The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Communities and Environment Capital to provide Members with a progress report in relation to matters relevant to this Committee.
The Council’s Constitution set out the responsibilities of the Cabinet Member, describing them as being:
‘Responsible for neighbourhood and community support including long term problem solving and operational community issues and in particular the following:
· Community Cohesion
· Community Safety
· Drugs Prevention
· Youth Offending Service
· Troubled Families’
All of these responsibilities fell under the remit of the Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee
Key issues discussed within the report were as follows:
· Community Capacity and Cohesion
· Community Safety and Drugs Prevention
· Connecting Families
· Youth Offending Service
Members were asked to scrutinise the progress made on the aspects of the Cabinet Member’s portfolio relevant to the Committee by providing challenge where necessary and to suggest ideas and initiatives to support the continued delivery of priorities within that portfolio.
Observations and questions were raised around the following areas:
· Members queried whether urban parishing was being approached in an even handed manor and if parties involved were being advised of the advantages and the disadvantages. The Cabinet Member for Communities and Environment Capital advised Members that urban communities were always encouraged to talk to Parish Councils to gain advice on advantages and disadvantages and Parish Councils were always willing to cooperate.
· Members commented that there could be a risk of inequality if urban parishing was adopted. There could be an increase in taxation and only partial agreement of parishing from residents. Members were informed that there was currently no cap on parishes at, this allowed parishes to spend money on what they felt was an issue within their community. There had been no complaints from residents in parished wards so far and only one query regarding the parish precept.
· Members commented that there could be a risk of a small un-representable portion of an urban community that would like to parish, which would leave a majority of the community not in favour of parishing but with a level of taxation increase. Members were advised that people were generally happy with parishing. A petition was required and a certain percentage of signatures were required before an area could be parished. It was important that communities understood what they were walking in to when agreeing to parish an area, as it would be difficult to un-parish and area.
· Members commented that parishing had been a great success in within the city. Werrington had a Neighbourhood Council which did not impose any costs to residents.
· Members queried how they would convince residents that parishing was a good or bad idea. Members were advised that it was not their job to convince but to give residents full information so they could make their decision. They could talk to Parish Councils who were happy to give them information or advice. A good incentive would be to advise them of what they could obtain from the precept.
· Members queried how Parish Councillors would fit in with ward Councillors in urban areas. Members were advised that ward Councillors could also be Parish Councillors if they wished although, there was no obligation.
· Members queried whether the new App ‘My Peterborough’ had been successful. Members were advised that a meeting to discuss the success of the App was due to be held in the next week, although, so far it seemed that the App had been successful.
· Members queried on page 15 of the report 5.3.6 with regards to Connecting Families and how this was measured. The Head of Community and Safety Services informed Members that this was based on reported antisocial behaviour.
· Members queried how Peterborough was performing with regard to the assessment criteria for the Connecting Families Programme. The Assistant Director of Communities and Targeted Services advised the Commission that initially Peterborough was not performing well and was at the bottom of the league table, now it was middling the league table and was recently quoted at a national conference as being in the top fifteen performers.
· Members commented that they were interested in the target of 450 troubled families and if there had been more families than this identified as troubled in Peterborough. The Assistant Director of Communities and Targeted Services advised the Commission that the 450 troubled families were based on a set of metric formulas although, in Peterborough there had been more troubled families than this identified. Phase two had been announced by Central Government and an extension of five years on this programme had been granted. The figure at present was around 1000 troubled families.
· The Cabinet Member for Communities and Environment Capital commented that he was very proud of Peterborough’s performance with regards to the Connecting Families Programme. To qualify families had to have three of the four criteria, stated on page 15 of the report, 5.3.5. Peterborough had already turned around 170 families and was moving in the right direction. This programme had made a real change for people.
· Members queried whether the target of 450 troubled families would be the 450 families most in need. The Assistant Director of Communities and Targeted Services advised the Commission that Communities had been working with an excess of families to turn 450 families around, making sure the families with the most prolific problems were picked. The families who needed help were picked from a list that was greater than 450.
· Members referred to page 10, part 5.3.1 of the report and queried if there was a strategy in place for Asset Transfers and if there had been any success with it. The Cabinet Member for Communities and Environment Capital informed the Commission that play centres were moving forward very successfully and he was happy to bring a full report on this to the Committee in future.
· .Members congratulated officers in their work with the Connecting Families Programme and commented that they thought it was a very good and helpful programme to help the people of Peterborough.
· Members were concerned that they often saw play parks vandalised and commented that the Council could do more to improve and update facilities.
The Commission noted the report.