Agenda and minutes

Special, Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 12 November 2018 6.30pm

Venue: Meeting Room 9 - Level 3, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR. View directions

Contact: Teri Reynolds, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

523.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Purdy, Akinola Edun (Parent Governor representative), Clive Mailing (Roman Catholic Diocese) and the Medway Parent and Carers Forum.

524.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 4 October 2018. 

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 4 October was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct.

525.

Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report. 

Minutes:

There were none.

526.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 4.

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

Councillor Cooper declared an OSI in any reference made to Rivermead School by virtue of her position as a Governor at the school and would leave the room should there be any specific discussion on Rivermead School.

 

David Lane (Parent Governor representative) declared an OSI in any reference made to Abbey Court School by virtue of his position as a Parent Governor at the school and would leave the room should there be any specific discussion on Abbey Court School.

 

Other interests

 

There were none.

527.

Call-in: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Provision Proposal pdf icon PDF 310 KB

This report advises the Committee of a notice of call-in received from eight Members of the Council of Cabinet decision 125/2018 to:

 

Approve the progression by Medway Commercial Group of an Independent Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Special School on the Cornwallis site, which includes provision for residential and respite care.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion: 

 

Councillor Johnson introduced the report, explaining the reasons behind the call in of the Cabinet decision 125/2018, as set out in the report.  He confirmed that the Labour Group were not opposed to the principle of additional autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) provision but raised a number of concerns, on behalf of the Members that had called in the decision, which related to delivery of the project by Medway Commercial Group (MCG), finances and the proposed site.

 

·           Suitability of MCG – he expressed concern in relation to MCG’s lack of experience in delivering a £25million project.  Concerns had previously been raised in other meetings in relation to services currently provided by MCG, such as CCTV and Governor Services and there was therefore concern for the Members in relation to the capacity of MCG to deliver on a much larger project.  He also expressed the view that the role of MCG was unclear, and questioned why Medway Development Company were not instead being used and whether any other organisations had been considered before deciding to work in partnership with MCG on this project.

 

·           Funding – he expressed concern that the financing arrangements for the project were still vague and unclear, which raised concerns for the Council.  He referred to section 4.3 of the report which referenced the need for a detailed business case and suggested that when this had been completed and when there was a definite decision on the financing of the project, that these should be open to scrutiny.

 

·           Site – he lastly expressed concern in relation to the site being proposed, listing the site’s proximity to other large educational provision, the traffic and road layouts at the site which were congested at peak times, the cemetery adjacent to the site and the impact on visitors of the cemetery and local residents. He requested further details about why the proposed site at Cornwallis Avenue was chosen and what other sites had been considered.

 

The Director of People – Children and Adults and the Head of Education responded to the questions and comments raised.  The officers confirmed the significant and rapid increase in demand for Special Education Need and Disability (SEND) provision in Medway, explaining that there had been a 55% increase in demand of SEND places in the last four year period.  They then responded to the three specific areas:

 

·           MCG – Officers explained that MCG was a Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo) which worked with the Council on a number of services.  It was confirmed that the project was at a very early stage and that MCG had identified a range of consultants with the industry recognised expertise to assist with the development of a detailed business case.  Officers stressed the role of the Programme Board which had been set up to oversee the project’s progress and that the purpose of the Cabinet report had been to demonstrate the work so far on the project and to obtain approval to move the project forward.  It was also confirmed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 527.