Agenda item

Questions from Elected Members


(1)  Councillor Cowles referred to the recent statement by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and asked if Rotherham would stand up and make it clear to the Inspector that there would be no building of housing on green belt until all the brownfield sites had been utilised to stop cherry picking. This would prevent the brownfield sites being left to become tips and eyesores and would give a clear message to the Inspector and challenge that this was not good for Rotherham.


The Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services pointed out that Rotherham had made strong representations to the Inspector and which led to a revised housing target.  The Core Strategy had been adopted by Council, but as part of the Sites and Policies Document the Inspector would consider the sites put forward and may or may not support them.  The Council could, if it felt there had been an error in the law, seek to Judicial Review the decision if what was being proposed was not sensible for Rotherham.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles asked that the Inspector be strongly informed what the people of Rotherham wished to be included  and that any other suggestions be resisted to prevent certain sites being cherry picked.


The Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services confirmed that any suggestions would be based on professional advice and in line with the Nation Policy Framework and every opportunity would be made to seek a sensible way forward as part of the Sites and Policies work.


(2)  Councillor C. Vines asked about the recent outbreak of Ebola and asked what measures the Cabinet were putting in place in the event of a confirmed case in Rotherham?


The Director of Public Health explained that the responsibilities lay with Public Health England and the N.H.S. locally to deal with any confirmed case.  Information had been shared with all General Practitioners and Sheffield was identified as an isolation centre.  The Local Authority’s role would be around the decontamination of any premises in line with guidance from Public Health England.


In a supplementary question Councillor C. Vines referred to the twenty-one day incubation period and pointed out that a case was very likely to come to Rotherham from either Nigeria or Somalia.


The Director of Public Health confirmed that Ebola was not present in either Nigeria or Somalia and that the infection was isolated to Sierra Leone and Liberia in a well confined area.  The incubation period for the virus was from two to twenty-one days and anyone coming into contact with someone who had the virus outside this time period would not be infectious.  There would inevitably be some scares with people presenting with high fevers to their General Practitioners, but this would not necessarily be Ebola and the public were not considered at risk in Rotherham.


(3)  Councillor Parker referred to the budget constraints on Councils, but in view of the recent events asked if additional funding could be identified for victims of child sexual exploitation, in addition to the £120,000 already identified, which was clearly a good start, but additional funding may be required.


The Director of Finance confirmed that there would be medium and long term needs for funding.  Consideration was being given to a potential way forward, possibly from earmarked reserves managed through a contingency budget to support the work once the outcomes of the current inspections in conjunction with the Jay Report were known.


In a supplementary question Councillor Parker asked if further funding was required quickly whether any consideration had been given to budgets around community cohesion and the possible use of them.


The Deputy Leader confirmed that discussions were taking place in the Council and with partner agencies about longer term solutions for support to victims of child sexual exploitation.  Funding had been made available in the short term and any further ideas were welcome.