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).


29   questions had been received:


1.    Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Congratulations on the final approval for Castle View. Can you please summarise the road map to opening and particular how agency will be given to service users to shape its offering?

Councillor Roche responded by stating that the scheme fitted in with the previous work done on the learning disability refreshment which had been very successful. The LGA had visited and were very complimentary about what had been done such as having 23 micro organisations involved in delivering care; there were 550 opportunities for a wide range of choice; 125 local staff were employed. That was a success and Councillor Roche believed that Castle View would also be a success.

The timeline for the construction of Castle View was as follows:

·       Construction to commence Summer 2024

·       Completion expected Winter 2025/26

·       Estimate that the new service will be operational by Spring 2026.

·       During 2025, people will take part in a review of their support needs and care plan and be made aware of the support choices available to them including a move to Castle View.

·       Once the interior of the building is fitted out and ready for use, people who wish to move to the new service will be supported to do so.

Throughout the whole process, a consultation and engagement programme was in place to ensure customers, carers and staff were fully involved and had ‘a voice’ in relation to the design of both the building and the service.

This had so far included a public consultation exercise, and a series of meetings and workshops. The latest being on 8 January 2024 where the final plans and designs were shown and discussed. This was very positively received by all those involved.

Customers at Reach had also made a model of how they would like the new building to be. Customers who were interested in gardening and the allotment were just about to commence some draft designs of the outdoor space and what they would like to do with it (including a sensory garden.)


Councillor Roche stated that this was a very positive development for Rotherham.

In his supplementary question, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that this was exceptional, especially regarding the supported living that was going to be onsite. However, one of the issues that had been raised by users was that they were learning things out via cabinet reports, not direct discussions. He asked the Cabinet Member to confirm that there would not be future delays between cabinet announcements and informing residents?

Councillor Roche confirmed that feedback was been given as soon as possible and some of the services users contacted him on a regular basis for updates. There had been a smally delay but this was at a time when there was nothing to report back as the design team and asset transfer of land took time along with the planning consent. Councillor Roche stated that they would be kept informed at every stage and that would be done on a very regular basis.

2.    Councillor Monk: Can the cabinet member provide an update on the work to increase recruitment and retention of Fostering Families in Rotherham?

Councillor Cusworth stated that t
here had been extensive work over the last twelve months to increase recruitment and retention in the fostering service. This has included:

·       approving new fees and allowances at November Cabinet.

·       creating Long Service Awards.

·       developing an Emergency/Out of Hours Helpline for foster carers.

·       Fast tracking of Independent Fostering Agency transfers and where appropriate matching fees. There had been an increase in Independent Fostering Agency carers transfer to RMBC due to the wraparound support and competitive packages available.

·       Establishing an Elected Member Fostering Working group to support with plans to recruit and retain Rotherham Foster Carers. This has seen Elected Members raise the profile of fostering in various forums, supporting the new fees and allowances approval and devise proposals for Members to take forward to keep fostering on the agenda. A report was due to be presented to Cabinet in February 2024.

·       Secured a fostering recruitment Pledge from each Directorate. The action plan and progress is reported into the Strategic Fostering Working Group.

·       Involved foster carers in making videos and writing anecdotes about their role to support with marketing. The best person to recruit a foster carer was another foster carer.

·       Established a strong Fostering Partnership with Rotherham United Football Club. A fostering football match was scheduled for 17 February

·       Increased the number of available placements with existing foster carers through Pathway to Care, adaptations to foster carers homes.

·       Increased the training package and the number of support groups to foster carers and implemented a foster carer wellbeing offer.


This work had resulted in successful retention of existing foster carers and had also supported the projected net gain of 9 new foster carers this year. This would be the first net gain of foster carers in a number of years and included the loss of 8 de-registrations this year (none of whom had children in care at the time of de-registration). To date, the Council had recruited 14 foster carers and had 13 assessments of prospective foster carers underway.

3.    Councillor Hoddinott: The rising price of baby formula is a worry for many families. What support does the council offer to new parents that are struggling with costs?

Councillor Cusworth stated that the Council promoted the national Healthy Start scheme which provided vouchers for eligible families (from pregnancy to children being 4 years) and this helped with food items, which reduced the burden on the family budget to buy essential items such as baby formula. Families needed to register for the vouchers online and those eligible were provided with pre-paid cards to spend in supermarkets and local shops. The Early Help service and 0-19 service helped promote this.


The current uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers in Rotherham is positive and in December 2023 Rotherham’s uptake was 82%, compared with 73% nationally. Promotion of the scheme is carried out by health, local authority and voluntary sector agencies.


The Council’s Household Support Fund funded by DWP enabled cost of living support for eligible families with food vouchers in school holiday, council tax top up grants, energy crisis support and discretionary housing payments. Whilst this was not directly related to infant feeding formula it eased the burden on families that were struggling financially, freeing up the household budget to pay for essential items such as baby food.

As it stood, the Household Support Fund would not be continued into the new financial year and that would put real pressure on families.


Food banks offer baby formula however this is based on stock availability.


In her supplementary question, Councillor Hoddinott stated that the uptake of over 80% was pleasing. However, Healthy Start vouchers were a national scheme and the value of them had not risen. As inflation was running away, food prices were astronomical, and there were investigations into whether the baby formula pricing had been fixed, were there any opportunities to feed that back to the government? The vouchers were not keeping up with the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Cusworth confirmed that she would meet with Councillor Hoddinott and Councillor Roche (to gain a public health perspective) to see what could be done in terms of lobbying to close the gap between the value of the vouchers and the increase in the cost of living and inflation.

4.    Councillor Hoddinott: It is worrying that the Household Support Fund will end in March, and thousands of families will be left bereft. What can you do about it?

Councillor Sheppard responded by stating that it was extremely concerning that with the Household Support Fund due to come to an end in March that there had been no confirmation of either an extension or a successor fund.


Since its introduction in October 2021 the Household Support Fund had played a critical role in supporting the most vulnerable communities and residents in our borough to respond to both the pandemic and the rising cost of living.


The £12.4m of funding that have been awarded to the Council has enabled it to provide the following by the end of September 2023:

·       258,000 food vouchers to children eligible for free school meals during the school holidays through a £5.9m allocation until the end of the Easter school holidays.

·       46,237 payments to some of our most vulnerable households in the borough through a combination of additional support with Council tax and the Council’s Energy Crisis Support Scheme.

·       12,275 crisis food parcels were distributed.

·       892 payments to care leavers to support them with household costs.

·       521 households received Discretionary Housing Payment Top Ups

·       And finally, it is projected that we have enabled local VCS organisations [like Sunnyside Supplies] to provide 1,400 Christmas hampers. 


Given the critically important role played by the Household Support Fund in the borough, it was extremely concerning that this funding was due to end in March. This was a particular challenge for boroughs like Rotherham where in the last year alone the number of children in receipt of free school meals had increased by 765 or 6% to 12,700, making the need for this funding more imperative than ever.


In November, the Leader wrote to the Chancellor making the case to extend the Household Support Fund beyond March, in the Autumn Statement. The Council could continue to make representations to the Chancellor articulating the importance of extending the funding to benefit Rotherham’s residents and communities, through his March Budget.

5.    Councillor Tinsley: Concerns over delivery of supplies of grit salt and shovels to Snow Wardens have been raised previously to the Council. I’ve noticed recently that supplies are being delivered by the supplier directly to residents. Have issues been identified in the delivery of grit supplies and are there any cost implications in using external suppliers to deliver direct?

Councillor Sheppard explained that the Council has engaged a local Builder’s Merchant to deliver the shovel, gloves and bagged grit salt directly to Snow Wardens following challenges in keeping up with demand last winter. The service had not had any reported issues since the introduction of this process. This process meant council officers did not need to collect and deliver supplies. The delivery was at no extra cost however ensured an efficient delivery process allowing the Council to accept requests from increased numbers of Snow Wardens.

In his supplementary question, Councillor Tinsley stated that he had recently received a reply to an email he had sent regarding grit supplies three years ago and questioned whether there was a backlog in getting the supplies out?

Councillor Sheppard stated that operational issues should be reported to officers or himself straight away.


6.    Councillor Tinsley: Can the Leader confirm if he has promised the residents of little London Maltby that the Council will Compulsory Purchase the Houses on Churchill Avenue. Which have been derelict and a blight on the community for years?

The Leader confirmed that no promises had been made as those promises would not necessarily have been possible to keep. The compulsory purchasing of land was a legal process, subject to a number of factors. At the moment, there was a planning application on the site which would interfere with any CPO processes. The Leader had promised the Big Power for Little London group that he would continue to work with them on their priorities for the area and try and make headway on improving the blight on that community with regard to those empty building.

In his supplementary, Councillor Tinsley stated that it had been a blight on Maltby for a number of years and there had been promises or video statements made from the Council about compulsory purchase orders. Councillor Tinsley acknowledged that the Leader had committed to work with the Big Power for Little London group but questioned why Ward Councillors were not being included. They had done a lot of work on Little London and getting the houses boarded up. He stated that the Leader was having private meetings, but Ward Councillors were not even getting updates and as such, the power was being diluted by different channels. He asked the Leader if he would commit to including Ward Councillors in these meetings?


The Leader explained that he meets with the Residents Group at their request, and it was a matter for them as to who they wished to invite to those meetings. He would relay the message, but the group had asked to speak to him and he had met them on a couple of occasions, at their request and he would continue to do so.

7.    Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Especially since the pandemic there has been a surge in demand for businesses to offer home delivery services. What are we doing to support businesses in Rotherham Town Centre to offer such services especially if based on pedestrianised streets?

Councillor Lelliott stated that the Council did recognise that retail and food businesses were increasingly using home delivery services as part of their offer to customers. As such, the Council was actively facilitating home delivery services by reviewing and managing kerbside arrangements, including allowing loading and access where appropriate. It also had a permit process to assist businesses in the town centre who needed access to pedestrianized areas.

The Council were building and investing millions of pounds in the Town Centre including work on improving the public realm. In some of the areas that delivery drivers used, the environment was ruined and stained. It was undoing the good work done on the public realm. The whole point of regenerating the Town Centre was to get people to come in and visit the Town Centre. This required a safe pedestrianized area where people could use the shops and visit the Town Centre. This was far more productive that a delivery driver being able to get right on the kerb outside the shop door. The Council did appreciate and want to support the delivery businesses and as such, were speaking to them and the parking team regarding loading bays. However, the priority had to be on making sure that the people who wanted to come into Rotherham and go to the markets and the shops felt safe in a pedestrianised area.


In a town centre environment, there always needed to be a balance between vehicle access and pedestrian safety.  The Council remained open to feedback from businesses to enhance its support initiatives and create an environment that fostered trade for businesses but also ensured a safe, pedestrian-friendly town centre for residents and visitors.


In his supplementary, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that this situation had come to light prior to Christmas when Andrew’s Butchers on Effingham Street where delivering food parcels for the social supermarket and got ticketed which caused embarrassment. He also stated that he disagreed with Councillor Lelliott regarding pedestrianised areas. In retail, it was important to make it as convenient as possible for customers to load up and go. There had been some recognition of this regarding extra parking on Effingham Street. Councillor Bennett-Sylvester asked Councillor Lelliott what was being done regarding permits as some felt there weren’t enough; regarding smart signage and regarding an online offering? What was going on regarding on-going discussions with retailers in the Town Centre regarding any concerns they have had in this area?

Councillor Lelliott explained that the Council’s parking team had met with Town Centre businesses and there was also the Voice meetings. All businesses were invited to that and there were also leaflet drops and the Town Centre Manager went out and invited them. Everybody who was working in the Town Centre had a presence in that meeting (including parking services, Streetpride, housing etc.) The meetings were getting more successful, and more people were attending. Businesses were also encouraged to email the Council direct with any queries. The meetings took place every quarter. Discussions and negotiations were on-going.

8.    Councillor Tinsley: The two main Landlords on Little London avoided selective licencing housing designation because of “improvements” to housing conditions on their properties. Can you confirm that the council have only inspected approximately 10 percent of these properties to HHSRS Standards and the rest of the inspections were undertaken by the landlord. Would you agree this is like marking your own homework?

The Leader stated that it would be like marking your own homework if it were true, but it was not. The first part of the question was about the last designation of selective licensing areas and there were at least two elements as to why Little London did not make the cut at that time. The first was that there were legal requirements/tests that had to be met before selective licensing designations could be entered in to. The view at the time was that those thresholds were not met in relation to Little London, as they were in relation to parts of Dinnington, Eastwood and elsewhere.

The second thing at that time was that the government was cracking down on the ability of local authorities to place a more widespread selective licensing designation although the rules may have changed since then. There were a number of local authorities that were imposing borough wide designations at that time and the Conservative government intervened to prevent that from happening. They said that if a Council wanted more than a certain proportion of properties to be designated as selective licensing area, Council’s could not make that decision; they had to apply to the Secretary of State. The combination of those two elements and the uncertain legal position in terms of the confidence about being able to put that in place in Little London and the fact that it would be challenged directly by the Secretary of State, meant that the designation was not taken forward at that time.

In relation to the housing assessments that had been undertaken, the first round dip sample was about 12% of the privately rented properties in that area. That focussed on the smaller landlords in the area because there was less information about those. There had been subsequent inspections undertaken which meant the total stood at 34% of the private rented properties in that area. That was in addition to all the work that the landlords agents themselves did in order to inspect the properties which was, at various time, reported back to the Council. Roughly a third of the properties in the area had been through the formal inspection process.

In his supplementary, Councillor Tinsley stated that the 34% figure was a mixture of individual landlords, not the two main group ones. He stated it would be interesting to get an up to date breakdown of those figures.


Councillor Tinsley also stated that if HHSRS inspections of all the houses had been done, there could have been a decent case to make to the Secretary of State regarding the problem. He asked the Leader if in hindsight, he believes he should have done that?

The Leader stated that in relation to the numbers, 12% was the original smaller landlords and the other 24%, belonging to the larger landlords. The Council would continue to roll out those inspections over the weeks ahead.


In relation to the decision taken a number of years ago, the Leader did not agree with Councillor Tinsley’s statement. The Leader believed it would be really dangerous if the Council started to refer things to the Secretary of State without evidence and as a last hope because this would have disappointed residents in Little London but it would have meant that the Council could not impose those designations on private tenants in other parts of the borough such as Dinnington, Masbrough, Eastwood and Parkgate etc. That would have left them without the additional protections and support of selective licensing schemes. It would not have been the right decision based on the information available at the time. However, the designation would come back up in 2025 and could be looked at again

9.    Councillor Tinsley: There are some fancy new welcome to Rotherham boundary signs as you enter across the Borough.  Our Twinned Town St Quentin in France seems to have been left of the signs. Has that partnership finished and if so when and why?

The Leader stated that the partnership had not finished in the sense that once towns were twinned, they were twinned in perpetuity. However, over the course of around the last 10 years, declining resources had meant that there was not the staff time to maintain an active twinning arrangement. There was no funding for annual trips to St Quentin however the towns maintained good relations but the active twinning arrangements had been withdrawn due to funding cuts.

In his supplementary, Councillor Tinsley stated that a good start would be to get the signs updated as twinning with St Quentin was something to be proud of. By removing that information from the signs, it was disrespectful to that partnership. Councillor Tinsley stated that it should be relatively easy to do and offered to pay for it out of the increase in Councillor’s allowances.


The Leader explained that having visited St Quentin in his own time, he could confirm that Rotherham’s signs now match St Quentin’s signs (in that neither referenced the twinning arrangement.)

10.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Among the many blights that are allowed to exist in Rotherham Town Centre there are large industrial waste bins often overflowing on public highways, namely top of High Street and Vicarage Lane.  What are we doing to prevent them being eyesores?

Councillor Sheppard thanked Councillor Bennett-Sylvester for his question and stated that it had been observed that a number of these bins in the Town Centre tend to over-flow. These bins appeared to be large waste bins supplied by numerous companies that businesses use for business waste in the town centre. For any businesses that used the Council’s commercial waste service then that could be addressed directly. Where it did not relate to Council customers, the Council could still seek to take action to ensure bins were presented appropriately by serving relevant enforcement notices on businesses found not to be managing their waste appropriately. Councillor Sheppard would ensure officers investigate these reports.

11.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: What is the annual cost to the HRA for maintaining play areas and other recreational public spaces on housing land?

Councillor Allen explained that the HRA was projecting a spend outturn of £90,661 for 2023/24. This related to expenditure on the management, maintenance and day-to-day repair of play areas, as well as investment in new equipment and facilities.

Regarding maintenance of Housing recreational public spaces, the HRA was projecting a spend outturn of £512,000 for grounds maintenance and £227,000 for maintenance of trees on Housing land.

In his supplementary question, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester referenced the Right to Buy Scheme and how it was impacting the housing stock. As more people bought Council stock, there were less people paying into general estate maintenance. The Council could not say to residents that they could not use recreation land if they were not Council tenants. However, in the long term, he asked if there was any possibility that, where there were services enjoyed by an entire community but paid for out of the HRA/tenants rents, that this could be transferred over to the general fund?

Councillor Allen stated that she would provide a written response. 

12.Councillor Tinsley: New software to help manage the emptying of litter bins across the borough has seen pre-existing schedules being removed. For example in Maltby high street this has seen bins overflowing and rubbish blowing down the street.  Has the Council removed all pre-existing bin emptying schedules?

Councillor Sheppard stated that the pre-existing bin schedules had not been changed at all so far. The Council had invested in new software to modernise the service and make sure it was as efficient and effective as possible.

Maltby High Street had 16 bins in total and from the data the new system provided, it could be confirmed that since October of last year, when the system was up and running, the Council had only received two reports of an overflowing bin in this area.

In summary, Councillor Sheppard stated the pre-existing bin schedules had not been changed and there had only had two reports, including information from the system, of over-flowing bins in this area since October.

In his supplementary, Councillor Tinsley stated that when he had spoken to officers there had been quite a lot of confusion as to when the software was implemented. Some had said it had been removed because Maltby used to get emptied three time a week on set days. There were now days when no one was emptying the bins. Councillor Tinsley’s second point was to question where the data for overflowing bins was coming from. It could come through Councillors so there were different ways of getting the data. He stated that it would be common sense to keep pre-existing schedules alongside the new software and then adjust that after review. He asked if the Cabinet Member would look into that?

Councillor Sheppard stated that service continued to monitor all data received regarding the bins. As part of the new system, elected Members and residents could use the new reporting tool to report when a bin was overflowing. Councillor Sheppard encouraged Councillor Tinsley to use that tool and encourage his residents to use it as well. As long as that data was coming in, it could be used to review the schedule and change it to make sure that there were enough people in the right areas at the right time.

13.Councillor Tinsley: On the 23rd of November 2023 at the Planning board a site visit to Highfield Park was unusually undertaken immediately before being decided at the Town Hall. The Site visit being called for by the Chair and Vice Chair of Planning, can the details of where that specific power is written within Planning Committee protocol documents be provided?

Councillor Atkin, Chair of Planning Board responded by stating that the Chair and Vice Chair of Planning Board will consider any request for a site visit made prior to the Planning Board meeting itself. Where they do not consider that a visit is appropriate then Planning Board Members can still request a visit at the beginning of the meeting (which is voted on by all Members present). 

In his supplementary question, Councillor Tinsley stated that the document referred to was called “How to influence planning decisions for Parish and Town Councils” which was not a protocol document. He believed that Councillor Atkin had not followed procedure and that the site visit should have gone to Planning Board to be voted on, minuted and the presented at a subsequent Planning Board. He asked Councillor Atkin if he agreed that the Planning Board Protocol should be looked at and that it be an appropriate document that could be reviewed so that everything was transparent?

Councillor Atkin explained that five years ago it would have been unusual not to have a site visit prior to Planning Board, not unusual to have one like Councillor Tinsley had suggested. Prior to advances in technology, it was always worth going on a site visit as the plans were not always clear. Regularly there would be a Planning Board with around three visits beforehand and this was still done at some Council’s. However, over the years, the quality of the presentations improved, and fewer site visits were required. The COVID-19 pandemic meant all site visits were stopped.

Now, two weeks before the Planning Board meetings, the Chair and Vice-Chair have a briefing with officers to go through items on the agenda. Lots of requests from the public were received for site visits.  In relation to the Highfield application, Councillor Atkin explained that it was only an outline application so only the principle of development and the access were considered. However, the access was contentious. As such, he had decided, after consultation with the Vice-Chair and others, that a site visit should be conducted. It was Councillor Atkins view that the Board would have requested a site visit anyway but doing that at the meeting would have meant that the application would not be considered for another three weeks. By using his power as Chair to hold a site visit that all attended, the process was actually at least three weeks quicker. 

14.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: There are 2801 council owned properties listed as “customers” of Rothercare in the upcoming report to cabinet. Are these homes using the service or do they include properties where residents are paying the mandatory charge and not using the service?

Councillor Roche stated that the 2801 customers referred to above are all connected to and receive the Rothercare service regardless of how it is paid for.

Councillor Bennett-Sylvester asked whether there would be additional people on top of the 2801 that were paying for the service but not receiving it?

Councillor Roche stated that the answer would be provided in relation to another question that Councillor Bennett-Sylvester would ask later in the meeting.

15.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Before allocating the £1.7 million capital spend to digitise the Rothercare would it be an idea to ascertain the number of council properties not wanting the service, give them the appropriate choice and remove them from the required costings?

Councillor Roche explained that nationally, the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) would close in December 2025, seeing the traditional analogue PSTN lines decommissioned and replaced by a fully digital infrastructure. This would substantially impact Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC’s) such as Rothercare. So the Council did need to allocate capital funding now in order to maintain provision.

During this transition period the service would be reviewing how best to manage the roll out of the new equipment in line with customer needs and existing policies. Further updates would be provided as plans were developed throughout the transition period.

The report being presented to Cabinet soon was part 1 which dealt with the digital transfer. Part 2 would follow later in the year and would cover costings, customers, those who don’t use the service. It was not possible to state would could be saved at the moment as it had not been written. It was very complicated to set out who paid, who did not pay, who used the service and who did not and as the digital transfer part of the report was time sensitive, it was felt best to bring the second part of the report at a later stage.

Councillor Roche confirmed that the service was subsidised but noted that the costs in Rotherham were around £3 per week compared to Leeds which was over £8 per week and the surrounding Council’s which charged around £5 per week. It was also confirmed that the people who actually used the service would be the first ones to receive the new digital rollout.

In his supplementary, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that this was a concern. He asked whether, before the project was started, it could be established who actually wanted it; what the number were being dealt with? There was a concern about whether capital was being put upfront that was not necessarily needed or the opposite where more might want it.

Councillor Roche stated that he understood the point and that initially the service did hope that both parts of the report could be presented together. However, when analysis of the charges started to take place, it became very complex and as such, it was being done in two parts. However, the fact that the rollout was being done to those who used the service in the first instance should negate some of the concerns raised. Part 2 of the report would be presented before all of the digitalisation work had been completed so there would be time to sort any issues out.

16.Councillor Tinsley: There has been previous motions around the sale illicit cigarettes and e cigarettes across the Borough. Reading the Advertiser this week I have seen case on a shop in Rotherham that has had its licence revoked after been found twice selling illicit cigarettes. Do you agree we should be taking stronger action against offenders with measures such as closure orders.

Councillor Lelliott responded by stating that the Council’s Trading Standards team had undertaken considerable work, in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, to tackle sales of illicit tobacco and vapes. Over the past twelve months tobacco and vapes to a value of £900k had been seized.

The Council had and would continue to use all available measures to tackle the sale of illicit cigarettes and e-cigarettes, as demonstrated by the significant action taken by the Council and its partners in seizing products and taking appropriate licensing action. Closure orders were a power under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act and relied on legal tests being met around levels of disorder so would not always be appropriate in these circumstances.

The legal test for a closure order is found in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

In his supplementary, Councillor Tinsley stated that in the case he had previously mentioned, the premises had been caught twice with illegal workers, twice with illicit cigarettes and twice with illicit e-cigarettes. He had just been given a slap on the hand and had his licence taken away. Councillor Tinsley asked what was to stop them doing it again if they were not adhering to licensing conditions anyway? He stated that the strongest measures should be taken and if the circumstances set out did not warrant enough for a closure order there were clearly some issues. The Council needed to protect the residents of Rotherham, particularly children.


In response, Councillor Lelliott reiterated what she had said previously. The Council had to follow the rules set out in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. In order to issue a closure order officers (subsequently the Courts) must be satisfied, on reasonable grounds that the use of a premise has resulted in nuisance to members of the public or that there has been, or is soon likely to be, disorder near those premises associated with the use of the premises.


If legal tests are met authorised Council Officers, or a Police Inspector can issue a closure for up to a maximum of 48 hours, after which point an application would need to be made to the court to continue the order, at this level the legal thresholds are increased. For example in the case of nuisance, it becomes ‘serious nuisance’. As a result it is not normally appropriate to use these powers in relation to the sale of cigarettes.

Councillor Reynolds sought a point of clarification on what was meant by nuisance. Councillor Lelliott explained that she did not write the laws and the Council could only enforce what was legislated for.

17.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Following the extensive failure to provide CCTV coverage due to SIM card issues can you please report on the robustness of the SIM card provision for Rothercare to ensure there will be no failure of service?

Councillor Roche stated that he understood the concern raised. However, there was continuous testing of digital units and sim card combinations to ensure their robustness for use by Rothercare. This approach was in tandem with identifying any mobile weak spots across Rotherham. Advances in technology were happening all the time and the service would strive to maximise the benefit of this for customers with regard to reliance and ease of use. The service would continue to engage with technology partners and experts in this area of development, to ensure the service kept pace with all new advances in systems that could benefit customers and prevent systems becoming obsolete.

In his supplementary question, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that the response was reassuring, especially comparing the two different systems. A further question related to this matter regarded power outages and whether that was covered in the robustness in terms of continuation of service?


Councillor Roche confirmed he would take the question back to officers and provide a written response.

18.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Can you please elaborate on how the £1.7 million Rothercare digitisation will replace existing analogue units but also provide for expected growth in demand of the service by December 2025?

Councillor Roche stated that as part of the Analogue to Digital Switchover, analogue boxes would be replaced by a digital equivalent box by the end of December 2025. Existing customers would be notified in advance and arrangements made to carry out the required installation work at their convenience. All new customers would have the digital equipment installed from the beginning.


To enable the switchover, additional support was being provided on equipment replacement to allow Rothercare to focus on new customers and in developing capacity within the service.

In his supplementary, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that there were around 130 new enquiries? a week. One of the difficulties with adult social care was that the funding did not keep up with demand. He asked Councillor Roche if he was confident that the £1.7m would accommodate that growth, especially with pressures of an aging population?

Councillor Roche stated that the rate of inflation had increased again but since there was a fairly short timescale between the start of the project and the delivery, the service were reasonably confident that the price would cover the proposals. However, since inflation had gone back up again and that would impact costs and wages etc, Councillor Roche stated that he could not give a 100% guarantee that more money would not be required. Councillor Roche did believe however that the £1.7m would be enough. Part 2 of the report would help with planning for the future to ensure the costs for all new customers were covered.

19.Councillor Z Collingham: Does the Council value its reputation among residents and the wider community and what steps are taken to consider and review this in decision-making and the delivery of services and projects?

The Leader stated that the Council does value its reputation among residents and the wider community but not as an end in itself. The Council having a good reputation reflected well on the services provided and hopefully gave people confidence to engage with the Council when they needed to do so. However, the objective was to provide high quality services to residents, not to enhance the Council’s reputation for its own ends.

The Annual Resident Satisfaction Survey had been undertaken and the level of satisfaction and confidence in the Council had risen over recent years. In terms of the delivery of services, there was the day to day feedback that the officers received. In terms of policies, the Council regularly went back out to the public to review policies every three or five years depending on the cycle. The Leader gave the example of the Council’s Taxi Licensing Policy where 624 responses were received, and some changes were made in line with those responses. The Council Plan had been consulted on and one of the issues raised was around road safety. As a result, a number of proposals were put forward for policies in relation to road safety.

In his supplementary, Councillor Z Collingham stated that the answer was reassuring. However he stated that most people would never complete the surveys or consultation sent out and he therefore sought assurance that the Council were always trying to put their best foot forward where their good name was concerned and preserve it as well as enhance it. Councillor Collingham asked the Leader what reassurance could be given so that when things did happen that damaged the reputation of the Council (traffic alternation in Maltby causing tailbacks; traffic light controlled crossings in the Thurcroft and Wickersley South Ward with no operable traffic lights; extreme long term unoccupied properties etc.) what could be done in terms of day to day things but also the management of long running extreme problems that most directorates experienced? Was there someone at a political level monitoring this with a desire to do better and preserve the good name all the time?

The Leader explained that the oversight came in a number of different ways. There was the performance management process that he oversaw on behalf of Cabinet and Cabinet were responsible for their directorates. Where there were significant problems in the delivery of a service, for example when residents were waiting a long time for the delivery of that service, that would be reported through and focus political attention on it by making resourcing decision appropriately. More broadly, all elected Members had a responsibility when issues of concern in communities came to light to raise those with the Authority and try and get the right outcomes. Some of those would be projects in delivery that sometimes took longer than expected. The Leader did accept that it was a big, complicated organisation serving a lot of people and there would always be challenges and difficulties.

20.Councillor Bennett-Sylvester: Despite all these questions I’m sure we agree that Rothercare is an outstanding service for those who choose to use it, going forward what are your initial thoughts on promoting the service to allow more residents to live independently once digitisation is completed?

Councillor Roche referenced the LGA report on Adults that was still in draft but confirmed it had noted the strong structural leadership at all levels of Adults. It also talked about the strong partnerships and high levels of satisfaction along with the commitment of the staff. The report also raised areas for consideration.

Rothercare also received a lot of positive feedback, demonstrating its value to thousands of people and demonstrating its role in supporting independence. It was available to all residents in the borough and further promotion had been planned post digitalisation to ensure it reached as wide an audience as possible. The number of people requesting aid for Adult Services and the number of people getting older was increasing so it was important to reach out to those. Part of the service was allowing people to live in their own home independently for as long as possible. Councillor Roche noted that several Council’s were starting to think about putting more people into care homes because it was going to cost too much money to keep them in their own homes. He hoped that Rotherham would never be in that position.

In his supplementary, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that adult social care was one of the defining challenges of the generation and the anarchy of the Government was not helping. In keeping people in their homes, Rothercare could provide savings for the Council. Councillor Bennett-Sylvester asked if part 2 of the report would look at the individual cost benefits of keeping residents in their own homes so they were not bed-blocking or having to take up spaces in care homes which often worked out far more expensive?


Councillor Roche stated that the second part of the report would focus on costs, the way the service was processed, how it was offered but he would certainly put the point raised by Councillor Bennett-Sylvester to the Strategic Director.

21.Councillor Ball: How many public charging points are currently out of action within this Borough?

The Leader stated that he could only comment on the chargers under the direct control of the Council. There were three currently out of use: Drummond Street (due to theft of cables); Douglas Street (due to theft of cables); and Constable Lane, Dinnington (due to vandalism of the display/payment terminal.)

Councillor Ball stated in his supplementary question that he was an electric vehicle driver and believed that the charging points were not in the correct place. He stated that he and others would choose to charge at home because it was 7.5 pence per kilowatt whereas the chargers being discussed were around 50 to 60 pence per kilowatt. Councillor Ball suggested that a forecourt way was the better way of doing things. It would be like a petrol station at the side of the motorway where it would attract more people in and have better security. Other charging points across the borough had been subject to theft/vandalism thousands of times.

Councillor Ball asked whether the forecourt option could be looked in to instead of spending money repairing the existing chargers because no one used the stand alone units, and they were vulnerable to crime?


The Leader stated that the Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy would be forthcoming in the next few weeks. The approach taken had been to provide a variety of chargers that offered a variety of different speeds in different locations. That was based on a survey of EV owners a couple of years prior. Based on that information, choices were made. The Leader confirmed that there would be things to learn because this was an emerging market. He urged Councillor Ball to look at the proposals when they came forward. 

22.Councillor Ball: How much has been the cost to install and repair the charging units in the Borough from conception to date?

The Leader confirmed that in total, £890,700 had been spent on installation and repairs. £23,700 of this was due to theft or vandalism but those costs had all been funded externally and not at a cost to the Council.

In his supplementary, Councillor Ball again stated that the costs had to come from somewhere and that it was not cost effective to keep the units in. He again urged the Leader to use the forecourt way. This would also provide local jobs and bring more money in from outside of the borough which would help the local economy. Councillor Ball asked the Leader to look at this way going forward.

The Leader explained that he would take that on board. In terms of the funding, it had come from national government funding pots so the Council had to act in accordance with the national rules and expectations. It would however be a case of testing out the different options before it could be known for certain the best way of doing it.

23.Councillor Castledine-Dack: What is the council doing to engage with prospective business tenants for the planned new units on Laughton Road in Dinnington to ensure that occupants are in place from the get-go?

Councillor Lelliott explained that in Autumn 2023 the Council consulted with over 200 people including local businesses and stakeholders to gather information about the demand for commercial space in Dinnington; this had been supported by data from local commercial agents to determine the size and type of units that should be included in the scheme.

The Council’s priority was to continue to engage positively with the businesses that traded in the existing Laughton Road units that would be directly affected by the Scheme and support them to continue trading in Dinnington if they aspired to do so. Any additional business opportunities would be marketed at an appropriate point in the programme to ensure that the scheme opened in 2026 at full capacity with a varied and vibrant offer.

Councillor Lelliott also explained that she had been at the consultation with the businesses who were all keen and enthusiastic and supportive of what the Council was doing in Dinnington. Existing businesses would be offered the new units on a like for like basis but this would not be available until 2026.

24.Councillor Ball: What is the total revenue from the public charging units that RMBC have installed within the Borough?

The Leader confirmed that the total public charging revenue income for financial years 2019/20 (when the chargers were first installed) until the current financial year to date 2023/24 (April – December 2023) equates to £14,361.

In his supplementary, Councillor Ball state that the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board had been told the day previous that the Council had shown an increase of 3.23% of CO2 emissions despite setting a target of 18% which was then revised down to 10% and was due to be revised again. He asked the Leader what could be done to encourage members of the public to take up more electronic vehicle ownership, especially when the units could not be used because the wires have been stolen?

The Leader stated that it was his understanding of the discussion at OSMB that the 3.23% increase related to the Council’s own fleet. There had been some procurement issues around the electric vehicles and the Leader expected the figure to reduce as a result of that procurement. The figure therefore did not say anything about electronic vehicle driving in general or the Council’s overall emissions position.

The Leader stated that the key thing that could be done was to stagger the infrastructure in place and get it regularised so that people were used to using it. The market research had shown that range anxiety, worries about the cost of and practicalities of running an EV and the cost of the upfront payment were the reasons given for not moving to electric vehicles. There was relatively little that the Council were able to do apart from the provision of new infrastructure. The Council was not in a position to start funding those upfront except for in the in-house fleet. The Leader again urged Councillor Ball to look at the Strategy when it came forward.

25.Councillor Ball: Can you inform me and others how many people answered the consultation question in May 2022 “Would the Riverside Gardens green space encourage you to spend more time in the town centre”?

Councillor Lelliott explained that 253 people responded to this question, and two-thirds of respondents stated they were likely to spend more time within Rotherham town centre as a result of the proposed development.

Councillor Ball stated that this worked out at 171 residents out of 250,000 plus residents that had voted to say they would spend more time within Rotherham town centre as due to the Riverside Gardens development. He stated that this was not the greatest of consultation. Councillor Ball asked if anyone in the room genuinely believed that spending £1.9m on a temporary five-year pocket park in the town centre was good value for money and would attract people to town centre. He asked if the ambition of the Council should have actually been to put forward more projects in communities such as his own in Maltby? Councillor Ball also stated that the Council had sought an extra £900,000 from the South Yorkshire Mayor when the initial £1m budget had been spent instead of reining it in. He asked in the Council would go to the Mayor to get this kind of investment in parks like Dinnington, Maltby and Swallownest.

Councillor Lelliott stated that 253 people actually took the time out to responds to the consultation and two thirds stated that the development would encourage them to come into the town centre. She asked how many of the Conservative Councillors had responded to the consultation.
Councillor Lelliott informed Members that she had visited the Forge Island development and stood on top on the new Travelodge building, looking down at the investment that the Council had put in. Councillor Lelliott claimed that Councillor Ball was trying to talk down the development as he did not have anything else to say.

Councillor Lelliott said that people would absolutely come in and use the Riverside Garden and it absolutely would be worth the money. The Labour Council said they would deliver economic regeneration for Rotherham Town Centre and Councillor Lelliott confirmed that they had delivered on it.

26.Councillor Castledine-Dack: What work is RMBC doing to ensure that all elements of Dinnington’s approved Neighbourhood Plan are delivered?

Councillor Lelliott noted that the Dinnington Neighbourhood Plan was a plan submitted by the Town Council rather than a plan from Rotherham Council. It was submitted to form part of the Development Plan and was adopted by the Council as part of Rotherham’s Development Plan in May 2021.


Neighbourhood Plans provided a planning framework to influence and shape development proposals in the local area. New developments were expected to be in accordance with the plan, which could be given significant weight as a material consideration when considering planning applications within the area.


Councils like Rotherham were not responsible for delivering Neighbourhood Plans in that sense – in the same way that Councils could not deliver all the development set out in the borough's Local Plan.


However, the Council has and would continue to use the Neighbourhood Plan to inform any development that it does deliver.

27.Councillor Ball: Is the Council still using consultants in regards to the flood defences and if so how much has this cost to date?

Councillor Sheppard confirmed that consultants were still being used to help progress the priority Flood Alleviation Schemes to a ‘shovel ready’ state by the end of the 2024 calendar year. To undertake all of the surveys, investigations, hydraulic modelling, calculations, designs, and landowner engagement to date, much of which the Council was unable to do, had required investment of around £3.4m. This investment had been critical to ensuring the Council improved protections from flooding for residents and businesses across the Borough.


This approach has been very successful to date, with over £16m of external investment secured for the borough, delivering schemes such as the £4m Canal Barrier delivered in 2022 and the £7m of flood defences at Ickles Lock opening in August 2023.

In his supplementary, Councillor Ball asked if there were any apprenticeships that could be put into the scheme so that Rotherham people could be trained up?


Councillor Sheppard stated that he was aware of some apprenticeships within the flood and drainage team, but he would provide full details in a written answer.

28.Councillor Ball: Can you give the amount that has been found internally and externally to provide for flood defences across the borough?

Councillor Sheppard stated that to date, the Council had provided £11.75m itself and secured £16.25m from various external stakeholders and partners such as Local Levy, Network Rail and the Environment Agency – together this totalled £28.0m.

29.When considering planning applications for new build homes, do the planning panel take into consideration, the types of homes (3 bed semi v executive homes) to be built are appropriate and value added to the wider Rotherham area?

Councillor Atkin as Chair of the Planning Board responded by stating yes, Policy CS7 of the Council’s adopted Local Plan requires proposals for new housing to deliver a mix of dwelling sizes, type and tenure by taking account of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment to meet the present and future needs of all members of the community.


In addition to this, the policy also required the provision of 25% affordable housing on all housing development over 0.5 hectares or of 15 dwellings or more, subject to this being consistent with the economic viability of the development.

In his supplementary, Councillor Hunter asked, if that was the case, why were hundreds of executive homes being built when there were few or no millionaires to buy them? He stated that it made no sense when three bedroom semi-detached and family houses were needed. Councillor Hunter asked if the Policy could be looked at again because it did not seem to offer the correct balance?

Councillor Atkin stated that Conservatives usually supported the free market and the free market would build whatever it wanted yet Councillor Hunter seemed to want the Local Authority to instruct housebuilders to build what the Council wanted, not what they wanted. Councillor Atkin stated that a developer would build what they wanted, and the Council would then negotiate with them but it was the developers risk at the end of the day. He also stated that Councillor Hunter’s premise was wrong in that executive houses were not being built everywhere. A lot of 2 and 3 bedroom houses had been approved such as in Waverley.