Agenda and minutes

Central Area Council - Tuesday 9 June 2020 10.00 am

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Contact: Peter Mirfin  Council Governance Officer


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The Chair acknowledged the recent passing of Cllr Doug Birkinshaw, who was a valued member of the Area Council.  Everyone was invited to take part in a minute silence in his memory.


Welcome and Introductions

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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.


He spoke of the recent retirement of the Central Area Council Manager Carol Brady, and gave thanks for her hard work, and her contribution to the Central Area.


Welcomed were Lisa Phelan and Sarah Blunkett, who would be replacing Carol.  In addition Jonathon Banwell was welcomed as the new Senior Management Link Officer for the Area Council


Declaration of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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There were no declarations of pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting of Central Area Council held on 9th March, 2020 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

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The meeting received the minutes from the previous meeting of Central Area Council held on 9th March, 2020.


RECOMMENDED that the minutes of the Central Area Council held on 9th March, 2020 be approved as a true and correct record.


Covid-19 Presentation pdf icon PDF 2 MB

a.    Strategic Approach to the Recovery Phase – David Robinson

b.    Role of Area Councils and Ward Alliances in Recovery – Phil Hollingsworth

c.    Implications for the Area Council Planned Approach – Rachel Payling


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David Robinson, Service Director Customer Information and Digital Services, Phil Hollingsworth, Service Director Stronger, Safer and Healthier Communities and Rachel Payling, Head of Stronger Communities, were welcomed to the meeting to present the item.


An overview of the strategic approach was provided, acknowledging that Covid-19 was different to previous incidents due to its length and ongoing impact. The recovery provided an opportunity for renewal and restart in some areas, and it was acknowledged that responses needed to be agile and adaptive due to the complicated nature of the situation.


The pandemic also offered opportunities to realign values, strengthen relationships with partners and create a new normal as restrictions begin to lift. Members heard how the Government had drafted a recovery and renewal strategy, and one was in development at a South Yorkshire level.  Barnsley plans would align and be complementary.  It was noted future plans needed to be interactive in order to respond to the need for services to be turned on and off in relation to further peaks.  It was also noted that responses would be different depending on the needs of particular groups of people, including those shielding. Moving forward interventions would need to be able to both respond to any peaks and enable recovery.


Three horizons were considered – h1 immediate recovery steps; h2 post-peak recovery steps; and h3 realising the recovery objectives.  It was suggested that Barnsley was moving into h2, with lockdown being lifted. This was a period of innovation and that certain positives from the pandemic needed to be retained. As Barnsley moves forward, the h3 horizon provides the opportunity to define the objectives of recovery and the future wanted for the borough.


Members heard how the Council’s draft recovery strategy encompassed 5 points; Humanitarian – Health and Wellbeing; Business Economy; Building Resilience; Education and Attainment; and Infrastructure and the Environment.  It was recognised that all of which needed to be underpinned by the financial stability of the Council.


Members noted the steps being undertaken to develop and implement the recovery strategy, including conducting impact analysis, giving consideration to what services need to be restarted, maintained, or discontinued, and monitoring, learning and being adaptive going forward. It was noted that plans required the contribution of a wide range of partners across Barnsley.


In considering the role of Area Councils, the valuable contribution they played in responding to the crisis through the flexing of commissioned services, and the refocusing of community organisations was acknowledged, as was the role they would play in assisting recovery.


Members noted that, in light of the current financial position, the Council was reviewing all budgets and service areas to ensure they remained relevant in relation to Covid-19 and recovery efforts.  Members were reminded of the cessation of all non-essential expenditure earlier in the year.


For the Area Council, the overall budget remained unaltered for 2020/21, but it was suggested that there was a need to review priorities and commissioning intentions to ensure that they were still relevant.


Those present heard  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Discussion: reflection on the presentation and how the Area Council can assist our communities in recovery

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Members were reminded of the five strategic priorities and were asked to consider whether the priorities of the Area Council aligned and whether services could continue, perhaps amended.  In addition, Members were asked to highlight what might not align and may need to cease, or where there may be gaps that would require addressing.


Questions were raised about the amount of finance available, the task involved, and whether it was feasible to address such issues at an area level.  In response it was acknowledged that the Area Councils played a significant role in the response to the pandemic but that this was just one part of the response made by the whole of the Council. In addition, it was noted that the Council was not unique in its financial situation due to Covid-19 and alongside other Councils, representations were being made to Government.


The important role of Area Councils, with their intelligence at a local level and the ability to respond to their communities was acknowledged, meaning that Barnsley was better placed than some other areas in this respect.


Questions were raised about home working, and whether offices would be rationalised in order to reduce overall costs to the Council.  It was noted that this was an area being considered.  However, there were wider implications such as the loss of interaction and potential isolation to consider.


In relation to the cessation of non-essential spend, it was acknowledged that ‘essential’ could be subjective, and Members were encouraged to consider all expenditure in relation to the five strategic priorities.


A number of Members suggested that both the priorities and current financial commitments of the Area Council remained relevant and contributed to the overall strategic objectives. Suggestions were made to extend both Service Level Agreements.

Areas such as supporting businesses, and issues with access to food were highlighted as possible gaps, however it was suggested that the former may be being addressed through such as Enterprising Barnsley and the latter better considered by Ward Alliances. Holiday hunger programmes had been supported by a number of Ward Alliances, but consideration had to be given to whether similar could be undertaken at the current time.


The hard work of voluntary and community groups was noted and the need to ensure they were supported.  Members noted that questionnaires were being sent to groups to understand the issues faced in order to consider how best to support these.


The need to support volunteers who had been unable to engage due to issues such as shielding, and also to encourage those who had decided to volunteer during the pandemic to continue was noted.  Members heard how the volunteer coordinators network was considering how best to support clients as the borough moved from response to recovery.


Members commented on the increase in litter linked to the reopening of shops and takeaways, and the rise in dog fouling.  The need to ensure District Enforcement recommence issuing Fixed Penalty Notices as soon as it is safe to do so was stressed.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Close of meeting

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The Chair declared the meeting closed.