Report from the Assistant Chief Executive.
1. Note the observations and key recommendations made by the Corporate Peer Team to the Council.
2. Approve the high-level action plan which is the Council’s response to the findings.
Consideration was given to the report which noted this was the first time since the period at the close of intervention that the LGA had been back to Rotherham to conduct an independent assessment of where the Council was. It was clarified that it was not an inspection, but it was an opportunity for other people who worked in similar authorities to bring the benefit of their experience to have oversight of what was happening at the Council and provide their view as to where the Council was and what the challenges were.
As a result of things that had happened in the past, the Council also invited Dame Mary Ney, who was one of the Commissioners but was also part of Louise Casey’s best value inspection team in 2014/15 to be part of the inspection team. This was done to ensure it was a rigorous piece of work undertake by someone who knew the Council. It was to ensure someone was part of it who understood where the Council had come from to be able to assess where it was now.
The Leader was pleased to report that a glowing report about the progress made was received. The LGA were able to provide an assurance about the Council’s financial sustainability. They were please about the ambition and progress made in terms of children’s services and that it’s always at the top of the agenda. They recognised the significant amount of additional investment that had been secured into the borough over the last few years, which was beginning to transform the communities across the borough. The LGA wanted the Council to do better and make it a sustainable position going forward. A number of recommendations were made. The first was around recognising the progress made and highlighted the need to celebrate that and that the story was told externally so that people knew Rotherham was a good place to live and work and do business. Recommendations three and four were around the future of the economy, challenging the Council to ensure it was getting the full benefit of investment to bring in further private sector investment and jobs over the years to come. Recommendation four was around effect benefits and pathways for the young people of Rotherham to ensure the investment wasn’t passing them by.
Recommendation five was around reviewing performance management to ensure using capacity in the right way for the best benefit of the borough and not spending time reporting back when it’s not needed.
Recommendation six, the Peers were asked to look at the neighbourhood working model, which they liked with strong feedback from Members on a cross party basis on the way that Councillors were empowered to work in their communities. The Peers asked that this be strengthened further to consider how the Council worked on a multi-agency footprint to ensure services were being delivered well in localities. Along with ensure online access for residents was as good and as easy to use as it could be.
Recommendation seven was about the financial outlook, ensuring the Council was not being complacent about the financial pressures it continued to face.
The report contained an action plan, which gave high level activities which would be undertaken to achieve those recommendations. The Peers will return in around six months’ time to review how they were progressing.
The Leader recorded his thanks to everyone who had undertaken the journey over the course of the last 7-9 years that had put in place such strong foundations for the ambitions the Council had for Rotherham and its people over the years to come.
Councillor Cusworth said she was proud to be part of a capable and effective top team, driving the strategic leadership, demonstrating and remodelling how the Council could work effectively through those member officer relationships.
The recommendations did not contain any surprises, all things that were already being addressed. It was recognised that the Council was working really hard.
The report was considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB), who noted it was a positive report. OSMB concentrate on the recommendations but also considered the action plan. Questions were asked regarding the under representation of people under 25, how private investment would be attracted, and on MTFS and were satisfied with all responses. OSMB Members were pleased it was acknowledged that scrutiny worked well. OSMB reviewed the report and supported the recommendations with the addition that OSMB receive an update on the Council’s progress against the action plan, including any next steps following the six-month Corporate Peer Challenge check-in session, which should be provided to OSMB before the end of the municipal year.
Resolved: That Cabinet:
1. Noted the observations and key recommendations made by the Corporate Peer Team to the Council.
2. Approved the high-level action plan which is the Council’s response to the findings.
3. That OSMB receive an update on the Council’s progress against the action plan, including any next steps following the six-month Corporate Peer Challenge check-in session, which should be provided to OSMB before the end of the municipal year.