Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public


(1)  A member of the public referred to the Kinkids Support Group, which originated from Rotherham and had links with other Councils across the country.  Across South Yorkshire Kinkids was supporting a number of young people who may be survivors of child sexual exploitation which had shown to have taken place in Rotherham.  Doncaster and Grimsby Councils were already integrating the support provided by Kinkids and it was asked if the Group could be recognised in Rotherham and for the Council to provide help and support moving forward.


The Leader confirmed that a meeting had been arranged with the Kinkids Support Group during week commencing 20th October, 2014.


(2)  A member of the public referred to the Sites and Policies Document which contained a number of green belt sites and also the Council’s housing allocation on existing green belt land.  Bearing this in mind, the recent revisions to the National Policy Framework and the announcement by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about the greater degree of protection to the green belt, where did the Council stand on the proposal to amend the green belt boundaries and developments on existing green belt land?


The Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services confirmed the adoption of the Core Strategy by the Council on the 10th September, 2014 which would determine the housing requirements across the Borough in line with the National Policy Framework.  The Sites and Policies Document was currently out for consultation identifying sites to meet the demands of need and land suitability having had a revised reduced local housing target following challenge by the Council against the Inspector’s original housing figure. This approach would seek to minimise the use of green belt land where possible.


(3)  A member of the public referred to the post abuse support and asked why this funding was not ring-fenced before it was extended to include other victims of abuse.   The member of the public asked for the £120,000 to be just available for victims of child sexual exploitation.  The Jay Report highlighted that at least 1400 children were not only victims of child sexual exploitation, but had also been massively and repeatedly failed by this Council and exceptions should be made to ensure they could access the support on offer.


It was also asked why was Neighbourhoods and Adult Services and not Children’s and Young People’s Services the Lead Directorate on post abuse support.  Introducing another Directorate and one not expert in child sexual exploitation abuse increased the risk of post-child sexual exploitation abuse support not meeting victims’ needs and complicating.


The Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods and Adult Services set out the reporting lines which fell under his remit for Commissioning, but which worked directly from the Children and Young People’s Services Directorate.


The Strategic Commissioning Manager also confirmed that the £120,000 was ring fenced specifically for victims of child sexual exploitation and there were no plans to broaden to a much wider audience as outlined in the report which was also on today’s agenda and which would be subject to further consideration to increase capacity beyond 1st April, 2015.


In a supplementary question the member of the public asked what input had victims had in deciding the nature of the post-abuse support that would be offered as both the Jay Report and the Children’s Commissioner Report “If Only Someone Had Listened’ stressed the vital importance of victims being involved in decisions on the support available to them.


The Commissioning Officer explained that from April, 2015 the commissioning process would have been progressed and would include the voice and influence of victims as part of these arrangements.


(4)  A member of the public referred to the recent appearance of the Leader of the Council before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Monday where he was quoted as saying “he was not a bully, had never been a bully and had a zero tolerance to bullying”.  He described his own position of being bullied, discriminated against and intimidation by Rotherham Borough Councillors and named Councillor Dalton along with a current member of the Cabinet.


The member of the public also referred to the Council’s Monitoring Officer who had refused to investigate his complaints about bullying and asked if the Leader would be prepared to discuss the issue of bullying by Rotherham Councillors?


The Leader confirmed he would be happy to meet the member of the public and asked that he get in contact so arrangements could be made to meet.


In a supplementary question the member of the public asked if the Leader would ask Councillors to stand down immediately if they were found to have lied in statements to the Standards Committee?


The Leader asked that a meeting be arranged and for all matters to be considered before any action was taken.


(5)  A member of the public asked about the role and remit of a Senior Adviser to a Cabinet Member and whether they received the same information as a Cabinet Member?


The Leader explained that the roles of Senior Advisers and Advisers was to assist and provide advice to the Cabinet Member in reaching their decision with appropriate support.


In a supplementary question the member of the public asked if it was true that Senior Advisers had the same amount of information and papers provided to them as a Cabinet Member?


The Leader explained that certain information was provided to Cabinet Members only and depended very much on the content.


(6)  A member of the public referred to the grooming of young people and asked about funding to support groups to support the 1400 victims.


The Leader confirmed that this would be part of the discussion already referred to in Question 1.