- Meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Tuesday 1 November 2011 7.30 pm (Item 197.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 197.
Report of the Corporate Director of Community and Environment
The Committee received a report which set out the progress on the Neighbourhood Champions initiative, summarised the points raised at the Neighbourhood Champions Conference and described changes in principle to the scheme agreed by Cabinet. The report advised that officers would be developing plans to implement the changes and seek the views of the Committee on the scheme.
The Corporate Director of Community and Environment outlined the content of the report and stated that the view emerging from the conference was that the anonymity of the neighbourhood champions could be a barrier. There had been mixed views on this but it was clear that the champions were willing to take on more responsibility.
Members made comments and asked questions as follows:
· A Member questioned, in terms of anonymity, how much information was published. The Corporate Director advised that there was a centrally held database within public realm that had limited access. With permission, it was appropriate to share neighbourhood champion information with other champions within a ward or the ward councillor. There was also a neighbourhood champion facebook page. The issue would be discussed further at the next conference.
· In response to a Member’s question as to the target number of neighbourhood champions, the Corporate Director advised that the aim was to have one on each postcode section of a street, 2000 in total.
· A Member requested transcripts of what was said at the conference and the Corporate Director undertook to see if this information could be provided. Whilst being supportive of the role, the Member expressed concern at the possible overloading of the champions and she indicated that she would like to see the scheme being shared with other departments to enable them to identify suitable champions. She also suggested that other schemes, such as Sutton’s book lending service, be considered and that the Communications team needed to report what had been achieved. The Corporate Director advised that the scheme was approached in a ‘one Council’ way and agreed that it could be developed for use in Children’s Services. It was about reporting anything that did not seem right for professional assessment.
· A Member questioned the number of champions trained this year and was advised that, due to the re-structure in public realm, there had been a period of 4 months when no training had taken place. There was no issue in terms of funding this work area and training material was currently being revised.
· Referring to paragraph 9 of the report, a Member stated that burglary and security activities should also be included. The Corporate Director acknowledged that the Safer Neighbourhood Teams provided regular newsletters and thanked the Police for their active involvement with the scheme.
· Members questioned whether there was any cost associated with inactive champions and what was being done to capture information on those individuals ceasing to be champions. The Corporate Director undertook to look into this, although if there was clearly inactivity it would be investigated.
· Responding to a Member’s question, the Corporate Director advised that approximately 60-70 reports were received from neighbourhood champions each month. The Member stated that there had been input from the Primary Care Trust and public health at the training for champions and the Corporate Director indicated that he would be happy to consider well being issues too. Another Member stated that it was necessary to engage with colleagues in public health. The Corporate Director undertook to discuss these issues further with the Director of Public Health.
· A Member stated that, despite the report stating that there were no financial implications, there clearly were as there was a budget in public realm. The benefits of the scheme did, however, justify the funding. The Corporate Director responded that there was no increase in costs.
The Chair thanked the Corporate Director for his attendance and responses.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.