Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

  1. Covid-safe council meeting room hire costs almost £30k

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Holding covid-compliant full council meetings in Rotherham has cost more than £29,000 since May 2021, it's been revealed.

    Virtual meeting

    Legislation which allowed council meetings to be held virtually from April 2020 expired in May 2021, meant councils had to hire large venues to ensure social distancing guidelines were met.

    Meetings with fewer staff can be accommodated in the usual venue at the town hall, but full council – which requires all 59 councillors plus staff to attend – can’t safely be held there.

    Since May, five full council meetings have been held away from the town hall - four at the Magna centre and one at Dinnington Resource Centre.

    The cost of £29,055.74 has been met by the government’s Covid Grant.

    Earlier this week, Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, called for the government to allow councils to hold virtual meetings again, in light of rising infection rates.

    Mr Read said: "It’s much safer to hold all our meetings virtually at the current time.

    "There is a cost and a complication for us going to Magna each time which isn’t ideal.

    "But when the government’s telling people to work from home where they can, it seems perverse to say councillors all have to go in a room all together - we shouldn’t have to do it, and the government could easily fix that."

    Mr Read said he believes the government are expected to come to a view about virtual meetings "soon".

  2. In-person council meetings 'perverse' says leader

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    A council leader has called for a return to remote meetings amid spiralling numbers of Covid-19 cases.

    Virtual meeting

    Rotherham's Chris Read said it was "perverse" that meetings took place in person despite government guidance urging people to work from home due to the rise in the omicron variant.

    Legislation which allowed council meetings to be held virtually from April 2020 expired in May 2021.

    Speaking ahead of the next full council meeting on Wednesday, which will see 59 councillors plus staff, public and press meet at the Magna centre, Mr Read said there was a "cost and complication" to in-person meetings.

    He added: "But at the time when the government's telling people they should work from home where they can, it seems perverse to say that councillors all have to go in a room all together.

    "It seems wrong to me that the government are telling people to work from home where you can, but specifically saying you councillors can put your health at risk by going and all sitting together in one big room."

    A judicial review which would have allowed virtual meetings to continue was dismissed by the High Court earlier this year, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

    A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said councils should follow Covid-19 guidance and the government would work closely with them.

    They said the department would be "responding shortly" to evidence submitted regarding "a longer-term decision about whether to make express provision for councils to meet remotely on a permanent basis".

  3. Rotherham today v last time out

    Rotherham is one of the stories of these elections in Yorkshire.

    Radio Sheffield political reporter Liz Roberts has tweeted the final results from the count.

    But how does that compare to the last election in the town in 2016?

    View more on twitter

    Well there were 48 Labour councillors, 14 from UKIP and a single independent.

    Talk about change...

  4. Analysis: Rotherham 'one of the big election stories'

    James Vincent

    Political Editor BBC Look North

    Pretty incredible. I've never seen a party come from zero councillors to 20 in the space of one election.

    The Conservative vote in Rotherham is one of the big stories of this election.

    A couple of caveats. This wasn't a normal election. Yes, we know that, but in Rotherham it was different again.

    The boundaries have been changed - there are now fewer councillors; 59 instead of 63.

    But, there are more wards. So this was like a fresh election, which makes comparison hard.

    The opposition before was mainly made up by the Rotherham Democratic Party. That's changed now.

    Labour has fewer councillors than they did - but they still retain control.

    The Conservatives now have a much stronger voice as the main opposition in the town hall.

  5. All Rotherham seats up for election

    Liz Roberts

    Political Reporter, BBC Radio Sheffield

    In Rotherham, all the council seats are up for grabs for the first time in five years with results already starting to come in.

    BBC Radio Sheffield's Liz Roberts explains the ins and outs of this year's election:

    Rotherham Town Hall

    The elections were due to happen last year, but like many others they were delayed by the pandemic.

    There are other changes this year too...

    There's been a boundary review and it's been decided that the number of council seats should be reduced from 63 to 59.

    Meanwhile, the number of wards, those are the areas that councillors represent, will be increased from 21 to 25. This means the ward that you live in may now have changed.

    Nine of those wards will be represented by three councillors and 16 wards be represented by two councillors.

    This means in total 30 seats are needed for one party to win a majority, with ruling party Labour currently holding 40.

    But there is more choice than ever this year, with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives standing at least one candidate in every ward, and the current opposition, formerly Ukip and now called the Rotherham Democratic Party, also fielding a large number of candidates.

  6. CCTV images released in crackdown on suspected fly-tippers

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    People in Rotherham are being asked to help identify suspected fly-tippers as part of a council crackdown on rubbish being dumped in the area.

    CCTV of suspected fly-tippers

    As part of its #GetRidReyt campaign, Rotherham Council has released CCTV footage of people tipping rubbish.

    The footage on the council’s website shows one man dumping old cannabis plants in Whiston while another shows two men throwing a number of bags from a white van in Munsborough.

    A third video is of two men tipping rubbish in a lay-by in Hoober from an unregistered van, before returning to a different lay-by half an hour later to dump more waste.

    CCTV of suspected fly-tippers

    Councillor Emma Hoddinott, Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “We want to make sure people know that if they fly-tip in Rotherham they will get caught and they will get fined.

    “The videos being released have been investigated by our officers, but they’ve hit a dead end with their inquiries.

    "That’s why we want residents to help us and see if they can identify those responsible for tipping their waste at different sites across the borough.”

    Anyone who recognises any of the individuals dumping rubbish in the videos is being asked to get in touch with Rotherham Council.

  7. Thousands of laptops ready for children in South Yorkshire

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Almost 7,000 laptops are ready to be given to youngsters in South Yorkshire after a campaign by councils, schools and charities.

    David Naisbit of Oakwood High School and Rotherham councillor Gordon Watson

    Sheffield charity Laptops for Kids said it now has enough child-friendly Dell laptops to supply most of the region and the computers will be used for pupils needing to access remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The charity launched in Sheffield in September 2020 because many households were unable to take part in online lessons. The project has now expanded to other northern towns and cities.

    The devices will now be distributed to schools by councils in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, with the schools themselves then sharing the laptops with households in need.

    Many schools opened again to pupils on Monday, but leaders have warned people need to be prepared for more disruption to education in the coming months.

    David Richards, the technology entrepreneur who co-founded the campaign, said: “Children must be able to safely access technology at home so they can keep up with their education and develop digital skills for the future.

    “We applaud local government leaders in South Yorkshire for stepping up to meet the need and invest in the next generation of successful young people.”

    Rotherham councillor Gordon Watson (pictured above, with David Naisbit of Oakwood High School) said: “We are delighted once again to be teaming up with Laptops for Kids to distribute a further 500 laptops to children in Rotherham, bringing the total number of children supported who would not otherwise have had access to online learning to more than 2,000."