Venue: County Hall, Worcester
Contact: Nichola Garner Committee and Appellate Officer
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The members had before them:
A. The Agenda papers (previously circulated); and
B. The Minutes of the meeting held on 14 March 2019 (previously circulated).
Apologies and Declarations of Interest
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Tina Southall attended with her 16 year old daughter Dalcie, who has been attending Ludlow Road since she was 10. Tina wished to explain to the Cabinet her feelings about the potential closure of Ludlow Road and the impact such action would have on families who used the facility, and asked Cabinet to ensure it had correct information and that all children’s needs were taken into consideration in making decisions.
Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous meeting
The Minutes of the meeting of 14 March 2019 have been previously circulated
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 14 March 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Families acknowledged Ms Southall’s comments and assured her that he had confidence in the information being used and that there would be sufficient provision should Ludlow Road close. He thanked Ms Southall for her contribution as it helped keep everything in perspective. The report to be considered by Cabinet covered provision of overnight short breaks for Children but also proposals for young adults and adults and was a matter for all Councillors as the service was a Worcestershire wide provision.
There was now an improved working relationship between the Health and Care Trust and Social Care and that would help with achieving the aim of providing a stable, resilient and sustainable service which was not under constant review. The co-design events had come up with three themes; reduce the demand for overnight support by increasing flexibility and choice of support to families; provide a more cost-effective service by making provision available in the day and after school; and improve financial sustainability by sharing costs with Adults Social Care and using additional capacity for children from other areas.
The proposal was that the delivery model would give an extra 4 bedrooms at Osborne Court – two exclusively for Worcestershire and two which could be used by Worcestershire or other areas. There would also be refurbished adult beds and one additional adult bed. Thorn Lodge would be used for complex needs.
It was understood that the prospect of change was difficult for the families affected and managing those changes and any transition arrangements would be part of the consultation if changes were necessary. The proposal meant that future provision would be flexible, respond to future needs and would help with transition arrangements; this would not be possible at Ludlow Road which was not considered to be operationally viable or cost effective. It was confirmed that overnight respite would continue to be provided to any family who needed it.
During the ensuing discussion the following points were made:
· The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills agreed with the direction of travel and felt it was important that vulnerable people received the right provision and that the service provided was fit for purpose,
· The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care felt the changes were an opportunity to improve the transition arrangements and boost transition capacity. Young people would not always have to attend a different provision when they received adult services,
· The Chairman of the Children and Families Scrutiny Panel reported that the Scrutiny Panel had considered the new delivery model and supported the changes while acknowledging the part Ofsted had played in the situation, as Ludlow Road had to be registered with Ofsted, as well as the CQC, and Ofsted do not allow shared rooms (unless the occupants were siblings of the same sex). This meant that Ludlow Road would not be financially viable. Osborne Court had outstanding facilities which had not been used to their full capacity, and also had nursing care available. She acknowledged the ... view the full minutes text for item 1911.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure asked Cabinet to consider the Worcestershire Minerals Plan with a view to recommending that the draft Plan and the process for consultation and adoption, be considered by Full Council. The plan gave a list of where minerals exist, which would assist District Councils by identifying where minerals could be exploited in the future; this would in turn ensure that sites were not sterilised by permitting building on those sites.
The Cabinet Member for the Environment highlighted the environmental benefits which were being gained through improving the biodiversity around sites.
The Cabinet made various comments:
· The document and the proposed public engagement was welcomed
· The plan provided the opportunity to tidy up some sites which had been removed from the plan
· The strategic document provided certainty to Councils as well as residents about what would happen to specific sites
· A member from outside the Cabinet, was concerned that the consultation would be taking place throughout August when Parish Councils may not have a meeting. He hoped the consultation period could be extended. The Head of Strategic Infrastructure responded that the consultation was the last step in the process and details of the plan had been consulted on and publicised at each stage of the plan’s development so it wasn’t felt that an extended consultation period was necessary. The Chairman asked that Parishes be contacted to alert them to the consultation
· Paul Middlebrough declared an interest in that he was Chairman of two liaison groups but queried whether ‘encouragement’ to have Liaison Groups was strong enough, as he felt that for large developments liaison groups should be insisted upon. The Cabinet Member responded that on significant sites, engagement was important but could not be insisted upon.
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND THAT COUNCIL:
(a) approves the Publication Version of the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan for Regulation 19 consultation;
(b) authorises the Director of Economy and Environment to carry out such Regulation 19 consultation;
(c) authorises the Director of Economy and Infrastructure to approve any minor amendments to the Publication Version of the Minerals Local Plan arising from the Regulation 19 consultation, prior to submission to the Secretary of State for Examination;
(d) approves submission of the Publication Version of the Minerals Local Plan, amended as appropriate, to the Secretary of State for formal Examination following Regulation 19 consultation;
(e) authorises the Director of Economy and Infrastructure, in consultation with the Cabinet Member with responsibility, to undertake consultation as necessary on any modifications arising from that Examination; and
(f) agrees that the Minerals Local Plan is returned to Full Council with the Inspector's recommendations with a view to final decision on its adoption.
Draft Strategy Document to follow
The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Highways asked Cabinet to consider the request for a consultation regarding the draft Passenger Transport Strategy and any subsequent actions with regard to approval of the strategy.
£30 million was spent on passenger transport and it was clarified that every part of the transport system would be reviewed. The aim of the consultation was to find out what sort of transport people wanted, what they were prepared to pay and what support the Council could give. For home to school and social care transport the Council was looking to provide a rationalised system based on Best Value and cost effectiveness. Community transport needed to cover rural areas whilst bus services needed to ensure increased demand through improved marketing and a reliable and punctual service. The transport system needed to be integrated and efficient and would need to cope with an increase of around 200,000 people. It was accepted that it was a challenging task and that ambition and innovation would be required.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills explained that the consultation would be extended by a week, up to 13 weeks, to allow schools the chance to contribute to the consultation after they returned from the summer holidays. There were certain statutory duties detailed in the Education Act 1996 regarding providing transport for school pupils that would continue to be met, as well as ensuring compliance with the Public Sector equality duty and there would be a full impact assessment.
In the ensuing discussion the following main points were made:
· It was essential for tax payers that the transport budget was spent wisely and efficiently
· The fact that the consultation was looking at all forms of transport was welcomed and rationalisation was a good idea
· Social Care Transport was an important issue and the allegations that certain buses were not supportive to people with learning disabilities and that more flexibility was requested would be investigated
· The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care suggested that best practice in other areas should be considered and this view was echoed by a Member from outside the Cabinet who felt it was necessary to get bus companies to copy best practice
· Malvern Chase community dial a ride bus and Tenbury Transport Trust was praised for setting up and running their own services
· During the Libraries consultation the availability of transport had been brought up as an important issue
· It was pointed out the public transport needed to be supported by the public and if usage was not consistent the services could not be maintained
· Fran Oborski declared an Interest in that she was Chair of Wyre Forest Diamond Bus Users group. She said residents expected to have an accessible bus service to take them to school, work or hospital but some areas such as Habberley estate were denied that. She felt that school buses should pick up Members of the Public if they had capacity and that it was very important to consider special needs transport. ... view the full minutes text for item 1913.
The Leader, who is also the Cabinet Member for Finance, introduced the report regarding the provisional financial results. He highlighted that although it had been a difficult year with high demand led pressures the projected overspend had been reduced to £2 million from almost £18 million and he paid tribute to the management actions which had been put in place which had enabled the overspend to be reduced, income to be maximised and the decline in the level of reserves to be arrested.
In future, school budgets would present a great pressure as the Dedicated Schools Grant was inadequate. This was not just a Worcestershire problem and changes to legislation needed to be funded. The Budget was in better shape this year and although there were still demand led pressures, £27.7million worth of savings initiatives had been achieved.
The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care explained that adult Learning Disability services had the largest overspend, but £4 million of grant money had been received which had helped with the outturn.
£106 million had been spent on capital projects last year which was the highest amount ever spent, which was a good for the future in that it would help boost growth. The Government contributed the most to capital projects through direct Government grants.
The pension fund had had a goodish year and the position had improved over the last 3 years and there was an operating surplus of £17 million.
Other comments made were:
· The non-schools dedicated schools grant overspent by £7.7 million and reserves were used to tackle the overspend, but it was pointed out that the problem was a national one as funding for special needs places had not increased while mainstream funding had increased
· Particular capital projects that had received investment were the Worcestershire Parkway Station, the Southern Link Road, Kidderminster Railway Station improvements and the land purchase adjacent to Malvern Hills Science Park
· A Member from outside the Cabinet commented that although the new Kidderminster Railway station was going to be superb, not enough parking spaces had been created. It was hoped that the Council would keep pressure on the Midlands Railway Company to provide the additional parking, especially as it was difficult for buses to access the area.
RESOLVED: that Cabinet:
(a) endorsed financial performance for the year ending 31 March 2019 and the unaudited Annual Financial Report and Statement of Accounts 2018/19;
(b) approved updates to earmarked reserves and general balances as detailed in paragraphs 54 to 60; and
(c) considered the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19 for comment before final approval is sought from the Audit and Governance Committee in July 2019.