Cornwall Council halts its Children’s Community Health & Wellbeing procurement tender

In October 2014, Cornwall Council, NHS Kernow, NHS England the Council for the Isles of Scilly announced their intentions to put 23 services, totally £20.5m into a procurement process. For Cornwal Council this was the issue of the Tender for Children’s Community Health & Wellbeing Services which includes Health Visiting, Family Nurse Partnership, School Nursing and Specialist Speech & Language Therapy.

The services in scope for the tender and the responsible agencies are as follows:

Cornwall Council Services, totalling £9m:

  • Health Visiting
  • Family Nurse Partnership
  • School Nursing
  • Specialist Speech & Language Therapy.

NHS Kernow Services totalling £11.9m:

  • Child and Adolescent Specialist Mental Health Service Primary Mental Health Worker Service
  • Children’s Eating Disorder Services
  • Special Parenting
  • Child Health Development Service
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Service
  • Community Paediatric Occupational Therapy
  • Community Paediatric Dietetics
  • Community Paediatric Obesity service
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Community Specialist Epilepsy Nursing
  • Community Paediatric Physiotherapy
  • Learning Disability Service Diana Nursing Service
  • Specialist Paediatric Continence Service
  • Vulnerable Children’s Nursing Service Community Children’s Nursing
  • Nursing in Special Schools Nurse Liaison

At present children and young people’s community health services are currently provided by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Peninsula Community Health, and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

However, following the recent national announcement about the Cornwall Devolution Deal and the towards a single, ring-fenced budget for health and social care that is commissioned singly and locally, a decision has been taken by all commissioners (Cornwall Council, NHS England, the Council for the Isles of Scilly and NHS Kernow) to halt the tender process as we all believe the powers in the devolution deal will enable us together to commission a fully joined-up children’s services.

I as Portfolio Holder believe this will allow us to deliver seamless children’s services, in line with our plans to integrate commissioning as set out in the Deal. Cornwall should then have an integrated children’s community health service from, or before, April 2017.

It is important to highlight that children and their families using existing services will not be affected by this decision. They should attend all appointments as normal. Children will continue to receive appropriate services according to their need.

By halting this procurement the work that has been undertaken to date will be used in taking integrated commissioning forward. This will be supported by the “Lessons Learnt” work that I asked for and is currently being undertaken to ensure integrated commissioning going forward. This is because this procurement was one of the first large-scale joint-commissioning projects and some financial, legal and governance rules need to modified to enable greater integration.

In the meantime, we will be talking to current providers of children’s services to ensure these services continue for another year.

 

 

 

 

 

Local Government funding is under threat again

The impact of cuts to local government are starting to be clearly seen by the public. It is of no surprise really, as you cannot reduce Cornwall Council’s budget of over £320m and not have an impact on services which either results in those services being reduced, or in a few cases, stopped completely. Of course the Council gets the blame for having to deal with reduced budgets and the government gets away with it scot-free.

The Chancellors July emergency budget has clearly expressed more savings to be found from ‘non-protected areas’ in government. The Department for Communities and Local Government is one of those non-protected areas and could find itself with a further 25% – 40% cut in budget.

It is a common misunderstanding that people believe the Council’s income is solely from Council Tax. The picture below clearly (I hope) shows the amount of funding the Council receives and where it is spent.  budget1

 

Between 2010 and 2014, £176m was taken out of the Council’s budget. From 2014 till 2018, the Council has to save a further £154m. The cuts will be painful, but the Council’s plan has been to ‘go early’ and take £60m in the first year as this actually protects services long-term. The rest will be reduced £25.5m 2016/17, £38.2m 2017/18 and £30.2m in 2018/19. The vast majority of these savings will be from staff and other efficiencies.

The Council’s current budget has been set on a 33% reduction. If the Chancellor wants a further 25%-40% cut in local government, then sadly, we in the Council will no doubt have to look at our budget again.

If the £205m the Council receives in government funding is reduced in the Autumn Statement, my fear is there is limited option left open to the Council to make up the shortfall. As Council Tax raises are capped at 1.97% and this increase is already taken into account in the Council’s four-year budget. It could monetize certain services, but these ideas are met with very vocal objection. If the shortfall cannot be found, then services will be affected.

We in the Council are at the mercy of the Chancellor and will find out our fate on November 25th when details of the Autumn Statement is released.

Cornwall Council By-Election in Camborne Pendarves Division

With the resignation of UKIP’s Harry Blakely, voters in the Camborne area will be going to polls on Thursday, 20 August to elect a new Cornwall Councillor.

There are seven candidates are standing for election as the Cornwall Councillor for the Camborne Pendarves electoral division:

  • Nathan Mark Billings           Liberal Democrat
  • Peter Channon                    Independent
  • Val Dalley                           Labour Party
  • Deborah Zoe Fox                 Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall
  • John Herd –                        The Conservative Party Candidate
  • Jacqueline Norma Merrick    Green Party
  • Michael Duane Pascoe          UK Independence Party UKIP

Residents on the electorial register can vote at three polling stations, and these will be open between 7 am and 10 pm. The polling stations are:

  • St John’s Church Hall, Trevu Road, Camborne
  • The Lowenac Hotel, Basset Road, Camborne
  • Barripper Methodist Chapel, Fore Street, Barripper

 

 

Cornwall Council approves ‘basic’ DBS checks for councillors

At the last full council meeting, councillors debated and voted in favour for basic checks for all councillors and enhanced checks for those on the Cabinet and the fostering and adoption panels. Also approved was for the council to lobby the Government to change the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to allow all Cornwall councillors to have an enhanced check.

I have said in a previous blog post that the law is an ass when it comes to who and can be DBS’d.  I fail to see why all those who are in the role of a Cornwall councillor cannot have an enhanced check.

For those who may not know it, a basic check will only show unspent convictions. Whereas a standard or enhanced check will show far more detail. The majority of councillors want members to have enhanced checks and the Council took legal Counsel to see if there was anyway to do enhanced checks as pre the 2012 Act, all Cornwall councillors could – and did – have enhanced checks.

However, the advice from Counsel was:

  • Basic Certificates are available for all Members and co-optees on payment of the prescribed fee, without further eligibility criteria. Certificates list only unspent convictions. The Council is at liberty to request basic certificates in respect of any elected Member or co-optee;
  • The Council will be entitled to obtain a Standard Certificate in respect of a Member who carries out a regulated activity, in relation to either children or vulnerable adults. In essence, this means any Member who discharges an education or social services function, or sits on any body, committee or sub-committee that does so, by virtue of the saved definition of regulated activity;
  • The Council will also be entitled to obtain an Enhanced Certificate in respect of a Member whenever it can obtain a Standard Certificate. This means that the Council can obtain an Enhanced Certificate for a Member who discharges an education or social services function, or sits on any body, committee or sub-committee that does so;
  • The Council is also entitled to apply for a Standard Certificate or an Enhanced Certificate for any person who has been co-opted onto a Council committee with education or social services functions, even if that person is not a Council Member;
  • Members are unlikely to be undertaking regulated activity under the revised definition and in the absence of such activities being undertaken they are not eligible for enhanced checks with a check of either of the barred lists, being the lists of those barred from working with children, young people or vulnerable adults;
  • Substitutes are in the same position as substantive members of committees; and
  • The Council is entitle, but not required, to seek an enhanced check under the applicable legislative provisions where so indicated above. However, when doing so, it is important that the Council considers whether it is necessary and proportionate to do so, given the particular functions of the committee or other body in question.

The counsels last point:

Requiring an Enhanced check is self-evidently a substantial interference with a person’s right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This concerns me the most, as whilst I do understand the need to respect the right of private life, I believe child protection and protecting vulnerable adults trumps this, and therefore should take priority.

The report on who and why someone can be DBS’d can be found HERE.

As for what ‘regulated ‘ activity is, I hope this will explain:

There are two definitions of ‘regulated activity’ to which regard must be had:

  • the definition following the changes introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which effectively restricts regulated activity to undertaking prescribed activities with children, young people or vulnerable adults during which time the child, young person or vulnerable adult might be considered to be more vulnerable to abuse. Different activities are prescribed to children, including young people, and adults. The activities are summarised in appendix 1 to the briefing note (Appendix 1 to this report) but examples include the provision of personal care such as washing or dressing and, in relation to adults, assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs. Counsel considers it unlikely that any elected Members or co-optees will undertake activity that will fall within this revised definition of regulated activity in their official capacity;
  • the ‘saved’ definition which preserves the definition of regulated activity as it was prior to the changes introduced by the 2012 Act in relation to membership of the Council, its Cabinet and committees, where education or social services functions are carried out. This means that a Member or co-optee will be in regulated activity, without more, if they:
  1. discharge, as a result of their membership, any education or social services functions of the Council;
  2. They are a Cabinet Member (the Cabinet discharges education and social services functions);
  3. are a member of a committee of the Cabinet (there are currently no such committees and this does not include the Policy Advisory Committees as they are committees of the Council); or
  4. they are a member of an area committee or any other committee of the Council which discharges education or social services functions. With the references to the Cabinet and ‘any other committee’ this effectively means that whatever committee a Member or co-optee is a member of they will be in regulated activity, provided the committee undertakes education or social services functions. It is accepted that membership of a committee is very different to undertaking the activities within the revised definition.

Also discussed, voted on, and approved by all but two members was the “Members’ Safeguarding and Criminal Records Checks Policy” which can be found HERE.  I welcome this policy and has incorporated a few policies into one.

I saw yesterday’s vote and approve of basic checks as a stepping stone to all elected members, no matter what committee or function they carry out having an enhanced DBS. As I said before, child protect should trump everything else.

 

 

 

Intrim Head of Paid Service is appointed by Cornwall Council

As most people will know, the hunt for a new CEO at Cornwall Council is on since the soon to be departing CEO, Andrew Kerr is heading up North of the border to become Edinburgh City’s new CEO.

A local authority by law needs someone in either a CEO position, or alternatively, a Head of Paid Service. Today at Cornwall Council’s full council, the Leader announced a Head of Paid Service had been appointed from the current Senior Leadership Team (CLT).

This position has been given to Trevor Doughty until a new CEO is appointed and in post. For those who do not know, Trevor is the current director of both children’s and adult services. Having worked with Trevor for the last two years, he is a very capable officer and will steer the ship well with his fellow CLT colleagues until the new CEO is in post.

The Leader has issued a statement and it is as follows:

“Dear Members

As you know the Council is about to formally advertise for a new Chief Executive to replace Andrew Kerr who leaves this week.

As the recruitment process will take some months to complete, the Member Selection and Appointment Panel, which I chair and which is responsible for the recruitment, made a recommendation to the Council today about what arrangements we should put in place pending a new Chief Executive taking up their appointment.  The Panel’s recommendation to Council was informed by feedback from the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team and has their endorsement.

 

I am pleased to confirm that the Council agreed the recommendation of the Panel which was to appoint Trevor Doughty as Interim Head of Paid Service with effect from Monday 27 July 2015.  The Head of Governance and Information will take over the role of Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer in the interim period.

 

In this role, which does not carry the full range of accountabilities of the role of Chief Executive, Trevor will operate as the ‘first amongst equals’ within the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT).  Each of the Corporate Directors, including Trevor, will retain their strategic and operational responsibilities.  In addition, as Head of Paid Service, Trevor will chair the CLT.

 

In the view of the Panel, this collegiate working arrangement within CLT builds on existing relationships and will help to ensure that we sustain continuity and focus during the period of uncertainty that inevitably accompanies changes in senior management for any organisation. 

I am grateful for the support of the CLT for this interim management arrangement and look forward to working more closely with them in the coming months.

I would like to congratulate Andrew on what he has achieved in the 18 months he has been in post, and furthermore, wish Andrew all the success in returning home to his capital city and being its new CEO.

Fair winds to you Andrew and enjoy the ‘everything deep fried’ cuisine!

My Cornwall Council ‘votes at 16 motion’ is referred to the Young People Committee (PAC)

It will be of no surprised, that the motion for votes at 16 was referred to the Young People PAC for the evidence to be collated that I hope will give weight to lowering the voting ages to at least 16.

Once this evidence has been collated on why we should lower the voting age, then we will ask the Government to at least pilot Cornwall as an areas where 16 and 17 year olds can vote in time for the next Cornwall Council elections. Off course, this change needs to be supported by the full membership.

The latest Lord’s vote on this subject and their defeat of the Government on lowering the voting age has sent a clear signal to the Government there is the need to change the current situation. Though I do know, there will be a strong opposition to lowering the voting age.

The motion and previous blog on this subject can be found HERE

Traffic lights have been removed from A394, near Newham Farm.

They have gone! The traffic lights have now been removed from the A394, near Newham Farm. This is indeed good news and follows on from the previous blog where I mentioned the lights would be gone in two-weeks.

However, the work has not been fully completed, but the repair work can continue without the need for traffic lights.

As said before, the scale of works in the repair was huge, and this is what took the time. Thanks should go th Cormac for doing all they could by understanding the need to remove the lights as soon as possible, in time for RNAS Culdrose Air Day, and the school summer holidays.

The work being undertaken at Newham Farm

The work being undertaken at Newham Farm

 

The Government gives first county devolution deal to Cornwall

Wow, Cornwall will today made history with the Government giving the first ‘county’ devolution deal to Cornwall. The Case for Cornwall has gone from a concept to reality in a short and fast-paced timeframe.

The announcement today, Thursday 16th July of the award of the Cornwall Devolution deal (to give it a name) comes straight off the vote and backing of the Case for Cornwall by the majority of Cornwall Council’s Councillors and the previous to that, the Council’s Cabinet.

The deal, to be signed some time today in Cornwall, includes:

1) Giving Cornwall Council powers for franchising and improving bus services in the area – the first rural unitary authority to gain this power. The plan is for Cornwall Council will take over responsibility for franchising bus services by 2018

2) Gives the Local Enterprise Partnership more say on boosting local skills levels;

3) Gives the council powers to select the projects, working with partners, it wants to see benefiting from millions of pounds of inward investment funding. This will be carried out by Cornwall Council  having intermediate body status – for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund – which will allow it to select projects from April 2016.

4) Make it easier for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership to integrate national and local business support services to help local firms grow;

5) Enable Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly to work with local health organisations on a plan for integrating health and social care services.

Of course the other ‘asks’ in areas such as housing, planning, tax related powers are not in this deal – yet.

However, the Government has pledged support Cornwall’s aim to create a low-carbon Enterprise Zone and develop geothermal energy production. And Furthermore, support for the creation of a Cornish Heritage Environment Forum.

No doubt there will be people disappointed with the elements of this deal and the lack of inclusion of such areas like planning and housing. But I really hope this deal is just the first phase, and the Council, with its partners continues to engage with the Government and its civil servants which results in Cornwall gaining more devolved powers.

Devolved powers are now possible due to The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill which is currently passing through Parliament and this Bill puts in place the legal framework across the country that will make it simpler for devolving more powers to more places.

The Cornwall Devolution deal has been made possible due to the very hard work and dedication of officers who have worked to make this deal possible. I would like to thank them publicity for this work. Great work, well done.

As as always the devil is in the detail, but I believe this is a good first-step and Cornwall should be mighty pleased with gaining a hard-fought devolution deal from the Government.

It was nice too for the PM to name check Porthleven in his statement on the deal in the WMN.

 

 

Motion to Cornwall Council for lowering the voting age to 16

Even before I became Portfolio Holder for Young People, I believed the voting age of 18 needed to be reviewed and indeed lowered.

I say this because nearly 28 years ago I joined the Armed Forces at a little over 17 years old. I found it rather ironic that I could be sent to war (17 and a half) and could not vote, or have a say in who might send me to the next bun fight in some far off land.

In the eyes of the law, I was old enough to fight and die for my Country, but not to vote…

In recent years there has been a groundswell for the voting age to be at least reviewed. The independence vote in Scotland reaffirmed the need for change when a temporary extension of the franchise in Scotland allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the referendum.

The truth is there are over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK who are denied the vote.

I made this statement last year:

In the 2010 elections, over 75% of people aged 65+ voted. This group received free bus travel, free TV license, free prescriptions, winter fuel allowance to name but a few. Compare this to only 44% of young people voted. They had EMA taken away, tuition frees tripled and youth services are under huge pressures and reductions. Is this related? Yes, it is. If young people were more engaged and had the ability to vote, then maybe the services young people value would be on a more even footing.

Why hasn’t anything changed? Well in 2003 The Electoral Commission conducted a review of the voting age with a period of public consultation over the summer of 2003. The review reflected growing calls from a wide range of organisations to consider lowering the voting age in order to promote participation in democracy and to address the issue of disengagement particularly amongst the young.

The Commission published its findings in April 2004. Although most responses to its consultation paper supported a voting age of 16, more general opinion polling had suggested strong support for keeping to the present minimum. The Commission therefore recommended that:

“The minimum age for all levels of voting in public elections in the UK should remain at 18 years for the time being.”

 

With a new government, and Cornwall having the ear of the government in the Case for Cornwall, I have submitted a motion to lobby Government to lower the voting age to at least 16 in time for the next unitary elections.

In the words of the motion I say,

“The voice of 16 and 17 year olds is important and where we have a set Parliament of five years there is risk of disenfranchising young people, as those aged 16 and 17 would not have the democratic right until 21/22. – after many would have left University.”

 

“Cornwall Council should lobby the Government to lower the voting age to at least 16 in time for the Cornwall Council Unitary Elections in 2017, or at least Cornwall to be a pilot authority.”

This has a financial and governance implication therefore:

· I would like this motion to be referred to the Young People’s PAC for this to be discussed and for recommendations to be worked up.
· In the discussion at PAC, I would like the MYP’s to be invited to be part of the process.

The input of the MYP’s is important as the 6 MYP’s in Cornwall are campaigning along with their colleagues around the County for the law to be changed as part of the UK Youth Parliament and its manifesto.

furthermore, most of the major political parties in the UK have in one-way-or-another committed to lowering the voting age and therefore, in the motion to Council I wanted to make it apolitical.

I am pleased to say, the Lib Dems, Labour MK and Tory have supported this (as have the Green Party Member – but already had the required supporters) motion.

However, the real work in building up a case will be carried out by the Young People’s PAC.

The vote on whether this motion is referred to the PAC (or not) takes place on Tuesday 21st July.

We need to enfranchise our young people and giving them the vote is one way of doing it.

Coin-less payment for parking set to become free

A few years ago, Cornwall Council introduced coin-less payment at its car parks. A great idea. However, to use this function, it would cost you 20p. This was the fee for using the service payable to RingGo.

The good news is this fee is now set to go! As a new company has been awarded the contract for supplying coin-less payment in Cornwall Council own car parks. The company which has won the contact for the next four years are called Bemrose Parking who call their system Phone and Pay.

imageIn the age of smart phones, they also have an app. To register click HERE.

I am pleased this 20p fee has now gone, as whilst it was not a lot of money, it still cost more to park. Now with the new system, coin-less, or with coins will cost the same to park. I should point out that there are some optional charges when paying by Phone and Pay, like text reminders, but unless you want the add-on there will be no charge to pay using this facility.

The old system, RingGo and the new one, Phone and Pay will both be available in the car parks for about a month while the two systems are changed over. Though I know which one I will be using from now on!

Good work parking people.

 

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