The following Notices of Motion submitted to the County Council have been referred to the Cabinet in accordance with Standing Order 8(2) to make a recommendation back to the Council.
The Report of the County Solicitor (CSO/18/32) on the Notices of Motion referred to the Cabinet by the County Council on 4 October 2018, incorporating relevant briefing notes to facilitate the Cabinet’s discussion of the matters raised is attached.
(a) Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Merger - Councillor Atkinson;
(b) Bed Poverty – Councillor Hannaford.
(a) Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Merger
(Councillors Connett and Dewhirst attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
Since 2015, Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police (DC&D) have been working together through a 'Strategic Alliance'. Operational police departments such as Operations, Roads Policing and Prevention as well as 17 other business areas are already operating across the three counties with a further 11 departments currently going through changes which will see them aligned.
The Chief Constables of DC&D Police recently announced their intention to explore a voluntary merger of the two forces. There are no recent examples of successful voluntary mergers of police forces.
Work is now underway to develop a business case for the merger for submission to the Home Office in October 2018, with a decision expected in January 2019.
· The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) commenced a public engagement programme across the three counties in August which ended on 28th August, the full business case was not to be shared with stakeholders or the PCP before the end of this consultation.
· It is understood that at a PCP meeting on 5th October some of the business case may be shared with the PCP before its submission to the Home Office.
· Devon County Council (DCC) had not formally been consulted and this has not been discussed at Cabinet or Scrutiny Committee
The proposed merger will impact funding and on Council Tax across Devon. A much higher proportion of Devon and Cornwall’s total funding (61.5%) comes from government. Only 53% of Dorset’s funding comes from government and a higher proportion comes from the police precept element.
Overall, government funding is more per head for Devon and Cornwall (£103) than Dorset (£85). This would fall to £97.6 per head for a combined force.
Having received minimal information regarding the financial impact or benefits of the potential merger, it is difficult to know whether current levels of funding, alongside the substantial reserves held by both forces, would prove sufficient to underwrite any additional costs arising from the merger of the force areas. This is particularly relevant in attempting to understand how the additional 430 police officers or staff would be funded as a result of the merger. At the moment, tax payers in Dorset in an average Band D property pay around £18 a year more for their policing than householders in Devon and Cornwall.
Legally, the levels of police precept for both areas must be harmonised for the merger to take place. Will Dorset rates be harmonised down to the Devon and Cornwall level? This seems to have been ruled out. Another proposal is that the rate for Devon and Cornwall will be increased to the Dorset level to fund extra police officers. The estimated increase would mean an extra payment of £1-3 per month (£18 per year) for average Band D residents in Devon and Cornwall.
This motion proposes that
· the Council writes to the PCC to request that the full business case is sent to DCC for its comments before any proposal is submitted to the Home Secretary;
the Council opposes the merger on information it currently has
available to it that it will mean an increase of
£18 per year
council tax for average Band D residents in Devon and
Cornwall and writes to the PCC and if
appropriate the Home secretary with its views.
· the Council censures the PCC in relation to her consultation on the merger as the stakeholder consultation was carried out while important local authority stakeholders were in summer recess and without the business case being made available to stakeholders so that no meaningful consultation could take place.
Members considered the Officer’s factual briefing note (CSO/18/32) on the matter which referred to the recent activities of the Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Panel and the position of the Police and Crime Commissioner that she was minded not to support the submission of the proposed full business case to the Home Office. The proposal to create a new force incorporating Cornwall, Devon and Dorset would therefore not progress further.
The Cabinet then considered the recommendation before them, and actions already undertaken and any other relevant factors (e.g. public health, financial, environmental, risk management and equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact):
It was MOVED by Councillor Croad, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
RESOLVED that Council be advised no further action should be taken on the Notice of Motion.
(b) Bed Poverty
(Councillor Connett attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
More children are living in poverty than at any other time in the past ten years, with 4.1 million children across the UK living below the breadline.
Shockingly its thought that there are over 400,000 children in the UK who do not have a bed of their own.
Without somewhere to rest their head, bedtime routines become difficult, stress levels rise, and getting a good night’s sleep is often near to impossible.
Furthermore, educational performance deteriorates and safeguarding risks rise.
Over the last five years, Dreams Beds has provided Buttle UK with nearly 10,000 children’s beds to donate to those families in desperate need — more than ever before.
With the number of beds that they supplied during those five years rising by 77 percent.
We applaud the work of this charity, and businesses, social enterprises, church groups, and others across the country in trying to tackle this national scandal.
As corporate parents with a duty of care to all of Devon’s children, we resolve that the council formally writes to The Rt Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and our local members of Parliament , to highlight this issue, and call for serious consideration to be given for a national grants scheme, that allows those in need to apply for help and assistance, to put an to end children’s bed poverty.
Members considered the Officer’s factual briefing note on the matter (CSO/18/32) which referred to the Council’s multi-agency early help system, which could support families to access the services and resources required. Also moving forward that the in-sourcing of Public Health Nursing in April 2019 would give the Council unprecedented access to families of very young children which would help ensure that the safety net was made available at the earliest opportunity.
The Cabinet considered the recommendation now before them and the actions now proposed and already undertaken and any other relevant factors (e.g. public health, financial, environmental, risk management and equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact):
It was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor Davis, and
RESOLVED that the Council be recommended to accept the Notice of Motion and make representations to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, copying the same to local Devon MPs, raising the issue of bed poverty, endorsing the work of the Buttle Trust and seeking support for a national scheme that would enable families to get the support they need.