The People's Panel

Front page

Pete Bungard, Chief Executive welcomes you to the summer 2016 edition of the newsletter.

This edition contains articles about current and upcoming consultations, surveys and engagement events where Gloucestershire County Council is seeking your input so that it can be fed into the development of our policies and services.

We believe that It is just as important to make sure that when you’ve been kind enough to take the time to give us your views, we feedback to you how they’ve made a difference, so we also have several stories outlining how some of our previous consultations have influenced the outcome of past council initiatives.

In March this year we carried out a survey of People’s Panel members and I would like to thank those who gave us their views. One of the consistent pieces of feedback was that many who responded could not remember seeing the People’s Panel ‘newsletter’, and we are wondering whether one of the reasons could be that it wasn’t made clear that this e-zine is in fact what we were referring to?

We continue to believe that a key measure of how successfully we are engaging with you is to understand the extent to which you agree or disagree that Gloucestershire County Council takes your views into account when making its decisions? So, we are conducting an online survey asking you exactly that question, and we hope you will take a minute or two to take part. Thanks in advance for your time.

Finally I wanted to say that listening to the views of those who live, work and visit the county is vital in influencing the policies and work of the county council - as it has always been - and the People’s Panel has a key contribution to make to this process.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Pete Bungard, Chief Executive

To take part in the online survey please click here

Current consultations - all age, all disability approach to offer more people short breaks

We are committed to providing short breaks for adults with learning disabilities, and are looking into new ways to deliver these, and want local views on our proposals.

In June, cabinet approved a consultation to help ensure short breaks offer what people need.

Of 1,380 adults with disabilities in Gloucestershire, only 105 currently use residential respite. This decreased by nearly a third since 2011/12 when the figure was at 148, and is because many people prefer day activity breaks.

The consultation is asking for views on proposals that will still offer short residential breaks, but also provide more day activity breaks. This includes the proposal to consolidate the residential provision for Adults (currently offered from The Vicarage in Cheltenham) to the other two sites at Cathedral View in Gloucester and Longhouse in Stroud.

Currently, these homes are operating at 60 per cent capacity, with the council paying the cost for unused spaces. There are currently 36 service users that use The Vicarage. By consolidating the sites, the council can continue residential respite care into the future, whilst supporting more short breaks.

The three proposals that the council is currently consulting on are:

  1. Increase the opportunity of short breaks for people with complex needs by having accommodation available that will make it possible for personal assistants to attend and support users during these breaks
  2. Part of increasing short breaks will mean the children's service, Family Link will be joined with the reshaped Shared Lives Service to offer more respite opportunities
  3. Reshaping current residential breaks to make sure that capacity meets demand. This is in light of the reduced number accessing residential breaks and the increase in day breaks.

The current three month consultation runs until 10 October - take part here.

Some ‘drop-in’ sessions have already taken place; with some further ones still available to attend:

Vicarage, Andover Road, Cheltenham

5 September 2016

2.00-4.00PM

Cathedral View, Archdeacon Street, Gloucester

13 September 2016

2.00-4.00PM

Longhouse, Whitehouse Park, Stroud

26 August 2016

9 September 2016

10.00-12.00PM

2.00-4.00PM

 The consultation is open to anyone, and the council would very much like to hear from people about their experiences and opinions so come along to a ‘drop-in ‘or respond online.

Current consultations - have your say on sexual health services in the county

We have launched a consultation on sexual health services to find out how our community feels about our plans for the future. This consultation is an opportunity for the council to hear people's views on four main principles which would form the basis of our sexual health services in the years ahead.   

The consultation, which closes on 23 October 2016, will help the council to develop the most effective approaches that inspire people to live healthier lives.

The four principles outlined in the consultation are:

People should find it easy to access the care they need, regardless of the service they require or the location they attend. This means people can easily move within the sexual health system and can expect a consistent standard of care.

Services provide care focused on need - ensuring those who most need help have access to specialist services targeted to their needs. We know that there are some groups of people who are particularly vulnerable to poor sexual health outcomes. Services should be designed so that they are targeted to the needs of those groups.

Prevention of poor sexual health outcomes is a priority. This means focusing on preventing people from having poor sexual health outcomes (such as unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections) through education, access to information, and targeted schemes for vulnerable or high-need groups.

Technology is used to allow people to access services most appropriate for them, and, where possible, choose online or self care. This means that information is easily accessible to allow individuals to access services most convenient for them and can choose the option of home and self sampling/testing services.

The questionnaire is available to complete online at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/sexualhealth and paper copies are available from libraries, GP surgeries and pharmacies.

Past consultations - local feedback prompts changes to the county’s Local Transport Plan (LTP)

The power of consultation was demonstrated when changes to the proposals for the Local Transport Plan (LTP) were made following feedback received during the consultation.

The LTP has four objectives: supporting sustainable economic growth, enabling community connectivity, conservation of the environment, and improving community health and wellbeing.

The consultation ran from the 20 November 2015 to the 5 February 2016 and 215 people and organisations took part and told us what they thought of the county's proposed transport blueprint.

Although the consulted policy had been intended to provide a consistent approach to the operation of bus lanes across the county, the consultation showed that the proposal to ban private hire vehicles from bus lanes was not a popular choice for local operators and companies who provide home to school transport for the council.

In response to this feedback received through the public consultation, officers worked hard to identify a better plan and suggested that instead private hire vehicles should be permitted to use bus lanes on county council maintained ‘A’ roads where local highways allow and the impact on other road users is minimal.

As well as the removal of the proposed ban on private hire vehicles from all bus lanes on county council managed highway a number of other changes were also proposed including:-

  • A commitment to reduce transport derived carbon emissions to support the new global pact signed in Paris in December 2015 on climate change (COP21).
  • To prioritise the promotion of sustainable transport modes, especially cycling.
  • A revised set of voluntary performance indicators so the council can monitor its progress in delivering the policies and priorities outlined in the LTP.

In March, the council's Environment and Overview Scrutiny Committee looked at the results of the LTP consultation and discussed the suggestion to drop the original proposal to ban private hire vehicles from using council bus lanes and this was subsequently scrapped as the county's transport blueprint was updated.

In April, cabinet recommended approval of the final updated version of the Local Transport Plan (LTP), which sets the vision for transport in the county over the next 15 years, and in June it was adopted at the meeting of the full county council.

The aim is that the updated LTP will see a reliable transport network that enables economic growth by providing individuals with travel choice for their daily journeys.

You can find out more about the local transport plan at http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ltp3

Past consultations - the county council budget for 2016/17

Last December we launched a public consultation on the draft budget for 2016/17. We asked people what they thought of the budget proposals which included a 1.99% rise in council tax, the first for six years, and also an additional adult social care levy of up to 2%.

Previously, in its autumn 2015 spending review, the government announced that local authorities could consider adopting a two per cent council tax levy specifically to support care for older people.

We have protected adult social care since we started our efficiency drive in 2010 and have so far delivered over £114m in savings. However, further reductions in central grant are putting the council under increasing pressure. 

Before agreeing this year's budget, the council wanted people across the county to have their say and give an opinion on whether or not Gloucestershire should apply the extra levy.

In the consultation the council offered three options when it came to council tax:-

  • A 1.99% increase
  • A 1.99% increase plus an additional two per cent National Adult Social Care Levy (3.99% rise in total).
  • No increase.

Around 1,000 responses were received from individuals and organisations, including trade unions. The majority view of those who took part in the budget consultation was that the council should increase council tax to raise more money for vulnerable people.

More than 61 per cent of those who took part voted for a council tax increase, options one or two, with the largest number - 43 per cent of people overall - voting for option two, a 3.99% increase.

At its meeting in February Cabinet approved the proposed draft budget for 2016/17 following the public feedback which supported the move.

Later on in February, the full council met to agree the spending priorities for this financial year and set its budget for 2016/17 including more money for roads, extra support for vulnerable children and investment into cycling schemes.

Originally, the cabinet was proposing a budget of £417.98 million and a council tax increase of 3.99%, including the two per cent National Adult Social Levy. The levy is ring-fenced and will raise £4.7million to spend on adult social care services, things like residential or domiciliary care, carers support or support to keep people living in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

However, just before the full council meeting the government announced an additional £2.4million for Gloucestershire and at full council members decided how that would be spent.

The council also agreed the previous proposals, which included £2million to recruit new social workers, investments into better broadband and continued focus on healthy and active communities.

Past consultations - community drug and alcohol recovery service

The county's community drug and alcohol recovery service works to reduce the harm caused by drugs and alcohol by helping people reduce, or ideally, stop their alcohol or drug use. It provides a comprehensive range of support to assist people's recovery, from short periods of treatment for people with less severe problems, through to treatment where problems have become too difficult to deal with alone.

The community drug and alcohol recovery service forms part of a wider programme of activity to reduce drug and alcohol related harm to individuals and families, as well as to the wider community.

The contract for the service is due to end on 31 December 2016 and is held by Turning Point.

A 12-week public consultation ran between 15 December 2015 and 8 March 2016, seeking views on four key principles underpinning proposals for the future shape of the drug and alcohol service. The consultation also sought feedback on what makes it easy or difficult to access the service.

Of 226 people who answered, 97 per cent agreed that the service should proactively encourage more people with alcohol issues to seek help and support.

Eighty-eight per cent agreed that the service should provide early interventions that divert low risk individuals from the need for formal treatment, while 82 per cent agreed that dedicated drug and alcohol workers should be located within children's social care teams.

There were also 94 per cent of responders who agreed that the service should be more community-focused.

The new community drug and alcohol service to help vulnerable people across Gloucestershire was discussed by cabinet in April and cabinet agreed to go out to tender; the new contract will be in place by January 2017 and will run for the next five years.

The new service will seek to continue to ensure that people with alcohol and drug problems in the county have access to responsive and effective recovery services that reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drugs. The council wants to build on improvements to date such as better integration across health, social care and criminal justice; closer working with children's services; and a greater emphasis on achieving and sustaining recovery.

The new contract will not fundamentally change the service from 2017, but will continue to evolve and progress the existing good service provided.

Past consultations - living a healthy life in Gloucestershire

We provide support with prevention and management of unhealthy lifestyle behaviours: smoking, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and poor diet, which is linked, along with inactive lifestyles, to overweight and obesity.

Helping people stay healthy or get healthier is the best way to prevent problems later in life and the council is keen to support people to stay fit and independent as they age.

The current contracts are due to end this year and a new service is required for 2017. A 12-week public consultation took place from December 2015 to March 2016 to find out what people think are important for the council to take into consideration in planning future provision.

Of 391 respondents to the survey, there was general support for the principles that were proposed:

  • More emphasis on helping people to help themselves to live a healthy lifestyle e.g. by providing self-help tools
  • More emphasis on helping to prevent people from taking up an unhealthy lifestyle in the first place                             
  • More intensive support prioritised for those in greatest need and those who are less able to help themselves
  • Lifestyles information and support available across other services, for example, maternity and family support services

In April, cabinet approved a tendering process for a new service which is focussed on helping the council achieve the principles agreed in the consultation.

The contract, which will be for up to seven years, is worth an estimated total of £12.5million and will set out the way that the council aims to ensure local people have access to information and support to enable them to live a healthy lifestyle.

A recommendation to award the contract will be made in September 2016, with the service set to begin in January 2017.

Past consultations - a secure future for children's centres

In June cabinet approved a new approach for the county's children's centres and £3.2m reinvestment in social workers. The plans set out how the council will keep all children’s centres in Gloucestershire open.

The consultation which ran from 18 January to 11 April had shown that 60 per cent of feedback supported the proposals for 16 centres in the most deprived areas of the county to be expanded to become children and family centres, supporting families with children up to the age of 11. This will mean more help for the most vulnerable families and with a wider age range of children.

These 16 centres will be split across four areas; Stroud/Forest of Dean, Cheltenham/Tewkesbury, Gloucester, and the Cotswolds. Whilst the 16 centres will be a base for professionals, families can have support in their communities and homes, without being expected to travel to the centres.

The remaining 30 centres will stay open, continuing to support parents and children. These will include clubs, activities, information and health advice, known as universal services - something parents have told the council that they really value and need.

Currently, only 46 per cent of children under five years old in the most deprived areas of the county had contact with a children's centre during 2014/15. The proposals for a new approach to supporting these families most in need was overwhelmingly supported by 77 per cent of responders, who stated that they thought the plans would have a positive impact.

Feedback from the consultation also showed that parents wanted to be more involved in the delivery of the service, with over 30 per cent of responders saying that they wanted to volunteer or support other parents.

Over 90 per cent of consultation responders said they wanted high quality health visiting to continue working with other services. This new approach will mean a successful pilot of health visiting services in specific areas will now roll out county wide.

As part of the council's commitment to ensuring high quality nursery education is available for two, three and four year olds, the council will continue to fund places in the 22 nurseries currently in children's centres and look to increase the amount of children getting access to this service. The support will use nursery education funding, which will allow them to run independently. This will help ensure Gloucestershire is ready for the 30 hours of free childcare the government is proposing.

The plans will also free up £3.2m which will be reinvested into more children's social workers, further helping those children in Gloucestershire that need the most support. The new service will start from 1 April 2017.

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life