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Updates from yesterday's Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting
Updated 5:55pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
This live event has finished
- Preliminary decision made to reduce library opening hours, with a core service maintained.
- Talks are also to go ahead with existing trusts about museum collections.
- Negotiations with the county's town, parish and city councils on priority areas for the first phase of devolved services will continue for three months.
- And talks will continue with Hereford City Council and other interested parties over the operation and redevelopment of the Butter Market.
An important meeting for the future of many county services today.
We now know that a preliminary decision has been made to reduce library opening hours, with a core service maintained.
Talks are also to go ahead with existing trusts about museum collections.
Negotiations with the county's town, parish and city councils on priority areas for the first phase of devolved services will continue for three months.
And talks will continue with Hereford City Council and other interested parties over the operation and redevelopment of the Butter Market.
Thanks for following today's live blog, please do leave your thoughts and comments on the meeting below.
Recommendation to continue talks with Hereford City Council and other interested parties over operation and redevelopment of Hereford Butter Market is approved.
Reecommendations relating to Herefordshire Council's responsibility for redeveloping the market were removed.
Recommendations have been removed apart from recommendation A.
Coun Hubbard says the city council has limited budget to be able to manage the building and they are being "extremely cautious".
Motion regarding libraries, customer services snd museums has been put forward and is approved.
Preliminary decision then that for customer services and libraries there will be a core service with top up, and for museums there will be discussions with existing trusts.
Butter Market discussions have been started with Hereford City Council.
A steering group has been set up to work on this, with hopes that within about six weeks the direction of travel would be known.
Recommendation for devolution of services is approved.
Coun Morgan says devolution will be a "good thing" for towns and parish councils.
Councillor Philip Price says it's the communities that will take services on.
Coun Johnson assures the public that there is an awareness that the public have particular interests in particular services and the best will be done to preserve them. No promises can be made regarding specific details however.
The overview and scrutiny committee will be ensuring that everything is "on track" and the public are getting the very best they can, councillor Seldon says.
There is a need to "get on with this" coun James says.
"We have the options, and there is only one that's viable."
Coun Bowen says many people, young and old, make the very best of the facilities and opening times need to be very carefully considered.
Coun Powers asks whether the decision can be made without the consent of full council.
John Jones, the council's head of governance, confirms that as an executive matter cabinet had the authority to take the decision without requirement to go to full council.
Shared buildings would be making better use of the facilities, he says.
"We should be rejoicing in the fact that we are saving some of the services."
Coun Powell says "Whether we like it or not we are struggling to fund services that people would not argue for very long, are essential.
"Against that, when we make decisions of this sort we must ask whether what we are doing is legal, whether its the best use of resources, whether the services are universal and accessible to everyone."
He says libraries are not universal services, with some people in some areas of the county not able to access them.
Coun Hamilton says it's been made plain that statutory obligations will be met and that vulnerable people will be protected.
But at the moment, given the budget, even those will prove difficult.
No single item in county's museums that costs more than £100,000 he said.
Does not support, and never could support, the total closure of libraries.
But the reduction of opening hours needs to be considered.
Leintwardine library could be run by the community, Coun Phillips said.
Rent costs £750 a month and electricity costs £830.
Discussions to be held with parish council.
"We have to be very practical," councillor Roger Phillips says.
If libraries were closed, buildings would be empty but would still have a lease that needs to be paid.
Cabinet hears that 3,446 people completed the surveys about the future of libraries and customer services.
We're now onto the topic of museums, libraries and customer services.
"You speak because I allow you to do so," councillor Johnson tells councillor James.
They have clashed again, this time over the relevance of a question put about the prime minister's comments on adoption service.
Coun James says the leader's stance is "a disgrace".
"It's about keeping things that are local and important to people at the heart of all this," he is told.
Assurance needed, councillor Graham Powell says, that the "good with outstanding features" that Herefordshire's adoption service is recognised for will be retained if a shared service is taken up.
Item 11, West Mercia Adoption Project, next up.
The report discusses how we might share the service across the West Mercia region.
"it's about assuring the best practice across the region in an essential but specialist service," councillor Patricia Morgan says.
Discussing employment support for those with learning disabilities , Councillor Hamilton says he can't believe that "even in a small community like Herefordshire" we cannot come up with "something better".
Helen Coombes says there are efforts being made to improve access to apprenticeships.
"We've not been as good as we should've about advising people of the changes once they become an adult and become eligible for adult social care," Jo Davidson says.
Some families, for example, aren't always aware about charges for these services.
This is something being addressed, she adds.
Item nine: Post 16 learners with learning difficulties and disabilities (LLDD) review now up for discussion.
"If we were inspected tomorrow we would not be judged as adequate," Jo Davidson admits.
"But we are working on a very significant improvement plan which includes a fundamental change.
"Progress is being made but it will take a long time to prove that we won't repeat what happened in the past."
She added there is no point not being honest about this.
Councillor John Jarvis says he has heard "rumours" that Herefordshire Council is heading towards a "bad Ofsted report".
Asks for reassurance that this isn't the case.
Councillor Sebastian Bowen says "we have made a good start" and must keep up this work.
Asks whether there are resources in place to be able to recruit the best staff possible for roles in safeguarding.
Councillor Tony Johnson and his chief executive Alistair Neill recently spent a day with social workers.
Said it gave an "appreciation" of the work that staff currently undertake and the most "difficult decisions" they make.
Councillor Roger Phillips says we need to be more "open" and "transparent" about what goes on behind closed doors.
Even if this is shocking.
Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Board business plan and annual report now being covered.
"The system means there is no current debate about things that really matter," Councillor Terry James has told cabinet to applause from the public gallery.
Council leader councillor Tony Johnson said: "A cabinet meeting is not a forum for general discussion."
The pair clashed over the extent of debate on the council's latest budget monitoring report which shows the cash stapped council already on course for a £4m overspend on the 2013-14 budget.
Item four of the agenda - budget monitoring report - is currently being discussed.
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