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Agenda item

Commissioners - progress since last meeting


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 Plan, Performance Management Framework and Medium Term Financial Strategy will also now take place.

c)           Adult Social Care and work on making budget savings and improving and changing the culture and the service.  

d)          City region activity namely regional and economic development jobs.


2.3   Commissioner Mary Ney reported on:


a)          Implementation of the Council’s new taxi licensing policy and the continuation of the process of the audit of currently licensed drivers against the requirements of the revised policy.  This has resulted in the identification of 67 drivers in potentially serious breach (6% of the total).  As of 11th January 2016, 40 hearings have been concluded (21 licences revoked, 5 cases requiring no further action, 3 suspended pending completion of the DVSA driving test and 4 formal warnings issued).   From the remaining 7, 3 licenses have been surrendered voluntarily and 4 adjourned for further investigation.  The Licensing Board has also considered 10 applications for the grant of a licence and 10 applications for renewal.  A total of 55 cases have been heard in the last 3 months (equivalent of the number of cases considered in 2014).

b)          Children and adult safeguarding training which as of 6th January has had 963 licence holders attend the training as a requirement of the new policy.  Other licence holders who have not yet attended are due to be contacted and given notice their licence will be revoked if they do not attend by a set deadline.

c)           The full Licensing Board which is due to meet on 20th January will receive an overview report of activity in implementing the policy and will also hold a private meeting to discuss individual cases.

d)          Safer Rotherham Partnership and its newgovernance structure which came into force in October 2015.  It will next meet in February to study the analysis of crime and antisocial behaviour in the Borough. The Joint Strategic Intelligence Assessment is due to be published shortly and will be used to develop the new Community Safety Strategy which will run from April 2016 to 2019. 


2.4   Commissioner Julie Kenny reported on:


a)          The delivery of the first of seven tram-train vehicles that will be operating between Rotherham and Sheffield, a first for the UK.

b)          The Local Plan which earmarks the new development of sites to help kick-start the delivery of the new homes and jobs in Rotherham.  807 comments have been received in response to the consultation.

c)           Great British High Street and Rotherham’s recent achievement as winner in the town centre category.

d)          The Town Centre Masterplan refresh which consultants Arup have been appointed to help with and will provide a credible spatial plan linking the Borough’s priority projects.

e)          Tata Steel and recent confirmation that Rotherham has attracted additional Government funding to support those affected by the restructure and job losses.

f)            Gulliver’s Family Theme Park and continuing work to enable the Council to receive a planning application for work to start later in 2016.

g)          Partnerships and ongoing work on the Community Strategy.

h)          Business Growth Board progress and recent appointments of independent Chairs and Vice Chairs of the thematic sub-groups.


2.5   Commissioner Myers reported on:


2.6   Restoration of some functions to the Council


a)          Proposals from the Commissioner Team to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in November 2015 to return a number of functions and restore some Member executive decision-making accountability.  The proposals have been shared with Members and are available on the Council’s website ( 

b)          Since Commissioners started work in February 2015, they have received no such requests from the Council to propose to return any powers.

c)           Consultation has recently taken place with the public and Elected Members of the Council including those in minority parties and following comments received, a letter has now been sent to the Secretary of State, DCLG to confirm the recommendation.

d)          The Commissioner Team is awaiting a response from the Secretary of State who is now considering the recommendation and evidence. 

e)          If the Secretary of State is minded-to, draft revised Directions will be issued and a timetable, if agreed, will see the current Advisory Cabinet able to make decisions at the public meeting on 15th February.  Commissioners will continue to retain the right to provide formal Advice to executive Councillors which is not binding, though a reason for not accepting any such advice will be recorded. 

Further detail regarding process and working protocols will be provided in due course.

f)            Commissioners will continue to sit and make decisions on those areas retained for decision-making with support and advice from officers and elected Members.

g)          The usual powers of the scrutiny apparatus will now come back into force and there will be revised call-in arrangements which will operate as in other Councils (current arrangements under the direction of Commissioners are not subject to call-in).


2.7   Budget


a)          The Commissioner Team has made representations to Government for:


·             Flexibility of a 2% levy on Council Tax (now agreed by Government for all local authorities as a social care precept). 

·             Ability to use money normally spent for ‘capital’ purposes on ‘revenue’ requirements. 

·             A special one-off grant in acknowledgement of the improvement work and to help in efforts to improve services.  £5.169m has now been agreed and confirmed by Government as a one-off grant for the Council.


b)          Commissioners take responsibility for preparing a budget but do not have the powers to make the final decision and agree the budget for the Council as this is reserved to Councillors.  Budget proposals (already referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board) for 2016/17 will be considered at the Advisory Cabinet / Commissioner decision meeting on 18th January, followed by public and partner consultation on financial and service changes to inform final budget setting at the 2nd March Full Council meeting.  The Council is in a position to set its budget without the use of reserves.


2.8   Commissioner Team


a)          Commissioner Myers on behalf of the Commissioner Team recorded thanks to Commissioner Stella Manzie who has undertaken the joint role of Commissioner and Managing Director since February 2015 and will complete her service with the Council on 29th January 2016.   


b)          The Commissioner Team and costs will reduce as a result of her departure and those areas of decision-making not returned to Councillors that currently sit with her will be re-allocated to other Commissioners as follows:


·             Commissioner Myers – Adult social care, performance management framework and audit (the responsibility of the Audit Committee remains unchanged)

·             Commissioner Kenny – asset management

·             Commissioner Mary Ney – Human Resources, waste management and grounds maintenance


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