Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel – 22 September 2008
PRESENT: Councillor Wilson in the chair.
Councillors Cawsey, Eckhardt, C Sherwood, Sidell, Simpson and Whiteley.
Statutory Co-opted Members: Mr P Bacon and Mrs A Dunkerley (Parent Governor Representatives), Mr W Egan and Mrs W Witter (Church Representatives)
The panel met at Pittwood House, Scunthorpe.
47 DECLARATIONS – OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS AND DECLARATIONS OF WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY) – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests.
No whip was declared.
48 PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK – There were no requests received
49 POLICY REVIEW – PLAY AREAS AND OPEN SPACES IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE
(i) Section 106 Agreement – Discussion with Mike Welton, Head of Planning and Val Wilcockson, Principal Solicitor – The Chair welcomed Mike Welton and Val Wilcockson to the meeting and explained that the panel had asked them to attend to provide an overview of the section 106 agreements, how these were determined and also enforced.
Mike Welton explained to the panel that Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) 10 had been drawn up in 2004. This policy defined when developers were expected to provide public open spaces within new housing developments, how the council’s Community Recreation team were involved in the initial decisions of the planning process and how this assisted the planning team in determining whether there was a deficiency of available play space within the area.
It was noted that since 2001 there had been ten section 106 agreements written into the conditions of planning decisions. Not all of these had been fulfilled, as the development was determined by the completion of the site. Members were advised that the provision of the play areas/open space would often not be required until the site had been completed in its entirety.
The panel was advised that developers were able to contest decisions and flexibility was necessary from both the developer and the planning office to reach an acceptable conclusion. Mike Welton explained that planning officers had to be open to negotiations as there was only so much profit to be made from the land.
Further discussions ensued covering issues such as the reduction in garden sizes, the government requirement that housing density should increase, the lack of open space for children to play ball games and how this often lead to reports of antisocial behaviour. Members were also advised that there was no safeguarding system in place to ensure that a section 106 agreement would be upheld if the developer had ‘gone out of business’.
Resolved – (a) That Mike Welton and Val Wilcockson be thanked for their attendance at the meeting, and (b) that the position be noted.
(ii) (2) To discuss and approve a draft play questionnaire to be circulated to all school pupils/parents – The Service Director Legal and Democratic had provided draft questionnaires to be considered by the panel. It was explained that these would undergo formatting by North Lincolnshire Council’s publications service, to ensure that they appealed to the age categories that the panel decided to consult.
Members engaged in discussions considering which age ranges should be consulted, whether parents visiting Children’s Centres should also be included, whether to address the questionnaire to school councillors who would then reply on behalf of the school, or whether to involve all school pupils within North Lincolnshire.
The use of the Direct magazine and the council website was suggested as a means to obtain parents/adult perspectives.
Resolved – (a) That the Service Director Legal and Democratic consult with North Lincolnshire council’s publications service about the production of the questionnaires, (b) that these are brought before the panel, at a suitable date to meet the deadline for the next publication of the councils Direct magazine, and (c) that upon the panel’s approval the questionnaires be circulated and published as necessary.
(iii) To discuss consultation with Town and Parish Councils – The Chair invited suggestions, and confirmed that the next Town and Parish Council Liaison meeting was scheduled for 16 October 2008.
Resolved – (a) That an email be sent to all Town and Parish clerks, explaining the object of this review, (b) that the clerks notify town and parish councillors of the consultation which will be discussed at the next Town and Parish Council liaison meeting, and (c) that the position be noted.
(iv) Next Stages – The panel engaged in further discussion over which groups of people would be able to give valuable input into the consultation process, the following groups were considered –
- Residents Association
- North Lincolnshire Homes
- North Lincolnshire Council Community Recreation Officer – Active Choices
Resolved – That the position be noted.
50 (3) LEADER OF THE COUNCIL’S FORWARD PLAN – AUGUST TO NOVEMBER 2008 – The Service Director Legal and Democratic circulated the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council’s Forward Plan for August to November 2008.
The plan contained details of all matters and issues likely to be the subject of key decisions for a period of the next four months, updated on a monthly basis. Members discussed various items on the Forward Plan.
Resolved – That the position be noted.
51 ESTABLISHMENT OF THE POST OF LOCAL SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN’S BOARD CHILD DEATH OVERVIEW PANEL CO-ORDINATOR – The Chair welcomed Katie Newborn, Strategic Co-ordinator for Safeguard and Practice to the meeting, and asked is she would provide an update on the proposed role of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Child Death Overview Panel Co-ordinator and its purpose.
Katie Newborn explained that there was a statutory requirement for the creation of such a post. The purpose of the role would be to deliver an understanding of how and why children died within North Lincolnshire, to analyse the findings and use this information to prevent future deaths and assess future needs.
The panel were advised that the role of the coordinator would be as a member of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, which was chaired by Dr Andrew Furber, Director of Public Health. The aim of the panel was to gain an understanding of patterns, draw up a prevention plan, provide additional support for vulnerable children and improve the responsiveness to child deaths. Katie explained that there were several formats drawn up as to how local authorities could deal with this work.
Members engaged in discussion over the number of child deaths within North Lincolnshire compared to the national average, how the new co-ordinator role would work with the Coroner and what other agencies were represented on the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
Katie concluded by confirming that there had been significant interest generated by the job advertisement and it was hoped that a suitable candidate would soon be appointed.
Resolved – (a) That Katie Newborn be thanked for her attendance at the meeting, and (b) that the position be noted.