Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham. S60 2TH
Contact: Debbie Pons, Principal Democratic Services Officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Leader of the Council declared that in the spirit of increasing openness and transparency, not provided for in Standing Orders, he intended to allow other Members of the Council, not on the membership for the Cabinet, to ask questions at the meeting. This would follow the same principle for members of the public, with the same time limit of twenty minutes.
Questions from Members of the Public
(1) A member of the public referred to Item 8 on the agenda relating to Council Tax Support Grants to Parishes 2015/16 and asked what consultation had taken place between the Council and Parish Councils?
The Deputy Leader confirmed that correspondence had been sent to all Town and Parish Councils. Both herself and the Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods had attended the Parish Network Meeting where this matter was discussed and in addition responses had been made to any queries that had been submitted.
In a supplementary question the member of the public confirmed he had attended the Parish Network Meeting and had seen the correspondence that had been submitted and in his opinion believed the consultation was a fait accompli, but asked if Labour were making a mistake with agreeing a report on Parish Councils before the election?
The Deputy Leader referred the member of the public to the report at Item 8 on this agenda and the detail. As part of the consultation process Parish Councils had been listened to and to assist with the reduction in grant funding a freeze would be made for 2015/16 and the reduction managed in subsequent years.
(2) A member of the public referred to the proposed closure of Abbey School and out of eighty-seven students only forty-seven were now left on site, with another seven proposed to leave and it was proposed this was the start of the Abbey closure which made a mockery of the democratic consultation process.
The Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services confirmed the consultation process was still live, at pre-consultation stage, and no decision had been taken on the closure of the school. A report had been commissioned to look at all matters relating to Abbey School and would be published in due course.
In a supplementary question the member of the public believed the departure of students was making Abbey School unviable, especially if the number of students was reduced further. How could the school remain open if the core of students was reduced? Abbey was a good school and with the right support could be a good school again. Parents were voting with their feet and how could proper consultation take place if the core of students were reduced?
The Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services noted the concerns about the viability of the school and confirmed this would be taken into consideration as part of the consultation process. A consultation event had been arranged with parents where they could ask questions of the Local Authority regarding the issues going forward.
(3) A member of the public expressed her confusion as to why the leadership put in place at Abbey School, had failed at every level according to Ofsted, had not been replaced and left the school to sink when it could have been saved?
The Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services explained that this issue would be covered in the scope of the report indicated ... view the full minutes text for item 116.
Questions from Elected Members
(1) Councillor C. Vines referred to Abbey School and asked why the Local Authority was still contacting parents with a view to transferring schools when assurances had been given that this practice would cease, yet it was still going on?
The Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services confirmed that if the Elected Member furnished him with details he would investigate further.
(2) Councillor Reeder asked about the seminar that was held at Magna in 2013 concerning child sexual exploitation and if this was organised by the Council and if it was could minutes of this meeting be provided?
The Leader confirmed details regarding this event would be provided.
Declarations of Interest
Councillor Lakin declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in Minute No. 120 (Housing Rent Increase) on the grounds that he was or had family or friends who were housing tenants.
Councillors Beck and Lakin declared personal interests in Minute No. 121 (Council Tax Support Grant to Parishes 2015/16) on the grounds that they were members of Parish Councils.
- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Councillor Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods, introduced the minutes of the Rotherham Local Plan Steering Group held on 21st November, 2014.
Resolved:- (1) That the progress to date and the emerging issues be noted.
(2) That the minutes of the Local Plan Steering Group held on 21st November, 2014 be received.
- Strategic Director of Resources and Transformation Services to report.
Councillor Hoddinott, Deputy Leader, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Resources and Transformation, which set out the calculation of the Council’s proposed Council Tax base for the forthcoming financial year 2015/16. The calculation of the Tax Base took into account: the Council’s own Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), the discretionary discounts and exemptions awarded to empty properties and second homes, future tax collection rates (96.5%) and estimates of the changes and adjustments in the tax base that occur during the financial year.
In accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 2012 governing its calculation, it was determined that the Council’s Tax Base for the financial year 2014/15 be 65,477.52 Band D Equivalent Properties.
From 2013, technical changes in Council Tax Regulations allowed the Council to reduce the discretionary discounts awarded to empty properties and second homes and in some cases charge tax premiums. For 2015/16 these have been rolled forward at the same levels as in 2014/15.
The Council Tax Base in previous years had included estimates and projections reflecting the changes and adjustments in the Tax Base that occur during the financial year. These have included:-
· The completion of new properties;
· Changes in banding as a result of adjustments and appeals;
· Discounts, exemptions and reliefs (for example, single person discounts, and reductions in liabilities for disabled persons).
· The ending of the discount period on empty properties or their reoccupation.
For 2015/16 it was estimated that some 728.55 new and reoccupied Band D Equivalent properties would be added to the Council Tax base - an increase of 1.1%. This increase was significantly higher than in recent years and reflected the recovery of the construction industry in the town as the number of new builds and the rate of completions had increased and was now above even the estimates (including those provided by builders last year) which had been built into the MTFS. The most significant growth had been in relation to the Waverley development in the Parish of Orgreave, where the number of Band D properties was increasing by 57% or 133.66 Band D equivalents. There had also been 6.0% - 103.92 Band D equivalent properties growth in Thurcroft. Not only have more properties been built but the new properties were more likely to fall into the higher value Council Tax bands – bands D-F having increased by 2.3% on average. Finally, the Council’s decision in 2013/14 to use new discretions to reduce the discounts on empty properties from nil for 6 months to 25% for 3 months combined with the already robust approach to the issuing of completion notices has meant that new properties are promptly included in the tax base.
In addition to new build properties the tax base had also increased as a result in the reduction in the cost of the Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the number of working age claimants. Overall the 2015/16 Tax base showed a net increase of ... view the full minutes text for item 120.
- Strategic Director of Resources and Transformation Services to report.
Councillor Hoddinott, Deputy Leader, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Resources and Transformation, which provided details of the current level of grants provided by the Council to Parish Councils in order to compensate them for the effects of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) on their Tax Base and makes recommendations about the proposed level of grant funding for the period 2015/16 and beyond.
Originally the tax base adjustment described above was funded by a specific government grant in 2013/14. From 2014/15 government support had been merged within Revenue Support Grant (RSG) and could not be separately identified. The Revenue Support Grant had been scaled back substantially in recent Local Government finance settlements and indications were that this would continue into the future.
Going forward the Council must determine whether to maintain grant allocations at 2013/14 levels or to reduce the grant to Parishes in 2015/16. This report also recommended the proposed level of grant allocation to parishes beyond 2015/16.
The Deputy Leader and the Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods had attended the Parish Network Meeting to discuss with Parish Councils reductions in the grant. It was noted that this could have a substantial impact on some Parish Council Budgets, as for some the grant represented a significant income stream.
To reduce the grant allocation for 2015/16 could mean significant financial difficulties for parishes so freezing allocations for the coming financial year would, therefore, allow Parish Councils time to prepare for the proposed reduction in funding in future years.
The Council were keen to work together with Parish Councils and to look at opportunities to mitigate any impact on the people of Rotherham.
The Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods endorsed the information above and stressed the importance of working together to look at what could be provided in terms of services to the local communities. A meeting of the Parish Council Liaison Meeting was also due to take place on Tuesday, 20th January, 2015 at 6.00 p.m.
Cabinet Members noted the difficulties facing all partners and the need to plan and work through future savings plans.
Resolved:- (1) That the report be received and the contents noted.
(2) That the options and the associated risks to the Council in respect of Council Tax Support Grants to Parishes be considered.
(3) That the grants to Parish Councils be paid in 2015/16 at the same level as in 2014/15, and that grants in 2016/17 be reduced by a third, with a further third reduction from present levels in 2017/18 phasing out the grant by 2018/19 as set out in the attached appendix.. (This would aid Parish Councils with their financial planning).
(Councillors Beck and Lakin declared personal interests in Minute No. 121 (Council Tax Support Grant to Parishes 2015/16) on the grounds that they were members of Parish Councils and left the room whilst the item was discussed)
- Strategic Director of Resources and Transformation to report.
Further to Minute No. 98 of the meeting of the Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods held on 12th January, 2015, Councillor Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods introduced a report by the Director of Housing and Neighbourhoods which sought agreement for the proposed housing rent, new build rents, garage rent and communal facilities increases for 2015/16 to go forward for consultation, subject to the outcome of that consultation, for decision.
This year it was proposed to implement an annual increase of 1.2% for non-housing rent issues and 2.2% for dwelling rent in accordance with the new prescribed formula issued by Government. Members were asked to also note the draft Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2015/16.
It was noted that wherever possible the Council had sought to restrain annual charge increases and Rotherham rents still ranked as some of the lowest in the country. Since 2002/03 DCLG had, however, required all local authorities to use a prescribed formula to calculate each tenants rent and to apply annual increases to actual rents to achieve the Formula Rent (Formula Rent was the rent set under rent restructuring). The formula rent from April 2015 had been revised and would now be linked to Consumer Price Index (CPI) which was consistent with other inflation measures used in policy by the Government including benefits and pensions. Applying this new formula for 2015/16 produced an average rent increase for Council tenants of 2.2%.
The Government expected that all similar properties in the same local area would have equitable rent levels, even if properties were owned by different social landlords. This process was known as ‘rent convergence’. The Government set a target for authorities to achieve rent convergence by 2015/16. However, changes to the rent formula had removed the flexibility to increase rents by an additional £2 above the increase in formula rent where rent was below convergence, therefore, 2014/15 was the final year to achieve full convergence. Rents in Rotherham would not have reached full convergence.
The average rent for 2014/15 was £72.79 over 52 weeks. The proposed 2015/16 average weekly rent using the new Government formula, collected over 52 weeks would rise to £74.39, an average increase of £1.60 per week.
Total housing rent income generated through the proposed revised weekly rents was estimated to be £79.558m in 2015/16 assuming 120 Right to Buy sales, and voids and rent adjustments at 1.8%.
The Council completed the building of 132 new energy efficient properties in 2011/12. For these dwellings, the funding model assumed that rents would be aligned to the Council’s existing rent structure based on these dwellings having a higher property value (than existing stock). These rents were assumed to be fully converged and were, therefore, set higher than those of the existing Council stock. Consequently the proposed average rent to be charged across these properties would be £96.40 over 52 weeks based on the new rent formula an increase of £1.93 per week.
Cabinet Members, in noting the fact that the ... view the full minutes text for item 122.
- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Further to Minute No. 99 of the meeting of the Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods held on 12th January, 2015, Councillor Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods introduced a report by the Director of Housing and Neighbourhoods which sought approval for the proposed increase in charges for District Heating for 2015/16.
There were a range of heating schemes, but in general district heating charges were made up of two components, a weekly charge and a metered charge per kilowatt hour of heating used. Weekly charges for most schemes exceeded the actual metered costs and hence 34% of all income received from weekly charges were returned to customers.
This report, therefore, recommended an increase in kilowatt hour charges to more accurately reflect true costs. The impact of this on consumers of district heating was that some consumers would receive less of a rebate once actual personal charges have been calculated following individual meter readings.
Cabinet Members sought clarification on the figures contained within the report relating to the pooled district heating costs as they were the same for 2014/15 and 2015/16 and were informed that the charge would remain the same, but the charge per kilowatt would increase..
(1) Resolved:- That the report be received and the contents noted.
(2) Recommended:- (a) That there is no increase in the weekly charge for a further year.
(b) That the various proposed increases to the kilowatt hour charges outlined in Section 7 of this report be approved as a means of achieving full cost recovery.
(c) That to assist tenants, increases in the kilowatt hour charge be phased, as agreed at Cabinet on 16th January, 2013 (Minute C131(3), and be achieved by 2016/17.
- Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services to report.
Councillor Doyle, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, which set out details of the 2014 Borough Wide Lifestyle Survey Report.
The report included plans to distribute the lifestyle survey report to schools, the schedule for presenting the findings of the report and the on-going actions supporting the lifestyle survey results.
The Lifestyle Survey was a valuable piece of consultation capturing the views of young people in Years 7 and 10 at secondary school asking their opinions on:-
· Food & Drink
· Health, Activities and Fitness
· Being In School
· Out of School
· Young Carers
· Bullying & Safety
· Smoking, Drinking & Alcohol
· Sexual Health
· Local Neighbourhood
Further information was highlighted in specific areas where the outcomes had improved such as smoking cessation, participation numbers in the survey, young people having breakfast, tackling bullying, favourite snack amongst young people, sexual health and also the correlation with alcohol and teenage pregnancy.
Each year the results were shared with key stakeholders to ensure that activities were built into team plans to address any issues to make changes to improve the lives of young people and comparisons were made each year to see if the changes made were making a difference.
Secondary schools would receive a copy of the borough wide report and their individual school report, so they could see what pupils at their own school were saying and compare this against the borough wide average.
The Healthy Schools Service would also receive a copy of the individual school reports, so they could identify which school needed support in specific areas.
Cabinet Members welcomed the increased participation in the survey by young people and asked a number of questions relating to the reason for one secondary school’s reluctance to participate, development of the action plan particularly around the newly added questions about safety in and around the town centre, sexual behaviour and the correlation with alcohol and contraception, which had been raised at the Health and Wellbeing Board.
The Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services explained the reasons for the secondary school’s withdrawal and the development of the survey which included a constellation of issues linked to teenage pregnancy, the raising of aspirations for young people, their motivation and their reasons for engaging in risky behaviour.
The Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration took account of the marked increase of young people’s visits to the town centre since 2013, which was indicative of the increased shopping and leisure activities now available.
However, the raising of young people’s aspirations was a valid point and the ambitions and abilities needed to be harnessed in Years 11 and 12.
Whilst it was noted that 40% of young people had visited the town centre, there were still 60% who had not and more work was required on improving safety in the town centre. This would be picked up with the Transport Authority around the transport interchange management.
The Senior Scrutiny and Member Development Officer gave ... view the full minutes text for item 124.
- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Councillor Beck, Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration introduced the report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services which provided the response to the thirteen recommendations of the Scrutiny Review into Supporting the Local Economy.
The review was conducted by a group from the Improving Places Select Commission, chaired by Councillor Wallis.
The objectives of the review were:-
· To analyse the impact of changes to local government finance – particularly business rates.
· To analyse how the Council can create the right conditions for growth in the private sector.
· To influence the development of the Growth Plan for Rotherham, which in turn feeds into the City Region Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).
· To develop a whole Council approach to increase business rates in Rotherham.
The scope of the review was kept narrow as it was anticipated that the review could expand to cover a wide range of issues thus diluting the impact of its recommendations and extending the time it would take to complete. Members, therefore, agreed to focus on the following lines of enquiry during the review:
· What is the impact of an increase/decrease in business rates on the Council finances?
· What is the impact of this on the local economy?
· How can the Council support economic development and what should be in the growth plan? What different models can be adopted?
· How are supply chains supported?
· What incentives can be offered to local businesses?
· How do we evaluate success? How have others achieved it?
· Impact of funding.
· What are Rotherham’s growth areas?
· What specifically is the approach to Tourism?
· How can the following services be used to generate business investment?
o Asset Management
· How do we impact on the most deprived areas of Rotherham?
The group interviewed a wide range of witnesses during the course of their work, including Council Officers, the Chamber of Commerce and from the private sector.
The Group produced thirteen recommendations, covering a range of issues relating to the Rotherham economy.
Officers have reviewed these recommendations and their responses were set out on the attachment to the report.
Officers agreed, in whole or part, with all the recommendations and in a number of cases they have already been implemented. However, some of them would require further consideration and require either policy considerations and/or financial considerations. It was proposed to defer these and bring them back to Cabinet when further work had been carried out.
Cabinet Members welcomed this good news story and suggested several administrative improvements to the action plan.
The Deputy Leader referred to Recommendation No. 12 and the need to raise awareness within the Council and suggested this also include the changes to business rates and the generation of income for the Council. As part of the budget consultation process the reliance on business rates as a future income was highlighted and this should be considered and articulated alongside the action plan to ensure this was not lost.
The Cabinet Member for Business Growth and ... view the full minutes text for item 125.
- Director of Public Health to report.
Councillor Doyle, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, introduced the report and the response by Public Health following the completion of a scrutiny review of urinary incontinence services in May – June 2014.
This review identified a series of recommendations which cut across the Council’s Directorates.
There were three main aims of the review which were:-
· To ascertain the prevalence of urinary incontinence in the borough and the impact it has on people’s independence and quality of life.
· To establish an overview of current continence services and costs, and plans for future service development.
· To identify any areas for improvement in promoting preventive measures and encouraging people to have healthy lifestyles.
The review focused primarily on prevention rather than the costs of current service provision, but recognised that preventative work contributed towards achieving savings for services, for example by reducing admissions to hospital or residential care. Centralisation of continence prescribing had improved outcomes for service users and future service development with greater emphasis on prevention should also produce both further savings and better outcomes. Awareness raising of the importance of good bladder and bowel health and being physically active, plus doing pelvic floor exercises as a preventive measure, could lead to fewer people having their quality of life diminished through urinary incontinence and result in lower future demand for services.
The review conducted was a spotlight review and formulated six recommendations as follows:-
1 RMBCStreetpride and partner agencies such as SYPTE should ensure all public toilets in the borough are clean and well equipped to meet the needs of people who have urinary incontinence, including suitable bins for the disposal of equipment and disposable products.
Response - SYPTE have confirmed that the toilet facilities provided by SYPTE at its Interchanges meet the requirements recommended in Urinary Incontinence Scrutiny review. All SYPTEs toilet facilities are appropriately maintained, regularly cleaned and re provisioned with consumable products throughout the day including weekends to ensure a pleasant customer experience.
Response – RMBC Facilities Management have confirmed that toilet facilities in Rotherham have suitable waste disposal systems are cleaned regularly to meet the needs of people with urinary incontinence.
2 RMBC Sport and Leisure team should establish greater links with the Community Continence Service in order to support people to participate in appropriate sport and physical activity.
Response – Active Rotherham agree to work more closely with the Community Continence Service and take further guidance on how to improve the pathways to physical activity from the service. Suggestions include literature for patients and information on suitable exercises for pelvic floor to be added the new Get Active Rotherham website which is currently under development.
3 RMBC Sport and Leisure team should liaise with other sport and leisure activity providers to consider building more pelvic floor exercises into the Active Always programme and wider leisure classes
Response – Active Rotherham will include pelvic floor exercises into their existing “active always” provision. Public Health will also raise the importance of pelvic floor exercises at ... view the full minutes text for item 126.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
Resolved:- That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended March 2006), the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (information relating to the any individual).
Resolved:- That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended March 2006) (information relates to labour relations matters).
Rotherham Healthy Weight Framework: Competitive Tender Outcome
- Director of Public Health to report.
Councillor Doyle, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, introduced a report by the Head of Health Improvement, which sought approval for the award of tenders for the supply of weight management services across six lots procured by Rotherham MBC.
The contracts would be awarded for a three year period with the option to extend by a further two periods of one year. Annual spend across all six lots was £844K.
The information regarding each lot was set out in detail as part of the report.
Cabinet Members noted the commissioning of services across the obesity spectrum, including those for children, which were linked to the Education Lifestyle Survey.
Resolved:- That the tenders for each lot as outlined below be approved:-
· Lot 1: Children Tier 2 to be awarded to Places for People Leisure (value £170K).
· Lot 2: Children Tier 3 to be awarded to MoreLife (£128K).
· Lot 3: Children Tier 4 to be awarded to MoreLife (£76K).
· Lot 4: Adult Tier 2 to be awarded to Places for People Leisure (£120K).
· Lot 5: Adult Tier 3 to be awarded to Clifton Lane Medical Centre (Rotherham Institute for Obesity) (£300K).
· Lot 6: Single Point of Access to be awarded to Places for People Leisure (£50K, of which 50% will be retained by the commissioner to purchase licensed software and support marketing of the new framework provision).