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Agenda item

MEMBERS' QUESTIONS TO CABINET MEMBERS AND CHAIRMEN

 

To put questions, if any, to Cabinet Members and Chairmen (or their representatives) under Council Procedure Rules 11(1) and 11(3).

Minutes:

(1)  Councillor Fenwick-Green was aware it was reported recently that sales of electric cars were up a third compared to this time last year so asked what was the Council doing to make it easier for drivers of electric vehicles to charge their cars in Rotherham? 

 

Councillor Lelliott explained the Council had been successful in securing funding from the Government as part of the work on the Clean Air Zone, some of this funding was being used to proactively encourage electric vehicle use by installing more charging points for electric vehicles.

 

Work was currently on-going across a number of sites around the borough and the total number of charging points that would be installed would depend on those works. However, it was estimated that around fourteen public charging points would be installed across the borough, plus as many as twenty in the town centre and at Riverside. A further ten chargers would be installed at Hellaby depot to allow the Council to develop its electric vehicle fleet in years to come.

 

The work was expected to be completed by the end of June.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Fenwick-Green was aware that problems that drivers with electric cars faced when they came to a charging point was they could not plug a car in because it had iced up.  This was not the case for cars with an internal combustion engine so asked if there were any plans to prevent charging point blocking to allow electric car drivers to charge their vehicles when they needed to.

 

Councillor Lelliott confirmed there were no plans, but the position would be monitored via enforcement officers to ensure it was not being abused.

 

(2)  Councillor Carter asked what plans were there currently to resurface roads such as High Hazel Road and Treeton Lane in Treeton?

 

Councillor Hoddinott confirmed if Councillor Carter had spoken to the Ward Councillor for Treeton he would have found out the Ward Members representing Treeton have already picked up the concerns of local residents, and as a result High Hazel Road, Treeton and Treeton Lane, Treeton have been included on the Highway Repair Programme for 2019/20.

 

The two roads would, therefore, be resurfaced this financial year.

 

(3)  Councillor M. Elliott referred to the annual gardening competition being recently announced and asked why was it only applicable to Council tenants?

 

Councillor Beck explained this recognised the green figured tenants and those taking pride in their own Council home.  It was recognised that many of the housing estates were mixed tenure.  This was something the Council were looking at, but logistically extending the competition to 100,000 homes would make this a challenge.

 

Councillor Elliott took on board Councillor Beck’s comments, but the right to buy made a lot of private householders on Council estates.  He believed the present scheme was discriminatory and hoped the service would look at it again for next year.

 

Councillor Beck shared the spirit in which Councillor Elliott’s question intended, but the staff who worked on this annual competition were all funded from the tenants themselves and the rents collected.  The Council must be careful not to run a project potentially funded by Council tenants for the benefit of others as there were strict regulations around the HRA.  However, consideration would be given as to whether this project could be extended.

 

(4)  Councillor Carter asked were libraries in communities such as Wickersley and Brinsworth at risk of closure under the upcoming review of the library service?

 

Councillor Allen explained that as Councillor Carter would know the new improved library provision developed by the Parish Council at the Brinsworth Community Hub would be available from the 4th November, 2019.  This would be delivered using a Section 106 contribution of £124,800 along with an allocation of £148,401 the Council’s capital programme – which Councillor Carter voted against.

 

There were no plans to close libraries, but the service would listen carefully to consultation on developing a new Library Strategy that was approved by the Cabinet.

 

The existing service for the first time in ten years had reversed the trend in terms of usage and it was now going upwards.  It was also recording for the end of 2018/19 99.08% satisfaction ratings from users.  The service wanted to maintain and improve on that service delivery and keep those standards already reached and applicable which was why residents were being asked for their views.  Members would need to remember there were authorities like East Sussex who were currently closing a third of their libraries without any consultation purely as a savings exercise.  Here in Rotherham the Council was rightly proud and not only keeping libraries open, but statistics showed they were thriving.

 

(5)  Councillor Carter asked did RMBC employ directly or indirectly any staff on zero hour contracts?

 

Councillor Alam explained the Council did not employ staff on zero hours contracts, either directly or indirectly.

 

(6)  Councillor Fenwick-Green pointed out that since the last Council meeting CYPS have had an Ofsted focused visit to review the permanence planning arrangements for looked after children and asked could the Cabinet Member tell the Chamber what were the conclusions.

 

Councillor Watson confirmed Ofsted carried out a focused visit on 21st and 22nd March, 2019 to look at the Council’s arrangements for permanence planning, including early permanence for children looked after. The Inspectors looked at a range of evidence, including case discussions with social workers. They also looked at Local Authority performance management and quality assurance information, and reviewed children’s case records.

 

Ofsted said that children looked after by Rotherham Borough Council who needed permanence in their lives were receiving a strong service. They saw that the Council had made progress since the last inspection in 2017, when services for children looked after were judged to require improvement. 

 

The inspectors reported that effective strategic planning by senior leaders had significantly improved permanence planning for children in care. They said that senior leaders have successfully made use of the Council’s existing strengths, such as performance reporting, together with increased management oversight of children’s individual circumstances, to achieve sustained improvement. 

 

The published report said that significant partners, such as the Child and Family Courts Advisory Service (CAFCAS) and the courts, reported an increasing amount of good-quality social work. Inspectors reported that social workers described their plans for children in care clearly and that they saw children regularly and know them very well.

 

Inspectors found that all children in care whose cases were reviewed by inspectors had a plan for permanence firmly in place. This meant that there was a real focus on securing their long-term future including finding a variety of places for them to live.

 

As with all inspections a small number of areas were identified for further development. Firstly, the quality and consistency of written planning needs to match up to social workers’ verbal accounts of their plans. Secondly, the Council needed to increase the number of in-house placements, to avoid the use of unregulated placements options when finding places for children in care to live. Finally assessments needed to be of a consistent quality, where risk had potential implications for stability in the lives of children in care.

 

As ever, the Council would take on board the feedback from the inspection to continue to improve the services for our Looked After Children. 

 

(7)  Councillor Carter asked had the Council supported convictions of homeless people under the Victorian era Vagrancy Act in the past five years?

 

Councillor Beck explained the Council’s thoughts were with anyone who found themselves in a situation where they or their family were homeless or sleeping rough. 

 

This type of enforcement was undertaken by the Police, who were not required to consult with the Council before they took such action. Neither the Police nor the Council were at liberty to pick and choose which laws were enforced.

 

Councillor Beck understood that the Police were sometimes required to use these powers after interventions from the Council or the Police have not been successful. When this action was taken, it was not in order to convict people for being homeless. The powers were only used as a last resort in cases where individuals were found to be persistently begging and causing a significant nuisance, after every effort had been made to support the individual off the streets. It should be noted that persistent begging was not necessarily confined to people who were homeless and sadly it was known that many individuals found to be begging were not homeless at all.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked over the past five years were there any residents involved with the Council as described being convicted under the Vagrancy Act.

 

Councilor Beck referred back to his original response that this was a matter for the Police.  The Council did not prosecute anyone under the Act.  The Council did in fact work in partnership with the Police, the Health Service and other organisations, but it was Labour Party policy to repeal the Vagrancy Act if the Labour Party came into power.

 

(8)  Councillor Carter asked what was the administration’s view on combining the roles of City Region Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

The Leader confirmed there was no such proposal in South Yorkshire so the Council had not formed a view about it.  The priority was for the Metro Mayor to do his job and the task of delivering a devolution deal before coming to other reforms.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked would the administration support the combining of the role of the Fire Authority with those of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

The Leader was not aware of a proposal to do this at the moment so a decision would lay with the Police and Crime Commissioner and he would need to persuade Councils to do this.  If a proposal came forward in the future the Council would then consider it seriously.

 

(9)  Councillor Reeder asked the Cabinet Member for a cleaner safer place to live.  Under this new neighbourhood scheme had there been any improvement in Rotherham town centre and surrounding area and did the Cabinet Member ever walk around town and was anyone bothered.

 

Councillor Allen was aware Councillor Reeder had also asked this question at the Streetpride Members Group last week and a long discussion took place about recent walkabouts in Wellgate.  The Cabinet Member was still working with officers to come to a resolution on them.

 

At the meeting all the Members gave assurance that they were bothered and today everyone in this Chamber would give reassurance with confidence that they too were bothered.

 

Councillor Reeder had referenced what improvements in the town centre had taken place with the new ward based working and examples of tangible improvement were in Rotherham East Councillors have supported community litter picks, clean up events and improvements to the subways, including the creation of new murals.  In addition there had been significant multi-agency working in Eastwood that had had an impact on reducing anti-social behavior and improved the environment.

 

In Rotherham West Councillors have tackled fly tipping through installation of CCTV, organised community clean-ups, removed graffiti and encouraged reassurance campaigns.

 

Boston Castle Councillors have initiated activity to improve community safety on the Duke of Norfolk estate with the installation of CCTV, installation of barriers and general public reassurance.

 

Through the Streetpride Working Group Councillor Reeder would be aware the Council was looking to focus on some new ways of working with more flexible zonal based cleaning teams.  The Council were keen to increase and support volunteering and looking at better ways to engage with Members and residents in identifying local issues.

 

It was acknowledged that there were still places in the Borough that were not as clean as they could be and the Cabinet Member was working with officers through the Streepride Working Group, with other Members and communities to improve things.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Reeder’s main concern was around the Howard Building and its condition.  The residents were asking her what they were paying their Council Tax for as the roads were a mess, the town centre was a mess and no one cared.  Residents had to do their own recycling instead of the Council.  There was no enforcement, mattresses and large items were just chucked out onto the pavement and the streets along Wellgate just looked Romania with rats on the Henley site.  The play area in that area had been given over to the alcoholics and the drug addicts as the Council was failing in its duty to maintain it.  Councillor Reeder was not talking about Wickersley and Ravefield, but why should the Council estates be any different for the people that lived on them.  These residents were not second class citizens, but were living in third world conditions and it was Council tax payers who were paying wages of staff who were supposed to be delivering services.

 

Councillor Allen was not aware of the question in the above, but commented that many Members were distressed by what Councillor Reeder had said.  With regards to some of the specifics Councillor Reeder had an open door to the Cabinet Member and the Streepride Working Group to get answers to her concerns.

         

(10)  Councillor Carter asked would the Council commit to becoming single-use plastic free in all Council owned buildings in the next 3 years?

 

Councillor Hoddinott was pleased to report that she had already tasked staff with investigating whether this was practicable.

 

(11)  Councillor Carter asked given recent changes in Government policy towards tackling period poverty in school, would the Cabinet Member please outline the Council’s next steps in ensuring freely available sanitary wear would be available in all Rotherham’s secondary schools?

 

Councillor Watson confirmed the Government had followed the Scottish Government that they were going to provide free sanitary products in all English secondary schools and colleges, but they had missed a turn and not included the top end of primary schools, which needed to be addressed.

 

The Government plan was to commence in the next financial year when they planned to make Councils responsible, but would passport the money through Councils, although some cynics would realise that it was likely money would come in ring-fenced and then in a few years this was likely to be withdrawn and it then became a problem for Councils to fund.

 

In the interim before the Government funding was provided one local charity that had previously supported local secondary schools to further address and enhance this provision had enough funds to support three secondary schools in the borough with sanitary products and were currently talking to Heads which were the most appropriate.  However, it was noted all schools did have a small delegated budget which included an amount allocated to address health, safety and welfare issues.

 

(12)  Councillor Carter asked for the financial year 2018/19 how many people were employed and what was the cost to the taxpayer of staff employed for the purposes of trade union work?

 

Councillor Alam explained the latest available data for trade union facility time and associated costs was for the 2017/2018 financial year. Data for 2018/2019 was currently being collated and would be published by 31st July, 2019.

 

As at 31st March 2018, there were six full time trade union convenors employed in the Council.  The total cost to the Council for trade union activity was £192,797; equivalent to 0.1% of the combined school and non-school pay bill.

 

The Cabinet Member assured Councillor Carter that the Council valued strong workplace representation for its workforce and unlike some members of the Conservative Party the Council would not want to undermine that representation and the benefits it brought.

 

(13)  Councillor Carter referred to reports which had seen a new bus shelter being installed in Maltby where no buses now run due to recent cuts. He, therefore, asked would the Cabinet Member make representations to SYPTE to move this redundant bus shelter to Bawtry Road in Brinsworth to replace the ones destroyed in accidents.

 

Councillor Lelliott explained the bus stop in question was paid for by the developer as part of the planning approval for the new Home Bargains store, which cited improvements to the bus stop on Tickhill Road when the bus route was in operation.

 

It was SYPTE, who installed and maintained bus stops, (not the Council), and who would contact Councillor Carter to discuss further.

 

(14)  Councillor Carter asked what was the preferred option of the administration for the location and provision of a central library?

 

Councillor Allen reported the Council had been consulting on an option to move the Central Library to the Guardian Centre in the markets complex.

 

(15)  Councillor Cowles referred on a visit to Eastwood he saw a mini bus touring the area at 10:00 a.m. with the driver knocking on doors. He asked him what he was doing and he said he was from a local school and had come to collect children who had failed to arrive at the expected time. He asked was the Cabinet Member aware of this practice?

 

Councillor Watson was not aware about the specific bus that Councillor Cowles saw, but he could confirm that schools all have staff members who routinely monitored attendance levels.

 

Where non-school attendance was an issue with for example a particular pupil or cohort of pupils in a school, the attendance leads would make home visits if for example a child had failed to report for school and the absence had not been reported by a parent/carer.

 

The home visit was to establish firstly that the child was safe and well and where persistent absenteeism was an issue, to challenge non-school attendance. In some cases as part of support strategies to improve the educational engagement and attendance of a small minority of pupils, this may include collecting them from home if they failed to report for school at the start of the school day.   The Cabinet Member would prefer this rather than just giving in and encourage pupils to attend on a regular basis.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles referred to a number of children in his ward that attended Brinsworth School three miles away and who would at the end of this year lose their free bus pass.  Parents would be expected to pay for the journey or their children would be expected to walk.  This action was due to a new crossing that had been installed near to Canklow on the A631.  At this point if they walked they would have crossed this road three times, yet there was still the Canklow Bridge and Brinsworth Lane to navigate.  The route was both unhealthy and unsafe and in response to the unsafe request parents were expected to take their children to school and bring them home and still go to work. 

 

From the ages of 11 to 16 parents were not able to pay for bus fare to cover 12 miles a day to take their children to school along the A631 so chances of children crossing where they were expected to do was unlikely to take place.  He asked, therefore, if it was possible to take children to school from Eastwood then they could be taken from Whiston.  He asked that one, the bus passes be restored or two that Brinsworth School be asked to put on a bus at 7.45 a.m. to get children to school on time.  Would the Cabinet Member respond to this issue?

 

Councillor Watson believed Councillor Cowles’ point was that the journey for the children in his ward was an unsafe walking journey to school and was not for personal safety as was the law.  The important thing was it was safe as a pedestrian.  It was for parents to decide if on a personal basis it was safe for their child to walk.

 

If it was possible to have all the free school buses returned that the Government had removed, Councillor Watson would welcome this.  However, the Council had to apply national guidelines as this was the policy of this Council.

 

(16)  Councillor Carter asked how much had the Council spent in the last five years on travel by flights for staff and Councillors and if this could be provided in a list by year, and also the amount for any business class fares and their destinations.

 

Councillor Alam confirmed there had been three occasions of travel by flights in the last five years that the Council had paid for.  The total cost was £1,548 broken down by year as follows:-

 

2017 - £728 

2018 - £758

2018 - £62

 

These flights were taken by officers.  No Councillors have been on any flights.  None of them were business class flights and all were economy.

 

(17)  Councillor Cowles confirmed he had received four complaints about rodents in back gardens in Sitwell and it was becoming a borough wide problem.  Issues at Eastwood and Masbrough were known, but it was now around the library area in Wath and at the back of this building across the Narrow Twitchell. He held the Cabinet Member responsible and asked what was she going to do about it?

 

Councillor Allen responded and confirmed there had been no increase in the number of requests for rodent treatments over the last three years and there was no evidence of an increase in rat problems across the Borough.

 

Rodents generally wanted shelter, food and water, so simple things like making sure any rubbish was contained in wheelie bins, or keeping gardens free of clutter would help.

 

In 2018/19 the Council issued fifty legal notices under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act to specifically require owners/occupiers to clear areas that were harbouring rats.  In the same period the enforcement team dealt with nearly 1,300 issues with domestic waste, most of which were resolved informally, with the owner clearing up before action was taken.

 

If residents were experiencing rodent problems an appointment could be made by contacting the Council.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles described how on Monday night at the Parish Council meeting a gentleman described his property in Maltby where rats had come along the sewer and burrowed up through the floorboards.  This showed the problem was increasing and the problem moved about. 

 

The issue was when residents called pest control officers they were expected to pay for the removal of the rodents when they were not their rodents.  It was hardly surprising there was a problem when you walked around with the wheelie bins being crammed full, the lids not closed properly and on some the lids were gnawed.  The problem would not be controlled while this was happening.  Rodents posed a health threat so it was suggested something needed doing and for it to be treated with the seriousness it deserved rather than having to put up with it.

 

Councillor Allen understood from her own perspective that no-one was more than six foot away from a rat.  In terms of charges for rodent services there was a charge in private properties, but Council tenants were entitled to services free. 

 

In terms of the concerns raised at the Parish Council meeting Councillor Allen asked if this had been reported and urged anyone that if there was an issue to contact the Authority to report it.

 

In a point of information Councillor Ireland sought clarification on the restriction on the number of questions that could be asked and was advised that this would come into effect from the next meeting in July, 2019.

 

(18)  Councillor Carter asked how did the Council intend to encourage Rotherham’s big businesses (such as those on the Advanced Manufacturing Park) to help address the fall in attainment below the national average between KS1 and KS5?

 

Councillor Watson explained the Council encouraged all schools work closely with a range of businesses including those on Advanced Manufacturing Park, which included:-

 

1.     The Gatsby Benchmarks.

 

2.     Rotherham Schools have now all got a link Careers advisor to support the development of business links as part of these benchmarks.

 

3.     South Yorkshire Futures (a partnership of Hallam Institute of Education) was now working in partnership with business leaders to work more closely with schools and enable business leaders to speak, mentor and inspire school children.

 

4.     The Advanced Manufacturing Park have excellent links with Rotherham schools and have offered a range of outreach events and opportunities for schools to gain both professional development for teachers and inspiration for their students and careers and apprenticeship advice for older students.

 

On a more practical level, the Council was engaged in delivering a number of funded and non-funded projects such as:-

 

·             Linking schools with STEM ambassadors from the AMRC and its partners on the AMP and Waverley to increase student visits to the site.

·             Working in partnership with businesses, schools and Well North (Rotherham) to develop and roll out a science summer school.

·             Linking local businesses to schools, to help raise the aspirations of students by increasing employer encounters and experience of the workplace through career speed networking, mock interviews and other career related activities.

·             Forging links between head teachers and businesses leaders, to help deliver skills and economic growth for Rotherham.

·             Working with inward investors such as Gulliver’s and education partners, to raise awareness of careers and progression pathways in primary/secondary schools.

·             Facilitating meetings with careers leaders to promote the roll out of the Gatsby Benchmarks for good careers guidance and duties under the statutory guidance for careers.

·             Promoting the use of Industry Champions in schools and roll out of the SYF Talent Bank – Inspiring the Future.

·             Listening and supporting the views of young people to encourage schools to roll out a quality work experience model across Rotherham.

·             Supporting the annual Get Up to Speed with STEM and LEAF job and careers fairs held at Magna.

 

These issues were continually going on and it was important they were reinforced so children could see the career opportunities.  This would be forwarded onto Councillor Carter so he could study in more detail.

 

(19)  Councillor Cowles was aware that around the country parents were campaigning for ‘school streets’ which were closed to through traffic for 45 minutes when children were arriving and leaving and, for pollution monitoring. In a number of cases enlightened local authorities have made it happen and asked when would the Council decide to do this?

 

Councillor Hoddinott confirmed officers were already working on a trial for the autumn term for a school street, Poor air quality was a significant concern for the Council, especially where there was exposure for vulnerable sections of society, such as around schools where children and young people are present.   However, the Cabinet Member was happy to share any detail and evaluation of the trial with Councillor Cowles.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles had been informed and had some medical expertise that dirty air had the maximum impact on children as their lungs were growing.  The single biggest congregation of children was directly outside schools in a morning and in the afternoon so would have real results. Parents of private schools were fearful of competition and the Council owed it to children to give them the best possible start in life.  The Council needed to get on with this and explain to schools and parents why action was needed.

 

Councillor Hoddinott had no response to the comment above.

 

(20)  Councillor Cowles referred to teachers facing increased verbal and physical abuse. He had checked the figures nationally and there had been a steady year on year increase. Schools could not be expected to deal with everything for children whose families fail them so asked what was the situation locally.

 

Councillor Watson explained incidents in the borough have remained broadly at a consistent level and the Council had not noticed any sustained significant increase in the number of incidents being reported on a termly basis. It appeared as though there would be fewer incidents this year than there was last year.

 

The Local Authority actively encouraged all schools and academies to report violent and aggressive incidents to the health and safety team to enable accurate recording to be maintained.

 

Violent and aggressive incidents were collated and reported to relevant Council departments to enable the escalation of support strategies where they were necessary. Violent and aggressive incidents tended to come from a place of fear on behalf of the student and so by offering to support social, emotional and mental health issues the Council could support such incidents happening again.

 

The Council was not being complacent although as it was not following the national upward trend with figures lower than last year.  Situations were being closely monitored and appropriate action taken.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cowles described how a former teacher had returned to teaching and when asked a student to stop doing something was told what the student thought.  He was not sure the figures substantiated the views of Councillor Watson and when he checked there were no statistical information or mechanics in place.  He was not sure if Councillor Watson’s view was correct or not, but had sought clarification.

 

Councillor Watson had received this from the monitoring department so would send on to Councillor Cowles.

 

(21)  Councillor Carter asked how did the Council currently support disabled children in accessing Council swimming facilities.

 

Councillor Allen  explained there were a range of measures in place at the Council’s leisure centres to support access for disabled children to access swimming facilities included:-

 

·             The availability of pool hoists at each site, along with hoists within specific changing rooms to assist disabled users.

·             1-1 swimming lessons are offered across the leisure centres and these were accessed by many young people with disabilities.

·             Swimming teachers were upskilled to be able to differentiate in their lessons in order to respond to the ability and needs of the participants.

·             The leisure centres facilitated group bookings for disabled users.

·             Reduced cost of casual swimming and swimming lessons for individuals who qualified for a Rothercard.

·             Disabled users could access discounted swims using the 1:1 cards and carers were free of charge.

·             Family changing areas at all our facilities.

·             All children on the swimming lesson programme up to the age of eight could access casual swimming sessions for free.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked if the Cabinet Member would the Council consider having specific swimming sessions for disabled children.

 

Councillor Allen confirmed the Rotherham Activity Partnership and other partners were focused on improving access and meeting the needs of a wide range of adults and young people including those with oral disabilities and those on the autistic spectrum.

 

(22)  Councillor Carter asked what actions have RMBC taken to tackle anti-social behaviour that was taking place along Wellgate, particularly late at night?

 

Councilllor Hoddinott explained about the hard work taking place by Ward Members through the neighbourhood working with meetings with the Police.  Councillors Alam, McNeely and Yasseen were actively discussing this with the Police and Officers to address the issues.

 

Increased patrols in the area were taking place to try to identify those responsible. Identifying an individual allowed officers to jointly address any offending, or anti-social behaviour. The mobile CCTV Camera for this Ward would also be redeployed to this area, with the agreement of Ward Councillors, in order to help identify individuals who were causing problems.

 

(23)  Councillor Carter asked how much had the Council spent in the last five years on hotel stays by Council officers and Councillors, broken down by year and the amount spent?

 

Councillor Alam confirmed the Council’s expenditure on hotels had fallen by 17% over the period:-

 

2018/19  £16,204

2017/18  £16,648

2016/17  £23,436

2015/16  £22,284

2014/15  £19,682

 

(24)  Councillor Carter asked how did the Council currently support enabling those with learning disabilities such as autistic spectrum disorders from accessing Council swimming facilities.

 

Councillor Allen alluded to a previous answer, but in addition to enable those with learning disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, to access the Council’s swimming facilities a number of provisions were provided.  These included:-

 

·             1-1 swimming lessons are offered across the leisure centres and these could be accessed by adults and young people with learning disabilities.

·             Where appropriate children with a learning disability were supported to access mainstream swimming lessons.

·             Special Educational Needs classes were provided for young people across the leisure centres. There was a swimming teacher on poolside directing the class and a 2nd swimming teacher in the water to support the needs and development of the participants. The classes were restricted to six students at any one time to maintain the quality of the lesson.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Carter asked whether the Council considered reducing the water temperature to make it easier for those with disabilities and sensory problems to access the pool.

 

Councillor Allen had never considered the water temperature, but would go and talk to the service and provide Councillor Carter with an answer in writing.

 

(25)  Councillor Carter asked how much over the last five years broken down by year has the Council spent on external consultants.

 

Councillor Alam confirmed expenditure of external consultants had fallen by nearly 40% from its height in 2015/16.

 

Councillors Steele, Cowles, Albiston and Mallinder undertook a scrutiny review of the use of consultants and agency staff which reported in February last year.  As part of this review, the definitions for agency, interim and consultancy staff have been established.  The outcome from the review had determined the definition for Consultancy/Independent Contractors which was used by the Council to accurately monitor spend for these services. 

 

Based on these definitions the amounts spent in the last two financial years were:-

 

2018/19 - £1,100,276

2017/18 - £1,159,699

 

Information recorded for previous years may not in some cases correspond with the definitions now agreed, but were:-

 

2015/16 - £1,828,000

2014/15 - £636,000 

 

(26)  Councillor Carter asked were there any Council imposed limits on Rotherham residents taking their own personal household waste to RMBC household waste recycling centres, such as limits to the amount of soil from their own garden that could be taken over a defined time period?

 

Councillor Hoddinott confirmed Household Waste Recycling Centres were provided for residents to dispose of their Household Waste. Household Waste was best described as “items that you would take with you if you were moving house, or could already be disposed of during normal waste collections.”

 

In addition to Household Waste disposal, the Council offered residents the ability to dispose small amounts of non-household waste and these were detailed on the Council’s web site.  The A-Z of waste covered all items on the Council’s website.

 

In terms of soil, because it did not meet the definition of Household Waste, the amount was restricted that could be brought to Household Waste Recycling Centres to five 25kg bags, every six months.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Carter understood that provided waste was not in a commercial vehicle, but in a personal or private vehicles how effectively were officers monitoring the usage of household or DIY waste.

 

Councillor Hoddinott referred Councillor Carter again to the A-Z of waste on the Council’s website as it clearly set out and advised about the different waste.  Whilst people would be assisted with small amounts, those undertaking large jobs would be expected to dispose of their waste via a skip.

  

(27)  Councillor Carter asked how much had the Council spent in each of the last five years on catering and hospitality and asked this be listed by year, and also broken down with internal catering and hospitality, and external hospitality.

 

Councillor Alam explained details of expenditure for the cost code ‘hospitality’ had fallen by a third and were provided for each of the last five years below:-

 

2018/19    -   £55,741   Internal     -   £47,697   External  -   £8,044

2017/18    -  £55,465   Internal     -   £52,504   External -   £2,961

2016/17    -   £66,342    Internal    -   £62,156   External -   £4,186

2015/16    -   £89,185    Internal    -   £76,598   External -   £12,587

2014/15    -   £82,084    Internal    -   £69,514   External -   £12,570