Agenda item


To receive a statement from the Leader of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.


The Leader opened his statement by welcoming the newly elected member for Keppel Ward, Councillor Carole Foster to the Council.


He also highlighted the following:

·       that planning permission had been granted for a new café at Thrybergh Country Park and for the first phase of a regeneration project at Rother Valley Country Park to create a new Village Centre with new waterfront buildings, cycle hub and improved car parking.

·       A new battery manufacturing centre was being created by Ultimate Battery Company in Thurcroft which would create 500 jobs. This followed a significant business investment award made towards the end of 2021.

·       The new Rothercard scheme was approved, and tens of thousands of local residents will have access to the discounts from April.

·       The cost-of-living summit was in development and was expected to take place on 16 March, but more details would follow.

·       Referring to the protest outside of the Holiday Inn on 18 February, he noted that the divisive politics of racial hatred were not welcome here. The government should note that it was no good for anyone to have desperate people, seeking sanctuary in this country, trapped in hotels for months on end. The government must move more quickly to ensure the national asylum system was fit for purpose.

·      A year had passed since the war in Ukraine had begun and he was very proud that Rotherham had opened its homes and hearts to people from Ukraine and who were doing good work for the Council.


Councillor Foster was welcomed to the Council by a number of the members.


Councillor Bennett-Sylvester thanked the Leader, noting that members of the SEND Youth Club at Dalton had been able to choose where to spend the free school meals vouchers. He had found being part of the Rothercard review very rewarding and thanked, Councillors Sheppard, McNeely, Cooksey, and but queried going forward if there was a way of understanding how residents interact with services through using things such as the Rothercard service to monitor access?


The Leader welcomed the progress made with the meal vouchers. He acknowledged the benefits being able to understand how residents interacted with the Council’s services. The principle, that people regardless of their incomes and backgrounds are able to enjoy the full range of services, particularly the cultural services that make a difference in people’s lives is right and should be part of the work going forward.


Councillor Ball noted that the Council had been successful in attracting funding for Rother Valley Country Park and queried if this would be shared across the rest of the borough. He felt there was no priority given to peripheral towns and villages. The Leader indicated the challenge of how to ensure that all parts of the borough were getting access to investment opportunities was fair. It was why some funding had been moved into neighbourhood budgets, it was why the Council had tried to build multi-agency neighbourhood teams to ensure all members were getting access to those services and were able to respond to the needs of those areas. It was the reason the Towns and Villages fund had been brought forward to get some physical regeneration into towns and villages across the borough, however there was pressures on available budgets across the board.


Councillor A Carter indicated the Liberal Democrat group agreed with the Leaders views regarding the protest on 18 February.