Agenda and minutes
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 Councillors John Harrington and Ange Tyler.
Councillors David Hitchiner, Pauline Crockett and Gemma Davies attended the meeting remotely and did not vote on the decisions taken.
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.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meetings held on 23 September and 30 September 2021.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meetings held on 23 September and 30 September 2021 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.
To receive questions from members of the public.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.
Questions from councillors
To receive questions from councillors.
There were no questions from councillors.
To endorse the draft Strategic Improvement Plan and draft Operational Plan.
The cabinet member children and families introduced the item and explained that the draft plan had been widely circulated and feedback received had been taken on board. The operational plan was designed to be a live document so would be updated regularly. A number of updates and briefings had been provided to all councillors on this plan.
Cabinet members queried the steps being taken to improve recruitment and retention of staff and heard that this was a regional and national challenge. They also noted that financial support had been provided from the earmarked reserve for children’s services improvement and that it was hoped additional financial support would be forthcoming from the Department for Education.
Thanks were expressed to everyone who had contributed to the plans and to staff working on the front line of the service.
The chairperson of the children and young people scrutiny committee commented on the plan saying that:
· The majority of the plan was felt to be good;
· The scrutiny committee had not yet formally reviewed the plan;
· The role of scrutiny going forward had still to be shaped;
· SEND was not mentioned enough in the plan;
· There was a lack of detail on how talk community could be involved.
It was noted that, if the grant funding bid was successful, some of that resource might be used to develop the work on areas such as talk community. Councillors had played an important role in putting the plan together and it was hoped this would continue.
Group leaders and representatives generally welcomed the plans. It was highlighted that:
· The way the plans were implemented would be key;
· The plans represented the start of the journey;
· Many of the issues identified had been highlighted in the past, it was hoped this plan would produce lasting improvement;
· The phrase ‘family centred county’ was suggested in place of ‘child centred’ by one group;
· In some areas the financial arrangements needed more detail.
The cabinet member children and families closed the discussion, noting that mechanisms to give assurance were built into the plans and that further work would take place on areas such as the role of talk community.
It was resolved that
a) Cabinet note the activity undertaken to inform and develop our Strategic and Operational Plans;
b) Cabinet endorse the Strategic Plan accepted by the independently chaired Improvement Board on 11 October 2021 in order that it can be presented to the Department for Education, in compliance with the non-statutory improvement notice.
The leader of the council made closing comments expressing the determination of all involved to get this right and that it would require a team effort throughout the council and working with partners. He appealed to communities to support this effort and commended community volunteers who were a vital part of this. Hearing the voice of the child was important and the leader would be exploring ways for him personally to hear from children and young people.
To approve the preferred option to invest in and develop the council’s own care facility in Herefordshire to meet future demand.
The cabinet member health and adult wellbeing introduced the item. She summarised the need for additional care capacity in the county and recommended that option 4 of the feasibility study be taken forward for further investigation.
The acting director for adults and communities summarised the report. He explained that the council met regularly with representatives of the market and that the published market position statement set out the intended direction of travel to a mixed economy with the council investing in its own provision. An 80 bed establishment was economic to run and could provide the type of care at the level required. Recent care home closures had reduced provision.
Cabinet members noted that:
· The report also proposed undertaking a similar feasibility study into care home provision for children and was an example of strategic thinking across the adults and children’s directorates;
· The council needed to meet its statutory responsibilities and prepare for the demands of an aging population;
· It was important to choose the right size of facility and the right location;
· The development would see the future homes standard put into practice;
· A single 80 bed facility would replace the beds lost by recent closures and provide a modest increase, the council might need to bring forward further schemes in the future if this one was successful and demand increased.
Group leaders and representatives commented on the proposals. Option 4 was generally supported, with option 3 a possibility if a suitable property came to the market. It was highlighted that:
· It was important that the facility was managed in a cost effective way, the acting director explained that the council would build on the lessons learned from operating Hillside, which was running successfully and with operating costs comparable with other providers;
· Care needed to be taken not to distort the local market;
· The council needed to be clear what type of provision the proposed facility would provide;
· The council also needed to look at other measures to support people remaining in their own homes, such as tackling fuel poverty.
It was resolved that:
a) Having considered the options appraisal for further development of additional care home facilities in Herefordshire Cabinet approves option 4.
b) Authority is delegated to the Interim Director for Adults and Communities to take all appropriate steps to develop the preferred option in detail, for further consideration of cabinet.
c) A similar options appraisal for new care home or other accommodation for children is prepared for cabinet’s consideration.