Agenda and minutes
- Attendance details
- Agenda frontsheet PDF 139 KB
- Agenda reports pack
- 1: Report on Inspection of Herefordshire Children's Services PDF 590 KB
- 2: correction to appendix 1 of Annual review of earmarked reserves PDF 123 KB
- 3: correction sheet to item 11 - Quarter 1 Budget & Performance Report PDF 149 KB
- 4: questions from councillors PDF 412 KB
- 5: questions from members of the public PDF 220 KB
- Printed minutes PDF 242 KB
Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Sarah Buffrey
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillor Liz Harvey.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
The leader of the council invited declarations of interests from cabinet members following the advice of the deputy monitoring officer to cabinet members that any cabinet member who was also a Hereford City Councillor should not take part in the debate or vote on agenda item 8 relating to the future of the Town Hall. Councillors Diana Toynbee and Ange Tyler left the room during discussion of this item and did not vote on the decision.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2022.
A correction to the minutes of the meeting held 28 July 2022 was reported. The apologies should have read as being received from Cllr Gemma Davies, Cllr Ellie Chowns and Cllr Ange Tyler.
Resolved: That, with the correction as reported, the minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2022 be approved as a correct record.
To receive questions from members of the public.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.
To receive questions from councillors.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.
Reports from Scrutiny Committees
Oral reports from the Council’s scrutiny committees on any matters arising from recent scrutiny committee meetings.
There were no reports for this meeting.
To present the recently published report detailing the findings of the inspection by Ofsted inspectors of Herefordshire Council children’s services in July 2022 and to outline both the action taken immediately and since the inspection to address some of the concerns raised, and the implications of the Statutory Direction issued by the Secretary of State.
The cabinet member children and families introduced the report and highlighted that the published Ofsted report would also be debated at Council on 30 September. The inspection had concluded that the overall effectiveness of the council’s children’s services was inadequate. The cabinet member accepted the judgement and apologised to children, young people and their families who have not received the support that they needed when they needed it.
The cabinet member highlighted key points of the report and that:
· The council was not complacent about the current and historical challenges and welcomed the additional support provided;
· The leadership team had acted quickly to address immediate concerns raised during the inspection and agreed with the priorities for focus;
· All cases identified as being potentially at risk were reviewed and action taken to increase capacity where needed;
· Inspectors had met many dedicated and committed social workers and managers;
· Partnerships and multi-agency arrangements are mentioned in three of the nine key areas for improvement and would require both a whole council and multi-agency response.
Following the inspection the Department for Education issued a Statutory Direction to Herefordshire Council and the Secretary of State appointed a commissioner for children’s services. The commissioner spoke to introduce herself and to explain her role and approach to supporting the improvements that were needed.
Cabinet members discussed the report and noted that:
· The whole council would need to work together to deliver the improvements required and all cabinet members would be considering how to support this;
· The new leadership team was now in place and would work with the external support provided;
· Progress would be reported to cabinet on a regular basis, the required action plan would be approved in December and Ofsted would undertake quarterly monitoring visits which would be reported on to both cabinet and the children and young people scrutiny committee;
· Additional support was being provided to children’s services and recruitment to additional posts was in progress, including to business support roles.
Group leaders put forward the views and queries of their respective groups. In response to queries raised it was noted that:
· The deterioration despite the issues raised in previous inspections was concerning;
· All cases of concern identified during the inspection had been audited and reviewed;
· The service performance framework and data reporting was being built almost from scratch and improving management line of sight;
· The external support provided by the commissioner for children’s services was welcomed.
The leader of the council concluded the discussion and challenged all those involved to consider what would be different this time to ensure improvement was delivered.
It was resolved that:
a) Cabinet receive and note the Ofsted inspection report;
b) Cabinet note any comments and recommendations from the extraordinary council meeting to be held on 30 September 2022, these to be considered prior to the submission of the action plan to Ofsted by 20 December 2022;
c) Cabinet to receive updated reports until further notice of actions taken and improvements against the inspection report; and
d) The ... view the full minutes text for item 151.
To agree which of the presented recommendations, if any, offer a preferred way forward regarding the future of the Town Hall and 10 St. Owens Street and, to invite Cabinet to propose alternative recommendations for further development and consideration.
The cabinet member commissioning, procurement and assets introduced the report. An amendment to recommendation (a) in the report was noted where the proposed transfer of the freehold would be to Hereford City Council or its nominee.
Cabinet members discussed the report and it was highlighted that:
· The preferred outcome was to transfer the freehold of the Town Hall so that Hereford City Council could remain in its historic home;
· Transfer of the freehold would allow the primary user of the building to own and control it;
· There was public support for retention of the building as a public building;
· The council had many pressures on its finances and a transfer would allow the city council to take their plans for the building forward.
Group leaders presented the views and queries of their groups. There was support for the retention of the building as a public building and for the transfer to the city council. In response to queries raised it was noted that:
· The heads of terms would be subject to further discussion and the council did not want to shackle the agreement;
· Work to address dry rot was due to start imminently and detail of other works required would be provided in writing.
It was resolved that:
a) Subject to agreement of head of terms by 31 December 2022, to transfer the freehold of the Town Hall and No. 10 St Owens Street to Hereford City Council or its nominee with the transfer to be completed by 31 October 2023, and in the event that these deadlines are not met to complete an option appraisal which will include disposal on the open market; and
b) The Director of Resources and Assurance be authorised, subject to consultation with the Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Procurement and Assets, to take all operational decisions necessary to implement the preferred recommendation.
Following the cabinet decision to establish a cabinet working group on 28th July 2022, Cabinet is asked to note the Terms of Reference and Membership for the 'Phosphates Commission - Restoring the River Wye’.
The cabinet member infrastructure and transport introduced the report and summarised the background to the establishment of the cabinet commission. Following rejection of a request to establish a water protection zone the council had explored what more it could do to address the pollution of the county’s rivers and associated issues. Following approval in principle at the cabinet meeting on 28 July work had taken place over the summer to scope the terms of reference. Commissioners had been nominated by both Powys and Monmouthshire County Councils. It was hoped that with positive engagement from national agencies and other stakeholders the commission would identify what more the local planning authority could do to move the planning regime for both agriculture and new housing development to demonstrate full Nutrient Neutrality for all new planning applications within the LPA area by April 2025.
Cabinet members discussed the report and noted that:
· National government policy needed to protect the environment and the council would continue to lobby for this;
· An equality impact assessment should be carried out at the beginning of the process;
· The council would look at using its wellbeing powers rather than regulatory powers to achieve change;
· The commission would work alongside the nutrient management board.
Group leaders presented the comments of their groups. The collaboration with neighbouring councils was welcomed and it was hoped that by working together more could be accomplished. In response to queries it was noted that:
· The motions agreed at Council relating to water quality would be considered as part of the work of the commission;
· The commission would not duplicate the work of the nutrient management board and would be able to do and look at things that the board cannot.
The chairperson of the environment and sustainability scrutiny committee spoke on the recommendations made by the committee and responses made by the executive. He reported that the scrutiny committee backed the establishment of the commission and was pleased to see the council taking this forward.
The interim delivery director waste transformation and wetland project explained that the commission was a voluntary piece of work by the council, which would have no statutory powers to direct agencies but could make recommendations following a call for evidence. The regulatory bodies, that is Natural England, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales, were willing to work with the council so far as they could and the terms of reference for the commission had been discussed with them. There were concerns regarding duplication and how the commission would manage the emerging national policy framework, however the stated intention of the council was for the commission to work with the nutrient management board and for it to produce recommendations that were deliverable.
It was resolved that:
Cabinet agreed the Terms of Reference and the Membership for the ‘Cabinet Commission – Restoring the River Wye’.
The meeting adjourned at 4:33pm and resumed at 4:39pm.
To note and review the earmarked reserves held by the council.
The leader of the council introduced the report setting out the council’s reserves and the purposes for which they were held. The current difficult economic situation was highlighted and the Section 151 officer was asked to provide information on any circumstances where reserves might be available to support the budget for 2023/24.
The Section 151 officer explained that some balances could not be readily accessed for other uses. Other reserves were specifically designed to help manage economic shocks and funding uncertainty. A written response would be provided with more detail.
Cabinet members discussed the position set out in the report and it was noted that:
· The implementation of 20mph speed limit zones was welcomed and delivered on a commitment made following a motion to Council;
· Support for road safety and active travel measures for young people was a positive use of the public health reserves;
· Development of the building retrofit supply chain was very important in a climate of high energy costs;
· The projects would have a positive impact on the council’s equality duty.
Group leaders gave the views of their respective groups. There was support for progressing the 20mph zones and reducing the backlog of traffic regulation orders as these were regularly raised by parish councils and the public. In response to a challenge on the use of reserves to further development of the eastern river crossing business case, cabinet members noted that the project would not be looking at the route previously considered.
It was resolved that:
a) Cabinet note the earmarked reserves balances held at 31 March 2022 as at Appendix 1; and
b) Approve the following movements in reserves to fund the following projects:
a. Implementation of countywide 20mph speed limit zones £1.2m;
b. School travel plan support £0.31m;
c. Building retrofit and supply chain development £0.58m;
d. Further development of the Eastern River crossing business case £1m;
e. Reducing the backlog of Traffic regulation orders and carrying out further signing and lining £0.66m
To review performance for Quarter 1 2022/23 and the forecast budget outturn for the year.
To provide assurance that progress has been made towards delivery of the agreed revenue budget and service delivery targets, and that the reasons for major variances or potential under-performance are understood and are being addressed to the cabinet’s satisfaction.
The forecast 2022/23 outturn shows a net overspend of £9.4 million.
The leader of the council introduced the report and highlighted some of the key achievements of the first quarter of 2022/23. Pressures on the budget were also noted including the impact of inflation, pay awards and national difficulties in supply chains. The efforts of the leadership team and officers to adjust and rework programmes accordingly were recognised.
Cabinet members highlighted key points in the report relating to their portfolios.
Group leaders gave the views of their respective groups. In response to queries raised it was noted that:
· Recovery plans had not shown much impact yet but should start to bite soon;
· An additional grant had been given to Beryl bikes, the cabinet member would provide further detail in writing;
· The cost of all raw materials had increased so even basic maintenance cost more;
· Cabinet and the scrutiny management board were working to explore all options to manage the challenges posed.
It was resolved that:
Cabinet, having reviewed performance and financial forecast for the year 2022/23 as set out in the appendices A-E, has not identified any additional actions to be considered to achieve future improvements.