Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Governance Support Team 

Link: Watch the recording of this meeting on the Herefordshire Council Youtube Channel

No. Item


Leaders opening remarks


This was the first official meeting held since the funeral of Councillor Peter Jinman. The leader of the council noted how well attended the funeral service was and the many tributes that were paid to an accomplished person who dedicated his life to public service. The sympathies of the whole council remain with his family and friends.




The leader of the council opened the meeting with comments on the publication of the report from the Commission convened to consider families’ experience of children’s services in Herefordshire.


The leader acknowledged the content of the report and promised that the messages in it will not be lost. He thanked the individuals who met with the panel, and also the panel members.


It is a priority of this administration to support and ensure the improvement of services for children and young people and their families in Herefordshire. The report itself poses seven questions for consideration by the council or by the wider safeguarding partnership and it is important to take the time to carefully reflect on these and make meaningful change, without unnecessary delay.   


The cabinet member for children and young people will provide an update in due course and the leader and cabinet member are happy to meet with individual families who shared their experiences with the panel if they wish.





To receive any apologies for absence.


There were no apologies from members of the cabinet.



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.




MINUTES pdf icon PDF 962 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 2 March 2023.


Resolved:       That the minutes of the meeting held on 2 March 2023 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.




Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 504 KB

To receive questions from members of the public.


Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.


Questions from councillors pdf icon PDF 257 KB

To receive questions from councillors.


Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.


Reports from Scrutiny Committees pdf icon PDF 234 KB

To receive reports from the Council’s scrutiny committees on any recommendations to the Cabinet arising from recent scrutiny committee meetings.

Additional documents:


The chairperson of the environment and sustainability scrutiny committee presented recommendations on waste and recycling services arising from the committee meeting of 19 January 2023. The committee felt that progress overall was good but identified a number of areas where further improvements could be made. Eight recommendations were put forward for consideration by the Cabinet.


The cabinet member for environment thanked the committee and the related task and finish group which had preceded the committee for their work. She welcomed the emphasis on the circular economy and proper application of the waste hierarchy.


It was unanimously agreed that the recommendations on the Waste and Recycling report for Herefordshire, made by the Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 19th January 2023 be noted, and that an Executive Response to the scrutiny recommendations be prepared for consideration by the cabinet member for environment within two months.


Ofsted Monitoring Visit Feedback pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To share the feedback from Ofsted inspectors following their first formal Monitoring Visit conducted March 29-30 2023 and activity to prepare for future Monitoring Visits.

Additional documents:


Cabinet members considered a report setting out the feedback received following the first monitoring visit of children’s services by Ofsted, conducted during 29th and 30th March 2023.


The cabinet member children and young people introduced the report and highlighted:

·       Having been found to be inadequate, children’s services at Herefordshire Council will be subject to regular monitoring by the Ofsted inspectorate.

·       The focus of this first visit was the ‘front door’ into the service, including the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) and associated teams. During the inspection in the summer of 2022 there were significant concerns about the front door and the multi-agency response to risk. This monitoring visit noted significant improvement in the functioning of the MASH.

·       The cabinet member visited MASH earlier this week and spoke with staff and one of the mangers. Improvements were noted, including multi-agency strategy meetings being held promptly.

·       The feedback on the poor quality of assessments is disappointing but not a surprise at this stage and is the focus of much attention. Inspectors did find examples of improved practice and were complimentary about the quality of case audits and performance information.

·       No significant safeguarding concerns were raised by inspectors during their visit.

·       Work with the council’s improvement partner starts this month, focused on the quality of practice as well as culture and values in the services.

·       Inspectors praised the leadership of the service for their determination and commitment to improve, noting that they understand the scale of change and have a realistic self-assessment. Staff spoken to by the inspectors were positive about the changes being implemented and about their involvement in that change process.

·       Recruitment remains a challenge and workforce churn is an ongoing issue. The council has some excellent agency and permanent workers and their commitment and passion to keep improving is welcomed.

·       The feedback letter for a first visit is not published by Ofsted but is being shared openly at this meeting as part of the open and honest approach adopted by the service leadership.


Cabinet members discussed the report and it was noted that:

·       It is important to recognise the improvements that have been made and to congratulate staff for these;

·       There are 32 families currently on the waiting list for targeted support (around 70 children), the maximum wait for targeted support has been 5 weeks as the service has been shorted staffed and the service is working hard to create extra capacity;

·       Signs of safety is still available as a tool for staff to use, particularly in child protection work, but the key is to improve the quality of social work practice and to work with the council’s safeguarding partners to have relationship based discussions using any of the tools available;

·       It is estimated it will take up to three years to make the changes needed, there is an ambitious program and capacity will be stretched at times but there is a whole council approach to supporting improvement and when the service has required additional capacity the request has  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Review of New Hereford Library and Learning Resource Centre Location pdf icon PDF 306 KB

To review options for the best possible location of the proposed new Hereford Library and Learning Resource Centre in Hereford city centre.

Additional documents:


Cabinet members considered a report on a proposed review to identify options for the location of the Library and Resource Centre in Hereford. The cabinet member for community services and assets introduced the report and highlighted that the purpose of the proposed pause and review was to find the best possible location for the library.


The cabinet member explained that the library will be displaced as a result of Herefordshire gaining a new and world-class museum. The review will consider if the same ambition can be set for the library and learning resource centre. Demand for retail commercial space at the Maylord Orchards centre remains high and the original plan for a cultural hub in this location is some way off as projects that were due to be clustered with the new library are now locating elsewhere.


The relocation of the library to Friar Street in July 2023 will proceed as planned while the review is undertaken. During this time the opening hours will be similar to those already in place and there will be a redistribution of some services to other parts of the county. The library bus will be updated and renovated and put into use during the time the library is in Friar Street.


Cabinet members discussed the report and it was noted that points raised during the political group consultation will be taken into account during the review.


Group leaders gave the views of their groups. Concerns were expressed about the potential impact of the review particularly in regard to the review coming at a very late stage in the development of the project, the risk to funding from the Stronger Towns Grant and the financial and reputational risks involved. It was queried whether cabinet members had all the information necessary to take the decision to pause and review the project. In response to queries it was noted that:

·       The review will not negatively impact the museum project;

·       The funding plan can be delivered within the set timescale.


It was unanimously resolved:

a)             To undertake an internal review to be reported to cabinet to identify the options for the location in Hereford for the Library and Resource Centre project. Should the outcome of the review require a change to the capital programme, Full Council approval will be required;


b)             To delegate to the Corporate Director for Community and Wellbeing in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Community Service and Assets authority to identify the guiding principles for the proposed review;


c)             To delegate to the Corporate Director for Economy and Environment the authority to cancel all current contractor and related works where necessary to secure recommendation (a) and minimise cost implications.


Quarter 4 Budget & Performance Report pdf icon PDF 413 KB

To review performance for Quarter 4 2022/23 and report the provisional financial outturn for revenue and capital budgets for the year ended 31 March 2023, subject to external audit.


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.

Additional documents:


Cabinet members considered a report setting out the performance from quarter 4 2022/23 and the provisional outturn for revenue and capital budgets for the year ended 31 March 2023.


The cabinet member finance and corporate services introduced the report and explained that the final year-end position for 2022/23 is an overspend of £5.6m, representing 3.2% of the net budget. The overspend has been funded from the financial resilience reserve and is broadly consistent with the plan presented to council as part of the budget in February 2023. The council’s annual accounts have been prepared and published within the statutory deadline.


The cabinet member also highlighted that the council has experienced a number of national pressures during the year, including high inflation and the rising cost of living. Children’s services in particular has seen rising demand for placements and transport services and £10.2m of the £11.5m children’s improvement plan funding has been spent in 2022/23, with the remaining £1.3m carried forward to continue to support transformation and improvement in 2023/24.


Cabinet members discussed the report and it was noted that:

·       Community wellbeing has delivered an underspend of £1.3m, budgets in this area are difficult to forecast and underspends in a number of services are due to clients sadly passing away;

·       In addition to this the community wellbeing directorate has delivered all proposed savings and performed well against measures in the delivery plan with two exceptions, which reflect the increasing needs of people coming out of hospital;

·       The proposed new care home in the capital programme has not progressed as no suitable site has been found and, having reflected on the priority needs, a new direction for this project is being explored to provide bed based provision for working age adults with complex needs as these placements are often out of county and high cost;

·       One piece of land acquired under a compulsory purchase order on the route of the Southern Link Road has been reacquired by the owner exercising their rights under the CPO, this was completed in quarter 3 of 2022/23 and the receipt placed in the capital receipts reserve;

·       The Marches Business Improvement programme has exceeded its targets;

·       The capital programme will be reviewed in the coming weeks;

·       Performance on environment projects has been good with 21 out of 26 projects on track, the wetland at Luston is now fully commissioned and trading credits and the cabinet member will continue to work to find means to see house building restored to the Lugg catchment;

·       30 businesses have now signed up to the ‘30 for 2030’ low-carbon business programme;

·       Delivery of works under the home upgrade grant and green homes grant has been a struggle and the cabinet member will be seeking improved performance in future.


Group leaders gave the views of their groups. It was noted that the overspend in fact represents a huge effort from all areas of the council given the pressures in children’s services and high rate of inflation. Members of the previous administration thanked officers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.