To receive a statement from the Leader of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.
The Leader presented his statement and wished to start by congratulating Councillors Singleton and Collingham on their recent wedding and on behalf of the Council wishing them all the best for their lives together.
The Leader shared the Mayor’s congratulations and good news celebrating the honour bestowed in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List to the Council’s, Head of Catering and Facilities Services, Kim Phillips.
Kim received an MBE for her work supporting communities within the Borough including during the pandemic. This award was a testament to the hard work and dedication that Kim has shown over the past 2 years and thoroughly deserved.
A warm welcome was also issued to the newest members to the Council following the recent by-elections; Councillor Drew Tarmey representing Anston and Woodsetts and Councillor Robert Taylor representing the people of Aughton and Swallownest.
Still of concern was the Government’s unwillingness to legislate for remote and virtual meetings and the 7 month timeframe thinking about whether to allow it to continue.
Whatever the pros and cons of meeting online, at the present time when people were being asked to work from home it did not appear right that Councillors and the staff who provided support were forced to meet in a room like this.
Business could be conducted more safely and especially when Covid infections in the Borough were higher than they had ever been, the Council should be reasonably allowed to do all it could and ensure no-one’s health was put at risk.
It was hoped the Government would rethink its policy, but until then the Leader hoped everyone remained safe and well until they did.
A period of not more than 10 minutes was allowed for questions.
Councillor Sansome sought guidance on whether an application had been made to the Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme which would fund 25 areas and provide innovative practical actions given the flooding issues the Borough had suffered in Kilnhurst.
The Leader was unable to confirm so would investigate further.
Councillor Bennett-Sylvester welcomed the opening of Rotherham’s first social supermarket, but in doing so asked whether Members in Rotherham, unlike some in Sheffield, would be advised not cross a picket line should strike action be implemented following the ballot for the pay offer.
The Leader did not have details about incidents in Sheffield, but believed Members from his political party would not endeavour to cross any picket line.
Councillor A. Carter echoed the sentiments by the Mayor and the Leader about the recent wedding between Councillors Singleton and Collingham and the recipients in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, but asked what format representations had been made to the Government about the continuance of remote meetings since the legislative removal in May, 2021.
The Leader outlined the representations made to Government by the LGA and the Association of Democratic Services Officers. The Government had opened a period of consultation which the Council had contributed into. A Government view was expected soon, but with the increase in the number of infections reported in Rotherham the Council would have to wait for a response.