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Agenda and draft minutes

Commissioners' Public Meeting with Councillors
Monday, 16th January, 2017 10.00 a.m.

Venue: Town Hall, The Crofts, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.

Contact: James McLaughlin, Democratic Services Manager 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome

Minutes:

1.1   Lead Commissioner Sir Derek Myers welcomed everyone and re-stated that the purpose of the meeting was 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 was also an opportunity for the political party leaders to provide updates on their party’s progress.

2.

Commissioners - Progress since Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1   Commissioner Myers reported on Children and Young People’s Services (on behalf of Commissioner Bradwell):

 

(a)        Overall steady progress was being made in the directorate.

 

(b)        The introduction of the new case management system had been successful and rolled out to frontline staff to enable work to be tracked and recorded. This is comparable to other local authorities.

 

(c)        More staff had been recruited who were being better led doing better work.  A number of agency staff remained, but were being replaced with permanent staff.  Some managers and frontline staff needed confidence building and further training, but the Council now probably has the best workforce than in recent times.

 

(d)        A further inspection from Ofsted was not expected until the second half of 2017.  Children’s Services has set the ambition of Rotherham to be rated as ‘outstanding’, which is ambitious but was endorsed and it was the intention to do all work well or better.

 

(e)        The first of four monitoring visits Ofsted had made focused on Looked After Children.  Written comments are on the Ofsted website. There were some areas of weakness with work not being discharged consistently and well enough both historically and today.

 

(f)          Ofsted’s second monitoring visit will focus on Assessment and Early Help service, which was an area which had seen the most improvement. There would be two further monitoring visits before the final comprehensive inspection.

 

(g)        The Council was committed to further work and training, following a nationally recognised training scheme for staff.

 

(h)        Demand remained high and new work had to be prioritised, which also included the contribution to the work around historic abuse, support to survivors and assessments of risk to see justice being done.

 

(i)          Negotiations are taking place with Government and the Home Office around the possibility of receiving extra national funding through a ‘fusion bid’ which will support the work being done to investigate historical abuse, including support of those survivors who are now adults.  Commissioners hoped they were closer to a successful resolution.

 

(j)          The directorate remained overspent through a combination of new demand and a continuing reliance on high cost agency staff.  This was a burden on the Council which has lower reserves and reduced options going forward.

 

(k)        Pressures remained on Legal staff who were trying to keep up with flow of work through the courts.  Tribute was paid to the Council, partners, other agencies and in particular the political leadership through Councillor Watson’s important contribution.

 

(l)          The workforce was moving forward, taking ownership of quality work and would aspire to producing creative solutions in Rotherham.

 

2.2   Commissioner Myers updated members on Adult Social Care.

 

(a)        There was no picture of past failure with the service and good work had taken place.  However the service was very traditional compared with the rest of Local Government which had modernised and moved away from institutionalised solutions to individual arrangements, reinforcing independence. 

 

(b)        The service was in the process of change, with new management in place and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Questions from Elected Members

Minutes:

3.1   There were no questions from Elected Members.

4.

Party Leaders - report on progress

Minutes:

4.1   Each Party Leader provided an update on their progress.

 

4.2   Councillor Read,Leader of the Labour Group and Council, provided and update on the progress in the last ten months, key milestones achieved, return of executive powers and more recently further progress through the return of licensing powers and the conclusion of senior staff appointments.  Pre-scrutiny had opened up decision making and democratic accountability and oversight was strengthened through the Constitution Working Group.  A submission had also been made to the Local Boundary Commission as to the shape of the authority from 2020 and beyond.

 

4.3   Eight more perpetrators in relation to CSE had been convicted and with the investment into Children and Young People’s Services the most vulnerable of children would be protected.

 

4.4   The Leader would continue to lead budget debates and challenge and improve the lives of residents through the Rotherham Together Partnership and the four partnership boards.

 

4.5   The legal challenge by Derbyshire County Council was putting the City Region Mayoral election arrangements on hold. The leader was clear that there was only one devolution deal on the table; the one negotiated with neighbouring closest local authorities.  The best deal for Rotherham was the one the Council had negotiated before.  The opportunities and prosperity of the Sheffield City Region was paying dividends with the securing of the funding for the HE Campus, Pithouse West, Forge Island and the investment in the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

 

4.6   Councillor Cowles,leader of the UKIP Minority Party, reported on the greater degree of co-operation between two groups, participation in Scrutiny and health care and the opportunities for constructive opposition to input views and aims into decision making processes to benefit the town. Have offered support on matters such as the constitution and showed a willingness to participate. This has helped the opposition to become more constructive and be able to be part of the decision making process.

 

4.7   The opposition will try to remain well informed and engage with the electorate. As Leader he would get involved in matters outside his ward, like the Leader of the Council.  He will disagree with matters but will try to take each issue on merit which may lead to clashes in the Chamber, but not outside it. There are still areas for criticism, and questioned why no one had been made accountable for CSE following the findings from the Jay and Casey reports.

 

4.8   Reference was made to the budget and current financial position, along with the need for the implementation of robust controls to be standard practice.  Unachievable budgets had been set which constituted misrepresentation of the financial position of the organisation and it was uncertain if the Secretary of State was aware of this position.

 

4.9   With regards to demand for services this may not be as complicated as forecasted when numbers were downloaded.

 

4.10 Commissioner Myers confirmed the Secretary of State was aware of the Council’s financial position as he updated regularly.  He acknowledged the difficulties in forecasting for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Questions from Commissioners/ Elected Members

Minutes:

5.1       The following issues were raised by Members.

 

(a)    The financial situation of the Council, the challenges being faced and the significant difference since the new financial director appointed.

 

(b)        Introduction of the pre-scrutiny process giving Members opportunity to comment on reports prior to their consideration by the Cabinet.

6.

Public Question Time

Minutes:

6.1   A member of the public asked a question which covered the following areas.

 

(a)        Ofsted Inspection Regime and their grading judgements.

(b)        Outsourcing Children and Young People’s Services and the responsibility remaining with the Council.

(c)        Ongoing dispute over documentary advice for the Lead Commissioner from Civil Servants.

6.2   Commissioner Myers responded as appropriate.

7.

Close

Minutes:

7.1   Commissioner Sir Derek Myers thanked everyone for their attendance and formally closed the meeting at 11.10 a.m.