Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)
Lynda Turner, Executive Member for Localism, Community and Environmental Services, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within her portfolio and to answer any questions.
Mrs Turner, Executive Member for Localism, Community and Environmental Services had been invited to update the Commission on current issues within her portfolio.
She explained that it was a wide ranging portfolio which she had taken over in May and it had been a rapid learning curve. She updated Members on the key issues under the headings of Communities and Environmental Services.
The Arts and Sports programme offered residents of all ages a wide range of activities and since April over 6,000 had taken part. The Breckland Book Festival was about to launch. Successful funding bids had provided £6,000 for the budget for the next year.
The LSP and Pride Group worked hand in hand and efforts were being made to minimise bureaucracy and reduce duplication. The Pride brand was well recognised in the community. The 12 Days of Christmas was a project aimed at encouraging goodwill and support for local groups and charities within the Breckland area.
The Community Safety Team was delivering quality work which had been recognised by other authorities. Joint working enabled a quick response to problems.
Consultations were taking place to investigate the possibility of providing CCTV input to South Holland District Council.
The Youth and Older People’s Forums were well supported. 45 applications had been received for the current vacancies on the Youth Council.
The recent Older People’s Forum had been a success with very positive feedback. A shadow Committee had been formed and there would be an Annual General Meeting held in the New Year.
The Environmental Awareness Officers had moved up to join the Community Services Team and they were currently working on the Jubilee Wood Project.
Emergency Planning Work continued to ensure the Council’s resilience in the event of a disaster.
The Communities Team was undergoing a complete restructure.
The Officer Team had been restructured from 8.5 to 5 full time members of staff.
The possibility of offering Enforcement help to South Holland in exchange for assistance with carbon restructuring was being discussed.
Problems with litter and fly-tipping needed a cultural change and one option being considered for dealing with offenders was Restorative Justice, in place of a fine. Fly-tippers would still be prosecuted where appropriate.
The extension to the Serco contract would be discussed at the Commission meeting on 17 November 2011. The current contract ran until 2015 with the potential for a ten year extension.
There had been a lot of talk about the additional £250million allocation for waste collections, on the news. Residents views would be sought in response to that, but when consulted previously residents had opted for a fortnightly collection and there was a very small complaint rate associated with that service.
Mr Rogers asked if the Council would be entitled to a share of the £250million if they opted to stay with fortnightly collections and the Executive Member agreed to find out.
The Vice-Chairman drew attention to a fly-tipping problem in Dereham which he was having problems resolving because it was taking place on private land. The Executive Member agreed to look into the case.
Mr Bambridge was concerned at proposals to amalgamate the LSP and Pride groups. They had two different funding streams and dealt with different issues. He agreed that it was OK to amalgamate staff but he commended the Executive Member to keep the two separate.
Mrs Turner explained the reasoning behind the proposed consolidation. Currently many of the same people sat on both Boards and there was often poor attendance of named Members at the LSP. She assured Mr Bambridge that the Council would still receive the Second Homes Council Tax funding and would continue to support smaller projects.
Mr Bambridge was worried that there would be a danger of losing some of the people and groups that applied for the smaller grants and he asked the Executive Member to ensure that that did not happen. On another point he asked how Restorative Justice could be used when it was up to the Justice system to impose any penalty.
Mrs Turner acknowledged the comments re Pride and then explained that the Council was keen to avoid the cost of the court system, especially in cases where it was unlikely that any fine imposed would be paid. They were in discussions with the police about the possibility of using Restorative Justice and were keeping all options open.
The Chairman thanked the Executive Member for her update.