Agenda and minutes

Venue: Hollingworth (Room 108ABC), First Floor, Number One Riverside, Smith Street, Rochdale, OL16 1XU. View directions

Contact: Amy Johnson, Committee Services Officer  Email: Amy.Johnson2@Rochdale.Gov.UK

Items
No. Item

25.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors D. Ali, E. Blundell, Meredith, S. Mohammed and Sullivan.

26.

Declarations of Interest

Members are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary, personal or personal and prejudicial interests they may have and the nature of those interests relating to items on this agenda and/or indicate if S106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applies to them.   

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

27.

Items for Exclusion of Public and Press

To determine any items on the agenda, if any, where the public are to be excluded from the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no items for Exclusion of Public and Press.

28.

Urgent Items of Business

To determine whether there are any additional items of business which, by reason of special circumstances, the Chair decides should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.

29.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Members are requested to approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on

the 15 November 2023.

Minutes:

Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2023 be approved as a correct record.

 

30.

Open Forum

Half an hour has been set aside for members of the public to raise any Public Document Pack issues relevant to the business of the Committee and the Township.

Minutes:

The following matters were raised as part of the Open Forum:

 

a)     Mr. A. Davies asked the Rochdale South Township the following question:

 

‘There is no provision for parking for users of Rochdale Train Station for after 9am when commuters have parked up already and there are no spaces left available nor are there any on-street parking spaces etc. What immediate provisions can be made for parking for non-commuters or are there any plans?’

 

The Chair noted that there was no officer from Highways present at the meeting and that Highways would be requested to provide a written response to the question.

 

Resolved: That Highways be requested to provide a written response to Mr Davies’ question.

 

31.

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing pdf icon PDF 521 KB

To receive a presentation from Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) representatives

Minutes:

The Township Committee received a presentation from the Director of Property Services, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), which detailed the current leadership structure of the organisation, its recovery plan and voluntary undertaking with the Regulator of Social Housing, and its plans for 2024.

 

Members were informed that an email address had been established that was dedicated to Members of Parliament and Councillor enquiries. The inbox was regularly monitored and RBH aimed to respond to enquiries within 24 hours from Monday to Friday.

 

The RBH Recovery Plan focused on five themes: Governance, Home, Tenant Involvement and Empowerment, Rebuilding Trust and Lessons Learnt. The Director of Property Services reported that 78% of the recovery plan had now been completed, for example through regular drop in sessions being arranged for customers (Rebuilding Trust), and through a range of recommendations that had been followed through (Lessons Learnt) such as the establishment of a damp and mould taskforce.

 

It was reported that 25% of RBH homes currently had evidence of damp and mould. The Committee were informed that additional funding had been secured by RBH to treat damp and mould issues in residential properties over the next few months. RBH would assess each home accordingly, ensuring that properties had appropriate ventilation to prevent further issues and addressing the root cause of damp and mould when repairs were completed.

 

Plans for 2024 also included the approval of a new Corporate Plan and Values, working efficiently with partners to deliver outcomes, engaging regularly with customers to understand their priorities, and delivering improvements to customer service such as through the Customer First programme.

 

Members expressed concern regarding the ongoing issues surrounding properties with damp and mould and questioned if there was a particular problem identified which caused these issues. It was advised that each building may present a different problem, such as there being different repair issues with the fabric of individual buildings. It was advised that there was a programme to install and improve ventilation in those buildings as well as repair the structural issues identified. If problems could not be full identified then environmental sensors would be installed to try to understand the underlying causes in those buildings.

 

Members noted that the councillor email was promptly responded to however there was a delay in follow up responses and it was noted that councillors were not made aware of or invited to the local drop-in sessions.

 

Members raised concerns that residents’ emergency issues were not being dealt with an appropriate level of priority.

 

It was questioned what the RBH policy was regarding tenants having dogs at their property. It was advised that dogs were not permissible at flats and that the organisation was trying to balance enforcement against any residents in breach of the tenancy in that regard. If residents were concerned about a dangerous dog at any type of property then this was a matter to be raised with the police. If tenants’ behaviour was otherwise disruptive or aggressive then this should be raised through the usual  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Need for Primary School Places 2024 - 2027 and Need for Secondary School Places 2024 - 2028 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider a report of the Director of Children’s Services and Education in relation to the need for Primary School Places 2024 – 2027 and the need for Secondary School Places 2024 – 2028.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Director of Children’s Services regarding the Need for Primary School Places 2024 – 2027 and Need for Secondary School Places 2024 – 2028. The purpose of the reports was to outline to the Rochdale South Township Committee the work undertaken by the Council in planning for school places for primary and secondary schools in Rochdale.

 

It was noted that the reports had already been given approval at Cabinet on 19 December 2023.

 

The Committee was informed that the council had a statutory duty to provide education and school places to all school aged children living in the borough.

 

Members asked the School Place Manager if there were plans to increase school place capacity within the Central Rochdale and Deeplish areas as there appeared to be lots of migration into this area and a number of parents dissatisfied with their school offer. The Officer advised that the legal statutory walking distance for a school place for children under the age of 8 was within 2 miles. Above the age of 8 the legal statutory walking distance for a school place was within 3 miles. Members were advised that a school place offer within the statutory distances was always adhered to and that parents only express a preference which would be met where possible.

 

Members raised concerns regarding the discrepancy of a school located within Castleton ward boundaries, St Johns CE Thornham, which was included in the school places strategy for Middleton Township. It was requested if schools could be aligned with their Township areas. It was noted that this was also a recommendation raised from the recent Local Government Association (LGA) Peer review and that policy discussions were already taking place to consider aligning schools and Township boundaries. 

 

It was questioned if children were placed in schools outside of the borough and if this was suitable. The Officer advised that should a parent express a preference for a school located elsewhere and that preference could be met, then it was acceptable for children to attend out of borough schools. It was assured that parents who made a preference for a Rochdale borough school would be offered a school within Rochdale, however it might be that the school of their first preference could not be offered. The authority was continuing to work with local secondary schools to increase place capacity.

 

The Chair noted the Committee’s disappointment at the shortfall of secondary places and the delay in the Department for Education decision regarding building of the new secondary school within the Rochdale borough.

 

Resolved:
That the report on the Need for Primary School Places 2024 – 2027 and the report on the Need for Secondary School Places 2024 – 2028 be noted.

 

33.

Townships Plan pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider a report of the Director of Public Health and Communities.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Director of Public Health and Communities regarding the Townships Plan.

 

The Committee was informed that the Council Plan 2028 had been agreed. This had reviewed the Council’s values and behaviours to now be Proud, Passionate and Pioneering, with priorities of People, Places, Planet and Performance. The Council Plan would gather aspirations and ideas together as a focus for decision makers, Council Services, partner agencies, and the voluntary and community sector active in Rochdale Borough.

 

In line with the Council Constitution and the delegated arrangements to the Townships, Members felt that the Council Plan would guide, direct and detail the use of devolved budgets, including Township Revenue and Capital Funds.

 

Township Chairs and Vice Chairs had worked with the Portfolio Holder to look at how the Townships Plan should link in with the Council Plan. It was felt that creation of separate Townships Plans were unnecessary as an addition from the Council Plan.

 

Resolved:

That the priorities of the Townships be approved as in line with the Council Plan and that no separate Townships Plan be required.

34.

Review of Rochdale North and Rochdale South Townships Area Forums pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To consider a report of the Director of Public Health and Communities.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Director of Neighbourhoods regarding a Review of Rochdale North and Rochdale South Townships Area Forums. The purpose of the report was for Members to consider if the work of the area forums continued to be fit for purpose.

 

It was advised that Area Forums were introduced around 2002 and as at 2023-24 there were ten active area forum meetings. Recently meetings had become more challenging with residents using the forum to challenge the authority rather than raise local issues. Some meetings had become hostile with officers facing intimidation and Townships officers required to attend the meetings in pairs. This had further effects on staffing which was unsustainable.

 

Methods of engagement with the local community were different in present day than when the forums were developed and new ways of working could be looked at going forwards. Additionally there was the Open Forum item at all meetings of the Rochdale South Township committee where residents could be directed to raise local issues or concerns.

 

Members raised concerns that withdrawing ward forums would reduce opportunity for residents to engage in the democratic process and would remove a further method to hold councillors to account which should be encouraged. Ward forums also provided an opportunity for extended discussion regarding local issues which members felt could not be replicated by directing residents to attend the Open Forum. 

 

It was suggested that the number of ward forums could be reduced or hold a function whereby a meeting could be called as and when required so that issues could be discussed at ward level.

 

Members noted that the behaviour of some residents at meetings and the intimidation of members and officers was unacceptable however they were concerned that the recommendation would not deal with the root of the issue and the problems would just present at the Open Forum item of Township committee instead. Ward forums where there had been no issues should not be punished for the actions in other forums. 

 

The Township Manager informed the Committee that alongside hostile resident behaviour and intimidation of staff there had been instances of forum’s failing to elect a Chair and as a result the Township Officer would have to take a more prominent role at the meeting which was causing further pressures on officer workloads. It was commented that a small number of residents out of a large electorate attending the forums may not constitute a well-attended meeting that offered value for money after considering the cost of room hire and officer time. As a function of the council, the meetings needed to be conducted formally and must follow the council constitution and ward forum terms of reference.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Rochdale South Township committee did not accept the recommendations of the report.

2.    That Members acknowledged that the structure of Area Forums should be reviewed and that members should consider if their ward forum delivered value for money, if their ward forum was successful at delivering council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.