Hampton Ward Newsletter
The first Parish Council Summit was held on 17th October and was an opportunity for Parish Councillors to discuss how Herefordshire council and the parish and town councils can work together to provide the best services for residents. Around 100 people from across the county attended and the council collected a wealth of thoughts and ideas that will be shared with ward councillors in the near future. The next summit will be held early in the new year.
Domestic abuse has a huge cost, both socially and financially and to the children affected by it. Last year 1,294 referrals were made to the Council’s domestic abuse support service and 3,877 calls were made to the helpline. It’s essential that victims of domestic abuse and their children are safe with ready access to good quality advice and support and it’s interesting to note that around 4% of domestic abuse victims are male. This has been recognised by our support service who provide specialist help to male victims.
Further to the earlier Ofsted inspection of the council’s children’s services, there was a much stronger focus on looking at good practice and outcome, rather than processes, which has been welcomed by professionals. The inspection report recognised a number of areas of good practice, with the recent £1.6m investment already making improvements to the service.
Most importantly, Ofsted found that no children were at risk of immediate harm. However, the report also highlighted poor management within some areas of the service, which is unacceptable and is something we’re determined to change and will form part of the agenda for the Children’s and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee, who will regularly review progress.
The Fostering and Adoption Services received positive feedback from the inspection, which highlighted good practice within the service in finding timely placements and providing post adoption support. The rate of adoption from care in the years 2014 to 2017 was higher in Herefordshire than with other comparable councils and we still have a serious shortage of foster carers due to an increase in the number of children needing placement. Additional training for foster carers will be a priority for the coming year.
The council’s cabinet has just received a progress report into our Corporate Parenting Strategy. ‘Corporate Parenting’ means the collective responsibility of the council, elected members, employees and partner agencies for providing the best possible care and safeguarding for every child in council care. We currently have 335 children in our care and we also support 180 recent care leavers, six of whom are now studying at university.
he council, in partnership with the CCG and the Herefordshire Partnership Board, have co-produced the autism strategy for 2019-2022, which spans all age groups from young children to adults. The strategy sets out a clear framework for improvements in a range of areas to ensure that people with autism have the same opportunities for health and the same quality of life as everyone else.
Finally, the 2018/19 budget outturn is £1.42m which is far more positive than in many other areas of the country. This projected overspend reflects the unexpected increase in looked after children in residential placement and additional residential placements for people with learning difficulties. However, following a recent statutory independent balance sheet review, it was reported that the council’s balance sheet is ‘very robust’.
Cllr Bruce Baker