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Decision details

Decisions to Support Community Services Reviews

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Communities

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

A review of certain areas of the Children and Young People’s Participation service.

Decision:

Matter for Decision

The Play Pods scheme is a chargeable service operated by the Council’s Children and Young People’s Participation service (ChYpPS). It was set up in 2014, in part to raise funds to support other ChYpPS work. However, a review of the service in February 2019, found that staffing costs in fact outweighed any income benefit, and the service has a net annual cost to the Council of £26k. The review also found that, since 2015, only four Play Pods had been delivered to city schools, but eighteen had been delivered to schools outside of the city.

 

On 26th February 2019, the Strategic Director took an operational decision to cease delivery of any more out-of-city Play Pods, and to implement exit routes for schools to secure training support and scrap top-ups from other providers. The loss of anticipated Play Pod income (which offsets some of the net cost) has been managed in year by the ChYpPS service through a staff vacancy freeze.

 

The proposal now is for the Council to cease Associate Membership of the Bristol Scrap Store Play Pods scheme, and to discontinue the ChYpPS Play Pod service from 31st March 2022. There is potentially scope for other associate members to provide a Play Pod service to city schools from 1st April 2022.

 

The Council helped set up the Scrap Store scheme in 1988, and it was initially managed by The Castle Project. In 2000, for viability reasons, the Council agreed to take this on, and it was delivered as a mobile project from community centres. In 2012, Scrap Store moved into a commercial unit, The Box on Barnwell Business Park, under the management of the ChYpPS team.  In addition to providing materials for the Play Pod scheme, city residents could also pay a membership fee to source arts, crafts and play materials at a low cost.

 

Like the Play Pod scheme, one of the intentions of Scrap Store was to raise income to support other areas of ChYpPS work. However, the 2019 review found that, like Play Pods, once staffing costs had been attributed to the Scrap Store, the service has a net annual cost to the council of £46.5k. Even if footfall to The Box were to double, the Scrap Store scheme would still not be able to generate sufficient income to cover staffing costs. The service uses The Box Unit, a council commercial unit at Barnwell Business Park for £5k per year rent, but the council could let The Box commercially to generate £18k income per year. 

 

There are currently 9 staff posts which include an element of delivering either the Play Pod or Scrap Store schemes, or both.  A staffing review is planned to support the council’s corporate transformation programme, and this will include community development, community facilities and ChYpPS services. The review will aim to minimise redundancies and maximise opportunities for staff development and progression.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Communities

  i.  Agreed to cease delivering the ChYpPS Play Pod scheme from 31st March 2022.

  ii.  Agreed to complete feasibility work for a revised scrapstore-style scheme, aligned to support anti-poverty work, and for this new service to be launched as soon as possible in the 2022-23 financial year.

  iii.  Noted the staffing implications.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Head of Community Services.

 

Councillors requested a change to the recommendation in the Officer’s report. Councillor Porrer said the intention was to remove a ‘hard stop’ to the service.

 

The Head of Community Services said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  Agenda P96 set out an indicative timetable for when the Scrap Store service would cease. It was hoped there would be a smooth transition not a hard deadline to stop activities.

  ii.  Staff and stakeholders would be involved in developing the new model. It was hoped that the Scrap Store service would be retained in some way during the transition period.

  iii.  Officers wished to invite councillors to input into the work.

  iv.  A progress report could be brought back to committee in March 2022.

 

Recommendation No 2 of p95 of the agenda pack (additional text underlined)

 

Proposer: Councillor Porrer

Seconder: Cllr Copley

 

2: To complete feasibility work for a revised scrap store-style scheme, aligned to support anti-poverty work, and for this new service to be launched as soon as possible in the 2022/23 financial year, having been scrutinised by a future ECSC to allow public and member views to be taken into account, and for the existing scrapstore service to be maintained until a new scheme is approved and launched.

 

The amendment was lost by 4 votes to 6.

 

Opposition Councillors asked what lessons had been learnt if the Council had lost money over 7 years of the ChYpPS service?

 

The Head of Community Services said the following in response:

  i.  Officers working in these areas had provided an excellent service.

  ii.  The review had uncovered higher staff costs than originally budgeted when these ChYpPS services were set up. The trading services now require subsidy rather than contributing revenue. Both have considerable out of city usage. It was not feasible to continue.

  iii.  Action has not been taken earlier due to the focus on supporting the community during the pandemic. There is now an opportunity to evolve the scrapstore project to support other anti-poverty work.

 

The Chair decided that the recommendations highlighted in the Officer’s report should be voted on and recorded separately:

 

The Committee unanimously endorsed recommendation (i).

 

The Committee endorsed recommendation (ii) by 6 votes to 0 with 4 abstentions.

 

The Committee unanimously endorsed recommendation (iii).

 

The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

 

Publication date: 05/11/2021

Date of decision: 07/10/2021