Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 12th January, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Bury Town Hall

Contact: Philippa Braithwaite  Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

CA.198

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Andrea Simpson and Councillor James Mason.

CA.199

Declarations of Interest

Members of Cabinet are asked to consider whether they have an interest in any of the matters of the Agenda and, if so, to formally declare that interest.

Minutes:

Councillor Quinn declared a personal interest in respect of all matters under consideration, as he is a member of the Down’s Syndrome Association and a member of the trade union, Unite.

 

Councillor Jones declared a personal interest in respect of the Willow Street item, as he is a governor at Elms Bank school.

CA.200

Public Question Time

Questions are invited from members of the public about the work of the Cabinet.

 

Notice of any question must be given to Democratic Services by midday on Monday, 10 January 2022. Approximately 30 minutes will be set aside for Public Question Time, if required.

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

CA.201

Member Question Time

Questions are invited from Elected Members about items on the Cabinet agenda.  15 minutes will be set aside for Member Question Time, if required.

 

Notice of any Member question must be given to the Monitoring Officer by midday Friday, 7 January 2022.

Minutes:

The following question was submitted in advance of the meeting by Councillor Carol Birchmore:

 

On Appendix 3(A) of the report submitted to Cabinet summarises “explicit Ofsted findings”. Under the Workforce section three issues are included:

1.   The recruitment and retention of social workers, to stabilise the workforce and reduce multiple changes in social worker for children

2.   Manageable caseloads for social workers

3.   The quality of supervision and management challenge to ensure social workers have time to reflect on complex cases

 

At a number of meetings I have attended recently I have listened to discussions about Bury Council’s over reliance on agency staff and social workers in particular have been mentioned, it appears that this has been a problem for some time. I have noticed that the Council’s solution to difficulties it encounters is to recruit highly paid executives who the Council appears to believe will magically come along and sort out all the problems. In fact, according to the MEN in April 2021, Bury has around ten executives who are paid over £100K compared to Salford with around four. In light of the highlighted shortage of social workers would it not be better to consider ways of incentivising recruitment and retention of more on the ground workers to reduce caseloads and provide stability in service delivery? I suspect problems in recruitment and retention of staff are more related to the working conditions than pay.

 

Responding, Councillor Tamoor Tariq reported that a more stable workforce with lower caseloads will be a crucial factor in improving the support we provide. This is challenge is in no way unique to Bury and it is something I will be working on as a key priority together with colleagues in HR, building on work already undertaken over recent weeks, to help Bury stand out as an employer of choice for potential social work recruits. 

 

Benchmarking data looking across Greater Manchester suggests you are also correct that our level of base pay is not out of step with other Councils as you suggest. In order to be successful our work in this area will need to take account of our wider approach to reward as well as creating the environment and conditions where social workers can flourish through our approach to development, wellbeing and engagement for example.

 

A number of measures have already been agreed as initial steps in our strategy here including:

·         The introduction of two managed services to work within the court team and the initial response team to support reduced caseloads and assist in retention – this has reduced caseloads

·         Agreement to an initial additional capacity investment of five new social workers

·         Agreement to cover the costs of social workers’ professional fees each year

·         Agreement to pay a retention bonus after year 1 and Year 2 of £1000 to encourage retention and develop skill in the workforce.

·         A simplified approach to assist in the conversion of agency social care staff to permeant employees where appropriate.

 

In addition to this we are working  ...  view the full minutes text for item CA.201

CA.202

Minutes pdf icon PDF 251 KB

Minutes from the meeting held on 15 December are attached.

Minutes:

It was agreed:

 

Minutes of the meeting held on 15 December 2021 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

CA.203

Council Tax on Empty Properties and Second Homes pdf icon PDF 284 KB

A report from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report regarding the consultation on the proposal to remove the Council Tax discount applied to empty properties and second homes. Members discussed the report, noting the majority of responses had been against the proposal but this had to be weighed against the financial context of the Council. With regards to alternative savings, it was noted that the property portfolio brought in revenue funds and that one off savings was not a sustainable way to address revenue pressures.

 

Decision:

Cabinet:

1.   Considered the outcomes of the consultation exercise attached at Appendix 2; and

2.   Agreed to the removal of the discretionary Council Tax discount for empty properties and second homes with effect from 1 April 2022.

 

Reasons for the decision:

Bury Council, like other local authorities, has seen an increase in demand on public services with reduced funding levels. A number of savings will be proposed to enable it to balance its budget. Some of the savings will affect front line services and may reduce service provision and other savings, like this proposal, have no impact on the levels of service the Council currently provides.

 

The Council has a strategy of bringing long-term empty homes back into use at the earliest opportunity. The return of long-term empty homes back into the community will not provide the complete solution for the demand for homes within the area, but it will play a part in its solution reducing pressure on the existing housing stock. A new level of charges should help encourage the reintroduction of long-term empty properties. Empty homes have a detrimental impact on surrounding areas and can lead to anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of empty properties.

 

The proposal affects a small proportion of Bury’s population for a period of time but can deliver significant income for the Council. Other neighbouring authorities in the Greater Manchester area no longer provide discounts on empty properties or second homes and haven’t done for some time.

 

The policy will reduce the number of empty properties in the Borough and support the Council in achieving a balanced budget for 2022/2023. Recognising that this will protect savings from having to be made from front line services.

 

Other options considered and rejected:

The Cabinet could choose to make no change to the council tax discounts for empty properties; however, alternative proposals would be required to support the production of a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement.

CA.204

Bury Community Stadium, Gigg Lane pdf icon PDF 446 KB

A report from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth and Cabinet Member for Culture and The Economy is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report which sought approval for the Council to engage in negotiations with the Bury Football Supporters Society in relation to a proposed financial contribution in the Gigg Lane Stadium site. Councillor O’Brien and all those present thanked supporters and community groups for their work, as well as James Daly MP for Bury North, local Councillors, and Council officers.

 

Members discussed the report, praising the work and response from the people of Bury, and confirmed their cross-party support for the proposal. It was noted that this was just the beginning, with more work required to ensure the stadium was safe and suitable and ongoing conversations to ensure a one-club, fan-owned club with a successful governance system.

 

Decision:

Cabinet:

1.   Agreed in principle to work with the Bury Football Supporters Society to explore how the Council can provide financial assistance to bring football back to Gigg Lane; and

2.   Agreed that a further report be submitted to a future meeting of Cabinet seeking approval to any funding proposals.

 

Reasons for the decision:

Gigg Lane is an important community asset, and the Council has been asked to help with the process of re-commissioning and re- developing the facility.

 

The proposals to re-commission Gigg Lane as a football venue are complex and the plans involve a considerable amount of risk and challenge. Given the community benefits associated with the project it is right that the Local Authority play a proactive role in working with the various stakeholders.

 

Other options considered and rejected:

The alternative option is for the Council to not offer support however a solution must be found for the future of the Gigg Lane site, as it currently sits an abandoned building in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.

CA.205

Bury Town Centre Governance pdf icon PDF 267 KB

A report from the Leader Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report which proposed governance arrangements for the implementation of projects planned for Bury town centre, including the Bury Market Flexi Hall. In response to Members’ questions it was noted that a report on the establishment of the Regeneration Programme Board and the Programme Management Office would be brought to Cabinet before the end of the municipal year.

 

Decision:

Cabinet:

1.   Approved the creation of a Bury Town Centre Advisory Panel with the terms of reference set out in section 2 of the report; and

2.   Approved the arrangements for governance of the implementation of the Bury Flexi Hall, as set out in section 3 of the report.

 

Reasons for the decision:

The full range of developments currently being planned for Bury town centre will have a significant impact on the economic, environmental and social development of the Borough as a whole. The outcomes that can be achieved will play a key role in delivering the Let’s Do It strategy. The proposals for their governance set out in this report are designed to bring long term coherence and an inclusive approach to leadership.

 

Other options considered and rejected:

None.

CA.206

Approval of terms to dispose of the former CPU Kitchen site on Willow Street, Bury for the development of specialist/supported housing for adults with a physical and/or sensory disability or learning disability - PART A pdf icon PDF 313 KB

A report from the Cabinet Member for Housing Services is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Clare Cummins, Cabinet Member for Housing Services, presented the report which sought approval for the disposal of Council-owned brownfield land in Bury, which had the potential to provide much needed supported housing for young adults with a physical and/or sensory disability or learning disability. Full financial details were contained in Part B of this report. Members voiced their support for this scheme and the support it provided for those with disabilities. It was noted that the housing would be built to the latest low carbon and eco-friendly standards and, in response to a Member’s question, Councillor Cummins undertook to report back outside the meeting as to whether provision for electric car parking was included. It was also noted that this site would also be subject to a planning application.

 

Decision:

Cabinet:

1.   Approved the disposal of this site for supported living in accordance with the terms included within Part B of this report; and

2.   Delegated the finalised terms of the agreement to the Director of Economic Regeneration and Capital Growth in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance, the Cabinet Member for Housing Services, S151 Officer and Monitoring Officer.

 

Reasons for the decision:

To facilitate the Councils Brownfield first approach to housing delivery, to accelerate the delivery of specialist accommodation to help meet the requirements of young adults with additional support needs, and to reduce revenue cost to the Council for holding, maintaining, and securing long-term derelict sites.

 

Other options considered and rejected:

Do nothing: Bury has high levels of housing need for specialist accommodation and supply is required in the marketplace immediately.

 

Market the site: Irwell Valley are proposing to deliver a bespoke supported housing scheme which would not be delivered in the current housebuilding marketplace.

 

The Council is currently disposing of 50+ additional sites through the Accelerated Land Disposal Programme. Capacity is limited and there is an acute shortage of specialist accommodation in the Borough. This disposal is ‘oven ready’, allowing resources to be spent unlocking other brownfield housing sites.

CA.207

Inspection of Children’s Services pdf icon PDF 373 KB

A report from the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Tamoor Tariq, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills, presented the report which informed Cabinet of the findings of an Ofsted inspection of the Council’s children’s services. The inspection found the services to be inadequate. The report explained the form of intervention by the Secretary of State for Education and the action already taken to implement improvements. The report also sought approval to the framework for an Improvement Plan which the Council will submit to the Department for Education by 31st March 2022.

 

Members discussed the report thoroughly, noting the less severe interventions recommended for Bury, being a DfE advisor rather than commissioner. The advisor would work with the Council to develop the improvement plan and feedback regularly to DfE on progress made.

 

In response to Members’ questions it was noted that pressures had been known internally for some time with work underway before the inspection to address problems. This work was recognised in the Ofsted inspection and means the Council was in a better position to progress and implement changes. Members debated the briefings given to Opposition Members, but it was stated that these problems should be above party politics. With regards to scrutiny, this had been encouraged and a dedicated Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee set up to recognise this.

 

Councillor Tariq advised that, as Cabinet Member, he had been raising concerns for a long time and had been taking actions to improve the situation, and it was noted this was a managerial failure not a political one. Councillor Tariq advised that it was the responsibility of the Council as a whole to fix these problems, and he was confident we would do.

 

Decision:

Cabinet:

1.   Noted the Ofsted report following the inspection of the Council’s children’s services; and

2.   Approved the framework for the Improvement Plan attached at Appendix 2.

 

Reasons for the decision:

To take swift and decisive action to address the areas for improvement identified by Ofsted.

 

Other options considered and rejected:

None.

CA.208

Urgent Business

Any other business which by reason of special circumstances the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.

CA.209

Appointment of Mayor/Deputy Mayor

Minutes:

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, confirmed that Councillor Shaheena Haroon was currently Deputy Mayor and therefore Mayor elect for the forthcoming year, and he proposed that Councillor Sandra Walmsley be appointed as Deputy Mayor. Members praised Cllr Walmsley’s work in the borough, her dedication, empathy, and understanding of the borough and her ability to connect with its residents.

 

It was noted that should either of these Councillors lose their seats in the upcoming election, new candidates would be brought forwards to the Democratic Arrangements Forum and then on to full Council.

 

Decision:

That Council be recommended to appoint Councillor Shaheena Haroon as Mayor and Councillor Sandra Walmsley as Deputy Mayor for the Civic year 2022/23.

CA.210

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider passing the appropriate resolution under Section 100 (A)(4), Schedule 12(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the reason that the following business involves the disclosure of exempt information as detailed against the item.

Minutes:

Decision:

That the press and public be excluded from the meeting under Section 100 (A)(4), Schedule 12(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, for the reason that the following business involves the disclosure of exempt information as detailed against the item.

CA.211

Approval of terms to dispose of the former CPU Kitchen site on Willow Street, Bury for the development of specialist/supported housing for adults with a physical and/or sensory disability or learning disability - PART B

A report from the Cabinet Member for Housing Services is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Clare Cummins, Cabinet Member for Housing Services, presented the Part B report which contained the full financial details.

 

Decision:

Cabinet:

1.   Approved the disposal of this site for supported living in accordance with the terms included within Part B of this report.

2.   Delegated the finalised terms of the agreement to the Director of Economic Regeneration and Capital Growth in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance, the Cabinet Member for Housing Services, S151 Officer and Monitoring Officer.

 

Reasons for the decision:

As set out for the Part A report.

 

Other options considered and rejected:

As set out for the Part A report.