- Commissioner's bulletin 31 March 2017
- Commissioner's bulletin 18 November 2016
- Commissioner's bulletin 3 June 2016
- Commissioner's bulletin 31 March 2016
- Commissioner's bulletin 2 March 2016
- Commissioner's bulletin January 2016
- Commissioner's bulletin December 2015
- Commissioner's bulletin October 2015
- Commissioner's bulletin September 2015
- Commissioner's bulletin July 2015
- Commissioner's bulletin June 2015 (You are here)
- Commissioner's bulletin May 2015
Commissioner's bulletin June 2015
This is my monthly bulletin on the work that the Commissioners have been doing to assist Rotherham MBC to improve and to pave the way for the restoration of democratic leadership and accountability.
A particular Children’s Improvement Plan has already been approved and is being delivered. The parallel corporate Improvement Plan which details how the rest of the Council, including political processes, will improve was agreed by the Council on the 22nd May. Both Improvement Plans can be viewed through this link:
These are comprehensive plans and we hope to make most progress in the first 12 months, and we fully expect that the Council will adopt a culture of continuous improvement such that improvement continues after Commissioners have handed back responsibilities to Councillors.
The First Commissioners’ Public Meeting
The constitutional protocols adopted by Commissioners did not see the continuation of public Cabinet meetings (as would have been the case under political control).
Nevertheless all Commissioner decisions have been put on the website for comment by the public and other Councillors before being formally considered by Commissioners. However Commissioners have committed to periodic public meetings and the first of these is on the 24th June at 11am in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, S60 2TH and anybody is welcome to attend.
This meeting will receive progress reports from Commissioners and from the Leader of the Council and there will be provision for questions from elected Councillors and from the public. There will also be a presentation on the budget prospects for 2016/17 and beyond.
Some 22 roadshows have been designed and planned which should allow senior politicians assisted by Commissioners to have a face to face discussion with over 1000 local residents or others who are employed in the borough. This is a mixture of free discussion and forty plus questions on which opinions are sought so that the Council can have a firmer foundation on which to plan its future ‘vision’ and attend to its budget priorities over the winter.
This should also help other agencies come together to refresh the Community Strategy which we hope to publish early in 2016.
As part of these roadshows, the Council hosted a dinner with approximately 20 local businesses who collectively employ thousands of local residents. This provided a rich opportunity to hear from those individuals about their perspective on skills, local priorities for regeneration and the general state of the borough and the Council.
South Yorkshire Police assisted by the National Crime Agency have been looking at both historical cases of child sexual exploitation, and more recent cases and Commissioners have been pleased to note that arrests are now beginning to happen quite regularly. Each of these cases are complicated and evidence collection and analysis has to be painstaking. South Yorkshire Police have adopted a much more open and transparent approach to reporting data about child sexual exploitation and this can be found on a dedicated webpage through this link:
It would be wrong to think that child sexual exploitation was something which only happened in the past. Concern about adult behaviour and children at risk continues to be received on a regular basis and it is necessary to ensure that all such concerns are properly investigated and that appropriate follow up action by both the police and the welfare services is well executed.
Budget planning is beginning within the Council for 2016/17 and beyond. The only certainty is that the Council will receive less Government grant and will continue to be constrained about the amount of extra council tax that it can raise (even if there was a local will to put the council tax rates up, there will be a Government cap).
This means careful attention to priorities so we get a relentless quest for better and more efficient ways of getting things done.
Attention to staff costs and likely plan for a smaller workforce
As you will imagine, this puts extra strain on the organisation as we improve, reduce and reorganise all at the same time.
16 Councillors who were not Councillors before the local elections, arrived on the 8th May and we provided a well-planned induction experience for them. I have met most of them now and I have been very impressed by their commitment and the experience and skills they bring. It is remarkable that local people are still willing to put themselves forward for public office given the stresses and strains that their predecessors have faced over recent years. We are grateful to them.
As a Commissioner contribution to ensuring that we have good quality candidates for the all-out elections in May 2016. We have agreed with the Local Government Association to run some candidate preparation workshops in September 2015 which will provide a wide variety of local people with an opportunity to gain more information about what it would be to become a Councillor. Although political parties will be free to pick from both this group or indeed any other individuals who have not done the preparatory work, we hope that this might be a contribution to making sure that new Councillors arriving in May 2016 are well prepared.
Commissioners understand that some local people are grumpy about the extra costs which they feel have been imposed on local people by the Government intervention (which is not paid for by Government but paid for out of Council funds).
Commissioners have calculated that the net cost, bearing in mind that Commissioners are replacing Councillors for some functions - who no longer get paid and paid staff for some functions – who are no longer here, is approximately £170,000. This is against a spending budget of over £700m which we think relatively modest, but as a further contribution to transparency, all of our expenses claimed (which basically amount to occasional overnight and travel expenses) are on the Council’s website through this link:
Our pay will be displayed through the same link shortly.
As ever we welcome interest, constructive challenge or additional officer support and the easiest way to contact us is through our generic email address.