- 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 (You are here)
- 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
- Commissioner's bulletin May 2015
Commissioner's bulletin January 2016
This is my first bulletin of 2016 on the work that the Commissioners have been doing to help the Council to improve so that democratic leadership and accountability can be restored.
Return of some functions to the Council
The Secretary of State has today issued a written statement to the House that he is ‘minded to’ return certain functions to the Council. This is following Commissioners’ recommendation that the Council has progressed sufficiently for it to take back some responsibilities. There is now a 10 day period of representation which gives those who have any further views or oppose the return of functions to write to the Secretary of State before he makes his final decision.
This is good news for Rotherham. It demonstrates that the Council is now in a position to take back some functions and make decisions for the following services: Education services; public health; leisure and cultural services; housing, planning and transport policy; highways maintenance; building and business regulation and enforcement (but not licensing); some other environmental services; a number of corporate functions; emergency planning and policy arising from the Sheffield City region.
The fundamentals are important. Only Councillors, at a full Council meeting can set a budget and determine the future Council Tax level.
However it has fallen to Commissioners to put forward budget options. Properly, to make sure Councillors will understand the components of the budget at the key meeting in March 2016, leading Labour Councillors have been briefed along the way.
At this week’s Advisory Cabinet meeting, I approved a list of proposed measures so the Council is able to deliver a balanced budget for 2016/ 17. These now go out for public and partner comment. In the light of Government’s Provisional Local Government Settlement announcements which left the Council with £349,000 worse off than forecast, the budget assume the Council will take up the option to add a 2% levy on Council Tax for Adult Social Care, part of the Government’s announcement, as well as a series of other measures and one-off grants that I have trailed in previous bulletins.
In short, the Council continues to face significant challenges over the coming years and our medium term financial strategy sets out a minimum budget challenge – a funding gap of £48 million which we have to deal with.
The report on the proposed financial and service changes is available to view and if you have any comments please make them by email or in writing to the Council’s Chief Executive.
Local Government Association survey
This is the second survey undertaken by the Local Government Association and is an opportunity for the Council chance to gauge how the public perceive the Council on a number of key areas including satisfaction, trust, confidence and value for money.
It is reassuring to see that Rotherham residents are just as satisfied as their local area as a place to live as the national average. How the Council acts on the concerns of local residents has seen a significant rise in satisfaction levels, but not unlike other responses taken from the survey, is somewhat lower than the national average. This means there is still work to do in improving the Council’s standards and residents’ perception although we are making some progress and will continue to listen and learn from residents in the borough.
Senior management appointments - further news
I am pleased that Sharon Kemp has now started work in the Council as our new Chief Executive. Before assuming formal responsibilities on 1st February, she will be working alongside with Commissioner Stella Manzie who will be taking her through some of the outstanding actions before she departs, as well as meeting a wide range of people from across the Council and borough. While it is an exciting new chapter for the Council, I would like to thank Stella for her major contribution in helping to improve the fortunes of the Council and her zest and rigour will be missed. She has been a valuable asset to the Commissioners’ team and I wish her well in her future endeavours.
You may have seen the news elsewhere that Judith Badger will be joining us from Wakefield Council as our new Strategic Director, Finance and Customer Services. The new post of Assistant Director for Community Safety and Street Scene has also been filled by Karen Hanson who currently works at Doncaster MBC.
Final interviews will be concluded by the end of the month for the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment.
This will complete the run of eight senior staff we set ourselves to recruit. The one failure so far has been to find the right candidate for Strategic Director Adult Social care and Housing. We have increased the top of the salary range slightly and are optimistic we will get good candidates on our second round.
12 month review – report to the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government, and Education
By the end of February, Commissioners will have been in Rotherham for 12 months and we will be reporting on the Council’s progress to both Secretaries of State. I want to make sure I am able to reflect views and opinions from our partners on how much progress has been made by the Council, and to that end my Chief of Staff, Steven Nesbit, is meeting those partners Commissioner Ney and he interviewed during Louise Casey’s inspection as well as others who currently play an active role in Rotherham Partnership.
I always welcome views from all partners so if you have any further thoughts please email us.