Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – Delegation of Powers (Minute No. C77) (Pages 84C-86C)
Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham (BDR) Waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – Delegations in Respect of Operational Matters (Minute No. C81) (Page 88C)
Rent Collection and Arrears Recovery Policy (Minute No. C88) (Pages 94C-95C)
Revision to Standing Orders – Quorum for Cabinet (Minute No. C90) (Page 96C)
Scrutiny Review of Standing Orders and Cabinet Response (Minute No. C95) (Pages 104C-107C)
A number of questions were raised in relation to the minutes of the meetings of Cabinet as follows:-
Minute C100 (Improvements to ICT Use Within Social Care) – Councillor Cowles referred to his own email to the Leader last week about ICT systems in Riverside House and asked why significant sums of money were being spent on improvements to ICT when the systems were fundamentally flawed. He asked if the Leader agreed with him that there was no point in spending further money until the problems were put right.
The Leader explained that the ICT system used for children’s social care had been highlighted as a serious problem by Ofsted and the Children’s Commissioner in his letter to the Secretary of State and also by the Acting Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services who described the system as the worst she had ever worked with. The problem was not an asset to the Service and simply did not allow for the depth of data that was required, which was why consideration was being given to an alternative system.
Minute No. C71 (Post-Abuse Support Arrangements) – Councillor Parker referred to the second paragraph which detailed how £120,000 had been made available for the period until 31st March, 2015 whilst a future service model was being commissioned and asked if a new model had acquired additional funding for the support to operate properly and where this funding came from.
The Deputy Leader confirmed £120,000 of funding for victims up to 31st March, 2015 and a further £180,000 a year for the next three years. Work was taking place with partner agencies, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Health about a package of support for survivors in the short term and which would feed into proposals for support for the next three years.
Minute No. C71(1) (Post-Abuse Support Arrangements) – Councillor Parker referred to the current number of referrals for support and whether there had been a marked increase following the publication of the Jay Report and asked if this included the Roma Community in terms of the numbers of underage marriages in Rotherham.
The Deputy Leader confirmed there had been an increase in the number of referrals for support and dealing with the increased demand would form part of the ongoing discussions.
In terms of the Roma Community an answer to the queries would be provided in writing (see addendum attached to the minutes).
In a supplementary question Councillor Parker referred to the seriousness of concerns about underage marriages taking place within the Roma Community and suggested that a report on this matter be submitted to the Council for consideration.
The Deputy Leader confirmed that it was unacceptable for children who were underage to be married and explained that appropriate action would be taken if this was found to be the case.
Minute No. C90 (Revision to Standing Orders – Quorum for Cabinet) – Councillor Parker referred to the numbers of Cabinet Members reducing from ten to nine and then down to seven and the suggestion that the quorum for Cabinet be subsequently reduced from five to four Members and asked if there was any possibility of an Opposition Member being elected onto the Cabinet.
The Deputy Leader confirmed there were no proposals to include an Opposition Member on the Cabinet.
Minute No. C93 (Questions from Members of the Public) – Councillor Parker referred to Question 7 and the expected return of £40,000 for the sale of the units on the Advanced Manufacturing Park and asked if this was for all three units or £40,000 for just one unit.
The Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration confirmed the sale was in connection with one unit only and the investment had been made to pump prime business growth in Rotherham. A further report was to be presented to the Cabinet on the 17th December, 2014 for consideration to sell a further unit, which was split into two and if sold the Council would have made approximately £80,000 from the sale of the units. The Council never intended to retain the assets, but was a means to stimulating growth in the Borough, which in turn would create more jobs at the same time.
In a supplementary question Councillor Parker pointed out that it was not the Council’s job to invest, but to run services and whilst the essence of the purchase was to pump prime business growth in Rotherham, create jobs and stimulate the global economy, the use of £4.2 million when services were being cut, was not good practice. The Council had been very lucky on this occasion to secure sales on the units.
The Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration highlighted the success of the Advanced Manufacturing Park in attracting businesses such as Rolls Royce and Boeing to Rotherham. It was the responsibility of the Council to invest in the local economy and in business growth as this was not something the Government were supporting. The units built on the Advanced Manufacturing Park were the first of their specification in Yorkshire since 2008 and had raised some interest in the commercial sector. The investment funding for the purchase of these units had not made from the Revenue Budget, but from the Capital Budge which was ringfenced for projects such as this for investments in the Borough. It was suggested that arrangements be made for Elected Members to visit the Advanced Manufacturing Park to view and to show how well the Council was supporting the people of Rotherham.
Minute No. C99 (White Ribbon Campaign) – Councillor Parker referred to equal opportunities and the Council not being sexist when domestic violence occurred against males as well as females and asked that there be some acknowledgement that male victims as well as female victims be involved in this project.
The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health confirmed abuse was not gender specific, but was predominantly men against women and girls. The White Ribbon Campaign was a national campaign and involved men sending a clear message that domestic abuse against women would not be tolerated. The Cabinet Member himself had become an Ambassador and had suggested that a male member of the Strategic Leadership Team also volunteer. All male members of the Strategic Leadership Team had subsequently agreed to put themselves forward as Ambassadors and were in full support of the campaign.
In a supplementary response Councillor Parker was happy to support the campaign, but pointed out that men were often abused as well.
In a supplementary response Councillor Currie also pointed out that he was an Ambassador for the White Ribbon Campaign, which had been formerly launched at the Youth Cabinet and was due to the launched at the Football Club this week.
Minute No. C90 (Scrutiny Review of Standing Orders and Cabinet Response) – Councillor Read referred to the completion of the Scrutiny Review which recommended following the motion to Council on the 10th September, 2014 and the request that this be recommended back to today’s meeting for approval.
The Mayor invited Councillor Watson, Chairman of the Review Group, to comment on the outcome of the Review which was supported by the cross party membership. The Review, therefore, proposed to remove the thirty minute guillotine for the answering of general questions, revise the length of notice required for submission of general questions and align public questions to the same timeframe, for all written responses to be captured and appended to the minutes and to allow for supplementary questions at subsequent meetings and a new provision to ask for urgent questions to be introduced.
The Review Group were mindful that they were not able to undertake a full review of the Council’s Scheme for Handling Petitions so recommended a couple of changes and for this to remain in place pending completion of a wider constitutional review.
Minute No. C90 (Revision to Standing Orders – Quorum for the Cabinet)– Councillor Reeder referred to the quote by Sir Kevin Barron M.P. and Sarah Champion M.P. about the Labour Party being swift to act on suspensions and asked if Members were still suspended?
The Leader explained that this was the wrong minute number and should have been Minute No. C82(3) (Questions from Members of the Public). There were no further comments to make.
Minute No. C67(5) (Questions from Members of the Public) – Councillor Gilding referred to the roles of Senior Adviser and Adviser and whether or not they received the same information as the Cabinet Member and asked how they could give advice if they were not given the same information.
The Leader explained that in relation to the delegated powers meetings the Advisers were provided with the same information in order to assist the Cabinet Member in coming to a decision.
In a supplementary question Councillor Gilding referred to the answer in the minute provided by the Leader that certain information was provided to Cabinet Members only.
The Leader confirmed there were occasions when the Cabinet Member only was involved in discussions with Senior Officers.
Minute No. C72 (Recruitment of Headships During School Amalgamation Policy) – Councillor Gilding asked what this new Policy was and if the practice of one Head Teacher being appointed to a school where amalgamation of two schools was still taking place.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services confirmed that this was a new Policy and process for the open recruitment of Head Teachers to newly amalgamated schools.
Minute No. C90 (Revision to Standing Orders – Quorum for Cabinet) – Councillor Gilding referred to the reduction in the quorum and expressed his concerns about placing too much power in a smaller number of hands.
Minute No. C93(4) and (6) (Questions from Members of the Public) – Councillor Gilding stated concern that correspondence had not received a reply and whether this had been investigated and why the management of the school were still in place if this was an unsuitable position for the children to be in.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services confirmed all correspondence had been responded to. In terms of the management position it was a model that had been used successfully across Rotherham for the last three years, but this was not the case at Abbey School for various reasons and actions were being taken to address this.
In a supplementary question Councillor Gilding asked in what way was this now being addressed?
The Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services confirmed the commissioning of the Independent Review which would look at all areas raised as a concern.
Resolved:- That the reports and minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet (Section C) (pages 71C to 114C) be adopted.
Mover:- Councillor Lakin Seconder:- Councillor Hoddinott