Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board - Wednesday 13 March 2024 10.00 a.m.

Venue: Council Chamber - Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2TH

Contact: Caroline Webb, Senior Governance Adviser Tel: 01709 822765 email:  The webcast can be viewed at

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 7 February 2024 pdf icon PDF 712 KB

To consider the minutes of the previous meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 7 February 2024 and to approve them as a true and correct record of the proceedings.


Resolved: - That the Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 7 February 2024 be approved as a true record.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.


Questions from Members of the Public and the Press

To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.


There were no members of the public and press present.


Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.


There were no exempt items.


Question and answer session, Mayor Coppard, South Yorkshire Combined Mayoral Authority.

On invitation of the Chair, Councillor Maggi Clark, Mayor Coppard to present a brief overview of his priorities as Mayor of South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and take part in a question and answer session with Board Members.


Please note: 30 minutes in total will be allocated to this item.


The Chair welcomed Mayor Coppard, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to the meeting and invited him to give an overview of his work priorities, prior to him taking questions.


The Mayor thanked the Chair for her invitation to the meeting. He outlined that his attendance reflected his commitment to doing politics differently and being the most transparent and accountable mayor in the country. He listed examples including taking part in monthly phone-ins on BBC Radio Sheffield; holding a series of Mayor’s question time across South Yorkshire and attending over 30 public meetings to talk about buses and the challenges faced in South Yorkshire. He had also committed to attend each of the overview and scrutiny committees across South Yorkshire.


It was anticipated that there would be an election held on May 2, 2024 for the Mayor of South Yorkshire, integrating the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) functions. This had come about because the Government was satisfied that devolution was working well in South Yorkshire and the partnership was sufficiently mature to combine the PCC role into the office of the Mayor.


A key priority was growing the local economy; the Mayor outlined flagship investments such as Boeing and securing the U.K.’s first investment zone as being major achievements. Other examples included a 10-year £160 million investment in the advance manufacturing sector, a growth corridor between Rotherham and Sheffield as well as opportunity sites in Barnsley and Doncaster. The South Yorkshire Pension Authority had made significant investment which would benefit communities long-term. In addition, a strategic partnership with Homes England meant investment in local housebuilding.


The Mayor gave details of his plans to improve public transport systems, including bringing the tram and bus network under public control. It was noted that legislation in the 1980s removed democratic control of public transport from local authorities. However, it was noted that the financial picture with challenging.


The Mayor also outlined his ambition for South Yorkshire to be healthiest region in the country. He noted that a baby born in Rotherham today was likely to die five years younger than a baby born in a more affluent part of the country. It was important to turn this around and that was why SYMCA agreed to provide £2.2 million funding for the “Beds for Babies” scheme, to make sure every child under five across South Yorkshire was guaranteed a safe place to sleep. He expressed support for the Rotherham council’s “Baby Pack” initiative to provide all newborn babies within the Rotherham area with essentials.


The Mayor highlighted the work of the Citizens Assembly, which comprised of over 100 demographically representative people across South Yorkshire. The assembly’s contributions informed the decisions made on achieving net zero targets. This demonstrated how communities were being brought into conversations about decisions.


He gave assurance that the governance of SYMCA was effective and accountable. He concluded by reiterating his commitment to making devolution work and also gaining additional powers and more control for South Yorkshire.


The Chair invited questions from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114.


Early Help Strategy 2024-2029 pdf icon PDF 629 KB

To receive a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Service outlining the proposed Early Help Strategy: Family Help in Rotherham 2024-2029. The strategy has been developed in response to revised government guidance, including the Department for Education (DfE) new edition ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children December 2023’. It describes three phases of support for children and families and concludes with how children, families and other key stakeholders will work together to deliver the vision over the next five years.  




That Cabinet:-


1.    Endorse the Early Help Strategy: Family Help in Rotherham 2024-2029.


2.    Approves the Local Authority involvement in the development and implementation of the Strategy Delivery Plan with the oversight and delivery of progress by the Early Help Partnership Group (EHPG) and the Improving Lives Select Commission (ILSC). 


Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed Councillor Victoria Cusworth, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and invited her to introduce the report. Nicola Curley, Strategic Director for Children and Young People’s Services was also in attendance.


The Cabinet Member was pleased to bring the strategy prior to its consideration by Cabinet on 18 March 2024, noting that scrutiny members had a long interest in the service. She outlined that the Council had continued to invest in early help services and the offer from the wider partnership, whilst many other councils had struggled financially to maintain services. The Cabinet Member highlighted that early help remained a key priority for elected members and officers. Its refresh also included reference to changes in legislation and guidance, namely the McAllister Review, the “Stable Homes, Built on Love” recommendations and the new guide “Working Together to Safeguard Children” (2023).


She reiterated that early help was a partnership offer, rather than a sole council function. It looked at providing universal and community family help at the earliest opportunity for all children and young people; family support workers to work with families under pressure; and then specialist help to prevent children coming into care. She hoped that the Improving Lives Select Commission would monitor the outcomes of the new Early Help Strategy and hold the Cabinet Member and service to account for its delivery.


The Strategic Director noted that the strategy ran from 2024-2029. Phase 1 would involve detailed consultation with elected members, staff, partners and children and families to ensure co-design and co-production from the start. New guidance would be considered along with a number of reviews.


The Chair welcomed the development of the strategy and invited questions from Board Members. A discussion on the following issues ensued:


·       Clarification was sought on how multi-agency work would be strengthened and how this activity would be monitored. In response, the Strategic Director stated that there were existing, strong partnership arrangements. The next step was how to support communities to work more effectively and help themselves. She referred to improvements in the Youth Justice Service; work in schools; mental health support and improving school attendance.


·       In the section “What we know about families in Rotherham”, clarification was sought on the number of households with dependent children and if this was known and how many families had been reached. In the equality impact assessment, it referred to the number of early help episodes but did not directly cite the number of children or families receiving services. The Strategic Director clarified the difference between an early help episode and supporting the widest possible community. She gave an example that 73% of children aged 0-5 years, accessed children centre activities. The universal offer was available to all families and often provided by the voluntary sector. This activity would not be recorded as an early help episode. However, for those requiring additional support or a focused intervention this would be provided depending on need. The fewer early help episodes recorded was seen as evidence that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 115.


Climate Emergency Annual Report 2023 - 2024 pdf icon PDF 814 KB

To receive a report of the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment outlining progress towards the updated Climate Emergency Action Plan reported for the 2023/2024 period. Also included is a summary of climate change data, for greenhouse gas emissions from Council operations April 2020 – March 2023 and across the Borough of Rotherham, 2005 – 2021. Local area emissions data are published two years in arrears by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.


This report was approved at the Cabinet meeting held on 18 February 2024.




That Overview and Scrutiny Management Board:


1.             Notes Cabinet’s approval of the Climate Change Action Plan in Appendix 2, noting the key achievements and opportunities summarised in Appendix 1 and section 2 of this report.

2.             Consider the report and action plan and determine if there are any additional recommendations arising from the matters herein.

Additional documents:


The Chair invited Councillor Denise Lelliott, the Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy to the meeting. Paul Woodcock, Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment and Louise Preston, the Climate Change Manager, were also in attendance.


The report referred to activity undertaken in the period 2023-24. The Cabinet Member acknowledged the progress made since the Council declared a climate emergency in 201. She thanked the Strategic Director and Climate Change Manager for their work and progress made.


On 30th October 2019, the Council declared a Climate Emergency and set out its action plan covering the following seven policy themes of Monitoring and Measurement; Energy; Housing; Transport; Waste; Built and Natural Environment; and Influence and Engagement.


At its meeting on 23rd March 2020, Cabinet resolved to establish the targets of:

·       The Council’s carbon emissions to be at net zero by 2030 (NZ30)

·       Borough-wide carbon emissions to be at net zero by 2040 (NZ40)


A Climate Emergency Action Plan was established, and the report outlined its progress towards the updated Climate Emergency Action Plan reported for the 2023/2024 period. 


The Strategic Director outlined that the report was a summary of activity and also detailed an action plan for 2024-25. The report detailed activities around key themes, with the main contributors to carbon emissions for the Council being buildings (including housing stock) and transport.  It was noted that a new theme of ‘adaptations’ had been added this year, examples of which were the decarbonisations of 55 Council office buildings and the ongoing success of the ECO4-flex scheme was cited, through which people living in fuel poverty may access energy performance upgrades to their homes. The report had been submitted to a previous meeting of Cabinet.


The Chair thanked the Strategic Director for his work with the Council over many years and wished him well for the future. The Cabinet Member joined the Chair, in thanking Paul for his leadership, guidance and achievements.


The Chair invited questions from the Board and a discussion on the following issues ensued.


·       The role of local government in reaching net zero targets was noted and initiatives such as the installation of more energy efficient boilers were welcomed. However, why had the Council adopted the target of 2030 to reduce its carbon emission to net zero which was 20 years before the Government’s 2050 target? By doing this, was the Council investing in non-tangible projects which may not provide value for money rather than taking longer? Clarification was sought if these efforts would make difference to climate change.


·       The Cabinet Member asked which projects the Member was referring to in order that a response could be given. She referred to the phrase “think local, act global”; as it was in everyone’s interest to work towards a sustainable environment for future generation and action was needed to address climate emergencies now. It would be a dereliction of duty to “kick this into the long grass”. She commented on those countries in the developing world which were suffering from the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.


Scrutiny Review Recommendations - Nature Recovery pdf icon PDF 903 KB

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services outlining the findings and recommendations from the Scrutiny Review of Nature Recovery undertaking by Members from Improving Places Select Commission.


The Chair invited Councillor Adam Tinsley, Vice-Chair of Improving Place Select Commission to introduce the Scrutiny Review Recommendations – Nature Recovery.


The Member outlined that Nature Recovery motion (agreed at the Council Meeting of 25 May 2022) committed the Council to a range of activities, including ensuring its response to tackling climate change was extended to compliment the aligned cause of nature crisis. It also committed the Council to continue its work to enhance biodiversity by adopting innovative approaches to support wild flowered areas and ecological approaches to grounds maintenance.


The review was undertaken by members of the Improving Places Select Commission following its referral from Council. It started its work in March 2023, concluding later in the year.


It was a wide-ranging piece of work which included visits to nature sites, discussions with groups and expert witnesses as well as presentations and discussions with officers to understand the challenges of nature recovery. The review also looked closely at the Environment Act and the enhanced duties for local authorities to conserve and enhance biodiversity and report on their actions. Alongside this, it examined measures to address the impact of climate change and promote and protect biodiversity.


Councillor Tinsley put on record his thanks to everyone who shared their expert testimony. This included Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, members of the Rotherham Local Wildlife Sites Panel, South Yorkshire Police as well as RMBC’s Green Spaces Team, Ecology and Climate Change staff.


He also thanked Katherine Harclerode for her work in supporting this review and wish her well in her future work since she left the Council.


The report detailed its finding in section 2.3 of the report. As part of its evidence gathering, Members were able to establish what action was being taken by the Council, community organisations and partners to achieve targets and uphold duties under the Environment Act 2021, as well as future challenges.


There were 12 recommendations in total which were outlined in the report. These included:


·       That consideration to be given to what resources are required to coordinate the Council’s response to the Environment Act 2021, including the Local Nature Recovery Strategy, Enhanced Biodiversity Net Gain, and other statutory reporting.

·       Expanding the Councillor’s role as nature champion

·       How the RMBC ‘estate’ can contribute to the Council’s obligations for the Enhanced Biodiversity Duty

·      Continue the positive work underway including tree planting, meadow management, changes in verge management, community engagement etc


The Chair invited comments and questions from Board Members and the following points were made:


Councillor Browne, who was part of the review group, asked that an additional recommendation be considered. He outlined that the timescales and process for setting up a community wildlife site was difficult. He asked that consideration be given to how the process could be streamlined.


Reference was made to local residents supporting biodiversity in their local area and the hard work to safeguard these “little nuggets”. The additional recommendation was welcomed if it made it easier and more accessible for local communities to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 117.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To consider the Board’s Work Programme.


The Board considered its Work Programme. The Senior Governance Advisor outlined items to be referred to the work programme for the next municipal year.


·       Bye-laws and life saving equipment

·       Flooding (possibly with Improving Places Select Commission)


Consideration on the actions arising from the petition considered by Council on 28 February would be concluded prior to the end of the municipal year.


Resolved: - That the Work Programme be approved.


Work in Progress - Select Commissions

To receive updates from the Chairs of the Select Commission on work undertaken and planned for the future.



The Chair of Improving Lives Select Commission made reference to the spotlight review on Preparation for Adulthood. Its recommendation would be submitted in due course.


The Chair of Health Select Commission thanked the Chair for holding the session on consultation. It was useful to hear a diversity of experiences and highlight good practice.


Forward Plan of Key Decisions - 1 March 2024 to 31 May 2024 pdf icon PDF 365 KB

To review and identify items for pre-decision scrutiny from the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period from 1 March 2024 to 31 May 2024.


Please note that there are no Cabinet meetings scheduled for April 2024 or May 2024.


The Board considered the Forward Plan of Key Decisions 1 March 2024 to 31 May 2024. It was noted that the Cabinet Meeting scheduled for April and May 2024 had been cancelled.


Resolved: - That the Forward Plan be noted.


Call-in Issues

To consider any issues referred for call-in from recent Cabinet meetings.


There were no call-in issues.


Urgent Business

To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.


There were no urgent items, however as it was the Chair’s final meeting, Councillor Pitchley put on record her thanks to Councillor Clarke. She noted that she had led the committee through some challenging work and had been an exceptional chair.


Councillor Yasseen echoed this and thanked Councillor Clarke for her hard work. She had really represented Rotherham’s communities and had been at the heart of delivering to local people. The Chair had enhanced and embodied scrutiny values. Councillor Yasseen went on to thank officers and the Democratic Services team for their support.


Councillor Clarke thanked each of the OSMB Members over her three-year tenure as Chair. She thanked Cabinet Members and officers for their attendance. She also thanked the Assistant Chief Executive, Head of Democratic Services, Governance Manager and Senior Governance Advisor for all their support. She felt that she was leaving scrutiny in a good place for the 2024 intake of elected members.


She wished everyone who was observing, a Ramadan Mubarak.


Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 5 June 2024 at 10.00am at Rotherham Town Hall.


Resolved: - That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held at 10am on Wednesday 5 June 2024 at Rotherham Town Hall.