Agenda and draft minutes
Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Monday, 17th January, 2011 5.30 pm
Venue: Brunswick Room - Guildhall, Bath. View directions
Contact: Mark Durnford 01225 394458
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE
The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.
The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Councillor Marian McNeir, Dawn Harris (Secondary School Representative), Tom Forest (DAFBY) and Stefan Di Finizio (DAFBY) had sent their apologies to the Panel. Councillor Simon Allen was present as a substitute for Councillor McNeir.
Councillor Dine Romero had contacted the Panel’s Democratic Services Officer to say that she would be arriving late to the meeting.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST UNDER THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972
Members who have an interest to declare are asked to:
a) State the Item Number in which they have the interest
b) The nature of the interest
c) Whether the interest is personal, or personal and prejudicial
Any Member who is unsure about the above should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer prior to the meeting in order to expedite matters at the meeting itself.
There were none.
TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN
The Chairman announced that she had some handouts available to the Panel on the subject of the Council’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). She had received them at the November meeting of the Healthier Communities and Older People O&S Panel and apologised for not mentioning it at the previous meeting.
ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING
At the time of publication no notifications had been received.
The Chairman announced that both Councillor Simon Allen and Councillor Eleanor Jackson had registered to speak and address the Panel.
Councillor Simon Allen:
I am here to make a statement regarding the Youth Service Review and, more specifically, service changes to Radstock Youth Centre.
When the Youth Service Review came to an end in December it was my understanding that the current levels of service at Radstock Youth Centre would remain until the end of the financial year when the new design targeted Youth Service would come into being. This not only allowed time for the professional Youth Work team to work with the young people around the changes but also allowed the local community time to re-assess their commitment to Youth Work.
However, this is not what has happened in reality. Due to the nature of the Youth Service Review, some staff have taken voluntary redundancy, left their employment or other Youth Service projects have required extra staff. All of these combined have meant that Radstock Youth Centre is now running a dramatically reduced service which has impacted greatly on the level of support it is able to offer the young people of Radstock. This is unfair and denies both the young people and the community the opportunity to plan for the future.
In the past two months two significant events have happened in Radstock. Firstly, a Youth Council has been formed to be the authentic voice of young people in the area. Secondly, the Radstock Youth Partnership has been formed. This body is made up of representatives from local churches, residents associations, community groups, elected representatives and young people themselves.
The community of Radstock wish to take an active part in our Youth Services and our ambition is to retain a universal, open-access service for all our Young People. We realise that working in Partnership with Council Officers is the most positive route forward. However, due to limited consultation with the community and drastic reductions in service has made this more difficult.
Panel, I would ask you to scrutinise three specific areas –
Firstly, the impact, unintentionally or otherwise, that changes to the Youth Service Staffing structures have had on direct Youth Service provision in Radstock.
Secondly, whether legal requirements such as Equality Impact and Risk Assessments have been completed appropriately and accurately reflect the areas which they cover.
Thirdly, the level of engagement that Officers have had with Town and Parish Councils to support and enable the transition towards a reduced Youth Service.
Thank-you for your time and consideration on this matter which could considerably impact the communities of Radstock immediately and in the future.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson:
I apologise for addressing you for a third time, but the situation is truly critical. This week the government will force through a bill to remove the education maintenance allowance which will hit almost all the 257 young people who use the youth services in Radstock very badly, and according to figures published in The Guardian ... view the full minutes text for item 82.
The Panel confirmed the minutes of the meetings held on Monday 22nd November 2010 and Tuesday 14th December 2010 as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chairman.
Council's Pledge to Children in Care
The Panel will view a DVD in connection with this agenda item.
Councillor Chris Watt, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services introduced this item to the Panel. He reminded them that the Pledge was made so that young people in care are aware of what they can expect from the Service and us as Corporate Parents.
The Panel viewed a DVD explaining the details of the Pledge to Children in Care.
The Strategic Planning Officer for Children's Health & Commissioning Service addressed the Panel. She informed them that the In Care Council had made the DVD in 2010 and that it is a challenge for everybody to live up to. She added that Corporate Parenting is a very important role for Councillors and officers to take on. It is hoped that the Pledge will create an environment for all young people in care to achieve better results at school.
The DVD will be sent to all children in care and teachers associated with children in care.
Naina from the In Care Council addressed the Panel. She told them that she had been fostered at the age of 12 and had left care at the age of 16 and that now she was so pleased to be working with young people to provide this much needed support. She added that the In Care Council offers advice and arranges trips for young people and that through the Bring It On initiative they offer further skills to those who are about to leave care.
The Strategic Planning Officer for Children's Health & Commissioning Service wished to thank all who helped to make the DVD and praised them all for the hard work they do. She also wished to highlight the work of Gill Welsh from Off The Record.
The Chairman thanked all involved for making the DVD and on behalf of the Panel thanked everyone for their hard work at the In Care Council.
This report shows the response from the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services following the School Uniform Review conducted by the Panel.
The Chairman introduced this item to the Panel.
The Panel had no further comments to make on the response from the Cabinet Member.
The Chairman wished to thank all the Councillors and officers involved in the review.
This report presents the action plan compiled by the Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Service to respond to the recommendations reported in the Ofsted announced three-yearly inspection of Bath and North East Somerset’s Adoption Service.
The Care and Young People's Service Manager introduced this item to the Panel. He informed them that the inspection had rated the service as ‘Good’ with only three recommendations of an administrative nature to act upon.
The Chairman on behalf of the Panel wished to send congratulations to all members of staff within the service.
Tess Daly commented that she felt the service should be very proud as the nature of the recommendations mainly related to record keeping and that the actual service received was highly praised.
The Care and Young People's Service Manager replied that there had been 1 record of a confidentiality breach whereby details of a sibling had been entered on another sibling’s page. He added that the service does endeavour for its records to be 100% accurate at all times.
The Panel RESOLVED to note:
(i) The report and the action plan and instructs the Divisional Director for Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Service to report on progress with the implementation of the action plan to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel.
(ii) That the Inspection Report is now a public document.
The Childcare Act 2006 requires local authorities to carry out and publish a sufficiency assessment of childcare in their area at least every 3 years. Local authorities carried out their first assessment in 2008 and the next must be completed by April 2011. The draft report is now produced and is available for public consultation. Overview and scrutiny are being consulted as part of this process prior to finalisation of the report for 1st April 2011 and production of a subsequent action plan.
The Business and Performance Manager (Early Years Team) introduced this item to the Panel.
Councillor John Bull thanked him for writing a very interesting report. He commented that historically Paulton had received a lack of childcare supply, but that this was now making some progress. He also asked if the provision of short breaks for disabled children would continue.
The Director of Children’s Services replied that there is to be a 25% reduction in funding available to the services of children with disabilities and that the Council has put out to tender the Play & Short Break Service.
The Business and Performance Manager (Early Years Team) added that he was pleased with the progress being made in Paulton.
Tess Daly asked what the Council could do if it deemed there to be an over-supply of childcare provision.
The Business and Performance Manager (Early Years Team) replied that the Council is an enabler of services and that it could not prevent independent organisations from setting up even if they know that there is an over-supply.
Councillor Marie Longstaff suggested that the report would benefit from having some comments included within it from the users of the service as well the figures gathered from their responses.
The Business and Performance Manager (Early Years Team) replied that he was happy to raise that with the team involved on the report.
The Panel RESOLVED to agree that:
(i) Sufficient quality and sustainable childcare is important for a thriving local economy, both for the user and those employed in childcare.
(ii) At a later date the Panel will review, comment and endorse the action plan arising from the final published Childcare Sufficiency Report 2011.
The Service Action Plan for Children’s Services is presented for consideration by the Panel:
· To enable issues to be highlighted for consideration by Cabinet in February as part of the annual budget setting process.
· To enable issues to be referred to the relevant portfolio holder in advance of Cabinet's consideration of the overall budget.
The Children’s Services Director introduced this item to the Panel. He handed out to them the Equality Impact Assessment that was written alongside the Service Action Plan.
He informed the Panel that he had met recently with Councillor’s Bull and Speirs and that he was due to meet with Councillor Hartley later in the week to discuss the Service Action Plan and overall Budget position.
He reminded the Panel that in June 2010 the Service suffered a substantial reduction in their Area Based Grant. 24% of the grant was removed which equated to £798,000 (non-ring fenced) and £532,000 (ring fenced).
He spoke of how other previous grants that the Service had come to rely on had also come to an end stating that the Service would have £1.5m less this April than it did in April 2010. The Service has also had to make a 5% reduction to its overall budget alongside all the other Council services – this figure is £984,000.
He added that the Service had planned well for this scenario, but said that the future would be challenging.
He spoke of how a number of staff had left the Service on December 31st 2010 and that unfortunately more redundancies were expected to take place on March 31st.
Councillor John Bull wished to congratulate the Children’s Services Director and his staff for their continuing hard work. He also stated how shocked he was at the huge reduction in funding by the Coalition Government to Connexions that was introduced halfway through the financial year. A decision which resulted in careers advice being removed from numerous Year 9 & 10 pupils.
He added that he felt that the reduction in funding to both Shout Out and Bath Contact would be a big loss.
The Children’s Services Director replied that he believed a Careers Advice Information Service could be in line to replace the work done previously by Connexions, but that he was unsure of the timescales involved.
Councillor Marie Longstaff commented that the company she works for, Future Publishing, used to allow staff to take part in a career guidance scheme to help young people and give something back to the community. She wondered if local companies could be asked to become more involved in helping young people with their careers.
The Children’s Services Director replied that he felt that most Secondary Schools at some point invited local businesses in to address the school or specific classes.
Councillor Chris Watt, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services added that maybe Future could offer to print / distribute the In Care Council newsletter.
The Panel RESOLVED to approve the Children’s Services - Service Action Plan as printed.
Children's Services - Future direction for the Service
The Panel will receive a verbal report for this item from the Children’s Services Director.
The Director of Children’s Services introduced this item to the Panel. He said that it was his intention at this meeting to outline some of the issues facing the service and to produce a formal report to the March meeting of the Panel.
He said that there were three main areas for the Service to currently focus on.
1. Academies – A series of successful workshops have been held with all headteachers. The Service needs to assess what the impact would be if all Secondary Schools took the option of applying for Academy status. It would also need to look at the impact this would have on the remaining schools within the Council and if the schools that do become academies need to buy back any services.
2. Development of Social Care for Children – The Service will have to implement any findings from the Lean Review and the Munro Review. This element of the Service will also be rejoining Adult Health, Social Care and Housing which has the potential to be an exciting opportunity to bring all of the services together.
3. Link Services for Children aged 13+ - We will be looking to see if the current configuration of this part of the Service is correct.
The Panel RESOLVED to thank the Director of Children’s Services for the update and looked forward to receiving the written report in March.
Cabinet Member Update
This item gives the Panel an opportunity to ask questions to the Cabinet Member and for him to update them on any current issues.
The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services began his update by addressing the Panel on the matter of the Radstock Youth Service.
He said that he felt there was a danger that people were focussing too much on the input levels of the service and not on the outputs. He spoke of the good and continuing communication between all of the concerned parties.
He informed the Panel that the Service would provide three evening sessions and one afternoon session per week and that this would be led by a staff member from the Radstock Hub.
He added that there was no reason why the current Norton Radstock Town Council could not set a budget that the three incoming local councils would inherit under the new working arrangements.
He then wished to move on and conveyed his real surprise at the actual reduction in grants and funding to the Service and stated there would be difficult times ahead.
He praised all the schools within the Council for increasing their attainment and value added results and staff working with children in care as 50% of pupils had made more than three stages of progress.
He commented that he was concerned about Social Care for Children rejoining Adult Health, Social Care and Housing as he didn’t want any children’s matters to become lost.
Councillor Simon Allen commented that he fully appreciated the work undertaken in reaching the decision regarding the Radstock Youth Service but asked if there had been the proper amount of consultation.
Councillor Dine Romero asked if the Panel could be assured that money from ring fenced grants will go to the right areas.
The Director of Children’s Services replied that any large blocks of grant will be passed through to the areas of need.
Councillor John Bull commented that he agreed with the Cabinet Member’s concerns over Social Care for Children when rejoining Adult Health, Social Care and Housing. He also welcomed the comments relating to the budget setting possibilities of the current Norton Radstock Town Council and called for the Panel to look carefully at the cuts that had been made.
Councillor Chris Watt replied that the Panel will be given a clear undertaking of the process and any future arrangements. He added that the £15,000 that was allocated to the Youth Service at Full Council needed to be allocated following consultation with young people on how it should be spent. He also wished to encourage all local Parish and Town Councils to become more involved in their Youth Service.
Councillor Nathan Hartley commented that the new local working arrangements in Midsomer Norton and Radstock should be seen as a great opportunity.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson asked for responses relating to the budget arrangements to be clarified.
The Council’s Monitoring Officer replied that a continuation of existing budgets is planned. He added that he would update the Panel on this matter on Friday following his meeting with the Political Group Leaders on Thursday.
The Panel RESOLVED to thank the Cabinet Member ... view the full minutes text for item 90.
Children's Services Director's Briefing
The Panel will receive a verbal update on this item from the Director of Children’s Services.
The Children’s Services Director introduced this item to the Panel. He informed the Panel that the Service had received its annual rating and that it had been deemed as ‘performing excellent’ on this occasion. He added that the number of either ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ schools had never been higher.
He wished to assure the Panel that the Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) in relation to the reduction of the Radstock Youth Service was written at the correct time.
The Panel RESOLVED to thank him for his update.
This report presents the latest Overview & Scrutiny Workplan for the panel.
The Chairman introduced this item to the Panel.
Councillor John Bull requested that the Panel receives an update on Youth Homelessness and Radstock Youth Services at their March meeting.
The Panel RESOLVED to agree with these proposals.