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Changes under the new Social Services proposal, Blocked!

CHANGES to the structure of Powys County Council’s scrutiny committees have been blocked.

At a Powys County Council meeting, on Thursday, March 2 changes to the structure that had been recommended by the Democratic Services committee were debated by councillors

This had been done to share out some of the work of the Economic, Residents and Communities (ERC) scrutiny committee.

Under the new proposals scrutiny of Social Services would be split between two separate scrutiny committees.

Head of legal and democratic service Clive Pinney said: “The ERC deals with everything in the council with the exception of education and social care, that is a huge task.”

The new committee scrutiny structure would be Children’s and Young People, Economy and Environment and Adults and Housing.

Conservative Cllr Amanda Jenner is the chairwoman of the Health and Care scrutiny committee which deals with social services.

Cllr Jenner said: “I’m not in favour of this proposal, I think it’s a shame we’ve been working really well.

“It’s going to be really difficult to work out in practice with the crossovers.”

She believed that children’s and adult social services should be looked at together rather than see children put into the same scrutiny committee as education.

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Cllr Jenner said: “If you put children’s (social services) in with education during the backdrop of (school) transformation which is going to take up all of their time, children’s is going to be overlooked.”

Learning and Skills scrutiny committee chairman, Conservative Cllr Gwynfor Thomas wondered if he could cope with having children’s social services added to education.

Cllr Thomas said: “I’m really worried about taking on children’s social services, it’s a massive workload and I have no expertise in it.

“If (school) transformation speeds up I really wonder if I can cope with it and I’d have to consider my role.”

Deputy leader, Labour’s Cllr Matthew Dorrance explained that the new committee structure would reflect the administration’s new “stronger, fairer, greener” corporate plan.

“The directorates have been restructured by the chief executive and this new proposal on the committee structure reflects that.”

He added that senior staff could be better “aligned” to scrutiny committees under the proposed structure as they currently “serve” multiple committees.

As a former ERC chairman, Cllr Dorrance explained that the agenda had been dominated by the Highways Transport and Recycling department.

Cllr Dorrance said that there: “had not been enough time” to scrutinise some service areas such as leisure or housing.

Liberal Democrat chairwoman of the ERC, Cllr Angela Davies said: “The issue with ERC is the vast range of council services that we look at.

“Yes we do need to change, we have to do something differently, but to change and risk it not being right is not the answer either.”

“We need to look at this again and be confident that we’ve made the right decision and we have the right mix and skill sets in the groups.”

The changes were rejected with 36 voted against the proposal, 23 in favour and three abstentions.

This means that the Democratic Services committee will look at fresh proposals in a year’s time.