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Agenda item

Questions to the Executive Leader and Executive Members received under Standing Order 10(c)

To deal with the following questions to the Executive Leader and / or other Executive Members, in accordance with Standing Order 11.3(a):

 

(i)         To the Executive Leader, from Cllr Merrett

“What would the Council’s liability be for air quality fines should the EU fine the UK Government and this be passed onto councils?”

 

(ii)        To the Executive Leader, from Cllr Sunderland

“Can the Executive Leader give an update on progress with finding a funding solution for the Leeman Road Flood defence project?”

 

(iii)       To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Crisp

York has 14 libraries and the Leader of the Council has said publicly the Executive’s plans will maintain 14 libraries. A new library is suggested to be built with the new community stadium. Which library will this replace?”

 

(iv)       To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Aspden

“How many schools in York have achieved the ARTSMARK quality award and how does this compare to the national average?”

 

(v)        To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Hyman

Can the Executive Member give details of the numbers of visitors to the city’s various festivals over the past 8 years?”

 

(vi)       To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Firth

“Can the Executive Member give an update on the progress towards bringing the Mystery Plays back to Museum Gardens next year?”

 

(vii)      To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Orrell

“Can the Executive Member give Council an update on the work that the Inclusive Arts team has done since it was created in 2009?”

 

(viii)     To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Hogg

“Can the Executive Member comment on how participation in sport and active leisure has changed over the past five years and how this compares to national trends?”

 

(ix)       To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr Fraser

“Please explain why City of York Council is continuing to let private care providers run Adult Social Care Services in the City when at least one of them is deemed not to be working to the standards of the agreed contract.  Will this provider be given a final date for when the services have to meet standards or the service brought back in house?

 

(x)        To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr Hyman

“Can the Executive Member describe the Council’s investment in Telecare and the benefits the system brings?”

 

(xi)       To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr Waudby

“How many sheltered and extra care housing units were there in 2003 and how many are available now?”

 

(xii)      To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr R Watson

“Can the Executive Member explain the impact of the ‘every child a talker’ project and the benefits it has brought to young children in the city?”

 

(xiii)     To the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods & Housing, from Cllr Sunderland

“How many applications have been received for the downsizing opportunities at Pately Place and Birch Park?”

 

(xiv)     To the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods & Housing, from Cllr Holvey

“Can the Executive Member say what the rate of recycling for 2010/11 is expected to be along with the expected total amount of waste collected?”

 

(xv)      To the Executive Member for Children’s Services, from Cllr Waudby

“Can the Executive Member give details of the results of the recent Ofsted inspection of The Glen?”

 

(xvi)     To the Executive Member for Children’s Services, from Cllr Aspden

“Can the Executive Member give details of the work of the Change Champions and explain how their work will be incorporated into Council decision making?”

 

(xvii)    To the Executive Member for Corporate Services, from Cllr Firth

“Will the Executive Member comment on the implementation of the Allpay service and whether or not it has been a success?”

 

(xviii)   To the Executive Member for Corporate Services, from Cllr R Watson

“What proportion of new benefit registrations are now processed within 24 hours compared to 8 years ago and how has the time taken to process benefit claims changed since 2003?”

Minutes:

Eighteen questions had been submitted to the Executive Leader and Executive Members under Standing Order 11.3(a).  The guillotine having fallen at this point, Members agreed to receive written answers to their questions, as set out below:

 

(i)         To the Executive Leader, from Cllr Merrett

“What would the Council’s liability be for air quality fines should the EU fine the UK Government and this be passed onto councils?”

 

Reply:

There is not currently a mechanism for this to happen, and therefore it would be speculation.

 

(ii)        To the Executive Leader, from Cllr Sunderland

“Can the Executive Leader give an update on progress with finding a funding solution for the Leeman Road Flood defence project?”

 

Reply:

The programme for a scheme for improvement of the Flood Defences at Leeman Road/Water End are working their way through the Environment Agency’s internal approval system. With the additional resource of £1 million from the council, and support through the Local Levy for Yorkshire which has been recommended for approval on 21st April meeting of the Regional Flood Defence Committee. Therefore there is opportunity for the plans to progress with the current plan for delivery in 2012/13.

 

(iii)       To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Crisp

York has 14 libraries and the Leader of the Council has said publicly the Executive’s plans will maintain 14 libraries. A new library is suggested to be built with the new community stadium. Which library will this replace?”

 

Reply:

I appreciate Cllr Crisp’s concern for library provision in Huntington.  No doubt this is drawing on the extensive local knowledge her ward colleague Cllr Alexander developed when collecting 6% of the vote there in the 2003 local elections.  The long term pledge the Leader made was to maintain 14 libraries and did not in any way preclude an increase in the number of libraries.  We are looking to increase the number of libraries to 15 by opening a new book cafe in Rowntree Park.  The nearest library facing closure is probably Easingwold, so any Explore Centre at the Community Stadium could be seen to be a replacement for that.

 

(iv)       To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Aspden

“How many schools in York have achieved the ARTSMARK quality award and how does this compare to the national average?”

 

Reply:

Over the life of the award, since 2002, over 52 schools have achieved the award. Each award is valid for 3 years and currently 44 schools hold a valid award.  The work of our Arts Consultants and our Theatre, museums and other cultural organisations have been key in ensuring that the level of success for our local authority stands at 68% while the national average is only 18%.

 

(v)        To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Hyman

Can the Executive Member give details of the numbers of visitors to the city’s various festivals over the past 8 years?”

 

Reply:

The very nature of festivals makes precise numbers for the events hard to gather; however, since its inception the City of Festivals yearly programme has increased from 17 in 2003 to currently over 40 and still growing.  Yorkshire Forward and the Arts Council have recognised that 5 of our events are major events that have an international appeal; Viking, Food and Drink, Illuminating York, Early Music Festivals and every other year the Mystery Plays.  Illuminating York's audience has grown from 22,000 in 2007 to 65,000 in 2010. Figures for the Food and Drink Festival have seen an increase by 16% last year and St Nicholas Fayre has also risen by 18%.  But the idea of City of festivals has helped our more local festivals increase numbers too, with the Residents’ Festival moving up from 16,000 in 2005 to 29,000 this year.  In 2009, the Grand Tour attracted over 500,000 people and we are planning a Science and Innovation tour in 2012 as part of our York 800 city birthday celebrations.

 

(vi)       To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Firth

“Can the Executive Member give an update on the progress towards bringing the Mystery Plays back to Museum Gardens next year?”

 

Reply:

In 2006 we agreed to facilitate the organisation and presentation of the Mystery Plays on a biennial basis working with partners across the city.  In 2008 over 2000 young people presented the York Youth Mysteries, in 2010 the Guild produced the successful wagon Plays and in 2012 the Theatre Royal, Riding Lights Theatre and York Museums Trust have formed a partnership to present the plays in Museum Gardens in August 2012.  International interest in this production has already been aroused and the plays aim to have over 2012 people involved over 300 of them actually performing.  The Council has a service level agreement with the partnership and they have this week agreed basic designs for the specially built stand for the event.  Tickets will be on sale from the theatre this month.

 

(vii)      To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Orrell

“Can the Executive Member give Council an update on the work that the Inclusive Arts team has done since it was created in 2009?”

 

Reply:

Since its inception in 200, the Inclusive Arts team has delivered or is in the process of delivering over 23 projects covering our target population groups.  These groups have been agreed through a consultation process with EAG.  Working with the Turkish community we delivered a stunning Stained glass window, which was then displayed at Illuminating York and will shortly to be installed in the local church frequented by the community.  With our Under 5's and families we have been a pathfinder for the Storycatcher evaluation method with over 9 of our partnership project been disseminated as good practise through the national governmental organisation Culture, Creativity and Education. Our Music in Care homes initiative to engage older members of the community has now been taken up by Adult Social services as everyday practice and we are leading on the youth and community element of the city's UNESCO Creative City bid with our work with the European Youth 4 media network and Khaoz Media projects.

 

(viii)     To the Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Social Inclusion, from Cllr Hogg

“Can the Executive Member comment on how participation in sport and active leisure has changed over the past five years and how this compares to national trends?”

 

Reply:

The proportion of people doing no sessions of sport or physical activity has dropped from 45.5% to 42.4%. This represents approximately 4,500 additional people doing some form of sport or active leisure activity every week in the city.  For young people the percentage of pupils doing 2 hours of High quality PE has increased from 71% in 2006 to 87% in 2010.  Over the last 5 years we have targeted our resources specifically at addressing gaps in participation across the city.  Participation in 30 minutes of Sport & Active Recreation at least 3 times a week by people with a limiting disability has increased from 7% to 15.4% in the last 5 years. This has been achieved through the appointment of a disability community sports coach (and now an adult disability physical activity officer). They have significantly increased the range of opportunities available to those with a limiting disability and have significantly improved access to information and activities, this has resulted in an increase of over 100%. This compares to a national figure of almost 9%.  Participation in 3 times 30 minutes of sport & physical activity by people aged 55+ has stayed static at 13.6 % which is why we, with support from Sport England appointed an older people's activity officer last year. The programme of activities specifically for this age group started in January this year and has so far seen the development of Nordic walking, Tai Chi, additional lead walks and seated aerobics sessions.

All of this has been achieved through efficient targeted use of resources.  Our spend per head on indoor sport in 2009/10 was just £7.69 compared to a unitary average of £10.12.  Our spend per head on sports development and community recreation was just £0.27 compared to a unitary average of £2.36.  We are targeting our work on harder to reach adults (those often doing no activity) where we are starting to see the impact in those with a limiting disability and the reduction in the number of people doing no sport. Using local information activities are now being designed to meet ward priorities and to match the ward profiles, targeting the type of activities most suitable to the local population, e.g. the older people’s activities that are being delivered in Heworth Without.  During 2010/11 the Sport and Active Leisure Team worked with 8,969 residents who were new to activities.

 

(ix)       To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr Fraser

“Please explain why City of York Council is continuing to let private care providers run Adult Social Care Services in the City when at least one of them is deemed not to be working to the standards of the agreed contract.  Will this provider be given a final date for when the services have to meet standards or the service brought back in house?

 

Reply:

Adult Social Care Services in York are “run” by the Directorate of Adults Children and Education, although various services are commissioned from independent providers. Over three quarters of our home care services are provided by independent. However, all such services are subject to monitoring in the same way as services provided by our own staff, with roughly comparable satisfaction levels.

Where there is any evidence of breach of the terms of service, the contract provides for measures to be put in place until the situation is rectified. While this remains the case and progress is being made there is no cause for any deadline to be given and even if it was decided that an independently provided service would no longer be provided, there is no reason to believe that an in house solution would be appropriate. 

 

(x)        To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr Hyman

“Can the Executive Member describe the Council’s investment in Telecare and the benefits the system brings?”

 

Reply:

More than 900 elderly people across York have been helped to remain independent through the use of innovative Telecare technology supplied by City of York Council.

The Telecare system was first trialled in York in 2007 at Haxby Hall and the Lib Dem Council has been investing in the technology ever since, in the current year 500K (to include a digital upgrade) and  £1.25m in the recent Lib Dem budget over the next 5 years.

Telecare works by connecting sensors to a telephone line which links to a 24 our monitoring centre. If a sensor is activated by the elderly person the monitoring centre can immediately take action including contacting a family member, neighbour, doctor, mobile warden or the emergency services. The system can include sensors to detect falls, smoke detectors and alarms to warn of bogus callers.

As well as meaning elderly residents can stay independent and in their own homes, the use of Telecare also helps to avoid the cost of providing home care.

By helping 58 users of the system to avoid the need for home care in 2010, Telecare technology saved £249,600 in care costs. The investment in Telecare for those 58 people was just £29,000.

It is not just the customers that have avoided home care that benefit from Telecare. The system also makes life easier for more than 900 people in total across the city, who may not be on the verge of needing home care, but who can benefit from the peace of mind and assistance that Telecare can bring.

 

(xi)       To the Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Services, from Cllr Waudby

“How many sheltered and extra care housing units were there in 2003 and how many are available now?”

 

Reply:

In 2003 City of York Council provided a total of 64 units of housing with care, but these have been greatly enhanced by the introduction of extra care to other sheltered housing schemes and new units nearly trebling this form of housing for older people who wish to remain as independent as possible. Most recently Auden House is taking in new residents to its 41 two-bedroomed flats. There are of course other providers of this kind of provision within the city. 

 

(xii)      To the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods & Housing, from Cllr Sunderland

“How many applications have been received for the downsizing opportunities at Pately Place and Birch Park?”

 

Reply:

Working with Yorkshire Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency, the council have secured agreement that up to 16 apartments at Birch Park (apartments) and Pately Place (6 apartments) for rent will be prioritised for existing council and housing association tenants who are under-occupying their current home by one or more bedroom and wish to 'downsize' to a smaller property more suited to their current housing needs.

At an open day for both sites on Saturday 5th March, approximately 60 households viewed the apartment. 47 households were sent application for forms following the viewing and 26 of these completed the application form. All of these applicants’ details have been passed to Yorkshire Housing who are now visiting applicants in their homes to discuss the scheme and their application.

All of the applicants are currently living in 3 or 4 bedroom houses. It is too early to say definitively that all 16 flats will be taken up (I would expect a few at least of the 25 applicants not to proceed) but I'm confident that we will achieve this meaning that 16 houses will be freed up re-letting to families

 

(xiii)     To the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods & Housing, from Cllr Holvey

“Can the Executive Member say what the rate of recycling for 2010/11 is expected to be along with the expected total amount of waste collected?”

 

Reply:

Household waste:

In 2009/10 we collected 91,726 tonnes of household and this year (2010/11) it is estimated that we will collect 90,240 tonnes a reduction of 1,486 tonnes or 1.6%.

Household waste recycled: 

In 2009/10 we recycled 22,924 tonnes of household waste and this year (2010/11) it is estimated that we will recycle and 2010/11estimates 24,140 tonnes an increase of 1,216 tonnes or 5.3%.

Last summer was dry so we didn't get as much green waste.  It is estimated to be down by about 850 tonnes.

However, overall we expect our headline figure of recycled and composted to increase from 43.3% up to 44.3%

We will landfill 3.5% or 1,828 tonnes less waste this year with the total Municipal waste land filled (Household Waste plus commercial) down by 3,816 tonnes (6.3%)

 

(xiv)     To the Executive Member for Children’s Services, from Cllr R Watson

“Can the Executive Member explain the impact of the ‘every child a talker’ project and the benefits it has brought to young children in the city?”

 

Reply:

The ‘Every Child a Talker’ project has been part of the national Year of Communication and has been taking place in a variety of early years settings all round the city.  It aimed to help young children who do not have good speech and language to develop their skills before they go to school so that they become effective communicators. Concentrating on four areas – Listening and Attention; Understanding Language; Speech, Sound and Talk; and Social Skills – early years practitioners have designed the environment in which they work to create every opportunity to encourage the child to speak and listen well.
The results have been remarkable – there has been a 14% reduction in the children at risk of language delay and professional and parental involvement has made this a continuing improvement, so that many children are now ahead of the levels expected for their age. Library staff have also been an important part of this project.

Work will continue after the project ends and I would like to congratulate all concerned for the tremendous contribution they have made to the lives of young children and their families in the city.

 

(xv)      To the Executive Member for Children’s Services, from Cllr Waudby

“Can the Executive Member give details of the results of the recent Ofsted inspection of The Glen?”

 

Reply:

I am delighted to report that The Glen did very well in its recent inspection by Ofsted and came out as ‘Outstanding’.  I visited them recently and was pleased to see the progress being made on their new extension, which will bring extra capacity to the respite that they offer to children with disabilities and their families.  I would like to put on record my congratulations to all the staff for the excellent work that they do. I am looking forward to the grand opening of the new build in the near future.

 

(xvi)     To the Executive Member for Children’s Services, from Cllr Aspden

“Can the Executive Member give details of the work of the Change Champions and explain how their work will be incorporated into Council decision making?”

 

Reply:

The first meeting of the Change Champions took place recently to consider the central area of the city.  Led by two young people who had previously had training in the process, students from a number of schools, both local authority and independent, looked at what was already available and what they would like to see.  I was able to join in and was interested to find out that one of the main issues that they identified was communication – there was a lot available but they did not necessarily know about it.  They suggested a Champion is found in every school, so that they can make sure that publications such as ‘Shine’ – the Council’s magazine that lists all the activities and events going on for young people in each school holiday period – are widely distributed to everyone, especially in secondary schools.

An action plan has been written and will be checked on a monthly basis and the Change Champions will continue working in this way in other areas of the city.

They will bring a report to the Young People’s Working Group to ensure that their work becomes part of the Council’s decision making process and is available more widely.

 

(xvii)    To the Executive Member for Corporate Services, from Cllr Firth

“Will the Executive Member comment on the implementation of the Allpay service and whether or not it has been a success?”

 

Reply:

Allpay was introduced corporately in February 2010, so it has now been in place for a little over a year.  The number of customers who were identified as cash payers in Council Tax was in the region of 22,000 and the estimated cost per transaction through the Banking Hall was in the region £1.50.  The ability to pay through Allpay is available to practically all bill types across the Council.  The average cost per transaction during 2010/11 was in the region of 45p depending on the outlet (PayPoint/Post Office) and will be nearer 41p in 2011/12.

Moving in excess of 22,000 customers over to the new system went seamlessly and it has delivered a £140,000 on going saving.  In addition customers seemed happy to have better access to pay and it supports local small businesses and the Post Office.

The closure of the Banking Hall has allowed for the remodelling of the City Finance Centre, now renamed Library Square, providing a much improved customer experience and the councils collection rates for Council Tax, National Non-Domestic Rate and Sundry Debts are above those of 2009/10.

Since April 2010 there have been in excess of 165,000 transactions through Allpay, totalling in excess of  £12.6m, and the footfall in Library Square has reduced by approximately 90%.  It is expected that it will reduce further when the Yorkshire Water agency ends on 31 March 2011.  I definitely consider this change to be a success and thank officers for their endeavours to achieve such a positive result.

 

(xviii)   To the Executive Member for Corporate Services, from Cllr R Watson

“What proportion of new benefit registrations are now processed within 24 hours compared to 8 years ago and how has the time taken to process benefit claims changed since 2003?”

 

Reply:

I am delighted to say that since the “24-hour promise”, launched in December 2009, has been a big success.  At the present time approximately 9% of new claims go through the 24 hour process as do approximately 2.5% of changes in circumstances.  Though these figures may seem low it has to be borne in mind that the more up-to-date the department is, the less call there is for the “24-hour promise.

With regard to the time taken to process benefit claims I am happy to inform Members that it has fallen from eighty-six days, when this administration took over in 2003, to nineteen working days.  The combined figure for new claims and change of circumstance claims in 2009/10 was 14 days, and it is estimated that this reduce to 10/11 days for 2010/11.

I would like to thank all the staff in the Revenue and Benefits section, for their hard work in reducing the timescales, and especially for the concept and introduction of the “24-hour promise.

 

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