The Lord Mayor invited Councillor Russell, Deputy City Mayor, Social Care and Anti-Poverty and the City Mayor to make statements:
Ofsted review – Children’s Services
Councillor Russell, Deputy City Mayor, Social Care and Anti-Poverty, informed Council that following the recent Ofsted inspection into Children’s Services, a ‘good’ rating was received across all areas being reviewed. It was also noted that this was one of the best results in the East Midlands. She further commented that the aim of the service was to ensure that children with challenges had the best possible care and that a good service was delivered across the city on an ongoing basis and not just for Ofsted. She noted that putting Children’s views and listening to them at all times was at the heart of delivering the service. She put on record her thanks to frontline Social Worker staff for working as a team, but also all the others involved in the service, including Councillors, children and families, and other parts of the Council who supported the service.
The City Mayor congratulated Councillor Russell on the Ofsted result and commented that she had been instrumental in taking the service forward to be something to be proud of.
City Centre Development
The City Major spoke in relation to protecting and developing the City Centre in the post Covid-19 pandemic era. He noted that most city centres faced a clear danger to their future at the current time. The City Centre was a fundamental part of the City’s economy, which had been the main focus for many years. He reflected upon the protection of heritage assets such as avoiding the Lanes being turned into a car park and the improvements in the Old Town area. He also commented upon the transformation of the City centre to include a good variety of retail shops, visitor and leisure attractions as well as the wide range of services, events and festivals. He felt that the city centre had a great future as somewhere to enrich lives and access services, but also to tackle the two great challenges the city faced: inequality and the climate emergency. He further noted that the city centre could enable a better, greener transport service.
The City Mayor also spoke of the need for the Council to be agile in exploring continued investment opportunities in the City Centre, which could add value to the Council’s property portfolio. He therefore reported publicly that the Council had successfully purchased the Haymarket Shopping Centre. This was a strategic investment and had enabled the Council to acquire a key part of the city centre for around £10 Million. He noted that a capital investment of this sort could not be used to fund frontline services directly. The Haymarket Shopping Centre included 65 shopping outlets, a theatre, hotel and adjoins the bus station. What was particularly important for the Council was that it was itself a major current tenant, providing 19% of yearly revenue which it would now pay to itself. The Council would work with current management agents to improve performance and the rental income would go towards investments into supporting services, capital investments and to protect services.