Agenda item


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


Question 1 – Councillor Wilson:

Could you please provide an estimate of how many jobs are expected to be created as part of the development of the whole Forge Island complex?


Councillor Lelliott responded:

The construction of Forge Island has involved 641 people working on site since work started in October 2022.  On average, there are 140 people working on site on a day-to-day basis. When the destination is opened in Summer next year, based on the square meterage of the facilities, we estimate that a further 100 direct jobs will be created through the operation of the new complex.



Following the recent decline of the Wilko’s corporation (which had a large depot and head office in Bassetlaw and Worksop, close to Anston and Woodsetts) Councillor Wilson sought assurances that residents in her ward and the wider Rother Valley area would be able to apply for those jobs?


Councillor Lelliott confirmed that the employment opportunities applied across the borough.


Question 2 – Councillor Wilson:

What strategy are you intending to apply to parking at the Forge Island complex, for example should there be an expectation that visitors will be charged to park at the complex?


Councillor Lelliott responded:


The Strategy for parking at Forge Island offers free parking for hotel customers between the hours of 4pm and 10am. In addition, those customers using the cinema will be offered concessionary free parking for a period of up to 3.5 hours. Outside of these concessions car park users will be expected to pay, and while yet to be agreed, the tariffs are expected to be at least in line with the Council’s current core town centre car park tariff.



Councillor Wilson stated that she still had concerns regarding the timings and asked if she could pick the matter up with Councillor Lelliott outside of the meeting?


Councillor Lelliott agreed to this request.


Question 3 – Councillor A Carter:

Can the Cabinet Member explain why the skips that were provided following the recent flooding in Catcliffe and Treeton were left full over the weekend of 28/29 October, rather than replenished?


Councillor Allen firstly gave her sympathies to all those impacted by the recent flooding.



Councillor Allen responded:

I understand that the skips you refer to were not full at the beginning of that weekend but did fill up over the course of the weekend and were replenished as soon as the supplier was able to do so on the Monday.



Councillor A Carter stated that the skips were full by 10am on the Saturday and were not replenished quickly enough. He stated that this should have been foreseen. Councillor A Carter also confirmed that some residents felt that, in comparison to 2007, staff were not as proactive in trying to help them move destroyed property into skips.


Councillor Allen stated that she took on board the first comments made. However, she did provide reassurance that Council officers were the first people on the scene on 20 October and they were the ones that alerted the emergency services and the Environment Agency to the risk of the rising levels.


The clean-up operation was significant and remained on-going. There had been 40 Council staff members on site in the immediate aftermath who helped move items into skips. At the peak of the operation there were 36 skips on site which were being replenished as quickly as possible. The Council pulled together the rest centre and support services that went into the area. There were still staff on site, working on the recovery effort. Councillor Allen praised the fantastic work that they had done.


Question 4 – Councillor A Carter:

With regards to the recent flooding in Catcliffe and Treeton, when and where did the council first raise concerns to the Environment Agency about the risk of flooding?


Councillor Sheppard responded:

The Council continues to work with all responsible bodies regarding the risk of flooding across the Borough. The River Rother is managed by the Environment Agency as it is a main river. The risks are managed by them through flood defences, controls and notifications. The Council with other partners would ordinarily expect the Environment Agency to provide flood alerts and warnings to inform of the risk of flooding – not vice versa.


In relation to this specific incident, communication with relevant partners such as the Environment Agency, Police and the Fire Service had been ongoing from the day prior to the significant rainfall, through the Local Resilience Forum. Council Sheppard and officers had been scheduled to attend a regional conference in York but did not attend so that they could assist in preparations.


Teams had been responding to incidents across the Borough throughout the afternoon and night of the 20 October and liaising with the Environment Agency to understand the latest forecasts on when river levels may peak and to what extent.


It was around 2am in the morning of the 21 when the Council began alerting all relevant partners to the likely need to evacuate a number of residents due to the imminent risk of flooding. A member of staff on site had raised the alarm at this point.


There is a formal review process currently underway that will be publicly reported when it is completed.



Councillor A Carter stated that it was very concerning that a Council Officer was having to tell the Environment Agency that there was water coming over the Environment Agency’s flood defences at 2am. He stated that this was disgraceful. He asked Councillor Sheppard what concerns were raised prior to 2am and what were the details of the conversation that happened between the Council and the Environment Agency at 2am?


Councillor Sheppard confirmed that the response was borough-wide, and the focus was on making sure all resources were deployed. During the event it was simply a case of reacting to the circumstances. The report would look into what data was available and a what time. Details of the call with the Environment Agency would be brought out during the investigation.


Question 5 – Councillor Bacon:

Will the Council leadership commit now, that greenbelt land around Todwick, as well as its wildlife sites, will retain these protected statuses, and they will not be developed on, now or in the future?


Councillor Lelliott responded:

The land around Todwick is allocated as Green Belt in the adopted Local Plan. It has the same status as all other Green Belt land in the Borough, and both national and local planning policy protects such land from development. Large areas of land around Todwick are also designated Local Wildlife Sites, giving an additional layer of protection.


The Council has no plans to review the Green Belt boundary in this location.


I must warn the chamber though that there is one thing that would prevent the Council from controlling development outside Todwick, and that would be to abandon the Local Plan that we agreed for our borough. I note that the Conservatives have been campaigning on this – indeed the MP for Rother Valley said only last week that he opposed any development on any green field site at all. I must tell members that if we followed the policy of the Conservative Group, without an adopted Local Plan and a five year land supply, we simply would not be able to defend green belt sites including those that Cllr Bacon refers to, from development proposals – and that would be a real concern I’m sure for the people of Todwick.



Councillor Bacon asked Councillor Lelliott to confirm that the greenbelt land around Todwick, as well as the wildlife sites, would not be development now or when the Local Plan was reviewed?


Councillor Lelliott stated that Rotherham Council were one of the first in South Yorkshire to put a Local Plan in place and that adopted Plan protects the greenbelt. Without a Local Plan, developers could build wherever they wanted. If a developer puts in an application that is not in the Local Plan, the Council can refuse the application. Developers could appeal to the Secretary of State.


If the National Planning Policy Framework was reviewed and the requirement for a Local Plan removed, which had been suggested by the Conservative Government, it would remove any protection that Rotherham Council had put in place to protect the matters raised by Councillor Bacon.


Question 6 – Councillor A Carter:

What measures has the Council undertaken in the past to ensure that all council tenants are aware of the ability to get contents insurance through the Council?


Councillor Allen responded:

The Council includes contents insurance policy booklets within the sign-up pack for all new tenants. They also receive the specific details upon signing their tenancy agreement and obtaining keys.


Promotional fliers and application forms are provided at events, such as Financial Inclusion drop-in session and the Rotherham Show. Further recent promotion was delivered through the Rotherham Advertiser in the Council’s ‘Money Matters’ articles.


As part of the tenancy health check process, residents are asked if they hold contents insurance. If not, the Council’s scheme is promoted and encouraged.



Councillor A Carter stated that his question was in relation to those at risk of flooding or who had been flooded. Was there any information on whether any Council tenant who lives in a flooded area or has been impacted by flooding who have not had appropriate contents insurance? Could the Council commit to ensuring those residents who have been flooded recently or in the past receive reminders about the contents insurance?


Councillor Allen confirmed this would be actioned outside of the meeting.


Question 7 – Councillor A Carter:

With regards to claims through the Council’s contents insurance, can the cabinet member confirm that those properties affected by recent flooding have been receiving reimbursement for the full ‘as new’ price of their lost contents, rather than a value in keeping with ‘used’ or ‘second hand’ condition?

Councillor Allen responded:

In line with the policy documentation all home contents are covered on a ‘new for old’ basis except for linen and clothing, which are replaced at current cost less an amount for wear and tear.



Councillor A Carter asked for clarification on whether the price “as new” related to when the items were initially bought or the price if they were to be bought today?


Councillor Allen confirmed that it was her understanding that “as new” meant the price as it was currently but she would confirm that with officers.


Question 8 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

At the IPSC on October 24 we had for scrutiny the homeless and rough sleeper strategy.  Am I correct that a positive lifestyle choice was not one of the key factors the rough sleepers team have to deal with?


A response would be provided in writing by the Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Environment as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.

Question 9 – Councillor  A Carter:

What provisions have the Council made to ensure that families with schoolchildren who are in temporary accommodation following the October 2023 floods are not financially impacted by longer commutes to school?


Councillor Cusworth responded:

As part of the response to the flood event, children from families who live in the affected housing were identified, and where requested the Council put in place home to school transport arrangements as an interim measure until such time the families could apply for continued transport support in the form of a Zoom Zero Fare Bus Pass. 


This entitles the holder to travel for a subsided cost of £1 per journey and would be granted where the eligibility criteria have been met, which includes consideration around walking distances to school and family income. Where an eligible child would not be able to travel alone on public transport, other options to fulfil the Councils statutory obligations would be considered.  


Officers stand ready to assist if there are other residents in this position and in need of support.



Councillor A Carter stated that £1 per journey would result in a £10 a week tax per child because they had been forced to move due to flooding. He asked if that was correct because he did not think that should be the case? Was there any reimbursement scheme for those that did not use public transport and travelled by car instead?


Councillor Cusworth stated that a written response would be provided.


Question 10 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

Currently there are several committee vacancies where political groupings have not taken their seats.  Is there anyway on the website that attendance figures can be given for political groups to include meetings missed due to not taking available seats?


A response would be provided in writing by the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhood Working as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 11 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

Thank you for your answer at the last IPSC why rail services through Rotherham Central were disrupted.  Do future measures ensure that the electrical equipment at Parkgate will be protected or do other measures need to be considered?


A response would be provided in writing by the Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Environment as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 12 – Councillor Hunter:

In the last 12 months, how much revenue have RMBC made from car parking charges in the town?


Councillor Lelliott responded:

The Council have received around £550k income to date this year from car parking in the Town Centre, so since April 2023.



Councillor Hunter stated that these charges were seen by some to be quite high. Given more people needed to be coming into the town centre due to the investments in the Market and Forge Island Development, could the Council commit to looking at inclusive and more affordable parking solution?


Councillor Lelliott confirmed that nothing would be ruled out but the parking charges were already quite low compared to other areas with it costing £1.50 for up to two hours; £2.00 for up to four hours and £3.50 for up to 10 hours. There were some free parking offers and there would be some free parking associated with the Forge Island development. There was also a local and national trend that people did not mind paying extra for on-street parking to allow them to be closer to amenities. However, charges were constantly being reviewed.


Question 13 – Councillor Tarmey:

Residents of North Anston and Dinnington regularly sit in a 1.3km traffic jam on the B6463 every morning and evening to reach the A57 on the B6463 heading towards Todwick roundabout. Given that housing developments have been granted planning permission in Dinnington recently what improvements are planned to the road network to reduce congestion locally?


Councillor Read responded:

I am aware of the congestion and queuing traffic at this location, we are seeing this in many locations as traffic and commuting increase again following the Covid and immediate post-covid patterns. In addition the roadworks on the M1, coupled with Sat Nav systems, may be playing a part at this location; probably more so than the new developments.


The development in the area is not yet fully occupied with around 150 houses currently occupied. This is therefore unlikely to be having a major impact. 


The Council has approximately £250,000 secured for sustainable measures secured by S106 agreements for the three developments. However this is likely to be spent on much more local journeys. As such, there were no immediate proposals.



Councillor Tarmey stated the issue had been ongoing for several years, so he doubted the roadworks on the M1 were an issue. He asked whether the lane marking on the roundabout could be having an impact?


Councillor Read confirmed that a written response would be provided.


Question 14 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

Can you please explain the rational for your taking on the duties of the former Cabinet Member For Transport And The Environment rather than making a new appointment?


A response would be provided in writing by the Leader as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 15 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

Reportedly due to persistent diesel thefts at the Streetpride Rawmarsh Depot there has been significant disruption to services. Can you please report on the accuracy of this and measures taken to limit disruption?


A response would be provided in writing by the Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Environment as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 16 – Councillor Tarmey:

Following the Kiveton Park fire we highlighted the need for better communication between council officers, elected members and residents in emergency situations. Does the cabinet member share my concern that lessons have not been learned by council officers in improving communication with elected members and residents when managing emergency situations as they arise in the case of recent flooding?


Councillor Sheppard responded:

After any significant incident the Council and partners seek to learn lessons and improve future responses.


I do think lessons have been learnt as some specific actions were taken to improve the response. In this instance, one of the key differences was the acute threat posed by the flood water, so the immediate focus of the Council at the initial point of impact was fulfilling its legal and moral obligation to warn and inform those in danger. Since then, the Council has proactively engaged elected members and provided a number of updates with our communications efforts being significant and rightly targeted at those impacted the most.


The volume of correspondence and engagement in the worst affected area in Catcliffe over the last few weeks has been unprecedented in my experience, with regular emails, door knocks and direct mail letters, in addition to staff on site.


I do however hear your concerns and I would want to reassure you and other members that a debrief process is underway and you will of all received an invite to participate and make your views known to officers so they can continue to improve in future.



Councillor Tarmey asked Councillor Sheppard to commit, in future situations, to informing Ward Members and Parish Council’s in those areas within one hour of the emergency occurring?


Councillor Sheppard stated that there may be more pressing emergencies to deal with in the hour immediately after an emergency occurring which would require other agencies to be contacted first. He did assure Councillor Tarmey that Ward Members would be notified as soon as reasonably practicable.


Question 17 – Councillor Tarmey:

The number of motor vehicle accidents in Anston (including one last week) near the junction of the B6463 (Todwick Road) and Common Road has increased in recent years. This may be linked to increased traffic on the B6463, can the cabinet member assure me that this will be investigated and any possible improvements implemented?


Councillor Read responded:

Every year, our Road Safety Team analyse all the Personal Injury Collisions in the borough, and the key aim is to identify locations with accident patterns and evaluate the potential for cost-effective interventions, so that we can use the funding that we have available to make our roads as safe as possible.


I understand the concerns raised about the Anston junction because, according to our data, there have been six accidents near this junction in the past three years, of which two were classified as serious and four were slight.


We are of course committed to keeping a record of these areas of concern. As funding opportunities arise or circumstances change, we will re-evaluate and consider measures to improve safety at the Anston junction and continue to monitor the patterns of accidents, not just here, but across Borough as a whole.


Question 18 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

The A630 in Dalton is recognised as an area of traffic congestion.  As well as the failed scheme to ease congestion off the Mushroom Roundabout what investigations or proposals have there been to ease congestion from Magna Lane, Oldgate Lane and Doncaster Road towards Rotherham?


A response would be provided in writing by the Leader as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 19 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

With reference to the written answer on p73 of today’s agenda and being more specific, are bags of domestic rubbish left by litter bins included in the figures reported by the waste management service to the IPSC on February 7 for small fly tips?


A response would be provided in writing by the Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Environment as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 20 – Councillor Miro:

Does the Cabinet Member believe that the council tax support offered to residents affected by the recent flooding goes far enough?


Councillor Alam responded:

The Council recognises the challenging time that those households impacted by the 21 October flooding are facing and quickly established a package of support to help those residents. This includes cash support as well Council Tax relief, and I should say that we have considerably extended the government’s offer in terms of council tax support. As a result Rotherham residents will receive nearly twice as much support as residents elsewhere in the country – with no bills until at least the beginning of April 2024.


Moreover, beyond this, the Council has discretionary arrangements in place so that where residents are still not able to return home and are encountering hardship because they are liable for two sets of council tax bills then they can be considered for further support from April onwards.


Question 21 – Councillor Miro:

Following the recent flooding in Catcliffe and Treeton, main roads through Catcliffe were left closed for several days after the floodwater and debris had been cleared. Why were the reasons for this not immediately communicated to residents?



Councillor Sheppard responded:

In relation to this specific incident the Council and the Environment Agency installed temporary pumping equipment to draw down flood water. These pumps were positioned on Orgreave Road and the Council continued to monitor weather forecasts and the river levels. Throughout the event the Council communicated with the local community to confirm on-site activity, provide assistance linked to the road closures, including a temporary bus service and updates on road closures through social media and the Council Webpage. Messages were shared through Council staff based at the Memorial Hall and the Council conducted door knocking in the areas affected, as well as providing regular newsletters to residents and information via the media.


When the temporary pumps were removed from site and the road network cleansed and made safe the road was opened for road users.


The signalised road junction on Poplar Way was affected by the flood water and temporary give way signage is currently being employed.



Councillor Miro stated the traffic lights at the bottom of Highfield Lane were not working and had not been working since the flood. He asked the Cabinet Member when this would be fixed?


Councillor Sheppard would provide a written response.


Question 22 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

It’s welcome that the PSPO has been renewed for Rotherham Town Centre. As well as reported ASB data were any metrics gained on public perception of the town centre as a safe place to visit as part of the renewal process?


A response would be provided in writing by the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Community Safety and Finance as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 23 – Councillor Bennett-Sylvester:

We’ve spent a lot of money on new pavements in the town centre.  How often are they getting swept, especially with regards to leaf debris at the moment?


A response would be provided in writing by the Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Environment as Councillor Bennett-Sylvester was not present to ask this question.


Question 24 – Councillor Miro:

Does the Cabinet Member agree with me that the Environment Agency’s response to the recent flooding in Catcliffe and Treeton has been inadequate?


Councillor Sheppard responded:

I think we’ve covered this early in today’s agenda and as mentioned earlier, there is a S.19 view currently being compiled. To reiterate what was said, it’s entirely understandable that people will feel let down by the EA. I think we should also reflect on the consequences of 60% budget cuts to that organization and the loss of thousands of jobs as a result. That was not just on flood defence schemes being built out but also on maintenance of existing schemes. The EA target was to have 98% of their current infrastructure operational but they were struggling to reach 94/95% at the moment which was a big worry. They needed the funding and resources.


Question 25 – Councillor Miro:

Can the cabinet member please confirm what additional support has been made available to specifically support children and young people affected by the recent flooding in Catcliffe and Treeton?


Councillor Cusworth responded:

I am very proud of the support that has been put in for children and young people following the recent flooding.


Children and Young People's Services were part of an extensive data matching exercise which took place to ascertain households with children to offer support.

Early Help family support and outreach and engagement were part of the coordinated response to the floods, with representatives at the rest center in Catcliffe working throughout the weekend to support those impacted. Staff ensured families accessed support and provided essential items along with other council members.

Children’s Social Care out of hours service was available as usual throughout the weekend of the floods.

The Universal Youth Offer and outreach and engagement offer continues to support children and young people on a locality basis.

Children and Young People's Services are part of recovery meetings to ensure a consistent and appropriate response to all those impacted.

The Locality Manager for the area and associated staff are well connected with agencies and the community and provide support as need arises. They have a close working relationship with the schools in the area and ensure that we keep up to date with local need by liaising with schools.


Question 26 – Councillor Miro:

What measures has the Council taken to ensure that properties flooded in Catcliffe and Treeton will not have to pay higher energy bills this year because of having to dry out their properties?


Councillor Sheppard responded:

The Council recognises the challenging time that those households impacted by the 21 October flooding are facing and has quickly established a package of support to help those residents. This includes cash support as well Council Tax relief.


Residents are also supported by Governments grant and Council Tax relief scheme for flooded properties.


The Council has not specifically targeted funds towards a specific purpose or been restrictive in how the cash grants can be used so that households can utilise this support in a way that best suits their position.


However, since Monday 23 October organisations such as Voluntary Action Rotherham, Citizens Advice and Rotherfed have been available at Catcliffe Memorial Hall to offer advice and support to residents who have been impacted by the floods. This has included advice and guidance around energy bills.


Question 27 – Councillor Miro:

What impact does the Council believe the new housing developments in Catcliffe and Waverley has had on the flooding risk to properties?


Councillor Sheppard responded:

Again, I would wish to express my deepest sympathies to all those affected by the recent flooding events which have such a long lasting impact on all those unfortunate enough to be caught up in them.


I can confirm though that surface water drainage and flood risk strategies were considered as part of the planning application process for the developments at Waverley and Catcliffe to ensure that all surface water is managed in such a way so that it doesn’t increase the risk of flooding to the surrounding area. The level of water discharged from these sites into the River Rother is controlled and ensures that the amount of water that discharges into the river is the same as would naturally flow from the site if the development was not there.


During flood conditions the outfall is physically cut off and water is held in the lakes which have been designed to provide additional flood water storage which was evident from the drone footage that was captured during these tragic events. The view from our Drainage Team is that the lakes actually reduced the amount of flooding that was experienced rather than contribute to it.


Question 28 – Councillor Miro:

If flood-affected families choose to permanently relocate to another area in the Borough, how does the Council plan to ensure any schoolchildren will be given top priority for being admitted to a more local school?


Councillor Cusworth responded:

Any families choosing to relocate within Borough will be supported through the usual admissions process. Priority must be given in line with the determined and published admissions arrangements. Where it is not possible for an applicant to secure a place at a preferred school through usual admission process then RMBC’s Fair Access Protocol will be employed to ensure that an offer of a place a school within a reasonable distance can be made to any child requiring one.