department for Education (DfE) is keen to see this progress over the next 6 months with a view to coming to a position by September 2016.


2.3   Commissioner Mary Ney reported on:


a)          Taxi Licensing and the number of case hearings that have taken place since the last Commissioners’ public meeting on 13th January (6 hearings - 26 cases). The conclusion of the audit of all existing taxi drivers is expected by the end of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Questions from Elected Members


3.1   The following issues were raised by Members.


a)          The strengthening of the whole Council in safeguarding and broadening responsibility and ownership of Children’s Services across the Council, and the Corporate Senior Leadership Team’s role in ensuring this.


b)          The external review proposed at 2.6d for the final stage of intervention which is welcomed, and must be open, transparent and in the public interest.


c)           Recruitment and retention of permanent social workers and dealing with the long-standing challenge that the Council currently faces.  The need to strengthen links with the nearby Universities and their careers centres to promote and attract young graduates.


d)          The national issue of child sexual exploitation which is taking place in other localities across the country yet Rotherham appears to be the only authority facing this type of intervention.


e)          The in depth piece of work undertaken by Scrutiny around waste and Streetpride which sets a good basis for future work.  The agreement to appoint a ‘Love my Street Co-ordinator’ responsible for this area of work is welcomed and the Council now needs to ensure this becomes a main priority after the May local elections.


f)            Concerns regarding the investigations into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of Rotherham child sexual exploitation matters and the number of police officers being investigated is of great concern, and the Council should write to the Independent Police Complaints Commission regarding this. 


Commissioner Myers reported that Jason Harwin, Rotherham District Commander will soon be departing his post in Rotherham to take up the position of Assistance Chief Constable in South Yorkshire, with responsibility for local policing across the force area.   


g)          The outcome of the recent governance review led by Professor Tony Crookes and the need to further consider the timing of Council meetings to take place in the evenings or varying times to encourage and enable wider public attendance.


3.2   Individual Commissioners responded as appropriate.


Party Leaders - Report on Progress


Each of the Party Leaders will update what they are doing to improve

the Council.



4.1   Each Party Leader provided an update on their progress:


4.2   Cllr Read, Leader of the Labour Group and Council updated onrecent decisions of the joint Commissioner/Cabinet; work on monitoring and delivering the Council’s Corporate ‘Fresh Start’ Improvement Plan which has completed 48% of its overall actions; work on partnerships and the upcoming launch of the Rotherham Partnership Plan priorities for 2016/17 (informed by last year’s views from Rotherham consultation); ongoing discussions on devolution in the Sheffield City Region; Strategic Task Force on Tata which he continues to chair; progress on the arrival of the tram-train to Rotherham where he is in the process of writing formally to Network Rail regarding concerns on the delays to the project.  He recorded thanks to the RiDO staff who are running the Resource Centre, set up to advise those at risk of redundancy from Tata Steel.


4.3   Cllr Caven Vines, Leader of the UKIP minority partyreported on a conference he recently attended in Leeds aimed at reflecting on the lessons learned from Rotherham on child sexual exploitation.  Louise Casey and Alexis Jay attended as key speakers.  He raised concerns re: of lack of representation from the Council at this event and he will pursue the issue of potential ‘re-training for social workers’ with Commissioner Newsam and Ian Thomas arising from discussions at the conference. He wishes to be kept regularly briefed on progress regarding devolution arrangements in Sheffield City Region.


4.4   Cllr Martyn Parker, Leader of the Rotherham Independents’ Groupwas not in attendance to update on progress.


Public Question Time


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


a)          Lead Commissioner’s fees and register of interest.


b)          Progression regarding a longstanding unresolved issue with the Council by Mr Brian Cutts.


Action: Commissioner Myers will take a fresh look and review this issue.


5.2   Commissioner Myers responded as appropriate.


Future meetings


6.1   There will be no meeting in advance of the local elections and Commissioners will review any further meeting arrangements thereafter, giving sufficient notice to Members and the public of any future meetings.