Agenda and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 6th January, 2015 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Stephanie Cox, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 11 November 2014.



The Minutes of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, held on 11 November 2014, were approved as a correct record.


Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no urgent items of business.


Declaration of Interests


Reverend Barlow declared a non-pecuniary interest in the general business of the meeting as he had children attending St Thomas Primary School, Grays Convent and Palmer’s College. He was also a trustee and corporation member at Palmer’s College.


2014-15 Savings - Libraries pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Children’s Services briefly introduced the report, and in doing so explained the library service had been relatively stable since the last restructure which had taken place in 2011/12, however the budget now needed to be reduced and the community consulted on possible options.


The Strategic Lead for the Operational, Resources and Libraries Unit further highlighted the following key points:


·         Between £569,000 of savings needed to be achieved from the library service and the proposed options would be consulted on with the local community following this meeting.

·         The Library had been through a restructure in 2011/12 and staffing was currently at a minimum owing to previous government budget cuts.

·         A significant proportion of the library budget was spent on staffing; therefore any option would have a considerable impact on the service. 


The Committee were informed of the three proposed options and advised that a consultation document had been prepared in order to gain the views of stakeholders.


Councillor Halden commented that he had given the proposals considerable thought and recognised that officers had made a good case as to why the savings needed to be made. He made the following further key points:


·         That Options 2 and 3 were clever and had merit, but felt that Option 1 was not an option.

·         That the mobile library was a needed flexible resource.

·         He was concerned that the proposed library restructure would decrease opening hours and therefore capacity, and that this in turn would make the service less viable in future as footfall would fall as a result.

·         He did not feel that the any of the options proposed presented a comprehensive offer and that enough detail had not been provided to demonstrate how the options would work in reality, for example if the opening hours reduced what would become of the buildings in the days that it was closed.

·         That the proposals would have an impact on Community Hubs and if a hub was established in Stanford what this would mean for neighbours such as Corringham.


Members were concerned that a vague consultation document could drive down response rates and therefore the validity of the overall consultation.


Councillor Ojetola supported a wider review of the library service rather than a piecemeal restructure and felt that proposals needed to be both realistic and pragmatic in order to achieve the savings. He further added:


·         That the timing was not perfect and felt that wide scale changes would be difficult to implement.

·         He recognised that a consultation needed to begin as soon as possible but was concerned that due to the timings of meetings and the forthcoming election it was unlikely that the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be able to fully consider the outcomes of the consultation in detail and recommend alternatives due to time constraints.

·         He felt that it was important the consultation results be referred back to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee even if it required an extraordinary meeting to be scheduled.

·         He questioned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Early Offer of Help Commissioned Services pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Additional documents:


The Strategic Lead for Service Transformation and Children’s Commissioning introduced the report which was a good news story, and reported on the quarterly outputs and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) of Commissioned Services and their impact.


Councillor Ojetola left the meeting at 8.19pm and rejoined the meeting at 8.20pm.


Councillor Morris-Cook requested that, in future, the numbers of total respondent s be included within the report in addition to percentages, as it was difficult to evaluate the performance of the service without this figure.


This was echoed by Reverend Barlow who acknowledged that percentages can be skewed without the figure of the total number of respondents.


The Children’s Commissioning Officer agreed and assured Members that in future this detail would be included.


Councillor Ojetola commended the good work of the service but questioned why it had taken so long for the report to be referred to the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee as the results had been available in February 2014. In response officers explained that this was a new area of work that had not been scheduled on the work programme.


Members requested that officers provide a regular update to the Committee so that impact of the Early Offer of Help Commissioned Services could be monitored.


Democratic Services questioned whether the regular update should be provided in the form of an informal briefing note with one formal report being referred to the Committee for review annually, to which Members indicated that an update should be provided but that officers should determine the appropriate format and that a financial impact analysis be included as part of the future reporting process.




1.         That the outcomes being achieved through the current commissioned services be noted.


2.         That officers be requested to provide a regular update to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee in order to monitor the impact of the Early Offer of Help Commissioned Services.


Emotional Well Being and Mental Health Services – Project Update pdf icon PDF 37 KB


The Strategic Lead for Service Transformation and Children’s Commissioning briefly introduced the report which outlined that the service had worked hard to provide greater value for money whilst also ensuring one holistic pathway that aimed to deliver more services in schools and the community in order to improve accessibility.


Members agreed that it was a positive report although it was questioned whether data and intelligence was being shared in a positive and swift way where there were many Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) and Public Health working across Essex.


It was clarified that the Clinical Commissioning Group came together to Commission the service and that officers worked hard to ensure that the contract worked for Thurrock.


Members recognised that the age of 14 was a crucial time for Mental Health in Young People and questioned what was being done to identify the triggers to ensure intervention and support was available.


Officers explained that Emotional First Aid training had been provided for all schools and that specialist services would also be delivered within schools to offer support for young people. It was further reported that the Social Care team delivered a number of programmes to complement this work, which included a support for young people affected by Cyber Bullying.


The Committee were in agreement that the importance of reducing the stigma of Mental Health was crucial in approving accessibility, and questioned what was being done to help more difficult to reach individuals. Officers explained that providers were expected to think about access and engagement as it was crucial to the Commissioning process, and that a key part of the model was to move away from a clinic based approach and offer more help within schools.


The Youth Cabinet Representative felt that more training should be offered within schools so that peers could help spot the signs of Mental Health needs and that young people could offer support to one another, particularly as teachers may not have the time or dedicated role to offer individual support.


Reverend Barlow felt that Secondary Schools and Further Education offered good services but was also concerned about the stigma in society, despite the fact that mental health illness was commonplace and should not be something to be ashamed of.




That the work that had been undertaken to commence the procurement of the redesigned service, and its progress to date, be noted.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 41 KB


Councillor Morris-Cook requested a report on Cultural Entitlement be referred to the Committee in February 2015.


Councillor Ojetola requested than a report on the Admissions Forum be referred to the Committee in February or March 2015.


Democratic Services advised that a report on the Early Officer of Help Commissioned Services be added to the Work Programme of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny for the 2015/16 Municipal Year, following Members request during the earlier item.


Democratic Services recommended that a number of to be confirmed items be supplied in the form of a briefing note to Members,  as there was only two meetings left in the current municipal year and a number of outstanding items.


In response Councillor Ojetola requested that the Grangewaters item be brought to the Committee in the form of a formal report as it was an important issue.


Councillor Halden sought clarification regarding the budget item and questioned whether the budget report on the previous agenda, which had been deferred due to the purdah period, was now defunct or whether a further budget update report would be provided.


The Director of Children’s Services explained that the report which had been deferred was now out of date and the report had already been referred to Cabinet. Members were advised that the a more up-to-date budget proposal had been presented to the Committee this evening on the Libraries savings proposals and a further budget report would be presented to the Committee in February 2015 specifically focusing on Nurseries.


Democratic Services clarified that a standing budget update and savings proposals item was included on the work programme for each meeting, however that this would be themed appropriately nearer to the time of each meeting depending on the nature of proposals. As a result a general budget update would not be provided but detailed savings proposals on particular relevant issues, for example the library service or nursery provision.


The Director of Children’s Services confirmed a number of amendments to the work programme which included:


·         That the Grangewaters Alternative Delivery Model be brought to the Committee in March 2015.

·         That the Annual Report of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and the Youth Cabinet Report be brought to the Committee in February or March 2015.

·         An update on the YOS annual report be supplied to the Committee in the form of a briefing note before the end of the current municipal year.

·         That the Local Government Ombudsman report had been completed at the previous meeting.

·         That the report of the next SCIE review be paired with the Jay Report and an update report be referred to the Committee in February 2015.




1.         That an additional item on Cultural Entitlement be added to the work programme for February 2015.


2.         That an additional item regarding the Admissions Forum be added to the work programme for February or March 2015.


3.         That a report on the Early Officer of Help Commissioned Services be added to the work programme for the 2015/16 Municipal Year.


4.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.