Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.
Councillor S. Webb, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing and Health and Wellbeing presented her annual report.
Councillor Webb advised that she did not intend to go through the report in detail, but took the opportunity to highlight and discuss some of the information it provided, and would then answer any questions Members had on it.
She began by saying how honoured she was to have this portfolio and being given the opportunity to work alongside and support the many conscientious, diligent and caring officers of the Council and also the numerous external organizations and partners who do so much good for the people of Bromsgrove. Whilst she had only worked on the portfolio for less than six months, she had been impressed by the many compassionate people in the district and the excellent support they offered to residents.
As portfolio holder, she looked forward to supporting the Council and its partners in the future to help them to continue the good work they did for the people of Bromsgrove, she would also work hard to make sure that the services continued to improve and just as importantly, reached every single resident that required them. This was where Members could help by ensuring all residents were aware of the support that was available. The report provided details on many of the support services that the Council and its partners’ offered, such as:
· The Healthy Horizons which was an individually tailored program of physical activity for people who suffer from many common ailments.
· The Strong and Steady Falls Prevention Intervention scheme
· The successful BURT bus scheme, which was now being used by more residents with mobility issues, with a 10% increase in registered users last year alone.
· The Couch to 5k Scheme, which in addition to being great for health was also a great way for residents to get out and about and make new friends.
· The new community exercise classes including Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Zumba
· The Escape Pain scheme to support residents who lived with arthritis
· Neuro Exercise sessions where staff worked with neuro physios at POWCH and Images gym on the provision of an exercise class for people living with neuro conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s disease, head injuries, and many more.
· The Active Kitchen, which provided 18 hours of activity and 57 meals served to young people aged 8-16. This is something she was currently working hard on introducing to more areas in the district, and newpartnerships had been forged with Catshill Baptist Church and the foodbank there, St Chads Church in Rubery and the West Mercia Police Safer Neighbourhood teams in the 5 targeted wards
There were more schemes and support packages available, many of which were listed in her report. She urged Members to use their local knowledge and contacts to ensure the Council reached every single resident in need, and every resident that would benefit from these services receives them.
Councillor Webb also took the opportunity to update Members on a subject that was very close to her heart. She had pushed for and supported new programs within the district to support residents with dementia and those people who care for them. The estimated percentage of the UK population aged over 60 with dementia was between 5-8%, and as over 20% of residents in Bromsgrove were aged over 65 it was something that has touched everyone in the Chamber somehow. She was pleased to report that Worcestershire County Council had set aside a sum of money for each district to start up a Dementia Meeting place and she was working with the Public Health Practitioner to try and bring this forward. She asked that all Members make a physical effort in their wards to ensure all residents who would benefit from this were made aware of it.
Councillor Webb then spoke about strategic housing, as this had so much impact on the health and well-being of residents. Firstly, reducing Homelessness was a real priority to her. She considered the best way to tackle this was by active prevention, and also by ensuring early intervention if someone was found rough sleeping. To enable this the Council continued to fund a rapid-response service via Caring for Communities and People (CCP) who specialized in helping people at risk of homelessness to avoid ending up being on the streets. She took the opportunity to thank the Council’s partners at BDHT for the hard work they did towards both the prevention and early intervention of homelessness in Bromsgrove.
The provision of 61 new homes was planned for the Burcot Lane site and the Council continued to work with partners such as BDHT to build more. She would also be examining what extra steps the Council might be able to take to increase the supply of affordable housing, especially for local residents struggling to purchase a home, given that property prices were high here.
Councillor Webb then took the opportunity for her thanks to be formally minuted for the hard work and dedication of the many partners the Council had that supported the residents of Bromsgrove. In particular she thanked all the organizations and individuals in the Local Strategic Partnership, including the Community Wellbeing Theme Group and the Ageing Well Sub Group. She also gave her personally thanks to officers, for their support and patience with her over the last six months.
Following presentation of her report, Councillor Webb responded to a number of questions and comments made by Members, this included:
· Reference to a number of private businesses being made within the report and whether this was appropriate. It was highlighted that these businesses were service providers and the Council worked in partnership with them.
· Concerns that residents and their children had to rely on projects such as the Active Kitchen and local food banks.
· Take up of the BURT (Bromsgrove Urban and Rural Transport) services and how this service could be expanded. Councillor Webb advised that currently it was only one bus that was providing the service, but she was working to increase and promote the service. She also highlighted the recent consultation which Worcestershire County Council had organised.
· It was commented and clarified that County Councillors had contributed from their divisional funds to the Active Kitchen project and therefore it had not been solely a District Council project.
· The wording around homelessness did not give the right impression of the Council’s position on this, as it would want it to be zero and not relatively stable.
· The Council’s stance on affordable housing provision in its Section 106 agreements with developers. It was discussed as to why it stated up to 40% as in some cases it could be more than this and the developer would do 100%.
· Support was given to the Dementia Group and a number of Members volunteered their services.
· The number of people on the housing waiting list and how this had increased in recent years and the data available. Councillor Webb responded that 90% of those on the list not being a high priority, she agreed to provide a full response in writing outside of the meeting.
· The community exercise class and walking for health sessions – Members asked if these would be rolled out more widely across the district. Councillor Webb agreed to provide Members with the programme outside of the meeting. She also confirmed that if there was a particular need in an area, then officers would assess what was needed.
· The definition of social housing and the difference between this and affordable, reference was also made to part ownership and social rented accommodation. There needed to be a clear definition between the two types when developers were putting forward proposals.
· It was confirmed that the Burcot Lane site, would also provide for care leavers. Councillor Webb advised those Members who had not already seen them, that there were a number of drawings and diagrams for the proposed site in the Members’ Room.
· The availability of notes from the Local Strategic Partnership meetings.
The Leader thanked Councillor Webb for her first Portfolio Holder report.