Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee – 11 January 2017

The Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be meeting early in the new year to consider several issues that affect Warwickshire residents. The varied agenda includes:

  • The findings of the Air Quality Task and Finish Group
  • An update on progress towards a rail development at Galley Common / Stockingford
  • An update on the work of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership

The agenda for the meeting, which takes place at 2pm on 11 January at Shire Hall, Warwick, is available online here. If you would like to speak at the meeting,  or ask a question to the committee related to the agenda, please contact Stefan Robinson by Friday 6 January 2017.

air-quality

Stefan Robinson

Senior Democratic Services Officer
01926 4128079
stefanrobinson@warwickshire.gov.uk

Transitions of Mental Health Services – we’d like to hear from you!

Scrutiny Members have responded to concerns that have been raised about the inconsistencies in the transition of young people from CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to adult mental health services by setting up a joint Task and Finish Group that is focusing on the following areas:

  • Information sharing to parents/carers and individuals about future service provision beyond 16 years of age
  • Communication between various key agencies
  • Procedures and arrangements affecting parents/carers.
  • Carers assessments – how these are being offered.
  • The need for a clear pathway for the transition between services.

Have you or someone you care for had any need to use CAMHS services and experienced the transition either between different CAMHS services or between CAMHS and adult mental health services?   If so, we would like to hear from you – both good and bad experiences, and what you think would have made your life easier.

Please send your response to democraticservices@warwickshire.gov.uk.

Patient Power

Schools Out?

There’s been lots of media coverage recently about the government’s reform of the education system. Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, has been far from slow in driving forward his desire to give schools more freedom and independence. But what’s the situation in Warwickshire? Councillors are about to embark on a focused review to find out…

Following legislation in 2011, we are seeing more and more maintained schools converting to “Academies”, which receive their funding directly from central government – rather than via the Local Authority.

These Academies are free to manage all sorts of things in their own way:

  • The way they offer places to pupils (their “admissions” procedure)
  • How they deliver the curriculum
  • Management of the school, including who sits on their governing body and who they employ
  • School term dates and the length of the school day

The government has also made it far easier for parents and interested groups to set up their own “Free Schools”, which are essentially brand-new schools that have all the same freedoms of an Academy.

Posing questions

But what does this mean for the Local Authority? Until now, we’ve played a central role in the school system, with responsibility for all sorts of things, such as:

  • Distributing funding to schools, and monitoring how it is spent
  • Co-ordinating admissions and the number of places available at each school
  • Employing and advising school staff
  • Managing school facilities and sites

Traditionally, the Local Authority has also provided a range of services that schools “buy back” from us, such as catering, admissions appeals, school transport, maintenance and cleaning. What’s the future for these services in Gove’s new world?

As you’d imagine, there are many questions and unknowns for Local Authorities at this time regarding their relationship with schools. It’s one of the hottest topics across all of local government.

Seeking answers

A small group of our Councillors in Warwickshire are about to start work on exploring these questions in real detail. They’ll be meeting regularly over the coming months to examine evidence, interview witnesses, probe experts and review policy.

What will this achieve? Well, they will be aiming to put forward some useful and practical ideas for the Council to put into action. Perhaps around the type of information that parents have access to when considering a school; or maybe a protocol for how Academies could work with the Local Authority to maintain community engagement.

There is certainly lots to look at. And we’ll be reporting back here with updates from the review as it progresses.

If you have any views or suggestions for what the Councillors should consider, then do let me know via richardmaybey@warwickshire.gov.uk

How bus services cuts have affected local communities

Have you been left waiting?

Councillors have just begun a scrutiny review of the impact that bus service cuts have had on local communities. The review aims to find the places in the County that have been hardest hit and find ways to improve their services.

Councillors have highlighted this issue because it affects so many people and impacts on all kinds of other areas like jobs, education, health, and leisure. The Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently hosted a meeting for people to talk about transport problems; some of the major issues that we picked up were:

  • Working people not being able to get to shift jobs on time
  • Young people not being able to get home from night-time jobs at pubs or restaurants
  • Older people who couldn’t get to their local hospital or doctor’s surgery
The review will run from now through to September, with Councillors reporting their findings at the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 19 September. For scrutiny that is quite a short review for a major topic but it means the review can feed into the Council’s budget setting process for next year.

If you’re a bus user then tell us about your experiences – are the services in your area regular enough? Are you able to access work, your doctor’s practice, the local hospital, shopping facilities etc.? The more responses we have the better.

You can get in touch by emailing me at daveabbott@warwickshire.gov.uk or leaving a comment below.

Getting to the heart of young people’s issues

Young people discussing their concerns with Councillors

Warwickshire has a vibrant pool of young people engaged in politics and democracy, with lots of ideas and issues they want to see addressed. They now have a clearer route into the County Council to raise awareness of those issues…

Last night, two of our leading County Councillors met with Warwickshire VOX (Local Youth Councils) and local Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs) to gain a better understanding of the issues that matter to young people. The idea was to:

  • Establish a dialogue, so that communication between Councillors and young people is better
  • Listen to issues of concern for young people, and how Councillors can try to address these concerns
  • Work out how young people can be more involved in decision making in Warwickshire

We’re pleased to say the meeting went really well. MYPs and VOX members really got their concerns across to the Councillors on a range of matters, including:

  • Youth unemployment
  • Bus services
  • Negative stereotyping of young people in the media

Councillors valued the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the challenges being faced, and have now committed to meeting formally with VOX and MYPs every term to try and address them.

There is also a commitment to getting young people more involved in Council decision making and scrutiny. We’ll keep you up to date with how this goes.

As always, we’d welcome your views on this story – or any other Council matters. Please get in touch via email or Twitter, or post a comment below.

Street Lighting Scrutiny Review

Photo used under a creative commons licence from Flickr user Cmaj7

Last week we kicked off a scrutiny review looking at some major upcoming changes to street lighting in Warwickshire.

Warwickshire County Council has set itself a target to save £500k per year from the street lighting electricity bill. This will mean that around 39,000 (80%) lights will have to be switched off in the early hours of the morning. To operate the lights on this ‘part-night’ basis requires the purchase and installation of a central management system that will cost £1.64 million of capital investment.

The scrutiny review will be looking at the following areas:

Timing of the switch-off
Should it be a phased switch-off over a number of weeks? Or should all of the lights be switched off at the same time?

Which lights will stay on?
What criteria is being used to decide the 20% of lights that will be staying on? Is it fair?

Public consultation
How have the Council engaged with residents and have they listened to what they have to say?

What will be the impact on communities?
Will there be any impact on road safety, crime, anti-social behaviour etc.?

Benchmarking
Which other Councils have taken this approach to street lighting? Was it successful? What can Warwickshire learn from their experiences?

You can follow the progress of the review on this blog over the coming months.

If you want to give us your views, or if you want to get involved with the scrutiny review, just leave a comment on this post or email me at daveabbott@warwickshire.gov.uk

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