Agenda item



To put questions, if any, to Cabinet Members and Chairmen (or their representatives) under Standing Order No. 7(1) and 7(3).


 (1)  Councillor Napper asked what was the nature and role of the Emergency and Safety Department of R.M.B.C.?


Councillor Alam confirmed the Emergency and Safety Team comprised of 2 distinct elements of the Emergency Planning Shared Service and the Health and Safety Team.


The Emergency Planning Shared Service was established in June 2011, and ensured the equal delivery of both Emergency Planning and Business Continuity functions within Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Council.  The main duties of this service were to discharge the Council’s statutory functions under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and ensure both authorities were resilient to a wide range of disruptions and able to respond effectively should a major incident occur.


The Health and Safety Team’s primary role was to ensure Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council discharged its duty as set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated legislation.


In a supplementary question Councillor Napper referred to an issue at Woodlaithes and an unsafe heavy duty fence leaning over the pavement.  As a result of no response from the Health and Safety Team, the Public Rights of Way Officer followed up the query and on further inspection served an Emergency Notice for action on the fence within 24 hours.  Ownership of the fence was not clear at that stage, but Councillor Napper confirmed he was concerned for public safety which was the reason for his initial contact with the Health and Safety Team.


Councillor Alam responded and asked if he could be forwarded the details and he would follow up, although the matter had since been resolved.


(2)   Councillor Jepson asked what support was the Council intending to give to Anston Park Junior School since Ofsted gave it an overall rating of ‘Requires Improvement’ following its recent inspection in April of  this year and given that this was the same rating as the previous inspection carried out in February of 2015.


Councillor Watson confirmed that following the inspection of Aston Park Junior School it was again identified as “Required Improvement”.  However, the report set out that the school was an improving school with the capacity in leadership across the school to improve further along with the teaching of English and Maths and the children at the school were making faster improvement than they had previously. The school’s improvement was supported by the wider school system and the report stated that the school had forged successful links with other schools to support its improvement and that these have been successful. The school also bought into the Council’s School Improvement Traded Service. The Council would continue to monitor the school’s outcomes to ensure that improvement continued and to support a judgement of good or better at the next inspection. This would be done by Consultant Head Teacher visits, monitoring of outcomes data and access to training and development to support the school’s development priorities.  Anston Park Junior School was a maintained school and the Council had a statutory responsibility to intervene where a maintained school was deemed to be a School Causing Concern.


Councillor Jepson asked to be kept fully informed should actions be deemed necessary, which Councillor Watson agreed to do.


(3)  Councillor B. Cutts asked could the Leader report on the number of new foreign nationals “registered” in Rotherham according to Migration Yorkshire?


Councillor Read confirmed the numbers below held by Migration Yorkshire related to foreign nationals who registered for National Insurance (NI) within a geographical area. The numbers did not reflect where people may have left for another area or left the country and there was no de-registration process.
















Czech Republic














































































(4)  Councillor Reeder understood that Area Assemblies were finishing ad asked had there been any consultation with the public if so could the Cabinet Member tell him where and when and if not why not.


Councillor Yasseen explained that as Councillor Reeder was aware a cross-party working group of Elected Members was established to help progress this action and best practice visits were made.  Councillor Reeder had been a member of the group and no questions had been raised as part of this process.


Commissioner Manzie had initiated the first step towards Councillors taking more control of their own areas.  These initial stages were about Wards and how to serve communities better and with engagement at that level Area Assembly structures were no longer needed.  Community consultation would now commence given the decision needed to progress this at a Ward level focusing on the things that really mattered and the opportunity to work locally and involve local people.


In a supplementary question Councillor Reeder referred to her inclusion on the Working Group and her subsequent resignation due to her discontent with the wording being used.  She pointed out how astounded she was at the last Area Assembly meeting how many people were not aware of plans to dispense with Area Assemblies.  A petition to this effect would also be presented to the next meeting.


Councillor Yasseen deemed it important to take people forward on the journey.   Work would have commenced already had the General Election not been called.  She was committed to working with the Ward electorate to take forward the local issues that really mattered.


(5)  Councillor John Turner’s question below would be responded to in writing.


Having visited other Councils to try and improve our democratic process in Rotherham and studied the way other Councils ran their affairs, I regularly argued that each year we should be subject to an audit of all parties to ensure that the new order be maintained.  Is this to happen?


(6)  Councillor Cowles referred to one of the biggest charity events of the year, the Mayor’s Charity Ball, but asked where was the Leader and his team. There were representatives and dignitaries from other areas, including a good number from UKIP, but where were many of the Labour Group?


Councillor Read, the Leader, confirmed the Labour Group was hugely supportive of charity events and in particular the Mayor’s Charity Ball. There would be times when due to other commitments individuals were unable to attend a particular event and he himself had a personal engagement on the same evening and was so unable to attend. 


There was a further Mayoral fund raising event this evening and urged everyone to attend.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles referred to a number of the Leader’s team being present at the function, some of which were only there as they had complimentary tickets.  He asked the Leader to confirm those in question had declared this gift and that a reasonable donation to the Mayor’s Charity had been made.


Councillor Read, the Leader, indicated that any Member that had received complimentary tickets would need to declare.  He could not confirm if what Councillor Cowles was claiming was correct as he had not checked individual registers of interests.  The Labour Group would continue to support mayoral charities and events.  He was disappointed about political arguments of who gave the most to charity, but with any event it was appreciated who could attend, but on this occasion he was unable to attend personally. 


(7)  Councillor Carter referred to Rotherham town centre dying under Labour’s watch with many shops relocating to Parkgate and asked what was the Cabinet Member doing to safeguard the future of the town centre?


Councillor Lelliott confirmed the Council had been working on many town centre initiatives and welcomed the opportunity to share this information which included the award winning high street, award winning market, purchase of Forge Island and the site of the Magistrates Court, support to the Rotherham College new HE Campus as well as the supplementary planning document once the masterplan was complete. The Council had an excellent team working to ensure investors were in place once the masterplan was complete. The Cabinet Member was surprised the question had been asked as the budget, which set aside funds for the improvement of the town centre, was voted against.


In a supplementary question Councillor Carter referred to a proposal which had been previously submitted to Cabinet for the development of a new mainline railway station around Parkgate and asked had there been any progress and was the Council proceeding with it.


Councillor Lelliott explained officers were working hard and looking at this.  Connectively was the key and with more regeneration, more houses and a thriving town centre officers were offering support during this transitional time.


(8)   Councillor Napper asked did the Council believe the role of the Mayor should including fundraising events?


Councillor Read, the Leader, confirmed the role of Mayor should include fundraising events.


In a supplementary question Councillor Napper wished to offer his thanks to Councillor Pitchley for an excellent job she had undertaken as Mayor and the Charity Ball, but expressed his disappointment that three quarters of the Councillors were not present.  He would like to see more support for the next one.


Councillor Read, the Leader, understood the sentiment.


(9)  Councillor Jepson referred to the recent inspection of the Local Development Plan, where the the Planning Inspector deleted the proposed Todwick North employment site from it considering it too harmful to the rural setting of Todwick and the wider Green Belt and asked what effect would this have on the Council’s overall economic growth plan?


Councillor Lelliott confirmed the Inspector’s letter was an interim position at this stage and his proposed main modifications to the Local Plan have not yet been finalised. Once finalised, the detailed main modifications would be reported to Cabinet prior to going out to public consultation. Following this consultation the Inspector would consider all responses and issue his final report.


Rotherham was still expecting to deliver the target of 10,000 net new jobs as set out in the Economic Growth Plan and was already ahead of its targeted job creation growth, of 1,000 net new jobs per annum over ten years, with an increase of 7,000 employee jobs in the borough over the last three years.  While the site at Todwick was likely to be attractive to the market, there were still sufficient other employment sites within the Local Plan for the job creation target to be met. The Council would work with landowners and developers to make sure these were brought forward.


In a supplementary question Councillor Jepson commented on the Inspector’s decision and wished to thank Anston, Dinnington and Todwick Parish Councils for their objections as this site was slipped in and liked to thank the Planning Inspector for his wisdom.


(10)  Councillor Cowles was pleased to hear that the litter enforcement organisation, Kingdom, have started work, and he had written to ask as to when they would begin the real job of tackling the fly-tipping hotspots. So far he had not received an answer, so asked the Cabinet Member when this would be?


Councillor Hoddinott confirmed a response had been sent to Councillor Cowles on 18th May.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles asked if Kingdom would be working out of hours and not just during prime hours when flytipping actually took place.  Flytipping was fast becoming a local sport and also a national one.  The current plan in Eastwood was not working.  A proper plan was required with clear measurements.  In Eastwood it remained that back yards did not move, the landlord scheme was not effective as only one landlord had been prosecuted, there was still a rotting car on the pavement and asked would Kingdom be tackling hotspots like Doles Lane.


Councillor Hoddinott explained flytipping remained a huge issue not just locally, but nationally and blighted the area.  The Council needed to continually be ahead of the game. As part of neighbourhood working Councillors needed to get involved and could request mobile CCTV cameras to be put in flytipping hotspots.   There had been eleven incidents currently being investigated and three prosecutions. 


The litter enforcement partnership had seen remarkable results in the first few weeks with 700 Fixed Penalty Notices issued.  Input was needed from local Ward Councillors to feed in and report about local hotspots.


In terms of the Eastwood deal instant results would not be seen overnight.  Over the last year the Cabinet Member had worked hard with Ward Councillors and seen movement in the area.  The selective licensing scheme had seen 7 prosecuted so far, with a further 21 prosecution files for court hearings.  Work was taking place on a whole range of issues and more recently the Police had reported anti-social behaviour at 25% of what it had been previously.  Some anti-social behaviour still remained, but it was credit to Ward Councillors making a start and making some inroads with those issues.


(11)  Councillor Carter referred in the past 5 years 29 accidents have happened on Bawtry Road in Brinsworth and asked when would the Labour administration take further action to deal with this?


Councillor Hoddinott confirmed investigations have commenced under the local safety scheme and proper assessment of the site would take place.  The Cabinet Member was happy to share the outcome/results with Councillor Carter.


In a supplementary question Councillor Carter confirmed he had received some correspondence and figures from Council Officers, but  still strongly believed a crossing or some other reduction of the speed limit to 30 mph would be more beneficial and asked was this something that the administration was broadly in favour of.


Councillor Hoddinott confirmed the Council was committed to tackling some of these hotspots and road safety.  However, with limited budgets it was necessary to think about priorities and from information shared it would appear to be a hotspot area, but the assessment would need to be completed first.


(12)  Councillor B. Cutts explained that since October last year he had raised the question on the intention of the Council’s future plan for the bus station.


After he was heckled at the last Council meeting he submitted a “Council document (which he had circulated prior to today’s meeting)”:-


    Forge Island - £1.5M loan

    Westgate Chambers

    Higher Education Campus



and asked could the Cabinet Member explain further.


Councillor Read, the Leader, appreciated the document circulated, but emphasised there would not be a NEW bus station, but there would be a refurbishment of the existing bus station.  Funding had been secured though the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive in the sum of £12 million to refurbish the existing bus station and multi-storey car park.  The building was at risk if the maintenance works were not undertaken.  More details would be available in the bus station next week as part of a consultation process on the works to ensure the bus station and car park were a safe and welcoming environment.


In a supplementary question Councillor B. Cutts indicated he had received the same answer before and the reason he could not accept it was because of the document.  He asked could it not be admitted the document was incorrect and the matter brought to a close.


Councillor Read, the Leader, could understand Councillor Cutts’ confusion, but again confirmed the current bus station was being renovated and Rotherham would not be receiving a new bus station, but he accepted the point it was a misleading document.


(13)  Councillor John Turner’s question below would be responded to in writing.


In the light of the continuing indiscriminate dumping waste across the borough.  What plans have or are being made to address this problem.


(14)  Councillor Carter referred to Catcliffe School being oversubscribed this year and asked why was the Council still allowing this to happen when it could have a school already built on the Waverley estate?


Councillor Watson explained Councils were no longer allowed to build schools.  He accepted Catcliffe was oversubscribed whilst the estate was being built, but Catcliffe and Brinsworth Howarth Primary Schools were the interim shared catchment area schools for the Waverley Estate until the first Waverley Primary School was constructed.


Both Schools have been expanded – Catcliffe from a published admission number (PAN) of 25 to 30 creating an additional 35 permanent places and Brinsworth Howarth from a published admission number (PAN) of 30 to 45 creating an additional 105 temporary places until the Waverley school opened.


Although Catcliffe Primary School was full in Reception/Foundation Stage 2 for entry to school in the 2017/18 academic year, Brinsworth Howarth as the shared catchment area school, currently had 9 surplus places in this year group. It should be noted that any parent/carer who was refused a place at a school for their child, had a statutory right of appeal. Appeals were heard by independent panels and the panels decisions were legally binding on the parent/carer, admissions authority for the school and the Local Authority.


In a supplementary question Councillor Carter referred to a resident who had a child with learning difficulties who attended the Catcliffe special centre.  Unfortunately, their other children could not attend the same school and had been encouraged to appeal.  He asked would the Council be supporting this appeal for this resident.


Councillor Watson confirmed the appeals procedure was independent so the Council must not interfere so the appeal would follow due process.


(15)   Councillor Napper asked what was the Council’s position with regard to the property at 48 Doncaster Road, Dalton.


Councillor Read, the Leader, confirmed anyone passing this property would see a “For Sale” sign outside.  Officers were currently discussing a potential road improvement scheme and, therefore, a meeting took place between Council Officers and the owner of the property.


In a supplementary question Councillor Napper referred to previous matters with this property which eventually involved the Secretary of State for the Environment.  This had again led to officers visiting this address and threatening compulsory purchase, but do not seem to do anything about the burnt out buildings on Corporation Street, but instead appear to be hounding an old man at 83 years old again.


Councillor Read, the Leader, explained the matters referred to the Secretary of State around 10 years ago were to do with the  bus lane.  This separate road improvement scheme had led to visits by officers not to consider compulsory purchase of the property, but to enter into discussions now the property had been placed up for sale.


The issues on Corporation Street were entirely separate and a report was to be submitted to the Cabinet in a few months, which would address some of Councillor Napper’s concerns.


(16)  Councillor Cowles, in light of the recent CQC report on the Meadow View care home, asked was Adult Social Care in Rotherham fit for purpose, if not, was it time for resignations?

 Councillor Read, the Leader, in Councillor Roche’s absence, confirmed the Adult Care Directorate were aware of the issues facing Meadow View Care home, an independent sector provider, and have been working closely with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) prior to, and following  their overall finding of the home being deemed inadequate in the report in April.


The statutory responsibility for regulation and inspection of care homes for older people rests with CQC, but the Council also monitored provision to ensure that contractual service standards were being met. There were considerable financial pressures on the adult social care sector, but this did not provide a justification for poor quality provision for Rotherham residents. The performance of an independent sector care home provider did not define the fitness and capability of the whole Adult Care Directorate.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles listened to the response with a degree of care, but pointed out the Council had a moral and ethical responsibility to all adults in the borough regardless of the home they resided in.  The Council had spent millions bringing services up to scratch, had had Commissioners in charge for over 2 years and powers restored because people tell us the Council was improving.  Well to Councillor Cowles it did not look that way.  The headlines to the report was the home was overall inadequate, which translated into dismissal and dreadful.  This was not the first report on this organisation which had been bumping along at the bottom for some time.  The Council were, therefore, asked what was going on, what it proposed to do and when would someone be held to account, including Commissioners, for the services this borough was expected to provide.


Councillor Read, the Leader, explained no-one was complacent about this care home.  A series of improvement actions had been undertaken by the local authority which essentially was a private business.  In fact these concerns came to light following unannounced visits by Council Officers and serious concerns were identified.  Councillor Cowles would be provided with further information about this care home after this meeting, but actually in the adult social care market it was a complex market largely driven by the private sector.  The Council’s role was to step in where these providers fell short and take the necessary action, which was what was happening in this case.  If it was felt in the future the home was unable to improve the Council would have to look to taking more serious action, but rather than move people away from their home the Council would continue to work with the home concerned.


(17) Councillor Carter since the last meeting the Cabinet Member should have found out about funding for libraries in the borough and asked what progress had the administration made with this.


Councillor Yasseen referred to an application for funding to the Art Council’s “Libraries for Everyone Innovation Fund”. Whilst the proposed project was acknowledged as an “exciting way of developing a masterplan for the library estate……..positioning libraries for future delivery, shaping the future provision of services, developing new ways of working…”, the application was unsuccessful due to the high demand on funding.  However, the Arts Council have encouraged the Council to discuss further opportunities for funding for libraries, but asked that this wait until the summer to do this, due to pressures on their grants assessment teams.


In terms of Brinsworth library the provision was accepted for the last 10 plus years.  Work had been taking place with Brinsworth Parish Council and other stakeholders. Following that meeting officers have been asked to draft an options appraisal and a business proposal and these next few months would hopefully be positive.


Councillor Carter was welcome to join in the discussions and would be advised when the next meeting would take place.


In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked what would be the timeframe for the putting forward of this business case and the approvals process.


Councillor Yasseen indicated the difficulty in placing timeframes on this process because it depended very much on who was leading it.  Neighbourhoods should lead on their own services and the Parish Council were leading this matter and supported by the Council.  This would follow due process.


(18)  Councillor B. Cutts withdrew this question and asked that it be resubmitted to the meeting in July, 2017.


(19)  Councillor Cowles referred to discussions with Dignity the company who provided funeral services and asked had the discussions resulted in bringing the costs down for residents of Rotherham in line with neighbouring boroughs?


Councillor Hoddinott explained meetings had taken place Dignity to discuss a number of matters, which had also involved Councillor Short.  A number of concerns had been raised with them in writing, but as yet no response had been received.


Rotherham’s fees were higher than the national average and the Council was hoping to discuss this further with Dignity.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles asked could it be confirmed that Dignity had made it clear they had a contract for 35 years, would charge the market rate and residents pay whatever this was.  This was a result of the Council’s inability to run the simplest of operations and residents would be ripped off for the next 35 years.


Councillor Hoddinott confirmed it was a 35 year contract and had been agreed well before this current Cabinet.   Lessons could be learnt with very few safeguards placed into the contract, including controlling the fees.  The past could not be changed, but the cross-party approach to ensure Dignity was aware of the Council and residents’ concerns about how the contract was being managed and the fees being above the national average.  A recent visit to the Crematorium indicated Dignity were also not investing as much as they needed to so asked Members to join with her to put the pressure on Dignity as she was prepared to follow the concerns through.


(21)  Councillor Cowles referred to the recent computer problems experienced by the NHS which made us all aware of the need to ensure that systems and networks were adequately protected and asked could the Cabinet Member inform him as to why there was such a panic with IT people having to work this weekend.


Councillor Alam responded by confirming officers had taken precautionary measures and gave his assurance systems were in place and to the relevant standards of industry.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles asked why was there such a panic over the weekend to bring systems up to date.  The Council were not issued with public services network certificate for management and compliance of information last November, why?  The certificate should have been issued last November, but there were 85 problems identified and should have been fixed by March, but a number remained outstanding.  Such bodies do not immediately remove the availability to systems, but issue reports recommending actions to deal with the problems and bring software systems up to the required patch and release levels.  Councillor Cowles asked the Cabinet Member if he accepted that there was serious problem.


Councillor Alam reiterated 4 officers were working over the weekend, but only a proportion of their time was spent on the cyber attack.


The Council did have a compliance certificate.   Work was taking place and the work would be completed within the time frame given by the Government.


(22)  Councillor Cowles reported Whiston Worrygoose external play area was now unsafe and asked what, if anything, did the Cabinet Member propose to do about it?


Councillor Watson indicated Whiston Worrygoose Junior and Infant School became an Academy Trust school in September, 2013 and, as an academy school was outside of Local Authority control by being directly accountable to the Department for Education, and made its own insurance arrangements.  It received its funding directly from the Department for Education in relation to the maintenance and repair of the buildings and grounds of the school site.


Responsibility for the health and safety of pupils, staff and visitors on an academy school site rests with the Academy Trust and could not be assigned to a third party.   It was up to the school if they did not believe their play area was safe to sort it out with the funding from the Government.


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles reminded the Cabinet Member of another school’s safety issue when 2 young ladies from Thrybergh Primary School attended Cabinet expressing road safety concerns and the need for a safe speed limit.  A traffic survey was recommended for completion to determine the volume and whether the traffic level was sufficient.  Councillor Cowles asked could he be told when child safety had ever been volume related.  It would only take one car and one child for the road to be unsafe. How many times have Members been told about corporate responsibility and moral and ethical responsibility for all children if the road was not safe then it needed to be made safe.


Councillor Watson explained about the legal definition when a road was safe or not.  It was not possible to introduce traffic wardens in every road in Rotherham and procedures needed to be followed.  However, he pointed out that if the school or the neighbourhood working group or Ward Councillors wanted to reduce the speed limits this was within their remit and some Wards had done this very thing last year with the money delegated to them.