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Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith Tel: 01902 551251 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies were received from the following members of the panel:
Cllr John Rowley
Cllr Paul Sweet
Cllr Beverley Momenabadi
Cllr Rashpal Kaur
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest recorded.
[Richard Welch, Head of Partnerships and Commercial Services (Education), to present report]
Cllr Dr Hardacre, Cabinet Member Education and Skills introduced the report and explained changes in the responsibility for the management of school budgets and the delivery of the outdoor education curriculum. The Cabinet Member advised the panel that schools now have direct control of 97% of their budget. The responsibility for decisions about expenditure on education rests with Headteachers and school governing bodies and not the Local Authority.
The Council has two places on the Schools’ Forum where decisions about budget allocation are made, the majority of other places are held by schools. (The Schools' Forum is a partnership body linking the Local Authority and the school community in making decisions about school funding and roles and responsibilities.)
The panel were advised that 18 Wolverhampton schools used The Towers during 2018-19. Richard Welch, Head of Partnerships, outlined the results of responses to a consultation survey completed in 2019 and highlighted a key finding that young people would like more community based local provision and activities.
The Head of Partnerships advised the panel that there are 60 places at the Towers and gave a breakdown of running costs the building. The Head of Partnerships advised that is was originally estimated that completing the repair work would be £800,000 but was reduced to £600,000 following a review. A breakdown of the repair works is available on request.
The Head of Partnerships briefed the panel on the different options regarding the future of the building and reasons for supporting option 1 (to close the building immediately and then dispose of at auction) as being the best option. The Head of Partnerships briefed the panel on the merits of the Options 2 and 3 detailed in the report.
The Head of Partnerships advised the panel the Council has received two offers of interest from two organisations. The discussions are at an early stage.
The panel queried if there was a long list of options prepared for consideration before agreeing the options presented and why the report itself was not presented earlier to the panel. The Head of Partnerships advised the panel of the process used to agree the list of options.
The panel queried if the report on the plans for Tower Outdoor Education Centre was presented to Audit and Risk Committee and also whether the issue was on Strategic Risk Register. Emma Bennett, Director of Children’s Services, advised the panel that the building was not considered to be a priority alongside other Council assets. The Head of Partnerships agreed to make enquiries and advise the panel to confirm the situation.
The panel queried the historic maintenance arrangements for the Towers and expressed concern about why the issues highlighted had not been raised earlier. The panel commented about the availability of building condition reports for the Towers in previous years. The Head of Partnerships advised that £70,000 had been added to the building maintenance budget for 2019/20 in response to issues highlighted during a review.
The panel queried the findings from the survey of ... view the full minutes text for item 3.