Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)
Adrian Stasiak, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Communities and Benefits, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within his portfolio and to answer any questions.
Mr Adrian Stasiak and Mrs Lynda Turner were in attendance in their capacity as Executive Member and Executive Support Member for Communities and Benefits.
Mr Stasiak said that it was a huge portfolio which covered such things as Arts, Pride in Breckland, Sports, PFI/Strategic Sport, Community Development, Youth Engagement and Community Safety as well as the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership. The Support Services Manager (ARP) was present to answer any questions.
Mr Stasiak commended the excellent staff within his Portfolio saying that they gave him terrific support. They were preparing for the inevitable cuts, and as many of their services were discretionary, there were several things that were at risk.
He started his update by asking Members to support the One Stop Bus which would be visiting 16 key rural service centres on a monthly basis to offer better access to Council services.
During 2010 the Portfolio had been involved in the following:
· Successful Film Festival run in 2010 with national press interest
· Theatre Festival planned for summer 2010 with Roger Lloyd-Pack as Patron
· Successful Arts Council bid for art project (rural landscapes) in south of Breckland
· Full holiday arts programme planned for Summer 2010 (details in Voice)
· 95% satisfaction with Arts activities
· 58% increase in participation from 2007/08 to 2009/10
· 572 people participating in arts activities 2009/10
· 28 workshops in 2007/08 compared with 44 workshops delivered in 2009/10
· 300 volunteers engaged in Pride in Breckland project
· Richard Wills – winner of Employee of the Year at Pride in People Awards
· 6 people recruited on 6 month contracts through Future Jobs Fund to form Pride Team
· Breckland Blitz – successful 9 week environmental engagement programme
· Pride in Breckland Corporate Away Days – participation by Tesco and Sainsbury’s
· £1500 raised for Help for Heroes from sale of We Are Proud of You magazine
· World Record attempt to create the worlds longest chain of plastic bottles
· Pride in Breckland Awards being planned for March 2011 at RAF Marham
· 96% satisfaction with Sports activities
· 1956 people participating in sports holiday activities in 2009/10
· Breckland Cricket Festival: 64 Sessions delivered at 8 primary schools with 1500 young people
· 25 local residents given subsidies for coaching certificates in return for services offered to Breckland Council on sports holiday activity programme.
· Sports Unlimited – 3 x 8 week externally funded projects currently running in Thetford and Dereham (Boxing/Dance/Hip-Hop)
· Sport-Specific Holiday Programme – Summer program of 25 sport-specific activities planned across the 5 market Towns for Summer 2010.
· Active Norfolk Rural Bid/The Norfolk Village Games, Breckland – The Norfolk Village Games (Breckland) is being launched as part of the Wayland Celebration of Community and Culture on July 24th at Watton Sports and Social Club.
· Gifted and Talented Grant Award Scheme – 12 local young aspiring athletes funded to the total of £3750 since April.
· Third year of full service operation.
· Satisfaction Survey – highly commendable
· Attendance at both leisure centres has increased
· Partnership with Parkwood working very well
· Training programmes arranged for first aid, child protection and basic food hygiene
· Funding Fair – a huge success and oversubscribed
· Community Car Scheme – ongoing roll out of scheme
· Playbuilder – funding confirmed until end of year. Bawdeswell held up as best practice.
· 33 schools engaged
· 500 young people involved in a range of events/activities
· Youth Select Committee day at Ecotech on 8 July
· Youth Council meetings well attended
· Youth Engagement programme continues to be successful with more schools engaged
· Youth Council member is also UK Youth Parliament representative
· Member of Youth Council attended European Youth Summit in Romania
· Joint Community Safety Team established with Norfolk Constabulary, operating from Elizabeth House
· New £3.5million CCTV system introduced on time and on budget.
· Problem solving projects, working with youths involved with alcohol and anti-social behaviour
· Projects including Kickz (football in the community), Allotment, Right Direction (working with excluded children) and ‘Ball Games’ (setting out rules to prevent ASB during the World Cup)
· Casework on complaints, antisocial behaviour contracts, Business Watch, etc
· LSP – successful in bids for Migration Impact external Funding of £220,000 and future Jobs Fund external funding of £125,000.
· Agreed in principle to St Edmundsbury joining ARP
· Level 5 of Breckland House to be rented out for extra staff
· All performance requirements currently being met
· New website to be launched in August
· Electronic claim forms now available on-line
At this point the Chairman proposed to bring forward Agenda Item 12a (Draft report and minute extract of the ARP Joint Scrutiny Task & Finish Group) to be discussed at the same time.
Mr Rogers told Members that he was the Council’s representative on the Brecks Partnership. He was concerned that Breckland was behind in its payments.
Mr Stasiak explained that Breckland Council was one of five partners that financed the Brecks Project and that part of the initial agreement had been that all five should make their allotted payments. The Council was waiting for payment from some of the other partners before making its payment.
Mr Rogers was concerned that the other partners might be doing exactly the same, waiting for Breckland Council to make its payment, thereby causing a stalemate. There were a lot of projects pending which depended upon the funding.
Mr Stasiak agreed to check the position.
In response to a question from Mr Joel, Mr Stasiak confirmed that the mobile CCTV cameras were not yet available as costs had been higher than expected.
The Chairman commented that the leisure centres were good facilities and he was not surprised that their attendance figures were up. However, he felt that the cafeteria was missing an opportunity for additional income and that the services there could be improved.
Mr Stasiak suggested that he and his Support Member could act as ‘secret shoppers’ to check out the facilities.
Another Member asked if increased visitors to the centres led to increased financial benefit for the Council. Mr Stasiak said this was a good question which he would need to check before he could answer.
The Chairman noted that Mr Stasiak was also Deputy Leader of the Council. He asked him for his thoughts on that role.
Mr Stasiak said that he saw his role as supporting the Leader, being his eyes and ears and acting as a conduit to get information and the thoughts and observations of other Members through to him.
He advised Members that there was a paper about the election of the Leader and Deputy Leader, being presented to the next Cabinet meeting and he suggested that they might want to get involved in that debate.
Discussion then moved on to Item 12a of the agenda (Draft report and minute extract of the ARP Joint Scrutiny Task & Finish Group).
Mr Kybird (Chairman of the Task & Finish Group) explained that the meetings had been held in Thetford and had sought the views of a wide range of officers, including home workers. The draft report would be presented to both Breckland Cabinet and Forest Heath Overview and Scrutiny Committee and any comments would be incorporated into the final report.
The Support Services Manager (ARP) then updated Members on the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership.
On 1 July 2010 the ARP Joint Committee had approved in principle St Edmundsbury joining the partnership. This would provide additional savings of £383,000 over three years and over ten years the conservative estimate was $1,409,660 on top of existing savings. The Council would also receive more direct income as the extended partnership would rent level 5 of Breckland House in Thetford.
He also mentioned that all performance indicators were green; a new website for the partnership would be launched in August; electronic claim forms were now available, speeding up the process and reducing the amount of paper used and a new system of assisted claims (helping people to fill out their forms) was also speeding things up.
The ARP Joint Committee had received a report from the Strategic Manager on the likely effects of the budget. An updated report would be presented to the next meeting when more details were available.
He thanked the Commission for the excellent job that the Task & Finish Group had done, saying that it had sorted out a number of issues and brought out a number of very good ideas. It had been a very robust process which had highlighted the success of the partnership. With the addition of St Edmundsbury the partnership would be the first to include more than three authorities. It was likely that five partners would create the critical mass, beyond which costs would exceed savings. It was therefore possible that in future there might be an ARP 2, or a franchise arrangement to share best practice.
With the forthcoming budget cuts there would be significant opportunities with other authorities over the next two to three years.
He concluded by saying that Members were very welcome to visit to see the way in which the partnership worked.
Mr Stasiak said that he was very impressed with the way that things were proceeding.
Members discussed the success of homeworking and the health and safety and other requirements associated with it.
The Chairman thanked Mr Stasiak, Mrs Turner and the Support Services Manager (ARP) for attending.