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Currently Displaying 36 records of 3236 sorted by date added
Level Agency Type Topic Summary Publication Date Open Date Closed Date Added
Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - environmental management Organisations have an immense impact on the environment with each having its own unique set of impacts. Whilst the production of goods and services and the creation of employment and wealth form the basis of our modern lifestyle, the drive for a more sustainable approach is rapidly rising up the agenda.
The aim of this review was to assess how the council is meeting its obligations towards environmental management of its assets and resources, particularly in the Council House, Oldbury. And what barriers were there to the successful implementation of an environmental management system.
We found a pressing need to communicate the environmental management system and environmental messages to staff. There is clearly a need to drive the environmental management system through middle managers as part of the business planning process. We also noted the link to sustainable procurement and the impact of partners on the environmental management system.
There is clearly a need for a commitment to ‘invest to save’ to enable environmental improvements to be trialled and embedded.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - green spaces Green spaces are a crucial part of community life; they provide a place for children to play, dogs to be walked and for all of us to enjoy some respite from urban life. A well as this, they are vital in protecting biodiversity, and play a part in adapting to and tackling climate change.
Lying in the heart of the Black Country, Sandwell is an urban area with a strong industrial heritage. Despite this, it has a green space equivalent to approximately 2,500 football pitches within its boundaries. This amount of green space has huge potential to improve the lives of peoples in Sandwell, if it is managed in the right way.
While undertaking this review we heard from a wide range of people who work in and use our parks and green spaces. This included; younger people from the Youth  Cabinet, older people from Agewell Forums, a number of Friends of Parks groups, representatives from Sandwell Primary Care Trust as well as officers of the council. We also took a tour of a selection of the green spaces in the borough, to see first hand how they are used and maintained.
We found that there is a need to clearly state what we want from our green spaces, with much more community involvement, partially enabled by better sign-posted and easier to access spaces. In order to achieve this, management of our green spaces needs to be better co-ordinated and targeted, both across council services and partner  organisations. If all this can be achieved, our green spaces should better contribute to the health, well-being and happiness of people in Sandwell, now and for future generations.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Annual Report 2009

The production of an annual report is a statutory requirement of Overview and Scrutiny functions.

The report is a way of communicating the work we've undertaken and the improvements made to the lives of Sandwell residents.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - gypsies and travellers I take great pride in presenting the following report to you. It is the accumulation of twelve months intensive work undertaken by the Equality & Diversity Scrutiny Panel at Sandwell Council. The key point I want to make is that the recommendations made in the report are not radical, nor will they ask Sandwell to offer provisions that other council’s are not already doing. What this report does is to ensure that Sandwell is at a level with other parts of the UK in ensuring that the needs of Gypsies and Travellers are being met.
This report works very much within the context of the current national agenda. In order to meet the basic expectations of the current national agenda Sandwell needs to ensure that:
   • Gypsies and Travellers live longer, happier and stronger lives than they currently do as part of a stable and cohesive society
   • Gypsy and Traveller communities get a proper service from the local authority, local health services and other service providers
   • There is no fear of racial bullying in schools against Gypsy and Traveller children and young people and that academic results accurately reflect their talents, potential and achievements
  • Where Gypsies and Travellers live, both on sites and in bricks and mortar they are accepted and welcomed as part of our diverse and open society
I accept that this report will not change the lives of Gypsies and Travellers overnight but hopefully the recommendations will start the process of reconciliation between the Gypsy and Traveller communities and the settled communities in Sandwell.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - services and provision for deaf community

The politics of the Deaf community are extremely complex and at times difficult to navigate. However, we have attempted to do so with tact and understanding. Some of the main points that became evident during the course of the Review included the higher levels of mental health problems within the Deaf community in particular in BME communities. A key conclusion that the Panel kept revisiting was that if we get early intervention right then more intensive intervention later is often not necessary. For this reason, we cannot emphasise more strongly the need to ensure our Deaf children and young people are given every opportunity to succeed and be at no disadvantage to hearing children and young people.
We are also very keen that further pieces of work are undertaken to fully look at the current transitional arrangements so that the move from children and young people’s services to adult services are as seamless as possible.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - sustainable procurement

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council spends over £130 million a year on purchasing goods and services. As one of the largest organisations in the Borough, the Council has considerable purchasing power both in Sandwell and the West Midlands. Our procurement supports local businesses, contributes to the health and well-being of citizens, and can have a positive impact on the environment. It is vital that we consider carefully the manner in which we spend public money, and ensure that in doing so we maximise the benefit of our procurement.

In conducting this Review, we have spoken to policy makers within the Council, who have many different perspectives within the Council, including those involved with procurement and with ensuring the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the Borough. We have also heard from independent consultants and officers from the Primary Care Trust, on how we can ensure that our procurement of food can contribute to the health and economic well-being of the people of Sandwell. I would like to extend my thanks to those who contributed to this Review.

It is clear that there is a genuine desire to use the procurement of goods and services to create a healthier, economically vibrant and sustainable Sandwell. The goal is to now translate that desire into action, and it is my hope that this Review will contribute to the debate on how we move forward.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny -meeting care needs of older people Initially, the specific aim of this Review was to capture learning from the closure of the Kingsmeadow Residential Home and assess how Sandwell is addressing the requirements of the new legislative framework for older people. However, the pace of the modernising programme for Adult Services within Sandwell Council was such that the Review largely focused on scrutiny of specific decisions within the programme, namely the proposed closure of four residential homes.
We looked at the drivers towards moving resources away from institutional care, to extended domiciliary services, which will enable people to stay at home, and flexible Extra Care Housing as an alternative to residential care. And we have monitored the processes that have led to the closure of four of our residential centres as part of this process.
We agree with the need for such changes and applaud the efforts of Adult Services and the Cabinet Member for Adult Services & Health in ensuring the successful closure of the residential homes.
However, we still have concerns about the effect of these policies on carers, and how the daily needs of our older people remaining in their homes will be met by our outreach services.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - decent homes The Decent Homes project, to improve the standard of public housing in the Borough, is the largest building project ever undertaken in Sandwell. By 2012, approximately 29,500 households will have received improvements, which for many tenants will have meant a comprehensive and potentially highly disruptive renovation.
For a tenant living through the Decent Homes work, the disruption can be incredibly traumatic. This makes it absolutely vital that we do everything we can to ensure that  disruption to tenants is kept to a minimum. Key to this is to prepare tenants fully for the work ahead, and to keep them informed of what is happening to their home as the work continues. It is unlikely that such a large and complex project will run entirely smoothly. When things do go wrong, it is important that Sandwell Homes rectifies those problems as quickly as possible. In particular, Sandwell Homes must ensure that it does everything in its power to protect its most vulnerable customers. This Review was conducted with the full co-operation of Sandwell Homes, and their willingness to take part, as well as their openness in sharing information with us, is gratefully acknowledged. It demonstrates that Sandwell Homes are committed to the principles of effective customer service, and work hard to develop and improve the service they provide to tenants.
The Review identifies several instances where it feels that Sandwell Homes can develop its customer service further, to improve its service whether work is running smoothly or not. It makes a number of recommendations that it hopes will contribute to Sandwell Homes commitment to constant improvement.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Annual Report 2008

The production of an annual report is a statutory requirement of Overview and Scrutiny functions.

The report is a way of communicating the work we've undertaken and the improvements made to the lives of Sandwell residents.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Looked after children and young people Corporate Parenting and the issues faced by Looked After Children and Young People (LAC & YP) should be at the very heart of the Council’s work; they are some of our most vulnerable people and as such the Children & Young People Scrutiny Panel, in partnership with the Looked After Children (LAC) Board, undertook an in-depth Review to ensure that the Council was fulfilling its duty.
The Panel agreed to undertake this piece of work in order to make sure that recommendations ensuring continued progress after the Deloitte Report (August 2007) showed improvement in the safeguarding of Looked After Children. We have not managed to look at everything we set out to do but have tried to cover key areas, led by he LAC board and their experiences of “the system”. One area we want to consider further, through a separate Review, is that of “Leaving Care”. We will be recommending the Scrutiny Management Board agree for this be included in the Scrutiny Work Programme for the 2008/2009 Municipal Year.
In 1998 Frank Dobson issued a letter to local authorities which developed the very heart of the corporate parenting agenda which is “If this were your child”. Throughout this piece of work I have kept this at the forefront of my mind so that recommendations can be made to ensure that LAC & YP are not disadvantaged and are offered equality of opportunity in life.
Whilst Frank Dobson was directing his letter to councillors and council officers, I would broaden this out to the whole community. And so as you read this Review I ask you to do the same. Looked After Children and Young People are your children and so ask yourself what would you want for your child?
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - walking friendly place In 2001 Sandwell’s Walking in Sandwell Strategy highlighted the positive contribution that walking could make to people’s lives by improving health, limiting environmental damage caused by excessive car use, and by helping to improve air quality by reducing traffic congestion. Taking this as a starting point for our Review, we aimed to examine what progress the Council and its partners had achieved towards making Sandwell a walking friendly place. We looked at the national, regional and local policy framework, and examined the range and effectiveness of current educational and health initiatives for children and adults. We also examined the impact of community safety initiatives on the level of walking in Sandwell. We spoke to a number of interest groups and heard about the experiences of disabled people when walking around the Borough. Finally, we conducted a survey in each of the six towns asking about walking habits and the main issues affecting them.
We found that there is a broad and well-intentioned set of walking related policies and programmes, but they lack co-ordination across the Borough. Whilst we believe that the Council and its partners have developed a strong platform to build on, they now need to be more robust and pro-active in their efforts to co-ordinate and encourage walking as a genuine choice.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - archaeology in the borough

Sandwell’s archaeological heritage is rich and varied. Place names and artefacts point to 8,000 years of human activity in the Borough. The aim of this review was to consider how to raise the profile of archaeology in the borough, and how to ensure that the significance of the archaeological potential is realised in terms of exploration and preservation. We looked at the policy framework and learned more about the depth of heritage within the Borough. We heard about the “Dig Manchester” project, a beacon project in  community archaeology, and heard from various Council services as to how they could use archaeology and what potential benefits and barriers there might be.
There is much archaeology remaining to be discovered but our Historic Environment & Planning Development Teams are under pressure due to under resourcing. This is affecting the Borough Archaeologist in his role as the curator and publicist for the Borough’s archaeology.
We also learned of the huge potential for community archaeology. The opportunity for social interaction has the potential to foster greater community cohesion. And it is an exciting potential addition to schools curricula. It can also provide skills development opportunities and “Dig Manchester” has shown that it can help to reduce anti-social behaviour levels.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - alcohol misuse Alcohol is an enjoyable part of social and cultural life in Britain, but alcohol misuse is a serious problem in Sandwell, and throughout Britain. Many of us regularly drink more than the recommended levels of alcohol consumption, yet we all too often forget the negative health consequences of this, focusing instead upon the very visible anti-social behaviour that binge drinking can lead to.
The review investigated what progress is being made in the Borough to help those who misuse alcohol through treatment and support services, and also through examining the role of preventative work in the Borough, to explore how we are trying to change attitudes towards alcohol misuse, and educate people about the negative health consequences of drinking too much alcohol.
The hidden harms of alcohol misuse were a particular concern of the Panel, as alcohol misuse does not just have a negative impact upon the person drinking alcohol; their resultant behaviour can also impact negatively upon those around them, and place vulnerable groups at greater risk. The Panel welcomed this aspect of the review as it highlighted the need for all agencies in Sandwell to work together with a strategic approach to target all aspects of alcohol misuse.
The review also explored the work of Trading Standards and the Police in addressing illegal sales of alcohol in the Borough, as it was felt that even though the health consequences of alcohol misuse were our main focus of the review, it is only through a joined up approach to all of these issues, that we can best tackle the harms of alcohol misuse.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Annual Report 2007

The production of an annual report is a statutory requirement of Overview and Scrutiny functions.

The report is a way of communicating the work we've undertaken and the improvements made to the lives of Sandwell residents.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny -skills for life

The term Basic Skills has recently been renamed as ‘Skills for Life’ and includes people’s literacy and numeracy skills, ICT (computer) skills and English for people whose first language is not English. ‘Skills for Life’ in Sandwell is a key aspect of the overall education improvement strategy aiming to challenge the culture of educational under attainment, deliver real and lasting improvements in education and improve opportunities for  employment and further training.

This review supports the Council’s key priority ‘Educational attainment – the key to a brighter future.

The Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2004 ranks Sandwell as the 14th most deprived borough in the country. The links between poor literacy and numeracy skills, and socio-economic disadvantage are well documented. In addition, parents with low levels of skills are more likely to have children who underachieve at school. Poor literacy and numeracy skills combined with poor vocational skills make the task of improving skills difficult. People in this situation are less likely to gain employment or be able to improve their employment situation, nor are they well placed to support their children with their education. The education and Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Panel’s review of Parental Involvement in their Children’s Education (2005) found that the skills and knowledge of parents were key in supporting the child’s education.

This review has come at an opportune time as the Sandwell Partnership and the Council are making considerable efforts to improve ‘Skills for Life’, which are key to the regeneration of the borough. ‘Skills for Life’ are also key to improving the financial well being of people in Sandwell, as well as tackling deprivation and exclusion. There is a real commitment and desire to support learners and make a difference to their lives and life chances, from those working in the field. However as this review was undertaken it soon became clear that there is a need for a co-ordinated multi pronged approach to addressing the issue of low skills in Sandwell. I hope that the findings and recommendations of this review will contribute to the ‘Skills for Life’ Strategy in ensuring sustainable outcomes of the work undertaken.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - BCC The review into Black Country Consortium Ltd was part of a wider exercise looking at 3 of Sandwell’s key partnerships to ensure they are providing value for money for the residents of Sandwell.
The main tenet of the review was to be open, inclusive and transparent and many people have worked together in quite a unique way to bring us to this point.
The purpose of this review is to provide constructive recommendations for joint improvement. It is hoped that this report will be received in the manner in which it was undertaken, which was to explore the key questions in an open and objective way.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - employment of disabled people within the council The Council is the largest employer in the area and has a wide range of high-level policies and strategies around this role as an employer. As with wider society most disabled people do want to secure paid employment, with the opportunities to progress and develop their careers. Unfortunately they continue to face many barriers some of which the Council can make a significant contribution to eradicating. This review sought to establish the nature of those barriers and how they could be overcome.
As well as its role as a major employer, the Council has a role as community leader in Sandwell; in this role it is important that it leads by example and champions the employment of disabled people.
This review has established that there is a strong desire and commitment to improve the employment opportunities for disabled people within the Council. Various pieces of work and initiatives are under way with some success. The Council now needs to set itself some challenging targets to make greater progress. It is clear that the policy is well established and it is important that the move is now made from policy development and aspiration to action, ensuring real changes within the Council.
Whilst the focus of this review has, quite rightly, been on disabled people, it is clear that many, if not all, interventions intended to improve the employment of disabled people will also improve the employment for non-disabled employees, and ultimately this can only serve to benefit all the people of Sandwell.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Regenco This report has been produced by the External Affairs and Partnerships Scrutiny Panel and concludes its enquiry into Regenco. The review into Regenco was part of a wider exercise looking at three of Sandwell’s key partnerships to ensure they are providing value for money for the residents of Sandwell.
The main tenet of the Review was to be open, inclusive and transparent and many people have worked together in quite a unique way to bring us to this point. I am particularly grateful to all those from the Regenco who undertook the self-assessment, its stakeholders who gave their views and took part in a valuable workshop, and the small officer team who undertook the detailed work.
The purpose of this Review is to provide constructive recommendations for joint improvement. It is hoped that this report will be received in the manner in which it was undertaken, which was to explore the key questions in an open and objective way.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Urban Living This report has been produced by the External Affairs and Partnerships Scrutiny Panel and concludes its enquiry into Urban  Living. The review into Urban Living took place during Summer 2007, and was part of a wider exercise looking at three of  Sandwell’s key partnerships to ensure they are providing value for money for the residents of  Sandwell.
The main tenet of the Review was to be open, inclusive and transparent and many people have worked together in quite a  unique way to bring us to this point. I am particularly grateful to all those from the Urban Living who undertook the self- assessment, its stakeholders who gave their views and took part in a valuable workshop, and the small officer team who undertook the detailed work. The purpose of this Review is to provide constructive recommendations for joint improvement. It is  hoped that this report will be received in the manner in which it was undertaken, which was to explore the key questions in an  open and objective way.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - the pUBLIC THE pUBLIC, previously known as C/Plex has been met with both controversy and intrigue. Its vision has challenged and yet fascinated. The largest arts centre in Europe to be built in the middle of West Bromwich, a town more acknowledged for its industrial legacy rather than for its cultural and arts characteristics. This project promised to breathe a new energy into the town, to begin that wind of change that would enable West Bromwich to compete as a modern town and provide Sandwell with a new 21st Century identity.
This dream was immobilised in March 2006 when THE pUBLIC Ltd went into administration due to cost overruns and project delays. Following prolonged negotiations to bring it back from the brink of collapse, its future seems more certain. The purpose of this Scrutiny enquiry was not to be wise after the event but to understand why this course of events which led THE pUBLIC to be placed in the hands of the administrator came to place and what lessons could be learnt from the experience.
THE pUBLIC is central to realising key strategic policies for Sandwell, most significantly strategies for regeneration and culture; it also has an impact on the realisation of the Council’s corporate priorities. The project has attracted considerable public and media attention both nationally and locally and its advancement has been difficult and controversial.
The Panel acknowledge that this was a challenging and difficult issue for all stakeholders and partners to consider and are indebted to all who have contributed information and evidence to this enquiry. It is hoped that the report will be received in the manner in which it was undertaken which was to explore in an objective way the reasons why THE pUBLIC went into administration and consequently what can be learnt from this turn of events.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Play Strategy Sandwell’s Play Strategy vision states that ‘Every child in Sandwell has an equal right to Play in a safe and stimulating environment and enjoy their health and childhood experiences through a range of quality formal and informal Play opportunities’.
The Panel were keen to investigate the progress made towards meeting this vision, with a particular focus on Play provision for children with disabilities across the borough.
The review has highlighted that there is a need to maximise the impact of Play provision across Sandwell by working closer with our strategic partners.
Provision also needs to be better co-ordinated and targeted to meet the needs of our most deprived citizens, particularly the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, as previously highlighted by an earlier Scrutiny review, by the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel, of Services & Support for Children & Young People with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities.
Our recommendations are aimed at further embedding Play as a fundamental part of our children’s development, by building a more professional service and working in greater partnership with other agencies and the local community.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny -support to children with SEN & Disabilities Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s Children & Young People Scrutiny Panel undertook an in-depth study to consider how children and young people with a disability and/or special educational need are supported, and how effectively services are delivered to meet their needs and the needs of their families and carers.
The Panel particularly wanted to understand the real life experiences of children, young people, their parents, carers and families, how effective the support is they receive, and how this needs to be, and can be improved.
The panel learnt through this review that there is a huge range of services to meet the needs of children and young people in Sandwell. Recently the Sandwell Integrated Support Service has been established to bring about a better coordinated and joined up approach, which is beginning to make an impact.
However there is still a real need for further improvements regarding coordination not only between different services but also within services. The review did give some consideration to looked after children.
The review supported the Council’s 3 corporate priorities:

  • Educational attainment
  • Safer, cleaner and stronger communities
  • Strengthening the protection and support for vulnerable children

Since this review concluded gathering evidence the Government has published the ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children; better support for families’ document, which reinforces our findings and recommendations. Additionally the aforementioned document recognises Sandwell as a centre of good practice in our initial developments regarding the improvements being made to assisting the transition to adulthood for children and young people with a disability and/or special educational needs.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Sure Start Sandwell has 8 local Sure Start Programmes of which 7 will be re-designated as Children’s Centres in phase 1 (2006). The eighth Sure Start Programme will become a Children’s Centre in phase 2 (2007). Further Children’s Centres are planned across the borough, and it is envisaged there will be around 20 Children’s Centres in total.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s Children & Young People Scrutiny Panel undertook an in-depth study to consider how the Sure Start Programmes have achieved the objectives which were set for them, identify what can be learnt from local Sure Start Programmes in Sandwell and how this can influence the development of Children’s Centres to ensure the needs of children and their families in Sandwell are effectively met.
Local Sure Start Programmes formed a cornerstone of the Government's drive to tackle child poverty and social exclusion for the long term, based on firm evidence of what works. The key aim being to improve the health and well being of children aged up to 4 and their families before, and from birth, so that they have the best possible start in life and are ready to thrive when they go to school. In 1999 60 trailblazer schemes were developed across the country with further programmes being set up in subsequent years.
The Children & Young People Scrutiny Panel established its Review to examine how the Sure Start Programmes have achieved the objectives which were set for them by the Government within the 4 themes:-
   · Improving the social and emotional development of children
   · Improving health
   · Improving children’s ability to learn
   · Strengthening families and communities?
The Panel wanted to establish what could be learnt from local Sure Start Programmes in Sandwell and how this could influence the development of Children’s Centres?
As the transition from Sure Start Programmes to Children’s Centres is underway, as with other major developments it is crucial to ensure as many of the positives which enabled the Sure Start Programmes to have been effective in engaging the local community and implemented effective services are retained in the development of the Children’s Centres, and made even better so all our families can be happy and thrive.
A key measure of success is when things do get difficult, or if there are problems, the family already know how to access the services which can help them before things get to crisis point. Families’ lives are often very complex, for example having children in different age groups, parents working often long and/or difficult working hours, and some parents who are not working wish to undertake training but need additional specific support. The approach of the Sure Start Programmes has been to work in a flexible way around the needs of the family to ensure they do receive appropriate support and services.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Annual Report 2006

The production of an annual report is a statutory requirement of Overview and Scrutiny functions.

The report is a way of communicating the work we've undertaken and the improvements made to the lives of Sandwell residents.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - SCVO The voluntary sector is in increasing demand.  Hardly a Government white paper goes by without stating that charities should be key providers of public services.
This Scrutiny Review was undertaken within this context and bearing in mind that Voluntary and community sector organizations have a crucial role to play in the development and delivery of public services and the reinvigoration of civic life in Sandwell. The NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) in its manifesto for voluntary action has outlined a number of principles which very aptly sum up the way in which voluntary and community activity contributes to the social, cultural, political and economic life of an area, these are:
   · bringing people together and enabling them to participate in the life of their community
   · giving voice to their concerns and enabling their voices to be heard
   · promoting more responsive public services, whether by providing services directly or by advocating on behalf of service users, individually and collectively
   · contributing to the social economy and to economic development
This report has been produced by the External Affairs and Partnerships Scrutiny Panel and concludes its enquiry into: “how can the SCVO (Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations) better support the development of an effective and robust voluntary and community sector?”
The review included an examination of the relationship between SCVO and the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in Sandwell, suggesting ways in which it might be developed to both improve the delivery of services and encourage civil renewal. Many people have worked together in quite a unique way to bring us to this point. I am particularly grateful to all those from the VCS in Sandwell and across the Partnership who contributed and the small officer team who undertook the detailed work.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report

Scrutiny - planning obligations

The issue of planning obligations was highlighted for scrutiny at a time when members of the Panel were concerned about the effectiveness of the Council's policies and procedures for monitoring the expenditure of money
collected from planning obligations.
A further issue for members of the Panel was ensuring current practices linked to planning obligations agreements were being used to deliver real benefits to the residents of Sandwell.
The Panel recognises that considerable improvements in the process for monitoring planning obligations have been made during the course of this review. The Panel welcomes the decision of the Council to appoint an
officer with responsibility for monitoring current and future planning obligations; a key issue highlighted by the Panel.
The report gives a summary of the main findings based on the evidence presented to the Panel. The report makes a number of recommendations, which are intended to strengthen the Council’s existing practices for monitoring money received from future planning obligations.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - LGBT young people This Review considered what services and support are specifically available, and how services should be made more accessible and relevant for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual/transgender (LGBT) Young People living in Sandwell.
This Review supports the Council’s following priorities:

· ‘Safer, cleaner, stronger communities – for all citizens in Sandwell’
· ‘Strengthening the protection and support for vulnerable children’

Members of the Sandwell Youth Cabinet and Sandwell Youth Parliament have been fully involved in every aspect of this Review. Their input has proved invaluable. The delivery and provision of effective and relevant services and support for our young people is essential. As a Council we are making concerted efforts to ensure that the borough is seen as an attractive and vibrant place for young people to live fulfilled and healthy lives.
The Panel was keen to ensure that LGBT young people also had an effective choice of service and were able to voice their concerns. The work undertaken by the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) funded Space Project had run from January 2002-March 2004. It was a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual youth development programme, managed through the Sandwell Primary Care (NHS) Trusts (PCTs). Its findings underpinned the work undertaken by the Panel. On its completion the project made a number of
recommendations to different agencies in Sandwell when it ended in March 2004 seeking to embed its findings into the policy and practice of agencies and organisations.
This Panel found the Space Project had been a very valuable project and were keen to ensure recommendations have been progressed. The consequences of not addressing the needs of LGBT young people can be very serious indeed in terms of poor mental health, low self esteem, feelings of isolation which can result in severe
depressive illnesses, self-harm and even suicide. There are also consequences for Education as it can also result in school bullying, school absence, and poor educational performance. Sadly it is also not unusual for these young people to be rejected by family members and on occasions be made homeless.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Academy schools

The Academy Schools Programme in Sandwell is a key aspect of Sandwell’s overall school improvement strategy aiming to challenge the culture of educational under attainment and deliver real and lasting improvements in education. Sandwell is proposing to open 4 Academy Schools the first of which, the Sandwell Academy in West Bromwich, is due to open in September 2006.
Social exclusion and deprivation is a ‘hard nut to crack’. Improving education and the educational attainment of our children in Sandwell is fundamental to improving the quality of life and future for the people of Sandwell. It is imperative that the Government and we in local authorities consider different policy solutions and different approaches to difficult problems.
The concept of Academy Schools has been born out of the above and whilst we support this, we must ensure that basic principles of governance, accountability and long- term benefits are addressed.
This Scrutiny Review was undertaken within this context considering how Sandwell’s Academy Schools Strategy will contribute to educational attainment, how the  Academy Schools will be developed, governed and managed, deliberating accountability to Sandwell residents and stakeholders and what the impact of the Strategy will be on all schools in Sandwell.
This is a new area of policy development nationally as well as locally. The first 3 Academies were opened elsewhere in the country in September 2002 and there are now  only 17 nationally, therefore it is ‘policy in the making’ which has made it difficult to benchmark against and learn from established practice.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - PFI and managing risk The members of the Finance and Resources Scrutiny Panel have prepared this report. This report includes the work done earlier by previous members of the Private Finance Initiative Working Group. The review began in June 2005 and ended in November 2005.
This report gives an assessment of the overall effectiveness of the Council’s current practices and procedures for ensuring that Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes deliver quality services to local people. The report comments on the extent to which the Council’s PFI projects offer value for money to the residents of Sandwell, compared to other ways of financing large capital projects. The report comments on the risks linked to PFI and other externally funded projects, and the extent to which they are being properly managed by those responsible for ensuring they are delivered on time and within budget.
The report gives a summary of the challenges and opportunities presented by PFI funded projects and the work that is being done to ensure that the Council’s exposure to risk from PFI projects is minimised.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - parental involvement in children's education I am very pleased to present this report, which concludes the joint review undertaken, by the Education and Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Panel and the Equality and Diversity Scrutiny Panel.
The report highlights the key evidence, summarises the main findings and highlights the recommendations framed around the following: “How can the Council better engage parents in their children’s education?” The aim of this piece of work was to contribute to improving parental involvement in their children’s education.
The issue was identified at a time when parental involvement in children’s education was high on the national agenda and it was viewed as a key issue for Sandwell in terms of supporting the corporate priority of ‘Raising educational attainment’. It was felt by elected members that involvement of parents in their children’s education required a Sandwell, on the whole, have low expectations and therefore will not challenge schools to further improve.
The review sought to examine how schools and the Education and Children’s Services actively encourage parental involvement, and to identify what good practice exists which could be learnt from, identifying any barriers and how they could be overcome.
We found there is excellent work being undertaken within schools and officers from Education and Children’s Services are committed to ensuring effective parental involvement. Sandwell compares favourably with other authorities in terms of the initiatives being undertaken. A feasibility study into communication and consultation has been undertaken by consultants ‘Knowledge Plus’ commissioned by Education and Children’s Services. Based on the findings of the study a parental empowerment framework and action plan was developed by Education and Children’s Services. Consultation on the framework has taken place with officers but not yet with parents, pupils and teaching staff  including heads). The main weakness the review has identified is around the need for a shared vision with a clear definition, strategy and co-ordination to ensure that what is being undertaken is as effective as possible.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Click Project

This report has been produced by the External Affairs and Partnerships Panel, it concludes its review into what led to the closure of the Click! Project, and elicits the lessons that could be learnt from this.
The Report outlines the key findings identified by the Panel and submits recommendations which are ascribed to the main partners involved in the Click! project.
The purpose of the Report is to provide constructive recommendations; it is not about attributing blame to any of the agencies connected with the Click! project. The Panel is mindful that it is comparatively easy in retrospect to examine what went wrong in any given situation, but in the midst of pressured activity, scope and capacity to do the right thing and to do things in the right way is not always available.
It is hoped that this report will be received in the manner in which it was undertaken, which was to explore in an open and objective way the reasons behind a difficult situation and to move on from that by learning lessons for the future. This particular issue was identified for scrutiny as a result of keenly felt concern regarding the seemingly sudden closure of a high profile, SRB grant aided Project, especially as the beneficiaries were people in the community. The Review was commenced before final negotiations had been completed as it was felt that had the Review been left much longer, key information and first hand knowledge of events would have been lost.
The Panel appreciates that this Scrutiny Review was challenging for Advantage West Midlands, Sandwell Council and the Click! management and Board and as such expresses its thanks to officers and members from those agencies who contributed to this study.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - iCT infrastructure Information & Communications Technology (ICT) is now widely acknowledged as a key contributor to the Council’s corporate priorities for improvement, as well being a key enabler to the Efficiency agenda and the achievement of e-Government targets and outcomes. This raises the strategic importance of
   • the use made of ICT by service areas,
   • the underpinning ICT infrastructure in the Council, and
   • the support available from the ICT Services Division as the Council’s ICT service provider in improving the Council’s overall CPA rating.
The majority of front-line services are now dependent upon ICT to deliver and improve their service, and as a consequence to attain good inspection ratings. This is particularly the case for those service issues that are targeted as key improvement areas for CPA. The way the Council uses ICT, and the way that ICT Services Division support the delivery of this, are both subject to ongoing review and improvement through the annual Business Planning process, and also through the Best Value Improvement process, and hence are considered out of scope of this review. However the Panel identified the Council’s ICT Infrastructure as an area for review due to the key role that it plays in underpinning delivery of all council services.
It is widely accepted that the ICT infrastructure required to deliver on these key agendas needs to be more ‘joined-up’, corporate, standardised, secure and robust than is currently the case. This in turn will require both significant investment and a change in culture within the Council.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Annual Report 2005

The production of an annual report is a statutory requirement of Overview and Scrutiny functions.

The report is a way of communicating the work we've undertaken and the improvements made to the lives of Sandwell residents.

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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - equality champions Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s Equality Scrutiny Panel undertook a Review to consider the work and role of the Council’s 3 Equality Champions and how the function and operation of the Equality champions could be made more effective and measurable. This report concludes the work of the Panel into this review. The Government has endorsed and encouraged the role of Champions particularly on issues that cut across a number of portfolios, as is the case with the Equality Champions. The Older People’s National Service Framework (NSF) introduced the idea of Older People’s Champions and many Councils’ such as Wolverhampton City Council have elected members who undertake the role of Champion on various cross cutting issues.
It is generally recognised as good practise to establish Champions who are able to give leadership on cross cutting issues to encourage communication and positive action over specific issues. In the mid 1990s Sandwell MBC empowered 3 executive directors to Champion each main strand of Equality i.e. Gender, Disability and Race.
However because there has been little documentation it was difficult to measure the effectiveness of all 3 Champions. The Report summarises the main findings identified by the Panel and outlines its recommendations to the Corporate Management Team (CMT), Chief Executive, Sandwell Partnership and the Equalities Champion.
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - domestic violence Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s Equality Scrutiny Panel has undertaken a review to map and define how existing Council services and activities support action against Domestic Violence. This issue was identified at the Panel Workshop on 19th July 2004 . The Equality Scrutiny Panel has produced this report, which concludes this review into Domestic Violence. The report highlights the key evidence and summarises the main findings along with the recommendations. Although this issue was highlighted by the Scrutiny Panel at a time when there was no dedicated officer in Sandwell for Domestic Violence, the review coincided with the Domestic Violence Strategic Co-ordinator taking up her post.
For the purpose of this review the focus was on women as victims and men as the main perpetrators. The majority of victims are women. 
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Local Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Report Scrutiny - Annual Report 2004

The production of an annual report is a statutory requirement of Overview and Scrutiny functions.

The report is a way of communicating the work we've undertaken and the improvements made to the lives of Sandwell residents.

You need to be logged in & have the correct permissions to view these details .... .... ....
 
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