Meeting documents

Personnel Partnership

Committee Agenda

Fri Apr 17 2009

Related Documents:
minutes for this agenda

A meeting of the Partnership will be held on the above date at 10.30am at County Hall Exeter to consider the following matters.

P NORREY Chief Executive

The Management Briefing will be held at 10am

A Committee Room will be available for the Staff Side from 9am



1. Apologies

2. Items Requiring Urgent Attention

Items which in the opinion of the Chairman should be considered at the meeting as matters of urgency.

3. Minutes

Minutes of the meeting held on 16 January 2009, attached (Page 1).

4. Future of the Atkinson Unit

Staff Side agenda item:-

(a) Background

The Express and Echo Exeter Newspaper carried a story indicating that the Atkinson secure Unit that specifically protects young persons id likely to close with 80 potential redundancies. The staffing implications through the loss of the Youth Justice Bureau contract are not our only concerns, as the Unit performs a valuable role for the welfare and support of vulnerable young persons.

(b) The Issues

Our stewards and staff based in the unit confirm that the Atkinson Unit caters for the needs of vulnerable young people in the South West and beyond.

The closest unit, if Atkinson closes, is in South Gloucester, which is a considerable distance from other areas in the Region such as Devon, Torbay, Plymouth, Cornwall, Dorset and parts of Somerset, and closer to the urban areas of the industrial Midlands.

As that South Gloucester unit has obtained the Youth Justice Bureau contract, if

Devon's Atkinson Unit closes, there will only be 3 welfare beds in the South West based on that unit. Considering that the distance between Lands End to the other unit is

comparable to the distances between Gloucestershire and and the far north of the UK, this will place a severe capacity limitation on catering for vulnerable children's needs throughout the whole South West.

As a Council, Devon often make the case for funding of the needs of services based on our peripheral position and also try through similar policies to secure improvements in accessibility, so Devon will also need to consider the welfare needs of vulnerable children across the SW as a whole in this case.

Considering therefore there would not be adequate provision at the South Gloucester unit for the welfare needs of the South West it would seem that closing the Atkinson Unit would be in breach of commonsense practical requirements if not the spirit of the Children s Act that requires young people to be placed close to their families. It is conceded, however, that such units would not necessarily be close to many people anyway because of the spread out nature of demand.

As it is, the Atkinson unit, as the others in England and Wales, have always had to take in young vulnerable people from other places as well, because of the lack of provision

nationally which it is anticipated will only increase as more specialist units across the country close.

It is understood that the Department of Health recognises the need for care beds for children and is willing to fund redevelopment of the Atkinson unit, clearly only if it remains open.

The Youth Justice Bureau (YJB) is willing to taper off their dedicated beds after the current contract expires in order to enable the transfer to a more "care oriented" unit being run in future.

Even if the Atkinson Unit does not have contracted beds with the YJB, that does not mean that beds will not be spot purchased for clients in need on an ad hoc basis.

At present the Atkinson Unit is understood to be completely full (and we are told it was also full prior to 1 April 2009). Historically even when the unit was doing well financially there were vacancies towards the end of the fiscal year. It would seem that at present there is more demand for this sort of facility than there has been for quite some time. Indeed it reasonable to expect that the severe economic downturn may result in higher demand for this type of accommodation.

Conclusions and Recommendations It is therefore requested that the costing aspects and criteria for running the Atkinson Unit should be re-examined on the basis of other factors anticipating a suitable role for welfare support of vulnerable children across the region with special reference to Plymouth, Torbay and Cornwall in addition to those of Devon itself.

5. Residential Homes Prospect for the Future

Staff Side to raise.

6. Local Government Reorganisation

Staff Side to raise.

7. Job Evaluation Issues

Staff Side to raise.

8. Green Travel - Impact on Staff

Staff Side to raise.

9. Dates of Future Meetings






Mr Franceschini (Chairman), Mrs Andrews, Mr Houghton, Mr King, Ms Roberts,

Mr Ryles and Mr Spackman.

Devon County Council

Councillors Greenslade (Vice-Chairman), Hannon, Hart, Haywood, Leadbetter, Owen and Smith

Date Published: Thu Apr 09 2009