Agenda item

Performance Focus - Communities

To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive.


Councillor Beverley Murray Executive Member - Early Intervention, and Jennifer Mullin Director of Communities attended virtually to present the report.


There was an underspend for the quarter, primarily due to the vacancies within the Directorate which included; Housing Solutions Team, Communities Service, and Environmental Health.


The leisure centre performed well, with increased visit numbers from the last quarter. As with other areas within the Council, there had been issues with recruitment. Focus had been placed on providing good customer service and it was believed that there was a positive atmosphere and culture for both employees and customers.


The leisure centre had its own budget as it was a separate company. Matters that related to finance were improving, but Covid-19 had an impact. It was expected that by the end of March, without any additional or continuation of restrictions, opening times would be as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic.


There was no inclination to sell the leisure centre, but the option would not be ruled out. Investment had been made to upgrade and modernise facilities. It was recommended that a Member Learning Session was held for Members towards the end of March 2022.


It was confirmed following a question from Members that the leisure centre still allowed staff to use time credits in exchange for gym and swim sessions.


Disabled Facilities Grants completion was worse than the previous quarter. At present, delivery was under the base line of 10 weeks at 6.8 weeks.


In reference to the 262 people waiting for an assessment by the Occupational Therapist, the Council considered employing its own to decrease waiting times. The timeframe required to complete the 262 Assessments was uncertain due to the variety of possible needs. Those that required minor adjustments such as handrails, or stairlifts took less time than substantial requirements such as building extensions, wet rooms, or door adjustments.


Members acknowledged the issues in place but did not want a reoccurrence of those on the waiting list to die before their modifications were installed. It was added that the Occupational Therapists were being used to assess hospital discharges due to bed blocking however, Members raised that were aware of residents who had been discharged home without an assessment, which had significant impact on their quality of life.


New and existing community groups continued to be supported. Activities included but not limited to; providing food and provisions across the borough and confidence building for those impacted by Covid-19. Support for young people (defined as people aged 25 and younger) with coaching, mentoring, mental health, employment, and education support. There was uncertainty as to when community support activity would return to pre pandemic levels, it was noted that the number of residents that benefitted from opportunities created by the Communities Team was better than expected, but was far below target.


From Housing Solutions, there had been a decline in the performance indicators. The new Housing Manager was currently reviewing processes and procedures, work delivered and in progress. It was expected that following the review, there would be a change in what was monitored.


Performance Indicators from the Public Protections Team showed that the number of food establishments inspected had increased from the previous quarter, although due to Covid-19, staff had been involved in other work. The current inspection programme was expected to finish in March and was currently on target.


Performance Indicators for Corporate Projects were all green and on track, but a significant amount of work was to be completed by the end of March. This included the homeless and rough sleeping plan.


The figure of referrals to the Social Prescribing Service covered external partners such as GPs, police, and fire, as well as internal referrals from the homeless team and environmental health.


Members inquired into the impact of third-party consent. It was confirmed that Councillor Bradley and Councillor Gabbott met with Housing Associations to improve the process and make it more effective.


Neighbourhood Area Meetings resumed, with varying levels of success. Issues raised were due to the short period time to decide projects, leading to the view that they were forced to make decisions without enough consideration. The next round of meetings to start in January 2022.


Related to Environmental Health and Animal Warfare, the newly recruited Animal Welfare Officer was in post, and worked closely with South Ribble’s equivalent to learn the role and undertake inspections of boarding and breeding centres.


There was a current vacancy in the Environmental Health Team, and following work related to Covid-19, a return to normality was forecast with ongoing inspections of food, housing, and health and safety. 


Jennifer Mullin highlighted that during her first year in the role across Shared Services, she had identified expertise at both authorities that had been utilised to the benefit of both Chorley and South Ribble.

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