To receive questions from members of the public who may wish to ask a general question of the Mayor, Cabinet Member or the Chairman of a Committee.
(1) Mr. D. Smith asked what protocols had the Borough Council got in place to ensure that Ward Councillors consulted with and kept up-to-date the Parish and Town Councils in their area?
Councillor Yasseen, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working and Cultural Services, acknowledged the importance of the Town and Parish Councils and the vital role they played in communities and described them as the grass roots of local government.
Councillor Yasseen referred to the Town and Parish Councils Liaison Working Group of which she was Chair which included eight representatives from across the Borough, including Mr. Smith. This was the main instrument and vehicle for formal relationships with Parish Councils and for the sharing of information, the making of commitments and looking to where the Council and Town and Parish Councils could work together.
With regards to Neighbourhoods, as part of this consultation had taken place with Town and Parish Councils on the development of a new neighbourhood model as well as the new strategy. Where it was possible Ward Councillors were encouraged to work closely with their communities. Many Members not only represented the Borough, but were also Town and Parish Councillors. Across the Borough there were many different working practices of working within communities and it was hoped the transitional model would allow for closer working across the Borough.
In a supplementary question Mr. Smith referred to his own Ward Councillors, the monthly Parish Meeting and the Ward Surgery meetings which were held immediately prior to the Parish Meeting and the reluctance to give community reports at Parish Meetings by Ward Members.
Mr. Smith described how he attended a meeting called by the three Ward Councillors entitled “Plan for Dinnington” which had been arranged following the termination of Area Assemblies. The Town Council had not been informed, nor consulted. Was this what that the Borough Council called transparency and openness and how were Parish Councillors to be kept informed.
Mr. Smith did suggest and request a response from a Dinnington Ward Councillor.
Councillor Yasseen, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working and Cultural Services, responded by confirming this was not the first time this had been raised. Referring generally Councillor Yasseen explained that meeting spaces needed to be areas of mutual respect, where individuals felt safe and comfortable and to be able to engage in work together.
Mr. Smith took offence at his Town Council being accused of being a place where an individual was not able to come and give a proper report.
(2) Mrs. S. Thackery referred to Cedar House and its closure and asked what other provisions were going to be put into place in a mental health crisis for people in Rotherham who experienced mental health issues, which were urgent.
Councillor Roche, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, explained mental health was taken seriously in Rotherham.
Over the past twelve months the Council has been working with partners to improve the range of mental health provision for people experiencing a mental health crisis and their carers. This included the availability of Council accommodation for places of safety, support at the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre, support from the Crisis and Home Treatment team, night support from the Integrated Rapid Response services and Mental Health Hospital provision. Further improvements and investment were planned over the next 12-18 months which was hoped would not only improve services for people in a mental health crisis, but also provide early support to prevent escalation to crisis.
With regard to the closure of the crisis provision at Cedar House at the end of September, the Council was currently working with the mental health trust – RDaSH, to ensure that all the people who have previously accessed the crisis provision at Cedar House have a new patient-centred crisis plan. These plans would look different for each person as each examined what type of help the individual would require during a crisis.
The Cedar House service would be replaced from 1st October, 2017 by the use of alternative service models. Support would come from the:-
· Mental health specialists based at the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre in the hospital.
· Mental Health Liaison service at the hospital.
· RDaSH Crisis and Home Treatment team in the individuals own home.
· Integrated Rapid Response service in the individuals own home.
The Council was also developing an appropriate protocol/pathway to address the needs of individuals experiencing an extreme heightened state of mental ill health due to inappropriate, unsafe housing issue/homelessness. This would ensure that alternative accommodation was available for people who have to be supported outside of their homes i.e. through use of emergency ‘Crash Pads’.
Mrs. Thackery, in a supplementary question, referred to an online petition that had been running to save Cedar House which had attracted over 2,000 signatures and asked if she could present this to Council in October, 2017.
Councillor Roche, whilst not yet in receipt of the petition, pointed out the decision to close Cedar House was made as part of the budget setting meeting of Council in March, 2017. This was not to say the services provided were not valued.
Councillor Roche agreed to meet with Mrs. Thackery to hear her concerns after the meeting.