- Commissioner's bulletin 31 March 2017
- Commissioner's bulletin 18 November 2016 (You are here)
- 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
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Commissioner's bulletin 18 November 2016
This is my latest bulletin on the work that the Commissioners have continued to do to assist Rotherham MBC to improve and to pave the way for the restoration of democratic leadership and accountability.
Return of licensing powers
Last month, Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, wrote to the Council’s Chief Executive Sharon Kemp minded to return licensing powers, subject to a ten-day period of representation by the public. This followed the Commissioners' fifteen-month progress report to central government, setting out the improvements made to the Council's licensing function and stating that Rotherham’s Elected Members have the skills and capability to take on the decision making role.
Should the decision be confirmed in the coming weeks, it would allow the Council to resume all decision making on licensing matters - including hackney carriage and private hire taxi services - for the first time since February 2015.
Commissioner Ney will maintain an overview of decisions and sit in an advisory capacity with members, in the few cases which were deferred from the Commissioners previous hearings, on a sample basis and at the request of the Chair.
Return of further functions
Commissioners have recommended a return of further powers to the Council, following a period of continued improvement since some functions were returned in February 2016. In making these recommendations, we have sought evidence that services have been deemed as operating at a good enough level with no significant value for money deficits, sound management structures are in place, Cabinet Members are in a position to exercise executive authority, and where service quality has been assured by a review or assessments undertaken. The following functions fit these criteria:
- Economic growth
- Town centre
- External partnerships
- Community safety
- Adult social care and the Council's partnership with the NHS
- Performance management
- Waste collection
- Grounds maintenance
Children’s safeguarding and all other children’s social care services, asset management and human resources will be retained by Commissioners.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has not yet made a decision on whether he is minded to return further functions, and will take into account people’s views. If you have any comments you wish to make, please email the Commissioners team no later than 31st December 2016.
Commissioners will be holding a public meeting with Elected Members on 16th January 2017, where amongst other matters I will be giving an update on progress regarding the return of further functions.
CLG Select Committee
In coming to our conclusion above, another important factor was the outcome from the recent Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee where we demonstrated the Council’s progress since intervention, and Commissioner Ney and the Council’s Leader, Chris Read, appeared in front of a panel to give evidence. The report can be found online and amongst its conclusions the Select Committee praised Rotherham Council as making significant improvements in taxi licensing, scrutiny, child protection and whistleblowing arrangements.
This week, the Council’s Cabinet considered the latest report on budget planning for the next three years. The Council needs to reduce its net spending by around £42m in total, with at least £13m of that falling in 2017/18.
At the same time, the Council must also consider how to increase Children’s Services budgets to accommodate both the real costs of increased demands and to continue to improve its service delivery.
The Council has therefore proposed for a further £8.3m to be invested in Children’s Services in 2017/18. Along with projected savings of £2.3m against £3.6m of investment, the required total net budget increase is around £9.6m.
The Council is not due to set its final budget until early 2017. Whilst responsibility for budget planning is a returned function, Commissioners wish to see the budget settled before they can have confidence that the Council has shown that it is capable of prioritising Children’s Services spending within this constrained resource base and yet still respecting its other essential statutory duties.
Lead Commissioner Sir Derek Myers