Agenda item

Thriving Neighbourhoods Annual Report 2021/22

To consider an annual report in respect of the delivery of the Thriving Neighbourhoods Strategy and the Neighbourhood Working model.


Consideration was given to an annual report in respect of progress on the delivery of the Thriving Neighbourhoods Strategy and the neighbourhood working model. The Thriving Neighbourhoods Strategy aims to put communities at the heart of the Council’s work and to make people healthier, happier, safer and proud by:

·       Working with communities on the things that matter to them

·       Listening and working together to make a difference

·       Supporting people from different backgrounds to get on well together

The period covered by the report was clarified, as this is the fifth annual report on the Strategy to be considered for scrutiny. The timleines were also clarified in terms of the member development programme, which began with the last all-member election. Headlines from the report were highlighted. It was emphasised that the pritorities highlighted by Members within their wards have been considered in policy development, strategy development and funding allocation. Neighbourhood working allows Members to deliver priorities using ward budgets. The presentation provided a summary of use of e-bulletins as well as community meetings that have taken place face to face. More focused work in wards with local people with protected characteristics was identified as an area for development. It was noted that quarterly data will be received at CAPS from October.


Risks and Challenges were also summarised in the presentation. The Cabinet Member noted the potential for scrutiny to help minimise risks. Members were invited to consider various work programme items in terms of their relationship to neighbourhoods and ward priorities. The service also was seeking the potential expansion of participation by parish councillors, and Members were encouraged to feed in needs for Member Development.


In discussion, members raised questions in regard to the presentation of data from relevant partners whose work is of interest to the CAP meetings, such as the police. Police representation had not always been knowledgeable and could not always answer questions. Therefore, it was posited that councillors be given the opportunity to become custodians of data so that attendance could be improved. Officers agreed that the strategy could go further, and it was desired that, in partnership with Members, the quarterly information would be distributed to CAPs. System issues with police data being organised by the updated ward boundaries remains a challenge that had been excalated for action and resolution. The request had been made for representation to be at the meetings to interpret the data in the reports. Escalations from CAPS that go on to a tasking procedure will have progress fed back in a sensitive way that preserves confidentiality where data protection is required.


Members requested clarification around the availability of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money as it related to parish councils. It was clarified that the money not allocated to parish councils comes into ward budgets. It was noted that no CIL money devolved to wards in this way had been spent by wards. The current balances since the devolution in April were offered following the meeting. Members had been advised about these devolutions. A breakdown of the derivation of the devolved funds was also described. Members emphasised that moneys should go to where they are most needed, and Members that desire to be able to explain to residents where the moneys have been spent.


Members also requested a description of how the service utilises the JSNA/Rotherham Data Hub to ensure comparable data from ward to ward. The response from officers emphasised the availability of data support from the service. Members were encouraged to seek advice from the team before embarking on a project in the ward, because the amount of available data is vast. The comparable data is available through the neighbourhood coordinator. Furthermore, updated ward profiles will include census data in time for the development of new ward plans. An example of how data could be made more useful to the meetings was offered which described greater cross-ward working and a potential data organisation principle by north, south, and central localities to ensure pertinent information is presented. The result would be a universal offer that could then be customized for the locality being considered.


Members welcomed the dialogue around working with communities with protected characteristics. Members also noted the need for accurate data in any format that is more flexible and relevant. The officers welcomed challenge from Members across the actions taken around communication and engagement. If something more could be done in a ward with communities that Members had identified, Members were entreated to make the service aware.


Members expressed interest in furthering the work to narrow the gaps between areas of most and least deprivation in the Borough. It was noted that the allocation must also be replicated in officer time, as the workloads generated by various areas will be different. An example of unequal distribution was given, based on relative population density. The response from the Cabinet Member noted the difficult but worthy goal of resolving these gaps. Benchmarking with other authorities had shown that other authorities were impressed with the devolved budget system Rotherham implements, and this was seen as something special. It was observed that, to further the principle, mainstream budgets should likewise be divvied up to support the most deprived areas foremost. To overcome inertia, evidencing need becomes very important to initiate those policy decisions. Redirection of funds to the areas of most need was a goal to strive for although not an easy journey as discussions take place.


Members requested further details around attendance of face to face meetings, as it was understood that these may not meet with the same enthusiasm across the board. The response from officers noted that participation is recorded, in terms of the number of meetings but not necessarily the number of people. Face to face meetings functioned as part of a suite of communications and engagement plans which Councillors have the opportunity to shape in their wards. If Members desired a certain service to send representation, officers would certainly be able to attend if invited in a timely way.  It was noted that no particular blueprint could be seen as appropriate across the board – as these meetings should be and are responsive to requests. The Housing Hubs were not organised by a one-size-fits-all approach as had been tried in the past, as each ward works differently. There was further work to do in terms of building capacity. The ward housing hubs sought to demonstrate the impact of ward housing hub projects, and applications were considered relative to the agreed ward priorities. These applications were turned around within two weeks; projects were agreed and delivered quicker as a result.




1.    That the parish council liaison continue to encourage wider participation in ward meetings from parish councils.


2.    That the numbers related to Community Infrastructure Levy money availability be provided to Members.


3.    That the monthly newsletters continue to be utilised as an engagement tool.


4.    That the service continue to work with SYP to ensure alignment of data to ward boundaries.


5.    That the support of members for the continued devolution of budgets to allocate funds based on indices of multiple deprivation be noted; and that support for the service to continue looking for ways to address deprivation wherever possible be noted.


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