To put questions, if any, to Cabinet Members and Committee Chairs (or their representatives) under Council Procedure Rules 11(1) and 11(3).
The deadline for receipt of questions for this meeting is 10.00 a.m. on Friday 19 January 2018.
(1) Councillor Carter asked which of the other Councils in the Sheffield City Region have adult burial fees higher than Rotherham?
Councillor Hoddinott expressed her frustration with the 35 year contract with Dignity, but confirmed In Rotherham an adult burial would cost £2,268 for a 100 year exclusive right to the plot.
In Doncaster, whilst the cost for an adult burial was £1,892, it only provided a 50 years exclusive right and in order to purchase a further 50 years of exclusive right, a further fee would be payable thus making the charge for a 100 year exclusive right to a plot more expensive than Rotherham.
Barnsley and Sheffield were both less than Rotherham and Doncaster, but it was difficult to compare as different services and burial rights were provided.
In terms of questions 2 and 3 about cremation fees and fees to erect a new headstone in a local authority cemetery, Rotherham was the most expensive for those services.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked as the Council had done its own analysis with similar authorities in the country showing the figures for burial were higher than average, what actions was the Council taking to try and reduce these fees for residents.
Councillor Hoddinott explained she had made representations to Dignity in terms of the rises in the fees. Dignity were in the process of setting fees for next year and this week Councillor Hoddinott had sought assurances that fees would be frozen. No positive response had been received. The fee increases above inflation were affecting residents who had commented that burial fees were expensive compared to other places.
In a supplementary in relation to Question 2 Councillor Carter asked what would be said to residents who were choosing other Local Authority cremation services due to cost.
Councillor Hoddinott shared the same concerns and would continue to raise these with Dignity as it was known residents were choosing other places because of the cost.
In a supplementary question in relation to Question 3 Councillor Carter asked as Councillor Hoddinott was part of the administration that signed the Dignity contact, would she agree with him that that the responsibility lay with her due to the ever increasing fees.
Councillor Hoddinott shared the frustration with the contract signed previously. If she could go back and change it she would. Councillor Alam, other Councillors and herself were consistently raising the concerns with Dignity and would continue to do so regarding the large increases in services and fees. More sensible proposals were expected.
(4) Councillor Cowles referred to the reference to Dignity on the 12th January, 2018 in the Rotherham Advertiser where Councillor Alam was quoted as saying “as a Council we need to be holding Dignity to account. There’s been a failure to manage the contract”. He asked could the Cabinet Member please explain exactly what was meant by that and what was proposed to do about it?
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed this quote came from a scrutiny review session held on Dignity where Members had been asked to look in detail at the contract due to concerns raised over last few months. A number of recommendations were suggested and a number of improvements had been put in place. There was now a Performance Management Framework enhancing the scrutiny of contract delivery which would be reporting in March, annual reports would be provided to the Council and negotiation around the times of burials. The Cabinet Member was also keen to see them implement their promises about lower cost memorials.
A further report would be presented to Improving Places Select Commission where the progress of improvements and performance would be reported. In the meantime a change of management would take place to enhance delivery and performance of the contract to give priority to this being sustainable and efficient.
In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles confirmed this was essentially about costs and last year had raised a similar question. At the time Councillor Hoddinott said would deal with the issue. A Director from Dignity had indicated that having signed contract the company would manage the business as saw fit. Therefore, he asked was Councillor Hoddinott deliberately misleading the public with articles and statements in the paper and if this was the case did she not think she should apologise.
Councillor Hoddinott believed she had been open and honest and shared the frustrations. She would continue to get a better deal for residents. Cost was a big issue, but not the only issue and a number of others had been raised. The change in management for prioritizing this contract would ensure that the pressure would be kept on Dignity and the changes requested completed.
Councillor Hoddinott welcomed any support from other Councillors and asked for these to be raised formally. She was determined to challenge the Dignity contract and ensure Rotherham got a good deal.
(5) Councillor Brookes was not present so her question would be responded to in writing.
(6) Councillor Hagueasked was the Cabinet Member satisfied that schools were responding appropriately to allegations made by children of sexual and physical abuse committed on school premises.
Councillor Watson confirmed that he was satisfied and fortunately these types of incidents were extremely rare. However, the Council had established reporting mechanisms for the reporting, recording and referral of such cases.
Where incidents of this nature were reported to the Council, various departments within Children and Young People’s Services and wider partners were alerted and, support and guidance were provided to ensure appropriate actions were taken by the school. Given the distressing nature of these types of incidents and the inevitable involvement of other agencies such as the Police, a discrete support package could be in place for an extended period of time within school.
Further, the Council was working with partners to ensure that schools were helped to understand the issues involved and find the right responses. The Barnardo’s Reach Out project had been working extensively with schools across the borough, about seeing the signs of sexual abuse/exploitation in particular.
The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub provided a source of advice and help for schools, and had within it a designated Education Lead. In addition, the multi- agency CSE Evolve Team had built good links with schools across the borough, including through involving them in risk assessment processes. This all helped to ensure that children got the help they needed.
The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, LSCB, as an independent body required all schools to undertake an annual Section 11 audit, which provided a level of assurance. The LSCB provided scrutiny of all school policies and procedures in relation to any allegation of sexual or physical assault.
Where incidents involved external agencies such as the Police, confidentiality was paramount for the victim and alleged perpetrator to ensure any subsequent investigation was not compromised.
If this related to any individual experiences it was suggested that referrals be made to the Strategic Director for Children and Young People’s Services for immediate investigation and response.
In a supplementary question Councillor Hague asked why were parents contacting himself and the Police directly to make allegations of sexual and physical abuse which occurred on school premises. The Head Teacher and senior staff were made aware of these incidents, which were criminal, and failed to report to the Police or relevant Council departments as required to do. Bearing in mind the failure of the Head Teacher and senior staff was the Deputy Leader still satisfied that school staff were aware of their responsibilities.
Councillor Watson was 100% certain that every Head Teacher in this authority was aware of their responsibilities. If they had not reported it, this was not the same as being aware. If Councillor Hague had a specific case he could discuss this further with the Deputy Leader and/or Strategic Director to move this forward.
Councillor Hague clarified the concerns had been reported promptly to Children’s Services and the Police by himself.
(7) Councillor Sansome asked was the Autism Strategy for all ages?
Councillor Roche yes the Autism Strategy was currently under development. This would be in two phases. The first phase focused on the transitional pathway from aged 14 through adulthood. The intention was to further develop the strategy to become an all age approach covering the whole life journey once the delivery of immediate actions reached sufficient maturity to facilitate this. Work was taking place with a range of partners to develop the Strategy including the CCG and RDaSH.
In a supplementary question Councillor Sansome asked if the Cabinet Member could outline the training Elected Members would receive who would sit on the Autism Strategy Board and consider adding a representative from CAMHS to the Board as they could bring more knowledge to the table.
Councillor Roche confirmed that RDaSH were invited to sit on the Autism Strategy Board and which included a representative from CAMHS. No current forms of training for Members had been identified, but sorting this was relevant to the Strategy. Assurances had been provided that any requirement for training could be arranged directly via the Council or through agreement with the voluntary sector.
(8) Councillor Sansome asked given last year the TRFT had come under massive pressure, with people having to wait many hours for treatment, what assurances could the Cabinet Member give that lessons have been learnt and residents were not facing the same lengthy waiting times before treatment.
Councillor Roche explained relationships between all partners across the Rotherham health and social care system were strong.
Since 2016/17, new governance arrangements had created an Accountable Care Partnership and have formalised the ambition to work as a whole system. Rotherham CCG submitted a robust winter plan to NHS England in September 2017. This highlighted the key actions across the system to support winter pressures and build on the lessons learnt from the previous winter. This included the following which have all been implemented and were showing signs of success:-
· Investment in reablement capacity through the independent sector.
· Investment in a lead officer to support the reduction in Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC).
· Investment in Age UK to support patient discharges to their own home.
· Identification of additional winter pressures beds (care home) with agreed wrap around support from community services.
· Development of an ambulatory care unit to support appropriate assessment of patients prior to admission.
· Development of an integrated frailty team to support hospital avoidance at the front end.
The current DTOC position was under the National Target of 3.5%. Rotherham had successfully reduced the DTOC levels from 4.1% in September 2017 to 1.8 in October and 2.4 in November 2017. Early indication of December figures was that DTOC would remain under the 3.5% target. In relation to 4 Hour Performance, the Rotherham Foundation Trust (TRFT) and the system as a whole have had a challenging winter period in line with the rest of the country. For the month of December TRFT were ranked 49th out of 137 (1 being the best, 137 being the worst). Performance (Percentage of people seen in under 4 hours) stood at 85.6%. As a comparison Doncaster was 88.5%, Barnsley 85.9% and Sheffield 85.5% so Rotherham was in line with its South Yorkshire neighbours. Obviously not satisfied with this reason for this related to Government cut backs and ultimately was placed in context. A few concerns had arisen which were being resolved.
In a supplementary question Councillor Sansome asked could the Cabinet Member confirm that avenues of communication were open with care homes that may have spare capacity and skills to deal with needs of patients.
Councillor Sansome and his ward colleagues were aware of spare capacity and skills at Mowbray Manor and it would have been helpful if the TRFT and RMBC could reduce pressure on the hospital by using up spare capacity which was available in care homes.
Councillor Roche explained care homes were only a piece of the picture and within the context of an independent NHS that had been cut back and driven towards privatisation. This was set against nursing figures nationally and the difficulty with recruitment. It was a similar picture for doctors. The issue about winter pressures and beds was a lot to do with Government priorities. The hospital trust was working with the Council in reducing transfers of care and with care homes identifying winter pressure beds. It was of primary importance to support people in their homes.
Councillor Roche was aware of bed vacancies and a system was in place to alert the Council on a daily and weekly basis as to capacity and these details were sent on to the hospital.
(9) Councillor B. Cutts asked could the Cabinet Member support him to reinstate the bus shelter on Wickersley Road/Middle Lane, recently demolished by a lorry? The shelter was adjacent to and, therefore, serviced the Old People’s Bungalows in Durham Place.
Councillor Lelliott confirmed South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive were responsible for the management of bus shelters. They have been notified of the situation and have confirmed that they were taking measures to address the damage to the shelter as soon as possible. The timescale for these works was six-eight weeks. If this had not been completed Councillor Lelliott asked Councillor Cutts to contact her again and she would chase it up on his behalf.
(10) Councillor Napper asked who set the criteria for road safety measures, i.e. speed limits, speed humps and traffic calming measures?
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed Rotherham was part of the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership and they provided the framework for road safety measures which followed the guidance directed and regulated by the Department for Transport.
The main criteria the Council were measured and monitored on was “Killed or Seriously injured on roads”.
Road safety was of particular interest to Members and as a result an information sharing seminar had been arranged for the 13th February, 2018 and provided an opportunity for members to learn more about road safety works and ask questions of officers.
In a supplementary question Councillor Napper referred to the need for speed limits on roads in his own ward on Moor Lane North and Hollings Lane, both of which had had fatalities in the past and he asked if this could be looked at it rather than waiting for someone to be killed.
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed the seminar would explain how accidents statistics were used to inform the work going forward. The specific reference to the roads would be forwarded on as similar issues were of concern in Councillor Hoddinott’s own ward. Speed was of concern and the Council needed to look at safety measures and working with the Police and enforcement.
(11) Councillor Carter asked given that a puffin crossing on Bawtry Road in Brinsworth had been agreed in principle, when would work start on this project?
Councillor Hoddinott explained that the proposal partially met the critiera. Works were prioritised for available funding and this project had not yet got to the top of the list. No timescales were available as yet.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter confirmed a further accident on Bawtry Road had taken place with significant damage to cars. Given this fact he asked the Cabinet Member where on the list was this project and would she guarantee there was funding available in the budget to get this enacted.
Councillor Hoddinott was unable to confirm the project’s location on the list. In terms of funding this area had received significant cuts by the Government and was likely to disappear in the future.
(12) Councillor Carter explained Jamie from Eastwood had written to him recently concerned that Eastwood was infested with rats and he asked what the Council was doing to combat this?
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed she also received reports from Jamie and gae assurances these were reported into the service to be dealt with.
The Council had carried out seven treatments for rats in Eastwood in the last six months.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked if there were seven treatments in the last six months was this an increase or decrease on the previous few years.
Councillor Hoddinott was unable to confirm and would be happy to provide this information in writing.
(13) Councillor Carter asked at a time when homelessness was on the increase, could the Council explain why they have failed to use existing powers to take over properties that have been empty for over two years?
Councillor Beck confirmed homelessness was a national challenge and the plight that homeless people felt every day was taken seriously here in Rotherham.
He refuted the question that the Council had failed to use existing powers. He outlined a number of actions the Council had taken with some success where enforced sale powers have been used to recover debts associated with the property, examples given were in Maltby and Dinnington where owners had sold properties they were doing nothing with.
Even at today’s meeting approval had been to implement a maximum charge for empty properties.
Discussion was also to take place with over one hundred owners across the borough that had properties empty for more than two years. Occasionally the Council had stepped in to buy properties through the Housing Revenue Account and bring them back to a fit standard and decency and let them as Council provided accommodation.
Councillor Beck had had taken note that the Liberal Democrats were keen to raise the issue of empty properties and use of empty dwelling management orders. He found this hypocritical as certain facts had been eluded from the press.
Councillor Beck referred to how in 2011 the Government extended the amount of time from six months to two years for Councils having to wait to work with landlords and owners of properties to bring them back into fit use.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter referred to research done over the use of empty dwelling management orders in Rotherham which had been zero given there were over eight hundred properties and again he asked why had the Council not used these powers and more proactively got these properties into use.
Councillor Beck had no further comment.
(14) Councillor Jepson asked would the Cabinet Member consider allocating money within her budget for next year to cleaning and repairing street and road signs throughout the borough in order to improve its appearance and ensure the safety of its residents.
Councillor Hoddinott explained the Council already had a budget for this in terms of street signs and appreciated the importance so had no proposals to reduce. If there were any particular concerns the Cabinet Member asked Councillor Jepson to advise. Having checked with the service there were only six signs currently awaiting installation which meant the service was fulfilling the demand. Members were also advised that if there were any particular issues in their own wards they could also use their devolved budget.
In a supplementary comment Councillor Jepson explained there were a number of road signs in his own ward which were unreadable and presented the wrong impression of the borough. He was more than happy to take forward a conversation with the Cabinet Member and officers.
Councillor Hoddinott was happy to do this.
(15) Councillor B. Cutts asked what circumstances determined or allowed planning applications with contention to be determined “behind closed doors”, by Chair and Vice-Chair with Planning Officers when no applications, without contentions were determined by the Planning Committee “in public”?
Councillor Lelliott explained planning applications were determined in accordance with the Council’s adopted scheme of delegation.
) allowed a Local Planning Authority to arrange for the discharge any of its functions by a committee, sub-committee, or an officer or by any other local authority. The Act stated that it was in the public interest for the local planning authority to have effective delegation arrangements in place to ensure that decisions on planning applications, that raised no significant planning issues, were made quickly and that resources were appropriately concentrated on the applications of greatest significance to the local area.
In summary the scheme of delegation delegated decision making to officers for a wide range of planning matters including to approve small scale applications where no objections have been received and to refuse small scale applications (even where objections have been received).
Applications where there have been no more than five objections are considered in conjunction with Chair and Vice Chair of Planning Board. Major applications, which have strategic implications for the Borough and any application with more than five objections (where the recommendation was to approve) were automatically referred to Planning Board.
Members were advised that Rotherham’s Planning Department was the number one in the country for both major and minor applications.
In a supplementary question Councillor Cutts referred to his own circumstances which had occurred over the last two months and was unable to absorb the answer.
Councillor Lelliott reconfirmed ) allowed a Local Planning Authority to arrange for the discharge any of its functions by a committee, sub-committee, or an officer or by any other local authority. The Act stated that it was in the public interest for the local planning authority to have effective delegation arrangements in place to ensure that decisions on planning applications, that raised no significant planning issues, were made quickly and that resources were appropriately concentrated on the applications of greatest significance to the local area.
(16) Councillor Carter asked if Sheffield and Barnsley could manage to fix street lights within a working day, why were Rotherham residents having to wait three times longer, and were therefore getting a worse service?
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed the average time for the Council to fix a street light was around two days and was happy to report that the street lighting service was a finalist for the Association of Public Service Excellence.
It was difficult to compare repairs as some were easy to repair if it was the light and the column, but there could be delays if the repair related to supply when this would have to be passed to Northern Power Grid. Their reported longest delay had been twenty days and these were circumstances beyond the Council’s control.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked about the statistics received which had related to the financial year 2016/17 and asked if Rotherham residents were having an improvement in their service, which was still behind Sheffield and Barnsley.
Councillor Hoddinott pointed out that the servicing of street lighting was improving. The Council had approved an invest to save bid to replace street lighting with LED lights. These lights were lasting longer with less on them to fix.
(17) Councillor Jepson referred to last year an area of woodland at Greenlands Park, North Anston was sold off by the Council. He asked could the Cabinet Member ensure that some of the proceeds of this sale were reinvested in the park to provide additional recreation facilities for the benefit of the local community.
Councillor Yasseen explained the area of woodland that that Councillor Jepson was referring to had not yet been sold. Asset Management had been working with Greenspaces following a request from a resident that backed on to the area of woodland in question, to purchase an area of woodland that was not accessible from the park.
A report was to be considered at the next Asset Management Board (12th February, 2018) that would consider this request, and if supported would be considered by the Assistant Director of Planning, Regeneration and Transportation (under the scheme of delegation). Consultation has taken place with the Ward Members and local groups and these comments were included in the report following consultation with the appropriate Cabinet Members.
Capital receipts were not ring-fenced for specific requests and such funding went in to central finance in order to meet the Capital receipts target. Funding for recreation facilities and related work should come through the usual route and via requests to the relevant service.
Ward Members were advised that they could use their devolved budget to enhance their local areas, such as green spaces, for local benefit and every effort was being made to work more proactively with Ward Councillors.
In a supplementary comment Councillor Jepson confirmed he was not aware the sale had not gone through. He asked if some money could be used to top up the green spaces to get something done in the park. This was a Council owned park and he hoped some of the money could find its way back in.
Councillor Yasseen would forward on the request.
(18) Councillor Carter asked if theadministration believed that the Kingdom litter enforcement trial had been a success in cleaning up the town centre?
Councillor Hoddinott was pleased to confirm it had. This had been considered at an excellent cross party scrutiny session that had come up with a similar view and made some excellent recommendations about the way forward.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked, given the decrease in footfall and the withdrawal of some retail, did the Cabinet Member think the Kingdom enforcement trial was distracting people from the town centre.
Councillor Hoddinott had received feedback from residents around litter and behaviour of a small minority of people deterring them from the town centre. Councillor Lelliott was dealing with the regeneration and provided feedback from the Voice meetings.
The trial had addressed some of the social concerns around litter enforcement and combined with the introduction of the public space protection order over street drinking would seek to assist Rotherham with becoming a thriving town centre going forward.
(19) Councillor Cowles referred to the ‘Local Plan’ and the ‘Masterplan’ progressing, but whenever there was discussion or in the press about the future developments the Cabinet Member for Housing referred to the use of developers to do the work and asked why could we not do more ourselves with more local involvement of Rotherham people?
Councillor Beck explained the majority of the new properties were delivered by the private sector. This was the case nationally and in Rotherham.
It was noted that as part of the site clusters programme, which would deliver 217 new homes, the Council as the developer and the land owner was employing Wates Living to use local labour and local apprentices to build the new homes.
In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles sadly reported the message from Government was clear - cut until you fail and even if there was an alternative Government any increase in funds could be short term.
It was time to look to the future. Councillor Cowles assumed the Cabinet Member had heard of ARCH and other property companies and if not, why no. This was a strategic partnership with the Council in Northumberland.
Councillor Cowles had not had an opportunity to speak to the Council, but he would. He was aware of some issues, but these were complete. This company was to be closely aligned to Northumberland County Council and operated as a commercial scheme, not only driving economic regeneration in the north, but providing the returns on the investment. It helped protect services and budgets and supported homes and jobs and had returned £5 million to the Council.
Councillor Cowles asked, before everyone screamed about Carillion, why Rotherham could not do the same with this property company, which was subject to public scrutiny.
Councillor Beck was familiar with what described. A piece of work had been undertaken to look at the business case for a special housing delivery vehicle and to look at ways it had been done. A proposal was certainly not off the table and the Council was interested in exploring and keen to adopt innovative way of delivering new housing. He considered the points raised by Councillor Cowles to be fair and would look to see how the approach could be broadened to the housing market in Rotherham.
(20) Councillor Cusworth referred according to the ONS “An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59...experienced domestic abuse in the last year” March 2017 and asked what was Rotherham doing to prevent incidents of domestic abuse, support victims of abuse and aid prosecutions for domestic abuse related incidents.
Councillor Hoddinott advised there were over 6,000 people in Rotherham affected by domestic abuse that reported it and that was a rise on the year before.
The Council and its partners were acutely aware of the prevalence of domestic abuse and were working hard to address the issue and provide support services. A Domestic Abuse Strategy had recently been agreed to improve the co-ordination between the service. Service users had reported how excellent services were, but this was not always joined up and recognised. A part of this a charter had been developed with partners about expectations of how organisations dealt with domestic abuse and what training and support was available.
Next month would see the launch of a perpetrator programme and it would be interesting to see how this progressed.
Scrutiny were thanked for the work they had undertaken on domestic abuse, for raising issues and shaping the strategy.
Tomorrow a peer review was also taking place with regards to the domestic abuse service and how to work together with partners. This was the first of its kind in the country and officers were thanked for their involvement in this. It was important to seek assurances about how services were developed.
(21) Councillor Williams referred to theannouncement earlier last year that firms such as McLaren and Boeing would be building factories in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District. This was obviously welcome news and asked was there any evidence to show these investments were having a wider beneficial impact on the local economy?
Councillor Lelliott confirmed Rotherham had a proud history of engineering excellence – these investments showed how the work being delivered through the Economic Growth Plan was taking the local economy forward, building on Rotherham’s traditional strengths and creating the necessary conditions to attract high value wealth creating jobs in advanced manufacturing which have spill over benefits across the borough.
Investment liked McLaren’s was expected to generate a further £100 million of additional Gross Value Added for the economy and create at least 370 jobs including 250 in the McLaren production facility at the AMP in Rotherham. Boeing was expected to add £70 million of GVA and create 260 jobs resulting from direct employment and in the supply chain and service sector.
In a supplementary question Councillor Williams was pleased to learn that big international companies like Boeing were calling Rotherham their home and asked the Cabinet Member if she could explain what the impact had been for our employment levels here in Rotherham.
Councillor Lelliott confirmed the investments were fantastic and showed that Rotherham was the eighth fastest growing economy in the country. Figures released today indicated that the employment rate had risen by 2.6% from 71% to 73.6% and the gap between the economic activity rate of the UK had narrowed from 5% to 3.1%.
(22) Councillor Carter referred to the Council’s own forecasts that “fly-tipping incidents across the borough were projected to increase by 5% during the current financial year” and asked how did the Council plan to combat this?
Councillor Hoddinott explained this was a projection and everything would be done to ensure this was not the case. Fly tipping was a priority in Labour’s manifesto and stressed the important of keeping to manifesto commitments, so over the last two years, the Council’s enforcement capabilities had increased significantly in terms of methods to detect and deter fly tipping and additionally new legislation allowing for:-
1. Quicker enforcement through £400 fixed penalty notices for some offences.
2. Use of new powers to seize and keep vehicles used in fly tipping offences to prevent further offences.
During the current financial year the Council has seized fourteen vehicles suspected of being involved in fly-tipping; successfully prosecuted seven companies/individuals for fly-tipping with more awaiting hearings at Court over the next few months.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked given the changes to the waste collection services over the coming months would the Cabinet Member agree that there was a risk of further fly tipping.
Councillor Hoddinott pointed out changing the waste collection service was not a license for fly tipping and there was no excuse for the behavior now or in the future. Clear take action would be taken against people who were fly tipping offenders.
(23) Councillor Sansome asked what impact would the collapse of Carillion have on the residents of the borough.
Councillor Lelliott advised she was not aware of any direct contracts between Carillion and the Council. It was understood that Network Rail had Carillion as the main contractor for the Tram Train between Sheffield and Rotherham. The SYPTE have reported that the remainder of the contracts for the tram train would continue to be implemented and the scheme completed.
In a supplementary question Councillor Sansome asked, taking into account the few number of contracts at risk, was there a future position where those contracts would be brought in-house and would the Cabinet Member lead on a task force on the fallout of the small numbers involved to protect employment and business.
Councillor Lelliott pointed out it was early days and further investigation was required. Carillion was a major employer and with offices in Sheffield and employees from Rotherham the Council shared the concerns and was supportive of those affected.
(24) Councillor Carter referred to April from Manvers who felt she had to take her plastics to her mum’s house in a neighbouring Council area so that it could be easily recycled. He asked would the Member agree that not recycling plastic at the kerbside meant that Rotherham’s recycling policy only benefitted the few, not the many?
Councillor Hoddinott was sorry that April felt she had to transport her plastic. There was provision in the borough for her to take her plastic to recycle at the household recycling centres and bring-sites. Consultation was currently taking place on the waste collection service. A number of responses had been received and would be responded to accordingly.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked, assuming the changes go through and the general bin size goes down, how would the Cabinet Member respond to residents whose household were unable to fit all their general waste in their black bin and did not have the facility to visit the recycling centres by car.
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed residents who say they were struggling at the moment from the modelling for a normal family should be able to cope with a smaller bin size with the waste they produced. Other areas had introduced smaller bins and that had brought about an increase in recycling because of the need to give careful consideration as what went into the bin and the need to separate this out.
There had been a number of responses on this issue and Councillor Hoddinott was keen to understand why and further consideration was needed to look at how to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first place. Comments about supermarkets and packaging were a national issue and action was needed to see how this too could be reduced.
(25) Councillor Carter asked did the Cabinet Member believe that the parking enforcement regime was a success in the town centre?
Councillor Lelliott agreed in general.
In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked, given free parking on the lead up to Christmas which potentially reduced to mitigate the impacts of Parkgate and Meadowhall, would the Cabinet Member look to introducing this all year round to increase footfall in the borough.
Councillor Lelliott confirmed she would consider all proposals. Free parking was currently available all year round with two hours free parking on the Forge Island site.
(26) Councillor Jepson had already left the meeting so was unable to ask his question. A response would be provided in writing.
(27) Councillor Cusworth asked could the Cabinet Member please tell her what the Council was doing to support the start-up and growth of small businesses in the borough?
Councillor Lelliott advised the Council provided a start-up advisory service through RiDO which was embedded in the business centre offer. At any one time there was over 120 businesses resident in four business centres - Fusion at Magna, Moorgate Crofts, Matrix at Dinnington and Century at Manvers. These businesses provided over 1,000 local jobs.
The three year survival rate of businesses in RiDO business centres was 79.6% which was significantly higher than the national figure of 60.8%. In the nine months from April, 2017 the team had worked with 182 potential new entrepreneurs and helped 21 businesses to start up.
At 93% occupancy the centres were near to capacity which was why the construction of a new centre had been included in the Economic Growth Plan. The Council was currently working on opportunities to draw down external grant funding to help deliver this.
(28) Councillor Cowles asked at theend of the consultation process into waste management, would the Cabinet Member please hold a Council seminar covering the top ten issues raised by the public and whatever innovative solution had been reached to solve them. He gave an example of a Council who had six bins causing utter chaos on collection day along some roads.
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed that a six bin proposal was not an option.
In terms of the consultation process it was not thought that a seminar was the right environment for such a discussion, but the information from the consultation survey, drop in sessions and public feedback would be published. The final proposals would also be subject to a thorough discussion in the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board prior to any Cabinet decision being taken.
(29) Councillor B. Cutts withdrew this question at the meeting.
(30) Councillor B. Cutts asked as a result of the experience with grooming and exploitation had the Council made any representation to Government to request a National Standard for the control of taxi licensing to allow us to prevent “none locally licensed” taxis operating in Rotherham.
Councillor Hoddinott confirmed Elected Members and officers and also victims and survivors have taken every opportunity to raise concerns regarding the lack of national standards and the ability of “out of town” vehicles to operate in Rotherham. Councillor Ellis as Chair of Licensing was invited to provide information on the work that had been undertaken to date.
Councillor Ellis confirmed this was an issue and she and the members of the Licensing Board found it increasingly frustrating that out of town vehicles could operate in the borough. However, the Board had been diligent in taking up this cause and had spoken to many people and organisations including the Local Government Association, Department for Transport, Transport Minister, Members of Parliament and the Deputy Mayor of London to lobby Government for a change in the legislation.
Even yesterday Rotherham’s dedicated Licensing Manager was in London at a task group talking to people about experiences here in Rotherham. He was also sharing the top three issues Government were being lobbied for which were cross border hiring, the problems it brought, a national database and outdated legislation. Those people on the Licensing Board and who had attended the training, were aware that the legislation was outdated and not fit for purpose.
Rough calculations of audience figures where Rotherham had been invited to deliver presentations at national training events and conferences reached around 200-300 authorities and 60-70 councillors. Other Councils and Councillors had also visited Rotherham and shared experiences and were particularly interested and engaged.
Rotherham had not waited for Central Government to change legislation, but had been proactive in dealing with problems, contacting other authorities and taking the initiative.
Information had been shared about Rossendale who had gone as far as to change their Licensing Policy to reflect vehicles had to be predominantly used within its borough and action taken to drivers for those who went beyond a thirty mile radius.
Rossendale had not gone as far as Rotherham with the installation of CCTV in its cabs, but it was pleasing to learn they had reviewed their policy and like Rotherham were seeking to protect all members of the public using taxis and taxi drivers themselves.
In a supplementary question Councillor B Cutts was pleased to see things were going in the right direction. As these subjects were very important he asked if more information could be provided or a seminar held to share some of the good news stories and best practice.
Councillor Ellis noted the request and confirmed all the Licensing Board and Licensing Committee received regular updates and training. Whilst the process was not yet perfect the Licensing process in Rotherham was very much improved system and service.
(31) Councillor Jepson had already left the meeting so was unable to ask his question. A response would be provided in writing.
(32) Councillor Napper asked what was the remit of RMBC’s new officer to investigate extremism in Rotherham?
The Leader confirmed that if he had understood the question correctly, it related to the job of a new Community Co-ordinator funded by the Counter Extremism Unit who was funding a network of 42 Community Co-ordinators in key local authority areas, of which Rotherham was one due to the difficulties experienced such as the far right marches in previous years.
The role was not to investigate extremism, but to help build stronger community resistance to it, in whichever communities it may occur. The Leader was sure the officer would be happy to meet with Councillor Napper if that would be helpful.
In a supplementary question Councillor Napper asked if this covered all forms of extremism of whichever quarter it came from.
The Leader confirmed it did.
(33) Councillor Napper asked since 2015 how many jobs have been lost in RMBC and how many management post jobs have been employed?
Councillor Alam confirmed since 1st April, 2015 there had been a reduction of 313 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) posts. During this period there have been 291 redundancies and these have been posts at all levels across the organisation. The Council would have to have a more detailed look at each redundancy to establish how many were management posts, this work was underway and Councillor Alam would provide Councillor Napper with a direct response.
In a supplementary question Councillor Napper asked how many new management posts had the Council engaged since losing lower paid positions.
Councillor Alam confirmed a number of senior managers had been recruited and would include this with his written answer.
(34) Councillor Simpson asked could the Council update residents of Brinsworth and Catcliffe about the use of land adjacent to exit 33 of the M1, especially with regard to pollution above and below ground.
Councillor Lelliott confirmed an outline planning application had been submitted to the Council, and was currently being considered, for a proposed motorway service area at Junction 33. This will be considered at Planning Board sometime around April/May this year.
The application was accompanied by a number of detailed technical reports. The application and details relating to pollution could be accessed as part of the public on the Council website