Venue: County Hall, Worcester
Contact: Samantha Morris/Alyson Grice Overview and Scrutiny Officers
Apologies and Welcome
Apologies were received from Mrs E A Eyre and Mr P A Tuthill.
The Chairman welcomed Adam Kent and Rebecca Vale to their first meeting of the Board. He thanked Paul Middlebrough and Kit Taylor for their hard work as Members of the Board.
Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip
In relation to item 7 Worcestershire Passenger Transport Review and Strategy Public Consultation, Mrs F M Oborski declared an interest (other disclosable interest) as Chair of the Wyre Forest Bus Users Forum.
Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 23 May 2019). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.
Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 28 March 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman and Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP) had been invited to the meeting to provide an annual update on the achievements of the WLEP over the last 12 months and to outline strategic objectives for 2019/20. The WLEP Director of Operations and the Local Authority’s Section 151 Officer were also in attendance.
The Chairman and Executive Director of the WLEP introduced the report by way of a presentation. The following main points were made:
· Although Worcestershire was a small county it had a reputation for delivery and for thinking to the future. The County had a strong profile with central government.
· The importance of connectivity (both physical and digital) was emphasised.
· The LEP was ahead on the 3 main KPIs as set out in the Strategic Economic Plan. With economic growth at 3.1%, WLEP was one of the leading LEPs nationally.
· It was now important to maintain the LEP’s reputation and keep the KPIs moving in the right direction.
· In terms of structure, the WLEP was working effectively and had implemented all but a couple of the recommendations from the Government’s LEP review. Having the right governance was important and the WLEP was in a strong position.
· The WLEP was part of a local consortium of partners taking forward work on 5G and expertise within the County was now very strong. This had resulted in the development of the UK’s first 5G-enabled factory and it was anticipated that 5G would have a significant impact on productivity.
· Improved connectivity meant that businesses no longer needed to be based in cities and improvements locally meant that the benefits of an urban lifestyle could be found in a beautiful place. 5G had been a huge success, not just for Worcester or Malvern but for the whole county. It was something that set Worcestershire apart from other regions.
· The Worcestershire economy could be described as ‘a thousand flowers that bloom’ with no single specialism and no one huge employer. The economy was mainly small to medium enterprises with a different make up in each district.
· In October 2018 the WLEP had launched BetaDen, the county’s first Technology Accelerator. This recognised the shift to the technology sector and aimed to give companies accelerated support.
· In relation to skills development, the WLEP was working with every middle and high school in the county to deliver support in line with curriculum requirements.
· The Energy Strategy was a large piece of ongoing work which included ambitious carbon saving targets.
· Despite Brexit, inward investment was strong and the development of Worcester 6 was highlighted. This was a good logistics site and had also attracted businesses from many different sectors.
· The WLEP had hosted a number of foreign delegations including delegations from France and Israel looking at security technology, involving companies from across Worcestershire. The aim was to create a cluster of companies in ‘Cyber Valley’ with a strong reputation within the UK and internationally.
· The annual Skills Show had been held at Chateau ... view the full minutes text for item 1099.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Families, the Lead Commissioner – Early Health, and the Children’s Clinical Service Manager, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust (WHCT) had been invited to the meeting to update the Board on the assessment and diagnostic pathway for children and young people who may be on the autistic spectrum (the Umbrella Pathway).
By way of introduction the Board received a presentation, during which the following main points were raised:
· The Board had previously been updated in February 2018. Since then a local area inspection of services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) had taken place. This highlighted the need for partnership working and whole system leadership.
· In December 2018 Worcestershire’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) Profile had been published. This estimated that there were 1235 children with autism in Worcestershire, 1111 of whom were of school age. The Umbrella Pathway currently received between 900 and 1000 referrals per year. Analysis of referrals showed a higher than expected level of demand.
· The NHS long term plan recognised this as a national issue. Members were reminded that NICE guidelines recommended a period of watchful waiting.
· The average time taken for the assessment process had risen slightly. As the team worked through the backlog, it was expected that the average time would reduce.
· This should be seen alongside developments in the whole system offer and improvements to the SEND local offer.
· Further work was needed to embed use of the graduated response which schools were encouraged to use when responding to emerging SEN. The service was developing school level inclusion profiles which would inform this work.
· Additional health funding was available for the Umbrella Pathway and mental health and emotional wellbeing services.
· Early help and support for parents had received a positive response.
· An audit of referrals and subsequent action would be undertaken to ensure referrals were appropriate.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and the following main points were raised:
· The Chairman of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Panel reported that she had received emails from parents concerned about the length of time taken for assessment. She expressed concern that the average time on the pathway in 2018 was more than a year and commented that this was unacceptable. If children were diagnosed early enough they would be able to access specialist nursery provision and concern was expressed that children could be missing out due to delays in diagnosis. She asked what level of investment would be needed to ensure parents received an acceptable level of service.
· The Lead Commissioner agreed that current timescales were too long and reminded the Board that the aspiration was to have a maximum assessment time of 6 months. Officers were currently working with the WHCT to put together a business case to achieve this, with an immediate investment of £100k available. The business case, including figures for what extra investment might be needed, would be available in approximately 3 months.
The Transport Operations Manager had been invited to the meeting to update the Board on the development of a new Passenger Transport Strategy for Worcestershire. The Corporate Equality and Diversity Manager was also in attendance.
By way of introduction, the Transport Operations Manager made the following main points:
· Plans for a review of the Passenger Transport Strategy had been initiated at Corporate Strategy Planning week in September 2018.
· The work undertaken by the scrutiny task group (which reported to Cabinet in December 2018) had been valuable.
· In January 2019 Cabinet approved a Passenger Transport Review to investigate levels of need and demand.
· On 6 June Cabinet would be asked to approve the draft Strategy and proceed to a public consultation. It was important to get the strategy into the public domain and local Members could help with disseminating the consultation information to all parts of the county.
· It was suggested that scrutiny Members may wish to visit other areas of the country (such as Nottingham and Leicestershire) to look at how bus services were run.
· The formal consultation would run for three months.
The Corporate Equality and Diversity Manager reminded Members that transport was key to a range of people with protected characteristics. It was essential that the Council did all it reasonably could to ensure the consultation was seen by hard to reach groups. She agreed that local Members would be key in this.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and the following main points were raised:
· A question was asked about whether Shropshire Council had been involved in the discussions, given that some services currently received joint subsidies with Shropshire. In response, Members were told that talking to neighbouring counties was vital and it was confirmed that Shropshire Council had been involved in the development of the Strategy.
· The needs of school and college students (especially FE students) should be considered.
· Although it was important to encourage people onto public transport, the bus services were not currently available to get people out of their cars.
· It was suggested that buses were just part of the picture and discussions should include home-to-school transport, community transport and transport for social care. The Chairman reminded Members that the scrutiny task group had hoped to complete the second part of the scrutiny on community transport.
· The Chairman agreed that Members had a responsibility to get the consultation forms out into their communities. The Transport Operations Manager informed Members that scrutiny could play a vital role in contacting hard to reach groups so that the consultation could get a complete picture and decisions could be made based on robust evidence.
Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Panel
The Panel had recently considered congestion and cycling as a follow up to discussions on LTP4. Good progress was being made. There had been some concern about the end of the Choose How You Move scheme which had reduced congestion and increased car sharing and bus use. The Panel felt it would helpful to look at this again. The Chairman of the Board welcomed work in this area and emphasised the importance of encouraging parents and pupils to walk or cycle to school.
Adult Care and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Panel
The Panel had recently looked at Delayed Transfers of Care, jointly with the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
A scrutiny task group to consider Quality Assurance of Care and Nursing Homes was currently being set up.
Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Although the Chairman of HOSC had not been able to attend the meeting, he had provided a written update as follows:
· The new Chief Executive of the Acute Trust had attended a recent meeting to outline his programme of improvement and performance management. The Trust was currently going through the CQC inspection process.
· The Chairman had also met with representatives of the CCGs. The CCGs were preparing to consult on proposals for a merger at managerial level and this consultation would be launched within a month or so.
Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Panel
The Family Front Door Scrutiny Task Group was ongoing and was aiming to conclude before the end of the school term.
A meeting with the Chief Executive of the County Council had agreed a way forward with regard to scrutiny of Worcestershire Children First. The Chairman of the Board agreed that this had been a helpful meeting and emphasised the need to ensure the conclusions were followed through.
A report on a new model of delivery for the Medical Education Team which had been due to come to Cabinet in June had now been delayed until October. There was some concern in schools about this delay and the Chairman of the Panel undertook to raise these concerns with the Director of Children, Families and Communities.
A report on the Future Provision of Overnight Unit-Based Short Breaks for Children with Disabilities would be considered by the Panel on 4 June, ahead of a Cabinet discussion on 6 June. This report would need careful consideration and there may be a need to reconvene the scrutiny task group.
Scrutiny Work Programme
The Chairman reminded Members that they should let the Scrutiny Team have any ideas for the 2019/20 Scrutiny Work Programme. The draft programme would be considered by the Board in July.
The Democratic Governance Manager reminded Members that the Government had recently published statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny, which although not directive, there was a need for the Council to have regard to. She undertook to circulate the document to Members. The guidance should be borne in mind by the Board when considering the 2019/20 ... view the full minutes text for item 1102.