COUNCIL ROUND-UP: Action on needles, new policy on councillors' allowances, concerns for families and minute's silence for Valerie

Action on needles, a new policy on councillors' allowances and concerns for the families of children with disabilities were all part of Wednesday night's Full Council meeting.

Friday, 9th March 2018, 10:44 am
Updated Friday, 9th March 2018, 11:49 am
Needles previously found in Central Park

A motion put forward by Conservative member Cllr Andy Coles stated: "Residents in my ward in Fletton and Woodston have seen a noticeable increase in used needles being found in the streets, along the riverbank, in public toilets and even in children’s play areas.

"This problem is not seen purely in my own ward, but is becoming very noticeable across the city and members from my own and other political groups have been receiving reports from residents about discarded needles in public spaces."

The motion, which called on "Directors of Public Health and People and Communities to immediately put the structure in place to examine the issue and to work towards its resolution" was approved by councillors.

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Needles previously found in Central Park

Cabinet member for communities Cllr Irene Walsh said this is a top priority for the council and that an action plan is being developed. This will include tackling drug paraphernalia on private land.

Councillors also agreed that future independent recommendations on their allowances should be automatically agreed, "other than in the most exceptional circumstances."

It comes nearly 18 months after councillors agreed a near 27 per cent rise in their basic allowances, on top of increases for Special Responsibility Allowances which go to councillors in senior positions such as cabinet members.

Needles previously found in Central Park

That rise, which was recommended by an independent panel after a seven year freeze in members' allowances, costs the council an extra £186,000 a year.

Cllr Sandford said it was "wrong" that councillors should have to decide on their own pay. The agreed motion also calls on the council's chief executive to "write to the minister for local government requesting that legislation be brought forward to make the recommendations of independent member allowances panels mandatory on councils."

Both motions were approved without debate as the cut-off time for the meeting had passed, meaning councillors went straight to the vote.

One significant matter which did receive plenty of debate, though, was the future of The Manor in Dogsthorpe which will now no longer offer overnight care for children with disabilities.

The decision was part of the council's 2018/19 budget proposals.

Cabinet member for children's services Cllr Sam Smith said Cherry Lodge will still offer the same service for children if it is decided they need overnight care.

She also highlighted that there had been no amendment from the opposition to reverse the decision.

It was also added that Cherry Lodge is open seven days a week, rather than the four which The Manor is open.

Cllr Smith said: “Children will be assessed, and if they need overnight provision they will get overnight provision.”

However, this did not placate opposition councillors. Labour member for Park ward Cllr Richard Ferris said he had received "letter after letter" from families who use The Manor and say what is now being offered to them instead is "not appropriate for the needs of their children."

He added: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read some of these comments.”

Cllr Judy Fox, Werrington First member for Werrington, said: “A lot of special children do not like change and I’m sure it will affect them.”

The meeting began with a minute's silence for rough sleeper Valerie Collins who was found dead on Monday.