Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 7th February, 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Anna Taylor  03000 416478

Media

Items
No. Item

43.

Declarations of Interests by Members in items on the Agenda for this Meeting

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

44.

Call-in of Decision 23/00122 - Kent Community Warden Service Review pdf icon PDF 291 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.    The Chairman introduced the item and invited the proposer of the call-in, Dr Sullivan, to provide an overview of the reasons for her call-in. Mr Sole, representing the seconder Mr Hook, was also invited to speak.

 

2.    Dr Sullivan set out the reasons for her call-in. She raised concerns that insufficient information had been provided on the impact of the decision, including how the service crossed over with other community navigator and social prescribing services commissioned by KCC. She added that an assessment of how the community warden and social prescribing services could be combined to ensure stronger outcomes was also required to fully inform the decision options. It was stated that the decision would burden other partners, including Kent Police, and would hinder anti-social behaviour prevention.

 

3.    Mr Sole gave his reason for supporting the call-in. He asserted that the new service model would not be able to achieve the same positive outcomes as the previous model. He highlighted the findings of the Positive Wellbeing Pilot, as reported to Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee in November 2023, which recognised that socially isolated residents were more likely to require health and social care services, and that the Positive Wellbeing service delivered by Community Wardens reduced social isolation. He raised concerns that the new model and reduced staff would impact social isolation across the county. He added that the service’s preventive impact would be reduced to the overall financial detriment of the Council, with other services, including adult social care, bearing a greater cost.

 

4.    The Chairman invited Mrs Bell to provide an overview of the decision.

 

5.    Mrs Bell gave an overview of her decision to redesign the Kent Community Warden Service. She explained that the decision was required to reduce the service’s base budget by £1.06m, which constituted almost half the service’s budget, in line with the Council’s 2023/24 revenue budget. She noted that public and member consultation had taken place prior to the decision and a series of alternative options, including narrowing the service’s remit, becoming a reactive service, reducing the size of the service and allocating wardens based on need only, with no minimum commitment to each district and cessation of the service, had been considered and discarded. She advised that the decision met the Council’s financial commitments whilst ensuring that the service continued to operate effectively across the county.

 

6.    Members made comments on the decision and asked a range of questions. The key points raised and responded to by the Cabinet Member and officers present included the following:

 

a.    Following a question from a Member, Mrs Bell reminded Members that the Community Warden Service was discretionary and would continue to fulfil its emergency responsibilities. Mr Peerbux noted that the service was one component of a larger civil contingency network.

 

b.    Mr Peerbux confirmed, following a question from a Member, that Kent Police had been consulted on the implications of the decision prior to the public consultation.

 

c.    A Member commented that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.