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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.

Minutes:

8.1

The Committee received the following questions from members of the public who had submitted the questions prior to the meeting:-

 

 

(a)

Tim Hodgson

 

 

 

I am unable to attend the meeting this week, but wish to give my views on Riverdale Road parking and Notre Dame School. I have sent numerous emails to Councillor Sue Alston about this issue and she has done her best to help, but I feel the only way forward is for Notre Dame School to take the issue seriously, particularly the parking at the top of Riverdale Road/Fulwood Road at school starting and finishing times.

 

 

 

The selfishness of parents is extraordinary, and one day someone will be knocked over as a result. Parents park on double yellow and single yellow lines and rarely is any action taken. The lines are pointless if wardens do not patrol the area on a regular basis (I am certain they could issue numerous fines on a daily basis if they did). Unless Notre Dame take the issue seriously, all this is hot air and a waste of time.

 

 

 

I have always felt they have little regard for the school neighbourhood. I am certain teacher parking could be negotiated with local car parks at the Florentine and Canton Orchard (but this would require a payment which Riverdale Road does not charge for). I hope you can find a way forward with the school before a pupil is injured or worse killed due to selfish and lazy parking.

 

 

 

A full written response would be sent to Mr Hodgson.

 

 

(b)

Christopher Pennell

 

 

 

As I understand it, the LAC system was set up in advance of the successful Sheffield governance referendum so that its current role is confined to pre-referendum thinking. In short, the transitional process for determining how the Council will be run may yet significantly change the role of LACs. In particular, it may be the case that that role will change in a way which requires the LACs to have significantly wider powers and broader budgets. This being so, it is extraordinarily difficult to prepare a reliable forward annual plan for a LAC when the role and powers and budget of each LAC may change within 3 months: I sympathise with your difficulty.

 

 

 

However, it is useful in the meantime to speculate about what role the LACs might have, such as:

 

 

 

1. They may have delegated powers to address specific issues in each of the seven LAC Areas, and have budgets to fund positive action on those issues. So far as LACs are currently defined, those areas where such powers and budgets exist are extraordinarily modest – and not requiring 12 councillors and several officers to spend so much time on them (as was said at the last meeting) – such as the ward pots and fly-tipping. I for one would find it wasteful of my time to attend my LAC meetings if the LAC’s executive powers remain as limited as they now are.

 

 

 

2. They may have a role in better publicising Council initiatives and third party initiatives which could be useful for local communities to be aware of (such as grant schemes and coronavirus measures). This is already happening on a hit and miss basis, but could be got onto a more organised basis as the LACs develop and as community channels get more clearly defined.

 

 

 

3. They may have a role in giving the chance to local communities to say to the Council what they want of their Council and to comment constructively on citywide schemes as they might impact on specific localities. The key problem here is how open-ended is the range of subject areas where LACs can ‘advise’ the wider Council decision-makers on how to make their initiatives more sensitive to the needs and wishes of the wide range of different communities in Sheffield.

 

 

 

This brings me to the breadth of issues which a LAC might get involved in. If a LAC’s role is principally focussed on 1 above, the relevant issues are currently very narrow and, even if they are extended post-transition in May this year, they are unlikely to become massive. On the other hand the issues to be covered by LACs under 3 above could be relatively unlimited if the LACs turn into locally based pressure groups for better reflection of local characteristics and needs in overall Council thinking and decision-making.

 

 

 

This brings me to Slide 10 in the current SW Community Plan pack. In so far as this slide attempts to define ‘what we know about the SW Area’, it is overwhelmingly confined to the people in the SW – as to their number, age, ethnicity, educational attainment, health, gender, income, deprivation levels, plus housing tenures and the main working sectors. And yet, when you asked local people what they liked about their area, they said overwhelmingly from Slide 17 countryside, green space, parks and trees and the closeness to both the Peak District and to the city, and what they wanted to see improved, they said transport and highways. What this suggests to me is that there is an enormous gap so far in how this Area Plan chooses to define the SW Area. It talks predominantly about its people, but neglects the environment within which they live; and yet that environment is one huge significant feature which distinguishes the SW from most of the other LAC Areas. These LAC plans surely need to describe the differing environments within which the occupants of each LAC live, and highlight what the occupants value in their environment and what they would like to improve. There almost seems to be a sense that the LACs are avoiding matters which might be regarded as more the preserve of Planning and yet surely Planning must have regard to the variety of environments which Sheffielders live in with an eye for what needs protecting and what needs to be improved. There is a danger that these plans will focus solely on what needs improving because that is the obvious role of an active Council; but it may neglect the areas where protection of what is valued is regarded as a vital activity just as much as improving what is inadequate. For example, surely we are allowed to assume from the consultative responses that there is a strong consensus in the SW that people value their closeness to a National Park, the openness of the Green Belt and the availability of good quality green space and ecosystems services, and that therefore they would expect the Council to safeguard those benefits just as much as improving poor public transport and better managing speeding and parking.

 

 

 

I am under no illusion that the SW of Sheffield is a good deal better off than many other areas of Sheffield which do not enjoy the easy relationship with beautiful landscapes, recreational green spaces and ecosystem benefits as we do; so, of course, the greater effort needs to be put into active improvements in facets of life elsewhere in the city. But that does not justify neglecting the active need to protect and enhance what is environmentally good, while also improving what is poor elsewhere. I am fearful that a plan for the SW which fails to address this important particular characteristic of the SW because it doesn’t fit the presumed role for LACs will sell our area short.

 

 

 

A full written response would be sent to Mr Pennell.

 

 

(c)

Alan Kewley

 

 

 

I've been trying to follow this process of change since the original People's Petition in 2019 triggered a city-wide Referendum, postponed until 6 May 2021. This resulted in the establishment of 7 Local Area Committees throughout the city. The new South West LAC presented its proposals in Sept 2021, with more details in February 2022, now to be discussed & implemented by May 2022.

 

 

 

I assume the main purpose of these changes is to give the electorate more influence on decision-making processes in their City Council.  But this would require more transparency to enable them to be more aware of, understand & comment-on any proposals, so that adjustments could be made before Decisions are implemented.  This may require focus groups on particular issues in the Wards affected.

 

 

 

About 33% of the electorate responded to the city-wide Referendum in May 2021, mostly in favour of change. Their new South-West LAC then called an introductory meeting on 16th September, 2021, which I attended and submitted questions.  Its detailed proposals were published later in February 2022, to be discussed at its next public meeting on 17th March 2022, which I plan to attend.

 

 

 

Section 4 in the draft Community Plan gives details of responses from the four Wards in the SW LAC area. But these percentages could be misleading, for only about 2% of the local electorate actually responded to these surveys. I suggest a wider response is desirable before any big decisions are made.

 

 

 

My previous questions in September 2021 (attached) suggested that the main dialogue with Local Electorates should be via Ward Forums & their elected Councillors, with suitable support.  I'd now welcome a fuller response to my email from September 2021 as below

 

 

 

PUBLIC QUESTIONS FROM 16TH SEPTEMBER –

 

 

 

1) I welcome this long-overdue review, but would request a pause for thought, to enable local electorates to consider these proposals more carefully, including the need for Ward Forums, to give citizens easier access to our City Council's new devolved decision-making processes.

 

 

 

2) The City Council's main website has become too complex to provide easy access to information on local issues.  Could local websites be introduced at LAC or Ward level to provide better access to local information, rather than the junk emails which are now being sent-out & received ? 

 

 

 

3) Who is responsible for Scrutinizing this new process to ensure its Effectiveness & Good Value, and How do they plan to get feedback from the electorate?

 

 

 

A full written response would be sent to Mr Kewley.

 

 

(d)

Don Lennox

 

 

(1)

“The Adult & Social Care update report of the City Council refers to a new model of home care which is planned to be ‘neighbourhood based’”

 

 

 

What does this mean for the South West Area?

 

 

 

The context for the question are the issues identified in the draft LAC plan:

 

 

 

         Working with PKW team

 

         Increasing the use of community assets

 

         Encouraging volunteering

 

         Loneliness

 

 

 

In addition, the Care & Wellbeing Home Care model, as one of its foundations, that it should be neighbourhood based and have ‘clear links’ with the ‘voluntary sector’.

 

 

 

In response, Chris Boyle, Commissioning Officer, Adult Social Care stated that the Council recognises that, at present, the home care sector, both locally and nationally, is experiencing significant challenges, particularly in relation to recruitment and retention of care workers.  This can impact upon people in receipt of care and their families and carers.  The Council has developed, and is now enacting, plans for transforming how home care is organised and delivered across Sheffield, including therefore the South-West of the city.

 

 

 

There are multiple strands to this work.  One of the first elements is what we have termed a ‘controlled implementation’ of the new Care & Wellbeing model.  The term ‘controlled implementation’ refers to the process of implementing the foundations for the model in several adjacent areas in the city, creating the opportunity for learning and building an evidence-base over the following two years.  The ‘development partner’ (responsible for care delivery) will collaborate with the project team, local stakeholders, and ScHARR (evaluation partner, Sheffield University) to collectively develop and evaluate the new model.  There will be a strong focus on listening to people in receipt of care, their carers and families, and their care workers, to develop and refine the model.  The procurement process for the development partner commenced on 1st February 2022 and the contract is scheduled to start at the end of May.

 

 

 

The development partner will be required establish an office / base within the controlled implementation area.  At the outset, they will commit to quickly developing excellent knowledge and understanding of the local communities and build links with statutory services and voluntary, community and faith organisations (VCF) in the area.   The development partner will also consider innovative ways they are able to play an active role in the community and will explore the potential for partnership working with the VCF sector, care homes or educational sites, which may facilitate both innovative options for supporting people to achieve outcomes and reduce reliance on formal support, while also enhancing the resources of the local community.

 

 

 

The controlled implementation is taking place in the Upperthorpe, Netherthorpe and Walkley areas, so will not be of immediate impact for the South-West.  However, another significant element of the transformation will be the re-procurement of contracts for home care services for all areas of Sheffield in early 2023.  It is not possible to share many details of the new contract at present because this is under development and commercially sensitive, however it will be informed by the learning from, and principles of, the controlled implementation, including establishing strong links with other services and stakeholders in the community, and being organised in geographical areas that support joint-working.  This is most likely to be the 7 Adult Social Care ‘localities’, which are the same boundaries as the Local Area Committees.

 

 

 

A full written response would be sent to Mr Lennox.

 

 

(2)

Question from 16th September, 2021

 

The Sheffield Plan says there should be smaller homes and “older peoples’ independent living accommodation” in Ecclesall (Greystones area).? There is derelict land at the top of Murray Road – old garages / abandoned cars / old buildings.? This could be a suitable site.? How could this be achieved?

 

An initial response had been sent to Mr Lennox early January 2022, but a further written response would be sent to him after the meeting, which would also respond to a further note he provided to Ms Devoto and Councillor Andrew Sangar at this meeting (17th March, 2022).

 

 

(e)

Joanne Meaney

 

 

 

I wanted to present the question that Long Line Residents Association and Ringinglow Village Residents would like to table at the Committee meeting on 17th March 2022. 

 

Long Line Residents Association and Ringinglow Village Residents:-

Traffic speed and “rat-running” are significant and particular problems in this part of the city. There is an absence of long-term physical measures to control traffic speed and dissuade people from using long straight country lanes to travel at speed regardless of the topography of the narrow lane and with limited regard to other users of these lanes. Resources need to be prioritised to meet these challenges, whilst smiley faces have an initial impact there is a diminishing impact over time and only physical restrictions, for example road narrowing have long term impact and return on investment for all.

 

In terms of supplementary evidence, please find attached the report recently used against a planning application, which contains accident and usage data for the area.

 

 

 

A full written response would be sent to Ms Meaney.

 

 

8.2

The Committee received the following question from Mike Hodson, who raised it at the meeting:-

 

 

 

Will the LAC take notes of the diversion between its response to questions about public involvement in decision-making, with the aspirations of the Council leadership to involve the public more in decision-making for the policy committees, and how could this dilemma be solved?

 

 

 

In response, the Chair stated that the Council was undergoing a major change, which involved the establishment of LACs in 2021, and it was hoped that the public appreciated how the Council was trying to find a way of using the LACs to encourage public participation. The Council was in the process of moving from a Cabinet/Scrutiny system to a committee system, which would hopefully make its decision-making process more inclusive. The Council had an aspiration to engage with as many people as possible in connection with its public policy implementation, and LACs would play a major part of this process.

 

 

 

A full written response would be sent to Mr Hodson.