Wednesday, December 2, 2015

News: New corporate plan for Rotherham Council

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Rotherham Council has published the first version of its corporate plan, the first since making a "fresh start" under the guidance of Government-appointed commissioners.

The plan sets out the specific headline actions, indicators and milestones that should be monitored and managed to demonstrate delivery against the overall council vision over the coming years.

Triggered by a report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that described how vulnerable children have been repeatedly failed by the Council, the February 2015 Casey report highlighted significant governance weaknesses. Specifically it reported that the authority was not fit of purpose and failing in its legal obligation to secure continuous improvement in the way in which it exercises its functions.

Commissioners have been appointed who now provide new leadership, taking over the roles of the "wholly dysfunctional" cabinet.

Council leader Chris Read said in the plan: "We can't change the past. But our journey since then has been to do all that we can to return the Council to full health. The Council is determined to put things right and to build a new kind of organisation and culture which will serve Rotherham people much better in future. We are making real progress."

Usually much longer, a two year period for the plan (2016-2018) is proposed at this stage, "given the transitional nature of the Council's progress towards improvement and current levels of central Government intervention."

Four priorities have been set out in the plan:
1 Every child making the best start in life
2 Every adult secure, responsible and empowered
3 A strong community in a clean, safe environment
4 Extending opportunity, prosperity and planning for the future

For the fourth priority, which is tied closely to the recently approved Growth Plan, the corporate plan states: "We want to build a borough where people can grow, flourish and prosper and where no one is left behind. To do this we need to promote the growth and innovation of the local economy, encourage regeneration, strengthen the skills of the local workforce and support people into jobs."

Actions include the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) proposed for the Sheffield - Rotherham economic corridor. An estimated 3,500 new jobs and £170m could be added to the economy if Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster is created. In Rotherham it is set to cover the area between the established Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and Rotherham Town Centre.

A proposed leisure development at Pit House West is another action - with Gulliver's progressing plans for a theme park, along with "Growth Zones" across the borough for the benefit of local towns and villages in the areas of Dinnington, Dearne Valley and Bassingthorpe Farm.

The town centre features prominently, with a refreshed masterplan setting strategy for investment in key central sites such as Forge Island and around the river. Benefits to include around 2,000 new homes, waterside development, expanded cultural offer and evening economy such as a cinema, hotel and restaurants, and a revitalised market.

The Rotherham College HE campus being planned for Doncaster Gate is included, alongside actions to promote employment and apprenticeships and raising skill levels. Business support also features prominently.

The plan will be delivered under a new chief executive, Sharon Kemp, with plans for all out elections next year and the need to save £41m from its budget over the next three years.

The newly renamed Regeneration and Environment directorate will lead on economic matters under a new strategic director. The directorate has a budget of some £47m per annum. Following a restructure three assistant directors will now each lead portfolios of work based on Planning, Regeneration and Transport; Culture, Sport and Tourism; and Community Safety & Environment.

Proposals already being considered to help budgets in this area include closing the visitor centre, raising rents in the council business centres, amalgamating the economic development and business retail and investment teams together and doing the same for the planning and building control sections.

Rotherham Council website

Images: RMBC

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