Meeting documents

Venue: Mezzanine Room 1, County Hall, Aylesbury. View directions

Contact: Leone Dale 

Note: Please note that this meeting will be webcast - please see the "Webcasts" menu link 


Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item


Apologies for absence

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Apologies had been received from:

  • Mr A Collingwood
  • Mrs I Darby
  • Mrs L Sullivan
  • Mrs K Wood


Substitutes present were:

  • Mrs A Cranmer for Mr Collingwood
  • Mr R Reed for Mrs Darby
  • Mr P Irwin for Mrs Sullivan
  • Mrs A Wight for Mrs Wood


Declarations of Interest

To declare any Personal or Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

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Ms A Wight declared to the Committee that she was a Member of the Corporate Parenting Panel.


Mr G Williams declared to the Committee that he was also a Member of the Corporate Parenting Panel and was present during the Cabinet meeting on 8 January 2018 as a deputy.


Ms J Ward informed the Committee that she was a Member of the Aylesbury Vale District Council.


Mr Irwin declared his work with the Waddesdon Children Centre with a devolved service.


Mr S Lambert declared that he was a former board member with the Quarrendon and Bearbrook Children’s Centres and his role as District Councillor for Aylesbury Vale. 


Mr D Dhillon declared his former position on the advisory board of the Farnham Common Children’s Centre. 


Mr R Reed declared that he was the former Chairman of the board for Denham Children’s Centre.



Chairman's Introduction

The Chairman will explain how this special meeting will be conducted. 

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The Chairman welcomed the public attending the meeting and those following the webcast.


The Chairman noted that, although the meeting would be held in public, it was not a public meeting and therefore there would be no questions from the public. He then went on to provide an explanation of how the committee meeting would be conducted.


Validity of the Call-in pdf icon PDF 899 KB

The Committee will take advice as to whether the request to Call-In Cabinet decision Early Help Review, Cabinet Item 10, 8 January 2018 is valid.



Ms S Turnbull, Head of Democratic Services and Deputy Monitoring Officer


Supporting Papers:

·         Cabinet Decision report &  appendices item 10, 8 Jan 2018

·         Call In request from Julia Wassell supported by Mr N Hussain, Mr C Ditta, Mr M Farrow

·         Extract of Buckinghamshire County Council Constitution – Call in


Background Paper:


·         Children’s Social Care & Learning Select Committee considered the topic of Early Help at its meeting on 17 October 2018. The papers, minutes and webcast of this meeting can be viewed here:

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The Chairman welcomed Ms S Turnbull, Head of Democratic Services and Deputy Monitoring Officer to the meeting.


Ms Turnbull confirmed her advice that the call-in was valid and that Members should hear evidence from both parties.


Call-in Request Submission pdf icon PDF 109 KB

The Committee will consider the submission from the County Councillors who called in the decision and witnesses they have invited to attend the meeting.


There will be 20 minutes to present the case, followed by an opportunity for the Committee to ask any questions.



Julia Wassell, County Councillor (lead member submitting call-in request)



Mrs A Dass, Member of the Public

Mr M Knight, District Councillor

Mr M Farrow, County Councillor


Supporting Papers:

·         Supporting Paper and Appendices from Julia Wassell

·         Representations received in response to the Cabinet Member Decision

·         Early Help Consultation ‘You Tell Us’ July 2017

·         Additional Consultation Information September 2017

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The Chairman welcomed Julia Wassell (County Councillor) who introduced her supporters and witnesses: Mr M Farrow (County Councillor), Mr M Knight (District Councillor) and Mrs A Dass (Member of the Public). The group were advised that they would have 20 minutes in which to present their case followed by questions from the Committee.


Julia Wassell opened with a presentation and made the following key points:

  • There was a legal requirement for a proper consultation.
  • There were three reasons why the decision process was flawed: a faulty consultation; shortcoming in the pre-scrutiny process and a failure to properly engage individual local Members.
  • The consultation was misleading which lead to invalid results
    • The first phase of the consultation started on 14 July until 22 September 2017.
    • Subsequently additional information was made available to the public on 4 September 2017 because of feedback from members of the public who expressed confusion over the proposals being outlined in the original consultation document.
    • The deadline was then extended until the 16th October.
  • People who responded to the first phase were then also able to respond in the second phase, therefore the final results would not reflect public opinion should voters have changed their minds as a result of the revised, additional information.
  • Respondents in the first phase were not asked for their contact details so it would not have been possible to notify them of the additional information provided from 4th September.
  • The additional information provided in the consultation was the first time there had been a reference to the reduction of 35 Children’s Centres into 9 hubs. The initial consultation document was misleading and those who completed the first phase of the consultation should have had the information on Children’s Centres on which to base their opinion.
  • There should have been a question relating to how recently families had used the Children’s Centre.
  • The question numbers in the report did not relate to the actual questionnaire which was misleading and called the report into question.
  • Page 250 of the Cabinet report from 8 January stated that access and availability was among the most important considerations but it was not clear what this referred to.
  • There was a legal duty to consult when closing Children’s Centres and it was not clear from the consultation that this was part of the redesign of Early Help.


Julia Wassell then handed over to her witness Ms A Dass to present her case to the Committee, the following points were made:

  • Having spoken with users and staff members, Ms Dass had received feedback that the consultation document did not make it clear that the proposal was to lose services. Instead, the users and staff members believed that the 9 hubs were going to be an additional service.
  • The consultation was deliberately vague, heavily biased and not clear.
  • It was not explicitly clear that children’s centres were under threat of closure


Julia Wassell then went on to outline the next point of her case which was the failure to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Response to the Call-in pdf icon PDF 560 KB

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services will attend the meeting to explain the reasons behind Cabinet’s proposal to create a new Early Help service, as set out at the Cabinet meeting on 8 January 2017.


There will be 20 minutes to present the case, followed by an opportunity for the Committee to ask any questions.



Mr W Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services


Supporting Officers:

Mr T Vouyioukas, Executive Director, Children’s Services

Mr P Dart, Programme Director, Change for Children, Children’s Services

Ms J Tisbury, Project Manager, Early Help, Children’s Services


Supporting Papers:

·         Response to the call-in request from Mr W Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

·         Response to the Supporting Paper from Julia Wassell - paper to follow


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The Chairman welcomed Mr W Whyte (County Councillor) who introduced his supporting officers: Mr T Vouyioukas (Executive Director, Children’s Services), Mr P Dart (Programme Director – Change for Children) and Ms J Tisbury (Project Manager – Early Help). The group were advised that they would have 20 minutes in which to present their case followed by questions from the Committee.


Mr Whyte made the following key points in his presentation, in response to the written call-in request made by Julia Wassell:


  • Response to point 1:

Research had identified the key issues that were driving demand for children's services. Using advice and guidance, such as the Early Intervention Foundation, the view that the Troubled Family Outcome Measures were appropriate had been confirmed and these measures would be an appropriate delivery method. The Early Help Strategy contained other existing measures.

  • Response to point 2:

The Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) was detailed and clear that the new service would provide enhanced outreach to families finding themselves in difficult situations.

  • Response to Point 4:

As a corporate parent the County Council had a duty to make sure that Children’s Services were as effective as possible with the resources available.

When the consultation started, Mr Whyte e-mailed all Members with details of the consultation and invited them to submit any questions.

All Member briefings were unfortunately poorly attended.

Members had the opportunity to present information on the Early Help Review at Local Area Forums.

  • Response to Point 5:

Mr Whyte reiterated that workers had the discretion to meet in a place that would be agreed by the families.

  • Response to Point 6:

Under the new model, families would engage with one professional rather than speaking to a number of staff at different agencies to receive support.

  • Response to Point 7:

From mid-October Mr Whyte authorised formal fact-finding discussions with a number of sites, including schools, to consider how the Local Authority might make better use of the Children’s Centre sites and service provided. 

Cabinet report recommendation 2 was a direct result of the consultation process.

  • Response to Point 8:

It was acknowledged that the initial consultation document was too high-level about the proposed outcomes and this was clarified later in the second stage.

The design of the new Early Help model would make it easier for workers to engage with families in areas of deprivation.

  • Response to Point 9:

The consultation responses showed the importance people place on buildings as focal points for communities. The Early Help model was not a building specific service and would make use of community facilities.

The Cabinet decision authorised discussions over the next 6 months to explore how buildings could be re-purposed.

  • Response to Point 3:  While it was accepted that the consultation could have been clearer, it was evident from the representations received from the press and members of the public that there was an overall understanding of the proposals.


Mr Whyte confirmed that he was confident that the consultation process was robust and representative of the public’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Committee Deliberation

The Committee will consider the written submissions and verbal evidence they have heard during the meeting and will decide to uphold or reject the call-in request.

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The Chairman invited Members of the Committee to share their views on the evidence which they had heard, with a view to deciding whether to reject the Call-in request or to refer the decision back to Cabinet for reconsideration.



The Committee voted on whether to accept the call-in request and refer the decision back to Cabinet. The Committee by majority voted against this resolution and therefore rejected the call-in request.


Date of Next Meeting

To note the next meeting of the Children’s Social Care and Learning Select Committee on 6 February 2018, 10.30 am, Mezzanine Room 1, County Hall, Aylesbury

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6 February 2018, 10.30am, Mezzanine Room 1, County Hall