Please find attached the above Budget Consultation Report.
The Strategic Director made the following points on this issue:
(1) Since a lot of the services that were carried out were not statutory and since the efficiency journey had nearly been completed, there needed to be consideration as to how they might be delivered differently. For example, the Council could consider how to use some of its existing community buildings;
(2) Neighbourhood Partnerships – A reshaping of this service was required and possible alternative models needed to be considered. Whatever changes were made, there would be a smaller envelope of funding with which to deliver the service.
The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods made the following points:
(3) Discussions in Neighbourhood Partnerships across the city were required concerning the future role of NPs. This was already starting to take place in some NPs;
(4) Some NPs were not clear as to their role and tended to focus on a small-scale approach to small highways or wellbeing schemes;
(5) Meetings outside of the normal NP framework may be required to discuss this issue in detail. Options needed to be explored, such as a Development Trust;;
(6) There needed to be an acknowledgement that “one size does not fit all” and that different models will work for different parts of the city – lessons could be learned from some existing approaches ie the Bedminster model.
In response to Councillors questions, officers and the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods made the following comments:
(7) There was a consultation process concerning Neighbourhood Partnerships taking place throughout the city;
(8) As some services had been transferred to the Directorate during the year, this had affected the budget. However, some figures that might seem unclear and could imply overspending were examples of budgeted income;
(9) The final budget cap was £40 Million;
(10) Members’ concerns were noted about any proposals to close the Advice Service and in particular that, since many people were unable to access services online, they needed to have direct access to this service. Particular concern was noted in relation to the Fishponds service which had originally been set up specifically as a local direct access service point;
(11) Officers confirmed that they were looking at how libraries could be used in a more effective way. Discussions were taking place with the third sector to provide advice and guidance across the city for a better service. There would be opportunities to extend this into a number of different areas, such as debt Management, Legal Advice and Refugee Support, as well as a quality advice service online;
(12) Officers noted members concerns that the proposed shift in emphasis to Friends Groups for Parks would struggle to be established in some areas of the city and may require additional support in applying for funding (ie Eastville). It was noted that there were options to develop Development Trusts for parks and museums;
(13) Officers noted members concerns that the increase in Friends Groups that had arisen following the 2015 Library Review Day needed to continue and that, without clear options for alternative approaches in different areas of the city, the situation remained confusing. However, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods pointed out that the purpose was to focus on delivery in a different way rather than give a series of options which might lead to a more limited focus on these;
(14) Members concerns were noted that the report did not adequately provide the information that was in the Corporate Plan to effectively reach out to communities. As a result, there was concern that it could raise expectations which could not be delivered or not properly open up services to the radical reconfiguration that was required. Officers pointed out that most of this information was available and suggested that this could be placed on the relevant site.
Action: Di Robinson
Any members who had any further views on the document were requested to submit these either through the Chair or directly to the Strategic Director.
Action: Alison Comley